California Towhee

Melozone crissalis

Order

PASSERIFORMES

Family

New World Sparrows and Towhees (Passerellida)

Code 4

CALT

Code 6

PIPCRI

ITIS

ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The California Towhee is native to the United States and Mexico. This is a terrestrial bird that has a range of nearly 400,000 square kilometers. The global population of the California Towhee is believed to be nearing 5 million individual birds. As a result of its fairly large range and population, the California Towhee has been downgraded from a previous rating of Lower Risk to a current rating of Least Concern.

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SUMMARY

Overview

California Towhee: Large sparrow, uniform brown-gray body, faintly streaked underparts, buff throat bordered with dark streaks. Tail is long with cinnamon-brown undertail coverts. Pink-brown legs and feet. Short flights with rapid beating wing strokes alternating with wings pulled briefly to sides.


Range and Habitat North America

California Towhee: This species is a resident in coastal areas and foothill chaparral habitats ranging from southern Oregon, along much western California, and throughout Baja California. Its other preferred habitats include shady underbrush, open woods, pinyon-juniper woodlands, and suburban gardens.


Range and Habitat Hawaii


Range and Habitat Palau

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INTERESTING FACTS

  • California Towhees are highly territorial and will often battle their own reflections in windows or other reflective surfaces.
  • First named as a separate species in 1839, they were combined with Canyon Towhee in 1886. Studies of their mitochondrial DNA has recently resulted in them being considered a full species once again.
  • They forage on the ground, scuffing the dirt with both feet at once in a fast, hopping motion.
  • A group of towhees are collectively known as a "tangle" and a "teapot" of towhees.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP NORTH AMERICA

About this North America Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across North America.

FAMILY DESCRIPTION



SONGS AND CALLS

Xeno-Canto Sound

California Towhee B1

  • Title: California Towhee B1
  • Recordist: Richard E Webster
  • Description: Song is a series of squeaky "chip" notes on the same pitch.
  • Location: CA

California Towhee B2

  • Title: California Towhee B2
  • Recordist: Richard E Webster
  • Description: Call is a clear, high-pitched "chip".
  • Location: CA

Lang Elliott Sound

California Towhee 2

  • Title: California Towhee 2
  • Recordist: Lang Elliott
  • Description: Trilled song mixed with other call notes.
  • Date: "April 28, 2014"
  • Location: CA

California Towhee 4

  • Title: California Towhee 4
  • Recordist: Lang Elliott
  • Description: Squeal-churrrr call used by pairs when they reunite.
  • Date: "April 28, 2014"
  • Location: CA

Similar Sounding Xeno-Canto

Abert's Towhee B2

  • Title: Abert's Towhee B2
  • Recordist: Richard E Webster
  • Description: Typical song is a series of sharp descending notes.
  • Location: AZ
  • Date: "7/18/2016"

Canyon Towhee XX1

  • Title: Canyon Towhee XX1
  • Recordist: Scott Olmstead
  • Description: Song is a fast, repeated "chili-chili-chili".
  • Location: AZ

Similar Sounding Lang

Abert's Towhee 1

  • Title: Abert's Towhee 1
  • Recordist: Lang Elliott
  • Description: Song is a series of 4 to 6 squeaky and repetitive "peek" or "chip" notes.
  • Date: "April 28, 2014"
  • Location: AZ

Canyon Towhee 2

  • Title: Canyon Towhee 2
  • Recordist: Lang Elliott
  • Description: A series of six or seven double syllables "chili-chili-chili-chili-chili-chili."
  • Date: "April 28, 2014"
  • Location: AZ

Voice Text

"chink", "tseeee"

Vocalization

California Towhee: Song is a series of squeaky chips on same pitch, accelerating into a rapid trill; pattern varies according to geographical area. Call is a sharp "chink" or thin "tseeee."

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Artist

Michael Oberhofer

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UnderpartsX

Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Undertail covertsX
Small feathers that cover the areas where the retrices (tail feathers) attach to the rump.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X