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Green-tailed Towhee Pipilo chlorurus


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Green-tailed Towhee

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Emberizidae, New World Sparrows view all from this family

Description ADULT Has olivegreen back, wings, and tail; yellow edges to wing feathers form a striking patch. Head, neck, and underparts are largely gray, grading to pale buff on belly and undertail coverts, but note the striking head markings: chestnut crown, white patch in front of eye, and well-defined white throat and malar stripe separated by dark line. JUVENILE Brown overall, darker above than below, and heavily streaked on upperparts, head, neck, and breast. Throat markings recall those of adult.

Dimensions Length: 6 1/4-7" (16-18 cm)

Habitat Locally common summer visitor (mainly Apr-Sep) to dense chaparral- and scrub-covered slopes. Winters mainly in Mexico, but also in southwestern U.S.

Observation Tips Relative impenetrability of favored habitat makes observation challenging, but singing males are sometimes obvious in spring.

Range California, Northwest, Plains, Texas, Southwest, Rocky Mountains

Voice Song comprises a series of abrupt tchup notes followed by burst of chatters and whistles; call is a rather plaintive, upslurred mew.

Discussion Long-tailed bird. Not unduly wary, but remains within cover of scrub much of the time. Mainly terrestrial; scratches through leaf litter with both feet, feeding on insects and fallen seeds. Sexes are similar.