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Canyon Towhee Pipilo fuscus


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Canyon Towhee
credit: Alan D. Wilson/CCSA

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

Description ADULT Has sandy brown plumage overall, darker above than below. Note the reddish brown cap and largely yellow-buff face, with throat defined by dark lateral line and "necklace" of dark streaklike spots on lower margin; below this, note the dark central spot on upper breast. Undertail coverts are pinkish orange. JUVENILE Recalls adult, but has subtle streaking on underparts and faint buff wing bars; crown is sandy brown.

Dimensions Length: 8-10" (20-25 cm)

Habitat Common resident of arid canyons with dense cover of scrub and brush.

Observation Tips Not unduly shy, but dense nature of favored habitat makes observation tricky. Wait for birds to emerge from cover rather than attempt to track them in brush.

Range California, Texas, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southwest

Voice Song is a vibrant series of whistles, some with a fluty quality; each note is typically repeated several times; call is a nasal ch'lup.

Discussion Formerly considered conspecific with California Towhee, but slimmer and paler. Ranges of two species do not overlap and subtle plumage differences also help with identification. Mainly terrestrial and usually feeds unobtrusively in dense cover. Sexes are similar.