Canyon Towhee (Pipilo fuscus)

Canyon Towhee

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Pipilo fuscus | [UK] Canyon Towhee | [FR] Tohi brun | [DE] Braunrucken-Grundammer | [ES] Rascador Arroyero | [NL] Bruine Towie


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Pipilo fuscus NA, MA sw USA, Mexico
Pipilo fuscus campoi
Pipilo fuscus fuscus
Pipilo fuscus intermedius
Pipilo fuscus jamesi
Pipilo fuscus mesatus
Pipilo fuscus mesoleucus
Pipilo fuscus perpallidus
Pipilo fuscus potosinus
Pipilo fuscus texanus
Pipilo fuscus toroi

Physical charateristics

Formerly regarded as conspecific with the California Towhee under the name of “Brown Towhee”; it has now been split. Paler and grayer than California Towhee, with a rufous crown and black spot on the breast. Vocalizations differ.

Listen to the sound of Canyon Towhee

[audio: Towhee.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 28 cm wingspan max.: 29 cm
size min.: 20 cm size max.: 21 cm
incubation min.: 11 days incubation max.: 12 days
fledging min.: 9 days fledging max.: 10 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 6  


North America, Middle America : Southwest USA, Mexico


Brushy areas, chaparral, desert foothills, canyons, pinyon-juniper woods.
Habitat varies in different parts of range, but always in brushy areas, avoiding forest and open desert. Found in open pinyon-juniper woodland, chaparral on dry hillsides, grasslands with cholla and mesquite, thickets of scrub oak, similar habitats.


May mate for life, and pairs often stay together all year on permanent territories. Does not seem very aggressive in defense of nesting territory, sometimes tolerating intrusion by other towhees.
Nest: Site is usually in small tree, dense shrub, or cactus, 3-12′ a
bove the ground, often placed at the base of a branch against the trunk. Nest is a bulky open cup, solidly built of twigs, weeds, grass, lined with leaves, fine grass, strips of bark, and animal hair.
Eggs: 3-4, sometimes 2-5, rarely 6. Off-white, spotted and scrawled with reddish brown. Incubation is by female only, probably about 11 days.
Young: Both parents bring food for the nestlings. Young may leave the nest before they are able to fly, and climb about in bushes while waiting to be fed. A pair of adults may raise 2 or sometimes 3 broods per year.

Feeding habits

Mostly seeds and insects. Diet includes mostly seeds in winter, more insects in summer. Young are fed almost entirely on insects. May eat some berries and small fruits at times.
Behavior: Forages mostly or entire
ly on the ground. Often scratches in the dirt, jumping forward and then scratching backward with both feet at once, but does not scratch as much as some towhees. Frequently seen feeding under things, such as logs, bushes, or parked cars.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Canyon Towhee status Least Concern


Resident from Arizona, northern New Mexico, Colorado, western Texas to central Mexico. Migration: Permanent resident and very sedentary, rarely moving even a short distance away from nesting areas.

Distribution map

Canyon Towhee distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *