Green-tailed Towhee (Pipilo chlorurus)

Green-tailed Towhee

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Pipilo chlorurus | [UK] Green-tailed Towhee | [FR] Tohi a queue vert | [DE] Grunschwanz-Grundammer | [ES] Toqui cola verde | [NL] Groenstaarttowie


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

This slender finchlike bird of the mountains may be known by its rufous cap, conspicuous white throat, black mustache, gray chest, and plain olive green
i upperparts.

Listen to the sound of Green-tailed Towhee

[audio: Towhee.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 25 cm wingspan max.: 26 cm
size min.: 18 cm size max.: 19 cm
incubation min.: 11 days incubation max.: 13 days
fledging min.: 9 days fledging max.: 10 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America : West USA


Brushy mountain slopes, low chaparral, open pines, sage, manzanita, riverine woods.
Breeds in a variety of semi-open habitats, mostly in mountains, typically where there is dense low cover of sagebrush, manzanita, or other bushes, and a few taller trees such as scattered pines. In migration and winter, mostly in dense low brush, often n
ear streams.


Nesting behavior is not well known. Male defends nesting territory by singing, often from a prominent raised perch.
Site is on the ground or in low shrubs such as sagebrush, usually lower than 3′ above the ground. Nest is a large, deep cup, loosely made of twigs, grass, weeds, strips of bark, lined with fine grass, rootlets, animal hair.
Eggs: 3-4, sometimes 2-5. White, with heavy dotting of brown and gray often concentrated at larger end. Incubation period and roles of the parents in incubation are not well known. If adult is
disturbed at nest, the bird may slip away quietly through the brush or may drop to the ground and scurry away like a rodent.
Young: Probably both parents bring food for the nestlings. Age at which the young leave the nest is not well known. Possibly 2 broods per year.

Feeding habits

Mainly insects and seeds. Diet is not known in
detail, but includes various insects such as beetles, crickets, and caterpillars. Also eats many seeds of weeds and grasses, and sometimes feeds on berries and small fruits.
Forages mostly on the ground under thickets, often giving a little jump and scratching in the leaf litter with both feet at once, in the manner of other towhees. Also sometimes forages up in low bushes. Will come to bird feeders, but typically forages on
the ground below the feeding tray.


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.
Green-tailed Towhee status Least Concern


Breeds western United States. Winters southwestern United States to southern Mexico. In the East, a regular stray from eastern Canada to the Gulf states. Migration:
Migrates relatively early in fall and late in spring. Wanderers east of the normal range occur mostly in fall, although some may stay through the winter (especially at feeders).

Distribution map

Green-tailed Towhee distribution range map

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