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Canyon Towhee

Melozone fusca

Length: 9 inches Wingspan: 11.5 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: Grayish-tan overall, rufous-crown and undertail coverts, tan throat, grayish-white belly

Canyon Towhee - Melozone fuscaThe Canyon Towhee and the California Towhee were considered a single species, the "Brown Towhee", until recently.  The ranges of the two species do not overlap, and there are distinct plumage, voice, and genetic differences.  Canyon Towhees are found in a variety of brushy habitats throughout their range, where they are most often seen scratching on the ground as they forage for food.

Habitat: Found in a variety of brushy habitats, from grasslands with scattered shrubs, dry chapparal shrublands, and brushy undergrowth in open woodlands.  They avoid dense forest, as well as grasslands, deserts, or other habitats without some form of shrubby cover.

Diet: Diet mostly consists of seeds and insects.  Insects are more heavily consumed during the summer breeding season, particularly when young are being raised.  The winter diet typically includes a greater proprtion of seeds.  They will also feed on fruits and berries on occasion.

Behavior: Nearly all of the foraging of a Canyon Towhee is done on the ground. 

Nesting: The nest of a Canyon Towhee is a large open cup of sticks, twigs, and grasses, lined with leaves, plant down, and other softer plant material.  The female alone incubates the eggs in the nest, but both parents feed and tend to the young upon hatching.

Song: Song of a Canyon Towhee is a short call note followed by a mellow trilling. 

Migration: Considered a permanent resident throughout its normal range.  Nesting pairs rarely move very far from their summer breeding area.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here for an interactive eBird map of Canyon Towhee sightings

Similar Species: Similar to California Towhee, Abert's Towhee

Feeders: Will attend feeders for various seeds

Conservation Status: There are no immediate threats to Canyon Towhee populations, and the IUCN currently lists the Canyon Towhee as a species of "Least Concern". 

Further Information: 1) Cornell's All About Birds - Canyon Towhee

2) WhatBird - Canyon Towhee

3) Audubon Guide - Canyon Towhee

Photo Information: May 5th, 2008 - Near Tucson, Arizona - Terry Sohl


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Canyon Towhee - Range map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota

Additional Canyon Towhee Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 Canyon Towhee - Pipilo fuscusCanyon Towhee - Pipilo fuscusCanyon Towhee - Pipilo fuscusCanyon Towhee - Pipilo fuscusCanyon Towhee - Pipilo fuscusCanyon Towhee - Pipilo fuscus