California Towhee

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image: ca_towhee.jpg

Common Name: California Towhee

Scientific Name: Pipilo crissalis

Size: 8-10 inches (21-25 cm)

Habitat: Coastal California and Baja California. Prefers underbrush or areas where there are thick layers of mulch.

Status: Not threatened. Inyo California Towhee of the Argus Mountains is federally classified as threatened by the destruction of the habitat, largely the result of foraging by feral burros.

Diet: Insects and seed. Forages on the ground, scratching in a two-footed, backwards-scratching hop called a "double-scratch".

Breeding: Two to five eggs are laid in a nest in tree or shrub, but rarely on ground. Nest is a poorly constructed open cup of twigs and grasses, lined with hair, bark, or seed down.

Cool Facts: The California Towhees were previously thought be to the same as the Canyon Towhee and together originally called the Brown Towhee. Evidence suggests that it actually is more closely related to Abert's Towhee than the Canyon Towhee.

Towhees are not migratory, but do make limited movements uphill after breeding, from chaparral into the lower mountain slopes in California and at winter, moving downslope from higher elevations during bad weather.

A friendly bird, well accustomed to urban settings. Can be very territorial during mating season.

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