Pipilo maculatus
(Spotted Towhee)

Order: Passeriformes
Order Description: Passerines
Family: Emberizidae
Family Description: Blackbirds, Orioles, & Sparrows

Physical Description:
Size: 7-8.5" (18-22cm). A long-tailed bird, slightly smaller than a Robin. Males have a black "hood" on head, extending down the back. Belly white, sides rufousClick word for definition (hence it's old common name: rufous-sided towhee). Two white wing bars and white spots on the shoulder (hence its current common name). White spots on the tail are easily identified in flight and are a good key to identification of this species in the field. Females are similar but with brown heads and back. Less white on the tail.

Similar Species- Robins are larger with solid chestnut breast and belly. Black-headed Grosbeaks are stockier with orangish breast and white belly. Orange extends on to back. No white on the tail.

Song a three-parted Chup-Chup-Zeeeeeee. With the last part trilled. Very distinct. Call is a one-noted, harsh Zreeee.

Breeds from southern British Columbia, east to southwestern Maine, and south to Baja California, Guatemala, western Texas, northern Oklahoma, northern Arizona, and portions of southeastern United States. Winters north to southern British Columbia, Utah, Colorado, portions of Midwest, and Massachusetts, and south to Guatemala.

Found in undergrowth of open woodlands, forest edges, second growth, brushy areas, chaparralClick word for definition, and riparianClick word for definition thickets.

Eats various invertebrates, seeds, small fruits, and some small vertebrates.

Builds cup-shaped nest on ground. Nesting female may fake injury to distract predator. Individuals forage in leaf litter, using double-scratch motion. Massachusetts study reported densityClick word for definition of about 1-3 territories/ha. Species is one of the neotropical migrants thought to be declining in Idaho.

Female (usually) incubatesClick word for definition 2-6 eggs (usually 3-4), for 12-13 days. Young are tended by both parents, and leave nest in 10-13 days. Female may produce 2 broodsClick word for definition/yr.

Element Code: Unknown
Status: Protected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5,NTMB
National Rank: N5

Important State References:
Saab, V. and C.R. Groves. 1992. Idaho's migratory landbirds: description, habitats, and conservation. Nongame Wildlife Leaflet #10, Idaho Dept. Fish & Game, Boise. 16pp.

Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.