This fairly dull-looking bird
is muted brown in color, with a rusty crown and a
large dark spot on the breast. It is 8-10 inches
long, and has a wingspan of 10-12 inches. Both
sexes are similar in both coloration and size.
The canyon towhee is a resident
of the American Southwest into central Mexico.
Although it is adaptable to a variety of
habitats, from canyonlands to open woodlands, it
requires an abundance of brush for both food and
It is believed that canyon
towhees mate for life. The nest is a cup of
twigs, grass and stems constructed either on the
ground or as high as 35 feet up a dense shrub or
tree. Two to six blue-green eggs spotted with
brown and black are laid per clutch, and are
incubated by the female alone for about 11 days.
Once hatched, the young are cared for by both
parents until they are able to fend for
themselves. It is not uncommon for a breeding
pair to produce two or three broods a year.
Seeds make up the majority of the canyon
towhee's diet, followed by grain and insects as
well as the occassional fruits and berries.
Almost all foraging is done on the ground,
usually by scratching at the ground to uncover
Breeding pairs generally stay
together year-round. If they become separated
while foraging, one of the birds will fly to the
top of a shrub and wait until it is joined by its
mate. Once reunited, the pair face each other,
posturing and bobbing their heads while producing
a flurry of loud squeals to affirm their bond.
Canyon towhees maintain
year-round territories, from which they actively
evict other towhees. They are generally tolerant
of other species, however, and it is not uncommon
for a canyon towhee to feed the young of other
The canyon towhee song is a
short call followed by mellow trilling.
Canyon towhees do not migrate,
and individual birds rarely stray more than a few
miles from where they were hatched.
genus & species Pipilo fuscus
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