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Spotted Towhee

From Opus

Photo © by digishooterEl Dorado Nature Preserve: Long Beach, California, USA
Photo © by digishooter
El Dorado Nature Preserve: Long Beach, California, USA
Pipilo maculatus


[edit] Identification

ImmaturePhoto © by ducbuclnKelseyville, California, July 2018
Photo © by ducbucln
Kelseyville, California, July 2018

17·7–21·3 cm (7-8½ in)

  • Black head, nape and throat
  • White spotted, black wings
  • White bars on wings
  • Rufous sides
  • White belly
  • Long dark tail with white edges
  • Red eyes

Female similarly marked, though browner or greyer

[edit] Variation

The species tends to vary in color and voice from place to place. It's feathers are lightest in the Great Plains, and darkest in the Pacific Northwest.

[edit] Distribution

Breeds from southern British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan south to California and the Southwest, east to central Dakota and western Texas as well as in Baja California and through higher elevation in mainland Mexico to Guatemala.
Northern populations migratory: winters from British Columbia, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Nebraska south to Baja California and east to Oklahoma and south-central Texas and into northern Mexico.

[edit] Taxonomy

Until recently this species was combined with the Eastern Towhee as a single species, the Rufous-sided Towhee. They are now considered distinct species and vary considerably in voice and appearance. The two species are known to interbreed where they come in contact.

[edit] Subspecies

This is a polytypic species consisting of twenty-two subspecies, which Clements place in 5 groups[1]:

  • P. m. oregonus: Coastal south-western British Columbia to south-western Oregon; winters to southern California
  • P. m. falcifer: Coastal south-western Brkitish Columbia to south-western Oregon; winters to southern California
  • P. m. megalonyx: Coastal southern California (Monterey) to north-western Baja California and Santa Cruz Island
  • P. m. clementae: Santa Rosa, Santa Catalina and San Clemente islands (off southern California)
  • P. m. umbraticola: North West Baja California (latitude 32°N to 30°N)
  • P. m. consobrinus: formerly Isla Guadalupe (off western Baja California). Extinct; last observed in 1897
  • P. m. magnirostris: Mountains of southern Baja California (Sierra de la Laguna)
  • P. m. arcticus: Mountains of southern Baja California (Sierra de la Laguna)
  • P. m. curtatus: South East British Columbia to north-eastern California, Nevada and Idaho; winterns to south-eastern California
  • P. m. falcinellus: Interior south-western Oregon to Sierra Nevada and San Joaquin Valley
  • P. m. montanus: South West US to north-western Mexico; winters to northern Mexico
  • P. m. gaigei: South West US to north-western Mexico; winters to northern Mexico
  • P. m. griseipygius: Mountains of New Mexico, western Texas and northern Mexico (northern Coahuila)
  • P. m. orientalis: Mountains of eastern Mexico (Sierra Madre Oriental)
  • P. m. maculatus: Highlands of eastern Mexico (Hidalgo to Veracruz and eastern Puebla)
  • P. m. sympatricus: Mountains of eastern Mexico (Sierra de Tuxtla of Veracruz)
  • P. m. vulcanorum: Mountains of central Mexico (México, north-eastern Morelos, south-western Tlaxcala and western Puebla)
  • P. m. oaxacae: Highlands of southern Mexico (northern and central Oaxaca)
  • P. m. chiapensis: Mountains of southern Mexico (central Chiapas)
  • P. m. repetens: Mountains of southern Mexico (south-eastern Chiapas) and western Guatemala
  • P. m. macronyx: Mountains of central Mexico (eastern Michoacán, México, Morelos, District Federal)
  • P. m. socorroensis: Socorro Island (Revillagigedo Islands off western Mexico)

[edit] Habitat

Dense deciduous and mixed thickets. High altitude mixed forests.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

They often feed on the ground, scratching noisily in the dry leaves. Their diet consists mostly of insects, especially during the breeding season, acorns, seeds and berries.

[edit] Breeding

They nest either on the ground or low in bushes. The nest is built by the female from leaves, strips of bark, twigs, forb stalks and grass. It is lined with pine needles, shredded bark, grass and sometimes hair. The clutch consists of up to 5 greyish or creamy-white eggs, which sometimes have a greenish tinge, with reddish brown spots that can form a wreath or cap. The female incubates the eggs alone for 12 to 13 days; the young leave the nest at 10 to 12 days. They have at least two broods each year.

Their nests are parasitized by cowbirds.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from
  2. Avibase
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved July 2018)

[edit] External Links


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