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Abert's Towhee

Melozone aberti ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: EMBERIZIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A very large sparrow, Abert's Towhee inhabits riparian corridors in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Plain and rather secretive, Abert's Towhee stays in its breeding range year-round.

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
8.3–9.1 in
21–23 cm
Wingspan
11 in
28 cm
Weight
1.4–1.9 oz
40–54 g
Other Names
  • Tohi d'Abert (French)
  • Rascador desertico, Toquí Abert (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Abert's Towhee pairs generally remain bonded for life.
  • Mitochondrial DNA analysis indicates that of the three brown towhees of the American Southwest, California and Abert's are the most closely related, even though California and Canyon towhees were once considered a single species.
  • Abert's Towhee was named by Spencer Baird in 1852 for Lt. James William Abert, who obtained the first specimen.
  • The oldest Abert's Towhee on record was at least 8 years and 7 months old, when it was recaptured and rereleased during a banding operation in Arizona.

Habitat


Deserts

Cottonwood and willow woodlands, with dense shrubs, along desert streams and rivers.

Food


Insects

Insects and seeds.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–4 eggs
Egg Description
Pale blue with brown markings concentrated on the large end.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless.
Nest Description

A large open cup of leaves, bark, and weed stems, located in trees or shrubs.

Nest Placement

Tree

Behavior


Ground Forager

Scratches on the ground; sometimes probes bark on low trunks like a nuthatch.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Habitat loss has evidently led to widespread reduction in Abert's Towhee populations in most of its historical range, however since 1966 populations of Abert Towhee appear to be stable , according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 800,000 birds, with 98% occurring in the U.S., and 2% in Mexico. They rate an 11 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and are not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, although they are a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species.

Credits

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