Living Bird Magazine
Green-tailed TowheePipilo chlorurus
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Passerellidae
There’s nothing quite like the color that gives the Green-tailed Towhee its name—a deep olive lightening to yellow-green on the edges of the wings and tail. Set off by a gray chest, white throat, and rufous crown, this large sparrow is a colorful resident of the West’s shrubby mountainsides and sagebrush expanses—if you can see one. They spend their time scratching at leaf litter under dense cover, occasionally popping into view to whistle a song or give a querulous mewing call.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Green-tailed Towhees can be secretive and hard to see. They live among low shrubs, so one of the best ways to find them is to visit a shrubby mountainside or sage flat during spring or early summer. Males will spend long periods perched at the tops of shrubs and singing. Their bright reddish-brown crowns (often peaked up into a short crest) are conspicuous, and the yellow-green wings and tail are distinctive. Listen, too, for their thin, ascending mew calls.
- Toquí Coliverde (Spanish)
- Tohi à queue verte (French)
- Cool Facts
- If a predator approaches a Green-tailed Towhee nest, the female towhee may slip off her nest and run along the ground with her tail raised. Naturalists have suggested that this may mimic how a chipmunk runs, and distract the predator’s attention.
- All sorts of things go into a bird’s nest. Green-tailed Towhees sometimes line the inside of their nest cup with porcupine hair.
- The oldest known Green-tailed Towhee was at least 7 years, 8 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Arizona.