Living Bird Magazine
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Matching its arid surroundings, the sandy brown Abert’s Towhee dwells in dense brush along rivers and streams of the Sonoran Desert. This large sparrow does not migrate, spending all year in the understory of cottonwood-willow forests and mesquite bosques (woodlands), as well as in some suburban landscapes. It’s closely related to the California and Canyon Towhees and shares those species’ rusty-red undertail, but a small blackish patch around the bill sets it apart, along with range differences.More ID Info
Abert’s Towhees can be tricky to find deep within their brushy habitats, particularly when they are not singing. Males give their simple song during the breeding season, but this can be anytime from late winter through summer, depending on rainfall. Instead of listening for the song, learn the distinctive call notes, which they give throughout the year. Also look for them in suburban areas, where less cluttered habitats such as landscaped yards make them easier to see.
Bringing desert birds to the backyard is relatively easy: several water features, plenty of native plants, and clean feeding stations can bring quail, thrashers, woodpeckers, doves, and a nice array of sparrows, including Abert’s Towhee, to the yard. Homes that are very close to brushy streambeds lined with cottonwoods and willows have the best chances of attracting this species.