Green-tailed TowheePipilo chlorurus

Glenn Bartley/VIREO
juvenile (1st summer)
Joe Fuhrman/VIREO
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
Green-tailed Towhee
Green-tailed Towhee


6 1/4-7" (16-18 cm). A ground-dwelling species, smaller than the other towhees. Rufous cap; olive green above; white throat and belly; gray breast. White lores and dark "mustache" stripe. Yellow wing linings. Sexes similar.


Song a loud, lively series of slurred notes and short, buzzy trills. Call a short, nasal mew.


calls #2
calls #1
songs #3
songs #2
songs #1


Sagebrush, mountain chaparral, pinyon-juniper stands, and thickets bordering alpine meadows.


Breeds from central Oregon south through mountains to southern California and Great Basin to southeastern New Mexico. Winters at lower elevations and south to southern Arizona and central and southern Texas. Also in Mexico.


This shy bird hops and scratches for food under low cover, flicking its tail and raising its rufous cap into a crest. It prefers low scrub and occurs in brushy openings in boreal forests on western mountains, as well as in sagebrush habitats.


4 heavily spotted white eggs in a rather loosely built nest on the ground or in low, protected sites such as chaparral, juniper, or yucca.

Similar Species

adult, Interior

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

5-6" (13-15 cm). Rufous crown with darker rufous eye stripe on gray head; conspicuous black "whisker" mark. Mantle gray with rufous-brown streaks; underparts unstreaked gray.


Olive Sparrow

5 3/4" (15 cm). Unstreaked, dull olive green, with brown head stripes, buff breast, and whitish belly; no wing bars; like a small edition of the Green-tailed Towhee.


Abert's Towhee

8-9" (20-23 cm). Grayish brown above; slightly paler underparts, with buffy belly and tawny undertail. Black facial patch surrounds pale bill.


California Towhee

8-10" (20-25 cm). Uniform gray-brown above and below, with buff or rust-colored undertail coverts.


Canyon Towhee

8-10" (20-25 cm). Upperparts gray-brown, with paler buff throat, buff undertail coverts, and rusty crown. There is a dark spot in center of breast.


iPad Promo