Spotted Towhee

(Pipilo maculatus)

Conservation Status
Spotted Towhee
Photo by Ramona Abrego
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5 - Secure

SNA - No Status Rank


not listed






7¾ to 8½ in length

10½ wingspan




Similar Species


Riparian shrublands and shrubby fields
















Casual to rare migrant




The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map

  Class Aves (birds)  


Passeriformes (perching birds)  


Passerellidae (New World sparrows)  


Pipilo (typical towhees)  

New World sparrows were traditionally combined with buntings into the family Emberizidae. Recent phylogenetic analysis (Barker et al. 2013) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis (Klicka et al. 2014) found that the Old World buntings should be separated as a sister to New World sparrows. New World sparrows have been separated into a new family, Passerellidae.


Subordinate Taxa


Arctic Towhee (Pipilo maculatus arcticus)

Cape Colnett Towhee (Pipilo maculatus umbraticola)

Guadalupe Towhee (Pipilo maculatus consobrinus)

Large-billed Towhee (Pipilo maculatus magnirostris)

Nevada Towhee (Pipilo maculatus curtatus)

Olive-backed Towhee (Pipilo maculatus macronyx)

Sacramento Towhee (Pipilo maculatus falcinellus)

San Clemente Towhee (Pipilo maculatus clementae)

San Diego Towhee (Pipilo maculatus megalonyx)

San Francisco Towhee (Pipilo maculatus falcifer)

Socorro Towhee (Pipilo maculatus socorroensis)

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus chiapensis)

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus griseipygius)

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus maculatus)

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus oaxacae)

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus orientalis)

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus repetens)

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus sympatricus)

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus vulcanorum)

Spurred Towhee (Pipilo maculatus montanus)

Texas Towhee (Pipilo maculatus gaigei)

White-eyed Rufous-sided Towhee (Pipilo maculatus oregonus)















Visitor Photos

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Ramona Abrego
  Spotted Towhee   Spotted Towhee
  Spotted Towhee   Spotted Towhee




  Spotted Towhee
Allen Chartier
  Spotted Towhee  
  Spotted Towhee
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
  Spotted Towhee  
  Spotted Towhee
JMC Nature Photos
  Spotted Towhee  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Spotted Towhee (possible)
Joshua Mayer
  Spotted Towhee (possible)  
  Spotted Towhee
Mitch Chapman

Published on Dec 7, 2012

For years I've assumed, on hearing what sounded like a bird imitating Krusty the Clown, that it was a pigeon. Now I know better: sometimes the noise comes from a fiery little sparrow.

  Spotted Towhee - song & call - Wasatch Mountains Utah
Clive Bramham

Published on Apr 21, 2014

Song and call of Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus). All shots from Wasatch Mountain State Park, Utah. July 3-5.

Note differences in song..

  spotted towhee songs and calls
Martyn Stewart

Published on Jun 25, 2012

Wherever you are in North America you will most likely hear bird sounds. Birds sing in the spring to attract a mate and claim territory. Just like you, their dialects are different in the places they live to others that migrate elsewhere. This spotted towhee was recorded and filmed in Washington State around the puget Sound. Notice how different the calls and songs are to where you live.

  Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) Singing at Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver BC 13Apr2010

Uploaded on Apr 14, 2010

A Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) sings from a narrow Indian plum (Oemleria cerasiformis) branch at Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver, BC. Towhees are often found foraging in thick underbrush, commonly on the ground. They tend to dig through the soil, looking for subterranean invertebrates to eat. These birds are very adept at silently moving through dense tickets, and can quickly disappear under the cover when they are startled.

Canon Rebel T1i (500D)
Canon EF 300mm 1:4 L IS USM
-1/3 EV, 720p, 30 fps
Hand-held, manual focus, program mode

  Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)

Uploaded on Feb 18, 2010

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)

* Family: Emberizidae,
* Genus: Pipilo,
* Species: maculatus,
* Type: Bird,
* Diet: Omnivore,
* Size: Length 8.5" Wing span: 10.5",
* Weight: 1.4 oz (40 grams)

* Behavior: Their Breeding habitat is chaparral, thickets or shrubby areas across western North America. This bird interbreeds with the Collared Towhee where their ranges overlap in southwestern Mexico.

* Video: "SoCal T"

** The Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) is a large New World sparrow. The taxonomy of the towhees has been debated in recent decades, and formerly this bird and the Eastern Towhee were considered a single species, the Rufous-sided Towhee. An archaic name for the Spotted Towhee is the Oregon Towhee (Pipilo maculatus oregonus).

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Ramona Abrego

Location: Becker County

Spotted Towhee



Location: Rochester Minnesota in my backyard





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