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Canyon towhee

Melozone fuscus
Photo by Joe Schelling (Natural Moments)

Common name:
canyon towhee (en); tico-tico-pardo (pt); tohi des canyons (fr); rascador pardo (es); braunrücken-grundammer (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Emberizidae

This species is found in the south-western United States, in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and in Mexico, down to Oaxaca.

These birds are 19-22 cm long and have a wingspan of 28-30 cm. They weigh 40-45 g.

These birds are found in arid scrublands, chaparral and pinyon-juniper woods, on desert foothills and canyons. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 3.100 m.

During winter they mainly feed on insects, while during spring and summer insects become an important part of their diet. They also eat fruits and berries when available.

Canyon towhees are monogamous and may mate for life. The nest is a bulky open cup, made of twigs, weeds and grasses, and lined with leaves, fine grass, strips of bark, and animal hair. It is usually placed in a small tree, dense scrub, or cactus, 1-4 m above the ground. The female lays 2-6 whitish eggs with reddish-brown spots, which she incubates alone for 11-12 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 9-10 days after hatching. Each pair may raise 2-3 broods per year.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population of 7 million individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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