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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Green-tailed Towhee -- Pipilo chlorurus

RANGE: Breeds from southeastern Washington, southern Idaho, southwestern Montana, northwestern and southeastern Wyoming south through the interior mountains to southern California, southern Nevada, and central Arizona to western Texas. Winters from southern California to western and southern Texas south to central Mexico; casual east of the breeding range in fall and winter.

STATUS: Fairly common.

HABITAT: Generally inhabits relatively arid and brushy foothills with shrubs such as sagebrush, deerbush, snowbrush, wild rose, spirea, manzanita, waxberry, and chokecherry, from 2,500 feet elevation in California to 10,500 feet in Arizona. Tends to breed at higher elevations in the south than in the north.

NEST: Builds a large, loosely constructed and deeply cupped nest on the ground or in low shrubs such as sagebrush, waxberry, and snowbrush, usually less than 2 feet above the ground.

FOOD: Forages on the ground, and eats berries, weed seeds, and insects. (Food habits studies are limited.)

REFERENCES: Bent 1968a, Harrison 1979, Johnsgard 1979.

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