|Conservation status||Still very common in parts of its limited range. Could be vulnerable to loss of streamside habitat.|
|Family||New World Sparrows|
|Habitat||Desert streams, brush, mesquite. Typically found in dense brush near water in arid lowlands, as in streamside thickets, edges of ponds or irrigation ditches, understory of cottonwood-willow groves, even riverside marshes. In some areas (such as around Phoenix), comes into yards in well-watered suburbs. Overlaps in habitat with Canyon Towhee in some places, but Abert's stays closer to water in dense cover, avoiding dry open hillsides.|
Forages mostly on the ground, often scratching with both feet. Also forages on bark at base of trees, and in low bushes. Members of a pair often forage together.
1-4, usually 3. Pale blue or whitish with markings of dark brown and black. Incubation is apparently by female only, about 14 days. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave nest about 12-13 days after hatching, before they are full-grown, but unable to fly for another week; tended by parents for a month or more. Often 2 broods per year.
Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave nest about 12-13 days after hatching, before they are full-grown, but unable to fly for another week; tended by parents for a month or more. Often 2 broods per year.
Mostly insects and seeds. Insects make up majority of diet, especially in summer; major items include beetles, ants, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and cicadas. Also eats many seeds, including those of saltbush, weeds, and grasses.
Members of pair remain together all year on permanent territories; courtship and pair formation may occur at any season, but nesting is mainly March through July. Both members of pair evidently defend nesting territory. Nest site is in dense shrub or tree such as mesquite, willow, baccharis, or elderberry, often well hidden within clump of mistletoe; usually 5-8' above the ground, but can be higher. Nest (built by female) is a bulky open cup, loosely made of weeds, bark strips, grass, leaves, vines, lined with dry grass and sometimes hair.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Permanent resident, rarely wandering even short distances away from favored habitat.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsCall is a single bell-like note. Song resembles a rapid series of call notes.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Abert's Towhee
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Abert's Towhee
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.