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Abert’s Towhee

Melozone aberti

The Abert’s Towhee inhabits dense brush and woodlands along the Colorado and Sonoran Desert rivers and streams in Arizona and surrounding states. These birds are inconspicuous because they forage in thick undergrowth and rarely fly any significant distance.

Typical of towhees and most sparrows, these birds forage on the ground by scratching through leaf litter, kicking back with both feet at once to expose seeds and sometimes insects. Also typical of towhees, pairs remain on their territory year-round.

Until recently, Abert’s Towhees were classified in the genus Pipilo, but studies of mitochondrial DNA in 2008-2009 started a rethinking of these and other towhees. Since then, science adopted the genus Melozone for the Brown Towhee complex, including this bird.

My first meeting with this species was in California’s Imperial Valley, near the Salton Sea. Since then I’ve met them in southern Nevada and in Arizona.

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