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See where Green-tailed Towhee were spotted

Green-tailed Towhee
Green-tailed Towhee. Photo by Mark Schmitt

In “On the Move,” our regular column about migration, we present pairs of distribution maps from eBird that you can use to compare where interesting birds are at different times of the year. We featured Green-tailed Towhee, pictured above, in our November/December 2019 issue.

Green-tailed Towhee Maps
Maps from eBird show where users have spotted Green-tailed Towhee in December (left) and June.

The Green-tailed Towhee is a secretive denizen of shrubby montane habitats in the Interior West. In June, breeding towhees are found in most of the Great Basin, across most of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming, and in portions of Oregon, California, Idaho, and Montana. Typical breeding habitat varies by elevation; commonly used habitats include dry shrubby hillsides, shrubby growth in higher elevation sites post-fire, and in transition zones between sagebrush and pine-juniper forest. By December, the species’ nonbreeding distribution has shifted to the south, where it is found in lower-elevation shrublands in southern Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico. As the December map shows, towhees sometimes stray well outside of their typical winter range.

See e-Bird’s real-time distribution maps for Green-tailed Towhee.

eBird is the real-time online checklist operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon. “On the Move” is written by eBird’s Garrett MacDonald, Chris Wood, Marshall Iliff, and Brian Sullivan. Submit your bird sightings at

A version of this article appeared in “Birding Briefs” in the November/December 2019 issue of BirdWatching.

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