Abert's towhee

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Abert's Towhee)
Jump to: navigation, search
Abert's towhee
Pipilo aberti.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Emberizidae
Genus: Pipilo
Species: M. aberti
Binomial name
Melozone aberti
(Baird, 1852)
Synonyms

Pipilo aberti
Pyrgisoma aberti

The Abert's towhee (Melozone aberti) is a bird of the family Emberizidae, native to a small range in southwestern North America, generally the lower Colorado River and Gila River watersheds, nearly endemic to Arizona, but also present in small parts of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Sonora in Mexico. The name of this bird commemorates the American ornithologist James William Abert (1820–1897).

Description[edit]

Abert's towhees are recognized by their relatively long tails, dark faces, and overall brown plumage. They are related to sparrows and juncos but are more similar to thrashers in appearance. They can be confused with California towhees, but their dark faces are distinct, and the range of these species only slightly overlaps. The Abert's towhee is the longest species in the diverse Emberizidae at 21 to 25 cm (8.3 to 9.8 in) long, but its length is boasted by a relatively long tail, at 10 to 12 cm (3.9 to 4.7 in) in length.[2] Males weigh from 40–54.1 g (1.41–1.91 oz), with an average of 47.1 g (1.66 oz), while females weigh from 39.5–51 g (1.39–1.80 oz), with an average of 44.8 g (1.58 oz).[3] In terms of weight, it is outbulked by several other towhee species.[3] Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 8.2 to 9.7 cm (3.2 to 3.8 in), the bill is 1.5 to 1.6 cm (0.59 to 0.63 in) and the tarsus is 2.6 to 2.9 cm (1.0 to 1.1 in).[2]

Habitat[edit]

This bird is common in brushy riparian habitats in the Lower Sonoran desert zone but may require some effort to see as it prefers to stay well-hidden under bushes. Though threatened by cowbird nest parasitism and habitat loss, it has successfully colonized suburban environments in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area and may be fairly easily seen on the campus of Arizona State University. Despite its limited range, it is classified as a species of Least Concern in the IUCN Redlist, and there has been some range expansion along the Santa Cruz River as well as in Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona.

Feeding[edit]

These birds are often seen foraging among dense brush for seeds. Like other towhees, they scratch at the ground in a manner similar to quail, and will sometimes dig up and eat grubs. They can be attracted to feeders by providing cracked corn on the ground.

Interesting facts[edit]

  • The Abert's towhee has one of the smallest total distributions of any U.S. birds species, making it much sought after by birders who travel to the Southwest desert to observe it.
  • They are an inconspicuous bird because they forage in thick undergrowth and rarely fly any great distance.
  • The Baltimore Bird Club posted the "whimsically" suggested group names of: "tangle" or "teapot" of towhees.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Melozone aberti". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Sparrows and Buntings: A Guide to the Sparrows and Buntings of North America and the World by Clive Byers & Urban Olsson. Houghton Mifflin (1995). ISBN 978-0395738733.
  3. ^ a b CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
  4. ^ "Whimsical Group Names". baltimorebirdclub.org. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Anderson BW, Higgins A & Ohmart RD. (1977). Avian Use of Saltcedar Communities in the Lower Colorado River Valley. U S Forest Service General Technical Report RM. vol 43, p. 128-136.
  • Carson RJ & Spicer GS. (2003). A phylogenetic analysis of the emberizid sparrows based on three mitochondrial genes. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution. vol 29, no 1. p. 43-57.
  • Clark GAJ. (1974). Foot Scute Differences among Certain North American Oscines. Wilson Bulletin. vol 86, no 2. p. 104-109.
  • Dawson WR. Ph.D. (1953). EFFECTS OF HEAT ON BODY TEMPERATURE, WATER ECONOMY, AND METABOLISM OF THE BROWN AND ABERT TOWHEES, PIPILO FUSCUS SENICULA AND PIPILO ABERTI DUMETICOLUS. University of California, Los Angeles, United States—California.
  • Dunning JBJ. Ph.D. (1986). FORAGING CHOICE IN THREE SPECIES OF PIPILO (AVES: PASSERIFORMES): A TEST OF THE THRESHOLD CONCEPT (BAYESIAN, TOWHEE). The University of Arizona, United States—Arizona.
  • Dodge AG, Fry AJ, Blackwell RC & Zink RM. (1995). Comparison of phylogenies derived from two molecular data sets in the avian genera Pipilo and Spizella. Wilson Bulletin. vol 107, no 4. p. 641-654.
  • Finch DM. (1981). Nest Predation of Alberts Towhees Pipilo-Aberti by Coachwhip Masticophis-Flagellum and Roadrunner Geococcyx-Californianus. Condor. vol 83, no 4.
  • Finch DM. (1982). Rejection of Cowbird Molothrus-Ater-Obscurus Eggs by Crissal Thrashers Toxostoma-Dorsale. Auk. vol 99, no 4. p. 719-724.
  • Finch DM. (1983). Brood Parasitism of the Aberts Towhee Pipilo-Aberti Timing Frequency and Effects. Condor. vol 85, no 3. p. 355-359.
  • Finch DM. (1983). Seasonal Variation in Nest Placement of Aberts Towhees Pipilo-Aberti. Condor. vol 85, no 1. p. 111-113.
  • Finch DM. (1984). Aspects of Nestling Growth in Aberts Towhee Pipilo-Aberti. Wilson Bulletin. vol 96, no 4. p. 705-708.
  • Finch DM. (1984). Parental Expenditure of Time and Energy in the Aberts Towhee Pipilo-Aberti. Auk. vol 101, no 3. p. 473-486.
  • Finch DM. (1984). Some Factors Affecting Productivity in Aberts Towhee Pipilo-Aberti. Wilson Bulletin. vol 96, no 4. p. 701-705.
  • Finch DM. (1985). Multivariate Analysis of Early and Late Nest Sites of Abert's Towhees Pipilo-Aberti. Southwestern Naturalist. vol 30, no 3. p. 427-432.
  • Hinojosa-Huerta OM. Ph.D. (2006). Birds, water, and saltcedar: Strategies for riparian restoration in the Colorado River delta. The University of Arizona, United States—Arizona.
  • Hubbard JP. (1972). The Nomenclature of Pipilo-Aberti Aves Fringillidae. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. vol 85, no 9. p. 131-137.
  • Laudenslayer WFJ. Ph.D. (1981). HABITAT UTILIZATION BY BIRDS OF THREE DESERT RIPARIAN COMMUNITIES. Arizona State University, United States—Arizona.
  • McNair DB. (1984). Reuse of Other Species Nests by Lark Sparrows Chondestes-Grammacus. Southwestern Naturalist. vol 29, no 4. p. 506-509.
  • Meents JK, Anderson BW & Ohmart RD. (1981). Vegetation Characteristics Associated with Aberts Towhee Pipilo-Aberti Numbers in Riparian Habitats. Auk. vol 98, no 4. p. 818-827.
  • Rosenberg KV, Ohmart RD & Anderson BW. (1982). Community Organization of Riparian Breeding Birds Response to an Annual Resource Peak. Auk. vol 99, no 2. p. 260-274.
  • Shochat E & Katti M. (2001). Phoenix or Tucson: Does landscape structure influence where Abert's Towhees choose to live?. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting Abstracts. vol 86, no 343.
  • Tweit, R. C., and D. M. Finch. 1994. Abert’s Towhee (Pipilo aberti). In The Birds of North America, No. 111 (A. Poole and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, D.C.: The American Ornithologists’ Union.
  • Wingfield JC, Vleck CM & Moore MC. (1992). Seasonal changes of the adrenocortical response to stress in birds of the Sonoran Desert. Journal of Experimental Zoology. vol 264, no 4. p. 419-428.
  • Zink RM. (1988). Evolution of Brown Towhees Allozymes Morphometrics and Species Limits. Condor. vol 90, no 1. p. 72-82.
  • Zink RM & Dittman DL. (1991). Evolution of Brown Towhees Mitochondrial DNA Evidence. Condor. vol 93, no 1. p. 98-105.
  • Zink RM, Weller SJ & Blackwell RC. (1998). Molecular phylogenetics of the avian genus Pipilo and a biogeographic argument for taxonomic uncertainty. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution. vol 10, no 2. p. 191-201.

External links[edit]