|Spotted towhee (Pipilo maculatus)|
The genus Pipilo was introduced by the French ornithologist Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot in 1816 with the eastern towhee as the type species. The name Pipilo is New Latin for "bunting" from pipilare "to chirp".
There has been considerable debate over the taxonomy of towhees in recent years. Two species complexes have been identified, the rufous-sided complex (involving Pipilo erythrophthalmus, P. maculatus, P. socorroensis, P. ocai and P. chlorurus), and the brown towhee complex (involving Melozone crissalis, M. fuscus, M. aberti and M. albicollis). The distinction of species within these is uncertain and opinions have differed over the years. Modern authorities distinguish all four species in the brown towhee complex, though M. fuscus and M. crissalis were formerly treated as a single species. Hybrids are frequent between some of the species, particularly between the Mexican races of P. maculatus (olive-backed towhee, P. maculatus macronyx) and P. ocai.
|Image||Scientific name||Common Name||Distribution|
|Pipilo chlorurus||Green-tailed towhee||interior Western United States, with a winter range in Mexico and the southern edge of the Southwestern United States|
|Pipilo ocai||Collared towhee||Mexico.|
|Pipilo erythrophthalmus||Eastern towhee||eastern North America|
|Pipilo maculatus||Spotted towhee||across western North America|
- Vieillot, Louis Jean Pierre (1816). Analyse d'une Nouvelle Ornithologie Elementaire (in French). Paris: Deterville/self. p. 32.
- Jobling, J.A. (2018). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E., eds. "Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
- "ITIS Report: Pipilo". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
- Zink, Robert M.; Dittmann, Donna L. (1991). "Evolution of Brown Towhees: Mitochondrial DNA Evidence" (PDF). Condor. 93 (1): 98–105. doi:10.2307/1368611.
- Olson, Storrs L.; Wingate, David B. (2012). "A new species of towhee Aves: Emberizidae: Pipilo) from the Quaternary deposits on Bermuda". Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 125 (1): 85–96. doi:10.2988/11-21.1.