|Spotted towhee (Pipilo maculatus)|
Towhees typically have longer tails than other emberizids. Most species tend to avoid humans, so they are not well known, though the eastern towhee P. erythrophthalamus is bolder as well as more colorful. This species, and some others, may be seen in urban parks and gardens.
There has been considerable debate over the taxonomy of the 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.
- Abert's towhee (Pipilo aberti or Melozone aberti),
- Bermuda towhee (Pipilo naufragus) — extinct,
- California towhee (Pipilo crissalis or Melozone crissalis),
- Canyon towhee (Pipilo fusca or Melozone fusca),
- Green-tailed towhee (Pipilo chlorurus),
- Collared towhee (Pipilo ocai),
- Eastern towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus),
- Spotted towhee (Pipilo maculatus),
- White-throated towhee (Pipilo albicollis or Melozone leucotis)
- "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.
- Towhee videos, photos and sounds on the Internet Bird Collection