Fun California Towhee Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Nov 14, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Smriti Chaudhary
California towhee facts about their habitats, looks, and songs, are interesting.

California towhee 'Melozone crissalis' as its scientific name suggests are a kind of large sparrow species. They belong to the order Passeriformes family, which is known for songbirds. This bird sticks to a permanent resident plan.

Meaning, it does not migrate when the season changes. This helps them to be with their partners for a long time and makes them somewhat monogamous in nature. They love to move around in locations that have some open space, where they can find a lot of insects to feed on.

There are six types of towhees, namely, the Rufus-sided or spotted towhee, eastern towhee, and more. All these birds including the spotted, California, and eastern towhees eat insects and seeds.

California birds are usually confused with another similar species named canyon towhee. This is probably because both of them share the same brown color. Although a bird guide can successfully point out the canyon as different from the California towhee based on the lightness in its color.

In addition to this, the canyons are smaller in size than the California towhee. Read on to know more fun facts about this interesting species.

For more information about a different bird guide check eastern towhee and painted bunting.

California Towhee Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a California Towhee?

Towhees are birds belonging to the Melozone genus of the Passerellidae family.

What class of animal does a California Towhee belong to?

California towhee bird belongs to the Aves class of animals. These are all considered warm-blooded vertebrates.

How many California Towhees are there in the world?

There is a stable population of California towhee 'melozone crissalis' breeding birds all around the world today. The exact number has not been determined.

Where does a California Towhee live?

These birds are one of the 800 North American birds and usually live in the areas of Baja Mexico, California, and southern Oregon.

What is a California Towhee's habitat?

The towhee bird's habitat is usually seen in the dry chaparral, shrubs, woodlands, and scrublands. These sparrows' habitat can also be found near the urban parks as well as small trees in open areas. As these birds are used to humans being around, the urban habitat does not affect their movement in parks and other residential areas.

Who does California Towhees live with?

These sparrows do not migrate and hence the species is usually seen flying and traveling short distances to find food. They travel either solo or in pairs. They feed on the ground levels similarly, alone or in pairs, and are rarely seen in huge flocks.

How long does a California Towhee live?

This species of large sparrows have a minimum lifespan of seven years in the wild. The oldest bird listed was known to be 12 years old.

How do they reproduce?

As these birds do not migrate, it is easier for this breed of bird to be together for a longer time. That means the male and female follow a mate-for-life path. These birds are considered to be romantics where the pair is known to sing songs together complementing each other.

The behavior of these sparrows during the breeding period is not gender-specific. Both males and females participate in attracting their partners for mating. The female twitches the tail and the male sings with a high-pitched voice.

Once the male and female accept each other, they start with finding a space for nesting during the springtime. After choosing a favorable location, which would ideally be closer to the ground or on lower-medium heights, the nest is built with grasses, dry twigs, roots, leaves, and similar particles.

The female then starts to lay eggs after the nest is built. They usually lay a clutch of two to a maximum of five eggs where the female bird takes one whole day to lay one egg.

Once the female lays all her eggs, she starts incubating them, The incubation period for these birds is 11 to 14 days.

After hatching, both the parents take up the responsibility of caring for their young ones. The newborn is quite fragile and takes up to one month time to develop and be independent.

What is their conservation status?

As per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list, these birds are included in the Least Concern category.

California Towhee Fun Facts

What do California Towhees look like?

Both the male and the female species of this bird have a similar appearance. They have plain brown  coloring overall with a few grey streaks on the underpart of their body.

They have a stout and fluffed-up body type. These birds can be easily distinguished from the other towhees with the help of their cinnamon-colored undertail. They have beady eyes, a short black bill, and short wings with short, stocky legs.

How cute are they?

As these birds have a plain brown coat, usually they are not considered as cute and pretty as colorful birds. However, as this species' acoustics are melodious, they can sound cute to humans.

How do they communicate?

This species, like many other bird species, uses tactile and acoustic cues to communicate in nature. Their main medium of communication is their acoustic ability and skills. They use different California towhee call notes and song notes to communicate their feelings. These emotions can be of love, fear, anger amongst the adult ones, and hunger in the nestlings.

How big is a California Towhee?

These large sparrows are double the size of the LeConte's sparrow. They grow as big as 7.9 in (20 cm) to a maximum of 9.8 in (25 cm) in length. They have a wingspan of around 10.1-13.8 in.

How fast can a California Towhee fly?

These birds do not migrate, hence the longer travel speeds are not known. They usually fly alternatively between high and low altitudes and due to their short wings and long undertail, their flight looks rather uncoordinated.

How much does a California Towhee weigh?

This bird species is considered to be a large version of sparrows and weighs between 1.6-2.2 oz.

What are their male and female names of the species?

This species, like most other birds, does not have names for males and females.

What would you call a baby California Towhee?

As this bird species is considered to be one of the large sparrow species, the newborn California towhee baby can also be referred to by the term chick.

What do they eat?

Towhees are omnivorous in nature. These sparrows are seasonal feeders. During the summer and spring, they feed on different types of insects. These birds even eat beetles, bugs, and caterpillars. During the winter season they prefer feeding on seeds, and fruits especially berries of all kinds.

Are they dangerous?

These birds are known to have their nest in human heavy habitats. Hence, they are used to humans and do not usually harm them.

However, they are quite territorial and become aggressive, fighting with their enemies in case of odd behavior, especially near their nesting sites or their young ones. Both the male and female birds defend the California towhee nest, their family, and their territory from any imposters.

Would they make a good pet?

Although these birds might be found roaming and flying around human resident-friendly areas, they have not been domesticated. This might be mainly because they are a wild species. It is also sometimes considered illegal to capture these birds in North American and other regions in the United States.

Did you know...

Although these birds forage on the ground and are known to nest in open areas, there are a few simple ways to attract these towhees to your backyards. If one focuses on creating comfortable habitats around their residence they can attract this species.

Towhees just like other sparrows are attracted to water. Hence, keeping a small pond-like structure in the backyard can help to get some bird footfall.

Along with that, these birds do like artificial feeders, so one can keep some healthy seeds in them to attract them. If one does not have a feeder, one can even spill the seeds on the ground as these birds are known to forage on the ground for food.

Here's a fun fact, these birds search for the food with their feet by moving around on the ground.

If one wants the towhee to build a nest in the backyard, one can try to plant shrubs because these birds make their nests at medium to low heights.  

Do California towhees migrate?

No, these birds are considered to be permanent residents of their particular locations. They do not migrate. Although, sometimes the bird might travel a short distance to collect food, but would come back to its family.

What does a California towhee sound like?

This species' voice has a different pitch for different calls. Usually, the young ones make vocal sounds with a few hunger notes that sound like a chink.

These are the only notes that the chick can perform. Once they grow to become an adult, they develop different styles and acoustic skills. They sing the California towhee song that has some straight metallic chink sounds.

This is mainly done by males, following a repetitive pattern to attract a mate through their song. They also sing a duet song with their mate and form a trusted bond.

They also perform different calls with three to a maximum of four notes that help them notify their partner about any danger. They usually have a squealing sound which is also known as the towhee squawk that they use as a means of struggle calls.

These are usually heard with variations in the notes based on whether they are being attacked or taken by the predator, or in a fight with one.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including lyrebird, or green heron.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our California Towhee coloring pages.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You


See All

Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Smriti Chaudhary

Bachelor of Technology specializing in Information Technology

Smriti Chaudhary picture

Smriti ChaudharyBachelor of Technology specializing in Information Technology

Smriti, a student data scientist, and coder, is pursuing her Bachelor of Technology at K.J. Somaiya College of Engineering. She has achieved top rankings in the International English Olympiad, National Spelling Bee, and PSAT/SAT English Section. She is experienced in content creation and editing for various academic institutions.

Read full bio >