I’m Looking Forward to Photographing Green-tailed Towhees

/, Green-tailed Towhees, Little Emigration Canyon, Morgan County, Utah/I’m Looking Forward to Photographing Green-tailed Towhees

Adult Green-tailed Towhee portrait, Little Emigration Canyon, Morgan County, UtahAdult Green-tailed Towhee portrait – Nikon D500, f8, 1/800, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Green-tailed Towhees are migratory so I don’t see them year round in Utah like I do their close relatives the Spotted Towhees. Green-tailed Towhees spend their winters in the southern most parts of the U.S. and in Mexico and I miss seeing a hearing them while they are away. I’ve checked eBird and there have been a few sightings of these large, rufous crowned sparrows and I can’t wait to see my my first one of the year. Last week I thought I heard one up in the mountains but I can’t be 100% sure when the calls are from a long distance and there is road noise I have to listen over. I know for certain I heard and saw Spotted Towhees but couldn’t get photos of them.

Last year at the end of May I photographed a very cooperative male Green-tailed Towhee who sang his heart out for quite some time and even came in close enough to take a series of portraits of him that showed beautiful details in his feathers. I’ve found these birds to be easier to photograph in the spring when the males are singing on their territories courting any females who might be around because they sing from the tops of shrubs and bushes. They forage on the ground and can be very difficult to see because they blend in so well in their habitat.

Listen to the call and song of a Green-tailed Towhee here.

Green-tailed Towhee in a mountain canyon, Little Emigration Canyon, Morgan County, UtahGreen-tailed Towhee in a mountain canyon – Nikon D500, f10, 1/640, ISO 320, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I think these large sparrows are quite handsome with their rufous crowns, white throat markings, dark mustache stripes, dark brown eyes, greenish backs, wings and tails. When excited they raise their rufous crowns and they can look as if they are crests. The towhee above was excited about something when I took photos of him in an alpine canyon.

I wonder when and where I will see and photograph my first Green-tailed Towhee this year. I can’t wait.

Life is good.


Green-tailed Towhee facts and information:

  • Green-tailed Towhees are migratory and during the breeding season are found mostly in the western U.S. and during the winter in the southern most parts of the U.S. and in Mexico.
  • Green-tailed Towhees prefer shrubby habitat, sagebrush steppes, open pinyon-juniper forests, dry washes, desert grasslands, arroyos, and mountain canyons up to 10,000 feet in elevation.
  • Green-tailed Towhees eat small insects, berries and seeds.
  • Green-tailed Towhees lay 2 to 5 eggs which hatch in 11 to 13 days. The female incubates and they are monogamous.
  • A group of towhees can be called a “tangle” or “teapot” of towhees.
  • Green-tailed Towhees can live to be more than 7 years of age.


  1. Pepe Forte May 4, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    You continue to amaze me with the color and detail you are able to capture in these Towhee shots. I can practically count every feather. Truly stunning. Thanks Mia. .

  2. Elephants Child May 3, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    I am really looking forward to you seeing and photographing these charmers again too.

  3. Patty Chadwick May 3, 2018 at 9:32 am

    Would love to see one of these birds in the wild…but to see detsils, this is probzbly as good as it gets…especially like the second image. Thanks…..

  4. Laura Culley May 3, 2018 at 8:44 am

    What a BEAUTY! Thank you SO much for sharing and I hope you find them in your area again soon!

  5. Bob mcpherson May 3, 2018 at 6:35 am

    BeUtiful photos, Mia.

  6. Rosemary Harris May 3, 2018 at 6:32 am

    Gorgeous images.

  7. Ken Schneider May 3, 2018 at 5:51 am

    I miss seeing them since we moved from the mountains of New Mexico. they are so active and alert, and so colorful especially in good light. Your photos are very nice!

  8. Liz Cormack May 3, 2018 at 5:25 am

    What a beautiful bird.

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