Roadside Green-tailed Towhee Photos

I haven’t heard Green-tailed Towhees singing in quite a while now because the males aren’t singing on their breeding territories but occasionally I still hear them calling. Soon they will be winging their way south to spend the winter in southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico. I know I will miss them when they are gone.

Green-tailed Towhee next to a gravel road, Little Emigration Canyon, Morgan County, UtahGreen-tailed Towhee next to a gravel road – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 1250, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Two days ago I was able to photograph a Green-tailed Towhee foraging next to a gravel road up in a Wasatch Mountain Canyon, getting these birds out in the open can be a challenge so I was excited that this towhee was in the clear.

When I look at this photo closely the towhee appears to have grit, not a seed, in its bill. Some seed eating birds do consume grit to aid in digestion but I am not certain that is what is going on in this photo but since I can’t be positive about what was in its bill even when I blew the image up I won’t speculate as to what is actually in the bird’s bill.

I should mention I wouldn’t normally have been at this high of an ISO but I had bumped it up earlier to get more shutter speed when I was photographing a juvenile Osprey and had forgotten to bump it back down. It didn’t hurt my image quality to have the ISO that high though.

Green-tailed Towhee foraging near a road, Little Emigration Canyon, Morgan County, UtahGreen-tailed Towhee foraging near a road – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 1250, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This Green-tailed Towhee’s foraged along the gravel road long enough for me to take 51 photos of it before it disappeared into the grasses at the side of the road. Some folks might not like the setting, it doesn’t bother me at all.

Life is good.


Green-tailed Towhee facts and information:

Pipilo chlorurus

  • Green-tailed Towhees have rufous crowns, white throat markings, dark mustache stripes and greenish backs, wings and tails, gray body plumage and are larger than most sparrows.
  • 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. Elephants Child September 11, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Thank you for this charmer. Sleek and beautiful.

  2. Bob mcpherson September 11, 2018 at 6:54 am

    Cool photos ,Mia

Comments are closed.