Abert's Towhee, or Pipilo aberti, is a large, stocky, shy sparrow. The Abert's Towhee has one of the smallest total distributions of any U.S. birds species, making it much sought after by birders who travel to the Southwest desert to observe it.


Abert's Towhee perches on a fencepost near a pond.


It has a distinct black face, pale gray bill, gray-brown upperparts, paler gray-brown underparts, and a rust-brown vent. The tail is long and darker than upperparts with rust-brown undertail coverts.


This sparrow is found primarily in the Colorado and Gila River valleys in Arizona and parts of California, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico. It generally prefers desert riparian and desert wash habitats. The preferred habitat includes dense vegetation, including thickets of willow, cottonwood, mesquite, and saltcedar. But, Abert's Towhee is also found in cities or suburbs in exotic plantings.


This bird lays two to five blue white eggs with dark brown speckles. They are laid in a nest made of forbs, bark pieces, leaves, and vines lined with dead grass and mammal hair. The nest is usually built in a tree or bush, often 25 to 30 feet above the ground. The female towhee incubates eggs for about 14 days.


The Abert's Towhee primarily eats seeds and insects.