Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)

Least Concern

Abert's Towhee (Melozone aberti)


French: Tohi d’Abert German: Schwarzkinn-Grundammer Spanish: Toquí de Abert

Pipilo aberti

S. F. Baird

, 1852,

“New Mexico” = vicinity of Gila Bend, Maricopa County, Arizona, USA


Molecular analysis indicates that present species and M. crissalis are sister-taxa. Geographical variation clinal; species perhaps better treated as monotypic. Proposed race vorhiesi (described from c. 15 km S of Tucson, in Arizona) treated as synonym of dumeticolus. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. a. dumeticolus (van Rossem, 1946) – SW USA from SW Utah S through Colorado Valley in SE Nevada to SE California, and E along Gila R in S Arizona, also extreme NW Mexico (extreme N Baja California and NW Sonora).
  • M. a. aberti (S. F. Baird, 1852) – SW USA in S Arizona and SW New Mexico.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–23 cm; 38·9–55·6 g. Large, long-tailed sparrow with relatively uniform appearance. Nominate race has lower forehead, lores and chin black, rest... read more


    Song a rather sharp series of notes, “peep peep chee-chee-chee”, “ sleep cleep... read more


    Riparian cottonwood–willow (Populus fremontiiSalix gooddingii)... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet on lower Colorado R principally insects: in winter 73% of diet was insects, and in summer 96%. Beetles (Coleoptera) especially taken,... read more


    Season Mar–Sept; usually double-brooded. Pair-bond maintained retained throughout year. Nest built by female, taking c. 1 week, a... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Classified as “Rare” in the USA (Yellow WatchList priority species for conservation). Much of this species’ preferred streamside... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rising, J. (2020). Abert's Towhee (Melozone aberti). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 21 February 2020).