The spotted towhee (Pipilo maculatus) is a large New World sparrow in the Passerellidae family.
The spotted towhee lives in dry upland forests, open forests, brushy fields, and chaparrals. It breeds across north-western North America and is present year-round in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and southern British Columbia. It is not found in arid climates and as a result does not reside in the Sonoran Desert, but resides in northern Arizona and the entirety of California except the southeast corner that borders Arizona. It has also been known to expand as far eastward as western Iowa and southwestern Minnesota. It also occurs in fringe wetland forests and riparian forests near the border of upland forests.
Because the spotted towhee’s habitat overlaps with areas of the United States that experience regular forest fires (Arizona, New Mexico, California), it tends to be found in unburned chaparral and avoids chaparral and forests which have been burned due to lack of ground cover and minimal foraging ability.
These birds forage on the ground or in low vegetation, with a habit of noisily rummaging through dry leaves searching for food. During the breeding season (spring and summer) they mainly eat insects, ground dwelling beetles, spiders and other arthropods that reside in the leaf litter that is foraged by the spotted towhee. They only eat protein rich food in the breeding season, and in the fall and winter they focus on foraging for acorns, seeds oats and berries. They will frequent bird feeders if present in their woodland habitat.