Pipilo is a genus of birds in the family Passerellidae (which also includes the American sparrows and juncos). It is one of two genera of birds usually identified as towhees.

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus).jpg
Spotted towhee (Pipilo maculatus)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Passerellidae
Genus: Pipilo
Vieillot, 1816
Type species
Fringilla erythrophthalma
Linnaeus, 1758

See text

The genus Pipilo was introduced by the French ornithologist Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot in 1816 with the eastern towhee as the type species.[1] The name Pipilo is New Latin for "bunting" from pipilare "to chirp".[2]

There has been considerable debate over the taxonomy of towhees in recent years. Two species complexes have been identified, the rufous-sided complex (involving Pipilo erythrophthalmus, P. maculatus, P. socorroensis, P. ocai and P. chlorurus), and the brown towhee complex (involving Melozone crissalis, M. fuscus, M. aberti and M. albicollis). The distinction of species within these is uncertain and opinions have differed over the years. Modern authorities distinguish all four species in the brown towhee complex, though M. fuscus and M. crissalis were formerly treated as a single species. Hybrids are frequent between some of the species, particularly between the Mexican races of P. maculatus (olive-backed towhee, P. maculatus macronyx) and P. ocai.


Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
  Pipilo chlorurus Green-tailed towhee interior Western United States, with a winter range in Mexico and the southern edge of the Southwestern United States
  Pipilo ocai Collared towhee Mexico.
  Pipilo erythrophthalmus Eastern towhee eastern North America
  Pipilo maculatus Spotted towhee across western North America


  1. ^ Vieillot, Louis Jean Pierre (1816). Analyse d'une Nouvelle Ornithologie Elementaire (in French). Paris: Deterville/self. p. 32.
  2. ^ Jobling, J.A. (2018). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 7 July 2018.

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