Eastern Towhee
(Pipilo erythrophthalmus)

Summary

Picture of bird
© Dan Busby
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Eastern Towhee, the eastern counterpart to the Spotted Towhee, breeds in shrubby woodland edges and thickets. Results from the Breeding Bird Survey in Canada suggest a 47% decrease in numbers since 1970. Less than 1% of the continental population breeds in Canada, making Canada's responsibility very low. However, because the species is also declining in the United States, maintaining the Canadian population is important for conservation. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.

Designations

Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Apparently secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaModerate DecreaseHighAt an Acceptable Level
 

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada50,000 - 500,000 adults
 

Distribution maps

 

Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaLow

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between early May and late May and ends in late July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.
 

Conservation and management

As with most shrubland or edge species, the decline in Eastern Towhee populations is thought to be due to changes in land use, intensification of agriculture, degradation of forest understories and loss of available habitat to urbanization (Bartos Smith and Greenlaw 2015). Natural succession also decreases available habitat, gradually changing abandoned farmland and thickets to forest. This loss and degradation is occurring both on the breeding grounds across southern Canada, as well as throughout the wintering grounds in the eastern United States (Bartos Smith and Greenlaw 2015). 

 

Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Atlantic Northern ForestsAtlantic Northern Forests, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Conservation
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Ontario and Manitoba -- Conservation
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Ontario -- Conservation
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Conservation
 

References