Pipilo is a genus of birds in the American sparrow family Passerellidae. It is one of two genera containing birds with the common name towhee.


The genus Pipilo was introduced by the French ornithologist Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot in 1816 with the eastern towhee as the type species.[1][2] The name Pipilo is New Latin for "bunting" from pipilare "to chirp".[3] Within the New World sparrow family Passerellidae the genus Pipilo is sister to the large genus Atlapetes.[4]


The genus contains five species:[5]

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
Green-tailed Towhee.jpg Pipilo chlorurus Green-tailed towhee interior Western United States, with a winter range in Mexico and the southern edge of the Southwestern United States
Collared Towhee - Oaxaca, Mexico.jpg Pipilo ocai Collared towhee Mexico.
Pipilo erythrophthalmus -Quabbin Reservoir, Massachusetts, USA -male-8.jpg Pipilo erythrophthalmus Eastern towhee eastern North America
SpottedTowhee-24JAN2017.jpg Pipilo maculatus Spotted towhee across western North America
Pipilo naufragus Bermuda towhee Bermuda; extinct


  1. ^ Vieillot, Louis Jean Pierre (1816). Analyse d'une Nouvelle Ornithologie Élémentaire (in French). Paris: Deterville/self. p. 32.
  2. ^ Paynter, Raymond A. Jr, ed. (1970). Check-List of Birds of the World. Vol. 13. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 168.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Bryson, R.W.; Faircloth, B.C.; Tsai, W.L.E.; McCormack, J.E.; Klicka, J. (2016). "Target enrichment of thousands of ultraconserved elements sheds new light on early relationships within New World sparrows (Aves: Passerellidae)". The Auk. 133 (3): 451–458. doi:10.1642/AUK-16-26.1.
  5. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (2020). "New World Sparrows, Bush Tanagers". IOC World Bird List Version 10.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 12 October 2020.

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