• East view from Crissy Field overlook with old Coast Guard station on left and city on right

    Presidio of San Francisco


California Towhee

(Pipilo crissalis)
California Towhee
California Towhee near El Polin Spring.
Will Elder, NPS

Natural History: The California Towhee forages on seeds, insects, and some fruits, particularly on open ground near brushy cover. It nests in the lower branches of shrubs and trees above ground. It creates nests of twigs, grasses, and flowers. It breeds in early April to early August. It tends to move into areas after logging, farming, and urbanization activities.

General Distribution: In the Presidio, this species can be found in coastal and dune scrub areas, lawns, and areas with oak, willow, eucalyptus, blackberry, and toyon trees.

Frequency: This species is common all year.

Identifying Characteristics: The California Towhee has a dull gray-brown color with a longish tail. The tail coverts underside is a pale rusty color. It has a striped, yellowish throat.

Presidio Birds main page

Did You Know?

Jonathan Letterman

Major Jonathan Letterman--after whom the hospital at the Presidio was renamed in 1911--was the medical director of the Army of the Potomac. A founding father of military medicine, Letterman organized forward first-aid stations, mobile field hospitals, and ambulance services during the Civil War.