Buntings and New World Sparrows (Emberizidae)

California Towhee (Pyrgisoma crissale) - HBW 16, p. 598

French: Tohi de Californie German: Kaliforniengrundammer Spanish: Toquí Californiano
Other common names: Brown Towhee (when treated as conspecific with P. fuscum); Inyo California Towhee (eremophilus)

Taxonomy: Fringilla crissalis Vigors, 1839, no locality = Monterey, Monterey County, California, USA.
Formerly placed in genus Pipilo and sometimes in Melozone. Molecular analysis indicates that present species and P. aberti are sister-taxa. Previously treated as conspecific with P. fuscum. Geographical variation slight, and to some extent clinal; in California, petulans intergrades with nominate in Santa Cruz County and nominate intergrades with senicula in interior and SE, while specimens of carolae from C California show tendency towards senicula. Also, bullatum, carolae and eremophilus all similar to nominate and .. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: Fringilla crissalis Vigors, 1839, no locality = Monterey, Monterey County, California, USA.
Formerly placed in genus Pipilo and sometimes in Melozone. Molecular analysis indicates that present species and P. aberti are sister-taxa. Previously treated as conspecific with P. fuscum. Geographical variation slight, and to some extent clinal; in California, petulans intergrades with nominate in Santa Cruz County and nominate intergrades with senicula in interior and SE, while specimens of carolae from C California show tendency towards senicula. Also, bullatum, carolae and eremophilus all similar to nominate and perhaps better subsumed in it; further, bullatum possibly not valid, purported characters being possibly due to comparison of reddish “foxed” specimens with newer “unfoxed” ones, and, similarly, carolae doubtfully valid and difficult to characterize. Proposed race kernense (described from Kelso valley, in Kern County, in California) is treated as a synonym of carolae. Eight subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • bullatum (Grinnell & Swarth, 1926) - SW Oregon S to extreme NC California, in W USA.
  • petulans (Grinnell & Swarth, 1926) - N California in coastal zone from Humboldt County S to Marin County.
  • crissale (Vigors, 1839) - C coastal California from N Monterey County E to W edge of San Joaquin Valley, S to W Kern County and Ventura County.

     See all 8 subspecies
  • bullatum (Grinnell & Swarth, 1926) - SW Oregon S to extreme NC California, in W USA.
  • petulans (Grinnell & Swarth, 1926) - N California in coastal zone from Humboldt County S to Marin County.
  • crissale (Vigors, 1839) - C coastal California from N Monterey County E to W edge of San Joaquin Valley, S to W Kern County and Ventura County.
  • carolae (McGregor, 1899) - interior California from Humboldt County S to Napa County and E to foothills of Cascades and Sierra Nevada, S on E side of San Joaquin Valley to Kern County.
  • eremophilus (van Rossem, 1935) - Argus Mts, in Inyo County (California).
  • senicula (Anthony, 1895) - C coastal California (San Luis Obispo County), and San Joaquin Valley, S to extreme NW Mexico (NW Baja California).
  • aripolium (Oberholser, 1919) - C Baja California from 28°55' N S to Guajademi (26°35' N).
  • albigula (S. F. Baird, 1860) - S Baja California S from c. 26°35' S.