Black-throated Accentor

In China, Black-throated Accentor Prunella atrogularis huttoni is resident in Altai Mountains and Tianshan and atrogularis is winter visitor to western Tianshan, Xinjiang. HABITAT Breeds in thick, thorny undergrowth of deciduous and coniferous forests, to 3000 m (9,840 ft.). ID & COMPARISON Has distinctive, boldly patterned head, with black chin, face, and crown, divided by broad, creamy-white to orangeish-buff supercilium, and grey neck sides. Upperparts mainly brown, with prominent black streaking on scapulars, mantle and back; tail blackish brown. Wings typical of most accentors, with black feather centers and rufous-buff fringes giving mostly brown impression of folded wing; pale tips to median and greater coverts form wingbands. Warm orangeish-buff breast (some birds show black mottling on breast) contrasts with creamy-white belly. Flanks streaked blackish-brown; whitish undertail coverts show black arrowheads. In winter, center of crown grey-brown with black streaking, black throat partly concealed by pale fringes, rear ear coverts mottled yellowish, a thin creamy-white submoustachial stripe is present, and broken yellowish eye-ring below eye is more prominent. First-winter may appear pale-throated, in which case stronger streaking on mantle is best separator from Brown Accentor P. fulvescens. Brown is also more uniform on underparts, (usually) lacking flank streaking. Siberian Accentor P. montanella has more orangey supercilium and most often rufous-brown streaking above and on flanks (black in Black-throated). BARE PARTS Pointed bill black, with pale base (mostly to lower mandible) in winter; feet pinkish-brown; iris brown. VOICE Lively song, with both buzzing and clear notes, lasting 3-4 seconds and delivered from branch of tree or shrub; also high-pitched, thin call. — Craig Brelsford

THE ACCENTORS OF CHINA covers all 9 species in Prunellidae in China. Click any link below:

Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris
Altai Accentor P. himalayana
Robin Accentor P. rubeculoides
Rufous-breasted Accentor P. strophiata
Siberian Accentor P. montanella
Brown Accentor P. fulvescens
Black-throated Accentor P. atrogularis
Koslov’s Accentor P. koslowi
Maroon-backed Accentor P. immaculata


Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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