Pere David’s Snowfinch

In China, Pere David’s Snowfinch Pyrgilauda davidiana davidiana is resident from northeastern Qinghai (Qinghai Lake, Qilian Mountains) across Gansu and Ningxia to northeastern Inner Mongolia (Hulun Lake). Lives on stony, semi-desert plains with short, dry grass, usually near water, between 1000 m and 3000 m. In pair or flocks, the latter sometimes sizeable outside breeding season; moves quickly on ground, searching dung of sheep and cattle for seeds and insects. Often around colonies of pika, whose burrows it may use for nesting. Has distinctive black forehead, lores, chin, and throat. Crown and upperparts tawny-brown, with dark-brown streaking on mantle. Indistinct, whitish-buff supercilium and face sides contrast slightly with fawn-brown ear-coverts and neck sides. Alula black; primary coverts black with white bases; median and greater coverts has buff-white tips. Flight feathers black with buffish or white edging and white panel to base of secondaries. Tail blackish in center, white on sides, with black terminal band. Underparts white, breast often lightly washed buff. Juvenile paler, lacks black on face. Juvenile Blanford’s has greyer crown. Bill grey with black tip; feet black; iris dark brown. Twittering contact call. — Craig Brelsford

THE OLD WORLD SPARROWS OF CHINA has research on most of the 13 species in the family Passeridae in China. Click any link:

Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia
White-rumped Snowfinch Onychostruthus taczanowskii
Tibetan Snowfinch Montifringilla henrici
White-winged Snowfinch M. nivalis
Black-winged Snowfinch M. adamsi
Rufous-necked Snowfinch Pyrgilauda ruficollis
Pere David’s Snowfinch P. davidiana
Blanford’s Snowfinch P. blanfordi
Russet Sparrow Passer cinnamomeus
Eurasian Tree Sparrow P. montanus
Saxaul Sparrow P. ammodendri
Spanish Sparrow P. hispaniolensis
House Sparrow P. domesticus


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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