Rufous-breasted Accentor

Rufous-breasted Accentor
Rufous-breasted Accentor Prunella strophiata, Sichuan, China, elev. 4140 m (13,580 ft), May. (Craig Brelsford)

Rufous-breasted Accentor Prunella strophiata strophiata is common resident of eastern Tibetan Plateau, from eastern Qinghai to Qin Mountains in southern Shaanxi and south across western Sichuan to eastern Tibet and northern Yunnan. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR In subalpine forests and dwarf shrubberies above timberline, between 2400-4300 m (m (7,870-14,110 ft.). Forages in thick undergrowth, but often seen perching atop conifers. ID & COMPARISON Streaky, pipit-like accentor, with rusty-orange breast band and striking head pattern (recalling Siberian Accentor P. montanella). Supercilium white before eye, rusty-orange behind, bordered above by black lateral crown stripe. Crown, mantle, back, rump, and uppertail coverts brown, with fine black streaks on crown and heavy black streaking on mantle and back. Feathers on tail and wings have blackish centers edged rufous-brown. Whitish tips to median and greater coverts form wing bands. As several other accentors, grey neck sides, but streaked black in nominate Rufous-breasted. Loral area and ear coverts black; white crescent under eye, broken by black but continuing shortly above and behind eye. Some rusty-orange spots on rear ear coverts. Black streaking on whitish throat often forms faint lateral throat stripe, in contrast to white (unstreaked) submoustachial stripe. Underparts below breast band creamy white and streaked black (except center of belly), streaking boldest on flanks, and as arrowheads on vent and undertail coverts. Robin Accentor P. rubeculoides has brownish-grey hood and is less streaked (especially below). Juvenile lacks rusty-orange pigmentation, having buffish supercilium and faint buffish breast band. Juvenile Robin Accentor more lightly streaked and has poorly defined supercilium. Juvenile Brown Accentor P. fulvescens and Black-throated Accentor P. atrogularis are also less streaked (especially below) and lack buffish breast band. BARE PARTS Bill black; feet orange-brown; iris brown. VOICE Fast, penetrating, rattling, metallic call; song a chirpy phrase lasting 4 seconds. — 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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