Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria, Sichuan, China, May. (Craig Brelsford)
Dulong Gorge, Yunnan, China, February. (Craig Brelsford)

Discontinuous range of Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria spans Eurasia, from Iberia to China, where nepalensis is uncommon and local breeder in Xinjiang in Tianshan and Altun Mountains and on border of Xinjiang and Tibet in Kunlun Mountains; in Tibet to Himalayas; and sporadically throughout mountainous regions of Yunnan, Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, south-central Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Hebei, and Liaoning. In winter wanders widely in southern and eastern China. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR In summer in Tibet recorded up to 5100 m (16,730 ft.); to sea level in winter. Breeds in regions with steep cliffs, slopes, and gorges, making nest in secure cavity. Eats insects and spiders. ID Unmistakable. Breeding male grey from forehead to back, shading into blackish uppertail coverts. Lower half of face, throat, and center of breast (sometimes entire breast) black, grading to grey on rest of underparts. Vent and undertail coverts broadly edged white. Short tail black with grey tips and white corners. Crimson over most of wing coverts, as well as on bases to secondaries and inner primaries; also two rows of white spots across primaries. Wing pattern displayed when wings flicked. During butterfly-like flight, two patches of crimson, separated by grey back, appear on otherwise hoopoe-like wings. Breeding female has black restricted to throat patch and less crimson on wings. Non-breeding has greyish-white lower face, throat, and breast, brown wash on grey crown, and white eye-ring. Juvenile similar to non-breeding adult, but face, throat, and breast uniformly grey with rest of body. BARE PARTS Black bill long and curved (straighter in juvenile). Feet black. VOICE Song variable but usually a series of whistles in crescendo, slightly rising in pitch. Calls with high whistles, some more chattering. Begging call a drawn-out falling whistle: tsiiu. — Craig Brelsford


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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