White-rumped Snowfinch

In China, White-rumped Snowfinch Onychostruthus taczanowskii occurs in Tibet and Qinghai to southwestern Gansu and northwestern Sichuan. Breeds around pika colonies (in whose burrows it nests and roosts) on stony alpine steppe and mountainsides, often near the edges of bogs, to 5100 m. Descends to 3500 m in winter, when often around farms and villages. Runs and digs well. Has lark-like display flight; bows and bobs tail on landing. Combination of paleness, heavily mottled/streaked mantle, back and scapulars, and plain white rump distinguishes from other snowfinches; rump particularly noticeable in flight. Has greyish-white forehead and supercilium, and broad black lores and narrow black eyeline. Grey-brown mantle, back and scapulars are heavily streaked or mottled blackish, in contrast with paler grey (almost unstreaked) nape and sides of neck; grey-brown crown slightly streaked dark grey. Flight feathers and wing coverts brownish-black with broad white panel at base of flight feathers, narrow white tips to secondaries, and white tips to tertials, median and greater coverts. Tail long, brownish-black, with white sides and broad white corners, the corners most conspicuous in flight. Underparts greyish-white, slightly darker across breast. Juvenile is more buff on upperparts, wings and tail. Bill horn or yellow with black tip; feet black; iris dark brown. Weak, wheezy song (sounds a little like a mix between a goldfinch and a lark). — 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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