White-winged Snowfinch

White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis is present in most high-altitude mountains from Spain to China. In China, groumgrzimaili is in Tianshan and Altai Mountains in Xinjiang, and kwenlunensis in Kunlun, Altun, and Qilian Mountains in Xinjiang, Qinghai, and Gansu. Distinguished from very similar Henri’s snowfinch by lighter, sandier-brown upperparts, grey-brown rather than earth-brown head, and faint or absent white submoustachial stripe and supercilium. Tibetan snowfinch has a paler, less contrasting grey-brown head and less white on wing and tends to prefer lower altitudes. Juvenile also distinguished from Henri’s and white-winged by wing pattern and paler head. Non-breeding bill yellow with black tip, breeding black with yellow base to lower mandible. Feet black; iris brown. Varied repertoire includes buzzy calls and chirping song, delivered from perch or during circling display flight. — 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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