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


shanghaibirding.com 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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