Tibetan snowcock

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Tibetan snowcock
Tetraogallus tibetanus.jpg
CITES Appendix I (CITES) [2]
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Genus: Tetraogallus
T. tibetanus
Binomial name
Tetraogallus tibetanus
Gould, 1854

The Tibetan snowcock (Tetraogallus tibetanus) is a bird in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes, gallinaceous birds. This species is found in high-altitude regions of the Western Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, where it overlaps in part with the larger Himalayan snowcock. The head is greyish and there is a white crescent patch behind the eye and underside is white with black stripes. In flight the secondaries show a broad white trailing edge.



Tibetan Snowcock at Luza, Sagarmatha National Park,Nepal Tibetan Snowcock.jpg
Tibetan Snowcock at Luza, Sagarmatha National Park,Nepal
Illustration from Hume and Marshall, Gamebirds of India, Burma and Ceylon Tetraogallus tibetanus hm.jpg
Illustration from Hume and Marshall, Gamebirds of India, Burma and Ceylon

Smaller than Himalayan snowcock, this species has a grey head and neck with a white patch behind the eye and above the dark cheek. Chin, throat and breast are white, with two grey bands on the breast. Grey wing coverts and tertials have a white trim. The secondaries have a broad white trailing edge that forms a wing band. Underparts are white with black streaks on flanks and belly. The tail is rufous brown and the undertail coverts are black. Legs and beaks are reddish. Sexes are similar, but female has buff in postocular patch, blackish and buff marks on sides of head, neck and breast-band, and lacks the tarsal spurs of the male. [3] [4] [5]

Taxonomy and systematics

The widely distributed populations show variations in plumage and about five subspecies have been designated: [3] [6] [7] [8]

Some races such as tschimenensis and yunnanensis are not widely recognized, the former included in the nominate form. [6] [10] The genetic divergence of these populations has been attributed to glacial cycles associated with the uplift of the Tibetan plateau. [11] [12]

Distribution and status

A foraging group in Ladakh Tibetan Snowcock family.JPG
A foraging group in Ladakh

Tibetan snowcock are found on alpine pastures stony ridges above the tree line in the Pamirs of Tajikistan, Himalayas (from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh), Tibet, Pakistan and China. [3] They are found in lower altitudes during winter or when there is heavy snowfall. In parts of its range there appears to be a clear separation of the distribution of this and the Himalayan snowcock while in others they appear to overlap. [6]

Since the Tibetan snowcock has a large distribution range and no visible declines in population, it has been considered a species of "least concern" by the IUCN. [1]

Behaviour and ecology

This species is similar to the Himalayan snowcock, but prefers higher altitudes. During winter, they descend to lower altitudes and move around in coveys. When approached from below on a hill slope, they move up, stopping every now and then to look at the intruder, but when alarmed they fly away downwards crossing the valley/ravine. The flight is swift and will often make a whistling call in flight. They call several times while alighting and on settling from flight they shake their tails several times in the manner of willow ptarmigan. They call in the morning and evening, becoming quiet in the middle of the day. [13] They keep to grass-covered plateaus and ridges or to the more barren and stony plains with very little vegetation. Though they do not keep sentries during feeding, while resting in the middle of the day, one or more of adult birds mount high boulders and keep a watch, warning the flocks on the approach of danger with loud prolonged whistles. [14] Several calls have been described that include a chuckling that gradually becomes louder, a whistle and a curlew-like call. [6]

During summer, they form pairs and males are believed to be monogynous. The nest is a scrape, sparsely lined and sheltered under a stone or bush usually on the leeward side of a bare hill, and avoiding ground with vegetation. About 4 to 6 eggs are laid. The male stands sentinel while the females incubate. Both parent birds accompany the brood and adults perform distraction displays when the young are threatened, while the chicks crouch or hide between stones. Broods of more than one female have been found to form a single foraging group. [6] [13]

Related Research Articles

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Himalayan vulture Species of bird

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Roof of the World Metaphor for the mountainous interior of Asia

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Blood pheasant Species of bird

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Tibetan sandgrouse Species of bird

The Tibetan sandgrouse is a large bird in the sandgrouse family. The genus name Syrrhaptes is from Ancient Greek surrhaptos, "sewn together" and tibetanus is from the type locality, Tibet.

Snowcock Genus of birds

The snowcocks or snowfowl are a group of bird species in the genus Tetraogallus of the pheasant family, Phasianidae. They are ground-nesting birds that breed in the mountain ranges of southern Eurasia from the Caucasus to the Himalayas and western China. Some of the species have been introduced into the United States. Snowcocks feed mainly on plant material.

Caucasian snowcock Species of bird

The Caucasian snowcock is a snowcock in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes, gallinaceous birds.

Caspian snowcock Species of bird

The Caspian snowcock is a snowcock in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes, gallinaceous birds.

Himalayan monal Species of bird

The Himalayan monal, also known as the Impeyan monal and Impeyan pheasant, is a pheasant native to Himalayan forests and shrublands at elevations of 2,100–4,500 m (6,900–14,800 ft). It is part of the family Phasianidae and is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. It is the national bird of Nepal, where it is known as the danphe or danfe, and state bird of Uttarakhand, India, where it is known as monal. The scientific name commemorates Lady Mary Impey, the wife of the British chief justice of Bengal, Sir Elijah Impey.

Tibetan partridge Species of bird

The Tibetan partridge is a gamebird in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes. They are found widely across the Tibetan Plateau and have some variations in plumage across populations. They forage on the ground in the sparsely vegetated high altitude regions, moving in pairs during the summer and in larger groups during the non-breeding season. Neither males nor females have spurs on their legs.

Hemis National Park National Park in Ladakh, India

Hemis National Park is a high altitude national park in Ladakh, India. Globally famous for its snow leopards, it is believed to have the highest density of them in any protected area in the world. It is the only national park in India that is north of the Himalayas, the largest notified protected area in India and is the second largest contiguous protected area, after the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve and surrounding protected areas. The park is home to a number of species of endangered mammals, including the snow leopard. Hemis National Park is India's protected area inside the Palearctic realm, outside the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary northeast of Hemis, and the proposed Tso Lhamo Cold Desert Conservation Area in North Sikkim.

Snow partridge Species of bird

The snow partridge is a gamebird in the pheasant family Phasianidae found widely distributed across the high-altitude Himalayan regions of India, Pakistan, Nepal and China. It is the only species within its genus, and within the tribe Lerwini, and is thought to be the most basal member of the subfamily Phasianinae. The species is found in alpine pastures and open hillside above the treeline but not in as bare rocky terrain as the Himalayan snowcock and is not as wary as that species. Males and females look similar in plumage but males have a spur on their tarsus.

Wildlife of Ladakh

The flora and fauna of Ladakh was first studied by Ferdinand Stoliczka, an Austrian Czech palaeontologist, who carried out a massive expedition in the region in the 1870s. The fauna of Ladakh have much in common with that of Central Asia generally, and especially those of the Tibetan Plateau. An exception to this are the birds, many of which migrate from the warmer parts of India to spend the summer in Ladakh. For such an arid area, Ladakh has a great diversity of birds — a total of 318 species have been recorded. Many of these birds reside or breed at high-altitude wetlands such as Tso Moriri.

Himalayan snowcock Species of bird

The Himalayan snowcock is a snowcock in the pheasant family Phasianidae found across the Himalayan ranges and parts of the adjoining Pamir range of Asia. It is found on alpine pastures and on steep rocky cliffs where they will dive down the hill slopes to escape. It overlaps with the slightly smaller Tibetan snowcock in parts of its wide range. The populations from different areas show variations in the colouration and about five subspecies have been designated. They were introduced in the mountains of Nevada in the United States in the 1960s and a wild population has established in the Ruby Mountains.

Himalayan wolf Subspecies of mammal

The Himalayan wolf is a canine of debated taxonomy. It is distinguished by its genetic markers, with mitochondrial DNA indicating that it is genetically basal to the Holarctic grey wolf, genetically the same wolf as the Tibetan wolf, and has an association with the African golden wolf. No striking morphological differences are seen between the wolves from the Himalayas and those from Tibet. The Himalayan wolf lineage can be found living in Ladakh in the Himalayas, the Tibetan Plateau, and the Central Asian highlands predominantly above 4,000 m in elevation because it has adapted to a low-oxygen environment, compared with other wolves that are found only at lower elevations.

Altai snowcock Species of bird

The Altai snowcock is a species of bird in the family Phasianidae. It is found in western Mongolia and adjacent areas of China, Kazakhstan and Russia. Its natural habitat is boreal forests.

Perdicinae Subfamily of birds

Perdicinae is a polyphyletic former subfamily of birds in the pheasant family, Phasianidae, regrouping the partridges, Old World quails, and francolins. Although this subfamily was considered monophyletic and separated from the pheasants, tragopans, junglefowls, and peafowls (Phasianinae) till the early 1990s, molecular phylogenies have shown that these two subfamilies actually constitute only one lineage. For example, some partridges are more closely affiliated to pheasants, whereas Old World quails and partridges from the Alectoris genus are closer to junglefowls. Due to this, the subfamily Perdicinae is no longer recognized by the International Ornithological Congress, with the species being split among 3 subfamilies.

Organisms at high altitude Organisms capable of living at high altitudes

Organisms can live at high altitude, either on land, in water, or while flying. Decreased oxygen availability and decreased temperature make life at such altitudes challenging, though many species have been successfully adapted via considerable physiological changes. As opposed to short-term acclimatisation, high-altitude adaptation means irreversible, evolved physiological responses to high-altitude environments, associated with heritable behavioural and genetic changes. Among animals, only few mammals and certain birds are known to have completely adapted to high-altitude environments.

Przevalskis nuthatch Small passerine bird endemic to southeastern Tibet and west central China

Przevalski's nuthatch, originally given the nomen nudumSitta eckloni, is a bird species in the family Sittidae, collectively known as nuthatches. Long regarded as a subspecies of the white-cheeked nuthatch, it nevertheless differs significantly in morphology and vocalizations. Both S. przewalskii and S. leucopsis have been regarded as closely related to the North American white-breasted nuthatch. It is a medium-sized nuthatch, measuring about 13 cm (5 in) in length. Its upper body is a dark gray-blue or slate color, becoming dark blue-black at the crown. The cheeks and throat are a white buff-orange, turning to a rich cinnamon on the underparts that intensifies in color on the sides of the breast. Vocalizations consist of alternating series of ascending whistles and short notes.


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