Tibetan snowcock

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Tibetan snowcock
Tetraogallus tibetanus.jpg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Genus: Tetraogallus
Species:
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.

Contents

Description

Tibetan Snowcock at Luza, Sagarmata National Park,Nepal Tibetan Snowcock.jpg
Tibetan Snowcock at Luza, Sagarmata 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. [2] [3] [4]

Taxonomy and systematics

The widely distributed populations show variations in plumage and about five subspecies have been designated: [2] [5] [6] [7]

Some races such as tschimenensis and yunnanensis are not widely recognized, the former included in the nominate form. [5] [9] The genetic divergence of these populations has been attributed to glacial cycles associated with the uplift of the Tibetan plateau. [10] [11]

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 and China. [2] 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. [5]

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. [12] 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. [13] Several calls have been described that include a chuckling that gradually becomes louder, a whistle and a curlew-like call. [5]

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. [5] [12]

Related Research Articles

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Himalayan vulture

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Tibetan Plateau A plateau in Central Asia

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Blood pheasant Species of bird

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Cheer pheasant Species of bird

The cheer pheasant, also known as Wallich's pheasant, is a vulnerable species of the pheasant family, Phasianidae. It is the only member in the genus Catreus. The scientific name commemorates Danish botanist Nathaniel Wallich.

Tibetan sandgrouse Species of bird

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Snowcock Genus of birds

The snowcocks 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 the monal. It was also the state bird of Himachal Pradesh until 2007.

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

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Snow partridge Species of bird

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Wildlife of Ladakh

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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.

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Perdicinae Subfamily of birds

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Organisms at high altitude

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

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References

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  9. Yang Lan & Xu Yan-gong (1987). "A new subspecies of the Tibetan Snowcock - Tetraogallus tibetanus yunnanensis (Galliformes: Phasianidae)". Acta Zootaxonomica Sinica. 12 (1): 104–109.
  10. Bei An; Lixun Zhang; Stephen Browne; Naifa Liu; Luzhang Ruan; Sen Song (2009). "Phylogeography of Tibetan snowcock (Tetraogallus tibetanus) in Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 50 (3): 526–533. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2008.12.003. PMID   19111936.
  11. Luzhang, Ruan; Zhang Lixun; Wen Longying; Sun Qingwei; Liu Naifa (2005). "Phylogeny and Molecular Evolution of Tetraogallus in China". Biochemical Genetics. 43 (9): 507–518. doi:10.1007/s10528-005-8167-y.
  12. 1 2 Hume AO & CHT Marshall (1880). The Game birds of India, Burmah and Ceylon. Self published.
  13. Baker, ECS (1928). The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Volume 5 (2nd ed.). Taylor and Francis, London. pp. 432–435.