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Order Song birds/Passeriformes, Family Sparrows/Ploceidae

White-winged Snowfinch/Montifringilla nivalis - Adult

L 16½-19 cm. Breeds on bare mountains, often at 1900- 3100 m. Resident, and remains at rather high altitude even in winter (exceptionally down to 1000 m). Often seen foraging at ski-resort restaurants; restless but often quite fearless.
IDENTIFICATION: A fairly big and elongate, long-winged bird with conspicuous white panels on tail and wings. Hopping on ground, a rather dull grey-brown bird showing one narrow but long white wing-panel. When it takes off, the white is dominant: greater part of inner wing is white, and tail is white with narrow black central band (and thin black terminal band). At close range, shows dull earth-brown mantle/back, greyish head, and dirty white underparts with a small and often diffuse black bib. Bill black when breeding, ivory-yellow during winter. Flight fast and powerful, undulating over longer stretches. Sexes similar.
VOICE: Rich repertoire. Calls include a hoarse ‘zyiiih’, a creaky mewing ‘myaih’, short ‘ti ti zü’ and, often when nervous, a Crested Tit-like rolling ‘tir’r’r’r’. Also has a clattering ‘chett-chett-chett-chett’. Song, delivered from perch on boulder or in circling gliding flight, has sparrow quality, is variable, halting and jolting with recurrent dry, strained trills. Also has a soft, twittering subsong.

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