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Order Song birds/Passeriformes, Family Accentors/Prunellidae

Alpine Accentor/Prunella collaris - Adult

L 15-17½ cm. Breeds in high alpine country, 1800-3000 m. Found mostly in barren areas with boulders and low-growing plants. Rather sociable, and small groups can be seen even during breeding season. Largely resident. Food mostly insects and seeds. Nests in rock crevice.
IDENTIFICATION: When walking in the right terrain and one or more Skylark-sized, compact and rather dark birds fly up, the alternatives are few: Alpine Accentor, Horned Lark, Water Pipit or some bunting. Of these, Alpine Accentor is the strongest flyer, fast and in shallow dips almost like a small thrush. If seen perched, it shows light yellow patch at bill-base, a dark panel across wing formed by the greater coverts and, in good light, heavy redbrown flank streaking. At really close range, some pale spotting is visible on throat-centre and fine white tips on wing-coverts. - Variation: Birds in Turkey (ssp. montana) are somewhat more pale brown and less heavily streaked above.
VOICE: On rising, gives muffled lark-like rolling calls, e.g. ‘drrü drrü, drrip’, ‘tschirr’. May also utter stifled click like a chat. Song a drawn-out, creaking and trilling phrase with no clear structure: some bubbling notes recall Crested Tit, others are squeaky. Generally delivered from perch, occasionally in fluttering song-flight.

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