Birds of Iran

Mar 30th
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Home Reports Local Reports Snowfinch, Montifringilla nivalis - Iran

Snowfinch, Montifringilla nivalis - Iran

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Snow Finch The White-winged Snowfinch, or just Snowfinch, Montifringilla nivalis, is a small passerine bird. Despite its name, it is a sparrow rather than a true finch.

It is a resident breeding species on bare mountains, typically above 1500 m, across southern Europe and through central Asia to western China. This photo was caught on Central Alborz, Khole-No heights, northern Iran. It nests in crevices or rodent burrows, laying 3-4 eggs. This snap was captured on late spring when they were feeding chicks. You could hear snowfinch chicks calling their parents for food.


White-winged Snowfinch is a large stocky sparrow at 16.5-19 cm in length. It has brown upperparts, white underparts and a grey head. There is a long narrow white wing panel. In summer, the bill is black, and there is a black bib. The bib is lost in winter and the bill becomes yellow. Sexes are similar.

It is transformed in flight. It shows black wings with huge white wing panels, and a white edged black tail. This bird has a chattering song with many trills, and variety of rolling or creaky calls.

White-winged Snowfinch’s food is mainly seeds with some insects. It is fearless, and will forage around ski resorts. It is hardy, and rarely descends below 1000 m even in hard winter weather.

There are four subspecies. The darkest, M. n. henrici of Tibet and western China has earth-brown upperparts and crown, and greyer underparts. It is sometimes split as the Tibetan Snowfinch, Montifringilla henrici. However, Tibetan Snowfinch, confusingly, more often refers to the Black-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla adamsi.

only confusable with Alpine Accentor, which inhabits same high altitude; and snow bunting, which has much white in wing.

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 March 2009 22:15 )  

Bird Photography in Iran


The avifauna of Iran includes a total of 527 species. Birds lead fascinating lives. With such a variety of species in Iran you can add beautiful photos to your collection. We’ll help you do that. Gallery coming soon...

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