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Altai Snowcock - BirdForum Opus

Tetraogallus altaicus


58 cm. Typical Snowcock in build and size, like a large heavy Partridge. Sexually monomorphic.
Forehead, crown, nape and sides of neck medium slaty grey, black "hind collar" across the base of the neck and down the sides of the mantle. Mantle and back medium slaty grey spotted with white, rump and uppertail coverts lighter grey and unspotted. Lores - to above the eye- white. Blackish eyestripe from behind the eye, continuing down the sides of the neck. Ear coverts pale grey, Blackish moustachial stripe meeting up with the bottom of the eyestripe. Chin, throat and upperbreast white, outlined with a thin black "necklace". Broad breastband medium grey with patches of broken black bars on either side, rest of breast, fore flanks and fore belly white. Rear flanks and rest of belly black. Undertail coverts white. Scapulars and wingcoverts brownish grey with large whitish streaks. Secondaries and primaries black, the latter with white basal halfs, showing as a bold white wing patch in flight. Tail black. Bill yellowish-horn, eye yellow, bare skin around eye yellow ochre, legs and feet dull reddish with paler spurs.


Mountains of south-western Siberia and western Mongolia

Population estimates

48 birds found in a 11 square kilometer study area in the Sayan Mountains in the Tuva Republic, in July 2009.


Population probably stable, as summer grazing by sheep and Yaks has been carried out for, possibly, centuries , but parties of visiting game hunters are being taken into core areas with increasing frequency.




High alpine meadows with scattered scrub. Doesn't seem to use talus slopes except as a barrier between birds and disturbance.


Food is mainly low grasses, sedges and herbs with a certain amount of bulbs. Some animal matter, mainly molluscs, taken, but this may be accidental. Found either singly or in pairs. Probably forms small flocks in winter like other Snowcocks. Unable to sustain horizontal flight or fly uphill. When disturbed takes off with fast, laboured flight then glides down, or across slopes. Walks back uphill.


Piercing, flutey whistles and a variety of "pheasanty" clucks. In flight utters a hoarse " gluck-uk, gluk, gluk". Various low, grumbling "tuck" calls when returning uphill after disturbance.


  1. Clements, JF. 2008. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2008. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019.

Recommended Citation

External Links

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