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Blanford's Snowfinch - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by James Eaton
Nam TSO, Xizang, China, June 2010

Alternative names: Blanford's Ground-Sparrow; Blanford's Finch; Plain-backed Snowfinch; Plain-backed Ground-Sparrow

Pyrgilauda blanfordi

Montifringilla blanfordi


Photo © by Vipul Ramanuj
Tsokar, Ladakh, India, 16 June 2018

15cm (6 in). A colourful Snowfinch with a short tail:

  • Short, steeply triangular bill
  • Unstreaked pinkish-buff mantle and wing-coverts (greyish in ventorum)
  • Broad white slash on folded wing
  • Pale rufous side of neck
  • Black throat-patch, eyeline and stripe on centre of forehead

Plumage in winter buffier and bill paler.
Females have greyer markings on head than males.
Juveniles have a grey crown and dark chin, the white in the wing is replaced by buff.

Similar species

Rufous-necked Snowfinch is quite similar but has a long black eye-stripe and a streaked mantle.


Occurs in Asia in northwest and nort-central China, Tibet and in the Himalayas of Nepal, India and possibly Bhutan.
Common to locally common.


Sometimes considered conspecific with Afghan Snowfinch. Also placed in genus Montifringilla.


There are 3 subspecies[1]:

  • P. b. ventorum:
  • Mountains of west-central China (south-eastern Xinjiang to western Qinghai)
  • P. b. barbata:
  • Mountains of western China (north-eastern Qinghai to Nan Shan Mountains)
  • P. b. blanfordi:


Stony areas and dry sandy plains on edges of grassy steppes. Often in neighbourhood of habitations and associating with pikas and voles. Occurs at 4000 - 5500m.



Feeds on seeds and insects. Forages on ground, running and digging with legs and bill.
Usually seen in pairs or small flocks. In winter larger flocks with other snowfinches and sparrows.


Breeding recorded in May and June. The male rises high in the air in display, hovering while singing, then drops with spread wings. Breeds in loose colonies. The nest is placed in long pika and vole burrows. No other information.


A mainly sedentary species with some altitudinal movement in winter.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507
  3. Rasmussen, PC and JC Anderton. 2005. Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334672

Recommended Citation

External Links

Search the Gallery using the scientific name Pyrgilauda blanfordi:

Search the Gallery using the scientific name Montifringilla blanfordi:

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