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Snow Partridge - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Ayuwat J
Sela, West Kameng, Arunachal Pradesh, India
Lerwa lerwa


38-40 cm. A large, high-altitude and non-dimorphic partridge.

  • Appears gre above and chestnut below
  • Bright red bill and red legs
  • Finely black and white barred head, neck and upperparts
  • Some blurred chestnut on scapulars and wing-coverts
  • Chestnut underparts with coarse white streaks
  • Overall darkness varies and crown may be almost solid black

Sexes similar. Juveniles similar to adults but with finely spotted (not barred) head and neck and upper breast finely barred rufous.

Similar species

Note blackish primaries and narrower white trailing bar on secondaries compared to Tibetan Snowcock.


Himalayas from northern Pakistan east to Tibet, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Assam and east to Central China (southern Gansu, northwest Sichuan, north Yunnan). Also listed for Afghanistan but probably erroneous.
Common in suitable habitat but threatened by overexploitation and habitat degradation.


This is a monotypic species.
Birds from China have been separated as major (Sichuan) and callipygia (Gansu) but both subspecies are usually not recognized.


Found on alpine meadows and rocky, open hillsides above the three line with some rhododendron bushes and grasses. Prefers areas which are largely snow-free in winter.
Occurs usually between 3000 and 5500 m, rarely below 2500 m.


Usually seen in pairs or small groups, up to 30 birds at roosts.


Feeds on lichen, moss and other plant matter. Takes also seeds and grass and a small amount of animal food.


Breeding season from late May to mid June, perphaps until July or even later. A monogamous and territorial species. The nest is a hollow by a rock or among alpine shrubs, usually placd on a steep slope or near a ridgeline. Lays 2 to 7 eggs.


Descends to lower altitudes in severe winters.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2013. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.8., with updates to August 2013. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved August 2014)

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