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Yellow-billed Chough - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Ken Billington
Staubern, Switzerland

Alternative name: Alpine Chough

Pyrrhocorax graculus


34-38cm (13½-15 in). A medium-sized corvid.

  • Black plumage, weakly glossed bluish-green
  • Fairly long tail, broad wings with fingered primaries, pinched wing-base with shorter inner primaries
  • Short, yellow bill, slightly decurved
  • Red legs
Photo by mikemik
Krvavec, Slovenia, February 2007

Sexes similar, juveniles with dull sooty black plumage, horn-coloured bill and black or dark brown legs (becoming red in the first winter).

Similar species

Can be confused with Red-billed Chough when bill is not seen. Differs with longer tail, narrower wings and less strongly fingered primaries.


Widespread and locally common in mountain areas of southern Europe, North-West Africa and South-West Asia.

In Europe breeds in the Cantabrians, Sierra de Gredos and Pyrenees, in the Alps, Corsica and southern Italy, and in the mountain ranges of southeast Europe to southern Greece and Crete. Recently recorded in southern Spain where thought to be recent immigrants from Morocco.

In North Africa breeds in the Rif and Atlas of central Morocco and in Asia in the mountains of eastern Turkey and the Caucasus, and also occurs in the Middle East although current status unclear. Range extends eastwards across Central Asia to the Himalayas.

Vagrants recorded in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Gibraltar, Cyprus, and Armenia.

The species is mostly resident with some altitudinal movement in winter.


Red-billed Chough is a close relative but White-winged Chough is not closely related.


There are 3 subspecies[1]:

  • P. g. graculus:
  • Mountains of Europe, North Africa, Caucasus and southern Caspian area
  • P. g. digitatus:
  • P. g. forsythi:
  • Central Asia from central and northern Afghanistan northeast through the Pamirs and patchily on through the Tien Shan and Altai to Sayan Mountains and, in south, from west central and northern Pakistan (including an isolated population in northern Baluchistan) east in Himalayas to Nepal, Bhutan, and extreme western Arunachal Pradesh (India), and central and southwestern China


Mountain pastures and meadows with neighbouring cliff faces and rocky outcrops, also around high-altitude human habitation such as ski resorts.



Their diet includes ground insects and their larva, including grasshoppers and beetles.They may also visit gardens for fruit and will scavenge at waste tips.


Breeding season in Europe from May to June. Two birds form a life-long pair. Solitary nester but may form loose colonies. The nest is a bulky structure of sticks, roots and similar material, placed in a cliff, rock crevice, a cave or a rock chimney. Lays 4 eggs.


Has distinctive calls. A sweet rippling "preeep" is most heard.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://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. Avibase
  4. ArKive

Recommended Citation

External Links

Search the Gallery using the scientific name:

Search the Gallery using Yellow-billed Chouch:

Search the Gallery using Alpine Chough:

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