The snowcocks are a group of bird species in the genus Tetraogallus of the pheasant family, Phasianidae. They are ground-nesting birds that breed in the mountain ranges of southern Eurasia from the Caucasus to the Himalayas and western China. Some of the species have been introduced into the United States. Snowcocks feed mainly on plant material.

Tibetan Snowcock
Tibetan snowcock (Tetraogallus tibetanus)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Subfamily: Perdicinae
Genus: Tetraogallus
J.E. Gray, 1832

See text


Snowcocks are bulky, long-necked, long-bodied partridge-like birds. Males and females are generally similar in appearance but females tend to be slightly smaller and rather duller in colouration than males. They are generally grey with varying amounts of white, black and brown according to species and with distinctive white under tail-coverts. Their plumage is thick with a downy base to the feathers which helps them to withstand severe winter temperatures that may fall to −40 °C (−40 °F). The colour of juvenile snowcocks is similar to the colour of the females and the young are not fully grown until their second year of life.[1]

Snowcocks are heavy birds and are unable to fly far with flapping flight. Instead they run to a high point, launch themselves into the air and glide, gradually losing altitude. They are to be found on open slopes above the tree line where they feed on leaves, shoots, roots, fruits, berries and insects.[1]


The snowcocks are each endemic to different mountain ranges in Asia where they are normally found on open slopes above the tree line.[1] Only in the case of the Himalayan snowcock and the Tibetan snowcock do their ranges overlap.[1]

The Caucasian snowcock occurs in the Caucasus Mountains in Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Russian Federation. It has been introduced into the United States.[2] The Caspian snowcock is native to eastern Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Georgia and has been introduced into the United States.[3] The Tibetan snowcock is native to mountain ranges in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Tajikistan and China.[4] The Himalayan snowcock occurs in mountainous areas of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Nepal, India and China and has been introduced into the United States.[5] The Altai snowcock is endemic to high altitudes in Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China and the Russian Federation.[6]


The five species within the genus along with subspecies are:[7]

Tetraogallus caucasicus
Tetraogallus caucasicus
  • Caspian snowcock, Tetraogallus caspius (Gmelin, 1784)
    Tetraogallus caspius
    Tetraogallus caspius
    • T. c. caspius (Gmelin, 1784)
    • T. c. semenowtianschanskii Zarudny, 1908
  • Tibetan snowcock, Tetraogallus tibetanus Gould, 1854
    Tetraogallus tibetanus
    Tetraogallus tibetanus
    • T. t. tibetanus Gould, 1854
    • T. t. tschimenensis Sushkin, 1926
    • T. t. centralis Sushkin, 1926
    • T. t. przewalskii Bianchi, 1907
    • T. t. henrici Oustalet, 1891
    • T. t. aquilonifer R. & A. Meinertzhagen, 1926
  • Altai snowcock, Tetraogallus altaicus (Gebler, 1836)
    • T. a. altaicus (Gebler, 1836)
    • T. a. orientalis Sushkin, 1926
  • Himalayan snowcock, Tetraogallus himalayensis Gray, 1843
    Himalayan Snowcock
    Himalayan Snowcock
    • T. h. himalayensis Gray, 1843
    • T. h. grombczewskii Bianchi, 1898
    • T. h. koslowi Bianchi, 1898
Tetraogallus caspius
Tetraogallus caspius
Tetraogallus tibetanus
Tetraogallus tibetanus
Himalayan Snowcock
Himalayan Snowcock


  1. ^ a b c d Madge, Steve; McGowan, J. K.; Kirwan, Guy M. (2002). Pheasants, Partridges and Grouse: A Guide to the Pheasants, Partridges, Quails, Grouse, Guineafowl, Buttonquails and Sandgrouse of the World. A. C. Black. pp. 174–180. ISBN 9780713639667.
  2. ^ Birdlife International; Butchart, S.; Symes, A. (2012). "Tetraogallus caucasicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. IUCN. Retrieved 2013-09-29.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Birdlife International; Butchart, S.; Symes, A. (2012). "Tetraogallus caspius". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. IUCN. Retrieved 2013-09-29.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Birdlife International; Butchart, S.; Symes, A. (2012). "Tetraogallus tibetanus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. IUCN. Retrieved 2013-09-29.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Birdlife International; Butchart, S.; Symes, A. (2012). "Tetraogallus himalayensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. IUCN. Retrieved 2013-09-29.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Birdlife International; Butchart, S.; Symes, A. (2012). "Tetraogallus altaicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. IUCN. Retrieved 2013-09-29.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Peters, JL (1934). Check-list of birds of the world. 2. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. pp. 60–63.
Altai snowcock

The Altai snowcock (Tetraogallus altaicus) is a species of bird in the family Phasianidae. It is found in western Mongolia and adjacent areas of China, Kazakhstan and Russia. Its natural habitat is boreal forests.

Caspian snowcock

The Caspian snowcock (Tetraogallus caspius) is a snowcock in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes, gallinaceous birds.

It is found in the mountains of eastern Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and throughout the Alborz Mountains of Northern Iran. It breeds at altitudes from 1,800–3,000 m (5,900–9,800 ft) on bare stony ground with some alpine scrub. It nests in a bare ground scrape and lays 6–9 greenish eggs, which are incubated only by the female. Its diet consists of seeds and vegetable matter. It forms small flocks when not breeding.

Caucasian snowcock

The Caucasian snowcock (Tetraogallus caucasicus) is a snowcock in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes, gallinaceous birds.

It is endemic to the Caucasus Mountains, particularly the Western Caucasus, where it breeds at altitudes from 2000–4000 m on bare stony mountains. It nests in a bare ground scrape and lays typically 5-6 greenish eggs, which are incubated only by the female. Its food is seeds and vegetable matter. It forms small flocks when not breeding.

Himalayan snowcock

The Himalayan snowcock (Tetraogallus himalayensis) is a snowcock in the pheasant family Phasianidae found across the Himalayan ranges and parts of the adjoining Pamir range of Asia. It is found on alpine pastures and on steep rocky cliffs where they will dive down the hill slopes to escape. It overlaps with the slightly smaller Tibetan snowcock in parts of its wide range. The populations from different areas show variations in the colouration and about five subspecies have been designated. They were introduced in the mountains of Nevada in the United States in the 1960s and a wild population has established in the Ruby Mountains.

Ile-Alatau National Park

Ile-Alatau National Park (Kazakh: Іле Алатауы ұлттық паркі, Ile Alataýy Ulttyq parki) is a national park in Kazakhstan. It was created in 1996 and covers about 200,000 ha. It is situated in the mountains south of Almaty between Gorge Turgen in the east and Chemolgan River in the west. The National Park borders Almaty Nature Reserve, which is located around Peak Talgar.The landscape includes woodlands, alpine meadows, glaciers and lakes, including Big Almaty Lake. Remarkable trees include apricot, maple, and apple. A total of 300 species of birds and animals have been recorded from the Ile-Alatau National Park. The park is home to snow leopards, Central Asian lynx, Tian Shan brown bears, Central Asian stone martens, Siberian ibexes, bearded vultures and golden eagles. Other notable bird species found in Ile-Alatau National Park include Himalayan snowcock, ibisbill, Eurasian scops owl, and Eurasian three-toed woodpecker. The park also protects specific species of deer whose antlers are believed to have medicinal properties.

List of endemic birds of the Western Palearctic

The following is a list of the restricted-range endemic bird species found in the Western Palearctic region:

Algerian nuthatch

Atlantic canary

Balearic warbler

Berthelot's pipit

Blue chaffinch

Bolle's pigeon

Cape Verde swamp warbler

Caucasian black grouse

Caucasian snowcock

Corsican finch

Corsican nuthatch

Cyprus warbler

Cyprus wheatear

Fuerteventura chat

Iago sparrow

Krüper's nuthatch

Laurel pigeon

Madeira firecrest

Plain swift

Raso lark

Scottish crossbill

Spanish imperial eagle

Tenerife goldcrest

Trocaz pigeonIn addition the following species are endemic to the region:

Northern bald ibis

Rock partridge

Red-legged partridge

Barbary partridge

Cory's shearwater

Cape Verde shearwater

European storm-petrel

European shag

Red kite

Levant sparrowhawk

Mediterranean gull

White-eyed gull

Audouin's gull

Red-necked nightjar

Middle spotted woodpecker

Iberian green woodpecker

European green woodpecker

Levaillant's woodpecker

European crested tit

Sardinian warbler

Dartford warbler

Citril finchThe following are near-endemics

Squacco heron

Lulusar-Dudipatsar National Park

Lulusar-Dodipat National Park is located in the Kaghan Valley in Mansehra District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. The park was created in 2003. The scenic Dudipatsar Lake and Lulusar Lake and peaks are in the park.

Northwestern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows

The Northwestern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows is a montane grasslands and shrublands ecoregion of the elevations of the northwestern Himalaya of China, India, and Pakistan.


Perdicinae is a subfamily of birds in the pheasant family, Phasianidae, regrouping the partridges, Old World quails, and francolins. Although this subfamily was considered monophyletic and separated from the pheasants, tragopans, junglefowls, and peafowls (Phasianinae) till the early 1990s, molecular phylogenies have shown that these two subfamilies actually constitute only one lineage. For example, some partridges (Perdix genus) are more closely affiliated to pheasants, whereas Old World quails and partridges from the Alectoris genus are closer to junglefowls.Perdicinae is a non-migratory Old World group. These are medium-sized birds, and are native to Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. They are ground-nesting seed-eaters. The subfamily includes the partridges, the snowcocks, the francolins, the spurfowl and the Old World quail.

Pin Valley National Park

Pin Valley National Park is a National park of India located within the Lahaul and Spiti district, in the state of Himachal Pradesh, in far Northern India.

Ruby Mountains

The Ruby Mountains are a mountain range, primarily located within Elko County with a small extension into White Pine County, in Nevada, United States. Most of the range is included within the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. The range reaches a maximum elevation of 11,387 feet (3,471 m) on the summit of Ruby Dome. To the north is Secret Pass and the East Humboldt Range, and from there the Rubies run south-southwest for about 80 miles (130 km). To the east lies Ruby Valley, and to the west lie Huntington and Lamoille Valleys. The Ruby Mountains are the only range of an introduced bird, the Himalayan snowcock, in North America.

The 'Rubies' were named after the garnets found by early explorers. The central core of the range shows extensive evidence of glaciation during recent ice ages, including U-shaped canyons, moraines, hanging valleys, and steeply carved granite mountains, cliffs, and cirques. All of these features can be seen from 12-mile Lamoille Canyon Road, a National Forest Scenic Byway which traverses Lamoille Canyon, entering the range near the town of Lamoille.

Saiful Muluk National Park

Saiful Muluk National Park (Urdu: سیف الملوک نیشنل پارک‎) is located in the Kaghan Valley in Mansehra District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, in northern Pakistan. The park was created in 2003, and is centred upon the alpine Saif ul Maluk Lake.

Salim Ali National Park

Salim Ali National Park or City Forest National Park was a national park located in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India. It covered an area of 9.07 km2. Notified in 1986, the name of the park commemorated the Indian ornithologist Salim Ali. The park was converted into the Royal Springs Golf Course, Srinagar between 1998 and 2001 by Farooq Abdullah, the then Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir.His interest in Golf is very well known and his popular name 'Farooq Daand' (meaning Bull in english) mesmerized him and encouraged him for the Golf course project next to Ecologically fragile Dal Lake.

The park featured a wildlife species such as the hangul, musk deer, Himalayan black bear, leopard, Himalayan serow and 70 species of birds, including the paradise flycatcher, Himalayan monal, and Himalayan snowcock.

Shikahogh State Reserve

Shikahogh State Reserve (Armenian: Շիկահողի արգելոց) is Armenia’s second largest forest reserve, covering some 10,330 ha of land, and located in southern Armenia in the Syunik Province. Environmentalists have said it has been largely unaffected by Armenia’s massive post-Soviet deforestation due to its remote location and care shown by residents of nearby villages.

The Shikahogh State Reserve is home to about 1,100 species of plants, 70 of which have been registered in the Red Book of Armenia and 18 in the Red Book of the Soviet Union. The fauna of Shikahogh has not been fully explored, but studies have already revealed rare species of animals such as leopard, bezoar, bear, snowcock, viper, and hedgehog.

Sibley-Monroe checklist 1

The Sibley-Monroe checklist was a study of birds conducted by Charles Sibley and Burt Monroe. It drew on extensive DNA-DNA hybridisation studies to reassess the relationships between modern birds.

The Sibley-Monroe assignment of individual species to families, and of families to orders remains controversial however. Critics maintain that while it marks a great leap forward so far as the evidence from DNA-DNA hybridisation goes, it pays insufficient attention to other forms of evidence, both molecular and on a larger scale. There is no true consensus, but the broad middle-ground position is that the Sibley-Monroe classification, overall, is "about 80% correct". Research and debate concerning bird classification continue.

There are 9,994 species on the checklist, which is begun below and continues in several parts.

Snow partridge

The snow partridge (Lerwa lerwa) is a gamebird in the pheasant family Phasianidae found widely distributed across the high-altitude Himalayan regions of India, Pakistan, Nepal and China. It is the only species within its genus. The species is found in alpine pastures and open hillside above the treeline but not in as bare rocky terrain as the Himalayan snowcock and is not as wary as that species. Males and females look similar in plumage but males have a spur on their tarsus.

Tibetan snowcock

The Tibetan snowcock (Tetraogallus tibetanus) is a bird in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes, gallinaceous birds. This species is found in high-altitude regions of the Western Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, where it overlaps in part with the larger Himalayan snowcock. The head is greyish and there is a white crescent patch behind the eye and underside is white with black stripes. In flight the secondaries show a broad white trailing edge.

Wildlife of Ladakh

The flora and fauna of [Ladakh] was first studied by [Ferdinand Stoliczka], an [Austria]n[Czech people|Czech][palaeontologist], who carried out a massive expedition in the region in the 1870s. The fauna of Ladakh have much in common with that of Central Asia generally, and especially those of the Tibetan Plateau. An exception to this are the birds, many of which migrate from the warmer parts of India to spend the summer in Ladakh. For such an arid area, Ladakh has a great diversity of birds — a total of 318 species have been recorded (Including 30 species not seen since 1960). Many of these birds reside or breed at high-altitude wetlands such as Tso Moriri.


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