(1110) Montifringilla nivalis alpicola.
The Caucasian Snow-Finch or Pallas's Snow-Finch.
Passer alpicola Pall, Zoogr. Rosso-Asiat., ii, p. 20 (1831) (Caucasia).
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description, - Male. Whole upper plumage brown, the head generally a trifle more greyish, back with dark centres ; upper tail-coverts white on the outside, black in the centre; central tail-feathers black, with narrow fulvous edges, the next pair black at base and tip, white elsewhere, other tail-feathers white, with black tips; lesser and median coverts white; greater coverts brown, tipped white; primaries black, edged with fulvous; outer secondaries white, inner secondaries brown, edged and tipped with white : chin and throat black ; remainder of plumage below, under wing-coverts and axillaries white.
If fresh plumage the black throat is almost hidden by the white fringes to the feathers.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill black in the breeding-season, horny-yellow to orange-yellow in Winter; legs, feet and claws black.
Measurements. Total length about 175 mm.; wing 114 to 122 mm.; tail 71 to 85 mm.; tarsus about 22 mm.; culmen about 14 to 15 mm.
Female. Similar to the male, perhaps a little duller and, apparently, never with so wide an extent of black throat.
Distribution. Caucasus, Persia, East Turkestan to Afghanistan. This was almost certainly the form seen by Whitehead in Chitral.
Nidification. The Caucasian Snow-Finch breeds during June and July, making a nest of fine and coarse grasses lined with feathers, which it places in a chamber at the end of a rat or other burrow, or else in a heap of stones or a hole in a stone wall. The eggs, three or four in number, are pure white and measure about 24.5 x 16.4 mm.
Habits. This Snow-Finch is an inhabitant of rocky, bare hills and desert at altitudes between 10,000 and 14,000 feet but is said to descend to about 3,000 feet in Winter. Whitehead met with it at about 11,000 feet on the Chitral mountains.