Montifringilla nivalis, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 321 (1766) ; (Naum.), v. p. 4, Taf. 117 ; (Gould), B. of E. iii. pl. 189 ; Dresser, iii. p. 617, pl. 181 Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. xii, p. 259.
Niverolle, Pinson des neiges, French ; Fringuello alpino, Ital. ; Schneefink, German.
Male ad. (Switzerland). Crown and nape clear dark ashy grey, the sides of the head and neck paler ; back scapulars and innermost secondaries fulvous brown, with darker centres; rump darker, the upper tail-coverts black ; quills and middle rectrices blackish, narrowly tipped with white ; wing-coverts and secondaries white ; rest of tail-feathers white, all but the outermost tipped with black ; under parts white, the chin and middle of the throat deep black ; bill and legs black ; iris brown. Culmen 0.55, wing 4.55, tail 3.05, tarsus, 0.95 inch. In the winter the black feathers are obscured by white edges, and the bill is yellow with a dark tip. The female has the crown duller, the black patch on the throat smaller, and the under parts duller white.
Hab. The Pyrenees and Alps, ranging east to Palestine.
Frequents sterile, rooky districts high up in the mountains where it runs about amongst the stones in search of food, utter¬ing its call-note puitt, puitt or pitt, pitt, every now and again taking a short flight and again settling ; every now and then it will stand for a moment on any small eminence, slightly spread its wings, flirt its tail, and utter its note. In the winter it descends to lower levels and visits the valleys. Its food con¬sists of insects of various kinds, buds, and seeds. Two broods are usually raised in the season the first eggs being deposited in May, and the second lot in July. The nest is built of dry grass-straws, line roots, &c., lined with hair, wool, and feathers, and is placed amongst the rocks, and in the build¬ings of such hospices as are at considerable altitudes, such as the monastery of the Great St. Bernard. The eggs from 4 to 5 in number are pure white averaging about 0.94 by 0.65.
435. Montifringilla nivalis