(1990) Tetraogallus tibetanus tibetanus.
THE TIBETAN- SNOW-COOK.
Tetraogallus tibetanus Gould, P. Z. S., 1853, p. 47 (Tibet, Ladak) ; Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 144 (part.).
Vernacular names. Utar Utar (Turki); Hailik (Mongols); Ganmo (Tanguts).
Description.— Adult male. Lores and edge of forehead buffish-grey ; chin, throat and posterior ear-coverts white ; crown, nape, hind-neck and extreme upper back dark grey, very finely powdered with buffy-white; back, rump and lesser wing-coverts like the upper back but with bolder pale vermiculations ; a lunar band across the back and shoulders paler; rump and lower back with pale buffish margins to each feather; upper tail-coverts and central tail-feathers rufous with narrow wavy bands of blackish-grey ; outer tail-coverts chestnut- or brownish-black with chestnut tips; scapulars, wing-coverts and innermost secondaries like the back but with broad white or fulvous-white margins to each feather ; primaries brown with pale tips, increasing in size inwardly; outer secondaries broadly tipped and edged with white, forming a conspicuous white wing-patch; breast white, divided from the rest of the lower plumage by a band of grey feathers, edged blackish and obsoletely vermiculated with white"; remainder of lower plumage white, the feathers with black edges forming streaks, broadest on the flanks and posterior abdomen ; vent and thigh-coverts vermiculated grey and buff with white tips.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown to red-brown; bill horny-purple, the base and membrane over the nostril orange-red; orbital skin and eyelid slaty-blue; legs and feet dull orange-red to deep red.
Measurements, Total length about 500 mm.; wing 255 to 276 mm.; tail 170 to 192 mm.; tarsus 62 to 65 mm.; culmen 28 to 32 mm.
Female. Similar to the male but with the grey pectoral band much vermiculated with pale fulvous ; the breast and neck are generally mottled more or less with brown fulvous barred feathers as in the young bird but this mottling nearly disappears in old birds.
Young bird. The white supercilium more conspicuous than in the adult; the sides of the head and neck are boldly barred with buff; the feathers of the back have pale mesial lines and there is no dorsal band; the feathers of the wing are mottled black and buff with white drops at the tips; chin and throat white; breast grey, vermiculated with whitish and mottled with dark brown and buff; abdomen and flanks white with no streaks.
Distribution. Pamirs, Yarkand, Kashgar to Ladak and North-West Tibet.
Nidification. The Tibetan Snow-Cock breeds in Ladak and North-West Tibet in June and early July, a few birds laying in the end of May, as Osmaston took seven eggs near Leh on the 27th May at 14,800 feet. Their breeding-season must last some time, as in August Prjevalski found some young no bigger than Quails, whilst others were as big as their parents. The nest is just like that of the next bird, a mere scratching under shelter of a rock on the leeward side of a hill. The eggs number four to seven, so far as is known at present, and only differ from those of the next bird in being somewhat larger. Sixteen eggs average 63.8 x 44.1 mm.: maxima 68.6 x 44.0 and 66.4 x 46.9 mm. ; minima 58.4 x 42.4 and 60.5 x 41.1 mm.
This Snow-Cock breeds up to 17,000 feet on the very edge of the snow-line or even beyond it in partly-protected spots on the Southern slopes.
Habits. The Ladak Snow-Cock is found in Summer up to 19,000 feet, whilst in Winter they keep mostly between 10,000 and 14,000 feet. It is never found in forest but keeps to grass-covered plateaux and ridges or to the more barren and stony plains where there is but little vegetation. Their habits do not differ from those of the next bird.