Forms a species-group with D. assimilis, D. syriacus, D. leucopterus and D. himalayensis, probably including also D. darjellensis#R; hybridizes rarely with second and third of those, and named form tianshanicus (from C Tien Shan) considered to refer to offspring of mixed pairs of present species and D. leucopterus. Has interbred also with more distantly related D. leucotos. Recent study of mtDNA variation within this complex of taxa led to proposal, on basis of results of phylogenetic analysis (including gene flow), that races be divided into at least four distinct species, D. poelzami, D. japonicus, D. cabanisi (with stresemanni), and D. major (with remaining races)#R, at least two of those (japonicus, cabanisi) being found to be distinct also in subsequent, independent analyses#R; further, distinctive form numidus seems worthy of possible species treatment. Race mauritanus somewhat intermediate between nominate and numidus, but genetically closer to former; somewhat surprisingly, genetic difference between Canary Is and Eurasian races is minimal. Variation in plumage and biometrics over vast range is largely (but not wholly) clinal, races intergrading extensively and with many intermediate populations, thus many additional named races not certainly identifiable and considered unacceptable: anglicus (Britain), italiae (Pyrenees E to Switzerland and Italy), parroti (Corsica), lynesi (Atlas Mts in Morocco), candidus (S Russia, Romania, Bulgaria), paphlagoniae (N Turkey), tenuirostris (Crimea, Caucasus, Transcaucasia), tscherskii (Ussuriland and Sakhalin), hondoensis (N & C Honshu and smaller islands), wulashanicus (S Inner Mongolia), beicki (Gansu, in W China), mandarinus (S & SE China) and hainanus (Hainan I). Fourteen subspecies recognized.
Food and feeding
Status and conservation
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