Family Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)

Least Concern

Afghan Snowfinch (Pyrgilauda theresae)


French: Niverolle d’Afghanistan German: Afghanenerdsperling Spanish: Gorrión afgano
Other common names: Afghan Ground-sparrow

Montifringilla theresae

R. Meinertzhagen

, 1937,

Shibar Pass, northern Afghanistan


In the past sometimes treated as conspecific with P. blanfordi, but significant plumage differences. Monotypic.


C Afghanistan (Hindu Kush Mts); some migrate to S Turkmenistan; old records from S Tajikistan#R.

Descriptive notes

13·5–15 cm; 18–35 g. Dull ground-sparrow with long, pointed bill. Male is mainly greyish-brown, with darker streaking on mantle; black from lores and... read more


Little information. Calls include fast "zig zig", a sharp "tsi" alarm, and in flight a soft "kwaik".


Open stony ground, slopes in mountains, flat steppes, in winter also farmland; 2400–3000 m.

Food and feeding

Small seeds and insects; insects include weevils (Curculionidae) and ants (Formicidae). Forages on ground; runs extensively, digs with feet... read more


Season Jun. In loose colonies. Nest constructed mainly from animal fur and feathers, placed in hole of small rodent, mainly suslik (... read more


Resident; some descend in winter to lower altitudes, both to S and to N, reaching SE Turkmenistan.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Restricted-range species: present in Afghanistan Mountains Secondary Area. Common, but local.

Recommended citation

Summers-Smith, D. (2020). Afghan Snowfinch (Pyrgilauda theresae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 22 February 2020).