Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Altai Snowcock (Tetraogallus altaicus)


French: Tétraogalle de l’Altaï German: Altaikönigshuhn Spanish: Perdigallo altaico

Perdix altaica


, 1836,

Argut River in Katun Mountains, Altai


Has been included with T. tibetanus in a species-group, the “white-bellied snowcocks”. Somewhat paler birds in SW Mongolia have sometimes been treated as race orientalis, but differences from others in species’ range appear trivial. Monotypic.


S Siberia (Sayan Mts), and extreme NE Kazakhstan E in Altai Mts to Tuva and NW Mongolia and, in S, through Gobian Altai to Gurvan Sayhan Uul and N Xinjiang (China).

Descriptive notes

c. 57–58 cm; male c. 3000 g, female c. 2540 g. Similar to T. tibetanus, but white underparts are not streaked black, and breast spotted black, as opposed to... read more


Poorly known; vocalizations reported to be more raucous and coarser than T. caucasicus but... read more


Steppes, alpine meadows and tundra in mountain ranges, from 400 m (e.g. in W Tuva) up to snowline;... read more

Food and feeding

Tubers, bulbs, seeds, shoots (e.g. Betula), and berries, including Berberis; up to 40 plant species reported in diet,... read more


Monogamous and territorial, but males flock together once females have laid their final eggs. Lays c. mid Mar, exact date depending upon... read more


Altitudinal movements not generally recorded, but in NW China reported to descend to c. 2000 m in... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Overall status remains unclear. Considered a rare and endangered species in USSR in 1978. Although range may amount to over 100,000... read more

Recommended citation

McGowan, P.J.K. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Altai Snowcock (Tetraogallus altaicus). 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 11 December 2019).