Family Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)

Least Concern

Black-winged Snowfinch (Montifringilla adamsi)


French: Niverolle du Tibet German: Adamsschneesperling Spanish: Gorrión de Adams
Other common names: Adams's Snowfinch, Tibetan Snowfinch

Montifringilla Adamsi


, 1859,

Ladakh, India


Has in the past sometimes been considered conspecific with M. nivalis and M. henrici. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. a. adamsi Adams, 1859 – N Kashmir and Ladakh NE along N Tibetan Plateau, and SE along Himalayan chain to Sikkim (N India).
  • M. a. xerophila Stegmann, 1932 – C China from NE Qinghai–Gansu border (Qilian Shan) S to E Tibetan Plateau and SC Sichuan (Litang).
  • Descriptive notes

    17 cm. Nominate race has head grey-brown, faint paler supercilium and submoustachial streak, black chin and throat with small whitish feather tips; upperparts grey-brown with... read more


    Song a distinctive single note repeated rather monotonously from top of rock or during display-... read more


    Occupies rocky, high-altitude steppe country and the neighbourhood of upland villages; near edges... read more

    Food and feeding

    Seeds of alpine plants and insects. Forages on ground, searching under rocks, commonly at edge of snowfields, and catches insects in flight... read more


    Season May–Jul. Breeds in loose colonies or isolated pairs. Has well-developed parachuting display-flight, hovering and falling with... read more


    Nomadic, forming large flocks after breeding; tendency to remain at high altitudes through the... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common; rare and irregular in Sikkim.

    Recommended citation

    Summers-Smith, D. (2020). Black-winged Snowfinch (Montifringilla adamsi). 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 25 February 2020).