Family Finches (Fringillidae)

Least Concern

Brandt's Mountain-finch (Leucosticte brandti)


French: Roselin de Brandt German: Mattenschneegimpel Spanish: Pinzón montano de Brandt
Other common names: Black-headed Mountain-finch

Leucosticte brandti


, 1850,



Race haematopygia seemingly distinctive, but linked to other subspecies by pamirensis. Proposed races audreyana (frequently accepted in modern literature, described from Yabuk, on Zemu Glacier, N Sikkim) and, in China, walteri (from Songpan, N Sichuan) and intermedia (from Burhan Budai Shan, Qinghai) synonymized with haematopygia. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. b. margaritacea (Madarász, 1904) – NE Kazakhstan (Tarbagatay and Altai Mts), S Russia (Altai, W Tuva and W Sayan Mts), NW China (N Xinjiang) and W Mongolia.
  • L. b. brandti Bonaparte, 1850 – Kyrgyzstan, SE Kazakhstan (Dzhungarskiy Alatau and Tien Shan) and W China (W & C Xinjiang); non-breeding also N Pakistan.
  • L. b. pamirensis Severtsov, 1883 – Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan (Pamir-Alai Mts and S Tien Shan), NE Afghanistan and W China (SW Xinjiang); non-breeding also N Pakistan.
  • L. b. pallidior Bianchi, 1908 – W & C China (Kunlun Shan E to N Qinghai); non-breeding E to NW Gansu.
  • L. b. haematopygia (Gould, 1851) – #RSW China (Xizang, Qinghai and NW Gansu S to W Sichuan and N Yunnan), Karakoram Mts and Himalayas E to NE Nepal and India (to at least Sikkim).
  • Descriptive notes

    16·5–19 cm; 26–34 g. Medium-sized to large, slender or robustly built pale grey to blackish finch with pointed bill, long wings and notched tail. Male... read more


    Song a short and weak trill, given during short breeding season. Call a loud "twitt-twitt... read more


    Breeds on montane crags and cliffs, barren, treeless plateaux, boulderfields, stony alpine meadows... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly seeds and shoots of small alpine plants, including those of Artemisia, Corydalis, Sedum, Primula... read more


    Season Jun–Aug. Colonial, loosely colonial or solitary; in Kazakhstan, three nests 80–200 m apart in cliff. Male defends nest... read more


    Resident and partial or altitudinal migrant. Those in higher-lying areas make post-breeding descent... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in most of range; scarce in N Pakistan, locally common or rare in Altai, and rare in Tuva. Locally abundant in non-breeding season. In Russian... read more

    Recommended citation

    Clement, P. & Arkhipov, V. (2020). Brandt's Mountain-finch (Leucosticte brandti). 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).