Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Caspian Snowcock (Tetraogallus caspius)


French: Tétraogalle de Perse German: Kaspikönigshuhn Spanish: Perdigallo del Caspio

Tetrao caspius

S. G. Gmelin

, 1784,

Astarabad, northern Iran


Has been included with T. caucasicus and T. himalayensis in a “dark-bellied snowcock” group. Races intergrade, and all three may be merely extremes of clinal variation#R; species has been treated as monotypic#R. Race tauricus should not be confused with another proposed taxon of identical name (tauricus Buturlin, 1933), but with different type and type locality (Caucasus; clearly in error)#R#R. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. c. tauricus Dresser, 1876 – S & E Turkey E to W Armenia.
  • T. c. caspius (S. G. Gmelin, 1784) – W Azerbaijan and NW Iran E to S Transcaspia.
  • T. c. semenowtianschanskii Zarudny, 1908 – Zagros Mts, in SW Iran.
  • Descriptive notes

    55–61 cm; male 2500–2684 g, female 1800–2344 g; wingspan 95–105 cm. Similar to T. caucasicus, but appears greyer, and breast thinly spotted... read more


    Territorial call a repeated, far-carrying, drawn-out modulated whistle, “wu-oo-wee-lee-uh”, with a... read more


    Mountain slopes, mostly from 2400 m up to snowline, but in some places down to 1800 m, and up to... read more

    Food and feeding

    Believed to be vegetarian, with similar diet to T. caucasicus, but no detailed studies. Like T. caucasicus, species flies... read more


    Lays in late Apr and May; courtship usually begins in Apr. Believed to be monogamous. Nests in the open or under a rocky overhang, in a... read more


    Mainly sedentary, but some altitudinal movement recorded in Turkey. In some areas does not descend... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: vulnerable. CITES I. Included on USSR Red List in 1978. Poorly known: based on extent of available habitat and abundance... read more

    Recommended citation

    McGowan, P.J.K., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2020). Caspian Snowcock (Tetraogallus caspius). 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 27 January 2020).