Closely related to C. gularis, with which formerly considered conspecific. Recent mtDNA study, however, suggests that present species is closer to C. saturatus, the two being a sister-clade to C. gularis and C. rochii#R. Populations of EC Asia (Russian Altai and E Sinkiang through Mongolia to N & C China) sometimes separated subspecifically as telephonus on basis of size (smaller than subtelephonus) and pale plumage (like subtelephonus), but birds in this area are not constant in these characters and overlap with other races occurs; range limits of nominate and race subtelephonus in C Asia rather unclear. Other described races include kleinschmidti (Corsica), sardus (Sardinia) and johanseni (Tomsk region of Siberia), all subsumed within nominate; and fallax (C & S China), synonymized with bakeri. Four subspecies currently recognized.
Also locally in hills of C peninsular India (Vindhyas, Satpuras, etc.), where birds range from pale subtelephonus to dark bakeri#R.
Food and feeding
Status and conservation
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