Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Himalayan Snowcock (Tetraogallus himalayensis)


French: Tétraogalle de l’Himalaya German: Himalajakönigshuhn Spanish: Perdigallo himalayo

Tetraogallus himalayensis

G. R. Gray

, 1843,



Has been included with T. caucasicus and T. caspius in a “dark-bellied snowcock” group. Race sauricus has sometimes been spelt as saurensis, but former is correct#R. Geographical variation partly clinal, and dependent to some extent on type of substrate in region inhabited by the various populations. Races sewerzowi, incognitus and nominate himalayensis intergrade, and are sometimes synonymized#R. Extremes of the forms, however, are reasonably distinctive. Most distinct form, koslowi, has been elevated to species rank by some authors. Population of NW Afghanistan has been separated as race bendi, although usually included within incognitus. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. h. sauricus Potapov, 1993 – Tarbagatai Mts and Saur Mts, in E Kazakhstan.
  • T. h. sewerzowi Zarudny, 1910 – Tien Shan Mts N to Zaysan (E Kazakhstan) and E to NE Xinjiang (NW China).
  • T. h. incognitus Zarudny, 1911 – mountains of S Tajikistan and N & C Afghanistan.
  • T. h. himalayensis G. R. Gray, 1843 – E Afghanistan E to Ladakh (NW India) and C Nepal.
  • T. h. grombczewskii Bianchi, 1898 – W Kunlun Mts, in SW Xinjiang.
  • T. h. koslowi Bianchi, 1898 – WC China in S Xinjiang (Astin Tagh Range) E to Qinghai and S Gansu (S Nan Shan and Koko Nor Mts).
  • Introduced successfully to North America (NE Nevada).

    Descriptive notes

    54–72 cm; 2000–3629 g. Similar to T. caspius but breast paler and with more horizontal blackish streaking. Only member of genus with a thin brown collar... read more


    Advertising call is like that of T. caucasicus and T. caspius, a far-carrying 4... read more


    Open mountain slopes from just below tree-line up to snowline, chiefly between 2500 m and 6000 m;... read more

    Food and feeding

    In Jul–Aug in Hunza, Pakistan, predominantly bulbous roots and tubers, Ephedra berries, grasses (Poa, ... read more


    Lays late Apr to mid May; display in mid Apr in Tien Shan Mts, W China. Monogamous and territorial. Nests in depression amongst grass tufts... read more


    In general, reported to occur at 3500–5900 m in summer, moving down to 2100 m in winter if... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: Safe. Overall status remains unclear. Very widespread with range possibly covering > 1,000,000 km². No detailed... read more

    Recommended citation

    McGowan, P.J.K. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Himalayan Snowcock (Tetraogallus himalayensis). 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 16 December 2019).