Family Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)

Least Concern

Plain-backed Snowfinch (Pyrgilauda blanfordi)


French: Niverolle de Blanford German: Blanforderdsperling Spanish: Gorrión de Blanford
Other common names: Blanford's Snowfinch, Blanford's Ground-sparrow

Montifringilla Blanfordi

A. O. Hume

, 1876,

borders of Tibet to the north of Sikkim, Xizang, China


Has in the past sometimes been treated as conspecific with P. theresae, but significant plumage differences. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. b. ventorum Stegmann, 1932 – NW China from SE Xinjiang (Altun Shan) E to NW Qinghai.
  • P. b. barbata Przevalski, 1887 – NC China (E Qinghai).
  • P. b. blanfordi (A. O. Hume, 1876) – Tibetan Plateau from S Qinghai S to E Ladakh, N Nepal and N Sikkim, possibly also Uttarakhand and Bhutan.
  • Descriptive notes

    15 cm. Colourful finch-like bird with fairly small, conical bill, resembling P. ruficollis. Nominate race has characteristic face pattern of white forehead bisected... read more


    Rapid twittering song, given both from ground and in display-flight.


    Dry sandy plains and stony areas on edges of sparse, grassy steppes and in neighbourhood of... read more

    Food and feeding

    Seeds and insects. Forages on ground; runs extensively, digs with legs and bill. Forages near houses in winter. In pairs and small flocks;... read more


    Few data. Nests recorded May to early Jun. Breeds in loose colony. Strongly territorial; has hovering display-flight. Nest in burrow of... read more


    Mainly sedentary; some movement to lower altitudes and S to N India in winter.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to locally common.

    Recommended citation

    Summers-Smith, D. (2020). Plain-backed Snowfinch (Pyrgilauda blanfordi). 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 23 February 2020).