Family Crows and Jays (Corvidae)

Least Concern

Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)


French: Crave à bec rouge German: Alpenkrähe Spanish: Chova piquirroja

Upupa Pyrrhocorax


, 1758,



Hybrids with P. graculus reported very rarely. Isolated race baileyi differs vocally from others; taxonomic investigation needed. Birds in Inner Mongolia and W Heilongjiang (NE China) of uncertain racial identity, currently included in brachypus. Races intergrade, and size tends to increase clinally towards S. Several other races proposed, based on minor differences and/or intermediate populations: pontifex (Elburz Mts, in N Iran) and subdocilis (Khrebet Mts, on Turkmenistan–NE Iran border) synonymized with docilis; and stresemanni (Sayan Mts, in S Russia) included in centralis. Race erythroramphos often misspelt “erythrorhamphos”. Eight subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. p. pyrrhocorax (Linnaeus, 1758) – N, W & S Ireland, W Scotland, I of Man, Wales and SW England (Cornwall).
  • P. p. erythroramphos (Vieillot, 1817) – Portugal, Spain, NW & S France, SW Switzerland, C Italy, and Sardinia and Sicily.
  • P. p. barbarus Vaurie, 1954 – mountains of NW Africa (Morocco and Algeria); also Canary Is (La Palma).
  • P. p. docilis (S. G. Gmelin, 1774) – S Balkans, Greece (including Crete), and Turkey E to Caucasus, Levant (Lebanon, N Israel, C Syria), N Iraq, N Iran, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and W Pakistan.
  • P. p. centralis Stresemann, 1928 – NW Himalayas NE through Altai to Mongolia and Buryatia (S Russia) and, in S, E to SW China (SW Xizang), Kashmir and Ladakh.
  • P. p. himalayanus (Gould, 1862) – Himalayas E to Bhutan and NE India (Arunachal Pradesh) and to C & S China (C Gansu S to Sichuan and N Yunnan).
  • P. p. brachypus (Swinhoe, 1871) – NE & E China (Inner Mongolia and W Heilongjiang S to Ningxia, Shaanxi and Hebei).
  • P. p. baileyi Rand & Vaurie, 1955 – Simien (and nearby Mt Abune Yosef and Dilenta Highlands) and Bale Mts, in Ethiopia.
  • Descriptive notes

    38–41 cm; 207–375 g. A medium-sized, relatively small-headed and short-legged corvid with comparatively long, slim and gently decurved bill with tip of upper... read more


    Typical call a wheezy, hoarse "chaw" or a fading "ch'waa", delivered with... read more


    Occupies two habitat zones: coastal cliffs in W Europe, and high mountain pastures with rocky crags... read more

    Food and feeding

    Primarily insectivorous, almost entirely so in spring and summer. Larvae of craneflies (Tipulidae) important, along with small beetles (... read more


    Laying mainly middle to late Apr in Britain and Ireland, early May in S France, and late Apr to May in W China and Caucasus; single-brooded... read more


    Basically sedentary. Ringing studies in Britain suggest that young disperse over short distances,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common. In much of its wide range there is evidence of a decline in numbers, most evidently in Europe, where populations have... read more

    Recommended citation

    Madge, S. (2020). Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax). 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 19 January 2020).