Closely related to E. yessoensis and E. pallasi, and all three sometimes placed in genus Schoeniclus. Race minor sometimes included in E. pallasi. Geographical variation complex and considerable within wide range; broadly, N races are smaller, with thinner bill, and S races larger, with thicker bill with strongly curved culmen; also clinal variation evident, birds becoming paler from W to E of species’ range. For convenience, races can be divided into four groups, i.e. “northern group”, “eastern group”, “central group” and “southern group”; these perhaps represent more than one species, e.g. in N Italy apparent lack of interbreeding between thin-billed nominate race and thick-billed intermedia where the two meet, and clear (though weak) degree of genetic differentiation detected between them. Song divergence possibly a significant factor in incipient speciation#R. Almost 40 races described, some representing points along a cline, others based on trivial differences, and these considered not to merit recognition. In addition, contradictory statements in the literature and, in some cases, inadequate information make delimitation of races difficult; ranges and descriptions given below are provisional and to some extent tentative, and should be treated with a degree of caution. Other proposed races include goplanae (described from Warsaw, in Poland), mackenziei (from South Uist, in Outer Hebrides) and turonensis (from Mézières-en-Brenne, in Indre Department of C France), all synonymized with nominate, and pallidissima (from Verkhy Karelina, in upper R Nizhnyaya Tunguska, and Olekminsk, in WC Siberia), treated as synonym of parvirostris. Thorough review required. Twenty subspecies currently recognized.
Food and feeding
Status and conservation
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