Family Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)

Least Concern

Rufous-necked Snowfinch (Pyrgilauda ruficollis)


French: Niverolle à cou roux German: Rothals-Erdsperling Spanish: Gorrión cuellirrufo
Other common names: Rufous-necked Ground-sparrow, Red-necked Snowfinch

Montifringilla ruficollis


, 1871,

Kangra Lama Pass, north Sikkim, India


Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. r. isabellina Stegmann, 1932 – N Tibetan Plateau from E Kunlun Shan and Altun Shan E to W Qilian Shan.
  • P. r. ruficollis (Blanford, 1871) – S & E Tibetan Plateau E to C China (SW Qinghai and W Sichuan), S to N Himalayas (Ladakh#R and N Nepal E to N Sikkim).
  • Descriptive notes

    13–15 cm; 23–28 g. Distinctive ground-sparrow with small, pointed bill. Nominate race is mainly rufous-brown, with distinctive head pattern of grey crown, white... read more


    Call a soft "duuid" or "doooid"; calls used in song in display-flight... read more


    High barren stony steppes and grassy plateaux, particularly on edges of small watercourses, rubbish... read more

    Food and feeding

    Seeds and insects. Forages on ground, and searches dung of domestic animals. Runs extensively; can dig with legs and bill. In pairs and... read more


    Season May–Jun. Breeding in solitary pairs or small groups. Strongly territorial; in display-flight rises silently, sings in diving... read more


    Nomadic; moves to lower altitudes in winter.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in most of range; scarce at S limits in Nepal and N India.

    Recommended citation

    Summers-Smith, D. (2020). Rufous-necked Snowfinch (Pyrgilauda ruficollis). 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).