Probably closely related to S. butleri; formerly considered to include latter as race. Has hybridized with S. uralensis#R. Until recently, included S. nivicolum (with ma and yamadae) as subspecies, which differs in having entirely different song (a double “huhu”, repeated with a space of several seconds, vs the two-stage “huuu (long pause) wu-hrrruuu” of aluco (4); considerably darker plumage (dark brown vs grey-brown, greatly reduced white admixed with grey) (2); markedly more strongly barred tail (2); overall similar size but shorter tail (160–192 mm vs 205–220 mm in published data) (at least 1). Geographical limits of races obscure; nominate aluco intergrades with siberiae, and sylvatica with sanctinicolai. Several additional races named, but considered probably not acceptable because of species’ considerable individual variation and polymorphy; populations from Iberia, Asia Minor and Middle East sometimes separated as clanceyi (included in sylvatica), those from SW Russia as volhyniae (now in nominate) and those from S Caspian as obscurata (subsumed within willkonskii). DNA barcoding shows strong genetic differences between the North African race mauritanica and the Iberian populations#R. Eight subspecies recognized.
Food and feeding
Status and conservation
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