Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Tibetan Snowcock (Tetraogallus tibetanus)


French: Tétraogalle du Tibet German: Tibetkönigshuhn Spanish: Perdigallo tibetano

Tetraogallus Tibetanus


, 1854,

Tibet = Ladakh


Has been included with T. altaicus in a species-group, the “white-bellied snowcocks”. Geographical variation largely clinal, with darkest birds in C Tibet#R. Proposed race centralis (Tang-la Range, in S Qinghai) is included in przewalskii. Recent analysis of DNA markers from eight different populations on Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau, however, identified three phylogroups, those from Xunhua, in E Qinghai (race centralis), those in the Qilian Shan, in Gansu (przewalskii), and all others (also race przewalskii)#R. Further study clearly required. Six subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. t. tibetanus Gould, 1854 – E Pamirs and E Tajikistan SE to W Tibet and NW India (Ladakh and N Kashmir).
  • T. t. aquilonifer R. Meinertzhagen & A. C. Meinertzhagen, 1926 – S Tibet and W Nepal E to Bhutan and E Himalayas.
  • T. t. tschimenensis Sushkin, 1926 – Kunlun Shan and Altun Shan, in CW China.
  • T. t. przewalskii Bianchi, 1907 – WC China (Qinghai, SW Gansu and N Sichuan).
  • T. t. henrici Oustalet, 1892 – E Tibet to NW Sichuan.
  • T. t. yunnanensis Yang Lan & Xu Yan-gong, 1987 – N Yunnan, in S China.
  • Descriptive notes

    50–56 cm; male 1500–1750 g, female 1170–1600 g. Separated from other snowcocks by extensive white underparts with heavy blackish streaks on flanks; head... read more


    Recalls that of other Tetraogallus; advertising call is a far-carrying, Numenius-... read more


    Replaces T. himalyensis at highest elevations in areas of sympatry with latter species.... read more

    Food and feeding

    Almost no specific information, but apparently similar to T. himalayensis; grasses and herbs taken include Stellaria,... read more


    Considered probably monogamous. Pairs form in Apr, when winter flocks begin to disband. Season lasts from late May to early Jul (one record... read more


    Up to 5800 m in summer months, moving down to 2500–4000 m in winter; apparently sometimes... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: safe. CITES I. Widely distributed, with range believed to be in excess of 500,000 km²; detailed surveys in some... read more

    Recommended citation

    McGowan, P.J.K. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Tibetan Snowcock (Tetraogallus tibetanus). 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 10 December 2019).