[order] Passeriformes | [family] Ploceidae | [latin] Montifringilla nivalis | [UK] Snow Finch | [FR] Niverolle alpine | [DE] Schneefink | [ES] Gorrión alpino | [IT] Fringuello alpino | [NL] Sneeuwvink

Sneeuwvink determination

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Snow finches are large, plumpish finch-like birds with a blue-gray head, brownish body, and white colorings that are visible while flying (on wings nearest the body and on tail except for dark brown bar that goes down the middle and dark brown spots across the ends). Males and females look similar, with females being paler and less white on the wings.

They are found in areas of barren, rocky ground and mountains at elevations from 2000 to 3500 meters. They are sometimes found near buildings that are located within these mountainous areas.

Montifringilla nivalis has a fragmented distribution in the mountains of central and southern Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global range. Its European breeding population is large (>520,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. This trend continued during 1990-2000, with populations across the entire European range—including the Turkish stronghold - remaining stable.

Their diet consists of grains during the winter, but will eat invertebrates during other seasons. Often, snow finches feed on seeds blown onto high snowfields. They also eat on scraps tossed out from human settlements. Young are fed only animal food.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 1,000,000-3,100,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

Snow finches are very social birds, often forming wandering groups and large flocks outside the breeding season. They spend most of their time on the ground hopping around with their wings folded. During the breeding season, they form loose colonies of up to six pairs. They build nests in rock crevices or holes in buildings. Nests are often built where trees are no longer found. They fill the crevice or hole with grasses and moss and line it with feathers. Females lay three to four eggs. The incubation period is thirteen to fourteen days, and the fledgling period is twenty to twenty-one days. Two clutches are possible each year. Both parents help to fed and take care of the young.

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