Brandt’s Mountain Finch

Brandt’s Mountain finch    Leucosticte brandti

Etymology :

  • Leucosticte :  Greek word leukos –white;  stiktos- spotted  { White Spotted}
  • Brandti : Named after Prussian Zoologist Johann Friedrich von Brandt (1802–1879)

 Distribution in India: Resident of Himalayas in India.

Description: Size of 17-19 cm. It is a medium-sized to large, slender or robustly built pale grey to blackish finch with pointed bill, long wings and notched tail. The male of nominate race in breeding has head dark grey to grey, blackish on forecrown and foreface; lower nape and upperparts pale grey to grey-brown, streaked blackish-brown, lower back and rump pale pearl-grey with rosy-pink feather edges, rump tipped paler or grey, uppertail-coverts pale grey, tipped paler; tail blackish-brown, all outer feathers edged and tipped whitish or whitish-buff; lesser upperwing-coverts pale grey, tipped pale pink or white, median and greater coverts blackish, broadly edged pale or frosted grey; alula, primary coverts and flight-feathers blackish, finely edged and tipped pale grey, tertials broadly edged pale buffish-grey; throat and underparts dingy grey-brown, tinged buffish and paler on undertail-coverts; iris dark brown; bill and legs black. The non-breeding male has head to mantle and back buff-brown or tawny-brown, blackish tips on forehead and crown, broad pale buff edges of greater coverts, tertials and tips of flight-feathers; bill dark brown with yellow base in winter. Female is very like male, but has rump duller grey, with pink less extensive. In flight it forms tight, swift, twisting and wheeling formations.

Habitat: It is found during breeding on montane crags and cliffs, barren, treeless plateaux, boulderfields, stony alpine meadows and high-altitude valleys, and scree slopes, often in boggy areas or along edges of streams in summer, at 2100–6000 m. In winter found around farmland and edges of cultivation at lower altitudes; 1500m to 3600 m

Food Habits: It eats seeds and shoots of small alpine plants, some cereals, including barley taken from fallow fields and sometimes berries of juniper .It forages on the ground, and often along edge of snow-melt or from snowfields; takes floating seeds from edge of montane lakes, also readily perches on long grasses, bushes, boulders and walls. It is gregarious throughout year.

Breeding Habits: They breed in June- Aug in India. The male defends the nest and its partner, but not territory. Male lands close to female and displays with head raised and bill pointing skywards, wings partially spread, drooped and quivered, and tail partially raised and spread, while giving rapid weak trill. The nest is a loose or rough cup of grass, moss, leaves, animal hair and feathers, placed deep in hole, crevice, beneath rocks or loose stones or down rodent burrow. It lays a clutch of 3–5 eggs. The incubation is done by female who is fed on nest by male. The incubation period is 13 days. The chicks fed and cared for by both parents. The nestling period is 15–17 days.