Scientific Name- Tetraogallus himalayensis
Other Synonym- Himalayan Snow Partridge
IUCN Category- Least Concern
Behaviour and Ecology- Himalayan Snowcocks are gregarious when not breeding, moving around in small groups. Several groups may inhabit the same hill. They keep entirely to open country and seem to prefer rocky hill-sides. They feed on grass, shoots, berries and seeds. In the mornings the birds fly downhill to drink water. When approached from below their level, they attempt to climb up the slopes by walking and when approached from above, they dive down the valleys on open wings. It is silent in winter but in spring, its call is a familiar part of the landscape. The song is a loud whistle with three parts with the tone ascending. They also make a rising, shrill piping call.
When feeding they walk slowly up hill, picking up the tender blades of grass and young shoots of plants on the way. They have been noted feeding on the berries of Ephedra, leaves of Artemisia, grass shoots, bulbs and the heads of a rye-like grass. Once they reach the top of a ridge of the hill, they fly off to adjacent hill, alighting some distance down, and again picking their way upwards. When walking, they cock their tails showing the white under tail coverts. They are generally wary and when disturbed run uphill and then launch themselves from the crests in flight, getting up considerable speed. They are more prone to predation on the alpine pastures than on steep slopes and flocking helps them to keep more eyes out for predators allowing them to forage more efficiently.
Breeding- In India, the breeding season is in summer, April to June. During courtship, the male crouches low down to the ground with wings slightly spread, tail depressed and feathers slightly ruffled. Then, he runs backwards and forwards in front of the hen or in circles.
The nest is a bare ground scrape sheltered under a stone or bush, preferably close to the crest of a ridge on the leeward side. About 5 to 12 long oval eggs are laid which are a stony olive or brown coloured and spotted throughout with red or brown. The eggs are incubated only by the female. The male is monogamous, staying in the vicinity of the nest often seen perched on some elevated rock and keeping a watch against intruders. When disturbed, the cock warns the female with a loud whistle. If caught unaware in the nest, the hen bird will not leave the nest until approached very close. The eggs hatch in about 27–28 days.
Threat- The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.
Reference- Wikipedia and Birdlife International