Big Boguty mountains, Almaty oblast
© Vassiliy Fedorenko
Male Mongolian Finch in breeding plumage has pale-brownish crown, head-flanks, mantle and wing coverts; not clear reddish supercillum is formed by reddish feather tips; uppertail is pale-brownish with pinkish tinge, which sometimes is quit brightly. Primaries are brownish with reddish and white edges of outer webs; secondaries are brownish with whitish tips and quit broad white edges of outer webs on median secondaries and with pinkish edges on outer ones. Greater coverts are brown with whitish edges in base and with reddish edges in terminal part of outer webs. Consequently wing have two quite broad whitish bars and one reddish bar. Throat, breast and flanks are off-grey pinkish tones; middle-belly and undertail are pale-grey. Tail feathers are brownish with white edges. Female in breeding plumage is similar on male but reddish and pinkish tones on female are paler; reddish tones are almost hid on head, on underparts and slightly expressed on wings. In fresh autumn plumage adults are clay-brownish above, with slightly visible mottles formed by dark cores. Flight feathers are with broad light clayey and whitish edges; underparts are off-grey with not clear pinkish tinge. Pink edges on flight feathers are almost invisible. Juveniles in first plumage are similar on autumn adults but without pink tones and with clear buffy-clay tinge on all underparts. Legs are yellowish, bill yellowish-horn, eyes are brown. Size: males: wing 87-91, tail 52-60 mm; females: wing 81-90, tail 52-55,7 mm. Weight: 17.8 - 26 gr.
Mongolian Finch breeds in Central Kyzylkum desert (Arystanbeltau) at border with Kazakhstan, in lowers of Ugam and Pskem valleys, probably in Karatau, where observed in summer. It also lives in Chu-Iliyskiye Mts., on Khantau Mt. and Dzhambul Mt.; in eastern spurs of Zailiyskiy Alatau (Turaygyr, Bolshiye Boguty, Malyye Boguty), Charyn canyon; in rocks of Kapchagay; in south-western spurs of Dzhungarskiy Alatau (Katutau, Altynemel, Matay, Chulak). Further to north it nests in Betpak-Dala desert, Monrak ridge and on northern slopes of Saur ridge; in southern foothills of Kurchumskiy ridge in Southern Altai; in low mountains of Zaysan depression (at spurs of Azutau ridge) and Northern Trans-Balkhash area (Mointy, Targyl, Bektauata), and in places of Kazakhishe upland (Zhorga and 150 km to east from Karkaralinsk). In said area including highlands Mongolian Finch occurs on migration and sometimes winters. At once observed on Markakol lake 9 October 1983.
Mongolian Finch is common, in places an abundant breeding migrant. It inhabits stony chines in deserts mountains with rare vegetation; stony canyons and clay precipices of low xerophytic mountains at 500-2000 m; usually not far from water. On migration it occurs in saxaul forests, in river valleies with riparian vegetation; and in alpine highland belt too. In spring Mongolian Finch appears in mid-February - early March, but in some places - in early-mid April only. At Chokpak Pass latest birds caught 14 May 1969 and 1975. It breeds in loose colonies. Nest is built by female (male escort her) on ground under shelter of bush or stone; in excavation and cracks of rock; in clay precipice; or in grave construction. Nest is built from dry twigs and grass stems; and is lined with thin grass and hair. Clutches of 4-6, very rare of 8 eggs founded from mid-May to end of June; independent juveniles near the colonies were observed in mid - end July. Autumn migration begins late and passes from end of September till end of November. In small numbers Mongolian Finch winters in Kazakhstan.
"Птицы Казахстана" том 5. "Наука". Алма-Ата, 1974. Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999. Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005.
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