The Caspian Snowcock
The Caspian Snowcock (Tetraogallus caspius) is a snowcock in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes, gallinaceous birds.
It is found in the mountains of eastern Turkey and Armenia, where it breeds at altitudes from 1800-3000 m on bare stony ground with some alpine scrub. It nests in a bare ground scrape and lays 6-9 greenish eggs, which are incubated only by the female. Its diet consists of seeds and vegetable matter. It forms small flocks when not breeding.
This snowcock ranges from 56-63 cm long. Its plumage is patterned with grey, brown, white and black, but this snowcock looks pale grey from any distance. The breast is pale grey, the throat and a white patch on the side of the neck are white, and the nape is dark grey.
In flight, this wary bird shows white flight feathers and undertail. Male and female plumages are similar, but juveniles are slightly smaller and duller in appearance. There are three races differing in plumage saturation, becoming paler from west to east.
Caspian Snowcock has a desolate whistling song, vaguely like a Eurasian Curlew, sooo-looo-leeee. It differs from Caucasian Snowcock in that it does not have the drop in pitch at the end of the song shown by that species. The calls include loud cackles and bubbled buck-buck-buck-buck-burrrrrr.
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Animal in Armenia
Կասպիական հնդկահավ(“Kaspiakan hndkahav”)
Rare species. Included in the Red Book of the former Soviet Union.
Habitat in Armenia
Registered in Zangezur (summit Mt. Kaputjur, 3904m), Meghri (summit Mt. Baghatskar, 3249m), Bargushat (summit Mt. Aramazd, 3399m), Vayk (summit Mt. Gogi, 3120m), Vardenis (summit Mt. Vardenis, 3522m), Geghama (summit Mt. Ajdahak, 3598m), Pambak (summit Mt. Tejler, 3101m), Bazum (summit Mt. Urasar, 2992m), and a number of other mountain ranges.
Number in the wild
The natural habitat of this bird has never been very big. Thus, the number was small in Armenia. Nowadays there are some 500 species in Armenia.
Reasons for decrease in number
Intensive use of the territories for farming. Low reproduction rate, which is to disproportion of male and female birds in the natural habitats.
Number in captivity
Several species kept in the Institute of Zoology of Armenia.
Measures of protection taken
Hunting is forbidden in the territory of Armenia. Included in the Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. A small part of the natural habitat is included in Dilijan and Shikahogh Nature Reserves.