Urocynchramidae – Przevalski’s Finch

Przevalski's Finch Urocynchramus pylzowi ©Craig Brelsford Website

Przevalski’s Finch, previously called Pink-tailed Rosefinch, is a relict member of an ancient separate lineage that is as old as, or older than other families of finches; it belongs in its own monotypic family Urocynchramidae. The one species is named for Nikolai Przhevalsky, the Russian explorer who described it. Its taxonomic affinities were unclear for a long time, giving rise to other common names, such as the Pink-tailed Bunting and the Przewalski’s Rosefinch. In 2000 it was proposed that it should in fact be regarded neither as a finch nor a bunting, but as the only member of the family Urocynchramidae, something that had been originally proposed in the German ornithological literature as long ago as 1918 by Janusz von Domaniewski, and also by Wolters in 1979. This change was adopted in the sixth edition of the Clements checklist.

Przewalski’s finch is a small bird similar in appearance to the Long-tailed Rosefinch. The tail is long and, quite unlike in typical finches, graduated, with the outer feathers much shorter than the central ones. They are sexually dimorphic, with the males having bright pink on the throat, breast and belly. Both sexes have brown streaked plumage on the back and wings. The bill is thinner than those of the rosefinches. The morphological feature which is diagnostic for the Urocynchramidae is the outer primary; in finches and buntings this feather is vestigial but in the Przewalski’s finch it is two-thirds the length of the next primary.

It lives at elevations between 3,050 and 5,000 metres, usually in pairs during the breeding season and in small flocks during the winter. Przhevalsky described the species’ song as similar to that of buntings. The species has not been studied much in the wild, and little is known of its behaviour. It is not thought to be threatened by human activities and is listed as least concern on the IUCN Red List.

The one species is:

Przevalski’s Finch Urocynchramus pylzowi

Species Links
  • Przewalski's Finch Urocynchramidae

    Family Account
    Przevalski's Pinktail is an enigmatic passerine endemic to the Tibetan Plateau. Because of the structure of its horny palette, it was traditionally classified as an emberizid bunting ...
  • Przewalski's Finch Urocynchramidae

    Family Account
    The Przevalski's finch or Przewalski's finch (Urocynchramus pylzowi) is an unusual passerine bird from the mountains of central-west China.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 1

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