Toraigyr ridge, Almaty oblast
© Ilya Ukolov
Adult Rock Sparrow in breeding plumage are clay-grey above. Supercillium, crown-strip (which not always present) and nape-spot are grayish-white. Outer webs of mantle and shoulder feathers pale off-white, but inner ones are dark-brown. Flight feathers and wing coverts are dark-brown with pale edged. Two wing speculums are formed by pale parts of outer webs of primaries. On inner webs of tail feathers (exclude central pair) there are white terminal spots. Uppertail is pale-brownish. Ear coverts, cheeks, throat and craw are clay-brownish, all other underparts are slightly paler, brownish-white with or without dark-brown streaks. Feathers of undertail are pale-brownish with white tips. There is large yellow patch on throat. Laegs are pale-brown, claws are dark-brown. Upper mandible is dark-brown, low mandible is some paler. Eyes are dark-brown. After autumn moulting feathers have broad buffy edges. Juveniles don't have yellow patch on throat; upperparts are rusty tinged; underparts are off-white buffy tinged without streaks. Legs are pale-yellow. Sizes - wing 90-103 mm, tail 48-58 mm, weight males 28.8-40.0, females 30.0-39.0 gr.
Rock Sparrow breeds in steppes and semi-deserts of Western Kazakhstan and in mountains and foothills of Eastern And South-Eastern Kazakhstan. The detailed distribution in Kazakhstan please see in the chapter "Races".
Rock Sparrow is common breeding migrant. It inhabits rock canyons in mountains at 1250-3000 m; or steppes and semi-deserts with clay precipices, piles of stones and human constructions. In spring Rock Sparrow appears in the end of February - early March, most intense migration observed in March; migration finishes in mid-April. Rock Sparrow breeds in colonies up to several dozen pairs. Nest is built in rock cracks, excavations, in nests of Rock Nuthatch, House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, in clay holes (holes of Bee-eater and Sand Martin are used too), between stones, under bridges, in cavities of human constructions, and even on juniper tree among thick twigs interlacing. Nest is made from dry and green grass and is lined with feathers, hairs and fuzz. Clutches of 3-8, usually 5-6 eggs founded from early April to end of June. Both parents feed nestlings, which fledge from second half of May to early August. Two broods per season. Autumn migration begins in middle - end August, but majority of the birds leave breeding areas in end of September - October. In southern areas Rock Sparrow in low numbers recorded in winter.
|Petronia petronia kirhizica (Sushkin, 1925)|
Description. The lightest race. Crown is lighter, dark back strips more light-brown, less black-brown, under parts cleaner-white, less brownish-white than in intermedia.
|Petronia petronia intermedia (Hartert, 1901)|
Description. Crown darker, back strips more black-brown, less light-brown, under parts more brownish-white, less clean-white than in kirhizica.
|Petronia petronis brevirostris (Taczanowski, 1874)|
Description. Light crown strip less expressed, than at other races. Back streaks more brown, less black than in intermedia, but darker than in kirhizica. Pattern of dark streaks on upper parts is less contrast and more washed; bill shorter and thicker, than in other races.
"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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