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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 11, 2021

Alpine Chough: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Read more interesting Alpine chough facts here

The Alpine chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus), also known as yellow-billed chough, is a crow bird of the family Corvidae. This chough is one of the only two species in the Pyrrhocorax genus. There are two extant subspecies of Alpine chough, P. g. digtatus, and P. g. graculus. Linnaeus first described Alpine chough as Corvus graculus in 1766 in Systema Naturae. The term Pyrrhocorax is a derivation of Greek terms, purrhos meaning 'flame-colored' and korax meaning 'raven.' The Alpine chough has a glossy black plumage with red legs and a yellow beak with distinct calls. This species pairs up for life. Previously, the Alpine chough name was given to red-billed chough. 'Chough' was first a substitute onomatopoeic term for Jackdaw, based on their call. Corvidae is a cosmopolitan family with passerine oscine birds. There are 133 corvids species in this family. The birds of this family are intelligent and self-aware. The population decline of these choughs is caused by climate change, parasitism, predation, and changes in agricultural practices.

If these facts about the Alpine chough were interesting, then make sure to read some fun palm warbler and eastern kingbird facts on Kidadl.

Alpine Chough Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Alpine chough?

The Alpine chough or yellow-billed chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus) is a crow bird of the order Passeriformes and phylum Chordata. The flight of the Alpine chough is buoyant acrobatic as their flight feathers are widely spread. Alpine choughs pairs for life and also shows fidelity to their breeding sites. The Alpine chough builds a lined stick nest and lays three to five eggs.

What class of animal does an Alpine chough belong to?

The Alpine chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus) belongs to the Aves class of animals.

How many Alpine choughs are there in the world?

The Alpine chough has a fragmented range. The distribution of their population is very large. There are around 260,000 - 620,000 individual species in Europe.

Where does an Alpine chough live?

The geographic distribution range of the Alpine chough includes North Africa, Asia, and Europe. The habitat range of this species is from the breeding sites of mountains of Spain eastwards towards southern Europe, the Alps, throughout Central Asia, and the Himalayas through western China. These choughs also occur in Corsica, Crete, and Morocco. The non-migratory residence of this species is across their range. However, the birds in Morocco have settled in a small colony in southern Spain in Malaga and some wanderers reach Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Cyprus, and Gibraltar.

What is an Alpine chough's habitat?

The Alpine chough species occur in high-altitude regions in the breeding season. These crow species occur at an altitude of 4,130-9,450 ft (1,260-2,880 m) in Europe, 11,500-16,400 ft (3,500-5,000 m) in Himalayas, and 9.450-12,800 ft (1,260-2,880 m) in Morocco. These bird species nest at an altitude of 21,300 ft (6,500 m), which is higher than any other species of the bird even more than the red-billed chough that has a diet less adapted to these ranges of altitude. They have also been observed to be accompanying mountaineers ascending Mount Everet. This bird usually nests in a cave or crevice. So, these birds inhabit high mountains, rock faces- cave or crevice, cliffs, scree slopes, alpine meadows, tree lines, human settlements, hotels, ski resorts, and other tourists facilities. They also seek shelter in towns and orchards in winter. If the weather is bad, they can be seen in a group (or in flocks) descending to a valley even in the summer seasons. The group (flocks) can also be seen on top of village roofs, a sign of early snow. So, they descend down the valley in winter during heavy snow.

Who do Alpine choughs live with?

The Alpine chough lives in a group called flocks. They also live in pairs in the breeding season. It has been observed that the pairs live together for more than eight years. This group can even have up to a thousand of these crow species can be seen in winter.

How long does an Alpine chough live?

The life span of the Alpine chough is up to 20 years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

The Alpine chough birds are monogamous species, they display pair fidelity in winter and summer every year. The pairs can stay together for life. The nesting process starts in May, which is non-colonial. However, many pairs can build nests close to each other. The nest is made of sticks, plant stems, and roots, lined with fin twiglets, hair, or grass. These nests may be built on ledges, in an abandoned building, or in a cave, or in an identical fissure in a cliff face. The female lays around three to five glossy whitish eggs, which measure around 1.33-0.9 in (33.9-24.9 mm) in size. These whitish eggs have a tinge of cream, light-green, or buff and have small brown blotches. Females incubate the eggs for 14-21 days. The young ones then hatch and are covered with natal down. This is different from their relatives, the red-billed chough, whose young ones are born naked. The chicks fledge in 29-31 days after hatching. Parents feed the young chicks and sometimes maybe fed by adults in the flock they joined. The chough eggs have fewer pores than other species which makes breeding possible in mountains. Also, the hemoglobin in the embryo of the bird species breeding species at high altitudes has a high affinity for oxygen. The Alpine chough nests in the western Italian Alps are at a variety of sites than red-billed chough. The red-billed choughs only use natural cliffs. The breeding success is not affected by the availability of food sources.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the Alpine chough is listed as Least Concern. However, they are threatened by the presence of heavy metals in mountain soils, pesticides, shooting, heavy rain, and other disturbances.

Alpine Chough Fun Facts

What do Alpine choughs look like?

This species has a crow-like appearance. The nominate Alpine chough (P. graculus) or yellow-billed chough has glossy black plumage, dark brown irises, red legs, and short yellow bill. This bird is smaller than the red-billed chough but has shorter wings and longer tails. They have an easy flight and similar buoyant. Males and females have the same appearance. The young bird has dull colors with brown legs and a dull yellow bill. These choughs are usually not confused with any other birds. However, red-billed chough and jackdaw share their habitats, the red-billed chough has a red bill and jackdaw has dull gray plumage and is smaller. P. g. digitatus subspecies are somewhat larger than the nominate species. The Alpine chough has an acrobatic and swift flight with loose deep beats of the wings. They fan their wings, fan their tail, and soar in updraughts at cliff faces for high maneuverability.

Alpine choughs have a fragmented range.

How cute are they?

The Alpine chough is not considered to be cute.

How do they communicate?

The Alpine chough call is whistled sweeeoo and rippling preep. These calls are quite different from the chee-ow calls of red-billed chougs and jackdaw.

How big is an Alpine chough?

The Alpine chough bird body size range is 15 in (37-39 cm) in length and tail length is 4.7-5.5 in (12-14 cm).  The Alpine chough wingspan is 30-33 in (75-85 cm). Females are slightly smaller than males. These birds are smaller than hooded crows by about 5 in (12.7 cm).

How fast can an Alpine chough fly?

The flight speed of the Alpine chough is not known. These birds are fast fliers. Their relatives, carrion crows can fly up to 70 mph (112.6 kph).

How much does an Alpine chough weigh?

The Alpine chough weight range is 396.8-595.2 lb (180-270 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name given to the female and male Alpine chough bird.

What would you call a baby Alpine chough?

There is no specific name given to the baby Alpine chough.

What do they eat?

The Alpine chough bird diet is carnivorous. This bird feeds on invertebrates in summer and fruits in winter and seeks food even in tourist sites. The winter, sutun, and early spring diets are mainly fruits like berries. This bird feeds on grasshoppers, snails, beetles, fly larvae, and caterpillars. The food forage flocks are bigger in winter than in summer. Where the food range of this species overlaps, this bird feeds with other groups of the same kind in summer. Tourist facilities at 8,202-9842.5 ft (2,500-3,000 m) provide a food source for these birds in winter.

Are they rare?

This black alpine chough is not a rare species in their natural habitats.

Would they make a good pet?

This crow species does not make a good pet. They

Did you know...

The white-winged chough of Australia with black plumage and same bill shape is distantly related to true chough.

The red-billed chough has a curved yellowish-brown bill. This curved bill helps them pick their prey. The red-billed chough was initially known as Cornish chough. Also, the young chick has pink legs and an orange bill.

Is the Alpine chough endangered?

No, the Alpine Chough is not an endangered species. However, they are threatened by the presence of heavy metals in mountain soils, pesticides, shooting, heavy rain, and other disturbances.

Why are they called Alpine choughs?

The Alpine chough got their name due to their habitat range, which includes the Alps. So, as the inhabitants of the Alps, these choughs are given a specific name.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these vesper sparrow facts and glossy ibis facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring on one of our free printable Alpine chough coloring pages.

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