Ornithological Note 42

Notes on breeding by Roborovski’s Rosefinch

Andrew Dixon September 22, 2015
Country: China (Northern)
Section(s): breeding biology, nest, Breeding

To my knowledge there is no published description of the nest and eggs of Roborovski's Rosefinch (Kozlowia roborowskii), an endemic species of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China. The species occurs at high altitude (c. 4500–5400 m a.s.l.) in montane habitats typified by rocky hillsides with sparse vegetation, steep scree slopes and stony plateaus (Thorpe & Allen 1996, Clement 2010). Neufeldt and Veitinghoff-Scheel (1978) suggested that the species probably nested in crevices and holes among stones in scree fields. A nest was reportedly found on 15/16 July 2007 on a hillside above the Er La pass, Qinghai (V. van der Speck, China: Sichuan & Qing Hai 7-27 July 2007, External link); this area being the location of regular sightings by bird-watching tour groups. Two juveniles were seen accompanying a female on 25 August 2006 at Er La (J. Dyczkowski, OBC Oriental Bird Images,External link) and a male was seen displaying to a female on 29 June 2011 at the same location (M. Kennewell, IBC Internet Bird Collection,http://ibc.lynxeds.com), supporting the assertion that breeding probably takes place from late July to early August (Clement 2010). On 23 July 2015 I found a nest on a hillside above the Er La pass, Qinghai.

The nest was at an altitude of 4650 m on a rocky slope of c. 25° with barren, unstable scree slopes on the steeper hillside above. It was in a crevice among boulders, in a cavity c. 15 cm back from the entrance. The nest was constructed entirely from plant stems, mainly grasses, some with seed heads attached. The five pale blue eggs were evenly but sparsely flecked with small red-brown and purple markings. During observation from 13:00–14:40 h, all incubation was undertaken by the female alone and she was fed three times at or near the nest site by the male at 50-minutes intervals. The female left the nest 20 minutes after the first feeding visit, making a long flight down the hillside, presumably to feed herself. Her return to the nest was missed, but 25 minutes after the second feeding visit by the male she again left the nest and returned after approximately five minutes. On the third feeding visit, the female left the nest cavity and begged for food from her mate near the nest entrance by crouching and quivering her wings; the male was seen to feed her with green plant material. Given the uncertain taxonomic position of Roborovski’s Rosefinch, it is worth noting that the egg colouration is typical of the genus Carpodacus rather than the unmarked white eggs of the genus Leucosticte.

Clement, P. (2010). Roborovski's Rosefinch (Kozlowia roborowskii). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2014). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/61404 on 3 September 2015).

Neufeldt, I.A. & Vietinghoff-Scheel, E. von (1978). Kozlowia roborowski (Przewalskii). 7th instalment in: Dathe, H. & Neufeldt, I.A. (eds.) (1978). Atlas der Verbreitung palaearktischer Vögel. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin. In German.

Thorpe, R.I. & Allen, D.S. (1996). Little-known oriental bird: Roborovski’s Rosefinch Kozlowia roborowskii. Bulletin of the Oriental Bird Club 23: 45–47.

Nest site Nest and eggs Female approaching nest Male approaching nest to feed female 

Recommended Citation

Dixon, A. (2015). Notes on breeding by Roborovski’s Rosefinch. HBW Alive Ornithological Note 42. In: Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow-on.100042
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