Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
16Â·5â€“17 cm (6Â½-6Â¾ in) Unmistakable. The only small bird in Europe to show a combination of grey, black, red and white plumage, a long thin beak, and a habit for crawling over rock faces. Only males in summer plumage show the black throat, being greyish white in other plumages.
In flight, powers forward with deep irregular wingbeats and can appear much larger than it actually is. The shape of the wings and the wing colours makes a comparison of the flying bird to a butterfly obvious.
Placed in its own family with no very close relatives; genetic analysis shows it linked to nuthatches (Sittidae).
There are two subspecies:
Nests at high altitudes on cliffs and rockfaces in Eurasian mountain ranges. In winter, many birds are forced by harsh conditions descend to a lower altitude when they can sometimes be encountered in upland villages and towns, using larger buildings (castles, cathedrals, and similar) or quarries as a substitute for natural cliffs.
Shuffles over bare rock, regularly flicking out its wings, showing the crimson wings with their white spots. Likes ledges, overhangs, nooks and crannies - rarely bare rock; often close to waterfalls or wet rock. Seen regularly 'bouldering' along stream edges.
Not shy. Imitating the call can be productive.
Their diet consists of some larger insects, their eggs and larvae. Also spiders and other invertebrates.
 External Links