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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 rockfaces. Only males in summer plumage show the black throat, being greyish/buff 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 colors makes a comparison of the flying bird to a butterfly obvious.
There are two subspecies:
Nests at high altitudes on cliffs and rockfaces in Eurasian mountain ranges. In winter, many birds, forced by harsh conditions descend to a lower altitude when they can sometimes be encountered in upland villages and towns, using buildings as a substitute for natural cliffs.
Shuffles over bare rock, regularly flicking out its wings, showing the crimson colouration.
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