Alpine accentor

Prunella collaris

TAXONOMY

Prunella collaris Scopoli, 1769. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Accenteur Alpin; German: Alpenbraunelle; Spanish: Acentor Alpino.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Length is about 7.5 in (18 cm). A drab songbird, with a slender, pointed beak and stout feet and legs. Upperparts are brownish gray streaked with black and lighter colors; under-parts are more uniformly gray, with chestnut on the flanks.

DISTRIBUTION

A widespread species in the mountains of Europe and Asia. Also has a minor presence in North Africa.

HABITAT

Inhabits high alpine meadows and rocky slopes above the tree-line. A short-distance migrant that breeds at high altitude and winters in lower valleys.

BEHAVIOR

Possibly because of a lack of large predators and scarcity of food at high altitude, the alpine accentor is rather unafraid to approach humans for food. Its song is a high-pitched warbling, sometimes given in flight.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Forages on the ground for insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. Feeds on seeds and fruits during the winter.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Builds a cup-shaped nest of moss, grass stalks, and fine roots in holes and rocky clefts on the ground. Lays a clutch of four to five eggs. Because there are two clutches each year, the eggs may be found from late May to July. Females display a complex breeding behavior, involving mating with several males in succession. The polyandrous breeding system may benefit the female by encouraging the tending of the nest and protection of the young by one than one male.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. A widespread and abundant species within its habitat.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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