Status and distribution In the Western Palearctic breeds in mountain areas across the south of the Region. In Iberia found in the Cantabrians, Sierra de Gredos and Sierra Nevada, and the Pyrenees. Also breeds throughout the Alps and Apennines and further east in the Carpathians and in scattered localities in the Balkans and northern Greece, much of south & east Turkey and the Caucasus. In the Mediterranean breeds on Corsica and Crete and in North Africa at one or two sites in the Moroccan Atlas.
Basically resident but undergoes seasonal altitudinal movements. More extensive movements seem to occur as it becomes much more widespread in winter in Spain, southern France, the Balkans and appears on some islands where breeding is not known to occur.
Vagrants recorded north to Scandinavia and Britain, also Netherlands and Germany including Heligoland, Malta, Israel and Jordan. First record for the Canary Is was on Tenerife in Apr 1998. A very rare vagrant to Britain (37 records) mainly in southern England in autumn/winter but occasionally in spring.
Subspecies Three races occur in the Region but differences are very slight, nominate is found from Iberia and North-West Africa east to the Carpathians, paler subalpina in the Balkans, Greece and southern Turkey and more olive montana in northern & eastern Turkey and the Caucasus.
Habitat Found at 1800-3000m in mountains and high plateaux in open grassy areas and south-facing slopes strewn with boulders. Often feeds near snow patches and in winter frequently feeds around buildings. On rare occasions that it descends to lowland usually occurs in open scrubby or rocky areas.