The Alpine Accentor
, Prunella collaris
is a small passerine bird
found throughout the mountains of southern
at heights above 2000m. It is mainly resident, wintering more widely
at lower latitudes, but some birds wander as rare vagrants as far as Great Britain.
It is a bird of bare mountain areas with some low vegetation. It
builds a neat nest low in a bush or rock crevice, laying 3-5
unspotted sky-blue eggs.
This is a Robin-sized
bird at 15-17.5
cm in length, slightly larger than its relative, the Dunnock
. It has a streaked brown back, somewhat
resembling a House Sparrow
, but adults
have a grey head and red-brown spotting on the underparts. It has
an insectivore's fine pointed bill.
Sexes are similar, although the male may be contrasted in
appearance. Young birds have browner heads and
underparts.Image:Prunella_collaris_juv.jpg |Alpine Accentor -
juvenileImage:Alpine_AccentorDE.jpg |Engraving of Alpine
AccentorImage:Alpine Accentor- At Kullu distt. of Himachal (13000
ft.) I IMG 7155.jpg|At Kullu distt. of Himachal (13000
ft.)Image:Alpine Accentor- At Kullu distt. of Himachal (13000 ft.)
I IMG 7156.jpg|At Kullu distt. of Himachal (13000 ft.)
The mating system is of particular interest. Home ranges are
occupied by breeding groups of 3 or 4 males with 3 or 4 females.
These are unrelated birds which have a socially polygynandrous
mating system. Males have a
dominance hierarchy, with the alpha males being generally older
than subordinates. Females seek matings with all the males,
although the alpha male may defend her against matings from lower
ranking males. In turn, males seek matings with all the females.
DNA fingerprinting has been used to show that, within broods, there
is often mixed paternity, although the female is always the true
mother of the nestlings raised within her nest. Males will provide
food to chicks at several nests within the group, depending on
whether they have mated with the female or not - males only provide
care when they are likely to be the true fathers of the
- Database entry includes justification for why this species is
of least concern
- Davies, N. B., Hartley, I. R., Hatchwell, B. J., Desrochers,
A., Skeer, J. & Nebel, D. 1995. The polygynandrous mating
system of the alpine accentor Prunella collaris. I.
Ecological causes and reproductive conflicts. Animal
Behaviour, 49, 769-788.
- Davies, N. B., Hartley, I. R., Hatchwell, B. J. & Langmore,
N. E. 1996. Female control of copulations to maximise male help: a
comparison of polygynandrous alpine accentors Prunella
collaris and dunnocks Prunella modularis. Animal
Behaviour, 51, 27-47.
- Hartley, I. R., Davies, N. B., Hatchwell, B. J., Desrochers,
A., Nebel, D. & Burke, T. 1995. The polygynandrous mating
system of the alpine accentor Prunella collaris. II.
Multiple paternity and parental effort. Animal Behaviour,