IberiaNature A-Z birds in Spain

alpine accentor

The alpine accentor breeds in Spain above 1800m. in rocks, damp meadows and also around ski stations. Moves down in altitude in winter to rocky sierras. Resident. Less than 20,000 pairs though common in ideal habitat in Pyrenees and Cordillera Cantábrica, and in a few spots in the Sistema Central.. If you're in the Barcelona area accessible accentors are to be had on a short train trip to Montserrat.

Dominic Couzens in his excellent Collins Birds "A Complete guide to British and European species" notes the unusally randy breeding behavoiur of the alpine accentor:

"Alpine Accentors live in polygynandrous groups of 3-6 males and 3-5 females, in which there is a competitive free-for-all. The dominant males in each group attempt to monopolise access to as many female as possible, as in the Dunnock's social system. To protect their paternity the males copulate with great frequency, perhaps a hundred times a day, and their testes, to cope with the strain, may constitute 8 per cent of the body weight. Copulation is exceedingly rapid, lasting only 0.15 seconds, but it is aided by the male having a large sperm duct that hangs down as a sac and may be activated simply by contact with the female.Within the hierarchy, high-ranking females frequently interrupt the copulations of low-ranking ones, preventing any 'contract being signed' and thereby monopolising the males' charms and later parental assistance for themselves."

Translation: alpine accentor : acentor alpino (Spanish): cercavores (Catalan): Prunella collaris

Photo of alpine accentor in the Sierra de Grazalema kindly sent to me by Clive of Natural Images.

Clive runs guided walking tours in the Sierra de Grazalema


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alpine accentor - alpine swift - aquatic warbler - arctic skua -arctic tern - Atlantic puffin - Audouin's gull - avocet - azure-winged magpie - blue tit bonelli's eagle - Canary island oystercatcher - capercaillie - dupont's lark - Houbara bustard - lammergeyer - osprey - white stork