(1199) Anthus cervinus.
The Red-throated Pipit.
Motacilla cervina Pall., Zoog. Rosso-As., i, p. 511 (1827) (Siberia). Anthus cervinus. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 310.
Vernacular names. Lai gula chillu (Hind.).
Description. Whole upper plumage black, each feather edged with olive-fulvous or pale olive-rufous, the black hardly showing at all on the nape; tail black, the feathers edged with fulvous ; the outermost pair of feathers white, with a broad brown edge to the basal two-thirds of the inner webs; the penultimate pair with a V-shaped white tip; wing-feathers brown edged with pale fulvous; a broad supercilium, sides of head, chin, throat and breast cinnamon-red ; remainder of lower plumage fulvous, tinged with pink and boldly streaked with black on the lower breast and flanks; under wing-coverts and axillaries buff.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill dark horny-brown above, yellowish below; legs and feet fleshy-white to fleshy-yellow.
Measurements. Wing 78 to 89 mm.; tail 57 to 63 mm.; tarsus 21 to 22 mm.; culmen 11 to 12 mm.
Young birds have no red on the head, throat or breast. These parts are pale yellowish-buff, immaculate on the centre of chin, throat and fore-neck, heavily streaked with black on the sides and across the whole breast.
The red of the head and throat is acquired by degrees and probably not completely until the third year.
Distribution. Breeding in North Europe and North Asia to Kamschatka. Pound in Winter South to North Africa, Gilgit, Kashmir, Sikkim to Assam, the whole of Burma, the Indo-Chinese countries, South China and the Malayan Islands. In North-West India Ticehurst records it as fairly common in Sind.
Nidification. The Bed-throated Pipit breeds during June and July, making the usual Pipit's nest of grass and roots lined with finer bents and sometimes with hair. It is placed on the ground in tussocks of long grass and weeds and is almost invariably well concealed. Marshy ground is selected for breeding purposes, often overgrown with willow-scrub and dwarf-birch. The eggs number four to six and are, as a series, the darkest of all the Pipits' eggs, the most common type having a reddish-white ground almost obliterated by reddish or blackish-red spots. The eggs, however, vary greatly and almost as great a variety can be obtained as in those of the Common Tree-Pipit.
One hundred eggs (Jourdain) average 19.2 x 14.2 mm.: maxima 21.0 x 14.3 and 18.1 x 15.1 mm.; minima 17.1 x 13.9 and 18.0 x 13.4 mm.
Habits. Very similar to those of the Tree-Pipit. The first few birds arrive in India in September, the majority in October, leaving again in April. They keep much to damp or even wet ground, resorting to the edges of ponds, lakes and swamps or the coolness of thick green crops.