Anthus pratensis, (Linn.) Syst. Nat. i. p. 287 (1760) ; Naum. iii. p. 774, Taf. 84, fig. 3 ; Hewitson, i, p. 173, pl. xliv. figs. 1, 2 ; Gould, B. of E. ii. pl. 136 ; id. B. of Gt. Brit. iii. pl. 13 ; Newton, i. p. 575 ; Dresser, iii. p. 285, pl. 132, fig. 1 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. x. p. 580 ; Saunders, p. 133 ; Lilford, iii, p. 118, pl. 60.
Pipit des Pres, French ; Petinha, Portug. ; Cinceta, Span. ; Pispola, Ital. ; Pieplerche, German ; Graspieper, Dutch ; Pibeloerke, Dan. ; Gratitlingr, Icel. ; Engpiploerka, Norweg. ; Angpiplarka, Swed. ; Cici-cicas Lapp. ; Heina-kirvinen, Finn. ; Lugovoi-konek, Russ.
Male ad. (England). Upper parts blackish brown the feathers margined with olivaceous hair-brown ; rump almost uniform olivaceous brown ; under parts white, the sides of the neck, breast, and flanks profusely spotted with blackish brown, the breast washed with buff ; wings dark brown, the feathers margined with dull white and greenish olivaceous ; tail dark brown, the outer feather white except an oblique broad patch along the inner web, the next with a triangular white patch at the end of the inner web, the next three with a narrow pale external margin ; bill dark brown paler at the base of lower mandible ; legs light brown ; iris hazel ; hind claw slender, slightly curved, and as long as the toe. Culmen 0.6, wing 3.0, tail 2.25, tarsus 0.85 inch. The female does not differ from the male. In the winter the upper parts are browner and the under parts tinged with dull yellowish buff. The young bird has the upper parts more boldly marked and the breast and flanks washed with dull reddish buff.
Hab. Europe generally, ranging east to western Siberia and Turkestan, wintering in Northern Africa ; a common summer visitor to Iceland, but a rare straggler to Greenland.
Frequents open places, pastures, moors, and downs, in both dry and damp localities ; it is essentially a ground bird, and but seldom perches on a tree or bush, and roosts on the ground. Its call-note is shrill and sharp, and its song, which is uttered on the wing is sweet, simple but not powerful, and may be heard from April to the end of July. It breeds tolerably early, depositing its eggs in April or May, and a second brood is usually raised in the same season. The nest is placed on the ground, is neatly constructed of grass-bents, rootlets, &c., and lined with finer bents and rootlets, or with horsehair. The eggs, 4 to 6 in number, are dull light grey, closely marked with dusky brown, reddish brown, or purplish grey, averaging in size about 0.76 by 0.58, and are subject to considerable variation.
313. Anthus pratensis