(1195) Anthus richardi rufulus.
The Indian Pipit.
Anthus rufulus Vieill., Nouv. Diet. d'Hist. Nut., xxxvi, p. 494 (1818) (Bengal); Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 308.
Vernacular names. Rugel, Charchari (Hind.); Gurapa-modi-pitta (Tel.); Meta kalie (Tam.).
Description. An exact miniature of A. r. richardi, differing only in size. It has, however, a proportionately larger bill and always a comparatively short hind claw measuring between 9.5 and 12 mm.
Colours of soft parts as in the other races.
Measurements. Wing 76 to 86 mm.: tail 57 to 65 mm.: tarsus 25 to 26 mm.; culmen 12 to 14 mm.
Young birds are much more richly coloured below than adults and have the pale edges to the feathers of the upper parts more whitish and conspicuous; the spotting on the breast is also more profuse and the spots larger.
Distribution. The whole of India and Ceylon and all Burma as far South as, but not including, Tenasserim.
Nidification. The Indian Pipit breeds practically all over India and Burma from Ceylon to about 6,000 feet in the Himalayas and from Sind on the West to Karenni on the East. In the Assam Hills it does not breed over 5,000 feet and seldom over 4,500. Over the greater part of its range May, June and July are the normal breeding months but in Ceylon Messrs. Wait and Phillips have taken eggs in every month from March to October. In many cases the birds have two broods and in some three. The nest is the usual shallow cup of grass, roots etc. lined with finer grass or grass and roots and sometimes with a little dry mos,s, bracken or other material mixed in the base of the nest. It is always placed on the ground and generally well concealed by grass, scrub or fern. When in more exposed positions the nest is sometimes domed or semi-domed, the long grass at the back and sides being produced over the top. The number of eggs is most often three, four are commonly laid, five very exceptionally. The groundcolour is white, tinged with yellowish- or greyish-stone, less often with buff, reddish or green. The primary markings consist of irregular spots and blotches of brown, fairly numerous everywhere but often most so at the larger end. The secondary markings are of lavender and pale purple and are less numerous. One hundred eggs average 20.2 x 15.4 mm.: maxima 21.8 x 151 and 19.9 x 16.4 mm.; minima 18.1 x 15.4 and 18.9 x 14.9 mm.
Habits. The Indian Pipit is resident wherever found and is one of the most common of Indian birds not actually frequenting buildings and villages. It is, of course, essentially a bird of the open country, whether cultivated, grassy or barren, but it is not plentiful in the barest countries and prefers such as have crops, green grass or even those which are wet and marshy. It makes constant little soaring flights into the air, singing a pleasant little song as it does so, but it never soars in a spiral and then hovers like the Sky-Lark. During the breeding-season the cock-bird often alights on bushes or high grass but in Winter keeps almost exclusively to the ground. It feeds principally on small insects but consumes larger coleoptera, tiny quails, worms etc. and when feeding on mosquitoes or termites, sometimes pursues, these into the air.