(1204) Oreocorys sylvanus.
The Upland Pipit.
Heterura sylvana Hodgs., Blyth, J. A. S. B., xiv, p. 556 (1845) (Nepal). Oreocorys sylvanus. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 313.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Whole upper plumage rich rufous-buff, the centres. of the feathers black and the extreme edges greyish-fulvous; the black centres to the feathers of the rump are concealed; two-thirds of the outermost tail-feathers diagonally smoky-white, the white decreasing in extent on each succeeding pair and absent in the two central pairs ; wings like the back but the greater and median coverts edged with a more golden-rufous ; lores dusky; a small supercilium and sides of the head fulvous, the latter streaked with black; chin and throat fulvous-white spotted on either side with black; lower surface fulvous, darkest on the breast and flanks, where they are heavily streaked with blackish, and palest on the abdomen ; axillaries buff ; under wing-coverts and edge of shoulder of wing yellow.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill above horny-black, below pale reddish-horny or reddish-fleshy; legs and feet pale to dark fleshy.
Measurements. Total length about 175 mm.; wing 74 to 83 mm.; tail 65 to 73 mm.: tarsus 23 to 24 mm.; culmen 13 to 14 mm.
In Summer the edges of the feathers become abraded and the tint above darker and still more rufous.
Young birds appear to be more rufous above and to be striped over the whole lower surface, including the abdomen.
Distribution. The Himalayas from Kashmir and the Afghan Frontier to Nepal. A young bird obtained in Etawah is the only record from the Plains." Obtained also by Forrest in Yunnan on the Lichiang Range, 10,000 feet, in July.
Nidification. The Upland Pipit breeds from 4,000 or, more commonly, 5,000 up to 10,000 feet wherever found. It makes a typical Pipit's nest of grass, generally very loosely put together, which it places on the ground, well concealed by grass or weeds and, almost invariably, on an open grass-covered hillside. The eggs, which number three to five, have the ground-colour ranging from pure white to pale grey or yellowish-stone, while the markings consist of fairly well-defined spots and tiny blotches of various shades - grey-brown, reddish-brown or purple-brown, either scattered equally all over the egg or rather more numerous at the larger end. The secondary markings are of lavender and pale grey. Thirty eggs average 22.6 X 17.5 mm.: maxima 24.0 X 17.8 and 22.3 x 18.2 mm.; minima 21.4 x 17.9 and 22.5 x 17.0 mm. A clutch of very small eggs taken by Jones in Simla measure only 20.2 X 15.5 mm. The breeding-season is from late May to August, many birds having a second brood.
Habits. The Upland Pipit is a resident bird throughout its area and does not migrate to the Plains in Winter. It keeps almost exclusively all the year round to the grass-covered sloping hillsides between 4,000 and 10,000 feet and it seems to prefer those which are scantily clad with vegetation. In food, song, flight etc. it is a true Pipit. It has the usual habit of ascending fluttering into the air and after a short flight descending to the ground again with outspread wings. When displaying it fluffs out all its feathers during their short flight and utters a succession of sharp, whistling notes followed by a " chuck-chuck," evidently considered a song.