Genus ANTHUS

The genus Anthus contains the Pipits, which may be recognized by their streaked upper plumage and comparatively short tail.

The Pipits are found over nearly the entire world. They resemble each other greatly in their pattern of colour, and consequently they are difficult to describe, and in fact long descriptions of them are useless, their identification depending entirely on a few characters which are easily learnt. Each species is very constant to one type. The young are very much spotted beneath and these spots become reduced in size and number at each successive spring moult and in a few species disappear altogether, the lower plumage in these adults becoming uniform. The difference between summer and winter plumage in the Pipits is very slight, and in my opinion it is useless attempting to treat the two plumages as distinct, although some authors do so. I have, therefore, only described the bird in its fresh autumn plumage. In summer this plumage becomes abraded and faded, and the black marks on the upper plumage more pronounced. Those Pipits which have bright colours about the head and breast assume this colour slowly and permanently and not seasonally.

The Pipits frequent the ground, but a few species occasionally perch on trees and even run along the larger boughs in pursuit of insects. They build their nests on the ground and lay eggs which, like those of the Wagtails, are much spotted with brown. The sexes are invariably alike.

Key to the Species.

a. Hind claw not exceeding hind toe in length.
a1. Pale tip of inner web of penultimate tail- feather very small, less than a quarter the length of feather; next feather never tipped.
a2. Streaks on lower plumage large and black, well defined; light parts of tail-feathers white.
a3. Upper plumage brown with very large streaks; supercilium fulvous throughout……………….. A. trivialis, p, 302.
b3. Upper plumage suffused with green with small ill-defined streaks: supercilium white posteriorly .... A. maculatus, p. 304.
b2. Streaks on lower plumage narrow and brown; light parts of tail-feathers pale rufous.
c3. Upper plumage dark brown; streaks on breast well defined………………..A. cockburniae, p. 305.
d3. Upper plumage ashy brown; streaks on breast ill defined………………..A. similis, p. 306.
b1. Pale tip of inner web of penultimate tail-feather large, about one third the length of feather; next feather with a distinct tip………………..A. nilgiriensis, p. 305.
b. Hind claw exceeding hind toe in length,
c1 Sides of body plain or very obsoletely streaked.
c2. General colour of lower plumage sandy buff or fulvous.
e3. Breast spotted or streaked.
a4. Upper plumage brown with broad dark centres to the feathers.
a5. Wing 3.5 or more.
a6. Tarsus 1.2 to 1.3 ………………..A. richardi, p. 307.
b6. Tarsus 1 to 1.1………………..A. striolatus, p. 308.
b5. Wing about 3……………….. A. rufulus, p. 308.
b4. Upper plumage sandy with faint centres to the feathers………………..A. campestris, juv., [p. 09.
f3. Breast plain………………..A. campestris, ad., p. 309.
d2. General colour of lower plumage vinous………………..A. spinoletta, ad., p. 312.
d1. Sides of body coarsely streaked with black or dark brown.
e2. Axillaries and under wing-coverts yellow ………………..A. rosaceus, p. 311.
f2. Axillaries and under wing-coverts whitish or brownish.
g3. Throat and breast cinnamon-red………………..A. cervinus, ad., p. 310.
h3. Throat and breast whitish or pale fulvous.
c4. Streaks on breast very broad, black and well defined.
c5. Upper plumage black with fulvous margins………………..A. cervinus, juv., p. 310.
d5. Upper plumage olive-brown with darker centres to the feathers………………..A. japonicus, juv., p. 312.
d4. Streaks on breast narrow, pale and ill-defined………………..A. spinoletta, juv., p. 312.

BookTitle: 
The Fauna Of British India including Ceylon and Burma
Reference: 
OATES EW. The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Vol.2 1890.
Title in Book: 
Genus ANTHUS
Book Author: 
Eugene William Oates, Edited by William Thomas Blanford
Year: 
1890
Page No: 
301
M_ID: 
30360
M_SN: 
Anthus
Volume: 
Vol. 2
Term name: 
id: 
1149

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