481. DESERT BULLFINCH.
Erythrospiza githaginea (Licht.), Very. Doubl, p. 24 (1823), Gould, B. of E. iii. pl. 208 ; Dresser, iv. p. 85, pl. 196 ; Shelley, B. of Egypt, p. 155, pl. v. ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. xii. p. 284 ; Oates, F. Brit. Ind. Birds, ii. p. 221.
Trombettiere, Ital. ; Pispo, Gorrion Colorado, Pajaro moro in the Canaries.
Male ad. (Canaries). Crown and sides of the head delicate ash-grey, on the nape merging into brown ; back and scapulars pale brown, tinged with pink ; rump and upper tail-coverts brownish pink, the latter mar¬gined with carmine ; wings dark brown, the feathers externally margined with pink and carmine, the inner quills tipped with light brown ; rec¬trices dark brown, margined with carmine towards the tip ; under parts pinkish grey, the throat, breast, and abdomen feathers slightly tipped with carmine ; flanks buffy grey ; beak bright red ; iris brown ; legs brownish fleshy. Culmen 0.4, wing 3.4, tail 2.15, tarsus 0.7 inch. Female differs from the male in being duller, and less rosy in tint. In the winter the beak is yellow, the upper mandible tinged with brown.
Hab. The Canaries, rare in Southern Europe, but tolerably common in N. Africa ; Palestine, Persia, Afghanistan, Baluchi¬stan, Sind, Rajputana, and the Gurgaon district in the Punjab.
Frequents desert, sterile, stony localities and is a resident almost throughout its range, collecting in winter in flocks and visiting fields in search of its food, which consists chiefly of seeds of various plants. In its general habits it is tame and confiding, not being subject to persecution. Its note resembles the sound of a small penny trumpet, is sometimes loud and clear, at others prolonged and harsh, and it also utters a harsh ka, ka, ka, and a cackling call-note kek-kek, kek-keheck, and its alarm note is a loud schak, schak.
It breeds late in February or early in March, and the nest, which is constructed of fine roots and grass-bents, occasionally lined with hair or feathers, is placed on the ground or in the cleft of a rock. The eggs, 4 to 5 in number, are pale bluish white, paler than those of Pyrrhula europoea, sparingly dotted, chiefly at the larger end, with dull red and blackish brown, and measure about 0.79 by 0.56.
481. Erythrospiza githaginea
481. DESERT BULLFINCH.