(1224) Calandrella acutirostris tibetana.
Brooks's Short-toed Lark.
Calandrella tibetana Brooks, Str. Feath., viii, p. 488 (1879) (Tibet); Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 329.
Vernacular names. Baghaira, Bagheyri (Hind.).
Description. Very close to C. a. acutirostris, from which it only differs in having the white on the tail purer and more extensive.
Colours of soft parts as in Hume's Short-toed Lark.
Measurements. About the same as C. a. acutirostris but culmen 11 to 12 mm.
Distribution. Tibet, from Gyantse, Tatung and Khamba Jong. West to Eastern Kuenlun, where it meets the previous race, North to the Altyn Dag and Nan-Schan, East to the upper ranges of the Mekong, Blue and Yellow rivers. In Winter South to Delhi, Etawah, Moghul Serai, Assam, Bihar and Eastern Bengal.
Nidification. Brooks's Short-toed Lark breeds in very great numbers over Southern Tibet wherever there are stony barren plateaus and hillsides devoid of all growth except coarse dry grass, a scrubby thorn-bush or tree and, in the more sheltered corners, a patch of weeds or flowers. Here it either selects a small natural hollow in the ground, or digs one out for itself, under the shelter of a tuft of grass, a low bush or even under a clod or stone. This is neatly lined with grass, sometimes very scantily, sometimes in amount sufficient to form a thick pad for the lining which is always of the softest cotton-down, felted together very neatly and compactly. They breed from May to August and most birds have two broods in the year, sometimes three. The eggs number three, less often two and less often still four. The ground-colour varies from almost white to a pale grey, stone, occasionally tinged with faint green, yellow or reddish. The primary markings consist of specks and small blotches of pale greyish or yellowish brown, scattered all over the surface but frequently more plentiful at the larger end, where on a few eggs they form a ring or cap. Typically they are very pale eggs and they are never boldly or richly marked. One hundred eggs average 21.1 x 14.7 mm.: maxima 22.6 X 14.4 and 22.3 x 15.7 mm.; minima 19.4 X 14.6 and 20.5 x 13.9 mm.
Habits. This Lark is found everywhere on barren plains and gently sloping hillsides where there is little vegetation but many stones or much sand and it also frequents dried mud-flats surrounding lakes. It is probably resident between 11,000 and 14,000 feet, being found in Summer breeding up to 16,000 feet but in Winter it descends a little lower and a few birds find their way into the plains, though never in the vast flocks such as those in which C. brachydactyla collects at this season in North-West India. It is said to be a very bold little bird, running rapidly about and feeding on microscopic seeds within a very few yards of the watcher, and occasionally stopping to mount some small stone or shrub and give forth its rather sweet, but weak and monotonous little song. In Winter it is said to collect in flocks and at that time to be wilder and more difficult to approach.