(1220) Calandrella brachydactyla brachydactyla.
The Short-toed Lark.
Alauda brachydactyla Leisler, Ann. der Wetter Ges. iii. p. 357 (1814) (South France). Calandrella brachydactyla. Blanf. & Gates, ii, p. 327.
Vernacular names. Pulluk (Hind.).
Description. Upper plumage sandy-buff, each feather boldly streaked with blackish and a more pronounced reddish tinge on the crown, rump and upper tail-coverts ; central tail-feathers dark brown broadly edged with rufous-sandy ; lateral tail-feathers black narrowly edged with rufous, the penultimate pair broadly edged with pale fulvous on the outer web, the outermost pair with all the outer web and much of the inner web fulvous-white ; wing-coverts and quills like the back, the first primary with the whole outer web fulvous-white; lores, supercilium and round the eye fulvous-white; ear-coverts light brown ; a dusky-brown patch, on either side of the upper breast; lower plumage dull white washed with fulvous-brown on breast and flanks and almost always with a few small black streaks on the breast.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown ; upper mandible horny-brown, darker on the culmen, lower mandible yellowish-horny; legs and feet fleshy-brown or yellowish-fleshy.
Measurements. Wing 91 to 98 mm.; tail 58 to 68 mm.: tarsus 19 to 21 mm.; culmen 9 to 10 mm.
Young birds have the upper plumage reddish-buff, barred with black and with buff tips to the feathers of the back and wings ; below pale fulvous-white, the flanks and breast washed with fulvous-brown and streaked with blackish.
Distribution. Breeding from South Europe through Palestine and Asia Minor to Baluchistan. In India it is found in Winter South to Belgaum, Rajputana and Central India and in the United Provinces. The greater number, certainly, of the birds recorded under this name from India are really longipennis, but many seem to be referable to the typical form.
Nidification. The Short-toed Lark breeds in South Europe from April to July and occasionally both earlier and later. The nest is the usual Lark's cup-shaped affair of grass but is sometimes said to be lined with hair and feathers. It is placed on the ground in a natural depression under some sheltering tuft of grass or weed. The eggs, which number four or live, are almost white to pale pinkish or yellowish in ground-colour and the markings consist of tine freckles or, less often, of very small blotches, of pale greyish, yellowish or greenish brown, scattered freely over the whole egg. One hundred eggs average 19.6 x 14.6 mm.
Habits. This Lark frequents both cultivated country and sandy plains, feeding on grass and other seeds. It is said to be a tame, confiding bird with a sweet, though not powerful little song which it utters both on the wing and when perched on a stone or clod. It is very active on foot and runs with great speed. It is impossible to say how far this bird extends into India as it has not been discriminated from the next form. It is, however, undoubtedly occasionally found in the North-West Frontier Provinces, whilst scattered individuals occur as already stated much farther South.