(1222) Calandrella brachydactyla dukhunensis.
The Rufous Short-toed Lark.
Alauda dukhunensis Sykes, P.Z. S., 1832. p. 93 (Deccan). Calandrella dukhunensis. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 328.
"Vernacular names. Baghaira, Bagheyri, Baghoda (Hind.) ; pulluk, Akonia (Bihar).
Description. This is a very rufous form of the Short-toed Lark, the whole of the upper plumage suffused with tawny and the lower plumage buff or fulvous-buff.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill, legs and feet as in the other races but darker; the tip of the bill and culmen are practically black.
Measurements. Wing 90 to 101 mm.; tail 52 to 56 mm.; tarsus 20 to 21 mm.; culmen 10 to 11.5 mm.
Distribution. Probably breeds North of the Altyn-Dag, Humboldt and Nan-Schan ranges and in the Gobi Desert. It certainly breeds in the Tibetan deserts whence I have received fragments of skins, the head, bill and feet of which amply suffice to prove them to have been of this race. In Winter it is found throughout Northern India from Karachi to Assam and South to Belgaum and Madras. It also occurs in Burma.
Nidification. Breeds in Tibet, probably in large numbers in the North, but only rarely in the South, during April, May and June at elevations over 12,000 feet. A few clutches of eggs of this bird have been sent me with skins, sufficient for identification, as eggs of O. a. tibetava, which they exactly match. The nests are also quite similar. Twenty eggs average 21.5 x 14.8 mm.: maxima 23.1 x 15-0 and 20.6 x 15.4 mm.; minima 20.6 x 14.8 and 21.2 x 14.3 mm.
Habits. Those of the species. This race does not come into North-West India in the Winter in anything like the great numbers C. b. longipennis does, but it. is found farther East and farther South. Possibly now that the differences between the various species and subspecies of Short-toed Larks are better known, this form will be found to be comparatively common in Assam, Eastern India and Burma. This Lark, with many other species, is trapped and netted in enormous numbers during the Winter, from October up to April, and sold in the Calcutta and other markets as Ortolan. Cruel and unnecessary as it may be to kill these little feathered songsters for food, it is true that there are few delicacies better suited to an epicure's palate than a dish of these so-called " Ortolans."