542. Calliope calliope

(542) Calliope calliope.

The Common Ruby-throat.

Motacilla calliope Pall., Reise Russ. Reichs, iii, p. 697 (1776) (Yenesei). Calliope camtschatkensis. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 102.

Vernacular names. Gunpigora (Beng.); Gangula (Nep.).

Description.— Adult male. Whole upper plumage olive-brown, the feathers of the head faintly edged paler and centred darker, but as a rule the upper parts appear unicoloured; tail brown edged with olive-brown; wings brown, the feathers edged with rufous olive-brown ; a line from the forehead to the eye and a broad cheek-stripe white ; lores and under the eye blackish ; chin, throat and fore-neck ruby-scarlet surrounded by a narrow black line; in fresh plumage the red feathers have a tiny white speck at the tip which soon becomes abraded; upper breast brownish grey, shading to buff-grey on lower breast and flanks and to almost white on the abdomen and under tail-coverts; axillaries buff.

Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill light to dark brown, paler at the base and almost white at the gape; legs and feet pale plumbeous or horny brown; claws darker.

Measurements. Total length about 155 mm.; wing 70 to 83 mm.; tail about 55 to 65 mm.; tarsus 30 to 32 mm.; culmen 13 to 16 mm.

Female differs from the male in having no scarlet or black on the chin and throat; the former is white and the latter shades into the buffy brown of the breast; the lores and cheeks are dark brown and the moustachial streak dull.

Nestlings are mottled and moult into the plumage of the adult female in the first autumn, many young males, however, obtaining a trace of red on the throat.

Distribution. Breeding practically throughout the whole of Northern and North Central Asia, from West Siberia to Behring Island, the Kuriles, North-Bast China, etc. In Winter it is found throughout Northern India, as far South as Bombay, Raipur and Orissa, Burma South to Tenasserim, Siam, Shan States, Yunnan, South China, Hainan, Formosa and the Philippines.

Nidification. The Ruby-throat breeds during June and July, making a domed nest of grass lined with finer bits of the same which it places on the ground under the shelter of a hush or tussock of grass in thick cover. The eggs are four or five in number and are of a rather grey blue-green sometimes quite unspotted, at other times with a faint ring of reddish freckling about the larger end. In shape they are rather long ovals, often somewhat pointed. The surface is hard and slightly glossy and the texture very close.

Sixteen eggs taken by Taczanowski measure 20.4- 22 x15-16 mm.

Habits. This bird, like the other Ruby-throats, keeps much to wooded or scrub-jungle localities, especially to such as have water near. It feeds on insects, principally on the ground but also amongst the grass and reeds and low bushes. "When on the ground it has a habit of flicking its semi-expanded tail over its back, but otherwise moves about very quietly. It has a sweet but rather monotonous little song which it sings perched on the upper twigs of some low bush.

The Fauna Of British India, Including Ceylon And Burma-birds(second Edition)
Baker, EC S (1922–1930) The fauna of British India including Ceylon and Burma. Second edition. vol.2 1924.
Title in Book: 
542. Calliope calliope
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Common Ruby Throat
Siberian Rubythroat
Calliope calliope
Vol. 2
Term name: 

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