767. Carduelis caniceps.
The Himalayan Goldfinch.
Carduelis caniceps, Vigors, P. Z. S. 1831, p. 23; Gould, Cent, pi. 33, fig. 1; Blyth, Cat. p. 124; Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 493; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 408; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. ii, p. 61; Hume, Cat. no. 749; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 85; Sadly, Ibis, 1881, p. 578; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xii, p. 189.
Shira, Hind.; Saira, Kashm.
Coloration. Male. Forehead, chin, and the cheeks next the bill crimson; lores black; upper plumage ashy brown, becoming whitish on the rump; upper tail-coverts white; lesser, median, and primary coverts with the winglet black, sometimes with ashy margins ; greater coverts chiefly bright yellow; primaries and secondaries black, with a considerable portion of the outer webs of all but the first primary bright yellow, the inner webs margined with white; the tertiaries each with a large oval white mark on the outer web ; tail black, the two outer pairs of feathers largely white on the inner webs, the two middle pairs tipped white; throat ashy white; sides of the head and neck and the breast ashy brown ; abdomen and under tail-coverts white; sides of the body fulvous ashy; under wing-coverts and axillaries whitish.
Female. Very similar to the male, but having the crimson on the head paler and the yellow on the greater wing-coverts less extensive.
Bill carneous with a dusky tip ; legs pale brown ; iris brown (Jerdon).
Length about 5.5: tail 2.1; wing 3.2; tarsus .55; bill from gape .6.
This species differs from the English Goldfinch, C. elegans, chiefly in having no black on the head. Where the two species meet they appear to interbreed, and every intermediate form between the two may be found, as is well shown in the line mounted series of these birds in the Central Hall of the British Museum of Natural History.
Distribution. The Himalayas from the Hazara country and Gilgit to Kumaun, from 5000 to 9000 or 10,000 feet according to season. This species extends to Afghanistan on the west and through Central Asia to Siberia on the north.
Habits, &c. This Goldfinch, like its European ally, affects open country, feeding chiefly on the seeds of the thistle. Nothing is known regarding its nidification on the Himalayas.