Iroxia erythrina Pall., Nov. Comm. Petrop., xix, p. 587 (1770). Type-locality: South Russia.
This is a species which has an enormous breeding area over Eastern Europe and practically the whole of Asia North of the Himalayas and the North-Central Chinese mountains. In Winter, the breeding finished, all these birds migrate South and much overlapping occurs of the various races which are quite distinguishable when on their own breeding-grounds.
The typical form C. e. erythrinus breeds in Central Europe and in Siberia as far East as the Lena. East of this we have a form,
C. e. grebnitskii (Stejneger, Bull. U.S. Nat. Mus., 1885, p. 265), which is a little darker and is suffused with rose-red on the abdomen to a greater extent. This evidently migrates into North and East China in Winter and possibly breeds as far South as the
mountains North of Pekin. In Asia Minor and the Mountains of Central Asia there breeds a third form, C. e. kubanensis, still darker above, both in the reds and the browns and below in the extension of the red. Many specimens found in India in Winter, especially in the North-West, are of this form and the birds breeding in Gilgit and on the Afghan Frontier seem also referable to this race. Finally we have a fourth form, G. e. roseatus, a very deep richly coloured bird which breeds throughout the Himalayas from Kashmir and Kuman East to the Northern and high Central mountain-ranges of China, wandering South in Winter. Of these four forms three certainly occur in Winter in India, but the fourth, grebnitskii, is not likely to be found even so far West as Burma.
Key to Subspecies.
A. Palest, both above and below ; in males the rose-colour of the underparts confined to
chin, throat and breast…………C. e. erythrinus, p. 135.
B. Intermediate in colour ; whole of the abdomen more or less suffused with rosy in the
males …………C. e. kubanensis, p. 136.
C. Darkest both above and below, the red very rich and deep…………C.e. roseatus, p. 137