(4) Corvus corone orientalis.
THE EASTERN CARRION-CROW.
Corvus orientalis Eversm., Add. Pall. Zoogr., ii, p. 7 (1841)
(Buchtarma). Corvus corone. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 16.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. The whole plumage very glossy black, the feathers of the hind neck firm and with glistening shafts.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; legs and bill shining black.
Measurements. Length about 500 mm.; wing about 330 to 350 mm.; tail about 190 mm.; culmen about 58 to 60 mm.; tarsus about the same.
The Eastern Carrion-Crow differs from the Common Carrion-Crow in being decidedly bigger, a more glossy blue-black in colour and in having the outer tail-feathers more graduated.
Distribution. Siberia from the Tenesei to Japan, south to Central Asia, Afghanistan, Eastern Persia, Kashmir, Tibet and N. China. Whitehead found it common in the Upper Kurrain Valley.
Nidification. The Eastern Carrion-Crow is resident where found, but within Indian limits very little has been recorded about its history. It nests in the Kurrain Valley, whence Whitehead sent me eggs, and also in Kashmir, from which State I have received others. It builds in trees and very often near villages or buildings, laying three to five eggs, which cannot be distinguished from those of the Common Carrion-Crow.
Habits. The Carrion-Crow is found up to 1,400 feet and higher during the hot weather but certainly breeds as low as 5,000 feet. In the winter it descends much lower and it was obtained by Magrath at Bannu. From its superficial resemblance to the Common Jungle-Crow it is possibly often overlooked and it may prove to be not uncommon in the plains in the extreme northwest of India. In Kashmir it is not rare but haunts the wilder parts of the country, though on the Afghanistan and Baluchistan frontier it is, according to. Whitehead, generally found in the neighbourhood of villages and mankind.
Its voice is the usual croak of its tribe and its food is as omnivorous as that of the western bird.
Our Indian Jungle-Crows have hitherto been known by the name of 7nacrorhynchws, a name which redly applies to their Javan cousin, but they are merely races of the Australian Jungle-Crow, and must therefore be known specifically by the name coronoides, though they form several well-defined subspecies.
Key to Subspecies.
A. Wing about 305 mm., bill about 60 mm. . C. c. levaillanti, p. 27.
B. Wing about 290 mm., bill about 56 mm. . C. c. culminatus, p.28.
C. Wing about 330 mm.
a. Bill about 60 mm., more slender C. c. intermedins, p. 28.
b. Bill about 65 mm., more massive .... C. c. andamanensis, p.29.
A feature which is also of some use in distinguishing geographical races is the colour of the bases of the feathers. In southern birds these are nearly always very dark, in Central Indian birds they vary a great deal from pale dirty white to dark, whilst in the northern mountain birds when fully adult ^ they are generally pale and often pure white. Andaman birds seem invariably to have the bases to their feathers a very pure white, and differ in this respect from their nearest allies in Assam and Burma, from which it may be found necessary to separate them; they agree with these, however, in their very heavy bills.
As so much of the material for examination in museums is unsexed, it has been very difficult to draw conclusions from measurements. It must be remembered, however, that females on the whole run smaller than males and certainly have smaller, slighter bills. Although non-migratory birds and in their wilder haunts keeping to very restricted areas, the races which have taken to scavenging cities and villages for food probably travel over very wide areas in the non-breeding season and the result of this habit is that we are often faced with conflicting measurements from the same locality.
It is most noticeable in the geographical races of this Crow that the eggs are more easily differentiated than the birds themselves.