CHELIDON CASHMIRIENSIS, Gould.
Chelidon cashmeriensis, Gould, P. Z. S. 1858, p. 356 ; Adams, t. c. p. 494 ; Jerd. B. Ind. i. p. 107 (1862) ; Swinh. Ibis, 1863, p. 90 ; Gray, Hand-l. B. i. p. 71, no. 881 (1869) ; Jerd. Ibis, 1871, p. 353 ; Hume, Nests and Eggs Ind. B. p. 84 (1873) ; Swinh. Ibis, 1871, p. 152 ; Dresser, B. Eur. iii. p. 198 (1875) ; Brooks, Str. E. 1875, p. 231 ; Prjev, in Rowley’s Orn. Misc. ii. p. 163 (1877) ; David & Oust. Ois. Chine, p. 539 (1877) ; Hume, Str. F. 1879, p. 84 ; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 47, 1882, p. 269.
Chelidon cashmiriensis, Sharpe, Cat. Birds in Brit. Mus. s. p. 90 (1885) ; Gigl. Avif. Ital. p. I87 (1886) ; Salvad. Elench. Ucc. Ital. p. 81 (1887).
Chelidon urbica (non L.), Ball, Str. E. 1878, vol. ii. p. 202 ; Butler, Str. F. 1880, p. 378.
Hirundo cashmiriensis, Seebobm, Hist. Brit. B. iii. p. 179 (1883).
C. similis C. urbica, sed minor, subtus magis fuscescentior et cauda minus furcata distingnenda.
Hab. in montibus Himalayensibus usque ad montes Kansuenses.
Adult male. General colour above deep blue-black, the hind neck and mantle varied with white bases ; rump white tinged with smoky brown, and with faint dusky shaft-lines ; wing-coverts brownish black, slightly washed with blue-black on the margins ; quills dusky blackish, the innermost secondaries narrowly tipped with white; upper tail-coverts smoky white, with dusky shaft-lines. the long ones dull blue-black ; tail-feathers blackish ; crown of head like the back ; lores blackish : ear-coverts and cheeks white, the upper edge of the former dusky blackish ; under surface of the body dull whitish ; throat, fore neck, and chest washed with smoky brown, a little darker on the flanks ; thighs white ; under tail-coverts white, with pale smoky-brown bases and with dusky shaft-lines ; under wing-coverts and axillaries darker smoky brown, the outer small coverts edged with whitish ; quills below dusky brown, inner edge of quills paler ; iris brown. Total length 5 inches, culmen 0.8, wing 4, tail 2.2, tarsus 0.5.
Adult female. Like the male in colour. Total length 4.5 inches, wing 3.85, tail 1.75, tarsus 0.5.
Obs. Colonel Biddulph (Ibis, 1882, p. 269) in writing of the differences between Chelidon urbica and the present species speaks of the former bird as being pure white below, whereas C. cashmiriensis is “dusky beneath, with dusky mesial centres to the feathers of the abdomen, flanks, and rump.
The dusky coloration of the underparts cannot be regarded as a specific character, as old birds of C. urbica in worn plumage often partake of a dingy appearance on the underparts, while the young birds always have the throat washed with smoky brown. As regards the distinctness of the shaft-lines on the rump and under tail-coverts, great variation takes place in both species : sometimes it is very distinct, at other times scarcely perceptible; and it is quite as much a cha-racter of C. urbica as of C. cashmiriensis.
Chelidon cashmiriensis is extremely closely allied to C. dasypus, and positively only differs from the latter species in wanting the black on the base of the chin and fore part of the cheeks. The two birds are no doubt distinet, but at present the paucity of specimens of C. dasypus which we have been able to compare, and the bad preparation of most of the series of C. cashmiriensis in the British Museum, have prevented our making such a thorough comparison of the two species as we should have liked to have done.
Compared with C. urbica, the Cashmere Martin is distinguished by its smaller size and less strongly forked tail. It is also much browner below, and it is especially recognizable by its dark brown under wing-coverts and quill-lining. Young birds of C. urbica are also sometimes smoky brown below, but this colour is always confined to the throat and chest, leaving the breast and abdomen white. Nearly the whole of the underparts of C. cashmiriensis are smoky brown, a little lighter on the throat, white the centre of the lower breast and abdomen are white.
Hab. Himalaya mountains from Cashmere eastwards as far as the mountains of Kansu. Wintering in the plains of India.
The Cashmere Martin is a small dusky representative of the Common Martin of Europe. It was first discovered by the late Dr. Leith Adams in Kashmir. He found it “common on the rocky banks of the rivers in Ladakh and Kashmir during the summer,” and he supposed that it occurred on migration during the winter in the Punjab and the plains of India. Mr. Brooks procured it near Dhurmsala in June.
Dr. Jerdon, in his ‘Supplementary Notes’ to his ‘Birds of India,’ writes:—“I found this Martin breeding on a rock near Mattiana and Nagkandah in the Sutlej Valley in June, and Stoliczka found it breeding near the same locality, perhaps at the very same spot. I also found it in the Sind valley in Kashmir, in small parties ; but, as a rule, I found it rare in Kashmir, notwithstanding its name.” Mr. Brooks met with it breeding in Kashmir, a little to this side of Ahabad Serai, and also a few miles below Posiana, in the cliffs of the “Chitterpance” river. He also found it on the Sutlej, in the interior below Simla. At Gilgit, Colonel Biddulph states that it appears about the middle of April, and becomes very common in May.
Mr. Hume gives the following note in his work on the nests and eggs of Indian birds:—
“The Cashmere Martin breeds only in the interior of the Himalayas. It lays, as far as I know, only in April and May, but is said to have a second brood during the rains. Sir E. C. Buck wrote to me that ‘there is a large colony of these birds, about 1.1/2 to 2 miles from Muttiana Dak Bungalow, on the old road to Narkunda ; their nests cover the roofs of hollows in the rock about 15 to 20 feet from the ground. Nest of mud, shallow, cup-shaped, with largish aperture, very close, one above the other in many instances. Young birds appeared fledged in June when I passed. Birds frequented breeding-places at dusk in great numbers. The hollows are almost overhanging the old road.’ ”
In the Hume collection is a specimen obtained by Colonel Delme Radeliffe at Thundiana in Hazara, in April. Mr. Brooks found the species in Kumaon, and on his journey from Masuri to Gangaotri he obtained a specimen between Suki and Derali, where they were flying about in considerable numbers. In the Hume collection is a specimen obtained in Gurwhal in December, and also one procured in native Sikhim in April by the late Mr. Mandellii hunters. Dr. Jerdon has also stated that he procured one at Darjiling. The only naturalist who has as yet procured specimens in India away from the Himalayas is Mr. W. T. Blanford, who met with the species in the Bilaspur district in the Central Provinces.
The following account of the species was given by the late General Prjevalski in his memoir on the ‘Birds of Mongolia ’ : —
“Was found in great numbers in the Ala-shan mountains and in Kan-su. In S.E. Mongolia they are rather scarce; they might possibly breed in Hara-narin-ul, but certainly do not occur in Muni-ul at any other time than during migration. It avoids the habitations of man, and keeps to the wild rocks of lofty mountains. In Kan-su, for instance, it breeds mostly in the alpine region, at heights from 10,000 to 12,000 feet above the sea ; it is very rare in the median zone, and descends to the low parts when in search of food.
“The nests, several in a row, are stuck to overhanging rocks, and by their shape resemble those of Hirundo gutturalis. On the 25th of June I climbed up to two, and found in one of them two and in the other four young, almost Hedged.
“In Kan-su the first birds arrived on the 20th of April, and left about the middle of August. We at this time observed tolerably large docks flying southward.’’
The single specimen obtained by General Prjevalski has been most kindly submitted to us by Dr. Pleske, and we find that it is in every way identical with Himalayan specimens.
The species has also been recorded from Italy by Professor Giglioli, a specimen having been obtained near Florence on the 13th of October, 1885, which the above¬named naturalist is inclined to refer to C. cashmiriensis. Count Salvadori, however, believes that the characters quoted indicate that the bird in question was only a small variety of the Common Martin.
The descriptions are taken from specimens in the British Museum, and the figures are drawn from examples in the Hume collection.
CHELIDON CASHMIRIENSIS, Gould.