797. Emberiza aureola.
The Yellow-breasted Bunting.
Emberiza aureola, Pall. Reis. Buss. Reichs, ii, p. 711 (1773); Anders. Yunnan Faped., Ares, p. 602; Oates, B. B. i, p. 355; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xii, p. 509. Mirafra flavicollis, McClell. P. Z. S. 1839, p. 163. Euspiza aureola (Pall.), Blyth, Cat. p. 129; Horsf. & M. Cat. ii. p. 487; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 380; Hume, Cat. no. 723; id. S. F. xi, p. 282. Euspiza flavogularis, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xviii, pp. 86, 811 (1849); id. Cat. p. 129.
Coloration. Male. After the autumn moult the whole upper plumage is a dull chestnut, each feather margined with ashy ; tail brown, margined with dull rufous, the outermost feather with abroad diagonal white band across the inner web, the penultimate with a narrow white tip ; lesser wing-coverts chestnut edged with ashy; median coverts almost entirely white ; greater coverts and quills dark brown, margined with chestnut-brown; a distinct supercilium, lores, cheeks, and ear-coverts ashy yellow; a band above the ear-coverts and another below chestnut-brown; the whole lower plumage yellow, with a chestnut band across the breast, and the sides of the body streaked with chestnut-brown; the under tail-coverts paler than the other parts.
In the spring the margins on the upper plumage become worn away and the general colour becomes rich maroon chestnut, and in a similar manner the lower plumage becomes rich yellow and the pectoral band broader and deeper chestnut. A change takes place in the colour of the head, but this is effected by a complete moult of the feathers of the parts affected : these parts are the forehead, anterior part of crown, lores, ear-coverts, cheeks, chin, and a small portion of the throat, which become deep black.
The plumage of the males varies a good deal, as does also the time at which the black on the head is assumed.
Female. Head chestnut-brown, with dark brown streaks ; nape and back of the neck olive-brown, with indistinct brown streaks and the centres of the feathers tinged with chestnut; back and scapulars olive-brown, with broad distinct dark brown streaks; rump pale chestnut, edged with grey; upper tail-coverts brown, centred darker; lesser wing-coverts brown; median ones brown, very broadly tipped with white ; greater coverts and all the quills brown, edged on the outer webs with pale rufous-brown ; tail as in the male ; a broad supercilium reaching to the nape yellowish white ; sides of the head mixed brown and yellowish white; chin and throat whitish; breast, sides of neck, and abdomen bright yellow, tinged with brown across the breast, which is also faintly streaked with brown ; flanks faint yellow, streaked with brown; vent and under tail-coverts pale yellow, the latter indistinctly streaked.
The young bird is very similar to the female, but has no chestnut on the head and rump and the whole breast is boldly streaked with brown.
Iris rich brown; upper mandible dark brown, lower fleshy brown; feet and claws pinkish brown.
Length 6.2; tail 2.4 ; wing 3 ; tarsus .85 ; bill from gape .55.
Distribution. A common winter visitor to the Himalayas from Nepal to Assam and to the whole of the eastern portion of the Empire from Assam southwards to Tenasserim, and also to the Nicobar Islands. This species occurs from' October to May, and at this season it ranges to the southern extremity of the Malay peninsula and to China and Siam. In summer it is found chiefly in Northern Asia.