(1131) Emberiza aureola.
The Yellow-breasted Bunting,
Emberiza aureola Pallas, Reise Buss. Reich., ii, p, 711 (1778) (Irtysh); Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 259.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Lores, chin, cheeks, ear-coverts and a narrow eyebrow black; whole upper plumage and lesser wing-coverts deep chestnut-maroon, nearly always showing some remains of the pale Winter edging ; tail dark brown edged with pale rufous, the outermost pair of feathers with a broad diagonal white patch across the inner web and the next pair with a small white patch near the tip; median wing-coverts white, greater wing-coverts maroon tipped with white; quills and primary-coverts dark brown edged with rufous ; a band between the throat and the breast and the sides of the breast maroon ; remainder of lower plumage bright yellow, more or less marked with maroon on the flanks.
Colours of soft parts. Iris crimson-brown ; upper mandible dark horny-brown, lower fleshy-horny; legs and feet fleshy-brown.
Measurements. Total length about 155 mm.; wing 70 to 79 mm.; tail 58 to 62 mm. ; tarsus 20 to 21 mm.; culmen 10 to 11 mm.
After the Autumn moult the maroon of the upper parts and throat is almost hidden by pale ashy tringes to the feathers ; there is a distinct supercilium of yellow-tipped feathers and the ear-coverts are more yellow than blackish.
Female. The crown chestnut-brown with darker centres ; sides and back of neck olive-brown faintly streaked; back and scapulars olive-chestnut boldly streaked with brown; rump and upper tail-coverts chestnut,- the latter with dark centres; tail as in the male ; wings as in the male but the lesser coverts nearly-all dark brown and the greater coverts edged with pale rufous and no white tips ; median coverts with only narrow white tips : ear-coverts olive-yellow surrounded by chestnut-brown; lower plumage yellow, the flanks streaked with blackish.
Young birds are like the female but have the crown coloured like the back whilst the breast and lower parts are much more feebly streaked with blackish.
Distribution. Breeding in North Russia, through Siberia, Mongolia and Manchuria to Japan and in Winter South to Central, South and Western Europe, extreme North-West India, Nepal, Sikkim, Assam, the whole of Burma, Siam, Malay States, and China.
Nidification. The Yellow-breasted Bunting breeds during June and July from Russia to Eastern Siberia, making the usual Bunting's nest of grass but often placing it at some height from the ground in alder- and lurch-bushes. The eggs, four to six in number, vary in ground-colour from a clear grey-green to yellowish or greyish stone-colour and are clouded and blotched with dull bluish-green, reddish-brown or, rarely, blackish-brown with secondary markings of lavender and pale grey-green. In a few eggs there are a certain number of streaks but never of any great length. One hundred eggs (52 Jourdain) average 20.6 x 15.3 mm.: maxima 22.2 x 15.3 and 21.9 x 16.0 mm.; minima 18.0 X 15.3 and 20.0 x 14.0 mm.
Habits. This is a Bunting of meadow-lands, upland plateaus and open spaces, though it also inhabits bush-covered country and is said to be especially fond of moist places on the edges of rivers, swamps and lakes. It is a very common Winter visitor to Assam and Burma, being then found both in well-wooded and in open country. It has occurred in the Nicobars.