(1134) Emberiza icterica.
The Red-headed Bunting.
Emberiza icterica Eversm., Add. Pall. Zoogr. Ross.-Asiat., ii, pl. 10 (1835) (Transcaspia). Emberiza luteola. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 262.
Vernacular names. Gandam (Hind.) ; Dalchidi (Sind); Pacha jinuwaji (Tel.).
Description. - Male. Extreme point of chin and lores next the bill golden-yellow ; whole head, throat and breast golden orange-brown; hind neck and sides of neck golden-yellow; back, scapulars and lesser wing-coverts olive-yellow streaked with brown; whole of lower parts, rump, shorter upper tail-coverts, axillaries and under wing-coverts brilliant deep yellow; longer tail-coverts olive-yellow ; tail brown, narrowly edged with olive-yellow ; median and greater coverts and quills dark brown edged with pale whitish-brown, sometimes tinged with yellow.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown ; bill greyish-brown above, darkest on the culmen and greenish-brown below; legs and feet brown (Butler).
Measurements. Total length about 160 mm.; wing 86 to 89 mm.; tail 69 to 73 mm.; tarsus about 20 to 21 mm.; culmen 12 to 13 mm.
After the Autumn moult the orange-brown feathers of the head and breast are fringed with light brown and lilac respectively, almost concealing the basal colour.
Female. Whole upper plumage ashy-brown, the mantle and, to a less extent, the head streaked with dark brown; wing-feathers dark brown with broad margins of pale fulvous-brown ; lower plumage pale fulvous, washed with yellow in varying degrees and with the under tail-coverts all of this colour.
Young males are like the females but with the rump more heavily washed with golden-olive.
Nestling brown above, heavily streaked with black except on hind neck and rump; below pale fulvous streaked with brown on the chin, throat and breast; abdomen whitish washed with yellow ; under tail-coverts yellow.
Distribution. Transcaspia, Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Kashmir, Mesopotamia, Persian Gulf; North to Altai and West Siberia,. South to North-West Erontier, Punjab, Sind, Rajputana, Central Provinces, Bombay Presidency to Belgaum, Madras and Bast to Chota Nagpur.
Stresemann has shown that unfortunately we cannot retain the name luteola, as the plate accompanying the description is that of an American genus Sycalis.
Nidification. Very similar to that of the Black-headed Bunting. The eggs are also similar in character but the ground-colour is almost white and the general tone is very dingy and dull. Fifty eggs average 20.3 x 15.7 mm.: maxima 22.0 X 17.0 and 21.9 x 17.1 mm.; minima 18.9 x 15.5 and 20.2 x 14.5 mm. Most birds breed in May but eggs have been taken from April to July. It probably breeds in the Kurram Valley, as Wardlaw Ramsay found it breeding in a valley which drains into it.
Habits. Similar to those of Emberiza melanocephala.