Emberiza miliaria, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 308 (1766) ; Naum. iv. p. 213, Taf. 101, fig. 1 ; Hewitson, i. p. 186, pl. xivii. fig. 3 ; Gould, B. of E. iii. pl. 171 ; (id.) B. of Gt. Brit. iii. pl. 26 ; Newton, ii. p. 38 ; Dresser, iv. p. 163, pl. 208 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. xii p. 552 ; Saunders, p. 207 ; Lilford, iv. p. 24, pl. 13.
Bruant-Proyer, French ; Triguerao, Portug. ; Triguero, Span. ; Strillozo, Ital. ; Grauammer, German ; Grauwe Gors, Dutch ; Kornloerke, Dan. ; Kornsparf, Swed. ; Prosyanka, Russ.
Male ad. (England). Upper parts and sides of the head greyish brown striped with blackish brown, the rump and upper tail-coverts only obscurely thus marked, under parts white, the throat, breast, and flanks striped with blackish ; quills and rectrices dark brown with pale buffy white or pale rufous buff margins ; median coverts with dull white tips ; bill horn with a rufous tinge, the under mandible yellow ; legs pale fleshy brown ; iris dark brown. Culmen 0.52, wing 3.9, tail 3.1, tarsus 1.0 inch. The female resembles the male but is smaller, and the young birds also, but they are more ochraceous in colour.
Hab. Europe generally, from southern Norway and Sweden to the Mediterranean, east to the Ural ; Canaries ; N. Africa in winter ; Asia as far east as Turkestan ; and is said to have once occurred in Sind.
Frequents arable fields and less often meadows where trees and bushes are scattered about, and is often seen on the ground. During the breeding-season it lives in scattered pairs, but in the autumn collects in flocks and in company with Sparrows and Yellow Buntings visits stubble-fields, stackyards, and farm buildings in search of food. In the summer it feeds chiefly on insects, the young being fed on these only, but in the autumn and winter on grain and seeds of various weeds. Both on the ground and on the wing it is a heavy, somewhat clumsy bird. Its call-note in the pairing season is a soft zik, zik, and its song, which is uttered from the top of a tree, bush, or stake, is not so loud as that of E. citrinella, and resembles the syllables zick, zick, zick, ter ill, ill, ill, ill. Its nest, which is placed on or near the ground, is constructed of grass, moss, and a few twigs, usually lined with a few hairs, and the eggs, 5 to 6 in number, are usually deposited rather late in the season, and are dull white or ochreous white blotched and streaked with purplish brown, and are subject to considerable variation. In size they average about 0.95 by 0.68.
This bird roosts on the ground, and is consequently often netted with Larks.
500. Emberiza miliaria