(1125) Emberiza cia stracheyi.
The Eastern Meadow-Bunting.
Emberiza stracheyi Moore, P. Z. S., 1855, p. 215 (Kuman); Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 257.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Male in Summer. Centre of crown to nape bluish-grey; a broad supercilium, cheeks and ear-coverts white;, sides of the crown, moustachial streak and line through the eyes meeting behind the ear-coverts, black; back, scapulars, median and greater wing-coverts, rump and upper tail-coverts chestnut, all but the rump with broad black centres ; tail blackish brown edged with chestnut; outermost pair white on the outer web and all but the base, obliquely, of the inner web; penultimate pair with similar but less white on the inner web and the next pair generally tipped with white; lesser wing-coverts blackish, edged with bluish-grey; quills dark brown, edged with rufous; chin, throat and upper breast bluish-grey; remainder of lower parts chestnut.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill dark horny-plumbeous above, yellowish-horny below, ail darker in the breeding-season; legs and feet fleshy-yellow.
Measurements. Total length about 165 mm.; wing 78 to 87 mm.; tail 71 to 79 mm.; tarsus 19 to 20 mm.; culmen 10 to 11 mm.
In freshly-moulted plumage the grey of the head is obscured with fulvous fringes and a few black streaks; the black feathers have rufous edges and the white of the head is more bluish grey; the upper parts and rufous lower parts have pale fringes to each feather, making the general tone much paler.
Female. Similar to the male but duller.
Young males are like the adult but have no definite black or white markings and no grey crown.
Nestlings are fulvous-rufous above, streaked with black and with more rufous on the rump and upper tail-coverts ; below they are dull fulvous, streaked with blackish on sides of neck, throat, breast and flanks.
Distribution. Kashmir, Ladakh and the hills of the North-West Himalayas to Simla States and Garhwal. Birds from Gilgit are intermediate between this form and E. c. par but rather closer to the latter.
Nidification. The Eastern Meadow-Bunting breeds throughout its range between 5,000 and 9,000 feet and has been recorded as nesting as high as 13,500 feet in Garhwai. It makes a rather flimsy nest of dried grass, lined with tine stems of the same, which is nearly always placed on the ground, under a stone, rock or bush, or in a hollow on a bank. Davidson, however, found one nest nine feet up in a fir-tree and says that they occasionally breed in dense forest. The eggs number three or four, very rarely five, and in appearance are typical Bunting's eggs. The ground-colour is pale greyish or bluish-green, more seldom pinkish or yellowish and the markings consist almost entirely of fine hairlines, sometimes coarser but hardly ever becoming blotches. In some instances they are scattered irregularly all over the surface but often they form a beautiful and intricately twisted zone about the larger end. One hundred eggs average 21.5 x 15.4 mm.: maxima 23.2 x 15.7 and 21.7 x 16.8 mm.; minima 19.4 x 15.5 and 21.3 x 14.8 mm.
They breed during May and June into July and occasionally, perhaps a second brood, in August.
Habits. In Summer this Bunting frequents elevations between 5,000 and 15,000 feet, keeping generally below 10,000 feet, whilst in Winter it descends low and a few, individuals penetrate some way into the Plains. It is normally a bird of open grass-lands, bare hillsides or low scrub but, where it is specially common, may be found well inside deep forests. It is a ground-feeding Bunting but rests on trees- and bushes, often high up.