(1122) Emberiza pusilla.
The Little Bunting.
Emberiza pusilla. Pall., Reise Buss. Reich., iii, p. 397 (1776) (Daurian Alps); Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 254.
Vernacular names. Dao miji (Cachari).
Description. - Male in Summer. Centre of crown from fore¬head to nape rich rufous ; sides of the crown black ; a pale rufous supercilium ; a line from behind the eye encircling the rich rufous ear-coverts; upper plumage and wing-coverts black, broadly edged with fulvous and with rufous next the black; upper tail-coverts and tail dark brown edged with pale fulvous-brown, the outermost or, very occasionally the two outermost pairs, with an oblique streak of white running across the inner or both webs ; lores, cheeks, chin and sides of throat rufous; wing-quills dark brown with rufous edges; lower plumage white, boldly streaked with black on the fore-neck, breast and flanks.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill homy-brown, darker above, paler below ; legs and feet pale fleshy or yellowish-brown.
Measurements. Wing 69 to 74 mm.; tail 55 to 58 mm.; tarsus about 18 to 19 mm.; culmen about 9 to 10 mm.
Female and Male in Winter. The black and rich rufous of the head duller and obscured by pale edges ; chin and sides of the throat white.
Distribution. North-East Europe to Manchuria and Mongolia. In Winter South to North-Eastern India, Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Manipur, Burma and South China. It has occurred in the Andamans. In Burma its Southern recorded limit is Karenni.
Nidification. The Little Bunting breeds from Northern Russia across Siberia to the East of Amur during June and July. It makes a small and flimsy cup-shaped nest of grass lined with fine grass-stems or hair which is placed on the ground concealed by bushes, grass or moss. The eggs number four to six and vary greatly in colour. The ground-colour is pale grey, pale dull pink, greyish-pink, yellowish or even greenish. The markings sometimes consist of numerous blotches and specks of purple-brown with secondary ones of lavender and neutral tint. Other eggs have the blotches mixed with lines and scrawls of the same colour; some again have nothing but lines entangled over the larger end and these may be of any shade of purple or brown and, rarely, even black. Forty-one eggs average 18.3 x 14.0 mm.: maxima 20.2 x 14.3 and 19.0 x 15.0 mm.; minima 16.4 X 13.3 and 18.0 x 13.2 mm.
Habits. The Little Bunting is a Winter visitor to the whole of the Himalayas and the hills of Burma to the South. In India it is very seldom found in the Plains but in Eastern Bengal and Assam it is by no means an uncommon bird in the foot-hills and the plains adjoining them. In its breeding-haunts it keeps much to pine-forests or to forests of mixed pines, birches and alders, being especially partial to the damper portions. It is a Tree-Bunting, spending most of its time quite high up in trees, though it also sometimes feeds on the ground. In Winter it is entirely a seed and berry eater but in Summer its diet consists mainly of insects. It is said to have a sweet song rather like that of the Robin.