(1119) Emberiza schaeniclus pallidior.
The Central Asian Reed-Bunting-.
Enberiza schceniclus pallidior Hartert, Vog. PaL, i, p. 197 (1904) (Aiderli in Turkestan). Emberiza schceniclus. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 251.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Adult male ; Summer. A broad streak from the lower mandible, between ear-coverts and throat white; rest of head, chin, throat and upper breast black ; back of neck narrowly greyish-white; feathers of back, scapulars and wing-coverts with broad black centres and wide fulvous margins tinged with rufous next the black; rump and upper tail-coverts paler and more grey with narrow dark centres; central tail-feathers brown, edged externally with pale rufous and internally paler and browner; lateral tail-feathers almost black, with very fine pale rufous edges ; the outermost pair mostly white on the outer web and with a patch of white on the inner web, broad at the end and narrowing to a point about three-quarters way down; penultimate pair with a smaller wedge of white; wing-quills blackish, the primaries narrowly, the secondaries broadly, edged with fulvous, rufous next the black; below white, tinged with fulvous and streaked with brown on the flanks and sides of breast.
The amount of white on the tail varies considerably, and in some specimens nearly the whole of the outer web is white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown ; bill dark brown, black on the culmen ; legs and feet dark brown.
Measurements. Total length about 150 mm.; wing 73 to 31 mm.; tail 65 to 70 mm.; tarsus 20 to 21 mm.; culmen 8 to 9 mm.
After the Autumn moult the feathers of the head, chin and throat are fringed above with brown, below with white, concealing most of the black until abraded. After the spring moult the feathers of the head are pure black.
Female. No black on head and no white collar ; the crown is Rufous-brown, with dark centres ; chin and throat pale huff, with a broad border of black streaks; the lower parts pale fulvous, boldly streaked with dark brown on breast and flanks.
Young birds are like the adult female but more boldly streaked ; below more buff.
Distribution. Breeding in Central South Siberia and wintering in Turkestan to North-East India. Hartert, perhaps following Oates, calls the Indian bird E. s. schaeniclus and is followed by Witherby but every Indian specimen in the British Museum is, as we should expect, quite certainly pallidior.
Nidification. I have a clutch of three eggs of a Reed-Bunting taken by Smirnoff in " Uzsimi, Chinese East Russia," on the 12th May which are probably of this race. They are not distinguishable from the eggs of the Common Reed-Bunting and measure about 19.5 x 15.2 mm.
Habits. This bird is apparently common in winter in Afghanistan and the North-West Province frontiers. Magrath found it in large flocks in January and March at Bannu " feeding on the shores of Mangiwalla bhil on the succulent shoots of tamarisk scrub," and Whitehead found them both in flocks, in pairs and singly near Kohat.