Emberiza schoeniclus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 311 (1766) ; Naum. iv. p. 280, Taf. 105, figs. 1-4 ; Gould, B. of E. iii. pl. 183 ; id. B. of Gt. Brit. iii. pl. 29 ; Hewitson, i. p. 187, pl xlvii. fig. 1 ; Newton, ii. p. 23 ; Dresser, iv. p. 241, pl. 221, pl. 222, fig. 1 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. xii. p. 480 ; Oates, P. Brit. Ind. Birds, ii. p. 251 ; Saunders, p. 221 ; Lilford, iv. p. 18, pl. 10.
Bruant des roseaux, French ; Emberiza dos canicos, Portug. ; Molinero, Teuladi de canar, Span. ; Migliarino di palude, Ital. ; Rohrammer, German ; Rietgors, Dutch ; Rorspurv, Dan. and Norweg. ; Safsparf, Swed. ; Kaislasirkku, Finn. ; Balotnaya ovsyanka Russ. ; Cha-kuchkach, Turki.
Male ad. (England). Head, nape, and throat deep black ; a white collar passes round the hind neck and joins a white stripe on each side of the throat ; upper parts black, the feathers margined with ochraceous and bay, the wing-coverts and secondaries broadly margined with bay ; quills blackish with narrow buff external margins ; rump iron grey darkly streaked ; rectrices blackish, the two outer ones chiefly white ; under parts white, the Hanks striped with dark brown ; bill blackish brown ; legs dull brown ; iris brown. Culmen 0.4, height of bill at base 0.2, wing 3.3, tail 2.9, tarsus 0.8 inch. The female has the crown and sides of the head reddish brown marked with blackish brown ; supercilium white ; throat whitish ; the collar on the hind neck nearly obsolete and the lower throat and upper breast marked with reddish brown. In winter the black on the head of the male is obscured by broad reddish brown margins to the feathers and the throat-feathers with dull white margins ; upper parts are also more broadly margined with ochreous grey.
Hab. Europe generally as far north as Lapland ; Asia as far east as Kamchatka and Japan ; Mongolia, Manchuria, Turkestan ; wintering in N.W. India and N. Africa.
Frequents river banks where there are large reed-beds or damp marshy localities overgrown with aquatic herbage, and is lively and active in its habits. Its call-note is a loud clear tscheek, and its song is loud but peculiar and stammering. In the summer its food consists chiefly of insects, and in the winter of seeds, chiefly those of aquatic plants. Nidification commences late in March or early in April, and the nest, Which is placed in a damp place on the ground, rarely in a low bush, is constructed of grass flags and moss lined with fine grass, hairs, or the feathery tops of reeds. The eggs, 4 to 6 seldom 7 in number, are purplish clay coloured, marked with purplish brown or black spots and streaks, and average about 0.75 by 0.56.
This species is subject to considerable variation, especially in the form and size of the beak ; so much so that intermediate forms are to be found showing a full gradation from the typical form to E. pyrrhuloides, except as regards colour, for the latter is always much paler than true B. schoeniclus, and I am therefore only able to recognise it and E. passerina as subspecies. Dr. Sharpe, on the other hand (l.c.), places the thick-billed birds in a separate genus (Pyrrhulorhyncha) and makes three species of them, P. palustris, P. pyrrhuloides, and P. pyrrhulina
533. Emberiza schoeniclus