798. Emberiza spodocephala.
The Black-faced Bunting.
Emberiza spodocephala, Fall. Reis. Russ. Reichs, iii, p. 698 (1776) ; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 374; Hume, Cat. no. 717; id. S. F. xi, p. 275 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xii, p. 522. Emberiza melanops, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiv, p. 554(1845). Euspiza melanops (Blyth), Blyth, Cat. p. 129.
Coloration. Male. After the autumn moult the lores, the region of the gape, and the point of the chin are black , the whole head, whole neck, and breast dull olive-green, some of the feathers of the hind neck with dull rufous-brown tips and the feathers of the crown with indistinct dark shaft-streaks ; back and scapulars dull rufous-brown streaked with black; rump and upper tail-coverts olive-brown; tail dark brown, edged with olive-brown, the outermost feather with the basal portion of the outer web and the terminal half of the inner web white; the penultimate feather with a large triangular white tip to the inner web ; lesser coverts rufous-brown ; remaining coverts and quills dark brown, broadly edged with rufous-brown ; lower plumage from the breast downwards yellow, the sides of the body tinged with rufous and streaked with brown.
The change that takes place in the plumage in spring is very trifling, the rufous tips to the feathers of the hind neck wearing away and the plumage in general becoming brighter.
Female. The whole upper plumage, wings, and tail as in the male, but the head and hind neck less green and the shaft-streaks well-developed ; a supercilium, lores, cheeks, chin, and throat pale yellowish; ear-coverts brown ; a series of brown spots on each side of the throat extending to the breast, which is dull yellowish streaked with brown; remainder of lower plumage yellow, the sides of the body streaked with brown.
Young birds resemble the female, but have the head more streaked and the throat spotted with brown. Young males have assumed the adult plumage by February or March, the last signs of immaturity left at that time being small triangular tips to the feathers of the crown.
Legs and feet pale brownish fleshy; upper mandible dark brown ; lower mandible and gape horny pinkish white ; iris brown (Hume).
Length about 6 ; tail 2.6; wing 2.8; tarsus .75 ; bill from gape .5.
Distribution. A winter visitor to the Himalayas from Nepal to Assam and to the eastern portion of the Empire from Assam down to Manipur. In the winter this species extends to China and it summers in Eastern Siberia.
Habits, &c. According to Hume, this species is very partial to long grass and watery localities.