(1132) Emberiza spodocephala melanops.
The Yangtse Black-headed Bunting.
Emberiza melanops Blyth, J. A. S. B., xiv, p. 554 (1845) (Tippera). Emberiza spodocephala. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 260.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Bound the eye, lores, chin and face blackish, shading into olive-green on the head, neck and breast; back, scapulars, wing-coverts and innermost secondaries rufous-brown with bold black centres, the rufous richest next the black and more fulvous at the edge; rump and upper tail-coverts paler olive-brown; tail dark brown, the outer feathers white except at the base and external tip ; the penultimate feathers with a triangular white patch at the tip of the inner web ; primaries and secondaries brown edged with rufous ; abdomen, flanks and under tail-coverts bright yellow, the flanks streaked with dark brown ; under wing-coverts and axillaries yellowish white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; upper mandible dark horny-brown, paler at the base, lower mandible yellow or fleshy-horny; legs and feet fleshy-brown.
Measurements. Total length about 165 mm.; wing 74 to 79 mm.; tail 60 to 64 mm.; tarsus about 19 mm.; culmen 9 to 10 mm-
After the moult the feathers of the hind neck have narrow rufous-brown edges which very quickly wear off.
Female has the head rufous, streaked with brown like the back; lores, supercilium, cheeks and ear-coverts mixed yellow and brown ; chin, throat and breast dull greenish-yellow streaked with brown; lower breast, abdomen, lower tail-coverts and flanks brighter yellow, the last streaked with blackish.
Young birds have the yellow on the lower parts replaced by buffy-white and the streaks are more numerous than in the female.
Distribution. Breeding in the Yangtse Valley and North-Western China; in Winter found in Northern and Central Burma, Siam, Manipur, Assam, E. Bengal, Bhutan and Buxa Duars, Sikkim and Nepal. The birds breeding in the Hupeh District of China seem to be of this subspecies, which probably also breeds in Yunnan, where it is very common in Winter.
According to Sushkin the form breeding West of Szechuan to Altai is typical spodocephala. There are some of Hodgson's specimens from Nepal which are very pale and might possibly be this race but they are such bad specimens that it would not be safe to name them.
Nidification. Nothing recorded except Styan's note that it breeds in the lower Yangtse basin. I have two eggs, given me by Mr. H. E. Dresser, taken on the 18th May, 1902, in Northern China, which are presumably of this race. They are indistin¬guishable from the eggs of E. s. spodocephala, looking very like Tree-Sparrow eggs and they measure 21.1 x 14.8 and 21.5 x 14.9 mm.
Habits. In Summer a shy bird, keeping much to undergrowth and scrub but in Winter, during migration in Southern China, frequenting gardens and orchards and becoming very tame. In Assam it is not uncommon in the plains from October to March but in that province it keeps much to long grass, especially in the vicinity of rivers and swamps.