548. Otocorys penicillata

Otocorys penicillata, Gould, P.Z.S. 1837, p. 126 ; Dresser, iv. p. 395, pl. 241 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. xiii. p. 530 ; Oates, F. Brit. Ind. Birds, ii. p. 319 ; O. scriba (Bp.), Comp. List, p. 37 (1838) ; O. albigula, Bp. Consp, i. p. 246 (1850) ; O. larvata, De Filipp. Arch Zool. Anat. etc. ii. p. 381 (1863).
Male ad. (Persia). Differs from O. alpestris in having the upper parts paler, the whole of the neck, face, throat, and upper breast, except a patch covering the chin and upper throat, deep black ; a band across the base of the bill joining the lores also black ; and the throat patch is pure white, there being no yellow on the throat or head. Culmen 0.62, wing 4.6, tail 3.3, tarsus 0.85, hind-toe with claw 0.62 inch.
Hab. S.E. Europe, Asia Minor, the Caucasus, Palestine, Syria, Transcaspia, Persia, Turkestan, Afghanistan, and Gilgit ; frequenting the mountains up to 12,000 or 15,000 feet in summer, descending to the plains in winter.
In general habits it resembles the Shore-Lark, and like that species runs on the ground with ease and great rapidity. It feeds on seeds and insects in summer and on the former only in winter. Its song is described as being rich and melodious. It breeds high up in the mountains at the edge of the snow, late in May, and the nest, which is placed on the ground, is constructed of dry plant-stems, bents, and portions of the flat leaves of a thistle, lined with liner bents ; and the eggs, 4 to 5 in number, resemble those of O. alpestris, but are larger, measuring 0.95 by 0.71, and paler in colour, the markings being nearly obsolete in most specimens.
Dr. Sharpe recognises two subspecies, viz. O. bicornis (Cat. B. Br. Mus. xiii. p. 532) and O. diluta (tom. cit. pp. 533, 670) ; but after a careful comparison of specimens I cannot recognise either of these even as subspecies, as they are merely slightly paler varieties of O. penicillata, and indeed I failed to distinguish them from specimens from Erzeroom of true O. penicillata.
Like all birds whose range is very extensive, the Larks belonging to the genus Otocorys are subject to considerable, though often but very trifling, local variation, and in a review of the genus recently published (Proc. U.S. Nat. Mus. xxiv. pp. 801-884) Mr. Oberholser recognises as many as thirty-six species and subspecies.

A Manual Of Palaearctic Birds
Dresser, Henry Eeles. A Manual of Palaearctic Birds. Vol. 1. 1902.
Title in Book: 
548. Otocorys penicillata
Book Author: 
H. E. Dresser
Page No: 
Common name: 
Eastern Shore Lark
Eremophila alpestris penicillata
Vol. 1

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