(1240) Galerida deva Sykes.
THE DECCAN SMALL CRESTED LARK.
Galerida deva, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iii, p. 347.
This little Lark occurs over the greater part of Western India, except Sind and Western Punjab westwards, and is found as far South as Mysore, It is plentiful in the United Provinces, Central Provinces and Deccan, while it is also found in Madras.
It is a bird of open country, like most Larks, but does not seem to mind if this is waste land, dry, open, uncultivated semi-desert or cultivated fields. It does not occur, except casually, and cer-tainly does not breed, in the barest desert and, equally, not in very wet humid areas. Probably it prefers above all mixed cultivation and waste land in patches, while it certainly often shows a liking for the vicinity of water, though, as Hume remarks, it likes the sites of its nest well drained.
Sometimes it may build its nest inside a field of long grass or high crops, but this is exceptional, Generally it is situated where bush or grass cover is scanty yet sufficient to completely hide the nest when placed under its protection.
In Poona it is a very common bird and Betham found many nests there, mostly placed in waste land under patches of grass or a small bush, but one nest was built in fallow land under a clod and another in grass by a village path.
The neat is the usual Lark’s nest, a cup of grass etc., but it is generally much more compact than other Larks' nests and, though grass may form a chief part in the construction, roots, fibres and other material are well interwoven with it. The nest itself may be from 3 to 4 inches across—Hume says 4.1/2 and anything up to inches deep, with a hollow for the eggs about 2.1/2 inches in diameter by about 1 in depth. It is sufficiently well made to stand removal and a good deal of handling before it disintegrates. In some nests there is a shght lining of grass, while in others it is more ample and is composed of grass, roots, hair and similar oddments.
Hume gives the breeding season as June to August, but this is not long enough. In Dhulia Davidson took eggs up to the end of October, and Capt. Payn took them at Mahableswar in early May. In Poona Nisbett, Betham and others have found eggs from May to October, but the great majority of birds at that place lay in August, September and October. Probably many birds have two broods.
Two or three eggs only are laid, though Betham obtained one four-clutch in Poona.
Hume says that he thinks the eggs of this Lark vary more than those of any others. My series does not show this. They have a range of colour exactly equivalent to that of the Galerida cristata group, though as a series they are less grey and more yellowish.
On the whole, also, the stippling is finer and a few eggs do look almost unicoloured light earthy brown.
In shape the eggs are most often broad ovals, but a good many are longer and rather elliptical, a few only being at all pointed.
The texture varies more than usual. Some eggs are quite dull surfaced, whilst others have a distinct gloss ; in none is the grain very fine, and the dull eggs are more fragile than the glossed ones, i. e., the texture is not so close.
Fifty eggs average 19.9 x 14.6 mm. : maxima 23.0 x 15.1 and 19.8 x 15.4 mm. ; minima 17.5 x 14.0 and 18.3 x 13.3 mm.
Both sexes take part in incubation, though the female takes the greater share. Both also assist in the construction of the nest. I have been told that incubation takes thirteen days, but I have no proof of this.
1240. Galerida deva
(1240) Galerida deva Sykes.