(1241) Galerida malabarica.
The Malabar Crested Lark.
Alauda malabarica Scop., Del. Flor. et Faun, Insubr., p. 94 ^1786) (Malabar). Galerita malabarica. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 339.
Vernacular names, Chinna chandool (Tel.).
Description. Very like Sykes's Crested Lark but much larger ; the underparts are nearly always paler with the centre of the abdomen whitish ; the breast is heavily streaked with blackish ; under wing-coverts, axillaries and the rufous parts of the tail much deeper.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill horny-brown above, yellowish- or whitish-flesh below with a dark tip; legs and feet livid fleshy.
Measurements. Total length about 155 mm.; wing 92 to 99 mm.; tail 55 to 60 mm.; tarsus about 22 mm,; culmen about 11 to 12 mm.
Distribution. Western India from Guzerat to Travancore; Ahmadabad; common over the greater part of the Deccan.
Nidification. The Malabar Crested Lark breeds from July to October, generally after the first burst of the rains, when a little grass and other vegetation has sprung up in this otherwise very bare ground it so often selects as a home. A few birds breed in June also, and in the Nilgiris they breed twice, first in February, March and April and again from August to early October. In these hills and in the other hill districts of Southern India it certainly ascends as high as 5,000 feet to breed and probably considerably higher. The nest is much like that of Sykes's Creste Lark but whilst the nest of the latter bird is almost invariably very well bidden, the nest of this bird is often quite open and exposed, although partly sheltered from the sun by a stone, clod of earth or bush. The eggs number two or three and do not differ from those of the preceding bird except in being rather larger. Thirty eggs average 22.0 X 16.0 mm.: maxima 24.1 X 17.0 and 23.6 x 17.3 mm.; minima 19.0 x 14.8 and 21.3 x 14.3 mm.
Habits. The Malabar Crested Lark frequents any kind of open country, bare laterite table-land, open sandy wastes, grass-covered hillsides or well-cultivated land round villages. It sings both when soaring in feeble imitation of the Sky-Lark or when perched on or near the ground. Miss Cockburn, who thought that in the Nilgiris this Lark never sang on the wing, writes: " He sits on a stone or the stump of a dead tree while performing his part in the general concert. With drooping wings and tail erect he continues turning round and strutting about until his song comes to a close, which it seldom does before he has imitated the peculiar song or call of every bird and beast that may come within reach of his most wonderful ear." Miss Cockburn says of a bird she kept in a cage that it exactly reproduced sounds so contrasted as the neigh of a horse and the shrill wail of the Kite.