(1241) Galerida malabarica (Scop.).
THE MALABAR CRESTED LARK.
Galerida malabarica, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol, iii, p. 348.
This is another Western form of Lark, being a resident from Guzerat to South Travancore, extending to Ahmedabad and over the greater part of the Deccan. It ascends the Nilgiris and other hills to at least 4,000 feet and perhaps higher. Like all Galeridas, this species haunts open country, sometimes well covered with grass and with many bushes dotted about ; sometimes tracts of cultivated fields and, sometimes, again, very hare bleak country. Vidal gives a fine description of this latter and with it a description of nests and their sites which is very exhaustive. He writes (Hume’s ‘Nests and Eggs,’ vol. ii, p. 239):—“This Southern Crested Lark breeds at Ratnagiri in October and November, after the heavy rains have ceased. There is a rugged laterite plateau of con¬siderable extent to the east of the station, where this species is plentiful for the greater part of the year ; this tableland is entirely bare, and appears as a huge sheet of flat rock, the laterite cropping to the surface everywhere. During the south-west monsoon, how¬ever, rank grass sprouts up wherever the crumbling surface affords a hold for the roots—lilies, hardy creepers, and ferns shoot up from the fissures in the rocks, and here and there coarse hill-grains are sown in the least unpromising patches of ground. The Crown-crests, as a rule, affect no concealment in their choice of a site. A shght hollow in the hare ground or hard rock, either natural or scraped out by the birds themselves, is filled in with grass of two kinds, a coarse quality for the outside and a finer for the inside. No other material is used, and the grass is somewhat loosely put together. In shape the nests are rather shallow cups, with an internal diameter of about 2.1/2 inches. Nests formed on the bare ground are fully exposed to view on three sides hut are invariably shaded or sheltered on the remaining side by a stone or chip of rock, which is sometimes more, but never less, than twice the height of the nest from the ground. The only Crown-crest’s nest I have found without this flanking stone was placed under cover of thin grass. There is one distinction between all the nests of the Crown-crested Larks and the Finch-Larks that I have observed, and that is, that while the Crown-crest’s nest is always placed in a depression of the ground, the Finch-Lark’s nest always rests on the level surface. I am aware, however, that this distinction does not hold good in other localities.”
To the above one must add that sometimes, though rarely, a few roots are used in the composition of the nest.
The eggs number two or three in a full clutch, and I have no record of four. They are typical Larks’ eggs and resemble those of Sykes’s, or the Deccan, Crested Lark, but are of course larger. The ground is white, grey-white or brown-white but, most often, yellowish creamy. They are freely speckled all over with sienna or yellowish brown on the creamy eggs to brown or blackish-brown on the others. Underlying these are specks and spots of lavender and grey, hut they are never very conspicuous.
In texture they vary from quite glossless to faintly glossed and in shape from fairly broad to rather long ovals.
Forty eggs average 21.5 x 15.5 mm. : maxima 34.1 x 17.0 and 23.6 x 17.3 mm. ; minima 19.0 x 13.0 mm.
Hume gives the average of eighteen eggs as 22.0 x 16.5 mm., and it should be noted that the average size of those measured by me are reduced by a series of very small eggs from Travancore.
1241. Galerida malabarica
(1241) Galerida malabarica (Scop.).