(2173) Capella stenura.
THE PINTAIL SNIPE.
Scolopax stenura Bonaparte, Ann. Stor. Nat. Bologna, iv, p. 335 (1830) (Sunda Is.). Gallinago stenura. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 289.
Vernacular names. Few natives appear to recognize the difference between the Pintail and Fantail Snipes, and the vernacular names given to the latter apply equally to both.
Pazembon Kya or Ja (Kyaukse, Kachin Hills).
Description. - Adult male. The Pintail Snipe differs from the Fantail in coloration in having the whole of the axillaries and under wing-coverts regularly barred throughout with black or brown and white, the former colour being predominant. The average bird is also duller and darker in its coloration ; this more so on the lower than the upper parts. The bill is proportionately shorter and stouter, and the tail consists, normally, of 26 or 28 feathers, the external 8 or 9 on each side being very stiff and narrow, the outermost only about .1 inch in width.
The outer web of the first primary is, in all text-books, said to be brown, but this is not quite correct, as in a large series one finds many specimens with very pale outer webs, though these may never be quite white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris deep brown; bill on the terminal third or half horny-brown or even blackish-brown, basal half dull olive-green, palest about the gape and extreme base; legs and feet yellowish-olive to dull olive-green or plumbeous-green.
Measurements. Wing, 125 to 134 mm., 130 to 138 mm.; tail about 54 to 68 mm.; tarsus 29 to 31 mm,; culmen, 57 to 61 mm., 59 to 64 mm.
The tail has 26 to 28 feathers but occasionally only 24 or, very rarely, 22.
Distribution. The Pintail Snipe breeds from the Yenesei to Eastern Siberia. Kuschel records it breeding in Eastern Turkestan and it possibly breeds through Northern Tibet and the plateaus of Northern China. In Winter it is found all over China, Indo-China, Burma and India to Ceylon, but it is much more common in the East than in the West of India.
Nidification. Prjevalsky records its breeding in Ussuri, choosing nesting-sites in thinly overgrown marshes; Kuschel obtained three or four nests in Eastern Turkestan and Popham took several nests on the Yenesei River. The nests appears to be just like that of the Fantail Snipe and the eggs only differ in being rather larger. In India the Pintail Snipe normally does not breed at all, either in the plains or in the Himalayas, but odd birds, possibly such as have been peppered in the wings during the Winter, remain and breed. Hole found a nest in Cachar, another was found near the Rifle Butts swamp in Silchar and I took a nest with four and one with one egg in the N. Cachar Hills. Oviduct eggs from two birds were also obtained in Cachar in August. The only thirteen eggs I have been able to measure average 40.5 x 28.8 mm.: maxima 44.2 x 30.4 and 40.6 x 31.5 mm.; minima 37.0 x 28.5 and 39.5 x 27.0 mm.
On the Yenesei Popham found them breeding during the last week of May. He describes the " drumming " made by the Pintail as much louder than that of the Fantail and says that when close overhead the sound is terrific."
Habits. Generally speaking, very similar to those of the Fantail Snipe but this bird with its much harder, less sensitive, bill often frequents dry grass-land, thin bush-jungle and other places in which no Fantail would ever enter. On the other hand, over much of its area in India it is found in company with this bird in rice-fields and marshes.