(2055) Glareola maldivarum maldivarum.
THE LARGE INDIAN PRATINCOLE or SWALLOW-PLOVER.
Glareola maldivarum Forster, Fauna Indica, p. 11 (1795) Maldive Is.). Glareola orientalis. Blanf. & Oates. iv, p. 214.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Differs from the preceding bird in being much darker both above and below and in having comparatively less white on the tail. The tail itself is much shorter and much less deeply forked.
Colours of soft parts as in G. pratincola.
Measurements. Wing 173 to 191 mm.; tail, longest outermost feathers 71 to 85 mm., shortest central feathers 52 to 62 mm.; tarsus 30 to 33 mm.; culmen 13 to 15 mm.
Nestling. "Greyish-buff down, much mottled with dark blackish-brown spots " (Butler).
Distribution. India, Ceylon, Burma, the Indo-Chinese countries to Eastern Siberia and the Malay Peninsula and Archipelago. Mathews accepts Leach's orientalis as a subspecies occurring from Java Eastwards.
Nidification. This Pratincole breeds in colonies from March to June, laying its two or three eggs on the ground, with no nest, on mud-flats, burnt rice-fields or in the beds of creeks and rivers. In Assam and Burma very favourite resorts are burnt grass-lands and rice-fields, where the half-burnt yellow pieces of stalk are exactly like the eggs themselves. The colonies may number anything from half a dozen to forty or fifty pairs and the noise and commotion the birds make when their eggs are, approached soon draws attention to them. They sit very close and often when disturbed from their nests feign illness or wound, flopping along the ground away from the nest in the hope of drawing the intruders attention therefrom. These manoeuvres will often be repeated again and again, showing that they are definite reasoned attempts by the bird to save its eggs and not emotional fits caused by sudden fright. The eggs are indistinguishable from those of the preceding bird but perhaps average a trifle lighter. Sixty eggs average 30.8 x 23.9 mm.: maxima 34.2 x 35.3; minima 28.0 x 22.5 and 31.4 x 21.4 mm.
Habits. These differ in no way from those of the Collared Pratincole. This species seems to move about locally a great deal Their breeding colonies in Assam were occupied for a year or two and then the birds disappeared altogether, only to reappear some years later a short distance away.