(2054) Glareola pratincola pratincola.
THE COLLARED PRATINCOLE.
Hirundo pratincola Linn., Syst. Nat., 12th ed., p. 345 (1766) (Austria). Glareola pratincola. Blanf. & Oates, iv p. 216.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Upper plumage brown, faintly tinged with olive, the back and sides of the neck more pale rufous; lores and a line under the eye running down the sides of the neck and in a narrow gorget across the upper breast black, indistinctly edged with white; rump and shorter tail-coverts white; longer tail-coverts brown with paler edges; tail black with broad white bases; chin and throat inside the gorget pale rufous ; breast pal isabelline-rufous, changing to rufous on the lower breast and pure-white on the abdomen and under tail-coverts; lesser and median under wing-coverts and axillaries deep rufous.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill black, the gape-reddish ; legs and feet dusky black.
Measurements. Wing 176 to 200 mm.; tail, longest outermost feather 102 to 119 mm., shortest central feathers 54 to 58 mm.; tarsus 30 to 32 mm.; culmen 15 to 16 mm.
Young birds are olive-brown above, the feathers pale tipped and with black sub-edges, there is no black neck-line or gorget and the breast is mottled brown and rufous-white.
Distribution. South Europe, Central and Western Asia to Sind and Cutch. In Winter it wanders into Africa. In India it breeds in Sind and straggles as far as Allahabad, the Deccan and Ratnagiri.
Nidification. In Europe this Pratincole breeds during April and May but in Palestine and Mesopotamia most eggs have been taken in June, whilst in Sind and Cutch it breeds in company with the following species during April and early May. It makes no nest but lays its eggs on the ground, either on the level ground or in some depression, on mud-flats, edges of swamps or on waste stony ground. The eggs number two or three and are very like those of the preceding bird but less richly coloured, the ground very seldom strongly yellow or buff; the markings, also, are generally less numerous and only exceptionally of the scrolled variety. Forty Indian eggs average 30.5 x 23.4 mm.: maxima 31.6 X 23.1 and 30.7 x 24.2 mm.; minima 29.2 x 24.0 and 30.0 x 22.4 mm. The birds sometimes breed in colonies, though these are often very scattered.
Habits. These little Coursers associate in small flocks during the Winter and have all the characteristic habits of the family. They keep to open ground of almost any kind, preferably not sand but dark soil of some sort, running at great speed in short dashes hither and thither, as they feed on the various insects and small grasshoppers. They fly very strongly and at great speed, constantly whirling and wheeling about as they go. These birds are never found in forest or in heavy bush country but sometimes frequent thin scrub and light short grass-land or cultivated fields.