(1094) Gymnoris xanthocollis xanthocollis.
The Yellow-throated Sparrow.
Fringilla xanthocollis Burton, Cat. B, Mus. Fort Pitt, Chatham, p. 23 (1838) (Bengal). Gymnorhis flavicollis. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 235.
Vernacular names. Raji, Jungli-churi (Hind.); Adavi-pichike, Konde-pichike, Cheruka-pichike (Tel.).
Description. - Adult male. Whole upper plumage light earth-brown, a little paler on the rump and upper tail-coverts and darker on the wing- and tail-feathers; lesser wing-coverts dark chestnut, median coverts tipped with white and greater coverts and inner secondaries with white or pale buff ; primaries, outer secondaries and tail-feathers very narrowly edged with buff or rufous-buff; chin nearly white, a patch of bright yellow on the throat; remainder of lower plumage pale ashy-brown, the centre of the abdomen whitish and the under tail-coverts pure white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark,brown; bill all black when breeding; brown above at other times in the male and always in the female, paler yellowish or livid white below; legs and feet greyish- or greenish-plumbeous.
Measurements. Total length about 150 mm.; wing 78 to 83 mm.; tail 49 to 54 mm.; tarsus about 17 mm.; culmen 12 to 13 mm.
Female like the male but the yellow throat-spot pale or wanting and the wing-patch duller and more brick-red.
Young birds are like the female but have no throat-spot at all and no wing-patch.
Distribution. Practically the whole of India excluding the area of the next form in Sind and the North-West Frontier. It occurs in Ceylon and also in the Himalayas up to about 4,000 feet; in Bengal it is not rare in the West but is seldom if ever met with East of Rajmehal. 1 have never seen it in Assam. Sir S. M. Robinson records this bird as breeding in the Shan States at Kalau. The bird was shot and identified by him.
Nidification. This little Sparrow breeds principally in April throughout its range but continues through May and sometimes into June. They make their nests of grass but often mix this with leaves, wool, hair, fur or any other rubbish, though the lining seems to be always of feathers. They place them in holes of trees, either natural or made by Woodpeckers and Barbets. Betham, however, found that in Poona the favourite site was a lamp-post. The eggs, three or four in number, are like small eggs of the House-Sparrow. The ground is white, greenish-white or yellowish-white, profusely marked all over with smudges, blotches, spots and longitudinal streaks of dull brown, grey-brown or sepia. Most eggs are profusely marked all over but others are more sparingly and boldly marked. Eggs in the same clutch often vary greatly but there does not seem to be invariably one egg different to the rest, as is the case with so many Sparrows. One hundred eggs measure barely 19.0 x 13.9 mm.: maxima 21.1 x 14.2 and 20.0 x 15.0 mm.; minima 16.0 x 12.9 mm. As a whole they are very dingy, glossless eggs.
Habits. This bird, although so aberrant in the shape of its bill, is in all other respects a typical Tree-Sparrow. Though not gregarious in the true sense of the word, it is intensely sociable and numbers may be found feeding, roosting, fighting and even nesting together. It ascends the hills of South India and the Himalayas up to some 4,000 feet and appears to be resident wherever found, except in the Punjab, where Whistler reports it as a summer visitor, arriving in March and April and leaving in September. Dewar and Currie also say that it is absent from Lahore from October to March. It is probable, however, that these movements are very local; on the other hand, the birds which move do so in flocks, which certainly presumes a regular migration.