(947) Leptopaecile sophiae sophiae.
Leptopaecile sophiae Severtz., Turk. Jevotn. in I. C. Moscov., viii, 2, p. 135(1873) (Issuk-Kul), Blanf. & Oates. 1, p. 246.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description.— Adult male. Forehead and a broad supercilium golden-white; crown lilac-rufous with blue reflections, lores brown with the same; back and wing-coverts ashy-grey with tinges of faint blue here and there; quills brown edged paler; rump brilliant cobalt-blue, the bases of the feathers rufous and showing through to a less or greater extent; upper tail-coverts darker blue ; tad dark brown, the three central pairs of feathers edged with blue and the three outer with whitish; sides of head, neck, throat, upper breast and flanks a beautiful lilac-blue, the rich rufous bases of the feathers showing but very slightly; the chin is generally quite rufous; abdomen and vent pale fawn.
Colours of soft parts. Iris bright red ; bill black; legs and feet horny blackish-brown (Stoliczka).
Measurements, Length about 100 mm.; wing 47 to 53 mm.; tail 46 to 51 mm.; tarsus 21 to 22 mm.; culmen about 9 mm.
Female. Like the male but paler everywhere and without any lilac except to a small extent on the rump and upper tail-coverts; the crown is a paler rufous and the sides of the head and whole lower plumage is pale fulvous; the flanks more or less washed with blue.
The colours of the soft parts and Measurements are the same as in the male.
Distribution. Turkestan to Kansu, wandering as far South as Gilgit, Northern Kashmir and Ladak.
Nidification. This beautiful little bird breeds in Turkestan in May and probably June. The only eggs I have seen were a clutch of five in the Coltart collection taken on the 13th of May, 1909. The nest was a mass of lichen, moss, tiny roots and odds and ends of vegetable-matter lined with feathers. In shape it was a long domed oval with the entrance close to the top. It was said to have been placed low down in a scrubby bush. The eggs five in number are a dull white sparsely speckled, and chiefly at the larger end, with blackish brown; the texture is fine but there is no gloss and they are very fragile, in shape they are broad ovals and they measure about 13.0 x 10.9 mm.
Habits. The same as those of the next and better-known form, L. s. obscura.