The genus Locustella is represented in India by three species of somewhat similar appearance and size and of plain colours. They are found in reed-beds, swamps, and wet cover of all sorts, and they occur in India only in the winter. Their summer-quarters appear to be the northern parts of Asia; but, judging from a specimen of L. straminea being killed in Native Sikhim in June, it is probable that the breeding-quarters of this species may lie in or near that country.
The Grasshopper-Warblers, as they are called from their peculiar note, are very shy and seldom expose themselves to view. They are consequently little known and seldom obtained. In Burma, however, after shooting one or two specimens I found it quite possible to obtain a large number by walking through inundated rice-fields, and I found them to be common to an extraordinary degree.
The summer and winter plumages of the adults do not differ in any important particular, but the young are very yellow and generally more streaked than the adults. The sexes are alike.
The birds of this genus have a slender bill, about half as long as the head; the rictal bristles are very weak and hardly noticeable, and the forehead is very smooth and free from all hairs; the plumage is soft; the first primary is exceedingly small and the second reaches nearly to the tip of the wing; the tail is very much rounded and the feathers have a tendency to be pointed; the under tail-coverts are very long.
Key to the Species.
a. Tail-feathers broadly tipped with white…………………. L. certhiola, p. 352.
b. Tail-feathers without broad white tips.
a1. Lower plumage streaked…………………. L. lanceolata, p. 353.
b1. Lower plumage not streaked…………………. L. straminea, p. 354.