(1050) Loxia curvirostra himalayana.
The Himalayan Crossbill.
Loxia himalayana Blyth, J. A. S. B., xiii, p. 952 (1844) (Nepal); Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 208.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Adult male. Forehead to hind neck scarlet-crimson, with a certain amount of the black bases to the feathers always showing through ; back and scapulars brown, each feather edged with red; rump bright scarlet; wing-coverts brown tinged with red and margined with pale rufous; remaining wing-feathers blackish with very narrow rufous edges, often abraded; cheeks and sides of head brown mottled with crimson; lower plumage red, vent and thigh-coverts more brown ; under wing-coverts and axillaries ashy-brown washed with red; under tail-coverts brown with broad white edges.
Colours of soft parts. "Iris bright hazel. Bill, upper mandible dark horny, lower tinged greenish, under portion dark horny ; tarsus brownish horny ; claws darker " (Stevens).
Measurements. Total length about 140 mm.; wing 85 to 92" mm.; tail 50 to 54 mm.; tarsus about 17 mm.; culmen 14 to 18 mm.
Female. Upper plumage, wings and tail brown, each feather edged with greyish olive-yellow ; rump and upper tail-coverts olive-yellow, the brown bases almost entirely concealed ; .whole lower plumage dull pale ashy-grey washed with yellow, especially on the breast.
Young birds are brown above with broad greyish edges to each feather and suffused with yellow on the lower back and rump : below they are dingy white, boldly streaked, except on the chin, with dark brown and washed with yellow.
Distribution. Himalayas from Chini and Lahul to Sikkim and South-East Tibet.
Nidification. I have in my collection a clutch of five eggs taken in Lahul, Kashmir, at an elevation of about 12,000 feet. They were taken by natives and the details given may not be very correct, but the nest was described as a shallow cup of pine-twigs and roots lined with wool and placed on a stunted pine-tree on the outskirts of Pine forest. The eggs are exactly like those of the English Crossbill and measure about 23.6 x 16.8 mm. They were taken on the 15th May.
Habits. The Himalayan Crossbill is a rare bird about which very little is known. In Summer it is found between 10,000 and 15,000 feet, descending in Winter to about 5,000 feet. It is a sociable bird collecting, like most other Finches, in small flocks in the non-breeding season, feeding principally on the seeds of fircones. Stevens found it feeding among " huge boulders on the Southern precipitous face" of Sandakphu early in December, February and early March. Mr. O. Lindgren shot some at Tarzum at 5,400 feet.