(536) Cyanosylvia suecica suecica.
The Western Red-spotted Blue-throat.
Motacilla suecica Linn , S. N., i, p. 187 (1758) (Sweden). Cyanecula suecica. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 99 (part.).
Vernacular names. Husseni Pidda (Hind.); Nil-kunthe (H. in the N.); Gunpigera, Gurpedra (Bengali); Dumbak (Sind).
Description.— Adult male. Whole upper plumage brown, the feathers of the forehead and fore crown with dark centres, and the rump, upper tail-coverts and wing-coverts sometimes slightly-tinged with rufous; wing-quills, tail and longest tail-coverts blackish brown edged with rufescent; outer tail-feathers rufous on the basal two-thirds ; chin and throat bright blue; lower throat chestnut surrounded with blue; this is succeeded by a broad band of black and a still broader band of chestnut, the two more or less separated by a white band; lores blackish ; a supercilium from the nostrils to the ear-coverts buff; cheeks, ear-coverts and behind the eye mixed fulvous and dark brown ; from breast to vent fulvous, albescent on the centre of the belly; under tail-coverts buff.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown, eyelids plumbeous; bill black, horny or fleshy at the base; legs and feet fleshy brown, light brown or rather dark brown.
Measurements. Total length about 150 mm.; wing 71 to 78 mm.; tail 54 to 58 mm.; tarsus about 27 to 28 mm.; culmen 12 to 13 mm.
Female. Similar to the male above but duller and with a white instead of a buff supercilium. Below, the chin and throat is a buffy white; a gorget of dull black spots extends from the corners of the lower mandible down the sides of the neck and across the breast and occasionally a little rufous shows on the breast below and above this gorget; the remainder of the plumage is dull buffy white darker on the flanks.
Nestling. Above dark brown streaked with fulvous, below dull fulvous, each feather edged with black.
Distribution. Breeding from Lapland and Sweden through the North-East of Europe and North-West of Asia to the Tenissei, In Winter it wanders South to North Africa, South-East Europe and North-West India. As this race has always been confused with the Eastern form, pallidogularis, it is impossible to say how far South and East the records refer to it.
Nidification. The Western Bed-spotted Blue-throat breeds throughout its Northern habitat from the end of May (in the more Southern areas) to early July (in the most Northern). It makes a nest of grass, leaves and roots, lined with grass and placed in among the roots of grass or bushes on a bank or piece of swampy ground. The eggs vary from four to six in number and are a light greenish or brownish olive, sometimes, according to Dresser, mottled or clouded with darker at the larger end. One hundred eggs average 18.5x14.0 mm. and the extremes are: maxima 20.7 x 14.0 and 19.3 x 15.0 mm.; minima 17.0 x 14.2 and 17.3 x 12.8 mm.
Habits. This bird is said to be very like a Hedge-Accentor in its habits; creeping quietly and unobtrusively about bushes and long grass, feeding on insects and, less often, on seeds. In the non-breeding season when it visits India it seems to he less secretive and may be often seen perched on some twig of a bush, flirting and expanding its tail like a Redstart. It has a short but rather fine song in the breeding-season which "Whitehead syllabifies as, " Pray did he then" constantly repeated. With us it is seldom that anything but its rather loud metallic "chic chic" is heard. It seems always to prefer damp or swampy ground, where it keeps low down in the reeds, sometimes feeding on the ground in the drier parts.