(1210) Melanocorypha bimaculata bimaculata.
The Eastern Calandra Lark.
Alauda bimaculata Menetr., Cat. Rais. p. 37 (1882) (Mts. of Talysch). Melanocorypha bimaculata. Blanf. & Oates; ii, p. 323.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Whole upper plumage and wings dark brown, each feather edged with fulvous, the dark central streaks less conspicuous on the rump and upper tail-coverts; tail blackish-brown edged with tawny-fulvous and with a white apical spot on all but the central pair; a broad supercilium pale fulvous; lores and a line through the eye dusky ; a fulvous-white line under this and under the eye; cheeks and ear-coverts rufous-brown, streaked paler; chin, throat and sides of neck behind the ear-coverts white; a broad black band across the upper breast, broken with white in the centre; lower breast fulvous, streaked with brown; remainder- of lower plumage white, the flanks and thigh-coverts washed with fulvous.
Colours of soft parts. Iris light to dark brown ; bill brown to nearly black on the culmen, greenish-horny below and yellowish on the base; legs and feet flesh-colour or yellowish flesh-colour, darker on the joints.
Measurements. Wing 118 to 126 mm.; tail 57 to 61 mm. ; tarsus 26 to 27 mm. ; culmen 16 to 17 mm.
Distribution. Transcaspia, Turkestan, Baluchistan and Persia. In Winter, South to Sind, Punjab, Rajputana, North-West Provinces and United Provinces.
Nidification. This Calandra Lark breeds in April and May, making a rather roughly put-together cup-shaped nest of grass, weed-stems and roots lined with finer grass. It is placed on the ground under shelter of tufts of grass, small bushes or, less often, in some crop such as wheat or vetch. The eggs number three or four and are typical Lark's eggs but are noticeable for their great comparative breadth and bold blotching. Many eggs also have a greenish tinge. Twenty eggs average 24.1 x 18.3 mm.: maxima 25.3 x 18.0 and 24.0x 19.8 mm.; minima 23.0 x 16.1 mm.
Habits. The Eastern Calandra Lark frequents barren uplands, sandy dry wastes and also cultivation. It is powerful both in flight and on its legs, running with great speed and it is said to be a shy and wary bird. The Afghans keep them in cages and they sing magnificently both in captivity and in a state of nature. In Winter they collect in very large flocks and a certain number then come as far South as the North-West plains of India.