869. Mirafra cantillans.
The Singing Bush-Lark.
Mirafra cantillans, Jerd., Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiii, p. 960 (1844) ; id. Cat. p. 134 ; Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 476; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 420; Hume, N. & E. p. 476 ; id. Cat. no. 757; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 275 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xiii, p. 605; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 227.
Aghun, Aghin, Hind.; Burutta pitta, Aghin pitta, Tel.
Coloration. After the autumn moult the whole upper plumage is dark brown, each feather with rufous lateral margins and a whitish terminal band; wing-coverts and tertiaries brown margined with rufous ; primary-coverts, primaries, and secondaries with nearly the entire outer web deep rufous or chestnut; middle pair of tail-feathers brown broadly margined with rufous, the next three pairs almost entirely brown, the penultimate brown on the inner web, white on the outer, the outermost white with a blackish band on the inner margin of the inner web ; lores and supercilium very pale fulvous ; sides of the head mottled with fulvous and brown ; chin and throat white ; remainder of lower plumage fulvous, the sides of the neck and the whole breast streaked with triangular brown marks.
Shortly after the autumn moult the whitish terminal bands or fringes of the feathers of the upper plumage become worn away.
Iris brown ; legs, feet, and lower mandible fleshy ; upper mandible horny brown (Butler).
Length nearly 6; tail 2.1; wing 3.2 ; tarsus .75; bill from gape .55.
Distribution. Locally distributed over a considerable portion of the Indian Peninsula. This species is found in the Punjab, Rajputana, the North-West Provinces, and Western Bengal, extending south to about the latitude of Madras. It appears to ascend the slopes of the Himalayas in suitable spots, as Stoliczka records it from the Sutlej valley.
Habits, &c. Breeds from March to August, probably having two broods in the ye
ar, and laying four eggs, which are dull white thickly marked with various shades of brown, and measure about .81 by .62. This species is less frequently found amongst bushes than other members of the genus, and it is commonly met with on grass-land about cultivated tracts. It is often kept caged for the sake of its song.