(1235) Mirafra erythroptera erythroptera.
The Red-winged Bush-Lark.
Mirafra erythroptera Jerdon, Madr. Jour. Lit. Sci. xiii, pt. 2, p. 136 (1844) (Jama, Deccan); Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 334 (part).
Vernacular names. Jungli aggia (Hind.); Chinna eeli-jitta (Tel.).
Description. Differs from the Madras Bush-Lark in having the chestnut of the primaries on the outer and inner webs confluent instead of divided by a band of brown ; the underparts are a trifle less fulvous; the bill averages smaller and the hind claw shorter.
Colours of soft parts as in the other Bush-Larks.
Measurements. Wing 74 to 84 mm.; tail 47 to 52 mm.; tarsus 22 to 23 mm.; culmen 11 to 12 mm.
Distribution. Northern India from the Eastern Punjab to the Bombay Presidency, Rajputana, Deccan, Central Provinces, Bihar and rare in Western Bengal, three specimens having been obtained in that Province as far East as Manbhum.
Nidification. The Red-winged Bush-Lark breeds throughout the area in which it is found from May to October; in Bihar, where it is very common, May and June are the two months in which most birds breed; in Deesa Butler took eggs from April to July, whilst Davidson in Khandesh took them in September and October. The site selected is sometimes in open grass-land or cultivation, sometimes in a ploughed field or a bare stony plain almost without vegetation, at other times in bush, scrub or thin jungle. The nest is quite similar to that of other species of Bush-Lark and is generally domed and very well concealed. The eggs number two or three, very seldom four, and, though Hume says they sometimes lay five eggs, such a number must be exceptional. In appearance they do not differ from the eggs of other Bush-Larks but, typically, the markings are smaller and more numerous. Fifty eggs average 19.5 x 14.6 mm.: maxima 21.2 x 13.8 and 20.0 x 15.5 mm.; minima 17.9 X 14.0 and 20 x 13.6 mm.
Habits. The Red-winged Bush-Lark is a bird of the dry areas of Northern India in the Central North, the Bombay Presidency and the rest of its range as given above, the Bengal Bush-Lark taking its place in the wetter districts of the North-East, though the ranges overlap in a wide area, whilst the Sind Red-winged Bush-Lark takes its place in the still more dry portions of the West and North-West. In its habits it differs but little from the other Bush-Larks but is a rather less familiar bird and keeps much more to thin bush- and scrub-covered country rather than to the quite open plains. It has the same habit of rising some distance into the air on fluttering wings, singing as it does so, and then slowly descending to earth its wings stiffly outspread and showing very red in a bright light. It rests both on the ground and on bushes etc. but feeds almost entirely on the former. It is said to be a shy, retiring bird,, seeking shelter directly it knows it is being watched.