832. Motacilla melanope.
The Gray Wagtail.
Motacilla melanope, Pall. Reis. Puss. Reichs, iii, p. 696, (1776); Legge, Birds Ceyi. p. 610; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. x, p. 497; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 207. Motacilla boarula, Linn. Mant. p. 527 (1771) ; Blyth, Cat. p. 137. Motacilla sulphurea, Bechst. Katurg. Deutschl. iii, p. 459 (1807). Calobates sulphurea (Bechst), Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 349; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 220; Hume & Henders. Lah. to Yarh. p. 224. Calobates boarula (Penn.), apud Hume, N. & E. p. 381. Calobates melanope (Pall.), Hume, Cat. no. 592; Oates, B. B. i, p. 159; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 237.
The Gray and Yellow Wagtail, Jerd.; Mudi-tippudu-jitta, Tel.
Coloration. Male. After the autumn moult the whole crown and sides of the head, the hind neck, back, scapulars, and lesser wing-coverts are bluish grey, tinged with green ; the rump and upper tail-coverts yellowish green; the three middle pairs of tail-feathers black, margined with greenish ; the next two pairs white, with the greater portion of the outer webs black ; outermost pair entirely white ; median and greater coverts and quills dark brown, edged with yellowish white ; a narrow dull white supercilium from the lores to the end of the ear-coverts ; chin, throat, and fore neck white ; remaining lower plumage bright yellow, rather deeper on the vent and under tail-coverts.
In the spring the lores become dark brown, and the supercilium becomes much broader and clearer; the lower eyelid is clothed with whitish feathers, and the ear-coverts are dark slaty; there is a very broad white moustachial streak extending down the sides of the neck ; and the chin, throat, and part of the fore neck are black, with small white edges to the feathers; as the summer passes, these edges become worn but seldom entirely disappear.
Female. After the autumn moult resembles the male ; and in the spring merely acquires two rows of dark brown spots, one on each side of the chin, throat, and fore neck, the two sometimes meeting like a gorget on the upper breast ; the colour of the lower plumage is less brilliant than that of the male.
The young bird resembles the adult in winter plumage, but the white parts are strongly tinged with buff.
Bill horn-colour, paler at the base of the lower mandible ; iris brown; legs flesh-colour.
Length about 7.5; tail 3.7; wing 3.2; tarsus .75 ; bill from gape .7; hind toe and claw .55.
Distribution. A winter visitor to every portion of the Empire, retiring in summer to those parts of the Himalayas which are above 6000 feet elevation, where a few birds of this species may also be found in winter. In the winter this Wagtail extends down to Malayana. In summer it has a very large range over the greater part of Central and Northern Asia, and it is found in Europe.
Habits, &c. Breeds in Kashmir above 6000 feet, and in Afghanistan in May and June, making a nest of moss and fibres under large stones, or sometimes in a bush. The eggs, usually five in number, are yellowish or brownish white, closely marked with yellowish brown, and measure about .7 by .54.