1174. Motacilla cinerea caspia

(1174) Motacilla cinerea caspia (Gmelin).
Motacilla cinerea caspia, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iii, p. 265.
Our Eastern form of the Grey Wagtail breeds from the Urals East to Kamschatka and South to the Safed Koh and the Himalayas.
Whitehead says it breeds freely in the Kurram Valley between 6,000 and 8,000 feet (Ibis, 1909, p. 240), while Harington obtained a nest at Bulta Kundi at 9,000 feet ; in Kashmir its nest has been taken at heights varying from 6,000 to 10,000 feet ; Whymper took them in Garhwal up to 10,000 feet, and Osmaston (B. B.) records (Ibis, 1025, p. 700) it as “generally distributed in Ladakh in suitable localities by running water up to about 13,000 feet, but nowhere very numerous. They are not uncommon in and above Leh, 11,000 feet to 12,500 feet.”
This little Wagtail seems nearly always to make its nest either in islands or banks of running streams or close by the same, and seldom, if ever, in banks or other places by lakes or other stagnant water. Above all other places it prefers islands in the centra of quickly flowing rivers and streams which have ample bonlders and stones under which it can secrete its home, while sometimes it makes use of holes in the banks of the stream or among boulders at its edge.
Occasionally the nest is built in what, for Wagtails, are rather curious positions. Brooks says that one nest he "found in Cashmere was placed in a small bush on an island in, the Sind River, about 5 feet above the ground. The situation was that of a Finch’s nest,”
Whymper, who took many nests on the Bhagirathi River, found nearly all under boulders, logs or piles of drift ; one, however, “was concealed in a small tuft of grass.” Osmaston, again, obtained a nest “built in a bundle of thorns which had been placed on the top of a wall.”
The nest is a small edition of the White Wagtail’s nest but more compact, neat and shapely. In Kashmir Davidson found most nests to be constructed like small nests of M. hodgsoni "but smaller, and the wool composing them was in all cases white” and not brown, as in the nests of the larger bird. In nearly every nest recorded the outer material used has been grass, generally grass only, but in one nest seen by Rattray mixed with dry roots. The lining is always of hair and wool, sometimes mixed and sometimes one of these used singly. The dimensions of the inner cup are roughly 2.1/2 inches in diameter by 1 or less deep.
The breeding season is May and June, but a few birds breed in April and July ; possibly the latter are second nests. Whymper’s earliest and latest eggs were taken on the 27th April and 20th July respectively, and I have seen none taken later or earlier than these.
The number of eggs laid in the Himalayas is four or five, very rarely six, while in its more Northern breeding range six seems to be the normal clutch.
The ground-colour is white more or less faintly tinged with grey or pale stone-colour or, very rarely, creamy-buff. The marking consists of a dense stippling of pale grey, pale reddish-brown or, rarely, pale brownish-grey. In many eggs the stippling is so fine and so evenly distributed over the whole surface that the eggs appear to be a pale uniform grey, in others the stipplings are slightly larger and show up from the ground, while in a few clutches they assume the appearance of mottling, often more conspicuous at the larger end. One beautiful clutch taken by Whymper at Harsil in Garhwal has the eggs almost unmarked except for caps of deep grey at the big end, A few eggs have one or two blackish lines at the larger end, never of any length or thickness.
In shape the eggs are generally short, blunt ovals.
One hundred eggs average 19.0 x 14.2 mm. : maxima 20.6 x 13.7 and 18.5 x 15.8 mm. ; minima 17.0 x 13.0 and 17.1 x 12.9 mm.
As usual with Wagtails, the male takes no part in incubation, but he does his share of nest-building and is an attentive husband and good father.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 3. 1934.
Title in Book: 
1174. Motacilla cinerea caspia
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Eastern Grey Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Motacilla cinerea
Vol. 3
Term name: 

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