(1041) Perissospiza carnipes.
The White-winged Grosbeak.
Coccothraustes carnipes Hodgs., As. Res., xix, p. 151 (1836) (Nepal), Pycnorhamphus carnipes. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 200.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Adult male. Feathers of the lower back broadly edged with dull greenish yellow ; rump greenish yellow and tail-coverts tipped with same; greater coverts and inner secondaries with broad tips of greenish yellow on the outer webs; a broad band of white across the outer web of all but the first primary, narrowly edged with bright yellow; all primaries very narrowly edged with yellowish white ; abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts dull olive-orange; remainder of plumage black.
When freshly moulted the males have narrow bluish-grey edges to the feathers of the upper parts, very little paler than the rest of the feather.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown or hazel; bill, upper mandible horny-brown, lower mandible almost white ; legs pale fleshy-brown to fleshy-pink. The bill apparently has no seasonal change of colour.
Measurements. Total length about 175 mm.; wing 108 to 123 mm.; tail 92 to 96 mm.; tarsus 27 to 28 mm.; culmen about 22 to 23 mm. Shensi birds are big: wing 122 to 125 mm., with tails measuring 100 to 102 mm. They are also slightly paler.
Female. Similar to the male but the black parts of the plumage replaced by ashy-brown, often tinged with green on the lower back; the yellow portions are duller and paler, especially on the inner secondaries; the grey-brown of the breast merges into the olive-green of the abdomen; the ear-coverts are streaked with white.
Distribution. Afghanistan, the Himalayas from Gilgit to Sikkim, Tibet and the hills North of the Brahmaputra in Assam ; Turkestan and Altai.
Nidification. The White-winged G-rosbeak replaces the Black -and-Yellow Grosbeak in the higher ranges as a breeding bird. Mr. S. L. Whymper took several nests in Garhwai between 13,000 and 14,000 feet. He describes the nests as very curiously made, there being a sort of outer fence of prickly twigs, then twisted grass and then the inner lining composed entirely of strips of Juniper-bark." The nests were placed in small Birch-trees and Juniper-bushes between 6 and 15 feet from the ground. They commence breeding in June and lay from the end of that month up to the middle of August. The eggs, two or three in number, are like those of the Black-arid-Yellow Grosbeak but are tinged with pink, in one or two cases markedly so, and they average rather smaller. Whitehead found it breeding in the Khagan Valley and on the Safed Koh between 8,000 and 12,000 feet, and Meinertzhagen noticed it breeding at about the same heights at Ziarat, near Quetta.
Habits. This Grosbeak is a bird of very high elevations. In the East of its range Stevens thinks it never descends below some 9,000 feet and Walton found it at 12,000 feet in December in the Chumbi Valley. In the North-West, however, it comes into the lower valleys in Winter both at Quetta and on the Afghan frontier. In Winter it collects in flocks and is said not to be shy. Meinertzhagen describes it as a noisy, restless bird, with a rasping call-note and a clumsy dipping flight.
It feeds largely on Juniper-berries.