515. Cenanthe xanthoprymna chrysopygia

(515) Oenanthe xanthoprymna chrysopygia (De Filippi).
Oenanthe xanthoprymna chrysopygia, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 53.
This Red-tailed Chat breeds in South Turkestan, South and East Persia and Baluchistan to the North-West Frontier of India.
It occurs in Chitral, the Kurram Valley and other places on the frontier in Summer and undoubtedly breeds there, though possibly at high elevations and, so far, its nest and eggs have not been found.
The only collector who has taken the nest within our limits is Major C. H. Wilhams, who obtained several round Quetta, about which he gives us the following very short note (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xxxiii, p. 604, 1929):—“A rather rare bird, breeding in only a few localities, and its nests are hard to find. The site generally chosen is a hollow in a cave or cliff-face ; this cavity is filled with small flat pebbles and the sides of the nest are supported by a rampart of small flat stones, the nest itself being built of grass and lined with fine grass-stems.
“The eggs, four to five in number, are pale blue, slightly glossy, and very sparingly marked with brick red ; sometimes there are no markings at all.
“The average size of the eggs is 20.7 x 15.9 mm.
“The birds breed during April, May and June, my first clutch being taken on the 13th April and the last clutch on the 16th June.”
To this Williams adds, in a letter to me:—“The clutch of eggs now sent you were taken from a nest made of grass, shaped like a very rough and shallow saucer, the cavity well lined with hair ; it had the usual base of small stones and was protected by a rampart of the same.”
In 1920 Currie took several nests in the hills near Kerman, and the following note is compiled from his letter and notes sent me with eggs, nests and birds, the latter being identified by Mr. H. F. Witherby and myself:—
“This Chat is a summer migrant to the mountains near Kerman and is a fairly common breeder between 6,000 and 9,000 feet. The nests are placed in holes in all sorts of positions. I have taken them from holes in old mud walls, stone walls or from holes under rocks, and their favourite site, I think, is a hole under a stone or rock in the steep side of one of the bare rock gorges so common in these hills, very rugged, stony and bleak and, for the greater part of the year, very dry and arid, and with little vegetation beyond dried-up patches of withered grass and a few stunted bushes. The nests are placed well inside the holes, usually about two feet or so, and sometimes a great deal more, perhaps quite beyond reach. The nest itself is a shallow saucer or pad, roughly and meagrely built of coarse and fine grass and lined with finer grass or hair, most often the latter. In front of the nest there is invariably a rampart built of small flat stones, leaving sufficient room for the ingress and egress of the bird. Sometimes a great number of stones are employed—in one case there was over a quart of them—and the labour to the bird must be immense.
“The breeding season lasts from the end of March and early April up to the end of June, and most birds are double-brooded.”
The number of eggs laid in a full clutch seems to be four or five and I have no record of six. In colour they are a very pale blue, amongst the palest of Chats’ eggs, one clutch taken by Currie being practically white, whilst the darkest eggs I have seen were much lighter blue than the palest eggs of deserti. Occasionally the eggs are quite spotless but, as a rule, they are very lightly and sparingly speckled with light red, whilst, in a few instances, the markings are stronger and darker and form rings round the larger end.
In shape most eggs are long, rather pointed ovals.
Twenty-two eggs average 21.1 x 15.9 mm. : maxima 23.0 x 15.6 and 22.4 x 16.2 mm. ; minima 19.7 x 15.6 mm.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 2. 1933.
Title in Book: 
515. Cenanthe xanthoprymna chrysopygia
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Persian Red Tailed Chat
Red-tailed Wheatear
Oenanthe chrysopygia
Vol. 2

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