(510) AEnanthe melanoleuca melanoleuca.
Muscicapa melanoleuca Guldenst., Nov. Comm. Petrop., xix, p. 468 (1775) (Georgia). Saxicola barnesi Oates, Avifauna, ii, p. 75 (Kandahar) (part.).
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description.— Male in summer. A narrow frontal line, lores, round the eye, cheeks, ear-coverts, sides of neck, chin and throat black; central tail-feathers white at the base, black elsewhere; the lateral tail-feathers white with broad black tips; remaining plumage white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill black; legs and feet dark brown or horny-black.
Measurements. Total length about 175 mm.; wing 85 to 92 mm.; tail 53 to 58 mm.; tarsus 25 to 26 mm.; culmen 13 to 14 mm.
Male in winter has the whole upper parts so heavily fringed with grey-buff that they appear to be entirely of this colour, except on the pure white upper tail-coverts ; the black of the chin and throat is barred with narrow rufous fringes ; the wing-coverts and quills are edged with pale rufous.
Female. Above sandy-brown, rump and upper tail-coverts white; tail as in the male; below sandy-white, the darker bases to the feathers showing through on throat and breast.
Distribution. From Georgia and Transcaspia through to Afghanistan and Baluchistan and North-West Indian frontier. It also breeds in Persia.
This bird is separated from AE. m. finschi of Palestine and Asia Minor by not having the black of the throat and chin connected with the black axillaries but separated therefrom by a line of white. All the Indian birds are of this race with the one exception of the specimen selected by Oates as the type of barnesi and this one unfortunately seems to be much nearer finschi than to the typical form. It is probably merely an aberrant specimen but it might possibly be an individual which has wandered across out of its usual beat. It was killed at Kandahar.
Nidification. Barnes* Chat makes a typical Wheatear nest of grass and roots lined with hair, fur, wool or any other soft material available near the site. It may be placed in a hole in almost any position—bank, wall, heap of stones or even in a stone or mud building. Sometimes they are placed so far in that they cannot be got at at all, less often within a few inches of the entrance. They lav normally five eggs, sometimes four only and less often six. These are typical Wheatear's eggs but dark like those of the last species, from which they are not distinguishable.
The average of 75 eggs (41 Hartert) is 19.3 x 15.2 mm.: maxima 20.8 x15.2 and 20.6 x 16.9 mm.; minima 17.1 X 14.9 and 18.5 x 13.5 mm.
They breed from the end of April to early June, most eggs being laid during the first week in May.
Habits. This Chat is said to frequent, by preference, the most arid and desolate of deserts and rocky hills, keeping aloof from all cultivation or any kind of vegetation. It is one of the most shy and retiring of the Ghats.