507. Aenanthe capistrata

(507) Aenanthe capistrata.

The White-headed Chat.

Saxicola capistrata Gould, B of Asia, iv, pi. 28 (1865) (Sind); Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 72.

Vernacular names. None recorded.

Description.— Male. Differs from picata in having the head and nape Isabelline-grey or French-grey wearing to pale grey or almost pure white in winter.

Gould's birds probably came from Sind and this may therefore be designated the type-locality.

Colours of soft parts. Iris brown ; bill, legs and feet black.

Measurements. On the average a larger bird than picata; " wing 90 to 99 mm., 80 per cent. 94 or more " (Ticehurst). The British Museum series bears out Ticehurst's figures.

Female. Differs from that of the Pied Chat in never having the throat so dark, nearly always a fulvous with no brown or black in it; the upper plumage is a sandy brown rather than a dark brown.

Measurements. " 70 per cent, capistrata measure wing 90 mm. and upwards " (Ticehurst).

Distribution. Breeding in Turkestan, Afghanistan and the North-West Frontier of India, Grilgit. In winter it is found principally in the North-West Province and the Punjab wandering into Rajputana, Kashmir, and, very rarely, into Sind.

Nidification. Whitehead and Rattray both obtained this bird in the Karram Valley and at Parachinar both this and the last bird were breeding together. According to the former it breeds between 4,500 and 6,500 feet and rarely up to 9,000 feet. " The nest, a neat grass structure, is usually placed in a hole in the bank of a nullah or under a stone in the bed of the nullah, occasionally in a cairn of stones. The eggs are pale blue, varying a good deal in shade, marked with red spots also varying much in shade and distribution, and average 0.79 in. X 0.53 in. The full clutch is five. Two broods at least are reared in the season." The spots I may add are always few and sometimes very scanty. Twenty-five eggs, including Whitehead's, average 20.0 x 15.0 mm"; Whitehead's eggs are nearly all in my possession and his breadth of 0.53 in. is probably a misprint for 0.58. Fulton found it breeding up to 11,000 feet in Chitral. The breeding month is early May.

Habits. Quite indistinguishable from those of the last species.

The Fauna Of British India, Including Ceylon And Burma-birds(second Edition)
Baker, EC S (1922–1930) The fauna of British India including Ceylon and Burma. Second edition. vol.2 1924.
Title in Book: 
507. Aenanthe capistrata
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
White Headed Chat
Variable Wheatear
Oenanthe picata
Vol. 2
Term name: 

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