507. Cenanthe capistrata

(507) Oenanthe capistrata Gould.
THE WHITE-HEADED CHAT.
Oenanthe capistrata, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 43.
The White-headed Chat breeds in many places on the North¬-West Frontier of India, North to Gilgit, where it was obtained by Scully together with the preceding form. It also breeds in parts of the Samarkand Province of Turkestan and probably other areas also. It certainly also breeds in Afghanistan but its exact range is not known.
On the North-West Frontier Whitehead (Ibis, 1909, p. 217) found it breeding in the Kurram Valley “freely round Parachinar, from 4,500 to 6,500 feet, but rarely as high as 9,000 ft.” Rattray also says that “in July at Parachinar they were common and breed freely” ; finally, Fulton (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xvi, p. 50, 1904) says that he found specimens at Chitral “at elevations of 7,000 to 11,000 feet during May, June and July. In May I found a nest at 7,500 feet at the foot of a small shrub.”
There is practically nothing on record about the breeding of this Chat, unless, as is very likely, some of the accounts of the breeding of the Pied Chat recorded in Hume’s ‘Nests and Eggs’ apply to this bird. Whitehead has a short but interesting note in ‘ The Ibis’ (loc. cit.), where he writes:—“Frequenting both desert country and open cultivated land and especially common by the roadside. The nest, a neat grass structure, is usually placed in a hole in the bank of a nullah, or under a stone in the nullah bed, 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 .79 in. x .53 in. The full clutch is five. Two broods at least are reared in a season.”
A clutch of eggs sent me by Whitehead has the following note with it : —“Nest a typical Wheatear’s nest in a hole under a stone, made of grass and a little dried moss, lined with hair and wool. Eggs fresh, Thandiani, between 6,000 and 7,000 feet, May 1907.” In this clutch three eggs are pale, rather bright blue, with a few very faint freckles at the larger end, the fourth is a rather paler blue, with more freckles of a darker shade, chiefly in a ring at the larger end. In shape and texture they resemble the eggs of the preceding bird. They measure about 19.3 x 15.1 mm.
Eggs taken by Ruckbeill in Turkestan are similar but are more heavily spotted.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 2. 1933.
Title in Book: 
507. Cenanthe capistrata
Spp Author: 
Gould.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
507
Year: 
1933
Page No: 
36
Common name: 
White-headed Chat
M_ID: 
28551
M_CN: 
Variable Wheatear
M_SN: 
Oenanthe picata
Volume: 
Vol. 2
Term name: 
id: 
13680

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