428. SAXAUL SPARROW.
“Passer ammodendri, Severtz.,” Dode, P. Z. S. 1871, p. 481 ; Gould, B. of As. v. p. 15 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. xii. p. 337 ; Dresser, ii. p. 183, pl. 672 ; P. stoliczkoe,, Hume, Str. Feath. ii. p. 516 (1874), P. timidus, Prjev. Iz. Zais. Khami and Tibet, pp. 94, 95 (1883), P. severtzovi, Pleske, Bull. Ac. Imp. St. Petersb. xiii. p. 282.
Vorobey sacsaulney, Russ.
Male (Transcaspia). Crown, nape, lores, and a line through and behind the eye deep black, some of the crown-feathers with narrow, faint buff margins ; a broad patch bordering the crown to the nape clear rufous ; upper parts buffy grey, streaked with black ; quills and tail blackish, the former broadly, the latter narrowly margined with dull white ; lesser wing coverts black, broadly tipped with white ; chin and throat deep black, the rest of the under parts white ; bill black ; legs fleshy brown ; iris, chocolate-brown. Culmen 0.5, wing 3.0, tail 2.0, tarsus 0.8 inch. In the autumn the black feathers have greyish buff margins ; and the bill is dusky flesh-yellow, darker at the tip. The female is duller, less streaked with black, and lacks the rufous and black on the head and throat, the crown being buffy grey, faintly streaked with blackish brown, the chin and throat greyish white, tinged with blackish grey along the middle of the throat.
Hab. From Transcaspia and Turkestan to Alaschan and Ordos, wherever the saxaul is found growing.
It prefers sandy or clayey localities, covered with thinly scattered saxaul (Ammodendron ) groves, in the vicinity of water, and feeds on the seeds of the saxaul and other plants, small beetles, and small orthopterous insects. Its flight is swift and it often flies at a considerable elevation. Its note resembles that of P. domesticus but is shriller. Its nest, like that of P. domesticus, is sometimes open, sometimes with the entrance at the side, and is con¬structed of dry twigs and bents and lined with camels’ hair or feathers. It is placed on a saxaul, in the foundation of the nest of a bird of prey, or in a fissure on the steep slope of a sandhill. The eggs from 3 to 5 in number are white with a faint greenish, or sometimes a brownish tinge finely spotted and blotched with warm wood-brown, the markings being more profuse at the larger end ; in size they measure about 0.75 by 0.57.
428. Passer ammodendri
428. SAXAUL SPARROW.