(1096) Passer domesticus indicus.
The Indian House-Sparrow.
Passer indicus Jard. & Selby, III. Orn. iii, p. 118, 1831 (Continental India, restricted to Karachi, Sind). Passer domesticus. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 236.
Vernacular names. Gouriya (Hind, in the North); Churi, Khas Churi (Hind, in the South).
Description. - Male. Lores, feathers next to the bill and round the eye black; forehead, crown and nape ashy-grey; a streak from behind the eye, running down the sides of the neck, over and behind the ear-coverts chestnut, seldom very marked in this race, and with ashy-grey tips obscuring the chestnut; back and scapulars chestnut, the outer webs more or less margined with fulvous and the inner webs with broad central streaks of blacky rump and upper tail-coverts ashy-grey, the longest coverts browner and with black shaft-stripes ; tail brown, edged with fulvous ; lesser wing-coverts dark chestnut; median wing-coverts brown at the base, white tinged with buff or fulvous on the visible portions, greater coverts chestnut with fulvous edges and concealed black centres; primaries dark brown, edged with chestnut-fulvous broader at the base, forming a definite patch, inner secondaries black with broad chestnut-fulvous edges; chin, throat and centre of breast black, in fresh plumage edged with white ; cheeks, ear-coverts and sides of the neck white; remainder of lower plumage white, tinged with fulvous-ashy.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill black during the breeding season, pale yellowish-horn in the non-breeding season ; legs and feet pale brown.
Measurements. Total length about 155 mm.; wing, 70 to 79 ram., 70 to 76 mm.; tail 52 to 56 mm.; tarsus 17 to 19 mm.; culmen 11 to 13 mm.
In Summer after the feathers become abraded the upper parts become more chestnut, though never so much as in the two following races, and the black of the throat and breast rather more extensive and purer with no white edges.
Female. Head above, upper back, rump and extreme upper tail-coverts ashy grey-brown ; back and scapulars fulvous-rufous with broad black streaks ; tail brown edged fulvous; lesser wing-coverts chestnut-brown; median black, broadly tipped with fulvous-white; greater coverts black, edged and tipped with rufous-white, quills blackish-brown, edged with fulvous; a pale rufous-white, or fulvous, supercilium to the nape; lores and round the eye whitish; a patch behind the eye dark brown; whole lower plumage fulvous ashy-white, often a little darker on the breast and flanks.
Distribution. Roughly the area of this Sparrow may be taken as Kathiawar, Cutch, Sind, Baluchistan, Punjab and North-West Frontier Provinces to Gilgit; Rajputana, the United Provinces, Northern Central India into Bihar and Chota Nagpur. Outside India this bird is found in Western Persia, Mesopotamia, Southern Arabia to Transcaspia. The Northern and Eastern Persian forms, judging from their eggs, seem very large and are possibly more nearly allied to parkini but material for comparison is wanting. The North-Western Sparrow ascends the Himalayas to some height and is found at Simla and other hill-stations, though probably not indigenous to these places.
Nidification. The nesting of the House-Sparrow is too well known to need much .
Description. It builds its untidy nest of grass, thatch, straw and other oddments, lined with feathers, in any hole in almost any position, house, tree, wall or well, sometimes even it makes a large ball-like nest in trees. In Persia, where trees are scarce, it builds often in low bushes. The eggs vary from three to six, occasionally seven or eight, and have a white or greenish-white ground-colour. The markings, generally very profuse, are of some shade of grey-brown, brown or greenish-grey brown often scattered profusely over the whole egg, sometimes more scanty and bolder in type and confined principally to the larger end. One hundred Indian eggs average 20.6 x 34.9 mm. and one hundred Persian eggs 21.3 X 15.4 mm.: maxima 23.0 x 16.0 and 21.3 x 16.4 mm.; minima 16.6 x 14.4 and 20.0 x 14.1 mm. The breeding-season seems to be principally March and April but Doig says they breed every month of the year in Sind whilst Ticehurst thinks they breed there from March to October. In the hills they breed from May to July or later.
Habits. Where man is to be found, there the Sparrow will be found also and when mankind breaks new ground in forest, swamp or desert, the Sparrow will follow in his steps and make what he can out of him and at the same time do his best to oust others of his own genus who may be indigenous to the place. In India, as in England, his conceit is overweening, his pugnacity great and his good qualities negligible. He loves society, chiefly that he may have a good scrap whenever he so desires. He imagines he can sing but has no voice and even his own wife gets intensely bored with his pertinacity and monotony. Finally he is very greedy and often seeks for his food in most unsavoury places.