776. Passer domesticus.
Fringilla domestica, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 323 (1766). Passer indicus, Jard. & Selby, Ill. Orn. iii, pl. 118 (1835?); Blyth, Cat. p. 119 ; Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 499; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 362; Hume, N. & E. p. 457 ; Oates, B. B. i, p. 346. Passer domesticus (Linn.), Hume, Cat. no. 706; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 600; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xii, p. 307 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 265; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 159.
The Indian House-Sparrow, Jerd.; Gouriya, Hind. in the North; Churi and Khas churi, Hind, in the South; Charia or Chata, Beng.; Uri-pichike, Tel.; Adiki lam huravi, Tam.
Coloration. Male. Head from forehead to nape ashy grey ; lores and round the eye blackish ; cheeks, ear-coverts, and sides of neck pure white ; a broad streak from the eye over the ear-coverts, and passing partially round the end of them, chestnut; chin, throat, and the median portion of the breast black, some of the lowermost feathers margined with ashy; remainder of lower plumage ashy white ; back and scapulars chestnut, the terminal two thirds of the inner webs black ; rump and upper tail-coverts ashy grey ; tail brown, margined paler; lesser -wing-coverts chestnut; median coverts blackish, broadly tipped with white; greater coverts blackish, Broadly margined with rufous and tipped paler; quills dark brown, margined with pale rufous.
Female. The head from the forehead to the nape and the extreme upper back with the rump and upper tail-coverts brown ; the back and scapulars pale rufous, with the inner webs chiefly black ; tail brown, edged paler; a rather broad supercilium pale rufous-white; sides of the head ashy brown ; the whole lower plumage ashy white, darker on the breast; lesser wing-coverts brown ; median coverts blackish, broadly tipped with rufous-white ; greater coverts and wings dark brown, edged with pale rufous.
In fresh or autumn plumage the male has the feathers of the back and breast margined with ashy ; but these margins soon wear off.
In summer the bill of the male is usually black, but this is not always the case ; in winter the colour is a light horn-colour but occasionally black ; the female has the bill always brown ; in both sexes the iris is brown, the legs pale brown.
Length 6 ; tail 2.2; wing 3 ; tarsus .75 ; bill from gape .55.
The House-Sparrow of the East differs from the House-Sparrow of the West in being much whiter about the sides of the head, and in having more black below the eye and at the base of the cheeks, but these characters vary considerably and it is not advisable to keep the two birds distinct.
Distribution. The entire Empire and Ceylon, except the Andamans and Nicobars and the portion of. Tenasserim south of Moulmein. This species ascends the Himalayas to moderate elevations. It is capricious in its distribution, being rare in some parts of the Empire and extremely common in others.
The House-Sparrow to the eastward is found in Cochin-China, and on the west it extends to Europe.
Habits, &c. Breeds usually from February to May, but also at other times of the year, making a shapeless nest of grass and various materials in holes about houses, in walls, in wells, and occasionally in some thick tree or shrub. The eggs, which are usually five in number, are white or greenish marked with various shades of brown, and measure about .81 by .6.