(1100) Passer hispaniolensis transcaspicus.
Passer hispaniolensis transcaspicus Tschusi, Orn. Jahrb., 1903, p. 80 (Trans-Caucasia). Passer hispaniolensis. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 239.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Male. Lores and round the eye black; a short supercilium from the bill to the centre of the eye white; crown, nape and neck deep chestnut; back and scapulars bright fulvous, each feather broadly streaked with black on the inner web ; rump fulvous-ashy with obsolete dark centres; tail dark brown, edged with fulvous; lesser wing-coverts deep chestnut; median wing-coverts fulvous-white with concealed black bases; greater coverts chestnut-fulvous, paler at the tips and with broad black centres ; quills black, all but the first primary edged fulvous and with the usual broader Sparrow-patch at the base of the inner primaries ; ear-coverts and sides of neck white ; chin, centre of throat and fore-neck and whole breast black; flanks white, boldly streaked with black ; centre of abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts white, generally tinged with fulvous; thighs white and black ; axillaries and under tail-coverts white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris hazel; bill in Summer black; in Winter horny-brown, yellowish below and at the base ; legs and feet horny-brown.
Measurements. Total length about 160 mm.; wing 78 to 84 mm.; tail 55 to 59 mm.; tarsus about 19 to 20 mm.; culmen 12 to 14 mm.
After the autumn moult the chestnut above is fringed with ashy and the black throat and breast with white, in each case the fringes at first almost obliterating the darker colour.
Female. Like the female of the House-Sparrow but with the underparts showing faint striations, always more definite and sometimes conspicuous on the breast.
Distribution. Breeding in Trans-Caucasia, Transcaspia, East to Turkestan, South to Palestine, Afghanistan, Baluchistan and Kashmir. In Winter into Sind, North-West Frontier Provinces, Punjab and United Provinces.
Nidification. Tschusi's Sparrow breeds in great numbers in Palestine, making their nests in colonies in the Eucalyptus-trees on the hanks of streams. The nest is the usual large globular affair, untidy and unfinished, made of all sorts of materials and lined with feathers. The eggs, four to six in number, are typical Sparrows' eggs but on an average are very clean, brightly coloured eggs with a pure white ground and comparatively few bold specks and spots. One hundred eggs average 21.6 x 15.4 mm.: maxima 23.4x 15.1 and 21.2 x 16.2 mm.; minima 18.9 X 14.1 mm. The breeding-season appears to be April and May, some birds having second broods in June and July.
Habits. This Sparrow is purely a jungle bird or a frequenter of orchards and groves rather than houses and other human buildings. In Sind, Ticehurst found it in grass-lands in the long " khan " grass. It is said to have a swifter flight than the House-Sparrow and a shriller voice. Like all Sparrows it is a grain- and seed-eater, except during the breeding-season, when the young of all the different species are fed on insects, caterpillars etc., the adults also eating these at that time together with their normal food.