Passer pyrrhonotus, Blyth.
709. :- Jerdon's Birds of India, Vol. II, p. 365 ; Murray's Vertebrate Zoology of Sind, p. 184.
THE RUFOUS-BACKED SPARROW.
Length, 4.62 to 5.37 ; expanse, 7.5 to 8.5 ; wing, 2.43 to 2.68; tail, 1.87 to 2.25 ; tarsus, 0.62 to 0.68 ; bill at front, 0.37 ; bill from gape, 0.43 to 0.5.
Bill dusky to dusky-brown, black in the breeding plumage; irides light-brown ; eyelids leaden-slaty ; legs pale to dusky fleshy-brown.
Male above: head and ear-coverts grey, with a chesnut stripe from the eye to the nape ; the rest of the plumage maroon, the feathers of the back centred dark ; wings and tail dusky, the feathers pale edged ; beneath sullied brownish-white; throat black.
The females, except that they are everywhere paler, a purer white beneath, a lighter and greyer-brown above, with a slightly redder tinge on the lesser wing-coverts and on the lower back, and a rather more conspicuous white upper wing-bar, formed by the tip of the medial wing-coverts; there is really nothing tangible, except their very much smaller dimensions, by which they can be separated from those of the Common Sparrow.
In the case of the males, in the winter plumage, not only the small size and paler tints and the narrowness of the black throat stripe not descending on to the breast, enable one to separate them from those of the Common Sparrow, but though the chesnut has almost disappeared from the mantle and rump, a trace of it lingers on the lower back, and the patch behind the ear-coverts remains a pure light chesnut instead of a maroon as in the common species. :- Stray Feathers, Vol. IX, p. 444.
The Rufous-backed Sparrow only occurs in Sind, where it is a permanent resident. It had been lost sight of for years, but has recently been rediscovered by Mr. Doig, who also obtained nests and eggs.
He states that the nests were similar to those of P. domesticus but smaller, and were situated in the top of acacia trees, growing in water.