(1099) Passer pyrrhonotus Blyth.
THE SIND JUNGLE-SPARROW.
Passer pyrrhonotus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iii, p. 174.
This little Sparrow’s breeding range is confined to Sind and the Punjab. Rattray found a colony breeding close to Nowshera, where he took nests and eggs.
Doig was apparently the first to take the nests and eggs of this bird and, a little later, Harrington Bulkly also found them breeding very commonly in many places in Sind. Eates, Ticehurst and Bell also found it common in many parts of Sind, but it seems to be restricted to the vicinity of rivers, canals and swamps, its nest never being found at any distance from water, while it is often built on bushes and trees standing in it. In the Punjab, again, it appears to build always near water. A. E. Jones writes (Journ, Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soe. vol. xxix, p, 566, 1916):—“In Lahore it breeds usually in colonies in Kakur-trees close to water. I have found nests in May, June and August and at Wazirabad in April in the above situation, the only exceptions to which were two nests, one built in a creeper forming an ornamental arch in a garden and the other in a bole in an iron gate at a level crossing which had, the year before, been tenanted by a pair of Yellow-throated Sparrows, but in both eases the nests were in the vicinity of water. Other places where I have met with this bird are Dera Ismail Khan, Multan, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore, so it would appear to be pretty generally distributed over the Punjab. It would appear to be a resident at Lahore.”
In 1911 (ibid. vol. xxi, p. 1073) Jones had already recorded this bird’s breeding in an old nest of a Baya-bird at Lahore.
Although Jones found them breeding as above shown at Lahore, normally this Sparrow is not a bird of villages, towns or human habitations, and is shy and retiring in its habits. With the excep¬tion of the nest recorded by Jones I have never heard of this Sparrow building in holes of any kind. It practically invariably makes a very large nest, shaped like a rugger football with an entrance on one side. This is built on trees and bushes close to or actually standing in water. Doig found these nests on Acacias, Ticehurst and Bell found them breeding in dense mixed Tamarisk and Acacia, while Eates obtained nests “both on Acacia and Tamarisk up to 8 and 10 feet from the ground and again on bushes of the same within 2 or 3 feet of the water.”
The nest is composed of grass and Tamarisk-twigs, sometimes one of these only, sometimes of the two, and it is well lined with feathers. Sometimes with the grass and twigs a certain number of coarse roots may be mixed and, whatever the materials of which the nest may be composed, they are very roughly put together and the whole structure is very untidy, but not flimsy or weak.
The breeding season varies considerably in the same area, perhaps depending on rainfall. Thus Bell found young ready to fly in April, and Ticehurst found them about to breed on the Manchar Lake on the 10th March. The general breeding season is April and May, while a second brood is often reared in July and August. Eggs have, however, been taken in every month from March to August, and Eates found a big colony busy laying in mid- September.
The eggs number three or four, two only being sometimes in¬cubated. They are typical little House-Sparrows’ eggs, and go through, all the same variations as those of that bird. In addition I have seen some clutches with a very yellowish ground, profusely speckled with brownish, but with the ground the dominant colour. In nearly every clutch there is one egg, often two, much paler and less blotched than the others, while clutches of eggs with a white ground boldly blotched with dusky brown or inky grey are numerous.
I have seen no sooty-lookmg eggs, such as are very common among the eggs of the Yellow-throated Sparrow.
One hundred eggs average 17.8 x 13.1 mm. ; maxima 20.8 x 13.2 and 18.2 x 14.0 mm. ; minima 15.8 x 12.0 mm.
Both birds take part in the construction of the nest but the female alone incubates.
1099. Passer pyrrhonotus
(1099) Passer pyrrhonotus Blyth.