(972) Pastor roseus.
The Rosy Pastor or Rose-coloured Starling.
Turdus roseus Linn., Syst Nat., 10th ed. i, p. 170 (1758) (Lapland). Pastor roseus. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 518.
Vernacular names. Golabi maina (Hind, in the North); Tilyer (Hind, in the South); Pariki-jpitta, Palisa (Tel.); Sura kuravi (Tana.) ; Bya (Sind); Lal-Maina ("West Bengal).
Description. - Adult male in Summer. Whole head and nape, upper breast, wings and tail black, the head portions glossed with purple, the rest with deep green; under wing-coverts and axillaries, flanks next the vent, thighs and under tail-coverts black edged with pink; remainder of plumage rose-colour.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill rosy pink, darker and browner on the culmen; legs and feet tan, yellowish or pale horn-brown.
Measurements. Total length about 220 to 230 mm.; wing 124 to 135 mm.; tail 65 to 75 mm.; culmen 21 to 23 mm.; tarsus 29 to 34 mm.
Male in Winter has the black feathers of the head and crest tipped with buff.
Female similar to the male but paler and duller and with the rose-colour above nearly always mixed with greyish patches.
Young birds acquire a partial adult plumage the first Autumn, the wings and tail becoming black and the first indications of rose-colour appearing.
Nestling. Upper plumage sandy-brown, the feathers of the crown centred darker; wings and tail brown with paler edges; lower plumage paler sandy-brown, albescent on the lower breast and abdomen, upper breast and fore neck with dark central markings.
Distribution. Breeding in South-East Europe, West and Central Asia to Turkestan. In Winter it occurs in great numbers all over North-West India and in smaller numbers to South India, having been obtained as far South as Ceylon and as far East as Manbhum and Bihar. Stragglers have occurred yet farther East. I obtained a specimen in Assam, Col. Tytler obtained one specimen in the Andamans, whilst later, 1905, Osmaston twice saw nocks and shot three specimens in those islands.
Nidification. This handsome Starling breeds from the end of May to early July, placing its nest in almost any kind of convenient hole or shelf in building, tree or bank, often, according to Dresser, on the ground quite unconcealed. The nest is made principally of grass but any kind of material, feathers, straw, leaves, rags, etc. may be mixed with this. The eggs number from three to live, rarely six and are bright, pale, glossy, skim-milk blue. Average 27.97 x 20.91 mm.: maxima 30.8 x 22.0 mm.; minima 26.6.x.21.3 and 26.6 x 19.9 mm.
Habits. In its habits this bird is a typical Starling though more gregarious than most, even breeding in large communities. It arrives in the Punjab and North-Western Frontier Provinces in vast numbers among the earliest migrants, many appearing in the end of July. By October most birds have passed on to Southern and Eastern India and during December, January, February there are few birds in the North-West. In April and May the return migration takes place and by the middle of the latter mouth all have gone North. They feed on both insects and grain and their numbers are so great that they take a very serious toll of the ripe grain on their migration routes. When there are locust invasions, however, the " Jowari-Birds " kill and eat an incredible number and are one of the most important factors in dealing with them. The song is " a jumble of discordant, grating noises with some melodious warbles intermixed" (Ticehurst).