Petronia stulta (Gmel.), Syst. Nat. i. p 919 (1788) ; Dresser, iii. p. 607, pl. 180, fig. 2 ; Fringilla pelronia, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 322 (1766) ; Naum. iv. p. 497, Taf. 116, figs. 3, 4 ; (Gould), B. of E. iii. pl. 186 ; (Sharpe), Cat. B. Br. Mus. xii. p. 289 ; P. rupestris brevirostris ; Tacz. F O, Sib. O. p. 620.
Moineau fou, Soulcie French ; Pardal francez, Portug. ; Gorrion campesino, Chilla, Span. ; Passera lagia, Ital. ; Stein-sperling, German ; Rotmusch, Dutch.
Male ad. (Spain). Centre of crown to nape greyish brown, mottled with dull white, sides of crown and ear-coverts warm, dark brown ; supercilium and feathers below the eye buffy white ; upper parts dusty wood-brown, the mantle spotted and blotched with blackish brown and buffy white ; quills dark brown, margined with buffy white ; tail dark brown, narrowly margined with buff, and with large terminal white spots to the feathers ; under parts buffy white, faintly streaked with pale brown ; on the middle of the throat a clear yellow spot ; bill horn-brown, light brown at the base below ; legs light brown ; iris brown. Culmen 0.5, wing 3.6, tail 2.15, tarsus 0.75 inch. The female and young resemble the male, but the latter is paler, and lacks the yellow spot on the throat.
Hab. Central and southern Europe, Algeria, Madeira, and the Canaries ; Asia Minor, and Asia as far east as Mongolia ; N. China. Manchuria, and eastern Siberia.
In habits it has much in common with P. domesticus but does not frequent houses, being usually met with in wild rocky localities, less frequently in cultivated places. It feeds in the spring and summer on insects, caterpillars, &c., on which its young are sustained, but in the autumn and winter it feeds on fruit, berries, and seeds of various kinds. On the ground it is more active than the House Sparrow, and is swifter on the wing. Its call-note is harsh, and in the spring it utters a sort of song which is, however, but very poor. It places its nest in holes in the rocks, or ground, or in hollow trees, constructing it of straw, grass-bents, fine roots, wool, hair, and rags, lining it well with feathers. The eggs, 4 to 6 or 7 in number, are deposited in May and June, and so closely resemble those of P. domesticus that they cannot with certainty be distinguished, but are as a rule somewhat larger.
432. Petronia stulta