526. Phaenicurus frontalis

(526) Phaenicurus frontalis.

The Blue-Fronted Redstart.

Phaenicura frontalis Vigors, P. Z. S., 1831, p. 172 (Himalayas) (restricted to Garhwal). Ruticilla frontalis. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 91.

Vernacular names. Tak-tirriri-pho (Lepcha).

Description.— Male in Summer. Forehead and short, broad supercilium brilliant blue ; remainder of head, throat and extreme upper breast, back, lesser and median wing-coverts deep, rather dull blue; rump, upper tail-coverts and rest of lower plumage rufous-chestnut; central tail-feathers blackish, chestnut at the extreme base, lateral feathers chestnut with broad black tips; wings brown, the greater coverts and quills edged with light rufous.

After the Autumn moult the feathers of the blue parts are fringed with rufous and the wing-feathers are also broadly edged with the same.

Colours of soft parts. Iris deep brown; bill, legs and feet black.

Measurements. Total length about 160 mm.; wing 83 to 92 mm.; tail 58 to 68 mm.; tarsus about 24 mm.; culmen about 10 mm.

Female. Sides of head and neck fulvous-brown; head, back and scapulars darker fulvous-brown; rump and tail as in the male; wings brown, all the feathers edged with fulvous ; chin fulvous; throat and breast fulvous-brown, paler than the back, but shading into this on the neck and sides of breast and turning to orange-brown on the abdomen and orange on the vent and under tail-coverts.

Young. Bump, tail and wings as in the female; head, back and breast blackish brown, each feather with broad, pointed fulvous marks, smallest on the back and largest on the breast; abdomen and posterior flanks rich fulvous.

Distribution. Breeding in the Himalayas from Afghanistan and Gilgit to Eastern Assam North of the Brahmaputra, Tibet, Chin and Kachin Hills, N. Shan States to Western China. They winter in the sub-Himalayas, Dooars, Assam South of the Brahmaputra and lower Chin and Kachin Hills.

Nidification. This Redstart breeds from Afghanistan to W. China between 8,000 and 15,000 feet, making a moss and grass cup lined with hair which it places m a hole or crevice in a rock or under a stone. Mr. S. L. Whymper says that it also builds in holes in bunks and in low jumper-scrub. The eggs are three or four in number, a pale dull greyish pink, profusely hut very finely stippled with very pale reddish. The majority^ of eggs unless closely examined appear to be a pale dull pinkish grey. Twenty-four eggs average 19.8 X 14.6 mm. : maxima 21.4 x 14.6 and 19.5 x 15.1 mm.; minima 11.1 X 14.2.

The breeding-season everywhere is from the end of May to early July.

Habits. In Winter the Blue-fronted Redstart descends to some two thousand feet in Assam South of the Brahmaputra and right into the foot-hills North of it. In the "West it is found in the plains close to the hills but apparently m unusually severe cold seasons only. It is a lively little bird generally found in pairs, haunting the banks and beds of hill-stream sand feeding, like the Wheatears, from some convenient rock or prominent stone, catching its prey both in the air and on the ground.

The Fauna Of British India, Including Ceylon And Burma-birds(second Edition)
Baker, EC S (1922–1930) The fauna of British India including Ceylon and Burma. Second edition. vol.2 1924.
Title in Book: 
526. Phaenicurus frontalis
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Blue Fronted Redstart
Blue-fronted Redstart
Phoenicurus frontalis
Vol. 2

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith