644. Ruticilla rufiventris.
The Indian Redstart.
Oenanthe rufiventris, Vieill. Nouv. Diet. d'Hist. Nat. xxi, p. 431 (1818). Ruticilla indica, Blyth, Cat. p. 168 (1849). Ruticilla phoenicuroides, Moore, F. Z. S. 1854, p. 25, pl. lvii; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 301; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 136. Ruticilla nipalensis (Hodgs.), Moore, P. Z. S. 1854, p. 26; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 302. Ruticilla rufiventris (Vieill.), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 137; Blanf. J. A. S. B. xii, pt. ii, p. 50 ; Hume, N. & F. p. 321 ; id. S. F. v, p. 36; id. Cat. no. 497; Seebohm, Cat. B. M. v, p. 342; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 194 ; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 64.
Thir-thira, Thirtir-kampa, Hind.; Phir-ira, Lal-girdi, Beng.; Nuni-budi-gadu, Tel.
Coloration. Male. In typical autumn plumage the forehead, sides of the head, chin, throat, breast, and sides of neck are black with grey fringes, the black more or less concealed ; crown, nape, hind neck, back, and scapulars ashy grey, this grey appearance caused by broad fringes which generally quite conceal the black bases of the feathers; lesser and median wing-coverts black, edged with ashy; the other coverts and the quills brown, edged with rufous ; rump and upper tail-coverts bright chestnut; tail chestnut except the middle pair of feathers, which are brown ; abdomen, vent, under tail- and wing-coverts, and axillaries deep orange-brown.
In typical summer plumage the whole head, neck, back, scapulars, lesser and median wing-coverts, and the breast are deep black, with an ashy-supercilium and some ashy on the crown just behind the forehead. The rufous margins to the greater coverts and quills are reduced or disappear.
Between these two stages every intermediate form occurs regardless of season, the deep black plumage sometimes making its appearance immediately after the moult, and some birds even at midsummer retaining the broad ashy-grey fringes in varying degrees. Some males are said to breed in female plumage.
Female. Upper plumage brown tinged with fulvous; the wings broadly edged with fulvous; rump, upper tail-coverts, and tail chestnut, except the middle pair of feathers, which are brown ; a circle of pale feathers round the eye; lower plumage buffy brown, suffused with orange on the abdomen, flanks, vent, and under tail-coverts.
Bill, legs, feet, and iris black; base of bill yellow (Bingham).
Length about 6 ; tail 2.6 ; wing 3.3; tarsus .9 ; bill from gape .7.
Distribution. A common winter visitor to a great portion of the Empire, this species occurs from the Himalayas down to Bangalore and the Nilgiris, and from Sind to Assam, thence ranging down to Manipur. It appears to be common from September to April. Some few birds are found in the plains in summer, but do not apparently breed. In the Hume Collection there are specimens shot at Sambhar in July and at Ahmednagar in June.
This Redstart extends on the west to Persia and on the east to China, and large numbers appear to summer in Turkestan and Mongolia. Within our limits it breeds on the higher mountains of Kashmir above 10,000 feet. It also breeds in Afghanistan. Mandelli procured a specimen in Native Sikhim in June, and probably it may be found to breed throughout the Himalayas at great heights.
Habits, &c. The nest of this species has seldom been found, and little is known of its nidification. Wardlaw Ramsay found the nest in Afghanistan on the 1st July in an old tree-stump, but the young had apparently left it some time before.