(532) Phaenicurus ochrurus rufiventris.
The Eastern INDIAN Redstart.
AEnanthe rufiventris Vieill, Nouv Dict. d'Hist. Nat., Nouv. ed,, xxi, p. 431 (1818) (Bengal) Ruticilla rufiventris. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 95 (part.).
Vernacular names. Phir-ora, Lal-girdi (Beng.).
Description.— Adult male in Winter. Similar to the Western bird, but richer chestnut below and darker grey above.
In Summer the head becomes wholly black, the grey crown not being retained as in P. o. phaenicuroides.
Colours of soft parts as in the preceding bird.
Measurements. Wing 86 to 89 mm.; tail 58 to 62 mm.; tarsus 25 mm.; culmen 12 mm.
Female much darker both above and below than the last bird ; the upper parts browner and with a stronger rufous tinge.
Measurements. Wing 82 to 87 mm.
Distribution. Tibet, very rarely Sikkim and Nepal, East to the Mountains of Central and North China and South Mongolia. In Winter it is common in Assam, Manipur, Burma and South-West China. It occurs also, but is not common, in Bengal and Behar and extends to Orissa but not to Madras.
Nidification. The Eastern Redstart breeds in very great numbers in South, Central and Eastern Tibet from 10,000 to 15,000 feet, making a nest similar to that of the Western bird and placing it in exactly the same kind of place. A curious nest found in a heap of stones just outside the town of Gyantse in Tibet was composed entirely of scraps of rice-paper with a lining of goat's hair. The eggs number four to six, most often five, and are indistinguishable from those of the last bird. One hundred eggs average 20.0 x 14.6 mm.: maxima 22.0 X 15.0 and 21.0 x 15.4 mm.; minima 18.4 X 13.8 mm.
The breeding-season lasts from May to August and probably many birds rear two broods.
Habits. The Eastern Indian Redstart seems to be more a forest-bird than its Western cousin. In the Assam hills it may be found in any small open space, however hemmed in by forest, and it is very partial to bamboo-jungle bordering streams. This bird some¬times jerks its tail right over its back, semi-spreading it as it does so, at other times it " shivers" it or flirts it gently up and down. The first action is nearly always accompanied by movements of the feet, but the second is not. Prom October to March it wanders out far into the plains of Assam and Burma, whilst in Summer it is found up to 17,000 feet, and Wollaston records it at 20,000 feet when migrating past Mt. Everest.