Ruticilla phoenicurus (Linn.), Syst. Nat. i. p. 335 (1766) ; (Naumann), iii. p. 510, Taf. 79, figs. 1, 2 ; Gould, B. of Gt. Brit. ii. pl. 51 ; Newton, i. p. 329 ; Dresser, ii. p. 227, pl. 41 ; Seebohm, Cat. B. Br. Mus. v. p. 336 ; Saunders, p. 31 ; Lilford, iii. p. 14, pl. 7 ; Phoenicura ruticilla, Gould, B. of E. ii. pl. 95 ; Hewitson, i. p. 101, pl. xxix. fig. 2.
Rougs-queue, French ; Rabiruiva, Portug. ; Culirojo, Span. ; Codirosso, Cudarusso, Ital. ; Rothschwanz, German ; Roodstaartje, Dutch ; Blodstjert, Dan. ; Rodstjart, Norweg. and Swed. ; Lep-palintu, Finn. ; Sarnitchka, Russ.
Male ad. (England). Upper parts generally slate-grey ; tail and upper tail-coverts chestnut red, the middle rectrices brownish, wings brownish, the quills with paler margins ; forehead white, frontal line, lores, cheeks, ear-coverts and throat deep black, under parts white, the breast flanks under wing-coverts and axillaries rich or orange red or chestnut ; bill and legs black ; iris brown. Culmen 0.6, wing 3.1, tail 2.5, tarsus 0.9 inch. Female ; upper parts brownish grey ; rump and tail duller than in the male ; no white frontal patch ; chin and throat greyish white tinged with rufous ; under parts paler and duller than in the male. The nestling is dull ochreous barred with blackish brown ; tail duller than in the adult and slightly barred ; under parts sandy yellow marked with blackish brown. In the winter the male has the upper parts obscured with brown, the black and white on the head and neck with brown margins and the orange red on the under parts with whitish margins to the feathers, but the female differs but little in winter dress.
Hab. Europe generally, north to the Arctic circle, south to the Mediterranean ; Asia east to the Yenesei and the Lena ; winters in southern Persia and Central Africa.
Frequents groves and gardens, and is active and sprightly in its general habits, but somewhat shy and suspicious ; is con¬tinually on the move, and keeps its tail in almost continual motion. Its call note is a clear whistle, sometimes followed by one or two short, sharp notes, and its song, which is uttered when the bird is perched on a twig or occasionally when on the wing, is sweet, rather melancholy, but feeble and consists of only three strophes. It feeds on insects of various kinds, which it either collects from the foliage of trees or from the ground, and catches flies on the wing with great facility.
It breeds throughout its summer range in April or May, its nest being usually placed in a hollow tree or a hole in a wall, and somewhat loosely constructed of roots, dry grass-bents, and moss, and lined with hair or feathers.
The eggs from 5 to 8 in number are clear greenish-blue, usually unspotted, but occasionally with a few faint reddish dots, and measure from 0.70 by 0.57 to 0.78 by 0..58 inch.
75. Ruticilla phoenicurus