Genus RUTICILLA

The genus Ruticilla contains the true Redstarts, which may be recognized by their rather long tail, which is more than twice the length of the tarsus and nearly or quite square at the tip ; by the large amount of chestnut in the tail; and by the sexes being differently coloured. The bill is short, slender, and black, and the rictal bristles moderate or short. The wing is sharply pointed, and the first primary less than half the second. The tarsus is of moderate length.

The Redstarts feed on the ground largely, but they also catch insects on the wing and perch freely. They constantly vibrate their tail. Nearly all the species migrate to a greater" or less extent, and those that inhabit the Himalayas move vertically according to season. They breed in holes of trees and rocks, and lay unspotted blue eggs.

The nestlings of the Redstarts are streaked with fulvous above and have the feathers margined with brown below. In each species the nestling has the same pattern of tail as the adult, rendering specific recognition comparatively easy.

The seasonal change of plumage in the Redstarts, due to the wearing away of the edges of the feathers in the winter and spring, is very great.

Key to the Species*.

a. All tail-feathers except the middle pair abruptly tipped with black…………………….R. frontalis, p. 91.
b. None of the tail-feathers tipped.
a1. A large white patch on throat…………………….R. schisticeps, p. 92.
b1. No white patch on throat.
a2. Middle tail-feathers distinctly different to others; wing under 3.5.
a3. Secondaries with white on both webs…………………….R. aurorea, p. 03.
b3. No white on inner webs of secon¬daries.
a4. Terminal portion of shafts of all lateral tail-feathers black…………………….R. erythronota, p. 94.
b4. Shafts of lateral tail-feathers uni¬formly chestnut.
a5. Throat and breast black.
a6. Portion of outer webs of secon¬daries broadly margined with white…………………….R. hodgsoni p. 95.
b6. No white margins to secondaries…………………….R. rufiventris p. 95.
b5. Throat and breast buff or ashy brown.
c6. Lower plumage in general ashy brown…………………….R. hodgsoni p. 95.
d6. Lower plumage in general buff, frequently suffused with orange…………………….R. rufiventris , p. 95.
b2. Middle tail-feathers of much the same colour as others ; wing over 4…………………….R. erythrogaster, p. 97.

* The following species are reported to have occurred in India, but either by error or on insufficient evidence :—

R. PHOENICURA (Linn.).—Two skins of this species now in the British Museum, originally deposited in the Indian Museum, as noticed by Horsfield and Moore (Cat. i, p. 301), are said to have been procured at Saharanpur by Dr. Jameson, The two specimens in question, which have been at one time stuffed and mounted, are typical JR. phaenicura. The occurrence of this species in India requires confirmation. It resembles S. rufiventris, but has the anterior part of the crown white with a distinct greyish-white supercilium, and the back is grey without a trace of black at any season.

It. Erythroprocta, Gould.— This bird has been recorded from India under a misapprehension as to what the species really is. The only specimens known are two from the Gould collection, now in the British Museum. They were obtained in Asia Minor. This Redstart resembles if. rufiventris, but has the under wing-coverts and axillaries black tipped with ashy, and the black of the lower parts produced further down on the abdomen.

BookTitle: 
The Fauna Of British India including Ceylon and Burma
Reference: 
OATES EW. The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Vol.2 1890.
Title in Book: 
Genus RUTICILLA
Book Author: 
Eugene William Oates, Edited by William Thomas Blanford
Year: 
1890
Page No: 
90
M_ID: 
28321
M_SN: 
Phoenicurus
Volume: 
Vol. 2
Term name: 
id: 
872

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