(935) Prinia socialis socialis.
The Ashy Wren-Warbler.
Prinia socialis Sykes, P. Z. S., 1832, p, 89 (Deccan); Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 450 (part.).
Vernacular names. Phutki, Kola phutki (Hin.); Pit-pitta(Hin. in S. India).
Description.— Summer. Upper plumage dark slaty-ashy, rather paler on lower back and rump ; wings dark rufous, the concealed parts dark brown; tail rufous, tipped with white or pale buff and with a broad subterminal dark band; a narrow supercilium buff, often absent; lores and round the eye almost black; whole lower plumage rufescent buff, paler on the centre of the abdomen, darker on the thighs and under tail-coverts; axillaries, under wing-coverts and an oblique patch across under surface of quills rufous.
Colours of soft parts. Iris tan or yellow; bill black always; legs and feet fleshy-brown or pale horny.
Measurements. Wing 47 to 52 mm.; tail 50 to 61 mm. in Summer, 68 to 73 mm. in Winter; tarsus about 20 to 21 mm.; culmen 10 to 11 mm.
In Winter the upper parts are much more suffused with rufous ; the crown alone remaining pale ashy, but, judging from the very long series of Winter birds in the British Museum collection, old birds do not always become rufous at this season ; the buff supercilium does not appear to be a seasonal character.
Young birds are like the adult in Winter, though more yellow below.
Distribution. Ceylon and South India, South of a line running from Surat, Khandesh and Nagpore and thence South-East to the mouths of the Godavari.
Nidification. The Ashy Wren-Warbler breeds from March to September, nearly always having at least two broods. The nest varies very greatly in construction. In many cases it is like a very roughly made, large and unlined nest of the Tailor-bird. Two or more leaves are sewn together with roots and grasses, the actual stitches being made with silk from cocoons or spiders' egg-bags or with spiders' webs only. The lining in these generally consists of a base of fine roots covered with a matting of grass-seed down. A second type of nest is very like that already described as made by Prinia flaviventris, whilst yet a third type is a rudely built and flimsy ball of grass, supported by grass and weeds, sometimes fairly well attached to the supports, sometimes hardly fastened to them at all. The eggs are either three or four in number and are like those of P. flaviventris, but on an average deeper in colour. Thirty eggs average 16.1 x 12.1 mm.: maxima 17.0 x 12.1 mm. and 16.2 x 12.3 mm.; minima 15.4 x 11.9 and 16.2 x 11.8 mm.
Habits. This "Warbler is found from the level of the Plains up to 7,000 feet in the Nilgiris and other hill-ranges in South India. It may be found in gardens, round about villages in cultivation and scattered bush and grass cover, being particularly fond of sugarcane fields where it often breeds. In its habits generally it is much the same as Prinia flaviventris.