464. Prinia socialis.
The Ashy Wren- Warbler.
Prinia socialis, Sykes, P. Z. S. 1832, p. 89 ; Blyth, Cat. p. 143 ; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 321 ; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 170 ; Hume, N. & E. p. 336; Butler, S. F. iii, p. 479; Hume, S. F. iv, p. 497; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xiv, pt. ii, p. 79; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 529; Hume, Cat. no. 534; Davison, S. F. x, p. 391 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 216 ; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. i, p. 291. Prinia stewarti, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xvi, p. 455 (1847) ; id. Cat. p. 144 ; Jerd. B. 1. ii, p. 171; Hume, N. & E. p. 338 ; id. Cat. no. 535 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 216. Burnesia socialis (Sykes), Sharpe, Cat. B. M. vii, p. 208. Prinia poliocephala, A. Anders. P. Z. S. 1878, p. 370, pi. xix ; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 319 ; id. Cat. no. 535 bis. Prinia brevicauda, Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 521 (1878). Cisticola poliocephala (A. Anders.), Sharpe, Cat. B. M. vii, p. 257.
The Dark-ashy Wren- Warbler, Stewart's Wren- Warbler, Jerd.; Phutki, Kala-phutki, H.; Pit-pitta, H. in South India.
Coloration. In summer the forehead, crown, nape, back, and rump are dark ashy; wings and tail rufous, the latter with whitish tips and subterminal black patches ; cheeks, ear-coverts, sides of neck, and the whole lower plumage light buff, the thighs darker and the centre of the abdomen whitish.
In winter the forehead, crown, and nape are ashy tinged with rufous; the back, rump, and upper tail-coverts rufous-brown ; tail rufous with white tips and subterminal black patches; wings brown, edged with rufous; lores black; above the lores a short white eyebrow ; chin, throat, and middle of abdomen whitish ; remainder of lower plumage buff, darker on the thighs.
In summer the iris is yellowish brown; bill black ; legs and feet fleshy (Butler). In winter the bill appears to be black also.
Length in summer about 5 ; tail 2.2 ; wing 2; tarsus .75; bill from gape .6; in winter the total Length is about 6 and the tail 3.
The white eyebrow is a characteristic of the winter plumage, but some birds appear to retain it throughout the summer.
Distribution. Throughout India from the Himalayas' to Ceylon. On the west this species does not occur in the Punjab beyond the Chenab river nor in Sind, and it is rare or absent in Cutch and Guzerat. It is found in the lower ranges of the Himalayas up to 4000 feet and in the hills of Southern India up to 7000. On the east it occurs as far as the Daphla hills on the north and the Khasi hills on the south.
Habits, &c. Breeds throughout the above area from March to September. The nest is of two types : one a leaf nest, like that of the Tailor-bird formed of two or three leaves stitched together, and the receptacle thus formed filled with cotton, grass, and wool; and the other a domed structure of grass, the nest in both cases being not far from the ground. The eggs, three or four in number, are deep red and measure .64 by .47.