(620) Laiscopus collaris nipalensis.
The Eastern- Alpine hedge-sparrow.
Accentor nipalensis Blyth, J. A. S.B., xii, p. 958 (1843) (Nepal) Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 166,
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description Forehead to hind-neck greyish brown, obsoletely centred darker; back more rufous-brown with the centres darker and broader; rump and tipper tail-coverts pale rufous with faint, dark shaft-streaks; tail dark brown, tipped rufous on the outer webs, white on the inner webs ; lesser wing-coverts like the hind-neck ; other coverts very dark brown with white spots at their tips; scapulars and inner secondaries black with broad rufous edges paling at the tips; other quills dark brown narrowly edged and tipped with paler; centre of chin and throat white barred with black; sides of head and neck and the whole breast greyish brown, speckled with white round the eye; middle of the abdomen rufous grey, barred with blackish in young birds; flanks and sides of the abdomen chestnut; under tail-coverts chestnut broadly edged with white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown ; bill blade, the base and gape bright yellow; legs and feet fleshy-brown or light brown.
Measurements. Total length about 150 mm.; wing 90 to 102 mm.; tail 65 to 78 mm.; tarsus about 23 mm.; culmen 10 to 11 mm.
Young birds have the whole lower plumage rufous-grey, streaked with blackish. The gape is a very conspicuous orange-red.
Birds collected by Mr. Whymper in Garhwal were described by me as a new race under the name of L. c. whymperi (Bull. B. O. C., xxxv, p. 60, 1915) on account of their very small size, wing S5 to 92 mm., and the red colour of the breast and underparts, the rufous also extending to the back. Mr. N. Kinnear has pointed out to me that this red colour appears to be artificial, probably due to the preservative used: more material therefore seems necessary before we accept this as a good race.
Distribution. Sikkim, S.W.Tibet, Nepal, Garhwal, Kumaon and South-East Kashmir. To the East it probably extends through the hills of Assam, a specimen from the Dafla Hills being referable to this race.
Nidification. Mr. Whymper found this bird breeding in some numbers in the Garhwal Hills at a height of about 15,000 feet. The nests he describes as cups made entirely of moss and placed well under the shelter of a stone. They apparently often lay only two eggs and never more than three, as he saw many nests containing only two young ones. Two eggs taken by him measure 23.0 x 16.1 and 22.l x l6.0 mm. They were taken on the 27th of May.
Habits. The Eastern Alpine Hedge-sparrow is a bird of very high elevations, being found from 12,000 to 10,000 feet in the breeding-season and wandering down to about S,000 feet in Winter and occasionally down to about 5,000 feet, at which height it has been found below Darjeeling and again in the Dafla Hills. On the other hand, the Mt. Everest Expedition saw this bird at 21,000 feet and actually procured a specimen at 18,500 feet. In habits it resembles its British cousin, being a quiet, skulking little bird, haunting undergrowth and scrub, slipping quietly about and uttering a regular little Hedge-sparrow song. Its flight is strong and direct.