(628) Prunella strophiata strophiata.
The Rufous-breasted Hedge-sparrow.
Accentor strophiatus Blyth, J. A. S. B., xii, p. 959 (1843) (Nepal). Tharrhaleus strophiatus. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 171.
Vernacular names. Phooching-pho (Lepcha).
Description. "Whole upper plumage rufescent brown, each feather with broad blackish-brown central streaks; tail brown with obsolete pale edges; a broad rufous supercilium bordered with black and almost white over the lores; lores, cheeks and ear-coverts dark brown; chin and throat white, with black spots at the sides and base: sides of the neck ashy with broad blackish streaks; wings brown, the feathers edged with rufous and the coverts with white tips ; breast deep ferruginous; flanks dull ferruginous, changing to white on the abdomen and under tail-coverts, all these parrs boldly streaked with black.
After the Autumn moult the upper parts are more widely fringed with rufous and look paler.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown ; bill blackish brown, the base horny yellowish; legs and feet fleshy or reddish brown; claws darker.
Measurements. Total length about 150 mm.; wing 02 to 72 mm.; tail 51 to 62 mm.; tarsus about 20 mm.; culmen about 11 mm.
The Young bird is a richer rufous above and has practically the whole of the underparts bright fulvous, much streaked with dark brown; birds of the year retain the brown streaks on the rufous breast.
Distribution. Nepal, Garhwal, Sikkim, Mountains North of Assam, South and Western Tibet.
Nidification. Breeds throughout its range above 12,000 feet right up to the snow-line, from the beginning of June to the end of July. The nest is the usual untidy cup, but is finished off better than most Hedge-sparrows' nests are and is well and neatly lined with moss. They are placed, according to Mr. S. Whymper, always m willows in Garhwal but in Tibet they build both in the willows and in any kind of scrub. The eggs generally number three, rarely four, are of the usual blue and fifty eggs average 19.6x14.4 mm.: maxima 20.9 x 14.4 and 20.1x15.0 mm.; minima 18.1 X 14.4 and 19.8 x 13.5 mm.
Habits. Frequents the higher plateaus between 12,000 and 16,000 feet, but in Winter is found in Sikkim and the Assam Hills as low as 6,000 feet or even lower. Its habits, food, flight and voice are similar to those of the other species of the genus but it does not seem to be so inveterate a skulker.