(48) Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax.
THE RED-BILLED CHOUGH.
Upupa pyrrhocorax Linn,, Syst. Nat., ed. x, p. 118 (1758) (England). Graculvs eremita. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 43.
Vernacular names. Tsagh (Kandahar).
Description. The whole plumage glossy black.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; legs and feet vermilion-red, claws black; bill vermilion-red.
Measurements. Total length about 450 mm.; wing 270 to 315 mm.; tail 150 to 170 mm.; culmen 45 to 60 mm.; tarsus 45 to 53 mm.
The Indian bird seems to average much larger than the English though not larger than the Continental bird.
Distribution. Northern Africa, Europe and N. Asia. In India it is found throughout the Himalayas to Eastern Tibet.
Nidification. The Red-billed Chough breeds freely in Tibet, Ladakh and Northern Kashmir, breeding generally in cliffs, but, in Tibet, frequently in the Tibetan houses and buildings whether occupied or not. They are early breeders, laying in the end of March and April and often having a second brood. The eggs are like those of the English bird, but much duller and more brownish in tint and they average much bigger, 41.7 x 28.4 mm. against 40.7 x 27.9 mm. Whymper took its eggs at the end of April in Garhwal at 9,000 and 12,400 feet. The nests were of sticks with wool lining, placed in clefts of rocks.
Habits. The Red-billed Chough is found in summer up to 16,000 feet and over, descending in winter to 5,000 feet or even lower. It is a gregarious sociable bird feeding together on the ground much like Rooks. They are noisy birds and haunt human habitations and camps as well as wilder tracts.