(1043) Pyrrhula aurantiaca Gould.
THE ORANGE BULLFINCH.
Pyrrhula aurantiaca, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iii, p. 109.
The Orange Bullfinch ranges from Gilgit and Hazara, through. Kashmir, to the Simla States and Garhwal.
We have two accounts of this bird’s breeding which, though very different, are both correct beyond all doubt.
The first is a short note by Ward (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xviii, p. 463, 1908) to the following effect:—“At last the nests and eggs have been taken by my collectors. These were found on the Kolahoi Mountain in Kashmir, between 12,000 and 13,000 feet, in a bush. The nests are small cups of dry grasses lined with the hair of the musk-deer. The eggs are dull white, marked with reddish-brown in small streaks and spots, chiefly at the thicker end. The dates were August 18th and 21st (1906).”
The birds shot off their nests were sent to me for confirmation of Ward’s identification, as the eggs and nests were so unlike Bull¬finches’ that I ventured to express a doubt. More were taken in 1908.
The next account is that of Osmaston (ibid. vol. xxxi, p. 993, 1927). He writes:—“ This handsome bird is a resident species in Kashmir, being found, in the lower mixed forest, in the side valleys, in winter from 5,500 to 6,500 feet, and in summer between 9,000 and 11,000 feet. They are not very common anywhere and are rather solitary, quiet and unobtrusive birds.
“In the breeding season they are to be found in openings in the Silver-fir and birch forests, especially where there is plenty of young tree growth and herbaceous weeds.
“They commence building early in July. Nests are usually in silver firs or yew trees, either in a patch of young trees or on the lower branch of a big tree.
“ A nest found on August 4th at 9,000' in the Liddar Valley exactly resembled that of the English Bullfinch, being composed of thin twigs and sticks and lined with fine roots. The young had just left the nest, which was placed on the horizontal branch of a silver fir sapling, sheltered above by a second branch and about four feet from the ground. It was in a thick clump of similar young trees.
“All the birds seen were in the fir, or birch and fir, forests and they certainly do not breed above the forest limit.”
In 1908 Ward took several more nests and eggs, all like those he had previously taken and at the same elevation on the same mountain. These were taken in the end of August.
A very charming account of this bird and its nesting is given by Major Magrath (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xxi, p. 1307, 1913). The nest is described as “smaller but not unlike that of the European Bullfinch—a platform of twigs on which was built a shallow cup of fine rootlets and a little dried grass. A few goat's hairs completed the lining.”
The eggs were like those taken by Ward and were taken on the 8th August.
The number of eggs laid is normally three, though Ward obtained one clutch of four.
The eggs are white with small flecks and tiny blotches of reddish brown, fairly numerous at the larger end but sparse elsewhere, except in two eggs—one in a clutch of four and one in a clutch of three.
In shape they are long, rather pointed ovals, the texture close and very fine but the surface glossless.
Thirteen eggs average 21.3 x 15.0 mm. : maxima 22.3 x 15.0 and 20.0 x 15.1 mm, ; minima 20.0 x 15.1 and 21.0 x 14.8 mm.
1043. Pyrrhula aurantiaca
(1043) Pyrrhula aurantiaca Gould.