THE RED-HEADED BULLFINCH.
Pyrrhula erythroeephala, Vigors, Proc. Zool. Soc. 1831, p. 174.
Pyrrhula erythroeephala, Gould, Cent. Birds Himal. Mount, pl. xxxii. (1832).
Pyrrhula erythroeephalus, Blyth, Journ. A. S. Beng. xiii. 1844, p. 951.
Pyrrhula erythroeephala, Hodgs. Gray’s Zool. Misc. p. 85 (1844).
Pyrrhula crythroeephala, Gray et Mitch. Genera Birds, ii. p. 387 (1844).
Pyrrhula erythroeephala, Gray, Cat. Hodgs. Coll. Brit. Mus. p. Ill (1846).
Pyrrhula erythroeephalus, Blyth, Cat. Birds Mus. A. S. Beng. p. 123 (1849).
Pyrrhula erythroeephala, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av. i. p. 525 (1850) ; Gould, Birds of Asia, v. pl. 36 (1853) ; Eyton, Cat. Birds, p. 262 (1856) ; Horsf, et Moore, Cat. Birds Mus. E.-Ind. Comp. ii. p. 454 (1856-8); Adams, Proc. Zool. Soc. 1858, p. 483, 1859, p. 177; Gray, Cat. Hodgs. Coll. Brit. Mus. p. 60 (1863) ; Jerdon, Birds of India, ii. p. 389 (1863) ; Blyth, Ibis, 1863, p. 442 ; Beavan, Ibis, 1867, p. 142, 1868, p. 176 ; Pelz. Ibis, 1868, p. 3,8 ; Gray, Hand¬-List Birds, ii. p. 99 (1870) ; Tristr. Ibis, 1871, p. 232 ; Brooks, Stray- Feathers, 1875, p. 255 ; Hume, Stray-Feathers, 1879, p. 108 ; Brooks, Stray-Feathers, 1879, p. 488 ; Russ, Stubenvogel, p. 502 (1879); Salv. Cat. Birds Strickl. Coll. p. 203 (1882) ; Marsh. Ibis, 1884, p. 420 ; Stewart, Zoologist, 1886, p. 321 ; Sharpe, Cat. Birds Brit. Mus. xii. p. 457 (1888).
Pyrrhula erythroeephala, Hodgs. Icon. Brit. Mus. pl. 308, fig. 1-4.
Figures. Gould, Cent. Birds Himal. Mts. pl. xxxii. ; id. Birds of Asia, v. pl. 36.
English. Reel-headed Bullfinch.
French. Le Bouvreuil a tete rouge.
German. Rothkopfgimpel. Der rothkopfige Gimpel.
Habitat. W. Himalayas, Nepal ; rare in Sikkim and Bootan.
Half. Crown of head, nape, and sides of neck rich orange-brown ; frontal band black, edged with ashy-grey ; mantle, scapulars, and back ashy-grey, edged with a narrow blackish band across the lower back ; rump white ; lesser and median wing-coverts ashy- grey, tinged with orange-brown ; greater coverts pale ashy-grey, with a purplish basal square patch on the outer webs ; primaries and coverts black, slightly edged with purple ; secondaries, upper tail-coverts, and outer edges of tail-feathers glossy steel blue, transversely barred with black, inner webs and outer rectrices black ; cheeks, throat, breast, sides, and axillaries dull orange-brown ; under wing-coverts, belly, and under tail-coverts white ; under surface of wings, and tail, dull blackish-brown ; “bill black ; legs pale fleshy-brown ; iris light brown” (Jerdon) : length 5.5, wing 3.0, tail 2.69, tars. 0.65, culm. 0.4.
Female. Crown, nape, and sides of head yellowish-olive-green ; frontal band dull black, edged with pale grey, which blends into the crown of the head ; hind neck, mantle, scapulars, and back slaty-brown, faintly tinged with olive ; rump white ; wings, coverts, and tail as in the male, but duller ; chin brownish-black, faintly edged with buff; cheeks, sides of neck, throat, and under parts pale slaty-brown, faintly tinged with orange-brown ; thighs and under tail-coverts white ; axillaries, under surface of wings and coverts whitish ; iris, bill, and feet as in the male.
Young Male. Similar, but much paler, especially the under parts, which are grey, tinged with orange-brown on the sides of the neck and body.
THE Red-headed Bullfinch was first made known to science by Mr. N. A. Vigors, who characterized it in the ‘Proceedings of the Zoological Society’ for 1831, and figured for the first time in Mr. John Gould’s ‘Century of Birds from the Himalayan Mountains,’ which was published in 1832, and refigured with the female in his ‘ Birds of Asia’ in 1853.
From all I can gather respecting this very beautiful Bullfinch, it appears to inhabit the higher ranges of the mountainous regions of the Himalayas, Nepal, and Bootan ; and although the species does not associate in vast numbers, it is tolerably plentiful in those regions, being scattered over the country in small flocks of from six to twelve in num¬ber. It is remarkable for a bird like the present, so conspicuous for its beautiful plumage, and having been known to all our Indian ornithologists for over seventy years, that its breeding-grounds have remained, like those of many of its congeners, undiscovered ; we therefore still have to record the structure and position of its nest and the details of its eggs.
Mr. A. Leith-Adams (P. Z. S. 1858) tells us it is “confined to the Himalaya ranges. Never seen in the plains of India. By no means com¬mon anywhere. Its habits exactly similar to the Pyrrhula vulgaris ; but its call-note is not so loud. Frequents dense jungle. The P. erythro¬eephala was not seen during my visit to Cashmere, although frequently observed on the ranges near Simla.”
In the ‘Birds of India,’ vol. ii., published in 1863, Mr. Jerdon remarks : “This Bullfinch has much the form of the European bird, bat the tail is slightly longer and more forked. It is found throughout the Himalayas, more common in the north-west, somewhat rare in the south¬east. I procured it at Darjeeling, but it is rare there, and only a winter visitant; and Mr. Blyth had not previously seen specimens from Sikkim. At Mussooree, Hutton states it to be common in winter, feeding on the ground, as well as on berry-bearing bushes, and it perches high on the top of trees.”
It has been procured at Spita, in Ladak, by Dr. A. Stoliczka ; at Dar¬jeeling by Captain Beavan ; in Kotegurh, in Thibet, according to Herr A. v. Pelzeln ; at Dangali by Mr. W. E. Brooks, who says : “This was the only Bullfinch I saw near Darjeeling, and on the Senchal hill a little beyond the grassy open, where I obtained Anthus ludovicianus." Major C. H. T. Marshall in his notes on the birds of Chamba says : “ I met with a flock of ten or twelve Bullfinches early in April at Dalhousie ; as I had no gun, I failed to secure a specimen. I watched them for some time, and believe they belonged to this species.”
The only remaining notice of this bird is contained in Surgeon-General L. C. Stewart’s ‘Natural History and Sport in the Himalayas,’ published in the ‘ Zoologist,’ 1886, as follows : “ Fagoo, October 14.—I had a very suc¬cessful day, and might have obtained many more specimens, but, as it was, got more than enough for the stuffer to prepare properly. Starting at day-light, I strolled about for three hours in the beautiful ‘hanging’ woods ; many of the shrubs and trees were assuming their autumnal tints. Wild fruits and berries were in abundance ; raspberry, barberry, and others, affording ample food to hosts of birds of many kinds. I first secured a pair of Bullfinches, Pyrrhula erythroeephala, a pretty species which I had found at Kussowlie the previous spring, and I got three or four more before leaving Facrao.”
No. Sex. Mus. Locality. Length. Wing. Tail. Tars. Culm.
a Male Imm. E. B. Kotekhaie (Hume). 5.5 3.1 2.7 0.65 0.35
b Male Imm. E. B. Darjeeling (Beavan). 6.3 3.05 2.75 0.65 0.4
c Male Imm. E. B. N. India (Hodgson). 4.9 3 2.6 0.65 0.4
d Male Imm. E. B. Darjeeling (Beavan). 4.85 3 2.55 0.65 0.4
e Male E. B. India. 5.5 3.1 2.7 0.6 0.4
f Male E. B. Himalayas. 5.5 3 2.6 0.65 0.4
g Male E. B. Himalayas. 5.35 3 2.7 0.65 0.35
h Female E. B. Doon. 5.6 3 2.65 0.62 0.35
i Female E. B. Himalayas. 0 3 0 0.65 0.4
The figures (Plate III.) are taken from f and h in my own collection.