(1074) Rhodospiza obsoleta.
Lichtenstein's Desert- Finch.
Fringilla obsoleta Licht, Eversm. Reise, Anhang, p. 132 (1826) (Bochara).
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Adult male. Upper plumage rufous sandy-brown, more rufous-brown on the forehead, rump, upper tail-coverts and shoulder of the wing ; feathers round the eye and at the angle of the bill black; tail black, the outer web broadly, the inner web narrowly, edged with white; median and greater coverts dark brown edged with crimson-pink; primaries black, all but the outermost with white outer webs ; secondaries black, the outer webs pink for three-quarters of their length, white at the tips; innermost secondaries with broad fulvous margins to the inner webs; chin, throat, sides of the neck and the breast pale sandy-brown, sometimes with a faint pink flush, paling to almost white on the centre of the abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts; axillaries and under wing-coverts white with a pink tinge.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown ; bill black horny-brown to blackish brown ; legs and feet dark brown to almost black.
Measurements. Total length about 140 mm,; wing 85 to 88 mm.; tail 59 to 61 mm.; tarsus about 17 mm.; culmen about 11 mm.
Female similar to the male but more ashy-grey above and rather paler and duller elsewhere.
Distribution. Palestine, Syria, to Persia, North-West India, Turkestan and Mongolia.
Nidification. Betham and later, Williams found this Finch breeding in great numbers all round Quetta. The nest is a cup made of small twigs, grass, bents, etc. mixed with wool and odd scraps and lined thickly with wool, hair and a feather or two, welded into a mass. One nest, obtained by Mr. A. J. Currie in Persia, was composed almost entirely of string and wool. The favourite site is a roadside tree, less often a bush ; the nests are wedged well into a fork, at any height from six to twenty feet and as they harmonize well with the supporting branch, they are not conspicuous, though no attempt is made to conceal them. The eggs number four to six, rarely seven, and vary from almost pure white to pale skim-milk blue, sparsely speckled and spotted at the larger end with black. The breeding-season lasts from early May to the middle of June, a second brood sometimes being reared in July. One hundred eggs average 18.9 x 14.2 mm.: maxima 22.0 x 15.0 and 20.4 x 15.1 mm.; minima 17.4 x 13.0 mm.
Habits. Probably resident wherever found, though it may wander to lower elevations during the Winter, when it collects in docks. It is principally a ground bird, but not so entirely so as the birds of the genus Erythrospiza, whilst it may often be seen feeding on trees and bushes. It is said to have a pretty little song during the breeding-season.