615. Oreicola ferrea.
The Dark-grey Bush-Chat.
Saxicola ferrea, Hodgs. in Gray's Cat. Mamm. &c. Nep. pp. 71, 153 (1846). Pratincola ferrea (Hodgs.), Blyth, Cat. p. 170; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 286; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 127; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. i, p. 41; Hume, N. & E. p. 318; Hume & Henders. Bah. To Yark. p. 205, pl. xii; Anders. Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 617 ; Hume, Cat. no. 486; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 301. Oreicola ferrea (Hodgs.), Sharpe, Cat. B. M. iv, p. 266; Oates, B. B. i, p. 283; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 50.
Coloration. Male. After the autumn moult the whole upper plumage is dark ashy grey, all the feathers except those of the rump centred with black and margined with a varying amount of rusty; coverts and quills black edged with grey, which inclines to white on the tertiaries; the inner greater coverts entirely white; tail black, the feathers increasingly margined with white, the outer web of the outermost feather being entirely white ; a white supercilium from the forehead to the nape; sides of the head black; lower plumage white, tinged with ashy across the breast and on the thighs.
The margins of the feathers of the upper plumage get worn away rapidly, and later on in the winter almost disappear, leaving the upper parts black during the summer.
Female. The whole upper plumage rufous ashy, the centres of the feathers dark, but not very distinctly, visible till the spring, when the edges of the feathers are reduced in extent; upper tail-coverts chestnut; tail brown, broadly edged with chestnut; wings brown, narrowly edged with rufous; a pale grey supercilium ; sides of the head reddish brown speckled with brown ; chin and throat whitish; remainder of lower plumage rufous ashy.
The young are dark rufous-brown, with streaks and spots of fulvous, and broad rufous edges to the tail and wings.
Iris brown ; tail black; legs dark brown.
Length nearly 6; tail 2.7; wing 2.7; tarsus .8; bill from gape .65.
Distribution. The Himalayas, from Murree and the Indus valley in Kashmir to the extreme east of Assam. This species is found up to 9000 feet in summer, and it descends to the valleys in the winter. It extends in the winter from Assam through the hill-ranges and Burma as far as Karennee, Central Tenasserim, and the Thoungyeen valley. This Bush-Chat is found in China.
Habits, &c. Breeds in the Himalayas from April to July, constructing a nest of grass, moss, and hair in a hole in the ground or under the shelter of a stone or clod of earth. The eggs, four or five in number, are pale green marked with reddish brown, and measure about .72 by .57. It is not improbable that this species may breed in some of the hill-ranges of Burma.