613. Pratincola insignis.
Saxicola insignis, Hodgs. in Gray's Zool. Misc. p. 83 (1844, descr. null.). Pratincola insignis, Hodgs., Blyth, J. A. S. B. xvi, p. 129 (1847) ; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 127; Hume, S. F. v, pp. 132, 496, vii, pp. 454, 519; id. Cat. no. 485 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. iv, p. 183. Pratincola robustior, C. H. T. and G. F. L. Marshall, S. F. iii, p. 330.
The Large Bush-Chat, Jerd.
Coloration. Male. In winter the lores, under the eyes, and the whole of the ear-coverts are deep black ; forehead, crown, and nape black with small fulvous edges ; mantle, back, and rump, black with broad fulvous edges; upper tail-coverts white dashed with rusty ; wing-coverts white next the body, black elsewhere ; the lesser coverts near the edge of the wing fringed with fulvous ; primary-coverts with the basal, half black, the terminal half white; quills blackish, all of them broadly white at base, except the last two or three primaries and the first secondary, the primaries and secondaries narrowly, the tertiaries broadly, edged with fulvous; tail black, with concealed-white bases to the inner webs ; point of the chin and a narrow stripe along the base of the mandible black; throat, extending laterally to the sides of the neck, white, more or less marked with rusty; remainder of the lower plumage rusty ferruginous, the breast marked with some broad black streaks, the abdomen paler; under tail-coverts pale fulvous-white; under wing-coverts black edged with white ; axillaries white, with the bases of the feathers blackish.
In summer, judging from the only specimen I have seen (one collected by Hodgson at Segowlie, and figured by him), the fulvous margins on the upper plumage are cast and this part becomes black, the black streaks on the breast are absent, and there is no rusty either on the throat or the upper tail-coverts. Hodgson's bird appears to have been obtained on the 10th January, but it seems nevertheless to be in full well-worn summer plumage, and there may be some mistake about the date.
Female. In winter, and probably in summer also, the upper plumage is brown, each feather margined with dull fulvous; upper tail-coverts rusty; tail brown, with fulvous margins and tips and with no white at the base; wing-coverts dark brown, margined and tipped with fulvous; the innermost greater coverts and the last tertiary chiefly white; quills dark brown, with small dull white bases and margined with fulvous; sides of the head and neck, lores, and above the eye dull fulvous, the ear-coverts rufescent; the whole lower plumage rusty brown, darker on the breast, which sometimes has a few dark-brown streaks.
A young male obtained in December has the wings, tail, and upper plumage similar to the same parts of the adult male in winter, but the lower plumage is that of the female and the ear-coverts are nearly black.
The male has the iris deep brown, the bill and legs black ; the female has the bill blackish brown, horny at base of the lower mandible (Cleveland).
Length about 6.5; tail 24; wing 3.6; tarsus 1.1; bill from gape .85.
Distribution. A rare species, occurring on the plains of Northern India from Cawnpore to the Bhutan Doars. The Marshalls procured it near Cawnpore in February; Mr. Cleveland in the Gorakhpur and Basti districts in October and December; Hodgson at Segowlie, as already mentioned; and Mandelli in the lower hills of Sikhim and the Bhutan Doars in April. The summer-quarters of this species are not known, but lie probably in the Central hills of Nepal and Sikhim.
Habits, &c. This Bush-Chat is found in flat open country thickly dotted with cane-fields, which appear to be its favourite haunts.