610. Pratincola maura.
The Indian Bush-Chat.
Motacilla maura, Pall. Reis. Russ. Reichs, ii, p. 708 (1773). Saxicola saturatior, Hodgs. in Gray's Zool. Misc. p. 83 (1844). Pratincola indica, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xvi, p. 129 (1847) ; id. Cat. p. 170; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 124; Cabanis, Journ. f. Orn. 1873, p. 359; Severtz. S. F. iii, p. 429 ; Anders. Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 618; Hume, Cat. no. 483; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 200. Pratincola albosuperciliaris, Hume, S. F. i, p. 307 (1873). Pratincola rubicola (Linn.), apud Hums, N. & F. p. 316; Hume & Henders. Lah. to Yark. p. 204. Pratincola maura (Pall.), Sharpe, Cat. B. M. iv, p. 188 ; Oates, B. B. i, p. 279; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 48.
Adavi-kampa-nalanchi, Adavi-kampa-jitta, Tel.
Coloration. Male. After the autumn moult the forehead, crown, naps, hind neck, back, scapulars, and upper rump are black, with broad fulvous or rufous margins to the feathers; the innermost wing-coverts pure white ; the remaining upper wing-coverts black, edged with rufous ; primary-coverts and winglet black, edged with whitish; quills dark brown, the primaries narrowly, the other quills broadly, edged with rufous on the outer web and tip; lower rump and tail-coverts white, frequently suffused with orange-rufous ; tail black, narrowly edged with pale rufous ; the extreme bases of the feathers white ; lores, sides of the head, chin, and throat black, most of the feathers edged with fulvous; a large patch of white on each side of the neck; breast orange-rufous; remainder of the lower plumage paler rufous ; under wing-coverts and axillaries black with narrow white tips. In summer the margins of the feathers of the black portions of the plumage are almost entirely lost, and these parts become deep black.
Female. After the autumn moult the upper plumage, wings, and tail resemble those parts in the male, but the black is everywhere replaced by brown and the upper tail-coverts are uniform pale rufous; the lores, ear-coverts, and round the eye are dusky; supercilium, chin, and throat pale fulvous; remainder of lower plumage pale orange-rufous ; no white on the side of the neck; under wing-coverts and axillaries fulvous. In summer the edges of the feathers are much worn down, and the plumage is paler.'
The nestling has the upper plumage brown, the head and neck streaked with fulvous, the back broadly edged with fulvous ; lower part of the rump and upper tail-coverts bright ferruginous ; the lower plumage fulvous, with brown mottlings on the breast. After the first autumn moult the young male has the lower plumage very bright chestnut, but resembles the adult in other respects.
Bill, legs, and feet black; iris dark brown.
Length about 5; tail 1.9; wing 2.8; tarsus .8; bill from gape .65.
This species differs from the European P. rubicola in having the upper tail-coverts streakless, and the under wing-coverts and axillaries very narrowly tipped with white.
Although I have assigned Pallas's name to the Indian Bush-Chat, I am by no means satisfied that the Siberian and Indian birds are identical, nor is it certain that any of the Bush-Chats which visit the plains of India in the winter cross over to the north of the Himalayas in the summer. The Indian Bush-Chat breeds so abundantly at all moderate levels in the Himalayas that it is not improbable that the Himalayas form the northern limit of its range. Siberian specimens of Bush-Chats are not very numerous, but all I have seen are so intensely black on the head and back, so intensely rufous on the breast, and, moreover, so small, the wing not exceeding 2.6 in length, that I have not been able to match them with any breeding bird from the Himalayas, except in the case of one bird from the interior of Sikhim. This small dark race occurs also in Turkestan.
Distribution. A winter visitor to every portion of the Empire except the southern portion of the peninsula of India south of Mysore. The most southern point from which I have seen a specimen of this species is Belgaum ; but Hume says (S. E. x, p. 389) that it is reported common from South-west Mysore. It occurs in the Andamans.
In the summer this species is found throughout the Himalayas, from Afghanistan to Assam, up to 5000 feet. Should the Indian bird prove identical with the Siberian form, its range will extend to Japan and China on the east and to Northern Russia on the west. Specimens from Abyssinia are quite inseparable from Indian birds.
Habits, &c. Breeds in the Himalayas at all heights up to about 5000 feet, constructing a nest of grass and moss in small shrubs or in holes of walls, and laying four or five eggs, which are pale green marked with brownish red, and measure about .7 by .55.