Genus PRATINCOLA

The genus Pratincola contains a considerable number of species of wide distribution, some of which are migratory and others resident. They are mostly familiar birds, displaying little fear, and one or more species are generally common in every part of the Empire except the tracts covered with forest.

In Pratincola the bill is rather less than half the length of the head, broad at base and well notched; the rictal bristles are very strong ; the wing is rather sharp, and the first primary varies from one half to one third the length of the second ; the tail is shorter than the wing and slightly rounded, and the tarsus is moderate in length. The sexes are invariably dissimilar, and the seasonal changes of plumage are very marked.

Key to the Species *.

a. Plumage entirely black and white.
a1. Wing about 2.8; bill from nostril to tip .3…………………….P. caprata p. 59.
b1. Wing about 3 ; bill from nostril to tip .4…………………….P. atrata p. 60.
b. Plumage not entirely black and white.
c1. Chin and throat black.
a2. No white on tail except at extreme base…………………….P. maura p. 61.
b2. Inner web3 of tail-feathers white…………………….P. leucura p. 63.
d1. Chin, throat, and upper tail-coverts white or pale rufous.
c2. Inner webs of tail-feathers white…………………….P. macrorhyncha,
d2. Inner webs of tail-feathers black or brown. [p. 63.
a3. Under wing-coverts and axillaries black broadly edged with white ; wing 3.6…………………….P. insignis, p. 64.
b3. Under wing-coverts and axillaries rufous or fulvous ; wing 26…………………….P. maura ,p. 61., P. leucura p. 63.
e1. Chin and throat brown ; upper tail-coverts deep ferruginous.
e2. Wing about 2.8…………………….P. caprata p. 59.
f2. Wing about 3…………………….P. atrata p. 60.

*I exclude the following species from the Indian list:—

PRATINCOLA ROBUSTA, Tristram. Pratincola robusta, Tristram, Ibis, 1870, p. 497; Hume, S. F. ix, p. 133. The type of this species, said to have been procured in Mysore by Mr. H. E. Fox more than twenty years ago, has been obligingly lent to me by Canon Tristram. It is identical with the larger Bush-Chat of Madagascar, and both Sharpe and Tristram agree with me in this identification. There are two Bush-Chats of this type in Madagascar, agreeing in coloration but differing in size. To one of these, but to which will probably never be satisfactorily determined, Linnaeus assigned the name Motacilla sybilla (Syst. Nat. i, p. 337). I propose, therefore, that Linnaeus's name should be retained for the. smaller bird, with wing 2.5 or 2.6, and Tristram's name for the larger, with wing 2.9.

The occurrence of P. robusta in India must, for the present I think, be viewed with a certain amount of distrust, and I therefore omit it from my list. The following is a description of the type, which appears to bo a male, judging from its fine colour: —

The breast and sides of the body are a deep cinnamon-rufous, sharply demarcated from the pure white of the abdomen, which extends to the vent and under tail-coverts ; the axillaries and under wing-coverts are white with dark bases; the tail is black; the other parts of the plumage resemble the same parts in P. maura and P. leucura in autumn plumage.

BookTitle: 
The Fauna Of British India including Ceylon and Burma
Reference: 
OATES EW. The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Vol.2 1890.
Title in Book: 
Genus PRATINCOLA
Book Author: 
Eugene William Oates, Edited by William Thomas Blanford
Year: 
1890
Page No: 
58
M_ID: 
28380
M_SN: 
Saxicola
Volume: 
Vol. 2
Term name: 
id: 
832

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