771. Metoponia pusilla.
The Gold-fronted Finch.
Passer pusillus, Pallas, Zoogr. Ross.-Asiat. ii, p. 28 (1811). Serinus aurifrons, Blyth, Cat. p. 125 (1849). Metoponia pusilla (Pall.), Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 494 ; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 410; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. ii, p. 61 ; Hume & Headers. Lah. to Yark. p. 259 ; Hume, N. & E. p. 473 ; Brooks, J. A. S. B. xli, pt. ii, p. 84 ; Hume, Cat. no. 751 ; Wardlaw Ramsay, Ibis, 1880, p. 67; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 86, 1882, p. 284; Scully, Ibis, 1881, p. 578; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 155. Serinus pusillus (Pall.), Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xii, p. 373.
The Gold-headed Finch, Jerd.
Coloration. Male. After the autumn moult the forehead and anterior portion of crown are crimson ; remainder of crown, nape, and sides of the neck black, with broad grey fringes ; sides of the bead, chin, throat, and upper breast black, with narrow grey fringes ; back, scapulars, and rump black, with broad yellowish margins ; the shorter upper tail-coverts golden yellow, with a subterminal black mark and white tip; longer coverts black, margined with white ; tail black, the outer webs of feathers basally yellow, margined with white elsewhere ; lesser and median wing-coverts yellow, the longer ones tipped white, and the feathers more or less black in the middle ; greater coverts black, broadly tipped yellowish white ; primaries black, edged with yellow ; the remaining quills black, broadly edged with dull white on the terminal half of outer web ; lower plumage from the breast downwards yellowish streaked with black ; under wing-coverts and axillaries bright yellow. In spring and autumn the fringes and margins are everywhere reduced or cast off, and the plumage becomes darker.
Female. Closely resembles the male.
The nestling is fulvous-brown streaked with brown above ; below fulvous, with a few streaks, and tinged with yellow on the throat; the wings and tail are margined with paler yellow than in the adult. After the first autumn moult the plumage resembles that of the adult, but there is no black on the head, throat, and breast, this colour being gradually acquired during the winter. At the end of the first winter the young resemble the adult in all respects, but have no red on the forehead, this red being acquired at the second autumn moult.
Bill dull black; gape whitish ; iris very dark brown ; legs and feet black (Hume).
Length 5 ; tail 2.4; wing 3.1; tarsus .55; bill from gape .35.
Distribution. Kashmir and the Himalayas from Afghanistan to Garhwal, at heights from 5000 to 10,000 feet according to season. This Finch extends westwards to the Caucasus and Asia Minor and northwards to Turkestan.
Habits, &c. Breeds in Kashmir and Afghanistan in June and July, constructing a cup-shaped nest of grass and fibres and lined with wool, feathers, and hair. The eggs are described as being dull stone-white, marked with red-brown spots about the larger end, and one egg measured .65 by .49.