1088. Metaponia pusilla

(1088) Metaponia pusilla (Pall.).
Metaponia pusilla, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iii, p. 158.
This pretty little Finch breeds from the Caucasus through the mountains of Central Asia to Afghanistan, Kashmir, Ladak and Western Tibet, but it does not occur in Southern Tibet. Fulton obtained it breeding in Birch-forest at 12,000 feet in Chitral. Meinertzhagen found it breeding at Khurdang village, 13,500 feet, but says that it does not ascend above 13,600 feet. Above Quetta it undoubtedly breeds down to 9,000 feet, but in some parts of Kashmir it breeds much lower still, and Rattray obtained a nest with four eggs at Gond at 6,500 feet elevation.
The birds haunt the great Juniper and stunted Birch-covered plateaus of the Himalayas or the hill-sides covered with grass and scrub, seeming to be very partial to Rose-brambles for breeding in, Osmaston remarks (Ibis, 1925, p. 694):—“All the nests found were, without exception, built in wild rose-bushes from three to five feet from the ground” on the dry hill-sides. Many nests are also to be found in Juniper-busbes and trees, Whistler having taken two such nests, built at six feet from the ground on Juniper-trees by the road¬side between Kycbang and Jispar in Lahul. The height generally selected for the nest seems to be from two feet upwards, and there are no records of its breeding on the ground, even on banks.
Elsewhere (Jonrn. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xxxi, p. 190, 1926) the same writer remarks :—“The Gold-fronted Finch is curiously local in these hills (Dras and Suru Valleys). They breed chiefly at an elevation of 11,000 feet, and where they breed a good many nests may be generally found, but many similar and apparently suitable places will bo found unoccupied. They are very partial to wild rose-bushes as nesting sites, but they occasionally build also in dwarf Willows and still more rarely on the face of steep rocks.”
The nest is a neat, compact little cup made of fine grasses, fibres and roots, sometimes well plastered over with spiders’ webs and excreta, sometimes well matted with vegetable down and wool (Whistler), and always well lined with soft vegetable down or wool, very rarely mixed with a little horsehair. The nests are smaller, stouter and better built than those of the Tibetan Twite, and are of more varied material outwardly. One nest taken by Osmaston at 11,000 feet near Umba (Ladakh) was made of grass only, but even this was matted well together with vegetable down.
They are very late breeders. Rattray took one nest at Gond on the 26th May, but most birds breed in July and many in August, Osmaston obtaining two clutches of five and four fresh eggs on the 10th of that month.
The eggs are similar to those of the Twites, but smaller and often broader in proportion to their length. Unspotted pale blue eggs are not very rare and one clutch of four taken by Osmaston are all of this description. Another clutch taken by Ward in Astore Las a pure white ground.
The normal clutch is four, three or five being laid occasionally.
Sixty eggs average 17.3 x 12.6 mm. : maxima 19.0 x 13.9 mm. ; minima 15.4 x 12.2 and 16.3 x 11.5 mm.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 3. 1934.
Title in Book: 
1088. Metaponia pusilla
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Gold Fronted Finch
Red-fronted Serin
Serinus pusillus
Vol. 3
Term name: 

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