321. Sitta castaneiventris.
The Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch.
Sitta castaneoventris, Frankl. P. Z. S. 1831, p. 121; Blyth, Cat. p. 190; Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 721 ; Jerd. B. I. i, p. 380; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 209; Hume, Cat. no. 250; Davidson, S. F. x, p. 300; Davison, S. F. x, p. 303; Gadow, Cat. B. M. viii, p. 351; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 140; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. i, p. 194.
Coloration. Male. A black streak from the nostril through the eye to the shoulder; lores, cheeks, ear-coverts, and chin white; the whole upper plumage, wing-coverts, and visible portion of closed wings slaty blue; the whole lower plumage uniform dark chestnut-bay; under tail-coverts chestnut centred with ashy; under wing-coverts black, followed by a white patch on the primaries visible only from below; middle tail-feathers ashy blue; the next two black, edged and tipped with ashy blue; the others with a subterminal white patch on the inner webs, and generally with a white band on the outer web of the outermost feather.
Female. Resembles the male, but is pale chestnut below, and the white on the face is not so sharply defined.
Legs and feet dark greenish plumbeous; base of lower mandible and base of culmen at forehead pale plumbeous ; rest of bill black ; iris dark brown (Davison).
Length rather more than 5; tail 1.5 ; wing 3 ; tarsus .7 ; bill from gape .85.
Distinguished from S. cinnamomeiventris by its smaller size, paler coloration below, and by the different colour of the under tail-coverts.
Distribution. The greater portion of the continent of India, from the base of the Himalayas to the Wynaad. The western limits appear to be a line roughly drawn from Umballa through Dungarpur in the Meywar State to Khandesh; and the eastern, a line drawn north and south through the Rajmehal hills.
Habits, &c. Probably a resident in the whole of the above tract. The nest has been found at Umballa, Allahabad, and Sitapur, in which places the breeding-season appears to extend from February to September. This nest is merely a few dead leaves at the bottom of a hole in a tree, the entrance to which is, as usual, reduced in size by the application of mud-plaster. The eggs are four in number, white, marked, chiefly at the large end, with brick-red and reddish lilac, and they measure .67 by .52.
Three distinct species of Rock-Nuthatches have hitherto been confounded together. S. syriaca, Ehrenb., from Syria, may be known by its large size, wing 3.8, first primary 1.3, and by the absence of all fulvous on the tail. S. neumayeri, Michah., may be distinguished from S. syriaca by its smaller size, wing 3 to 3.3, first primary 1.0, and by the presence of a large amount of fulvous on the tail. It occurs in Macedonia, Turkey, and Asia Minor.
Both these species hare the chin, throat, breast, and sides of the
head pure white.
The third species, S. tephronota, which occurs from Persia to Central Asia, is of about the same size as S. neumayeri, but has the chin, throat, breast, and sides of the head pale fulvous, the tail is marked with fulvous as in that species, and the upper plumage is a pale ashy blue.