322. Sitta tephronota.
The Eastern Rock Nuthatch.
Sitta syriaca (Ehrenb.),in part, apud Horsf. M. Cat. ii, p. 721; See¬bohm, Ibis, 1883, p. 21; Gadow, Cat. B. M. viii, p. 340. Sitta tephronota, Sharpe, A. M. N. H. (4) x, p. 450 (1872); Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. i, p. 195. Sitta rupicola, Blanf. Ibis, 1873, p. 87; id. E. Pers. ii, p. 225, pt. xv, fig. 2. Sitta neumayeri, Michah. in part, Hume, Cat. no. 248 quint.; Gadow, Cat. B. M. viii, p. 345; Barnes, S. F. ix, pp. 216, 453.
Coloration. Whole upper plumage, wing-coverts, secondaries, and tertiaries ashy blue; a broad black band from the nostril through the eye to the shoulder; primaries pale brown ; central tail-feathers pale ashy blue, the others brown, broadly edged with pale ashy blue on the outer webs, this colour gradually changing to pale fulvous, the outermost feather having the inner web brown with a fulvous tip and the outer web fulvous with a brown tip; sides of the head and the lower plumage fulvous, pale on the throat and sides of the head, gradually getting darker and becoming strongly tinged with pink on the lower abdomen, vent, flanks, and under tail-coverts, these last being centred with ashy.
Bill horny brown, darker at tip; legs clay-slate (Barnes); iris dark brown (Murray).
Length about 6.5; tail 2.1; wing 3 to 3.6; tarsus .9; bill from gape 1.1.
Distribution. Apparently common in Baluchistan, but not yet known to occur in Sind or the Punjab. To the west this species extends to Persia, and to the north through Afghanistan to Kashghar and Central Asia.
Habits, &c. Confined chiefly, if not entirely, to rocks, over which it climbs with great facility. Breeds in Afghanistan in March and April. According to Barnes the nest is constructed in the holes both of rocks and trees. When a rock is selected, the hole is lined with agglutinated mud and resin, this material being carried out in the form of a cone to a distance of fully eight inches from the rock. The nest is usually lined with camel-hair. The bird has a great fondness for ornamentation, and decorates its nest for some distance round with feathers. The eggs are four or five in number, smooth, and only moderately glossy. The groundcolour is pure white, and the egg is thinly speckled, chiefly at the large end, with pale red. In size the eggs average .87 by .57.