121. Sardinian Warbler.
Sylvia melanocephala (Gmel.), Syst. Nat. 1, p. 970 (1788) ; (Gould), B. of B. ii. pl. 123 ; Dresser, ii. p. 401, pl. 62 ; Seebohm, Cat. B. Br. Brit. Mus. v. p. 29.
Fauvette Melanocephale, French ; Tutinegra dos vallados, Portug. ; Palmerilla, Span. ; Occhio rosso, Ital.
Male ad. (Turkey). Upper parts dark slate-grey, shading into jet black on the nape, head, and ear-coverts ; quills blackish externally narrowly, and wing-coverts more broadly margined with slate-grey ; tail rounded, black, the outer feather with the outer web and tip white, the second and third also tipped with white ; under parts white, the breast, flanks, and under wing-coverts washed with blue-grey ; bill brownish horn, yellowish at the base of the lower mandible ; legs dark brown ; iris orange-red, the edge of the eyelid vermilion. Culmen 0.52, wing 2.15, tail 2.35, tarsus 0.82 inch ; first primary 0.95 inch less than the second, the third longest, the fourth nearly equal. The female has the upper parts brownish grey, the head faintly tinged with slate-grey, the chin, throat, and centre of the abdomen white, the rest of the under parts dull greyish brown. The young bird scarcely differs from the female.
Hab. The Mediterranean area, from Portugal, Spain, and S. France to Asia Minor and Palestine ; wintering in North Africa.
Inhabits both the plains and hills in bushy and scrub-covered localities, and is partial to cactus thickets and gardens. It skulks and creeps about amongst the bushes, and is not easy to be seen. It feeds chiefly on insects but also on fruit and the seeds of the pepper-tree. Its usual call-note is loud and harsh, resembling the winding of a clock, but it has another note, resembling the syllables chuck, chuck, chuck, and its song is a low rather melodious warble. When flying the tail is spread, but is closed when it alights. Its nest is placed in a bush, usually an evergreen, three or four feet from the ground, and is constructed of fine bents, rootlets, and a little cottony sub¬stance, and lined with fine roots and a few hairs. The eggs vary greatly, being either like those of a Whitethroat with clearer and darker markings, creamy-white blotched with sandy-brown or freckled with reddish, or white with violet-grey shell markings and dark red spots. In size they average about 0.61 by 0.55, and are deposited from the end of April to the middle of June.
121. Sylvia melanocephala
121. Sardinian Warbler.