Tichodroma muraria, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 184 (1766) ; Naum. v. p. 421, Taf. 141 ; Gould, B. of E. iii. pl. 239 ; Dresser, iii. p. 207, pl. 123 ; Gadow, Cat. B. Br. Mus. viii. p. 331 ; Oates, F. Brit. Ind. Birds, i. p. 334 ; Saunders, p. 119 : Lilford, ii. p. 116, pl. 53 ; Baedeker, Eur. Eier. Vog. Taf. 43, No. 5, (eggs).
Grimpereau cle muraille, French ; Aranero, Span. ; Piccio murajola, Ital. ; Tsopanakos-kokkinos, Greek ; Alpen Mauerklette, German ; Stenolas, Russ.
Male ad. (Switzerland). Upper parts slate-grey, darker on the head and rump ; quills blackish tipped with white, the 2nd to the 5th with a basal and sub-apical white spot on the inner web, the 6th with a buff basal spot, the primaries with the outer web, and the wing-coverts almost entirely crimson ; tail black tipped with grey and white ; under parts slate-grey, the throat and tipper breast deep black ; bill curved, it and legs black ; iris brown. Culmen 1.25, wing 3.85, tail 2.3, tarsus 0.9 inch. The female is clearer grey and has less black on the throat. In winter both sexes have the upper parts clearer grey and the throat is white, not black. The young resemble the adult in winter dress but are duller and have the bill shorter and quite straight.
Hab. The alpine regions of Central and South Europe, Asia and North Africa ; a rare straggler to Great Britain.
Frequents the faces of rocks and precipices, flitting and creep¬ing about them as the Creeper does the trunks and branches of trees in search of its insect-food, and, like that bird, is active and continually on the move with a side-long, crab-like motion, ex¬panding and closing its wings like a large butterfly. As a rule it is wild and shy, and by no means easy to secure. Its call-note is said to be not unlike that of the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, resembling the syllables pli-pli-pli-pli, and its Creeper-like song consists of several short, loud, melodious strophes in which the notes di didi zaa are frequently repeated with variations. During the summer it frequents the mountains at considerable altitudes, descending into the valleys on the approach of winter. It breeds in the crannies and fissures of rocks, the nest being a mass of moss, hair, wool, &c., like a large Tree-Creeper’s nest, and the eggs, 3 or 4 in number, are white, finely dotted with brownish red, oval in shape, and measure about 0.8 by 0.6. They are usually deposited early in June.
289. Tichodroma muraria