104. Argya earlii.
The Striated Babbler.
Malacocercus earlii, Blyth, J. A. 8. B. xiii, p. 369 (1844): id. Cat. p. 141; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 222. Chatarrhoea earlii (Blyth), Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 68; Hume, N. & E. p. 275; Hume & Henders. Lah. to Yark. pl. x; Hume, Cat. no. 439 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 182; Hume, 8. F. xi, p. 174. Crateropus earlii (Blyth), Oates, B. B. i, p. 30. Argya earlii (Blyth), Sharpe, Cat. B. M. vii, p. 392; Oates in Hume's N.& E.2nd. ed.i, p. 68.
The Striated Reed-Babbler, Jerd.; Burra-phenga, Hindi.
Coloration. Upper plumage brown tinged with rufous, the feathers of the crown largely centred with very dark brown, those of the back with very dark shaft-stripes; upper tail-coverts obsoletely dark-shafted; tail brown, the shafts darker and all the feathers cross-rayed ; wings brown, the lesser coverts centred darker ; lores grey ; cheeks and ear-coverts plain rufescent; chin, throat, and breast the same, with dark shaft-stripes increasing in size from the chin downwards ; remainder of lower plumage pale buffy-brown, becoming albescent in the middle of the abdomen.
Iris bright yellow; eyelid plumbeous ; bill fleshy yellow, the culmen, nostril, and the tip of both mandibles horn-colour; mouth yellow ; legs plumbeous ; claws pinkish.
Length about 9.5; tail 4.8; wing 3.5; tarsus 1.3; bill from gape 1.1.
Distribution. This Babbler occurs over a considerable portion of Sind from Sehwan down to the Runn of Cutch. It is also found in the Saharunpur district and thence skirts the plains at the base of the Himalayas as far as Behar, whence it commences to spread over Bengal, extending up the Assam valley, and southwards to Southern Pegu, where it is abundant.
Habits, &c. This species is found only in the plains where there are large expanses of heavy grass, and lives in small parties that feed on the ground or climb about in the grass. "When one bird flies across the open, the others follow it one by one, skimming near the ground with laboured flight and repeating a monotonous note, which, however, is not unpleasant when heard in the vast lonely plains which this bird frequents. It breeds throughout the rains, or from April to October, or even later, making its nest in a clump of grass and laying three eggs, which measure .88 by .7.