666. Merula maxima.
The Central-Asian Blackbird.
Merula vulgaris ?, Jerdon, Ibis, 1872, p. 137. Merula vulgaris, Bay, Scully, S. F. iv, p. 139. Merula vulgaris, Leach, Hume, Cat. no. 359 bis. Merula maxima, Seebohm, Cat. B. M. v, p. 405 (1881) ; St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 161.
Coloration. Male. Entirely black throughout.
Female. Upper plumage dark slaty brown with an olive tinge; tail black; wings dark brown, all the feathers edged with olivaceous ; lores dark brown, with a whitish line over them; sides of the head ashy brown, the lower portion of the ear-coverts with white shafts; lower plumage slaty grey, the chin, throat, and breast streaked with blackish; axillaries and under wing-coverts uniform slaty brown.
A young bird procured by Jerdon in Kashmir is black; but the abdomen, vent, thighs, under tail-coverts, and under wing-coverts are barred with buff, and the feathers of the rump and upper tail-coverts are tipped with the same.
The male has the bill yellow, tip of upper mandible blackish ; legs and feet dark brown; claws black (Scully).
The female has the bill brownish black ; legs and feet blackish brown ; claws black. (Scully).
Length about 11; tail 4.8 to 5.15 ; wing 5.4 to 5.9 ; tarsus 1.45 ; bill from gape 1.2. Scully gives the length of the tail of a female bird of this species as 5.6 ; but this is probably a misprint, as the tail of a male, as given by the same author, is only 5.15.
This species differs from its European ally in being much larger, the wing in Merula vulgaris being seldom more than 5 inches and the tail 4.5 inches.
Distribution. I have examined specimens of this Blackbird from Kashmir, Kandahar, Bala Murghab, Tashkend, and Tarkand. It meets M. vulgarism Persia, and both species occur in that country.
Habits, &c. According to Scully, this bird is said not to be uncommon during the winter near Kashgarh and Yarkand. It seemed to keep principally among Eleagnus trees and thorn-bushes in the vicinity of unfrozen bits of water. It migrated northwards in spring. St. John states that it is common about Kandahar.
* M. kessleri, Prjev., was obtained by Mandelli in Tibet (S. F. v, p. 484), not far from the Sikhim frontier. In the male the abdomen and flanks are deep chestnut, in the female dull chestnut-brown; in both sexes the rump is dull rufous, the wings and tail nearly black ; the head and breast in the male are black or dark brown, in the female paler and streaked on the throat. Wing 5.7; tail 4.7.