(577) Turdus ruficollis.
The Red-throated Thrush.
Turdus ruficollis Pall., Reis. Buss. Reichs, in, p. 694(1776) (Dauria). Merula ruficollis. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 130.
Vernacular names. Daokat gajao (Cachari).
Description.— Adult male. Whole upper plumage and wing-coverts light ashy brown; the centres oil the feathers sometimes darker on the forehead and crown; greater wing-coverts and quills dark brown edged with silvery ashy ; tail rufous, the central tail-feathers broadly, the lateral feathers successively more narrowly tipped with dark brown; supercilium, cheeks, chin, throat and breast chestnut, this colour mingling with the ashy ear-coverts and sides of the neck ; a few black specks down each side of the chin and throat; lower plumage from breast white, the sides of the breast and flanks mottled with dark ashy and the bases of the under tail-coverts chestnut; axillaries and under wing-coverts orange-brown. In Winter the chestnut feathers are fringed with whitish.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill yellow, rather dull in tint and with the culmen and tip dark brown ; legs and feet grey to fleshy-brown.
Measurements. Wing 133 to 143 mm.; tail 101 to 105 mm.; tarsus about 35 mm.; culmen about 18 to 19 mm.
Female. Like the male but the chestnut of breast etc. paler, and much mottled with white and more or less heavily spotted with black. Very old females are hardly distinguishable from males.
Colours of soft parts and Measurements similar to the male but very slightly smaller.
Young male like the female but with less rufous.
Distribution. Eastern Siberia and possibly Northern China, in winter South to India from Kashmir to Assam, Northern Burma and South China.
Habits. The Bed-throated Thrush is found in the Eastern Sub-Himalayas and adjacent plains in very great numbers between October and March. At this time they associate in very large flocks and Dr. Coltart and I have frequently seen flocks of two to three hundred at Margherita. They are birds of the open country but prefer such as is surrounded by forest or, at least, plentifully furnished with large trees. They teed for the most pare on the ground, eating grain, berries and insects, but when disturbed fly with great swiftness to the nearest tall tree, uttering a loud, but sweet, alarm-cry as they rise. They are also very active on toot and when pursuing termites show great energy and accuracy in seizing their winged prey, running along the ground and leaping in the air to catch them as they rise.
I see no reason to consider atrogularis to be a race of this bird. It is true they are often found together, for they are Winter visitors, coming in great numbers at about the same time and haunting the same kind of country but I have never seen an adult bird which could not be ascribed to one or the other species without difficulty. Very old males occasionally have the red breast very deeply coloured and even with a little black on the lower breast, but I have never seen any specimen of the Black-throated Thrush with any signs of red upon its throat or breast.