(492) Saxicola caprata burmanica.
The Burmese Stone-Chat.
Saxicola caprata burmanica Stuart Baker, Bull. B. O. C, xliii, p. 9 (1923) (Pegu).
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Adult male. Whole plumage black with the exception of the upper and lower tail-coverts and the feathers of the wing next the back which are white, the latter forming a very conspicuous patch.
After the autumn moult the feathers of the back and breast are fringed with rufous-brown, making these parts look quite brown rather than black.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown, eyelids plumbeous; bill, legs and feet black.
Measurements. Total length about 140 mm.; wing 67 to 72 mm.; tail 44 to 50 mm.; tarsus 22 to 23 mm.; culmen 11 to 11.5 mm.
Female. Upper plumage greyish brown, with dark brown mesial streaks; the lower back tinged with rufous; upper tail-coverts ferruginous; tail dark brown, obsoletely edged paler; lores, forehead, chin and throat brownish grey, gradually darkening on breast and becoming more rusty, or fulvous, on abdomen and posterior flanks; the breast, upper abdomen and flanks streaked to a varying degree with dark brown, sometimes altogether absent; wing-coverts and quills dark brown edged with pale rufous; under tail-coverts pale rufescent.
In winter the grey margins are very broad and make the whole bird look more grey.
Young male. Like the female but much darker and more richly coloured above, below darker and boldly streaked with very dark brown; the white wing-patch well developed.
Nestling very dark brown above, each feather spotted with fulvous; below dark brown spotted with dull fulvous rufescent; the white wing-patch of the male is present to some extent from the very first.
This form of caprata is very close to the true S. caprata caprata but is distinctly bigger, the wing-measurements of the latter being 63 to 65 mm., in one instance, only, 67 mm.; the culmen measures 10 to 11 mm.
Distribution. The whole of Burma, Yunnan and Assam, South of the Brahmaputra.
Nidification. There is very little on record about the breeding of this race of S. caprata. Messrs. Harington, Hopwood, and others found it breeding in the Chin and Kachin Hills in April and May. Mr. J. T. Mills and I found it breeding in the Hills of South Assam, and Oates took its nests in Pegu. The nest is the usual rough pad of grass and roots, generally lined with hair or fur of some kind, less often with feathers. It is placed in a hole in a bank, tree or wall or actually on the ground in a natural hollow under the shelter of a bush or tuft of grass. The eggs number three to five and are indistinguishable from those of the other subspecies. The few I have seen measure about 18.5 x 13.7 mm.
They breed from the level of the Plains up to at least 6,000 ft.
Habits. The Pied Chat is extremely common in most parts of Burma in the hills and plains alike, up to some 4,000 ft., above which it is less abundant. It frequents open country and is not found in heavily forested areas, but it may be seen in grass-lands and all kinds of thin bush, cultivated and serai-cultivated country. It has the usual habits of the family, catching insects on the ground by making little sallies from some point of vantage. It constantly spreads and flirts its tail up and down like the rest of the genus.