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From the province of Mymunseng Mr. Frith has presented the Society with a beautiful specimen, having the back deep black !
B. viridis, (Gm.), founded on Brown's figure, pl. 33 : B. melanocephala, Savi, and also of Sykes; probably B. beema, Sykes; and B. neglecta, melanocephala, et flava, of Jerdon's list ;* Blue-headed Wagtail of Latham ; and his Wagtail Lark is the female of either this or the next species. In a very interesting paper on the birds of Corfu, &c. (Ann. Mag. N. H. 1843, p. 416), it is stated that the Yellow Wagtail of that part differs from the English one, in having the head in the breeding season of a jet-black, at other times of a lead-colour. This black-headed species is common in Afghanistan; and it would seem also to be that found generally in peninsular India, and in the west ; but never in Lower Bengal, that I am aware of. Having no specimens, I cannot point out any difference that its hyemal garb may exhibit from that of the next species.
B. flava (? Lin.): Motacilla bistrigata, Raffles ; perhaps B. beema, Sykes ; B. cinereocapilla (?), of southern Europe ; B. neglecta (?), Gould. Several species of Budytes are puzzling in the extreme, from their general similarity combined with the variation to which each is subject. Mr. Gould first distinguished the common British species from that equally common on the European continent, both of which had been confounded under B. flava, (Lin.); as he likewise did the British and continental Pied Wagtails, that had been confounded under Mot. alba ; and the respective Rock Pipits which had been alike classed as Anthus aquaticus.+ It is very curious and remarkable that, in each of these instances, the common British species is extremely rare (even if they have all been yet noticed,) in the neighbouring continental counries, and vice versa. Fortunately, the Society now possesses fine specimens of each of the six, which enables me the better to form an opinion respecting their Indian equally near affines. In the common British Budytes, now B. Raii, Pr. Bonap., particularly in summer
Mr. Jerdon now considers these to be the same, vide Madr. Journ. No. xxxi, 132. + The American species figured under this name in the Fauna Americana-borealis, is distinct again, being the A. ludovicianus, Bonap.
Since writing the above, I have come to the conclusion that two Norwegian specimens sent as A. obscurus, are neither that species nor A. aquaticus ; but merely dark specimens of A. pratensis in summer dress, shot late in the season.
dress, the male has the whole head bright yellowish, very yellow in some towards the forehead, and there is constantly a bright yellow supercilium. In B. flava, (Lin.), v. neglecta, Gould, the common species of northern Europe, the head is of a dull ash-colour, with it is said invariably*--a white supercilium ; though this is so little developed in one of two Norwegian specimens before me, that I cannot but question its alleged permanency. In the Indian B. bistrigata, again, (which Mr. Strickland identifies with cinereocapilla of southern Europe,) the fully mature male in breeding plumage has the head and nape fine dark ashy, with no trace of supercilium ; the ear-coverts darker; and throat (or rather chin) white, spreading laterally to contrast with the dark ear-coverts : a specimen so coloured is mentioned in Mr. Jerdon's notice of his B. melanocephala, and supposed by him to be probably the female of that bird ; but younger specimens exhibit a white supercilium in every degree of development, and many of these certainly cannot be distinguished from the European flava ; which, after all, I suspect will prove to be the very same. Indeed, the note would seem to be quite similar, being, in both, weaker and less articulate than in B. Raii ; and it is more common to see these birds about watery places than is the case with the British species. But whatever its true name, the subject of the present notice is one of the commonest of Bengal birds, frequenting the open country in straggling flocks during the cold season, and disappearing as they assume the nuptial dress. On the Calcutta maidan, where a large herd of cattle are generally grazing, regardless of the hottest sun (which is a remarkable trait of Bos indicus), each one will commonly have its attendant Budytes keeping to the shadow of the beast's foot, watching for the insects which it rouses from the
at every step. Anthus, Bechstein : comprising Corydalla, Vigors, and Agrodoma, Swairsson. If any subdivisions could be admitted in this natural (and very difficult) group, the Tree Pipits would appear to have the best claim to be separated from the rest : the form to which the names Corydalla and Agrodoma have been applied, serving to connect the
“The grey-headed birds without a white ercilium are never found in the north of Europe.” Strickland, Ann. Mag. N. H., 1844, note to p. 115.
+ The plumage of the females of B. bistrigata is very much yellower, and more upproaching that of the males, chan in B. Raii.
Tree Pipits with those allied to A. pratensis, obscurus, &c.; though where to trace the line of separation, at all satisfactorily, seems quite impossible, albeit Mr. Swainson has classed his Anthus and Agrodoma in distinct and widely separated natural families. The Tree Pipits (to which, if it be thought necessary to separate them, the name Dendronanthus may be applied), are distinguished by shorter tarsi, a less elongated and more curved hind-claw, and a comparatively short and less slender bill than in many others: they resort to open woodlands, and perch often ; and their gait and general manners are different from those of other Pipits (as may be well observed by keeping them in confinement). Their actions are more deliberate, and they have not the habitual rapid run of other Pipits and Wagtails ; neither, in captivity, are they at all peckish and quarrelsomely disposed towards their companions, as is eminently the case with the Motacilla and Budytes genera, and with the Rock and Meadow Pipit of England and the species allied to them. I might point out other differences of the kind, the ensemble of which imparts a very distinct subgeneric character to the Tree Pipits; but such distinctions are not to be recognised in the dry skins with which the systematist is compelled principally to deal : and I shall proceed to range all the Indian species in Anthus proper, commencing with the arboreal Pipits, of which I think two species are before me.*
1. A. trivialis, (L.): A. arboreus, Bechstein. This species, the most migratory of the European Pipits, (or a near affine to it,) abounds in Lower Bengal during the cold season, and, it would seem, in suitable localities throughout the country : frequenting groves and gardens, with a disposition to be social, if not gregarious ; and where an extent of thin tree-jungle harbours them in considerable numbers, I have noticed that, towards evening, they commonly fly to and fro over their haunts in scattered parties; now perhaps two or three, then several, and then perchance a solitary bird, each frequently uttering a slight chirp, and often several descending to alight for a while near together on the same tree : this restlessness they will continue to evince till it is getting dark; and it would scarcely be guessed what bird it was, till one had been brought down. I never heard the species sing in this part of the world : and its (hyemal) dress is different from that with which we are more
• The Tree Pipits certainly approximate the American genus Seiurus.
familiar in Europe ; the upper-parts being uniform greenish-olive, with strongly marked dusky streaks on the crown, and slight dark centres to the dorsal feathers; and the breast-spots are very broad and black. A specimen from Nepal exhibits the summer plumage, having the upper-parts much paler and fulvescent, with the dark centres to the feathers considerably more developed ; and the breast-spots are less interse and Thrush-like.*
A specimen shot out of a flock by the river-side, by the memorable battle-field of Palási (Plassey), is perhaps distinct : the bill is larger ; the general size above the average of A. trivialis ; and there is much more of the dusky colour on the dorsal feathers (it being broader on each individual feather); but the plumage is considerably worn and abraded. The following description was taken of it when fresh. Length six inches and a half, by eleven inches; wing three and a half; tail two and threequarters;
eleven-sixteenths of an inch ; tarse three-quarters; hind-claw five-sixteenths.t Irides dark : bill dusky above, sullied carneous below ; feet light brownish-carneous. The ensemble of the upper-parts of this specimen differs much from either that of the nuptial or non-breeding dress of ordinary arboreus ; but I suspect it is merely the former, that had not been cast at the usual moulting period, but retained till the month of February, becoming proportionately abraded.
2. A. Richardi, Vieillot. This species must be very common in Lower Bengal, from the number occasionally brought and sold for “Ortolans’ in the Calcutta bazar, especially after the season for Calandrella brachydactyla has passed, and even so late as May: but in the few excursions which I have made, I have never chanced to fall in with them at all plentifully. Those I have observed and shot have been chiefly in cultivated land, and they not unfrequently perch on the sum
bill to gape
Since the above was written, Capt. Boys has favoured the Society with a specimen from N. W. India, which I at once recognized as the European Tree Pipit; of which latter a specimen has been received more recently from England. The common Indian bird has the upper-parts very nearly as plain as those of Seiurus auricapillus, and of the same hue ; the under-parts being equally Thrush-like, but tinged with fulvous. I have kept the European bird in continement for years, and regularly noticed its vernal and autumnal changes of plumage. - It seems that Mr. Gray has describerl the ordinary Indian Tree Pipit, in his · Zoological Miscellany,' as A. maculatus et A. brevirostris, Hodgson.
+ Among the admeasurements of several individuals of the common species, I find one precisely agreeing with the above, and others nearly approximating.
mit of a small tree ; emitting, before they fly, a chirp not unlike a Sparrow's.
These birds vary in size ; the male being generally about seven inches and a half, or seven and five-eighths (sometimes nearly eight inches), long, by twelve to twelve and a half in alar expanse; closed wing three inches and five-eighths to three and seven-eighths; and tail three inches to three and a quarter : tarse generally an inch and a quarter, or at most an eighth less; and long hind-claw commonly about five-eighths, sometimes prolonged to above three-quarters of an inch. Bill dusky above, yellow at base of lower mandible, and duller yellow anteriorly sometimes to near the tip; legs yellowish-brown, very yellow on the soles ; inside of mouth bright yellow in adults. Younger individuals have the interior of the mouth faintly lutescent carneous; and the base of the lower mandible much the same.
Such are the common dimensions of this species : but I once obtained a male, so different in appearance from others shot on the same occasion, that I was inclined to regard it as distinct, until examination of an extensive series convinced me of the contrary: the specimen differs most remarkably in its conspicuously shorter tarsi and toes; the streakiness of its crown is more decided and strongly marked than usual ; and there is less white on its outer tail-feathers, and that more sharply defined. Length seven inches and three quarters by eleven and three-quarters ; wing three and five-eighths ; tail two and seven-eighths ; tarse only an inch ; middle toe without claw not three-quarters; and hind-toe (minus claw) but half an inch, instead of nine-sixteenths to fiveeighths of an inch. The brevity of tarse corresponds with Yarrell's figure of the leg of this species, in British Birds,' I, 388; but the toes of the latter are more of the ordinary development
Richard's Pipit occurs in collections from the Himalaya and from Arracan ; but Mr. Jerdon enumerates it as a rarity in the south of India. The Anth, australis, Vieillot, if not identical, must be nearly allied, to judge from the description of it on the Dict. Class.; and this is referred to “ Australasia," a name of doubtful signification, since some authors confound it with Australia, while others intend by it the great Oriental Archipelago and neighbouring mainland; for which Austral-Asia is by no means a bad appellation.*
* The Society has since received what is doubtless the true Anth, australis, from