Page:The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma (Birds Vol 1).djvu/102

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Habits. The Red-billed Chough is found in summer up to 16,000 feet and over, descending in winter to 5,000 feet or even lower. It is a gregarious sociable bird feeding together on the ground much like Rooks. They are noisy birds and haunt human habitations and camps as well as wilder tracts.

(49) Pyrrhocorax graculus.

The Yellow-billed Chough.

Corvus graculus Linn., Syst. Nat., ed. xii, p. 158 (1766) (Swiss Alps).
Pyrrhocorax alpinus. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 44.

The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma (Birds Vol 1) 102.jpg
Fig. 19.—Head of P. graculus.

Vernacular names. None recorded.

Description. The whole plumage black with a slight gloss, more developed on wings and tail.

Colours of soft parts. Iris brown to red-brown; bill yellow; feet vermilion, the claws horny brown or black.

Measurements. Total length about 420 mm.; wing 262 to 287 mm.; tail about 180 mm.; culmen 25 to 30 mm.; tarsus 45 to 48 mm.

Distribution. South Europe and Central Asia. In India throughout the Himalayas from Kohat to Central Tibet and South-East Tibet.

Nidification. Eggs have been taken in the Liddar Valley and in S.E. Tibet in April and May from nests placed in steep rocky cliffs, either in holes or in crevices in rocks. As a rule the breeding places are almost or quite inaccessible. The eggs differ in no way from those of the European bird. The ground-colour is a very pale yellowish grey, rarely with a cream tint, and the spots are of light brown and neutral tint, rather sparse as a rule but more numerous at the larger end.

Habits. In summer it is found between 10,000 and 15,000 feet, coming down to 5,000 feet in winter. According to Stoliczka this species is very social and frequently visits the camp of the traveller in Spiti and Ladakh, as it does also in Tibet. It is as familiar and noisy in the neighbourhood of villages and camping-grounds as the common House-Crow is in India. In the breeding season it to some extent deserts human habitations for the wilder cliffs.