Page:The birds of Tierra del Fuego - Richard Crawshay.djvu/139

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PHRYGILUS MELANODERUS

strongly mottled with black centres; scapulars like the back; lesser wing coverts yellowish green, with whitish edges forming a bar; median coverts like the back, with outer edges white, forming a second bar; primary coverts brown, upper outer portion of web pale yellow; primaries greyish brown, outer edges canary yellow, becoming paler towards the tips; upper tail coverts same as back; centre feathers of tail greenish brown, shading into dark brown towards the tips; outer feathers canary yellow at base, shafts brown, inner portion of web brown, increasing in extent towards middle feathers; feathers of foreneck and sides of throat streaked with black; centre of throat sandy white; sides of breast and flanks streaked with black, the latter more strongly; breast yellow, shading into whitish on abdomen and under tail coverts; under wing coverts and axillaries pale yellow; under tail coverts white, at the base yellow. Total length, 5.6; culmen, 0.55; wing, 3.3; tarsus, 0.9; tail, 2.1 inches.

I found this Finch common on open grassland, in flocks of from half-a-dozen to twenty or more. My pair from Useless Bay Settlement were in company with another pair, and both birds were killed by the same "410 cartridge. So nearly does the general colouring of this Finch assimilate its environment on the ground, that, when motionless, only the black throat barred with white catches the eye. It is one of the prettiest birds met with in the island, but beyond this has no remarkable personality—as in the case of P. gayi. It is often met with in settlements, yet manifests no attachment for man. Beyond the merest twitter usually uttered on the wing, it has no song. It is apparently granivorous; the stomachs of my three examples contained grass seeds.

Darwin speaks of this Finch as "extremely abundant in large flocks in the Falkland Islands."

There, also. Abbott found it "plentiful everywhere, summer and winter." He says:—"It breeds in the latter end of September and beginning of October, laying three eggs in a nest situated under the shelter of a tuft of grass. In the winter the