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through forests as far as Yen-e-saisk'; but I did not meet with
it afterwards, either in the Arctic circle, or on the return


The Scarlet Bullfinch arrived on the Arctic circle on the
6th of June, and was soon afterwards very abundant. I did
not observe it further north than lat. 68. Its cheerful little
song was constantly heard. It did not require a great stretch
of imagination to fancy it said " pleased to see' you." I only
shot one male without the scarlet on the breast. Baron
Maydell got this bird in the Tschuski Land.

Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia. 335


We found the Pine-Grosbeak common in the forests on
the Arctic circle in small parties on our arrival. When sum-
mer came they dispersed in the woods, and were very rarely
seen. I did not observe them further north.


The Brambling arrived at our winter-quarters on the 1st
of June. I did not observe it further north than 69.



At Yen-e-saisk' we found large flocks of Redpoles in the
first week in April ; but they did not put in an appearance at
the Koo-ray'-i-ka until the 28th of May. I obtained both
these supposed species, and every possible intermediate form.

The young in first plumage (No. 943, shot in the valley of
the Yen-e-say', in lat. 69, on the 29th July) differs from
the adult birds in having the edgings of the feathers of the
plumage generally, but especially of the wing-coverts and
innermost secondaries, greyish buff, instead of pure white.
The feathers on the breast, flanks, and under tail-coverts
have a dark streak in the centre.

My series of these birds comprises forty carefully selected
skins, from Norway, the Petchora, and the Yen-e-say'.
Twenty -two of these are males, and eighteen are females.
Two skins, one of a male and the other of a female, both shot
in April, show considerable remains of the buff colour on the
head, back, wing-coverts, and inner secondaries, characteristic
of the bird of the year. Other skins show traces of this buff
colour on the head and back only.

These birds fly in such large flocks that one often gets a
dozen or more at a shot. In selecting birds to skin I inva-
riably chose all the birds showing red on the breast, rejecting
a large proportion of those without red breasts ; nevertheless
only half the males in my collection show any red on the
breast. So far as it goes, this fact supports the theory of
Mr. Hancock, that the red breast is a sign of immaturity.
My red-breasted birds vary considerably inter se. Four of

336 Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia.

them have only a tint of rose-colour on the breast and rump.
Three of these were shot in April, and one in June. They
may be taken as types of the supposed species L. exilipes.
All the feathers, but especially those on the rump, the wing-
coverts, the inner secondaries, and the inner web of the out-
side tail-feathers, are broadly margined with white. There
are scarcely any dark centres to the feathers on the rump, and
none on the under tail-coverts ; and the underparts are speci-
ally white. Two males, without the red breast, have the same
characters, but are more abraded in plumage, and show less
of the white margin to the feathers. A skin dated 12th July
has the feathers so abraded that the white rump, and the
white margins to the feathers generally, have almost disap-
peared ; but the under tail-coverts are pure white. A skin
dated 13th of June, from Norway, may be taken as full sum-
mer plumage of this form. The white margins to the tail-
feathers are very conspicuous ; but the red on the breast is
more developed, and the mealy appearance of the bird has
suffered from the abrasion of the feathers. Two females may
possibly belong to this form, one of them having un streaked
under tail-coverts, and the other an unstreaked rump ; but
neither of them shows the broad margins to the tail-feathers.
Another skin, dated the 7th of April, has the unstreaked
rump, but streaked under tail-coverts. The breast is very
carmine for the alledged species L. exilipes ; and this skin also
wants the broad white margins to the tail-feathers ; but, as
it shows a good deal of the immature buff-colour on the upper
parts, it may be a bird which has retained other marks of

Four skins with richly carmine breasts, and traces of car-
mine on the rump, all shot in June, are representative ex-
amples of L. linaria in breeding-plumage. They have all
streaked rumps and under tail-coverts ; but one of them has
broad white edgings to the inner webs of the tail-feathers.
In two other skins, one shot on the 28th of July and the
other on the 2nd of August, the plumage is very abraded,
and the carmine on the breast nearly lost. The remaining
skins have no carmine on the breast. In all of these the

Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornitholoyy of Siberia. 337

white edgings to the tail-feathers are narrow. They have
all striped under tail-coverts ; and all but two have streaked

I am inclined to think that L. exilipes is the same species
as L. linaria. I do not see that it is even a good variety.
So far as I can make out, the differences are only those of
age, sex, and season. If they must be separated, I think the
colour of the under tail-coverts is a better character to go
upon than that of the rump. Five birds, all males, have larger
bills than the rest. Four of these have streaked rumps and
under tail-coverts, the fifth is the slightly immature bird pre-
viously mentioned as having been shot on the 7th of April.

I found these birds common as far north as I went, i. e.


The arrival of birds in the Arctic regions is dependent, to
a large extent, upon the arrival of summer, which comes
suddenly with the breaking up of the ice on the river, and
the general melting of the snow. Last year, summer was
unusually late in Northern Asia. On the Arctic circle, in the
valley of the Yen-e-say', the ice on the river began to break
up on the 1st of June, and migratory birds arrived in great
numbers. On the 7th the Little Bunting arrived, in com-
pany with the Golden Plover and the Dark Thrush, nearly
in the middle of the spring migration.

Before the snow, which was lying upon the ground to the
depth of five or six feet up to the 1st of June, had sufficiently
melted to make the forests penetrable, the Little Bunting was
extremely abundant, and its unobtrusive song was constantly
heard. On the 23rd of June I found the first nest. I was
on the south bank of the Koo-ray'-i-ka, and was scrambling
through the forest down the hill towards my boat, amongst
tangled underwood and fallen tree-trunks, rotten and moss-
grown, when a Little Bunting started up out of the grass at
my feet. It did not fly away, but flitted from branch to
branch within six feet of me. I knew at once that it must
have a nest ; and in a quarter of a minute I found it, half

SER. IV. - VOL. II. 2 A

338 Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia.

hidden in the grass and moss. It contained five eggs. The
bird was still close to me ; and I was obliged to leave the nest
in order to get far enough from the bird, so as to avoid
blowing it to pieces. It seemed a shame to shoot the poor
little thing ; but as the five eggs in the nest were the only
authentic eggs of this species known to exist, it was abso-
lutely necessary for their complete identification. The nest
was nothing but a hole made in the dead leaves, moss, and
grass, copiously and carefully lined with fine dead grass.
The eggs were very handsome, almost exact miniatures of
the eggs of the Corn-Bunting. The ground-colour is pale
grey, with bold twisted blotches and irregular round spots
of very dark grey, and equally large underlying shell-markings
of paler grey. They measure f J- x f-g- of an inch.

I took the second nest in the forest on the opposite bank
of the Koo-ray'-i-ka on the 29th of June, containing three
eggs. These egg are somewhat less, measuring f $- x |-J- of an
inch. The colour is redder, being brown rather than grey,
but the markings are similar. The nest was in a similar
position, and the behaviour of the bird precisely the same.
The third nest I took in lat. 67, on the 30th of June. The
eggs, five in number, were slightly incubated. The markings
are similar to those of the eggs in the two preceding nests ;
but the ground-colour is browner, being less olive than in the
first nest, and less red than in the second. The nest was
lined with reindeer-hair. The fourth nest contained six eggs,
and was taken a few miles to the north of the preceding, on
the 6th of July. The eggs are intermediate in colour between
those of the two nests last described. The character of the
nest was similar to the last, but more sparingly lined with
reindeer-hair. The tameness of the bird was the same in
every instance.

The Little Bunting was common in the forest from the
Arctic circle northwards, and afterwards on the tundra up to
lat. 71; but I did not observe it at Gol-cheek'-a, in lat. 71^,
nor upon the Brek'-off-sky islands. There are skins of this
bird in the St.-Petersburg Museum, collected by Baron May-
dell in the Tschuski Land.

Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia. 339


The Reed-Bunting arrived on the Arctic circle on the 13th
of June, and soon became very common. As we proceeded
north we lost sight of this bird before we had quite reached
the limit of forest-growth ; but I got a sitting of its eggs in
lat. 70i.


On the 9th of June, four days before the arrival of the
Reed-Bunting, a smaller and darker-coloured Bunting ap-
peared. It was very shy and skulking in its habits, and I
only secured one specimen. I afterwards added a second to
my collection. It appeared to be a comparatively rare and
local bird. I did not find it anywhere except on the banks
of the Koo-ray'-i-ka. I looked for it in vain on the other
bank of the Yen-e-say', opposite the mouth of the Koo-ray'-
i-ka, a locality where the Reed-Bunting was extremely abun-
dant. The following measurements of a male, compared with
a male of the common bird from the same locality, show that
it is considerably smaller than the European Reed-Bunting,
with a proportionately slightly longer tail. The figures are
inches and decimals.

Wing from carpal joint .

E. schceniclus.

E. polarise






The distribution of colour in the two species is exactly the
same, except that the margins of the feathers on the back,
wing-coverts, and inner secondaries vary from rich chest-
nut to pale brown in the larger species, and from blue- grey
to white in the smaller species. This is specially conspicuous
on the wing- coverts near the carpal joint. On the smaller
bird there is a trace of chestnut in the middle of the back
and on the inner secondaries.

So far as I know, the male of this bird has never been de-
scribed before; but I think there can scarcely be a doubt that it
is the male of the bird described by Middendor^f as Emberiza


340 Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia.

polaris in his ' Sibirische Reise/ ii. p. 146. This bird was
described from a female, obtained by Middendorff about three
hundred miles to the north-east of the locality where I pro-
cured my bird. He represents it as differing from the female
of E. schceniclus in almost precisely the same characters which
I have pointed out above as distinguishing the two males.


I shot this very handsome and conspicuous bird for the
first time on the Arctic circle on the 9th of June, but only
occasionally saw it afterwards. This must be nearly its
northern limit. On the return journey I shot it again at
Yen-e-saisk', in lat. 58, in the middle of August, with scarcely
fledged young. There are skins of this bird in the St. -Peters-
burg Museum, collected by Baron Maydell in the Tschuski


I shot one solitary bird of the Pine-Bunting on the Arctic
circle on the 13th of June, but did not meet with it again.


I did not meet with this bird until I reached lat. 62, on
my return journey.


In crossing the great steppes of South-western Siberia,
between Tyu-main' and Tomsk, we frequently came upon
small flocks of Snow-Buntings. These birds seem to have no
settled winter home ; but during the cold weather they appa-
rently live a roving gipsy life, wandering about in flocks,
perpetually migrating northwards as fast as the frost and
snow will let them, but continually forced to beat a retreat
with every return of wintry weather. As we passed through
Yen-e-saisk' early in April, we were told that the Snow-
Buntings had arrived just before us. When we reached the
winter- quarters of the ' Thames/ on the 23rd of April, the
sailors informed us that the Snow-Buntings had preceded us
by a few days. Small flocks were constantly seen until the 7th
of June. We saw no more of them until we reached Gol-
cheek'-a, where we were in their breeding-grounds.

Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia. 341


The Lapland Bunting did not arrive at the winter-quarters
of the ' Thames' until the 4th of June. It was breeding in
great numbers on the tundra as far north as we went, i. e.
lat. 71 i.


The only Skylark I saw was one which I shot at our winter-
quarters on the llth of June.


The Shore-Lark was common on the Arctic circle from the
2nd to the llth of June. After we had passed the limit of
forest-growth,, and had reached the tundra, it was again com-
mon as far north as we went.


Anthus gustavi, Swinhoe, P. Z. S. 1863, pp. 90, 273.

Anthus batchianensis , G. R. Gray, Hand-1. of Birds, i.
p. 251. no. 3642 (1869).

Anthus seebohmi, Dresser, Birds of Eur. pt. xlv. (1875).

It is seldom that the history of an obscure bird is so sud-
denly and completely worked out as has been the case with
this species during the last two years. The Siberian Pipit
was first described by Swinhoe in 1863 (loc.cit.), from spe-
cimens obtained at Amoy, in South China, on migration. In
1871 (P. Z. S. p. 366) he announced its identity with Anthus
batchianensis, based by G. R. Gray on skins collected by
Wallace in Batchian. In 1874 (Ibis, p. 442) he announced
the capture of no less than fourteen of these birds at Chefoo,
during the spring migration, and mentions having seen one
skin sent from Lake Baikal by Dr. Dybowsky. In 1875
Harvie Brown and I found it breeding in the valley of the
Petchora, about lat. 67i (Ibis, 1876, p. 120). Our skins
were submitted to Dresser, who, believing the species to be
undescribed, included it as a new species in the ' Birds of
Europe' as Anthus seebohmi. In 1876 Finsch and Brehm
procured a specimen in the valley of the Obb, a little to the
north of the Arctic circle (Ibis, 1877, p. 58). In the same
number of ( The Ibis ' I had the honour, I will not say the

342 Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia.

pleasure, of pointing out the fact that Anthus seebohmi of
Dresser was identical with Anthus gustavi of Swinhoe. Just
before leaving for Siberia I was, by the kindness of Dr. Briig-
gemann, put in possession of the facts that Anthus gustavi
had been procured in winter at Manilla (Briiggemann, Ab-
handl. Ver. Bremen, v. p. 67), Celebes (Briiggemaim, loc. cit. ; -
Walden, Tr. Z. S. viii. p. 117), Borneo, and Negros (fide
skins in the British Museum) .

During the arrival of migratory birds on the Arctic circle
in the valley of the Yen-e-say', I naturally kept a sharp look-
out for this interesting species, and was delighted on the 23rd
of June to hear its peculiar and familiar song, and to shoot
a fine male. On the 15th of July, in lat. 704, I met with
this bird breeding, and obtained a sitting of its eggs. On
the 26th of July, on my return journey, in about the same
latitude, I found it breeding in considerable numbers, and
secured eight specimens more.

In the Museum of St. Petersburg I had the pleasure of
identifying skins of this species collected by Baron Maydell
in the Tschuski Land, north of Kamtchatka, and on Beh-
ring Isle, to the east of that peninsula, collected by Woss-
nessensky ; so that it would appear that the geographical
distribution of this Pipit is almost the same as that of Phyl-
loscopus borealis.


The Red-throated Pipit was first seen on the banks of the
Koo-ray'-i-ka on the 6th of June. One of the birds which
I shot on that day was in winter plumage, with scarcely a
trace of vinous on the throat ; and I entered it in my journal
as the sole example of Anthus pratensis which I met with in
the valley of the Yen-e-say'; but in St. Petersburg Bussow
pointed out to me the difference between the plumage of
Anthus pratensis and the winter plumage of A. cervinus. In
the latter bird the central large under tail-covert has a dark
streak up the middle near the shaft. I have examined the
whole of my large series of these birds from Norway, Russia,
and Siberia^ and winter skins of A. cervinus from Asia Minor

Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia. 343

and China, and find that in every case where the large under
tail-covert has not been shot away this distinction holds good.
This bird breeds in considerable numbers on the tundra as
far north as we went. There is a great variation in the
colours of the eggs in the same nest, some being much darker
than others. There are skins of this bird in the Museum at
St. Petersburg, collected by Baron Maydell in the Tschuski


Richard's Pipit must breed in great numbers on the exten-
sive meadow-lands which stretch away for miles from Yen-e-
saisk' on the banks of the river. I found it common there
in the middle of August, and shot both adult birds in full
moult and young in first plumage. This bird has a habit of
hovering over the ground almost exactly like a Kestrel.


I did not meet with the Tree-Pipit until I reached lat. 62
on my return journey.


Motacilla alba, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 331 (1766).

Motacilla dukhunensis, Sykes, P. Z. S. 1832, p. 91.

Motacilla baicalensis, Swinhoe, P. Z. S. 1871, p. 363.

I think there can be no doubt that M. alba and M. dukhu-
nensis are the same species. The only difference seems
to be in the amount of white on the wing-coverts. M. alba
has dark grey or black wing-coverts, more or less broadly
edged with white. In M. dukhunensis the inside half of
each wing-covert is the same as in M. alba-, but the
outside half is entirely white, making the wing-coverts, as
they lie on the wing overlapping each other, an entirely
white mass. This latter form seems to be confined to Siberia
and India ; but as in both these countries a complete series
of intermediate forms occur also, we cannot consider the
eastern form more than a variety. The amount of white
on the wing-coverts of many of the species in this genus,
and in some of them the amount of white on the secondaries,
varies so much, that if we were to admit it as a specific cha-

344 Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia.

racter we should at once more than double the number of
supposed species.

In the valley of the Yen-e-say' both varieties were equally
common. I only found the extreme white- winged form
among the males.

This Wagtail was the first thin-billed bird to arrive on the
Arctic circle in any numbers. The first break up of the ice
on the 1st of June was the signal of its appearance. I found
it as far north as we went, i. e. lat. 71 J.

The geographical distribution of this bird is very curious,
As Middendorff did not find it, we may take the watershed
between the Yen-e-say' and the Lay '-na as its eastern boundary,
whence it extends westwards as far as the Atlantic on the
continent of Europe, but only appears accidentally in the
British Isles. As you ascend the Yen-e-say' from the Arctic
circle, this bird abounds on the banks of the river until you
near Yen -e-saisk' (about lat. 59), when suddenly it disap-
pears, and its place is taken by M . personata. From Yen-e-
saisk' to Kras-no-yarsk', and westwards until you cross the
meridian of Calcutta, M. personata abounds, after which,
across Siberia and Europe, you find no white Wagtail but
M. alba.

There appears, however, to be a colony of M. alba still
further to the east. Middendorff had a skin sent him from
Birjussa, about halfway between Yen-e-saisk' and Lake Bai-
kal ; and there is no doubt that it is a common bird in the
neighbourhood of that lake, as skins collected in that locality
by Dr. Dybowsky are not rare in collections. From this
colony these birds migrate in great numbers across Mongolia
and the extreme west of China, and doubtless find their way
thence to India.


This is a very well-marked species, differing from M. alba
in having the black on the breast confluent with the black
on the neck. Well-marked examples show even more white
on the wing-coverts than in the most marked M. alba, var.
dukhunensis, whilst others are similar in this respect to typical

Mr. H. Secbohm on the Ornithology of Siberia. 345

examples of the European form of M. alba an additional
proof that this character cannot be deemed specific in the
Wagtails. I did not meet with this bird until my return
journey. The particulars of its geographical distribution in
Siberia, so far as I had an opportunity of observing it, are
given under the head of M. alba.


Motacilla ocularis, Swinhoe, P. Z. S. 1863, p. 17.

Motacilla alba, Linn., var. lugens, 111. Midd. Sib. Reise,
ii. p. 166 (1851, nee 111. nee Temm.).

Motacilla baicalensis, var. temporalis, Swinhoe, P. Z. S.
1871, p. 363.

In the Museum at St. Petersburg I had an opportunity of
examining several skins collected by Middendorff in North
and East Siberia labelled Motacilla lugens. They all proved
on examination to be Motacilla ocularis, a grey -backed pied
Wagtail, with a black patch on the hind crown extending to
the nape, and another on the throat and breast. It differs
from Motacilla alba in having a narrow black line extending
from the centre of the black patch on the head, and passing
through the eyes to the base of the bill. In the same museum
were skins of M. ocularis from the Amoor, collected by
Schrenck, from Mongolia, collected by Prjevalski, and from
the Tschuski Land, collected by Maydell. I did not meet
with this species on the Yen-e-say'; and probably the water-
shed between that river and the Lay'-na is its western

Motacilla alba, var. lugens, v. Schrenck, Amur-Lande, i.
p. 338.

In the present condition of ornithological literature, loaded
with synonyms, any one who adds a name to the almost ex-
haustless list is guilty of a crime ; but where the species
proves to have been undescribed before, his fellow ornitho-
logists will admit that he has a right to plead " extenuating
circumstances/' I am afraid I shall be unable to complete
my list of Siberian Wagtails without describing a skin in my

346 Mr. H. Seebohm on the Ornithology of Siberia.

collection, obtained through Schliiter of Halle, dated 14th
April, 1876, from the Gulf of Abrek, in the Sea of Japan,
labelled Motacilla ocularis $ . The head, neck, and back
are black, gradually fading into grey on the rump, which
becomes black again on the upper tail-coverts. The throat,
breast, and a line through the eye are also black. Forehead
and cheeks, and a line behind the eye and on the side of the
neck, white. Shoulders grey. Wing-coverts white. Inner
secondaries broadly edged with white on the outside web.
Primaries and secondaries broadly edged with white near the
base of the inner web.

This bird is undoubtedly the Motacilla alba, var. lugens, of
Schrenck, who describes it as common in the Amoor, and
considers it an intermediate form between M. japonica and
M. ocularis. There seems to be no alternative but either to
describe it as a new species, or to regard it as a hybrid be-
tween the two species just named. I have preferred the
former course as the least evil of the two. From M. ocularis
it may at once be distinguished by its black back, and from
M . japonica by its grey secondaries.

In Dresser's collection is a skin of this bird from Japan, a

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