Red-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus
- Serinus : French word for “Serin, Canary”
- Pusillus : Latin word for “Little”
Vernacular names: Kash: Tyok, Taer (juv)
Distribution in India: Resident of Himalayas in India.
Description: Size of 14-15 cm. It is a small finch with short, stubby bill, tail forked at tip. The male has bright red to deep orange circular or oval patch on forehead; rest of head to nape and chin to upper breast sooty black, upperparts blackish with broad yellowish or golden-buff feather edges, rump bright yellow or yellowish-tan, becoming darker on uppertail-coverts, tail dark brown, narrowly edged orange to golden; upperwing-coverts dark brown, edged warmer brown to buffish-brown, medians tipped pale orange, greaters tipped slightly paler buffish-yellow on inners; flight-feathers and tertials dark brown, finely edged yellowish-orange to golden; lower breast and belly yellowish, whiter on undertail-coverts, center of breast to flanks streaked sooty black, becoming more broken streaks on belly; underwing-coverts pale yellowish-white; iris dark brown or black; bill and legs dark brown or black. Female is like male but duller, with often only a thin red strip or patch on forehead and black of head to back duller or brownish-black, hindcrown and nape may have paler grey edges, and black less extensive on mantle, back and breast. Both sexes non-breeding are paler, with forehead patch duller and more reddish-orange, and ashy or buffish feather edges and tips on head and throat.
Habitat: It is found in breeding season in montane and submontane forests usually at or towards edge of forest, rarely in dense areas at 2000–4700 m in Himalayas. In non-breeding season in similar habitat at lower levels, down to 1370–3300 m, also in orchards and gardens at edges of human settlements, including large towns and villages, scattered trees on hillsides with low scrub, river valleys, rocky wadis and edges of cultivation.
Food Habits: It eats seeds, shoots, flower heads and fruits, together with small numbers of insects. It forages mostly on ground at woodland edges, on also open screes, meadows and open windblown boulder fields, actively, moving with short hops; perches on plants and grasses to reach seed heads. Also feeds in branches, where hangs upside-down to reach birch catkins, and on tops of trees, but prefers dead branches, stones or boulders. Usually in pairs and in small groups, post-breeding flocks may be mostly of males.
Breeding Habits: They breed in July-Aug in India. It is monogamous, the pair-forming usually occurs in dispersing winter flocks. They are territorial. Several males may competitively display simultaneously to female; in presence of female displaying male sings with crown and forehead feathers prominently raised, wings drooped and partly spread and tail slightly raised, and may swivel body to left and right; also courtship-feeds female prior to copulation. The nest is built by female, occasionally helped by male. The nest is a neat, compact cup of dry grasses, strips of bark, plant fibers and down, moss, lichen, feathers and cobwebs, placed low down in bush or higher on branch or in fork, or against trunk, or on rock crevice, on cliff ledge or in hole in scree. It lays a clutch of 3–5 eggs. The incubation is done by female alone for a period of 11–16 days. The chicks are fed and cared for by both parents. The nestling period is 14–16 days. The young become independent in 3–4 weeks, but still fed by parents for up to 5 weeks.