Part 1 out of 12
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THE NESTS AND EGGS OF INDIAN BIRDS, VOLUME 1
ALLAN O. HUME, C.B.
Edited by Eugene William Gates
Author of "A Handbook to the Birds of British Burmah and of the Birds
in the Fauna of British India,"
With Four Portraits.
[Illustration: ALLAN OCTAVIAN HUME]
[Illustration: ALERE FLAMMAM]
I have long regretted my inability to issue a revised edition of
'Nests and Eggs.' For many years after the first Rough Draft appeared,
I went on laboriously accumulating materials for a re-issue, but
subsequently circumstances prevented my undertaking the work. Now,
fortunately, my friend Mr. Eugene Gates has taken the matter up, and
much as I may personally regret having to hand over to another a task,
the performance of which I should so much have enjoyed, it is some
consolation to feel that the readers, at any rate, of this work will
have no cause for regret, but rather of rejoicing that the work has
passed into younger and stronger hands.
One thing seems necessary to explain. The present Edition does not
include quite all the materials I had accumulated for this work. Many
years ago, during my absence from Simla, a servant broke into my
museum and stole thence several cwts. of manuscript, which he sold
as waste paper. This manuscript included more or less complete
life-histories of some 700 species of birds, and also a certain number
of detailed accounts of nidification. All small notes on slips of
paper were left, but almost every article written on full-sized
foolscap sheets was abstracted. It was not for many months that the
theft was discovered, and then very little of the MSS. could be
It thus happens that in the cases of some of the most interesting
species, of which I had worked up all the notes into a connected
whole, nothing, or, as in the case of _Argya subrufa_, only a single
isolated note, appears in the text. It is to be greatly regretted, for
my work was imperfect enough as it was; and this 'Selection from the
Records,' that my Philistine servant saw fit to permit himself, has
rendered it a great deal more imperfect still; but neither Mr. Oates
nor myself can be justly blamed for this.
In conclusion, I have only to say that if this compilation should find
favour in any man's sight he must thank Mr. Oates for it, since not
only has he undergone the labour of arranging my materials and seeing
the whole work through the press--not only has he, I believe, added
himself considerably to those materials--but it is solely owing to him
that the work appears _at all_, as I know no one else to whom I could
have entrusted the arduous and, I fear, thankless duty that he has so
Rothney Castle, Simla,
October 19th, 1889.
Mr. Hume has sufficiently explained the circumstances under which this
edition of his popular work has been brought about. I have merely to
add that, as I was engaged on a work on the Birds of India, I thought
it would be easier for me than for anyone else to assist Mr. Hume.
I was also in England, and knew that my labour would be very much
lightened by passing the work through the press in this country.
Another reason, perhaps the most important, was the fear that, as Mr.
Hume had given up entirely and absolutely the study of birds, the
valuable material he had taken such pains to accumulate for this
edition might be irretrievably lost or further injured by lapse of
time unless early steps were taken to utilize it.
A few words of explanation appear necessary on the subject of the
arrangement of this edition. Mr. Hume is in no way responsible for
this arrangement nor for the nomenclature employed. He may possibly
disapprove of both. He, however, gave me his manuscript unreservedly,
and left me free to deal with it as I thought best, and I have to
thank him for reposing this confidence in me. Left thus to my own
devices, I have considered it expedient to conform in all respects to
the arrangement of my work on the Birds, which I am writing, side by
side, with this work. The classification I have elaborated for my
purpose is totally different to that employed by Jerdon and familiar
to Indian ornithologists; but a departure from Jerdon's arrangement
was merely a question of time, and no better opportunity than the
present for readjusting the classification of Indian birds appeared
likely to present itself. I have therefore adopted a new system, which
I have fully set forth in my other work.
I take this opportunity to present the readers of Mr. Hume's work with
portraits of Mr. Hume himself, of Mr. Brian Hodgson, the late Dr.
Jerdon, and the late Colonel Tickell.
EUGENE W. OATES.
1. Corvus corax, _Linn._
3. ---- corone, _Linn._
4. ---- macrorhynchus, _Wagler_
7. ---- splendens, _Vieill_
8. ---- insulens, _Hume._
9. ---- monedula, _Linn._
10. Pica rustica (_Scop._)
12. Urocissa occipitalis (_Bl._)
13. ---- flaviostris (_Bl._)
14. Cissa chinensis (_Bodd._)
15. ---- ornata (_Wagler_)
16. Dendrocitta rufa (_Scop._)
17. ---- leucogastra, _Gould_
18. ---- himalayensis, _Bl._
21. Crypsirhina varians (_Lath._)
23. Platysmurus leucopterus (_Temm._)
24. Garrulous lanceolatus, _Vigors_
25. ---- leucotis, _Hume_
26. ---- bispecularis, _Vigors_
27. Nucifraga hemispila, _Vigors_
29. Graculus eremita (_Linn._)
31. Parus atriceps, _Horsf._
34. ---- monticola, _Vigors_
35. Aegithaliscus erythrocephalus _Vig._
41. Machlolophus spilonotus (_Bl._)
42. ---- xanthogenys _Vig._
43. ---- haplonotus (_Bl._)
44. Lophophanes melanolophus _Vig._
47. ---- rufinuchalis (_Bl._)
50. Conostoma aemodium, _Hodgs._
60. Sea orhynchus ruticeps (_Bl._)
61. ---- gularis _Horsf._
62. Dryonastes ruticollis (J.S.S.)
65. ---- caerulatus (_Hodgs._)
69. Garrulax leucolophus (_Hardw._)
70. ---- belangeri, _Lesson_
72. ---- pectoralis (_Gould_)
73. ---- moniliger (_Hodgs._)
76. ---- albigularis _Gould_
78. Ianthocincla ocellata (_Vig._)
80. ---- rutigularis, _Gould_
82. Trochalopterum erythrocephalum (_Vig._)
83. ---- nigrimentum, _Hodgs._
87. ---- phaeniceum (_Gould_)
88. ---- subunicolor, _Hodgs._
90. ---- variegatum (_Vig._)
91. ---- simile, _Hume_
92. ---- squamatum (_Gould_)
93. ---- cachinnans (_Jerd._)
96. ---- fairbanki, _Blanf._
99. ---- lineatum (_Vig._)
101. Grammatoptila striata (_Vig._)
104. Argya earlii (_Bl._)
105. ---- caudata (_Dumeril_)
107. ---- malcolmi (_Sykes_)
108. ---- subrufa (_Jerd._)
110. Crateropus canorus (_Linn._)
111. ---- griseus (_Gmel._)
112. Crateropus striatus (_Swains._)
113. ---- somervillii (_Sykes_)
114. ---- rufescens (_Bl._)
115. ---- cinereifrons (_Bl._)
116. Pomatorhinus schisticeps, _Hodgs._
118. ---- olivaceus, _Bl._
119. ---- melanurus, _Bl._
120. ---- horsfieldii, _Sykes_
122. ---- ferruginosus, _Bl._
125. ---- ruficollis, _Hodgs._
129. ---- erythrogenys, _Vig._
133. Xiphorhamphus superciliaris (_Blyth_)
134. Timelia pileata, _Horsf_
135. Dumetia hyperythra (_Frankl._)
136. ---- albigularis (_Bl._)
139. Pyctorhis sinensis (_Gm._)
140. ---- nasalis, _Legge_
142. Pellorneum mandellii, _Blanf._
144. ---- ruficeps, _Swains_
145. ---- subochraceum, _Swinh_
147. ---- fuscicapillum (_Bl._)
149. Drymocataphus nigricapitatus (_Eyton_)
151. ---- tickelli (_Bl._)
160. ---- abbotti (_Bl._)
163. Alcippe nepalensis (_Hodgs._)
164. ---- phaeocephala (_Jerd._)
165. ---- phayrii, _Bl._
166. Rhopocichla atriceps (_Jerd._)
167. ---- nigrifrons (_Bl._)
169. Stachyrhis nigriceps, _Hodgs_
170.---- chrysaea, _Hodgs._
172. Stachyrhidopsis ruficeps(_Bl._)
174. ---- pyrrhops (_Hodgs._)
175. Cyanoderma erythropterum (_Bl._)
176. Mixornis rubricapillus (_Tick._)
177. ---- gularis (_Raffl._)
178. Schoeniparus dubius (_Hume_)
182. Sittiparus castaneiceps (_Hodgs._)
183. Proparus vinipectus (_Hodgs._)
184. Lioparus chrysaeus (_Hodgs._)
187. Myiophoneus temmincki, _Vig._
188. ---- eugenii, _Hume._
189. ---- horsfieldi, _Vig_
191. Larvivora brunnea, _Hodgs_
193. Brachypteryx albiventris (_Fairbank_)
194. ---- rufiventris (_Bl._)
197. Drymochares cruralis (_Bl._)
198. ---- nepalensis (_Hodgs._)
200. Elaphrornis palliseri (_Bl._)
201. Tesia cyaniventris, _Hodgs._
203. Oligura castaneicoronata (_Burt._)
203. Sibia picaoides, _Hodgs._
204. Lioptila capistrata (_Vig._)
205. ---- gracilis (_McClell._)
206. ---- melanoleuca (_Bl._)
211. Actinodura egertoni, _Gould_
213. Ixops nepalensis (_Hodgs._)
219. Siva strigula, _Hodgs._
221. ---- cyanuroptera, _Hodgs._
223. Yuhina gularis, _Hodgs._
225. ---- nigrimentum (_Hodgs._)
226. Zosterops palpebrosa (_Temm._)
229. ---- ceylonensis, _Holdsworth_
231. Ixulus occipitalis, (_Bl._)
232.---- flavicollis (_Hodgs._)
235. Liothrix lutea (_Scop._)
237. Pteruthius erythropterus (_Vig._)
239. ---- melanotis, _Hodgs._
243. Aegithina tiphia (_Linn._)
246. Myzornis pyrrhura, _Hodgs._
252. Chloropsis jerdoni (_Bl._)
254. Irena puella (_Lath._)
257. Mesia argentauris, _Hodgs._
258. Minla igneitincta, _Hodgs._
260. Cephalopyrus flammiceps (_Burt._)
261. Psaroglossa spiloptera (_vig._)
263. Criniger flaveolus (_Gould_)
269. Hypsipetes psaroides, _Vig._
271. ---- ganeesa, _Sykes_
275. Hemixus macclellandi (_Horsf._)
277. Alcurus striatus (_Bl._)
278. Molpastes haemorrhous (_Gm._)
279. ---- burmanicus (_Sharpe_)
281. ---- atricapillus (_Vieill._)
282. ---- bengalensis (_Bl._)
283. ---- intermedius (_A. Hay_)
284. ---- leucogenys (_Gr._)
285. ---- lencotis (_Gould_).
288. Otocompsa emeria (_Linn._)
289. ---- fuscicaudata, _Gould_
290. ---- flaviventris (_Tick._)
292. Spizixus canifrons, _Bl._
295. Iole icterica (_Strickl._)
299. Pycnonotus finlaysoni, _Strickl._
300. ---- davisoni (_Hume_)
301. ---- melanicterus (_Gm._)
305. ---- luteolus (_Less._)
306. ---- blanfordi, _Jerd._
315. Sitta himalayensis, _J. & S._
316. ---- cinnamomeiventris, _Bl._
317. ---- neglecta, _Walden_
321. ---- castaneiventris, _Frankl._
323. ---- leucopsis, _Gould_
325. ---- frontalis, _Horsf._
327. Dicrurus ater (_Hermann_)
328. ---- longicaudatus, _A. Hay_
329. ---- nigrescens, _Oates_
330. ---- caerulescens (_Linn._)
331. ---- leucopygialis, _Bl._
334. Chaptia aenea (_Vieill._)
335. Chibia hottentotta (_Linn._)
338. Dissemurulus lophorhinus (_Vieill._)
339. Bhringa remifer (_Temm._)
340. Dissemurus paradiseus (_Linn._)
341. Certhia himalayana, _Vig._
342. ---- hodgsoni, _Brooks_
347. Salpornis spilonota (_Frankl._)
352. Anorthura neglecta (_Brooks_)
355. Urocichla caudata (_Bl._)
350. Pnoepyga squamata (_Gould_)
358. Regulus cristatus, _Koch._
363. Acrocephalus stentoreus (_H. & E._)
366. ---- dumetorum, _Bl._
367. ---- agricola (_Jerd._)
371. Tribura thoracica (_Bl._)
372. ---- luteiventris, _Hodgs._
374. Orthotomus sutorius (_Forst._)
375. ---- atrigularis, _Temm._
380. Cisticola volitans (_Swinhoe_)
381. ---- cursitans (_Frankl._)
382. Franklinia gracilis (_Frankl._)
383. ---- rufescens (_Bl._)
384. ---- buchanani (_Bl._)
385. ---- cinereicapilla (_Hodgs._)
386. Laticilla burnesi (_Bl._)
388. Graminicola bengalensis, _Jerd._
389. Megalurus palustris, _Horsf._
390. Schoenicola platyura (_Jerd._)
391. Acanthoptila nepalensis (_Hodgs._)
392. Chaetornis locustelloides (_Bl._)
394. Hypolais rama (_Sykes_)
402. Sylvia affinis (_Bl._)
406. Phylloscopus tytleri, _Brooks_
410. ---- fuscatus (_Bl._)
415. ---- proregulus (_Pall._)
416. ---- subviridis (_Brooks_)
418. Phylloscopus humii (_Brooks_)
428. Acanthopneuste occipitalis (_Jerd._)
430. ---- davisoni, _Oates_
434. Cryptolopha xanthoschista (_Hodgs._)
435. ---- jerdoni (_Brooks_)
436. ---- poliogenys (_Bl._)
437. ---- castaneiceps (_Hodgs._)
438. ---- cantator (_Tick._)
440. Abrornis superciliaris, _Tick_
441. ---- schisticeps (_Hodgs._)
442. ---- albigularis _Hodgs._
445. Scotocerca inquieta (_Cretzschm._)
446. Neornis flavolivaceus (_Hodgs._)
448. Horornis fortipes _Hodgs._
450. ---- pallidus (_Brooks_)
451. ---- pallidipes (_Blanf._)
452. ---- major (_Hodgs._)
454. Phyllergates coronatus (_Jerd. $ Bl._)
455. Horeites brunneifrons, _Hodgs._
458. Suya crinigera, _Hodgs_
459. ---- atrigularis, _Moore_
460. ---- khasiana, _Godw.-Aust._
462. Prinia lepida, _Bl_
463. ---- flaviventris (_Deless_)
464. ----socialis, _Sykes_
465. ----sylvatica, _Jerd_
466. ----inornata, _Sykes_
467. ----jerdoni (_Bl._)
468. ----blanfordi (_Walden_)
469. Lanius lahtora (_Sykes_)
473. ---- vittatus, _Valenc_
475. ---- nigriceps (_Frankl._)
476. ---- erythronotus (_Vig._)
477. ---- tephronotus (_Vig_)
481. ---- cristatus, _Linn_
484. Hemipus picatus (_Sykes_)
485. ---- capitalis (_McClell._)
480. Tephrodornis pelvicus (_Hodgs_)
487. ---- sylvicola, _Jerd_
488. ---- pondicerianus (_Gm._)
490. Pericrocotus speciosus (_Lath._)
494. Pericrocotus flammeus (_Forst._)
495. ---- brevirostris (_Vigors_)
499. ---- roseus (_Vieill._)
500. ---- peregrinus (_Linn._)
501. ---- erythropygius (_Jerd._)
505. Campophaga melanoschista (_Hodgs._)
508. ---- sykesi (_Shield._)
509. ---- terat (_Bodd._)
510. Graucalus macii, _Lesson_
512. Artamus fuscus, _Vieill_
513. ---- leucogaster (_Valenc._)
518. Oriolus kundoo, _Sykes_
521. ---- melanocephalus, _Linn._
522. ---- traillii (_Vigors_)
523. Eulabes religiosa (_Linn._)
524. ---- intermedia (_A. Hay_)
526. ---- ptilogenys (_Bl._)
527. Calornis chalybeius (_Horsf._)
528. Pastor roseus (_Linn._)
529. Sturnus humii, _Brooks_
531. ---- minor, _Hume_
537. Sturnia blythii (_Jerd._)
538. ---- malabarica (_Gm._)
539. ---- nemoricola, _Jerd_
543. Ampeliceps coronatus, _Bl_
544. Temenuchus pagodarum (_Gm._)
546. Graculipica nigricollis (_Payk._)
549. Acridotheres tristis (_Linn._)
550. ---- melanosternus, _Legge_
551. ---- ginginianus (_Lath._)
552. Aethiopsar fuscus (_Wayl._)
555. Sturnopastor contra (_Linn._)
556. ---- superciliaris, _Bl_
Page 103. _After_ Drymocataphus tickelli _insert_ (Blyth).
Page 126. _For_ Bhringa tenuirostris _read_ B. tectirostris.
Page 223. _For_ Pnoepyga albiventris (Hodgs.), _read_ Pnoepyga
Page 311. _After_ Lanius vittatus _Insert_ Valene.
[Illustration: THOMAS CAVERHILL JERDON.]
[Illustration: BRIAN HOUGHTON HODGSON.]
[Illustration: SAMUEL RICHARD TICKELL.]
Order PASSERES. Family CORVIDAE. Subfamily CORVINAE.
1. Corvus corax, Linn. _The Raven_.
Corvus corax, _Linn., Jerd. B. Ind. ii_, p. 293.
Corvus lawrencii, _Hume_; _Hume, Rough Draft N. & E_. no. 657.
I separated the Punjab Raven under the name of _Corvus lawrencei_
('Lahore to Yarkand,' p. 83), and I then stated, what I wish now to
repeat, that if we are prepared to consider _C. corax, C. littoralis,
C. thibetanus_, and _C. japonensis_ all as one and the same species,
then _C. lawrencei_ too must be suppressed; but if any of these are
retained as distinct, then so must _C. lawrencei_ be[A].
[Footnote A: I think it impossible to separate the Punjab Raven
from the Ravens of Europe and other parts of the world, and I have
therefore merged it into _C. corax_.--ED.]
The Punjab Raven breeds throughout the Punjab (except perhaps in the
Dehra Ghazee Khan District), in Bhawulpoor, Bikaneer, and the northern
portions of Jeypoor and Jodhpoor, extending rarely as far south as
Sambhur. To Sindh it is merely a seasonal visitant, and I could not
learn that they breed there, nor have I ever known of one breeding
anywhere east of the Jumna. Even in the Delhi Division of the Punjab
they breed sparingly, and one must go further north and west to find
The breeding-season lasts from early in December to quite the end of
March; but this varies a little according to season and locality,
though the majority of birds always, I think, lay in January.
The nest is generally placed in single trees of no great size,
standing in fields or open jungle. The thorny Acacias are often
selected, but I have seen them on Sisoo and other trees.
The nest, placed in a stout fork as a rule, is a large, strong,
compact, stick structure, very like a Rook's nest at home, and like
these is used year after year, whether by the same birds or others of
the same species I cannot say. Of course they never breed in company:
I _never_ found two of their nests within 100 yards of each other,
and, as a rule, they will not be found within a quarter of a mile of
Five is, I think, the regular complement of eggs; very often I have
only found four fully incubated eggs, and on two or three occasions
six have, I know, been taken in one nest, though I never myself met
with so many.
I find the following old note of the first nest of this species that I
"At Hansie, in Skinner's Beerh, December 19, 1867, we found our first
Raven's nest. It was in a solitary Keekur tree, which originally of no
great size had had all but two upright branches lopped away. Between
these two branches was a large compact stick nest fully 10 inches deep
and 18 inches in diameter, and not more than 20 feet from the ground.
It contained five slightly incubated eggs, which the old birds evinced
the greatest objection to part with, not only flying at the head of
the man who removed them, but some little time after they had been
removed similarly attacking the man who ascended the tree to look at
the nest. After the eggs were gone, they sat themselves on a small
branch above the nest side by side, croaking most ominously, and
shaking their heads at each other in the most amusing manner, every
now and then alternately descending to the nest and scrutinizing every
portion of the cavity with their heads on one side as if to make sure
that the eggs were really gone."
Mr. W. Theobald makes the following note of this bird's nidification
in the neighbourhood of Pind Dadan Khan and Katas in the Salt Range:--
"Lay in January and February; eggs, four only; shape, ovato-pyriform;
size, 1.7 by 1.3; colour, dirty sap green, blotched with blackish
brown; also pale green spotted with greenish brown and neutral; nest
of sticks difficult to get at, placed in well-selected trees or holes
I have not verified the fact of their breeding in holes in cliffs, but
it is very possible that they do. All I found near Pind Dadan Khan
and in the Salt Range were doubtless in trees, but I explored a very
limited portion of these hills.
Colonel C.H.T. Marshall, writing from Bhawulpoor on the 17th February,
says: "I succeeded yesterday in getting four eggs of the Punjab Raven.
The eggs were hard-set and very difficult to clean."
From Sambhur Mr. R.M. Adam tells us:--"This Raven is pretty common
during the cold weather, but pairs are seen about here throughout the
year. They are very fond of attaching themselves to the camps of the
numerous parties of Banjaras who visit the lake.
"I obtained a nest at the end of January which contained three eggs,
and a fourth was found in the parent bird. The nest was about 15 feet
from the ground in a Kaggera tree (_Acacia leucophloea_) which stood
on a bare sandy waste with no other tree within half a mile in any
The eggs of the Punjab bird are, as might be expected, much the same
as those of the European Raven. In shape they are moderately broad
ovals, a good deal pointed towards the small end, but, as in the
Oriole, greatly elongated varieties are very common, and short
globular ones almost unknown. The texture of the egg is close and
hard, but they usually exhibit little or no gloss. In the colour of
the ground, as well as in the colour, extent, and character of the
markings, the eggs vary surprisingly. The ground-colour is in some
a clear pale greenish blue; in others pale blue; in others a dingy
olive; and in others again a pale stone-colour. The markings are
blackish brown, sepia and olive-brown, and rather pale inky purple.
Some have the markings small, sharply defined, and thinly sprinkled:
others are extensively blotched and streakily clouded; others are
freckled or smeared over the entire surface, so as to leave but
little, if any, of the ground-colour visible. Often several styles of
marking and shades of colouring are combined in the same egg. Almost
each nest of eggs exhibits some peculiarity, and varieties are
endless. With sixty or seventy eggs before one, it is easy to pick out
in almost every case all the eggs that belong to the same nest, and
this is a peculiarity that I have observed in the eggs of many members
of this family. All the eggs out of the same nest usually closely
resemble each other, while almost _any_ two eggs out of different
nests are markedly dissimilar.
They vary from 1.72 to 2.25 in length, and from 1.2 to 1.37 in width;
but the average of seventy-two eggs measured is 1.94 by 1.31.
Mandelli's men found four eggs of the larger Sikhim bird in Native
Sikhim, high up towards the snows, where they were shooting
These eggs are long ovals, considerably pointed towards one end;
the shell is strong and firm, and has scarcely any gloss. The
ground-colour is pale bluish green, and the eggs are smudged and
clouded all over with pale sepia; on the top of the eggs there are a
few small spots and streaks of deep brownish black. They were found on
the 5th March, and vary in length from 1.83 to 1.96, in breadth from
1.18 to 1.25.
3. Corvus corone, Linn. _The Carrion-Crow_.
Corvus corone, _Linn., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 295; _Hume, Rough Draft
N. & E._ no. 659[A].
[Footnote A: Mr. Hume, at one time separated the Indian Carrion-Crow
from _Corvus corone_ under the name _C. pseudo-corone_. In his
'Catalogue' he re-unites them. I quite agree with him that the two
birds are inseparable.--ED.]
The only Indian eggs of the Carrion-Crow which I have seen, and one of
which, with the parent bird, I owe to Mr. Brooks, were taken by the
latter gentleman on the 30th May at Sonamerg, Cashmere.
The eggs were broad ovals, somewhat compressed towards one end, and
of the regular Corvine type--a pretty pale green ground, blotched,
smeared, streaked, spotted, and clouded, nowhere very profusely but
most densely about the large end, with a greenish or olive-brown and
pale sepia. The brown is a brighter and greener, or duller and more
olive, lighter or darker, in different eggs, and even in different
parts of the same egg. The shell is fine and close, but has only a
The eggs only varied from 1.67 to 1.68 in length, and from 1.14 to
1.18 in breadth.
Whether this bird breeds regularly or only as a straggler in Cashmere
we do not know; it is always overlooked and passed by as a "Common
Crow." Future visitors to Cashmere should try and clear up both the
identity of the bird and all particulars about its nidification.
4. Corvus macrorhynchus, Wagler. _The Jungle-Crow_.
Corvus culminatus, _Sykes, Jerd. B, Ind._ ii, p. 295,
Corvus levaillantii; _Less., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 660.
The Jungle-Crow (under which head I include[A] _C. culminatus,_
Sykes, _C. intermedius_, Adams, _C. andamanensis_, Tytler, and each
and all of the races that occur within our limits) breeds almost
everywhere in India, alike in the low country and in the hills both of
Southern and Northern India, to an elevation of fully 8000 feet.
[Footnote A: See 'Stray Feathers,' vol. ii. 1874, p. 243, and 'Lahore
to Yarkand,' p. 85.]
March to May is, I consider, the normal breeding-season; in the plains
the majority lay in April, rarely later, and in the hills in May; but
in the plains a few birds lay also in February.
The nest is placed as a rule on good-sized trees and pretty near their
summits. In the plains mangos and tamarinds seem to be preferred, but
I have found the nests on many different kinds of trees. The nest is
large, circular, and composed of moderate-sized twigs; sometimes it is
thick, massive, and compact; sometimes loose and straggling; always
with a considerable depression in the centre, which is smoothly lined
with large quantities of horsehair, or other stiff hair, grass,
grass-roots, cocoanut-fibre, &c. In the hills they use _any_ animal's
hair or fur, if the latter is pretty stiff. They do not, according to
my experience, affect luxuries in the way of soft down; it is always
something moderately stiff, of the coir or horsehair type; nothing
soft and fluffy. Coarse human hair, such as some of our native
fellow-subjects can boast of, is often taken, when it can be got, in
lieu of horsehair.
They lay four or five eggs. I have quite as often found the latter as
the former number. I have never myself seen six eggs in one nest, but
I have heard, on good authority, of six eggs being found.
Captain Unwin writes: "I found a nest of the Bow-billed Corby in the
Agrore Valley, containing four eggs, on the 30th April. It was placed
in a Cheer tree about 40 feet from the ground, and was made of sticks
and lined with dry grass and hair."
Mr. W. Theobald makes the following remarks on the breeding of this
bird in the Valley of Cashmere:--
"Lays in the third week of April. Eggs four in number, ovato-pyriform,
measuring from 1.6 to 1.7 in length and from 1.2 to 1.25 in breadth.
Colour green spotted with brown; valley generally. Nest placed in
Chinar and difficult trees."
Captain Hutton tells us that the Corby "occurs at Mussoorie throughout
the year, and is very destructive to young fowls and pigeons; it
breeds in May and June, and selects a tall tree, near a house or
village, on which to build its nest, which is composed externally of
dried sticks and twigs, and lined with grass and hair, which latter
material it will pick from the backs of horses and cows, or from
skins of animals laid out to dry. I have had skins of the Surrow
(_Noemorhaedus thar_) nearly destroyed by their depredations. The eggs
are three or four in number."
From the plains I have very few notes. I transcribe a few of my own.
"On the 11th March, near Oreyah, I found a nest of a Corby--good large
stick nest, built with tamarind twigs, and placed fully 40 feet from
the ground in the fork of a mango-tree standing by itself. The nest
measured quite 18 inches in diameter and five in thickness. It was a
nearly flat platform with a central depression 8 inches in diameter,
and not more than 2 deep, but there was a solid pad of horsehair more
than an inch thick below this. I took the mass out; it must have
weighed half a pound. Four eggs much incubated.
"_Etawah, 14th March_.--Another nest at the top of one of the huge
tamarind-trees behind the Asthul: could not get up to it. A boy
brought the nest down; it was not above a foot across, and perhaps 3
inches deep; cavity about 6 inches in diameter, thickly lined with
grass-roots, inside which again was a coating of horsehair perhaps a
rupee in thickness; nest swarming with vermin. Eggs five, quite fresh;
four eggs normal; one quite round, a pure pale slightly greenish
blue, with only a few very minute spots and specks of brown having a
tendency to form a feeble zone round the large end. Measures only 1.25
by 1.2. Neither in shape, size, nor colour is it like a Corby's egg;
but it is not a Koel's, or that of any of our parasitic Cuckoos, and
I have seen at home similar pale eggs of the Rook, Hooded Crow,
Carrion-Crow, and Raven.
"_Bareilly, May 10th_.--Three fresh eggs in large nest on a
mango-tree. Nest as usual, but lined with an immense quantity of
horsehair. We brought this home and weighed it; it weighed six ounces,
and horsehair is very light."
Major C.T. Bingham writes:--
"This Crow, so common at Allahabad, is very scarce here at Delhi. In
fact I have only seen one pair.
"At Allahabad it lays in February and March. I have, however, only
found one nest, a rather loose structure of twigs and a few thick
branches with rather a deep depression in the centre. It was placed on
the very crown of a high toddy palm (_Borassus flabelliformis_) and
was unlined save for a wad of human hair, on which the eggs, two in
number, lay; these I found hard-set (on the 13th March); in colour
they were a pale greenish blue, boldly blotched, spotted, and speckled
Colonel Butler has furnished me with the following note on the
breeding of the Jungle-Crow:--
"Belgaum, 12th March, 1880.--A nest containing four fresh eggs. It
consisted of a loose structure of sticks lined with hair and leaves,
and was placed at the top of and in the centre of a green-foliaged
tree in a well-concealed situation about 30 feet from the ground. 18th
March: Two nests, each containing three slightly incubated eggs; one
of the nests was quite low down in the centre of an 'arbor vitae'
about 12 feet from the ground. 31st March: Another nest containing
four slightly incubated eggs. Some of the latter nests were very
solidly built, and not so well Concealed. 11th April: Two more
nests, containing five incubated and three slightly incubated eggs
respectively; and on the 14th April a nest containing four slightly
incubated eggs. These birds, when the eggs are at all incubated, often
sit very close, especially if the nest is in an open situation, and in
many instances I have thrown several stones at the nest, and made as
much row as I could below without driving the old bird off, and I have
seen my nest-seeker within a few yards of the nest after climbing the
tree before the old bird flew off. On the 26th of April I found two
more nests, one containing four young birds just hatched, the other
three fresh eggs. On the 27th another nest containing three fresh
eggs, and on the 28th a nest of three fresh eggs. On the 5th May
two more nests containing four fresh and four incubated eggs
"In the Nilghiris," writes Mr. Davison, "the Corby builds a coarse
nest of twigs, lined with cocoanut-fibre or dry grass high up in some
densely-foliaged tree. The eggs are usually four, often five, in
number. The birds lay in April and May."
Miss Cockburn again says:--"They build like all Crows on large
trees merely by laying a few sticks together on some strong branch,
generally very high up in the tree. I do not remember ever seeing more
than one nest on a tree at a time, so that they differ very much from
the Rook in that respect. They lay four eggs of a bluish green,
with dusky blotches and spots, and nothing can exceed the care and
attention they bestow on their young. Even when the latter are able
to leave their nests and take long flights, the parent birds will
accompany them as if to prevent their getting into mischief. The nests
are found in April and May."
Mr. J. Darling, jun., writes from the Nilghiris:--"I have found the
nest of this Crow pretty nearly all over the Nilghiris. The usual
number of eggs laid is four, but on one occasion, near the Quinine
Laboratory in the Government Gardens at Ooty, I procured six from one
nest. The breeding-season is from March to May, but I have taken eggs
as early as the 12th February."
From Ceylon, we hear from Mr. Layard that "about the villages the
Carrion-Crow builds its nest in the cocoanut-trees. In the jungles
it selects a tall tree, amid the upper branches of which it fixes
a framework of sticks, and on this constructs a nest of twigs
and grasses. The eggs, from three to five, are usually of a dull
greenish-brown colour, thickly mottled with brown, these markings
being most prevalent at the small end. They are usually laid in
January and February."
Mr. J.E. Cripps informs us that in Eastern Bengal it is "common and a
permanent resident. Occasionally found in the clumps of jungle that
are found about the country, which the next species never affects.
Breeds in the cold weather. I had noticed a pair building on a
Casuarina tree in my garden, about 50 feet off the ground, and on the
18th December, 1877, I took two perfectly fresh eggs from it; and
again on the 9th January, 1878, I found two callow young in this same
nest, the birds never having deserted it. The lining used for this
nest was principally jute-fibre--any tree is selected to build on; the
nests are placed from 15 to 50 feet off the ground. Some nests are
very well concealed, whereas others are quite exposed. On the 15th
January I found a nest about 15 feet up a small kudum tree, standing
in a large plain, and which had a lining of hair from the tail-tufts
of cows. There was one fresh egg, and a week later I got another fresh
egg from this very nest. From two to four eggs are in each nest."
Mr. Oates writes from Pegu:--"These birds all begin to build about the
same time, and I have taken numerous nests at the end of January. At
the end of February most nests contain young birds."
Mr. W. Theobald gives the following notes on the nidification of this
bird in Tenasserim and near Deoghur:--
"Lays in the third week of February and fourth week of March: eggs
ovato-pyriform; size 1.66 by 1.15; colour, dull sap-green much
blotched with brown; nest carefully placed in tall trees."
The eggs, though smaller, closely resemble, as might have been
expected, those of the Raven, but they are, I think, typically
somewhat broader and shorter. Almost every variety, as far as
coloration goes, to be found amongst those of the Raven, are found
amongst the eggs of the present species, and _vice versa_; and for a
description of these it is only necessary to refer to the account of
the former species; but I may notice that amongst the eggs of _C.
macrorhynchus_ I have not yet noticed any so boldly blotched as is
occasionally the case with some of the eggs of the Raven, which remind
one not a little, so far as the character of the markings go, of eggs
of _Oedicnemus crepitans_ and _Esacus recurvirostris_. Like those
of the Raven the eggs exhibit little gloss, though here and there
a fairly glossy egg is met with. Eggs from various parts of the
Himalayas, of the plains of Upper India, of the hills and plains of
Southern India, do not differ in any respect. _Inter se_ the eggs from
each locality differ surprisingly in size, in tone of colour, and in
character of markings; but when you compare a dozen or twenty from
each locality, you find that these differences are purely individual
and in no degree referable to locality.
There are just as big eggs and just as small ones from Simla and
Kotegurh, from Cashmere, from Etawah, Bareilly, Futtehgurh, from
Kotagherry, and Conoor; all that one can possibly say is that perhaps
the Plains birds do on the _average_ lay a _shade larger_ eggs than
the Himalayan or Nilghiri ones.
Taking the eggs as a whole, I think that in size and shape they are
about intermediate between the eggs of the European Carrion-Crow and
Rook. But they vary, as I said, astonishingly in size, from 1.5 to
1.95 in length, and in breadth from 1.12 to 1.22, and I have one
perfectly spherical egg, a deformity of course, which measures 1.25 by
The average of thirty Himalayan eggs is 1.73 by 1.18, of twenty Plains
eggs 1.74 by 1.2, and of fifteen Nilghiri eggs 1.7 by 1.18. I would
venture to predict that with fifty of each, there would not be a
hundredth of an inch between their averages.
7. Corvus splendens, Vieill. _The Indian House-Crow_.
Corvus splendens, _Vieill. Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 298.
Corvus impudicus, _Hodgs., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 663.
Throughout India and Upper Burma the Common Crow resides and breeds,
not ascending the hills either in Southern or Northern India to any
great elevation, but breeding up to 4000 feet in the Himalayas.
The breeding-season _par excellence_ is June and July, but occasional
nests will be found earlier even in Upper India, and in Southern and
Eastern India a great number lay in May. The nests are commonly placed
in trees without much regard to size or kind, though densely foliaged
ones are preferred, and I have just as often found several in the same
tree as single ones. At times they will build in nooks of ruins
or large deserted buildings, where these are in well inhabited
localities, but out of many thousands I have only seen three or four
nests in such abnormal positions.
The nest is placed in some fork, and is usually a ragged stick
platform, with a central depression lined with grass-roots; but they
are not particular as to material; I have found wool, rags, grass, and
all kinds of vegetable fibre, and Mr. Blyth mentions that he has "seen
several nests composed more or less, and two almost exclusively, of
the wires taken from soda-water bottles, which had been purloined from
the heaps of these wires commonly set aside by the native servants
until they amount to a saleable quantity." Four is the normal number
of eggs laid, but I often have found five, and on two occasions six.
It is in this bird's nest that the Koel chiefly lays.
Writing of Nepal, Dr. Scully remarks:--"In the valley it lays in May
and June; some twenty nests were once examined on the 23rd June, and
half the number then contained young birds."
Major Bingham says:--"Very common, of course, both at Allahabad and at
Delhi, and breeds in June, July, and beginning of August. At Allahabad
it is much persecuted by the Koel (_Eudynamys orientalis_), every
fourth or fifth nest that I found in some topes of mango-trees having
one or two of the Koel's eggs."
Colonel Butler informs me that in Karachi it "begins to lay in the
mangrove bushes in the harbour as early as the end of May;" and that
it "breeds in the neighbourhood of Deesa in June, July, and August,
commencing to build in the last week of May."
Later, he writes:--"Belgaum, 15th May, 1879. Found numerous nests in
the native infantry lines in low trees, containing fresh and incubated
eggs and young birds of all sizes. In the same locality, on the 30th
March, 1880, I found a nest containing four young birds able to fly;
the eggs must therefore have been laid quite as early as the middle of
February, if not earlier."
Mr. G.W. Vidal writes:--"The Common Crow appears to have two broods in
the year in our district (Ratnagiri), the first in April and May, and
the second in November and December. In these four months I have
found nests, eggs, and young birds in several different places in the
district, and as yet at no other times. It is extremely improbable
that there should be one breeding-season lasting from April to
December, and I think I may State with certainty that the Crows _do
not_ breed at Ratnagiri during the months of heaviest rainfall,
viz. July, August, and September. As their breeding in November and
December appears to be exceptional, I subjoin a record of the few
nests I examined.
"Nov. 22, 1878. Ratnagiri:
One nest with 3 young birds.
" " 1 fresh egg.
"Nov. 23, 1878. Ratnagiri:
One nest with 1 fresh egg.
" " 1 fresh egg.
"Dec. 4, 1878. Saugmeshwar.--One nest with 3 eggs hard-set; another
nest probably containing young birds, but the Crows pecked so
viciously at the man who was climbing the tree, that he got frightened
and came down again without reaching the nest. Crows with sticks and
feathers in their mouths are flying about all day.
"Dec. 5, 1878. Aroli.--Found a nest with a Crow sitting in it; no one
to climb the tree."
Mr. Benjamin Aitken has favoured me with the following interesting
note:--"I send you an account of a nest of the Common Crow, found in
October, 1874, in the town of Madras. My attention was first directed
to the remarkable pair of Crows to which the nest belonged, in the end
of July, when they were determinedly and industriously attempting to
fix a nest on the top ledge of a pillar in the verandah of the 'Madras
Mail' office. The ledge was so narrow that one would have thought the
Sparrow alone of all known birds would have selected it for a site;
and even the Sparrow only under the condition of a writing or
toilet-table being underneath to catch the lime, sticks, straws, rags,
feathers, and other innumerable materials that commonly strew the
ground below a Sparrow's nest. I was told that the Crows had been at
their task for two months before I saw them, and I then watched them
till nearly the end of October. The celebrated spider that taught King
Bruce a lesson in patience was eager and fitful compared with this
pair of Crows. I kept no account of the number of times their
structure was blown down, only to be immediately begun again; but as
there was a good deal of rain and wind at that season, in addition to
the regular sea-breeze, it was a common thing for the sticks to be
cleared off day after day. But perseverance will often achieve seeming
impossibilities, and, moreover, the Crows worked more indefatigably as
the season went on, and used to run up their nest with great rapidity
(no doubt, also, they improved by their practice); so that several
times the structure was completed, or nearly completed, before being
swept to the ground, though how it remained in its place for a moment
seems a mystery; and twice I saw a broken egg among the scattered
_debris_. At length, about the middle of September, the Crows
determined to try the pillar at the other end of the verandah. By this
time, of course, all the Crows in Madras had long brought up their
broods and sent them adrift; and what they thought to see an eccentric
pair of their own species forsaking society, and _building_ in
September, may be imagined. The new site selected differed in no
respect from the old one, and was no less exposed to the wind; but the
birds had grown expert at building 'castles in the air,' and now met
with fewer mishaps. In the first week of October the hen bird was
sitting regularly, so on the 8th of the month I sent a man up by a
ladder, and he held up four eggs for me to look at. It fairly seemed
after this that patience was to have its reward, but on the night of
the 20th there came a storm of wind and rain, and when I went to the
office in the morning, the nest was lying on the ground, with two
young Crows in it, with the feathers just beginning to appear. The
other two, I suppose, had fallen over into the street. And thus
ended one of the most persevering attempts on record to overcome a
difficulty insurmountable from the first. The old birds thought it
time now to stop operations, and frequented the office no more.
"I am told by a gentleman in the 'Mail' office that the Crows have
built in that verandah regularly for five or six years past, but
nobody seems to have watched the nests. I am, therefore, hopeful that
the attempt will be repeated this year, in which case I will keep a
diary of all that takes place."
He writes subsequently:--"I sent you a long story in my last batch of
notes about two eccentric Crows that succeeded in building a nest upon
the narrow ledge of a pillar in the verandah of my office, several
months after all well-conducted Crows had sent out their progeny to
battle with the world. I mentioned to you that they were said to build
in that unnatural place every year, and I said that I would watch them
"Well, would you believe it? on the 26th July, when every other Crow's
nest in Madras had hard-set eggs, or newly-hatched young ones, these
two indefatigable birds set methodically to work to construct a nest
on the south pillar--the one where all their earlier efforts were made
last year, but not the one on which they succeeded in fixing their
nest. They worked all the 26th and 27th, putting up sticks as fast as
they fell down, and then desisted till the 4th August, when they began
operations on the opposite (north) pillar with redoubled energy.
Meeting with no better success they left off operations after a couple
of days' fruitless labour. Yesterday (after a delay of five weeks)
they set to work on the south pillar again and succeeded in raising
a great pile, which, however, was ignominiously blown down in the
afternoon. To-day they are continuing their work indefatigably."
Mr. J.E. Cripps has the following note in his list of birds of
Furreedpore, Eastern Bengal:--"Very common, and a permanent resident,
affecting the haunts of man. They build and lay in May. The Koel lays
its eggs in this bird's nest. In April, 1876, I saw two nests in the
compound of the house in which I lived at Howrah, which were made
_entirely_ of galvanized wire, the thickest piece of which was as
thick as a slate pencil. How the birds managed to bend these thick
pieces of wire was a marvel to us; not a stick was incorporated with
the wires, and the lining of the nest (which was of the ordinary
size) was jute and a few feathers. The railway goods-yard, which was
alongside the house, supplied the wire, of which there was ever so
much lying about there."
Typically the eggs may, I think, be said to be rather broad ovals, a
good deal pointed towards the small end; but really the eggs vary so
much in shape that, even with nearly two hundred before me, it is
difficult to decide what is really the most typical form. Pyriform,
elongated, and globular varieties are common; long Cormorant-shaped
eggs and perfect ovals are not uncommon. As regards the colour of the
ground, and colour, character, and extent of marking, all that I have
above said of the Raven's eggs applies to those of this species, but
varieties occur amongst those of the latter which I have not observed
in those of the former. In some the ground is a very pale pure
bluish green, in others it is dingier and greener. All are blotched,
speckled, and streaked more or less with somewhat pale sepia markings;
but in some the spots and specks are a darker brown and, as a rule,
well defined, and there is very little streaking, while in others the
brown is pale and muddy, the markings ill-defined, and nearly the
whole surface of the egg is freckled over with smudgy streaks.
Sometimes the markings are most numerous at the large end, sometimes
at the small; no two eggs are exactly alike, and yet they have so
strong a family resemblance that there is no possibility of mistaking
them. Generally the markings as a whole are less bold, and the general
colour of a large body of them laid together is bluer and brighter
than that of a similar drawer-full of Ravens' eggs. As a whole, too,
they are more glossy. I have one egg before me bright blue and almost
as glossy as a Mynah's, thickly blotched and speckled at the broad
end, and thinly spotted elsewhere with olive-green, blackish-brown,
and pale purple. Another egg, a pale pure blue, is spotless, except
at the large end, where there is a conspicuous cap of olive-brown and
olive-green spots and speckles, and there are numerous other abnormal
varieties which I have not observed amongst the Ravens.
On the whole the eggs do _not_ vary much in size; out of one hundred
and ninety-seven, one hundred and ninety-five varied between 1.28 and
1.65 in length, and 0.98 and 1.15 in breadth. One egg measures only
1.2 in length, and one is only 0.96 in breadth; but the average of the
whole is 1.44 by 1.06.
8. Corvus insolens, Hume. _The Burmese House-Crow_.
Corvus insolens; _Hume; Hume, Cat._ no. 663 bis.
The Burmese House-Crow breeds pretty well over the whole of Burma.
Mr. Oates, writing from Pegu, says:--"Nesting operations are
commenced about the 20th March. The nest and eggs require no
separate description, for both appear to be similar to those of _C.
When large series of the eggs of both these species are compared,
those of the Burmese Crow strike one as _averaging_ somewhat brighter
coloured, otherwise they are precisely alike and need no separate
9. Corvus monedula, Linn. _The Jackdaw_.
Colaeus monedula (_Linn._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 302.
Corvus monedula, _Linn., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 665.
I only know positively of Jackdaws breeding in one district within our
limits, viz. Cashmere; but I have seen it in the hills in summer, as
far east as the Valley of the Beas, and it must breed everywhere in
suitable localities between the two.
In the cold season of course the Jackdaw descends into the plains of
the North-west Punjaub, is very numerous near the foot of the hills,
and has been found in cis-Indus as far east as Umballa, and south at
Ferozpoor, Jhelum, and Kalabagh. In Trans-Indus it extends unto the
Dehra Ghazi Khan district.
I have never taken its eggs myself.
Mr. W. Theobald makes the following remarks on its nidification in the
Valley of Cashmere:--
"Lays in the first week of May; eggs four, five, and six in number,
ovato-pyriform and long ovato-pyriform, measuring from 1.26, 1.45, to
1.60 in length, and from 0.9 to 1.00 in breadth; colour pale,
clear bluish green, dotted and spotted with brownish black; valley
generally; in holes of rocks, beneath roofs, and in tall trees."
Dr. Jerdon says:--"It builds in Cashmere in old ruined palaces, holes
in rocks, beneath roofs of houses, and also in tall trees, laying four
to six eggs, pale bluish green, clotted and spotted with brownish
Mr. Brookes writes:--"The Jackdaw breeds in Cashmere in all suitable
places: holes in old Chinar (Plane) trees, and in house-walls, under
the eaves of houses, &c. I did not note the materials of the nests,
but these will be the same as in England."
The eggs of this species are typically rather elongated ovals,
somewhat compressed towards one end. The shell is fine, but has only a
faint gloss. The ground-colour is a pale greenish white, but in some
eggs there is very little green, while in a very few the ground is
quite a bright green. The markings, sometimes very fine and close,
sometimes rather bold and thinly set, consist of specks or spots of
deep blackish brown, olive-brown, and pale inky purple. In most eggs
all these colours are represented, but in some eggs the olive-, in
others the blackish-brown is almost entirely wanting. In some eggs
the markings are very dense towards the large end, in others they are
pretty uniformly distributed over the whole surface; in some they are
very minute and speckly, in others they average the tenth of an inch
The eggs that I possess vary from 1.34 to 1.52 in length, and from
0.93 to 1.02 in breadth; but the average of sixteen eggs was 1.4 by
10. Pica rustica (Scop.). _The Magpie_.
Pica bactriana, _Bp., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E_, no. 668 bis.
The Magpie breeds, we know, in Afghanistan, and also throughout Ladak
from the Zojee-la Pass right up to the Pangong Lake, but it breeds so
early that one is never in time for the eggs. The passes are not open
until long after they are hatched.
Captain Hutton says this bird "is found all the year round from
Quettah to Girishk, and is very common. They breed in March, and the
young are fledged by the end of April. The nest is like that of the
European bird, and all the manners of the Afghan Magpie are precisely
the same. They may be seen at all seasons."
From Afghanistan, Lieut. H.E. Barnes writes:--
"The Magpie is not uncommon in the hills wherever there are trees, but
it seldom descends to the plains. They commence breeding in March, in
which month and April I have examined scores of nests, which in every
case were built in the 'Wun,' a species of _Pistacia_--the only tree
found hereabouts. A stout fork near the top is usually selected.
"The nest is shallow and cup-shaped, with a superstructure of twigs,
forming a canopy over the egg-cavity. The eggs, generally five in
number, are of the usual corvine green, blotched, spotted, and
streaked, as a rule, most densely about the large end with umber
mingled with sepia-brown. The average of thirty eggs is 1.25 by .97."
Colonel Biddulph writes in 'The Ibis' that in Gilgit he took a nest
with five eggs, hard set, in a mulberry-tree at Nonval (5600 feet) on
the 9th May. Also another nest with three fresh eggs at Dayour(5200
feet) on the 25th May.
The eggs are typically rather elongated ovals, rather pointed towards
the small end, but shorter and broader varieties, and occasionally
ones with a pyriform tendency, occur. The ground is a greenish or
brownish white. In some eggs it has none, in others a slight gloss.
Everywhere the eggs are finely and streakly freckled with a brown that
varies from olive almost to sepia; about the large end the markings
are almost always most dense, forming there a more or less noticeable,
but quite irregular and undefined cap or zone. In one or two eggs dull
purplish-brown clouds or blotches underlie and intermingle with this
cap, and occasionally a small spot of this same tint may be noticed
elsewhere when the egg is closely examined.
12. Urocissa occipitalis (Bl.). _The Red-billed Blue Magpie_.
Urocissa sinensis (_Linn._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 309.
Urocissa occipitalis (_Bl_.), _Hume, Rough Draft N. & E_. no. 671.
I have never myself found the nest of the Red-billed Blue Magpie;
although it does breed sparingly as far east as Simla and Kotegurh,
it is not till you cross the Jumna that it is abundant. East of the
Jumna, about Mussoorie, Teeree, Grurhwal, Kumaon, and in Nepal, it is
From Mussoorie Captain Hutton tells us that "this species occurs at
Mussoorie throughout the year. It breeds at an elevation of 5000 feet
in May and June, making a loose nest of twigs externally and lined
with roots. The nest is built on trees, sometimes high up, at others
about 8 or 10 feet from the ground. The eggs are from three to five,
of a dull greenish ash-grey, blotched and speckled with brown dashes
confluent at the larger end, the ends nearly equal in size. It is very
terrene in its habits, feeding almost entirely on the ground."
Colonel G.F.L. Marshall remarks:--
"The Red-billed Blue Magpie is, as far as I know, an early breeder at
Naini Tal; common as the bird is I have only found one nest and that
on the 24th April; it was a shallow slenderly built structure of fine
roots, chiefly of maiden-hair fern, in a rough outer casing of twigs,
placed on a horizontal bough overhanging a nullah about fifteen feet
from the ground. The tree had moderately dense foliage, and was about
twenty-five feet high in a small clump on a hillside covered with low
scrub at 5000 feet elevation above the sea. Around the nest several
small boughs and twigs grew out, and being very slight in structure it
was not easy to see. The old bird sat very close. There were six eggs
in the nest about half-incubated: in two of them the markings were
densest at the small end. The egg-cavity was 6 inches in diameter by
about 11/4 deep. On the 5th June I saw old birds accompanied by young
ones able to fly, but without the long tails."
The eggs of this species much resemble those of the European Magpie,
but are considerably smaller. They are broad, rather perfect ovals,
somewhat elongated and pointed in many specimens. They exhibit but
little gloss. The ground-colour varies much, but in all the examples
that I possess, which I owe to Captain Hutton's kindness, it is either
of a yellowish-cream, pale _cafe au lait_ or buff colour, or pale dull
greenish. The ground is profusely blotched, spotted, and streaked (the
general character of the markings being striations parallel to the
major axis), with various shades of reddish and yellowish, brown and
pale inky purple. The markings vary much in intensity as well as in
frequency, some being so closely set as to hide the greater part of
the ground-colour; but in the majority of the eggs they are more or
less confluent at the large end, where they form a comparatively dark,
irregular blotchy zone.
The eggs vary from 1.25 to 1.4 in length, and from 0.89 to 0.96 in
breadth; but the average of 11 eggs is 1.33 by 0.93.
Major Bingham, referring to the Burmese Magpie, which has been
separated under by the name of _U. magnirostris_, says:--
"This species I have only found common in the Thoungyeen Valley.
Elsewhere it seemed to me scarce. Below I give a note about its
"I have found three nests of this handsome Magpie--two on the bank
of the Meplay choung on the 14th April, 1879, and 5th March, 1880,
respectively, and one near Meeawuddy on the Thoungyeen river on the
19th March, 1880.
"The first contained three, the second four, and the third two eggs.
"These are all of the same type, dead white, with pale claret-coloured
clashes and spots rather washed-out looking, and lying chiefly at the
large end. One egg has the spots thicker at the small end. They are
moderately broad ovals, and vary from 1.19 to 1.35 in length, and from
0.93 to 1.08 in breadth.
"The nests were all alike, thick solid structures of twigs and
branches, lined with finer twigs about 8 or 9 inches in diameter,
and placed invariably at the top of tall straight saplings of teak,
pynkado (_Xylia dolabriformis_), and other trees at a height of about
15 feet from the ground."
All the eggs of the Burmese bird that I have seen, nine taken by Major
Bingham, were of one and the same type. The eggs broad ovals, in most
cases pointed towards the small end. The shell fine, but as a rule
with scarcely any perceptible gloss. The ground-colour a delicate
creamy white. The markings moderate-sized blotches, spots, streaks,
and specks, as a rule comparatively dense about one, generally the
large, end, where only as a rule any at all considerable sized
blotches occur, elsewhere more or less sparsely set, and generally of
a speckly character. The markings are of two colours: brown, varying
in shade in different eggs, olive-yellowish, chocolate, and a grey,
equally varying in different eggs from pale purple to pale sepia. None
of my eggs of the Himalayan bird (I have unfortunately but few of
these) correspond at all closely with these.
13. Urocissa flavirostris (Bl.). _The Yellow-billed Blue Magpie_.
Urocissa flavirostris (_Bl.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 310; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 672.
The Yellow-billed Blue Magpie breeds throughout the lower ranges of
the Himalayas in well-wooded localities from Hazara to Bhootan, and
very likely further east still, from April to August, mostly however,
I think, laying in May. The nest, which is rather coarse and large,
made of sticks and lined with fine grass or grass-roots, is, so far
as my experience goes, commonly placed in a fork near the top of some
moderate-sized but densely foliaged tree.
I have never found a nest at a lower elevation than about 5000 feet;
as a rule they are a good deal higher up.
They lay from four to six eggs, but the usual number is five.
Colonel C.H.T. Marshall writes:--"The Yellow-billed Blue Magpie breeds
commonly about Murree. I have never seen the bird below 6000 feet in
the breeding-season. They do not commence laying till May, and I have
taken eggs nearly fresh as late as the 15th August. I do not think the
bird breeds twice, as the earliest eggs taken were found on the 10th
"They build in hill oaks as a rule, the height of the nest from the
ground varying much, some being as low as 10 feet, others nearer 30
feet. The hen bird sits close, and sometimes (when the nest is high
up) does not even leave the nest when the tree is struck below.
The nest is a rough structure built close to the trunk, externally
consisting of twigs and roots and lined with fibres. The egg-cavity is
circular and shallow, not at all neatly lined. The outer part of
the nest is large compared to what I should call the true nest, and
consists of a heap of twigs, &c. like what is gathered together for
the platform of a Crow's nest.
"The eggs, which are four in number, vary in length from 1.45 to 1.25,
and in breadth from 0.9 to 0.75. The ordinary type is an egg a good
deal pointed at the thinner end. The ground-colour is greenish white,
blotched and freckled with ruddy brown, with a ring at the larger end
of confluent spots. The young birds are of a very dull colour until
after the first month. The normal number of eggs laid appears to be
Captain Cock wrote to me:--"_U. flavirostris_ is common at Dhurmsala,
but the nest is rather difficult to find. I have only taken six in
three years. It is usually placed amongst the branches of the hill
oak, where it has been polled, and the thickly growing shoots afford a
good cover; but sometimes it is on the top of a small slender sapling.
The nest is a good-sized structure of sticks with a rather deep cup
lined with dried roots; in fact, it is very much like the nest of
_Garrulus lanceolatus_, only larger and much deeper. They generally
lay four eggs, which differ much in colour and markings."
Dr. Jerdon says:--"I had the nest and eggs brought me once. The nest
was made of sticks and roots. The eggs, three in number, were of a
greenish-fawn colour very faintly blotched with brown."
The eggs are of the ordinary Indian Magpie type, scarcely, if at all,
smaller than those of _U. occipitalis_, and larger than the average of
eggs of either _Dendrocitta rufa_ or _D. himalayensis_. Doubtless
all kinds of varieties occur, as the eggs of this family are very
variable; but I have only seen two types--in the one the ground is a
pale dingy yellowish stone-colour, profusely streaked, blotched, and
mottled with a somewhat pale brown, more or less olivaceous in some
eggs, the markings even in this type being generally densest towards
the large end, where they form an irregular mottled cap: in the other
type the ground is a very pale greenish-drab colour; there is a dense
confluent raw-sienna-coloured zone round the large end, and only a few
spots and specks of the same colour scattered about the rest of the
egg. All kinds of intermediate varieties occur. The texture of the
shell is fine and compact, and the eggs are mostly more or less
The eggs vary from 1.22 to 1.48 in length, and from 0.8 to 0.96 in
breadth; but the average of twenty-seven eggs is 1.3 by 0.92.
14. Cissa chinensis (Bodd.). _The Green Magpie_.
Cissa sinensis (_Briss._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 312.
Cissa speciosa (_Shaw_), _Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 673.
According to Mr. Hodgson's notes the Green Magpie breeds in Nepal in
the lower valleys and in the Terai from April to July. The nest is
built in clumps of bamboos and is large and cup-shaped, composed of
sticks and leaves, coated externally with bamboo-leaves and vegetable
fibres, and lined inside with fine roots. It lays four eggs, one of
which is figured as a broad oval, a good deal pointed towards one end,
with a pale stone-coloured ground freckled and mottled all over with
sepia-brown, and measuring 1.27 by 0.89.
Mr. Oates writes:--"In the Pegu Hills on the 19th April I found the
nest of the Green Magpie, and shot the female off it.
"The nest was placed in a small tree, about 20 feet from the ground,
in a nullah and well exposed to view. The nest was neatly built,
exteriorly of leaves and coarse roots, and finished off interiorly
with finer fibres and roots; depth about 2 inches; inside diameter 6
inches. Contained three eggs nearly hatched; all got broken; I have
the fragments of one. The ground-colour is greenish white, much
spotted and freckled with pale yellowish-brown spots and dashes, more
so at the larger end than elsewhere."
Sundry fragments that reached me, kindly sent to me by Mr. Oates, had
a dull white ground, very thickly freckled and mottled all over, as
far as I could judge, with dull, pale, yellowish brown and purplish
grey, the former preponderating greatly. As to size and shape, this
deponent sayeth nought.
Major Bingham writes from Tenasserim:--"On the 18th April I found a
nest of this most lovely bird placed at a height of 5 feet from the
ground in the fork of a bamboo-bush. It was a broad, massive, and
rather shallow cup of twigs, roots, and bamboo-leaves outside, and
lined with finer roots. It contained three eggs of a pale greenish
stone-colour, thickly and very minutely speckled with brown, which
tend to coalesce and form a cap at the larger end. I shot the female
as she flew off the nest."
Major Bingham subsequently found another nest in Tenasserim, about
which he says:--
"Crossing the Wananatchoung, a little tributary of the Thoungyeen, by
the highroad leading from Meeawuddy to the sources of the Thoungyeen,
I found in a small thorny tree on the 8th April a nest of the above
bird--a great, firmly-built but shallow saucer of twigs, 6 feet or so
above the ground, and lined with fine black roots. It contained three
fresh eggs of a dingy greyish white, thickly speckled chiefly at the
large end, where it forms a cap, with light purplish brown. The eggs
measure 1.25 x 0.89, 1.18 x 0.92, and 1.20 x 0.90."
Mr. James Inglis notes from Cachar:--"This Jay is rather rare; it
frequents low quiet jungle. In April last a Kuki brought me three
young ones he had taken from a nest in a clump of tree-jungle; he said
the nest was some 20 feet from the ground and made of bamboo-leaves
A nest of this species taken below Yendong in Native Sikhim, on the
28th April, contained four fresh eggs. It was placed on the branches
of a medium-sized tree at a height of about 12 feet from the ground;
it was a large oval saucer, 8 inches by 6, and about 2.5 in depth,
composed mainly of dry bamboo-leaves, bound firmly together with fine
stems of creepers, and was lined with moderately fine roots; the
cavity was 5 inches by 4, and about 1 in depth.
The eggs received from Major Bingham, as also others received from
Sikhim, where they were procured by Mr. Mandelli on the 21st and 28th
of April, are rather broad ovals, somewhat pointed towards the small
end. The shell is fine, but has only a little gloss. The ground-colour
is white or slightly greyish white, and they are uniformly freckled
all over with very pale yellowish and greyish brown. The frecklings
are always somewhat densest at the large end, where in some eggs
they form a dull brown cap or zone. In some eggs the markings are
everywhere denser, in some sparser, so that some eggs look yellower or
browner, and others paler.
The eggs are altogether of the _Garruline_ type, not of that of the
_Dendrocitta_ or _Urocissa_ type. I have eggs of _G. lanceolatus_,
that but for being smaller precisely match some of the _Cissa_ eggs.
Jerdon is, I think, certainly wrong in placing _Cissa_ between
_Urocissa_ and _Dendrocitta_, the eggs of which two last are of the
same and quite a distinct type[A].
[Footnote A: I am responsible, and not Mr. Hume, for calling this bird
a Magpie. Jerdon calls it a Jay, but places it among the Magpies,
which is, I consider, its proper position, notwithstanding the colour
of its eggs.--ED.]
The eggs vary from 1.15 to 1.26 in length, and from 0.9 to 0.95 in
breadth, but the average of eight is 1.21 by 0.92.
15. Cissa ornata (Wagler). _The Ceylonese Magpie_.
Cissa ornata (_Wagl._), _Hume, Cat._ no. 673 bis.
Colonel Legge writes in his 'Birds of Ceylon':--"This bird breeds
during the cool season. I found its nest in the Kandapolla jungles
in January; it was situated in a fork of the top branch of a tall
sapling, about 45 feet in height, and was a tolerably bulky structure,
externally made of small sticks, in the centre of which was a deep
cup 5 inches in diameter by 21/2 in depth, made entirely of fine roots;
there was but one egg in the nest, which unfortunately got broken in
being lowered to the ground. It was ovate and slightly pyriform, of
a faded bluish-green ground thickly spotted all over with very light
umber-brown, over larger spots of bluish-grey. It measured 0.98 inch
in diameter by _about_ 1.3 in length."
16. Dendrocitta rufa (Scop.). _The Indian Tree-pie_.
Dendrocitta rufa (_Scop._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 314; _Hume, Rough
Notes N. & E._ no. 674.
The Indian Tree-pie breeds throughout the continent of India, alike in
the plains and in the hills, up to an elevation of 6000 or 7000 feet.
I personally have found the nest with eggs in May, June, July,
and during the first week of August, in various districts in the
North-West Provinces, and have had them sent me from Saugor (taken
in July) and from Hansi (taken in April, May, and June); but perhaps
because the bird is so common scarcely any one has sent me notes about
its nidification, and I hardly know whether in other parts of India
and Burma its breeding-season is the same as with us.
The nest is always placed in trees, generally in a fork, near the top
of good large ones; babool and mango are very commonly chosen in the
North-West Provinces, though I have also found it on neem and sisso
trees. It is usually built with dry twigs as a foundation, very
commonly thorny and prickly twigs being used, on which the true nest,
composed of fine twigs and lined with grass-roots, is constructed. The
nests vary much: some are large and loosely put together, say, fully 9
inches in diameter and 6 inches in height externally; some are smaller
and more densely built, and perhaps not above 7 inches in diameter
and 4 inches in depth. The egg-cavity is usually about 5 inches in
diameter and 2 inches in depth, but they vary very much both in size
and materials; and I see that I note of one nest taken at Agra on the
3rd August--"A very shallow saucer some 6 inches in diameter, and
with a central depression not above 11/2 inch in depth. It was composed
_exclusively_ of roots; externally somewhat coarse, internally of
somewhat finer ones. It was very loosely put together."
Five is the full complement of eggs, but it is very common to find
only four fully incubated ones.
Mr. W. Blewitt writes that he "found several nests in the latter half
of April, May, and the early part of June in the neighbourhood of
"Four was the greatest number of eggs I found in any nest.
"The nests were placed in neem, keekur, and shishum trees, at heights
of from 10 to 17 feet from the ground, and were densely built of twigs
mostly of the keekur and shishum, and more or less thickly lined with
fine straw and leaves. They varied from 6 to 8 inches in diameter and
from 2 to 3 inches in depth."
Mr. A. Anderson writes:--"The Indian Magpie lays from April to July,
and I have once actually seen a pair building in February. Their
eggs are of two very distinct types,--the one which, according to
my experience, is the ordinary one, is covered all over with
reddish-brown spots or rather blotches, chiefly towards the big end,
on a pale greenish-white ground, and is rather a handsome egg; the
other is a pale green egg with _faint brown_ markings, which are
confined almost entirely to the obtuse end. I have another clutch of
eggs taken at Budaon in 1865, which presents an intermediate variety
between the above two extremes; these are profusely blotched with
russet-brown on a dirty-white ground.
"The second and third nests above referred to contained five eggs; but
the usual complement is not more than four. On the 2nd August, 1872,
I made the following note relative to the breeding of this bird:--The
bird flew off immediately we approached the tree, and never appeared
again. The nest viewed from below looked larger; this is owing to dry
_babool_ twigs or rather small branches (some of them having thorns
from an inch to 2 inches long!) having been used as a foundation, and
actually encircling the nest, no doubt by way of protection against
vermin; some of these thorny twigs were a foot long, and they had
to be removed piecemeal before the nest proper could be got at. The
egg-cavity is deep, measuring 5 inches in depth by 4 in breadth inside
measurement; it is well lined with khus grass."
Major Bingham says:--
"Common as is this bird I have only found one nest, and that was at
Allahabad on the 9th July, and contained one half-fledged young one
and an addled egg. The nest, which was placed at the very top of a
large mango-tree, was constructed of branches and twigs of the same
lined with fine grass-roots. The egg is a yellowish white, thickly
speckled, chiefly at the large end, with rusty. Length 1.10 by 0.82 in
Colonel Butler tells us that it "breeds in Sind, in the hot weather.
Mr. Doig took a nest containing three fresh eggs on the 1st May, 1878.
The eggs, which seem to me to be remarkably small for the size of the
bird, are of the first type mentioned in Rough Draft of 'Nests and
Eggs,' p. 422."
Lieut. H.E. Barnes says in his 'Birds of Bombay:'--"In Sind they breed
during May and June, always choosing babool trees, placing the nest
in a stoutish fork near the top; they are composed at the bottom of
thorny twigs, which form a sort of foundation upon which the true nest
is built; the latter consists of fine twigs lined with grass-roots;
the nest is frequently of large size."
Mr. G.W. Vidal, writing of the South Konkan, says:--"Common about all
well-wooded villages from coast to Ghats. Breeds in April."
With regard to Cachar Mr. Inglis writes:--"This Magpie is very common
in all the neighbouring villages, but I have not often seen it in the
jungles. It remains all the year and breeds during April and May."
The eggs are typically somewhat elongated ovals, a good deal pointed
towards the small end. They vary extraordinarily in colour and
character, as well as extent of markings, but, as remarked when
speaking of the Raven, all the eggs out of the same nest closely
resemble each other, while the eggs of different nests are almost
invariably markedly distinct. There are, however, two leading
types--the one in which the markings are bright red, brownish red, or
pale pinkish purple; and the other in which they are olive-brown and
pale purplish brown. In the first type the ground-colour is either
pale salmon, or else very pale greenish white, and the markings are
either bold blotches, more or less confluent at the large end, where
they are far most numerous, and only a few specks and spots towards
the smaller end, or they are spots and small blotches thickly
distributed over the whole surface, or they are streaky smudges
forming a mottled ill-defined cap at the large end, and running down
thence in streaks and spots longitudinally; in the other type the
ground-colour is greenish white or pale yellowish stone-colour, and
the character of the markings varies as in the preceding type. Besides
these there are a few eggs with a dingy greyish-white ground, with
very faint, cloudy, ill-defined spots of pale yellowish brown pretty
uniformly distributed over the whole surface. In nine eggs out of
ten, the markings are most dense at the large end, where they form
irregular, more or less imperfect caps or zones. A few of the eggs are
Of the salmon-pink type some specimens in their coloration resemble
eggs of _Dicrurus longicaudatus_ and some of our Goatsuckers, while of
those with the greenish-white ground-colour some strongly recall the
eggs of _Lanius lahtora_.
In length the eggs vary from 1.0 to 1.3, and in breadth from 0.78 to
0.95; but the average of forty-four eggs is 1.17 by 0.87.
17. Dendrocitta leucogastra, Gould. _The Southern Tree-pie_.
Dendrocitta leucogastra, _Gould, Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 317; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 678.
From Travancore Mr. Bourdillon has kindly sent me an egg and the
following note on the nidification of the Southern Tree-pie:--
"Three eggs, very hard-set, of an ashy-white colour, marked with ashy
and greenish-brown blotches, 1.12 long and 0.87 broad, were taken on
9th March, 1873, from a nest in a bush 8 or 10 feet from the ground.
The nest of twigs was built after the style of the English Magpie's
nest, minus the dome. It consisted of a large platform 6 inches deep
and 8 or 10 inches broad, supporting a nest 11/2 inch deep and 31/2 inches
broad. The bird is not at all uncommon on the Assamboo Hills between
the elevations of 1500 and 3000 feet above the sea, seeming to prefer
the smaller jungle and more open parts of the heavy forest."
Later he writes:--"On the 8th April I found another nest containing
three half-fledged Magpies (_D. leucogastra_). The nest was entirely
composed of twigs, roughly but securely put together; interior
diameter 3 inches and depth 2 inches, though there was a good-sized
base or platform, say, 5 inches in diameter. The nest was situated on
the top fork of a sapling about 12 feet from the ground. I tried to
rear the young birds, but they all died within a week."
The egg is very like that of our other Indian Tree-pies. It is in
shape a broad and regular oval, only slightly compressed towards one
end. The shell is fine and compact and is moderately glossy. The
ground is a creamy stone-colour. It is profusely blotched and streaked
with a somewhat pale yellowish brown, these markings being most
numerous and darkest in a broad, irregular, imperfect zone round the
large end, and it exhibits further a number of pale inky-purple clouds
and blotches, which seem to underlie the brown markings, and which are
chiefly confined to the broader half of the egg. The latter measures
1.13 by 0.86.
18. Dendrocitta himalayensis, Bl. _The Himalayan Tree-pie_.
Dendrocitta sinensis (_Lath._) _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 316.
Dendrocitta himalayensis, _Bl., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 676.
Common as is the Himalayan Tree-pie throughout the lower ranges of
those mountains from which it derives its name, I personally have
never taken a nest.
It breeds, I know, at elevations of from 2000 to 6000 feet, during the
latter half of May, June, July, and probably the first half of August.
A nest in my museum taken by Mr. Gammie in Sikhim, at an elevation of
about 2500 feet, out of a small tree, on the 30th of July, contained
two fresh eggs. It was a very shallow cup, composed entirely of fine
stems, apparently of some kind of creeper, strongly but not at all
compactly interwoven; in fact, though the nest holds together firmly,
you can see through it everywhere. It is about 6 inches in external
diameter, and has an egg-cavity of about 4 inches wide and 1.5 deep.
It has no pretence for lining of any kind.
Of another nest which he took Mr. Gammie says:--"I found a nest
containing three fresh eggs in a bush, at a height of about 10 feet
from the ground. The nest was a very loose, shallow, saucer-like
affair, some 6 or 7 inches in diameter and an inch or so in thickness,
composed entirely of the dry stems and tendrils of creepers. This was
at Labdah, in Sikhim, at an elevation of about 3000 feet, and the date
the 14th May, 1873." Later he writes:--
"This Magpie breeds in the Darjeeling District in May, June, and July,
most commonly at elevations between 2000 and 4000 feet. It affects
clear cultivated tracts interspersed with a few standing shrubs and
bamboos, in which it builds. The nest is generally placed from 6 to 12
feet from the ground in the inner part of the shrubs, and is made of
pieces of creeper stems intermixed with a few small twigs loosely
put together without any lining. There is scarcely any cup, merely a
depression towards the centre for the eggs to rest in. Internally it
measures about 4.8 in breadth by 1.5 in depth. The eggs are three or
four in number.
"This is a very common and abundant bird between 2000 and 4000 feet,
but is rarely found far from cultivated fields. It seems to be
exceedingly fond of chestnuts, and, in autumn, when they are ripe,
lives almost entirely on them; but at other times is a great pest in
the grain-fields, devouring large quantities of the grain and being
held in detestation by the natives in consequence. Jerdon says 'it
usually feeds on trees,' but I have seen it quite as frequently
feeding on the ground as on trees."
Mr. Hodgson has two notes on the nidification of this species in
Nepal:--"_May 18th_.--Nest, two eggs and two young; nest on the
fork of a small tree, saucer-shaped, made of slender twigs twisted
circularly and without lining; cavity 3.5 in diameter by 0.5 deep;
eggs yellowish, white, blotched with pale olive chiefly at the larger
end; young just born.
"_Jaha Powah, 6th June_.--Female and nest in forest on a largish tree
placed on the fork of a branch; a mere bunch of sticks like a
Crow's nest; three eggs, short and thick, fawny white blotched with
fawn-brown chiefly at the thick end."
Dr. Jerdon says:--"I have had the nest and eggs brought me at
Darjeeling frequently. The nest is made of sticks and roots, and
the eggs, three or four in number, are of a pale dull greenish-fawn
colour, with a few pale reddish-brown spots and blotches, sometimes
Captain Hutton tells us that this species "occurs abundantly at
Mussoorie, at about 5000 feet elevation, during summer, and more
sparingly at greater elevations. In the winter it leaves the mountains
for the Dhoon.
"It breeds in May, on the 27th of which month I took a nest with three
eggs and another with three young ones. The nest is like that of
_Urocissa occipitalis_, being composed externally of twigs and lined
with finer materials, according to the situation; one nest, taken in
a deep glen by the side of a stream, was lined with the long fibrous
leaves of the Mare's tail (_Equisetum_) which grew abundantly by the
water's edge; another, taken much higher on the hillside and away from
the water, was lined with tendrils and fine roots. The nest is placed
rather low, generally about 8 or 10 feet from the ground, sometimes at
the extremity of a horizontal branch, sometimes in the forks of young
bushy oaks. The eggs somewhat resemble those of _U. occipitalis_, but
are paler and less spotted, being of a dull greenish ash with brown
blotches and spots, somewhat thickly clustered at the larger end."
Mr. J.R. Cripps says:--"On the 15th June, 1880, I found a nest [in the
Dibrugarh District] with three fresh eggs. It was fixed in the middle
branches of a sapling, about ten feet off the ground, in dense
forest, and was built of twigs, presenting a fragile appearance; the
egg-cavity was 41/2 inches [in diameter] and 1 inch deep, and lined with
fine twigs and grass-roots."
Captain Wardlaw Ramsay writes:--"I obtained two eggs of this species
at an elevation of 4200 feet in the Karen hills east of Toungngoo on
the 16th April, 1875."
Taking the eggs as a body they are rather regular, somewhat elongated
ovals, but broader and again more pointed varieties occur. The
ground-colour varies a great deal: in a few it is nearly pure white,
generally it has a dull greenish or yellowish-brown tinge, in some
it is creamy, in some it has a decided pinky tinge. The markings are
large irregular blotches and streaks, almost always most dense at the
large end, where they are often more or less confluent, forming an
irregular mottled cap, and not unfrequently very thinly set over the
rest of the surface of the egg. In one egg, however, the zone is about
the thick end, and there are scarcely any markings elsewhere. As a
rule the markings are of an olive-brown of one shade or another; but
when the ground is at all pinkish then the markings are more or less
of a reddish brown. Besides these primary markings, all the eggs
exhibit a greater or smaller number of faint lilac or purple spots or
blotches, which chiefly occur where the other markings are most dense.
In length they vary from 1.06 to 1.22, and in breadth from 0.8 to 1.0,
but the average of 34 eggs is 1.14 by 0.85.
21. Crypsirhina varians (Lath.). _The Black Racket-tailed Magpie_.
Crypsirhina varians (_Lath._), _Hume, Cat._ no. 678 quat.
This Magpie is very common in Lower Pegu, where Mr. Oates found many
nests. He says:--
"This bird appears to lay from the 1st of June to the 15th of July;
most of my nests were taken in the latter month. It selects either one
of the outer branches of a very leafy thorny bush, or perhaps more
commonly a branch of a bamboo, at heights varying from 5 to 20 feet.
"The nest is composed of fine dead twigs firmly woven together. The
interior is lined with twisted tendrils of convolvulus and other
creepers. The uniformity with which this latter material is used in
all nests is remarkable. The inside diameter is 5 inches, and the
depth only 1, thus making the structure very flat. The exterior
dimensions are not so definite, for the twigs and creepers stick out
in all directions; but making all allowances, the outside diameter may
be put down at 7 or 8 inches, and the total depth at 11/2 inches.
"The eggs are usually three in number, but occasionally only two well
incubated eggs may be found. In a nest from which two fresh eggs had
been taken, a third was found a few days later.
"The eggs measure from 1.09 to .88 in length, and from .76 to .68 in
breadth. The average of 22 eggs is .98 by .72."
In shape the eggs are typically moderately broad, rather regular
ovals, but some are distinctly compressed towards the small end, some
are slightly pyriform, some even pointed, though in the great majority
of cases the egg is pretty obtuse at the small end; the shell is
compact and tolerably fine, and has a faint gloss. The ground-colour
seems to be invariably a pale yellowish stone-colour. The markings
vary a good deal: in some they are more speckly, in others more
streaky, but taking them as a whole they are intermediate between
those of _Dendrocitta_ and those of _Garrulus_, neither so bold and
streaky as the former, nor so speckly as the latter. The markings are
a yellowish olive-brown; they consist of spots, specks, small streaky
blotches and frecklings; they are always pretty densely set over the
whole surface of the egg, but they are always most dense in a zone or
sometimes a cap at the large end, where they are often, to a great
extent, confluent. In some eggs small dingy brownish-purple spots
and little blotches are intermingled in the zone. The eggs differ
in general appearance a good deal, because in some almost all the
markings are fine grained and freckly, and in such eggs but little of
the ground-colour is visible, while in other eggs the markings are
bolder (in comparison, for they are never really bold) and thinner
set, and leave a good deal of the ground-colour visible.
23. Platysmurus leucopterus (Temm.). _The White-winged Jay_.
Platysmurus leucopterus (_Temm._), _Hume, Cat._ no. 678 quint.
Mr. W. Davison writes:--
"I found a nest of this bird on the 8th of April at the hot springs at
Ulu Laugat. The nest was built on the frond of a _Calamus_, the end
of which rested in the fork of a small sapling. The nest was a great
coarse structure like a Crow's, but even more coarsely and irregularly
built, and with the egg-cavity shallower. It was composed externally
of small branches and twigs, and loosely lined with coarse fibres and
strips of bark. It contained two young birds about a couple of days
old. The nest was placed about 6 feet from the ground. The surrounding
jungle was moderately thick, with a good deal of undergrowth."
24. Garrulus lanceolatus, Vigors. _The Black-throated Jay_.
Garrulus lanceolatus, _Vig., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 308; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 670.
The Black-throated Jay breeds throughout the Himalayas, at elevations
of from 4000 to 8000 feet, from the Valley of Nepal to Murree.
They lay from the middle of April until the middle of June.
They build on trees or thick bushes, never at any great height from
the ground, and often within reach of the hand. They always, I think,
choose a densely foliaged tree, and place the nest sometimes in a main
fork and sometimes on some horizontal bough supported by one or more
All the nests I have seen were moderately shallow cups, built with
slender twigs and sticks, some 6 inches in external diameter, and from
less than 3 inches to nearly 4 inches in height, with a nest-cavity
some 4 inches across and 2 inches deep, lined with grass and
moss-roots. Once only I found a nest almost entirely composed of
grass, and with no lining but fine grass-stems.
The eggs vary from four to six, but this latter number is rarely met
Colonel C.H.T. Marshall writes:--"This is one of the commonest birds
about Murree; we always found it well to the front during our rambles,
chattering about in the trees. They breed from the middle of April
till the end of June. We have taken their eggs between the 20th April
and the 16th June. They keep above 5000 feet. I never observed any in
the lower ranges. The nest is not a difficult one to find, being large
and of loose construction; from 15 to 30 feet up a medium-sized tree
close to the trunk or sometimes in a large fork. They never seem to
build in the spruce firs which abound about Murree. They are by no
means shy birds, and hop about the trees close by while their nest is
being examined. Five is the ordinary number of eggs, which differ very
much in appearance and size: the longest I have measures 1.25 and the
shortest 1.1. Some are paler, some darker; some are of a uniform pale
greenish-ash colour with a darker ring, while others are thickly
speckled and freckled with a darker shade of the same colour. Some
lack the odd ink-scratch which is so often to be seen on the larger
end, and is the most peculiar feature of the egg, while a few have it
at the thinner end.
"I should describe the average type as a long egg for its breadth;
ground-colour greenish ashy with very thick sprinklings of spots of a
darker and more greenish shade of the same colour, a ring of a darker
dull olive round the large end, on which are one or two lines that
look like a haphazard scratch from a fine steel pen."
From Dhurmsala Captain Cock wrote to me that this was "a most common
bird at Dhurmsala; appears in large flocks during the winter, and
often mixes with _Garrulus bispecularis_ and _Urocissa flavirostris_.
Pairs off about the end of April, when nidification begins. Builds a
rather rough nest of sticks, generally placed on a tall sapling oak
near the top; sometimes among the thicker branches of a pollard oak:
outer nest small twigs roughly put together; inner nest dry roots and
fibres, rather deep cup-shaped. Eggs number from four to five and vary
in shape. I have found them sometimes nearly round, but more generally
the usual shape. They vary in their colour, too, some being much
lighter than others, but most of them have a few hair-like streaks on
the larger end."
From Mussoorie Captain Hutton tells us that "the Black-throated Jay
breeds in May and June, placing the nest sometimes on the branch of a
tall oak tree (_Quercus incana_), at other times in a thick bush. It
is composed of a foundation of twigs, and lined with fine roots of
grass &c. mixed with the long black fibres of ferns and mosses, which
hang upon the forest trees, and have much the appearance of black
horse-hair. The nest is cup-shaped, rather shallow, loosely put
together, circular, and about 41/2 inches in diameter. The eggs are
sometimes three, sometimes four in number, of a greenish stone-grey,
freckled, chiefly at the larger end, with dusky and a few black
hair-like streaks, which are not always present; they vary also in
the amount of dusky freckling at the larger end. The nestling bird is
devoid of the lanceolate markings on the throat."
From Nynee Tal Colonel G.F.L. Marshall writes:--"The Black-throated
Jay builds a very small cup-shaped nest of black hair-like creepers
and roots, intertwined and placed in a rough irregular casing of
twigs. A nest found on the 2nd June containing three hard-set eggs was
placed conspicuously on the top of a young oak sapling about 7 feet
high, standing alone in an open glade, in the forest on Aya Pata,
which is about 7000 feet above the sea. Another nest, found at an
elevation of about 4500 feet on the 9th June, contained two eggs; it
was placed about 10 feet from the ground in a small tree in a hedgerow
amongst cultivated fields."
Mr. Hodgson notes from Jaha Powah:--"Found five nests of this species
between 18th and 30th May. Builds near the tops of moderate-sized
trees in open districts, making a very shallow nest of thin elastic
grasses sparingly used and without lining. The nest is placed on some
horizontal branch against some upright twig, or at some horizontal
fork. It is nearly round and has a diameter of about 6 inches. They
lay three or four eggs of a sordid vernal green clouded with obscure
The eggs are somewhat lengthened ovals, very much smaller than, though
so far as coloration goes very similar to, those of _G. glandarius_.
The ground-colour in some is a brown stone colour, in others pale
greenish white, and intermediate shades occur, and they are very
minutely and feebly freckled and mottled over the whole surface with a
somewhat pale sepia-brown. This mottling differs much in intensity; in
some few eggs indeed it is absolutely wanting, while in others, though
feeble elsewhere, it forms a distinct, though undefined, brownish cap
or zone at the large end. The eggs generally have little or no gloss.
It is not uncommon to find a few hair-like dark brown lines, more or
less zigzag, about the larger end.
In length they vary from 1.03 to 1.23, and in breadth from 0.78 to
0.88; but the average of twenty-four eggs is 1.12 by 0.85.
25. Garrulus leucotis, Hume. _The Burmese Jay_.