Part 2 out of 12
Garrulus leucotis, _Hume, Hume, Cat._ no. 669 bis.
The nest of this Jay has not yet been found, but Capt. Bingham
"Like Mr. Davison I have found this very handsome Jay affecting only
the dry _Dillenia_ and pine-forests so common in the Thoungyeen
valley. I have seen it feeding on the ground in such places with
_Gecinus nigrigenys, Upupa longirostris_, and other birds. I shot one
specimen, a female, in April, near the Meplay river, that must have
had a nest somewhere, which, however, I failed to find, for she had a
full-formed but shell-less egg inside her."
26. Garrulus bispecularis, Vigors. _The Himalayan Jay_.
Garrulus bispecularis, _Vig., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 307; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 669.
The Himalayan Jay breeds pretty well throughout the lower ranges of
the Himalayas. It is nowhere, that I have seen, numerically very
abundant, but it is to be met with everywhere. It lays in March and
April, and, though I have never taken the nest myself, I have now
repeatedly had it sent me. It builds at moderate heights, rarely above
25 feet from the ground, in trees or thick shrubs, at elevations of
from 3000 to 7000 feet. The nest is a moderate-sized one, 6 to 8
inches in external diameter, composed of fine twigs and grass, and
lined with finer grass and roots.
The nest is usually placed in a fork.
The eggs are four to six in number.
Mr. Hodgson notes that he "found a nest" of this species "on the 20th
April, in the forest of Shewpoori, at an elevation of 7000 feet. The
nest was placed in the midst of a large tree in a fork. The nest was
very shallow, but regularly formed and compact. It was composed of
long seeding grasses wound round and round, and lined with finer
and more elastic grass-stems. The nest measured about 61/2 inches in
diameter, but the cavity was only about half an inch deep."
Colonel C.H.T. Marshall remarks:--"I only took one authenticated set
of eggs of this species (I found several with young), as it is an
early breeder--I say authenticated eggs, because I _think_ we may have
attributed some to _Garrulus lanceolatus_, as the nests and eggs are
very similar, and having a large number of the eggs of the latter, I
took some from my shikaree without verifying them.
"The nest I took on the 6th May, 1873, at Murree, was at an elevation,
I should say, of between 6500 and 7000 feet (as it was near the top
of the hill), in the forest. The tree selected was a horse-chestnut,
about 25 feet high. The nest was near the top, which is the case with
nearly all the Crows' and Magpies' nests that I have taken. It was
of loose construction, made of twigs and fibres, and contained five
partially incubated eggs.
"The eggs are similar to those of _G. lanceolatus_. I have carefully
compared the five of the species which I am now describing with twenty
of the other, and find that the following differences exist. The egg
of _G. bispecularis_ is more obtuse and broader, there is a brighter
gloss on it, and the speckling is more marked; but with a large series
of each I think the only perceptible difference would be its
greater breadth, which makes the egg look larger than that of the
Black-throated Jay. My four eggs measure 1.15 by 0.85 each.
"This species only breeds once in a year, and from my observations
lays in April, all the young being hatched by the 15th May. Captain
Cock and myself carefully hunted up all the forests round Murree,
where the birds were constantly to be seen, commencing our work after
the 10th May, and we found nothing but young ones."
Colonel G.F.L. Marshall writes:--"I have found nests of this species
for the first time this year; the first on the 22nd of May, by which
time, as all recorded evidence shows it to be an early breeder, I had
given up all hopes of getting eggs. The first nest contained two fresh
eggs; it was on a horizontal limb of a large oak, at a bifurcation
about eight feet from the trunk and about the same from the ground.
The nest was more substantial than that of _G. lanceolatus_, much more
moss having been used in the outer casing, but the lining was similar;
it was a misshapen nest, and appeared, in the distance, like an old
deserted one; the bird was sitting at the time; I took one egg, hoping
more would be laid, but the other was deserted and destroyed by
vermin. Another nest I found on the 2nd June; it contained three eggs
just so much incubated that it is probable no more would be laid; this
nest was much neater in construction and better concealed than the
former one; it was in a rhododendron tree, in a bend about ten feet
from the ground, between two branches upwards of a foot each in
diameter, and covered with moss and dead fern; the tree grew out of
a precipitous bank just below a road, and though the nest was on the
level of the edge it was almost impossible to detect it; it was a very
compact thick cup of roots covered with moss outside. The eggs were
larger, more elongated, and much more richly coloured than in the
first nest. Both nests were at about 7000 feet elevation, and in both
instances the bird sat very close."
The eggs of this species are, as might be expected, very similar to
those of _G. lanceolatus_, but they are perhaps slightly larger, and
the markings somewhat coarser. The eggs are rather broad ovals, a
good deal pointed towards one end. The ground-colour is pale greenish
white, and they are pretty finely freckled and speckled (most densely
so towards the large end, where the markings are almost confluent)
with dull, rather pale, olive-brown, amongst which a little speckling
and clouding of pale greyish purple is observable. The eggs are
decidedly smaller than those of the English Jay, and few of the
specimens I have exhibit any of those black hair-like lines often
noticeable in both the English Jay and _G. lanceolatus_.
In length the eggs that I have measured varied from 1.1 to 1.21, and
in breadth they only varied from 0.84 to 0.87.
27. Nucifraga hemispila, Vigors. _The Himalayan Nutcracker_.
Nucifraga hemispila, _Vig., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 304; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 666.
The Himalayan Nutcracker is _very_ common in the fir-clad hills north
of Simla, where it particularly affects forests of the so-called
pencil cedar, which is, I think, the _Pinus excelsa_. I have never
been able to obtain the eggs, for they must lay in March or early in
April; but I have found the nest near Fagoo early in May with nearly
full-fledged young ones, and my people have taken them with young in
April below the Jalouri Pass.
The tree where I found the nest is, or rather _was_ (for the whole
hill-slope has been denuded for potatoe cultivation), situated on a
steeply sloping hill facing the south, at an elevation of about 6500
feet. The nest was about 50 feet from the ground, and placed on _two_
side branches just where, about 6 inches apart, they shot out of the
trunk. The nest was just like a Crow's--a broad platform of sticks,
but rather more neatly built, and with a number of green juniper twigs
with a little moss and a good deal of grey lichen intermingled. The
nest was about 11 inches across and nearly 4 inches in external
height. There was a broad, shallow, central depression 5 or 6 inches
in diameter and perhaps 2 inches in depth, of which an inch was filled
in with a profuse lining of grass and fir-needles (the long ones of
_Pinus longifolia_) and a little moss. This was found on the 11th May,
and the young, four in number, were sufficiently advanced to hop
out to the ends of the bough and half-fly half-tumble into the
neighbouring trees, when my man with much difficulty got up to the
29. Graculus eremita (Linn.). _The Red-billed Chough_.
Fregilus himalayanus, _Gould, Jerd. B.I._ ii, p. 319.
Mr. Mandelli obtained three eggs of this species from Chumbi in
Thibet; they were taken on the 8th of May from a nest under the eaves
of a high wooden house.
Though larger than those of the European Chough, they resemble them so
closely that there can be no doubt as to their authenticity.
In shape the eggs are moderately elongated ovals, very slightly
compressed towards the small end. The shell is tolerably fine and has
a slight gloss. The ground-colour is white with a faint creamy tinge,
and the whole egg is profusely spotted and striated with a pale,
somewhat yellowish brown and a very pale purplish grey. The markings
are most dense at the large end, and there, too, the largest streaks
of the grey occur.
One egg measures 1.74 by 1.2.
31. Parus atriceps, Horsf. _The Indian Grey Tit_.
Parus cinereus, _Vieill, Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 278.
Parus caesius, _Tick., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 645.
The Indian Grey Tit breeds throughout the more wooded mountains of
the Indian Empire, wherever these attain an altitude of 5000 feet, at
elevations of from 4000 or 5000 to even (where the hills exceed this
height) 9000 feet.
In the Himalayas the breeding-season extends from the end of March to
the end of June, or even a little later, according to the season. They
have two broods--the first clutch of eggs is generally laid in the
last week of March or early in April; the second towards the end of
May or during the first half of June.
In the Nilghiris they lay from February to May, and _probably_ a
second time in September or October.
The nests are placed in holes in banks, in walls of buildings or
of terraced fields, in outhouses of dwellings or deserted huts and
houses, and in holes in trees, and very frequently in those cut in
some previous year for their own nests by Barbets and Woodpeckers.
Occasionally it builds _on_ a branch of a tree, and my friend Sir E.C.
Buck, C.S., found a nest containing six half-set eggs thus situated
on the 19th June at Gowra. It was on a "Banj" tree 10 feet from the
The only nest that I have myself seen in such a situation was a pretty
large pad of soft moss, slightly saucer-shaped, about 4 inches in
diameter, with a slight depression on the upper surface, which was
everywhere thinly coated with sheep's wool and the fine white silky
hair of some animal. The nest is usually a shapeless mass of downy
fur, cattle-hair, and even feathers and wool, but when on a branch is
strengthened exteriorly with moss. Even when in holes, they sometimes
round the nest into a more or less regular though shallow cup, and use
a good deal of moss or a little grass or grass-roots; but as a rule
the hairs of soft and downy fur constitute the chief material, and
this is picked out by the birds, I believe, from the dung of the
various cats, polecats, and ferrets so common in all our hills.
I have never found more than six eggs, and often smaller numbers, more
or less incubated.
Mr. Brooks tells us that the Indian Grey Tit is "common at Almorah.
In April and May I found the nest two or three times in holes in
terrace-walls. It was composed of grass-roots and feathers, and
contained in each case nearly fully-grown young, five in number."
From Dhurmsala Captain Cock wrote:--"_Parus cinereus_ built in
the walls of Dr. C.'s stables this year. When I found the nest it
contained young ones. I watched the parents flying in and out, but
to make sure put my ear to the wall and could hear the young ones
chirrupping. The nest was found in the early part of May 1869."
Colonel Butler writes:--"Belgaum, 12th June, 1879. A nest built in
a hollow bamboo which supported the roof of a house in the native
infantry lines. I did not see the nest myself, as unfortunately the
old bird was captured on it, and the nest and eggs destroyed; however,
the hen bird was brought to me alive by the man who caught her, and
I saw at once, by the bare breast, that she had been sitting, and on
making enquiries the above facts were elicited. The broken egg-shells
were white thickly spotted with rusty red.
"Belgaum, 8th June, 1880.--A nest in a hole of a tree about 7 feet
from the ground, containing five fresh eggs. The nest consisted of
a dense pad of fur (goat-hair, cow-hair, human hair, and hare's fur
mixed) with a few feathers intermixed, laid on the top of a small
quantity of dry grass and moss, which formed the foundation."
Lieut. H.E. Barnes notes from Chaman in Afghanistan:--"This Tit is
very common, and remains with us all the year round. I found a nest on
the 10th April, built in a hole in a tree; it was composed entirely of
sheep's wool, and contained three incubated eggs, white, with light
red blotches, forming a zone at the larger end. They measured .69 by
Mr. Benjamin Aitken says:--
"When I was in Poona, in the hot season of 1873, the Grey Tits, which
are very common there, became exceedingly busy about the end of May,
courting with all their spirit, and examining every hole they could
find. One was seen to disappear up the mouth of a cannon at the
arsenal. Finally, in July, two nests with young birds were discovered,
one by myself, and one by my brother. The nests were in the roofs of
houses, and were not easily accessible, but the parent birds were
watched assiduously carrying food to the hungry brood, which kept up a
screaming almost equal to that of a nest of minahs. On the 27th July a
young one was picked up that had escaped too soon from a third nest.
The Indian Grey Tit does not occur in Bombay, and I never saw it in
Speaking of Southern India Mr. Davison remarks that "the Grey Tit
breeds in holes either of trees or banks; when it builds in trees
it very often (whenever it can apparently) takes possession of the
deserted nest-hole of _Megaloema viridis_; when in banks a rat-hole is
not uncommonly chosen. All the nests I have ever seen or taken were
composed in every single instance of fur obtained from the dried
droppings of wild cats."
From Kotagherry, Miss Cockburn sends the following interesting note:--
"Their nests are found in deep holes in earth-banks, and sometimes in
stone walls. Once a pair took possession of a bamboo in one of our
thatched out-houses--the safest place they could have chosen, as no
hand could get into the small hole by which they entered. These Tits
show great affection and care for their young. While hatching their
eggs, if a hand or stick is put into the nest they rise with enlarged
throats, and, hissing like a snake, peck at it till it is withdrawn.
On one occasion I told my horse-keeper to put his hand into a hole
into which I had seen one of these birds enter. He did so, but soon
drew it out with a scream, saying a 'snake had bit him.' I told him
to try again, but with no better success; he would not attempt it the
third time, so the nest was left with the bold little proprietor, who
no doubt rejoiced to find she had succeeded in frightening away the
unwelcome intruder. The materials used by these birds for their nests
consist of soft hair, downy feathers, and moss, all of which they
collect in large quantities. They build in the months of February and
March; but I once found a nest of young Indian Grey Tits so late as
the 10th November. They lay six eggs, white with light red spots. On
one occasion I saw a nest in a bank by the side of the road; when the
only young bird it contained was nearly fledged the road had to be
widened, and workmen were employed in cutting down the bank. The poor
parent birds appeared to be perfectly aware that their nest would soon
be reached, and after trying in vain to persuade the young one to come
out, they pushed it down into the road but could get it no further,
though they did their utmost to take it out of the reach of danger. I
placed it among the bushes above the road, and then the parents seemed
to be immediately conscious of its safety."
Mr. H.R.P. Carter notes that he "found a nest of the Grey Tit at
Coonoor, on the Nilgiris, on the 15th May. It was placed in a hole in
a bank by the roadside. It was a flat pad, composed of the fur of
the hill-hare, hairs of cattle, &c., and was fluffy and without
consistence. It contained three half-set eggs."
Mr. J. Darling, Jun., says:--"I have found the nests at Ooty, Coonoor,
Neddivattam, and Kartary, at all heights from 5000 to nearly 8000 feet
above the sea, on various dates between 17th February and 10th May.
"It builds in banks, or holes in trees, at all heights from the
ground, from 3 to 30 feet. It is fond of taking possession of the old
nest-holes of the Green Woodpecker. The nest is built of fur or fur
and moss, and always lined with fine fur, generally that of hares. Its
shape depends upon that of the hole in which it is placed, but the
egg-cavity or depression is about 3 inches in diameter and an inch in
"It lays four, five, and sometimes six eggs, but I think more commonly
Dr. Jerdon remarks:--"I once found its nest in a deserted bungalow at
Kallia, in the corner of the house. It was made chiefly of the down of
hares (_Lepus nigricollis_), mixed with feathers, and contained six
eggs, white spotted with rusty red."
The eggs resemble in their general character those of many of our
English Tits, and though, I think, typically slightly longer, they
appear to me to be very close to those of _Parus palustris_. In shape
they are a broad oval, but somewhat elongated and pointed towards the
small end. The ground-colour is pinkish white, and round the large end
there is a conspicuous, though irregular and imperfect, zone of red
blotches, spots, and streaks. Spots and specks of the same colour, or
occasionally of a pale purple, are scantily sprinkled over the rest of
the surface of the egg, and are most numerous in the neighbourhood of
the zone. The eggs have a faint gloss. Some eggs do not exhibit the
zone above referred to, but even in these the markings are much more
numerous and dense towards the large end.
In length the eggs vary from 0.65 to 0.78, and in breadth from 0.5 to
0.58; but the average of thirty-eight is 0.71 by 0.54, so that they
are really, as indeed they look _as a body_, a shade shorter and
decidedly broader than those of _P. monticola_.
34. Parus monticola, Vig. _The Green-backed Tit_.
Parus monticolus, _Vig., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 277; _Hume, Rough Draft
N. & E._ no. 644.
The Green-backed Tit breeds through the Himalayas, at elevations of
from 4000 to 7000 or 8000 feet.
The breeding-season lasts from March to June, and some birds at any
rate must have two broods, since I found three fresh eggs in the
wall of the Pownda dak bungalow about the 20th June. More eggs are,
however, to be got in April than in any other month.
They build in holes, in trees, bamboos, walls, and even banks, but
walls receive, I think, the preference.
The nests are loose dense masses of soft downy fur or feathers, with
more or less moss, according to the situation.
The eggs vary from six to eight, and I have repeatedly found seven
and eight young ones; but Captain Beavan has found only five of
these latter, and although I consider from six to eight the normal
complement, I believe they very often fail to complete the full
Captain Beavan says:--"At Simla, on May 4th, 1866, I found a nest of
this species in the wall of one of my servant's houses. It contained
five young ones, and was composed of fine grey pushm or wool resting
on an understructure of moss."
At Murree Colonel C.H.T. Marshall notes that this species "breeds
early in May in holes in walls and trees, laying white eggs covered
with red spots."
Speaking of a nest he took at Dhurmsala, Captain Cock says:--
"The nest was in a cavity of a rhododendron tree, and was a large mass
of down of some animal; it looked like rabbit's fur, which of course
it was not, but it was some dark, soft, dense fur. The nest contained
seven eggs, and was found on the 28th April, 1869. The eggs were all
Mr. Gammie says:--"I got one nest of this Tit here on the 14th May in
the Chinchona reserves (Sikhim), at an elevation of about 4500 feet.
It was in partially cleared country, in a natural hole of a stump,
about 5 feet from the ground. The nest was made of moss and lined
with soft matted hair; but I pulled it out of the hole carelessly and
cannot say whether it had originally any defined shape. It contained
four hard-set eggs."
The eggs are very like those of _Parus atriceps_; but they are
somewhat longer and more slender, and as a rule are rather more
thickly and richly marked.
They are moderately broad ovals, sometimes almost perfectly
symmetrical, at times slightly pointed towards one end, and almost
entirely devoid of gloss. The ground is white, or occasionally a
delicate pinkish white, in some richly and profusely spotted and
blotched, in others more or less thickly speckled and spotted with
darker or lighter shades of blood-, brick-, slightly purplish-, or
brownish-red, as the case may be. The markings are much denser towards
the large end, where in some eggs they form an imperfect and irregular
cap. In size they vary from 0.68 to 0.76 in length, and from 0.49 to
0.54 in breadth; but the average of thirty-two eggs is 0.72 by 0.52
35. Aegithaliscus erythrocephalus (Vig.). _Red-headed Tit_.
Aegithaliscus erythrocephalus (_Vig._) _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 270;
_Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 634.
The Red-headed Tit breeds throughout the Himalayas from Murree to
Bhootan, at elevations of from 6000 to 9000 or perhaps 10,000 feet.
They commence breeding very early. I have known nests to be taken
quite at the beginning of March, and they continue laying till the end
The nest is, I think, most commonly placed in low stunted hill-oak
bushes, either suspended between several twigs, to all of which it is
more or less attached, or wedged into a fork. _I have_ found the nest
in a deodar tree, _laid_ on a horizontal bough. I have seen them in
tufts of grass, in banks and other unusual situations; but the great
bulk build in low bushes, and of these the hill-oak is, I think, their
The nests closely resemble those of the Long-tailed Tit (_Acredula
rosea_). They are large ovoidal masses of moss, lichen, and
moss-roots, often tacked together a good deal outside with
cotton-wool, down of different descriptions, and cobwebs. They average
about 41/2 inches in height or length, and about 31/2 inches in diameter.
The aperture is on one side near the top. The egg-cavity, which may
average about 21/4 inches in diameter and about the same in depth below
the lower edge of the aperture, is densely lined with very soft down
They lay from six to eight eggs, but I once found only four eggs in a
nest, and these fully incubated.
From Murree, Colonel C.H.T. Marshall notes that this species "builds a
globular nest of moss and hair and feathers in thorny bushes. The eggs
we found were pinkish white, with a ring of obsolete brown spots at
the larger end. Size 0.55 by 0.43. Lays in May."
Captain Hutton tells us that the Red-cap Tit is "common at Mussoorie
and in the hills generally, throughout the year. It breeds in April
and May. The situation chosen is various, as one taken in the former
month at Mussoorie, at 7000 feet elevation, was placed on the side
of a bank among overhanging coarse grass, while another taken in the
latter month, at 5000 feet, was built among some ivy twining round a
tree, and at least 14 feet from the ground. The nest is in shape a
round ball with a small lateral entrance, and is composed of green
mosses warmly lined with feathers. The eggs are five in number, white
with a pinkish tinge, and sparingly sprinkled with lilac spots or
specks, and having a well-defined lilac ring at the larger end."
From Nynee Tal, Colonel G.F.L. Marshall writes:--"This species makes
a beautifully neat nest of fine moss and lichens, globular, with
side entrance, and thickly lined with soft feathers. A nest found on
Cheena, above Nynee Tal, on the 24th May, 1873, at an elevation of
about 7000 feet, was wedged into a fork at the end of a bough of a
cypress tree, about 10 feet from the ground, the entrance turned
inwards towards the trunk of the tree. It contained one tiny egg,
white, with a dark cloudy zone round the larger end.
"About the 10th of May, at Naini Tal, I was watching one of these
little birds, which kept hanging about a small rhododendron stump
about 2 feet high, with very few leaves on it, but I could see no
nest. A few days later I saw the bird carry a big caterpillar to the
same stump and come away shortly without it; so I looked more
closely and found the nest, containing nearly full-fledged young, so
beautifully wedged into the stump that it appeared to be part of it,
and nothing but the tiny circular entrance revealed that the nest was
there. It was the best-concealed nest for that style of position that
I have ever seen."
These tiny eggs, almost smaller than those of any European bird that
I know, are broad ovals, sometimes almost globular, but generally
somewhat compressed towards one end, so as to assume something of a
pyriform shape. They are almost entirely glossless, have a pinkish or
at times creamy-white ground, and exhibit a conspicuous reddish or
purple zone towards the large end, composed of multitudes of minute
spots almost confluent, and interspaced with a purplish cloud. Faint
traces of similar excessively minute purple or red points extend more
or less above and below the zone. The eggs vary from 0.53 to 0.58
in length, and from 0.43 to 0.46 in breadth; but the average of
twenty-five is 0.56 nearly by 0.45 nearly.
41. Machlolophus spilonotus (Bl.). _The Blade-spotted Yellow Tit_.
Machlolophus spilonotus (_Bl._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 281.
Mr. Mandelli found a nest of this species at Lebong in Sikhim on the
15th June in a hole in a dead tree, about 5 feet from the ground. The
nest was a mere pad of the soft fur of some animal, in which a
little of the brown silky down from fern-stems and a little moss was
intermingled. It contained three hard-set eggs.
One of these eggs is a very regular oval, scarcely, if at all, pointed
towards the lesser end; the ground-colour is a pure dead white, and
the markings, spots, and specks of pale reddish brown, and underlying
spots of pale purple, are evenly scattered all over the egg; it
measures 0.78 by 0.55.
42. Machlolophus xanthogenys (Vig.). _The Yellow-cheeked Tit_.
Machlolophus xanthogenys (_Vig._) _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 279; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 647.
The Yellow-cheeked Tit is one of the commonest birds in the
neighbourhood of Simla, yet curiously enough I have never found a
I have had eggs and nest sent me, and I know it breeds throughout the
Western Himalayas, at elevations of from 4000 to 7000 feet; and that
it lays during April and May (and probably other months), making a
soft pad-like nest, composed of hair and fur, in boles in trees and
walls; but I can give no further particulars.
Captain Hutton tells us that it is "common in the hills throughout
the year. It breeds in April, in which month a nest containing
four fledged young ones was found at 5000 feet elevation; it was
constructed of moss, hair, and feathers, and placed at the bottom of a
deep hole in a stump at the foot of an oak tree."
Writing from Dhurmsala, Captain Cock says:--"Towards the end of April
this bird made its nest in a hole of a tree just below the terrace
of my house. Before the nest was quite finished a pair of _Passer
cinnamomeus_ bullied the old birds out of the place, which they
deserted. After they had left it I cut the nest out and found it
nearly ready to lay in, lined with soft goat-hair and that same dark
fur noticed in the nest of _Parus monticola_."
Later he wrote to me that this species "breeds up at Dhurmsala in
April and May. It chooses an old cleft or natural cavity in a tree,
usually the hill-oak, and makes a nest of wool and fur at the bottom
of the cavity, upon which it lays five eggs much like the eggs of
_Parus monticola_. Perhaps the blotches are a little larger, otherwise
I can see no difference. I noticed on one occasion the male bird carry
wool to the nest, which, when I cut it out the same day, I found
contained hard-set eggs. I used to nail a sheepskin up in a hill-oak,
and watch it with glasses, during April and May, and many a nest have
I found by its help. _Parus atriceps, P. monticola, Machlolophus
xanthogenys, Abrornis albisuperciliaris_, and many others used to
visit it and pull off flocks of wool for their nests. Following up a
little bird with wool in its bill through jungle requires sharp eyes
and is no easy matter at first, but one soon becomes practised at it."
The eggs are regular, somewhat elongated ovals, in some cases slightly
compressed towards one end. The ground is white or reddish white, and
they are thickly speckled, spotted, and even blotched with brick-dust
red; they have little or no gloss.
They vary in length from 0.7 to 0.78, and in breadth from 0.52 to
0.55; but I have only measured six eggs.
43. Machlolophus haplonotus (Bl.). _The Southern Yellow Tit_.
_Machlolophus jerdoni (Bl.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 280.
Col. E.A. Butler writes:--"Belgaum, 12th Sept., 1879.--Found a nest of
the Southern Yellow Tit in a hole of a small tree about 10 feet from
the ground. My attention was first attracted to it by seeing the
hen-bird with her wings spread and feathers erect angrily mobbing a
palm-squirrel that had incautiously ascended the tree, and thinking
there must be a nest close by, I watched the sequel, and in a few
seconds the squirrel descended the tree and the Tit disappeared in a
small hole about halfway up. I then put a net over the hole and tapped
the bough to drive her out, but this was no easy matter, for although
the nest was only about 3/4 foot from the entrance, and I made as much
noise as a thick stick could well make against a hollow bough, nothing
would induce her to leave the nest until I had cut a large wedge out
of the branch, with a saw and chisel, close to the nest, when she flew
out into the net.
"The nest, which contained, to my great disappointment, five young
birds about a week old, was very massively built, and completely
choked up the hollow passage in which it was placed. The foundation
consisted of a quantity of dry green moss, of the kind that natives
bring in from the jungles in the rains, and sell for ornamenting
flower vases, &c. Next came a thick layer of coir, mixed with a few
dry skeleton-leaves and some short ends of old rope and a scrap or two
of paper, and finally a substantial pad of blackish hair, principally
human, but with cow- and horse-hair intermixed, forming a snug little
bed for the young ones. The total depth of the nest exteriorly was at
least 7 inches.
"The bough, about 8 inches in diameter, was partly rotten and hollow
the whole way down, having a small hole at the side above by which the
birds entered, and another rather larger about a foot below the nest
all choked up with moss that had fallen from the base of the nest. It
is strange that it should have escaped my eye previously, as the tree
overhung my gateway, through which I passed constantly during the day.
Immediately below the nest a large black board bearing my name was
nailed to the tree.
"At Belgaum, on the 10th July, 1880, I observed a pair of Yellow Tits
building in a crevice of a large banian tree about 9 feet from the
ground. The two birds were flying to and from the nest in company,
the hen carrying building-materials in her beak. I watched the nest
constantly for several days, but never saw the birds near it again
until the 18th inst., when the hen flew out of the hole as I passed
the tree. I visited the spot on the 19th and 20th inst., tapping the
tree loudly with a stick as I passed, but without any result, as the
bird did not fly off the nest.
"On the 21st, thinking the nest must either be forsaken or contain
eggs, I got up and looked into the hole, and to my surprise found the
hen bird comfortably seated on the nest, notwithstanding the noise I
had been making to try and put her off. As the crevice was too small
to admit my hand, I commenced to enlarge the entrance with a chisel,
the old bird sitting closer than ever the whole time. Finding all
attempts to drive her off the eggs fruitless, I tried to poke her off:
with a piece of stick, whereupon she stuck her head into one of the
far corners and sulked. I then inserted my hand with some difficulty
and drew her gently out of the hole, but as soon as she caught sight
of me, she commenced fighting in the most pugnacious manner, digging
her claws and beak into my hand, and finally breaking loose, flying,
not away as might have been expected, but straight back into the hole
again, to commence sulking once more. Again I drew her out, keeping a
firm hold of one leg until I got her well away from the hole, when I
released her. I then extracted five fresh eggs from the hole by means
of a small round net attached to the loop end of a short piece of
wire. The nest was a simple pad of human and cows' hair, with a few
horsehairs interwoven, and one or two bits of snake's skin in the
lining, having a thin layer of green moss and thin strips of inner
bark below as a foundation--in fact a regular Tit's nest. The eggs, of
the usual parine type, were considerably larger than the eggs of _P.
atriceps_, broad ovals, slightly smaller at one end than the other,
having a white ground spotted moderately thickly all over with reddish
chestnut; no zone or cap, but in some eggs more freely marked at one
end (either small or large end) than the other, some of the markings
almost amounting to blotches and the spots as a rule rather large."
Messrs. Davidson and Wenden remark of this bird in the
Deccan:--"Specimens of this Tit were procured at Lanoli in August and
at Egutpoora in March. They certainly breed at these places, as in
September, at the latter place, W. observed two parent birds with four
young ones capable of flying out very short distances."
And Mr. Davidson further states that it is "common throughout the
district of Western Kandeish. I saw a pair building in the hole of a
large mango tree at Malpur in Pimpalnir in the end of May."
44. Lophophanes melanolophus (Vig.). _The Crested Black Tit_.
Lophophanes melanolophus (_Vig._) _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 273: _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 638.
The Crested Black Tit breeds throughout the Lower Himalayas west of
Nepal, at elevations of from 6000 to 8000 feet.
The breeding-season lasts from March to June, but the majority have
laid, I think, for the first hatch by the end of the first week in
April, unless the season has been a very backward one. They usually
rear two broods.
They build, so far as I know, always in holes, in trees, rocks, and
walls, preferentially in the latter. Their nests involve generally two
different kinds of work--the working up of the true nests on which the
eggs repose, and the preliminary closing in and making comfortable the
cavity in which the former is placed. For this latter work they use
almost exclusively moss. Sometimes very little filling-in is
required; sometimes the mass of moss used to level and close in an
awkward-shaped recess is surprisingly great. A pair breed every year
in a terrace-wall of my garden at Simla; elevation about 7800 feet.
One year they selected an opening a foot high and 6 inches wide, and
they closed up the whole of this, leaving an entrance not 2 inches in
diameter. Some years ago I disturbed them there, and found nearly half
a cubic foot of dry green moss. Now they build in a cavity behind one
of the stones, the entrance to which is barely an inch wide, and in
this, as far as I can see, they have no moss at all.
The nests are nothing but larger or smaller pads of closely felted
wool and fur; sometimes a little moss, and sometimes a little
vegetable down, is mingled in the moss, but the great body of the
material is always wool and fur. They vary very much in size: you
may meet with them fully 5 inches in diameter and 2 inches thick,
comparatively loosely and coarsely massed together; and you may meet
with them shallow saucers 3 inches in diameter and barely half an inch
in thickness anywhere, as closely felted as if manufactured by human
Six to eight is considered the full complement of eggs, but the
number is very variable, and I have taken three, four, and five
Captain Beavan, to judge from his description, seems to have found
a regular cup-shaped nest such, as I have never seen. He says:--"At
Simla, April 20th, 1866, I found a nest of this species with young
ones in it in an old wall in the garden. I secured the old bird for
identification, and then released her. The nest contained seven young
ones, and was large in proportion. The outside and bottom consists of
the softest moss, the nest being carefully built between two stones,
about a foot inside the wall; the rest of it is composed of the finest
grey wool or fur. Diameter inside 2.5; outside about 5 inches. Depth
inside nearly 3 inches; outside 3.6."
Captain Cock told me that he "found several nests in May and June in
Cashmere. The first nest I found was in a natural cavity high up in a
tree, containing three eggs, which I unfortunately broke while taking
them out of the nest. The interior of the cavity was thickly lined
with fur from some small animal, such as a hare or rat. I found my
second nest close to my tent in a cleft of a pine, quite low down,
only 3 feet from the ground. I cut it out and it contained five
eggs of the usual type--broad, blunt little eggs, white, with rusty
Colonel G.F.L. Marshall writes:--"I have only found two nests of this
species in Naini Tal, both had young (two in one nest, in the other
I could not count) on the 25th April; they were at about 7000 feet
elevation, built in holes in walls, the entrance in both cases being
very small, having nothing to distinguish it from other tiny crevices,
and nothing to lead any one to suppose that there was a nest inside.
It was only by seeing the parent birds go in that the nest was
The eggs of this species are moderately broad ovals, with a very
slight gloss. The ground-colour is a slightly pinkish white, and they
are richly blotched and spotted, and more or less speckled (chiefly
towards the larger end), with bright, somewhat brownish red.
The markings very commonly form a dense, almost confluent zone or cap
about the large end, and they are generally more thinly scattered
elsewhere, but the amount of the markings varies much in different
eggs. In some, although they are thicker in the zone, they are still
pretty thickly set over the entire surface, while in others they are
almost confined to one end of the egg, generally the broad end.
These eggs vary much in size and in density of marking. The ordinary
dimensions are about 0.61 by 0.47, but in a large series they vary in
length from 0.57 to 0.72, and in breadth from 0.43 to 0.54. The
very large eggs, however, indicated by these _maxima_ are rare and
47. Lophophanes rufinuchalis (Bl.). _The Simla Black Tit_.
Lophophanes rufinuchalis (_Bl.). Jerd. B. Ind._ ii. p. 274.
Mr. Brooks informs us that this Tit is common at Derali and other
places of similar elevation. "I found a nest under a large stone in
the middle of a hill foot-path, up and down which people and cattle
were constantly passing; the nest contained newly-hatched young. This
was the middle of May."
Dr. Scully, writing of the Gilgit district, tells us that this Tit is
a denizen of the pine-forests, where it breeds.
Finally Captain Wardlaw Ramsay, writing in the 'Ibis,' states that
this Tit was breeding in Afghanistan in May.
50. Conostoma aemodium, Hodgs. _The Red-billed Crow-Tit_.
Conostoma aemodium. _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 10; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 381.
A nest of the Red-billed Crow-Tit was sent me from Native Sikhim,
where it was found at an elevation of about 10,000 feet, in a cluster
of the small Ringal bamboo. It contained three eggs, two of which were
broken in blowing them.
The nest is a very regular and perfect hemisphere, both externally and
internally. It is very compactly made, externally of coarse grass and
strips of bamboo-leaves, and internally very thickly lined with stiff
but very fine grass-stems, about the thickness of an ordinary pin,
very carefully curved to the shape of the nest. The coarser exterior
grass appears to have been used when dry; but the fine grass, with
which the interior is so densely lined, is still green. It is the most
perfectly hemispherical nest I ever saw. Exteriorly it is exactly 6
inches in diameter and 3 in height; internally the cavity measures 4.5
in diameter and 2.25 in depth.
The egg is a regular moderately elongated oval, slightly compressed
towards the smaller end. The shell is fine and thin, and has only a
faint gloss. The ground-colour is a dull white, and it is sparsely
blotched, streaked, and smudged with pale yellowish brown, besides
which, about the large end, there are a number of small pale inky
purple spots and clouds, looking as if they were beneath the surface
of the shell.
The single egg preserved measures 1.11 by 0.8.
A nest sent me by Mr. Mandelli was found, he says, in May, in Native
Sikhim, in a cluster of Ringal (hill-bamboo) at an elevation of nearly
10,000 feet. It is a large, rather broad and shallow cup, the great
bulk of the nest composed of extremely fine hair-like grass-stems,
obviously used when green, and coated thinly exteriorly with coarse
blades of grass, giving the outside a ragged and untidy appearance.
The greatest external diameter is 5.5, the height 3.2, but the cavity
is 4.5 in diameter and 2.2 in depth, so that, though owing to the
fine material used throughout except in the outer coating the nest is
extremely firm and compact, it is not at all a massive-looking one.
60. Scaeorhynchus ruficeps (Bl.). _The Larger Red-headed Crow-Tit_.
Paradoxornis ruficeps, _Bl., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 5.
Mr. Gammie writes from Sikhim:--"In May, at 2000 feet elevation, I
took a nest of this bird, which appears to have been rarely, if ever,
taken by any European, and is not described in your Rough Draft of
'Nests and Eggs.' It was seated among, and fastened to, the spray of
a bamboo near its top, and is a deep, compactly built cap, measuring
externally 3.5 inches wide and the same in depth; internally 2.7 wide
by 1.9 deep. The material used is particularly clean and new-looking,
and has none of the secondhand appearance of much of the
building-stuffs of many birds. The outer layer is of strips torn off
large grass-stalks and a very few cobwebs; the lining, of fine fibrous
strips, or rather threads, of bamboo-stems. There were three eggs,
which were ready for hatching-off. They averaged 0.83 in. by 0.63 in.
I send you the nest and two of the eggs.
"Both Jerdon and Tickell say they found this bird feeding on grain
and other seeds, but those I examined had all confined their diet to
different sorts of insects, such as would be found about the
flowers of bamboo, buckwheat, &c. Probably they do eat a few seeds
occasionally, but their principal food is certainly insects.
Very usually, in winter especially, they feed in company with
_Gampsorhynchus rufulus_. Rather curious that the two Red-heads should
affect each other's society."
The eggs are broad ovals, rather cylindrical, very blunt at both ends.
The shell fine, with a slight gloss. The ground is white, and it
is rather thinly and irregularly spotted, blotched, and smeared in
patches with a dingy yellowish brown, chiefly about the larger end, to
which also are nearly confined the secondary markings, which are pale
greyish lilac or purplish grey.
61. Scaeorhynchus gularis (Horsf.). _The Hoary-headed Crow-Tit_.
Paradoxornis gularis, _Horsf., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p, 5.
A nest sent me by Mr. Mandelli as belonging to this species was found,
he tells me, at an elevation of 8000 feet in Native Sikhim on the 17th
May. It was placed in a fork amongst the branches of a medium-sized
tree at a height of about 30 feet from the ground. The nest is a
very massive cup, composed of soft grass-blades, none of them much
exceeding .1 inch in width, wound round and round together very
closely and compactly, and then tied over exteriorly everywhere, but
not thickly, with just enough wool and wild silk to keep the nest
perfectly strong and firm. Inside, the nest is lined with extremely
fine grass-stems; the nest is barely 4 inches in diameter exteriorly
and 2.5 in height; the egg-cavity is 2.4 in diameter and 1.2 in depth.
Mr. Mandelli sends me an egg which he considers to belong to this
species, found near Darjeeling on the 7th May. It is a broad oval,
very slightly compressed at one end; the shell dull and glossless; the
ground a dead white, profusely streaked and smudged pretty thickly
all over with pale yellowish brown; the whole bigger end of the egg
clouded with dull inky purple and two or three hair-lines of burnt
sienna in different parts of the egg. The egg measures 0.8 by 0.61.
Two eggs of this species, procured in Sikhim on the 17th May, are very
regular ovals, scarcely at all pointed towards the lesser end. The
ground-colour is creamy white, and the markings consist of large
indistinct blotches of pale yellow; round the large end is an almost
confluent zone or cap of purplish grey, darker in one egg; they have
no gloss, and both measure 0.82 by 0.61.
62. Dryonastes ruficollis (J. & S.) _The Rufous-necked
Garrulax ruticollis (_J. & S.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 38; _Hume, Rough
Draft N.& E._ no. 410.
Of the Rufous-necked Laughing-Thrush, Mr. Blyth remarks:--"Mr. Hodgson
figures the egg of a fine green colour."
The egg is not figured in my collection of Mr. Hodgson's drawings.
Writing from near Darjeeling, in Sikhim, Mr. Gammie says:--"I have
seen two nests of this bird; both were in bramble-bushes about five
feet from the ground, and exactly resembled those of _Dryonastes
caerulatus_, only they were a little smaller. One nest had three young
ones, the other three very pale blue unspotted eggs, which I left in
the nest intending to get them in another day or two, as I wanted to
see if more eggs would be laid, but when I went back to the place the
nest had been taken away by some one. Both nests were found here in
May, one at 3500 feet, the other at 4500 feet.
"I have taken numerous nests of this species from April to June, from
the warmest elevations up to about 4000 feet. They are cup-shaped;
composed of dry leaves and small climber-stems, and lined with a few
fibrous roots. They measure externally about 5 inches in width by 3.5
in depth; internally 3.25 across by 2.25 deep. Usually they are found
in scrubby jungle, fixed in bushes, within five or six feet of the
ground. The eggs are three or four in number."
Many nests of this species sent me from Sikhim by my friends Messrs.
Mandelli and Gammie are all precisely of the same type--deep and
rather compact cups, varying from 5 to 6 inches in external diameter,
and 3.25 to 3.75 in height; the cavities about 3.25 in diameter
and 2.25 in depth. The nest is composed almost entirely of dry
bamboo-leaves bound together loosely with stems of creepers or roots,
and the cavity is lined with black and brown rootlets, generally not
very fine. They seem never to be placed at any very great elevation
from the ground.
The eggs of this species, of which I have received a very large number
from Mr. Gammie, are distinguishable at once from those of all the
other species of this group with which I am acquainted. Just as the
egg of _Garrulax albigularis_ is distinguished by its very deep tone
of coloration, the egg of the present species is distinguished by its
extreme paleness. In shape the eggs are moderately broad ovals, often,
however, somewhat pyriform, often a good deal pointed towards the
small end. The shell is extremely fine and smooth, and has a very
fine gloss; they may be said to be almost white with a delicate
bluish-green tinge. In length they vary from 0.95 to 1.1, in breadth
from 0.6 to 0.83; but the average of forty-one eggs is 1.02 by 0.75.
65. Dryonastes caerulatus (Hodgs.). _The Grey-sided
Garrulax caerulatus (_Hodgs._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 36; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 408.
A nest of the Grey-sided Laughing-Thrush found by Mr. Gammie on the
17th June near Darjeeling, below Rishap, at an elevation of about 3500
feet, was placed in a shrub, at a height of about six feet from the
ground, and contained one fresh egg. It was a large, deep, compact
cup, measuring about 5.5 inches in external diameter and about 4 in
height, the egg-cavity being 4 inches in diameter and 23/4 inches in
depth. Externally it was entirely composed of very broad flag-like
grass-leaves firmly twisted together, and internally of coarse black
grass and moss-roots very neatly and compactly put together. The nest
had no other lining.
This year (1874) Mr. Gammie writes:--"This species breeds in Sikhim
in May and Jane. I have found the nests in our Chinchona reserves, at
various elevations from 3500 to 5000 feet, always in forests with
a more or less dense undergrowth. The nest is placed in trees, at
heights of from 6 to 12 feet from the ground, between and firmly
attached to several slender upright shoots. It is cup-shaped, usually
rather shallow, composed of dry bamboo-leaves and twigs and lined with
root-fibres. One I measured was 5 inches in diameter by 2.5 in height
exteriorly; the cavity was 4 inches across and only 1.3 deep. Of
course they vary slightly. As far as my experience goes, they do not
lay more than three eggs; indeed, at times only two."
Dr. Jerdon remarks that "a nest and eggs, said to be of this bird,
were brought to me at Darjeeling; the nest loosely made with roots and
grass, and containing two pale blue eggs."
One nest of this species taken in Native Sikhim in July, was placed in
the fork of four leafy twigs, and was in shape a slightly truncated
inverted cone, nearly 7 inches in height and 5.5 in diameter at the
base of the cone, which was uppermost. The leaves attached to the
twigs almost completely enveloped it. The nest itself was composed
almost entirely of stems of creepers, several of which were wound
round the living leaves of the twigs so as to hold them in position on
the outside of the nest; a few bamboo-leaves were intermingled with
the creeper's stems in the body of the nest. The cavity, which is
almost perfectly hemispherical, only rather deeper, is 3.5 inches in
diameter and 2.25 in depth, and is entirely and very neatly lined with
very fine black roots. Another nest, which was taken at Rishap on the
21st May, with two fresh eggs, was placed in some small bamboos at a
height of about 10 feet from the ground, it is composed externally
entirely of dry bamboo-leaves, loosely tied together by a few creepers
and a little vegetable fibre, and it is lined pretty thickly with fine
black fibrous roots. This nest is about 6 inches in diameter and 3.5
high exteriorly, while the cavity measures 3.5 by 2.
The eggs sent me by Mr. Gammie are a beautiful clear, rather pale,
greenish blue, without any spots or markings. They have a slight
gloss. In shape they are typically much elongated and somewhat
pyriform ovals, very obtuse at both ends; but moderately broad
examples are met with. In length they vary from 1.05 to 1.33, and in
breadth from 0.76 to 0.86; but the average of thirty-five eggs is 1.18
nearly by 0.82 nearly.
69. Garrulax leucolophus (Hardw.). _The Himalayan White-crested
Garrulax leucolophus (_Hardw.), Jerd. B, Ind._ ii, p. 35; _Hume. Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 407.
According to Mr. Hodgson's notes, the Himalayan White-crested
Laughing-Thrush breeds at various elevations in Sikhim and Nepal, from
the Terai to an elevation of 5000 or 6000 feet, from April to June. It
lays from four to six eggs, which are described and figured as pure
white, very broad ovals, measuring 1.2 by 0.9. It breeds, we are told,
in small trees, constructing a rude cup-shaped nest amongst a clamp of
shoots, or between a number of slender twigs, of dry bamboo-leaves,
creepers, scales of the turmeric plant, &c., and lined with fine
Dr. Jerdon says:--"I have had the nest and eggs brought me more than
once when at Darjeeling, the former being a large mass of roots, moss,
and grass, with a few pure white eggs."
One nest taken in July at Darjeeling was placed on the outer branches
of a tree, at about the height of 8 feet from the ground. It was a
very broad shallow saucer, 8 inches in diameter, about an inch in
thickness, and with a depression of about an inch in depth. It was
composed of dead bamboo-leaves bound together with creepers, and lined
thinly with coarse roots. It contained four fresh eggs. Other similar
nests contained four or three eggs each.
From Sikhim, Mr. Gammie writes:--"I have found this Laughing-Thrush
breeding in May and June, up to about 3500 feet; I have rarely seen
it at higher elevations, and cannot but think that Mr. Hodgson is
mistaken in stating that it breeds up to 5000 or 6000 feet. The nests
are generally placed in shrubs, within reach of the hand, among low,
dense jungle, and are rather loosely built cup-shaped structures,
composed of twigs and grass, and lined with fibrous roots. Externally
they measure about 6 inches in diameter by 3.5 in depth; internally 4
"The eggs are usually four or five in number, but on several occasions
I have found as few as two well-set eggs."
Numerous nests of this species have now been sent me, taken in May,
June, and July, at elevations of from 2000 to fully 4000 feet, and
in one case it is said 5000. They are all very similar, large, very
shallow cups, from 6 to nearly 8 inches in external diameter, and from
2.5 to 3.5 in height; exteriorly all are composed of coarse grass,
of bamboo-spathes, with occasionally a few dead leaves intermingled,
loosely wound round with creepers or pliant twigs, while interiorly
they are composed and lined with black, only moderately fine roots or
pliant flower-stems of some flowering-tree, or both. Sometimes
the exterior coating of grass is not very coarse; at other times
bamboo-spathes exclusively are used, and the nest seems to be
completely packed up in these.
The eggs of this species are broad ovals, pure white and glossy. They
vary from 1.05 to 1.13 in length, and from 0.86 to 0.95 in width, but
the average of eighteen eggs is a little over 1.1 by 0.9.
70. Garrulax belangeri, Less. _The Burmese White-crested
Garrulax belangeri, _Less., Hume, Cat._ no. 407 bis.
Mr. Oates, who found the nest of this bird many years ago in Burma,
has the following note:--"Nest in a bush a few feet from the ground,
on the 8th June, near Pegu. In shape hemispherical, the foundation
being of small branches and leaves of the bamboo, and the interior
and sides of small branches of the coarser weeds and fine twigs. The
latter form the egg-chamber lining and are nicely curved. Exterior and
interior diameters respectively 7 and 31/2 inches. Total depth 31/2 and
interior depth 2 inches. Three eggs, pure white and highly glossy, and
they measure 1.14 by .87, 1.1 by .88, and 1.03 by .86."
The nests of this species are large, loosely constructed cups, much
resembling those of its Himalayan congeners. The base and sides
consist chiefly of dry bamboo-leaves with a few dead tree-leaves
scantily held together by a few creepers, while the interior portion
of the nest, which has no separate lining, is composed of fine twigs
and stems of herbaceous plants and the slender flower-stems of trees
which bear their flowers in clusters. The nests vary a good deal in
exterior dimensions as the materials straggle far and wide in some
cases, and the external diameter may be said to vary from 6 to 8
inches, and the height from 3.25 to 4.5; the cavities are more uniform
in size, and are about 3.5 in diameter by 2 in depth.
The eggs are moderately broad ovals, at times somewhat pointed perhaps
towards the small end, pure white and fairly glossy.
Major C.T. Bingham thus writes of this bird:--"It is very difficult
to either watch these birds, unseen yourself, at one of their dancing
parties, or to catch one of them actually sitting on the nest. Twice
had I in the end of March this year come across nests with one or two
of these birds in the vicinity, and yet have had to leave the eggs
in them as uncertain to what bird they belonged. At last, on the 2nd
April, I came in for a piece of luck. I was roaming about in the
vicinity of my camp on the Gawbechoung, the main source of the
Thoungyeen river, and moving very slowly and silently amid the dense
clumps of bamboo, when my ears were saluted by the hearty laughter of
a flock of these birds, evidently not far off. Very quietly I crept
up, and looking cautiously from behind a thick bamboo-clump, saw ten
or twelve of them going through a most intricate dance, flirting their
wings and tails, and every now and then bursting into a chorus of
shouts, joined in by a few others who were seated looking on from
neighbouring bushes. During one of the pauses of the applause, and
while the dancers were busy twining in and out, a single rather
squeaky 'bravo' came from a bamboo-bush right opposite to me. Looking
up I was astonished to see a nest in a fork of the bamboo, and on the
nest a _Garrulax_ who, probably too busy with her maternal duties to
watch the performance going on below her attentively, came in with
a solitary shout of approbation at an unseemly time. I watched the
performance a few minutes longer, and then frightened the old hen
on the nest. The terrific scare I caused by my sudden appearance is
beyond description. The dancers scattered with screeches, and the
old hen dropped fainting over the side of her nest with a feeble
remonstrance, and disappeared in the most mysterious way. After all
the nest contained only one egg, very glossy, white, and fresh. The
nest was better and stronger built, though very like that of _Garrulax
moniliger_, constructed of twigs, and finely lined with black
hair-like roots; it measured some 6 inches in diameter, the egg-cavity
about 11/2 inch deep. Subsequently I took three other nests, on the 4th
April and 23rd May. The first contained three, the two latter three
and four eggs respectively. A considerable number of eggs measure from
1.22 to 1.06 in length, and from .92 to .81 in breadth, and average
1.13 by 0.88."
72. Garrulax pectoralis (Gould). _The Black-gorgeted
Garrulax pectoralis (_Gould), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 39; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 412.
Mr. Oates tells us that he "found the nest of the Black-gorgeted
Laughing-Thrush in the Pegu Hills, on the 27th April, containing
three fresh eggs; the bird was sitting. The nest was placed in a
bamboo-clump about 7 feet from the ground, made outwardly of dead
bamboo-leaves and coarse roots, lined with finer roots and a few
feathers; inside diameter 6 inches, depth 2 inches. Two eggs measured
1.04 by 0.83 and 0.86. Colour, a beautiful clear blue."
One of these eggs sent by Mr. Oates[A] seems rather small for the
bird. It is a very broad, slightly pyriform oval, of a uniform pale
greenish-blue tint, and very fairly glossy. It measures 1.05 by 0.87.
[Footnote A: I fear I may have made a mistake in identifying the
nest referred to. With this caution, however, I allow my note to
This egg appears to me to be an abnormally small one. A nest sent me
from Sikhim, where it was found in July, contained much larger eggs,
and more in proportion to the size of the bird. The nest I refer to
was placed in a clump of bamboos about 5 feet from the ground. It was
a tolerably compact, moderately deep, saucer-shaped nest, between 6
and 7 inches in diameter, composed of dead bamboo-sheaths and leaves
bound together with creepers and herbaceous stems, and thinly lined
with roots. It contained two eggs. These are rather broad ovals,
somewhat pointed towards one end, of a uniform pale greenish blue, and
are fairly glossy.
These eggs measured 1.33 and 1.30 in length, and 0.98 in breadth.
Mr. Mandelli sent me two nests of this species, both taken in Native
Sikhim, the one on the 4th, the other on the 20th July. Each contained
two fresh eggs. One was placed in a small tree in heavy jungle, at
a height of about 6 feet from the ground, the other in a clump of
bamboos a, foot lower. Both are large, coarse, saucer-shaped nests,
7 to 8 inches in diameter, and 3.5 to 4 in height externally; the
cavities are about 4.5 inches in diameter, and less than 2 in depth;
the basal portion of the nests is composed entirely of dry leaves,
chiefly those of the bamboo, loosely held together by a few stems of
creepers; the sides of the nest are stems of creepers wound round and
round and loosely intertwined, and the cavity is lined with rather
coarse rootlets, and in one case with fine twigs.
73. Garrulax moniliger (Hodgs.). _The Necklaced Laughing-Thrush_.
Garrulax moniliger (_Hodgs.) Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 40; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 413.
Of the Necklaced Laughing-Thrush Dr. Jerdon says:--"I procured both
this and the last (the Black-gorgeted Laughing-Thrush) at Darjeeling,
and have also seen one or both in Sylhet, Cachar, and Upper Burmah.
They both associate in large flocks, and frequent more open forest
than most of the previous species. The eggs are greenish blue."
From Sikhim, Mr. Gammie writes:--"In the first week of June I found a
nest in low jungle, at 2000 feet, containing four greenish-blue eggs,
but, as I did not see the bird, left it until my return a week later.
I then saw the female, but in the interval the young had been hatched.
The nest closely resembled that of _D. caerulatus_ [p. 46], both in
shape and composition, and was similarly situated between several
upright slender shoots to which it was firmly attached. It was,
however, within five feet of the ground, which is lower by 5 feet or
so than _D. caerulatus_ generally builds.
"I have found this species breeding from April to June, up to
elevations not much exceeding 2500 feet. It affects the low, dense
scrub growing in moist situations, and usually fixes its nest between
several upright sprays, within 5 or 6 feet of the ground. The nest
is cup-shaped, made of dry bamboo-leaves, intermixed with a very few
pieces of climber-stems, and thickly lined with old leaf-stalks of
some pinnate-leaved tree. Externally it measures about 5.5 inches in
diameter by 4 in height; internally 3.5 by 2.75.
"The eggs are four or five in number."
Mr. Oates writes:--"On the 27th April I shot a female in the Pegu
Hills off her nest. This latter contained one young one, and one
deformed egg, which unfortunately got broken; colour a deep blue.
The nest was placed in a small seedling bamboo about 6 feet from the
ground at a joint where a number of small twigs shot out, inverted
umbrella fashion. The nest in every respect closely resembled that of
He subsequently remarked:--"Breeds in Lower Pegu chiefly in July.
Average of six eggs, 1.16 by .88; colour, very glossy deep blue.
Nest placed in forks of saplings within reach of the hand, massive,
cup-shaped, and made of dead leaves and small branches; lined with
fine twigs. Outside diameter 7 inches and depth 4; interior 41/4 by 2."
A nest found below Darjeeling in the first week of June on the branch
of a good-sized tree, at a height of 12 feet from the ground, was
similar to that described by Mr. Gammie, and contained a single fresh
egg. This is a moderately broad oval, somewhat pointed towards the
small end, and exhibits very little gloss. It is of precisely the same
colour as those of the preceding species, but measures only 1.2 in
length by 0.9 in breadth.
Writing from Tenasserim, Major C.T. Bingham says:--"Between the 25th
March and 28th April I found at least twenty nests of this bird. They
were broad, shallow cups of roots and twigs, lined with fine black
grass-roots, and placed at heights varying from 4 to 10 feet above
the ground, invariably in the forks of low bamboo. The number of eggs
varied from 3 to 5; blue in colour, and fairly glossy."
Numerous nests from Sikhim, Pegu, and Tenasserim are all of precisely
the same type as described by Mr. Gammie; but some are fully 7 inches
in external diameter, and in several the cavity is at least 4 inches
The eggs of this species obtained by Mr. Gammie vary very much in size
and shape, and somewhat in colour. Some are considerably elongated
ovals, with a marked pyriform tendency. Others are particularly broad
ovals for this class of egg. The shell is fine and compact, and as a
rule they seem to have a fine gloss; but one or two specimens almost
want this. In colour they are a pale, clear, slightly greenish blue,
unspotted and unmarked. In length they vary from 1.01 to 1.13, and in
breadth from 0.81 to 0.9, but the average of thirteen is 1.07 by 0.85.
76. Garrulax albigularis (Gould). _The White-throated
Garrulax albogularis (_Gould), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p, 38; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 411.
The White-throated Laughing-Thrush breeds throughout the lower
southern ranges of the Himalayas from Assam to Afghanistan at
elevations of from 4000 to nearly 8000 feet. They lay from the
commencement of April to the end of June. The nest varies in shape
from a moderately deep cup to a broad shallow saucer, and from 5 to 7
or even 8 inches in external diameter, and from less than 2 to nearly
4 inches in depth internally. Coarse grass, flags, creepers, dead
leaves, moss, moss- and grass-roots, all at times enter more or less
largely into the composition of the nest, which, though sometimes
wholly unlined, is often neatly cushioned with red and black fern and
moss-roots. The nests are placed in small bushes, shrubs, or trees, at
heights of from 3 to 10 feet, sometimes in forks, but more often,
I think, on low horizontal branches, between two or three upright
Three is, I think, the regular complement of eggs, and this is the
number I have always found when the eggs were much incubated. I have
not myself observed that this species breeds in company, nor can I
ever remember to have taken two nests within 100 yards of each other.
Captain Hutton remarks:--"This is very common in Mussoorie at all
seasons, and congregates into large and noisy flocks, turning up the
dead leaves, and screaming and chattering together in most discordant
concert. It breeds in April and May, placing the nest in the forks of
young oaks and other trees, about 7 or 8 feet from the ground,
though sometimes higher, and fastening the sides of it firmly to the
supporting twigs by tendrils of climbing-plants. It is sometimes
composed externally almost entirely of such woody tendrils, intermixed
with a few other twigs, and lined with black hair-like fibres of
mosses and lichens; at other times it is externally composed of coarse
dry grasses and leaves of different kinds of orchids, and lined with
fibres, the materials varying with the locality. The eggs are of a
deep and beautiful green, shining as if recently varnished, and three
in number. In shape they taper somewhat suddenly to the smaller end,
which may almost be termed obtusely pointed. The size 1.19 by 0.87
inch. The usual number of eggs is three, though sometimes only one or
two are found; but only on one occasion out of more than a dozen nests
have I found four eggs. The old bird will remain on the nest until
within reach of the hand."
From Murree, Colonel C.H.T. Marshall writes:--"This was the most
beautiful egg taken this season, being of a rich, deep, glossy,
greenish-blue colour. The nest is composed of fresh ivy-twigs, with
the leaves attached, tightly woven together. The birds breed on small
trees, not high up, at the end of a branch. While their nests were
being examined, they came round in flocks to see what was happening,
chattering and making that peculiar laughing note from which this
genus takes its name. They are even gregarious in the breeding-season,
and all the nests were found pretty near each other about 6000 feet
The nest sent me by Colonel Marshall is a broad, shallow cup, or
saucer as I should perhaps call it, some 6 inches in diameter, with
a central depression of at most 1.5 inch, below which the nest is
an inch or 1.5 in thickness. It is very loosely put together, and
composed interiorly of moderately fine dry twigs and roots, but
exteriorly it is completely wound round with slender green ivy-twigs
to which the leaves are attached. It has no lining or pretence for
Captain Cock says:--"The White-throated Laughing-Thrush lays one of
the most lovely eggs with which I am acquainted. The nest is usually
low, never more than 10 feet or so from the ground; and of some
fifteen or more nests that I have taken, all were constructed of long
stalks of the ground-ivy, twisted round and round into a wreath. The
nest is not a deep cup; if anything it is rather shallow, but it
is very wide. I always found these nests in thick forest, at high
elevations from 6000 to 7000 feet. The birds used to sit close, and
when put off their nests would commence their outcries, and from all
parts they would assemble and flit about almost within reach of one's
hand, making an awful noise, and in the dark shade of the forest their
white gorgets had quite a ghostly look. The eggs are always three in
number, of a beautiful shining blue-green, sometimes of a very long
oval type. I have found the nests at Murree from the 3rd May to quite
the end of June."
Colonel G.F.L. Marshall writing of this species says:--"A nest found
at Nynee Tal on Ayar Pata, about 7000 feet above the sea, contained
two fresh eggs on the 31st May. The eggs were of a rich deep greenish
blue, unspotted. The nest was a scanty and loosely-built structure,
composed of roots and stems of grass and creepers, cup-shaped, rather
shallow, and lined with a curious black creeper, very like coarse
hair. The birds were gregarious even though breeding, and were moving
about the underwood in parties of three to five. The nest was near the
top of an oak-sapling in a dense coppice, placed close against the
stem in a bunch of leaves at the top. The only difficulty in finding
it lay in the scantiness of the structure rather than in the
concealment by the foliage. The bird was on the nest and only moved
off about 3 feet, sitting close by and chattering indignantly during
my inspection. They are noisy birds, constantly on the move, and
their notes, though rather harsh, are very varied and quite
The eggs are long, and pointed at the small end, to which they
sometimes taper much. They are very glossy, and vary from a deep dull
blue (the blue of a dark oil-paint, very much deeper than that of any
other of the Crateropodinae with which I am acquainted) to a deep
intense greenish blue. Possibly other as deeply coloured eggs occur
in this family, but I have seen none like them. They are of course
In length they vary from 1.16 to 1.25, and in breadth from 0.8 to
0.86; but the average of some twenty eggs measured is 1.22 by 0.83.
78. Ianthocincla ocellata (Vig.). _The White-spotted
Garrulax ocellatus (_Vig.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 41; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 414.
I know nothing personally of the nidification of the White-spotted
Laughing-Thrush, which breeds nowhere, so far as I know, west
of Nepal, but I had a nest with a couple of eggs and one of the
parent-birds sent me from Darjeeling. The nest was taken in May in one
of the low warm valleys leading to the Great Runjeet, and is said to
have been placed close to the ground in a thick clump of fern and
grass. The nest is chiefly composed of these, intermingled with moss
and roots, and is a large loose structure some 7 inches in diameter.
Mr. Blyth remarked in 'The Ibis' (1867) that this species was "surely
a _Trochalopteron_ rather than a _Garrulax_," and the eggs seem to
confirm this view. These are long, cylindrical ovals, very obtuse even
at the smaller end. They are about the same size as those of _Garrulax
albigularis_, with a very delicate pale blue ground and little or no
gloss. One egg is spotless; the other has a few chocolate-brown specks
or spots towards the large end. They measure 1.18 by 0.86 and 1.25 by
80. Ianthocincla rufigularis, Gould. _The Rufous-chinned
Trochalopteron rufogulare (_Gould), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 47; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 421.
Common as this species is about Simla, I have never yet secured the
nest, and know nothing certain about the eggs.
Captain Hutton says:--"This species appears usually in pairs,
sometimes in a family of four or five. It breeds in May, in which
month I took a nest, at about 6500 feet elevation, in a retired and
wooded glen; it was composed of small twigs externally and lined with
the fine black fibres of lichens. The nest was placed on a horizontal
bough, about 7 feet from the ground, and contained three pure white
eggs. Size 1.12 by 0.69; shape ordinary. The stomach of the old bird
contained sand, seed, and the remains of wasps."
One egg that I possess of this species I owe to Captain Hutton, and
it is of the _Pomatorhinus_ type--a long oval, slightly pointed pure
white egg, with but little gloss, measuring 1.08 by 0.75.
From Sikhim a nest, said to belong to this species, has been recently
sent me. It was found below Darjeeling in July, and was placed in
a double fork of the branchlets of a medium-sized tree. It is a
moderately deep cup, composed almost entirely of dry, coarser and
finer, tendrils of creepers, and is lined with a some black moss-roots
and a few scraps of dead leaves. It contained three fresh eggs.
Numerous nests of this species subsequently sent me from Sikhim are
all of the same type, all moderately deep cups composed entirely of
creeper-tendrils, the cavity only being lined with fine black roots.
They appear from the specimens before me to be quite _sui generis_ and
unlike those of any of its congeners. No grass, no dead leaves, no
moss seems to be employed; nothing but the tendrils of some creeper.
The nests appear to be always placed at the fork, where three, four,
or more shoots diverge, and to be generally more or less like inverted
cones, measuring say 4 to 5 inches in height, and about the same in
breadth at the top, while the cavities are about 3 inches in diameter
and 1.5 to 2 in depth. The nests appear to have been found at very
varying heights from the ground from 5 to 15 feet, and at elevations
of from 3000 to 5000 feet. They appear to have contained three fresh
or more or less incubated eggs.
The eggs were found in Sikhim on different dates between 25th May and
Exceptional as the coloration of the eggs of this species may seem,
there is no doubt that they are pure white. The shell is thin and
fragile, but has generally a decided gloss, and the eggs are
typically elongated ovals, obtuse-ended, and more or less pyriform or
cylindrical. The eggs vary from 0.92 to 1.13 in length, and from 0.75
to 0.8 in breadth, but the average of eleven eggs is 1.06 by 0.77
82. Trochalopterum erythrocephalum (Vig.). _The Red-headed
Trochalopteron erythrocephalum (_Vig.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 43;
_Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 415.
From Kumaon westwards, at any rate as far as the valley of the Beas,
the Red-headed Laughing-Thrush is, next to _T. lineatum_, the most
common species of the genus. It lays in May and June, at elevations of
from 4000 to 7000 feet, building on low branches of trees, at a height
of from 3 to 10 feet from, the ground.
The nests are composed chiefly of dead leaves bound round into a deep
cup with delicate fronds of ferns and coarse and fine grass, the
cavities being scantily lined with fine grass and moss-roots. It is
difficult by any description to convey an adequate idea of the beauty
of some of these nests--the deep red-brown of the withered ferns,
the black of the grass- and moss-roots, the pale yellow of the broad
flaggy grass, and the straw-yellow of some of the finer grass-stems,
all blended together into an artistic wreath, in the centre of which
the beautiful sky-blue and maroon-spotted eggs repose. Externally the
nests may average about 6 inches in diameter, but the egg-cavity is
comparatively large and very regular, measuring about 31/2 inches across
and fully 21/4 inches in depth. Some nests of course are less regular
and artistic in their appearance, but, as a rule, those of this
species are particularly beautiful.
The eggs vary from two to four in number.
Sir E.C. Buck sent me the following note:--
"I found a nest of this species near Narkunda (about 30 miles north of
Simla) on the 26th June. It was placed on the branch of a banj tree,
some 8 feet from the ground, and contained two eggs, half set. Nest
and eggs forwarded."
Dr. Jerdon says that Shore, as quoted by Gould in his 'Century,' says
that "it is by no means uncommon in Kumaon, where it frequents shady
ravines, building in hollows and their precipitous sides, and making
its nest of small sticks and grasses, the eggs being five in number,
of a sky-blue colour." But Shore, as the showman would say, is, so far
as eggs and nests are concerned, "a fabulous writer," and the eggs
are always more or less spotted, and no nest that I ever saw of this
species was composed of "small sticks."
Mr. Blyth says:--"Mr. Hodgson figures a green egg, spotted much like
that of _Turdus musicus_, as that of the present species;" but in all
Hodgson's drawings this _green_ represents a _greenish blue_, as I
have tested in dozens of cases.
Colonel G.F.L. Marshall remarks:--"I found a nest of this species on
the 15th May at Nynee Tal on the top of Ayar Pata, at an elevation of
about 7500 feet above the sea. The nest was a rather deep cup, neatly
made and placed about 5 feet from the ground amongst the outer twigs
of a thick barberry bush, the leaves of which entirely concealed it.
It was composed of a thick layer of dead oak- and rhododendron-leaves,
bound round outside with just enough of grass-stems and moss to
keep the leaves in place; it had no lining of any description. The
egg-cavity was 31/2 inches broad by nearly 21/2 inches deep. The eggs, two
in number, were blue, with a few spots, streaks, and scrawls of brown
tending to form a zone at the larger end. They were large for the
size of the bird. The ground-colour was like that of the eggs of a
Song-Thrush in England.
"Several more nests found subsequently with eggs up to 4th June were
similar in structure, but placed in small oak trees from 5 to 15 or 18
feet from the ground.
"I found a nest of this species containing a single hard-set egg on
the 17th August; both parent-birds were by the nest; this is unusually
late, the chief breeding-month being June."
The eggs are very long ovals, of a delicate pale greenish-blue
ground-colour, with a few spots, streaks, and streaky blotches of a
very rich though slightly brownish red at the large end. These eggs,
though somewhat longer in shape and less freely marked, are exactly
of the same type as those of _T. cachinnans_ and _T. variegatum_. The
texture of the shell is very fine and compact, and they have a slight
gloss. In some eggs the spottings are more numerous, and, besides the
primary markings already mentioned, a few purple spots and blotches,
mostly very pale, are intermingled with the darker markings. In almost
all the eggs that I have seen the markings were absolutely confined to
the larger end.
In length the eggs vary from 1.15 to 1.22, and in breadth from 0.8 to
0.86; but the average is about 1.2 by 0.82.
85. Trochalopterum nigrimentum, Hodgs. _The Western Yellow-winged
Trochalopteron chrysopterum (_Gould), apud Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 43;
_Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 416.
The Western Yellow-winged Laughing-Thrush breeds, so far as is yet
known, only in Nepal, Sikhim, and Bhootan, from all which localities
we have quite young birds, but no eggs.
Dr. Jerdon says:--"The eggs are greenish blue, in a nest neatly made
with roots and moss." This, of course, is wrong, as the eggs are now
well known to be spotted.
From Sikhim, Mr. Gammie writes:--"The Yellow-winged Laughing-Thrush
breeds from April to June at elevations from 5500 feet upwards. It
prefers scrubby jungle, and places its nest in bushes about six feet
or so from the ground. It is a broad, cup-shaped structure, neatly and
strongly made of fine twigs and dry grass-leaves, lined with roots and
with a few strings of green moss wound round the outside. Externally,
it measures about 6 inches wide, and 41/2 deep; internally 31/4 by 21/2.
"The eggs are usually three in number."
Six nests of this species found between the 4th May and 2nd July in
Native and British Sikhim were sent me by Mr. Mandelli. They were
placed in small trees or dense bushes at heights of from 3 to 8 feet,
and contained in some cases two, and in others three fresh or fully
incubated eggs, so that sometimes the bird only lays two eggs. Three
nests were also sent me by Mr. Gammie, taken in the neighbourhood of
the Sikhim Cinchona-Plantations. All are precisely of the same type,
all constructed with the same materials, but owing to the different
proportions in which these are used some of the nests at first sight
seem to differ widely from others. Some also are a good deal bigger
than others, but all are massive, deep cups, varying from 5.25 to 6.5
inches in diameter, and from 3 to fully 4 in height externally; the
cavities vary from 3 to 3.5 in diameter, and from 2 to 2.5 in depth.
The body of the nests is composed of grass; the cavity is lined first
with dry leaves, and then thickly or thinly with black fibrous roots.
Externally the nest is more or less bound together by creepers and
stems of herbaceous plants. Sometimes only a few strings of moss and a
few sprays of _Selaginella_ are to be seen on the outside of the nest;
while, on the other hand, in some nests the entire outer surface is
completely covered over with green moss, not only on the sides, but
on the upper margin, so as to conceal completely the rest of the
materials of the nest, and in all the nine nests before me the extent
to which the moss is used varies.
The eggs of this species are typically somewhat elongated ovals, some
are much pointed towards the small end, others are somewhat pyriform,
and others again are subcylindrical. The shell is fine and soft, but
has only a moderate amount of gloss. The ground-colour, which varies
very little in shade, is a delicate pale, slightly greenish blue,
almost precisely the same colour as that of _Trochalopterum
erythrocephalum_. The eggs are sparingly (in fact, almost exclusively
about the large end) marked with deep chocolate. These markings are
in some spots and blotches, but in many assume the form of thicker or
thinner hieroglyphic lines. As a rule, three fourths of the egg is
spotless, occasionally a single speck or spot occurs towards the small
end of the egg. One or two eggs are almost spotless. In length the
eggs vary from 1.1 to 1.23, and in breadth from 0.73 to 0.87, but the
average of sixteen eggs is 1.17 nearly by 0.82.
87. Trochalopterum phoeniceum (Gould). _The Crimson-winged
Trochalopteron phoeniceum (_Gould), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 48; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 422.
Mr. Gammie says:--"I have found altogether seven nests of the
Crimson-winged Laughing-Thrush in and about Rishap, at elevations
between 4000 and 5000 feet, and on various dates between the 4th and
23rd May. The locality chosen for the nest is in some moist forest
amongst dense undergrowth. It is placed in shrubs, at heights of from
6 to 10 feet from the ground, and is generally suspended between
several upright stems, to which it is firmly attached by fibres. It is
chiefly composed of dry bamboo-leaves and a few twigs, and lined with
black fibres and moss-roots. A few strings of moss are twisted round
it externally to aid in concealing it. It is a moderately deep cup,
measuring externally about 5 inches in diameter and 4 inches in
height, and internally 31/2 inches in width and 2 inches in depth.
"The eggs are almost always three in number, but occasionally only
two. Of the seven nests taken by me, five contained eggs and two young
The Crimson-winged Laughing-Thrush, according to Mr. Hodgson's notes,
breeds in Sikhim, at elevations of from 3000 to 5000 feet, during the
months of April, May, and June. The nest is placed in the fork of some
thick bush or small tree, where three or four sprays divide, at from 2
to 5 feet above the ground. The nest is a very deep compact cup. One
measured _in situ_ was 4.5 inches in diameter and the same in height
externally, while the cavity was 3 inches in diameter and 2.25
deep. It was very compact and was composed of dry leaves, creepers,
grass-flowers, and vegetable fibres, more or less lined with
moss-roots and coated externally with dry bamboo-leaves. They lay, we
are told, three or four eggs.
Dr. Jerdon says:--"A nest and eggs said to be of this bird were
brought to me at Darjeeling; the nest made of roots and grass, and the
eggs, three in number, pale blue, with a few narrow and wavy dusky
The eggs are singularly lovely. In shape they are elongated ovals,
generally very obtuse at both ends, and many of them exhibiting
cylindrical or pyriform tendencies. The shell is very fine and fairly
glossy, and the ground-colour is a most beautiful clear pale sea-green
in some, greenish blue in others. The character of the markings
is more that of the Buntings than of this family. There are a few
strongly marked deep maroon, generally more or less angular, spots or
dashes, principally about the large end, and there are a few spots
and tiny clouds of pale soft purple, and then there are an infinite
variety of hair-line hieroglyphics, twisted and scrawled in brownish
or reddish purple, about the egg. The markings are nowhere as a rule
crowded, and towards the small end are usually sparse and occasionally
wholly wanting. In some eggs a bad pen seems to have been used to
scribble the pattern, and every here and there instead of a fine
hair-line there is a coarse thick one.
The eggs are pretty constant in size and colour, but here and there
an abnormally pale specimen, in which the green has almost entirely
disappeared, is met with. In length they vary from 0.98 to 1.15, and
in breadth from 0.7 to 0.82, but the average of thirty-one eggs is
1.04 by 0.74.
88. Trochalopterum subunicolor, Hodgs. _The Plain-coloured
Trochalopteron subunicolor, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 44; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 417.
The Olivaceous or Plain-coloured Laughing-Thrush breeds, according
to Mr. Hodgson's notes, in the central region of Nepal from April to
June. It nests in open forests and groves, building its nest on some
low branch of a tree, 2 or 3 feet from the ground, between a number of
twigs. The nest is large and cup-shaped: one measured externally 5.5
inches in diameter and 3.38 in height; internally 2.75 deep and 3.12
in diameter. The nest is composed externally of grass and mosses
lined with soft bamboo-leaves. Three or four eggs are laid, unspotted
greenish blue. One is figured as 1.07 by 0.7.
90. Trochalopterum variegatum (Vig.). _The Eastern Variegated
Trochalopteron variegatum (_Vig.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 45; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 418 (part).
The Eastern Variegated Laughing-Thrush breeds only at elevations of
from 4000 to 7000 or 8000 feet, from Simla to Nepal, during the latter
half of April, May, and June. The nest is a pretty compact, rather
shallow cup, composed exteriorly of coarse grass, in which a few
dead leaves are intermingled; it has no lining, but the interior is
composed of rather finer and softer grass than the exterior, and
a good number of dry needle-like fir-leaves are used towards the
interior. It is from 5 to 8 inches in diameter exteriorly, and the
cavity from 3 inches to 3.5 in diameter and about 2 inches deep. The
nest is usually placed in some low, densely-foliaged branch of a tree,
at say from 3 to 8 feet from the ground; but I recently obtained one
placed in a thick tuft of grass, growing at the roots of a young
Deodar, not above 6 inches from the ground. They lay four or five
The first egg that I obtained of this species, sent me by Sir E.C.
Buck, C.S., and taken by himself near Narkunda, late in June, out of
a nest containing two eggs and two young ones, was a nearly perfect,
rather long oval, and precisely the same type of egg as those of _T.
erythrocephalum_ and _T. cachinnans_, but considerably smaller than
the former. The ground-colour is a pale, rather dingy greenish blue,
and it is blotched, spotted, and speckled, almost exclusively at the
larger end, and even there not very thickly, with reddish brown.
The egg appeared to have but little gloss. Other eggs subsequently
obtained by myself were very similar, but slightly larger and rather
more thickly and boldly blotched, the majority of the markings being
still at the large end.
The colour of the markings varies a good deal: a liver-red is perhaps
the most common, but yellowish brown, pale purple, purplish red, and
brownish red also occur. Here and there an egg is met with almost
entirely devoid of markings, with perhaps only one moderately large
spot and a dozen specks, and these so deep a red as to be all but
The eggs vary from 1.07 to 1.15 in length, and from 0.76 to 0.82 in
91. Trochalopterum simile, Hume. _The Western Variegated
Trochalopterum simile, _Hume; Hume, Cat._ no. 418 bis.
Messrs. Cock and Marshall write from Murree:--"The nidification of
this _Trochalopterum_ was apparently unknown before. We found one nest
on the 15th June, about twenty feet up a spruce-fir at the extremity
of the bough. Nest deep, cup-shaped, solidly built of grass, roots,
and twigs; the bird sits close. Eggs light greenish blue, sparingly
spotted with pale purple, the same size as those of _Merula
92. Trochalopterum squamatum (Gould). _The Blue-winged
Trochalopteron squamatum (_Gould), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 46; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 420.
From Sikhim my friend Mr. Gammie writes:--"I have never as yet found
more than one nest of the Blue-winged Laughing-Thrush, and this one
was found on the 18th May at Mongphoo, at an elevation of about 3500
feet. The nest was placed in a bush (one of the _Zingiberaceae_),
growing in a marshy place, in the midst of dense scrub, at a height
of about 4 feet from the ground, and was firmly attached to several
upright stems. It was composed of dry bamboo-leaves, held together by
the stems of delicate creepers, and was lined with a few black fibres.
It was cup-shaped, and measured externally 5.7 in diameter by 3.6
in height, and internally 3.7 in width by 2.6 in depth. The nest
contained three eggs, which were unfortunately almost ready to hatch
off, so that three is probably the normal number of the eggs."
According to Mr. Hodgson's notes the Blue-winged Laughing-Thrush
breeds in May and June in the central region of Nepal in forests, at
elevations of from 2000 to 6000 feet. The nest is placed in a fork of
a branch on some small tree, and is a large mass of dry leaves and
coarse dry grass, 7 or 8 inches in diameter externally, mortar-shaped,
the cavity about 2.5 deep, and lined with hair-like fibres. The nest,
though composed of loose materials, is very firm and compact. They lay
four or five eggs, unspotted, verditer-blue, one of which is figured
as a broad regular oval, only slightly compressed towards one end,
measuring 1.2 by 0.9.
One of the eggs taken by Mr. Gammie (the others were unfortunately
broken) is a long, almost cylindrical, oval, very obtuse at both ends
and slightly compressed towards the smaller end, so that the egg has
a pyriform tendency. It measures 1.25 by 0.82. The colour is an
excessively pale greenish blue, precisely the same as that of the eggs
of _Sturnia malabarica_; but then this present egg was nearly ready to
hatch off when taken, and the fresh eggs are somewhat deeper coloured.
Subsequent to his letter above quoted, Mr. Gammie on the 10th June
found a second nest of this species similar to the first, containing
three nearly fresh eggs. These are similar in shape to that above
described, but in colour are a beautiful clear verditer-blue,
altogether a much brighter and richer tint than that of the first.
They measure 1.2 and 1.25 by 0.88.
One nest was taken by Mr. Gammie above Mongphoo at an elevation of
about 4500 feet on the 30th of April. It was placed in a bush at a
height of about 6 feet from the ground, and contained three fresh
eggs. It was a loosely put together, massive cup, some 7 inches in
diameter and 4 in height externally. It was composed mainly of
fine twigs, creeper-stems, and grass, with a few bamboo-leaves
intermingled, and the cavity was carefully lined with bamboo-leaves,
and then within that thinly with black fibrous roots; the cavity
measured 3.7 inches in diameter and 2.3 in depth.
The eggs of this species, of which I have now received many, appear to
be typically somewhat elongated ovals, and not unfrequently they are
more or less pyriform or even cylindrical. As a rule, they are fairly
glossy, a bright pale, somewhat greenish blue, quite spotless, and
varying a little in tint. In length they appear to vary from 1.11 to
1.25, and in breadth from 0.82 to 0.91; but the average of eleven eggs
is 1.2 by 0.87.
93. Trochalopterum cachinnans (Jerd.). _The Nilghiri
Trochalopteron cachinnans (_Jerd.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 48; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 423.
The Nilghiri Laughing-Thrush breeds, according to my many informants,
throughout the more elevated portions of the mountains from which it
derives its trivial name, from February to the beginning of June.
A nest of this species sent me by Mr. H.R.P. Carter, who took it
at Coonoor on April 22nd (when it contained two fresh eggs), is
externally a rather coarse clumsy structure, composed of roots, dead
leaves, small twigs, and a little lichen, about 5 inches in diameter,
and standing about 41/2 inches high. The egg-cavity is, however, very
regularly shaped, and neatly lined with very fine grass-stems and a
little fine tow-like vegetable fibre. It is a deep cup, measuring 21/2
inches across and fully 33/4 inches in depth.
A nest taken by Miss Cockburn was a much more compact structure,
placed between four or five twigs. It was composed of coarse grass,
dead and skeleton leaves, a very little lichen, and a quantity of
moss. The egg-cavity was lined with very fine grass. The nest was
externally about 51/2 inches in diameter and nearly 6 inches in height,
but the egg-cavity had a diameter of only about 21/2 inches and was only
about 21/4 inches deep.
It was Jerdon, I believe, who gave the name of Laughing-Thrushes to
this group, and this name is applicable enough to this particular
bird, the one with which he was most familiar, for it does
_laugh_--albeit, a most maniacal laugh; but the majority of the group
have not the shadow of a giggle even in them, and should have been
designated "Screaming Squabblers."
Mr. J. Darling, Jr., says:--"This bird breeds from February to May.
I have found the nests all over the Nilghiris, at elevations of from
4500 to 7500 feet above the sea. The nest is placed indiscriminately
in any bush or tree that happens to take the bird's fancy, at heights
of from 3 to 12 feet from the ground.
"In shape it is circular, a deep cup, externally some 6 inches in
diameter and 5 or 6 inches in height, and with a cavity 3 to 4 inches
wide and often fully 4 inches in depth. The nest is composed of moss
and small twigs, at times of grass mingled with some spiders' webs:
sometimes there is a foundation of dead leaves. The cavity is lined
with fur, cotton-wool, feathers, &c.
"The eggs are two or three in number."
Mr. Wait, writing from Coonoor, says:--"_T. cachinnans_ breeds about
May, and lays from three to five oval eggs. The ground is bluish, with
ash-coloured and brown spots and blotches, and occasionally marks."
None of my other correspondents, however, admit that the bird ever
lays more than three eggs.
Mr. Davison tells me that "this bird breeds commonly on the Nilghiris,
just before the rains set in, in May and the earlier part of June, but
it occasionally breeds earlier (in April) or later (in the latter
end of June). The nest is cup-shaped, composed of dead leaves, moss,
grass, &c., and lined with a few moss-roots or fine grass. It is
placed in the fork of a branch about 6 or 8 feet from the ground. The
eggs are a bluish green, mottled chiefly towards the larger end, and
sometimes also streaked with purplish brown. The normal number of eggs
is two; sometimes, however, three are laid."
From Kotagherry, Miss Cockburn remarks:--"The name 'Laughing-Thrush'
is most applicable to this bird, and its notes are often mistaken for
the sound of the human voice. This bird is very shy, except when its
nest contains eggs or young, when it becomes extremely bold. I was
quite surprised to see a pair whose nest I was taking come so close
as to induce me to put out my hand to catch them. The Laughing-Thrush
builds a pretty, though large, nest, and generally selects the forked
branches of a thick bush, and commences its nest with a large quantity
of moss, after which there is a lining of fine grass and roots, and
the withered fibrous covering of the Peruvian Cherry (_Physalis
peruviana_), the nest being finished with a few feathers, in general
belonging to the bird. The inside of the nest is perfectly round, and
rarely contains more than two eggs, belonging to the owner. The eggs
are of a beautiful greenish-blue colour, with a few large and small
brown blotches and streaks, mostly at the large end. I have found the
nests of these birds in February, March, and April. Occasionally the
Black-and-white Crested Cuckoo, which appears on these hills in the
month of March, deposits its eggs (two in number) in the nest of
this Thrush. They are easily distinguished, as their colour is quite
different from the Thrush's eggs, being entirely dark bluish green."
Mr. Rhodes W. Morgan writing from South India, says, in 'The
Ibis':--"It builds a very neat nest of moss, dried leaves, and the
outer husk of the fruit of the Brazil Cherry, lined with feathers,
bits of fur, and other soft substances. The nest is cup-shaped, and
generally contains three eggs, most peculiarly marked with blotches,
streaks, and wavy lines of a dark claret-colour on a light blue
ground. The markings are almost always at the larger end."
The first specimens that I obtained of the eggs of this species were
kindly sent to me by the late Captain Mitchell and Mr. H.R.P. Carter
of Madras; they were taken on the Nilghiris. They are moderately broad
ovals, somewhat pointed towards one end, larger than the average eggs
of _T. lineatum_, and about the same size as large specimens of the
eggs of _Crateropus canorus_ and _Argya malcolmi_. The ground-colour
is of a delicate pale blue, and towards the large end, and sometimes
over the whole surface, they are speckled, spotted, and blotched, but
only sparingly, with brownish red and blackish brown, and amongst
these markings a few cloudy streaks and spots of dull faint reddish
purple are observable. The eggs have not much gloss.
Numerous other specimens subsequently received from Miss Cockburn
and others correspond well with the above description. More or less
pyriform varieties are common. In some eggs the markings are almost
entirely wanting, there being only a very faint brownish-pink
freckling at the large end; and in many eggs, even some that are
profusely spotted all over, the markings consist only of darker or
lighter brownish-pink shades. Occasionally a few, almost black,
twisted lines are intermingled with the other markings, and in these
cases the lines are frequently surrounded by a reddish-purple nimbus.
The eggs vary in length from 0.92 to 1.08, and in breadth from 0.74 to
0.8, but the average of twenty eggs measured was 1.0 by 0.76.
96. Trochalopterum fairbanki, Blanf. _The Palni Laughing-Thrush_.
Trochalopterum fairbanki, _Blanf., Hume, Cat._ no. 423 bis.
The Rev. S.B. Fairbank, the discoverer of this species, found its nest
at Kodai Kanal, in the Palni Hills, in May. The nest was placed in
the crotch of a tree, at about 10 feet from the ground, and at an
elevation of nearly 6500 feet above the level of the sea. The eggs
are moderately elongated ovals, with a fine, fairly glossy shell. The
ground is pale greenish blue or bluish green; the markings are spots,
small blotches, hair-lines, and hieroglyphic-like scrawls, rather
thinly scattered about the surface, and varying in colour through
several shades of brownish and reddish purple to bright claret-colour.
The only egg I have measures 1 inch in length by 0.8 inch in breadth.
99. Trochalopterum lineatum (Vig.). _The Himalayan Streaked
Trochalopteron lineatum (_Vig.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 50; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 425[A].
[Footnote A: I omit the note on _T. imbricatum_ in the 'Rough Draft,'
because, as I have shown in the 'Birds of India,' this bird was
unknown to Hodgson, and his note refers to _T. lineatum_. Sufficient
is now known about the nidification of this latter to render the
insertion of Hodgson's note unnecessary.--ED.]
Next to the Common House-Sparrow, the Himalayan Streaked
Laughing-Thrush is perhaps the most familiar bird about our houses
at all the hill-stations of the Himalayas westward of Nepal and
throughout the lower ranges on which these stations are situated; this
species breeds at elevations of from 5000 to 8000 feet.
It lays from the end of April to the beginning of September, and very
possibly occasionally even earlier and later. I took a nest on the
29th April near Mussoorie; Mr. Brooks obtained eggs in May and June at
Almorah; Colonel G.F.L. Marshall at Mussoorie in July and August; and
Colonel C.H.T. Marshall at Murree from May to the end of July. I again
took them in July and August near Simla, and Captain Beavan found them
as late as the 6th of September near the same station.
So far as my own experience goes, the nests are always placed in
very thick bushes or in low thick branches of some tree, the Deodar
appearing to be a great favourite. Those I found averaged about 4 feet
from the ground, but I took a single one in a Deodar tree fully 8 feet
up. The bird, as a rule, conceals its nest so well that, though a
loose and, for the size of the architect, a large structure, it is
difficult to find, even when one closely examines the bush in which it
is. The nest is nearly circular, with a deep cup-like cavity in the
centre, reminding one much of that of _Crateropus canorus_, and is
constructed of dry grass and the fine stems of herbaceous plants,
often intermingled with the bark of some fibrous plant, with a
considerable number of dead leaves interwoven in the fabric,
especially towards the base. The cavity is neatly lined with fine
grass-roots, or occasionally very fine grass. The cavity varies from 3
inches to 3.5 in diameter, and from 2.25 inches to 2.75 in depth; the
walls immediately surrounding the cavity are very compact, but the
compact portion rarely exceeds from .75 to 1 inch in thickness, beyond
which the loose ends of the material straggle more or less, so that
the external diameter varies from 5.5 inches to nearly 10.
The normal number of eggs appears to me to be three, although Captain
Beavan cites an instance of four being found.
Captain Hutton tells us (J.A.S.B. xvii.) that in the neighbourhood of
Mussoorie "this bird is met with in pairs, sometimes in a family of
four or five, and may be seen under every bush. The nest is placed
near the ground, in the midst of some thick low bush, or on the side
of a bank amidst overhanging coarse grass, and not unfrequently in
exposed and well-frequented places; it is loosely and rather slovenly
constructed of coarse dry grasses and stalks externally, lined
sometimes with fine grass, sometimes with fine roots. The eggs are
three in number, and in shape and size exceedingly variable, being
sometimes of an ordinary oval, at others nearly round."
From Almorah and Nynee Tal my friend Mr. Brooks writes to me "that
this bird is common everywhere. The nest is generally placed in a low
tree or bush where the foliage is thick. It is composed of grass, and
lined with finer grass. The eggs are three in number, one inch and one
line long by nine lines broad. They are of a light greenish blue,
the tint being much the same as that of the eggs of _Acridotheres