Part 4 out of 12
149. Drymocataphus nigricapitatus (Eyton). _The Black-capped
Drymocataphus nigricapitatus (_Eyton), Hume, Cat._ no. 396 sex.
Mr. W. Davison writes:--"I got one nest of this bird at Klang. I was
passing through some very dense jungle, where the ground was very
marshy, when one of these birds rose from the ground about a couple of
feet in front of me, and alighted on an old stump some few feet away.
On examining the place from which the bird rose, I found the nest
placed at the base of a small clump of ferns, and concealed by a
number of overhanging withered fronds of the fern. The base of the
nest, which rested on the ground, was composed of a mass of dried
twigs, leaves, &c.; then came the real body of the nest, composed of
coarse fern-roots, the egg-cavity being lined with finer roots and
a number of hair-like fibres. It looked compactly and strongly put
together, but on trying to remove it, it all came to pieces. When the
bird saw me examining the nest it fluttered to within a couple of feet
of me, twittering in a most vehement manner, feigning a broken wing
to try and draw me away. The nest contained only two eggs, which were
These eggs are extremely regular ovals, scarcely smaller, if at all,
at one end than at the other. The shell is very fine and fragile, but
has only a slight gloss. The ground-colour appears to have been creamy
white, but the markings are so thickly set that little of this is
anywhere visible. First, pale inky-purple spots and clouds are thickly
sprinkled over the surface, and over this the whole egg is freckled
with a pale purplish brown. They measured 0.82 in length by 0.62 and
0.63 in breadth.
151. Drymocataphus tickelli. _Tickell's Babbler_.
Trichastoma minus, _Hume_; _Hume, Cat._ no. 387 bis.
Major C.T. Bingham found the nest of this bird in the valley of the
Meplay river, Tenasserim, and he says:--"On the 15th March I found a
little domed nest made of dried bamboo-leaves, and lined with fine
roots, placed in a cane-bush a foot or so above the ground. It
contained three tiny white eggs, with minute pink dottings chiefly at
the larger end; one egg, however, is nearly pure white."
One of these eggs taken by Major Bingham on the 15th March is a very
regular, somewhat elongated oval. The shell very fine and delicate,
and fairly glossy. The ground is china-white, and it is everywhere
speckled and spotted, nowhere very thickly, but most so in a zone near
one end, with pale ferruginous. It measured 0.67 by 0.51.
160. Turdinus abbotti (Bl.). _Abbott's Babbler_.
Trichastoma abbotti (_Bl.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 17.
Abbott's Babbler breeds throughout Burma in suitable localities.
Writing from Kyeikpadein, in Southern Pegu, Mr. Oates says:--"On the
22nd May I found a nest with two eggs nearly hatched, and on 23rd of
same month another with two eggs, one of which was fresh and the other
incubated. This bird builds in thick undergrowth, and the nest is
built at a height of about 2 feet from the ground. I have found very
many of their nests, but, with the above exceptions, the young had
flown. It is generally attached to a stout weed or two, and consists
of two portions. First, a platform of dead leaves about 6 inches in
diameter and 1 deep, placed loosely, and on this the nest proper is
built. This consists of a small cup, the interior diameter of which is
2 inches, and depth 11/2. It is formed entirely of fine black fern-roots
well woven together. Stout weeds appear favourite sites, but I have
found old nests in dwarf palm-trees at the junction of the frond with
the trunk, and in one instance I found an old nest on the ground,
undoubtedly belonging to this bird. Three eggs measured .84 by .66,
.82 by .67, and .87 by .65. They are very glossy and smooth. The
ground-colour is a pale pinkish white. At the cap there are a few
spots and short lines of inky-purple sunk into the shell, and over the
whole egg, very sparingly distributed, there are spots and irregular
fine scrawls of reddish brown. A few of the marks are neither spots
nor scrawls, but something like knots. The cap is suffused with a
darker tinge of pink than are the other parts of the shell.
"A third nest, found on the 10th June, contained three eggs, and
differed from those above described in being very massive. It was
composed of dead leaves and fern-roots, and measured about 5 inches in
exterior diameter, with the egg-cup about 21/2 inches broad and 2 inches
deep. It was placed on some entangled small plants about 2 feet from
the ground. Of these eggs I noted that before being blown the shell
was of a ruddy salmon colour. The marks are much as in the others
The eggs are moderately broad ovals, somewhat pointed at times towards
the small end, and occasionally slightly pyriform. The shell is fine
and glossy; the ground-colour is pinky white, with a redder shade
about the large end. A few streaks, spots, and hieroglyphics of a deep
brownish red, each more or less surrounded by a reddish nimbus, are
scattered very thinly about the surface of the egg, while, besides
these, a few small greyish-purple subsurface-looking spots may be
observed about the larger end. The average size of the seven eggs I
possess is 0.82 by 0.64.
163. Alcippe nepalensis (Hodgs.). _The Nepal Babbler_.
Alcippe nipalensis (_Hodgs.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 18; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 388.
The Nepal Babbler, according to Mr. Hodgson's notes, breeds from March
to May, building a deep, massive, cup-shaped nest, firmly fastened
between two or three upright shoots, and laying three or four eggs,
which are figured as measuring 0.7 by 0.55. He has the following
"_Valley, April 1st_.--A pair and nest. Nest is round, 4 inches deep
on the outside and 2 inches within, and the same wide, being of the
usual soup-basin shape and open at the top, made of dry leaves bound
together with hair-like grass-fibres and moss-roots, which also form
the lining, further compacted by spiders' webs, which, being also
twisted round three adjacent twigs, form the suspenders of the nest,
the bottom of which does not rest upon anything; attached to a low
bush 11/2 foot from the ground. The nest contained three eggs of a
pinkish-white ground thickly spotted with chestnut, the spots being
almost entirely confluent at the large end."
Dr. Jerdon says:--"I had the nest and eggs brought me by the Lepchas.
The nest was loosely made with grass and bamboo-leaves, and the eggs
were white with a few reddish-brown spots."
A nest of this species was found near Darjeeling in July, at an
elevation of between 3000 and 4000 feet. It was situated in a small
bush, in low brushwood, and placed only about 2 feet from the ground.
The nest is a compactly made and moderately deep cup. The exterior
portion of the nest is composed of bamboo-leaves, more or less held in
their places by fine horsehair-like black roots, with which also the
cavity is very thickly and neatly lined. Exteriorly the nest is about
3.75 inches in diameter, and nearly 3 in height. The cavity is 2.25 in
diameter and 1.6 in depth.
The nest contained three nearly fresh eggs. The eggs are moderately
elongated ovals, very regular and slightly pointed towards the small
end. The shell is fine and exhibits a slight gloss. The ground-colour
is white or pinkish white, and they are _very_ minutely speckled all
over with purplish red. The specklings exhibit a decided tendency to
form a more or less perfect, and more or less confluent, cap or zone
at the large end.
Two of the eggs measure 0.72 and 0.71 in length, and 0.54 and 0.52 in
From Sikhim, Mr. Gammie writes:--"I have only found this Babbler
breeding in May at elevations about 5000 feet, but it doubtless breeds
also at much lower elevations, probably down to 2000 feet. The nests
are placed within 2 or 3 feet of the ground, between several
slender upright shoots, to which they are firmly attached. They are
exceedingly neat and compact-built cups, measuring externally about 4
inches across by 2.75 deep, internally 2.15 wide by 1.6 deep. They are
composed of dry bamboo-leaves held together by a little grass and very
fine, hair-like fern-roots. The egg-cavity is lined with fern-roots.
"The eggs are three or four in number."
Numerous nests of this species kindly sent me by Messrs. Gammie,
Mandelli, and others, taken during the months of May and June in
British and Native Sikhim, at elevations of from 3000 to 5500 feet,
were all of the same type and placed in the same situations, namely
amongst low scrub and brushwood, at heights of from 18 inches to 3
feet from the ground. The interior and, in fact, the main body of
the nests appear to be in all cases chiefly composed of fine black
hair-like roots, with which, in some cases, especially about the
upper margin, a little fine grass is intermingled. The cavities are
generally much about the same size, say ~2 inches in diameter by 1.25
in depth: but the size of the nests as a whole varies very much. The
nest is always coated exteriorly with dry leaves of trees and ferns,
broad blades of grass, and the like, fixed together sometimes by mere
pressure, but generally here and there held together by fine fibrous
roots, and this coating varies so much that one nest before me
measures 5.5 in external diameter, and another barely 4, the external
covering of fern-leaves, flags, and dry and dead leaves being very
abundant in the former, while in the other the covering consists
entirely of broad dry blades of grass very neatly laid together. Two,
three, and four fresh eggs were found in these several nests, but in
no case were more than four eggs found.
Two nests taken by Mr. Gammie contained three and two fresh eggs
respectively. The eggs had a delicate pink ground, and were richly
blotched, in one egg exclusively, in the others chiefly about the
larger end, with chestnut, or almost maroon-red, here and there almost
deepening in spots to black, and elsewhere paling off into a rufous
haze. The markings are confluent about the large end, and there in
places intermingled with a purplish tinge. The other eggs had a
china-white ground, with more gloss than the specimens previously
described, with numerous small, blackish brownish-red spots and
specks, almost exclusively confined to the large end, where they are
more or less enveloped in a pinky-red nimbus.
These eggs varied from 0.75 to 0.79 in length, and from 0.56 to 0.6 in
Other eggs, again, with the same pinky-white ground are thickly but
minutely freckled and speckled with rather pale brownish red, most
thickly towards and about the large end, where they become confluent
in patches, and where tiny purple clouds and spots are dimly
164. Alcippe phaeocephala (Jerd.). _The Nilghiri Babbler_.
Alcippe poiocephala (_Jerd.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 18; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E.._ no. 389.
The Nilghiri Babbler breeds, apparently, throughout the hilly regions
of Southern India. It lays from January to June. A nest taken near
Neddivattam by Mr. Davison on the 5th April was placed between the
fork of three twigs of a bush, at the height of 5 or 6 feet from
the ground. It was a deep cup, massive enough but very loosely put
together, and composed of green moss, dead leaves, a little grass and
moss-roots. It was entirely lined with rather coarse black moss-roots.
In shape it was nearly an inverted cone, some 31/2 inches in diameter
at top, and fully 5 inches in height. The cavity was over 2 inches
in diameter and nearly 2 inches in depth. A few cobwebs are here and
there intermingled in the external surface, but the grass-roots appear
to have been chiefly relied on for holding the nest together.
Another nest found by Miss Cockburn on the 5th June on a small bush,
about 7 or 8 feet in height, standing on the banks of a stream, was
somewhat different. It was placed in the midst of a clump of leaves,
at the tips of three or four little twigs, between which the nest
was partly suspended and partly wedged in. It was composed of fine
grass-stems, with a few grass-and moss-roots as a lining interiorly,
and with several dead leaves and a good deal of wool incorporated
in the outer surface, the greater portion of which, however, was
concealed by the leaves of the twigs amongst which it was built. It
was only about 31/2 inches in diameter, and the egg-cavity was less than
21/2 inches across, and not above 11/2 inch in depth.
Mr. Davison writes:--"This bird breeds on the slopes of the Nilghiris
in the latter end of March and April. The nest is uncommonly like that
of _Trochalopterum cachinnans_, but is of course smaller; it is deep
and cup-shaped, composed externally of moss and dead leaves, and
is lined with moss and fern-roots. It is always (as far as I have
observed) fastened to a thin branch about 6 feet from the ground. All
the nests I have ever observed were on small trees in the shadiest
parts of the jungle, far in, and never near the edge of the jungle
or in the open. The eggs are very handsome, and are, I think, the
prettiest of the eggs to be found on the Nilghiris and their slopes.
The ground-colour is of a beautiful reddish pink (especially when
fresh), blotched and streaked with purplish carmine."
Mr. J. Darling, junior, says:--"The Nilghiri Quaker-Thrush breeds
on the slopes of the Nilghiri hills, generally in the depths of the
forest. I have, however, taken nests in scrub-jungle. I have also
found the nest at Neddivattam in April.
"In October I found a nest of this bird at Culputty, S. Wynaad, about
2800 feet above the sea, built at the end of a branch 4 feet from the
Mr. T.F. Bourdillon writes from Travancore:--"This bird breeds
commonly with us, and its nest is more often met with than that of any
other. The nest is cup-shaped and made of lichen, leaves, and grass.
It is usually placed 4 to 8 feet from the ground in the middle of
jungle, and is about 2 inches in diameter by 13/4-2 in depth. The full
number of eggs is two, and I have obtained on
"April, 1871. 2 fresh eggs.
Mar. 21, 1873. 2 fresh eggs.
Feb. 16, 1874. 2 fresh eggs.
April 11, 1874. 2 young birds, and many nests just vacated."
As in the case of _Pyctorhis sinensis_, the eggs differ much in colour
and markings. The two eggs of this species sent me by Miss Cockburn
from Kotagherry are moderately broad ovals, very obtuse at the larger
end and somewhat compressed towards the smaller. The shell is fine and
somewhat glossy. The ground-colour is white or pinkish white, and they
are thickly mottled and freckled, most thickly at the larger end,
where the markings form a more or less confluent mottled cap, with
two shades of pinkish-, and in some spots slightly brownish, red, and
towards the large end, where the markings are dense, traces of pale
purple clouds underlying the primary markings are observable. In
general appearance these eggs not a little resemble those of some of
the Bulbuls, and it seems difficult to believe that they are eggs of
birds of the same genus as _Alcippe atriceps_[A], the eggs of which
are so much smaller and of such a totally different type. Two eggs
of the same species taken by Mr. Davison are moderately broad ovals,
somewhat compressed towards one end; have a fine and slightly glossy
shell. The ground-colour is a delicate pink. There are a few pretty
large and conspicuous spots and hair-lines of deep brownish red,
almost black, and there are a few large pinkish-brown smears and
clouds, generally lying round or about the dark spots; and then
towards the large end there are several small clouds and patches of
faint inky purple, which appear to underlie the other markings. The
character of the markings on some of these eggs reminds one strongly
of those of the Chaffinch. Other eggs taken later by Miss Cockburn at
Kotagherry on the 21st January are just intermediate between the two
types above described.
[Footnote A: _Alcippe atriceps_ and _Alcippe phaeocephala_, as they
have hitherto been styled by all Indian ornithologists, are not in the
least congeneric, as I have pointed out in my 'Birds of India.' I am
glad to see my views corroborated by Mr. Hume's remarks on the
eggs. There is no reason why these two birds should be considered
congeneric, except a general similarity in colour and habits. Their
structure differs much.--ED.]
All the eggs are very nearly the same size, and only vary in length
from 0.75 to 0.86, and in breadth from 0.58 to 0.65.
165. Alcippe phayrii, Bl. _The Burmese Babbler_.
Alcippe phayrii, _Bl., Hume, Cat._ no. 388 bis.
Major C.T. Bingham writes from Tenasserim:--"In the half-dry bed of
one of the many streams that one has to cross between Kaukarit and
Meeawuddy, I found on the 23rd February a nest of the above species. A
firm little cup, borne up some 2 feet above the ground on the fronds
of a strong-growing fern, to three of the leaf-stems of which it
was attached. It was made of vegetable fibres and roots, and lined
interiorly with fine black hair-like roots, on which rested three
fresh eggs, in colour pinky white, blotched and streaked with dull
reddish pink, and with faint clouds and spots of purple. The eggs
measure .79 x .58, .78 x .58, and .76 x .59."
Mr. J. Darling, junior, informs us that on the 9th April he "took
three fresh eggs of _Alcippe phayrii_, in heavy jungle, at a very low
elevation, at the foot of Nwalabo in Tenasserim. The nest was built
in a small bush 4 feet from the ground (hanging between two forked
twigs), of bamboo and other leaves, moss, and a few fine twigs, and
lined with moss and fern-roots, 2 inches in diameter, 11/2 deep. It
was exactly like very many nests of _A. phaeocephala_, taken on the
Nilghiri Hills, though some of the latter are much more compact and
Mr. W. Davison, also writing of Tenasserim, says:--"On the 1st
March, in a little bush about 2 feet above the ground, I found the
above-mentioned bird seated on a little moss-made nest, and utterly
refusing to move off until I almost touched her, when she hopped on to
a branch a few feet off, and disclosed three little naked fledglings
struggling or just struggled out of their shells. I retired a little
way off, and she immediately reseated herself. The eggs, to judge by
the fragments, were of a vinous claret tinge, spotted and streaked
with a darker shade of the same."
These eggs closely resemble those of _A. nepalensis_. They are neither
broad nor elongated ovals, often with a _slight_ pyriform tendency,
always apparently very blunt at both ends.
The ground-colour, of which but little is visible, in some eggs varies
from pinky white to pale reddish pink, and the egg is profusely
smeared and clouded with pinky or purplish red, varying much in
shade and tint. Here and there, in most eggs, are a few spots, or
occasionally short, crooked or curved lines, where the colour has
been laid on so thick that it is almost black, and such spots are
generally, though not always, more or less surrounded with a haze of a
rather deeper tint than the rest of the smear in which they occur. The
markings are often deepest coloured, or most conspicuous, about the
large end, where occasionally a recognizable cap is formed and there
a decided purplish tinge may be noticed in patches. The general
character of the eggs is very uniform; but the eggs vary to such a
degree _inter se_, that it is hopeless to attempt to describe all the
variations. They vary in length from 0.68 to 0.78 and in breadth from
0.53 to 0.59, but the average of nine eggs is 0.75 by 0.58.
166. Rhopocichla atriceps (Jerd.) _The Black-headed Babbler_.
Alcippe atriceps (_Jerd._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 19; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 390.
Writing from Coonoor in the Nilghiris, Mr. Wait tells me that
the Black-headed Babbler breeds in his neighbourhood in June and
July:--"It builds in weeds and grass beside the banks of old roads, at
elevations of from 5000 to 5500 feet. The nest is placed at a height
of from a foot to 2 feet from the ground, is domed and loosely built,
composed almost entirely of dry blades of the lemon-grass, and lined
with the same or a few softer grass-blades. In shape it is more or
less ovate, the longer axis vertical, and the external diameters 4 and
8 inches. They lay two or three rather broad oval eggs, which have a
white ground, speckled and spotted, chiefly at the large end, with
Miss Cockburn sends me a nest of this species which she found on the
17th June amongst reeds on the edge of a stream, about 2 or 3 feet
above the water's edge. It appears to have been a globular mass very
loosely put together, of broad reed-leaves, between 3 or 4 inches in
diameter, and with a central unlined cavity.
Mr. Iver Macpherson, writing from Mysore, says:--"I have only met with
this bird in heavy bamboo-forest, and have only found two nests, viz.,
on the 25th May and 2nd July, 1879. Both nests were fixed low down (2
to 3 feet) in bamboo-clumps, and each contained two eggs, which, for
the size of the bird, I considered very large. Nest globular, and very
loosely constructed of bamboo-leaves and blades of grass."
An egg sent me from Coonoor by Mr. Wait is a moderately broad, very
regular oval, only slightly compressed towards the smaller end. The
shell is very fine and satiny, but has only a slight gloss. The
ground-colour is white or slightly greyish white, and towards the
large end it is profusely speckled with minute dots of brownish and
purplish red, a few specks of the same colour being scattered about
the rest of the surface of the eggs.
Another egg sent me from Kotagherry by Miss Cockburn exactly
corresponds with the above description.
Both are precisely the same in size, and measure 0.75 by 0.55.
Other eggs measure from 0.75 to 0.79 in length by 0.53 to 0.58 in
[Footnote A: Mr. T. Fulton Bourdillon (S.F. ix, p. 300) gives
an interesting account of the nest and eggs of a species of
_Rhopocichla_, which he failed to identify satisfactorily. It may have
been _R. atriceps_ or _R. bourdilloni_. Most probably, judging from
the locality, it was the latter. As, however, there is a doubt about
it, I do not insert the note.--ED.]
167. Rhopocichla nigrifrons (Bl.). _The Black-fronted Babbler_.
Alcippe nigrifrons, _Bl., Hume, cat._ no. 390 ter.
Colonel Legge writes regarding the nidification of the Black-fronted
Babbler in Ceylon:--"After finding hundreds of the curious dry-leaf
structures, mentioned in 'The Ibis,' 1874, p. 19, entirely void of
contents, and having come almost to the conclusion that they were
built as roosting-places, I at last came on a newly-constructed one
containing two eggs, on the 5th of January last; the bird was in the
nest at the time, so that my identification of the eggs was certain.
The nest of this Babbler is generally placed in a bramble or
straggling piece of undergrowth near a path in the jungle or other
open spot; it is about 3 or 4 feet from the ground, and is entirely
made of dead leaves and a few twigs; the leaves are laid one over
another horizontally, forming a smooth bottom or interior. In external
form it is a shapeless ball about 8 or 10 inches in diameter, and has
an unfinished opening at the side. The birds build with astonishing
quickness, picking up the leaves one after another from the ground
just beneath the nest. When fresh the eggs are fleshy white, becoming
pure white when emptied; they are large for the size of the bird,
rather stumpy ovals, of a smooth texture, and spotted openly and
sparingly with brownish red, over bluish-grey specks; in one specimen
the darker markings are redder than in the other, and ran mostly in
the direction of the axis. Dimensions: 0.74 by 0.56 and 0.74 by 0.55."
169. Stachyrhis nigriceps, Hodgs. _The Black-throated Babbler_.
Stachyris nigriceps, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii. p, 21; _Hume. Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 391.
I have never taken a nest of this species, the Black-throated Babbler,
but Mr. Gammie, a careful observer, in whose neighbourhood (Rungbee,
near Darjeeling) this bird is very abundant, has taken many nests, two
of which he has sent me, with many eggs.
One nest, found at Rishap, on the 14th May, at an elevation of about
4000 feet, contained four nearly fresh eggs. It was a very loose
structure, a shallow cup of about 31/2 inches in diameter, composed of
fine grass-stems without any lining, and coated externally with broad
Another nest taken low down in the valley, at about an elevation of
2000 feet, on the 17th June, contained three fresh eggs. It was placed
in a bank at the foot of a shrub. Like the previous one, it was a
loose but rather deeper cup, interiorly composed of moderately fine
grass, exteriorly of dead leaves. The egg-cavity measured about 2
inches in diameter, and 11/2 inch in depth. _In situ_, both probably
were more or less domed, the cups more or less overhung by a hood or
Mr. Gammie remarks:--"I have seen numerous nests of this species in
former years, and have found two this season, but have never seen
eggs with 'faint darker spots' as mentioned by Jerdon. Hodgson's
description is quite correct. The eggs are a 'pale fawn-colour'
_before they are blown_, the shells being so translucent that the yolk
shows through partially. The shell is pure white in itself. The cavity
of the cup-shaped part of one nest beside me is 2 inches deep by 2
inches wide; outer dimensions 53/4 inches deep (from top of hood) by 4
inches wide across the face of entrance. It is loosely though neatly
made of bamboo-leaves and fern, lined with dry grass. The bird breeds
in May and June, and lays four or five eggs."
Mr. Eugene Gates tells us that he "procured only one specimen of this
bird, and that was in the evergreen forests of the Pegu Hills. I shot
it off the nest on the 29th April. The nest was on a bank of a nullah
well concealed among dead leaves, about 2 feet above the bottom of
the bank. The nest is domed, about 7 inches in height and 5 inches in
diameter externally, with the entrance at the side near the top. The
outside is a mass of bamboo-leaves very loose, being in no way bound
together; each leaf is curled to the shape of the nest. The inside, a
thin lining only of vegetable fibres. There were three eggs, just on
the point of hatching; colour, pure white."
The Black-throated Babbler breeds, according to Mr. Hodgson, in April
and May, and builds a large deep cup-shaped nest, either upon the
ground in the midst of grass, or at a short distance above the
ground between five or six thin twigs; a nest which he measured was
externally 4.5 inches in diameter and 3.5 in height, while the cavity
was 2.5 in diameter and 2 in depth. The nest is composed of dry
bamboo- and other leaves wound together with grass and moss-roots, and
lined with these, and is a very firm compact structure, considering
the materials. They lay four or five eggs, which are figured as
very regular rather broad ovals, of a nearly uniform, very pale
_cafe-au-lait_ colour (these were the _unblown_ eggs), measuring about
0.75 by 0.58.
Dr. Jerdon remarks:--"A nest and eggs were brought to me at
Darjeeling, and said to be of this species. The nest was rather large,
very loosely made of bamboo-leaves and fibres, and the eggs were of a
pale salmon-colour, with some faint darker spots."
There is no doubt that these must have been the eggs of some other
Major C.T. Bingham tells us:--"This little bird, though not at all
common, breeds in the Sinzaway Reserve, in Tenasserim. I took five
hard-set eggs, placed in a beautiful little domed nest, at the foot of
a clump of bamboos, on the bank of a dry choung or nullah. This was on
the 20th March. The nest was composed exteriorly of dry bamboo-leaves,
and interiorly of fine grass-roots, the entrance being on one side. I
shot the female as she crept off the nest."
It does not seem that in the Himalayas this species domes its nest.
Numerous other nests that have been sent me from Sikhim, taken in May,
June, and July, were all of the same type--shallow or deeper cups
loosely put together, exteriorly composed of coarse blades of grass,
dead leaves, bamboo-spathes and the like, held together with a little
vegetable fibre or fibrous roots, and interiorly of fine grass
generally more or less mingled with blackish roots, which in some
nests greatly predominate over the grass.
The eggs are broad ovals, somewhat compressed towards one end, in some
cases slightly pyriform. They are pure white, spotless, and fairly
They vary from 0.68 to 0.84 in length, and from 0.55 to 0.61 in
breadth, but the average of thirty-four eggs is 0.76 by somewhat over
170. Stachyrhis chrysaea, Hodgs. _The Golden-headed Babbler_.
Stachyris chrysaea, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 22; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 394.
Mr. Blyth remarks:--"The egg, as figured by Mr. Hodgson, is pinkish
white, and the nest domed and placed on the summit of a sedge. _S.
praecognita_ lays a blue egg." (Ibis, 1866, p. 309.)
There is no figure of either the nest or eggs of the Golden-headed
Babbler amongst the drawings of Mr. Hodgson that I possess.
From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes:--"I took a nest of this bird out of a
large forest, at 5000 feet elevation, on the 15th May. It is of an
oval shape, neatly made of small bamboo-leaves only, devoid of lining,
and was fixed vertically between a few upright sprays, within two feet
of the ground. It measures externally 5.25 inches in height by 4 in
diameter; internally 1.5 in depth, from lip of egg-cavity, by 1.75 in
diameter. The entrance is also 1.75 across.
"The eggs were four in number; three of them well set and the fourth
quite fresh. The set eggs were altogether pure white, but the fresh
egg, unblown, was of a pinky-white colour with a pure white cap; when
blown it exactly resembled the others."
The eggs sent as pertaining to this species by Mr. Gammie are very
regular ovals, pure white, and somewhat glossy, but they are so small
that I can scarcely credit their really belonging to this species.
Their cubit contents are not half those of the average eggs of _S.
nigriceps_. They measure 0.63 by 0.48.
172. Stachyrhidopsis ruficeps, Bl. _The Red-headed Babbler_.
Stachyris ruficeps, _Bl., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 22; _Hume, Rough Draft
N. & E._ no. 393.
The Red-headed Babbler breeds in Nepal, according to Mr. Hodgson,
from April to June, building a large massive cup-shaped nest amongst
bamboos, as a rule, at heights of from 7 to 10 feet from the ground.
The nest is wedged in between half a dozen or more creepers and
shoots, and is composed almost exclusively of dry bamboo-leaves
neatly, but rather loosely, interwoven, and lined also with these
leaves. One which he measured was rather oval in shape, 5.25 inches in
diameter one way, by 4 the other, and 3.6 in height. The leaves used
in the rim of the cup were projected a little inwards, so as to make
the mouth of the cavity a little smaller than the diameter of this
latter within. The diameter of the mouth was 2 inches, that of the
cavity 2.5, and the latter is about 1.5 deep. Four eggs are laid, a
sort of brownish white, speckled and spotted with brown or reddish
brown. The egg figured measures 0.7 by 0.52, and is a moderately
broad, regular oval.
Dr. Jerdon says:--"A nest and eggs, said to be of this species, were
brought to me at Darjeeling. The nest was a loose structure of grass
and fibres, and contained two eggs of a greenish-white colour with
some rusty spots."
From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes:--"I took two nests of this Babbler in
April; one of them at an elevation of 3500 feet, the other at 5000
feet, but it no doubt breeds also both lower and higher. They are of
a neat egg-shape, with entrance at side, and were fixed vertically
between a few upright sprays, within three feet of the ground, in open
situations near large trees. Mr. Hodgson evidently did not take the
one he describes with his own hands, for he places it horizontally,
which gives a height of 3.6 inches only. The external dimensions are
about 5.5 inches in height and 4 in diameter. Internally the diameter
is 2 inches, and the depth, from roof, 3.25. The entrance is 2 across.
They are composed of dry bamboo-leaves only, put neatly and firmly
together, and are lined with a very few grassy fibres. They each
contained four well-set eggs."
Mr. Mandelli, however, took a nest of this species at Lebong on the
23rd June, in the middle of a tea-bush which grew at the side of a
small ravine, which was neither hooded nor domed. The nest was about
18 inches from the ground and completely sheltered from above
by tea-leaves. It was a deep cup composed externally chiefly of
bamboo-leaves, but with a good many dead leaves of trees incorporated
in the base, and lined with very fine grass-stems. It contained four
fresh eggs. It is quite clear that this species, like _S. nigriceps_,
only domes its nest in certain situations.
The eggs obtained by Mr. Gammie and Mr. Mandelli are very regular,
slightly elongated ovals. The shell is very fine and compact, but has
only a faint gloss. The ground is white and round the larger end is a
zone or imperfect cap of specks and spots of brownish red, generally
intermingled with tiny spots, usually very faint, of pale purple. A
few specks and spots brown, yellowish, or reddish brown, and sometimes
also pale purple, are scattered about the rest of the egg.
In length the eggs vary from 0.64 to 0.72, and in breadth from 0.50 to
0.53, but the average of eight eggs was 0.68 by 0.52 nearly.
174. Stachyrhidopsis pyrrhops, Hodgs. _The Red-billed Babbler_.
Stachyris pyrrhops, _Hodgs. Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 21; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 392.
Accounts differ somewhat as to the eggs of the Red-billed Babbler.
From Murree, Colonel C.H.T. Marshall writes:--"Nest found in low
ground, about 100 yards from the River Jheelum, situated in a low
bush, externally composed of broad dry reed-leaves, and interiorly of
fine grass, cup-shaped. Eggs, four in number, long oval, white, with a
few reddish specks at the larger end. Length .7, breadth .5. Lays in
the latter end of June, 4000 feet up."
The nest, which he kindly sent me, is a deep cup, coarsely made
interiorly of grass-stems, externally of broad blades of grass,
in which a few dead leaves are incorporated; there is no lining.
Exteriorly the nest is about 3.5 inches in diameter, and about 3 in
depth; the egg-cavity is a little more than 2 inches in diameter, and
fully 1.75 in depth.
Mr. Hodgson "found the nest" of this species in Nepal, "at an
elevation of about 6000 feet, in shrubby upland." It was "placed in a
small shrub about 2 feet from the ground." It was "a very deep cup,
about 4 inches in length, and 2.5 in diameter externally, placed
obliquely endwise upon cross-stems of the shrub, and opening, as it
were obliquely, upwards at one end," the cavity being about 1.5 in
diameter. The nest was made of "dry leaves and grass pretty compactly
woven." The nest "contained four eggs," which are described as
"whitish, with spare and faint fawn-coloured spots," and are figured
as measuring 0.65 by 0.47.
Captain Hutton says:--"This is a common species both in the Dhoon
and in the hills, and may be found at all seasons, making known its
presence among the brushwood by the utterance of a clear and musical
note like the ringing of a tiny bell. In the winter time it is often
mixed up with flocks composed of _Siva strigula_ and _Liothriae
luteus_, creeping among the bushes like the _Pari_ and _Phylloscopi_.
It constructs its nest at the base of bushes, the eggs being three
in number, of a faint greenish grey, thickly irrorated with small
reddish-brown specks. The nest is composed of dry grass-blades
externally, within which is a layer of fine woody stalks and fibres,
and lined with black hair. It is cup-shaped, and placed upon a thick
bed of dried leaves, which are most probably accumulated beneath the
bush by the wind. One nest was taken at Dehra, in a garden, on the
30th July, and others at Mussoorie about the same time."
But the eggs sent by Captain Hutton clearly do not, I think, pertain
to this species. Those taken by Colonel Marshall are certainly
genuine, and are considerably larger and very differently coloured
In shape they are moderately broad ovals, some of them slightly
compressed towards the small end. The shell is very fine and smooth,
but with scarcely any gloss; the ground is pure white, and they are
thinly speckled and spotted, the markings being much more numerous
about the large end, where they have a tendency to form an ill-defined
cap or zone with brownish red or pinky brown.
In length they vary from 0.62 to 0.69, and in breadth from 0.5 to
175. Cyanoderma erythropterum (Blyth). _The Red-winged Babbler_.
Cyanoderma erythropterum, _Bl., Hume, cat._ no. 396 bis.
Mr. W. Davison found the nest of the Red-winged Babbler at Bankasoon
on the 23rd April, just when he was leaving the place. Unfortunately
the birds had not yet laid. The nest was a ball composed of dry
reed-leaves, about 6 inches in diameter. Externally, with a circular
aperture on one side, very like that of _Mixornis rubricapillus_
and of _Dumetia_, and again not at all unlike that of _Ochromela
nigrorufa_, but placed in a bush about 4 feet high and not on the
176. Mixornis rubricapillus (Tick.). _The Yellow-breasted Babbler_.
Mixornis rubricapilla (_Tick.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 23; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 395.
This, though said to occur also in Central India, is a purely
Indo-Burmese form, found chiefly in the Eastern sub-Himalayan jungles,
Assam, Cachar, Burma, and Tenasserim.
It is only from this latter province that I have any information as to
the nidification of the Yellow-breasted Babbler.
Mr. Davison writes to me:--"At a small village, called Shymootee or
Tsinmokehtee, about 7 miles from the town of Tavoy, and very slightly
above the sea-level, say 50 feet, I found on the 6th of May, 1874, a
nest of this species. The nest was placed in a dense clump of a very
thorny plant (somewhat like a pineapple bush) about a foot from the
ground; it was not particularly well concealed. The nest was built of
bamboo-leaves, and in general appearance was not at all unlike that of
_Ochromela nigrorufa_; but the egg-cavity was very shallow, so that
by moving aside an overhanging leaf the eggs were distinctly visible.
There were three partially incubated eggs in the nest, a somewhat dull
white, spotted with pinkish dots."
The nest is more or less egg-shaped, the longer axis vertical, with a
circular aperture on one side near the top.
The exterior diameters are 5 and nearly 4 inches. The aperture about
1.5 in diameter. The cavity is barely 2 inches in diameter, and only
1.25 deep below the lower edge of the entrance.
Both nest and eggs strongly recall those of _Dumetia hyperythra_. The
former is composed of the broad, grass-like leaves of the bamboo, and
with only a few stems of grass here and there intermingled as if by
accident. In the sides of the cavity the leaf-blades are so neatly
laid together, side by side, that the interior seems as if planked,
and at the bottom of the cavity there is a very scanty lining of very
Mr. Oates says:--"I found a nest on the 2nd June near Pegu, with three
eggs. Failing to snare the bird at once, I left the nest for a short
time, and on my return found the eggs gone. I am satisfied, however,
that the nest belonged to the present species; for I caught a glimpse
of the sitting bird. The nest was built on the top of a stump, well
concealed by leafy twigs, except the entrance, which was open to view.
It was a ball of grass with the opening at the side.
"_28th June_.--Nest in a shrub about 10 feet from the ground. A domed
structure with an opening at the side 3 inches high by 2 broad. Height
of nest about 6 and outside width 4. Made entirely of bamboo-leaves
and lined sparingly with grass. Eggs 3.
"I have found numerous nests of this species, but always after the
young had flown. They appear almost always to be placed in shrubs at
heights of 2 to 10 feet from the ground. One nest, however, on which I
watched the birds at work, was in a pineapple plant between the stalk
of the fruit and one of the leaves, almost on the ground."
The eggs are regular ovals, moderately elongated, only very slightly
compressed towards the smaller end, which is only just appreciably
The shell is very fine and delicate, excessively smooth and fragile,
but with only a faint gloss. The ground is a dead white, with perhaps
the least possible pinkish tinge. The markings consist of _tiny_
specks of brownish or purplish red and pale yellowish brown, thinly
scattered over the rest of the surface, but comparatively densely
clustered round the larger end, where they form a rather conspicuous
though irregular and imperfect zone, apparent enough in all, but much
more strongly marked in one egg than in the others.
In some eggs the markings are all rather bright red and dull purplish
grey; some have a very fair amount of gloss, and a very pure
The eggs vary in length from 0.65 to 0.71, and in breadth from 0.5 to
177. Mixornis gularis (Raffl.). _The Sumatran Yellow-breasted
Mixornis gularis (_Horsf._), _Hume, cat._ no. 395 bis.
The eggs[A] are very similar to those of _M. rubricapillus_, but
are, perhaps, as a rule, better marked. They are very regular ovals,
typically rather slightly elongated, often slightly compressed towards
the small end; the shell is very fine and fragile, and has usually a
fair amount of gloss. The ground is usually pure white, at times with
a pinkish tinge. Round the large end is a more or less conspicuous,
more or less continuous zone of specks, spots, and small irregular
blotches of two colours, the one varying in different eggs from
almost brick-red to brownish orange, the other from reddish purple to
purplish grey. In some cases a very few, in others a good many, specks
and tiny spots of the same colours are scattered about the other
portions of the egg. The eggs measure 0.7 by 0.51.
[Footnote A: I cannot find any note about the nest of this species.
Mr. Davison was probably the finder of the eggs described.--ED.]
178. Schoeniparus dubius (Hume). _Hume's Tit-Babbler_.
Proparus dubius, _Hume; Hume, cat._ no. 622 bis.
Mr. W. Davison has furnished me with the following note:--"On the
21st of February I took a nest of this species on Muleyit mountain
containing two eggs, and out of the female which I shot off the nest
I took another egg ready for expulsion which was in every particular
precisely similar to those in the nest.
"The nest was a large globular structure, composed externally of dried
reed-leaves, very loosely put together, the egg-cavity deep and lined
with fibres. It was placed on the ground close to a rock, and at the
foot of a Zingiberaceous plant, and rather exposed to view. The nest
was not unlike that of _Pomatorhinus_, but of course considerably
smaller, not so much domed, and with the mouth of the egg-cavity
"A few days later, on the 25th, I took a second nest, quite similar in
shape and materials to the first one, but placed several feet above
the ground, in a dense mass of creepers growing over a rock. It was
quite exposed to view, and from a distance of 3 or 4 feet the eggs
were quite visible.
"There were three eggs in the nest, similar to those in the first
nest. Both parent birds were obtained. The first nest measured 5
inches long by 4.5 wide, the egg-cavity 3.8 deep by 2.75 wide at the
entrance. The other was about half an inch smaller each way.
"The measurements of the six eggs varied from 0.76 to 0.81 in length
by 0.56 to 0.6 in width, but the average was 0.78 by 0.59."
The eggs are rather narrow ovals, as a rule, occasionally much pointed
towards one end. The shell is very fine and has a faint gloss. The
ground-colour is white. The markings, which are difficult to describe,
consist first of spots, specks, and hair-line scratches, dark brown,
almost black occasionally, and a great amount of irregular clouding,
streaking, and smudging of a pale dirty-brown, slightly reddish in
some eggs. Besides this, about the large end there is an indistinct
irregular zone of faint inky purple spots and small blotches, and a
few spots of this same colour may be observed on other parts of the
182. Sittiparus castaneiceps (Hodgs.). _The Chestnut-headed
Minla castaneiceps, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 255; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 619.
Mr. Hodgson's notes inform us that the Chestnut-headed Tit-Babbler
breeds in the neighbourhood of Darjeeling in May and June, laying four
eggs, which are figured as somewhat elongated ovals, having a very
pale greenish-yellow or dingy yellowish-white ground finely speckled,
chiefly at the large end, where there is a tendency to form a zone,
with red or brownish red, and measuring 0.75 by 0.52. The nest is said
to be placed in a thick bush, at a height of about 3 feet from the
ground, in a double fork; to be very broad and shallow, composed of
twigs, grass, and moss, and lined with leaves. One, taken on the 18th
May, 1846, measured 6 inches in diameter and 2.5 in height externally;
the cavity was only 2.1 in diameter and 1 in depth.
From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes:--"A nest of this bird, with one fresh
egg and female, was brought to me in May. The man said he found the
nest in the Rungbee forest, at 6000 feet, among the moss growing on
the trunk of a large tree, a few feet from the ground. It was a solid
cup, made of green moss, with an inner layer of fine dark-coloured
roots, and lined with grassy fibres. Externally it measured 4 inches
in width by the same in depth; internally 1.5 wide by 1.25 deep."
Three eggs sent by Mr. Gammie measure 0.7 to 0.75 in length and 0.55
to 0.59 in breadth.
Mr. Davison says:--"On the 20th of February, when encamped just under
the summit of Muleyit, on its N.W. slope, I found a nest of this bird
containing three eggs, but so hard-set that it was only with the
greatest difficulty that I managed to preserve them.
"The nest, a deep cup, was placed about 5 feet from the ground, in
a mass of creepers growing up a sapling. It (the nest) was composed
externally of green moss and lined with fibres and dry bamboo-leaves.
"On the 29th of the same month I took another nest, also containing
three eggs, precisely similar to those in the first nest; but these
were so far incubated and the shell was so fragile that they were
all lost. This nest was also composed externally of green moss,
beautifully worked into the moss growing on the trunk of a large tree,
and it was only with considerable difficulty, and after looking for
some time, that I found it. The egg-cavity of this nest was also lined
with fibres and dried bamboo-leaves.
"The first nest found was open at the top, and measured 5.5 inches in
depth, 3 across the top externally, the egg-cavity 3.5 in depth by 1.8
in diameter at top.
"The second nest was completely domed at the top, and measured
externally 7 inches in depth by about 3.5 at top. The egg-cavity was
2.5 inches deep by 1.5 across the mouth.
"Three eggs measured 0.7 to 0.75 in length, and 0.55 to 0.59 in
The eggs are broad ovals, a little pointed towards the small end,
the shell white, almost devoid of gloss. A dense ring or zone of
excessively small black spots surrounds the large end, and similar
specks are rather sparsely distributed over the whole of the rest of
the surface of the egg, having, however, a tendency to become obsolete
towards the small end. Sometimes a little brown and sometimes a little
lilac is intermingled in the zone.
183. Proparus vinipectus (Hodgs.). _The Plain-brown Tit-Babbler_.
Proparus vinipectus (_Hodgs._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 257; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 622.
The Plain-brown Tit-Babbler is not uncommon in the higher wooded hills
between Simla and Kotegurh, and from somewhere near Mutiana Captain
Blair sent me a nest and egg, together with one of the old birds which
had been caught on the nest.
This latter was a rather compact massive cap, composed of moderately
fine blades of grass, measuring externally about 41/4 inches in diameter
and standing about 21/4 inches high. The egg-cavity, about 2 inches in
diameter and rather in more than half an inch deep, was lined with
fine blackish-brown grass-roots. Neither nest nor egg is exactly what
I should have expected to pertain to this species; but Captain Blair
was certain that they belonged to the parent bird which he sent with
them, and I therefore describe both with entire confidence in their
The egg is a moderately elongated oval, slightly compressed towards
one end; it has a pale-green ground, and near the large end has a
strongly marked but very irregular sepia-brown zone, and pale stains
of the same colour here and there running down the egg from the zone,
as well as a few isolated dark spots of the same tint. Although much
smaller, and although the colour of the markings is very different,
the ground-colour and the character of the markings much recall those
of _Liothrix luteus_. The egg has little or no gloss, and measures
0.73 by 0.55.
Mr. Mandelli obtained two nests of this species--one at Sinchal, near
Darjeeling, at an elevation of 9000 feet, on the 2nd June; the other
at Tongloo, at an elevation of 10,000 feet, on the 29th May. The first
contained one, the second three fresh eggs, all precisely similar in
size and colour to the egg formerly sent me by Capt. Blair, though the
nests themselves were rather different in appearance. These nests were
both placed amongst the branches of dense brushwood, at heights of
3 and 4 feet from the ground; they are very compact, massive little
cups, about 3.25 inches in diameter and 2 in height exteriorly; the
cavities are about 2 inches in diameter and 1.25 in depth. The chief
materials of the nests are dry blades of grass and bamboo-leaves; but
these are only seen at the bottom of the nests, the sides and upper
margins being completely felted over with green moss. Apparently there
is a first lining of fine grass and roots; but very little of this
is seen, as the cavity is then thickly covered with black and white
184. Lioparus chrysaeus (Hodgs.). _The Golden-breasted Tit-Babbler_.
Proparus chrysaeus, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 256; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 621.
The Golden-breasted Tit-Babbler breeds, according to Mr. Hodgson's
notes, near Darjeeling and in the central region of Nepal. It lays
from three to four eggs, which are figured as somewhat broad ovals,
measuring from 0.7 by 0.5, with a pinky-white ground, speckled and
spotted thinly, except towards the large end, where there is a
tendency to form a cap or zone, with brownish red. The nest is oval or
rather egg-shaped, and fixed with its longer diameter perpendicular
to the ground in a bamboo-clump between a dozen or so of the small
lateral shoots, at an elevation of only a few feet from the ground.
One, taken near Darjeeling on the 12th June, measured externally 6
inches in height, 4.5 in breadth, and 3 inches in depth, and on one
side it had an oval aperture 2.5 in height and 1.75 in breadth. It
appeared to have been entirely composed of dry bamboo-leaves and
broad blades of grass loosely interwoven, and with a little grass and
moss-roots as lining.
Hodgson originally named this bird _Proparus chrysotis_, but as the
bird has _silvery_ ears Hodgson himself rejected this name and adopted
the one given above. Mr. Gray, however, retains the specific name
_chrysotis_. Now, I think a man has a perfect right to change his
_own_ name; what I object to is other people presuming to do it for
187. Myiophoneus temmincki, Vigors. _The Himalayan Whistling
Myiophonus temminckii, _Vig., Jerd. B. Ind._ i. p. 500: _Hume. Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 343.
The Himalayan Whistling-Thrush breeds throughout the Himalayas from
Assam to Afghanistan, in shady ravines and wooded glens, as a rule,
from an elevation of 2000 to 5000 feet, but, at times, especially far
into the interior of the hills, up to even 10,000 feet.
It lays during the last week of April, May, and June. The number of
eggs varies from three to five.
The nest is almost invariably placed in the closest proximity to some
mountain-stream, on the rocks and boulders of which the male so loves
to warble; sometimes on a mossy bank; sometimes in some rocky
crevice hidden amongst drooping maiden-hair; sometimes on some
stream-encircled slab, exposed to view from all sides, and not
unfrequently curtained in by the babbling waters of some little
waterfall behind which it has been constructed. The nest is always
admirably adapted to surrounding conditions. Safety is always sought
either in inaccessibility or concealment. Built on a rock in the midst
of a roaring torrent, not the smallest attempt at concealment is
made; the nest lies open to the gaze of every living thing, and the
materials are not even so chosen as to harmonize with the colour
of the site. But if an easily accessible sloping mossy bank, ever
bejewelled with the spray of some little cascade, be the spot
selected, the nest is so worked into and coated with moss as to be
absolutely invisible if looked at from below, and the place is usually
so chosen that it cannot well be looked at, at all closely, from
Captain Unwin sent me an unusually beautiful specimen of the nest of
this species, taken early in May in the Agrore Valley--a massive and
perfect cup, with a cavity of 5 inches in diameter and 3 inches deep;
the sides fully 2 inches thick; an almost solid mass of fine roots
(the finest towards the interior) externally intermingled with moss,
so as to form, to all appearance, an integral portion of the mossy
bank on which it was placed. In the bottom of the nest were interwoven
a number of dead leaves, and the whole interior was thinly lined with
very fine grass-roots and moss. In this case the nest had been placed
on a tiny natural platform and was a complete cup; but in another
nest, also sent by Captain Unwin, the cup, having been placed on the
slope of a bank, wanted (and this is the more common type) the inner
one-third altogether, the place of which was supplied by the bank-moss
_in situ_. In this case, although the cavity was only of the same size
as that above described, the outer face of the nest was fully 6 inches
high, and the wall of the nest between 3 and 31/2 inches thick. The
former contained three much incubated, the latter four nearly fresh
A nest from Darjeeling which was taken on the 28th July, at an
elevation of about 3500 feet, from under a rock which partly overhung
a stream, and contained two fresh eggs, was composed in almost equal
proportions of fine moss-roots and dead leaves with scarcely a trace
of moss. In this case the nest was entirely concealed from view, and
no necessity, therefore, existed for coating it externally with green
moss to prevent its attracting attention.
Dr. Jerdon remarks:--"I have had its nest and eggs brought me (at
Darjeeling); the nest is a solid mass of moss, mixed with earth
and roots, of large size, and placed (as I was informed) under an
overhanging rock near a mountain-stream. The eggs were three in
number, and dull green, thickly overlaid with reddish specks."
"In Kumaon," writes Mr. R. Thompson, "they breed from May to July,
along all the smaller hill-streams, from 1500 up to about 4500 feet.
In the cold season it descends quite to the plains--I mean the
Sub-Himalayan plains. The nest is generally more or less circular,
5 or 6 inches in diameter, composed of moss and mud clinging to the
roots of small aquatic plants or of the moss, and lined with fine
roots and sometimes hair. A deep well-watered glen is usually chosen,
and the nest is placed in some cleft or between the ledges of some
rock, often immediately overhanging some deep gloomy pool."
"On the 16th June," observes Captain Hutton, writing from Mussoorie,
"I took two nests of this bird, each containing three eggs, and also
another nest, containing three nearly-fledged young ones. The nest
bears a strong resemblance to that of the _Geocichlae_, but is much
more solid, being composed of a thick bed of green moss externally,
lined first with long black fibrous lichens and then with fine roots.
Externally the nest is 31/2 inches deep, but within only 21/2 inches; the
diameter about 43/4 inches, and the thickness of the outer or exposed
side is 2 inches. The eggs are three in number, of a greenish-ashy
colour, freckled with minute roseate specks, which become confluent
and form a patch at the larger end. The elevation at which the nests
were found was from 4000 to 4500 feet; but the bird is common, except
during the breeding-season, at all elevations up to the snows, and
in the winter it extends its range down into the Doon. In the
breeding-season it is found chiefly in the glens, in the retired
depths of which it constructs its nest; it never, like the Thrushes
and _Geocichlae_, builds in trees or bushes, but selects some high,
towering, and almost inacessible rock, forming the side of a deep
glen, on the projecting ledges of which, or in the holes from which
small boulders have fallen, it constructs its nest, and where, unless
when assailed by man, it rears its young in safety, secure alike from
the howling blast and the attack of wild animals. It is known to the
natives by the name of 'Kaljet,' and to the Europeans as the 'Hill
Blackbird.' The situation in which the nest is placed is quite unlike
that of any other of our Hill-Thrushes with which I am acquainted. The
bird itself is as often found in open rocky spots on the skirts of the
forest as among the woods, loving to jump upon some stone or rocky
pinnacle, from which it sends forth a sort of choking, chattering
song, if such it can be called, or, with an up-jerk of the tail, hops
away with a loud musical whistle, very much after the manner of the
Blackbird (_M. vulgaris_)."
Sir E.C. Buck says:--"I found a nest at Huttoo, near Narkhunda, date
27th June, 1869, on an almost inaccessible crag overhanging a torrent.
It contained three eggs, but two were broken by stones falling in
climbing down to the nest. Nest not brought up; one egg secured and
forwarded. I saw the bird well, and have no doubt as to its identity."
Writing from Dhurmsalla, Captain Cock informed me that he had obtained
several nests in May in and about the neighbouring streams, up to an
elevation of some 5000 feet. From Murree, Colonel C.H.T. Marshall
remarks:--"Several nests found in June, near running streams, about
4000 feet up."
Dr. Stoliczka tells us that "it breeds at Chini and Sungnum at an
elevation of between 9000 and 11,000 feet."
The eggs are typically of a very long oval shape, much pointed at one
end, but more or less truncated varieties (if I may use the word)
occur. They are the largest of our Indian Thrushes' eggs, and are
larger than those of any European Thrush with which I am acquainted.
Their coloration, too, is somewhat unique; a French grey,
greyish-white, or pale-greenish ground, speckled or freckled with
minute pink, pale purplish-pink, or pinkish-brown specks, in most
cases thinly, in some instances pretty thickly, in some only towards
the large end, in some pretty well all over. In the majority of
the specimens there is, besides these minute specks, a cloudy,
ill-defined, purplish-pink zone or cap at the large end. In some few
there are also a few specks of bright yellowish brown. The eggs have
scarcely any gloss.
In length, they vary from 1.24 to 1.55 inch, and in breadth from 0.95
to 1.1 inch, but the average of fifty eggs is 1.42 by about 1.0 inch.
188. Myiophoneus eugenii, Hume. _The Burmese Whistling-Thrush_.
Myiophoneus eugenii, _Hume; Hume, cat._ no. 343 bis.
Major C.T. Bingham contributes the following note to the 'Birds
of British Burmah' regarding the nidification of this species in
Tenasserim:--"On the 16th April I was crossing the Mehkhaneh stream,
a feeder of the Meh-pa-leh, the largest tributary of the Thoungyeen
river, near its source, where it is a mere mountain-torrent brawling
over a bed of rocks strewed with great boulders. A small tree, drifted
down by the last rains, had caught across two of these, and being
jammed in by the force of the water, had half broken across, and now
formed a sort of temporary V-shaped dam, against which pieces of wood,
bark, leaves, and rubbish had collected, rising some six inches or so
above the water, which found an exit below the broken tree. On this
frail and tottering foundation was placed a round solid nest about
9 inches in diameter, made of green moss, and lined with fine black
roots and fibres, in which lay four fresh eggs of a pale stone-colour,
sparsely spotted, especially at the larger ends, with minute specks of
reddish brown. Determined to find out to what bird they belonged, I
sent my followers on and hid myself behind the trunk of a tree on the
bank and watched, gun in hand. In about twenty minutes or so a pair of
_Myiophoneus eugenii_ came flitting up the stream and, alighting near
the nest, sat for a time quietly. At last one hopped on the edge of
the nest, and after a short inspection sat down over the eggs with a
low chuckle. I then showed myself and, as the birds flew off, fired at
the bird that had been on the nest, but unfortunately missed. I was
satisfied, however, about the identity of the eggs and took them. In
shape they are somewhat like those of _Pitta_, and measure 1.45 x
1.02, 1.50 x 1.02, 1.46 x 1.01, and 1.50 x 1.01."
189. Myiophoneus horsfieldi. Vigors. _The Malabar Whistling-Thrush_.
Myiophonus horsfieldii, _Vig., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 499;_Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 342.
Mr. W. Davison says:--"The Malabar Whistling-Thrush (rather a
misnomer, by the way) breeds on the slopes of the Nilghiris, never
ascending higher than 6000 feet. The nest is always placed on some
rock in a mountain torrent; it is a coarse and, for the size of the
bird, a very large structure, and though I have never measured the
nest, I should say that the total height was about 18 inches or more,
and the greatest diameter about 18 inches. Exteriorly it is composed
of roots, dead leaves, and decaying vegetation of all kinds; the
egg-cavity, which is saucer-shaped and comparatively shallow, is
coarsely lined with roots. It breeds during March and April."
Miss Cockburn says:--"A nest of this bird was found on the 22nd of
March in a hole in a tree situated in a wood at a height of about 40
feet from the ground. Two bamboo ladders had to be tied together to
reach it, for the tree had no branches except at the top. The nest
consisted of a large quantity of sticks and dried roots of young
trees, laid down in the form of a Blackbird's nest. The contents of it
were three eggs. They were quite fresh, and the bird might have laid
another. The poor birds (particularly the hen) showed great boldness
and returned frequently to the nest, while a ladder was put up and a
man ascended it."
Such a situation for the nest of _this_ bird may seem incredible; but
my friend Miss Cockburn is a most careful observer, and she sent me
one of the eggs taken from this very nest, and it undoubtedly belonged
to this species; moreover, there is no other bird on the Nilghiris
that she, who has figured most beautifully all the Nilghiri birds,
could possibly have mistaken for this species. At the same time, the
situation in which she found the nest was altogether unusual and
I now find that such a situation for the nest of this bird is not even
very unusual. On the 3rd of July Miss Cockburn took another nest in a
hole in a tree, about thirty feet from the ground, containing three
fresh eggs, which she kindly sent me; and writing from the Wynaad Mr.
J. Darling, jun., remarks that there this species commonly builds in
holes in trees. He says:--"_July 22nd_. Nest found near Kythery, S.
Wynaad, in a crevice of a log of a felled tree in a new clearing 11
feet from the ground. Nest built entirely of roots. The foundation was
of roots from some swampy ground and had a good deal of mud about it.
Another nest was in a hole of a dead tree 32 feet from the ground."
Mr. Frank Bourdillon writes from Travancore:--"Very common from the
base to near the summit of the hills, frequenting alike jungle and
open clearings, though generally found in the neighbourhood of some
running stream; I have known this species to build on ledges of rock
and in a hollow tree overhanging a stream, in either case constructing
a rather loosely put together nest of roots and coarse fibre with a
little green moss intermixed. The female lays two to four eggs, and
both birds assist in the incubation."
Mr. T. Fulton Bourdillon records the finding of eggs on the following
"April 29, 1873. Two hard-set eggs.
May 15, 1873. Three " "
May 15, 1874. One fresh egg.
May 30, 1874. Two slightly set eggs."
Col. Butler sent me a splendid nest of this species taken in the
cliffs at Purandhur, 15 miles south of Poona. It was placed in the
angle between two rocks; it measures in front 7 inches wide, and 1.5
in. high; posteriorly it slopes away into an obtuse angle fitting the
crevice in which it was deposited; the cavity is 4 in. in diameter,
perfectly circular, and 2.25 in depth. The compactness of the nest
is such that it might be thrown about without being damaged. It is
composed throughout of fine black roots, only a stray piece or two of
light coloured grass being intermixed, and the whole basal portion is
cemented together with mud.
He gives the following account of the mode in which he acquired it:--
"I got this nest in rather a singular way which is perhaps worth
relating. At a dance last year in Karachi, in a short conversation I
had with Colonel Renny, who was then commanding the Artillery in Sind,
he mentioned that he had three Blue-winged Thrushes in his house that
he had procured at Purandhur the year before. The following day I went
over to his bungalow, and after inspecting them and satisfying myself
of their identity, ascertained from him where the nest they were taken
from was situated and the season at which it was found. Possessed with
this information I wrote in May to the Staff Officer at Purandhur,
and told him where and when the bird built and asked him if he would
kindly assist me in procuring the eggs. In reply I received a very
polite letter saying 'that he knew nothing about eggs or birds
himself, but that he would be most happy to offer me any assistance in
his power in procuring the eggs referred to, and that he would employ
a shikarri to keep the hill-side that I had mentioned watched when the
breeding-season arrived.' I wrote and thanked him, sending him at the
same time a drill and blowpipe by post, with full instructions how to
blow the eggs, in case he got any; and to my delight, at the end of
July a bhanghy parcel arrived one morning with the nest and eggs above
"Colonel Renny told me that the birds built on this cliff-side every
Mr. E. Aitken has furnished me with the following note:--
"Of this bird I have seen two nests--one containing two hard-set eggs
on April 29, 1872, situated in a hole in a tree overhanging a stream
about 20 feet from the ground; the other containing three hard-set
eggs on May 22nd, 1872, and situated on a ledge of rock in the bed
of a stream; both the nests were rather coarsely made of roots. My
brother says he has also found three other nests, two placed in holes
of trees and the other on a rocky ledge, but the nests were in every
case near to running water. The bird stays with us all the year, and
is one of our commonest species. Its clear whistle is always to be
heard the first thing in the morning before the other birds get up,
and daring the violent rains of the S.W. monsoon it seems almost the
only bird which does not lose heart at the incessant downpour. April
and May appear to be the breeding months."
Messrs. Davidson and Wenden remark:--"Scattered all over the Deccan in
suitable localities. W. got two nests, one on the Bhore Ghat on 5th
August, and one on the Thull Ghat on 17th of same month. That on the
Bhore Ghat was built on a ledge of rock some 15 feet _in_ from the
face of a railway tunnel where 30 or 40 trains daily passed within
a few feet of it. That on the Thull Ghat was in a cutting at the
_entrance_ of a tunnel, and about the same height above and from the
rails as the one on the Bhore Ghat. In both cases the eggs were
much discoloured by the smoke from engines, but on being washed, W.
observed that one of the three eggs in each nest was of a decidedly
_greenish blue_, finely speckled and splashed with pinky brown, while
the others were of the _pale salmon-pink_, as described in Mr. Hume's
Rough Draft of 'Nests and Eggs.' The male bird was sitting on one of
the nests and was shot. W. saw numerous other nests, some high up on
cliffs, beyond the reach of a 15-foot ladder. Two nests in holes in
trees were reported to him, but he could not go to examine them. The
nests were about 4 inches diameter by 21/2 inches deep inside and 8
to 10 inches broad outside, and not more than 10 inches high. The
foundation portion contained a great deal of clay and earth, which
seemed to be necessary to secure the nests in positions so exposed
to the heavy gusts of wind which prevail on these ghats during the
Mr. Rhodes W. Morgan, writing from South India, says:--"I found the
nest of this Thrush on the Seeghoor Ghaut of the Neilgherries. Mr.
Davison was with me at the time; and the nest being built on an open
ledge of rock, we both sighted it at the same moment; and I having
managed to make better use of my legs than my friend, was fortunate
enough to secure it, and one egg, which was of a pale flesh-colour,
with a few faint spots and blotches of claret towards the larger end.
The nest was made of leaves and moss mixed with clay, and lined with
fine roots. The dimensions of the egg are 1.3 inch in length by .85
in breadth. It was in May that I found this egg; but the nest had
evidently been deserted for some time; for the egg has a hole in its
side, through which the contents had escaped or been sucked by a snake
or some animal."
Dr. Jerdon says:--"I once procured its nest, placed under a shelf of
a rock on the Burliar stream, on the slope of the Nilghiris. It was a
large structure of roots, mixed with earth, moss, &c., and contained
three eggs of a pale salmon or reddish-fawn colour, with many smallish
brown spots;" and such is unquestionably the usual situation of the
The eggs of this species, which I have received from Kotagherry
and other parts of the Nilghiris, are broad, nearly regular ovals,
slightly compressed towards the lesser end; considerably elongated,
and more or less spherical, and pyriform varieties occur. The shell is
fine, and has a slight gloss; the ground-colour is pale salmon-pink
or pinkish-white, occasionally greyish white. The whole egg is, as a
rule, finely speckled, spotted, and splashed with pinkish brown or
brownish pink. The markings, in most eggs, everywhere very fine, are
often considerably more dense at the large end, where they are not
unusually more or less underlaid by a pinkish cloud, with which they
form an irregular ill-defined and inconspicuous cap.
At times more boldly and richly marked eggs are met with; one now
before me is everywhere thickly streaked with dull pink, in places
purplish, and over this is thinly but rather conspicuously spotted and
irregularly blotched (the blotches being small however) with light
In length they vary from 1.18 to 1.48 inch, and in breadth from 0.92
to 1 inch.
191. Larvivora brunnea, Hodgs. _The Indian Blue Chat_.
Larvivora cyana, _Gould, Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 145; _Hume, Rough Draft
N. & E._ no. 507.
I have never obtained the nest of the Indian Blue Chat. Mr. Davison
found it on the Nilghiris. He says:--"I really quite forget the
details of that one egg which I brought you along with the skin of the
parent, but it was taken in May on the Nilghiris. I remember very well
another nest of this species, which I took in the latter end of March
or the beginning of April in a shola or detached piece of jungle about
9 miles from Ootacamund.
"The nest was in a hole in the trunk of a small tree, about 5 feet
from the ground, and was composed chiefly of moss, but mixed with dry
leaves and twigs. It contained three young birds, apparently about
four or five days old."
The late Mr. Mandelli sent me a nest of this species which was found
at Lebong (elevation 5500 feet) on the 16th May. It contained three
eggs, and was placed on the ground amongst grass on a bank made by
the cutting of a hill-road. It is a broad shallow nest, composed
exteriorly of vegetable fibre, scraps of dead leaves and tiny pieces
of moss matted closely together, and is rather thickly lined with
black and red hairs, amongst which one or two soft downy feathers are
incorporated. The external diameter of the nest is about 4 inches, the
height about 1.5, the cavity is about 2.75 inches in diameter, and
rather less than 1 in depth.
Two eggs taken by Mr. Darling[A] are very elongated, somewhat
cylindrical ovals, very obtuse at both ends. In both, the shell is
fine, and has an appreciable though not brilliant gloss. In one, the
ground is a pale delicate clay-brown, and the markings consist only
of a zone about 0.2 wide round the large end of densely set dull
brownish-red specks, and a few similar specks inside the zone only.
In the other, the ground has a light greenish tinge, the zone is less
marked and merges in a dull brownish-red mottled cap, and a faint
marbling, of a paler shade of the cap, is scattered here and there
over the whole surface of the egg. They measure 1 by 0.65 and 0.98 by
[Footnote A: I cannot find any account of the finding of the nest of
this bird by Mr. Darling amongst Mr. Hume's notes.--Ed.]
The egg taken by Mr. Davison is an elongated, slightly pyriform oval.
The shell is moderately fine, but with only a very slight gloss. The
ground-colour is a pale slightly greyish green, and the whole egg is
thickly (most thickly so about the large end, where the markings are
almost perfectly confluent) mottled and streaked with pale brownish
red. It measures 0.98 by 0.67.
193. Brachypteryx albiventris (Fairbank). _The White-bellied_
Callene albiventris, _Fairb., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 339 bis.
The Rev. S.B. Fairbank, to whom I have, owed much useful information
and many valuable specimens, kindly sent me the subjoined account of
the nidification of the White-bellied Short-wing in the Pulney Hills
at an elevation of about 6500 feet:--"In April, I found a nest in a
hole in the side of the trunk of a large tree some 2 feet from the
ground. The hole was just large enough for the nest, and was lined
with fine roots. I surprised the bird on her nest several times. There
were two eggs in the nest when I first found it that were 'hard-set'.
A month afterwards she laid two more in the same place, and I took
them in good condition. One egg measures 0.9 by 0.68 inch, and another
0.94 by 0.68 inch. The ground-colour is grey, with a tinge of green,
and it is thickly covered with small spots of bistre."
Mr. Blanford, who saw the eggs, which I never did, describes them
(and by analogy, I should infer more correctly) as "of an olive-brown
colour, darker at the larger end, measuring 0.93 by 0.63 inch."
An egg of this species sent me by Dr. Fairbank, measuring 0.93 by
0.66, is a somewhat elongated oval, slightly pointed towards the small
end. The shell is fine and fairly glossy; the ground-colour, so far as
this is discernible, is greyish green, but it is so thickly clouded
and mottled all over with a warm, brown, that but little of the
ground-colour is any where traceable, and the general result when the
egg is looked at from a short distance is that of a nearly uniform
Captain Horace Terry also found the nest of this bird on the Pulney
Hills. He says:--"I met with it a few times in the big _shola_ at
Kodikanal, and got two nests, each with two fresh eggs; the first on
the 7th June in a hole in a tree between 4 and 5 feet from the ground,
a deep cup of green moss; the other, in a hole in the bank of a
path running through the _shola_ was of green moss and a few fine
fern-roots. Inside 1.75 inch deep and 2.5 inches across; outside a
shapeless mass of moss filling up the hole it was built in. The nest
was very conspicuous to any one passing by."
194. Brachypteryx rufiventris (Blyth). _The Rufous-bellied
Callene rufiventris, _Blyth. Jerd. B. Ind._ i, p. 496: _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 339.
I have been favoured with nests of the Rufous-bellied Short-wing by
Mr. Carter, who took them from holes or depressions of banks in the
Nilghiris in April and May. They closely resemble nests of _Niltava
macrigoriae_ from Darjeeling. They are soft masses of green moss,
some 4 or 5 inches in diameter externally, with more or less of a
depression towards one side, lined with very fine dark moss-roots.
This depression may average about 21/2 inches across and 3/4 inch in
depth; but they vary a good deal. Mr. Carter says:--"I have found the
nests of this species about Conoor in May, in holes of banks, on
roads running through thick _sholas_ (i.e. jungles not amounting to
forests). The nests are of moss, shallow, lined with fine root-fibres,
the cavity about 3-5 inches in diameter. They lay two eggs, pale
olive, shading into a decided brownish red at the larger end. The old
birds are very shy in returning to the nest when watched; indeed, they
are always shy, hiding in the brushwood of jungles or amongst fallen
timber, along which they almost creep."
Mr. Davison informs me that "this species breeds on the Nilghiris from
about 5500 feet to about 7000 during April and May, building in holes
of trees, crevices of rocks, &c., seldom at any great elevation
above the ground. The nest is composed of moss, lined with moss and
fern-roots. Two or three eggs are laid."
The few eggs I possess, which I owe to Messrs. Carter and Davison, and
which were taken by them in the Nilghiris, have a pale olive-brown
ground with, at the large end, an ill-defined mottled reddish-brown
cap. In some specimens the mottling extends more or less over the
whole egg, though always most dense about the larger end. Though much
larger and of a more elongated shape, they not a little resemble some
specimens of the eggs of _Pratincola indica_ that I possess. In shape
they are long ovals, recalling in that respect those of _Myiophoneus
temmincki_; they have less gloss than the eggs of most of the
In length they vary from 0.97 to 1.02 inch, and in breadth from 0.65
to 0.69 inch.
197. Drymochares cruralis (Blyth). _The White-browed Short-wing_
Brachypteryx cruralis (Bl.), _Jerd. B. Ind._ i, p. 495; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 338.
According to Mr. Hodgson's notes and drawings, the White-browed
Short-wing breeds in April and May. It constructs its nest a foot or
so above the ground amongst grass and creeping-plants at the base of
trunks of trees; it is composed of moss and moss-roots, is somewhat
globular in shape, and is firmly attached to the creepers; dried
bamboo-leaves and pieces of fern are here and there fixed to the
exterior, and the nest is lined with hair-like fibres; the entrance is
at one side and circular. One nest measured 7 inches in height, 5.5
in width, and 3.38 from front to back. The aperture was 2 inches in
diameter. The eggs (four in number, or at times three) are pure white,
broad ovals, pointed at one end, measuring 0.9 by 0.65 inch.
This species breeds in the central regions of Nepal and in the
neighbourhood of Darjeeling.
Three nests of this species found early in June in Sikhim and Nepal,
at elevations of 5000 to 8000 feet, contained respectively 2, 3, and 4
fresh eggs. They were all placed in brushwood at 2 to 3 feet above
the ground, and they are all precisely similar, being rather massive
shallow cups, composed of very fine black roots firmly felted
together, and with a few dead leaves or scraps of moss in most of them
incorporated in one portion or other of the outer surface. The nests
are about 4 inches in diameter and 2 in height; the cavity is about
2 inches in diameter and 1 in depth; but, owing to the positions in
which they are placed, they are often more or less irregularly shaped.
Mr. Mandelli obtained three eggs which he considers to belong to this
species, on the 3rd June, near Darjeeling. I rather question the
authenticity of these eggs. They are pure white and devoid of gloss,
moderately elongated ovals, only slightly compressed towards the
smaller end. They vary from 0.83 to 0.91 in length and from 0.61 to
0.64 in breadth.
198. Drymochares nepalensis (Hodgs.). _The Nepal Short-wing_.
Brachypteryx nipalensis, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ i, p. 494.
From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes:--"A nest taken by me on the 15th
of June at 5000 feet, close to a large forest, contained three
slightly-set eggs. It was placed on the moss-covered trunk of a fallen
tree, and was hooded, with an entrance at the side; rather neatly
made of dry leaves with an outer covering of green moss, and an inner
lining of skeletonized leaves and black fibrous roots. Externally it
measures 5 inches in height by about the same in width; internally 3
inches high by 2.4 across. The entrance was 2.3 in diameter. The
front of the egg-cavity is but slightly depressed below the entrance,
gradually sloping backwards to the depth of nearly an inch."
All the nests of this species that I have seen were of the same type,
more or less globular, more or less hooded or domed, according to the
situation in which they were placed, composed of dry flags and dead
and more or less skeleton leaves, bound together with a little
vegetable fibre and some moss, but chiefly with fine black fibrous
roots, with which the entire cavity is densely lined, inside which
again is a coating of more skeleton leaves; they measure exteriorly 4
or 5 inches in diameter, and the cavities are a little above 2 by 2.5
inches in diameter.
Mr. Mandelli found two of these nests at Lebong (elevation 5500 feet),
near Darjeeling, on the 8th July. One contained three fresh eggs, the
other three slightly incubated ones. They were about 12 yards apart,
in a very shady damp glen, in very dense underwood, to the stems of
which they were attached in a standing position about 3 feet from the
ground. The entrance was on one side in both cases.
The eggs of this species obtained by Mr. Gammie belong to the same
type as those of _Brachypteryx rufiventris_ and _B. albiventris_. In
shape they are moderately elongated, rather regular ovals, somewhat
obtuse at both ends. The shell is fine and compact, and very smooth to
the touch, but they have not much gloss. The ground is a pale olive
stone-colour, and they are very minutely freckled and mottled, most
densely at the large end, with pale, very slightly reddish brown; the
freckling is excessively minute and fine.
Two eggs measured 0.8 and 0.82 in length by 0.6 in breadth.
200. Elaphrornis palliseri (Blyth). _The Ceylon Short-wing_.
Brachypteryx palliseri, _Bl., Hume, cat._ no. 338 bis.
Colonel Legge, writing in his 'Birds of Ceylon,' says:--"Mr. Bligh
found a nest at Nuwara Eliya in April 1870; it was placed in a thick
cluster of branches on the top of a somewhat densely-foliaged small
bush, which stood in a rather open space near the foot of a large
tree; it was in shape a deep cup, composed of greenish moss, lined
with fibrous roots and the hair-like appendages of the green moss
which festoons the trees in such abundance at that elevation. It
contained three young ones, plumaged exactly like their parents,
who kept churring in the thick bushes close by, but would not show
201. Tesia cyaniventris, Hodgs. _The Slaty-bellied Short-wing_.
Tesia cyaniventer, _Hodgs., Jerd, B. Ind._ i, p. 487; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 328.
According to Mr. Hodgson's notes, the Slaty-bellied Short-wing breeds
much like the next species. It constructs a huge globular nest of
green moss and black moss-roots, which it fixes in any dense dry shrub
or clump of shoots, many of which it incorporates in the walls of the
nest. The nest measures externally about 7 inches in height and 5
inches in width; it has a circular aperture on one side, a little
above the middle, about 2 inches in diameter, and it is placed at a
height of one or two feet from the ground. Three or four eggs are
laid; these are figured as rather broad ovals, somewhat pointed
towards one end, with a whitish ground, profusely speckled and
spotted, especially towards the large end, where the markings are
nearly confluent, with bright red, and measuring 0.72 by 0.54 inch.
202. Oligura castaneicoronata (Burt.). _The Chestnut-headed
Tesia castaneo-coronata (_Burt.), Jerd. E. Ind._ i, p. 487; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 327.
According to Mr. Hodgson's notes and figures, the Chestnut-headed
Short-wing builds a large globular nest, more or less egg-shaped, some
6 inches high and 4 in breadth, composed of moss-roots and fibres, and
lined with feathers, and with a circular aperture in the middle of one
side about 1.5 inch in diameter. The nest is placed in some clump of
shoots or thick bush (the twigs of which are more or less incorporated
in the sides of the nest) at a height of 1 or 2 feet from the ground.
The birds lay in April and May three or four eggs, which are figured
as moderately broad ovals, somewhat pointed at one end, reddish
(apparently something like a Prinia's, though this seems incredible),
and measuring 0.66 by 0.48 inch.
Dr. Jerdon says:--"A nest made chiefly of moss, with four small white
eggs, was brought me as the nest of this bird. It was of the ordinary
shape, rather loosely put together, and the walls of great thickness.
It was taken from the ground on a steep bank near the stump of a
The three eggs in my museum supposed to belong to this species
pertained to this nest, and are excessively tiny, somewhat oval eggs
of a pure, dull, glossless unspotted white, very unlike our English
Wren's egg and certainly not one half the size. Dr. Jerdon was not
quite certain to which species of _Tesia_ these eggs belonged, and I
therefore only record this "_quantum valeat_". They measure 0.55
and 0.6 inch in length by 0.4, 0.42, and 0.45 inch in breadth. I am
inclined to believe that both nest and eggs belonged to _Pnoepyga
203. Sibia picaoides, Hodgs. _The Long-tailed Sibia_.
Sibia picaoides, _Hodgs. Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 55; _Hume, Rough Draft
N. & E._ no. 430.
Mr. Gammie obtained a nest of the Long-tailed Sibia from the top of
a tall tree, situated at an elevation of about 4000 feet, in the
neighbourhood of Rungbee, near Darjeeling. This was on the 17th June,
and the nest contained five fresh eggs. The nest is as perplexing as
are the eggs; for the nest is that of a Bulbul, the eggs those of a
Shrike or Minivet. The nest is a deep compact cup, about 41/2 inches in
diameter and 23/4 inches in depth. The egg-cavity is 3 inches across and
fully 13/4 inch in depth. Interiorly the nest is composed of excessively
fine grass-stems very firmly interwoven; externally of the stems of
some herbaceous plant, a Chenopod, to which the dry blossoms are still
attached, intermingled with coarse grass, a single dead leaf, and one
or two broad grass-blades more or less broken up into fibres.
The eggs, for the authenticity of which Mr. Gammie positively vouches,
are very unlike what might have been expected. They are absolutely
Shrike's eggs--broad ovals, pointed towards one end, with a slight
gloss, the ground a slightly greyish white, with a good many small
spots and specks of pale yellowish brown and dingy purple, chiefly
confined to a large irregular zone towards the larger end. They vary
in length from 0.86 to 0.93, and in breadth from 0.7 to 0.73.
204. Lioptila capistrata (Vigors). _The Black-headed Sibia_.
Sibia capistrata (_Vig.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 54; _Hume, Rough Draft
N. & E._ no. 429.
The Black-headed Sibia lays throughout the Himalayas from Afghanistan
to Bhootan, at elevations of from 5000 to 7000 feet.
It lays during May and June, and perhaps part of July, for I find that
on the 11th of July I found a nest of this species a little below the
lake at Nynee Tal, on the Jewli Road, containing two young chicks
apparently not a day old.
They build on the outskirts of forests, constructing their nests
towards the ends of branches, at heights of from 10 to 50 feet from
the ground. The nest is a neat cup, some 4 or 5 inches in diameter and
perhaps 3 inches in height, composed chiefly of moss and lined
with black moss-roots and fibres. In some of the nests that I have
preserved a good deal of grass-leaves and scraps of lichen are
incorporated in the moss. The cavity is deep, from 21/2 to 3 inches in
diameter and not much less than 2 inches in depth.
They lay two or three eggs; not more, so far as I yet know.
From Murree, Colonel C.H.T. Marshall tells us that "the egg of this
bird was, we believe, previously unknown, and it was a mere chance
that we found the whereabouts of their nests, as they breed high up in
the spruce firs at the outer end of a bough. The nest is neatly made
of moss, lined with stalks of the maiden-hair fern. The eggs are pale
blue, spotted and blotched with pale and reddish brown. They are .95
in length and .7 in breadth. This species breeds in June, about 7000
Nearly twenty years prior to this, however, Captain Hutton had
remarked:--"At Mussoorie this bird remains at an elevation of 7000
feet throughout the year, but I never saw it under 6500 feet. Its loud
ringing note of _titteree-titteree tweeyo_, quickly repeated, may
constantly be heard on wooded banks during summer. It breeds in May,
making a neat nest of coarse dry grasses as a foundation, covered
laterally with green moss and wool and lined with fine roots. The
number of eggs I did not ascertain, as the nest was destroyed when
only one egg had been deposited, but the colour is pale bluish white,
freckled with rufous. The nest was placed on a branch of a plum-tree
in the Botanical Garden, Mussoorie."
Captain Cock says that he "found this species breeding at Murree, at
6000 feet elevation.
"I took my first nest on the 5th June.
"It builds near the tops of the highest pines, and unless seen
building its nest with the glasses, it is impossible to find the nest
with the unaided eye.
"The nest is placed on the outer extremity of an upper bough in a
pine-tree; is constructed of moss lined with stalks of the maiden-hair
fern. Three eggs is the largest number I ever found. The eggs are
light greenish white, with rusty spots and blotches principally at the
From Nynee Tal Colonel G.F.L. Marshall writes:--"This species builds
in trees and bushes. The only nest I examined personally was a very
compact and thick cup-shaped structure of moss, grass, and roots,
lined with grass, and placed amongst the outer twigs of a blackberry
bush overhanging a cliff. It was ready for the eggs on the 23rd May.
It was found at Nynee Tal on Agar Pata, about 7000 feet above the
From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes:--"I have only myself taken two nests of
this common species. I found both of them the same day (the 21st May),
in the Chinchona reserves, at an elevation of about 5000 feet. Both
nests were in the forest, built on the outer branches of trees, at
heights the one of 15, the other of 40 feet from the ground. The nests
were cup-shaped, and very neatly made of moss, leaves and fibres, and
lined with black fibres. One measured externally 4.6 in diameter by
2.75 in height, and internally 2.4 in diameter and 1.7 in depth. One
nest contained two fresh, the other two hard-set eggs; so perhaps two
is the normal number, though the natives say that they lay three. As
might be expected from the bird's habit of feeding on the insects on
moss-covered trees in moist forests, the nests were in forest by the
sides of streams."
The eggs are rather broad, slightly pyriform ovals, often a good deal
pulled out as it were at the small end. The shell is fine, but almost
entirely devoid of gloss. The ground-colour is a pale greenish white
or very pale bluish green. The markings are various and complicated:
first there are usually a few large, irregular, moderately dark
brownish-red spots and splashes; then there are a very few, very dark,
reddish-brown hair-lines, such as one finds on Buntings' eggs; then
there is a good deal of clouding and smudging here and there of pale,
dingy purplish or brownish red (all these markings are most numerous
towards the large end); and then besides these, and almost entirely
confined to the large end, are a few pale purple specks and spots.
Sometimes the markings are almost wholly confined to the thicker end
of the egg. Of course the eggs vary somewhat, and in some specimens
the characteristic Bunting-like hair-lines are almost wholly wanting.
The eggs vary in length from 0.95 to 1.0, and in breadth from 0.66 to
205. Lioptila gracilis (McClell.). _The Grey Sibia_.
Malacias gracilis (_McClell.), Hume, cat._ no. 429 bis.
Colonel Godwin-Austen is, I believe, the only ornithologist who has
as yet secured the nest and eggs of the Grey Sibia. He says:--"In the
pine forest that covers the slopes of the hills descending into the
Umian valley in Assam, one of my men marked a nest on June 25th; I
proceeded to the spot soon after I had heard of it, and on coming up
to the tree, a pine, saw the female fly off out of the head of it.
But the nest was so well hidden by the boughs of the fir, that it was
quite invisible from below. The bird after a short time came back, and
then I saw it was _Sibia gracilis_; but it was very shy and seeing
us went off again, and hung about the trees at a distance of some 50
yards; while thus waiting, some four or five others were also seen.
The female, however, would not venture back, and I sent one of my
Goorkhas up, to cut off the head of the fir, nest and all, first
taking out the eggs. It contained three, of a pale sea-green, with
ash-brown streakings and blotchings all over.
"The nest was constructed of dry grass, moss, and rootlets, and the
green spinules of the fir were worked into it, fixing it most firmly
in its place in the crown of the pine where it was much forked."
206. Lioptila melanoleuca (Bl.). _Tickell's Sibia_.
Malacias melanoleucus (_Bl.), Hume, cat._ no. 429 quart.
Mr. W. Davison was fortunate enough to secure a nest of this Sibia on
Muleyit mountain in Tenasserim. He says:--"I secured a nest of this
species on the 21st of February, containing two spotless pale blue
eggs slightly incubated. The nest, a deep compactly woven cup, was
placed about 40 feet from the ground, in the fork of one of the
smaller branches of a high tree growing on the edge of a deep ravine.
"The egg-cavity of the nest is lined with fern-roots, fibres and fine
grass-stems; outside this is a thick coating of dried bamboo-leaves
and coarse grass, and outside this again is a thick irregular coating
of green moss, dried leaves, and coarse fibres and fern-roots.
"Externally the nest measures about 5 inches in height, and nearly the
same in external diameter at the top.
"The egg-cavity measures 1.7 deep by 2.7 across.
"The eggs, a pale spotless blue, measure 0.95 and 0.98 in length by
0.66 and 0.68 in breadth."
211. Actinodura egertoni, Gould. _The Rufous Bar-wing_.
Actinodura egertoni, _Gould, Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 52; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 427.
There is no figure of the Rufous Bar-wing's nest or eggs amongst the
original drawings of Mr. Hodgson now in my custody, but in the British
Museum series there appears to be, since Mr. Blyth remarks:--"Mr.
Hodgson figures the nest of this bird like that of an English
Redbreast, with pinkish-white eggs."
From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes:--"On the 27th April I took a nest of
this Bar-wing in a large forest at an elevation of about 5000 feet.
It was placed about 20 feet from the ground, in a leafy tree, between
several upright shoots, to which it was firmly attached. It is
cup-shaped, mainly composed of dry leaves held together by slender
climber-stems, and lined with dark-coloured fibrous roots. A few
strings of green moss were twined round the outside to assist in
concealment. Externally it measures 4.2 inches wide by 4 deep;
internally 2.8 wide and 2.4 deep. It contained but two slightly-set
"I killed the female off the nest."
Several nests have been obtained and sent me by Messrs. Gammie and
Mandelli. One was taken on the 4th May by Mr. Mandelli, at Lebong, at
an elevation of 5500 feet, which contained three fresh eggs; this
was placed on the branches of a small tree, in the midst of dense
brushwood, at a height of about 4 feet from the ground.
Another, taken in a similar situation at the same place on the 22nd
May, contained two fresh eggs, and was at a height of about 12 feet
from the ground.
These nests vary just in the same way as do those of _Trochalopterum
nigrimentum_; some show only a sprig or two of moss about them, while
others have a complete coating of green moss. They are cup-shaped,
some deeper, some shallower; the chief material of the nest seems to
be usually dry leaves. One before me is composed entirely of some
_Polypodium_, on which the seed-spores are all fully developed; in
another, bamboo-leaves have been chiefly used; these are all held
together in their places by black fibrous roots; occasionally towards
the upper margin a few creeper-tendrils are intermingled. The whole
cavity is lined more or less thickly, and the lip of the cup all round
is usually finished of with these same black fibrous roots; and then
outside all moss and selaginella are applied according to the taste
of the bird and, probably, the situation--a few sprigs or a complete
coating, as the case may be.
Two eggs of this species sent me by Mr. Gammie are regular, slightly
elongated ovals, with very thin and fragile shells, and fairly but not
highly glossy. The ground is a delicate pale sea-green, and they are
profusely blotched, spotted, and marked with curious hieroglyphic-like
figures of a sort of umber-brown; while about the larger end numerous
spots and streaks of pale lilac occur.
These eggs measure 0.98 in length, by 0.65 and 0.68 in breadth.
Other eggs obtained by Mr. Mandelli early in June are quite of the
same type, but somewhat shorter, measuring 0.85 and 0.93 in length by
0.68 and 0.7 in breadth. But the markings are rather more smudgy
and rather paler, and there are fewer of the hair-like streaks and
213. Ixops nepalensis (Hodgs.). _The Hoary Bar-wing_.
Actinodura nipalensis (_Hodgs.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii. p. 53; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 428.
The Hoary Bar-wing is said in Mr. Hodgson's notes to breed from April
to June in Sikhim and the central region of Nepal up to an elevation
of 4000 or 6000 feet. The nest is placed in holes, in crevices
between rocks and stones; is circular and saucer-shaped. One measured
externally 3.62 in diameter by 2 inches in height; the cavity measured
2.5 in diameter and 1.37 in depth. The nest is composed of fine twigs,
grass, and fibres, and externally adorned with little pieces of
lichen, and internally lined with fine moss-roots. The birds are said
to lay from three to four eggs, which are not described, but they are
figured as pinky white, about 0.85 in length and 0.55 in width. Mr.
Blyth, however, remarks:--"One of Mr. Hodgson's drawings represents a
white egg with ferruginous spots, disposed much as in that of _Merula
Clearly there is some mistake here. Most of the drawings I have are
the originals, taken from the fresh specimens when they were obtained,
with Mr. Hodgson's own notes, on the reverse, of the dates on and
places at which he took or obtained the eggs, nests, and birds
figured, with often a description and dimensions of the two former,
and invariably full dimensions of the latter. On the other hand, the
drawings in the British Museum are mostly more finished and artistic
_copies_ of these originals; so how the spots got on to the eggs of
the British-Museum drawing I cannot say; there is no trace of such in
219. Siva strigula, Hodgs. _The Stripe-throated Siva_.
Siva strigula. _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii. p. 252; _Hume, Rough Draft
N. & E._ no. 616.
The nest of the Stripe-throated Siva is placed, according to Mr.
Hodgson, in the slender fork of a tree at no great elevation from the
ground. It is composed of moss and moss-roots, intermingled with dry
bamboo-leaves, and woven into a broad compact cup-shaped nest. One
such nest, taken on the 27th May, with three eggs in it, measured
exteriorly 4.25 in diameter and 3 inches in height, with a cavity
(thickly lined with cow's hair) about 2.5 in diameter and 2.25 in
depth. The birds lay in May and June. The eggs are three or sometimes
four in number; they are pale greenish blue or bluish green, and vary
in length from 0.8 to 0.9, and in breadth from 0.6 to 0.65, and are,
some thickly, some thinly, speckled and freckled, usually most densely
towards the large end, with red or brownish red. His nests were taken
both in Sikhim and Nepal.
221. Siva cyanuroptera, Hodgs. _The Blue-winged Siva_.
Siva cyanouroptera, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 253; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 617.
The Blue-winged Siva breeds, according to Mr. Hodgson's notes, in the
central regions of Nepal, and in the neighbourhood of Darjeeling, in
May and June. The nest is placed in trees, at no great elevation above
the ground, and is wedged in where three or four slender twigs make a
convenient fork. A nest taken on the 2nd June was a large compact cup,
measuring exteriorly 4.75 in diameter and 3.75 in height, and having
a cavity 2.6 in diameter and 1.87 in depth. It was composed of fine
stems of grass, dry leaves, moss, and moss-roots, bound together with
pieces of creepers, roots, and vegetable fibres, and closely lined
with fine grass-roots. They lay from three to four eggs, which are
figured as moderately broad ovals, considerably pointed towards the
small end, 0.85 in length by 0.6 in width, having a pale greenish
ground pretty thickly speckled and spotted, especially on the broader
half of the egg, with a kind of brownish brick-red.
Mr. Mandelli found a nest of this species at Lebong (elevation 5500
feet) on the 28th April. It contained four fresh eggs; it was placed
in a fork of a horizontal branch of a small tree at a height of only 3
feet from the ground. The nest is, for the size of the bird, a
large cup, externally entirely composed of green moss firmly felted
together. This outer shell of moss is thickly lined with the dead
leaves of a _Polypodium_, and this again is thinly lined with fine
grass. The nest was about 4 inches in diameter, and 2.5 in height
externally; the cavity was about 2.5 broad and 1.5 deep.
The nests of this species are very beautiful cups, very compact and
firm, sometimes wedged into a fork, but more commonly suspended
between two or three twigs, or sometimes attached by one side only to
a single twig. They are placed at heights of from 4 to 10 feet from
the ground in the branches of slender trees, and are usually carefully
concealed, places completely encircled by creepers being very
frequently chosen. The chief materials of the nest are dead leaves,
sometimes those of the bamboo, but more generally those of trees; but
little of this is seen, as the exterior is generally coated with moss,
and the interior is lined first with excessively fine grass, and then
more or less thinly with black buffalo- or horse-hairs. The cups are
about 3 inches in diameter and 2 in height externally, the cavities
barely 2 in diameter and perhaps 1.5 in depth: but they vary somewhat
in size and shape according to the situation in which they are placed
and the manner in which they are attached, some being considerably
broader and shallower, and some rather deeper.
Eggs of this species sent me from Mr. Mandelli, which were obtained by
him in the neighbourhood of Darjeeling, are decidedly elongated ovals,
fairly glossy, and with a pale slightly greenish-blue ground. A number
of minute red or brownish-red or yellowish-brown specks and spots
occur about the large end, sometimes irregularly scattered, sometimes
more or less gathered into an imperfect zone. The rest of the egg is
either spotless or exhibits only a few tiny specks and spots. The eggs
measure 0.75 and 0.76 by 0.51 and 0.52.