Part 5 out of 12
223. Yuhina gularis, Hodgs. _The Stripe-throated Yuhina_.
Yuhina gularis, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 261; _Hume, Rough Draft
N. & E._ no. 626.
The Stripe-throated Yuhina breeds, according to Mr. Hodgson's notes,
from April to July, building a large massive nest of moss, lined with
moss-roots, and wedged into a fork of a branch or between ledges of
rocks, more or less globular in shape, and with a circular aperture
near the top towards one side. A nest taken on the 19th June,
near Darjeeling, was quite egg-shaped, the long diameter being
perpendicular to the ground, and measured 6 inches in height and 4
inches in breadth, the aperture, 2 inches in diameter, being well
above the middle of the nest; the cavity was lined with fine
moss-roots. The eggs are figured as rather elongated ovals, 0.8 by
0.56, with a pale buffy or _cafe au lait_ ground-colour, thickly
spotted with red or brownish red, the markings forming a confluent
zone about the large end.
225. Yuhina nigrimentum (Hodgs.). _The Black-chinned Yuhina_.
Yuhina nigrimentum (_Hodgs.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 262; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 628.
A nest of the Black-chinned Yuhina, taken by Mr. Gammie on the 17th
June below Rungbee, at an elevation of about 3500 feet, was placed
in a large tree, at a height of about 10 feet from the ground, and
contained four hard-set eggs. It is a mere pad, below of moss, mingled
with a little wool and moss-roots, and above, that is to say the
surface where the eggs repose, of excessively fine grass-roots.
Dr. Jerdon says:--"A nest was once brought me which was declared to
belong to this species; it was a very small neat fabric, of ordinary
shape, made with moss and grass, and contained three small pure
white eggs. The rarity of the bird makes me doubt if the nest really
belonged to it."
The eggs are tiny little elongated ovals, pure white, and absolutely
Two sent me by Mr. Gammie measure 0.58 by 0.42 and 0.57 by 0.43.
226. Zosterops palpebrosa (Temm.). _The Indian White-eye_.
Zosterops palpebrosus (_Temm.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 265; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 631.
The Indian White-eye, or White-eyed Tit as Jerdon terms it, breeds
almost throughout the Indian Empire, sparingly in the hotter and more
arid plains, abundantly in the Nilghiris and other ranges of the
Peninsula to their very summits, and in the Himalayas to an elevation
of 5000 or 6000 feet.
The breeding-season extends in different localities from January to
September, but I think that everywhere April is the month in which
most eggs are to be met with.
Sometimes they have two broods; whether this is always the case I do
The nest is placed almost indifferently at any elevation. I have taken
one from amongst the topmost twigs of a huge mohwa tree (_Bassia
latifolia_) fully 60 feet high, and I have found them in a tiny bush
not a foot off the soil. Still I think that perhaps the majority build
at low elevations, say between 2 and 6 feet from the ground.
The nest is always a soft, delicate little cup, sometimes very
shallow, sometimes very deep, as a rule suspended between two twigs
like a miniature Oriole's nest, but on rare occasions propped in a
fork. The nest varies much in size and in the materials with which it
Pine grass and roots, tow, and a variety of vegetable fibres, thread,
floss silk, and cobwebs are all made use of to bind the little nest
together and attach it to the twigs whence it depends. Grass again,
moss, vegetable fibre, seed-down, silk, cotton, lichen, roots and the
like are used in the body of the nest, which is lined with silky down,
hair, moss, and fern-roots, or even silk, while at times tiny silvery
cocoons or scraps of rich-coloured lichen are affixed as ornaments to
One nest before me is a very perfect and deep cup, hung between two
twigs of a mohwa tree and almost entirely hidden by the surrounding
leaves. The exterior diameter of the nest is 21/2 inches, and the depth
2 inches. The egg-cavity measures scarcely more than 11/2 inch across
and very nearly as much in depth. It is composed of very fine
grass-stems and is thinly coated exteriorly with cobwebs, by which
also it is firmly secured to the suspending twigs, and externally
numerous small cocoons and sundry pieces of vegetable down are
plastered on to the nest. Another nest, hung between two slender twigs
of a mango tree, is a shallow cup some 21/2 inches in diameter, and not
above an inch in depth externally. The egg-cavity measures at most 11/2
inch across by three-fourths of an inch in depth. The nest is composed
of fine tow-like vegetable fibres and thread, by which it is attached
to the twigs, a little grass-down being blended in the mass, and
the cavity being very sparsely lined with very fine grass-stems. In
another nest, somewhat larger than, the last described, the nest is
made of moss slightly tacked together with cobwebs and lined with
fine grass-fibres. Another nest, a very regular shallow cup, with an
egg-cavity 2 inches in diameter and an inch in depth, is composed
almost entirely of the soft silky down of the _Calatropis gigantea_,
rather thickly lined with very fine hair-like grass, and very
thinly-coated exteriorly with a little of this same grass, moss, and
thread. Another, with a similar-sized cavity, but nearly three-fourths
of an inch thick everywhere, is externally a mass of moss, moss-roots,
and very fine lichen, and is lined entirely with very soft and
brilliantly white satin-like vegetable down. Another, with about the
same-sized cavity, but the walls of which are scarcely one-fourth of
an inch in thickness, is composed _entirely_ of this satiny down,
thinly coated exteriorly and interiorly with excessively fine
moss-roots (roots so fine that most of them are much thinner than
human hair); a few black horsehairs, which look coarse and thick
beside the other materials of the nest, are twisted round and round in
the interior of the egg-cavity. Other nests might be made entirely of
tow, so far as their appearance goes; and in fact with a very
large series before me, no two seem, to be constructed of the same
I have nests before me now, taken in September, March, June, and
August, all of which when found contained eggs.
Two is certainly the normal number of the eggs; about one fifth of the
nests I have seen contained three, and once only I found four.
From Murree Colonel C.H.T. Marshall informs us that he took the eggs
in June at an elevation of about 6000 feet.
Colonel G.F.L. Marshall says:--"I have taken eggs of this species at
Cawnpore in the middle of June. I found six nests, five of which were
in neem-trees. I also found the nest in Naini Tal at 7000 feet above
the sea, with young in the middle of June; one only of all the nests I
have seen was lined, and that was lined with feathers: they were, as a
rule, about eight feet from the ground, but one was nearly forty feet
Capt. Hutton gives a very full account of the nidification of this
species. He says:--"These beautiful little birds are exceedingly
common at Mussoorie, at an elevation of about 5000 feet, during
summer, but I never saw them much higher. They arrive from the plains
about the middle of April, on the 17th of which month I saw a pair
commence building in a thick bush of _Hibiscus_, and on the 27th
of the same month the nest contained three small eggs hard-set. I
subsequently took a second from a similar bush, and several from
the drooping branches of oak-trees, to the twigs of which they were
fastened. It is not placed on a branch, but is suspended between
two thin twigs, to which it is fastened by floss silk torn from the
cocoons of _Bombyx Huttoni_, Westw., and by a few slender fibres of
the bark of trees or hair according to circumstances.
"So slight and so fragile is the little oval cup that it is
astonishing the mere weight of the parent bird does not bring it to
the ground, and yet within it three young ones will often safely
outride a gale that will bring the weightier nests of Jays and
Thrushes to the ground.
"Of seven nests now before me four are composed externally of little
bits of green moss, cotton, and seed-down, and the silk of the wild
mulberry-moth torn from the cocoons, with which last material,
however, the others appear to be bound together within. The lining of
two is of the long hairs of the yak's tail, two of which died on the
estate where these nests were found, and a third is lined with
black human hair. The other three are formed of somewhat different
materials, two being externally composed of fine grass-stalks,
seed-down, and shreds of bark so fine as to resemble tow; one is lined
with seed-down and black fibrous lichens resembling hair, a second is
lined with fine grass, and a third with a thick coating of pure white
silky seed-down. In all the seven, the materials of the two sides are
wound round the twigs, between which they are suspended like a cradle,
and the shape is an ovate cup, about the size of half a hen's egg
split longitudinally. The diameter and depth are respectively 2 inches
and 11/2 inch by three-fourths of an inch. The eggs are usually three in
Mr. Brooks, writing from Almorah, says:--"This morning, 28th April,
I found a nest of _Zosterops palpebrosa_ containing two fresh eggs.
Yesterday I found one of the same bird containing three half-fledged
young ones. Near the Tonse River, in the Allahabad District, I found
these birds in July nesting high in a mango-tree, the nest suspended
like an Oriole's to several leaves; now I find it in low bushes, at
heights of from 3 to 5 feet from the ground. The eggs, as before,
skim-milk blue, without markings of any kind."
From Gurhwal Mr. R. Thompson says:--"A small cup-shaped elegant nest
is built by this bird suspended by fastenings from the fork of a low
branch. The nest is about 21/2 inches in diameter and three-fourths of
an inch in depth, composed of cobwebs, fine roots, hairs, &c., neatly
interwoven and lined internally with vegetable down. The eggs, two,
three, or four in number, are of a pale whitish-blue, oval, and
somewhat larger than those of _Arachnechthra asiatica_. The birds
select all kinds of trees, but the nest is always suspended. The
breeding-season is about March and April, and the brood is quickly
hatched and fledged.
"A nest found by me on the 22nd April, and containing four eggs, was
built most ingeniously in a creeper that hung from a small tree. The
birds had arranged it so that the long down-bearing tendril of the
creeper blended with the nest, which in the main was composed of the
material surrounding it.
"Another nest found on the 26th contained three young ones. It was
built in a low branch of a large mango-tree, and might have been 12
feet from the ground. It was a neat compact structure, deeply hollow,
and made up of cobwebs, fine straw, and hair, and lined with vegetable
down, closely and neatly interwoven.
"The parent birds were evidently feeding the young on the ripe fruit
of the _Khoda_ or _Chumroor_ (_Ehretia laevis_). I got one fruit from
the old birds, being anxious to know what the young ones were getting
for their dinner.
"The pairing-season commences about the end of March, when the males
may be heard uttering a feeble kind of rambling song, which in reality
is merely modified repetitions of a single note."
Mr. A. Anderson remarked that "the White-eye breeds throughout the
North-Western Provinces and Oudh during the months of June, July, and
August. The nest is a beautiful little model of the Oriole's; and
according to my experience it is invariably _suspended_, and _not
fixed in the fork of small branches_ as stated by Jerdon. I have on
several occasions watched a pair in the act of building their nest.
They set to work with cobwebs, and having first tied together two or
three leafy twigs to which they intend to attach their nest, they then
use fine fibre of the _sun_ (_Crotalaria juncea_), with which material
they complete the outer fabric of their very beautiful and compact
nest. As the work progresses more cobwebs and fibre of a silky kind
are applied externally, and at times the nest, when tossed about by
the wind (sometimes at a considerable elevation), would be mistaken by
a casual observer for an accidental collection of cobwebs. The inside
of the nest is well felted with the down of the madar plant, and then
it is finally lined with fine hair and grass-stems of the softest
kind. Sometimes the nest is suspended from only two twigs, exactly
after the fashion of the Mango-birds (_Oriolus kundoo_); and in this
case it is attached by means of silk-like fibres and fine fibre of
_sun_ for about 11/2 inch on each side; at others it is suspended from
several twigs; and occasionally I have seen the leaves fixed on to the
sides of the nest, thus making it extremely difficult of detection.
"In shape the nest is a perfect hollow hemisphere; one now before me
measures (inside) 1.5 in diameter. The wall is about 0.3 in thickness.
"Almost all my nests have been built on the neem tree, the long
slender _petioles_ of which are admirably adapted for its suspension.
"As a rule the nest is built at a considerable height, and owing
to its situation there is not a more difficult nest to take. Great
numbers get washed down in a half-finished state in a heavy fall of
"The eggs are, exactly as Jerdon describes them, of a pale blue,
'almost like skimmed milk,' and the usual number is three, though four
are frequently laid."
"On the 7th September," writes Mr. E.M. Adam, "in my garden in
Lucknow, I discovered a nest of this bird in course of construction,
but when it was nearly finished the birds left it. The nest was a
beautiful little cup made of fine grass and cobwebs. It was situated
in a slender fork of a mango-tree about 15 feet from the ground."
Major C.T. Bingham says:--"Common both at Allahabad and at Delhi;
breeds in both places in May, June, and July. All nests I have seen
have been finely made little cups of fibres, bits of thread and
cobwebs, lined interiorly with horsehair, generally suspended between
two slender twigs at no great height from the ground."
Mr. E. Aitken writes:--"I have only actually taken one nest of the
White-eye. That was in Poona (2000 feet above the sea) on the 21st
July. The bird, however, builds abundantly in Poona about gardens,
trees on the roadside, &c.
"This particular nest was fixed to a thin branch of a tamarind-tree on
the side of a lane among gardens. It was within reach of my hand, and
was attached both to the thin branch itself and to two twigs. It was
well sheltered among leaves.
"The nest was a cup rather narrower at the mouth than in the middle.
Its external diameter at the top was 21/2 inches; internal diameter 11/2
inch; depth 11/2 inch internally. It was composed of a variety of fibres
closely interwoven with some kind of vegetable silk, and was lined
principally with horsehair and very fine fibres. It contained three
Mr. Davison tells us that "the White-eye breeds on the Nilghiris in
February, March, April, and the earlier part of May.
"The nest is a small neat cup-shaped structure suspended between a
fork in some small low bush, generally only 2 or 3 feet from the
ground, but sometimes high up, about 20 or 30 feet from the ground. It
is composed externally of moss and small roots and the down from the
thistle; the egg-cavity is invariably sparingly lined with hair. The
eggs, two in number, are of a pale blue, like skimmed milk."
From Kotagherry Miss Cockburn remarks:--"Their nests are, I think,
more elegantly finished than those of any of the small birds I have
seen up here. They generally select a thick bush, where, when they
have chosen a horizontal forked branch, they construct a neat round
nest which is left quite open at the top. The materials they commence
with are green moss, lichen, and fine grass intertwined. I have even
found occasionally a coarse thread, which they had picked up near some
Badagar's village and used in order to fasten the little building
to the branches. The inside is carefully lined with the down of
seed-pods. White-eyes' nests are very numerous here in the months of
January, February, and March. They are extremely partial to the wild
gooseberry bush as a site to build on. One year I found ten out of
eleven nests on these bushes, the fruit of which is largely used by
the aborigines of the hills. A pair once built on a thick orange-tree
in our garden. We often stood quite close to one of them while sitting
on the eggs, and it never showed the slightest degree of fear. They
lay two eggs of a light blue colour."
Mr. Wait, writing from Conoor, says that "_Z. palpebrosa_ breeds in
April and May, building in bushes and shrubs, and making a deep round
cup-shaped nest very neatly woven in the style of the Chaffinch,
composed of moss, grass, and silk cotton, and sparsely lined with very
fine grass and hair. The eggs are two in number, of a roundish oval
shape, and a pale greenish-blue colour."
Finally Colonel Legge informs us that this species breeds in Ceylon in
June, July, and August.
The eggs are somewhat lengthened ovals (occasionally rather broader),
and a good deal pointed towards the small end. The shell is very fine
but almost glossless; here and there a somewhat more glossy egg is met
with. They are normally of a uniform very pale blue or greenish blue,
without any markings whatsoever, but once in a way an egg is seen
characterized by a cap or zone of a somewhat purer and deeper blue.
Abnormally large and small specimens are common. They vary in length
from 0.53 to 0.7, and in breadth from 0.42 to 0.58; but the average of
thirty-eight eggs is 0.62 by 0.47, and the great majority of the eggs
are really about this size.
229. Zosterops ceylonensis, Holdsworth. _The Ceylon White-eye_.
Zosterops ceylonensis, _Holdsw., Hume, cat._ no. 631 bis.
Colonel Legge, referring to the nidification of the Ceylon White-eye,
says:--"This species breeds from March until May, judging from the
young birds which are seen abroad about the latter month. Mr.
Bligh found the nest in March on Catton Estate. It was built in
a coffee-bush a few feet from the ground, and was a rather frail
structure, suspended from the arms of a small fork formed by one bare
twig crossing another. In shape it was a shallow cup, well made of
small roots and bents, lined with hair-like tendrils of moss, and was
adorned about the exterior with a few cobwebs and a little moss. The
eggs were three in number, pointed ovals, and of a pale bluish-green
ground-colour. They measured, on the average, .64 by .45 inch."
231. Ixulus occipitalis (Bl.) _The Chestnut-headed Ixulus_.
Ixulus occipitalis (_Bl.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 250; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 624.
A nest of this species, taken by Mr. Gammie out of a small tree below
Rungbee, at an elevation of about 3000 feet, was a small, somewhat
shallow cup, composed almost entirely of very fine moss-roots, but
with a little moss incorporated in the outer surface. Externally the
nest was about 31/2 inches in diameter and 2 inches in height. The
egg-cavity was about 21/4 inches by barely 11/4 inch. This nest was found
on the 17th June and contained three hard-set eggs, _which_ were
232. Ixulus flavicollis (Hodgs.). _The Yellow-naped Ixulus_.
Ixulus flavicollis (_Hodgs._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii. p. 259; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 623.
I have never taken a nest of the Yellow-naped Ixulus.
Mr. Gammie says:--"I have only as yet found a single nest of this
species, and this was one of the most artfully concealed that I have
ever seen. I found it in forest in the Chinchona reserves, at an
elevation of about 5000 feet, on the 14th May. It was a rather deep
cup, composed of moss and fine root-fibres and thickly lined with the
latter, and was suspended at a height of about six feet amongst the
natural moss, hanging from a horizontal branch of a small tree, in
which it was entirely enveloped. A more beautiful or more completely
invisible nest it is impossible to conceive. It contained three fresh
eggs. The cup itself was exteriorly 3.7 inches in diameter and 1.9 in
depth, while the cavity was 2.5 in diameter and 1.5 in depth."
The Yellow-naped Ixulus breeds, according to Mr. Hodgson's notes,
in the central region of Nepal and the neighbourhood of Darjeeling,
laying during the months of May and June. It builds on the ground
in tufts of grass, constructing its nest of moss and moss-roots,
sometimes open and cup-like and sometimes globular, and lining it with
sheep's wool. Mr. Hodgson figures one nest suspended from a branch,
and although neither the English nor the vernacular notes confirm
this, it is supported to a certain extent by Mr. Gammie's experience.
At the same time, though the situation and surroundings of both seem
to have been similar, Mr. Hodgson figures his nest, not cup-shaped,
but egg-shaped, and with the longer diameter horizontal. Seven nests
are recorded as having been taken, and all on the ground. One,
cup-shaped, taken on the 7th June, 1846, which is also figured, in
amongst grass and leaves on the ground, measured externally 3.5 inches
in diameter, 2.5 in height, and internally 2 inches both in diameter
The full complement of eggs is said to be four. Two types of eggs are
figured, both rather broad ovals, measuring about 0.75 by 0.6. The one
has a buffy-white ground and is thinly speckled and streaked, except
quite at the broad end, where the markings are nearly confluent, with
pale dingy yellowish brown; the other has a pale earthy-brown ground,
and is spotted similarly to the one just described, but with red and
purple. This latter egg appears on the same plate with the suspended
nest, and is, I think, doubtful.
Several nests of this species, which I owe to Captain Masson of
Darjeeling, are very beautiful structures, moderately shallow and
rather massive cups, externally composed of moss, and lined thickly
with fine black moss-roots. The cavity of the nests may have been
about 13/4 inch in diameter by less than 11/2 inch in depth, but the sides
of the nests are from one inch to 2 inches in thickness, constructed
of firmly compacted moss.
Other nests of this species that have since been sent me show that
the bird very commonly suspends its nest to one or two twigs, not
unfrequently making it a complete cylinder or egg in shape, with the
entrance at one side, but always using moss, in some cases fine, in
some coarse, according to the nature of the moss growing where the
nest is placed, as the sole material, and lining the cavity thickly
with fine black moss and fern-roots.
Dr. Jerdon tells us that at Darjeeling he has repeatedly had the nest
brought to him. "It is large, made of leaves of bamboos carelessly and
loosely put together, and generally placed in a clump of bamboos. The
eggs are three to five in number, of a somewhat fleshy-white, with a
few rusty spots."
I cannot but think that in this case wrong nests had been brought
to Dr. Jerdon. The eggs that I possess are all of one type--rather
elongated ovals with scarcely any gloss, and strongly recalling in
shape, size, and appearance densely marked varieties of the eggs of
_Hirundo rustica_, but with the markings rather browner and slightly
The eggs are typically rather elongated ovals, often slightly
compressed towards the small end, sometimes rather broader and
slightly pyriform. The shell is extremely fine and compact, but
has scarcely any gloss; the ground-colour is sometimes pure white,
sometimes has a faint brownish-reddish or creamy tinge. The markings
are invariably most dense about the large end, where they form a
zone or cap, regular, well defined and confluent in some specimens,
irregular, ill-defined and blotchy in others. As a rule these
markings, which consist of specks, spots, and tiny blotches, are
comparatively thinly scattered over the rest of the egg, but
occasionally they are pretty thickly scattered everywhere, though
nowhere anything like so densely as at the large end. The colour of
the markings is rather variable. It is a brown of varying shades,
varying not only in different eggs, but there being often two shades
on the same egg. Normally it is I think an umber-brown, yellower in
some spots, but varying slightly in tinge, leaning to burnt umber,
sienna, and raw sienna.
Other eggs subsequently obtained by Mr. Gammie are of much the same
character as those already described, but one is a good deal shorter
and broader, and the markings are more decided red than are some of
the yellowish-brown spots observable in the eggs first obtained.
In length the eggs seem to vary from 0.76 to 0.8, and in breadth from
0.54 to 0.58.
235. Liothrix lutea (Scop.). _The Red-billed Liothrix_.
Leiothrix luteus (_Scop._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 250.
Leiothrix callipyga (_Hodgs._), _Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._
The Red-billed Liothrix breeds from April to August; at elevations of
from 3000 to 6000 feet, throughout the Himalayas south, as a rule, of
the first snowy range and eastward of the Sutlej; west of the Sutlej I
have not heard of its occurrence. It also doubtless breeds throughout
the hill-ranges running down from Assam to Burmah.
Mostly the birds lay in May, affecting well-watered and jungle-clad
valleys and ravines. They place their nests in thick bushes, at
heights of from 2 to 8 feet from the ground, and either wedge them
into some fork, tack them into three or four upright shoots between
which they hang, or else suspend them like an Oriole's or White-eye's
The nest varies from a rather shallow to a very deep cup, and is
composed of dry leaves, moss, and lichen in varying proportions,
bamboo-leaves being great favourites, bound together with slender
creepers, grass-roots, fibres, &c., and lined with black horse- or
buffalo-hair, or hair-like moss-roots. The nests differ much in
appearance: I have seen one composed almost entirely of moss, and
another of nothing but dry bamboo-sheaths, with a scrap or two of
moss. They are always pretty substantial, but sometimes they are very
massive for the size of the bird.
Three is certainly the usual complement of eggs.
According to Mr. Hodgson's notes, this species breeds in the central
mountainous region of Nepal, and lays from April to August. The nest,
which is somewhat purse-shaped, is placed in some upright fork between
three or four slender branches, to all of which it is more or less
attached. It is composed of moss, dry leaves, often of the bamboo, and
the bark of trees, and is compactly bound together with moss-roots and
fibres of different kinds; it is lined with horse-hair and moss-roots,
and contains generally three or four eggs.
The following note I quote _verbatim_:--"_Central Hills, August
12th_.--Male, female, and nest. Nest in a low leafy tree 5 cubits from
the ground in the Shewpoori forest; partly suspended and partly rested
on the fork of the branch; suspension effected by twisting part of the
material round the prongs of the fork; made of moss and lichens and
dry leaves, well compacted into a deep saucer-shaped cavity; 3.62
high, 4.5 wide outside, and inside 2.25 deep and 3 inches wide; eggs
pale verditer, spotted brown, and ready for hatching. The bird found
in small flocks of ten to twelve, except at breeding-season."
A nest sent to me last year by Mr. Gammie was found by him on the 24th
April, at an elevation of about 5000 feet, in the neighbourhood of
Rungbee. It was built by the side of a stream in a small bush, at a
height of about 3 feet from the ground, and contained three eggs.
The nest is a deep and, for the size of the bird, very massive cup,
exteriorly composed entirely of broad flag-like grass-leaves, with
which, however, a few slender stems of creepers are intermingled,
internally of grass-roots; the egg-cavity being thinly lined with
coarse, black buffalo-hair. Externally the nest is more than 5 inches
in diameter and nearly 4 inches high; but the egg-cavity, which is
very regularly shaped, is 21/2 inches in diameter and 2 inches in depth.
This year Mr. Gammie writes to me:--"I have taken many nests of the
Red-billed Liothrix here in our Chinchona reserves, at all elevations
from 3500 to 5000 feet. They breed in May and June, amongst dense
scrub, placing their nests in shrubs, at heights of from 3 to 5 feet
from the ground, and either suspending them from horizontal branches,
or hanging them between several upright stems, to which they firmly
attach them. The nest itself is cup-shaped and composed principally of
dry bamboo-leaves held together by a few fibres, and a few strings of
green moss wound round the outside. The lining consists of a few
black hairs, and the usual number of eggs is three. A nest I recently
measured was externally 4 inches in diameter and 2.7 in height, while
the cavity was 2.6 across by 1.9 in depth."
Mr. Gammie subsequently found a nest on the very late date of 17th
October at Rishap, Darjeeling. It contained three eggs, two of which
Dr. Jerdon says that at Darjeeling he "got the nest and eggs
repeatedly; the nest made chiefly of grass, with roots and fibres, and
fragments of moss, and usually containing three or four eggs, bluish,
white, with a few purple and red blotches. It is generally placed in a
leafy bush at no great height from the ground. Gould, quoting from Mr.
Shore's notes, says that the eggs are black spotted with yellow:
this is of course erroneous. I have taken the nest myself on several
occasions, and killed the bird, and in every case the eggs were
coloured as above."
I wish to add here, as I have abused him occasionally, that Mr. Shore
was, I understand, a most excellent man, and that I have now come to
the conclusion that the extraordinary fictions that he recorded about
the eggs of birds can only have been due to colour-blindness of a
peculiarly aggravated nature. It is not that he mistook eggs, but that
he describes _impossible_ eggs--Kingfishers' eggs variegated black
and white, and here in this case black eggs spotted with yellow! Why,
there _are_ no such eggs in the whole world, I believe. On the other
hand, his whole life proves that he could not have deliberately set to
work to invent falsehoods. To return.
The eggs vary a good deal in shade and size, but are more or less long
ovals, slightly pointed towards the lesser end. The ground-colour is
a delicate very pale green or greenish blue, in one, not very common
type, almost pure white, and they are pretty boldly blotched or
spotted and speckled as the case may be, and clouded, most thickly
towards the large end, and very often almost exclusively in a zone or
cap round this latter, with various shades of red or purple and brown.
Some blotches in some eggs are almost carmine-red, but the majority
are brownish red or reddish brown, varying much in depth and intensity
of colour. There is something Shrike-like in the markings of many
eggs; and where the markings are most numerous, namely at the large
end, they are commonly intermingled with streaks and clouds of
pale lilac. The smaller end of the egg is often entirely free from
markings. I should mention that all the eggs have a faint gloss, and
that some are decidedly glossy.
They vary in length from 0.76 to 0.95, and in breadth from 0.59 to
0.66; but the average of thirty-four eggs is 0.85 by 0.62.
237. Pteruthius erythropterus (Vig.). _The Red-winged Shrike-Tit_.
Pteruthius erythropterus (_Vig.) Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 245; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 609.
Writing from Murree, Colonel C.H.T. Marshall says:--"There is no
record about the nidification of this species. Its nest is exceedingly
difficult to find, and it was only by long and careful watching
through field-glasses that Captain Cock discovered that there was a
nest at the top of a very high chestnut-tree, to and from which the
birds kept flying with building-materials in their beaks. The nest is
most skilfully concealed, being at the top of the tree, with bunches
of leaves both above and below. The nest, like that of the Oriole, is
built pendent in a fork. It is somewhat roughly made of moss and hair.
The eggs are pinky white, blotched with red, forming in some a ring
round the larger end. They average 0.9 in length and 0.65 in breadth.
We were fortunate enough to secure two nests; both were more than 60
feet from the ground. Breeds in the end of May, at an elevation of
Captain Cock says:--"I first found this bird building its nest on the
top of a high chestnut-tree at Murree in the month of May. When the
nest was ready I took my friend Captain C.H.T. Marshall to be present
at the taking of it, as it had never, I think, been taken before. We
took the nest on the 30th May.
"It was an open flattish cup, like the nest of _O. kundoo_ in
structure, only shallower. It contained three eggs, pinky white,
covered with a shower of claret spots that at the larger end formed a
cap of dark claret colour. Another nest, which I took in June from the
top of an oak, contained two eggs."
To Colonel Marshall and Captain Cock I am indebted for a nest and egg
of this species.
The nest is a moderately deep cup, suspended between two prongs of a
horizontal fork. Externally it is about 4 inches in diameter and about
3 inches in depth. The egg-cavity is nearly hemispherical, 3 inches
in diameter and 1.5 in depth. It is a very loosely made structure,
composed internally of not very fine roots and externally coated with
green moss. Along the lines of suspension a good deal of wool is
incorporated in the structure, and it is chiefly by this wool that the
nest is suspended. The fork is a slender one, the prongs being from
0.3 to 0.4 in diameter.
The egg is a broad oval, a good deal pointed towards the small
end. The shell is very fine and compact, and has a fine gloss. The
ground-colour is white or pinky white, and is pretty thickly speckled
and finely spotted all over with brownish red and a little pale inky
purple. Just towards the large end the markings are very dense, and
form, more or less of a confluent cap of mingled brownish red and pale
lilac, the latter everywhere appearing to underlie the former.
The egg was taken on the 10th June, and measures 0.9 by 0.68.
239. Pteruthius melanotis, Hodgs. _The Chestnut-throated
Allotrius oenobarbus, _Temm. apud Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 246.
Allotrius melanotis, _Hodgs., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 611.
According to Mr. Hodgson's notes and figures, the Chestnut-throated
Shrike-Tit breeds in Sikhim and Nepal up to an elevation of 6000 or
7000 feet. The nest is placed at a height of 6 to 10 feet from the
ground, between some slender, leafy, horizontal fork, between which it
is suspended like that of an Oriole or White-eye. It is composed of
moss and moss-roots and vegetable fibres, beautifully and compactly
woven into a shallow cup some 4 inches in diameter, and with a cavity
some 2.5 in diameter and less than 1 in depth. Interiorly the nest is
lined with hair-like fibres and moss-roots; exteriorly it is adorned
with pieces of lichen. The eggs are two or three in number,
very regular ovals, about 0.77 in length by 0.49 in width. The
ground-colour is a delicate pinky lilac, and they are speckled and
spotted with violet or violet-purple, the markings being most numerous
towards the large end, where they have a tendency to form a mottled
243. Aegithine tiphia (Linn.). _The Common Iora_.
Iora zeylonica (Gm.) _et_ I. typhia (_Linn.), Jerd. B. Ind._
ii, pp. 101, 103.
Aegithine tiphia (_Linn.), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ nos. 467, 468.
I have already on several occasions (see especially 'Stray Feathers,'
1877, vol. v, p. 428) recorded my inability to distinguish as
distinct species _Ae. tiphia_ and _Ae. zeylonica_. I am quite open to
conviction; but believing them, so far as my present investigations
go, to be inseparable, I propose to treat them as a single species in
the present notice.
The Common Iora (the genus, though possibly nearly allied, is too
distinct from _Chloropsis_ to allow me to adopt, as Jerdon does, one
common trivial name for both) breeds in different localities from May
to September. I have taken nests and eggs of typical examples of both
supposed species, and have had them sent me with the parent birds by
many correspondents; and though both vary a good deal, I am convinced
that all the variations which occur in the nests and eggs of one
race occur also in those of the other. If one gets only two or three
clutches of the eggs of each, great differences, naturally attributed
to difference of species (see Captain Cock's remarks, _infra_), may
be detected; but I have seen more than fifty, and, so far as I am
concerned, I have no hesitation in asserting that, as in the case of
the birds so in that of their nests and eggs, no constant differences
can be detected if only sufficiently large series are compared.
The birds build usually on the upper surface of a horizontal bough, at
a height of from 10 to 25 feet from the ground. Sometimes, when the
bough is more or less slanting, the nest assumes somewhat more of a
pocket-shape. Occasionally it is built between three or four slender
twigs, forming an upright fork; but this is quite exceptional.
As a rule nests of the Iora very closely resemble those of
_Leucocerca_, so much so that when I sent a beautiful photograph of a
nest, which I had myself watched building, of the latter species to
Mr. Blyth, he unhesitatingly pronounced it to be a nest of the former.
There is, however, a certain amount of difference; the Iora's nests
are looser and somewhat less compact and firm. My experience does not
confirm Mr. Brooks's remarks (_vide infra_) that they are usually
shallower; on the contrary all those now before me are, as indeed all
the many I can remember to have seen were, deep, thin-walled cups,
which had been placed on more or less horizontal branches, not
uncommonly where some upright-growing twig afforded the nest
additional security. The egg-cavity averages about 2 inches in
diameter, and varies from an inch to 11/4 inch in depth; the walls,
composed of vegetable fibres, and varying in different specimens
from only one eighth to three eighths of an inch in thickness, are
everywhere thickly coated externally with cobwebs, by which also the
nest is firmly attached to the branch on which it is seated, as well
as, where such adjoin the nest, to any little twig springing from that
branch. Interiorly they are more or less neatly lined with very fine
grass-stems. The bottom of the nest in its thinnest part is rarely
above one eighth of an inch in thickness, but running, as it so often
does, down the curving sides of the branch, it becomes a good deal
thicker, and where placed on a small branch, say not exceeding an
inch in diameter, the lateral portions of the bottom of the nest are
sometimes more than half an inch in thickness.
One nest which I obtained recently in the Botanical Gardens at
Calcutta was built in an upright fork of four slender twigs; and in
this case the bottom of the nest was obtusely conical, and at its
deepest point may have been nearly an inch in depth. I have never seen
a similar nest.
The eggs are normally three in number, but I have at times found only
two, and these more or less incubated.
Mr. Brooks, writing of a nest he took in the Mirzapoor District,
says:--"Did you ever get particulars of the nest of _Iora zeylonica_
on the forked branch of a mango-tree 12 or 14 feet from the
ground? Nest composed of the same materials as that of _Leucocerca
albifrontata_, but not quite so neat and much more shallow; eggs
salmon-coloured and spotted with pale reddish brown, intermixed with a
few larger dashes of purple-grey. The bird lays in July; three eggs.
This is the only nest I have not taken since I came to India the
From Raipoor, Mr. F.R. Blewitt remarks:--"The Iora breeds from July to
September, and certainly _not_, as Dr. Jerdon supposes, twice a year.
Both birds assist in the building of the nests, and there evidently
appears to be no choice of any particular kind of tree on which to
build. I have found them indiscriminately on the mango, mowah, neem,
and other trees. The nest is invariably made either just above or
between the fork of two outshooting slender horizontal branches. It
is very neatly made, deeply cup-shaped, of grass and fibres, with
spider's web on the exterior. The maximum number of eggs is three;
they are of a pale whitish colour, marked generally, chiefly at the
broad end, with brownish spots. The brown spots vary in size on
different eggs. I secured the first eggs on the 12th July, and the
last on the 2nd September. A pair of birds were on this last date just
completing their nest, which unfortunately was destroyed by the heavy
Captain Cock says:--"_Iora tiphia_ is tolerably common at Seetapoor
(Oudh), and I have several times taken their nests and eggs. I may
here mention that I have taken eggs of _Iora zeylonica_ at Etawah, and
that knowing the birds well, I can say that it is quite a distinct
bird; although in the marking of its eggs there is a slight
resemblance, yet the nests of the two species are quite different. On
the 13th May I observed a nest of _I. tiphia_ on a young mango-tree,
at the edge of a croquet-ground in our garden. I shot both male and
female and took the eggs; the nest was placed on the upperside of a
sloping bough, was covered outside with cobweb, and lined with thin
dry grass. It contained two fresh eggs of a delicate pink colour, with
broad irregularly-shaped dashes of light brown down the sides of the
shell, not tending to coalesce in any way at either apex. Another pair
also built their nest on the edge of the same ground in another tree;
but unfortunately in a weak moment I pointed out the nest to a lady
friend, and as thereafter no one ever played croquet on the ground
without staring at the nest, the birds got disgusted and soon deserted
To this I need merely add that _of course_ typical _Ae. tiphia_
and typical _Ae. zeylonica_ are very distinct, but that as every
intermediate form occurs, they are not, according to my views of what
constitutes a species, entitled to specific separation, and that as
regards nest and eggs, according to my experience, every variety in
the one is to be found in the other.
Dr. Jerdon, speaking of Southern India, remarks:--"I have seen the
nest and eggs on several occasions. The nest is deep, cup-shaped, very
neatly made with grass, various fibres, hairs, and spiders' webs; and
the eggs, two or three in number, are reddish white, with numerous
darker red spots, chiefly at the thicker end. It breeds in the south
of India in August and September; perhaps, however, twice a year."
Writing from South Wynaad, Mr. J. Darling (Junior) says:--"I found the
nest, which with the eggs and both parents I have now sent you, in the
Teriat Hills on the 24th May, at an elevation of about 2300 feet. It
was placed on, and near the extremity of, a bough, at a height of
about 10 feet from the ground. It is round, about 2 inches in height
and the same in diameter, and the cavity was about an inch or a trifle
more in depth. It is built of grass and reed-bamboo-fibres, and is
coated with spider's web. It only contained two eggs."
Both parents (sexes ascertained by dissection) are in the typical
_tiphia_ plumage, without one particle of black on either head, nape,
Mr. Davidson writes:--"In the Satara and Sholapur districts the cock
puts on his summer plumage in May and the whole back of head, neck,
and back (not rump) is glossy and black.
"This bird lays from the end of June to beginning of August. It is
very shy when building and is easily caused to forsake its nest; if a
single egg is taken from the nest it does not forsake it, however, but
lays on (three instances this year)."
Mr. W.E. Brooks has favoured me with the following very interesting
note on the habits of this Iora:--
"Ioras are very numerous and have such a variety of notes that I
thought at first there were several sorts; but as far as I can see
there is but one species. Iora spreads its tail in a wonderful manner,
and comes spinning round and round towards the ground looking more
like a round ball than a bird. All the time it descends it utters a
strange note, something like that of a frog or cricket, a protracted
sibilant sound. This bird is close to _Liothrix_ and _Stachyrhis_,
although it belongs to the plains."
Colonel Butler writes:--"A nest on the 17th August, 1880, on the
outside branch of a silk-cotton tree in Belgaum about 12 feet from the
ground, containing three fresh eggs.
"I found many other nests building all through the hot weather and
rains; but in every single instance except the present one they were
deserted before they were completed."
Major Bingham writes from Tenasserim:--"This species is common
throughout the country. As a rule its nest is well hid, but one I
saw in the compound of a house in Maulmain was placed in the exposed
leafless fork of a tree, not above six feet from the ground. It
contained no eggs when I examined it, and was deserted a day or two
after. This was in the beginning of May."
Mr. Oates remarks on the breeding of this bird in Pegu:--"Nests are
found chiefly in June and July, but the birds probably lay also in
In shape the eggs are moderately broad ovals, slightly pointed towards
one end. They vary, however, a good deal, some being much more
elongated than others. They are almost entirely devoid of gloss. The
ground-colour is generally greyish white, but some have creamy and
some a salmon tinge; typically they have numerous long streaky pale
brown or reddish-brown blotches, chiefly confined to the large end,
where they often seem to spring from an irregular imperfect zone of
the same colour. The colour of the blotches varies a good deal. In
some it is a pale greyish or purplish brown; in others decidedly
reddish, or even well-marked and somewhat yellowish brown. Some pale,
purplish streaks and clouds generally underlie the brown blotches
where they are thickest, and there form a kind of nimbus. In some eggs
the markings are confined to a narrow imperfect zone of pale purplish
specks or very tiny blotches round the large end, and some of the eggs
remind one of those of _Leucocerca albifrontata_. The peculiar streaky
longitudinal character of the markings, almost wholly confined to the
large end, best distinguishes the eggs of the Ioras from those of any
other Indian bird with which they are likely to be confounded.
In length they vary from 0.63 to 0.76, and in breadth from 0.51 to
0.57: but the average of forty-seven eggs measured is 0.69, nearly, by
a trifle more than 0.54.
246. Myzornis pyrrhura, Hodgs. _The Fire-tailed Myzornis_.
Myzornis pyrrboura, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 263; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 629.
I have received a single egg said to belong to the Fire-tailed
Myzornis from Native Sikhim, where it was found in May in a small nest
(unfortunately mislaid) which was placed on a branch of a large tree
at no great height from the ground. The place where it was found had
an elevation of about 10,000 feet. Although the parent bird was sent
with the egg, I cannot say that I have any great confidence in its
authenticity, and only record the matter _quantum valeat_.
The egg is a very regular, rather elongated oval. The egg was never
properly blown and has been consequently somewhat discoloured. It may
have been pure white, and it may have been fairly glossy when fresh,
but it is now a dull ivory-white with scarcely any gloss. It measured
0.68 in length by 0.5 in breadth.
252. Chloropsis jerdoni (Bl.). _Jerdon's Chloropsis_.
Phyllornis jerdoni, _Bl., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 97; _Hume, Rough Draft
N. & E._ no. 463.
I have never myself found the nest of Jerdon's Chloropsis, but my
friend Mr. F.R. Blewitt has sent me numerous specimens of both nests
and eggs from Raipoor and its neighbourhood.
In that part of the country July and August appear to be the months in
which it lays; but elsewhere its eggs have been taken in April, May,
and June, so that its breeding-season is much the same as that of many
of the Bulbuls. The nest is a small, rather shallow cup, at most 31/2
inches in diameter and 11/2 in depth; is composed externally entirely of
soft tow-like vegetable fibre, which appears to be worked over a light
framework of fine roots and slender tamarisk-stems, amongst which,
some little pieces of lichen are intermingled. There is no attempt
at a lining, the eggs being laid on the fine grass and slender twigs
(about the thickness of an ordinary-sized pin) which compose the
framework of the nest.
The eggs as a rule appear to be two in number.
Mr. Blewitt remarks:--"The Green Bulbul breeds in July and August. The
bird does not preferentially select any one description of tree for
its nest, though the greater number secured were taken from mowah
trees (_Bassia latifolia_). The nest is generally firmly affixed at
the fork of the end twigs of an upper branch from 15 to 25 feet from
the ground. Sometimes, however, eschewing twigs, the bird constructs
its nest on the _top_ of the main branch itself, cunningly securing it
with the material to the rough exterior surface of the branch.
Three is certainly the maximum number of eggs. During the period of
nidification the parent birds are very watchful and noisy, and their
alarm and over-anxiety on the near approach of a stranger often betray
The late Captain Beavan recorded the following interesting note in
regard to this species:--
"This handsome bird is very abundant in Manbhoom, where it is called
'Hurrooa' by the natives. Its note is so much like that of _Dicrurus
ater_ that I have frequently been deceived by the resemblance. It
breeds in the district. A nest with two eggs was brought to me at
Beerachalee on April 4th, 1865. It is built at the fork of a bough and
neatly suspended from it, like a hammock, by silky fibres, which are
firmly fixed to the two sprigs of the fork, and also form part of the
bottom and outside of the nest. The inside is lined with dry bents and
hairs. The eggs (creamy white with a few light pinky-brown spots) are
rather elongated, measuring 0.85 by 0.62. Interior diameter of nest
2.25, depth 1.5. The cry of alarm of this species is like that of
Dr. Jerdon remarked ('Illustrations of Indian Ornithology'), writing
at the time from Southern India:--
"I have seen a nest of this species in the possession of S.N. Ward,
Esq. It is a neat but slightly cup-shaped nest, composed chiefly of
fine grass, and was placed near the extremity of a branch, some of
the nearest leaves being, it was said, brought down and loosely
surrounding it. It contained two eggs, white, with a few
claret-coloured blotches. Its nest and eggs, I may remark, show an
analogy to that of the Orioles."
Mr. Layard tells us that this species is "extremely common in the
south of Ceylon, but rare towards the north. It feeds in small flocks
on seeds and insects, and builds an open cup-shaped nest. The eggs,
four in number, are white, thickly mottled at the obtuse end with
And Sir W. Jardine says:--"For the interesting nest and eggs of
_Phyllornis jerdoni_, Blyth, we are indebted to E.S. Layard, Esq.,
Magistrate of the district of Point Pedro (the northernmost extremity
of Ceylon), in which district we understand it to have been procured.
A large groove along the underside of the nest indicates it to have
been placed upon a branch; the general form is somewhat flat, and
it is composed of very soft materials, chiefly dry grass and silky
vegetable fibres, rather compactly interwoven with some pieces of dead
leaf and bark on the outside, over which a good deal of spider's web
has been worked. It contains four eggs, white, abruptly speckled
over with dark bistre mingled with some ashy spots." Layard is not
generally reliable where eggs are concerned, for he did not usually
take them with his own hands and natives _will_ lie; and I doubt the
_four_ eggs here, but I think, so far as the nest goes, that he was
right in this case.
The eggs are rather elongated ovals; some of them a good deal pointed
towards one end, others again slightly pyriform. The shell is very
delicate; the ground-colour white to creamy white; as a rule almost
glossless, in some specimens slightly glossy. They are sparingly
marked, usually chiefly at the large end, with spots, specks, small
blotches, hair-lines, or hieroglyphic-like figures, which are
typically almost black, but which in some eggs are blackish, or even
reddish, or purplish brown. In no specimens that I have seen were the
markings at all numerous, except just at the large end; and in some
they consist solely of a few tiny specks, scattered about the crown of
The eggs vary from 0.8 to 0.92 in length, and from 0.56 to 0.63 in
breadth; but the average of a dozen was 0.86 by 0.6.
254. Irena puella (Lath.). _The Fairy Blue-bird_.
Irena puella (_Lath._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 105; _Hume, Rough Draft
N. & E._ no 469.
Mr. Frank Bourdillon favoured me with an egg of the Fairy Blue-bird,
which with other rare eggs he obtained on the Assamboo Hills. So
little is known of this range that I quote his remarks upon this
"I must premise that the specimens were obtained along the Assamboo
Range of hills, between the elevations of 1500 and 3000 feet above
sea-level. This range of hills, running in a north-westerly and
south-easterly direction from Cape Comorin to 8 deg.33' north latitude,
forms the boundary line between Travancore and the British Territory
of Tinnevelly, the average height of the range being about 4000
feet, while some of the peaks are as high as 5500 feet. The general
character of the hills is dense forest, broken here and there by grass
ridges and crowned by precipitous rocks, above which lies an almost
unexplored table-land, varying in width from a mile to 12 or 15 miles,
at an elevation of almost 4000 feet."
"The egg of the Fairy Blue-bird," he adds, "was taken slightly set on
the 28th February, 1873, from a loose sparsely-built nest situated in
a sapling about 12 feet from the ground. The nest was composed of
dead twigs lined with leaves, and was about 4 inches broad and very
As will be remembered, Dr. Jerdon states that "Mr. Ward obtained, what
he was informed were, the nest and eggs; the nest was large, made of
roots and fibres and lined with moss; and the eggs, two in number,
were pale greenish, much spotted with dusky:" and I have no doubt that
Mr. Ward's eggs were genuine.
The egg is an elongated oval, compressed almost throughout its entire
length, very blunt at both points; a long cone, the apex broadly
truncated and rounded off obtusely, sealed on half a very oblate
spheroid. In no one single point--shape, texture of shell, colour or
character of markings--does this egg approach to those of either the
Oriole or the Chloropsis. This shell is very close-grained and fine,
but only moderately glossy. The ground is pale green, and it is
streaked and blotched with pale dull brown. The markings are almost
entirely confluent over the large end (where they appear to be
underlaid by dingy, dimly discernible greyish blotches), and from the
cap thus formed they descend in streaky mottlings towards the small
end, growing fewer and further apart as they approach this latter,
which is almost devoid of markings.
It is impossible to generalize from a single specimen as to the
position this bird _should_ hold, but this one egg renders it quite
certain to my mind that the nearest allies of _Irena_ are neither
_Oriolus_ nor _Chloropsis_, and that it is quite impossible to place
it with the _Dicruridae_. The eggs of _Psaroglossa spiloptera_ are
not very dissimilar, and I expect that it is somewhere between
the _Paradiseidae, Sturnidae_, and _Icteridae_ that _Irena_ will
ultimately have to be located.
The egg measures 1.1 by 0.73.
Mr. Fulton Bourdillon writes:--"The last note I have to send you at
present is that of a Blue-bird's nest (_Irena puella_). Of this there
can be no possible doubt, as my brother and I shot both the male and
female birds, and I took the nest with my own hands. It was in a
pollard tree beside a stream among some thick branches about 20 feet
from the ground. The nest was neatly but very loosely constructed of
fresh green moss, which formed the bulk of the nest, and lined with
the flower-stalks of a jungle shrub. It was very well concealed, and
was about 4 inches broad with a cavity not more than 11/2 inch deep. It
contained two eggs slightly set, measuring respectively 1.11 x .84 and
1.16 x .81. These eggs tally very fairly in colour, shape, and size
with those sent last year; of the identity of which I was doubtful at
the time, though now I think there can be no mistake.
"Since writing last I have had another nest of _Irena puella_ brought
me with two fresh eggs. The nest was very loosely put together and
similar in all respects to the one last sent. The eggs measure .95 x
.81 and .92 x .79, with the same well-defined ring round the larger
end. The nest was in a small tree about 10 feet from the ground and
was well concealed. It was composed of twigs, without any lining."
The nest sent me by Mr. Bourdillon is a very flimsy affair, reminding
one much of the nest of _Graucalus macii_ and not in the smallest
degree of that of an Oriole. A mere pad, some 4 inches in diameter,
composed of very thin twigs or dry flower-stalks with a couple of dead
leaves intermingled, and an external coating of green moss.
Major C.T. Bingham has favoured me with the following notes from
Tenasserim:--"At the sources of the Winsaw stream, a feeder of the
Thoungyeen river, on the 30th April I found a nest of this bird, a
mere irregularly roundish pad of moss with very little depression in
the centre, containing two fresh eggs, and placed 12 feet or so above
the ground in the fork of an evergreen sapling. The eggs measure 1.18
x 0.86 and 1.19 x 0.86 respectively, and are so thickly spotted and
blotched with brown as to show very little of the ground-colour, which
latter, however, appears to be of a greenish white.
"On the 11th April I was slowly clambering along a very steep
hill-side overlooking the Queebaw choung, a small tributary of the
Meplay stream, when from a tree whose crown was below my feet I
startled a female _Irena puella_ off her nest. I could see the nest
and that it contained two eggs, so I shot the female, who had taken to
a tree a little above me. On getting the nest down, I found it a poor
affair of little twigs, with a superstructure of moss, shaped into a
shallow saucer, on which reposed two eggs, large for the size of the
bird, of a dull greenish white, much dashed, speckled, and spotted
with brown. They were so hard-set that I only managed to save one,
which measured 1.09 by 0.77 inch."
Mr. Davison writes:--"At Kussoom, in some moderately thin tree-jungle
I found the nest of _Irena puella_. The nest was placed in the fork
of a sapling some 12 feet from the ground. The nest externally was
composed of dry twigs, carelessly and irregularly put together. The
egg-cavity was shallow, not more than 1.5 inch at its deepest part,
and it was lined with finer twigs, fern-roots, and some yellowish
fibre. The nest contained two fresh eggs."
Two eggs, taken by Mr. Davison at Kussoom in the north of the Malay
Peninsula, to which the Malayan form does not extend, are rather
elongated ovals, with a slightly pyriform tendency. The shell is fine,
smooth, and compact, and has a perceptible gloss. The ground-colour is
greenish white; round the large end is a huge, smudgy, irregular zone
of reddish brown and inky grey, the one colour predominating in the
one egg, the other in the other. Inside the zone are specks and spots
of the same colours, and below the zone streaks and spots of these
same colours, thinly set, stretched downwards towards the small end of
Other eggs subsequently received are very similar to that first sent
by Mr. Bourdillon, except that in shape they are more regular ovals,
and that the brown markings in some have a reddish and in some a
purplish tinge, and that in some eggs the mottings and markings are
pretty thick even at the small end.
In length they seem to vary from 1.08 to 1.2 inch and in breadth from
0.73 to 0.88 inch.
In some eggs the ground appears to have no green tinge, but is simply
a greyish white. In one egg the markings are all of one colour, a sort
of chocolate-brown, a dense almost confluent mass of mottlings in a
broad irregular zone round the large end and elsewhere pretty thickly
set over the entire surface of the egg. They have always a certain
amount of gloss, but are never very glossy.
257. Mesia argentauris, Hodgs. _The Silver-eared Mesia_.
Leiothrix argentauris (_Hodgs.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 251.
Mesia argentauris, _Hodgs., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 615.
According to Mr. Hodgson's notes, the Silver-eared Mesia breeds in the
low-lands of Nepal, laying in May and June. The nest is placed in a
bushy tree, between two or three thin twigs, to which it is attached.
It is composed of dry bamboo and other leaves, thin grass-roots and
moss, and is lined inside with fine roots. Three or four eggs are
laid: one of these is figured as a broad oval, much pointed towards
one end, measuring 0.8 by 0.6, having a pale green ground with a few
brownish-red specks, and a close circle of spots of the same colour
round the large end.
Dr. Jerdon brought me two eggs from Darjeeling, which he believed to
belong to this species. They much resemble those of _Liothrix lutea_.
They are oval, scarcely pointed at all towards the lesser end, and
are faintly glossed. The ground-colour of one is greenish, the other
creamy, white, and both are spotted and streaked, chiefly in an
irregular zone near the large end, with different shades of red and
purple. The markings are smaller than those of the preceding species.
Further observations are necessary to confirm the authenticity of the
They measure 0.85 and 0.87 by 0.65.
From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes:--"I have taken about half a dozen nests
of this bird. They closely resemble those of _Liothrix lutea_ in size
and structure and are similarly situated, but instead of having the
egg-cavity lined with dark-coloured material, as that species has, all
I found had light-coloured linings; such was even the case with
one nest I found within three or four yards of a nest of the other
"The eggs are usually four in number."
Other eggs obtained by Mr. Gammie correspond with those given me
by Dr. Jerdon. They are as like the eggs of _L. lutea_ as they can
possibly be, and if there is any difference, it consists in the
markings of the present species being as a body smaller and more
speckled than those of _L. lutea_.
The six eggs that I have vary in length from 0.82 to 0.9, and in
breadth from 0.6 to 0.65.[A]
[Footnote A: There is in the Tweeddale collection a skin of a young
nestling of this species procured by Limborg on Muleyit mountain in
Tenasserim in the second week of April. On the label attached to the
specimen is a note to the effect that the nest from which the nestling
was taken was made of moss.--ED.]
258. Minla igneitincta, Hodgs. _The Red-tailed Minla_.
Minla ignotincta, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 254: _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 618.
The Red-tailed Minla, according to Mr. Hodgson's notes and figures,
breeds in the central region of Nepal and near Darjeeling, during May
and June. It builds a beautiful rather deep cup-shaped nest of mosses,
moss-roots, and some cow's hair, lined with these two latter. The nest
is placed in the fork of three or four slender branches of some bushy
tree, at no great elevation from the ground, and is attached to one or
more of the stems in which it is placed by bands of moss and fibres. A
nest taken on the 24th May measured externally 3.28 inches in diameter
and 2.25 in height; internally the cavity was 2 inches in diameter and
1.62 in depth. They lay from two to four eggs, of a pale verditer-blue
ground, speckled and spotted pretty boldly with brownish red. An egg
is figured as a regular rather broad oval, measuring 0.78 by 0.55.
On the other hand, Dr. Jerdon says:--"Its nest has been brought to me,
of ordinary shape, made of moss and grass, and with four white eggs,
with a few rusty red spots."
260. Cephalopyrus flammiceps (Burton). _The Fire-cap_.
Cephalopyrus flammiceps (_Burt.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 267; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 633.
Writing from Murree, Colonel C.H.T. Marshall tells us:--"On the 25th
May we found the nest of this species (the Fire-cap) in a hole in a
rotten sycamore-tree about 15 feet from the ground. The nest was a
neatly made cup-shaped one, formed principally of fine grass. We were
unfortunately too late for the eggs, as we found four nearly fledged
young ones, showing that these birds lay about the 15th April.
Elevation, 7000 feet."
Captain Cock says:--"I found a nest in the stump of an old
chestnut-tree at Murree. The nest was about 13 feet from the ground
near the top of the stump, placed in a natural cavity: it was
constructed of fine grass and roots carefully woven and was of a deep
cup shape. It contained five fully fledged young ones. The end of May
was the time when I found this, and I have never yet succeeded in
261. Psaroglossa spiloptera (Vigors). _The Spotted-wing_.
Saroglossa spiloptera (_Vig.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 336; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 691.
Personally I know nothing of the nidification of the Spotted-wing.
Captain Hutton tells us that "this species arrives in the hills about
the middle of April in small parties of five or six, but it does
not appear to ascend above 5500 to 6000 feet, and is therefore more
properly an inhabitant of the warm valleys. I do not remember seeing
it at Mussoorie, which is 6500 to 7000 feet, although at 5200 feet on
the same range it is abundant during summer. Its notes and flight are
very much those of the Starling (_Sturnus vulgaris_), and it delights
to take a short and rapid flight and return twittering to perch on the
very summit of the forest trees. I have never seen it on the ground,
and its food appears to consist of berries.
"Like the two species of _Acridotheres_, it nidificates by itself in
the holes of trees, lining the cavity with bits of leaves. The eggs
are usually three, or sometimes four or five, of a delicate pale
sea-green speckled with blood-like stains, which sometimes tend to
form a ring near the larger end; shape oval, slightly tapering."
The eggs are so different in character from those of all the Starlings
that doubts might reasonably arise as to whether this species is
placed exactly where it ought to be by Jerdon and others. I possess at
present only three eggs of this bird, which I owe to Captain Hutton.
They are decidedly long ovals, much pointed towards the small end,
and in shape and coloration not a little recall those of _Myiophoneus
temmincki_. The eggs are glossless, of a greenish or greyish-white
ground, more or less profusely speckled and spotted with red, reddish
brown, and dingy purple. In two of the eggs the majority of the
markings are gathered into a broad irregular speckled zone round the
large end. In the third egg there is just a trace of such a zone and
no markings at all elsewhere. In length they vary from 1.03 to 1.08,
and in breadth from 0.68 to 0.74.[A]
[Footnote A: HYPOCOLIUS AMPELINUS, Bonap. _The Grey Hypocolius_.
Hypocolius ampelinus, _Bp., Hume, cat._ no. 269 quat.
Although this bird has not yet been found breeding within Indian
limits, the following account of its nidification at Fao, in the
Persian Gulf, by Mr. W.D. Cumming (Ibis, 1886. p. 478) will prove
"It is not till the middle of June that they breed.
"In 1883, first eggs were brought by an Arab about the 13th of June,
and on the 15th of the same month I found a nest containing two fresh
eggs. In 1884, on the 14th of June a nest was brought me containing
four fresh eggs, and on the 15th I found a nest containing also four
"2nd July, I came across four young birds able to fly. On the 3rd,
three nests were brought, one containing two fresh eggs, another three
young just fledged, and the other four eggs slightly incubated. On the
9th, another nest, containing four young just fledged was brought. On
the 15th I saw a flock of small birds well able to fly; on the 18th I
found a nest containing four young about a couple of days old, and on
the 20th a nest containing three eggs well incubated was brought from
a place called 'Goosba' on the opposite bank (Persian side) of the
"The nests are generally placed on the leaves of the date-palm, at no
very great height. The highest I have seen was built about ten feet
from the ground but from three to five feet is the average height.
"They are substantial and cup-shaped, having a diameter of about 31/4
inches by 21/4 inches in depth, lined inside with fine grass, the soft
fluff from the willow when in seed, wool, and sometimes hair.
"The eggs are of a glossy leaden white, with leaden-coloured blotches
and spots towards the larger end, sometimes forming a ring round
the larger end and at times spreading over the entire egg. On rare
occasions I have noticed a greenish tinge in very fresh eggs. This, I
think, is due to the colour of the inner membrane, which is generally
a very light green, in some very faint and in others more decided;
this tinge seems to disappear after the egg is blown.
"Very rough measurements are as follows:--0.9 x 0.63; 0.83 x 0.63;
0.83 x 0.6; 0.83 x 0.66; 0.86 x 0.66."]
263. Criniger flaveolus (Gould). _The White-throated Bulbul_.
Criniger flaveolus (_Gould), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 83; _Hume. Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 451.
A nest of this species sent me from Darjeeling was found in July, at
an elevation of about 3000 feet.
It was placed on the branches of a medium-sized tree, at a height of
only about 5 feet from the ground.
The nest was a compact, rather shallow saucer, 5.5 inches in diameter
and about 2 inches in height externally. The cavity was about 3.5 in
diameter and an inch in depth. The greater portion of the nest was
composed of dead leaves bound together firmly by fine brown roots;
inside the leaves was just a lining of rather coarser brown roots, and
again an inner lining of black horsehair-like roots and fine steins of
the maiden-hair fern.
The nest contained three fresh eggs. These eggs vary from broad to
somewhat elongated ovals, are more or less pointed towards the small
end, and exhibit a fine gloss.
The ground is a beautiful salmon-pink, and it is thinly spotted,
blotched, and marked with irregular lines of deep maroon-red. Most of
the markings in one egg are gathered into a very irregular straggling
zone round the large end, and the other egg exhibits a tendency to
form a similar zone. Besides these primary markings a few spots and
clouds of dull purple, looking as if beneath the surface of the shell,
are thinly scattered about the egg, chiefly in the neighbourhood of
These eggs vary from 0.9 to 1.0 in length, and from 0.7 to 0.72 in
Several nests of this species sent me by the late Mr. Mandelli and
obtained by him in British and Native Sikhim during July and the early
part of August are all precisely of the same type. They each contained
two fresh eggs; they were all placed in the branches of small trees in
the midst of dense brushwood or heavy jungle, at heights of from 4 to
10 feet from the ground. The nests are broad and saucer-like, nearly
5 inches in diameter, but not much above 2 in height externally; the
cavities average about 3.25 in diameter and about 1 in depth. The body
of the nest is composed of dead leaves, the sides are more or less
felted round with rich brown fibrous, almost wool-like roots; inside
the leaves fine twigs and stems of herbaceous plants, all of a uniform
brown tint, are wound round and round, apparently to keep the leaves
in their places interiorly, and then the cavity is lined with
jet-black horsehair-like vegetable fibres. What these are I do not
know, but they are precisely like horsehair to look at, only they are
comparatively brittle. The contrast of colour between the jet-black
lining and the rich brown of the lip of the saucer, which is constant
in all the nests, is very striking.
The eggs of this species sent me by Mr. Mandelli, obtained by him in
Sikhim at elevations of from 2000 to 4000 feet in July and the early
part of August, possess a very distinctive character. They are broad
ovals, much pointed towards the small end, and they are more glossy
than the eggs of any other of this family with which I am acquainted.
The ground-colour is pink. The markings consist of curious hair-line
scratches, clouded blotches, and irregular spots--in some eggs all
very hazy and ill-defined, in others more scratchy and sharp. The
great majority of the markings seem to be gathered together into
an irregular and imperfect zone round the large end. In colour the
markings vary from a deep brownish maroon to a dull brickdust-red,
sometimes they are slightly more purplish. In some eggs a few faint
clouds or small spots of subsurface-looking dusky purple may be
noticed mingled with the rest of the markings.
These eggs are totally unlike the eggs of _Criniger ictericus_. I have
never had an opportunity of verifying the eggs myself, but as three
different nests have now been taken, all containing precisely similar
eggs, I believe there can be no doubt of their authenticity.
269. Hypsipetes psaroides, Vigors. _The Himalayan Black Bulbul_.
Hypsipetes psaroides (_Vig.), Jerd. B. Ind_ ii, p. 77; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 444.
The Himalayan Black Bulbul breeds throughout the outer and lower
ranges of the Himalayas, at any rate from Bhootan to Afghanistan, at
elevations varying from 2000 to 6000 feet.
They lay mostly in May and June, but eggs may occasionally be met with
during the latter half of April.
The nest of _Hypsipetes psaroides_ is usually made of rather
coarse-bladed grass, with exteriorly a number of dry leaves, and more
or less moss incorporated, and lined with very fine grass-stems and
roots of moss. A good deal of spider's web is often used exteriorly to
bind the nest together, or attach it more firmly to the fork in which
it rests. Its general shape is a moderately deep cup, the cavity
measuring some 21/2 inches in diameter by 11/2 inch in depth. The sides,
into which leaves and moss are freely interwoven, vary from an inch to
a couple of inches in thickness. The bottom, loosely put together, is
rarely more than from a quarter to half an inch in depth. It appears
to be generally placed on the fork of a branch, at a moderate height
from the ground.
Four is the normal number of eggs, but I have more than once found
three partially incubated eggs in a nest.
From Darjeeling Mr. Gammie remarks:--"A nest of this bird, which I
took on the 17th June, at a height of nearly 50 feet from the ground,
on one of the topmost branches of a tree, contained three hard-set
eggs. This was below Rungbee, at an elevation of about 3000 feet. The
nest was a compact, moderately deep cup, composed of very fine twigs
and stems, and with a quantity of dead leaves incorporated in the
structure, especially towards its lower surface; it had no lining, but
the stems used towards the interior of the nest were somewhat finer
than the rest. Exteriorly the nest had a diameter of about 4.5 inches,
and a height of about 2.5; interiorly a diameter of about 2.5, and a
depth of nearly 1.5."
Mr. Hodgson, writing from Nepal, says:--
"_May 20th, Jaha Powah_.--Two nests on the skirts of the forest in
medium-sized trees, placed on the fork of a branch. They are made
of moss and dry fern and dry elastic twig-tops, and lined with long
elastic needles of _Pinus longifolia_. They are compact and rather
deep, half pensile, that is to say, partly slung between the branches
of the fork to which they are attached by bands of vegetable fibres.
Each contained four eggs, pinkish-white, thickly spotted with dark
sanguine." Another year he wrote:--
"_May 9th, in the Valley_.--A mature female with nest and eggs. Nest
saucer-shaped, the cavity 3.5 wide by 2.5 deep, made of slender twigs
and grass-fibres, with no lining. Eggs three, pale pink, blotched all
over with sanguine brown."
Writing from Almorah, Mr. Brooks tells us that "the nest and eggs were
found by Mr. Horne on the 27th May near Bheem Tal."
Colonel G.F.L. Marshall also found a nest in the same place. He
says:--"I have only myself found the nest once at Bheem Tal (4000
feet); it was situated in a thicket. The nest of this species is
similar in shape but much more substantial than those of the Common
Bulbul. The eggs are much larger and more elongated in shape, but the
colouring is similar to those of the Bulbul, and in many cases the
blotches have a tendency to form a zone near the thick end. The nest I
found was taken on the 10th June and contained fresh eggs.
"On the 30th May, 1875, I found a nest of this species at Naini Tal on
Ayarpata, over 7000 feet above the sea. I record the circumstance,
as their breeding at so great an elevation is exceptional. The nest
contained three fresh eggs; it was made of leaves and moss, lined with
bents of grass, between two branches but partially resting on a third,
in a bush at the outskirts of a forest on a steep bank and about eight
feet from the ground."
From Mussoorie, Captain Hutton recorded the following very full and
"They breed during April, May, and June, making a rather neat
cup-shaped nest, which is usually placed in the bifurcation of a
horizontal branch of some tall tree; the bottom of it is composed of
thin dead leaves and dried grasses, and the sides of fine woody stalks
of plants, such as those used by the White-cheeked Bulbul, and they
are well plastered over externally with spiders' webs; the lining
is sometimes of very fine tendrils, at other times of dry grasses,
fibrous lichen, and thin shavings of the bark of trees left by the
wood-cutters. I have one nest, however, which is externally formed of
green moss with a few dry stalks, and the spiders' webs, instead of
being plastered all over the outside, are merely used to bind the
nest to the small branches among which it is placed. The lining is
of bark-shavings, dry grasses, black fibrous lichens, and a few fine
seed-stalks of grasses. The internal diameter of the nest is 23/4
inches, and it is 11/2 inches deep. The eggs are usually three in
number, of a rosy or purplish white, sprinkled over rather numerously
with deep claret or rufescent purple specks and spots. In colours and
distribution of spots there is great variation, sometimes the rufous
and sometimes the purple spots prevailing; sometimes the spots are
mere specks and freckles, sometimes large and forming blotches;
in some the spots are wide apart, in others they are nearly, and
sometimes in places quite, confluent; while from one nest the
eggs were white, with widely dispersed dark purple spots and dull
indistinct ones appearing under the shell. In all the spots were more
crowded at the larger end."
Colonel C.H.T. Marshall remarks:--"Numerous nests of this species were
found at Murree, agreeing well with Hutton's description. They breed
in May and June, never above 6000 feet."
The eggs are rather long ovals. Typically a good deal pointed towards
the small end, and more or less pyriform, but at times nearly perfect
ovals. They have little or no gloss. The ground-colour varies from
white, very faintly tinged with pink, to a delicate pink, and they are
profusely speckled, spotted, blotched, or clouded with various shades
of red, brownish red, and purple. The markings vary much in character,
extent, and intensity of colour. There seem to be two leading types,
with, however, almost every possible intermediate variety of markings.
The one is thickly speckled over its whole surface with minute dots
of reddish purple, no dot much bigger than the point of a pin, and
no portion of the ground-colour exceeding 0.1 in diameter free from
spots. In these eggs the specklings are most dense, as a rule,
throughout a broad irregular zone surrounding the large end, and this
zone is thickly underlaid with irregular ill-defined streaky clouds
of dull inky purple. In some eggs of this type, the smaller end is
comparatively free from specks. In the other type, the surface of the
egg is somewhat sparingly, but boldly, blotched and splashed, first
with deep umber, chocolate, or purple-brown, and, secondly, with spots
and clouds of faint inky purple, recalling not a little the style of
markings of the eggs of _Rhynchops albicollis_. Then there are eggs
partly speckly and partly blotched, some in which the markings are all
rich red and where no secondary pale purple clouds are observable,
and others again in which all the markings are dull purplish brown.
Generally it may be said that the markings have a tendency to form a
cap or zone at the large end.
A nest of three eggs recently obtained from Mussoorie were more richly
coloured than any I have yet seen, and were decidedly glossy. The
ground-colour is a rich rosy pink, boldly, but sparingly, blotched
and spotted with deep maroon, underlaid by clouds and spots of pale
purple, which appear as if beneath the surface of the shell. In all
the eggs the markings are far more numerous at the large end, where in
one they form a huge confluent maroon-coloured patch, mottled lighter
An egg recently obtained in Cashmere on the 20th June was a somewhat
elongated oval, more or less compressed towards one end; a delicate
glossy white ground with a faint pink tinge; a rich zone of
reddish-purple spots and specks round the large end; a few similar
markings scattered sparingly over the rest of the surface of the egg,
and a multitude of very faint streaks and clouds of very _pale_ inky
purple underlying the primary markings.
In length the eggs vary from 0.9 to 1.15, and in breadth from 0.7 to
0.78; but the average of twenty-five eggs measured is 1.03 by 0.75.
271. Hypsipetes ganeesa, Sykes. _The Southern-Indian Black Bulbul_.
Hypsipetes neilgherriensis, _Jerd._; _Jerd. B. Ind._
ii, p. 78; _Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 445.
Hypsipetes ganeesa, _Sykes, Jerd. t.c._ p. 78.
Mr. Davison tells me that "this species breeds from April to about the
middle of June. The nest is generally placed from 12 to 20 feet from
the ground, in some dense clump of leaves; favourite sites are the
bunches of parasitic plants with which nearly every acacia, and in
fact nearly every other tree about Ootacamund, is covered. The nest is
composed exteriorly of moss, dry leaves, and roots, lined with roots
and fibres: the normal number of eggs is two; they are white with
claret-coloured and purplish spots."
A nest of this species taken at Coonoor on the 14th March, 1869,
by Mr. Carter, to whom I owe this and many other nests from the
Nilghiris, reminds one much of those of the Red-cheeked Bulbuls.
A wisp of dry grass and dead leaves, with the dead leaves greatly
predominating exteriorly, twisted into a shallow cup, some 41/2 inches
in diameter externally, and with a shallow depression tolerably neatly
lined with finer grass-stems measuring some 3 inches across and
perhaps an inch in depth. The bottom of the nest is almost exclusively
composed of dead leaves; while even in the sides, externally, little
but these are visible, only a few grass-stems crossing in and out,
here and there, sufficiently to keep the leaves in their places.
Mr. Wait remarks, writing from Coonoor:--"Our Black Bulbul breeds from
March to June. It builds a cup-shaped nest neatly and firmly made.
Outside, the nest is chiefly composed, as a rule, of green moss,
grass-stalks, and fibres, while inside it is lined with fine stalks
and hair. The cavity is from 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter and about
half that depth. Two is certainly the normal number of eggs; indeed, I
have never found more."
Mr. Rhodes W. Morgan, writing from South India, says in 'The
Ibis':--"It breeds in lofty trees in the Nilghiris, building a shallow
cup-shaped nest, from 20 to 60 feet from the ground. The nest is
constructed of the dried stems of the wild forget-me-not, and lined
with a moss much resembling black horsehair. The eggs, which are two
in number, are pretty thickly spotted with pale lilac and claret on
a light pink ground-colour. I found these birds migrating in vast
flights, numbering several thousands, in the Bolumputty valley in
July. They were flying westwards towards Malabar."
Mr. Darling, Junior, writes:--"I have taken the eggs of this Black
Bulbul every year from 1863 to 1870 during March, April, May, and part
of June, all over the Nilghiris. The nests were all made of moss, dry
leaves, and roots, lined with roots and fibres. I have only once found
three eggs (the normal number being two): in this case the eggs are
very much smaller than usual, and more blotched with the reddish
spots. I have found them at all heights from the ground up to 30 feet,
and mostly in rhododendron trees. I found two nests in S. Wynaad, at
an elevation of about 4000 feet, both with young, in June 1873."
Mr. C.J.W. Taylor informs us that he procured the nest of this bird
with three fresh eggs at Manzeerabad in Mysore on the 7th April.
Colonel Legge tells us that this Bulbul breeds in Ceylon from January
That the Nilghiris bird should lay usually only _two_ eggs, and this
seems a well ascertained fact, while our very closely allied Himalayan
form lays, as I can personally certify, regularly _four_, is certainly
The eggs of this species, sent me from the Nilghiris by Messrs. Carter
and Davison, very closely resemble those of _H. psaroides_ from the
Himalayas. The eggs are of course of the Bulbul type, but in form are
typically much more elongated and conical than the true Bulbuls. The
ground-colour varies from white to a delicate pink. The markings
consist of different shades of deep red and pale washed-out purple. In
some the markings are bold, large, and blotchy, in others minute and
speckly; and in both forms there is a tendency to confluence towards
the large end, where there is commonly a more or less perfect, but
irregular, zone. The eggs though smooth and satiny have commonly
little or no gloss, and, considering their size, are very delicate and
In length they vary from 1.0 to 1.17, and in breadth from 0.7 to 0.8.
275. Hemixus macclellandi (Horsf.). _The Rufous-bellied Bulbul_.
Hypsipetes mclellandi, _Horsf., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 79.
Hypsipetes m'clellandii, _Horsf., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._
The Rufous-bellied Bulbul, according to Mr. Hodgson's notes, breeds in
the central region of Nepal, and low down nearly to the Terai, from
April to June. Its nest is a shallow saucer suspended between a
slender horizontal fork, to the twigs of which it is firmly bound like
an Oriole's with vegetable fibres and roots. It is composed of roots
and dry leaves bound together with fibres, and lined with fine grass
or moss-roots. The bird is said to lay four eggs, but these are
neither figured nor described.
Dr. Scully writes from Nepal:--"This Bulbul is common throughout the
year on the hills round the valley of Nepal, but never tenants the
central woods. It is generally found in bushes and bush trees, not in
high tree-forest; and is commonly seen in pairs. The breeding-season
appears to be May and June. A nest was taken on the 6th June, which
contained two fresh eggs. The nest was somewhat oval in shape,
measuring 3.35 inches in length and 2.5 across; the egg-cavity was
about 1 inch deep in the centre, and the bottom of the nest 1.25
thick. It was attached to a slender fork of a tree, and was composed
externally of ferns, dry leaves, roots, grass, and a little moss,
bound together with fine black hair-like fibres, which were wound
round the prongs of the fork so as regularly to suspend the nest like
an Oriole's. There was a regular lining, distinct from the body of the
nest, composed of fine long yellowish grass-stems, and a little cobweb
was spread here and there over the branches of the fork and the
outside of the nest. The eggs are rather long ovals, smaller at one
end, and fairly glossy; they measure 1.0 by 0.7, and 0.97 by 0.7. The
ground-colour is pure pinkish white, abundantly speckled and finely
spotted with reddish purple; the spots closely crowded together at the
large end, but not confluent, forming in one egg a broadish zone, and
in the other a cap; in the latter egg there are a few faint underlying
stains of purplish inky at the large end."
Two eggs sent me by Mr. Mandelli from Darjeeling, said to belong to
this species, are elongated ovals, much pointed towards the small
end. The shell is fine and fairly glossy; the ground-colour a dull
salmon-pink, and they are profusely and minutely freckled, speckled,
and streaked (so densely at the large end that the markings there are
almost confluent) with dull reddish purple.
The eggs measure 1.06 and 1.11 by 0.67.
277. Alcurus striatus (Bl.). _The Striated Green Bulbul_.
Alcurus striatus (_Bl._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 81.
Mr. Mandelli sent me a nest of this species which was found, he said,
on the 8th May about 4 feet from the ground amongst the foliage of a
kind of prickly bamboo growing out of the crevices of a patch of large
stones near Lebong (elevation 5000 feet), and contained two eggs
nearly ready to hatch. The nest is a shallow cup, about 3.75 inches in
diameter and 1.5 in height externally, composed entirely of fine brown
fibrous roots, a little bound together outside with wool and the silk
of cocoons and with two or three little bits of moss stuck about it,
and sparingly lined with hair-like grass. It is altogether a light
brown nest, no dark material being used in it at all. The cavity is
2.75 inches in diameter and about 1 deep.
278. Molpastes haemorrhous (Gm.). _The Madras Red-vented Bulbul_.
Pycnonotus haemorrhous (_Gm._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 94.
Molpastes pusillus (_Bl._), _Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._
The Madras Red-vented Bulbul, which by the way extends northwards
throughout the Central Provinces, Chota-Nagpoor, Rajpootana (the
eastern portions), the plains of the North-Western Provinces, Oudh,
Behar, and Western Bengal, breeds in the plains country chiefly in
June and July, although a few eggs _may_ also be found in April, May,
and August. In the Nilghiris the breeding-season is from February to
April, both months included.
Elsewhere I have recorded the following notes on the nidification of
this species in the neighbourhood of Bareilly:--
"Close to the tank is a thick clump of sal-trees (_Shorea robusta_),
the great building-timber of Northern India, whose natural home is in
that vast sub-Himalayan belt of forest which passes only 30 miles to
the north of Bareilly.
"In one of these a Common Madras Bulbul had made its home. The nest
was compact and rather massive, built in a fork, on and round a small
twig. Externally it was composed of the stems (with the leaves
and flowers still on them) of a tiny groundsel-like (_Senecio_)
asteraceous plant, amongst which were mingled a number of quite dead
and skeleton leaves and a few blades of dry grass: inside, rather
coarse grass was tightly woven into a lining for the cavity, which was
deep, being about 2 inches in depth by 3 inches in diameter.
"This is the common type of nest; but half an hour later, and scarcely
100 yards further on, we took another nest of this same species. This
one was built in a mango-tree, towards the extremity of one of the
branches, where it divided into four upright twigs, between which the
Bulbul had firmly planted his dwelling. Externally it was as usual
chiefly composed of the withered stems of the little asteraceous
plant, interwoven with a few jhow-shoots (_Tamarix dioica_) and a
little tow-like fibre of the putsan (_Hibiscus cannabinus_), while
a good deal of cobweb was applied externally here and there. The
interior was lined with excessively fine stems of some herbaceous
exogenous plant, and there did not appear to be a single dead leaf or
a single particle of grass in the whole nest.
"The eggs, however, in both nests, three in each, closely resembled
each other, being of a delicate pink ground, with reddish-brown and
purplish-grey spots and blotches nearly equally distributed over the
whole surface of the egg, the reddish brown in places becoming almost
a maroon-red. Two eggs, however, that we took out of a nest,
similar to the first in structure but situated like the second in a
mango-tree, were of a somewhat different character and very different
in tint. The ground was dingy reddish pink, and the whole of the egg
was thickly mottled all over with very deep blood-red, the mottlings
being so thick at the large end as to form an almost perfectly
confluent cap. Altogether the colouring of these two eggs reminded one
of richly coloured types of _Neophron's_ eggs. Some of the Bulbuls'
eggs that we have taken earlier in the season were much feebler
coloured than any of those obtained to-day, and presented a very
different appearance, with a pinkish-white ground, and only moderately
thickly but very uniformly speckled all over with small spots of light
purplish grey, light reddish brown, and very dark brown. These eggs
scarcely seem to belong to the same bird as the boldly blotched and
richly-mottled specimens that we have taken to-day."
Writing from the neighbourhood of Delhi, Mr. F.R. Blewitt says: "This
Bulbul breeds from the middle of May to about the middle of August.
Its selection of a tree for its nest is arbitrary, as I have found the
latter on almost every variety of bush and tree. The nest is neatly
cup-shaped, generally fragile in structure, though I have seen many a
nest strong and compact. The outer diameter of the nest varies from 3
to nearly 4 inches, and the inner diameter from 2 to almost 3 inches.
"The chief material of the nest is, on the outside, coarse grass, with
fine _khus_ or fine grass for the lining. Very frequently horsehair is
likewise used for lining the interior of the cavity.
"I have seen some nests bound round on the outside with hemp, other
kinds of vegetable fibres, and even spider's web.
"The regular number of the eggs is four."
Mr. W. Theobald found the present species breeding in Monghyr in the
fourth week of June.
Mr. Nunn remarks:--"I took a nest of this species at Hoshungabad
on 26th June, 1868, which contained four eggs; it was placed in a
lime-tree, was composed of very small twigs, and lined inside with
fine grass-roots; it was cup-shaped, and measured internally 2.25
inches in breadth by 1.75 in depth."
The late Mr. A. Anderson wrote from Futtehgurh:--"On the 30th April
last (1874) I took a very beautifully and curiously constructed nest
of our Common Bulbul. In shape and size it resembled the ordinary
nest, but the curious part of it was that the upper portion of the
nest for an inch all round was composed entirely of _green twigs_ of
the neem tree on which it was built, and the under surface (below) was
felted with fresh blossoms belonging to the same tree. The green twigs
had evidently been broken off by the birds, but the flowers were
picked up from off the ground, where they were lying thick."
Colonel Butler says:--"The Madras Red-vented Bulbul breeds in the
neighbourhood of Deesa all through the hot weather and in the monsoon.
I found a nest at Mount Aboo in a garden on the 15th of April in the
middle of a pot of sweet peas, containing three fresh eggs. I
found other nests in Deesa, from the 11th May to 20th August, each
containing three eggs.
"The nest is usually built of dry grass-stems, lined with fine roots
and a few horsehairs neatly woven together. One nest I found was in a
very remarkable situation, viz. inside an uninhabited bungalow upon
the top of a door leading out of a sitting-room; the door was open and
the bolt at the top had been forced back, and it was between the top
of the door and the top of the bolt that the nest rested. The old bird
entered the building by passing first of all through the lattice-work
of the verandah, and then through a broken window-pane into the room
where the nest was built."
Mr. R.M. Adam informs us that this bird breeds at Sambhur during June
Lieut. H.E. Barnes, speaking of Rajputana in general, states that this
Bulbul breeds from April to September. Nests are occasionally found
even earlier than this, but they are exceptions to the general rule.
Major C.T. Bingham writes:--"The first nest I have a note of taking
was at Allahabad on the 2nd April. At Delhi it breeds from the end of
April to the end of July; I have, however, found most nests in May.
All have been firmly made little cups of slender twigs, sometimes dry
stems of some herbaceous plant, and lined with fine grass-roots. Five
is the usual number of eggs laid."
Mr. G.W. Vidal, writing of the South Konkan, says:--"Abundant
everywhere. Breeds in April, and again in September."
Dr. Jerdon, whose experience of this species had been gained mainly in
Madras, states that "it breeds from June to September, according to
the locality. The nest is rather neat, cup-shaped, made of roots and
grass, lined with hair, fibres, and spiders' webs[A], placed at no
great height in a shrub or hedge. The eggs are pale pinkish, with
spots of darker lake-red, most crowded at the thick end. Burgess
describes them as a rich madder colour, spotted and blotched with grey
and madder-brown: Layard as pale cream, with darker markings."
[Footnote A: This is some _lapsus pennae_. Spiders' webs are sometimes
used exteriorly never as a lining.]
Mr. Benjamin Aitken writes:--"The Common Bulbul lays at Khandalla in
May, but I never found a nest in the plains till after the rains had
set in. I have found one nest in Bombay, one in Poona, and two in
Berar, as late as October; and my brother found a nest in Berar in
September, with three eggs which were duly hatched."
Writing from the Nilghiris, Miss Cockburn says that "the nests, which
in shape closely resemble those of the Southern Red-whiskered Bulbul,
are composed chiefly of grass. The eggs are three in number, and may
occasionally be found in any month of the year, though most plentiful
during February, March, and April."
In shape the eggs are typically rather long ovals, slightly compressed
or pointed towards the small end. Some are a good deal pointed and
elongated; a few are tolerably perfect broad ovals, and abnormal
shapes are not very uncommon. The ground is universally pinkish or
reddish white (in old eggs which have been kept a long time a sort of
dull French white), of which more or less is seen according to the
extent of the markings. These markings take almost every conceivable
form, defined and undefined--specks, spots, blotches, streaks,
smudges, and clouds; their combinations are as varied as their
colours, which embrace every shade of red, brownish, and purplish red.
As a rule, besides the primary markings, feeble secondary markings of
pale inky purple are exhibited, often only perceptible when the egg is
closely examined, sometimes so numerous as to give the ground-colour
of the egg a universal purple tint. In about half the eggs there is
a tendency to exhibit, more or less, an irregular zone or cap at the
large end, but solitary eggs occur in which there is a cap at the
small end. Three pretty well marked types may be separately described.
First, an egg thickly mottled and streaked all over with deep
blood-red, which is entirely confluent over one third of the surface,
namely at the large end, and leaves less than a third of the
ground-colour visible as a paler mottling over the rest of the
surface. Then there is another type with a very delicate pure pink
ground, and with a few large, bold, deep red blotches, chiefly at
the large end, where they are intermingled with a few small pale
inky-purple clouds, and with only a few spots and specks of the former
colour scattered over the rest of the surface. Lastly, there is a pale
dingy pink ground, speckled almost uniformly, but only moderately
thickly, over the whole surface, with minute specks and spots of
blood-red and pale inky purple.
The dimensions are excessively variable. In length the eggs vary from
0.7 to 1.02, and in breadth from 0.6 to 0.75, but the average of sixty
eggs measured was 0.89 by 0.65.
279. Molpastes burmanicus (Sharpe). _The Burmese Red-vented Bulbul._
The Burmese Red-vented Bulbul occurs from Manipur down to Rangoon.
Writing from Upper Pegu, Mr. Oates says:--"On the 29th July I found a
nest in the extremity of a bamboo-frond forming one of a large clump
near my house at Boulay. It was circular, the internal diameter about
2.5 and the external 4 inches; the depth inside 1.5, and the total
height 2.5. Foundation of dead leaves, the bulk of the nest coarse
grass and small roots, and the interior of much finer grass carefully
curved to shape. Altogether the nest was a very pretty structure. Two
eggs measured 0.9 by 0.62 and 0.65. Another nest found at the same
time was placed in a small shrub about 4 feet from the ground. It was
very similar in construction and size to the above and contained three
Subsequently writing from Lower Pegu, he says:--"Breeds abundantly
from May to September, and has no particular preference for any one
281. Molpastes atricapillus (Vieill.). _The Chinese Red-vented
Molpastes atricapillus (_V.), Hume, cat._ no. 462 ter.
Mr. J. Darling, Jr., found a nest of the Chinese Red-vented Bulbul in
Tenasserim with three fresh eggs on the 16th March. It was built in a
bush little more than a foot above the ground on a hill-side.
Except that they seem to run smaller, these eggs are not
distinguishable from those of the other species of this genus, and
there is really nothing to add to the description already given of the
eggs of _M. Haemorrhous_. The three eggs measured 0.79 by 0.6.
282. Molpastes bengalensis (Blyth). _The Bengal Red-vented Bulbul_.
Pycnonotus pygaeus (_Hodgs.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 93.
Molpastes pygmaeus (_Hodgs.), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._
I have taken many nests of the Bengal Red-vented Bulbul in many
localities, and while the birds vary, getting less typical as you go
westwards, the nests are all pretty much the same, though the eastern
birds go in rather more for dead leaves than the western. Sikhim birds
are very typical, and I will therefore confine myself to quoting a
note I made there.
Several nests taken at Darjeeling in June, at elevations of from 2000
to 4000 feet, each contained three or four, more or less incubated,
eggs. The nests were mostly very compact and rather deep cups about 31/2
inches in diameter and 2 inches in height, very firmly woven of moss
and grass-roots, but with a certain quantity of dry and dead leaves,
and here and there a little cobweb worked into the outer surface.
Sometimes a little fine grass was used as a lining; but generally
there was no lining, only the roots that were used in finishing off
the interior of the nests were rather finer than those employed
elsewhere. The egg-cavity is very large for the size of the nest, the
sides, though very firm and compact, being scarcely above half an inch
in thickness. The nests differ very much in appearance, owing to the
fact that in some all the roots used are black, in others pale brown.
Mr. Gammie says:--"I took two or three nests of this species in the
latter half of May at Mongpho, in Sikhim, at elevations of 3500 feet
or thereabouts. They contained three eggs each, hard-set. The nests
were in trees, at a moderate height, and rather flimsy structures;
shallow caps, composed externally of fine twigs and vegetable fibre,
and generally some dead leaves intermingled, especially towards their
basal portions, and lined with the fine hair-like stem portion of the
flowering tops of grass. One nest measured internally 21/2 inches in
diameter by nearly 11/2 inch in depth; externally it was nearly 4 inches
in diameter and 2 inches in height. The eggs were of the usual type."
Mr. J.R. Cripps, writing from Fureedpore, Eastern Bengal,
says:--"Excessively common and a permanent resident; commits great
havoc in gardens amongst tomatoes and chillies, the red colour of
which seems to attract them. Builds its nest in very exposed places
and at all heights from two to thirty feet off the ground, in bushes
and trees. One nest I saw containing two young ones, on the 28th June,
was built on a small date-tree which stood on the side of a road along
which people were passing all day, and within six feet of them. The
nest was only five feet from the ground, but the materials of which it
was made and the colour of the bird assimilated so perfectly with the
bark of the tree that detection was difficult. I have found the nests
with eggs from the 3rd of April to the end of June; dead leaves and
cobwebs were incorporated with the twigs and grasses in all nests
which I have seen in Dacca. The natives keep these birds for fighting
purposes; large sums are lost at times on these combats."
Writing from Nepal, Dr. Scully remarks:--"It breeds in May and June in
the Residency grounds, the nests being very commonly placed in small
pine-trees (_Pinus longifolia_). Three is the usual number of eggs
found, and a clutch taken on the 29th May measured in length from 0.85
to 0.93, and in breadth from 0.64 to 0.65."
I have fully described the leading types of the eggs of these Bulbuls
under _Molpastes haemorrhous_. I shall therefore only here say that
the eggs of this species in shape and colour exactly resemble those
of its congener, but that as a body they are larger in size; every
variety observable in the eggs of the one is, as far as I know, to be