Part 6 out of 12
met with amongst those of the other. Taking only the eggs of typical
birds from Lower Bengal and Sikhim, they vary from 0.88 to 1.05 in
length and from 0.67 to 0.75 in breadth.
283. Molpastes intermedius (A. Hay). _The Punjab Red-vented Bulbul_.
All my specimens from the Salt Range belong to this species, and not
to _M. bengalensis_, so that Mr. W. Theobald's remarks in regard to
the Common Bulbul's nidification about Pind Dadan Khan and the Salt
Range must refer to this species. He says: "Lay in May, June, and
July; eggs, four: shape, blunt ovato-pyriform; size, 0.87 by 0.62;
colour, deep pink, blotched with deep claret-red; nest, a neat cup of
vegetable fibres in bushes."
From Murree, Colonel C.H.T. Marshall writes:--"This Bulbul breds in
large numbers on the lower hills."
From Mussoorie, Captain Hutton remarked:--"This is more properly a
Dhoon species, as although it does ascend the hills, it is represented
there to a great extent by _M. leucogenys_. It breeds in April, May,
and June, constructing its nest in some thick bush. On the 12th May
one nest contained three eggs of a rosy-white, thickly irrorated and
blotched with purple or deep claret colour, and at the larger end
confluently stained with dull purple, appearing as if beneath the
shell. The nest is small and cup-shaped, composed of fine roots, dry
grasses, flower-stalks chiefly of forget-me-not, and a few dead leaves
occasionally interwoven; in some the outside is also smeared over here
and there with cobwebs and silky seed-down; the lining is usually of
very fine roots. Some nests have four eggs, which are liable to great
variation both in the intensity of colouring and in the size and
number of spots."
284. Molpastes leucogenys (Gr.). _The White-cheeked Bulbul_.
Otocompsa leucogenys (_Gray), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 90; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 458.
The White-cheeked Bulbul breeds throughout the Himalayas, from
Afghanistan to Bhootan, from April to July, and at all heights from
3000 to 7000 feet. The nest is a loose, slender fabric, externally
composed of fine stems of some herbaceous plant and a few blades of
grass, and internally lined with very fine hair-like grass. The
nests may measure externally, at most, 4 inches in diameter; but the
egg-cavity, which is in proportion very large and deep, is fully 21/4
inches across by 13/4 inch deep. As I before said, the nest is usually
very slightly and loosely put together, so that it is difficult to
remove it without injury; but sometimes they are more substantial, and
occasionally the cup is much shallower and wider than I have above
described. Four is the full complement of eggs.
Captain Unwin says:--"I found a nest containing three fresh eggs near
the village of Jaskote, in the Agrore Valley, on the 24th April, 1870.
The nest was placed about 5 feet from the ground in a small wild
ber-tree in a water-course. On the 7th May I found another nest placed
in a small thick cheer-tree in the same valley, which contained four
From Murree, Colonel C.H.T. Marshall tells us that this species
"breeds in the valleys, at about 4000 or 5000 feet up, in the end of
June. Lays four eggs with a white ground, very thickly blotched with
claret-red; nest roughly made of grass and roots, in low bushes."
About Simla and the valleys of the Sutlej and Beas I have found it
common, and my experience of its nidification in these localities has
been above recorded.
From Mussoorie, Captain Hutton wrote that it is "common in the Dhoon
throughout the year, and in the hills during the summer. It breeds in
April and May. The nest is neat and cup-shaped, placed in the forks
of bushes or pollard trees, and is composed externally of the dried
stalks of forget-me-not, lined with fine grass-stalks. Eggs three or
four, rosy or faint purplish white, thickly sprinkled with specks
and spots of darker rufescent purple or claret colour. Sometimes the
outside of the nest is composed of fine dried stalks of woody plants,
whose roughness causes them to adhere together."
Mr. W.E. Brooks remarks:--"I found this bird common at Almorah, and
procured several nests. They were placed in a bush or small tree, and
were slightly composed of fine grass, roots, and fibres: eggs three;
ground-colour purplish white, speckled all over, most densely at the
larger end, with spots and blotches of purple-brown and purplish grey:
laying in Kumaon from the beginning of May to June."
Dr. Scully states that in Nepal this Bulbul "breeds in May and June,
principally at elevations of from 5000 to 6000 feet. Its nests were
secured on the 2nd, 5th, 6th, 14th, and 28th June; the usual number of
eggs laid seems to be three."
Colonel G.F.L. Marshall writes:--"This species breeds both at Naini
Tal (7000 feet) and at Bheem Tal (4000 feet). In Kumaon the eggs seem
to be laid in the first half of June; the earliest date I have taken
them was a single fresh egg on the 23rd May, and the latest, four
eggs on the 25th Jane: the nest is seldom more than six feet from the
ground, and is placed either in a thick bush or in the outer twigs of
a low bough of a tree."
The eggs are of the regular Bulbul type, as exemplified in those of
_Molpastes haemorrhous_, and vary much in colour, size, and shape.
Typically they are rather a long oval, somewhat pointed at one end,
have a pinkish or reddish-white ground with little or no gloss, and
are thickly speckled, freckled, streaked, or blotched, as the case may
be, with blood-, brownish-, or purplish-red, &c., and here and
there, chiefly towards the large end, exhibit, besides these primary
markings, tiny underlying spots and clouds of pale inky purple. Some
eggs have a pretty well-marked zone or irregular cap at the large end,
but this is not very common. In size they average somewhat larger than
those of _Molpastes leucotis_ and _Otocompsa emeria_, both of which
they closely resemble; but they are smaller and as a body less richly
coloured than those of _O. fuscicaudata_. They vary in length from
0.82 to 0.95, and from 0.58 to 0.7 in breadth; but the average of
fifty-seven specimens measured was 0.88 by 0.65.
285. Molpastes leucotis (Gould). _The White-eared Bulbul_.
Otocompsa leucotis (_Gould), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii. p. 91; _Hume. Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 459.
The White-eared Bulbul is, so far as my experience goes, entirely a
Western Indian form. In the cold weather it may be met with at Agra,
Cawnpoor, and even Jhansi, Saugor, and Hoshungabad; but during the
summer months I only know of its occurring in Cutch, Katywar, Sindh,
Rajpootana, and the Punjab. In all these localities it breeds, laying
for the most part in July and August in the Punjab, but somewhat
earlier in Sindh. I have, even in Rajpootana, seen eggs towards the
end of May, but this is the exception.
The nests are usually in dense and thorny bushes--acacias, catechu,
and jhand (_Prosopis spicigera_)--and are placed at heights of from
4 to 6 feet from the ground. The Customs hedge is a great place for
their nests, but I have noticed that they are partial to bushes in the
immediate neighbourhood of water; and at Hansie, whence he sent me
many nests and eggs, Mr. W. Blewitt always found them either in the
fort ditch or along the banks of the canal.
The nests, which very much resemble those of _Molpastes haemorrhous_,
are usually composed of very fine dry twigs of some herbaceous plant,
intermingled with vegetable fibre resembling tow, and scantily lined
with very fine grass-roots. They are rather slender structures,
shallow cups measuring internally from 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter,
and a little more than 1 inch in depth. Three was the largest number
of eggs I ever found in any nest, and several sets were fully
Mr. W. Theobald makes the following note on the nidification of this
bird in the neighbourhood of Pind Dadan Khan and Katas in the Salt
Range:--"Lay in May, June, and July: eggs four; shape ovato pyriform;
size 0.91 inch by 0.64 inch: colour white, much dotted with
claret-red; nest a neat cup of vegetable fibres in bushes,"
Mr. S. Doig informs us that this bird breeds on the Eastern Narra in
Sind from May to August.
Colonel Butler writes:--"I found a nest of the White-eared Bulbul at
Deesa on the 5th August containing three fresh eggs. It was placed
in the fork of a low Beer tree about 4 feet from the ground, and in
structure closely resembled the nest of _M. haemorrhous_.
"On the 17th August I found another nest built by the same pair of
birds in an exactly similar situation, about 60 yards from the first
nest, containing three more fresh eggs."
The eggs, which I need not here describe in detail, are precisely
similar to, but as a body slightly smaller than, those of _Molpastes
leucogenys_. The only point of difference that I seem to notice, and
this might disappear with a larger series before me, is that there is
a rather greater tendency in the eggs of this species to exhibit a
zone or cap. In length they vary from 0.75 to 0.9, and in breadth from
0.52 to 0.68; but the average of twenty-three eggs measured was 0.83
barely, by 0.64.
288. Otocompsa emeria(Linn.). _The Bengal Red-whiskered Bulbul_.
Otocompsa jocosa (_L.), Jerd. B. Ind_ ii, p, 92 (part).
Otocompsa emeria (_Shaw), Hume, Rough Draft N.& E._
The Bengal Red-whiskered Bulbul breeds from March to the end of May.
Its nest is placed, according to my experience in Lower Bengal, in
any thick bush, clump of grass, or knot of creepers; sometimes in the
immediate proximity of native villages or in the gardens of Europeans,
and sometimes quite away in the jungle. It is a typical Bulbul nest, a
broad shallow saucer, compactly put together with twigs of herbaceous
plants, amongst which, especially towards the base, a few dry leaves
are incorporated, and lined with roots or fine grass. Exteriorly a
little cobweb is wound on to keep twigs and leaves firm and in their
places. All the nests that I have seen were tolerably near the ground,
at heights ranging from 3 to 5 feet.
Three is the normal number of the eggs, but only the other day we
obtained one containing four.
Mr. R.M. Adam says:--"This bird is very common in Oudh. It affects
gardens and low scrub-jungle, flying about with a jerky flight from
bush to bush. They are very fond of the fruit of the mangot-tree (_F.
indica_), and may be seen in great numbers about these trees when the
fruit is ripe. Their note is something like that of the common Bulbul,
but livelier and louder. I have seen a number of this year's young
birds well grown, but as yet without the red cheek-tuft.
"They build in clamps of moong-grass about 2 to 3 feet from the
ground. One I found in the tendrils of a creeper about 20 feet from
the ground. The nest is well fixed in the grass and fastened to it by
the intertwining of some of the fibres of which it is composed. It
is cup-shaped, and measures 4 inches in diameter, about 0.75 in
thickness, with an egg-cavity 2.75 in diameter and 1.5 deep.
"The nest is formed of roots, twigs, and grass loosely worked
together, and over the exterior, with the view of binding the mass
together, dried or skeleton leaves, pieces of cloth, broad pieces
of grass, and plaintain-bark are fastened carelessly on by means of
cobwebs and the silk from cocoons. The egg-cavity is lined with fine
"I never have found more than three eggs; on several occasions only
I do not think it possible to separate the Andaman bird. Of its
nidification in those islands Mr. Davison says:--"I found a nest of
this species in April near Port Blair, in a low mangrove-bush growing
quite at the edge of the water; it (the nest) was cup-shaped and
composed of roots, dried leaves, and small pieces of bark, lined
with fine roots and cocoanut fibres; it contained three eggs, with a
pinkish-white ground thickly mottled and blotched with purplish red,
the spots coalescing at the thicker end to form a zone."
Mr. J.H. Cripps writes from Eastern Bengal:--"Very common and a
permanent resident; it freely enters gardens and orchards. In my
garden there was a kamiinee-tree (_Murraya exotica_), in which I found
a nest of this species on the 27th March in course of construction;
and on looking at it on the 12th April found two young that had just
been hatched. Cane-brakes are favourite places for them to nest in.
On the 6th May I found a nest in one of these about 4 feet off the
ground, and containing three partly incubated eggs. This species does
not, as a rule, build in such exposed situations as _M. bengalensis_;
it eats the fruit of jungly trees, _Ficis_, &c., as well as insects."
On the breeding of this Bulbul in Pegu Mr. Gates remarks:--"This bird
breeds as early as February, on the 27th of which month I procured a
nest with two eggs nearly hatched. It stops nesting, I think, at the
beginning of the rains."
Mr. W. Davison informs us that he "took a nest of this bird at
Bankasoon, in Southern Tenasserim, on the 15th March. It was placed in
a small bush growing in an old garden about 4 feet above the ground.
The nest was of the usual type, a compactly-woven cup, composed
externally of dry twigs, leaves, &c., the egg-cavity lined with
fibres. It contained three nearly fresh eggs."
The eggs in size, colour, and shape closely resemble those of
_Molpastes leucotis_. All that I have said in regard to these latter
is applicable to those of the present species, and, so far as
varieties of coloration go, the description of the eggs of _Molpastes
leucogenys_ is equally applicable to those of the present species. If
any distinction can be drawn, it is that, as a body, bold blotches of
rich red and pale purple are more commonly exhibited in the eggs of
this species than in those of either of the preceding ones.
In length the eggs vary from 0.8 to 0.9, and in breadth from 0.85 to
0.7, but the average of twenty-seven eggs was 0.83 nearly, by 0.63
289. Otocompsa fuscicaudata, Gould. _The Southern Red-whiskered
Otocompsa fuscicaudata, _Gould, Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 400
The Southern Red-whiskered Bulbul is found throughout the more hilly
and more or less elevated tracts of the peninsula, from Cape Comorin
northwards as far as Mount Aboo on the west, and the Eastern Ghats,
above Nellore, on the east. How far northwards it extends in the
centre of the peninsula I am not certain, but I have seen a specimen
from the Satpooras.
They breed any time from the beginning of February to the end of May.
Their nests are usually placed at no great height from the ground (say
at from 2 to 6 feet) in some thick bush.
The nests of this species that I procured at Mount Aboo, and which
have been sent me by Mr. Carter both from Coonoor and Salem, and by
other friends from other parts of the Nilghiris, where the bird is
excessively common, very much resemble those of _O. emeria_, but they
are somewhat neater and more substantial in structure. They differ a
good deal in size and shape, as the nests of Bulbuls are wont to do.
Some are rather broad and shallow, with egg-cavities measuring 31/4
inches across, and perhaps 1 inch in depth; while others are deeper
and more cup-shaped, the cavity measuring only 21/2 inches across and
fully 11/2 inch in depth. They are composed in some cases almost wholly
of grass-roots, in others of very fine twigs of the furash (_Tamarix
furas_) in others again of rather fine grass, and all have a quantity
of dead leaves or dry ferns worked into the bottom, and all are lined
with either very fine grass or very fine grass-roots. The external
diameter averages about 41/2 inches, but some stand fully 3 inches high,
while others are not above 2 inches in height. As might be expected,
the White-cheeked and White-eared and the two Red-whiskered Bulbuls'
types of architecture differ considerably; _inter se_, the nests of
_M. leucotis_ and _M. leucogenys_ differ just sufficiently to render
it generally possible to separate them, and the same may be said of
the nests of _O. emeria_ and _O. fuscicaudata_. But there is a very
wide difference between the nests of the two former and the two latter
species, so that it would be scarcely possible to mistake a nest
belonging to the one group for that of the other. The incorporation
of a quantity of dead leaves in the body of the nests, reminding one
much, of those of the English Nightingale, is characteristic of the
Red-whiskered Bulbul, and is scarcely to be met with in those of the
White-cheeked or White-eared ones.
Mr. H.R.P. Carter says:--"At Coonoor on the Nilghiris I have found
the nests from the 13th March to the 22nd April, but I believe
they commence laying in February. They are generally placed in
coffee-bushes and low shrubs, as a rule in a fork, but I have
frequently found them suspended between the twigs of a bush which had
no fork. I have also found the nest of this bird in the thatch of the
eaves of a deserted bungalow, and in tufts of grass on the edge of a
cutting overhanging the public road.
"The nest is cup-shaped, rather loosely constructed outside, but
closely and neatly finished inside. The outside is nearly always
fern-leaves at the bottom, coarse grass and fibres above, and lined
inside either with fine fibres or fine grass.
"I have never found more than two eggs, and I have taken great numbers
of nests; but I am told that three in a nest is not uncommon."
Writing from Kotagherry, Miss Cockburn says:--"Our Red-whiskered
Bulbul builds a cup-shaped nest in any thick bush. The foundation is
generally laid with pieces of dry leaves and fern, after which small
sticks are added, and the whole neatly finished with a lining of fine
grass. They lay two (sometimes three) very prettily spotted eggs of
different shades of red and white, which are found in February, March,
Mr. Wait remarks:--"This bird breeds at Coonoor from February to June.
It builds usually in isolated bushes and shrubs, in gardens and
open jungle. The nest is cup-shaped, loosely but strongly built of
grass-bents, rooty fibres, and thin stalks, and is lined with finer
grass-stems and roots. I think the internal diameter averages about 21/2
inches, and about an inch in depth; but they vary a good deal in size.
They lay two or three eggs, rarely four; and the eggs vary a good
deal in shape and size, being sometimes very round and sometimes
comparatively long ovals. The birds swarm on oar coffee estates, and
breed freely in the coffee-bushes."
Dr. Jerdon says:--"I have frequently had its nest and eggs brought me
on the Nilghiris. The nest was very neatly made, deep, cup-shaped, of
moss, lichens, and small roots, lined with hair and down. The eggs are
barely distinguishable from those of the next bird (_M. bengalensis_),
being reddish white with spots of purplish or lake-red all over,
larger at the thick end."
But Dr. Jerdon rarely took nests with his own hand, and in this case
clearly wrong nests must have been brought to him.
From Trevandrum Mr. F. Bourdillon says:--"It lays three or four eggs
of a pale pink colour, with purple spots, in a nest of roots, lined
with finer roots and interwoven with the leaves of a jungle-shrub
gathered green. The nest, 3 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep, is
generally situated in a bush 4 to 5 feet from the ground."
Mr. J. Davidson remarks:--"This bird simply swarms along the Western
Ghats from Mahabuleshwur down the Koina and Werna valleys, and seems
to have a very extended breeding-time. Last year (1873) I took its
nests in March and May on several occasions, and this year I found
three nests in March and April in the Werna valley; and the Hill
people, who seem intelligent and fairly trustworthy, stated that this
species breeds there throughout the Rains, a season when, owing to the
tremendous rainfall, no European can remain. If this be true they must
breed at least twice a year. All the nests I saw were placed in bushes
from 2 to 4 feet high, some of them most carefully concealed amongst
thorns. Out of, I think, nine nests, all taken by myself personally, I
never found more than two eggs in any; and on two occasions last year
I obtained single eggs nearly fully incubated."
Messrs Davidson and Wenden, writing of the Deccan, remark:--"Commonish
in wooded localities. D. took several nests in the Satara Hills in
March and the two following months."
Captain Butler writes:--"The Red-whiskered Bulbul is common at Mount
Aboo and breeds in March, April, and May. The nest is usually placed
in low bushes from 4 to 8 feet from the ground, and is a neat
cup-shaped structure composed externally of fibrous roots and dry
grass-stems, and lined with fine grass, horsehair, &c. Round the edge
and woven into the outside I have generally found small spiders' nests
looking like lumps of wool. The eggs, usually two but sometimes three
in number, are of a pinkish-white colour, covered all over with spots
and blotches and streaks of purplish or lake-red, forming a dense
confluent cap at the large end. A nest I examined on the 24th April
contained two nestlings almost ready to fly.
"On the 3rd May, 1875, I took a nest in a low carinda bush, containing
two fresh eggs."
Mr. C.J.W. Taylor, writing from Manzeerabad, Mysore, says:--"Most
abundant in the wooded district. Common everywhere. Eggs taken March
and April. On the 5th July, 1883, I procured a, nest of this species
with three pure white eggs. I found it in a coffee-bush the day before
leaving, so snared parent bird to make sure it was _O. fuscicaudata_,
or otherwise should have left a couple of the eggs to see if young
would turn out true to parents."
Captain Horace Terry states that on the Pulney hills this species is
"a most common bird, found wherever there are bushes. In the small
bushes along the banks of the streams is a very favourite place. I
found several nests with usually two, but sometimes three eggs."
Mr. Benjamin Aitken tells us:--"I never saw this bird in the plains,
but it is, perhaps without exception, the commonest bird at Matheran,
Khandalla, and other hill-stations in the Bombay Presidency. I have
found the nests, always with eggs in May, placed from four to seven
feet from the ground, and often in the most exposed situations. It is
not unusual to find only two eggs in a nest. The bird is not in the
least shy, and sets up no clatter, like the Common Bulbul, when its
nest is disturbed."
Finally, Mr. J. Darling, Junior, remarks:--"I really wonder if anyone
down south does not know the Red-whiskered Bulbul and its nest. On the
Nilghiris and in the Wynaad I can safely say it is the commonest nest
to be met with, built in all sorts of places, sometimes high up. They
generally lay two, but very often three, eggs. In a friend's bungalow
in the Wynaad there were three nests built on the wall-plate of
the verandah and two eggs laid in each nest. The young were safely
"This year the nests have been rebuilt and contain eggs. As I am
writing, there are two pairs building in a rose-bush about 3 yards
from me. They breed from 15th February to 15th May."
The numerous eggs of this species that I possess, though truly
Bulbul-like in character, all belong to one single type of that form.
Almost all have a dull pinkish or reddish-white ground, very thickly
freckled, mottled, and streaked all over with a rich red; in most
blood-red, in others brick-red, underneath which, when closely looked
into, a small number of pale inky-purple spots are visible. In half
the number of eggs the markings are much densest at the large end:
these eggs are one and all more brightly and intensely coloured than
any of those that I possess of _M. leucotis, M. leucogenys_, and _O.
emeria_; they are, moreover, larger than any of these.
In length they vary from 0.82 to 0.97, and in breadth from 0.63 to
0.71; but the average of thirty-six eggs measured was 0.9 by 0.66.
290. Otocompsa flaviventris (Tick.). _The Black-crested Yellow
Rubigula flaviventris (_Tick._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 88.
Pycnonotus flaviventris (_Tick._), _Hume, Rough Draft
N. & E._ no. 456.
The Black-crested Yellow Bulbul is another very common species of
which I have as yet seen very few eggs. The first notice of its
nidification I am acquainted with is contained in the following brief
note by Captain Bulger, which appeared in 'The Ibis.' He says:--"I
obtained several specimens, chiefly from the vicinity of the Great
Rungeet River. From a thicket on the bank, near the cane-bridge, a
nest was brought to me on the 16th May, of the ordinary cup-shape,
made of fibres and leaves, and containing three eggs, which my
_shikaree_ said belonged to this species. The eggs were of a dull
pinkish hue, very thickly marked with small specks and blotches of
Major C.T. Bingham, writing of this Bulbul in Tenasserim,
says:--"Common enough in the Thoungyeen forests, affecting chiefly the
neighbourhood of villages and clearings. The following is a note of
finding a nest and eggs I recorded in 1878:--On the 14th April I
happened to be putting up for the day in one of the abandoned Karen
houses of the old village of Podeesakai at the foot of the Warmailoo
toung, a spur from the east watershed range of the Meplay river.
Having to wait for guides, I had nothing particular to do that day, a
very rare event in my forest work; I devoted it to a fruitless search
for bears. I had returned tired and rather dispirited, and was moving
about among the ruined houses, between and among which a lot of jungle
was already springing up, when, just as I passed a low bush about 3
feet high, out went one of the above-mentioned birds; of course the
bush contained a nest, a remarkably neat cup-shaped affair, below and
outside of fine twigs, then a layer of roots, above which was a lining
of the stems of the flower of the 'theckay' grass. It contained three
eggs on the point of hatching, out of which I was only able to save
one. It is one of the loveliest eggs I have seen; in colour I can
liken it only to a peculiar pink granite that is so common at home
in Ireland. Its ground-colour I should say was white, but it is so
thickly spotted with pink and claret that it is hard to describe. It
measured 0.85 x 0.61 inch."
Captain Wardlaw Ramsay writes in 'The Ibis':--"I found a nest
containing two eggs in April at the foot of the Karen hills in Burma."
I have seen too few eggs of this species to say much about them.
What I have seen were rather elongated ovals pretty markedly pointed
towards the small end. The shell fine, but with only a slight gloss;
the ground a pinky creamy white, everywhere very finely freckled
over with red, varying from brownish to maroon, and again still more
thickly with pale purple or purplish grey, this latter colour being
almost confluent over a broad zone round the large end.
292. Spizixus canifrons, Blyth. _The Finch-billed Bulbul_.
Spizixus canifrons, _Bl., Hume, cat._ no. 453 bis.
Colonel Godwin-Austen says:--"_Spizixus canifrons_ breeds in the
neighbourhood of Shillong, in May. Young birds are seen in June."[A]
[Footnote A: TRACHYCOMUS OCHROCEPHALUS (Gm.). _The Yellow-crowned
Trachycomus ochrocephalus (_Gm.), Hume, cat._ no. 449 bis.
As this bird occurs in Tenasserim, the following description of the
nest and eggs found a short distance outside our limits will prove
Mr. J. Darling, Junior, writes:--"I found the nest of this bird on the
2nd July at Kossoom. The nest was of the ordinary Bulbul type, but
much larger, and like a very shallow saucer. The foundation was a
single piece of some creeping orchid, 3 feet long, coiled round; then
a lot of coils of fern, grass, and moss-roots. The nest was 4 inches
in diameter on the inside, the walls 1/4 inch thick, and the cavity 1
inch deep. It was built 10 feet from the ground, in a bush in a very
exposed position, and exactly where any ordinary Bulbul would have
The eggs of this species are of the ordinary Bulbul type, rather broad
at the large end, compressed and slightly pyriform, or more or less
pointed, towards the small end. The shell fine and smooth, but with
only a moderate amount of gloss. The ground-colour varies from very
pale pinky white to a rich warm salmon-pink. The markings are two
colours: first, a red varying from a dull brownish to almost crimson;
the second, a paler colour varying from neutral tint through purplish
grey to a full though pale purple. The first may be called the primary
markings; the others, which seem to be somewhat beneath the surface of
the shell, the secondary ones. Varying as both do in _different_ eggs,
all the primary markings of any one egg are almost precisely the same
shade; and the same is the case with the secondary ones, and there is
always a distinct harmony between both these and the ground tint. As
for the markings, they are generally much the most dense, in a more or
less confluent mottled cap, round one end, generally the largest, and
are usually more or less thinly set elsewhere. In some eggs all the
markings are rather coarse and sparse, in others fine and more thickly
set. Two eggs measured 1.06 by 0.76 and 1.03 by 0.73.]
295. Iole icterica (Strickl.). _The Yellow-browed Bulbul_.
Criniger ictericus, _Strickl., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii. p. 82; _Hume. Rough
Draft N. & E._ no 450.
The Yellow-browed Bulbul breeds apparently throughout the hilly
regions of Ceylon and the southern portion of the Peninsula of
India. I have never taken the nests myself, and I have only detailed
information of their nidification on the Nilghiris, which they ascend
to an elevation of from 6000 to 6500 feet, and where they lay from
March to May.
A nest of this species, taken by Mr. Wait near Coonoor on the 20th of
March, is a small shallow cup hung between two twigs, measuring some
31/2 inches across and 3/4 inch in depth. It is composed of excessively
fine twigs and lined with still finer hair-like grass, is attached to
the twigs by cobwebs, and has a few dead leaves attached by the same
means to its lower surface. It is a slight structure, nowhere I
should think above 1/4 inch in thickness, and apparently carelessly put
together: but for all that, owing to the fineness of the materials
used, it is a pretty firm and compact nest. It is not easy to express
it in words; but still this nest differs very considerably in
appearance from the nests of any of the true Bulbuls with which I am
acquainted, and more approaches those of _Hypsipetes_.
Mr. Wait sends me the following note:--
"This bird, although very common on the Nilghiris at elevations of
from 4000 to 5000 feet, is a very shy nester, and its nest, which is
not easily found, is, as far as my experience goes, invariably placed
in the top of young thin saplings at heights of from 6 to 10 feet from
the ground. The saplings chosen are almost always in thick cover near
the edge of dry water-courses. They generally lay during May, but I
have found nests in March. In shape the nest is a moderately deep
cup, nearly hemispherical, with an internal diameter of from 2.5 to 3
inches--a true Bulbul's nest, composed of grass and bents and lined
with finer grasses. The nest is always suspended by the outer rim
between two lateral branches, and never, I believe, built in a fork
as is so common in the case of many other Bulbuls. They lay only two
eggs, and never, I believe, more. The eggs are longish ovals, rather
pointed at one end, a dull white or reddish white, more or less
thickly speckled and spotted or clouded with pale yellowish or reddish
brown; occasionally the eggs exhibit a few very fine black lines."
Miss Cockburn, writing from Kotagherry, says:--"The Yellow-browed
Bulbul is common on the less elevated slopes of the Nilghiris, where
it is often seen feeding upon guavas, loquots, pears, peaches, &c.
They lay generally in April and May.
"Their nests are constructed very much like those of the common
Bulbuls, except that, instead of being placed in the forked branches
of trees, they are suspended between two twigs, and fastened to them
by cobwebs, the inside being neatly lined with fine grass. Two nests
of this bird were found, each containing two fresh eggs, of a pretty
pinkish salmon colour, with a dark ring at the thick end; but another
nest had three nearly _white_ eggs! The whole structure of the nests
was slight and thin, and the eggs could be plainly seen through. The
notes of the Yellow-browed Bulbul are loud and repeated often."
Writing on the birds of Ceylon, Colonel Legge remarks:--"I once found
the nest of this bird in the Pasdun-Korale forests in August; little
or nothing, however, is known of its breeding-habits in Ceylon, so
that it most likely commences earlier than that month to rear its
brood. My nest was placed in the fork of a thin sapling about 8 feet
from the ground. It was of large size for such a bird, the foundation
being bulky and composed of small twigs, moss, and dead leaves,
supporting a cup of about 21/2 inches in diameter, which was constructed
of moss, lined with fine roots; the upper edge of the body of the nest
was woven round the supporting branches.... The bottom of the nest was
in the fork."
The eggs of this species sent to me by Mr. Wait from Coonoor
are totally unlike any other egg of this family with which I am
acquainted. They remind one more of the eggs of _Stoparola melanops_
or one of the _Niltavas_ than anything else. The eggs are moderately
long and rather perfect ovals, almost devoid of gloss, and with a dull
white or pinkish-white ground, speckled more or less thickly over the
whole surface with rather pale brownish red or pink. The specklings
becoming confluent at the large end, where they form a dull irregular
mottled cap. Other specimens received from Miss Cockburn from
Kotagherry exhibit the same general characters; but the majority of
them are considerably elongated eggs, approaching, so far as shape is
concerned, the _Hypsipetes_ type. In some eggs only the faintest trace
of pale pinkish mottling towards the large end is observable; in
others, the whole surface of the egg is thickly freckled and mottled
all over, but most densely at the large end, with salmon-pink or pale
In length the eggs vary from 0.9 to 1.03, and in breadth from 0.64 to
[Footnote A: PYCNONOTUS ANALIS (Horsf.). _The Yellow-vented Bulbul_.
Otocompsa analis (_Horsf._), _Hume, cat._ no. 452 sex.
Mr. J. Darling, Junior, writes:--"I found the nest of this Bulbul at
Salang in the Malay peninsula, on the 14th February. The nest was
built in a bush in secondary jungle, with a few trees scattered about.
It was in a fork 6 feet from the ground. The foundation was of dried
leaves, then fine twigs, and lined with fine grass-bents. There was a
good deal of cobweb in the construction. It was an exact facsimile of
many nests of _Otocompsa fuscicaudata_ from the Nilgherry Hills. The
egg-cavity was 3 inches in diameter and 21/2 inches deep; the walls were
1/2 inch thick, the bottom 1 inch."
The eggs are of the usual variable Bulbul type, some broader and more
regular, some more elongated, some more or less pyriform. The shell as
in others, and apparently rarely showing any very perceptible gloss.
The ground-colour pinky white to a warm pink; the markings, specks,
and spots, or, when three or four of these latter have coalesced,
occasionally small blotches of a rich maroon-red intermixed with spots
and specks and clouds of pale purple. The markings always apparently
pretty thickly set everywhere, but almost invariably most densely in
a zone about the larger end, where they become at times more or less
confluent. Of course as in others of the genus, in some eggs all the
markings are very fine and speckly, while in others they are somewhat
bolder. In some the red greatly predominates; in others, again, the
grey underlying clouds are very widely extended, and form by far the
most conspicuous part of the markings, giving a grey tinge to the
entire egg. The eggs vary from 0.82 to 0.91 in length and from 0.61 to
0.65 in breadth.]
299. Pycnonotus finlaysoni, Strickl. _Finlayson's Stripe-throated
Ixus finlaysoni (_Strickl.), Hume, cat._ no. 452 ter.
Major C.T. Bingham says:--"On the 22nd May, 1877, while wandering
about collecting in the jungles below the Circuit-house at Maulmain, I
came across a neat, though thinly made, cup-shaped nest in the fork
of a tall sapling, some 12 feet above the ground. Coming closer, I
perceived it contained eggs, which were plainly visible through the
frail structure of the sides. On looking about to find the owner, I
saw a couple of _Pycnonotus finlaysoni_ flitting about uneasily in a
tree close at hand; so I hid myself a few yards off, and was almost
immediately rewarded by seeing one of them (it turned out to be
the female) fly down on to the nest, and seat herself on the eggs.
Approaching cautiously, I managed to shoot her as she slipped off;
but, on taking down the nest, I found I had fired too soon, as one of
the eggs (there were but two) was smashed by a pellet of shot. The
nest was rather a deep cup, and, notwithstanding its flimsy sides,
strongly made of grass-roots, lined with very fine black roots of
fern. The one unbroken egg was rather roundish in shape, of a dull
whitish and claret colour, mixed and spotted and clouded with deeper
vinous red, chiefly at the larger end."
Mr. J. Darling, Junior, found the nest of this Bulbul on more than one
occasion at Taroar in the Malay peninsula. He writes:--"I shot this
bird off a nest with two eggs on the 8th February; the nest was in a
bush 5 feet from the ground; the foundation was of leaves and fine
grass, lined with fine grass and a few cocoanut fibres. The nest was
3 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep. The eggs were too hard-set to
"On the 10th February I took another nest of _Pycnonotus finlaysoni_
at Taroar. The nest was built in a small shrub 3 feet from the ground,
in a fork; foundation of dead leaves, built of fine twigs and fibrous
bark; lined with fine grass-bents and moss-roots. Egg-cavity 23/4 inches
in diameter, 13/4 deep; walls 1/4 inch thick, bottom 3/4 inch.
"Found a nest of _Pycnonotus finlaysoni_, with two fresh eggs, on the
16th March. The nest was built in a thin small sapling, 51/2 feet from
ground, on the top of a thinly wooded hill; the nest was of the
ordinary Bulbul type, but better put together and neater. The
foundation was of broad fibrous bark and twigs, lined with fine
The eggs vary in shape from broad ovals a good deal pointed towards
one end, to pyriform and elongated shaped, very obtuse even at the
small end. The shell is fine and compact, in some has a fine gloss,
in others it is rather dull. The ground-colour is a beautiful pink,
sometimes with a creamy tinge, and the markings are bold blotches,
spots, and streaks of a maroon of varying degrees in richness, and of
a subsurface-looking purple, varying to almost inky grey. In some eggs
the maroon, in some the purple or grey seems to predominate; in some
eggs the markings seem pretty equally distributed over the egg; in
others they form a more or less conspicuous zone about the larger end.
The eggs measure from 0.85 to 0.92 in length by 0.6 to 0.7 in breadth.
300. Pycnonotus davisoni (Hume). _Davison's Stripe-throated Bulbul_.
Ixus davisoni, _Hume; Hume, cat._ no. 452 quat.
Mr. Oates writes from Kyeikpadein in Pegu:--"A nest of this bird was
found on the 1st June, and another on 6th of the same month, each
containing two fresh eggs. The females, which were shot off the nest,
showed, however, no signs on dissection of being about to lay more.
"The nest is a flimsy structure, built of the stems of small weeds and
lined with grass. A few fine black tree-roots are twisted round the
inside of the egg-chamber. The outside and inside diameters measure 4
and 3 inches, and the depths are similarly 3 and 1.25. Both nests were
placed low down about 4 feet from the ground--one in a bush, and the
other in a creeper.
"The eggs vary much in size. One pair measure .92 and .88 by .60
and .65, and the other .83 and .82 by .65 and .61 respectively;
the ground-colour of all is a pinkish white. In one pair the
shell-blotches of washed-out purple are spread over the whole egg, and
the surface-spots and clashes of carneous red are also equally spread
over the whole shell. In the other pair the shell-marks are grouped
round the larger end to form a broad ring, and the whole egg is
thickly speckled and spotted with bright reddish. The eggs are very
301. Pycnonotus melanicterus (Gm.)._The Black-capped Bulbul_.
Rubigula melanictera (_Gm.), Hume, cat._ no. 455 bis.
Colonel Legge writes:--"In April 1873 I received from a friend in
Ceylon three eggs of this bird; but I was unable to identify them
until lately, when I had an opportunity of comparing them with a
clutch taken last year in the Western Province, and about which there
was no doubt. In the latter case the nest was fixed on the top of a
small stump, and was a loose structure of grass and bents; in
shape rather a deep cup; and contained two eggs of a reddish-white
ground-colour, profusely speckled with reddish brown (in one example
confluent round the obtuse end, in the other distributed over the
whole surface) over freckles of bluish grey. Dimensions: 0.79 by 0.58,
0.78 by 0.57. The other nest was made of grass on a foundation of
dry leaves and herbaceous stalks, loosely lined with fine hair-like
tendrils of creepers. The eggs were of a reddish-white ground, thickly
covered throughout with brownish-red and dusky red spots, becoming
somewhat confluent round the obtuse end. In form they are regular
ovals, and measure 0.78 by 0.6, 0.79 by 0.58."
305. Pycnonotus luteolus (Less.). _The White-browed Bulbul_.
Ixos luteolus (_Less.) Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 84; _Hume, Rough Draft N.
& E._ no. 452.
Common as is the White-browed Bulbul in Midnapoor, throughout the
Tributary Mehals, along the Eastern Ghats, and again, it appears, in
Bombay, only two of my correspondents appear as yet to have procured
the nest or eggs.
Mr. Benjamin Aitken, writing from Bombay under date the 11th June,
says:--"I now send you a nest of _Pycnonotus luteolus_ with two eggs.
I took it this morning from, a thickly foliaged tree in a garden. It
was placed on the top of the main stem of the tree, which had been
abruptly cut off about 5 feet from the ground, where the stem was
about 3 inches thick. The nest was begun this day week, Thursday, and
the first egg was laid the day before yesterday (Tuesday). The bird is
a very common one in gardens in Bombay, though I never saw it in Berar
nor even in Poona. They build in situations similar to, but perhaps
rather more sheltered than, those chosen by the Common Bulbul; but I
remember finding one nest placed at a height of only 2 feet from the
"This present nest was begun, as already mentioned, last Thursday,
just two days after the first severe thunder-shower preliminary to the
monsoon, now fairly on us.
"I draw your attention to the manner in which the nest has been tied
at _one_ place to a twig to prevent its being blown off its very
(apparently) insecure site. I was obliged to take the nest, as I was
leaving at once, otherwise one or perhaps two more eggs would have
The nest is a rather loose straggling structure, exteriorly composed
of fine twigs. The cavity, hemispherical in shape, is carefully lined
with fine grass-stems. Outside it is very irregularly shaped, and many
of the twigs used are much too long and hang down several inches from
the nest; but on one side the outer framework has been firmly tied
with wool and a little cobweb to a live twig to which the leaves, now
withered, are still attached. No roots or hair have entered into the
composition of this nest.
Mr. E. Aitken writes:--"I once found a nest in Bombay, not many feet
above the level of the sea of course.
"The first egg was laid on 14th September. The nest was built in a
bush on the edge of an inundated field, but in our garden. It was
fixed to a thin waving branch underneath the bush, which completely
overshadowed it. It was only 2 feet from the ground, a cup just large
enough to hold the body of the bird, whose head and tail always
projected over the edge; and it was made of thin twigs and neatly
lined with _coir_. The bird laid two eggs and then deserted the nest.
One of these, which I took, was thicker and rounder than a Bulbul's,
and thickly spotted with claret-coloured spots, which gathered into a
ring at the larger end.
"The eggs were laid on successive days. I think the birds had already
had one brood (in another nest), for I saw apparently the same pair
followed by a young one not long before."
Dr. Jerdon says:--"I found the nest in my garden at Nellore. It was
rather loosely made with roots, grass, and hair, placed in a hedge,
and the eggs, four in number, were reddish white, with darker lake-red
spots, exceedingly like those of the Common Bulbul."
Colonel Legge, in his 'Birds of Ceylon,' tells us that this Bulbul
breeds in the west and south-west of Ceylon from December to June, the
months of April and May, however, appearing to be the favourite time.
On the eastern side of the island it breeds during the north-east
The eggs answer well enough to Dr. Jerdon's description, but to an
oologist's eye they are excessively _un-like_ those of the Common
Bulbul; shape, tone of colour, and character of markings alike differ.
In shape they are decidedly elongated ovals. The shell is very fine
and smooth, and moderately glossy. The ground is reddish white, and
this is profusely speckled and blotched (the blotches being chiefly
confined, however, to a broad irregular zone round the broader end)
with a deep but certainly, I should say, _not_ lake-red, but much
nearer what one would get by mixing brown with vermilion. Besides
these red markings sundry clouds and spots of a pale greyish lilac are
intermingled in a zone, and one or two spots of the same colour may be
The eggs measure 0.92 by 0.62, and 0.97 by 0.63.
300. Pycnonotus blanfordi (Jerd.). _Blanford's Bulbul_.
Ixus blanfordi (_Jerd.), Hume, cat._ no. 452 quint.
Mr. Oates writes from Pegu:--"Nest in a small tree, well concealed
by leaves, about 7 feet from the ground, near Pegu. A very neat cup
measuring 3 inches diameter externally and 2.25 internally. The depth
1.75 inch outside and 1.25 inside. The sides of the nest, though very
strongly woven, can be seen through. The materials consist of small
fine branchlets of weeds, and the inside is neatly lined with grass.
One or two dead leaves, or rather fragments, are used in the exterior
"The nest was found on the 25th May, and contained three eggs slightly
incubated. The ground-colour is a fresh pink, but with little gloss.
The whole egg is covered with a profusion of dark purplish-red spots,
more thickly disposed at the thick end, but everywhere frequent. In
addition there are some underlying and much paler smears. The three
eggs measured respectively .75, .78, and .77 in length, by .63, .62,
and .61 in breadth.
"Subsequently I found five other nests, from the 1st April to the 20th
June, all similar to the one described. Eggs invariably three. Average
size of twelve eggs .82 by .6."
The nests of this species that I have seen have been very slight
flimsy structures, nearly hemispherical cups, composed of fine twigs
and the leaf-stalks of pennated leaves a little bound together with
cobwebs and thinly lined with fine hair-like grass. In some cases
a leaf or two has been attached to the outer surface to aid the
concealment of the nest. The nest is very loosely woven just like a
sieve, as a rule nowhere more than 0.25 inch thick, and with a truly
hemispherical cavity, diameter about 2.5, depth about 1.25.
The eggs are of the ordinary Bulbul type, but not amongst the more
richly-coloured examples of these; in shape and size they vary a good
deal, but typically they seem to be moderately broad ovals slightly
compressed towards the small end. The shell is fine and smooth, but
has scarcely any appreciable gloss; the ground is pale pink or pinky
white. At the large end the markings are dense, forming in some eggs
an almost confluent zone, in others a mottled cap; they consist
of irregular-shaped spots and specks of deep red and pale
subsurface-looking greyish purple; over the rest of the surface of the
egg outside the zone or cap the markings are much smaller in size and
much more thinly scattered, and it is observable that the secondary
purple markings are to a great extent confined to the zone or cap, as
the case may be, and its immediate neighbourhood.
Occasionally the markings, which seem always to be small and speckly,
are very sparsely set, leaving comparatively large portions of the
surface unmarked; and occasionally eggs are met with in which the
primary markings are wholly wanting, and there is nothing but a pale
reddish-purple cloudy mottling over the greater portion of the surface
of the egg.[A]
[Footnote A: PYCNONOTUS PLUMOSUS, Bl. _The Large Olive Bulbul_.
Ixus plumosus (_Bl.), Hume, cat._ no. 452 sept.
Mr. W. Davison writes:--"I found one nest of this Bulbul at Kossoom:
it was of the ordinary Bulbul type and placed in a small but dense
clump of cane, about 18 inches from the ground. The parent birds were
very vociferous when the nest was approached."
The eggs of all these Bulbuls, though they are separable when
individually compared, follow so closely the same type of colouring
that, it is almost impossible to make their distinctions apparent by
any verbal descriptions.
The eggs of the present species are like those of so many others,
moderately broad ovals, obtuse at the large end, somewhat compressed
towards the small end, at times slightly pyriform. The shell very
fine, smooth and thin, but strong, and generally with an appreciable
though not at all conspicuous gloss.
The ground-colour is pink or pinky white, and they are very thickly
speckled and spotted everywhere, but extremely densely so, and there
blotched also in a broad irregular zone, round the large end with
rich reddish maroon and dull greyish or inky purple--the rich colour
predominating in some eggs, the dull colour in others; and in some the
markings being all extremely fine and speckly, while in others they
are rather bolder. Two eggs measure 0.9 by 0.66.
PYCNONOTUS SIMPLEX, Less. _Moore's Olive Bulbul_.
Ixus brunneus (_Bl.), Hume, cat._ no. 452 oct.
Mr. W. Davison says:--"I took a nest of _P. simplex_ in some rather
thick jungle at Klang. The nest, of the ordinary Bulbul type (in fact
it might easily have passed for a nest of _Olocompsa_), was placed in
the fork of a small sapling about 6 feet from the ground. The nest
contained two eggs. The female was shot from the nest."
The eggs are moderately elongated, rather regular ovals, some
specimens having a slight pyriform tendency. The shell is fine and
compact, and seems to have generally an appreciable but not striking
gloss. The ground-colour appears to have been creamy pink, and it is
very thickly freckled and speckled all over with a rich maroon, in
amongst which tiny clouds of pale purple may be faintly discerned;
dense as are the markings everywhere, they are generally most so in a
zone round the large end. Very possibly this species will be found to
exhibit somewhat different types of coloration, as the eggs of all
Bulbuls vary very much; but certainly typically the markings of this
species are much more speckly than in most of the others, forming a
universal stippling over the entire surface. The two eggs measure 0.9
and 0.88 in length by 0.62 in breadth.]
315. Sitta himalayensis, Jard. & Selby. _The White-tailed Nuthatch_.
Sitta himalayensis, _J. & S., Jerd. B. Ind._ i, p. 385; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 248.
According to Mr. Hodgson's notes and drawings this species begins to
lay in April, constructing a shallow saucer-like nest of moss lined
with moss-roots, in holes of trees at no great elevation from the
ground. One such nest, the measurements of which are recorded, was
3.25 inches in diameter and 2 in height externally; the cavity was
2.25 inches in diameter and 1.25 inch in depth. They lay three or four
pure white eggs slightly speckled with red, which measure about 0.72
inch in length by 0.55 inch in width. They breed once a year, and both
sexes assist in incubating the eggs and rearing the young.
Mr. R. Thompson says:--"In Kumaon the White-tailed Nuthatch breeds in
May and June, laying five or six eggs, in holes in trees, especially
Colonel G.F.L. Marshall writes:--"This bird is an early breeder in
Naini Tal; a nest found on the 25th April contained half-fledged
young. It was in a natural hollow of a tree about 10 feet from the
ground in a thick trunk; the hole was closed up with a kind of stiff
gummy substance, leaving only a circular entrance about an inch in
diameter, just as I have seen in nests of _Sitta europaea_. The
old birds were busily engaged in feeding the young. Another nest
containing young was found on the 28th April in an oak tree at about
7000 feet elevation; both birds were feeding the young, and the nest
was similar to the last except that in this case it was so low down in
the trunk that, sitting on the ground, I could put my ear against
the hole. From a third nest, found on the 2nd May, the young
had apparently just fled. My experience bears out Mr. Hodgson's
observations: I have often been up here in May and June searching
closely and never found a nest; this year I came up for the first time
in April, and within a few days find three nests with young. I may add
that after the 10th May all the Nuthatches I have seen were in small
parties, apparently parents with their young."
316. Sitta cinnamomeiventris, Blyth. _The Cinnamon-bellied
Sitta cinnamomeoventris, _Bl., Jerd. B. Ind._ i, p. 387.
Writing from Sikhim, Mr. Gammie says:--"I lately took the nest of
_Sitta cinnamomeiventris_ at 2000 feet. It was 20 feet from the ground
in a soft decaying bamboo on the edge of large jungle. The birds had
made a small hole just below an internode, and from the next internode
below had filled up the hollow of the bamboo with alternate layers of
green moss and pieces of tree-bark of about an inch or more square to
within a few inches of the entrance-hole. Each layer of moss was about
an inch thick, but the bark layer not more than a quarter of an inch,
the thickness of the bark itself. On the top of this pile, which was a
foot high, was a pad three inches wide by two in depth, of fine moss,
fur, a feather or two, and a few insects' wings intermixed, for the
eggs to rest on. The fur looks like that of a rat. There were four
hard-set eggs, which, unfortunately, got broken in the taking. One
of them only was measurable, and it was 0.65 inch by 0.5. I send the
shell-fragments to show the coloration."
317. Sitta neglecta, Walden. _The Burmese Nuthatch_.
Sitta neglecta, _Wald., Hume, cat._ no. 250 bis.
The Burmese Nuthatch probably breeds throughout Pegu and Tenasserim.
Of its nidification in the latter division Major C.T. Bingham
writes:--"On the 21st March, wandering about in a deserted clearing,
I saw a couple of Nuthatches (_Sitta neglecta_) flying to and from a
tree, carrying food apparently. Watching them closely with a pair of
binoculars, I saw them disappear near a knot in a branch. The tree was
a dead dry one and rather difficult to climb, but a peon of mine went
up and reported five young ones unfledged, the nest-hole being 6
inches deep, and the opening, which was originally a large one, and
probably caused by water wearing into the site of a broken branch,
narrowed by an edging of clay. The young lay on a layer of broken
leaves. As they were featherless, blind little things I left them
alone, and was delighted to see the parents continuing to feed them."
321. Sitta castaneiventris, Frankl. _The Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch_.
Sitta castaneoventris, _Frankl., Jerd. B. Ind._ i, p. 386.
The late Captain Cock furnished me with the following note a long time
ago regarding the breeding of this Nuthatch:--"A very common bird at
Sitapur in Oudh, every mango-tope containing one or more pairs. They
pair early and commence making their nests in February, laying their
eggs in March. The nests are in cavities of trees, at no great height
from the ground, and unless observed in course of construction are
difficult to find--the bird filling the whole cavity up with mud
consolidated with some viscid seed of a parasitical plant, and merely
leaving a small round hole for entrance. This composition hardens like
pucca masonry in a very short time, and secures the nest from all
marauders except the oologist. The nest consists of a few dry leaves
at the bottom of the cavity at no great depth, and upon this four eggs
are laid. The birds sit close and do not easily desert their nests, as
the following instance will show. In 1873 I found a _Sitta's_ nest in
a mango-tree, and after watching the birds for some days, when the
eggs had been laid I took the nest, placing my handkerchief in the
nest to prevent bits of mud falling in on the eggs. I opened out the
cavity, cleaning away the mud, and putting in my hand I caught the
female bird. I looked at her and let her go. In 1874 curiosity induced
me to look at the place again, and to my surprise I saw the cavity had
been built up again. I caught a bird on the nest and took four eggs;
it may have been a different bird, but there was only one pair in that
tope of trees, and was probably the same bird I caught in 1873. I
found another nest in my garden about 2 feet from the ground, and I
often used to flash the sunlight from a small hand-mirror, that I use
out birds' nesting, onto the hen bird while she sat on her eggs. Our
collection contains a large series of these eggs, the produce of some
five-and-twenty nests taken by myself at Sitapur."
Major C.T. Bingham writes:--"At Allahabad I found two nests of this
little Nuthatch, one in July and one in September. I regret to say
neither contained any eggs, though the birds were going in and out
constantly. The nests were in tiny holes in mango-trees, the entrances
being still more contracted by earth being plastered round."
Colonel C.H.T. Marshall observes:--"A nest of the Chestnut-bellied
Nuthatch was pointed out to me at Umballa in the next garden to mine.
It was about 12 feet above the ground in an old mango-tree; the
locality chosen was the stump of a branch which had been cut off and
had rotted down. Outside there was a great deal of masonry work as
hard and firm as that on white-ant hills, in the middle of which was a
neat circular hole just large enough for the passage of the bird. The
masonry continued down inside the hole as far as I could see; I did
not break it open, as there were nearly fledged young ones inside.
I knew this because the parent birds had been seen for some days
carrying in food. I did not see the nest till the end of May. The
following spring I found another nest at Kurnal in a bokain tree;
it was constructed after the same fashion; the nest itself, which
consisted only of dead leaves, was not very far down. I was
unfortunately this time (March 15th) too early for the eggs. The
holes are not easy to see from the ground, as they are most skilfully
concealed from view."
The eggs of this species are very regular, slightly elongated ovals,
scarcely compressed or pointed towards the small end at all. The shell
is fragile, and is either entirely glossless or has only a trace of
gloss. The ground-colour is white, with at times a faint pinkish
tinge, and the markings consist of spooks, spots, and splashes (always
most numerous at the large end, where they usually form a more or less
conspicuous though irregular cap) of dull or bright brick-red, more
or less intermingled in most specimens with dull reddish lilac. The
arrangement and size of the markings are very variable. In some eggs
they are all mere specks, forming a small speckly cap at the large
end, and elsewhere very thinly scattered about the surface; in others
many of the spots are (for the size of the egg) large, the majority
are well-marked spots and not mere specks, and the whole surface of
the egg is pretty thickly studded with them, while the broad end
exhibits a large blotched and mottled cap. The majority of the eggs
are intermediate between these two extremes.
In length the eggs vary from 0.61 to 0.72 and in breadth from. 0.5 to
0.54, but the average of numerous specimens is 0.67 by 0.52.[A]
[Footnote A: SITTA TEPHRONOTA, Sharpe. _The Eastern Rock-Nuthatch_
Sitta neumayeri, _Mich., Hume, cat._ no. 248 quint.
The Eastern Rock-Nuthatch is abundant in Baluchistan, and without
doubt breeds there. The following note by Lieut. H.E. Barnes will
therefore be interesting. He writes from Afghanistan:--"This Nuthatch
is very common on the hills. It appears to choose very different
localities to build in. In some instances a hole in the face of a
rock is selected, and this it lines with agglutinated mud and resin,
continuing the lining-case until it, projects in the shape of a cone
to fully 8 inches. It seems fond of decorating its little palace
with feathers to a distance of 2 or even 3 feet, and it is thus a
conspicuous object; but most nests are found in holes in trees, and
even here feathers are stuck into crevices all around. They are
usually well lined with camel-hair.
"They breed in March and April. The eggs are usually four in number (I
have sometimes found five), oval in shape, more or less glossy white,
and more or less densely or sparsely (generally most densely towards
the large end) spotted and blotched with varying shades of chestnut
to reddish brown, more or less intermingled with pale purple and
occasionally purplish grey. Some eggs are very richly marked. Some are
almost pure white. They average 0.87 by 0.57."
The eggs of this species are typically moderately broad ovals,
slightly pointed towards the small end, but elongated and more or less
blunt-ended pyriform examples occur. The shell is extremely fine and
smooth, but has only moderate amount of gloss in any specimen that I
have seen and in some specimens has only a trace of this. The ground
colour is pure white, and the eggs are generally thinly speckled,
spotted, or blotched, about the broad end only, with a pale red;
occasionally a few greyish-purple spots and blotches are intermingled
with the other markings, and specks and tiny spots of both red and
grey sometimes extend to the smaller end of the egg also. I have seen
no such examples myself, but very probably in some eggs the principal
markings may be at the small end. Eighteen eggs vary from 0.81 to 0.91
in length by 0.61 to 0.69 in breadth.]
323. Sitta leucopsis, Gould. _The White-cheeked Nuthatch_.
Sitta leucopsis, _Gould, Jerd. B. Ind._ i, p. 385; _Hume, Rough Draft
N. & E._ no. 249.
Captain Cock took the eggs of the White-cheeked Nuthatch late in May
and early in June (1871) in Kashmir at Sonamurg.
Captain Wardlaw Ramsay says, writing of Afghanistan:--"I observed it
hanging about a nest-hole on the 21st May, but on returning to take
the eggs some days later was unable to find the tree:" and he adds,
"On the 21st of June I shot a young bird just fledged near the Peiwar
The eggs of this species vary somewhat in size. In shape some are
moderately elongated, some are somewhat broad ovals, and all are, more
or less, compressed towards the smaller end, which, however, is obtuse
and not at all pointed. The ground is white and has a slight gloss.
The markings consist of small spots and minute specks, some eggs
exhibiting only the latter. In all cases the markings are most dense
towards the large end, where they generally form an irregular and
ill-defined mottled cap or zone. In colour the markings are red and
pale purple, the red varying from bright brickdust-red to brownish and
even purplish red, and the purple being sometimes lilac and sometimes
grey, and here and there in a single speck, almost black. In length
the eggs vary from 0.67 to 0.75 inch, and in breadth from 0.5 to 0.55
323. Sitta frontalis,, Horsf. _The Velvet-fronted Blue Nuthatch_.
Dendrophila frontalis (_Horsf._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ p. 388; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 253.
The Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, lays from the middle of February to
the end of May. It breeds in the forest-tracts of the Sub-Himalayan
ranges, in the Central Indian forests, the Ghats of Southern India,
and the well-wooded slopes of the Nilghiris, Palnis, &c.
It builds a compact little nest of moss and feathers in a tiny hole
in a tree, selecting, I believe, generally a natural cavity, but
certainly trimming the entrance and interior itself.
Mr. B. Thompson says:--"This species is common in all the low
densely-wooded valleys of the Sub-Himalayan ranges of Kumaon, at an
elevation of from 1500 to 2500 feet. It breeds in May and June in
hollows of trees. Any small hole suits for a nest, and it lays four or
five eggs, for I have seen it with as many young, though I never took
the trouble of getting out the eggs themselves."
Mr. Davison says:--"This Nuthatch breeds on the Nilghiris as high up
as Ootacamund, nesting in holes of trees, and laying three or four
eggs, spotted with chestnut, pinkish red, or reddish brown. The nest
is composed of moss, moss-roots, &c., and lined with feathers. I am
not quite certain how long the breeding-season lasts, but I think that
it is from the middle of April to the early part of May."
Miss Cockburn, of Kotagherry, sends me the following account of the
first nest she took of this species:--
"After having wished for some years to obtain the eggs of this bird, I
was delighted to hear from my brother that he had seen a Nuthatch go
into a _small_ hole in a tree, and that, on looking into it, he had
seen something like a nest. I went prepared with a chisel and hammer,
but wished first to ascertain fully who the owner of the nest was.
After watching at a respectful distance for a long time, an Indian
Grey Tit flew to the hole and peeped in. My first thought was one
of great disappointment at having ridden many miles with such high
expectations to find only a Common Titmouse's nest; but it did not
last long; the inquisitive Grey Tit found the hole too small for him,
and flew off just as happily as he had flown to it. I continued to
watch, and was quite repaid by seeing a Velvet-fronted Nuthatch fly to
the top of the tree containing the nest, and descend rapidly down the
trunk (which was about 12 or 13 feet high), as if it knew where the
wee hole was, and disappear into it. This was sufficient proof as to
the proprietor of the nest; I walked quietly up to the tree, and when
within a foot of it out flew the bird. My handkerchief was stuffed
into the hole to prevent any chips breaking the eggs, should there be
any: and making use of the chisel and hammer, I soon made the hole
large enough to admit my hand. The nest contained three eggs, which I
most carefully extracted one by one. The nest was then brought out,
and consisted of a quantity of beautiful green moss, feathers (many of
which belong to the bird), some soft fine hair, and a few pieces of
lichen. This nest was discovered on the 10th February. The tree it was
found in grew nearly alone, at the side of a road not much frequented.
"The eggs were quite fresh, and most probably the bird would have laid
at least one more; but these were sufficient to show the colour of
the eggs, which were pure white, with dark and light red spots and
blotches, chiefly at the thick end, besides a circle of spots like a
Mr. Rhodes W. Morgan, writing of South India, says, in 'The
Ibis':--"It breeds in holes of trees, preferring the deserted ones
excavated by _Megalama caniceps_. The nest is built of moss, and lined
with the fluff of hares and soft feathers. The eggs are always four in
number, spotted with pinkish red on a white ground, the spots being
more numerous towards the larger end. They breed in March. Dimensions,
0.71 inch long by 0.57 broad,"
Mr. Mandelli sent me a small pad-like nest of this species found on
the 4th May in Native Sikhim. It was placed in a hollow of a trunk of
a large tree about 3 feet from the ground. It is composed of very fine
moss felted together with a little fine vegetable fibre, and the upper
surface coated with a little fine short silky fur, probably that of a
Major Bingham, writing from Tenasserim, says:--"Fairly common in the
Thoungyeen valley. On the 18th February I found a nest in a hole in a
branch of a pynkado tree (_Xylia dolabrifomis_), but I was too early
One egg of this very beautiful species was sent me by Miss Cockburn.
It is intermediate in size and colour between those of the European
Creeper and Nuthatch, while at the same time it strongly recalls the
eggs of _Parus atriceps_. In shape the egg is a broad oval (not quite
so broad, however, as those of the European Nuthatch are), slightly
compressed towards one end. The ground-colour is white, and the egg
is blotched, speckled, and spotted, chiefly, however, in a sort of
irregular zone round the large end, with brickdust-red and somewhat
pale purple. The shell is fine and compact, but devoid of gloss. The
egg measures 0.08 by 0.55 inch.
Three other eggs from the Sikhim Terai measure 0.68 by 0.51.
327. Dicrurus ater (Hermann). _The Black Drongo_.
Dicrurus macrocercus (_V._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ i, p. 427.
Buchanga albirictus, _Hodgs., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 278.
The Black Drongo or Common King-Crow lays throughout India, at any
rate in the plain country; it does not appear to breed either in the
Himalayas or the Nilghiris at any height exceeding 5000 feet.
A few eggs may be found towards the close of April, and again during
the first week of August, but May, June, and July are _the_ months.
It builds usually pretty high up in tall trees, in some fork not quite
at the outside, constructing a broad shallow cup, and lays normally
four eggs, although I _have_ found five. Elsewhere I have recorded the
following in regard to its nidification:--
"Close at our own gate is a pretty neem tree, the '_Melia
azadirachta_,' a species now naturalized in Provence and other parts
of the south of France. High up in a fork a small nest was visible,
and projecting over it on one side a black forked tail that could
belong to nothing but the King-Crow. Of this bird we have already
taken during the last six weeks at least fifty nests, and in many
cases where we had left the empty nest in _statu quo_, we found it a
week later with a fresh batch of eggs laid therein. Many birds will
never return to a nest which has once been robbed, but others, like
the King-Crow and the Little Shrike (_Lanius vittatus_) will continue
laying even after the nest has been _twice_ robbed. The very day after
the nest has been cleared of perhaps four slightly incubated eggs, a
fresh one that otherwise would assuredly never have seen the light is
laid, and that, too, a fertile egg, which, if not meddled with, will
be hatched off in due course. It might be supposed that immediately on
discovering their loss, nature urged the birds to new intercourse,
the result of which was the fertile egg, and this, in some cases, is
probably really the case; Martins and others of the Swallow kind being
often to be seen busy with 'love's pleasing labour' before their eggs
have been well stowed away by the collector. But this will not account
for instances that I have observed of birds in confinement, who
separated from the male before they had laid their full number, and
then later, just when they began to sit deprived of their eggs,
straightway laid a second set, neither so large nor so well coloured
as the first, but still fertile eggs that were duly hatched. But for
the removal of the first set, these subsequent eggs would never have
been developed or laid. Now, the theory has always been that the
contact of the sperm- and germ-cells causes the development and
fertilization of the latter. In these cases no fresh accession of
sperm-cells was possible, and hence it would seem as if in some birds
the female organs were able to store up living sperm-cells, which
only work to fertilize and develop ova in the event of some accident
rendering it necessary, and which otherwise ultimately lose vitality
and pass away without action.
"The nest of the King-Crow that we took was of the ordinary type; in
fact I have noticed scarcely any difference in the shape or materials
of all the numerous nests of this common bird that I have yet seen.
They are all composed of tiny twigs and fine grass-stems, and the
roots of the khus-khus grass, as a rule, neatly and tightly woven
together, and exteriorly bound round with a good deal of cobweb, in
which a few feathers are sometimes entangled. The cavity is broad and
shallow, and at times lined with horsehair or fine grass, but most
commonly only with khus. The bottom of the nest is very thin, but the
sides or rim rather firm and thick; in this case the cavity was 4
inches in diameter, and about 11/2 in depth, and contained three pure
white glossless eggs. In the very next tree, however (a mango, and
this is perhaps their favourite tree), was another similar nest,
containing four eggs, slightly glossy, with a salmon-pink tinge
throughout, and numerous well-marked brownish-red specks and
spots, most numerous towards the large end, looking vastly like
Brobdingnagian specimens of the Rocket-bird's eggs. The variation in
this bird's eggs is remarkable; out of more than one hundred eggs
nearly one third have been pure white, and between the dead glossless
purely white egg and a somewhat glossy, warm pinky grounded one, with
numerous well-marked spots and specks of maroon colour, dull-red, and
red-brown or even dusky, every possible gradation is found. Each set
of eggs, however, seems to be invariably of the same type, and we have
never yet found a quite white and a well coloured and marked egg in
the same nest.
"These birds are very jealous of the approach of other birds even of
their own species to a nest in which they have eggs, and many a little
family would this year have been safely reared, and their ovate
cradles have escaped the plundering hands of my shikaries, had not
attention been invariably called to the thereabouts of the nest by the
pertinacious and vicious rushes of one or other of the parents from
near their nest at every feathered thing that; passed them by."
Captain Hutton says:--"This species, which appears to be generally
diffused throughout India, is not uncommon in the Dehra Doon, but does
not ascend the hills; it breeds in June, laying four eggs of somewhat
variable size. They are pure white, thus differing widely from those
of the supposed _D. longcaudatus_ of Mussoorie.
"It is evident likewise that the eggs which Captain Tickell assigns to
this species do not belong to it. (_Vide_ Journal As. Soc. vol. xvii.
"The nest differs from that of our hill species, being larger and
far less neatly made; it is placed in the bifurcation of the smaller
branches of a tall tree, and is composed exteriorly of two hard
semi-woody stalks of various plants, plastered over with cobwebs.
Another one was constructed entirely of fine roots, like the khus-khus
used for tatties, and plastered over like the former with cobwebs. It
is flattened or saucer-shaped, and about 3 inches in diameter."
Mr. F.R. Blewitt remarks:--"It breeds from the middle of May well into
August. I do not think it has two broods in the year, at least close
observation has not proved the fact. Trees of various sizes are chosen
indiscriminately for the nest, from the lofty mango and tamarind to
the low-growing roonji, &c.
"The nest is a peculiarly slight-formed structure (occasionally I have
seen it otherwise, but this is the exception), always neatly made.
The exterior of the nest is composed of small fine twigs, roots, and
grass, with generally a good deal of spider's web round the outer
surface. The average exterior diameter of the nest is about 5.5
inches. The cavity is frequently lined with horsehair. On three or
four occasions I have seen very fine khus substituted for the hair.
The average inner diameter of the nest is about 3.4 inches.
"The regular number of eggs is four; in colour they are a light
reddish white, with a few spots or blotches, here and there of a
purplish red or red-brown. The eggs often differ much in size.
"I happened to find in one nest two eggs, one of the usual size, the
other only about one third of the size. What is more surprising, it
was perfectly formed, as regards the white and yolk."
The instance of sagacity related by Mr. Phillips, and quoted by
Jerdon, was related to him by the late Mr. Davis, my old Collector of
"I have on two or three occasions myself witnessed similar instances
of sagacity. This bird, during the breeding-season, is pugnacious to
a degree, fearlessly attacking every bird that approaches the tree on
which the nest may be."
Writing from the Sambhur Lake, Mr. E.M. Adam says:--"Very common here.
The King-Crow breeds here in June and July. The eggs vary much with
regard to colouring; some are pure white without spots, some have dark
brown spots on the white ground, whilst others have a pale rufous
ground darker at the broader end, with spots of deep rust-colour and
Colonel G.F.L. Marshall writes:--"At Bheera Tal, fully 4000 feet
above the sea, I found two nests of this species on the 24th May, one
contained four eggs, and the other three; the eggs varied much in
size, and out of the seven, six were pure white, almost like Barbet's
eggs, and the seventh had only a faint sprinkling of tiny dark spots
at one end. The birds, all four of which I shot, were typical _D.
ater_, with the white spot well developed. On the same day, and in the
same place, I found eggs of _D. longicaudatus_. I record this, as it
is not usual to find _D. ater_ breeding at this elevation. It may be
noticed that the eggs of this species found by Hutton in the Doon
were all pure white, while in the plains I think white is more
Dr. Scully says:--"In Nepal it breeds freely at elevations of from
4000 to 5000 feet. Three nests were taken in the valley, in May and
June; these contained each three or four pure white eggs."
Major C.T. Bingham remarks:--"I have found many nests of the King-Crow
both at Allahabad and Delhi. In both places they begin laying towards
the end of May, and I got fresh eggs at Allahabad as late as the 13th
August. The nests and eggs have been nearly always of the same type.
The former, a shallow, but well-made saucer, rather small sometimes
for the size of the bird, of grass-roots and twigs, and absolutely
without lining; the latter white, when fresh with a pink tinge,
spotted, chiefly at the larger end, rather scantily with claret-colour
and dark brown. I have never found a pure white egg."
Lieut. H.E. Barnes, writing of Rajputana in general, tells us:--"The
King-Crow breeds during May and June. A few nests may be found in
July, but by far the greater number are to be found during the latter
part of May and the commencement of June."
Colonel Butler informs us that "The Common King-Crow breeds in the
neighbourhood of Deesa during the rains. I have taken nests on the
"June 6, 1875. A nest containing 4 fresh eggs.
June 7, 1875. " " 4 fresh eggs.
June 9, 1875. " " 2 fresh eggs.
" " " " 4 young birds.
June 10, 1875 " " 4 fresh eggs.
June 11, 1875. " " 4 fresh eggs.
June 13, 1875. " " 3 fresh eggs.
" " " " 4 fresh eggs.
July 8, 1875. " " 4 fresh eggs.
July 12, 1875. " " 4 fresh eggs.
"The nest consists of a broad shallow saucer about 31/2 inches in
diameter measured from the inside, composed of dry twigs and fine
roots, and is invariably fixed in the fork of a tree. The bottom of
the nest, though strongly woven, is often so thin that the eggs are
visible from below. The eggs, usually four in number, are of the
Oriole type, being white or creamy buff:, sparingly spotted and
speckled with deep chocolate or rusty brown, with, occasionally,
markings of inky purple. The markings of the eggs of this species,
like those of the Oriole, are apt to run if washed."
Messrs. Davidson and Wenden, writing from the Deccan, say:--"Common
Mr. Vidal remarks of this bird in the South Konkan:--"Abundant. Breeds
Mr. Rhodes W. Morgan, writing from South India, says in 'The
Ibis':--"Breeds from March to the end of May, constructing a slight
cup-shaped nest in a tree. The nest is composed of fine twigs bound
together with cobwebs, and is rather a flimsy concern, the eggs often
being visible from below. It is generally placed in the fork of a
branch, at from 10 to 30 feet from the ground. The eggs are three in
number, occasionally only two, and vary very greatly in colour, some
being almost of a pure white, whilst others again are spotted and
blotched, especially at the larger end, with claret and light purple
on a rich salmon-coloured ground. The birds are very noisy in the
breeding-season, keeping all intruders off, not hesitating to attack
Kites and Crows. They seem to have an especial antipathy to the
Mr. Benjamin Aitken states that in Madras "the King-Crow, so
conspicuous on the backs of cattle, telegraph-wires, &c., all through
the cold and hot seasons, is conspicuous by its absence during the
breeding-season. Many of them retire to woods and gardens to breed,
but even when they do not, they keep very quiet while they have their
nests. Last June there was a nest in a tree in the Thieves' bazaar at
Madras, but the birds hardly ever showed themselves out of the tree."
Mr. J. Inglis informs us that in Cachar "this King-Crow is extremely
common. It breeds all through the summer. It lays four or five pure
white eggs on the top of a few grasses placed in the fork of a tree.
It is very pugnacious, and attacks birds of all sizes if they approach
There are two very distinct types of this bird's eggs. The one pure
white and spotless, the other a pale salmon-colour, spotted with a
rich brownish red. These eggs unquestionably both belong to the same
species, as I have taken them times without number myself and can
positively certify to their parentage; moreover connecting links are
not wanting in a large series. I have one egg perfectly white, with
the exception of three or four blackish-brown spots, another with more
of these spots, another with almost as many as the ordinary spotted
eggs have, the ground-colour in all these being still pure white,
and the spots being blackish or very deep reddish brown. Then I
have others similar to those just described, but showing a faint
salmon-coloured halo round one or two of the largest spots, others in
which the halo is further developed, and others again with the entire
ground-colour an excessively pale salmon throughout, and so on a
complete series gradually increasing in intensity of colour till we
get the pure rich salmon-buff which is at the other end of the scale.
I am particular in this description, because the eggs of this bird
have been a subject of almost as many contradictions between Indian
naturalists as the chameleon of pious memory. In shape the eggs are
typically a rather long oval, somewhat pointed towards one end. Very
much elongated varieties are common, recalling in this respect the
eggs of _Chibia hottentotta_. Spherical varieties, if they occur, must
be very rare, the enormous series I possess containing no example. In
the colour of the ground, as above remarked, there is every possible,
variety of shade between pure white and a very rich salmon-colour. In
the intensity and number of the markings there is an equally great
variety. The markings, always spots and specks, the largest never
exceeding 0.1 inch in diameter, are invariably most numerous towards
the large end, where they are sometimes, though rarefy, slightly
confluent. They vary from only two or three to a number too large to
count, and in colour through many shades of reddish, blackish, and
purplish brown, the latter being rare and abnormal.
The eggs are entirely devoid of gloss, as a rule, though here and
there a slight trace of it is observable. It is this want of gloss
alone that distinguishes some of the larger white, black-spotted
varieties from the eggs of the common Oriole, which they occasionally
exactly resemble not only in shape, colour, and character of marking,
but even (though generally smaller) in size.
In length they vary From 0.87 to 1.15 inch, and in breadth from 0.7
to 0.85, but the average of 152 eggs measured is 1.01 by 0.75 inch. I
have two dwarf eggs of this species not included in the above average
which I myself obtained in different nests, measuring only 0.78 by 0.5
inch, and 0.87 by 0.62 inch.
328. Dicrurus longicaudatus. A. Hay. _The Indian Ashy Drongo_.
Dicrurus longicaudatus, _A. Hay, Jerd. B. Ind._ i, p. 430.
Buchanga longicaudata (_A. Hay), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._
The Indian Ashy Drongo, a species that, with the really large series
before me from all parts of India, I find it impossible to subdivide
into two or more species, breeds alike in the plains, in well-watered
and wooded districts, and in the Himalayas up to an elevation of 6000
to 7000 feet, and lays during the months of May and June.
They build generally in large trees, at a considerable height from
the ground, placing their somewhat shallow cup-shaped nests in some
slender fork towards the summit or exterior of the tree.
The nest is neatly and firmly built, of fine grass-stems, slender
twigs, and grass-roots, closely interwoven, and externally bound
together with cobwebs, in which, as in the body of the nest, lichens
of several species are much intermingled. Exteriorly the nests are
from 4 to 5 inches in diameter, and from 2 to 21/2 in height. Interiorly
they are lined with moss, roots, hairs, and fine grass; the cavity
measuring from 3 to 3.5 inches in breadth, and from 1.1 to 1.4 inch in
depth. The normal number of the eggs is four.
Mr. Brooks says:--"The nest is usually fixed on the upper surface of a
thin branch about 15 to 20 feet from the ground, and at its junction
with another branch, the nest being partly embedded in the fork of two
_horizontal_ branches. It is composed of grass, fibres, and roots, and
lined with finer grasses and a few hairs. The nest is broader and much
shallower than that of _D. ater_; outside it is covered with spiders'
webs and small bits of lichen.
"The eggs are four in number, sometimes only three, and vary much in
size, shape, and colour; size 1.0 by 0.7 inch: some are buff, blotched
with light reddish brown and pale purple-grey; others are lighter
buff, almost white in fact, spotted and marked more sparingly than the
first described with the same two colours, but each of a darker tint;
others are white, marked sparingly with spots and blotches of dark
purple-brown and reddish brown, and intermixed with larger blotches
of deep purple-grey, the markings principally forming a zone at the
larger end. Others, again, are pale purplish white, spotted with dark
and light purple-brown, and intermixed with spots and blotches of
purple-grey. The shape of the egg varies as much as the colouring,
some being of a fine oval form, while others are quite pyriform.
Laying in Kumaon from the middle to end of May."
As I shall notice further on, I think that Mr. Brooks is mistaken
about some of his eggs.
Captain Hutton remarks:--"This species, the only one that visits
Mussoorie, arrives from the Doon about the middle of March, and
retires again about September. It is abundant during the summer
months, and breeds from the latter end of April till the middle of
June, making a very neat nest, which is placed in the bifurcation of
a horizontal branch of some tall tree, usually an oak tree; it
is constructed of grey lichens gathered from the trees, and fine
seed-stalks of grasses, firmly and neatly interwoven; with the latter
it is also usually lined, although sometimes a black fibrous lichen is
used; externally the materials are kept compactly together by being
plastered over with spiders' webs. It is altogether a light and
elegant nest. The shape is circular, somewhat shallow; internal
diameter 3 inches. The eggs are three or four, generally the latter
number, and so variable in colour and distribution of spots that until
I had got several specimens and compared them narrowly, I was inclined
to think we had more than one species of _Dicrurus_ here. I am,
however, now fully convinced that these variable eggs belong to the
same species. Sometimes they are dull white with brick-red spots
openly disposed in form of a rude ring at the larger end; at other
times the spots are rufescent claret, with duller indistinct ones
appearing through the shell; others are of a deep carneous hue,
clouded and coarsely blotched with deep rufescent claret; while again
some are faint carneous with large irregular blotches of rufous clay
with duller ones beneath the shell."
Some of Captain Hutton's eggs which he sent me were clearly those of
_Hypsipetes psaroides_ (of which also be sent me specimens), and the
fact is that in thick foliage where the Red-bill is not seen nothing
is easier than to mistake this bird for _D. longicaudatus_. I have
taken a great many of these nests, and I never found eggs other than
of the two types to be below described.
Colonel G.F.L. Marshall writes:--"In Kumaon this species breeds from
4000 to 5000 feet above the sea; the eggs are laid in the last week of
May. I have never seen a nest at Naini Tal itself (6000 to 7000 feet),
but at Bheem Tal (4000 feet) I found numerous nests within three days,
in the first week of June; all without exception had young. The next
season I visited the place in the last week of May, and found the eggs
"The nests were of the usual _Dicrurus_ type, wedged in a fork at
heights varying from fifteen to fifty feet from the ground, but as far
as my experience goes always in conspicuous places and generally on
trees almost or quite bare of leaves. The nests are usually only to be
obtained by sawing off the bough they are built on."
Long ago Captain Cock, writing from Dhurmsala, said:--"I took a
nest on the 8th of May, containing four eggs. The eggs are regular,
roundish ovals, somewhat pointed towards one end. The ground-colour is
white, here and there suffused with a faint pinkish tinge, and it is
spotted and blotched with purplish red and pale lilac, most of the
spots being gathered into an irregular zone about the large end."
Colonel C.H.T. Marshall, writing from Murree, says:--"Breeds in May,
in almost inaccessible places, about 7000 feet up, choosing a thin
fork at the outermost end of a bough about 50 or 60 feet from the
ground, and always on trees that have no lower branches. The nest is
almost invisible from below, as it is very neatly built on the top of
the fork; and when the female sits on it, she places her tail down the
bough so as entirely to hide herself. The eggs are only to be obtained
either by climbing higher up the tree than the nest is, and extracting
the eggs by means of a small muslin bag at the end of a long stick, or
else by lashing the bough on which the nest is to an upper bough as
the climber goes along so as to make it strong enough to support him.
The nest is much neater than that of _D. ater_; the eggs are light
salmon-coloured, with brick-red blotches sparsely scattered over them,
and are .95 by .7 inch."
Dr. Scully records the following note from Nepal:--"This species lays
in the valley in May and June, the nest being placed high up in trees,
often in _Pinus longifolia_. The eggs are usually four in number,
fairly glossy, in shape moderate ovals, smaller at one end. The
ground-colour is pinkish white, with a tinge of buff, sparingly
spotted and blotched with brownish red, chiefly at the large end,
where the marks tend to coalesce, so as to form an irregular
incomplete ring. Four eggs taken on the 28th May measured 1.09 to 1.12
in length, and 0.75 to 0.76 in breadth. The race which I identify with
_D. himalayanus_ was found, in very small numbers, on the summit of
Sheopuri, at an elevation of about 7500 feet, and was breeding at the
time I shot my specimen, viz. the 20th May."
Mr. Gammie found a nest at Mongpho, near Darjeeling, at an elevation
of about 3500 feet on the 13th May. It was placed on an outer branch
of a tall tree and contained only one partially incubated egg. The
nest was a beautifully compact, but shallow cup, placed on the upper
surface of the bough, composed externally of roots and coated with a
little lichen and a great deal of cobweb. Interiorly lined with the
finest grass and moss-roots. The cavity measured about 3 inches in
diameter and scarcely more than 1 inch in depth. At the bottom, where
it rested on the bough, the nest was not above 1/4 inch thick, and
consisted only of the lining materials. Laterally it was about 3/4 inch
The egg was a broad oval, slightly compressed towards one end, but
not at all pointed. The shell very fine and with a slight gloss, the
ground-colour a delicate salmon-pink, and with a broad ring of deep
brownish-pink spots and blotches intermingled with pale purple
subsurface-looking clouds and spots round the large end. The rest of
the egg with some half-dozen similar spots.
He subsequently sent me the following note:--"This species is common
in the Darjeeling district up to 4000 feet or so. It rather affects
the neighbourhood of bungalows, and is a very lively neighbour,
especially in the mornings and evenings. These birds are continually
quarrelling among themselves, sallying after insects, or making
their best attempts at singing. They are _dead_ on Kites, Crows, and
such-like depredators. For several days an Owl (_Bulaca newarensis_)
was flying about near the Cinchona Bungalow at Mongpho, and being a
stupid creature at the best, and doubly so during daylight when it had
no business to be abroad, was evidently considered fair game by the
Long-tailed Drongo and Swallow-Shrikes, and so awfully 'sat upon' by
them, that its life must have become a burden to it until it left
the place in despair of ever getting either peace or comfort about
"They lay in April and May, and have but one brood in the year.
The nest is generally either built against a tall bamboo, well up,
supported on the branch of twigs at a node, or near the extremity of a
branch of a tree, sometimes on quite slender branches of young trees,
which get so tremendously wafted about by the wind as to make the
retention of the eggs or young in the nest appear almost miraculous.
When anyone meddles with the nest, the owners make bold dashes at the
head of the robber. The Darjeeling birds are not so knowing as their
fellows of Murree, the females of whom are said to sit on the
nests with their tails along the boughs so as to entirely conceal
themselves. I have seen dozens of the nests here, and never once saw
the female in this position, but always with her tail _across_ the
bough. The nest is a compact shallow cup, measuring externally 4.5
inches across by 1.75 in height, while the cavity is 3 inches in
diameter by about 1.2 in depth. It is made of twigs bound up with
cobwebs, among which a few lichens are intermingled. The lining is a
mixture of straw-coloured root-fibres and fine branchlets of the same
Mr. Mandelli sent me nests of this species, which were taken, at
Ging, near Darjeeling, on the 26th April and on the 22nd May, the one
contained one fresh egg, the other three. They were both placed on
branches of large trees at heights of about 20 feet from the ground.
They are broad shallow cups, from 4 to 5 inches in diameter, about 2
in height, compactly composed of fine twigs and grass-stems, bound
together with cobwebs and with many pieces of lichen and some tiny dry
leaves worked in on the outer surface. Interiorly, they are lined with
very fine hair-like grass-stems. The saucer-like cavities are about 3
inches in diameter and about 11/4 in depth.
Dr. Jerdon says:--"I found its nest on one occasion, in April, in
Lower Malabar. It was shallow and loosely made with roots, and lined
with hair, about 20 feet from the ground, on the fork of a tree; and
it contained three eggs of a pinkish-white colour, with some longish
rusty or brick-red spots."
There are two very strongly marked types of this bird's eggs. The eggs
of both types are moderately broad, or, at most, somewhat elongated
ovals, and comparatively devoid of gloss. The first, in its colouring,
exactly resembles the eggs of _Caprimulgus indicus_; a pinkish
salmon-coloured ground, streaked, blotched, and clouded, but nowhere
densely (except towards the large end, where there is a tendency to
form a cap or zone), with reddish pink, not differing widely in hue
from, though deeper in shade than, the ground-colour. Here and there,
where the markings are thickest, under-clouds of very faint purple
occur, but these are too feeble to attract attention, unless the egg
is looked into closely. In the other type of egg, the ground-colour
is pale pinkish white, pretty boldly blotched and spotted almost
exclusively towards the large end, where there is a broad irregular
imperfect zone, with brownish red, intermingled with blotches of very
faint inky purple. My description possibly fails to make this as
apparent as it should be, but no two eggs can, to a casual observer,
appear more distinct than these two types. There is yet, according to
Mr. Brooks, a third type of this bird's eggs; of this he has given me
a single example. In shape it is excessively long and narrow, of the
type of the eggs of _Chibia hottentotta_, but its coloration and
character of markings are unlike those of any Shrike or Drongo with
which I am acquainted, and exactly resemble those of many types of the
eggs of the several Bulbuls. The ground-colour is pinkish white, and
is thickly speckled and spotted throughout with primary markings of
rich brownish red, and feeble secondary ones of excessively pale
inky purple. This egg, moreover, possesses a degree of gloss never
observable in those of the _Dicruri_, and therefore, well assured
though Mr. Brooks is of the parentage of this egg which he took with
his own hands, I feel confident, having since obtained many eggs
of _Hypsipetes psaroides_ which are exactly similar to this last
described egg, that in, perhaps, indifferent light he mistook this
bird for a _Dicrurus_. I may add that the first described type, of
which I have procured numerous specimens from different parts of
the Himalayas, taking _several_ nests with my own hands, is most
characteristic of this species.
In the type with the pinky-white ground, large or small spots often
occur about the large end of a deep purple colour, so deep as to be
almost black, and but for the absence of gloss some of these paler
eggs are very close to those of some of the Orioles. Intermediate
varieties between the two types above described occur, but in not one
of more than sixty specimens that I have examined has there been any
The eggs vary in length from 0.85 to 1.01 inch, and in breadth from
0.7 to 0.75 inch, but the average of fifty-one eggs is 0.95 by 0.74
329. Dicrurus nigrescens, Oates. _The Tenasserim Ashy Drongo_.
Dicrurus nigrescens, _Oates; Oates, B.I._ i, p. 315.
Mr. Oates found the nest of this Drongo in Pegu. He says:--"I found
one nest on the 27th April at Kyeikpadein, near the town of Pegu, on
a small sapling near the summit. It contained four eggs[A]; they are
without gloss; the ground-colour in all is white. In three eggs the
whole shell is marked with spots of pale purple; these are perhaps
more numerous at the thick end, but not conspicuously so. The fourth
egg is blotched, not spotted, with the same colour.
[Footnote A: I recorded the nest and eggs of this bird under the name
of _Buchanga intermedia_ (S.F. v, p. 149). The parent birds of these
eggs are fortunately still in the British Museum, and I am able to
identify them with this species, which occurs generally throughout
Tenasserim and many parts of Lower Pegu.--ED.]
"The nest is composed of fine twigs and the dry branches of weeds; it
is lined very firmly and neatly with grass. Exterior diameter 5 inches
and depth 2; egg-chamber 31/2 inches across and 11/4 deep. The outside
of the nest is profusely covered with lichens and cobwebs. The eggs
measure from .83 to .95 in length, and .68 to .71 in width."
330. Dicrurus caerulescens (Linn.). _The White-bellied Drongo_.
Dicrurus caerulescens (_L._), _Jerd B. Ind_ i, p. 432.
Dicrurus caeruleus (_Muell._), _Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._
I have never seen a nest of the White-bellied Drongo. Mr. R. Thompson
says:--"This bird's breeding-habitat is from 2500 to 6000 feet in the
Himalayas. It is common on the south-eastern slopes of Nyneetal. It
lays in May and June, placing its shallow cup-shaped nest in some
little fork near the top of a moderate-sized oak-tree, if breeding on
a mountain-side, but of some tall _Alnus nipalensis, Acacia elata_,
or _Acer oblongum_, if nesting in deep dells or valleys. The nest
appeared to be exactly like that of _D. ater_; but I can say nothing
very positive about it or the eggs, as, though continually seeing
them, I never, I think, took the trouble of getting one down."
Colonel G.F.L. Marshall, commenting on Mr. Thompson's remark that this
Drongo is common near Naini Tal, says:--"My experience on this point
is negative; I have carefully searched the south-eastern slopes of
Naini Tal for four years without even seeing the bird, so that I do
not think it can be classed as a common breeder here."
Mr. J. Davidson informs us that on the 16th July he saw a brood of
_Dicrurus caerulescens_ on the Kondabhari Ghat, just able to fly.
Referring to Western Khandeish, he tells us that he saw only two
nests. They were on adjoining trees in the Akrani; they were largish
nests, not like those of _D. ater_, but more resembling those of _D.
longicaudatus_ described in 'Nests and Eggs.' One nest contained three
young ones, the other was only building; and nothing could have been
more plucky than the way the old ones defended their nest.
331. Dicrurus leucopygialis, Blyth. _The White-vented Drongo_.
Buchanga leucopygialis (_Bl._), _Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 281
Colonel Legge gives us the following account of the breeding of this
Drongo, which is confined to Ceylon:--"The breeding-season of this
Drongo is from March until May; and the nest is almost invariably
built at the horizontal fork of the branch of a large tree, at a
considerable height from the ground, sometimes as much as 40 feet. It
is a shallow cup, measuring about 21/4 inches in diameter by 1 in depth,
and is compactly put together, well finished round the top, but
sometimes rather loose on the exterior, which is composed of fine
grass-stalks and bark-fibres, the lining being of fine grass or
tendrils of creepers. The number of eggs varies from two to four,
three being the most common. They vary much in shape, and also in the
depth of their ground-tint; some are regular ovals, others are stumpy
at the small end, while now and then very spherical eggs are laid.
They are either reddish white, 'fleshy,' or pure white, in some cases
marked with small and large blotches of faded red, confluent at
the obtuse end, and openly dispersed over the rest of the surface,
overlying blots of faint lilac-grey; others have a conspicuous zone
round the large end, with a few scanty blotches of light red and
bluish grey on the remainder; in others, again, the markings are
confined to a few very large roundish blotches of the above colours at
one end, or, again, several still larger clouds of brick-red at the
obtuse end, with a few blotches of the same at the other. Dimensions
from 1.0 to 0.86 inch in length, by 0.72 to 0.68 in breadth. I once
observed a pair in the north of Ceylon very cleverly forming their
nest on a horizontal fork by first constructing the side furthest from
the angle, thus forming an arch, which was then joined to the fork by
the formation of the bottom of the structure.
"The parent birds in this species display great courage, vigourously
sweeping down on any intruder who may threaten to molest their young."
334. Chaptia aenea (Vieill.). _The Bronzed Drongo_.
Chaptia aenea (_V._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ i, p. 433; _Hume, Rough Draft N.
& E._ no. 282.
The Bronzed Drongo breeds, according to Mr. Hodgson's notes, in the
central hills of Nepal, or rather in the plains near to these hills,
rarely quitting large woods. They begin to lay in March, and build a
broad somewhat saucer-shaped nest some 4 or 5 inches in width and 2 to
3 in depth externally. The nest is placed in some slender horizontal
fork, to one at least of the twigs of which it is firmly attached by
vegetable fibres; it is composed of fine twigs and grass, and bound
round with, cobwebs in which pieces of lichen and small cocoons are
often intermingled. Mr. Hodgson specially notes:--"_June 6th, valley_.
Female, nest and eggs; nest on fork of upper branch of large tree, 4.5
inches wide by 2.25 deep, cup-shaped, made of fibres of grass bound
with cobweb, lining none; three eggs, obtusely oval, the ground fawn
tinged white, blotched (especially at larger end) with fawn or reddish
It appears that four is the maximum number of eggs laid; both sexes
participate in the work of incubation and rearing the young, but they
are very jealous of the approach of any birds when they have eggs or
young, driving all such intruders away with the utmost bravery. The
eggs measure from 0.88 to 0.95 inch by 0.65.
From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes:--"I have found the Bronzed Drongo
breeding from April to June in the low hot valleys at about 2000 feet
above the sea. It suspends its nest in a slender horizontal fork at 10
feet or more from the ground, and appears, like its frequent neighbour
_Dicrurus longicaudatus_, to prefer a bamboo-clump to breed in. The
nest is a compact cup, neatly made of fine grass-stalks, with an
outer coating of dry bamboo-leaves plastered over with cobwebs; it is
fastened to the supporting branches by cobwebs. Externally it measures
3.5 inches wide by 2 inches deep, internally 2.5 by 1.5.
"The usual number of eggs is three."
Major M. Forbes Coussmaker, writing from Bangalore, tells us:--"I took
the nest of this bird on 6th April in the Shemagah District, Mysore.
It was built on the fork of a bare branch about 20 feet from the
ground in big tree-jungle, and was composed of fine grass, fibre, and
a few dry bamboo-leaves woven together with cobwebs, making a small
compact cup-like nest which measured 3 inches in diameter externally,
2.5 internally, and 1.4 deep.
"From where I stood I saw the bird come and sit on the nest and fly
off again a dozen times at least. The eggs, three in number, measured
.9 by .65, and were pinkish white with darker pink and light purple
blotches and spots all over, principally at the larger end."
Mr. J.R. Cripps informs us that at Furreedpore, in Eastern Bengal,
this species is "rather common; generally to be found perching on the
dead branches of high trees overlooking water, especially whenever
there is a dense undergrowth of jungle. On the 1st June, 1878, I
secured a nest with three fresh eggs; it was built on a slender twig
on the outer side of a mango-tree which was standing near a ryot's
house, and was about 15 feet off the ground. External diameter 31/2
inches, depth 2; internal diameter 2-1/3, depth 1-1/8. Saucer-shaped;
the outside consisted of plaintain-leaves torn up into slips, all of
which were firmly bound together by fibres of the plaintain-leaf and
jute, which were wound round the twigs and secured the nest. Inside
lining was made of very fine pieces of 'sone' grass. The pair were
very pugnacious, attacking any birds coming near their nest. These
birds have a clear mellow ringing whistle."
Mr. Oates writes from Pegu:--"I procured one nest on the 23rd April.
It was placed at the tip of an outer branch of a jack tree, and