Part 7 out of 12
attention was drawn to it by the vigorous attacks the parents made on
passing birds. The nest was suspended in a fork; the outside diameter
is 4 inches and inside 3, total depth 21/2, and the egg-cup is about 11/2;
deep. The nest is composed of fine grass, strips of plaintain-bark,
and other vegetable fibres closely woven together; the edges and the
interior are chiefly of delicate branchlets of the finer weeds and
grasses. It is overlaid at the edges, where it is attached to the
branches, with cobwebs, and a few fragments of moss are stuck on at
"There were two fresh eggs; the ground-colour is a pale salmon-fawn,
and the shell is covered with darker spots and marks of the same. They
are only very slightly glossy. The two eggs measure 0.85 by 0.62."
Major C.T. Bingham writes from Tenasserim:--"On the 10th March, 1880,
being encamped at the head-waters of the Queebawchoung, a feeder of
the Meplay, and having an hour to spare, I took my gun and climbed up
a steep hill to the very sources of the Queebaw. Here, hanging over
the trickling stream, was a nest of _Chaptia aenea_ firmly woven and
tied on to a fork in the branch of a little tree, at a height of about
10 feet from the ground. The nest was of roots and grass lined by
soft fine black roots, and held three eggs, of a rich salmon-pink,
obscurely spotted darker at the large end; they measure 0.83 by 0.61,
0.82 by 0.61, and 0.80 by 0.61 respectively.
"On the 15th March, 1880, in the fork of a branch of a small
zimbun-tree (_Dillenia pentagyna_), hanging over a pathway along the
bank of the Meplay stream, I found a nest of the above species. A neat
strongly-made little cup of vegetable fibres and cobwebs, containing
two fresh eggs; ground-colour dull salmon, obscurely spotted with
brownish pink. They measure 0.86 by 0.64 and 0.88 by 0.65."
Mr. J.L. Darling, Jun., records the following notes:--
"26th March. Found a nest of _Chaptia aenea_, building, when on the
march from Tavoy to Nwalabo, some seven miles east of Tavoy, in the
fork of a bamboo-branch 12 feet from ground.
"29th March. Took two fresh eggs of _Chaptia aenea_, and shot the bird
off nest, about twenty-three miles east of Tavoy, in open bamboo-land,
very low elevation. The nest was built in the fork of an overhanging
branch of a bamboo some 50 feet from the ground.
"13th April. Found a nest of _Chaptia aenea_ with two large young
ones. Nest built in a tree some 40 feet from ground, in open forest
about twenty miles east of Tavoy.
"22nd April. Found a nest of _Chaptia aenea_ with two large young
ones. Nest built at the end of a bough about 30 feet from ground, near
The nests of this species are quite of the Oriole type, more or less
deep cups suspended between the forks of small branches or twigs of
some bamboo-clump or tree. Exteriorly they are composed of dry flags
of grass, bits of bamboo-spathes, or coarse grass, bound together with
vegetable fibres and often with a good deal of cobweb worked over
them; sometimes a tiny bit or two of moss may be found added, and
often the fine thread-like flower-stems of grass. Interiorly they are
generally lined with excessively fine grass. In one or two nests very
fine black fern-roots are intermingled with the grass lining. The
nests vary a good deal in size, but are all extremely compact, and
while some are decidedly massive, nearly an inch thick at bottom,
others are scarcely a quarter of this in thickness beneath. In one the
cavity is 2.5 inches broad by 3 long, and fully 2 deep; in another it
is about 2.5 inches in diameter by scarcely 1.25 inches in depth. In
one nest four fresh eggs were found; in another three fully incubated
ones. The nests were suspended at heights of from 10 to 30 feet from
The eggs sent by Mr. Gammie very much recall the eggs of _Niltava_ and
others of the Flycatchers. They are moderately elongated ovals, in
some cases slightly pyriform, in others somewhat pointed towards the
small end. The shell is fine and compact, smooth and silky to the
touch, but they have but little gloss. The ground-colour varies from
a pale pinkish fawn to a pale salmon-pink, and they exhibit round
the large end a feeble more or less imperfect and irregular zone of
darker-coloured cloudy spots, in some cases reddish, in some rather
inclining to purple, which zone is more or less involved in a haze
of the same colour, but slightly darker than the rest of the
ground-colour of the egg.
The eggs vary in length from 0.76 to 0.88, and in breadth from 0.6 to
0.64. The average of fifteen eggs is 0.82 by 0.61.
335. Chibia hottentotta (Linn.). _The Hair-crested Drongo_.
Chibia hottentota (_L.), Jerd. B. Ind._ i, p. 439; _Hume, Rough Draft
N. & E._ no. 286.
Mr. R. Thompson says:--"The Hair-crested Drongo is extremely common as
a breeder in all our hot valleys (Kumaon and Gurwhal). It lays in May
and June, building in forks of branches of small leafy trees situated
in warm valleys having an elevation of from 2000 to 2500 feet. The
nest is circular, about 5 inches in diameter, rather deep and hollow;
it is composed of fine roots and fibres bound together with cobwebs,
and it is lined with hairs and fine roots. They lay from three to
four much elongated, purplish-white eggs, spotted with pink or claret
Dr. Jerdon remarks:--"The Lepchas at Darjeeling brought me the nest,
which was said to have been placed high up in a large tree; it was
composed of twigs and roots and a few bits of grass, and contained
two eggs, livid white, with purplish and claret spots, and of a very
The Jobraj, according to Mr. Hodgson's notes and figures, begins to
lay in Nepal in April. It builds a large shallow nest, 8 or 9 inches
in diameter externally, with the cavity of about half that diameter,
attached, as a rule, to the slender branches of some horizontal fork,
between which it is suspended much like that of an Oriole, though much
shallower than this latter; it is composed of small twigs, fine roots,
and grass-stems bound together, and it is attached to the branches by
vegetable fibre, and more or less coated with cobwebs; little pieces
of lichen and moss are also blended in the nest. It lays three or four
eggs, rather pyriform in shape, measuring 1.25 by 0.86 inch, with a
whitish or pinky-whitish ground, speckled and spotted pretty well all
over, but most densely towards the large end, with reddish pink.
From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes:--"I took two nests of the Hair-crested
Drongo this year in June, both at about an elevation of 1500 feet in
wooded valleys, placed well up in the outer branches of tall, slender
trees; they are of a broad saucer-shape, openly but firmly made of
roots and stems of slender climbers, and destitute of lining. There
is a good deal of cobweb on the outsides of the nests, and they were
attached to the supporting branches by the same material. One was
fixed in among several upright sprays, the other suspended in a
slender fork after the manner of an Oriole. They measured about 6
inches broad by 21/4 deep externally, internally 4 by 13/4. One nest
contained four fresh eggs, the other three partially-incubated eggs."
Mr. Oates, writing from Pegu, says:--"In the first week of May I took
several nests of this bird, but in all cases the nests were situated
in such dangerous places that most of the eggs got broken; there were
three in each nest. The position of the nest and the nest itself are
very much like those of _D. paradiseus_. Comparing many nests of both
species together, the only difference appears to be that the nests of
the Hair-crested Drongo are slightly larger on the whole.
"The only two eggs saved measure 1.10 by .8 and 1.11 by .81; they are
slightly glossy, dull white, minutely and thickly freckled and spotted
with reddish brown and pale underlying marks of neutral tint.
"I may add that at the commencement of May all the eggs were much
Major C.T. Bingham remarks:--"During the breeding season in the end
of March and in April I saw a great number of nests round and about
Meeawuddy in Tenasserim, but all inaccessible, as they were invariably
built out at the very end of the thinnest branches of eng, teak,
thingan (_Hopea odorata_), and other trees.
"Except during those two months, I have not seen the bird plentiful
Mr. J.R. Cripps has written the following valuable notes regarding
the breeding of the Hair-crested Drongo in the Dibrugarh district in
"17th May, 1879. Nest with three fresh eggs, attached to a fork in one
of the outer brandies of an otinga (_Dillenia pentagyna_) tree, and
about 15 feet off the ground.
"15th May, 1880. Three fresh eggs in a nest 20 feet off the ground,
and a few yards from my bungalow, in an oorian (_Bischoffia javanica_,
"5th June, 1880. Nest with three partly-incubated eggs, in one of the
outer branches of a jack (_Artocarpus integrifolia_) tree, and about
15 feet off the ground.
"27th May, 1881. Three fresh eggs in a nest on a soom (_Machilus
odoratissima_) tree at the edge of the forest bordering the tea. The
nests are deep saucers, 31/2 inches in diameter, internally 11/2 deep,
with the sides about 1/4 thick; but the bottom is so flimsy that the
eggs are easily seen from below, the materials being grass, roots, and
fine tendrils of creepers, especially if these are thorny, when they
are used as a lining. The nest is always situated in the fork of a
The nests are large, shallow, King-Crow-like structures, often
suspended between forks, sometimes placed between four or five upright
shoots, at times resting on a horizontal bough against and attached to
some more or less upright shoots. They are composed mainly of roots
thinly but firmly twisted together, have sometimes a good deal of
cobweb twisted round their outer surface, often a good deal of
vegetable fibre used for the same purpose and, though they have no
lining, are always composed interiorly of finer material than that
used for the outer portion of the structure. Exteriorly the diameter
varies from 6 to nearly 7 inches, the height from nearly 2 to 21/2; the
cavity is usually about 4 inches in diameter and 1.5 to 1.75 in depth.
I have taken the nests in May and June alike in small and large trees,
at elevations of from 10 to 30 feet from the ground.
Typically the eggs are rather broad ovals, a good deal pointed towards
the small end, but they vary a great deal both in size and shape, are
occasionally very much elongated, and again, at times, exhibit the
characteristic pointing but feebly. The ground-colour varies from
greyish white to a delicate pale pink; as a rule the markings are
small and inconspicuous frecklings and specklings of pale purple
reddish where the ground, is pink, greyish where it is white,
tolerably thickly set about the large end and somewhat sparsely
elsewhere; but in some eggs these markings are everywhere almost
obsolete. In many there is a dull pale purplish cloud underlying the
primary markings, extending over the greater part of the large end of
the egg. Not uncommonly a few specks and spots of yellowish brown
are scattered here and there about the egg. In one egg before me the
markings are larger, more decided, and fewer in number--distinct
spots, some of them one tenth of an inch in diameter; and in this egg
the spots are decidedly brownish red, while intermixed with, them are
a few specks and clouds of inky purple. The ground in this case is a
pale pinky white.
As a rule the eggs are entirely devoid of gloss, but one or two have a
very faint gloss.
The eggs measure from 1.01 to 1.21 in length, and from 0.79 to 0.86 in
breadth; but the average of twenty-nine eggs is 1.12 by 0.81.
338. Dissemurulus lophorhinus (Vieill.). _The Ceylon Black Drongo_.
Dissemuroides lophorhinus (V.), _Hume, cat._ no. 283 quat.
Colonel Legge says, in his 'Birds of Ceylon':--"This species breeds in
the south of Ceylon in the beginning of April. I have seen the young
just able to fly in the Opate forests at the end of this month; but I
have not succeeded in getting any information concerning its nest or
339. Bhringa remifer (Temm.). _The Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo_.
Bhringa remifer (_Temm._), _Jerd. B. Ind._ i, p. 434.
Bhringa tenuirostris, _Hodgs., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 283.
Of the Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo Mr. R. Thompson says:--"This
elegant Drongo is somewhat common in our lower Kumaon ranges. Its
lively clear and ringing notes are one of the greatest charms of the
spring season in our forests. It breeds in May and June, and builds
upon lofty trees in dense forests, usually in some deep damp valley.
The nest from below looks just like that of a common King-Crow--a
broad shallow cup; but I never closely examined either nest or eggs."
Dr. Jerdon remarks:--"A nest with eggs were brought to me in June,
said to be of this species. The nest was loosely made of sticks and
roots, and contained three eggs, reddish white, with a very few
From. Sikhim, Mr. Gammie writes:--"I have taken but one nest of this
Drongo. It was suspended between two small horizontal forking branches
of a tall tree, some 20 feet from ground. It is a neat, saucer-shaped
structure, somewhat triangular, to fit well up to the fork, built of
fibry roots, and firmly bound to the branches by spiders' webs. The
sides and bottom are strong, but so thin that they can everywhere be
seen through. Externally it measures 4.5 inches across by 1.9 in
height; internally 3.5 by 1.3. It was taken on the 15th May at 2500
feet, and contained three partially incubated eggs."
A nest of this species taken by Mr. Gammie at Rishap (elevation 4800)
in Sikhim, on the 20th May, is a very broad shallow saucer, composed
almost entirely of moderately fine dark brown roots, but with a few
slender herbaceous twigs intermingled. It is suspended in the fork
of two widely diverging twigs, to which either margin is attached,
chiefly by cobwebs, though on one side at one place part of the
substance of the nest is wound round the twig: the cavity, which is
not lined, is oval, and measures 3.5 inches by 2.75, by barely 0.75 in
depth. The female seated on the nest had long tail-feathers, so this
species does not drop these for convenience in incubating.
Several nests of this species obtained in Sikhim by Messrs. Gammie,
Mandelli, &c. are all precisely similar--broad saucers, suspended
Oriole-like between the fork of a small branch. Exteriorly composed of
moderately fine brown roots, more or less bound together, especially
those portions of them that are bound round the twigs of the fork with
cobwebs, and lined interiorly with fine black horsehair-like roots.
They seem to be always right up in the angle of the fork, whereas in
_Chaptia_ they are often some inches down the fork, and consequently
the cavity is triangular on the one side, and semicircular on the
other. The cavities measure from 3 to nearly 4 inches in their
greatest diameters, and vary from 1 to 11/2 inch in depth; though strong
and firm, and fully 1/4 of an inch thick at bottom, the materials are so
put together that, held up against the light, they look like a fine
The eggs of this species obtained by Mr. Gammie, though more elongated
in shape and somewhat larger, very closely resemble in coloration the
more ordinary type of the eggs of _Dicrurus longicaudatus_. In shape
they are elongated ovals, a good deal compressed towards the smaller
end. The shell is fine, but has scarcely any gloss. The ground-colour
is a moderately warm salmon-pink. It is spotted, streaked, and
blotched thickly about the large end (where there is a tendency to
form a cap or zone), thinly elsewhere, with somewhat brownish red, or
in some merely a darker shade of the ground-colour; where the markings
are thickest about the large end, in some only one or two, in others
numerous blotches and clouds of a dull inky purple are intermingled,
and a few specks and spots of the same colour often occur elsewhere
about the egg.
Two eggs measure 1.09 by 0.75, and a third measures 0.98 by 0.75.
340. Dissemurus paradiseus (Linn.). _The Larger Racket-tailed
Edolius paradiseus (_L.), Jerd. B. Ind._ i, p. 435.
Edolius inalabaricus (_Scop.), Jerd. t.c._ p. 437.
Dissemurus malabaroides (_Hodgs.), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._
Of the Larger Racket-tailed Drongo Dr. Jerdon tells us that he has
"had its nest brought him several times at Darjeeling; rather a large
structure of twigs and roots; and the eggs, usually three in number,
pinkish white, with claret-coloured or purple spots, but they vary a
great deal in size, form, and colouring. They breed in April and May."
The solitary egg that I possess of this species, given me by Dr.
Jerdon, is probably an exceptionally small one. It is a broad oval,
tapering a good deal towards one end, a good deal smaller than the
eggs of _Chibia hottentotta_, and not very much larger than some eggs
of _D. ater_. Its coloration, however, resembles that of _Chibia
hottentotta_, and differs conspicuously, _when compared with them_
(though it may be difficult to make this apparent by description),
from those of the true _Dicruri_. The ground-colour is a dead white,
and it is very thinly speckled all over, a little more thickly towards
the large end, with minute dots and spots, chiefly of a very pale inky
purple, a very few only of the spots being a dark inky purple. The
texture of the egg is fine and close, but it is devoid of gloss. This
egg measures 1.1 by 0.87 inch.
Mr. Iver Macpherson writes from Mysore:--
"_Kakencotte State Forest, Mysore District_.--I send you six eggs,
specimens from three different nests.
"This bird is very common in the heavy forests of the Mysore District,
but the only nest I have ever found myself was on the 2nd May, 1880,
and contained two or three young birds. I could not distinctly see how
many. The nest was fixed towards the end of a branch of a tree, at a
considerable height from the ground, and was almost impossible to get
at. Had there been eggs in it I could not have taken them.
"The breeding-season I should say was from the beginning of April to
the end of May.
"Three nests, each containing three eggs, were brought to me this
season on the 10th and 26th April, and 9th May, 1880, by Cooroobahs
(the jungle-tribes in these forests); and although the eggs in each
nest vary considerably from one another, there is no doubt in my mind
that the eggs belong to one and the same species of bird.
"It is a bird so well known in these forests that it would be
impossible to mistake it for any other.
"In one case only was the nest brought to me, and this, which
unfortunately I did not keep, was loosely made of twigs and roots."
Professor H. Littledale, quoting Mr. J. Davidson, informs us that
this species breeds in the east of Godhra, and therefore probably
throughout the Panch Mehals.
Mr. J. Inglis, writing from Cachar, says:--"The Bhimraj is very
common, frequenting thick jungle; it often goes in company with other
birds, which it mimics to perfection. It lays about four eggs in a
shallow nest made of grass similar to the above; it is very easily
tamed. The hill-tribes use the long tail-feathers for ornamenting
Mr. Oates writes from Pegu:--"I have taken the eggs of this species on
all dates, from the 30th April to the 16th June.
"The nest is placed in forks of the outer branches of trees at all
heights from 20 to 70 feet, and in all cases they are very difficult
to take without breaking the eggs.
"The nest is a cradle, and the whole of it lies below the fork to
which it is attached. It is made entirely of small branches of weeds
and creepers, finer as they approach the interior. The egg-cup is
generally, but not always, lined with dry grass.
"The outside dimensions are 6 inches in diameter and 3 deep. The
interior measures 4 inches by 2. In one nest the sides are bound to
the fork by cotton thread in addition to the usual weeds and creepers.
"The eggs have very little or no gloss, and differ among themselves a
good deal in colour. In one clutch the ground-colour is white, spotted
and blotched, not very thickly, with neutral tint and inky purple,
chiefly at the larger end. Other eggs are pinkish salmon, and the
shell is more or less thickly or thinly covered with pale greyish
purple or neutral tint, and brownish-yellow or orangebrown spots and
"They vary in size from 1.2 to 1.06 in length, and .85 to .8 in
Major C.T. Bingham has the following note:--"About five miles below
the large village of Meplay, in the district of that name, the main
stream of the Meplay river is joined by a tributary, the Theedoquee.
On the 4th April I was wading across the mouth of the latter, when my
attention was attracted by seeing a pair of the above birds dart from
a small tree growing at the very point of the fork where the streams
met, and sweep down at my dog, not actually striking him, but nearly
doing so. Of course, I made for the tree, and sure enough there, about
15 feet from the ground, in a fork, was a large mass of twigs, above
which was placed a neatly made cup-shaped nest, lined with fine black
roots, and containing three fresh eggs, densely spotted, chiefly at
the larger end, with yellowish brown and sepia, on a ground-colour
of dull greenish white. The whole time the peon I had sent up was
climbing up and getting the nest, the two birds kept sweeping round
and round with harsh cries. I secured them both for the identification
of the eggs."
The eggs of this species are typically rather long ovals, generally a
good deal pointed towards the small end. They are dull eggs, and never
seem to have any perceptible gloss. The ground-colour varies from
white to a rich warm pink. The markings are of all sizes and shapes,
from large blotches to the tiniest specks, and they vary in every egg,
being thickly set in some, thinly in others, but as a rule the largest
and most conspicuous markings are about the large end. Again, in
colour the markings vary very much: they are red, purplish red,
reddish brown, pale purple, and inky grey; generally the eggs
exhibit both coloured markings reddish and lilac, but sometimes the
white-grounded eggs have only these latter. Some of the pink eggs are
strikingly handsome, and remind one of those of some of the Bulbuls.
Others are dull eggs with only a few irregular grey clouds about the
large end, thinly interspersed with brownish-red spots, usually darker
about the centre, and elsewhere excessively minutely and thinly
speckled with spots too small to render it possible to say what colour
An egg I received from Darjeeling measures 1.1 by 0.87; others
received from Mynall from Mr. Bourdillon, and the Kakencotte Forest,
Mysore, from Mr. I. Macpherson, vary in length from 1.16 to 1.1, and
in breadth from 0.84 to 0.75. Three eggs, taken in Pegu by Mr. Oates,
measure from 1.1 to 1.05 in length, by 0.83 to 0.81 in breadth, and
are smaller than those the dimensions of which he himself records
341. Certhia himalayana, Vigors. _The Himalayan Tree-Creeper_.
Certliia himalayana, _Vig., Jerd B. Ind._ i, p, 380; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 243.
Writing from Murree of the Himalayan Tree-Creeper, Colonel C.H.T.
Marshall says:--"This is a most difficult nest to find, as the little
bird always chooses crevices where the bark has been broken or bulged
out, some 40 or 50 feet from the ground, and generally on tall
oak-trees which have no branches within 40 feet of their roots. There
were young in the few nests we found. Captain Cock secured the eggs in
Kashmir; they are very small, being only 0.6 by 0.45; the ground is
white, with numerous red spots. The nests we found were in the highest
part of Murree, about 7200 feet."
Two eggs of this species which I possess measure 0.69 and 0.68
respectively in length, by 0.5 in breadth.
342. Certhia hodgsoni, Brooks. _Hodgson's Tree-Creeper_.
Certhia hodgsoni, _Brooks, Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 243 bis.
Hodgson's Tree-Creeper is the supposed _C. familiaris_ obtained by Dr.
Jerdon in Cashmir, of which he gave me two specimens.
Mr. Brooks says:--"It was seen at Gulmurg and also at Sonamurg, where
Captain Cock took a few nests. The egg is much more densely
spotted than that of the English Creeper, so as almost to hide the
reddish-white ground-colour. Size 0.59 to 0.65 inch long by 0.48 inch
broad; time of laying, the _first_ week in June."
The egg is of smooth texture, without gloss, of a purplish-white
ground-colour, and fully spotted all over with light brownish red,
especially at the larger end. Numerous spots of reddish grey or pale
inky purple are intermingled with red ones.
In shape the egg varies from a somewhat elongated oval, more or less
compressed towards the smaller end, to a comparatively broad oval,
also slightly compressed towards the latter end. In all the eggs that
I have seen, the markings were more or less confluent towards the
large end. Their dimensions are correctly recorded by Mr. Brooks.
347. Salpornis spilonota (Frankl.). _The Spotted-Grey Creeper_.
Salpornis spilonota (_Frankl.), Jerd. B.I._ i, p. 382.
Mr. Cleveland found a nest of this species at Hattin, in the Gurgaon
district, on the 16th April. The nest was placed on a large ber-tree
in a patch of preserved jungle, at a height of about 10 feet from the
ground. It was cup-shaped, placed on the upper surface of a horizontal
bough at the angle formed between this and a vertical shoot, to which
it was attached on one side, the other three sides being free. The
nest itself is unlike any other that I have seen. It is composed
entirely of bits of leaf-stalks, tiny bits of leaves, chips of bark,
the dung of caterpillars, all cemented together everywhere with
cobwebs, so that the whole nest is a firm but yet soft and elastic
mass. The nest is cup-shaped, but oval and not circular; its exterior
diameters are 4 and 3 inches respectively; its greatest height 2
inches; the cavity measures 2.6 by 2.2, and 1.1 in depth.
The texture of the nest, as I have already said, is extremely
peculiar; it is extremely strong, and though pulled off the bough on
which it rested and the off-shoot to which it was attached, is as
perfect apparently as the day it was found, bearing on the lower
surface an exact cast of the inequalities of the bark on which it
rested; but it is soft, yielding, and flabby in the hand, almost as
much so as if it was jelly. The nest contained two almost full-grown
nestlings and one addled egg.
This egg is a very regular oval, slightly broader at one end, the
shell fine and fairly glossy; the ground-colour is pale greenish
white; round the large end there is an irregular imperfect zone of
blackish-brown specks and tiny spots, and round about these is more or
less of a brown nimbus, and over the rest of the egg a very few
specks and spots of blackish, dusky, and pale brown are scattered. It
measures 0.68 by 0.53.
Another nest was found about 15 feet up a tree. It was partly seated
on and partly wedged in between the fork of two thick oblique
branches, to the rough bark of which the bottom only was firmly
cemented with cobwebs, the sides, as in the case of the first nest,
being quite free and detached from its surroundings. As regards
dimensions and composition, the latter nest was an exact counterpart
of that first taken. It contained two partially fledged nestlings.
352. Anorthura neglecta (Brooks). _The Cashmir Wren_.
Troglodytes neglecta, _Brooks, Hume, cat._ no. 333 bis.
Troglodytes nipalensis, _Hodgs., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._
The Cashmir Wren breeds in Cashmir in May and June at elevations of
from 6000 to nearly 10,000 feet. I have never seen the nest, though
I possess eggs taken by Captain Cock and Mr. Brooks in Cashmir.
The latter says:--"Only two nests of this bird were found (both at
Gulmurg), one having four eggs and the other three. In the latter
case the full number was not laid, as the nest, when first found, was
empty; on three successive mornings an egg was laid and then they were
"In shape they vary as much as do those of the English Wren, and like
them they are white, sometimes minutely freckled with pale red and
purple-grey specks, which are principally confined to the large end,
with a tendency to form a zone. Other eggs are plain white, without
the slightest sign of a spot; but these, I think, must be the
exception, for the egg of the English Wren is usually spotted. The egg
has very little gloss, and the ground-colour is pure white."
The eggs are very large for the size of the bird. There appear to
be two types. The one somewhat elongated ovals, slightly compressed
towards the lesser end; the others broad short ovals, decidedly
pointed at one end. Some eggs are perfectly pure unspotted white;
others have a dull white ground, with a faint zone of minute specks of
brownish red and tiny spots of greyish purple towards the large end,
and a very few markings of a similar character scattered about the
rest of the surface. All the eggs of the latter type vary in the
amount and size of markings; these latter are always sparse and very
minute. The pure white eggs appear to be less common. The eggs have
always a slight gloss, the pure white ones at times a very decided,
though never at all a brilliant gloss.
In length they vary from 0.61 to 0.7 inch, and in breadth from 0.5 to
Mr. Brooks subsequently wrote:--"The Cashmir Wren is not uncommon in
the pine-woods of Cashmir, and in habits and manners resembles its
European congener. Its song is very similar and quite as pretty. It is
a shy, active little bird, and very difficult to shoot. I found two
nests. One was placed in the roots of a large upturned pine, and
was globular with entrance at the side. It was profusely lined with
feathers and composed of moss and fibres. The eggs were white,
sparingly and minutely spotted with red, rather oval in shape;
measuring 0.66 by 0.5. A second nest was placed in the thick foliage
of a moss-grown fir-tree, and was about 7 feet above the ground. It
was similarly composed to the other nest, but the eggs were rounder
and plain white, without any spots."
355. Urocichla caudata (Blyth). _The Tailed Wren_.
Pnoepyga caudata (_Blyth), Jerd. B. Ind._ i, p. 490; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 331.
The Tailed Wren, according to Mr. Hodgson's notes, lays in April and
May, building a deep cup-shaped nest about the roots of trees or in
a hole of fallen timber; the nest is a dense mass of moss and
moss-roots, lined with the latter. One measured was 3.5 inches in
diameter and 3 in height; internally, the cavity was 1.6 inch, in
diameter and about 1 inch deep. They lay four or five spotless whitish
eggs, which are figured as broad ovals, rather pointed towards one
end, and measuring 0.75 by 0.54 inch.
356. Pnoepyga albiventris (Hodgs.). _The Scaly-breasted Wren_.
Pnoepyga squamata (_Gould), Jerd. B. Ind._ i, p. 488.
From Sikhim, Mr. Gammie writes:--"I found two nests of the
Scaly-breasted Wren this year within a few yards of each other. They
were in a small moist ravine in the Rishap forest, at 5000 feet above
sea-level. One was deserted before being quite finished, and the other
was taken a few days after three eggs had been laid. The two nests
were alike, and both were built among the moss growing on the trunks
of large trees, within a yard of the ground. The only carried material
was very fine roots, which were firmly interwoven, and the ends worked
in with the natural moss. These fine roots were worked into the shape
of a half-egg, cut lengthways, and placed with its open side against
the trunk, which thus formed one side of the nest. Near the top one
side was not quite close to the trunk, and by this irregular opening
the bird entered. Internally the nest measured 3 inches deep by 2 in
width. I killed the female off the eggs; she had eaten a caterpillar,
spiders, and other insects."
Mr. Mandelli found a nest of this species at Pattabong, elevation 5000
feet, near Darjeeling, on the 19th May, containing three fresh eggs.
The nest was placed amongst some small bushes projecting out of a
crevice of a rock about three feet from the ground. It was completely
sheltered above, but was not hooded or domed; it was, for the size of
the bird, a rather large cup, composed of green moss rather closely
felted together and lined with fine blackish-brown roots. The cavity
measured about 2 inches in diameter and 1 in depth.
The eggs of this species seem large for the size of the bird; they are
rather broad at the large end, considerably pointed towards the small
end. They are pure white, almost entirely devoid of gloss, and with
very delicate and fragile shells.
The eggs varied from in 0.72 to 0.78 in length, and from 0.54 to 0.57
358. Regulus cristatus, Koch. _The Golderest_.
Regulus himalayensis, _Blyth, Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 206; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 580.
All I know of the nidification of this species is that Sir E.C. Buck,
C.S., found a nest at Rogee, in the Sutlej Valley, on the 8th June,
on the end of a deodar branch 8 feet from the ground and partly
suspended. It contained seven young birds fully fledged; no crest or
signs of a crest were observable in the young. Both the parent birds
and the nest were kindly sent to me.
The nest is a deep pouch suspended from several twigs, with the
entrance at the top, and composed entirely of fine lichens woven or
intervened into a thick, soft, flexible tissue of from three eighths
to half an inch in thickness. Externally the nest was about 31/2 to 4
inches in depth, and about 3 inches in diameter.
363. Acrocephalus stentoreus (H. & E.). _The Indian Great
Acrocephalus brunnescens (_Jerd.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 154.
Calamodyta stentorea (_H. & E.), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._
Both Mr. Brooks and Captain Cock succeeded in securing the nests and
eggs of the Indian Great Reed-Warbler in Cashmere. Common as it is,
my own collectors failed to get eggs, though they brought plenty of
The nest is a very deep massive cup hung to the sides of reeds. A nest
before me, taken in Cashmere on the 10th June, is an inverted and
slightly truncated cone. Externally it has a diameter of 31/4 inches
and a depth of nearly 6 inches. It is massive, but by no means neat;
composed of coarse water-grass, mingled with a few dead leaves and
fibrous roots of water-plants. The egg-cavity is lined with finer and
more compactly woven grass, and measures about 13/4 inch in diameter and
21/4 inches in depth.
It breeds in May and June; at the beginning of July all the nests
either contained young or were empty. Four is the full complement of
Mr. Brooks noted _in epist._:--"_Srinuggur, 10th June_. I went out
early this morning on the lake here to look for eggs of _Acrocephalus
stentoreus_, but it came on to rain so heavily that I only partially
succeeded. I took three nests, two with three eggs each, and one with
four young ones, the latter half-hatched. The eggs very much resemble
large and boldly-marked Sparrows' eggs. They are smaller than the eggs
of _A. arundinaceus_, but very similar. The latter have larger clear
spaces without spots than those of our bird. I neither saw nor heard
any other aquatic warbler."
Later, in a paper on the eggs and nests he had obtained in Cashmere,
he stated that this species "breeds abundantly in the Cashmere lakes.
The nest is supported, about 18 inches above the water, by three or
four reeds, and is a deep cup composed of grasses and fibres. The eggs
are four, very like those of _A. arundinaceus_, but the markings are
more plentiful and smaller."
Captain Cock writes to me that "the Large Reed-Warbler is very common
in the reeds that fringe all the lakes in Cashmere. It breeds in June,
builds a largish nest of dry sedge, woven round five or six reeds, of
a deep cup form, which it places about 2 feet above the water. It lays
four or five eggs, rather blunt ovals, equally blunt at both ends,
blotched with olive and dusky grey on a dirty-white ground."
Mr. S.B. Doig, who found this bird breeding in the Eastern Narra in
Sind, writes:--"On the 4th August, while my man was poling along in
a canoe in a large swamp on the lookout for eggs, he passed a small
bunch of reeds and in them spotted a nest with a bird on it. The nest
contained three beautiful fresh eggs. A few days later I joined him,
and on asking about these eggs he described the bird and said he
had found several other nests of the same species, but all of them
contained young ones nearly fledged. I made him show me some of these
nests, all of which were situated in clumps of reed, in the middle of
the swamp, and in these same reeds I found and shot the young ones
which, though fledged, were not able to fly. These I sent with one of
the eggs to Mr. Hume, who has identified them as belonging to this
species. The nests were composed of frayed pieces of reed-grass and
fine sedge, the latter being principally towards the inside, thus
forming a kind of lining. The nests were loosely put together, were
about 3 inches inner diameter, 11/4 inch deep, the outer diameter being
6 inches. They were situated about a foot over water-line in the tops
of reeds growing in the water."
Colonel Legge says:--"This species breeds in Ceylon during June
and July. Its nest was procured by me in the former month at the
Tamara-Kulam, and was a very interesting structure, built into the
fork of one of the tall seed-stalks of the rush growing there; the
walls rested exteriorly against three of the branches of the fork, but
were worked round some of the stems of the flower itself which sprung
from the base of the fork. It was composed of various fine grasses,
with a few rush-blades among them, and was lined with the fine stalks
of the flower divested, by the bird I conclude, of the seed-matter
growing on them. In form it was a tolerably deep cup, well shaped,
measuring 21/2 inches in internal diameter by 2 in depth. The single egg
which it contained at the time of my finding it was a broad oval in
shape, pale green, boldly blotched with blackish over spots of olive
and olivaceous brown, mingled with linear markings of the same, under
which there were small clouds and blotches of bluish grey. The black
markings were longitudinal and thickest at the obtuse end. It measured
0.89 by 0.67 inch."
The eggs of this species, as might have been expected, greatly
resemble those of _A. arundinaceus_. In shape they are moderately
elongated ovals, in some cases almost absolutely perfect, but
generally slightly compressed towards one end. The shell, though fine,
is entirely devoid of gloss.
The ground-colour varies much, but the two commonest types are pale
green or greenish white and a pale somewhat creamy stone-colour.
Occasionally the ground-colour has a bluish tinge.
The markings vary even more than the ground-colour. In one type the
ground is everywhere minutely, but not densely, stippled with minute
specks, too minute for one to be able to say of what colour; over this
are pretty thickly scattered fairly bold and well-marked spots and
blotches of greyish black, inky purple, olive-brown, yellowish olive,
and reddish-umber brown; here and there pale inky clouds underlay the
more distinct markings. In other eggs the stippling is altogether
wanting, and the markings are smaller and less well-defined. In some
eggs one or more of the colours predominate greatly, and in some
several are almost entirely wanting. In most eggs the markings are
densest towards the large end, where they sometimes form more or less
of a mottled, irregular, ill-defined cap.
In length the eggs vary from 0.8 to 0.97, and in breadth from 0.58 to
0.63; but the average of the only nine eggs that I measured was 0.89,
nearly, by rather more than 0.61.
366. Acrocephalus dumetorum, Blyth. _Blyth's Reed-Warbler_.
Acrocephalus dumetorum, _Bl., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 155.
Calamodyta dumetorum (_Bl.), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._
Blyth's Reed-Warbler breeds, I believe, for the most part along the
course of the streams of the lower Himalayan and sub-Himalayan ranges,
and in suitable localities on and about these ranges; such at least is
my present idea. They are with us in the plains up to quite the end of
March, and are back again by the last day of August, and during May at
any rate they may be heard and seen everywhere in the valleys south of
the first snowy range.
Mr. Brooks remarks that "this species was excessively common on the
Hindoostan side of the Pir-pinjal Range, but I have never seen it in
Cashmere. I think it breeds in the low valleys by the river-sides,
for it was in very vigorous song there at the end of May." This is my
experience also, and probably while many may go north to Central Asia
to breed, a good many remain in the localities indicated.
Captain Hutton says:--"This species arrives in the hills up to 7000
feet at least, in April, when it is very common, and appears in pairs
with something of the manner of a _Phylloscopus_. The note is a sharp
_tchick, tchick_, resembling the sound emitted by a flint and steel.
"It disappears by the end of May, in which month they breed; but,
owing to the high winds and strong weather experienced in that month
in 1848, many nests were left incomplete, and the birds must have
departed without breeding.
"One nest, which I took on the 6th May, was a round ball with a
lateral entrance; it was placed in a thick barberry-bush growing at
the side of a deep and sheltered ditch; it was composed of coarse
dry grasses externally and lined with finer grass. Eggs three and
pearl-white, with minute scattered specks of rufous, chiefly at the
larger end. Diameter 0.62 by 0.5."
The late Mr. A. Anderson wrote the following note:--"On the fifth
day after leaving Naini Tal--ever mindful of my friend Mr. Brooks's
parting advice to me (in reference to the part of the country which
required to be investigated), 'avoid the lower hills as the plague'--I
reached Takula, which is the first march beyond Almora on the road to
the Pindari glacier, late on the evening of the 10th of May. It rained
heavily all that night, so that I was obliged to halt the next day,
my tents being far too wet to be struck, and the distance to the next
halting-place necessitating a start the first thing in the morning.
"Takula is at an elevation between 5000 and 6000 feet; it is
beautifully wooded, with a small mountain-stream flowing right
under the camping-ground, and the climate is delightful. All things
considered, I was not sorry at having an opportunity of exploring such
productive-looking ground; and before it was fairly daylight the next
morning operations were commenced in right earnest. To each of my
collectors I apportioned off a well-wooded mountain-slope, reserving
for my own hunting-ground (as I had not yet got my _hill-legs_) the
water-courses and ravines in the immediate vicinity of my camp.
"Not more than 20 yards from where my tent stood, there is a deep
ravine clothed on both banks with a dense jungle of the larger kind of
nettle (_Girardinia heterophylla_: such nettles too!), the hilldock
(_Rumea nepalensis_), and wild-rose trees. Wending my way through this
dark, damp, and muggy nullah to the best of my ability, I came upon
the nest of this interesting little bird; it was placed in the centre
of a rose-bush, at an elevation of some two feet above the bank and
about four feet from where I stood, but yet in a most tantalizing
situation, inasmuch as it was necessary to remove several thorny
branches before an examination of the nest was possible.
"The act of cutting away the branches alarmed my sombre little
friend (I knew that the nest was tenanted, as the bill and head were
distinctly visible through the lateral entrance), and out she darted
with such a '_whir_' that anything like satisfactory identification
for a bird of this sort was utterly hopeless. The nest contained four
beautiful little eggs, so that to bag the parent bird was a matter of
the first importance; all my attempts, however, first to capture
her on the nest and next to shoot her as she flew off, were equally
futile, her movements being as rapid and erratic as forked lightning.
And here let me give a word of advice to my brother ornithologists:
Never attempt to shoot a _wary little bird in the act of leaving its
nest_, as you only run the risk, and mortification I may add, of
wounding perhaps an unknown bird, in which case she will never again
return to her nest; but _lie in ambush_ for her with, outlying scants,
_and make certain of her as she is returning to her nest_. She will
first alight on a neighbouring tree, then on one closer, coming nearer
and nearer each time; finally, she will perch on the very tree or bush
in which the nest is built, and while taking a look round to see that
all is well before making a final ascent, you have yourself to blame
if you fail to bag her. All this sounds very cruel; but if a bird must
be shot for scientific purposes, it is surely preferable to kill it
outright than to let it die a lingering death. Thus it was that I
eventually succeeded, even at the expense of being devoured alive by
midges and mosquitoes; but then had I not the satisfaction of
knowing that to become the happy possessor of _authentic_ eggs of
_Acrocephalus dumetorum_ was in itself sufficient to repay me for my
"I cannot, however, pretend to lay claim to originality in the
discovery of the breeding-habits of this bird, for Hutton's
description of the nest and eggs taken by him so fully accords with my
own experience, that it is but fair to conclude he was correct in his
identification. I would add, however, with reference to his remarks,
that the nest above alluded to was _more elliptical_ than _spherical_,
being about the size and shape of an Ostrich's egg, that it was
constructed throughout of the _largest_ and _coarsest_ blades
of various kinds of dry grass, the egg-cavity being lined with
grass-bents of a finer quality, and that it was domed over, having a
lateral entrance about the middle of the nest. The whole structure
was so loosely put together as to fall to pieces immediately it was
"The eggs, four in number, are pure while, beautifully glossed, and
well covered with rufous or reddish-brown specks, most numerous at the
obtuse end. Owing to its similarity to a number of eggs, particularly
to those of the Titmouse group, it is just one of those that I would
never feel comfortable in accepting on trust.
"It was a remarkable coincidence that the very day I took this nest
my post brought me part iv. of the P.Z.S. for 1874, containing Mr.
Dresser's interesting paper on the nidification of the _Hypolais_
and _Acrocephalus_ groups; and if I understand him rightly, he is
certainly correct in his surmise as to the eggs of _Acrocephalus
dumetorum_ approaching those of the _Hypolais_ group.
"My good luck, as regards Blyth's Reed-Warbler, did not end here, for
on the following day, at Bagesur, at an elevation of only 3000 feet,
I again encountered a pair of these birds, finding their nest on the
banks of the Surjoo. The position, shape, and architecture of this
nest were identical with the one I have above described, but the eggs
unfortunately had not been laid. The little birds, on this occasion,
were quite fearless, hopping from stem to stem of the dense
undergrowth which throughout the Bagesur valley fringes both banks of
the river, every now and again making a temporary halt for the purpose
of picking insects off the leaves, with an occasional '_tchick_,'
which Hutton resembles to the 'sound emitted by a flint and
steel,' but all the time enticing me away from the site of their
dwelling-place. In this way they led me a wild-goose chase several
times up and down the river-bank before I was able to discover the
whereabouts of their nest."
Captain Hutton sent me three eggs of this species. The eggs are
otherwise unknown to me, and I describe them only on Captain Hutton's
authority. The eggs are rather broad ovals, very smooth and compact in
texture, but with little or no gloss. They are pure white, very thinly
speckled with reddish and yellowish brown, the markings being most
numerous towards the large end, and even there somewhat sparse and
very minute. They measure respectively 0.65 by 0.52, 0.65 by 0.51, and
0.62 by 0.51.
367. Acrocephalus agricola (Jerd.). _The Paddy-field Reed-Warbler_.
Acrocephalus agricolus (_Jerd.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 156.
Calamodyta agricola (_Jerd.), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._
The Paddy-field Reed-Warbler nests apparently occasionally in May and
Jane in the valleys of the Himalayas, the great majority probably
going further north-west to breed.
Very little is known about the matter. I have shot the birds in the
interior of the hills in May, but I have never seen a nest.
Mr. Brooks, however, says:--"Near Shupyion (Cashmere) I found a
finished empty nest of this truly aquatic warbler in a rose-bush which
was intergrown with rank nettles. This was in the roadside where there
was a shallow stream of beautifully clear water. On either side of the
road were vast tracts of paddy swamp, in which the natives were busily
engaged planting the young rice-plants. The nest strongly resembled
that of _Curruca garrula_. The male with his throat puffed out
was singing on the bush a loud vigorous pretty song like a Lesser
Whitethroat's, but more varied. I shot the strange songster, on
which the female flew from the nest. This was the only pair of these
interesting birds that I met with. I think, therefore, that their
breeding in Cashmere is not a common occurrence."
This nest, now in my collection, was found on the 13th June, at an
elevation of about 5500 feet, in the Valley of Cashmere. It is a deep,
almost purse-like cup, very loosely and carelessly put together, of
moderately fine grass, in amongst which a quantity of wool has been
371. Tribura thoracica (Blyth). _The Spotted Bush-Warbler_.
Dumeticola affinis (_Hodgs.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 158.
Dumeticola brunneipectus, _Bl., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._
no. 519 bis.
Mr. Hodgson gives a very careful figure of a female bird of this
species, together with its nest and egg, but he labels it underneath
_affinis_. As we know, he described _affinis_ as having spots on the
breast; but he further notes that at the same place at which he obtained
the female, nest, and eggs, he also got a male bird with spots on the
breast; in fact, in other words, he seems to have come to the conclusion
that _Dumeticola affinis_ was the male and that _Dumeticola
brunneipectus_, which he did not separately name, though he has
beautifully figured it, was the female. I have specimens of both, but
the sexes were not ascertained; still I doubt whether the two birds can
possibly be merely different sexes of the same species. Anyhow, the
female bird which he figures (No. 826) is really _brunneipectus_, and
under that name I notice the nest and eggs on which the female figured
was captured. Mr. Hodgson notes:--"_Gosainthan_. In the snows; female
"_August 2nd_.--Nest in a bunch of reeds placed slantingly: ovate
in shape; aperture at one side; placed about half a foot above
the ground, made of grasses and moss, 4 or 5 inches in diameter
exteriorly, interiorly between 2 and 3 inches." The eggs are figured
as moderately broad ovals, measuring 0.65 by 0.48, of a uniform deep
cinnabar-red, reminding one of the eggs of _Prinia socialis_, but much
deeper in colour[A].
[Footnote A: There can be no doubt, I think, that _T. affinis_ and _T.
brunneipectus_ are the same species as _T. thoracica_. I reproduce Mr.
Hodgson's note on the nesting of this species together with Mr. Hume's
remarks, but I feel sure that the nest described by Mr. Hodgson and
the egg figured by him cannot belong to the present species.--ED.]
Mr. Mandelli sends me three nests of this species, all found near
Yendong, in Native Sikhim, at an elevation of about 9000 feet, on the
15th, 17th, and 21st July. The nests contained two, two, and three
fresh eggs respectively, and were placed, two of them in small
brushwood, and one in a clump of rush or grass, from 9 to 18 inches
above the ground. They seem to have all been rather massive little
cups, composed exteriorly of broad grass-blades rather clumsily wound
together, and lined with rather finer, but by no means fine grass.
In two of them some dead leaves have been incorporated in the basal
They are rather dirty, shabby-looking nests, obviously made of dead
materials, old withered and partially-decayed grass, and not with
fresh grass; they seem to have measured 3 inches in diameter, and 2.5
in height externally; the cavity was perhaps 1.5 to 1.75 in diameter,
and 1 inch more or less in depth.
From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes:--"Nest among scrub in small bush, 2
feet from ground, at 5000 feet above the sea. Found on the 3rd June,
when it contained two eggs; taken on the 5th, with four eggs. I
dissected the bird killed off the nest, and found it to be a female;
in her stomach were the remains of a few insects. The nest is
cup-shaped, loosely made of dry leaves and grass, lined with, for the
size of the bird, coarse grass-stalks. Externally it measures 3.5
inches in breadth by 2.5 deep; internally 2 broad by 1.5 deep."
This nest taken by Mr. Gammie near Rungbee on the 5th June, 1875, at
an elevation of about 5000 feet, contained four eggs. It was a massive
little cup about 3 inches in diameter externally, and with an internal
cavity about 2 inches in diameter and 13/4 inch deep; was rather loosely
put together, externally composed of dead leaves and broad flags of
grass, internally lined with grass-stems.
The eggs of this species are very regular broad ovals, the shells fine
but glossless, the ground-colour a dead white, thickly speckled and
spotted about the large end, thinly elsewhere, with somewhat brownish
and again purplish red. The markings are all very fine and small, but
where they are closely set at the large end there a few little pale
purplish-grey specks and spots are intermingled.
The eggs measure 0.68 by 0.55.
The eggs of this species obtained by Mr. Mandelli in the neighbourhood
of Darjeeling in July are so similar to those obtained by Mr. Gammie,
and of which he sent me the parent bird, that no second description is
necessary. They are a shade smaller, but the difference is not more
than is always observable in even the same species. They measure 0.67
in length, and 0.53 to 0.55 in breadth.
372. Tribura luteiventris, Hodgs. _The Brown Bush-Warbler_.
Tribura luteiventris, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 161; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 522.
A bird unquestionably belonging to this species[A], the Brown
Bush-Warbler, was sent me along with a single egg from Native Sikhim.
The bird was said to have been killed off the nest (which was not
preserved), which was found, at an elevation of about 12,000 feet,
in low brushwood about 3 feet from the ground.
[Footnote A: I do not place much confidence in the authenticity of the
egg of this bird sent to Mr. Hume. Being a Warbler with twelve
tail-feathers, it is unlikely to lay a red egg, and besides this the
eggs of the allied species, _T. thoracica_, as found by trustworthy
observers like Messrs. Gammie and Mandelli, are known to be white
speckled with red, in spite of Mr. Hodgson's figure representing them to
be deep cinnabar-red.--ED.]
The egg is a very regular, rather broad oval, has only a faint gloss,
and is of a very rich deep maroon-red, slightly darker at the large
The egg measures 0.62 by 0.49.
374. Orthotomus sutorius (Forst.). _The Indian Tailor-bird_.
Orthotomus longicauda (_Gm_.), _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 165; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 530.
The Indian Tailor-bird[A] breeds throughout India and Burma, alike in
the plains and in the hills (_e.g._, the Himalayas and Nilgiris), up
to an elevation of from 3000 to 4000 feet.
[Footnote A: The notes on this bird's breeding are so very numerous
that I am compelled to omit several of them.--ED.]
The breeding-season lasts from May to August, both months included;
but in the plains more nests are to be found in July, and in the hills
more, I think, in June, than during the other months.
The nest has been often described and figured, and, as is well known,
is a deep soft cup enclosed in leaves, which the bird sews together to
form a receptacle for it.
It is placed at all elevations, and I have as often found it high upon
a mango-tree as low down amongst the leaves of the edible egg-plant
The nests vary much, in appearance, according to the number and
description of leaves which the bird employs and the manner in which
it employs them; but the nest itself is usually chiefly composed of
fine cotton-wool, with a few horsehairs and, at times, a few very fine
grass-stems as a lining, apparently to keep the wool in its place and
enable the cavity to retain permanently its shape.
I have found the nests with three leaves fastened, at equal distances
from each other, into the sides of the nest, and not joined to each
other at all.
I have found them between two leaves, the one forming a high back and
turned up at the end to support the bottom of the nest, the other
hiding the nest in front and hanging down well below it, the tip only
of the first leaf being sewn to the middle of the second. I have found
them with four leaves sewn together to form a canopy and sides, from
which the bottom of the nest depended bare; and I have found them
between two long leaves, whose sides from the very tips to near the
peduncles were closely and neatly sewn together. For sewing they
generally use cobweb; but silk from cocoons, thread, wool, and
vegetable fibres are also used.
The eggs vary from three to four in number; but I find that out of
twenty-seven nests containing more or less incubated eggs, of which
I have notes, exactly two thirds contained only three, and one third
About the colour of the eggs there has been some dispute, but this is
owing to the birds laying two distinct types of eggs, which will be
described below. Hutton's and Jerdon's descriptions of the eggs,
_white_ spotted with rufous or reddish brown, are quite correct, but
so are those of other writers, who call them _bluish green_, similarly
marked. Tickell, who gives them as "pale greenish blue, with irregular
patches, especially towards the larger end, resembling dried stains
of blood, and irregular and _broken lines scratched round_, forming
a zone near the larger end," had of course got hold of the eggs of a
_Franklinia_. I have taken hundreds of both types, and I note that, as
in the case of _Dicrurus ater_, eggs of the two types are never found
in the same nest. All the eggs in each nest always belong to one or
the other type.
The parent birds that lay these very different looking eggs certainly
do not differ; that I have positively satisfied _myself_.
I quote an exact description of a nest which I took at Bareilly, and
which was recorded on the spot:--
"Three of the long ovato-lanceolate leaves of the mango, whose
peduncles sprang from the same point, had been neatly drawn together
with gossamer threads run through the sides of the leaves and knotted
outside, so as to form a cavity like the end of a netted purse, with a
wide slit on the side nearest the trunk beginning near the bottom and
widening upwards. Inside this, the real nest, nearly 3 inches deep and
about 2 inches in diameter, was neatly constructed of wool and fine
vegetable fibres, the bottom being thinly lined with horsehair. In
this lay three tiny delicate bluish-white eggs, with a few pale
reddish-brown blotches at the large ends, and just a very few spots
and specks of the same colour elsewhere."
Dr. Jerdon says:--"The Tailor-bird makes its nest with cotton, wool,
and various other soft materials, sometimes also lined with hair, and
draws together one leaf or more, generally two leaves, on each side
of the nest, and stitches them together with cotton, either woven
by itself, or cotton-thread picked up, and after passing the thread
through the leaf, it makes a knot at the end to fix it. I have seen
a Tailor-bird at Saugor watch till the native tailor had left the
verandah where he had been working, fly in, seize some pieces of the
thread that were lying about, and go off in triumph with them; this
was repeated in my presence several days running. I have known
many different trees selected to build in; in gardens very often a
guava-tree. The nest is generally built at from 2 to 4 feet above the
ground. The eggs are two, three, or four in number, and in every case
which I have seen were white spotted with reddish brown chiefly at
the large end.... Layard describes one nest made of cocoanut-fibre
entirely, with a dozen leaves of oleander drawn and stitched together.
I cannot call to recollection ever having seen a nest made with more
than two leaves.... Pennant gives the earliest, though somewhat
erroneous, account of the nest. He says: 'The bird picks up a dead
leaf and, surprising to relate, sews it to the side of a living one.'"
I have often seen nests made between many leaves, and I have seen
plenty with a dead leaf stitched to a yet living one; but in these
points my experience entirely coincides with that of the late Mr. A.
Anderson, whose note I proceed to quote:--
"The dry leaves that are sometimes met with attached to the nest of
this species, and which gave rise to the erroneous idea that the bird
picks up a dead leaf and, surprising to relate, sews it to the side of
a living one, are easily accounted for.
"I took a nest of the Tailor-bird a short time ago" (11th July,
1871) from a brinjal plant (_Solanum esculentum_), which had all
the appearance of having had dry leaves attached to it. The nest
originally consisted of _three_ leaves, but two of them had been
pierced (in the act of passing the thread through them) to excess, and
had in consequence not only decayed, _but actually separated from the
stem of the plant_. These decayed leaves were hanging from the side of
the nest by a mere thread, and could have been removed with perfect
safety. Perhaps instinct teaches the birds to injure certain leaves in
order that they may decay?
"Jerdon says that he does not remember ever having seen a nest made
with more than two leaves. I have found the nest of this species
vary considerably in appearance, size, and in the number of leaves
employed, and, I would also add, in the site selected, as well as in
the markings of the eggs, which latter never exceed four in number.
"The nest already described was built hardly _2 feet off the ground_,
was rather clumsy (if I might use such an expression), and was
composed of _three_ leaves. The eggs were white, covered with
brownish-pink blotches almost coalescing at the large end. Another
nest, taken in my presence (July, again, which is the general time)
from the _very top of a high tree_, was enclosed inside of _one_ leaf,
the sides being neatly sewn together, and the cavity at the bottom
lined with wool, down, and horsehair. These eggs (four) are covered,
chiefly at the larger ends, with minute red spots.
"A third nest seen by me was composed of _seven_ or _eight leaves_".
Captain Hutton tells us that he has seen many nests. All were
"composed of cotton, wool, vegetable fibre, and horsehair, formed in
the shape of a deep cup or purse, enclosed between two long leaves,
the edges of which were sewed to the sides of the nest, in a manner to
support it, by threads spun by the bird."
He adds that the birds, though common at their bases, do not ascend
the hills; but this is a mistake, for I have repeatedly taken nests
at elevations of over 3000 feet; and Mr. Gammie, writing from Sikhim,
says:--"We often find nests of this species near my house at Mongphoo
(which is at an elevation of about 3500 feet). I took one there on the
16th May, which contained four hard-set eggs. It was in a calicarpa
tree and between two of its long ovate leaves, the terminal halves of
which were sewn together by the edges, so as to form a purse in which
the real nest was placed. Yellow silk of some wild silkworm was the
sewing material used."
Again, writing from the Nilgiris, Miss Cockburn remarks:--"The
Tailor-bird is seldom met with on the highest ranges, but appears to
prefer the warmer climates enjoyed at the elevation of about 3500 or
4000 feet. They often build in the coffee-trees; a nest now before me
was built on a coffee-tree, two of the leaves of which were bent down
and sewn together. The threads are of cobweb, and the cavity is lined
with the down of seed-pods and fine grass. At the back of the nest the
leaves are made to meet, but are a little apart in front, so as to
form an opening for the birds to hop in and out. The depth of the nest
inside is 21/2 inches. It was found in the month of June, and contained
four eggs, which were white spotted with light red."
Of its breeding in Nepal, Dr. Scully tells us:--"It breeds freely in
the valley at an elevation of 4500 feet. I took many of its nests in
the Residency grounds, Rani Jangal, &c., in May, June, and July."
Major C.T. Bingham writes:--"The Indian Tailor-bird breeds in April,
May, and June, both at Allahabad and at Delhi. The nest formed of one,
two, and occasionally three, leaves neatly sewn so as to form a cone,
and lined with the down of the madar, is well known."
Colonel Butler has furnished me with the following note:--
"The Tailor-bird breeds, I fancy, at least twice in the year, as I
have seen young birds early in the hot weather both at Mount Aboo
and in Deesa, and I have also taken nests in the rains. The nest is
usually constructed with much skill and ingenuity. One nest which I
took on the 3rd September at Mount Aboo consisted of three leaves
cleverly sewn together with raw cotton, leaving a moderate-sized
entrance on one side near the top, the inside being lined exclusively
with horsehair and fine dry fibres.
"I captured the hen bird with a horsehair noose fixed to the end of a
long thin rod as she left the nest. Another nest which I took in Deesa
on the 3rd September, 1876, was composed almost entirely of raw cotton
with a scanty lining of horsehairs and dry grass-stems. It was fixed
to the outside twigs of a lime-tree, two of the leaves of which were
sewn to it; two dead leaves were also attached to the nest, one being
sewn on each side as a support to the cotton. It was cup-shaped and
open at the top, much like a Chaffinch's nest."
Mr. Oates remarks:--"This is a common bird in Burma in the plains, and
possibly also on the hills, though I did not observe it on the latter.
I found the nest of this species containing young birds in the
Thayetmyo cantonment on the 12th August. In the Pegu plains it appears
to nest from the middle of May to the end of August."
The eggs are typically long ovals, often tapering much towards the
small end. The shells are very thin, delicate, and semi-transparent,
and have but little gloss.
The ground-colour is either reddish white or pale bluish green. Of the
two types, the reddish white is the more common in the proportion
of two to one. The markings consist of bold blotchings or sometimes
ill-defined clouds (in this respect recalling the eggs of _Prinia
inornata_,) chiefly confined to the large end; and specks, spots, and
splashes, extending more or less over the whole surface, typically of
a bright brownish red, varying, however, in different examples both
in shade and intensity. The markings have a strong tendency to form a
bold, irregular zone or cap at the large end, and in some specimens
the markings are entirely confined to this portion of the egg's
The eggs, which have a reddish-white ground, though smaller and of
a much more elongated shape, closely resemble those of _Suya
In length the eggs vary from 0.6 to 0.7, and in breadth from 0.45 to
0.5; but the average of fifty eggs measured is 0.64 by 0.46.
375. Orthotomus atrigularis, Temm. _The Black-necked Tailor-bird_.
Orthotomus atrigularis, _Temm., Hume, cat._ no. 530 bis.
Mr. Mandelli sends me a nest which he assures me belongs to this
species, and the bird he sent me for identification certainly did so
belong. The nest was found near the great Ranjit River on the 18th
July, and then contained three fresh eggs. The nest, which is a
regular Tailor-bird's, composed entirely of the finest imaginable
panicle-stems of flowering grass, is a deep cup placed in between two
living leaves, which have been sewn together at the tips and along the
margins from the tip for about half their length, so as to provide a
perfect pocket in which the nest rests. The leaves of which the pocket
is composed were the terminal ones of the twigs of a sapling, and only
about 3 feet from the ground. The leaves are large oval ones, each
about 7 inches in length; they have been sewn together with wild
silk carefully knotted, exactly as is the practice of the common
The eggs of this species are not separable from others of _O.
sutorius_, and though they may possibly average somewhat larger, I
have not seen enough of them to be able to make sure of this; and as
regards shape, colours, and markings the description given of the eggs
of _O. sutorius_ applies equally to eggs of this species.
380. Cisticola volitans, Swinh. _The Golden-headed Fantail-Warbler_.
This species was not known to Jerdon, nor was it known to occur in
Burma at the time that I issued my Catalogue. Mr. Oates, writing
of the breeding of this bird in Southern Pegu, where it is common,
says:--"Breeding-operations commence in the middle of May; on the 28th
of this month I found two nests, one containing four eggs slightly
incubated, and the other two, quite fresh.
"The nest is a small bag about 4 inches in height and 2 or 3 in
diameter, with an opening about an inch in diameter near the top. The
general shape of the nest is oval. It is composed entirely of the
white feathery flowers of the thatch-grass. The walls of the nest
are very thin but strong. The nest is placed about one foot from the
ground in a bunch of grass, and, in the two instances where I found
it, against a weed, with one or two leaves of which the materials of
the nest were slightly bound.
"The eggs are very glossy pale blue, spotted all over with large and
small blotches of rusty brown. I have no eggs of _C. cursitans_ which
match them, in that species the spots being always minute and thickly
scattered over the shell, whereas in _O. volitans_ the marks are large
and fewer in number. Six eggs measured in length from .54 to .57, and
in breadth from .42 to .43."
381. Cisticola cursitans (Frankl). _The Rufous Fantail-Warbler_.
Cisticola schoenicola, _Bp., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 174; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 539.
The Rufous Fantail-Warbler breeds pretty well all over India and
Ceylon, confining itself, as far as my experience goes, to the low
country, and never ascending the mountains to any great elevation.
The breeding-season lasts, according to locality, from April to
October, but it never breeds with us in dry weather, always laying
during rainy months. Very likely at the Nicobars, where it rains
pretty well all the year round, March being the only fairly dry month,
it may breed at all seasons.
I have myself taken several, and have had a great many nests sent to
me. With rare exceptions all belonged to one type. The bird selects a
patch of dense fine-stemmed grass, from 18 inches to 2 feet in height,
and, as a rule, standing in a moist place; in this, at the height of
from 6 to 8 inches from the ground, the nest is constructed; the sides
are formed by the blades and stems of the grass, _in situ_, closely
tacked and caught together with cobwebs and very fine silky vegetable
fibre. This is done for a length of from 2 to nearly 3 inches, and,
as it were, a narrow tube, from 1 to 1.5 in diameter, formed in the
grass. To this a bottom, from 4 to 6 inches above the surface of the
ground, is added, a few of the blades of the grass being bent across,
tacked and woven together with cobwebs and fine vegetable fibre. The
whole interior is then closely felted with silky down, in Upper India
usually that of the mudar (_Calotropis hamiltoni_). The nest thus
constructed forms a deep and narrow purse, about 3 inches in depth,
an inch in diameter at top, and 1.5 at the broadest part below. The
tacking together of the stems of the grass is commonly continued a
good deal higher up on one side than on the other, and it is through
or between the untacked stems opposite to this that the tiny entrance
exists. Of course above the nest the stems and blades of the grass,
meeting together, completely hide it. The dimensions above given are
those of the interior of the nest; its exterior dimensions cannot be
given. The bird tacks together not merely the few stems absolutely
necessary to form a side to the nest, but most of the stems all
round, decreasing the extent of attachment as they recede from the
nest-cavity. It does this, too, very irregularly; on one side of the
nest perhaps no stem more than an inch distant from the interior
surface of the nest will be found in any way bound up in the fabric,
while on the opposite side perhaps stems fully 3 inches distant,
together with all the intermediate ones, will be found more or less
webbed together. Occasionally, but rarely, I have found a nest of a
different type. Of these one was built amongst the stems of a common
prickly labiate marsh-plant which has white and mauve flowers. There
was a straggling framework of fine grass, firmly netted together with
cobwebs, and a very scanty lining of down. The nest was egg-shaped,
and the aperture on one side near the top. Mr. Brooks, I believe, once
obtained a similar one; but the vast majority of the others that any
of us have ever got have been of the type first described, which
corresponds closely with Passler's account.
Five is the usual complement of eggs; at any rate I have notes of more
than a dozen nests that contained this number, and in more than half
the cases the eggs were partly incubated. I have no record of more
than five, and though I have any number of notes of nests containing
one, two, three, and four eggs, yet these latter in almost all these
cases were fresh.
Mr. Blyth says that this species is "remarkable for the beautiful
construction of its nest, _sewing_ together a number of growing stems
and leaves of grass, with a delicate pappus which forms also the
lining, and laying four or five translucent white eggs, with
reddish-brown spots, more numerous and forming a ring at the large
end, very like those of _Orthotomus sutorius_. It abounds in suitable
localities throughout the country."
I must here note that Mr. Blyth never paid special attention to eggs,
or he would have hardly said this, because the character of the
markings are essentially different. Those of the Tailor-bird are
typically _blotchy_, of the present species _speckly_.
Colonel W. Vincent Legge writes to me from Ceylon that "in the Western
Province it breeds from May until September, and constructs its nest
either in paddy-fields or in guinea-grass plots attached to bungalows."
The nest is so beautiful and so neatly constructed that perhaps a
short description of it will not be out of place. A framework of
cotton or other fibrous material is formed round two or three upright
stalks, about 2 feet from the ground, the material being sewn into the
grass and passed from one stalk to the other until a complete net
is made. This takes the bird from one to two days to construct[A].
Several blades, belonging to the stalks round which the cotton is
passed, are then bent down and interlaced across to form a bottom
on which, and inside the cotton network, a neat little nest of fine
strips of grass torn off from the blade is built; this is most
beautifully lined with cotton or other downy substance, which appears
to be plastered with the saliva of the bird, until it takes the
appearance and texture of soft felt.
[Footnote A: Numbers of these birds used to build in a guinea-grass
field attached to my bungalow at Colombo, and I had full opportunity
of watching the construction of the nest on many occasions.--W.V.L.]
"The average dimensions of the interior or cup are 2 inches in depth
by 11/4 in breadth. The whole structure is generally completed in about
five days, and the first egg laid on the fifth or sixth day from the
commencement. The number of eggs varies from two to four, most nests
containing three. The time of incubation is, as a rule, from nine to
"I have found but little variation in the eggs of this species either
as regards size or colour. They are white or pale greenish white,
spotted and blotched in a zone round the larger end with red and
reddish grey, a few spots extending towards the point: axis 0.63 inch;
diameter 0.51 inch.
"From close observation I can certify that this and many other small
birds do not here sit during the daytime. I scarcely ever found a
_Cisticola_ on the nest between sunrise and sunset,"
Colonel E.A. Butler writing from Deesa says:--"The Rufous
Fantail-Warbler breeds in the plains during the monsoon, making a long
bottle-shaped nest of silky-white vegetable down, with an entrance at
the top, in a tuft of coarse grass a few inches from the ground. I
have taken nests on the following dates:--
"July 29, 1875. A nest containing 4 fresh eggs.
Aug. 1, 1876. " " 5 fresh eggs.
Aug. 5, 1876. " " 4 fresh eggs.
Aug. 5, 1876. " " 3 fresh eggs.
Aug. 5, 1876. " " 4 fresh eggs.
Aug. 5, 1876. " " 5 fresh eggs.
Aug. 7, 1876. " " 5 fresh eggs.
Aug. 8, 1876. " " 4 fresh eggs."
And he adds the following note:--"Belgaum, 22nd July, 1879. Four fresh
eggs. Same locality, numerous other nests in August and September."
Major C.T. Bingham notes:--"I have not yet observed this bird at
Delhi. At Allahabad I procured one nest in the beginning of March,
shooting the birds. The nest was made of very fine dry grass, and
contained four small white eggs, speckled thickly with minute points
of brick-red. The average of the four eggs is 0.60 by 0.41 inch."
Mr. Cripps informs us that in Eastern Bengal this bird is very common
and a permanent resident. Eggs are found from the beginning of May to
the end of June, in grass-jungle almost on the ground. The nest is a
deep cup, externally of fine grasses, internally of the downy tops of
In the Deccan, Messrs. Davidson and Wenden state that it is "common in
all grass-lands. It breeds in the rainy season."
Mr. Oates, writing on the breeding of this bird in Pegu, says:--"The
majority of birds begin laying at the commencement of June, and
probably nests may be found throughout the rains. I procured a nest
on the 2nd of November, a very late date I imagine. It contained four
I have taken the eggs of this bird myself on many occasions. I have
had them sent me with the nest and bird by Mr. Brooks from Etawah, and
Mr. F.R. Blewitt from Jhansi. From first to last I have seen fully
fifty authentic eggs of this species. All were of one and the same
type, and that type widely different from any one of those that Dr.
Bree, following European ornithologists, figures. Dr. Bree's three
figures all represent a perfectly spotless egg--one pink, the other
bluish white, and the third a pretty dark bluish green. Our eggs, on
the contrary, are _spotted_; the ground is white with, when fresh and
unblown, a delicate pink hue, due not to the shell itself, but to its
contents, which partially show through it. Occasionally the white
ground has a _faint_ greenish tinge.
_Every_ egg is spotted, and most densely so towards the large end,
with, as a rule, excessively minute red, reddish-purple, and pale
purple specks, thus resembling, though smaller, more glossy, and far
less densely speckled, the eggs of _Franklinia buchanani_. These are
beyond all question the eggs of our Indian species, and the only type
of them that I have yet observed; but the question remains--Is our
Indian _Prinia cursitans_, Franklin, really identical with the
European _C. schoenicola_, Bonaparte? [A]--and this can only be
settled by careful comparison of an enormous series of good specimens
of each bird. For my part I personally have little doubts as to the
identity of the two. At the same time differences in the eggs may
indicate difference of species. Thus of the closely allied _C.
volitans_, Swinhoe, the latter gentleman informs us that "the eggs of
our bird vary from three to five, are thin and fragile, and of a pale
clear greenish blue"[B]. He called it _C. schoenicola_ when he wrote,
but he really referred to the Formosan bird, which he has since
[Footnote A: The Indian and European birds are now generally allowed
to be perfectly identical, notwithstanding the alleged difference
in the colour of the eggs; and Mr. Hume is now, I think, of this
[Footnote B: But _C. volitans_, or the closely allied race which
occurs in Pegu, assuredly lays spotted eggs. I found two nests of this
bird, both with spotted eggs _vide_ (p. 236).--ED.]
The eggs of course vary somewhat. Of one nest I wrote at the time I
found it--"The eggs are a rather short oval, slightly pointed at one
end, with a white ground, thickly sprinkled with numerous specks and
tiny spots of pale brownish red. They measured .58 by .46." Of
another I say--"The ground had a faint pearly tinge, and there was a
well-marked, though, irregular and ill-defined, zone towards the large
end, formed by the agglomeration there of multitudinous specks, which
in places were almost confluent." Of another set--"The eggs were much
glossier and had a china-white ground; but instead of a multitude
of small specks over the whole surface, they had nearly the whole
colouring-matter gathered together at the large end in a cap of bold,
almost maroon-red spots, only a very few spots of the same colour
being scattered over the rest of the egg."
The eggs measure from .53 to .62 in length, and from .43 to .48 in
breadth; but the average dimensions of a large number measured were
.59 by .46.
382. Franklinia gracilis (Frankl.). _Franklin's Wren-Warbler_.
Prinia gracilis, _Frankl. Jerd. B. Ind._ ii. p. 172; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 536.
Prinia hodgsoni, _Bl., Jerd. t.c._ p. 173; _Hume, t.c._ no. 538.
I have never myself succeeded in finding a nest of Franklin's
Wren-Warbler, but my friend Mr. F.R. Blewitt has sent me no less than
forty nests and eggs, with the parents; so that, although the eggs
belong to two, I might even say three, very different types, I
entertain no doubt that he is correct in assigning them to the same
species, the more so as, although the eggs vary, the nests are
identical. He has sent me several notes in regard to this species.
He says:--"On the 1st July, three miles south of the village of
Doongurgurh in the Raipoor District, I found a nest of Franklin's
Wren-Warbler, containing three fresh eggs. It was on rocky ground
between a footpath and a water-course, about 2 feet from the ground,
and firmly sewn to a single leaf of a murori plant. The nest was
constructed exclusively of very fine grass, with spiders' web affixed
in places to the exterior. It was somewhat cup-shaped, 3.3 inches in
depth and 2.4 in breadth externally. The egg-cavity was about 1.4 in
diameter, and about the same depth. The eggs were a delicate pale
"About 100 yards from the first, a second precisely similar, and
similarly situated, nest of this same species was found, which
contained three hard-set eggs, exactly similar in shape, texture, and
ground-colour to those in the first nest, but everywhere excessively
finely and thickly speckled with red, the specks exhibiting a strong
tendency to coalesce in a zone round the large end.
"On the 12th and 13th July we obtained ten nests of Franklin's
Wren-Warbler, all in the neighbourhood of Doongurgurh. From what I
have seen, I gather that this species breeds from the middle of June
to the middle of August in this part of the country. They appear to
resort to tracts at some little elevation, where the murori and kydia
bushes are abundant, and where grass grows rapidly in the early part
of the rains. The nests, very ingeniously made, are invariably sewn to
one or two leaves in the centre of one of the above-named bushes,
the entrance above, just as in the nest of an _Orthotomus_. They are
placed at heights of from a foot to 3 feet from the ground. Fine
grass, vegetable fibres, and other soft materials are chiefly used in
their construction, a little cobweb being often added. The eggs are
laid daily, and four is the normal number, though three hard-set ones
are sometimes found. The nest is prepared annually. As far as I know
they have only one brood. Both parents unite in building the nest and
in hatching and feeding the young.
"Of the ten nests now taken four contained speckled and six unspeckled
eggs. The two types are never found in the same nest. I send all the
nests, eggs, and birds."
Dr. Jerdon says:--"I found the nest of this species at Saugor, very
like that of the Tailor-bird but smaller, made of cotton, wool, and
various soft vegetable fibres, and occasionally bits of cloth, and I
invariably found it sewn to one leaf of the kydia, so common in the
jungles there. The eggs were pale blue, with some brown or reddish
spots often rarely visible."
Colonel E.A. Butler writes from Deesa:--
"July 26, 1876. A nest containing 3 fresh eggs.
Aug. 1, 1876. " " 4 fresh eggs.
Aug. 15, 1876. " " 2 fresh eggs.
Sept. 3, 1876. " " 4 incubated eggs.
"All of the above nests were exactly alike, being composed of fine dry
grass without any lining, felted here and there exteriorly with small
lumps of woolly vegetable down, and built between two leaves carefully
sewn to the nest in the same way as the nests of _Orthotomus
sutorius_. The eggs, three or four in number, are white, sparingly
speckled with light reddish chestnut, with a cap more or less dense
of the same markings at the large end. All of the eggs in the
above-mentioned nests were of this type. I found the nests in a
grass Beerh near Deesa, studded over with low ber bushes (_Zizyphus
jujuba_), generally about 2 or 3 feet from the ground, and in similar
situations to those selected by _Prinia socialis_, often amongst dry
nullahs overgrown with low bushes and long grass."
Mr. Vidal notes in his list of the Birds of the South Konkan:--"Common
in mangrove-swamps, reeds, hedgerows, thickets, and bush-jungle
throughout the district. Breeds during the rainy months."
Mr. Oates writes from Pegu:--"Nest with three fresh eggs on the 19th
August; no details appear necessary except the colour of the eggs,
since this bird appears to lay two kinds of eggs. My eggs are very
glossy, of a light blue speckled with minute dots of reddish brown,
more thickly so at the large end than elsewhere."
The nests sent by Mr. Blewitt are regular Tailor-birds' nests,
composed chiefly of very fine grass, about the thickness of fine human
hair, with no special lining, carefully sewn with cobwebs, silk from
cocoons, or wool, into one or two leaves, which often completely
envelop it, so as to leave no portion of the true nest visible.
The eggs belong to at least two very distinct types. Both are
typically rather slender ovals, a good deal compressed towards one
end; but in both somewhat broader and more or less pyriform varieties
occur. In both the shell is exquisitely fine and glossy; in some
specimens it is excessively glossy. In both the ground-colour is a
very delicate pale greenish blue, _occasionally_ so pale that
the ground is all but white--in one type entirely unspeckled and
unspotted, in the other finely and thickly speckled everywhere, and
towards the large end more or less spotted, with brownish or purplish
red. The markings are densest towards the large end, where they either
actually form, or exhibit a strong tendency to form, a more or less
conspicuous speckled, semi-confluent zone.
Out of fifty-six eggs, twenty-one belong to the latter type. As in
_Dicrurus ater_, the two types never appear to be found in the same
nest; but the nests in which the two types are found are precisely
similar, and the parent birds are identical.
In length the eggs vary from 0.53 to 0.62, and in width from 0.4 to
0.45; but the average of fifty-six eggs is 0.58 by 0.42. There is no
difference whatever in the size of the two types.
383. Franklinia rufescens (Blyth). _Beavan's Wren-Warbler_.
Prinia beavani, _Wald., Hume, cat._ no. 538 bis.
Mr. Oates, who found the nest of this Warbler in Pegu, says:--"June
29th. Found a nest sewn into a broad soft leaf of a weed in forest
about 2 feet from the ground. The edges of the leaf are drawn together
and fastened by white vegetable fibres. The nest is composed entirely
of fine grass, no other material entering into its composition. For
further security the nest is stitched to the leaves in a few places;
the depth of the nest is about 3 inches, and internal diameter all the
way down about 11/2. Eggs three, very glossy, pale blue, with specks and
dashes of pale reddish brown, chiefly at the larger end, where they
form a cap. Size .58, .62, .61, by .47."
Mr. Mandelli sends me a regular Tailor-bird's nest as that of this
species. It was found below Yendong in Native Sikhim on the 1st May,
and contained three fresh eggs. The nest itself is a beautiful
little cup, composed of silky vegetable down and excessively fine
grass-stems, and a very little black hair firmly felted together, and
is placed between two living leaves of a sapling neatly sewn together
at the margins with bright yellow silk.
The eggs are rather elongated, very regular ovals. The shell stout for
the size of the egg, but very fine and compact, and with a moderate
gloss. The ground-colour is a very delicate pale greenish blue. At or
round the larger end there is very generally a mottled cap or zone
(more commonly the latter) of duller or brighter brownish red, while
irregular blotches, streaks, spots, and specks of the same colour, but
usually a slightly paler shade, are more or less sparsely scattered
over the rest of the surface of the egg, sometimes they are almost
wholly wanting. Occasionally the zone is at the small end.
The eggs measure from 0.60 to 0.62 in length, by 0.43 to 0.48 in
breadth; but the average of six eggs is 0.61 by 0.45.
384. Franklinia buchanani (Blyth). _The Rufous-fronted
Franklinia buchanani (_Blyth), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 186; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 551.
The Rufous-fronted Wren-Warbler breeds throughout Central India,
the Central Provinces, the North-western Provinces, the Punjab, and
Rajpootana. It affects chiefly the drier and warmer tracts, and,
though said to have been obtained in the Nepal Terai, has never been
met with by _me_ either there or in any very moist, swampy locality.
The breeding-season extends from the end of May until the beginning of
The nests, according to my experience, are always placed at heights of
from a foot to 4 feet from the ground, in low scrub-jungle or bushes.
They vary greatly in size and shape, according to position. Some are
oblate spheroids with the aperture near the top, some are purse-like
and suspended, and some are regular cups. One of the former
description measured externally 5 inches in diameter one way by 31/4
inches the other. One of the suspended nests was 7 inches long by 3
wide, and one of the cup-shaped nests was nearly 4 inches in diameter
and stood, perhaps, at most 21/2 inches high. The egg-cavity in the
different nests varies from 13/4 to 21/4 inches in diameter, and from less
than 2 to fully 3 inches in depth. Externally the nest is very loosely
and, generally, raggedly constructed of very fine grass-stems and
tow-like vegetable fibre used in different proportions in different
nests; those in which grass is chiefly used being most ragged and
straggling, and those in which most vegetable fibre has been made use
of being neatest and most compact. In all the nests that I have seen
the egg-cavity has been lined with something very soft. In many of the
nests the lining is composed of small felt-like pieces of some dull
salmon-coloured fungus, with which the whole interior is closely
plastered; in others there is a dense lining of soft silky vegetable
down; and in others the down and fungus are mingled. They lay from
four to five eggs, never more than this latter number according to my
"At the end of June 1867," writes Mr. Brooks, "I took two nests of
this bird at Chunar in low ber bushes about 2 feet from the ground.
They were little spheres of fine grass with a hole at the side. One
contained four eggs; these were of a greyish-white ground or nearly
pure white, finely speckled over with reddish brown, some of the eggs
exhibiting a tendency to form a zone round the large end, and others
with a complete zone."
"At Sambhur," Mr. Adam says, "this Wren-Warbler is always found
wherever there are low bushes. It breeds just before the rains, but I
have not recorded the date. I had a nest with the bird and five eggs
sent to me. The eggs are pale bluish white, with reddish-brown spots
and freckles all over them."
"During July, August, and the early part of September," remarks Mr. W.
Blewitt, "I found a great number of the nests and eggs of this bird in
the jungle-preserves of Hansie and its neighbourhood. The nests, of
which I have already sent you several, were mostly in ber (_Zizyphus
jujuba_) and hinse (_Capparis aphylla_) bushes, at heights of from 3
to 4 feet from the ground. Five was the largest number of eggs that I
found in any one nest."
Major C.T. Bingham remarks:--"I found several nests of this bird in
the beginning of October at Delhi in the jherberry bushes so plentiful
on the Ridge. Both nests and eggs are very like those of _Cisticola
cursitans_ before described; the only difference I could find was that
the entrance in the nest of _C. cursitans_ that I found was at the
top, and in all the nests of _F. buchanani_ at the side rather low
down; the nests of the latter are also firmer and more globular in
shape. The eggs are, to my eye, identical in colour and form."
Mr. G. Reid informs us that at Lucknow it is fairly common and a
permanent resident. It makes an oblong, loosely constructed nest with
the aperture near the top, and lays three or four white eggs minutely
spotted with dingy red.
Mr. J. Davidson writes that in Western Khandeish this Warbler is the
commonest bird, breeding about Dhulia in July, August, and September.
Colonel E.A. Butler writes:--"I found a nest of the Rufous-fronted
Wren-Warbler at Deesa on the 27th July, 1875. It was in a grass beerh,
and placed in a heap of dead thorns overgrown with grass and about a
foot from the ground. It was composed externally of dry grass-stems,
with lumps of silky white vegetable down (_Calotropis_) scattered
sparingly over the whole nest. The lining consisted of very fine
dry grass neatly put together and felted with silky down, and a
considerable amount of the dull salmon-coloured fungus or lichen
referred to in the 'Rough Draft of Nests and Eggs,' p. 359. In shape
the nest is nearly spherical, being slightly oval however, with a
small aperture near the top. The entrance was 11/2 inches in diameter,
and the nest itself roughly measured from the outside 41/2 inches in
length and 4 in width. The eggs, usually four in number, are white,
closely speckled over with pale rusty red, intermingled with a few
pale washed-out inky markings, in some cases at the large end, which
is surrounded by a zone clear and well-marked in some instances, less
distinct in others. I found other nests in the same neighbourhood as
"Aug. 24, 1875. A nest containing 4 fresh eggs.
July 20, 1876. " " 4 " "
July 28, " " " 4 young birds.
Aug. 4, " " " 4 fresh eggs.
Aug. 5, " " " 4 " "
Aug. 5, " " " 4 " "
Aug. 5, " " " 5 " "
Aug. 8, " " " 5 " "
Aug. 14, " " " 5 " "
"In every one of the above instances the nest was exactly similar to
the one I have described, and built in the same kind of situation,
i.e. in heaps of dead thorns overgrown with long grass. The eggs are
all much the same, the spots being larger in some than in others and
more numerous in some cases than in others. In one set I have the
ground is very pale bluish white (skimmed milk) instead of being pure
white. As a rule the eggs are almost exactly like the eggs of _C.
cursitans_, and if mixed I doubt very much if any person could
separate them. On examining the salmon-coloured fungus-lining it
appears to me to be nothing more nor less than small pieces of dried
ber leaves, and I have never examined a nest without finding some of
this material at the bottom of it."
"The Rufous-fronted Wren-Warbler," writes Lieut. Barnes, "breeds in
Rajpootana during July, August, and the early part of September. The
nest, composed of grass, is loosely constructed, and placed in low
bushes or scrub."
The eggs vary somewhat in size and shape; a moderately broad oval,
slightly compressed towards the larger end, being, however, the
commonest type. Examining a large series, it appears that variations
from this type are more commonly of an elongated than a spherical
form. The eggs are of the same character as those of _Cisticola
cursitans_ (p. 236), but yet differ somewhat. The eggs are many
of them fairly glossy, the shells very delicate and fragile; the
ground-colour white, usually slightly greyish, but in some specimens
faintly tinged with very pale green or pink. Typically they are very
thickly and very finely speckled all over with somewhat dingy red or
purplish red. In three out of four eggs the markings are densest and
largest towards the large end; and, to judge from the large series
before me, at least one in four exhibits a more or less well-defined
mottled zone or cap at this end, formed by the partial confluence of
In some specimens the markings are pale inky purple, and in some
slightly purplish brown, but these are abnormal varieties. In one or
two eggs fairly-sized spots and blotches are intermingled with the
minute specklings, but this also is rare. Of course in different
specimens the density of the speckling varies greatly: in some eggs
not a fifth of the surface is covered with the markings, while in some
it appears as if there were more of these than of the ground-colour.
In length the eggs vary from 0.55 to 0.66, and in breadth from 0.43 to
0.52; but the average of eighty-seven eggs is 0.62 by 0.48.
385. Franklinia cinereicapilla (Hodgs.). _Hodgson's Wren-Warbler_.
Prinia cinereocapilla, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 172; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 537.
Captain Hutton says[A]:--"In this species the structure of the nest
is somewhat coarser than in _P. stewarti_, and it is more loosely put
together, but like that species it is also a true Tailor-bird.
[Footnote A: I reproduce this note as it appeared in the 'Rough
Draft,' but I have no faith in the identification of this rare bird by
Capt Hutton. Mr. Hume is apparently of the same opinion, as he does
not quote the Dhoon as one of the localities in which, this species
occurs (S.F. ix, p. 286). It may be well, however, to point out that
Mr. Brooks procured this species at Dhunda, in the Bhagirati valley,
so that it is not unlikely to occur in the Dhoon.--ED.]
"In the specimen before me two large leaves are stitched together at
the edges, and between these rests the cup-shaped nest composed of
grass-stalks and fine roots, as in _P. stewarti_, and without any
lining, while, being more completely surrounded by or enfolded in the
leaves, the cottony seed-down which binds together the fibres in the
others is here dispensed with.
"The eggs were three in number, of a pale bluish hue, irrorated with
specks of rufous-brown, and chiefly so at the larger end, where they
form an ill-defined ring.
"The eggs measured 0.62 by 0.44.
"The nest was found hanging on a large-leafed annual shrub growing in
the Dhoon, and was placed about 2 feet from the ground. It was taken
on 22nd July."
386. Laticilla burnesi (Bl.). _The Long-tailed Grass-Warbler_.
Eurycercus burnesii, _Bl., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 74.
Mr. S.B. Doig appears to be the only ornithologist who has found the
nest of the Long-tailed Grass-Warbler. Writing of the Eastern Narra
District, in Sind, he says:--
"This bird is in certain localities very numerous, but invariably
confines itself to dense thickets of revel and tamarisk jungle. The
discovery of my first nest was as follows:
"On the 13th March, while closely searching some thick grass along the
banks of a small canal, I heard a peculiar twittering which I did not
recognize. After standing perfectly still for a short while, I at
length caught sight of the bird, which I at once identified as _L.
burnesi_. Leaving the bed of the canal in which I was walking and
making a slight detour, I came suddenly over the spoil-bank of the
canal on to the place where the bird had been calling. My sudden
appearance caused the bird to get very excited, and it kept on
twittering, approaching me at one time until quite close and then
going away again a short distance; I at once began searching for its
nest, and out of the first tussock of grass I touched, close to where
I was standing, flew the female, who joined her mate, after which both
birds kept up a continuous and angry twittering. On opening out the
grass, I found the nest with three fresh eggs in it, placed right in
the centre of the tuft and close to the ground. The eggs were of a
pale green ground-colour, covered with large irregular blotches of
purplish brown, and not very unlike some of the eggs of _Passer
flavicollis_. After this I found several nests, but they were all
building, and were one and all deserted, though in many instances I
never touched the nest, often never saw it, as on seeing the birds
flying in and out of the grass with building material in their bills
I left the place and returned in ten days' time, but only to find the
nest deserted. In one case where a single egg had been laid, I found
that the bird before deserting the nest had broken the egg. In July I
again got a nest and shot the parent birds; the eggs in this nest were
quite of a different type, being of a very pale cream ground-colour,
with large rusty blotches, principally confined to the larger end.
The nests of this bird are composed of coarse grass, the inside being
composed of the finer parts; they are 4 to 5 inches external diameter
and 21/2 inches internal diameter, the cavity being about 11/2 inches
deep. The months in which they breed are, as far as I at present know,
March, June, and September. The eggs vary in size from .65 to .80 in
length and from .50 to .55 in breadth. The average of seven eggs is
.72 in length and .54 in breadth."
The eggs of this species vary somewhat in size and shape, but they are
typically regular rather elongated ovals, rather obtuse at both ends,
and often slightly compressed towards the small end. The shell is fine
and compact and has a slight gloss; the ground-colour is sometimes
greenish white, sometimes faintly creamy. The eggs are generally
pretty thickly and finely speckled and scratched all over, and besides
the fine markings there are a greater or smaller number of more or
less large irregular blotches and splashes, chiefly confined to the
large end. These markings, large and small, are brown, very variable
in shade, in some eggs reddish, in some chocolate, in some raw sienna,
&c. Besides these primary markings most eggs exhibit a number of
paler subsurface secondary markings, varying in colour from sepia to
lavender or pale purple; these are mostly confined to the large end
(though tiny spots of the same tint occur occasionally on all parts of
the egg), where with the large blotches they often form a more or less
conspicuous and more or less confluent but always ill-defined zone or
even cap. Here and there an egg absolutely wants the larger blotches,
but even in such cases the specklings are more crowded about the large
end, and these with the lilac clouds still combine to indicate a sort
The eggs I possess of this species, sent me by Mr. Doig, vary from
0.71 to 0.81 in length by 0.52 to 0.59 in breadth; but the average of
seven eggs is 0.72 by 0.55.
388. Graminicola bengalensis, Jerd. _The Large Grass-Warbler_.
Graminicola bengalensis, _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 177.
Drymoica bengalensis (_Jerd.), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 542.
Long ago the late Colonel Tytler gave me the following note on this
species:--"I shot these birds at Dacca in 1852, and sent a description
and a drawing of them to Mr. Blyth. They were named after my esteemed
friend Jules Verreaux, of Paris. They are not uncommon at Dacca in
grass-jungle. I think the bird Dr. Jerdon gives in his 'Birds of
India' as _Graminicola bengalensis_, Jerdon, No. 542, p. 177, vol.
ii., is meant for this species. The genus _Graminicola_, under which
he places this bird, appears to be a genus of Dr. Jerdon's own, for
it is not in Gray's 'Genera and Subgenera of Birds in the British
Museum,' printed in 1855. If it is the same bird as Dr. Jerdon's, then