Part 8 out of 12
my name, which I communicated in 1851-52 not only to Mr. Blyth
but also to Prince Bonaparte and M. Jules Verreaux, and which was
published in my Fauna of Dacca, has, it seems to me, the priority."
The birds _are_ identical. Jerdon gave me one of his Cachar specimens,
and I compared it with Tytler's types, and certainly Tytler's name was
published ten years before Jerdon's (_vide_ Ann. & Mag. Nat. Hist.,
Sept. 1854, p. 176); but no description was published, and I fear
therefore that the name given by Colonel Tytler cannot be maintained,
unless indeed, which I have been unable to ascertain, either Bonaparte
or Verreaux figured or described the specimens Tytler sent them in
some French work.
I have only one supposed nest of this species, brought me from Dacca
by a native collector who worked there for me under Mr. F.B. Simson.
He did not take it himself; it was brought to him with one of the
parent birds by a shikaree. The evidence is, therefore, very bad, but
I give the facts for what they are worth.
The nest is a rather massive and deep cup, the lower portion prolonged
downwards so as to form a short truncated cone. It is fixed between
three reeds, is constructed of sedge and vegetable fibre firmly wound
together and round the reeds, and is lined with fine grass-roots.
It measures externally 5 inches in height and nearly 4 inches in
diameter, measuring outside the reeds which are incorporated in the
outer surface of the nest. The cavity is about 21/2 inches in diameter
and nearly 2 inches deep. It contained four eggs, hard-set; only one
could be preserved, and that was broken in bringing up-country; so I
could not measure it, but the shell was a sort of pale greenish grey
or dull greenish white, rather thickly but very faintly speckled and
spotted with very dull purplish and reddish brown, with some grey
spots intermingled. The nest was obtained (no date noted) between the
middle of July and the middle of August. I note that the eggs were
on the point of hatching, so that the fresh egg would probably be
somewhat brighter coloured.
389. Megalurus palustris, Horsf. _The Striated Marsh-Warbler_.
Megalurus palustris, _Horsf., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 70; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 440.
Nothing has hitherto been recorded of the nidification of the Striated
Marsh-Warbler, although it has a very wide distribution and is very
common in suitable localities.
The Striated Marsh-Babbler, as Jerdon calls it, has nothing of the
Babbler in it. It rises perpendicularly out of the reeds, sings rather
screechingly while in the air, and descends suddenly. It has much more
of a song than any of the Babblers, a much stronger flight, and its
sudden, upward, towering flight and equally sudden descent are unlike
anything seen amongst the Babblers.
Mr. E.C. Nunn procured the nest and an egg of this species (which
along with the parent birds he kindly forwarded to me) at Hoshungabad
on the 4th May, 1868. The nest was round, composed of dry grass, and
situated in a cluster of reeds between two rocks in the bed of the
Nerbudda. It contained a single fresh egg.
Writing from Wau, in the Pegu District, Mr. Oates remarks:--"I found
a nest on the 19th May containing four eggs recently laid. The female
flew off only at the last moment, when my pony was about to tread on
the tuft of grass she had selected for her home.
"The nest was placed in a small but very dense grass-tuft about a
foot above the ground. It was made entirely of coarse grasses, and
assimilated well with the dry and entangled stems among which it lay.
The nest was very deep and purse-shaped. It was about 8 inches in
total height at the back, and some 2 inches lower in front, the upper
part of the purse being as it were cut off slantingly, and thus
leaving an entrance which was more or less circular. The width is 61/2
inches, and the breadth from front to back 4 inches. The interior is
smooth, lined with somewhat finer grass, and measures 4 inches in
depth by 3 inches from side to side, and by 2 inches from front to
"_Megalurus palustris_ is very common throughout the large plains
lying between the Pegu and Sittang Rivers. At the end of May they were
all breeding. The nest is, however, difficult to find, owing to the
vast extent of favourable ground suited to its habits. Every yard of
the land produces a clump of grass likely enough to hold a nest, and
as the female sits still till the nest is actually touched, it becomes
a difficult and laborious task to find the nest."
He subsequently remarks:--"May seems to be the month in which these
birds lay here. The nest is very often placed on the ground under the
shelter of some grass-tuft."
Mr. Cockburn writes to me:--"I found a nest of this bird on the north
bank of the Bramaputra, near Sadija. One of the birds darted off the
nest a foot or two from me in an excited way, which led me to search.
The nest was almost a perfect oval, with a slice taken off at the top
on one side, built in a clump of grass, and only 9 or 10 inches from
the ground. It was made of sarpat-grass, and lined internally with
finer grasses. The grass had a bleached and washed-out appearance,
while the clump was quite green. This was on the 29th May. I noticed
at the same time that the nest was not interwoven with the living
grass. I removed it easily with the hand."
Mr. Cripps says:--"They breed in April and May in the Dibrugarh
district, placing their deep cup-shaped nests in tussocks of grass
wherever it is swampy, in some instances the bottoms of the nests
being wet. Four seems to be the greatest number of eggs in a nest."
The eggs are much the same shape and size as those of _Acrocephalus
stentoreus_. They have a dead-white ground, thickly speckled and
spotted with blackish and purplish brown, and have but a slight gloss;
the speckling, everywhere thick, is generally densest at the large
end, and there chiefly do spots, as big as an ordinary pin's head,
occur. At the large end, besides these specklings, there is a cloudy,
dull, irregular cap, or else isolated patches, of very pale inky
purple, which more or less obscure the ground-colour. In the peculiar
speckly character of the markings these eggs recall doubtless some
specimens of the eggs of the different Bulbuls, but their natural
affinities seem to be with those of the _Acrocephalinae_.
The eggs vary from 0.8 to 0.97 in length, and from 0.61 to 0.69 in
breadth; but the average of twelve eggs is 0.85 by 0.64.
390. Schoenicola platyura (Jerd.). _The Broad-tailed Grass-Warbler_.
Schoenicola platyura (_Jerd.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 73.
Colonel E.A. Butler discovered the nest of the Broad-tailed
Grass-Warbler at Belgaum. He writes:--
"On the 1st September, 1880, I shot a pair of these birds as they rose
out of some long grass by the side of a rice-field; and, thinking
there might be a nest, I commenced a diligent search, which resulted
in my finding one. It consisted of a good-sized ball of coarse blades
of dry grass, with an entrance on one side, and was built in long
grass about a foot from the ground. Though it was apparently finished,
there were unfortunately no eggs, but dissection of the hen proved
that she would have laid in a day or two. On the 10th instant I found
another nest exactly similar, built in a tussock of coarse grass, near
the same place; but this was subsequently deserted without the bird
laying. On the 19th September I went in the early morning to the same
patch of grass and watched another pair, soon seeing the hen disappear
amongst some thick tussocks. On my approaching the spot she flew off
the nest, which contained four eggs much incubated. The nest was
precisely similar to the others, but with the entrance-hole perhaps
rather nearer the top, though still on one side. The situation in the
grass was the same--in fact it was very similar in every respect to
the nest of _Drymoeca insignis_. The eggs are very like those of
_Molpastes haemorrhous_, but smaller, having a purplish-white ground,
sprinkled all over with numerous small specks and spots of purple and
purplish brown, with a cap of the same at the large end, underlaid
with inky lilac.
"These birds closely resemble _Chaetornis striatus_ in their actions
and habits, and in the breeding-season rise constantly into the air,
chirruping like that species, and descending afterwards in the same
way on to some low bush or tussock of grass, sometimes even on to
the telegraph-wires. They are fearful little skulks, however, if you
attempt to pursue them, and the moment you approach disappear into the
grass like a shot, from whence it is almost impossible to flush them
again unless you all but tread on them. It is perfectly marvellous the
way they will hide themselves in a patch of grass when they have once
taken refuge in it; and although you may know within a yard or two of
where the bird is, you may search for half an hour without finding it.
If you shoot at them and miss, they drop to the shot into the grass as
if killed, and nothing will dissuade you from the belief that they are
so until, after a long search, the little beast gets up exactly where
you have been hunting all along, from almost under your feet, and
darts off to disappear, after another short flight of fifteen or
twenty yards, in another patch of grass, from whence you may again try
in vain to dislodge it."
The eggs of this species, though much smaller, are precisely of the
same type as those of _Megalurus palustris_ and _Chaetornis striatus_;
moderately broad ovals with a very fine compact shell, with but little
gloss, though perhaps rather more of this than in either of the
species above referred to. The ground-colour is white, with perhaps
a faint pinkish shade, and it is profusely speckled and spotted with
brownish red, almost black in some spots, more chestnut in others.
Here and there a few larger spots or small irregular blotches occur.
Besides these markings, clouds, streaks, and tiny spots of grey or
lavender-grey occur, chiefly about the large end, where, with the
markings (often more numerous there than elsewhere), they form at
times a more or less confluent but irregular and ill-defined cap.
One egg measured 0.73 by 0.6.
391. Acanthoptila nepalensis (Hodgs.). _The Spiny Warbler_.
Acanthoptila nipalensis (_Hodgs.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p 57.
Acanthoptila pellotis, _Hodgs., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._
no. 431 bis.
According to Mr. Hodgson's notes and figures, this species builds, in
a fork of a tree, a very loose, shallow grass nest. One is recorded
to have measured 4.87 in diameter and 1.75 in height externally,
and internally 3.37 in diameter and an inch in depth. The eggs are
verditer-blue, and are figured as 1.1 by 0.65.
I may here note that _Acanthoptila pellotis_ and _A. leucotis_ are
totally distinct, as Mr. Hodgson's figures clearly show. Hodgson
published _A. leucotis_ apparently under the name of _A. nipalensis_,
so that the two will stand as _A. pellotis_ and _A. nipalensis_.[A]
[Footnote A: I do not agree with. Mr. Hume on this point. It seems
to me that this bird has both a summer and a winter plumage, and
Hodgson's two names refer to one and the same bird.--ED.]
392. Chaetornis locustelloides (Bl.). _The Bristled Grass-Warbler_.
Chaetornis striatus (_Jerd.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii. p. 72; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 441.
Dr. Jerdon remarks that Mr. Blyth mentions that the nest of
the Grass-Babbler, as he calls it, nearly accords with that of
_Malacocercus_, and that the eggs are blue.
I cannot find the passage in which Blyth states this, and I cannot
help doubting its correctness. This bird, like the preceding, is not
a bit of a Babbler. I have often watched them in Lower Bengal amongst
comparatively low grass and rush along the margins of ponds and
jheels, not, as a rule, affecting high reed or seeking to conceal
themselves, but showing themselves freely enough, and with a song and
flight wholly unlike that of any Babbler.
They are very restless, soaring about and singing a monotonous song of
two notes, somewhat resembling that of a Pipit, but clear and loud.
They do not soar in one spot like a Sky-Lark, as Jerdon says, but rise
to the height of from 30 to 50 yards, fly rapidly right and left, over
perhaps one fourth of a mile, and then suddenly drop on to the top of
some little bush or other convenient post, and there continue their
Mr. Brooks remarks:--"On the 28th August, 1869, I observed at the side
of the railway, at Jheenjuck Jheel, on the borders of the Etawah and
Cawnpoor Districts, several pairs of _Chaetornis_. A good part of the
jheel was covered with grass about 18 inches high, and to this they
appeared partial, though occasionally I found them among the long
reeds. The part of the jheel where they were found was drier than the
rest, there being only about an inch of water in places, while other
portions were quite dry.
"I noticed the bird singing while seated on a bush or large clump of
grass, and sometimes it perched on the telegraph-wires alongside of
the line of railway, continuing its song while perched.
"By habits and song it seems more nearly allied to the Pipits than the
Babblers. Males shot early in September were obviously breeding, and
a female shot on the 13th of that month contained a nearly full-sized
It does not do to be too positive, but I should be inclined to believe
that the eggs are not uniform coloured, blue and glossy like a
Babbler's, but dull, dead, or greenish white, with numerous small
specks and spots[A].
[Footnote A: The discovery of this bird's eggs has proved Mr. Hume to
be right in his conjecture.--ED.]
Colonel E.A. Butler, who was the first to discover the eggs of the
Bristled Grass-Warbler, writes:--
"The Grass-Babbler is not uncommon about Deesa in the rains, at which
season it breeds. I found a nest containing four eggs on the 18th
August, 1876. It consisted of a round ball of dry grass with a
circular entrance on one side, near the top, was placed on the ground
in the centre of a low scrubby bush in a grass Bheerh, and when the
hen-bird flew off, which was not until I almost put my foot on the
nest, I mistook her for _Argya caudata_. On looking, however, into the
bush, I saw at once by the eggs that it was a species new to me. I
left the spot and returned again in about an hour's time, when, to my
disappointment, I found that three of the eggs had hatched. The fourth
egg being stale, I took it and added it to my collection. The eggs are
about the size of the eggs of _A. caudata_, but in colour very like
those of _Franklinia buchanani_, namely, white, speckled all over with
reddish brown and pale lavender, most densely at the large end. This
bird has a peculiar habit in the breeding-season of rising suddenly
into the air and soaring about, often for a considerable distance,
uttering a loud note resembling the words 'chirrup, chirrup-chirrup,'
repeated all the time the bird is in the air, and then suddenly
descending slowly into the grass with outspread wings, much in
the style of _Mirafra erythroptera_. This bird is so similar in
appearance, when flying and hopping about in the long grass, to _A.
caudata_, that I have no doubt it is often mistaken for that species.
I have invariably found it during the rains in grass Bheerhs overgrown
with low thorny bushes (_Zizyphus jujuba_, &c.). Whether it remains
the whole year round I cannot say; at all events, if it does, its
close resemblance to _A. caudata_ enables it to escape notice at other
Mr. Cripps, writing from Fureedpore, says:--"Very common in long grass
fields. Permanent resident. It utters its soft notes while on the
wing, not only in the cold season but the year through; it is very
noisy during the breeding-time. Breeds in clumps of grass a few inches
above as well as on the ground. I found five nests in the month of May
from 23rd to 28th: one was on the ground in a field of indigo; the
rest were in clumps of 'sone' grass and from the same field composed
of this grass. One nest contained three half-fledged young, and the
rest had four eggs slightly incubated in each. Although they nest in
'sone' grass which is rarely over three feet in height, it is very
difficult to find the nest, as the grass generally overhangs and hides
it. Only when the bird rises almost from your feet are you able to
discover the whereabouts. On several occasions I have noticed this
species perching on bushes."
The eggs, which, to judge from a large series sent me by Mr. Cripps,
do not appear to vary much in shape, are moderately broad ovals, more
or less pointed towards one end. The shell is fine and fragile but
entirely devoid of gloss; the ground-colour is white with a very faint
pinky or lilac tinge, and they are thickly speckled all over with
minute markings of two different shades--the one a sort of purplish
brown (they are so small that it is difficult to make certain of the
exact colour), and the other inky purple or grey. In most eggs the
markings are most dense at or about the large end, and occasionally a
spot may be met with larger than the rest, as big as a pin's head say,
and some of these seem to have a reddish tinge, while some are more of
The eggs vary from 0.75 to 0.86 in length and from 0.59 to 0.62 in
breadth, but the average of twelve eggs is almost exactly 0.8 by 0.6.
394. Hypolais rama (Sykes). _Sykes's Tree-Warbler_.
Phyllopneuste rama (_Sykes), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 189.
Iduna caligata, _Licht., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 553.
I have never myself obtained the nest and eggs of Sykes's
Tree-Warbler, _P. rama, apud Jerd._[A] On the 1st April, at Etawah, my
friend Mr. Brooks shot a male of this species off a nest; and I saw
the bird, nest, and eggs within an hour, and visited the spot later.
The nest was placed in a low thorny bush, about a foot from the
ground, on the side of a sloping bank in one of the large dry ravines
that in the Etawah District fringe the River Junina for a breadth of
from a mile to four miles. The nest was nearly egg-shaped, with a
circular entrance near the top. It was loosely woven with coarse
and fine grass, and a little of the fibre of the "sun" (_Crotalaria
juncea_), and very neatly felted on the whole interior surface of
the lower two thirds with a compact coating of the down of
flowering-grasses and little bits of spider's web. It was about 5
inches in its longest and 31/2 inches in its shortest diameter. It
contained three fresh eggs, which were white, very thickly speckled
with brownish pink, in places confluent and having a decided tendency
to form a zone near the large end. Three or four days later we shot
the female at the same spot.
[Footnote A: I reproduce the note on this bird as it appeared in the
'Rough Draft,' but I think some mistake has been made, as Mr. Hume
himself suggests. Full reliance, however, may be placed on Mr. Doig's
note, which is a most interesting contribution.--ED]
A similar nest and two eggs, taken in Jhansi on the 12th August, were
sent me with one of the parent birds by Mr. F.R. Blewitt, and, again,
another nest with four eggs was sent me from Hoshungabad.
There ought to be no doubt about these nests and eggs, the more so
that I have several specimens of the bird from various parts of the
North-Western Provinces and Central Provinces killed in August and
September, but somehow I do not feel quite certain that we have not
made some mistake. Beyond doubt the great mass of this species migrate
and breed further north. I have never obtained specimens in June
or July; and if these nests really, as the evidence seems to show,
belonged to the birds that were shot on or near them, these latter
must have bred in India before or after their migration, as well as in
Though one may make minute differences, I do not think either of the
three nests or sets of eggs could be certainly separated from those of
_Franklinia buchanani_, which might well have eggs about both in April
and August; and I am not prepared to say that in each of these three
cases _Hypolais rama_, which frequents precisely the same kind of
bushes that _F. buchanani_ breeds in, may not accidentally have been
shot in the immediate proximity to a nest of the latter, the owner of
which had crept noiselessly away, as these birds so often do.
Dr. Jerdon says:--"I have obtained the nest and eggs of this
species on one occasion only at Jaulnah in the Dekhan; the nest was
cup-shaped, made of roots and grass, and contained four pure white
I do not attach undue weight to this, for Dr. Jerdon did not care
about eggs, and was rather careless about them; but still his
statement has to be noted, and the whole matter requires careful
Mr. Doig found this species breeding on the Eastern Narra in Sind. He
writes:--"I first obtained eggs of this bird in March 1879. The first
nest was found by one of my men, who afterwards showed me a bird close
to the place he got the eggs, which he said was either the bird to
which the nest and eggs belonged or one of the same kind. This I shot
and sent to Mr. Hume with one of the eggs to identify. Some time after
I again came across a lot of these birds breeding, and this time lay
in wait myself for the bird to come to the nest and eggs, and when it
did I shot it. This I also sent to Mr. Hume to identify. Some time
after I beard from Mr. Hume, who said that there must be some mistake,
as the birds sent belonged to two different species, viz. _Sylvia
affinis_ and _Hypolais rama_, and were both, he believed, only
cold-weather visitants. This year I again 'went for' these birds and
again sent specimens of birds and eggs to Mr. Hume, who informed me
that the birds now sent were _H. rama_, and that the eggs must belong
to this species soon after this Mr. Brooks saw the eggs with Mr. Hume
and identified them as being those _H. rama_ and identical with eggs
he saw at home collected by, I think, Mr. Seebohm of this species
in Siberia. Only fancy a bird breeding on the Narra of all places,
especially in May, June, and July, in preference to Siberia! Locally
they are very numerous, as I collected upwards of 90 to 100 eggs in
one field about eight acres in size. They build in stunted tamarisk
bushes, or rather in bushes of this kind which originally were cut
down to admit of cultivation being carried on, and which afterwards
had again sprouted. These bushes are very dense, and in their centre
is situated the nest, composed of sedge, with a lining of fine grass,
mixed sometimes with a little soft grass-reed. The eggs are, as a
rule, four in number, of a dull white ground-colour with brown spots,
the large end having as a rule a ring round it of most delicate, fine,
hair-like brown lines, something similar to the tracing to be seen on
the eggs of _Drymoeca inornata_. The egg in size is also similar to
those of that species."
The eggs of this species vary from broad to moderately elongated
ovals, but they are almost always somewhat pointed towards the small
end; the shell is fine but as a rule glossless; here and there,
however, an egg exhibits a faint gloss. The ground-colour is whitish,
never pure white, with an excessively faint greenish, greyish, creamy,
or pinky tinge. The markings are very variable in amount and extent,
but they are always black or nearly so and pale inky grey; perhaps
typically the markings consist of a zone of black hair-lines twisted
and entangled together, in which irregular shaped spots and small
blotches of the same colour appear to have been caught, which zone is
underlaid and more or less surrounded by clouds, streaks, and spots of
pale inky grey. This zone is typically about the large end, but in one
or two eggs is near the middle of the egg and in one or two is about
the small end. Outside this zone a few small specks and spots, and
rarely one or two tiny blotches, of both black and grey are thinly
scattered; occasionally, however, the hair-lines so characteristic of
this egg are almost entirely wanting, there is no apparent zone, and
the markings, spots, and specks are thinly and irregularly distributed
about the entire surface; here and there the whole of the dark
markings on the egg are entirely confined to the zone, elsewhere
only pale lilac specks are visible. Occasionally together with
a well-defined zone numerous specks, spots, and a few hair-line
scratches of black are intermingled with faint purplish-grey spots,
and pretty thinly scattered everywhere.
The eggs vary from 0.53 to 0.68 in length and from 0.46 to 0.51 in
breadth; but the average of a very large number is 0.61 by 0.49.
402. Sylvia affinis (Blyth). _The Indian Lesser White-throated
Sylvia curruca (_Gm.), apud Jerd. B.I._ ii, p. 209.
Sterparola curruca (_Lath.), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 583.
Of the nidification of the Lesser Whitethroat within our limits, I
only know that it was found in May, breeding abundantly in Cashmere
in the lower hills, by Mr. Brooks. He did not notice it comparatively
high up; for instance at Goolmerg, which, though not above 9000 feet
high, is at the base of a snowy range, he did not see it at all.
It builds a loose, rather shallow, cup-shaped nest, composed chiefly
of grass, coarser on the exterior and finer interiorly, which it
places in low bushes and thickets at no great elevation from the
ground. The nest is more or less lined with fine grass and roots.
It lays four or sometimes five eggs.
Mr. Brooks writes:--"I found this Whitethroat tolerably numerous in
Cashmere, where it appears generally distributed, occurring at from
5500 to 6500 feet elevation or thereabouts, It frequents places where
there is abundance of brushwood or underwood, especially along the
banks of rivers or near them.
"I found several nests, and they were all placed in small bushes, and
from 4 to 6 feet above the ground. One was in a bush on a small island
in the Kangan River, which runs into the Sind River; and this nest
I well remember was just so high that I could not look into it as I
stood. The nests precisely resembled in size and structure those of
_C. garrula_ which I have seen at home, being formed of grasses,
roots, and fine fibres, and I think scantily lined with a few black
horsehairs; but I forget this now. They were slight, thinly formed
nests, very neat but strong, and had bits of spider's web stuck about
the outside here and there. This appears to be the decoration this
bird and _C. garrula_ are partial to. They were not added, I think,
for the purpose of rendering the nest inconspicuous, for there were
just enough to give the nest a spotted appearance.
"The song of this species strongly resembles that of its congener, and
is full, loud, and sweet. I found the nests by the song of the male,
for he generally sings near the nest. The eggs don't differ from those
of _C. garrula_ in my collection."
Major Wardlaw Ramsay says, writing of Afghanistan:--"This Warbler was
very common and was breeding by the 27th May. All the nests found were
shallow cups, composed entirely of dried grass, and situated in small
bushes, frequently juniper, about 21/2 feet from the ground. The eggs
vary much both in size and colour--some being long ovals, nearly pure
white, spotted with pale brown towards the larger end, and others of
a much rounder form and a pale greenish white, thickly spotted in a
broad zone near the thicker end and smeared with very pale brown,
or else spotted and smeared with olive-brown over the whole of the
The eggs are somewhat broad ovals, typically a good deal pointed
towards the lesser end. They vary, however, much both in size and
shape: some are short and broad, decidedly pointed at the small end;
others are more elongated, and some are almost regular ellipsoids. The
eggs have little or no gloss; the ground-colour is white, with a more
or less perceptible though very faint greenish tinge. Typically they
are very Shrike-like in their markings, the majority of these being
gathered together in a more or less dense zone near the large end.
The markings consist of small spots, blotches, and specks of pale
yellowish brown, more or less intermingled with spots and specks of
dull inky purple or grey; in many eggs there are very few markings,
and these are mere spots except in the zone, while in others
full-sized markings are scattered, though thinly, more or less over
the whole surface of the egg. In some the zone is confluent and
blurred; in others composed of small sharply defined specks and spots.
Here and there a pretty large yellowish-brown cloud may be met with
partially or entirely bounded by a narrow hair-like black line. Tiny
black specks now and then occur, and little zigzag lines that might
have been borrowed from a Bunting's egg; but these are not met with in
probably more than one out of ten eggs.
In length the eggs vary from 0.6 to 0.75, and in breadth from 0.48 to
0.55; but the average of sixteen eggs is 0.66 by 0.5.
406. Phylloscopus tytleri, Brooks. _Tytler's Willow-Warbler_.
Phylloscopus tytleri, _Brooks, Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 560 bis.
Tytler's Willow-Warbler, as yet a rare bird in collections, and which
appears only to straggle down to the plains of Upper India during the
cold season, was found by Captain Cock breeding at Sonamerg (9400 feet
elevation) in the Sindh Valley, Cashmere, in June.
Mr. Brooks, who discriminated the bird, said of it and its
nidification:--"In plumage resembling _P. viridanus_, but of a richer
and deeper olive; it is entirely without the 'whitish wing-bar,' which
is always present in _viridanus_, unless in very abraded plumage. The
wing is shorter, so is the tail; but the great difference is in the
bill, which is much longer, darker, and of a more pointed and slender
form in _P. tytleri_. The song and notes are utterly different, so
are the localities frequented. _P. viridanus_ is an inhabitant of
brushwood ravines, at 9000 and 10,000 feet elevation; while _P.
tytleri_ is exclusively a pine-forest _Phylloscopus_. In the places
frequented by _P. viridanus_, it must build on the ground, or very
near it; but our new species builds, 40 feet up a pine-tree, a compact
half-domed nest on the side of a branch.
"Captain Cock shot one of this species off the nest at Sonamerg with
four eggs. The bird he sent to me, and gave me two of the eggs.
Regarding the nest he says: 'I took a nest, containing four eggs,
about 40 feet up a pine, on the outer end of a bough, by means of
ropes and sticks, and I shot the female bird. I do not know what the
bird is. I thought it was _P. viridanus_, but I send it to you. The
nest was very deep, solidly built, and cup-shaped. Eggs, plain white.'
In conversation with Captain Cock he afterwards told me that he had
watched the bird building its nest. It was rather on the side of the
branch, and its solid formation reminded him of a Goldfinch's nest.
It was composed of grass, fibres, moss, and lichens externally and
thickly lined with hair and feathers. The eggs were pure unspotted
white, rather smaller than those of _Reguloides occipitalis_. Two of
them measured .58 by .48 and .57 by .45. They were taken on the 4th
Captain Cock himself writes to me:--"Of all the birds' nests that I
know of, this is one of the most difficult to find. One day in the
forest at Sonamerg, Cashmere, I noticed a Warbler fly into a high pine
with a feather in its bill. I watched with the glasses and saw that it
was constructing a nest, so allowing a reasonable time to elapse (nine
days or so) I went and took the nest. It was placed on the outer end
of a bough, about 40 feet up a high pine, and I had to take the nest
by means of a spar lashed at right angles to the tree, the outer
extremity of which was supported by a rope fastened to the top of
the pine. The nest was a very solid, deep cup, of grass, fibres, and
lichens externally, and lined with hair and feathers. It contained
four white eggs, measuring 0.58 by 0.48.
"I shot the female, which I sent to Mr. Brooks for identification.
"I forgot to add that this nest, the only one I ever found, was taken
early in June."
The egg of this species closely resembles that of some of the species
of _Abrornis_--a moderately broad oval, slightly pointed at the small
end, pure white, and almost glossless. The only specimen I have seen
measures 0.58 by 0.45.
410. Phylloscopus fuscatus (Blyth). _The Dusky Willow-Warbler_.
Phylloscopus fuscatus (_Blyth), Jerd B.I._ ii, p. 191.
Horornis fulviventer, _Hodgs., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 523.
Mr. Blyth long ago stated in 'The Ibis' that _Horornis fulviventris_
was identical with _P. fuscatus_[A].
[Footnote A: It is with considerable hesitation that I reproduce this
note. _Horornis fulviventris_ with which Jerdon identified the bird,
the nest of which he describes, is certainly _P. fuscatus_. The only
doubt I have is whether Jerdon, who apparently had not seen a specimen
of _H. fulviventris_, rightly identified his bird with it. With this
explanation the note is republished as it appeared in the 'Rough
Subsequently I procured several specimens which were quite distinct
from _P. fuscatus_, structurally as well as in plumage answering
perfectly to Hodgson's description.
I wrote to Dr. Jerdon mentioning this fact, and he replied:--"I also
am not satisfied of the identity of this species (_H. fulviventris_)
with _Phylloscopus fuscatus_. I have recently got at Darjeeling what I
take to be _Horornis fulviventris_, and it is somewhat smaller in all
its dimensions, but I had not a typical _P. fuscatus_ with which to
compare it. Specimens measured 43/4 to 4-7/8 inches; expanse 61/2 inches;
wing 2 to 2-1/16 inches. I procured the nest and eggs in July; the
nest, cup-shaped, on a bank, composed of grass chiefly, with a few
fibres; and the eggs, three in number, pinky white, with a few reddish
It is certainly not _P. fuscatus_ (though possibly some specimens of
_P. fuscatus_ in the British Museum may bear a label formerly attached
to a bird of this species), nor any other _Horornis_ or _Horeites_
included in Dr. Jerdon's work, all of which I have. Mr. Blyth possibly
went by Mr. Hodgson's specimens in the British Museum, but some
confusion has, it is known, somehow crept in amongst these; and I have
no doubt myself that _Horornis fulviventris_ is a good species,
and that it was the nest and eggs of this species which Dr. Jerdon
[Footnote A: I omit the article on _Abrornis chloronotus_, Hodgs,
which appeared in the 'Rough Draft' under number 574 bis. There is no
manner of doubt that Hodgson got the wrong nest, a nest of a Sunbird,
and figured it as that of this bird.--ED.]
415. Phylloscopus proregulus (Pall.). _Pallas's Willow-Warbler_.
Reguloides chloronotus (_Hodgs.), Jerd. B.I._ ii, p. 197.
Reguloides proregulus (_Pall.), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._
Captain Cock has the honour of being the first to take, and, I
believe, up to date the _only_ oologist who has ever taken, the nest
and eggs of Pallas's Willow-Warbler. Mr. Brooks tried hard for the
prize, but he searched on the ground and so missed the nest. He wrote
to me from Cashmere, just about the time (June 1871) that Captain
Cock found the nest he obtained:--"I have been utterly unable to do
anything with _P. proregulus_. I shot a female, with an egg nearly
ready to lay, when I first went to Goolmerg, but though I often heard
the males singing, I never could find any indication of the nesting
female. The feeble song, like that of _P. sibilatrix_, alluded to by
Blyth as being that of _P. superciliosus_, is not that of this latter
bird, but of _P. proregulus_".
Later, in the Journal of the Asiatic Society, he noted that "Captain
Cock took the nest and eggs at Sonamerg. It builds, like the
Golden-crested Regulus, up a fir-tree, at from 6 to 40 feet elevation,
on the outer ends of the branches. The nest is of moss, wool and
fibres, and profusely lined with feathers. Eggs, four or five, pure
white, profusely spotted with red and a few spots of purple grey.
Size, 0.53 by 0.43."
Later still he added in 'The Ibis:'--"Captain Cock writes from
Sonamerg: 'The second day I found my first nest with eggs. It was the
nest of _P. proregulus_. I shot the old bird. Three eggs. These nests
are often placed on a bough high up in a pine-tree, and are domed or
roofed, made of moss and lined with feathers. I took another one to
day with five eggs, and shot the bird just as it was entering its
nest. This was on a bough of a pine, but low down. I know of two more
nests of _P. proregulus_, all on pine-trees, from which I hope to take
"After describing the nest of _P. humii_, and saying that it was lined
with the hair of the musk-deer, he adds: 'In this the nest differs
from that of _P. proregulus_, which lines its nest with feathers and
bits of thin birch-bark; and the nest of _P. proregulus_ is only
"I measured four eggs of _P. proregulus_ which Captain Cock kindly
gave me, and the dimensions are as follows: .55 by .44, .53 by .43,
.53 by .43, and .54 by .43. They are pure white, richly marked with
dark brownish red, particularly at the larger end, forming there a
fine zone on most of the eggs. Intermingled with these spots,
and especially on the zone, are some spots and blotches of deep
purple-grey. The egg is very handsome, and reminds one strongly of
those of _Parus cristatus_ on a smaller scale. The dates when the eggs
were taken are 30th May and 2nd June, and the place Sonamerg, which is
four marches up the valley of the Sindh River."
Captain Cock himself tells me that he "took several nests of this bird
at Sonamerg in Cashmere in pine-forests. It breeds in May and June,
making a partially domed nest, which is sometimes placed low down on
the bough of a pine-tree, sometimes on a small sapling pine where the
junction of the bough with the stem takes place, and at other times
high up on the outer end of a bough. It lays five eggs, like those
of _P. humii_ only smaller. The nests I found were all lined with
feathers and thin birch-bark strips. I never found a hair-lining in
any of this bird's nests. The outer portions of the nest consisted of
moss and lichen, arranged so as to harmonize with the bough on which
it was placed. The nests are compact little structures."
Mr. Brooks, writing of the valley of the Bhagirati river,
says:--"Common in the alpine parts of the valley. It breeds about
Derali, Bairamghati, and Gangaotri, in the large moss-grown deodars."
The eggs of this species closely resemble those of _P. humii_, but are
smaller, and, to judge from a few specimens taken by Captain Cock that
I have seen, they are somewhat shorter and broader.
Texture smooth, without any perceptible gloss. Ground-colour pure
white, spotted freely and principally towards the larger end with red:
brick-dust red would perhaps scarcely be a correct term. The colour
would be obtained by mixing a little brown and a good deal of purple
with vermilion, or by mixing Indian red with a little Venetian red.
At the larger end they have an irregular zone of small, more or less
confluent, spots and specks of this red, mingled with reddish or
brownish purple, and a few specks and spots of the red scattered over
the rest of the surface of the egg.
This egg may also be well described, as regards colour and mode of
marking, by saying that it resembles the illustration in Hewitson's
work of the eggs of _Parus cristatus_, except that the egg of _P.
proregulus_ has a distinct zone of nearly confluent spots, and their
colour is more of a brownish red than those shown in the plate above
referred to, which by-the-by do not correctly represent the colour of
the spots upon the eggs of _P. cristatus_ which I have seen. These
spots are coloured with too much of a tendency towards crimson instead
of brownish red.
Three of the eggs taken by Captain Cock varied from 0.53 to 0.55 in
length, and from 0.43 to 0.44 in breadth.
416. Phylloscopus subviridis (Brooks). _Brooks's Willow-Warbler_.
Reguloides subviridis, _Brooks, Hume, cat._ no. 566 bis.
Colonel Biddulph remarks that this species is common in Gilgit at 5000
feet in March, April, May, and beginning of June, and that it breeds
in the Nulter valley in July at 10,000 feet. Young birds were shot in
August fully fledged.
Major Wardlaw Ramsay observes on the label of a specimen procured by
him at Bian Kheyl in Afghanistan in April, "evidently breeding"; and
on that of another specimen shot in May at the same place, "contained
eggs nearly ready to lay."
418. Phylloscopus humii (Brooks). _Hume's Willow-Warbler_.
Reguloides humii, _Brooks, Hume, cat._ no. 565 bis.
Reguloides superciliosus (_Gm), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._
Mr. Brooks and Captain Cock are the only persons I know of who have
taken the eggs and nests of this species. The nest and eggs sent to
and described by me in 'The Ibis' as belonging to this bird cannot
really have pertained to it.
Mr. Brooks tells us that _P. humii_ "is very abundant in Cashmere, and
I believe in all hills immediately below the snows. It would be
vain to look for this bird at elevations below 8000 feet, or at any
distance from the snows. It was common even in the birch woods above
the upper line of pines. I found many nests. It builds a globular nest
of coarse grass on a bank side, always on the ground, and never up a
tree. The nest is lined with hair in greater or lesser quantities.
The eggs, four or five in number, average .56 by .44, are pure white,
profusely spotted with red, and sometimes have also a few spots of
purplish grey. On the 15th June I found a nest with four young ones on
the south side of the Pir-Pinjal Pass. This bird has no song, only a
double chirp in addition to its callnote. The double chirp, which
is very loud, is intended for a song, for the male bird incessantly
repeats it as he feeds from tree to tree near where the female is
sitting upon her nest."
Nests of this species obtained in Cashmere towards the end of May
and during June near Goolmerg, and brought me by Mr. Brooks, were
certainly by no means worthy of this pretty little Warbler. They are
very loosely made, more or less straggling cups of somewhat coarse
grass, only slightly lined interiorly with fine moss-roots. The
egg-cavity is very small compared with the size of the nest, some of
which, look like balls of grass with a small hole in the centre. They
average from 4 to 5 inches in external diameter, and from 2 to 3
inches in height. The egg cavity does not exceed 2 inches in diameter,
and seems often to be less, and is from an inch to half an inch in
From Cashmere, when in the thick of the nests of this species, Mr.
Brooks wrote to me as follows:--
"From Goolmerg, which is at the foot of a snowy range, I went up to
the foot of the snows through pine-forests. The pines ceased near the
snow and were replaced by birch wood on tremendously rocky ground,
which bothered me greatly to get over. I had missed _P. humii_ after
leaving the foot of the hill, where water was plentiful, but here
again the bird became abundant. I could not, however, find a nest
here, though I watched several pairs. I think in the cooler country
they breed later. Flowers which had gone out of bloom below I again
met with up here in full flower.
"Blyth says: '_R. superciliosus_ has not any song, unless a sort of
double call, consisting of two notes, can be called a song,' This the
males vigorously uttered all day long, but I did not notice this much;
but as soon as the female sharply and rapidly uttered the well-known
bell-like call, I knew she was disturbed from her nest, or had left it
of her own accord. Whichever of us heard this rushed quickly to the
spot, and the female once sighted was kept in view as she flitted from
tree to tree, apparently carelessly feeding all the while; soon she
came lower down to the bashes below, and now her note quickened and
betokened anxiety; generally before half an hour would elapse she
would make a dash at a particular spot, and wish to go in but checked
herself. This would be repeated two or three times, and now the nest
was within the compass of 2 or 3 yards. At last down she went and her
note ceased. When all had been quiet for a minute or two, the male
meanwhile continuing his double note in the trees above, I cautiously
approached the place. Sometimes the nest was very artfully concealed,
but other times there it was--the round green ball with the opening at
one side. I often saw the female put her head out and then partially
draw it in again. Her well-defined supercilium was very distinct. I
thought I could catch her on the nest once, and went round above her,
but out came her head a little further, and she bolted as I brought
down my pocket handkerchief on the nest. I shot one or two from the
nest, but this I found unnecessary. In every case the female shouted
vigorously on leaving the nest or immediately after, and by her very
peculiar note fully authenticated the eggs."
Elsewhere Mr. Brooks has remarked:--"Goolmerg is one of those mountain
downs, or extensive pasture lands, which are numerous on the top of
the range of hills immediately below the Pir-Pinjal Range, which is
the first snowy range. It is a beautiful mountain common, about
3000 feet above the level of Sirinugger, which latter place has an
elevation of 5235 feet. This common is about 3 miles long and about a
couple of miles wide, but of very irregular shape. On all sides the
undulating grass-land is surrounded by pine-clad hills, and on one
side the pine-slopes are surmounted by snowy mountains. On the side
near the snow the supply of water in the woods is ample. The whole
hill-side is intersected by small ravines, and each ravine has its
stream of pure cold water--water so different from the tepid fluid we
drink in the plains. In such places where there were water and old
pines _P. humii_ was very abundant: every few yards was the domain of
a pair. The males were very noisy, and continually uttered their song.
This song is not that described by Mr. Blyth as being similar to the
notes of the English Wood-Wren (_P. sibilatrix_) but fainter--it is a
loud double chirp or call, hardly worthy of being dignified with the
name of song at all. While the female was sitting, the male continued
vigorously to utter his double note as he fed from tree to tree. To
this note I and my native assistants paid but little attention;
but when the female, being off the nest, uttered her well-known
'_tiss-yip_,' as Mr. Blyth expresses the call of a Willow-Wren, we
repaired rapidly to the spot and kept her in view. In every instance,
before an hour had passed, she went into her nest, first making a few
impatient dashes at the place where it was, as much as to say--'There
it is, but I don't want you to see me go in.'
"The nest of _P. humii_ is always, so far as my observation goes
placed on the ground on some sloping bank or ravine-side. The
situation preferred is the lower slope near the edge of the wood, and
at the root of some very small bush or tree; often, however, on quite
open ground, where the newly growing herbage was so short that it only
partially concealed it. In form it is a true Willow-Wren's nest--a
rather large globular structure with the entrance at one side.
Regarding the first nest taken, I have noted that it was placed on a
sloping bank on the ground, among some low ferns and other plants, and
close to the root of a small broken fir tree which, being somewhat
inclined over the nest, protected it from being trodden upon. It was
composed of coarse dry grass and moss and lined with finer grass and a
few black hairs. The cavity was about 2 inches, and the entrance about
11/2 inch in diameter. About 20 yards from the nest was a large, old,
hollow fir tree, and in this I sat till the female returned to her
nest. My attendant then quietly approached the spot, when she flew
out of the nest and sat on a low bank 2 or 3 yards from it: then she
uttered her '_tiss-yip_,' which I know so well, and darted away among
the pines. My man retired, upon which she soon returned, and having
called for a few minutes in the vicinity of the nest, she ceased her
note and quickly entered. Again she was quietly disturbed, and sat on
a twig not far from the nest. I heard her call once more, and then
shot her. There were five eggs, which were slightly incubated.
* * * * *
"My second nest was placed on the side of a steep bank on the ground.
The third was similarly placed, and composed of coarse grass and moss,
and lined with black horsehair. In each of these nests the number of
eggs was five.
"Another nest, taken on the 1st June, with four eggs, was placed on
the ground on a sloping bank, at the foot of a small thin bush. It was
composed as usual of coarse dry grass and moss, and lined with finer
grasses and a few hairs. The eggs were five or six days incubated.
"Another nest, with four eggs, was placed on the ground, under the
inclined trunk of a small fir. The same materials were used.
"Another nest, containing four eggs, was placed on a sloping bank and
quite exposed, there being little or no herbage to conceal it. It was
composed as before, with the addition of a few feathers in the outer
portion of the nest.
"Another nest was at the roots of a fern growing on a very steep bank.
The new shoots of the fern grew up above the nest, and last year's
dead leaves overhung it and entirely concealed it.
"Another was placed on a sloping bank, immediately under the trunk of
a fallen and decayed pine. On account of the irregularities in the
ground, the trunk did not touch the ground where the nest was by about
2 feet. This was again an instance of contrivance for the nest's
protection. It was composed of the same materials as usual.
"Another was among the branches of a shrub, right in the centre of the
bush and on the ground, which was sloping as usual.
"Another nest, with four eggs, taken on 3rd June, was placed in the
steep bank of a small stream, only 3 feet 6 inches above the water.
"The above examples will give a very fair idea of the situation of the
nest; and it now remains only to describe the eggs, which average .56
long by .44 broad. The largest egg which was measured was .62 long
and .45 broad, and the smallest measured .52 long and .43 broad. The
ground-colour is always pure white, more or less spotted with brownish
red, the spots being much more numerous and frequently in the form of
a rich zone or cap at the larger end. Intermixed with the red spots
are sometimes a few purplish-grey ones. Other eggs are marked with
deep purple-brown spots, like those of the Chiffchaff, and the spots
are also intermingled with purplish grey. Some eggs are boldly and
richly marked, while others are minutely spotted. The egg also varies
in shape; but, as a general rule, they are rather short and round,
resembling in shape those of _P. trochilus_. In returning from
Cashmere, on the south face of the Pir-Pinjal Mountain and close to
the footpath, I found on the 15th June a nest of this bird with four
young ones. This nest was placed in an unusually steep bank. Half an
hour after finding the nest, and perhaps 1000 feet lower down the
hill, I stood upon a mass of snow which had accumulated in the bed of
Captain Charles R. Cock writes to me that he "took numbers of nests at
Sonamerg, in the Sindh Valley in Cashmere, during a nesting trip that
I took in 1871 with my valued and esteemed friend W.E. Brooks, Esq.
Although at the time of our finding the nest of this Warbler we were
about 80 miles apart, yet we both found our first nest on the same
day--the 31st May. I believe he was by a couple of hours or so the
winner, as I do not think the egg had ever been taken before.
"Breeds in May or June on the ground in banks; makes a globular nest
of moss, well lined with fine grass, musk-deer hair, or horse-hair. It
lays five eggs, white spotted with rusty red, inclining to a zone at
the larger end."
Typically the eggs of this species are broad ovals, slightly
compressed towards one end; the ground pure white and almost perfectly
devoid of gloss, speckled and spotted with red or purplish red, the
markings, most dense about the large end, often forming an irregular
mottled cap or zone. These are the general characters, but the eggs
vary very much in shape, size, colour, and density of markings. Some
eggs are almost spherical; others are somewhat elongated; others
slightly pyriform. As a body, alike in shape and coloration, they
remind one of the eggs of many species of Indian Tit, especially
those of _Lophophanes melanolophus_. In some eggs the markings are
a slightly brownish brickdust-red, moderate sized spots and specks
scattered pretty thickly over the whole surface, but gathered into
a dense, more or less confluent, zone or cap towards the large end.
Intermingled with these primary markings a few pale purple spots
are scattered towards the large end of the eggs. In other eggs the
markings are mostly mere specks, and in this type of egg the specks
are mostly brownish purple, in some almost black. Occasionally an
egg is almost entirely spotless, having only towards the large end a
clouded dingy reddish-purple zone. In some eggs again the colour of
the markings is pale and washed out. As a rule, the eggs in which the
markings are of the brickdust-red type have these larger, bolder, and
more numerous; while those in which the markings are purple have them
of a more minute character.
The shape of the eggs, as already noticed, varies much, being
sometimes longer than those of _P. trochilus_, and at other times very
much of the same rounded shape. Frequently they are more pointed at
the smaller end than those of _P. trochilus_ usually are. The texture
of the egg is similar to that of _P. trochilus_, with scarcely any
gloss. The ground-colour is always pure white, and the markings,
which are always more or less plentiful, are either reddish brown
or purple-brown, intermingled sparingly with lighter or darker
Some eggs contain hardly a speck of the purple-grey, while others have
considerable blotches of that colour scattered amongst the red spots.
Some eggs are scantily marked, and have the spots very small; while
others are densely spotted and blotched, the spots often being more or
less confluent at the larger end. Frequently they accumulate round
the larger end in the form of a confluent zone. The variety with deep
purple-brown spots, which is the rarest, resembles those of _P.
rufa_ in miniature; but, as a rule, the egg bears a much stronger
resemblance to that of _P. trochilus_, though it is of course
much smaller. _As far as the colour goes_, the representations in
Hewitson's work of the eggs of _Parus cristatus, Parus coeruleus_,
and _Phylloscopus trochilus_ will give a very correct idea of the
different varieties of the egg of the present bird.
The greatest number of eggs found in any nest by Captain Cock and Mr.
Brooks was five; frequently, however, four was the number upon which
the bird was sitting; eggs partially incubated. On the Pir-Pinjal
Mountain, just below the snows, a nest with four young ones was found
on the 15th June, so that, though five seems to be the usual number,
the bird frequently lays only four.
In length the eggs vary from 0.52 to 0.62, and in breadth from 0.43 to
0.47; but the average of fifty eggs carefully measured was 0.56 full
428. Acanthopneuste occipitalis, Jerd. _The Large Crowned
Reguloides occipitalis (_Jerd.), Jerd. B.I._ ii, p. 196; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 563.
The Large Crowned Willow-Warbler breeds in Cashmere and the North-west
Himalayas generally, during the latter half of May, June, and the
first half of July, apparently at any elevation from 4000 to 8000
Mr. Brooks says:--"This is perhaps the commonest bird in Cashmere,
even more so than _Passer indicus_. It is found at almost all
elevations above the valley where good woods occur.
"I only took three nests, as the little bird is very cunning, and,
unlike the simple _P. humii_, is very careful indeed how it approaches
its nest when an enemy is near.
"The nest is placed in a hole under the roots of a large tree on some
steep bank-side. I found one in a decayed stump of a large fir-tree,
inside the rotten wood. It was placed on a level with the ground, and
could not be seen till I had broken away part of the outside of the
stump. It was composed of green moss and small dead leaves, a scanty
and loosely formed nest, and not domed. It was lined with fine grass
and a little wool, and also a very few hairs. There were five eggs.
"Another nest was also placed in a rotten stump, but under the roots.
A third nest was placed in a hole under the roots of a large living
pine, and in front of the hole grew a small rose-bush quite against
the tree-trunk. This nest was most carefully concealed, for the hole
behind the roots of the rose-bush was most difficult to find.
"The eggs, four or five in number, are of a rather longer form than
those of _P. humii_, and are pure white without any spots. They
average .65 by .5."
He added _in epist._:--"This is a much shier bird than _P. humii_. I
watched many a one without effect. The nest is a loose structure of
moss lined with a little wool, and would not retain its shape after
coming out of the hole. It is a most amusing bird, very noisy, with a
short poor song, and utters a variety of notes when you are near the
Certainly the nests he brought me are nothing but little pads of moss,
3 to 4 inches in diameter and perhaps an inch in thickness. There is
no pretence for a lining, but a certain amount of wool and excessively
fine moss-roots are incorporated in the body of the nest. _In situ_
they would appear to be sometimes more or less domed.
Captain Cock writes to me:--"I have taken numbers of nests of this
bird in Cashmere and in and about the hill-station of Murree. They
commence breeding in May and have finished by July. The nests are
placed under roots of trees, in crevices of trees, between large
stems, and a favourite locality is, where the road has a stone
embankment to support it, between the stones. The nest is globular,
made of moss, and the number of eggs is four. I have often caught the
old bird on the nest. The nests are easy to find, as the birds are
very noisy and demonstrative when any one is near their nests."
Colonel C.H.T. Marshall also very kindly gives me the following most
interesting note on the nidification of this species in the vicinity
of Murree. He says:--
"This little Willow-Warbler, so far as my own experience goes, always
prefers a pretty high elevation for breeding. Out of the dozen nests
found by Captain Cock and myself in the neighbourhood of Murree, none
were at an elevation of less than 6500 feet above the sea; and my
shikaree, who was always on the look out for me in the lower ranges,
never came across the nest of this species.
"The nest is generally placed in holes at the foot of the large spruce
firs. It is a difficult nest to find, as the bird selects holes into
which the hand will not go, and outside there are no signs of there
being any nest within.
"The cock bird spends most of his time at the tops of trees, coming
down at intervals. The only chance of success in taking the eggs is to
watch carefully any that may be flying low in the bushes, until they
disappear cautiously into the holes where they are breeding. I should
mention that we have also found some nests in the rough stone walls on
the hill road-sides.
"The nest is as neatly and carefully built as if it had to be exposed
on the branch of a tree. It is globular in shape, made of moss, and
lined with feathers. The eggs are pure white. They apparently rear two
broods in the year. In the first nest, which we found under the root
of an old spruce-fir on the 17th May, the eggs were quite hard-set;
and I may remark that immediately over this nest, about 8 feet up the
tree in a crack in the wood, a little _Muscicapula superciliaris_ was
sitting on five eggs. Later at the end of June we found _fresh_ eggs
in several nests. The eggs in our collection were all taken between
the 17th May and the 10th July."
They do not always, however, select such situations as those referred
to in the above accounts. Sir E.C. Buck, C.S., says:--"I found a nest
on 11th June in the roof of Major Batchelor's bungalow at Nachar, in
the Sutlej Valley; it contained young birds. I was not allowed to
disturb the nest, which was composed externally of moss. I noticed a
second half-made nest near the other."
The eggs of this species are, as might be expected, somewhat larger
than those of _P. humii_, and they are of a different character, being
spotless, white, and slightly glossy. In shape the eggs vary from
a nearly perfect, moderately elongated oval to a slightly pyriform
shape, broad at the large end, and a good deal compressed and somewhat
pointed towards the small end (_vide_ the representation of the eggs
of _Ruticilla tithys_ in Hewitson's work).
In length they vary from 0.63 to 0.68, and in breadth from 0.48 to
0.53; but the average of fifteen eggs measured is 0.65 by 0.5.
430. Acanthopneuste davisoni, Oates. _The Tenasserim White-tailed
Reguloides viridipennis (_Blyth), apud Hume, cat._ no. 507[A].
[Footnote A: Mr. Hume is of opinion that this bird is the true _P.
viridipennis_ of Blyth. I have elsewhere stated my reasons for
disagreeing with him.--ED.]
It was on the 2nd of February, just at the foot of the final cone of
Mooleyit, at an elevation of over 6000 feet, that Mr. Davison came
upon the nest of this species. He says:--
"In a deep ravine close below the summit of Mooleyit I found a nest of
this Willow-Warbler. It was placed in a mass of creepers growing over
the face of a rock about 7 feet from the ground. It was only partially
screened, and I easily detected it on the bird leaving it. I was very
much astonished at finding a nest of a Willow-Warbler in Burmah, so
I determined to make positively certain of the owner. I marked the
place, and after a short time returned very quietly. I got within a
couple of feet of the nest; the bird sat still, and I watched her for
some time; the markings on the top of the head were very conspicuous.
On my attempting to go closer the bird flew off, and settled on a
small branch a few feet off. I moved back a short distance and shot
her, using a very small charge.
"The nest was a globular structure, with the roof slightly projecting
over the entrance. It was composed externally chiefly of moss,
intermingled with dried leaves and fibres; the egg-cavity was warmly
and thickly lined with a felt of pappus.
"The external diameter of the nest was about 4 inches; the egg-cavity
1 inch at the entrance, and 2 inches deep.
"The nest contained three small pure white eggs."
The three eggs here mentioned measured 0.59 and 0.6 in length, by 0.49
434. Cryptolopha xanthoschista (Hodgs.) _Holgson's Grey-headed
Abrornis albosuperciliaris, _Blyth, Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 202; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 573.
Throughout the Himalayas south of the first snowy ranges, and in all
wooded valleys in rear of these, from Darjeeling to Murree, this
Warbler appears to be a permanent resident.
I have received its nests and eggs from several sources, and have
taken them in the Sutlej and Beas Valleys myself. They lay in the last
week of March, and throughout April and May, constructing a large
globular nest of moss, more or less mingled exteriorly with dry grass
and lined thinly with goat's hair, and then inside this thickly with
the softest wool or, in one nest that I found, with the inner downy
fur of hares. The entrance to the nest is sometimes on one side,
sometimes almost at the top, and is rather large for the size of the
bird. The nest is almost without exception placed on a grassy bank, at
the foot of some small bush, and usually contains four eggs.
Talking of this species, and writing from Almorah on the 17th May, Mr.
Brooks said:--"I have just taken a nest. It was placed on a sloping
bank-side near the foot of a small bush. The bank was overgrown with
grass. The nest, which was on the ground, was a large ball-shaped one,
composed of very coarse grass, moss-roots, and wool, and lined with
hair and wool. It contained four pure white glossy eggs, which were
much pointed at the small end. I shot the bird off the nest. I had
already frequently met with fully-grown young birds of this species."
Writing from Dhurmsala, Captain Cock remarked:--"On the 8th April I
found a nest of this species containing four white eggs; it was placed
on the ground, under a bush, on a steep bank. The nest was globular,
with rather a large entrance-hole, and was made of moss, with dry
grass outside, then black hair of goats, and thickly lined with the
softest of wool: _no feathers_ in the nest. I caught the bird on the
nest; it is common here."
Colonel G.F.L. Marshall tells us:--"A nest found on the 22nd May at
Naini Tal, about 7000 feet above the sea, contained three hard-set
eggs. The eggs were pure white. The nest was a most beautiful little
structure of moss, lined with wool; it was globular, with the entrance
at one side, and placed on a bank among some ground-ivy, the outer
part of the nest having a few broad grass-blades interwoven so as to
assimilate the appearance of the nest to that of the bank against
which it lay. It was at the side of a narrow glen with a northern
aspect, and about four feet above the pathway, close to the spring
from which my _bhisti_ daily draws water, the bird sitting fearlessly
while passed and repassed by people going down the glen within a foot
or two of the nest."
The eggs are pure white, and generally fairly glossy. In texture the
shells are very fine and compact. The eggs are moderately broad ovals,
much pointed towards the small end, and vary from 0.6 to 0.65 in
length, and from 0.48 to 0.52 in breadth; but the average of twenty
eggs measured is 0.63 by 0.5 nearly.
435. Cryptolopha jerdoni (Brooks). _Brooks's Grey-headed
Abrornis xanthoschistos (_Hodgs.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 202; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 572.
This Warbler breeds, according to Mr. Hodgson's notes[A], both in
Nepal and Sikhim up to an elevation of 6000 or 7000 feet. They lay in
May three or four pure white eggs. They make their nest on the ground
in thick bushes, or in holes in banks, or under roots of trees. The
nest is a large mass of moss and dry leaves, somewhat egg-shaped, with
the entrance at one end, some 6 inches in length, 4 inches in breadth,
and 3.5 in height externally, and with an oval entrance about 1.5 high
and 2.25 wide. Inside it is carefully lined with moss-roots. Both
sexes assist in hatching and rearing the young, which are ready to fly
[Footnote A: Mr. Hodgson's specimens in the British Museum are _C.
xanthoschista_; but _C. jerdoni_ also occurs in Nepal, and Mr. Hodgson
_may_ have found the nests of both. I leave the note as it appeared
in the 'Rough Draft,' as the two species are not likely to differ in
their habits, and it matters little to which species Mr. Hodgson's
note refers, provided the above remarks are borne in mind.--ED.]
From Sikhim Mr. Gammie says:--"I found one nest of this species at
Rishap, at an elevation of 5000 feet, on the 20th May. The nest was in
thin forest, near its outer edge, and placed on the ground beside a
small stem. It was domed, and composed entirely of moss, with the
exception of a few fibres in the hood or dome portion, and was lined
with thistle-down. The exterior diameter was 3.3, the height 3.2: the
cavity was 1.6 in diameter, and only an inch in depth below the lower
margin of the entrance, which was the rim of the true cup, over which
the hood was drawn. The nest contained four fresh eggs."
Several nests of this species that have been sent me from Sikhim
were all of the same type--beautiful little cups, some placed on the
ground, some amongst the twigs of brushwood a little above the ground,
composed entirely of fine moss and a little fern-root, and with the
interior of the cavity not indeed regularly lined but dotted about
with tufts of silky seed-down.
The eggs are very similar to but smaller than those of the preceding
species--very broad ovals, a good deal pointed towards one end, pure
white, and faintly glossy. In length they vary from 0.53 to 0.58, and
in breadth from 0.45 to 0.49.
436. Cryptolopha poliogenys (Blyth). _The Grey-cheeked
Abrornis poliogenys (_Blyth), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 203.
From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes:--"A nest of the Grey-cheeked
Flycatcher-Warbler, taken on the 8th May in large forest at 6000 feet,
contained three hard-set eggs. It was suspended to a snag among the
moss growing on the stem of a small tree at five feet up. The moss
supported it more than did the snag. It is a solid cup-shaped
structure, made of green moss and lined with very fine roots.
Externally it measures 31/2 inches across and 21/4 deep; internally 2
inches wide and 13/4 deep."
The eggs of this species, like those of _C. xanthoschista_ and _C.
jerdoni_, are pure white. They are not, I think, separable from the
eggs of these two species. Those sent me by Mr. Gammie measure 0.66
and 0.67 in length by 0.5 in breadth.
437. Cryptolopha castaneiceps (Hodgs.). _The Chestnut-headed
Abrornis castaneiceps, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii. p. 205; _Hume.
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 578.
According to Mr. Hodgson's notes and figures, the Chestnut-headed
Flycatcher-Warbler breeds in the central hill-region of Nepal from
April to June, laying three or four eggs, which are neither figured
nor described. The nest itself is a beautiful structure of mosses,
lichens, moss- and fern-roots, and fine stems worked into the shape
of a large egg, measuring 6 and 4 inches along the longer and shorter
diameters; it is placed on the ground in the midst of a clump of ferns
or thick grass, with the longer diameter perpendicular to the ground.
The aperture, which is about halfway between the middle and the top of
the nest, and on one side, is oval, about 2 inches in width and 1.75
in height. Both sexes are said to assist in hatching and rearing the
438. Cryptolopha cantator (Tick.). _Tickell's Flycatcher-Warbler_.
Culicipeta cantator (_Tick.), Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 200.
Abrornis cantator (_Tick.), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 570.
A nest containing a single egg has been sent me as that of Tickell's
Flycatcher-Warbler. It was found in May in Native Sikhim, at an
elevation, it is said, of 12,000 feet. It was suspended to the tip of
a branch of a tree at a height of about 8 feet from the ground. The
nest is a most lovely one; but I confess that I have doubts as to its
really belonging to this species.
The nest is, for the size of the bird, a large watch-pocket, some 6
inches in total length and 3.5 in breadth, composed entirely of white,
satiny seed-down, densely felted together to the thickness of half
an inch. The lower part, sides, and back very thinly, and the upper
portion and the margin of the mouth of the pocket thickly, coated with
excessively fine green moss and very fine soft vegetable fibre.
My sole reason for doubting the authenticity of the nest is that
another _precisely_ similar one was sent me by another collector, a
European, as belonging to an _Aethopyga_, together with the female
which he shot off the nest.
The present nest contained a pure white egg; the other spotted eggs.
Both collectors I have no doubt were fully assured of the correctness
of their identification, and it may be that both species of birds
construct similar nests; but I entertain considerable doubts on this
subject, and think it right to note the fact.
The egg is a very broad oval, pure white, and very glossy, and
measures 0.6 by 0.49.
Mr. Mandelli sends me a lovely nest, which he says belongs to this
species. It was found in May in Native Sikhim, at about 12,000 feet
elevation. It was suspended from the tiny branch of a tree at a height
of about 8 feet from the ground. The nest is a perfect watch-pocket,
composed entirely of white silky down belonging to one of the
bombaxes, thinly coated here and there with strings of moss to keep
it together, and more thickly so with this and vegetable fibre at and
about the point of suspension and round the rim of the mouth of the
pocket. The nest is altogether about. 6 inches long and about 3 inches
in diameter at its broadest; the lower edge of the aperture into the
pocket is 2 inches from the bottom of the nest, and the aperture is
about 2 inches wide. It is altogether one of the loveliest nests I
have ever seen: but I cannot feel certain that the nest really belongs
to this species; for I have had a precisely similar nest, also found
in Sikhim, on the 20th May, similarly suspended at a height of about
5 feet from the ground, sent me as belonging to another species of
_Abrornis_; and though Mr. Mandelli is usually right, I think the
matter requires further confirmation.
440. Abrornis superciliaris, Tick. _The Yellow-bellied
Abrornis flaviventris, _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 203.
Writing from Tenasserim, Major T.C. Bingham says:--
"I have shot this bird on the Zammee choung, where I got a nest with
eggs; and I have more than once seen it in the Thoungyeen forests.
"The following is an account of the nest I found, recorded in my
"Khasat village--Khasat choung, Zammee river, 9th March, 1878.--My
camp to-day was pitched in the midst of a dense bamboo-break, close to
a path leading to the village.
"About ten feet from my tent on this path, passers-by had cut one
of the bamboos in a clump and left it leaning up against the clump;
between two knots of this a rough hack had broken an irregular hole
into a joint.
"Sitting outside my tent and looking carelessly about, my attention
was attracted by what I took to be a leaf flutter down close to the
above-mentioned bamboo, and to my surprise disappear before it reached
the ground. Wondering at this, I got up and approached the place, when
from the aforementioned hole in the bamboo out darted a little bird;
and looking in I saw a neat little nest of fibres placed on the lower
knot with three eggs, white densely speckled, chiefly in a ring at the
larger end, with pinkish claret spots.
"I went back to my tent, watched the bird return, and shot her as on
being frightened off she flew out a second time. It proved to be the
"I took the nest and eggs. The latter, I regret to say, were lost
subsequently through the carelessness of a servant, but I had luckily
measured and taken a description of them.
"Their dimensions were respectively 0.57 x 0.42, 0.59 x 0.42, and 0.59
From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes:--"I took a nest of this Warbler on the
15th June at 1800 feet elevation. It was inside a bamboo-stem near the
banks of the Ryeng stream. Just under a node some one had cut out a
notch, which the birds made their entrance. The nest rested on the
node below and fitted the hollow of the bamboo. It was made of dry
bamboo-leaves, and lined with soft, fibrous material. It measured
5 inches deep and 3 inches wide, with an egg cavity of 2 inches in
depth, by 13/4 inch in width. The eggs, which were hard-set, were but
three in number."
The eggs are rather long ovals, the shell fine but with very little
gloss; the ground-colour is a dull white or pinky white, and it is
thickly freckled and mottled about the large end and thinly elsewhere
with red, in some cases slightly browner, in others purple. The
markings have a tendency to form a cap or zone about the large end,
and here, where the markings are densest, some little lilac or
purplish-grey spots and clouds are intermingled.
An egg measures 0.61 by 0.43.
441. Abrornis schisticeps (Hodgs.). _The Black-faced
Abrornis schisticeps, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 201; _Hume, Rough
Draft N. & E._ no. 571.
Captain Hutton tells us that the Black-faced Flycatcher-Warbler is "a
common species in the neighbourhood of Mussoorie, at 5000 feet, and
commences building in March. A pair of these birds selected a thick
China rose-bush trained against the side of the house, and had
completed the nest and laid one egg when a rat destroyed it. I
subsequently took two other nests in May, both placed on the ground
in holes in the side of a bank by the roadside. In form the nest is
a ball, with a round lateral entrance, and is composed externally
of dried grasses and green moss, lined with bits of wool, cotton,
feathers, thread, and hair. The eggs are three in number."
Two eggs of this species, sent to me by Captain Hutton, are very
perfect ovals, pure white[A], and rather glossy.
[Footnote A: There can be little doubt that Capt. Hutton's eggs were
They both measure 0.62 by 0.48.
From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes:--"The only nest I ever found of this
Warbler was in a natural hole in a small tree in an open part of a
large forest, at 5500 feet above the sea. In a cleft, five feet from
ground, where a limb had been lopped off, there was a small hole,
barely large enough, at entrance to admit the bird, but gradually
widening out for the seven or eight inches of its depth. In the bottom
of this cavity was a loose lining of dry bamboo-leaves, on which lay
five eggs. They do not agree with those taken by Captain Hutton, which
were 'pure white,' but I am absolutely certain of the authenticity of
the eggs taken by me. They were well-set, so five is probably the full
complement. They were taken on the 26th May."
The eggs sent by Mr. Gammie, for the authenticity of which he vouches,
are moderately broad ovals, somewhat compressed and pyriform towards
the small end. They have but little gloss, and are of the same type as
_A. superciliaris_ and _A. albigularis_. The ground is a dull pinkish
white, and they are profusely mottled and streaked with red, which in
some eggs is brownish, in some purplish. The markings are densest at
the large end, where they have a tendency to form an irregular zone,
which in some specimens is very conspicuous.
These eggs vary from 0.56 to 0.57 in length, and from 0.41 to 0.42 in
442. Abrornis albigularis, Hodgs. _The White-throated
Abrornis albigularis, _Hodgs._, _Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 204.
A nest of this species found in Native Sikhim, below Namtchu, on
the 28th July, is a regular Tailor-bird's nest, absolutely
undistinguishable from the one also sent me by Mr. Mandelli as
belonging to _Orthotomus atrigularis_, so that for the moment I have
some doubts as to the authenticity of this nest. Two leaves, precisely
of the same species as those made use of by the Tailor-bird in
question, have been sewn together with the same bright yellow silk,
and the little deep cup-shaped nest within is composed exactly of the
same excessively fine grass. Another nest, also said to belong to this
species, but of a very different character, has been sent me by Mr.
Mandelli. This was found at Yendong, in Native Sikhim, on the 6th
July, and contained four fresh eggs precisely of the type of those of
_A. schisticeps_. The nest was placed in the cavity of a truncated
bamboo about 4 feet from the ground, and was a loose cup, the basal
portion composed of dry bamboo-leaves, and the rest of the nest being
made of excessively fine grass, flower-stems, similar to those used
in the Tailor-bird-like nest above described, but with a quantity of
feathers mingled with this in the lining of the nest.
The eggs of this species are of precisely the same type as those of
_A. schisticeps_ and _A. superciliaris_, but they are the smallest
of all. They are little regular oval eggs, with a white, greyish, or
pinky white ground, with deep red freckled and mottled markings, which
are densely set about the large end, where they generally form a cap
or zone, and usually much less dense elsewhere.
The eggs sent me measured 0.55 and 0.57 by 0.43.
445. Scotocerca inquieta (Cretzschm.). _The Streaked Scrub-Warbler_.
Scotocerca inquieta (_Ruepp._), _Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 550
The Streaked Scrub-Warbler is a permanent resident of the bare stony
hills which, under many names and broken into multitudinous ranges,
run down from the Khyber Pass to the sea, dividing the Punjab and Sind
from Afghanistan and Khelat.
An account of its nidification is contained in the following note
furnished me by the late Captain Cock:--
"I first discovered this bird breeding in February in the Khuttuck
Hills. It is common throughout the range of stony hills between
Peshawur and Attock, and I have seen it on the hills between Jhelum
and Pindi, but never took their nest in this latter locality. At
Nowshera it is very common, and towards the end of February a
collector could take four or five nests in a day. It builds in a low
thorny shrub, about 11/2 feet from the ground, makes a largish globular
nest of thin dry grass-stems, with an opening in the side, thickly
lined with seed-down, and containing four or five eggs. Their
nesting-operations are over by the end of March."
Lieut. H.E. Barnes, who observed the bird at Chaman in Afghanistan,
says:--"These birds are quite common about here on the plains, but I
have not observed them on the hills. They commence breeding towards
the end of March; the nest is globular in shape, not unlike that of
_Franklinia buchanani_, but somewhat larger, built invariably in
stunted bushes about two feet from the ground. It is well lined with
feathers and fine grass, the outer portion being composed of fibres
and coarse grass. The normal number of eggs is six. I have found less,
but never more, and whenever a lesser number has been taken they have
always proved to be fresh laid.
"The eggs are oval in shape, white, with a pinkish tinge when fresh,
very minutely spotted and speckled with light red, most densely at the
larger end. The average of twelve eggs is 0.62 by 0.43."
The eggs are moderately broad and regular ovals, usually somewhat
compressed towards one end, but occasionally exhibiting no trace of
this. The shell is very fine and delicate, but, as a rule, entirely
devoid of gloss. The ground-colour varies from pure to pinky white.
The markings are always minute, but in some they are comparatively
much bolder and larger than in others, and they vary in colour from
reddish pink to a comparatively bright red. In many eggs the markings
are much more dense towards the large end, where they form, or exhibit
a strong tendency to form, an irregular, more or less confluent zone;
and wherever the markings are dense there a certain number of tiny
pale purple or lilac spots or clouds will be found intermingled with
and underlying the red markings. Some eggs show none of these spots
and exhibit no tendency to form a zone, being pretty uniformly
speckled and spotted all over. Some are not very unlike eggs of
the Grasshopper and Dartford Warblers; others, again, are almost
counterparts of the eggs of _Franklinia buchanani_.
In length the eggs vary from 0.6 to 0.68, and in breadth from 0.46 to
446. Neomis flavolivaceus, Hodgs.[A] _The Aberrant Warbler_.
[Footnote A: I have transferred Hodgson's notes under this title in
the 'Rough Draft' to _Horornis fortipes_, to which bird Hodgson's
account of the nidification undoubtedly relates, his type-birds No.
900 being _Neornis assimilis_.--ED.]
Neornis flavolivacea, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 188.
Mr. W. Theobald makes the following remarks on the breeding of this
bird at Darjeeling:--"Lays in the second week in July. Eggs three in
number, blunt, ovato-pyriform. Size 0.69 by 0.55. Colour deep dull
claret-red, with a darker band at broad end. Nest, a deep cup, outside
of bamboo-leaves, inside fine vegetable fibres, lined with feathers."
From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes:--"I have found this Tree-Warbler
(though why it should be called a Tree-Warbler I cannot imagine, for
it sticks closely to grass and low scrub, and never by any chance
perches on a tree) breeding from May to July at elevations from 3500
up to 6000 feet. All the nests I have seen were of a globular shape
with entrance near the top. Both in shape and position the nest much
resembles that of _Suya atrigularis_, and is, I have no doubt, the one
brought to Jerdon as belonging to that bird. It is placed in grassy
bushes, in open country, within a foot or so of the ground, and
is made of bamboo-leaves and, for the size of the bird, coarse
grass-stems, with an inner layer of fine grass-panicles, from which
the seeds have dropped, and lined with feathers. Externally it
measures about 6 inches in depth by 4 in width. The egg-cavity, from
lower edge of entrance, is 21/4 inches deep by 13/4 wide. The entrance is
2 inches across. The usual number of eggs is three."
The eggs sent by Mr. Gammie are very regular, rather broad, oval eggs,
with a decided but not very strong gloss. In colour they are a uniform
deep chocolate-purple. In length they vary from 0.63 to 0.69, and in
breadth from 0.49 to 0.52.[A]
[Footnote A: I cannot identify the following bird, which appears in
the 'Rough Draft' under the number 552 bis. I reproduce the note
together with some additional matter furnished later on by Mr. Gammie.
_Neornis assimilis_ is nothing but _Horornis fortipes_; but I cannot
reconcile Mr. Gammie's account of the nest with that of _H. fortipes_,
inasmuch as nothing is said about a lining of feathers, which appears
to be an unfailing characteristic of the nest of _H. fortipes_.--ED.
No. 552 bis.--NEORNIS ASSIMILIS, _Hodgs._
Mr. Gammie sent me a bird unmistakably of this species--Blyth's
Aberrant Tree-Warbler--together with the lining of a nest and three
He says:--"The nest, eggs, and bird were brought to me on the 18th May
by a native, who said the nest was placed in a shrub, about 6 feet
from the ground, in a place filled with scrub near Rishap, at about
3500 feet above the sea. I noted at the time the man's account, but as
I did not take the nest myself, I kept no account of it. All I know
about it is written on the ticket attached to the nest sent to you.
The bird was snared on the nest. Though I did not take it myself, I
have little doubt that it is quite correct."
The lining of the nest is a little, soft, shallow saucer 21/2 inches in
diameter, composed of the finest and softest brown roots.
The eggs are somewhat of the same type as those of _N. flavolivaceus_,
but in colour more resembling those of some of the ten-tail-feathered
_Prinias_. They are very short broad ovals, pulled out and pointed
towards one end, _approximating_ to the peg-top type. They are very
glossy and of a uniform Indian red; duller coloured rather than
those of the _Prinias_; not so deep or purple as those of _N.
They measured 0.65 by 0.52.
From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes further:--"This bird, I find, does not
build in bushes, but on the ground, or rather on low leaf or weed
heaps. It not unfrequently takes advantage of the small weed heaps
collected round the edges of native cultivations. On the tops of these
heaps it collects a lot of dry leaves, and places its nest among them.
It sits exceedingly close, only rising when almost stepped on.
"The nest is a rather deep cup, neatly made of dry grass and a
few leaves, and lined with fine roots, and the bare twigs of fine
grass-panicles. It measures externally about 3.2 inches in diameter by
2.8 in depth; internally 2 inches by 1.75.
"The eggs are three or four in number, and are laid in May from low
elevations up to about 3500 feet."
The eggs of this species, of which Mr. Gammie has now sent me two
nests, are of the regular _Prinia_ type--typically broad ovals,
approximating to the peg-top type, but sometimes more elongated and
pointed towards the small end. They are very glossy and of a uniform
dull Indian red, deeper coloured than any _Prinia's_ that I have seen.
They vary from 0.65 to 0.69 in length, and from 0.48 to 0.52 in
448. Horornis fortipes, Hodgs. _The Strong-footed Bush-Warbler_.
Horornis fortipes, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 162.
Dumeticola fortipes, _Hodgs., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 526.
According to Mr. Hodgson[A], this Tree-Warbler breeds from May to July
in the central region of Nepal. They build a tolerably compact and
rather shallow cup-shaped nest of grass and dry bamboo-leaves, mingled
with grass-roots and vegetable fibre and lined with feathers.
[Footnote A: This note of Mr. Hodgson's refers to his plate No.
900. The birds in his collection bearing this number are _Neornis
assimilis_, and are the same as _Horornis fortipes_.--ED.]
A nest taken on the 29th May measured externally 3.5 in diameter and
2 inches in height, and internally 2 inches in diameter by 1.37
in depth. It contained four eggs, which are figured as deep dull
purple-red. Dr. Jerdon gave me two eggs, as I now feel certain,
belonging to this species; there is no mistaking them, as they are the
most wonderful coloured eggs I ever saw; but as he was not certain
to what species they belonged, I unfortunately threw them away. Mr.
Hodgson figures the egg as a moderately broad oval, a good deal
pointed towards one end, slightly glossy, and measuring 0.65 by 0.47.
Two nests and eggs, together with one of the parent birds, of the
Strong-footed Bush-Warbler were sent me from Sikhim. Both nests were
found in thick brushwood or low jungle, at elevations of 5000 to 5500
feet--the one at Lebong on the 12th June, the other on another spur of
the same hill in July.
The nests were very similar--small massive cups, composed exteriorly
of dry blades of grass and leaves, and lined internally with fine
grass and a few feathers. Both nests exhibit this lining of feathers,
so that it is no accident but a characteristic of the bird's
architecture. In one nest a good deal more of the fine flower-panicle
stems of grasses are intermingled than in the other. Externally the
nests are about 4.5 in diameter and 2.5 in height; the cavity 2 inches
in diameter and about 1.25 in depth.
Five more nests of this species have been taken by Mr. Mandelli in the
neighbourhood of Lebong, between the 18th May and 15th July; with one
exception, where there were only three slightly set eggs, all the
nests contained four more or less incubated ones. All the nests were
placed in amongst the twigs of low brushwood at heights of from 1 to
3 feet from the ground, and all present the invariable characteristic
feature of this species, namely, a greater or less admixture of
feathers in the lining of the cavity. Examining the nests carefully,
it will be seen that they are composed of three layers--exteriorly
everywhere coarse blades of grass and straw loosely put together,
inside this a mass of extremely fine panicle-stems of flowering grass,
and then inside this the lining of moderately fine grass mingled
with feathers. The nests vary a good deal in size, according to the
thickness of the coarse outer layer and the extent to which this
straggles; but they seem to be generally from 4 to 5 inches in
diameter, and 2.5 in height, whilst the cavity is about 2 inches in
diameter, and 1, or a little more than 1, in depth.
The eggs (each nest contained four) are _sui generis_, moderately
broad regular ovals, with a decided but not brilliant gloss, and of
a nearly uniform chocolate-purple. The eggs of one nest are of a a
slightly deeper shade than those of another, probably in consequence
of one set being more incubated than the other. They vary in length
from 0.66 to 0.69, and from 0.49 to 0.52 in breadth.
I do not entertain the slightest doubt of these nests and eggs.
Mr. Mandelli has sent me many more eggs of this species, mostly deep
chocolate-purple, but here and there an egg somewhat paler, what might
be called a pinkish chocolate. They vary from 0.61 to 0.70 in length,
and from 0.48 to 0.53 in breadth; but the average of fifteen eggs is
0.67 by 0.51 nearly.
450. Horornis pallidus(Brooks). _The Pale Bush-Warbler_.
Horeites pallidus, _Brooks, Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 527 bis.
The Pale Bush-Warbler breeds in Cashmere, according to Mr. Brooks,
during May. I know nothing either of the bird or its nidification
myself. I have never even closely examined a specimen, and merely
accept the species on Mr. Brooks's authority.
He tells me that he found a nest on the 25th May at Kangan in
Mr. Brooks writes:--"The nest of _Horornis pallidus_, which I found
near Kangan in Cashmere, up the Sind Valley, was placed in tangled
brushwood, and about five feet above the ground. It was on a slightly
sloping bank, and close to the edge of a patch of jungle, not far from
the right bank of the river.
"It was composed of coarse dry grass externally, with fine roots and
fibres towards the inside of the nest, and was profusely lined with
feathers. It was large for the bird, being 7 or 8 inches in external
diameter, of a globular form, with the entrance at the side. I don't
remember the size of the cavity of the nest, but its walls were very
"In external appearance it was rough and clumsy, and looked more like
a Sparrow's nest than that of a small Sylvine bird. The entrance was
about 13/4 inch in diameter, and was with the interior of the nest neat
and strong. _Horornis pallidus_ occurs at from 5600 feet elevation up
to 7000 and even 8000 feet. It was abundant at Suki up the Bhagirutti
Valley, and I heard of one even at Grangootree."
The shape of the egg is peculiar, being rather flattened in outline
at the sides and then suddenly rounded at the smaller end. There is
a considerable amount of gloss on the surface, which is of a dull
purple-brown, rather darker in tint at the large end. There are a very
few indistinct cloudy markings of brown scattered here and there
over the egg. In general appearance the egg puts one in mind of a
The egg measured 0.64 by 0.49.
451. Horornis pallidipes (Blanf.). _Blanfords Bush-Warbler_.
Horeites pallidipes (_Blanf.), Hume, cat._ no. 527 quat.
Mr. Mandelli sent me two nests of this species. The one was found on
the 24th May at Ging, near the Rungnoo River, Sikhim, and contained
four fresh eggs; it was placed on the ground amongst coarse grass. The
other, which was similarly placed, was found on the 29th June below
Lebong at an elevation of about 4000 feet, and contained three fresh
eggs. Both nests are rather coarse untidy little cups, some 3 inches
in diameter, and 1.75 in height exteriorly, lined and mainly composed
of very fine grass, but coated exteriorly everywhere with dry flags,
bits of bamboo spathes, and with one or two dead leaves incorporated
at the bottom of the structure.
452. Horornis major (Hodgs.). _The Large Bush-Warbler_.
Horeites major, _Hodgs., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 529 (err.
A nest said to belong to the Large Bush-Warbler was sent in with one
of the parent birds in July from near Lachong in Native Sikhim, where
it was found at an elevation of about 14,000 feet. It was placed at
a height of about a foot from the ground in a stunted thorny shrub
common at these high elevations. It was a very warm little cup, about
3 inches in diameter, composed of the finest fern and moss-roots, tiny
fern-leaves, wool, and numbers of the coarse white crinkly hairs of
the burhel. It contained three fresh eggs, regular, slightly elongated
ovals, a little pointed towards the small end; the shell fine and
compact, but with scarcely any gloss.
The ground-colour is white with a faint greenish-blue tinge, and on
the larger half of the egg excessively minute specks of brownish red
are thinly sprinkled, except just at the crown of the egg, where the
specks are denser and exhibit a tendency to form a tiny cap. On the
smaller half of the egg very few, if any, specklings are to be traced.
In length the eggs measure 0.7 and 0.71, and in breadth 0.53 to 0.55.
454. Phyllergates coronatus (Jerd. & Bl.). _The Golden-headed
Orthotomus coronatus, _Jerd. & Bl., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 168; _Hume,
Rough Draft N. & E._ no. 531.
Dr. Jerdon says:--"A nest and eggs were brought to me, said to be
those of this bird. The nest was similar to that of the last [_O.
sutorius_], but not so carefully made; the leaves were loosely
attached, and with fewer stitches. The eggs were two in number, white,
with rusty spots."
455. Horeites brunneifrons, Hodgs. _The Rufous-capped Bush-Warbler_.
Horeites brunneifrons, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 163.
The egg is a rather broad oval, a good deal pointed towards the
small end; the shell is pretty stout for the size of the egg, and
is entirely devoid of gloss. The ground-colour is a pale drabby
stone-colour, and all about the large end is a broad dense zone of
dull brownish purple. The zone consists of a nearly confluent mass of
extremely minute ill-defined speckles, and outside the zone similar
speckles and tiny spots occur, though nowhere very noticeable unless
Two eggs of this species were brought from Native Sikhim, together
with one of the parent birds; they are regular ovals, slightly pointed
towards the small end.
The ground-colour is dull, glossless, pinky white; the markings
consist chiefly of a broad ill-defined zone of dull dark purple; the
other parts of the egg are sparingly, but pretty evenly speckled and
spotted with pale purple.
The eggs measure 0.66 by 0.49 and 0.64 by 0.48[A].
[Footnote A: I cannot find any note about the nest of this species
amongst Mr. Hume's papers. There is nothing beyond the above two notes
on the eggs.--ED.]
458. Suya crinigera, Hodgs. _The Brown Hill-Warbler_.
Suya criniger, _Hodgs., Jerd. B. Ind._ ii, p. 183; _Hume, Rough Draft
N. & E._ no. 547.
The Brown Hill-Warbler breeds throughout the Himalayas, at elevations
of from 2000 to 6000 feet, at any rate from Sikhim, where it is
comparatively rare, to the borders of Afghanistan.
The breeding-season lasts from the beginning of May until the middle
of July, but the majority of the birds lay during May.
A nest which I took at Dilloo, in the Kangra Valley, on the 26th May,
was situated near the base of a low bush on the side of a steep hill;
it was placed in the fork of several twigs near the centre of the
bush, about 2 feet from the ground. It was an excessively flimsy deep
cup, about 3 inches in diameter, and 21/2 inches in depth internally. It
was composed of downy seeds of grass held together externally by a
few very fine blades of grass, and irregularly and loosely lined with
excessively fine grass-stems.
Many other nests subsequently obtained were similar in their
materials, the great body of the nest consisting of grass-down,
slightly felted together and wound round with slender blades of grass.
The nest, however, is by no means always cup-shaped; it is often
covered in above, an aperture being left on one side near the top.
A nest which I found near Kotegurh is composed of fine grass _very_
loosely and slightly put together, all the interspaces being carefully
filled in with grass-down firmly felted together. The nest is nearly
the shape of an egg, the entrance being on one side, and extending
from about the middle to close to the top. The exterior dimensions of
the nest are about 51/2 inches for the major axis, and 3 inches for
the minor. The entrance-aperture is circular, and about 2 inches in
diameter. The thickness of the nest is a little over three eighths
of an inch; but the lower portion, which is lined with _very_ fine
grass-stems, is somewhat thicker. The nest was in a thorny bush,
partly suspended from just above the entrance-aperture and partly
resting against, though not attached to, some neighbouring twigs. It
contained seven eggs, and was taken at Kirlee (Kotegurh) on the 30th
May. Of course, the position of the nest was that of an egg standing
on end and not lying on its side.
They lay from five to seven eggs, and have, _I think_ two broods.
Dr. Jerdon states that "it makes a large, loosely constructed nest of
fine grass, the opening near the top a little at one side, and lays
three or four eggs of a fleshy white, with numerous small rusty-red
spots tending to form a ring at the large end."
Writing about a collection of eggs made at Murree, Messrs. Cock and
Marshall tell us:--"Nest built in high jungle-grass, loosely but
neatly made of very fine grass and cobwebs, opening at one side near
the top. Breeds late in June at about 4000 feet elevation."
From Almorah Mr. Brooks writes that this species was "common on
hill-sides where low bushes were numerous. One nest found was
suspended in a low bush, and was a very neat purse-shaped one, with an
opening near the top and rather on one side. It was composed of fine
soft grass of a kind which had dried green, and was intermixed with
the down of plants and lined with finer grass. The eggs were four in
number; the ground-colour white, speckled sparingly with light red,
but having also a broad zone or ring of deeper reddish brown very near
the large end--on the top of the larger end, in fact.
"Laying in Kumaon in May."
From Mussoorie Captain Hutton remarks:--"This little bird appears on
the hill, at about 5000 feet, in May. A nest taken much lower down in
June was composed of grasses neatly interwoven in the shape of
an ovate ball, the smaller end uppermost and forming the mouth or
entrance; it was lined first with cottony seed-down, and then with
fine grass-stalks; it was suspended among high grass, and contained
five beautiful little eggs of a carneous white colour, thicky freckled
with deep rufous, and with a darkish confluent ring of the same at the
larger end. I have seen this species as high as 7000 feet in October.
It delights to sit on the summit of tall grass, or even of an oak,
from whence it pours forth a loud and long-continued grating note like
the filing of a saw."
Writing of Nepal, Dr. Scully says:--"A nest taken on the 29th June
contained only two fresh eggs. The nest was of the shape of a mangoe,
the small end being uppermost, and the entrance on one side, near the
top; its measurements externally were, in height 5.2, in breadth
3.6 in one direction and 2.65 in the other; the opening was nearly
circular, 1.8 in diameter. It was rather flimsy in structure,
composed of grass-down, more or less felted together, and bound round
externally with dry green grass-blades; internally it was scantily
lined with fine grass-stems, which were used to strengthen the lower
lip of the entrance-hole. The eggs were fairly glossy, moderate or
longish oval in shape, and measured 0.65 by 0.5 and 0.7 by 0.49;
the ground-colour was pinkish white, the small end nearly free from
markings, the middle portion with faint streaks and tiny indistinct
spots of brownish red, and the large end with a zone of bright
brownish red or a confluent cap of the same colour."
From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes:--"This Suya breeds from May to June in
the warmest valleys up to 3500 feet. It affects open grassy tracts,
and builds its nest in a bunch of grass, within a foot or two of the
ground. The nest is an extremely neat egg-shaped structure, with
entrance at side, made of fine grass-stems thickly felted over with
the white seeds of a tall flowering grass, which gives it a very
pretty appearance. Externally it measures 5 inches in height by 3
in diameter; the cavity is 2.25 wide and 2 deep, from lower edge of
entrance. The entrance is about 2.25 across.
"The usual number of eggs is four. I have never found more, but on
several occasions as few as two and three well-incubated eggs."
A nest of this species taken by Mr. Gammie near Mongphoo, on the 18th
April, at an elevation of about 3000 feet, contained three fresh eggs.
It closely resembles nests that I have taken of _S. crinigera_ in
shape, somewhat like an egg, with the entrance on one side, near the
top, exteriorly about 5 inches in length, and 23/4 inches in diameter,
with an aperture a little less than 2 inches across. It was built
amongst grass, of which a few fine stalks constitute the outer
framework, and the whole body of the nest inside this framework
consists solely of the flower-down of grass firmly felted together. It
is lined pretty thickly everywhere with the excessively fine stalks
which bear this down.
Taking a large series, I should describe the eggs as typically regular
but somewhat elongated ovals, often fairly glossy, at times
almost glossless. The ground varies from pale pinky white to pale
salmon-colour. A dense, more or less mottled, zone or cap at the
large end, varying in different specimens from reddish pink to almost
brick-red, and more or less of speckling, mottling, or freckling of a
somewhat lighter shade than the zone spreads in some thinly, in some
densely over the rest of the egg.
In length they vary from 0.63 to 0.75, and in breadth from 0.46 to
0.55; but the average of sixty-five eggs is 0.69 by 0.52.
459. Suya atrigularis, Moore[A]. _The Black-throated Hill-Warbler_.