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The Nests and Eggs of Indian Birds - A. O. Hume

The Nests and Eggs of Indian Birds  (Volume 1) Second Edition 1889  -  by  Allan O. Hume

Page 11b

Subfamily TIMELIINAE     (continued...)

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175. Cyanoderma erythropterum (Blyth). The Red-winged Babbler

Cyanoderma erythropterum, (Bl.), Hume, cat. no. 396 bis.

Mr. W. Davison found the nest of the Red-winged Babbler at Bankasoon on the 23rd April, just when he was leaving the place. Unfortunately the birds had not yet laid. The nest was a ball composed of dry reed-leaves, about 6 inches in diameter. Externally, with a circular aperture on one side, very like that of Mixornis rubricapillus and of Dumetia, and again not at all unlike that of Ochromela nigrorufa, but placed in a bush about 4 feet high and not on the ground.

176. Mixornis rubricapillus (Tick.). The Yellow-breasted Babbler

Mixornis rubricapilla (Tick.), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 23; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 395.

This, though said to occur also in Central India, is a purely Indo-Burmese form, found chiefly in the Eastern sub-Himalayan jungles, Assam, Cachar, Burma, and Tenasserim. It is only from this latter province that I have any information as to the nidification of the Yellow-breasted Babbler.

Mr. Davison writes to me: "At a small village, called Shymootee or Tsinmokehtee, about 7 miles from the town of Tavoy, and very slightly above the sea-level, say 50 feet, I found on the 6th of May, 1874, a nest of this species. The nest was placed in a dense clump of a very thorny plant (somewhat like a pineapple bush) about a foot from the ground; it was not particularly well concealed. The nest was built of bamboo-leaves, and in general appearance was not at all unlike that of Ochromela nigrorufa; but the egg-cavity was very shallow, so that by moving aside an overhanging leaf the eggs were distinctly visible. There were three partially incubated eggs in the nest, a somewhat dull white, spotted with pinkish dots."

The nest is more or less egg-shaped, the longer axis vertical, with a circular aperture on one side near the top.

The exterior diameters are 5 and nearly 4 inches. The aperture about 15 in diameter. The cavity is barely 2 inches in diameter, and only 125 deep below the lower edge of the entrance.

Both nest and eggs strongly recall those of Dumetia hyperythra. The former is composed of the broad, grass-like leaves of the bamboo, and with only a few stems of grass here and there intermingled as if by accident. In the sides of the cavity the leaf-blades are so neatly laid together, side by side, that the interior seems as if planked, and at the bottom of the cavity there is a very scanty lining of very fine grass-stems.

Mr. Oates says: "I found a nest on the 2nd June near Pegu, with three eggs. Failing to snare the bird at once, I left the nest for a short time, and on my return found the eggs gone. I am satisfied, however, that the nest belonged to the present species; for I caught a glimpse of the sitting bird. The nest was built on the top of a stump, well concealed by leafy twigs, except the entrance, which was open to view. It was a ball of grass with the opening at the side.

"28th June. - Nest in a shrub about 10 feet from the ground. A domed structure with an opening at the side 3 inches high by 2 broad. Height of nest about 6 and outside width 4. Made entirely of bamboo-leaves and lined sparingly with grass. Eggs 3.

"I have found numerous nests of this species, but always after the young had flown. They appear almost always to be placed in shrubs at heights of 2 to 10 feet from the ground. One nest, however, on which I watched the birds at work, was in a pineapple plant between the stalk of the fruit and one of the leaves, almost on the ground."

The eggs are regular ovals, moderately elongated, only very slightly compressed towards the smaller end, which is only just appreciably smaller.

The shell is very fine and delicate, excessively smooth and fragile, but with only a faint gloss. The ground is a dead white, with perhaps the least possible pinkish tinge. The markings consist of tiny specks of brownish or purplish red and pale yellowish brown, thinly scattered over the rest of the surface, but comparatively densely clustered round the larger end, where they form a rather conspicuous though irregular and imperfect zone, apparent enough in all, but much more strongly marked in one egg than in the others.

In some eggs the markings are all rather bright red and dull purplish grey; some have a very fair amount of gloss, and a very pure china-white ground.

The eggs vary in length from 065 to 071, and in breadth from 05 to 053.

177. Mixornis gularis (Raffl.). The Sumatran Yellow-breasted Babbler

Mixornis gularis (Horsf.), Hume, cat. no. 395 bis.

The eggs are very similar to those of M. rubricapillus, but are, perhaps, as a rule, better marked. They are very regular ovals, typically rather slightly elongated, often slightly compressed towards the small end; the shell is very fine and fragile, and has usually a fair amount of gloss. The ground is usually pure white, at times with a pinkish tinge. Round the large end is a more or less conspicuous, more or less continuous zone of specks, spots, and small irregular blotches of two colors, the one varying in different eggs from almost brick-red to brownish orange, the other from reddish purple to purplish grey. In some cases a very few, in others a good many, specks and tiny spots of the same colors are scattered about the other portions of the egg. The eggs measure 07 by 051.

[Footnote: I cannot find any note about the nest of this species. Mr. Davison was probably the finder of the eggs described.--ED.]

178. Schoeniparus dubius (Hume). Hume's Tit-Babbler

Proparus dubius, (Hume); Hume, cat. no. 622 bis.

Mr. W. Davison has furnished me with the following note: "On the 21st of February I took a nest of this species on Muleyit mountain containing two eggs, and out of the female which I shot off the nest I took another egg ready for expulsion which was in every particular precisely similar to those in the nest.

"The nest was a large globular structure, composed externally of dried reed-leaves, very loosely put together, the egg-cavity deep and lined with fibres. It was placed on the ground close to a rock, and at the foot of a Zingiberaceous plant, and rather exposed to view. The nest was not unlike that of Pomatorhinus, but of course considerably smaller, not so much domed, and with the mouth of the egg-cavity pointing upwards.

"A few days later, on the 25th, I took a second nest, quite similar in shape and materials to the first one, but placed several feet above the ground, in a dense mass of creepers growing over a rock. It was quite exposed to view, and from a distance of 3 or 4 feet the eggs were quite visible.

"There were three eggs in the nest, similar to those in the first nest. Both parent birds were obtained. The first nest measured 5 inches long by 45 wide, the egg-cavity 38 deep by 275 wide at the entrance. The other was about half an inch smaller each way.

"The measurements of the six eggs varied from 076 to 081 in length by 056 to 06 in width, but the average was 078 by 059."

The eggs are rather narrow ovals, as a rule, occasionally much pointed towards one end. The shell is very fine and has a faint gloss. The ground-colour is white. The markings, which are difficult to describe, consist first of spots, specks, and hair-line scratches, dark brown, almost black occasionally, and a great amount of irregular clouding, streaking, and smudging of a pale dirty-brown, slightly reddish in some eggs. Besides this, about the large end there is an indistinct irregular zone of faint inky purple spots and small blotches, and a few spots of this same colour may be observed on other parts of the egg.

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