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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 11c

Subfamily TIMELIINAE     (continued...)

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182. Sittiparus castaneiceps (Hodgs.). The Chestnut-headed Tit-Babbler

Minla castaneiceps, (Hodgs.), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 255; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 619.

Mr. Hodgson's notes inform us that the Chestnut-headed Tit-Babbler breeds in the neighborhood of Darjeeling in May and June, laying four eggs, which are figured as somewhat elongated ovals, having a very pale greenish-yellow or dingy yellowish-white ground finely speckled, chiefly at the large end, where there is a tendency to form a zone, with red or brownish red, and measuring 075 by 052. The nest is said to be placed in a thick bush, at a height of about 3 feet from the ground, in a double fork; to be very broad and shallow, composed of twigs, grass, and moss, and lined with leaves. One, taken on the 18th May, 1846, measured 6 inches in diameter and 25 in height externally; the cavity was only 21 in diameter and 1 in depth.

From Sikkim Mr. Gammie writes: "A nest of this bird, with one fresh egg and female, was brought to me in May. The man said he found the nest in the Rungbee forest, at 6000 feet, among the moss growing on the trunk of a large tree, a few feet from the ground. It was a solid cup, made of green moss, with an inner layer of fine dark-colored roots, and lined with grassy fibres. Externally it measured 4 inches in width by the same in depth; internally 15 wide by 125 deep."

Three eggs sent by Mr. Gammie measure 07 to 075 in length and 055 to 059 in breadth.

Mr. Davison says: "On the 20th of February, when encamped just under the summit of Muleyit, on its N.W. slope, I found a nest of this bird containing three eggs, but so hard-set that it was only with the greatest difficulty that I managed to preserve them.

"The nest, a deep cup, was placed about 5 feet from the ground, in a mass of creepers growing up a sapling. It (the nest) was composed externally of green moss and lined with fibres and dry bamboo-leaves.

"On the 29th of the same month I took another nest, also containing three eggs, precisely similar to those in the first nest; but these were so far incubated and the shell was so fragile that they were all lost. This nest was also composed externally of green moss, beautifully worked into the moss growing on the trunk of a large tree, and it was only with considerable difficulty, and after looking for some time, that I found it. The egg-cavity of this nest was also lined with fibres and dried bamboo-leaves.

"The first nest found was open at the top, and measured 55 inches in depth, 3 across the top externally, the egg-cavity 35 in depth by 18 in diameter at top. The second nest was completely domed at the top, and measured externally 7 inches in depth by about 35 at top. The egg-cavity was 25 inches deep by 15 across the mouth. Three eggs measured 07 to 075 in length, and 055 to 059 in breadth."

The eggs are broad ovals, a little pointed towards the small end, the shell white, almost devoid of gloss. A dense ring or zone of excessively small black spots surrounds the large end, and similar specks are rather sparsely distributed over the whole of the rest of the surface of the egg, having, however, a tendency to become obsolete towards the small end. Sometimes a little brown and sometimes a little lilac is intermingled in the zone.

183. Proparus vinipectus (Hodgs.). The Plain-brown Tit-Babbler

Proparus vinipectus (Hodgs.), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 257; Hume Rough Draft N. & E. no. 622.

The Plain-brown Tit-Babbler is not uncommon in the higher wooded hills between Simla and Kotegurh, and from somewhere near Mutiana Captain Blair sent me a nest and egg, together with one of the old birds which had been caught on the nest.

This latter was a rather compact massive cap, composed of moderately fine blades of grass, measuring externally about 4 inches in diameter and standing about 2 inches high. The egg-cavity, about 2 inches in diameter and rather in more than half an inch deep, was lined with fine blackish-brown grass-roots. Neither nest nor egg is exactly what I should have expected to pertain to this species; but Captain Blair was certain that they belonged to the parent bird which he sent with them, and I therefore describe both with entire confidence in their authenticity.

The egg is a moderately elongated oval, slightly compressed towards one end; it has a pale-green ground, and near the large end has a strongly marked but very irregular sepia-brown zone, and pale stains of the same colour here and there running down the egg from the zone, as well as a few isolated dark spots of the same tint. Although much smaller, and although the colour of the markings is very different, the ground-colour and the character of the markings much recall those of Liothrix luteus. The egg has little or no gloss, and measures 073 by 055.

Mr. Mandelli obtained two nests of this species - one at Sinchal, near Darjeeling, at an elevation of 9000 feet, on the 2nd June; the other at Tongloo, at an elevation of 10,000 feet, on the 29th May. The first contained one, the second three fresh eggs, all precisely similar in size and colour to the egg formerly sent me by Capt. Blair, though the nests themselves were rather different in appearance. These nests were both placed amongst the branches of dense brushwood, at heights of 3 and 4 feet from the ground; they are very compact, massive little cups, about 325 inches in diameter and 2 in height exteriorly; the cavities are about 2 inches in diameter and 125 in depth. The chief materials of the nests are dry blades of grass and bamboo-leaves; but these are only seen at the bottom of the nests, the sides and upper margins being completely felted over with green moss. Apparently there is a first lining of fine grass and roots; but very little of this is seen, as the cavity is then thickly covered with black and white hairs.

184. Lioparus chrysaeus (Hodgs.). The Golden-breasted Tit-Babbler

Proparus chrysaeus, (Hodgs.), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 256; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 621.

The Golden-breasted Tit-Babbler breeds, according to Mr. Hodgson's notes, near Darjeeling and in the central region of Nepal. It lays from three to four eggs, which are figured as somewhat broad ovals, measuring from 07 by 05, with a pinky-white ground, speckled and spotted thinly, except towards the large end, where there is a tendency to form a cap or zone, with brownish red. The nest is oval or rather egg-shaped, and fixed with its longer diameter perpendicular to the ground in a bamboo-clump between a dozen or so of the small lateral shoots, at an elevation of only a few feet from the ground. One, taken near Darjeeling on the 12th June, measured externally 6 inches in height, 45 in breadth, and 3 inches in depth, and on one side it had an oval aperture 25 in height and 175 in breadth. It appeared to have been entirely composed of dry bamboo-leaves and broad blades of grass loosely interwoven, and with a little grass and moss-roots as lining.

Hodgson originally named this bird Proparus chrysotis, but as the bird has silvery ears Hodgson himself rejected this name and adopted the one given above. Mr. Gray, however, retains the specific name chrysotis. Now, I think a man has a perfect right to change his own name; what I object to is other people presuming to do it for him.

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