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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

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Page 13a

Subfamily SIBIINAE

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211. Actinodura egertoni, Gould. The Rufous Bar-wing

Actinodura egertoni, (Gould), Jerdon. B. Ind. ii, p. 52; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 427.

There is no figure of the Rufous Bar-wing's nest or eggs amongst the original drawings of Mr. Hodgson now in my custody, but in the British Museum series there appears to be, since Mr. Blyth remarks: "Mr. Hodgson figures the nest of this bird like that of an English Redbreast, with pinkish-white eggs."

From Sikkim Mr. Gammie writes: "On the 27th April I took a nest of this Bar-wing in a large forest at an elevation of about 5000 feet. It was placed about 20 feet from the ground, in a leafy tree, between several upright shoots, to which it was firmly attached. It is cup-shaped, mainly composed of dry leaves held together by slender climber-stems, and lined with dark-colored fibrous roots. A few strings of green moss were twined round the outside to assist in concealment. Externally it measures 42 inches wide by 4 deep; internally 28 wide and 24 deep. It contained but two slightly-set eggs.

Several nests have been obtained and sent me by Messrs. Gammie and Mandelli. One was taken on the 4th May by Mr. Mandelli, at Lebong, at an elevation of 5500 feet, which contained three fresh eggs; this was placed on the branches of a small tree, in the midst of dense brushwood, at a height of about 4 feet from the ground.

Another, taken in a similar situation at the same place on the 22nd May, contained two fresh eggs, and was at a height of about 12 feet from the ground.

These nests vary just in the same way as do those of Trochalopterum nigrimentum; some show only a sprig or two of moss about them, while others have a complete coating of green moss. They are cup-shaped, some deeper, some shallower; the chief material of the nest seems to be usually dry leaves. One before me is composed entirely of some Polypodium, on which the seed-spores are all fully developed; in another, bamboo-leaves have been chiefly used; these are all held together in their places by black fibrous roots; occasionally towards the upper margin a few creeper-tendrils are intermingled. The whole cavity is lined more or less thickly, and the lip of the cup all round is usually finished of with these same black fibrous roots; and then outside all moss and selaginella are applied according to the taste of the bird and, probably, the situation - a few sprigs or a complete coating, as the case may be.

Two eggs of this species sent me by Mr. Gammie are regular, slightly elongated ovals, with very thin and fragile shells, and fairly but not highly glossy. The ground is a delicate pale sea-green, and they are profusely blotched, spotted, and marked with curious hieroglyphic-like figures of a sort of umber-brown; while about the larger end numerous spots and streaks of pale lilac occur. These eggs measure 098 in length, by 065 and 068 in breadth.

Other eggs obtained by Mr. Mandelli early in June are quite of the same type, but somewhat shorter, measuring 085 and 093 in length by 068 and 07 in breadth. But the markings are rather more smudgy and rather paler, and there are fewer of the hair-like streaks and hieroglyphics.

213. Ixops nepalensis (Hodgs.). The Hoary Bar-wing

Actinodura nipalensis (Hodgs.), Jerdon. B. Ind. ii. p. 53; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 428.

The Hoary Bar-wing is said in Mr. Hodgson's notes to breed from April to June in Sikkim and the central region of Nepal up to an elevation of 4000 or 6000 feet. The nest is placed in holes, in crevices between rocks and stones; is circular and saucer-shaped. One measured externally 362 in diameter by 2 inches in height; the cavity measured 25 in diameter and 137 in depth. The nest is composed of fine twigs, grass, and fibres, and externally adorned with little pieces of lichen, and internally lined with fine moss-roots. The birds are said to lay from three to four eggs, which are not described, but they are figured as pinky white, about 085 in length and 055 in width. Mr. Blyth, however, remarks: "One of Mr. Hodgson's drawings represents a white egg with ferruginous spots, disposed much as in that of Merula vulgaris".

Clearly there is some mistake here. Most of the drawings I have are the originals, taken from the fresh specimens when they were obtained, with Mr. Hodgson's own notes, on the reverse, of the dates on and places at which he took or obtained the eggs, nests, and birds figured, with often a description and dimensions of the two former, and invariably full dimensions of the latter. On the other hand, the drawings in the British Museum are mostly more finished and artistic copies of these originals; so how the spots got on to the eggs of the British-Museum drawing I cannot say; there is no trace of such in mine.

219. Siva strigula, Hodgs. The Stripe-throated Siva

Siva strigula. (Hodgs.), Jerdon. B. Ind. ii. p. 252; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 616.

The nest of the Stripe-throated Siva is placed, according to Mr. Hodgson, in the slender fork of a tree at no great elevation from the ground. It is composed of moss and moss-roots, intermingled with dry bamboo-leaves, and woven into a broad compact cup-shaped nest. One such nest, taken on the 27th May, with three eggs in it, measured exteriorly 425 in diameter and 3 inches in height, with a cavity (thickly lined with cow's hair) about 25 in diameter and 225 in depth. The birds lay in May and June. The eggs are three or sometimes four in number; they are pale greenish blue or bluish green, and vary in length from 08 to 09, and in breadth from 06 to 065, and are, some thickly, some thinly, speckled and freckled, usually most densely towards the large end, with red or brownish red. His nests were taken both in Sikkim and Nepal.

221. Siva cyanuroptera, Hodgs. The Blue-winged Siva

Siva cyanouroptera, (Hodgs.), Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 253; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 617.

The Blue-winged Siva breeds, according to Mr. Hodgson's notes, in the central regions of Nepal, and in the neighborhood of Darjeeling, in May and June. The nest is placed in trees, at no great elevation above the ground, and is wedged in where three or four slender twigs make a convenient fork. A nest taken on the 2nd June was a large compact cup, measuring exteriorly 475 in diameter and 375 in height, and having a cavity 26 in diameter and 187 in depth. It was composed of fine stems of grass, dry leaves, moss, and moss-roots, bound together with pieces of creepers, roots, and vegetable fibres, and closely lined with fine grass-roots. They lay from three to four eggs, which are figured as moderately broad ovals, considerably pointed towards the small end, 085 in length by 06 in width, having a pale greenish ground pretty thickly speckled and spotted, especially on the broader half of the egg, with a kind of brownish brick-red.

Mr. Mandelli found a nest of this species at Lebong (elevation 5500 feet) on the 28th April. It contained four fresh eggs; it was placed in a fork of a horizontal branch of a small tree at a height of only 3 feet from the ground. The nest is, for the size of the bird, a large cup, externally entirely composed of green moss firmly felted together. This outer shell of moss is thickly lined with the dead leaves of a Polypodium, and this again is thinly lined with fine grass. The nest was about 4 inches in diameter, and 25 in height externally; the cavity was about 25 broad and 15 deep.

The nests of this species are very beautiful cups, very compact and firm, sometimes wedged into a fork, but more commonly suspended between two or three twigs, or sometimes attached by one side only to a single twig. They are placed at heights of from 4 to 10 feet from the ground in the branches of slender trees, and are usually carefully concealed, places completely encircled by creepers being very frequently chosen. The chief materials of the nest are dead leaves, sometimes those of the bamboo, but more generally those of trees; but little of this is seen, as the exterior is generally coated with moss, and the interior is lined first with excessively fine grass, and then more or less thinly with black buffalo- or horse-hairs. The cups are about 3 inches in diameter and 2 in height externally, the cavities barely 2 in diameter and perhaps 15 in depth: but they vary somewhat in size and shape according to the situation in which they are placed and the manner in which they are attached, some being considerably broader and shallower, and some rather deeper.

Eggs of this species sent me from Mr. Mandelli, which were obtained by him in the neighborhood of Darjeeling, are decidedly elongated ovals, fairly glossy, and with a pale slightly greenish-blue ground. A number of minute red or brownish-red or yellowish-brown specks and spots occur about the large end, sometimes irregularly scattered, sometimes more or less gathered into an imperfect zone. The rest of the egg is either spotless or exhibits only a few tiny specks and spots. The eggs measure 075 and 076 by 051 and 052.

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