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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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290. Otocompsa flaviventris (Tick.). Black-crested Yellow Bulbul

Rubigula flaviventris (Tick.), Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 88.
Pycnonotus flaviventris (Tick.), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 456.

The Black-crested Yellow Bulbul is another common species of which I have as yet seen very few eggs. The first notice of its nidification I am acquainted with is contained in the following brief note by Captain Bulger, which appeared in 'The Ibis.' He says: "I obtained several specimens, chiefly from the vicinity of the Great Rungeet River. From a thicket on the bank, near the cane-bridge, a nest was brought to me on the 16th May, of the ordinary cup-shape, made of fibres and leaves, and containing three eggs, which my shikaree said belonged to this species. The eggs were of a dull pinkish hue, very thickly marked with small specks and blotches of brownish crimson."

Major C. T. Bingham, writing of this Bulbul in Tenasserim, says: "Common enough in the Thoungyeen forests, affecting chiefly the neighborhood of villages and clearings. The following is a note of finding a nest and eggs I recorded in 1878: On the 14th April I happened to be putting up for the day in one of the abandoned Karen houses of the old village of Podeesakai at the foot of the Warmailoo toung, a spur from the east watershed range of the Meplay river. While moving about among the ruined houses, between and among which a lot of jungle was already springing up, when, just as I passed a low bush about 3 feet high, out went one of the above-mentioned birds; of course the bush contained a nest, a remarkably neat cup-shaped affair, below and outside of fine twigs, then a layer of roots, above which was a lining of the stems of the flower of the 'theckay' grass. It contained three eggs on the point of hatching, out of which I was only able to save one. It is one of the loveliest eggs I have seen; in colour I can liken it only to a peculiar pink granite that is so common at home in Ireland. Its ground-colour I should say was white, but it is so thickly spotted with pink and claret that it is hard to describe. It measured 085 x 061 inch."

Captain Wardlaw Ramsay writes in 'The Ibis': "I found a nest containing two eggs in April at the foot of the Karen hills in Burma."

I have seen too few eggs of this species to say much about them. What I have seen were rather elongated ovals pretty markedly pointed towards the small end. The shell fine, but with only a slight gloss; the ground a pinky creamy white, everywhere very finely freckled over with red, varying from brownish to maroon, and again still more thickly with pale purple or purplish grey, this latter colour being almost confluent over a broad zone round the large end.

292. Spizixus canifrons, Blyth. Finch-billed Bulbul

Spizixus canifrons, (Blyth), Hume, cat. no. 453 bis.

Colonel Godwin-Austen says: "Spizixus canifrons breeds in the neighborhood of Shillong, in May. Young birds are seen in June."*

[* TRACHYCOMUS OCHROCEPHALUS (Gm.). Yellow-crowned Bulbul

Trachycomus ochrocephalus (Gm.), Hume, cat. no. 449 bis.

As this bird occurs in Tenasserim, the following description of the nest and eggs found a short distance outside our limits will prove interesting.

Mr. J. Darling, Junior, writes: "I found the nest of this bird on the 2nd July at Kossoom. The nest was of the ordinary Bulbul type, but much larger, and like a very shallow saucer. The foundation was a single piece of some creeping orchid, 3 feet long, coiled round; then a lot of coils of fern, grass, and moss-roots. The nest was 4 inches in diameter on the inside, the walls 1/4 inch thick, and the cavity 1 inch deep. It was built 10 feet from the ground, in a bush in a very exposed position, and exactly where any ordinary Bulbul would have built."

The eggs of this species are of the ordinary Bulbul type, rather broad at the large end, compressed and slightly pyriform, or more or less pointed, towards the small end. The shell fine and smooth, but with only a moderate amount of gloss. The ground-colour varies from very pale pinky white to a rich warm salmon-pink. The markings are two colors: first, a red varying from a dull brownish to almost crimson; the second, a paler colour varying from neutral tint through purplish grey to a full though pale purple. In some eggs all the markings are rather coarse and sparse, in others fine and more thickly set. Two eggs measured 106 by 076 and 103 by 073.]

295. Iole icterica (Strickl.). Yellow-browed Bulbul

Criniger ictericus, (Strickl.), Jerdon B. Ind. ii. p. 82; Hume. Rough Draft N. & E. no 450.

The Yellow-browed Bulbul breeds apparently throughout the hilly regions of Ceylon and the southern portion of the Peninsula of India. I have never taken the nests myself, and I have only detailed information of their nidification on the Nilgiris, which they ascend to an elevation of from 6000 to 6500 feet, and where they lay from March to May.

A nest of this species, taken by Mr. Wait near Coonoor on the 20th of March, is a small shallow cup hung between two twigs, measuring some 3 inches across and inch in depth. It is composed of excessively fine twigs and lined with still finer hair-like grass, is attached to the twigs by cobwebs, and has a few dead leaves attached by the same means to its lower surface. It is a slight structure, nowhere I should think above inch in thickness, and apparently carelessly put together: but for all that, owing to the fineness of the materials used, it is a pretty firm and compact nest. It is not easy to express it in words; but still this nest differs very considerably in appearance from the nests of any of the true Bulbuls with which I am acquainted, and more approaches those of Hypsipetes.

Mr. Wait sends me the following note:

"This bird, although very common on the Nilgiris at elevations of from 4000 to 5000 feet, is a very shy nester, and its nest, which is not easily found, is invariably placed in the top of young thin saplings at heights of from 6 to 10 feet from the ground. The saplings chosen are almost always in thick cover near the edge of dry water-courses. They generally lay during May, but I have found nests in March. In shape the nest is a moderately deep cup, nearly hemispherical, with an internal diameter of from 25 to 3 inches - a true Bulbul's nest, composed of grass and bents and lined with finer grasses. The nest is always suspended by the outer rim between two lateral branches, and never, I believe, built in a fork as is so common in the case of many other Bulbuls. They lay only two eggs, and never, I believe, more. The eggs are longish ovals, rather pointed at one end, a dull white or reddish white, more or less thickly speckled and spotted or clouded with pale yellowish or reddish brown; occasionally the eggs exhibit a few very fine black lines."

Miss Cockburn, writing from Kotagherry, says: "The Yellow-browed Bulbul is common on the less elevated slopes of the Nilgiris, where it is often seen feeding upon guavas, loquots, pears, peaches, etc. They lay generally in April and May.

"Their nests are constructed very much like those of the common Bulbuls, except that, instead of being placed in the forked branches of trees, they are suspended between two twigs, and fastened to them by cobwebs, the inside being neatly lined with fine grass. Two nests of this bird were found, each containing two fresh eggs, of a pretty pinkish salmon colour, with a dark ring at the thick end; but another nest had three nearly white eggs! The whole structure of the nests was slight and thin, and the eggs could be plainly seen through. The notes of the Yellow-browed Bulbul are loud and repeated often."

Writing on the birds of Ceylon, Colonel Legge remarks: "I once found the nest of this bird in the Pasdun-Korale forests in August; little, however, is known of its breeding-habits in Ceylon, so that it most likely commences earlier than that month to rear its brood. My nest was placed in the fork of a thin sapling about 8 feet from the ground. It was of large size for such a bird, the foundation being bulky and composed of small twigs, moss, and dead leaves, supporting a cup of about 2 inches in diameter, which was constructed of moss, lined with fine roots; the upper edge of the body of the nest was woven round the supporting branches... The bottom of the nest was in the fork."

The eggs of this species sent to me by Mr. Wait from Coonoor are totally unlike any other egg of this family with which I am acquainted. They remind one more of the eggs of Stoparola melanops or one of the Niltavas than anything else. The eggs are moderately long and rather perfect ovals, almost devoid of gloss, and with a dull white or pinkish-white ground, speckled more or less thickly over the whole surface with rather pale brownish red or pink. The specklings becoming confluent at the large end, where they form a dull irregular mottled cap. Other specimens received from Miss Cockburn from Kotagherry exhibit the same general characters; but the majority of them are considerably elongated eggs, approaching, so far as shape is concerned, the Hypsipetes type. In some eggs only the faintest trace of pale pinkish mottling towards the large end is observable; in others, the whole surface of the egg is thickly freckled and mottled all over, but most densely at the large end, with salmon-pink or pale pinkish brown.

In length the eggs vary from 09 to 103, and in breadth from 064 to 07.

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