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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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299. Pycnonotus finlaysoni, Strickl. Finlayson's Stripe-throated Bulbul

Ixus finlaysoni (Strickl.), Hume, cat. no. 452 ter.

Major C. T. Bingham says: "On the 22nd May, 1877, in the jungles below the Circuit-house at Maulmain, I came across a neat, though thinly made, cup-shaped nest in the fork of a tall sapling, some 12 feet above the ground. Coming closer, I perceived it contained eggs, which were plainly visible through the frail structure of the sides. On looking about to find the owner, I saw a couple of Pycnonotus finlaysoni flitting about uneasily in a tree close at hand; so I hid myself a few yards off, and was almost immediately rewarded by seeing one of them (it turned out to be the female) fly down on to the nest, and seat herself on the eggs. Approaching cautiously, I managed to shoot her as she slipped off; but, on taking down the nest, I found I had fired too soon, as one of the eggs (there were but two) was smashed by a pellet of shot. The nest was rather a deep cup, and, notwithstanding its flimsy sides, strongly made of grass-roots, lined with very fine black roots of fern. The one unbroken egg was rather roundish in shape, of a dull whitish and claret colour, mixed and spotted and clouded with deeper vinous red, chiefly at the larger end."

Mr. J. Darling, Junior, found the nest of this Bulbul on more than one occasion at Taroar in the Malay peninsula. He writes: "I shot this bird off a nest with two eggs on the 8th February; the nest was in a bush 5 feet from the ground; the foundation was of leaves and fine grass, lined with fine grass and a few cocoanut fibres. The nest was 3 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep. The eggs were too hard-set to blow.

"On the 10th February I took another nest of Pycnonotus finlaysoni at Taroar. The nest was built in a small shrub 3 feet from the ground, in a fork; foundation of dead leaves, built of fine twigs and fibrous bark; lined with fine grass-bents and moss-roots. Egg-cavity 2¾ inches in diameter, 1¾ deep; walls ¼ inch thick, bottom ¾ inch. Found a nest of Pycnonotus finlaysoni, with two fresh eggs, on the 16th March. The nest was built in a thin small sapling, 5½ feet from ground, on the top of a thinly wooded hill; the nest was of the ordinary Bulbul type, but better put together and neater. The foundation was of broad fibrous bark and twigs, lined with fine grass-stalks."

The eggs vary in shape from broad ovals a good deal pointed towards one end, to pyriform and elongated shaped, very obtuse even at the small end. The shell is fine and compact, in some has a fine gloss, in others it is rather dull. The ground-colour is a beautiful pink, sometimes with a creamy tinge, and the markings are bold blotches, spots, and streaks of a maroon of varying degrees in richness, and of a subsurface-looking purple, varying to almost inky grey. In some eggs the maroon, in some the purple or grey seems to predominate; in some eggs the markings seem pretty equally distributed over the egg; in others they form a more or less conspicuous zone about the larger end. The eggs measure from 0·85 to 0·92 in length by 0·6 to 0·7 in breadth.

300. Pycnonotus davisoni (Hume). Davison's Stripe-throated Bulbul

Ixus davisoni, Hume; Hume, cat. no. 452 quat.

Mr. Oates writes from Kyeikpadein in Pegu: "A nest of this bird was found on the 1st June, and another on 6th of the same month, each containing two fresh eggs. The females, which were shot off the nest, showed, however, no signs on dissection of being about to lay more. The nest is a flimsy structure, built of the stems of small weeds and lined with grass. A few fine black tree-roots are twisted round the inside of the egg-chamber. The outside and inside diameters measure 4 and 3 inches, and the depths are similarly 3 and 1·25. Both nests were placed low down about 4 feet from the ground - one in a bush, and the other in a creeper.

"The eggs vary much in size. One pair measure ·92 and ·88 by ·60 and ·65, and the other ·83 and ·82 by ·65 and ·61 respectively; the ground-colour of all is a pinkish white. In one pair the shell-blotches of washed-out purple are spread over the whole egg, and the surface-spots and clashes of carneous red are also equally spread over the whole shell. In the other pair the shell-marks are grouped round the larger end to form a broad ring, and the whole egg is thickly speckled and spotted with bright reddish. The eggs are slightly glossy."

301. Pycnonotus melanicterus (Gm.). Black-capped Bulbul

Rubigula melanictera (Gm.), Hume, cat. no. 455 bis.

Colonel Legge writes: "In April 1873 I received from Ceylon three eggs of this bird; but I was unable to identify them until lately, when I had an opportunity of comparing them with a clutch taken last year in the Western Province, and about which there was no doubt. In the latter case the nest was fixed on the top of a small stump, and was a loose structure of grass and bents; in shape rather a deep cup; and contained two eggs of a reddish-white ground-colour, profusely speckled with reddish brown (in one example confluent round the obtuse end, in the other distributed over the whole surface) over freckles of bluish grey. Dimensions: 0·79 by 0·58, 0·78 by 0·57. The other nest was made of grass on a foundation of dry leaves and herbaceous stalks, loosely lined with fine hair-like tendrils of creepers. The eggs were of a reddish-white ground, thickly covered throughout with brownish-red and dusky red spots, becoming somewhat confluent round the obtuse end. In form they are regular ovals, and measure 0·78 by 0·6, 0·79 by 0·58."

305. Pycnonotus luteolus (Less.). White-browed Bulbul

Ixos luteolus (Less.) Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 84; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 452.

Common as is the White-browed Bulbul in Midnapoor, throughout the Tributary Mehals, along the Eastern Ghâts, and again, it appears, in Bombay, only two of my correspondents appear as yet to have procured the nest or eggs.

Mr. Benjamin Aitken, writing from Bombay under date the 11th June, says: "I now send you a nest of Pycnonotus luteolus with two eggs. I took it this morning from, a thickly foliaged tree in a garden. It was placed on the top of the main stem of the tree, which had been abruptly cut off about 5 feet from the ground, where the stem was about 3 inches thick. The nest was begun this day week, Thursday, and the first egg was laid the day before yesterday (Tuesday). The bird is a very common one in gardens in Bombay, though I never saw it in Berar nor even in Poona. They build in situations similar to, but perhaps rather more sheltered than, those chosen by the Common Bulbul; but I remember finding one nest placed at a height of only 2 feet from the ground.

"This present nest was begun, as already mentioned, last Thursday, just two days after the first severe thunder-shower preliminary to the monsoon, now fairly on us. I draw your attention to the manner in which the nest has been tied at one place to a twig to prevent its being blown off its very (apparently) insecure site. I was obliged to take the nest, as I was leaving at once, otherwise one or perhaps two more eggs would have been laid."

The nest is a rather loose straggling structure, exteriorly composed of fine twigs. The cavity, hemispherical in shape, is carefully lined with fine grass-stems. Outside it is very irregularly shaped, and many of the twigs used are much too long and hang down several inches from the nest; but on one side the outer framework has been firmly tied with wool and a little cobweb to a live twig to which the leaves, now withered, are still attached. No roots or hair have entered into the composition of this nest.

Mr. E. Aitken writes: "I once found a nest in Bombay, not many feet above the level of the sea of course.

"The first egg was laid on 14th September. The nest was built in a bush on the edge of an inundated field, but in our garden. It was fixed to a thin waving branch underneath the bush, which completely overshadowed it. It was only 2 feet from the ground, a cup just large enough to hold the body of the bird, whose head and tail always projected over the edge; and it was made of thin twigs and neatly lined with coir. The bird laid two eggs and then deserted the nest. One of these, which I took, was thicker and rounder than a Bulbul's, and thickly spotted with claret-colored spots, which gathered into a ring at the larger end. The eggs were laid on successive days. I think the birds had already had one brood (in another nest), for I saw apparently the same pair followed by a young one not long before."

Dr. Jerdon says: "I found the nest in my garden at Nellore. It was rather loosely made with roots, grass, and hair, placed in a hedge, and the eggs, four in number, were reddish white, with darker lake-red spots, exceedingly like those of the Common Bulbul."

Colonel Legge, in his 'Birds of Ceylon,' tells us that this Bulbul breeds in the west and south-west of Ceylon from December to June, the months of April and May, however, appearing to be the favorite time. On the eastern side of the island it breeds during the north-east rains.

The eggs answer well enough to Dr. Jerdon's description, but to an oologist's eye they are excessively un-like those of the Common Bulbul; shape, tone of colour, and character of markings alike differ.

In shape they are decidedly elongated ovals. The shell is very fine and smooth, and moderately glossy. The ground is reddish white, and this is profusely speckled and blotched (the blotches being chiefly confined, however, to a broad irregular zone round the broader end) with a deep but certainly, I should say, not lake-red, but much nearer what one would get by mixing brown with vermilion. Besides these red markings sundry clouds and spots of a pale greyish lilac are intermingled in a zone, and one or two spots of the same colour may be traced elsewhere.

The eggs measure 0·92 by 0·62, and 0·97 by 0·63.

300. Pycnonotus blanfordi (Jerdon). Blanford's Bulbul

Ixus blanfordi (Jerdon), Hume, cat. no. 452 quint.

Mr. Oates writes from Pegu: "Nest in a small tree, well concealed by leaves, about 7 feet from the ground, near Pegu. A very neat cup measuring 3 inches diameter externally and 2·25 internally. The depth 1·75 inch outside and 1·25 inside. The sides of the nest, though very strongly woven, can be seen through. The materials consist of small fine branchlets of weeds, and the inside is neatly lined with grass. One or two dead leaves, or rather fragments, are used in the exterior walling.

"The nest was found on the 25th May, and contained three eggs slightly incubated. The ground-colour is a fresh pink, but with little gloss. The whole egg is covered with a profusion of dark purplish-red spots, more thickly disposed at the thick end, but everywhere frequent. In addition there are some underlying and much paler smears. The three eggs measured respectively 0·75, 0·78, and 0·77 in length, by 0·63, 0·62, and 0·61 in breadth. Subsequently I found five other nests, from the 1st April to the 20th June, all similar to the one described. Eggs invariably three. Average size of twelve eggs 0·82 by 0·6."

The nests of this species that I have seen have been very slight flimsy structures, nearly hemispherical cups, composed of fine twigs and the leaf-stalks of pennated leaves a little bound together with cobwebs and thinly lined with fine hair-like grass. In some cases a leaf or two has been attached to the outer surface to aid the concealment of the nest. The nest is very loosely woven just like a sieve, as a rule nowhere more than 0·25 inch thick, and with a truly hemispherical cavity, diameter about 2·5, depth about 1·25.

The eggs are of the ordinary Bulbul type, but not amongst the more richly-colored examples of these; in shape and size they vary a good deal, but typically they seem to be moderately broad ovals slightly compressed towards the small end. The shell is fine and smooth, but has scarcely any appreciable gloss; the ground is pale pink or pinky white. At the large end the markings are dense, forming in some eggs an almost confluent zone, in others a mottled cap; they consist of irregular-shaped spots and specks of deep red and pale subsurface-looking greyish purple; over the rest of the surface of the egg outside the zone or cap the markings are much smaller in size and much more thinly scattered, and it is observable that the secondary purple markings are to a great extent confined to the zone or cap, as the case may be, and its immediate neighborhood.

Occasionally the markings, which seem always to be small and speckly, are very sparsely set, leaving comparatively large portions of the surface unmarked; and occasionally eggs are met with in which the primary markings are wholly wanting, and there is nothing but a pale reddish-purple cloudy mottling over the greater portion of the surface of the egg.

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