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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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341. Certhia himalayana, Vigors. Himalayan Tree-Creeper

Certhia himalayana, (Vigors), Jerdon B. Ind. i, p, 380; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 243.

Writing from Murree of the Himalayan Tree-Creeper, Colonel C. H. T. Marshall says: "This is a most difficult nest to find, as the little bird always chooses crevices where the bark has been broken or bulged out, some 40 or 50 feet from the ground, and generally on tall oak-trees which have no branches within 40 feet of their roots. There were young in the few nests we found. Captain Cock secured the eggs in Kashmir; they are very small, being only 06 by 045; the ground is white, with numerous red spots. The nests we found were in the highest part of Murree, about 7200 feet."

Two eggs of this species which I possess measure 069 and 068 respectively in length, by 05 in breadth.

342. Certhia hodgsoni, (Brooks). Hodgson's Tree-Creeper

Certhia hodgsoni, (Brooks), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 243 bis.

Hodgson's Tree-Creeper is the supposed C. familiaris obtained by Dr. Jerdon in Kashmir, of which he gave me two specimens.

Mr. Brooks says: "It was seen at Gulmurg and also at Sonamurg, where Captain Cock took a few nests. The egg is much more densely spotted than that of the English Creeper, so as almost to hide the reddish-white ground-colour. Size 059 to 065 inch long by 048 inch broad; time of laying, the first week in June."

The egg is of smooth texture, without gloss, of a purplish-white ground-colour, and fully spotted all over with light brownish red, especially at the larger end. Numerous spots of reddish grey or pale inky purple are intermingled with red ones.

In shape the egg varies from a somewhat elongated oval, more or less compressed towards the smaller end, to a comparatively broad oval, also slightly compressed towards the latter end. In all the eggs that I have seen, the markings were more or less confluent towards the large end. Their dimensions are correctly recorded by Mr. Brooks.

347. Salpornis spilonota (Frankl.). Spotted-Grey Creeper

Salpornis spilonota (Frankl.), Jerdon. BIyth. i, p. 382.

Mr. Cleveland found a nest of this species at Hattin (Hathin), in the Gurgaon district (in present day Haryana), on the 16th April. The nest was placed on a large ber-tree in a patch of preserved jungle, at a height of about 10 feet from the ground. It was cup-shaped, placed on the upper surface of a horizontal bough at the angle formed between this and a vertical shoot, to which it was attached on one side, the other three sides being free. The nest itself is unlike any other that I have seen. It is composed entirely of bits of leaf-stalks, tiny bits of leaves, chips of bark, the dung of caterpillars, all cemented together everywhere with cobwebs, so that the whole nest is a firm but yet soft and elastic mass. The nest is cup-shaped, but oval and not circular; its exterior diameters are 4 and 3 inches respectively; its greatest height 2 inches; the cavity measures 26 by 22, and 11 in depth.

The texture of the nest, as I have already said, is extremely peculiar; it is extremely strong, and though pulled off the bough on which it rested and the off-shoot to which it was attached, is as perfect apparently as the day it was found, bearing on the lower surface an exact cast of the inequalities of the bark on which it rested; but it is soft, yielding, and flabby in the hand, almost as much so as if it was jelly. The nest contained two almost full-grown nestlings and one addled egg.

This egg is a very regular oval, slightly broader at one end, the shell fine and fairly glossy; the ground-colour is pale greenish white; round the large end there is an irregular imperfect zone of blackish-brown specks and tiny spots, and round about these is more or less of a brown nimbus, and over the rest of the egg a very few specks and spots of blackish, dusky, and pale brown are scattered. It measures 068 by 053.

Another nest was found about 15 feet up a tree. It was partly seated on and partly wedged in between the fork of two thick oblique branches, to the rough bark of which the bottom only was firmly cemented with cobwebs, the sides, as in the case of the first nest, being quite free and detached from its surroundings. As regards dimensions and composition, the latter nest was an exact counterpart of that first taken. It contained two partially fledged nestlings.

352. Anorthura neglecta (Brooks). Kashmir Wren

Troglodytes neglecta, (Brooks), Hume, cat. no. 333 bis.
Troglodytes nipalensis, (Hodgson), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 333.

The Kashmir Wren breeds in Kashmir in May and June at elevations of from 6000 to nearly 10,000 feet. I have never seen the nest, though I possess eggs taken by Captain Cock and Mr. Brooks in Kashmir. The latter says: "Only two nests of this bird were found (both at Gulmurg), one having four eggs and the other three. In the latter case the full number was not laid, as the nest, when first found, was empty; on three successive mornings an egg was laid and then they were taken.

"In shape they vary as much as do those of the English Wren, and like them they are white, sometimes minutely freckled with pale red and purple-grey specks, which are principally confined to the large end, with a tendency to form a zone. Other eggs are plain white, without the slightest sign of a spot; but these, I think, must be the exception, for the egg of the English Wren is usually spotted. The egg has very little gloss, and the ground-colour is pure white."

The eggs are very large for the size of the bird. There appear to be two types. The one somewhat elongated ovals, slightly compressed towards the lesser end; the others broad short ovals, decidedly pointed at one end. Some eggs are perfectly pure unspotted white; others have a dull white ground, with a faint zone of minute specks of brownish red and tiny spots of greyish purple towards the large end, and a very few markings of a similar character scattered about the rest of the surface. All the eggs of the latter type vary in the amount and size of markings; these latter are always sparse and very minute. The pure white eggs appear to be less common. The eggs have always a slight gloss, the pure white ones at times a very decided, though never at all a brilliant gloss.

In length they vary from 061 to 07 inch, and in breadth from 05 to 052 inch.

Mr. Brooks subsequently wrote: "The Kashmir Wren is not uncommon in the pine-woods of Kashmir, and in habits and manners resembles its European congener. Its song is very similar and quite as pretty. It is a shy, active little bird, and very difficult to shoot. I found two nests. One was placed in the roots of a large upturned pine, and was globular with entrance at the side. It was profusely lined with feathers and composed of moss and fibres. The eggs were white, sparingly and minutely spotted with red, rather oval in shape; measuring 066 by 05. A second nest was placed in the thick foliage of a moss-grown fir-tree, and was about 7 feet above the ground. It was similarly composed to the other nest, but the eggs were rounder and plain white, without any spots."

355. Urocichla caudata (Blyth). Tailed Wren

Pnoepyga caudata (Blyth), Jerdon. B. Ind. i, p. 490; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 331.

The Tailed Wren, according to Mr. Hodgson's notes, lays in April and May, building a deep cup-shaped nest about the roots of trees or in a hole of fallen timber; the nest is a dense mass of moss and moss-roots, lined with the latter. One measured was 35 inches in diameter and 3 in height; internally, the cavity was 16 inch, in diameter and about 1 inch deep. They lay four or five spotless whitish eggs, which are figured as broad ovals, rather pointed towards one end, and measuring 075 by 054 inch.

356. Pnoepyga albiventris (Hodgs.). Scaly-breasted Wren

Pnoepyga squamata (Gould), Jerdon. B. Ind. i, p. 488.

From Sikkim, Mr. Gammie writes: "I found two nests of the Scaly-breasted Wren this year within a few yards of each other. They were in a small moist ravine in the Rishap forest, at 5000 feet above sea-level. One was deserted before being quite finished, and the other was taken a few days after three eggs had been laid. The two nests were alike, and both were built among the moss growing on the trunks of large trees, within a yard of the ground. The only carried material was very fine roots, which were firmly interwoven, and the ends worked in with the natural moss. These fine roots were worked into the shape of a half-egg, cut lengthways, and placed with its open side against the trunk, which thus formed one side of the nest. Near the top one side was not quite close to the trunk, and by this irregular opening the bird entered. Internally the nest measured 3 inches deep by 2 in width. I killed the female off the eggs; she had eaten a caterpillar, spiders, and other insects."

Mr. Mandelli found a nest of this species at Pattabong, elevation 5000 feet, near Darjeeling, on the 19th May, containing three fresh eggs. The nest was placed amongst some small bushes projecting out of a crevice of a rock about three feet from the ground. It was completely sheltered above, but was not hooded or domed; it was, for the size of the bird, a rather large cup, composed of green moss rather closely felted together and lined with fine blackish-brown roots. The cavity measured about 2 inches in diameter and 1 in depth.

The eggs of this species seem large for the size of the bird; they are rather broad at the large end, considerably pointed towards the small end. They are pure white, almost entirely devoid of gloss, and with very delicate and fragile shells.

The eggs varied from in 072 to 078 in length, and from 054 to 057 in breadth.


358. Regulus cristatus, Koch. Goldcrest

Regulus himalayensis, (Blyth), Jerdon. B. Ind. ii, p. 206; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 580.

All I know of the nidification of this species is that Sir E. C. Buck found a nest at Rogee (?), in the Sutluj Valley, on the 8th June, on the end of a deodar branch 8 feet from the ground and partly suspended. It contained seven young birds fully fledged; no crest or signs of a crest were observable in the young. Both the parent birds and the nest were kindly sent to me.

The nest is a deep pouch suspended from several twigs, with the entrance at the top, and composed entirely of fine lichens woven or intervened into a thick, soft, flexible tissue of from three eighths to half an inch in thickness. Externally the nest was about 3 to 4 inches in depth, and about 3 inches in diameter.

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