The Nests and Eggs of Indian Birds (Volume 1)
Second Edition 1889 - by Allan O. Hume
Family SYLVIIDAE (continued...)|
434. Cryptolopha xanthoschista (Hodgson) Hodgson's Grey-headed Flycatcher-Warbler
Abrornis albosuperciliaris, (Blyth), Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 202; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 573.
Throughout the Himalayas south of the first snowy ranges, and in all wooded valleys in rear of these, from Darjeeling to Murree, this Warbler appears to be a permanent resident.
I have received its nests and eggs from several sources, and have taken them in the Sutluj and Beas Valleys myself. They lay in the last week of March, and throughout April and May, constructing a large globular nest of moss, more or less mingled exteriorly with dry grass and lined thinly with goat's hair, and then inside this thickly with the softest wool or, in one nest that I found, with the inner downy fur of hares. The entrance to the nest is sometimes on one side, sometimes almost at the top, and is rather large for the size of the bird. The nest is almost without exception placed on a grassy bank, at the foot of some small bush, and usually contains four eggs.
Talking of this species, and writing from Almorah on the 17th May, Mr. Brooks said: "I have just taken a nest. It was placed on a sloping bank-side near the foot of a small bush. The bank was overgrown with grass. The nest, which was on the ground, was a large ball-shaped one, composed of very coarse grass, moss-roots, and wool, and lined with hair and wool. It contained four pure white glossy eggs, which were much pointed at the small end. I shot the bird off the nest. I had already frequently met with fully-grown young birds of this species."
Writing from Dharamshala, Captain Cock remarked: "On the 8th April I found a nest of this species containing four white eggs; it was placed on the ground, under a bush, on a steep bank. The nest was globular, with rather a large entrance-hole, and was made of moss, with dry grass outside, then black hair of goats, and thickly lined with the softest of wool: no feathers in the nest. I caught the bird on the nest; it is common here."
Colonel G. F. L. Marshall tells us: "A nest found on the 22nd May at Nainital, about 7000 feet above the sea, contained three hard-set eggs. The eggs were pure white. The nest was a most beautiful little structure of moss, lined with wool; it was globular, with the entrance at one side, and placed on a bank among some ground-ivy, the outer part of the nest having a few broad grass-blades interwoven so as to assimilate the appearance of the nest to that of the bank against which it lay. It was at the side of a narrow glen with a northern aspect, and about four feet above the pathway, close to the spring from which my bhisti daily draws water, the bird sitting fearlessly while passed and repassed by people going down the glen within a foot or two of the nest."
The eggs are pure white, and generally fairly glossy. In texture the shells are very fine and compact. The eggs are moderately broad ovals, much pointed towards the small end, and vary from 0·6 to 0·65 in length, and from 0·48 to 0·52 in breadth; but the average of twenty eggs measured is 0·63 by 0·5 nearly.
Abrornis xanthoschistos (Hodgson), Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 202; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 572.
This Warbler breeds, according to Mr. Hodgson's notes*, both in Nepal and Sikkim up to an elevation of 6000 or 7000 feet. They lay in May three or four pure white eggs. They make their nest on the ground in thick bushes, or in holes in banks, or under roots of trees. The nest is a large mass of moss and dry leaves, somewhat egg-shaped, with the entrance at one end, some 6 inches in length, 4 inches in breadth, and 3·5 in height externally, and with an oval entrance about 1·5 high and 2·25 wide. Inside it is carefully lined with moss-roots. Both sexes assist in hatching and rearing the young, which are ready to fly in July.
*[Mr. Hodgson's specimens in the British Museum are C. xanthoschista; but C. jerdoni also occurs in Nepal, and Mr. Hodgson may have found the nests of both. I leave the note as it appeared in the 'Rough Draft,' as the two species are not likely to differ in their habits, and it matters little to which species Mr. Hodgson's note refers, provided the above remarks are borne in mind.--ED.]
From Sikkim Mr. Gammie says: "I found one nest of this species at Rishap, at an elevation of 5000 feet, on the 20th May. The nest was in thin forest, near its outer edge, and placed on the ground beside a small stem. It was domed, and composed entirely of moss, with the exception of a few fibres in the hood or dome portion, and was lined with thistle-down. The exterior diameter was 3·3, the height 3·2: the cavity was 1·6 in diameter, and only an inch in depth below the lower margin of the entrance, which was the rim of the true cup, over which the hood was drawn. The nest contained four fresh eggs."
Several nests of this species that have been sent me from Sikkim were all of the same type - beautiful little cups, some placed on the ground, some amongst the twigs of brushwood a little above the ground, composed entirely of fine moss and a little fern-root, and with the interior of the cavity not indeed regularly lined but dotted about with tufts of silky seed-down.
The eggs are very similar to but smaller than those of the preceding
species - very broad ovals, a good deal pointed towards one end, pure
white, and faintly glossy. In length they vary from 0·53 to 0·58, and
Abrornis poliogenys (Blyth), Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 203.
From Sikkim Mr. Gammie writes: "A nest of the Grey-cheeked Flycatcher-Warbler, taken on the 8th May in large forest at 6000 feet, contained three hard-set eggs. It was suspended to a snag among the moss growing on the stem of a small tree at five feet up. The moss supported it more than did the snag. It is a solid cup-shaped structure, made of green moss and lined with very fine roots. Externally it measures 3½ inches across and 2¼ deep; internally 2 inches wide and 1¾ deep."
The eggs of this species, like those of C. xanthoschista and C. jerdoni, are pure white. They are not, I think, separable from the eggs of these two species. Those sent me by Mr. Gammie measure 0·66 and 0·67 in length by 0·5 in breadth.
Abrornis castaneiceps, (Hodgson), Jerdon B. Ind. ii. p. 205; Hume. Rough Draft N. & E. no. 578.
According to Mr. Hodgson's notes and figures, the Chestnut-headed Flycatcher-Warbler breeds in the central hill-region of Nepal from April to June, laying three or four eggs, which are neither figured nor described. The nest itself is a beautiful structure of mosses, lichens, moss- and fern-roots, and fine stems worked into the shape of a large egg, measuring 6 and 4 inches along the longer and shorter diameters; it is placed on the ground in the midst of a clump of ferns or thick grass, with the longer diameter perpendicular to the ground. The aperture, which is about halfway between the middle and the top of the nest, and on one side, is oval, about 2 inches in width and 1·75 in height. Both sexes are said to assist in hatching and rearing the young.
438. Cryptolopha cantator (Tick.). Tickell's Flycatcher-Warbler
Culicipeta cantator (Tickell), Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 200.
The nest is, for the size of the bird, a large watch-pocket, some 6 inches in total length and 3·5 in breadth, composed entirely of white, satiny seed-down, densely felted together to the thickness of half an inch. The lower part, sides, and back very thinly, and the upper portion and the margin of the mouth of the pocket thickly, coated with excessively fine green moss and very fine soft vegetable fibre.
Mr. Mandelli sends me a lovely nest, which he says belongs to this species. It was found in May in Native Sikkim, at about 12,000 feet elevation. It was suspended from the tiny branch of a tree at a height of about 8 feet from the ground. The nest is a perfect watch-pocket, composed entirely of white silky down belonging to one of the bombaxes, thinly coated here and there with strings of moss to keep it together, and more thickly so with this and vegetable fibre at and about the point of suspension and round the rim of the mouth of the pocket. The nest is altogether about. 6 inches long and about 3 inches in diameter at its broadest; the lower edge of the aperture into the pocket is 2 inches from the bottom of the nest, and the aperture is about 2 inches wide. It is altogether one of the loveliest nests I have ever seen: but I cannot feel certain that the nest really belongs to this species; for I have had a precisely similar nest, also found in Sikkim, on the 20th May, similarly suspended at a height of about 5 feet from the ground, sent me as belonging to another species of Abrornis; and though Mr. Mandelli is usually right, I think the matter requires further confirmation.
The present nest contained a pure white egg; the other spotted eggs. Both collectors I have no doubt were fully assured of the correctness of their identification, and it may be that both species of birds construct similar nests; but I entertain considerable doubts on this subject, and think it right to note the fact.
The egg is a very broad oval, pure white, and very glossy, and measures 0·6 by 0·49.
Abrornis flaviventris, (Jerdon). B. Ind. ii, p. 203.
Writing from Tenasserim, Major T. C. Bingham says: "I have shot this bird on the Zammee choung, where I got a nest with eggs; and I have more than once seen it in the Thoungyeen forests. The following is an account of the nest I found, recorded in my note-book:
"Khasat village - Khasat choung, Zammee river, 9th March, 1878.- My camp to-day was pitched in the midst of a dense bamboo-break, close to a path leading to the village. "About ten feet from my tent on this path, passers-by had cut one of the bamboos in a clump and left it leaning up against the clump; between two knots of this a rough hack had broken an irregular hole into a joint.
"Sitting outside my tent and looking carelessly about, my attention was attracted by what I took to be a leaf flutter down close to the above-mentioned bamboo, and to my surprise disappear before it reached the ground. Wondering at this, I got up and approached the place, when from the aforementioned hole in the bamboo out darted a little bird; and looking in I saw a neat little nest of fibres placed on the lower knot with three eggs, white densely speckled, chiefly in a ring at the larger end, with pinkish claret spots.
"I went back to my tent, watched the bird return, and shot her as on being frightened off she flew out a second time. It proved to be the above species. I took the nest and eggs. The latter, I regret to say, were lost subsequently through the carelessness of a servant, but I had luckily measured and taken a description of them. Their dimensions were respectively 0·57 x 0·42, 0·59 x 0·42, and 0·59 x 0·44."
From Sikkim Mr. Gammie writes: "I took a nest of this Warbler on the 15th June at 1800 feet elevation. It was inside a bamboo-stem near the banks of the Ryeng stream. Just under a node some one had cut out a notch, which the birds made their entrance. The nest rested on the node below and fitted the hollow of the bamboo. It was made of dry bamboo-leaves, and lined with soft, fibrous material. It measured 5 inches deep and 3 inches wide, with an egg cavity of 2 inches in depth, by 1¾ inch in width. The eggs, which were hard-set, were but three in number."
The eggs are rather long ovals, the shell fine but with very little gloss; the ground-colour is a dull white or pinky white, and it is thickly freckled and mottled about the large end and thinly elsewhere with red, in some cases slightly browner, in others purple. The markings have a tendency to form a cap or zone about the large end, and here, where the markings are densest, some little lilac or purplish-grey spots and clouds are intermingled.
An egg measures 0·61 by 0·43.
Abrornis schisticeps, (Hodgson), Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 201; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 571.
Captain Hutton tells us that the Black-faced Flycatcher-Warbler is "a common species in the neighborhood of Mussoorie, at 5000 feet, and commences building in March. A pair of these birds selected a thick China rose-bush trained against the side of the house, and had completed the nest and laid one egg when a rat destroyed it. I subsequently took two other nests in May, both placed on the ground in holes in the side of a bank by the roadside. In form the nest is a ball, with a round lateral entrance, and is composed externally of dried grasses and green moss, lined with bits of wool, cotton, feathers, thread, and hair. The eggs are three in number."
Two eggs of this species, sent to me by Captain Hutton, are very perfect ovals, pure white*, and rather glossy.
*[There can be little doubt that Capt. Hutton's eggs were wrongly identified.--ED.]
They both measure 0·62 by 0·48.
From Sikkim Mr. Gammie writes: "The only nest I ever found of this Warbler was in a natural hole in a small tree in an open part of a large forest, at 5500 feet above the sea. In a cleft, five feet from ground, where a limb had been lopped off, there was a small hole, barely large enough, at entrance to admit the bird, but gradually widening out for the seven or eight inches of its depth. In the bottom of this cavity was a loose lining of dry bamboo-leaves, on which lay five eggs. They do not agree with those taken by Captain Hutton, which were 'pure white,' but I am absolutely certain of the authenticity of the eggs taken by me. They were well-set, so five is probably the full complement. They were taken on the 26th May."
The eggs sent by Mr. Gammie, for the authenticity of which he vouches, are moderately broad ovals, somewhat compressed and pyriform towards the small end. They have but little gloss, and are of the same type as A. superciliaris and A. albigularis. The ground is a dull pinkish white, and they are profusely mottled and streaked with red, which in some eggs is brownish, in some purplish. The markings are densest at the large end, where they have a tendency to form an irregular zone, which in some specimens is very conspicuous.
These eggs vary from 0·56 to 0·57 in length, and from 0·41 to 0·42 in breadth.
Abrornis albigularis, (Hodgson), Jerdon. B. Ind. ii, p. 204.
A nest of this species found in Native Sikkim, below Namtchu, on the 28th July, is a regular Tailor-bird's nest, absolutely undistinguishable from the one also sent me by Mr. Mandelli as belonging to Orthotomus atrigularis, so that for the moment I have some doubts as to the authenticity of this nest. Two leaves, precisely of the same species as those made use of by the Tailor-bird in question, have been sewn together with the same bright yellow silk, and the little deep cup-shaped nest within is composed exactly of the same excessively fine grass. Another nest, also said to belong to this species, but of a very different character, has been sent me by Mr. Mandelli. This was found at Yendong, in Native Sikkim, on the 6th July, and contained four fresh eggs precisely of the type of those of A. schisticeps. The nest was placed in the cavity of a truncated bamboo about 4 feet from the ground, and was a loose cup, the basal portion composed of dry bamboo-leaves, and the rest of the nest being made of excessively fine grass, flower-stems, similar to those used in the Tailor-bird-like nest above described, but with a quantity of feathers mingled with this in the lining of the nest.
The eggs of this species are of precisely the same type as those of A. schisticeps and A. superciliaris, but they are the smallest of all. They are little regular oval eggs, with a white, greyish, or pinky white ground, with deep red freckled and mottled markings, which are densely set about the large end, where they generally form a cap or zone, and usually much less dense elsewhere.
The eggs sent me measured 0·55 and 0·57 by 0·43.
Scotocerca inquieta (Rüpp.), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 550 bis.
The Streaked Scrub-Warbler is a permanent resident of the bare stony hills which, under many names and broken into multitudinous ranges, run down from the Khyber Pass to the sea, dividing the Punjab and Sind from Afghanistan and Khelat. An account of its nidification is contained in the following note furnished me by the late Captain Cock:
"I first discovered this bird breeding in February in the Khuttuck Hills. It is common throughout the range of stony hills between Peshawar and Attock, and I have seen it on the hills between Jhelum and Pindi, but never took their nest in this latter locality. At Nowshera it is very common, and towards the end of February a collector could take four or five nests in a day. It builds in a low thorny shrub, about 1½ feet from the ground, makes a largish globular nest of thin dry grass-stems, with an opening in the side, thickly lined with seed-down, and containing four or five eggs. Their nesting-operations are over by the end of March."
Lieut. H. E. Barnes, who observed the bird at Chaman in Afghanistan, says: "These birds are quite common about here on the plains, but I have not observed them on the hills. They commence breeding towards the end of March; the nest is globular in shape, not unlike that of Franklinia buchanani, but somewhat larger, built invariably in stunted bushes about two feet from the ground. It is well lined with feathers and fine grass, the outer portion being composed of fibres and coarse grass. The normal number of eggs is six. I have found less, but never more, and whenever a lesser number has been taken they have always proved to be fresh laid.
"The eggs are oval in shape, white, with a pinkish tinge when fresh, very minutely spotted and speckled with light red, most densely at the larger end. The average of twelve eggs is 0·62 by 0·43."
The eggs are moderately broad and regular ovals, usually somewhat compressed towards one end, but occasionally exhibiting no trace of this. The shell is very fine and delicate, but, as a rule, entirely devoid of gloss. The ground-colour varies from pure to pinky white. The markings are always minute, but in some they are comparatively much bolder and larger than in others, and they vary in colour from reddish pink to a comparatively bright red. In many eggs the markings are much more dense towards the large end, where they form, or exhibit a strong tendency to form, an irregular, more or less confluent zone; and wherever the markings are dense there a certain number of tiny pale purple or lilac spots or clouds will be found intermingled with and underlying the red markings. Some eggs show none of these spots and exhibit no tendency to form a zone, being pretty uniformly speckled and spotted all over. Some are not very unlike eggs of the Grasshopper and Dartford Warblers; others, again, are almost counterparts of the eggs of Franklinia buchanani.
In length the eggs vary from 0·6 to 0·68, and in breadth from 0·46 to 0·51.
*[I have transferred Hodgson's notes under this title in the 'Rough Draft' to Horornis fortipes, to which bird Hodgson's account of the nidification undoubtedly relates, his type-birds No. 900 being Neornis assimilis.--ED.]
Neornis flavolivacea, (Hodgson), Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 188.
Mr. W. Theobald makes the following remarks on the breeding of this bird at Darjeeling: "Lays in the second week in July. Eggs three in number, blunt, ovato-pyriform. Size 0·69 by 0·55. Colour deep dull claret-red, with a darker band at broad end. Nest, a deep cup, outside of bamboo-leaves, inside fine vegetable fibres, lined with feathers."
From Sikkim Mr. Gammie writes: "I have found this Tree-Warbler (though why it should be called a Tree-Warbler I cannot imagine, for it sticks closely to grass and low scrub, and never by any chance perches on a tree) breeding from May to July at elevations from 3500 up to 6000 feet. All the nests I have seen were of a globular shape with entrance near the top. Both in shape and position the nest much resembles that of Suya atrigularis, and is, I have no doubt, the one brought to Jerdon as belonging to that bird. It is placed in grassy bushes, in open country, within a foot or so of the ground, and is made of bamboo-leaves and, for the size of the bird, coarse grass-stems, with an inner layer of fine grass-panicles, from which the seeds have dropped, and lined with feathers. Externally it measures about 6 inches in depth by 4 in width. The egg-cavity, from lower edge of entrance, is 2¼ inches deep by 1¾ wide. The entrance is 2 inches across. The usual number of eggs is three."
The eggs sent by Mr. Gammie are very regular, rather broad, oval eggs, with a decided but not very strong gloss. In colour they are a uniform deep chocolate-purple. In length they vary from 0·63 to 0·69, and in breadth from 0·49 to 0·52.*
*[I cannot identify the following bird, which appears in
the 'Rough Draft' under the number 552 bis. I reproduce the note
together with some additional matter furnished later on by Mr. Gammie.
is nothing but Horornis fortipes; but I cannot
reconcile Mr. Gammie's account of the nest with that of H. fortipes,
inasmuch as nothing is said about a lining of feathers, which appears to be
an unfailing characteristic of the nest of H. fortipes.--ED.
No. 552 bis.--NEORNIS ASSIMILIS, Hodgs.
Mr. Gammie sent me a bird unmistakably of this species - Blyth's
Aberrant Tree-Warbler--together with the lining of a nest and three
He says:--"The nest, eggs, and bird were brought to me on the 18th May
by a native, who said the nest was placed in a shrub, about 6 feet
from the ground, in a place filled with scrub near Rishap, at about
3500 feet above the sea. I noted at the time the man's account, but as
I did not take the nest myself, I kept no account of it. All I know
about it is written on the ticket attached to the nest sent to you.
The bird was snared on the nest. Though I did not take it myself, I
have little doubt that it is quite correct."
The lining of the nest is a little, soft, shallow saucer 2½ inches in
diameter, composed of the finest and softest brown roots.
The eggs are somewhat of the same type as those of N. flavolivaceus,
but in colour more resembling those of some of the ten-tail-feathered Prinias.
They are very short broad ovals, pulled out and pointed
towards one end, approximating to the peg-top type. They are very
glossy and of a uniform Indian red; duller colored rather than those of the
Prinias; not so deep or purple as those of N.
They measured 0·65 by 0·52.
From Sikkim Mr. Gammie writes further: "This bird, I find, does not
build in bushes, but on the ground, or rather on low leaf or weed
heaps. It not unfrequently takes advantage of the small weed heaps
collected round the edges of native cultivations. On the tops of these
heaps it collects a lot of dry leaves, and places its nest among them.
It sits exceedingly close, only rising when almost stepped on.
"The nest is a rather deep cup, neatly made of dry grass and a
few leaves, and lined with fine roots, and the bare twigs of fine
grass-panicles. It measures externally about 3·2 inches in diameter by
2·8 in depth; internally 2 inches by 1·75.
"The eggs are three or four in number, and are laid in May from low
elevations up to about 3500 feet."
The eggs of this species, of which Mr. Gammie has now sent me two nests, are
of the regular Prinia type - typically broad ovals,
approximating to the peg-top type, but sometimes more elongated and
pointed towards the small end. They are very glossy and of a uniform
dull Indian red, deeper colored than any Prinia's that I have seen.
They vary from 0·65 to 0·69 in length, and from 0·48 to 0·52 in
No. 552 bis.--NEORNIS ASSIMILIS, Hodgs.
Mr. Gammie sent me a bird unmistakably of this species - Blyth's Aberrant Tree-Warbler--together with the lining of a nest and three eggs.
He says:--"The nest, eggs, and bird were brought to me on the 18th May by a native, who said the nest was placed in a shrub, about 6 feet from the ground, in a place filled with scrub near Rishap, at about 3500 feet above the sea. I noted at the time the man's account, but as I did not take the nest myself, I kept no account of it. All I know about it is written on the ticket attached to the nest sent to you. The bird was snared on the nest. Though I did not take it myself, I have little doubt that it is quite correct."
The lining of the nest is a little, soft, shallow saucer 2½ inches in diameter, composed of the finest and softest brown roots.
The eggs are somewhat of the same type as those of N. flavolivaceus, but in colour more resembling those of some of the ten-tail-feathered Prinias. They are very short broad ovals, pulled out and pointed towards one end, approximating to the peg-top type. They are very glossy and of a uniform Indian red; duller colored rather than those of the Prinias; not so deep or purple as those of N. flavolivaceus.
They measured 0·65 by 0·52.
From Sikkim Mr. Gammie writes further: "This bird, I find, does not build in bushes, but on the ground, or rather on low leaf or weed heaps. It not unfrequently takes advantage of the small weed heaps collected round the edges of native cultivations. On the tops of these heaps it collects a lot of dry leaves, and places its nest among them. It sits exceedingly close, only rising when almost stepped on.
"The nest is a rather deep cup, neatly made of dry grass and a few leaves, and lined with fine roots, and the bare twigs of fine grass-panicles. It measures externally about 3·2 inches in diameter by 2·8 in depth; internally 2 inches by 1·75.
"The eggs are three or four in number, and are laid in May from low elevations up to about 3500 feet."
The eggs of this species, of which Mr. Gammie has now sent me two nests, are of the regular Prinia type - typically broad ovals, approximating to the peg-top type, but sometimes more elongated and pointed towards the small end. They are very glossy and of a uniform dull Indian red, deeper colored than any Prinia's that I have seen.
They vary from 0·65 to 0·69 in length, and from 0·48 to 0·52 in breadth.]
Horornis fortipes, (Hodgson), Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 162.
According to Mr. Hodgson*, this Tree-Warbler breeds from May to July in the central region of Nepal. They build a tolerably compact and rather shallow cup-shaped nest of grass and dry bamboo-leaves, mingled with grass-roots and vegetable fibre and lined with feathers.
*[This note of Mr. Hodgson's refers to his plate No. 900. The birds in his collection bearing this number are Neornis assimilis, and are the same as Horornis fortipes.--ED.]
A nest taken on the 29th May measured externally 3·5 in diameter and 2 inches in height, and internally 2 inches in diameter by 1·37 in depth. It contained four eggs, which are figured as deep dull purple-red. Dr. Jerdon gave me two eggs, as I now feel certain, belonging to this species; there is no mistaking them, as they are the most wonderful colored eggs I ever saw; but as he was not certain to what species they belonged, I unfortunately threw them away. Mr. Hodgson figures the egg as a moderately broad oval, a good deal pointed towards one end, slightly glossy, and measuring 0·65 by 0·47.
Two nests and eggs, together with one of the parent birds, of the Strong-footed Bush-Warbler were sent me from Sikkim. Both nests were found in thick brushwood or low jungle, at elevations of 5000 to 5500 feet - the one at Lebong on the 12th June, the other on another spur of the same hill in July.
The nests were very similar - small massive cups, composed exteriorly of dry blades of grass and leaves, and lined internally with fine grass and a few feathers. Both nests exhibit this lining of feathers, so that it is no accident but a characteristic of the bird's architecture. In one nest a good deal more of the fine flower-panicle stems of grasses are intermingled than in the other. Externally the nests are about 4·5 in diameter and 2·5 in height; the cavity 2 inches in diameter and about 1·25 in depth.
Five more nests of this species have been taken by Mr. Mandelli in the neighborhood of Lebong, between the 18th May and 15th July; with one exception, where there were only three slightly set eggs, all the nests contained four more or less incubated ones. All the nests were placed in amongst the twigs of low brushwood at heights of from 1 to 3 feet from the ground, and all present the invariable characteristic feature of this species, namely, a greater or less admixture of feathers in the lining of the cavity. Examining the nests carefully, it will be seen that they are composed of three layers -exteriorly everywhere coarse blades of grass and straw loosely put together, inside this a mass of extremely fine panicle-stems of flowering grass, and then inside this the lining of moderately fine grass mingled with feathers. The nests vary a good deal in size, according to the thickness of the coarse outer layer and the extent to which this straggles; but they seem to be generally from 4 to 5 inches in diameter, and 2·5 in height, whilst the cavity is about 2 inches in diameter, and 1, or a little more than 1, in depth.
The eggs (each nest contained four) are sui generis, moderately broad regular ovals, with a decided but not brilliant gloss, and of a nearly uniform chocolate-purple. The eggs of one nest are of a slightly deeper shade than those of another, probably in consequence of one set being more incubated than the other. They vary in length from 0·66 to 0·69, and from 0·49 to 0·52 in breadth. I do not entertain the slightest doubt of these nests and eggs.
Mr. Mandelli has sent me many more eggs of this species, mostly deep chocolate-purple, but here and there an egg somewhat paler, what might be called a pinkish chocolate. They vary from 0·61 to 0·70 in length, and from 0·48 to 0·53 in breadth; but the average of fifteen eggs is 0·67 by 0·51 nearly.
Horeites pallidus, (Brooks), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 527 bis.
The Pale Bush-Warbler breeds in Kashmir, according to Mr. Brooks, during May. I know nothing either of the bird or its nidification myself. I have never even closely examined a specimen, and merely accept the species on Mr. Brooks's authority. He tells me that he found a nest on the 25th May at Kangan in Kashmir.
Mr. Brooks writes: "The nest of Horornis pallidus, which I found near Kangan in Kashmir, up the Sind Valley, was placed in tangled brushwood, and about five feet above the ground. It was on a slightly sloping bank, and close to the edge of a patch of jungle, not far from the right bank of the river.
"It was composed of coarse dry grass externally, with fine roots and fibres towards the inside of the nest, and was profusely lined with feathers. It was large for the bird, being 7 or 8 inches in external diameter, of a globular form, with the entrance at the side. I don't remember the size of the cavity of the nest, but its walls were very thick.
"In external appearance it was rough and clumsy, and looked more like a Sparrow's nest than that of a small Sylvine bird. The entrance was about 1¾ inch in diameter, and was with the interior of the nest neat and strong. Horornis pallidus occurs at from 5600 feet elevation up to 7000 and even 8000 feet. It was abundant at Suki up the Bhagirutti Valley, and I heard of one even at Gangotri."
The shape of the egg is peculiar, being rather flattened in outline at the sides and then suddenly rounded at the smaller end. There is a considerable amount of gloss on the surface, which is of a dull purple-brown, rather darker in tint at the large end. There are a very few indistinct cloudy markings of brown scattered here and there over the egg. In general appearance the egg puts one in mind of a Prinia's.
The egg measured 0·64 by 0·49.
Horeites pallidipes (Blanf.), Hume, cat. no. 527 quat.
Mr. Mandelli sent me two nests of this species. The one was found on the 24th May at Ging, near the Rungnoo River, Sikkim, and contained four fresh eggs; it was placed on the ground amongst coarse grass. The other, which was similarly placed, was found on the 29th June below Lebong at an elevation of about 4000 feet, and contained three fresh eggs. Both nests are rather coarse untidy little cups, some 3 inches in diameter, and 1·75 in height exteriorly, lined and mainly composed of very fine grass, but coated exteriorly everywhere with dry flags, bits of bamboo spathes, and with one or two dead leaves incorporated at the bottom of the structure.
Horeites major, (Hodgson), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 529 (err. 629).
A nest said to belong to the Large Bush-Warbler was sent in with one of the parent birds in July from near Lachong in Native Sikkim, where it was found at an elevation of about 14,000 feet. It was placed at a height of about a foot from the ground in a stunted thorny shrub common at these high elevations. It was a very warm little cup, about 3 inches in diameter, composed of the finest fern and moss-roots, tiny fern-leaves, wool, and numbers of the coarse white crinkly hairs of the burhel. It contained three fresh eggs, regular, slightly elongated ovals, a little pointed towards the small end; the shell fine and compact, but with scarcely any gloss.
The ground-colour is white with a faint greenish-blue tinge, and on the larger half of the egg excessively minute specks of brownish red are thinly sprinkled, except just at the crown of the egg, where the specks are denser and exhibit a tendency to form a tiny cap. On the smaller half of the egg very few, if any, specklings are to be traced. In length the eggs measure 0·7 and 0·71, and in breadth 0·53 to 0·55.
Orthotomus coronatus, (Jerdon & Blyth), Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 168; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 531.
Dr. Jerdon says: "A nest and eggs were brought to me, said to be those of this bird. The nest was similar to that of the last O. sutorius, but not so carefully made; the leaves were loosely attached, and with fewer stitches. The eggs were two in number, white, with rusty spots."
Horeites brunneifrons, (Hodgson), Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 163.
The egg is a rather broad oval, a good deal pointed towards the small end; the shell is pretty stout for the size of the egg, and is entirely devoid of gloss. The ground-colour is a pale drabby stone-colour, and all about the large end is a broad dense zone of dull brownish purple. The zone consists of a nearly confluent mass of extremely minute ill-defined speckles, and outside the zone similar speckles and tiny spots occur, though nowhere very noticeable unless closely examined.
Two eggs of this species were brought from Native Sikkim, together with one of the parent birds; they are regular ovals, slightly pointed towards the small end. The ground-colour is dull, glossless, pinky white; the markings consist chiefly of a broad ill-defined zone of dull dark purple; the other parts of the egg are sparingly, but pretty evenly speckled and spotted with pale purple.
The eggs measure 0·66 by 0·49 and 0·64 by 0·48*.
*[I cannot find any note about the nest of this species amongst Mr. Hume's papers. There is nothing beyond the above two notes on the eggs.--ED.]
Suya criniger, (Hodgson), Jerdon. B. Ind. ii, p. 183; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 547.
The Brown Hill-Warbler breeds throughout the Himalayas, at elevations of from 2000 to 6000 feet, at any rate from Sikkim, where it is comparatively rare, to the borders of Afghanistan. The breeding-season lasts from the beginning of May until the middle of July, but the majority of the birds lay during May.
A nest which I took at Dilloo, in the Kangra Valley, on the 26th May, was situated near the base of a low bush on the side of a steep hill; it was placed in the fork of several twigs near the centre of the bush, about 2 feet from the ground. It was an excessively flimsy deep cup, about 3 inches in diameter, and 2½ inches in depth internally. It was composed of downy seeds of grass held together externally by a few very fine blades of grass, and irregularly and loosely lined with excessively fine grass-stems.
Many other nests subsequently obtained were similar in their materials, the great body of the nest consisting of grass-down, slightly felted together and wound round with slender blades of grass. The nest, however, is by no means always cup-shaped; it is often covered in above, an aperture being left on one side near the top.
A nest which I found near Kotgarh is composed of fine grass very loosely and slightly put together, all the interspaces being carefully filled in with grass-down firmly felted together. The nest is nearly the shape of an egg, the entrance being on one side, and extending from about the middle to close to the top. The exterior dimensions of the nest are about 5½ inches for the major axis, and 3 inches for the minor. The entrance-aperture is circular, and about 2 inches in diameter. The thickness of the nest is a little over three eighths of an inch; but the lower portion, which is lined with very fine grass-stems, is somewhat thicker. The nest was in a thorny bush, partly suspended from just above the entrance-aperture and partly resting against, though not attached to, some neighboring twigs. It contained seven eggs, and was taken at Kirlee (Kotgarh) on the 30th May. Of course, the position of the nest was that of an egg standing on end and not lying on its side.
They lay from five to seven eggs, and have, I think two broods.
Dr. Jerdon states that "it makes a large, loosely constructed nest of fine grass, the opening near the top a little at one side, and lays three or four eggs of a fleshy white, with numerous small rusty-red spots tending to form a ring at the large end."
Writing about a collection of eggs made at Murree, Messrs. Cock and Marshall tell us: "Nest built in high jungle-grass, loosely but neatly made of very fine grass and cobwebs, opening at one side near the top. Breeds late in June at about 4000 feet elevation."
From Almorah Mr. Brooks writes that this species was "common on hill-sides where low bushes were numerous. One nest found was suspended in a low bush, and was a very neat purse-shaped one, with an opening near the top and rather on one side. It was composed of fine soft grass of a kind which had dried green, and was intermixed with the down of plants and lined with finer grass. The eggs were four in number; the ground-colour white, speckled sparingly with light red, but having also a broad zone or ring of deeper reddish brown very near the large end - on the top of the larger end, in fact.
"Laying in Kumaon in May."
From Mussoorie Captain Hutton remarks: "This little bird appears on the hill, at about 5000 feet, in May. A nest taken much lower down in June was composed of grasses neatly interwoven in the shape of an ovate ball, the smaller end uppermost and forming the mouth or entrance; it was lined first with cottony seed-down, and then with fine grass-stalks; it was suspended among high grass, and contained five beautiful little eggs of a carneous white colour, thicky freckled with deep rufous, and with a darkish confluent ring of the same at the larger end. I have seen this species as high as 7000 feet in October. It delights to sit on the summit of tall grass, or even of an oak, from whence it pours forth a loud and long-continued grating note like the filing of a saw."
Writing of Nepal, Dr. Scully says: "A nest taken on the 29th June contained only two fresh eggs. The nest was of the shape of a mango, the small end being uppermost, and the entrance on one side, near the top; its measurements externally were, in height 5·2, in breadth 3·6 in one direction and 2·65 in the other; the opening was nearly circular, 1·8 in diameter. It was rather flimsy in structure, composed of grass-down, more or less felted together, and bound round externally with dry green grass-blades; internally it was scantily lined with fine grass-stems, which were used to strengthen the lower lip of the entrance-hole. The eggs were fairly glossy, moderate or longish oval in shape, and measured 0·65 by 0·5 and 0·7 by 0·49; the ground-colour was pinkish white, the small end nearly free from markings, the middle portion with faint streaks and tiny indistinct spots of brownish red, and the large end with a zone of bright brownish red or a confluent cap of the same colour."
From Sikkim Mr. Gammie writes: "This Suya breeds from May to June in the warmest valleys up to 3500 feet. It affects open grassy tracts, and builds its nest in a bunch of grass, within a foot or two of the ground. The nest is an extremely neat egg-shaped structure, with entrance at side, made of fine grass-stems thickly felted over with the white seeds of a tall flowering grass, which gives it a very pretty appearance. Externally it measures 5 inches in height by 3 in diameter; the cavity is 2·25 wide and 2 deep, from lower edge of entrance. The entrance is about 2·25 across.
"The usual number of eggs is four. I have never found more, but on several occasions as few as two and three well-incubated eggs."
A nest of this species taken by Mr. Gammie near Mongphoo, on the 18th April, at an elevation of about 3000 feet, contained three fresh eggs. It closely resembles nests that I have taken of S. crinigera in shape, somewhat like an egg, with the entrance on one side, near the top, exteriorly about 5 inches in length, and 2¾ inches in diameter, with an aperture a little less than 2 inches across. It was built amongst grass, of which a few fine stalks constitute the outer framework, and the whole body of the nest inside this framework consists solely of the flower-down of grass firmly felted together. It is lined pretty thickly everywhere with the excessively fine stalks which bear this down.
Taking a large series, I should describe the eggs as typically regular but somewhat elongated ovals, often fairly glossy, at times almost glossless. The ground varies from pale pinky white to pale salmon-colour. A dense, more or less mottled, zone or cap at the large end, varying in different specimens from reddish pink to almost brick-red, and more or less of speckling, mottling, or freckling of a somewhat lighter shade than the zone spreads in some thinly, in some densely over the rest of the egg.
In length they vary from 0·63 to 0·75, and in breadth from 0·46 to 0·55; but the average of sixty-five eggs is 0·69 by 0·52.
*[I reproduce this article nearly as it appears in the 'Rough Draft;' but I have great doubts as to the occurrence of this bird in Kumaon, and I further doubt the identification of Hodgson's notes with this species. It is quite clear, from his specimens in the British Museum, that Hodgson confounded S. atrigularis in winter plumage with S. crinigera, and his plate of the former in summer plumage contains no note on nidification.--ED.]
Suya atrogularis, (Moore), Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 184; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 549.
The Black-throated Hill-Warbler breeds in Kumaon and the Himalayas eastwards from thence, at elevations of 4000 to 6000 feet.
The breeding-season lasts from April to July, but the birds mostly lay in May and June. Open grassy hillsides dotted about with scrub, thin forests, or gardens are the localities it affects. The nest is placed at times in some low bush surrounded with and grown through by grass, more commonly in clumps of grass, and never at any great height from the ground. It is more or less egg-shaped, and placed with the longer diameter vertical, the entrance being on one side above the middle. It is composed exteriorly sometimes of fine grass-roots, sometimes of the finest possible grass, loosely but sufficiently firmly interwoven, a little moss being often incorporated in the upper portion, and internally always, I think, exclusively of fine grass.
Four is perhaps the usual number of the eggs, but I have found five.
Mr. Gammie, writing from Sikkim, says: "I have found four nests of this species this year in the Chinchona reserves, at elevations of from 4500 to 5500 feet, during the months of May and June. The nests were all in open grassy country, in grass by the sides of low banks, and not above a foot off the ground. They are globular, with a lateral entrance, composed of grass, and with a little moss about the dome. One I measured was 5·5 high, and 4·5 in diameter externally; internally the nest was 2·4 in diameter, and the cavity had a total height of 3·9, of which 2 inches was below the lower edge of the entrance. According to my experience four is the regular complement of eggs. I have repeatedly (three times this year) shot the female off the nest, and beyond question Jerdon is wrong about this bird's laying Indian-red eggs."
According to Mr. Hodgson's notes, this species breeds in groves and open forest in Sikkim and the central region of Nepal from April to June, building a large globular nest in clumps of grass, of dry grass, roots, and moss, lined with fine grass and moss-roots. The entrance, which is circular, is at one side; the nest is egg-shaped, the longer diameter being perpendicular, and is placed at a height of about 6 inches from the ground. A nest taken on the 30th. May measured 6·12 in height and 3·5 in diameter externally, and the circular aperture, which was just above the middle, was 1·75 in diameter. It contained four eggs, which are represented as ovals, a good deal pointed towards one end, measuring 0·69 by 0·55. The ground-colour is a pale green, and they are speckled and spotted with bright red, the markings being most numerous towards the large end, where they have a tendency to form a zone or cap.
Dr. Jerdon says that "it makes its nest of fine grass and withered stalks, large, very loosely put together, globular, with a hole near the top, and lays three or four eggs of an entirely dull Indian-red colour." This undoubtedly is a mistake; the eggs he refers to are, I think, those of Neornis flavolivaceus. He gave them to me, but was not certain of the species they belonged to.
The eggs of the present species are of much the same shape as those of the preceding, and there is a certain similarity in the colour of both; but in these eggs the ground-colour instead of being pink or pinky white, is a pale, delicate, sometimes greyish, green. Then though there is the same kind of zone round the large end, it is a purple or purplish, instead of a brick-red, and it is manifestly made up of innumerable minute specks, and has not the cloudy confluent character of the zone in S. crinigera. Outside the zone minute specks of the same purplish red are scattered, in some pretty thickly, in others sparsely, over the whole of the rest of the surface. As a body the eggs have a faint gloss, decidedly less, however, than those of S. crinigera, but some few are absolutely glossless.
In length the eggs vary from 0·63 to 0·79, and in breadth from 0·46 to 0·43; but the average of forty-five eggs is 0·68 by 0·5.
Suya khasiana, (Godwin Austen), Hume, cat. no. 549 bis.
I found this bird high up in the eastern hills of Mauipur, frequenting dense herbaceous undergrowth of balsams and the like in forest. On the 11th of May I caught a female on her nest, containing four well-incubated eggs. The nest was placed in a wild ginger-plant, about two feet from the ground, in forest at the very summit of the Makhi hill.