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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 24b

Order PASSERES     Family LANIIDAE   Subfamily LANIINAE (continued...) & ARTAMINAE 
 

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490. Pericrocotus speciosus (Lath.). Indian Scarlet Minivet

Pericrocotus speciosus (Latham). Jerdon B. Ind. i, p. 419; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 271.

Captain Hutton records that the Indian Scarlet Minivet breeds both on the Doon and in the hills overlooking it, to an elevation of about 5000 feet. He says: "The nest is generally placed high up on the branch of some tall tree, often overhanging the side of a fearful precipice. On the 6th and 17th of June I procured two nests in ravines opening upon the Doon, one of which contained four, and the other five eggs, of a dull-white colour, sparingly spotted and blotched with earthy brown, more thickly so at the larger end, where they form an open ring of spots; other small blotches of a fainter colour are seen beneath the shell.

"It is a curious fact that in the latter nest, out of the five eggs three were ringed at the larger end, and the other two at the smaller end. The nest is rather coarsely made, being very thick at the sides, and the materials not neatly interwoven; it is composed externally of dried grasses and the fine stalks of various small plants, interspersed with bits of cotton and grass-roots, and lined with the fine seed-stalks of small grasses."

I am not at all sure that there is not some mistake here. The nest described is rather that of L. erythronotus than of any of the Pericrocoti, and but for the excellent authority on which the above rests, I should certainly not have accepted it.

This species breeds in the forests of the central hills of Nepal; recording to Mr. Hodgson's notes and drawings they begin laying about April, and lay three or four eggs, which are neither described nor figured. The nest is a beautiful deep cup externally about 325 inches in diameter, and rather more than 2 inches high, composed of moss and moss-roots lined internally with the latter, and entirely coated exteriorly with lichen and a few stray pieces of green moss firmly secured in their places by spiders' webs. The nest is placed in some slender branch between three or four upright sprays. This, I may note, is just the kind of nest one would have expected this Large Minivet to build.

The only specimens, supposed to be the eggs of this species, that I possess I owe to Captain Hutton. They closely resemble the eggs of L. erythronotus, but are perhaps shorter, and hence look broader than those of this latter. They are slightly bigger than the eggs of L. vittatus. In shape they seem to be typically a slightly broader oval than those of any of our true Shrikes, but elongated and pointed examples occur. Their ground-colour is a very pale greyish white, thickly spotted all over the large end, and thickly dotted elsewhere, with specks, spots, and tiny blotches of pale yellowish brown and pale inky-purple. Compared with the eggs of the other Pericrocoti, they are very dingily colored. The eggs are devoid of gloss. I am doubtful about these eggs.

In length they vary from 088 to 093 inch, and in breadth from 072 to 075 inch; but the average of five eggs is 09 by 072 inch.


494. Pericrocotus flammeus (Forst.). Orange Minivet

Pericrocotus flammeus (Forst.), Jerdon B. Ind. i, p. 420; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 272.

The Orange Minivet lays, I believe, in June and July on the Nilgiris. I have never taken a nest myself, but I have received several, with a few words in regard to them, from Miss Cockburn.

The nests are comparatively massive little cups placed on, or sometimes in, the forks of slender boughs. They are usually composed of excessively fine twigs, the size of fir-needles, and they are densely plastered over the whole exterior surface with greenish-grey lichen, so closely and cleverly put together that the side of the nest looks exactly like a piece of a lichen-covered branch. There appears to be no lining, and the eggs are laid on the fine little twigs which compose the body of the nest.

The nests are externally from 3 to 3 inches in diameter, and about 1 inch deep, with an egg-cavity about 2 inches in diameter and about inch in depth. Some, however, when placed in a fork are much deeper and narrower, say externally 2 inches in diameter and the same height; the egg-cavity about 1 inch in diameter and 1 inch in depth.

Miss Cockburn notes that one nest was found on the 24th of June on a high tree, the nest being placed on a thin branch between 30 or 40 feet from the ground. It contained a single fresh egg, which was broken in the fall of the branch, which had to be cut. This egg, the remains of which were sent me, had a pale greenish ground, and was pretty thickly streaked and spotted, most thickly so at the large end, with pale yellowish brown and pale rather dingy-purple, the latter colour predominating.

Another egg which she subsequently sent me, obtained on the 17th of July, is a regular, moderately elongated oval, a little pointed towards one end. The shell is fine, but glossless. The ground is a delicate pale sea-green or greenish white, and it is rather sparsely spotted and speckled with pale yellowish brown. Only one or two purplish-grey specks are to be detected on this egg; it measures 09 by 067.

Mr. J. Darling, junior, sends me the following note: "I had the good fortune to find a nest of the Orange Minivet at Neddivattam, about 6000 feet above the level of the sea, on the 5th September, 1870. It was placed on a tall tree near the edge of a jungle and was built in a fork, about 30 feet from the ground.

"The nest was built of small twigs and grasses, and covered on the outside with lichens, moss, and cobwebs, making it appear as part and parcel of the tree. I noticed it merely from the fact of seeing the bird sitting on her nest, and even then could not make up my mind, and came away. Being of an inquisitive nature, next day I went again and saw the bird in the same place, so I climbed up and managed to pull the nest towards me with a hook, and took two eggs, one of which I send you.

"In August 1874 at Vythory I saw a bird sitting on her nest, and watched her rear and take away her brood, but could not get at the nest."

An egg sent me by Mr. Darling is very similar to the eggs sent me by Miss Cockburn, except that the brown markings are rather more numerous, especially in a broad zone round the large end, and that with these a good many pale purple or lilac spots or specks are intermingled. It measures 088 by 068 inch.
 

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