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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 29

Order PASSERES     Family STURNIDAE
 

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537. Sturnia blythii (Jerdon). Blyth's Myna

Temenuchus blythii (Jerdon), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 331. Sturnia blythii (Jerdon), Hume, cat. no. 689.

Mr. Iver Macpherson sent me from Mysore three eggs and a skin of a Myna, which latter, although in very bad order, is undoubtedly S. Blythii. He says: "It is very possible that the bird now sent is S. malabarica, and it is such a bad specimen that I fear it will not be of much use to you for the purpose of identification. I think it is Sturnia blythii, as Jerdon says that S. malabarica is only a cold-weather visitant in the south of India.

"I will, however, try and procure you a good specimen of the bird. It is only found in our forests bordering the Wynaad, and as it is far from common, I am not well acquainted with it. I am also inclined to think that it is not a permanent resident with us, but that a few couples come to these forests only to breed.

"The only nest I have ever found was taken on the 24th April, 1880, and was in a hole of a dry standing tree in a clearing made for a teak plantation and contained three fresh eggs. A few days subsequently I saw a brood of young ones flying about a dry tree in the forest, so probably the breeding-season here extends through April and May."

The eggs are very similar to those of Sturnia malabarica and S. nemoricola, but perhaps slightly larger. They are moderately elongated ovals, generally decidedly pointed towards the small end. The shell is very fine and smooth, and has a fair amount of gloss. In colour they are a very delicate pale greenish blue. They measure 099 and 1 in length by 071 in breadth.


538. Sturnia malabarica (Gm.). Grey-headed Myna

Temenuchus malabaricus (Gm.), Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 330; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 688.

I have never met with the nest of the Grey-headed Myna myself, but am indebted to Mr. Gammie for its eggs and nest. That gentleman says: "I obtained a nest of this species near Mongphoo (14 miles from Darjeeling), at an elevation of about 3400 feet. The nest was in the hollow of a tree, and was a shallow pad of fine twigs, with long strips of bark intermingled in the base of the structure, and thinly lined with very fine grass-stems. The nest was about 4 inches in diameter and less than 1 inch in height exteriorly, and interiorly the depression was perhaps half an inch deep. It contained four hard-set eggs."

This year he writes to me: "The Grey-headed Myna breeds about Mongphoo, laying in May and June. I have taken several nests now, and I found that they prefer cleared tracts where only a few trees have been left standing here and there, especially on low but breezy ridges, at elevations of from 2500 to 4000 feet. They always nest in natural holes of trees both dead and living, and at any height from 20 to 50 feet from the ground. The nest is shallow, principally composed of twigs put roughly together in the bottom of the hole. They lay four or five eggs.

"The Grey-headed Myna is not a winter resident in the hills. It arrives in early spring and leaves in autumn. It is very abundant on the outer ranges of the Teesta Valley, and is generally found in those places frequented by Artamus fuscus. It feeds about equally on trees and on the ground, and a flock of 40 or 50 feeding on the ground in the early morning is no unusual sight."

Mr. J. R. Cripps, writing from Fureedpore, Eastern Bengal, says: "Very common from the end of April to October, after which a few birds may be seen at times. I cannot call to mind ever having seen these birds descend to the ground. They must nest here, though I failed to find one. In front of my verandah was a large Poinciana regia, in the trunk of which, and at about seven feet from the ground, was an old nest-hole of Xantholaema which a pair of these birds widened out. During all May and June I watched these birds pecking away at the rotten wood and throwing the bits out. They generally used to engage in this work during the heat of the day; and, although I several times searched the hole, no eggs were found; the pair were not pecking at the decayed wood for insects, for I watched them through a glass. Had I remained another month at the factory most likely they would have laid during that time; it was on this account their lives were spared. This species associates with its congeners on the peepul trees when they are in fruit, which they eat greedily."

Subsequently detailing his experiences at Dibrugarh in Assam, he adds: "On the 27th May I found a nest with three callow young and one fresh egg. The birds had excavated a hole in a rotten and dead tree about 18 feet from the ground, and had placed a pad of leaves only at the bottom of the hole. They build both in forest as well as the open cultivated parts of the country."

Mr. Oates remarks: "This Myna lays in Pegu in holes of trees at all heights above 20 feet. It selects a hole which is difficult of access, and I have only been able to take one nest. This was on the 13th May. This nest, a small pad of grass and leaves, contained three eggs, which were slightly incubated. They measured 086 by 07, 08 by 07, and 083 by 072."

Major C. T. Bingham writes from Tenasserim: "I shot a Myna as she flew out of a hole in a zimbun tree (Dillenia pentagyna). I had nearly a fortnight before seen the birds; there was a pair of them, busy taking straw and grass-roots into the hole; and so on the 18th April, when I shot the birds, I made sure of finding the full complement of eggs, but to my regret on opening the hollow, I only found one egg resting in a loose and irregularly formed nest of roots and leaves. This solitary egg is of a pale blue colour."

The eggs vary a good deal in shape: some are broad and some are elongated ovals, but all are more or less pointed towards the small end; the shell is very fine and delicate, and rather glossy; the colour is a very delicate pale sea-green, without any markings of any kind. They vary from 089 to 10 in length, and from 069 to 072 in breadth; but the average of ten eggs is 093 by 07.


539. Sturnia nemoricola, Jerdon. White-winged Myna

Sturnia nemoricola, (Jerdon), Hume, cat. no. 688 bis.

Mr. Gates writes from Lower Pegu: "Of S. nemoricola I have taken two sets of eggs: one set of two eggs fresh, and one of three on the point of being hatched; the former on 12th May, the latter on 6th June. In size the two clutches vary extraordinarily. The first two eggs measure 82 x 62 and 85 x 63; the second lot measure 101 x 7, 10 x 7, and 10 x 7.

"The eggs are very glossy, and the colour is a uniform dark greenish blue, of much the same tint as the egg of Acridotheres tristis."


543. Ampeliceps coronatus, Blyth. Gold-crest Myna

Ampeliceps coronatus, (Blyth), Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 693 sex; id. cat. no. 693 ter.

Of the nidification of this beautiful species, the Gold-crest Myna, we possess but little information. My friend Mr. Davison, who has secured many specimens of the bird, writes: "On the 13th April, 1874, two miles from the town of Tavoy, on a low range of hills about 200 feet above the sea-level, I found a nest of the Gold-crest Grakle. The nest was about 20 feet from the ground in a hole in the branch of a large tree. It was composed entirely of coarse dry grass, mixed with dried leaves, twigs, and bits of bark, but contained no feathers, rags, or such substances as are usually found in the nests of the other Mynas. The nest contained three young ones only a day or two old."
 

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