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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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Order PASSERES     Family CORVIDAE     Subfamily CORVINAE     (continued...)

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23. Platysmurus leucopterus (Temm.). White-winged Jay

Platysmurus leucopterus (Temm.), Hume, Cat. no. 678 quint.

Mr. W. Davison writes:

"I found a nest of this bird on the 8th of April at the hot springs at Ulu Laugat. The nest was built on the frond of a Calamus, the end of which rested in the fork of a small sapling. The nest was a great coarse structure like a Crow's, but even more coarsely and irregularly built, and with the egg-cavity shallower. It was composed externally of small branches and twigs, and loosely lined with coarse fibres and strips of bark. It contained two young birds about a couple of days old. The nest was placed about 6 feet from the ground. The surrounding jungle was moderately thick, with a good deal of undergrowth."

24. Garrulus lanceolatus, Vigors. Black-throated Jay

Garrulus lanceolatus, (Vigors), Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 308; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 670.

The Black-throated Jay breeds throughout the Himalayas, at elevations of from 4000 to 8000 feet, from the Valley of Nepal to Murree. They lay from the middle of April until the middle of June.

They build on trees or thick bushes, never at any great height from the ground, and often within reach of the hand. They always, I think, choose a densely foliaged tree, and place the nest sometimes in a main fork and sometimes on some horizontal bough supported by one or more upright shoots.

All the nests I have seen were moderately shallow cups, built with slender twigs and sticks, some 6 inches in external diameter, and from less than 3 inches to nearly 4 inches in height, with a nest-cavity some 4 inches across and 2 inches deep, lined with grass and moss-roots. Once only I found a nest almost entirely composed of grass, and with no lining but fine grass-stems. The eggs vary from four to six, but this latter number is rarely met with.

Colonel C. H. T. Marshall writes: "This is one of the commonest birds about Murree; we always found it well to the front during our rambles, chattering about in the trees. They breed from the middle of April till the end of June. We have taken their eggs between the 20th April and the 16th June. They keep above 5000 feet. I never observed any in the lower ranges. The nest is not a difficult one to find, being large and of loose construction; from 15 to 30 feet up a medium-sized tree close to the trunk or sometimes in a large fork. They never seem to build in the spruce firs which abound about Murree. They are by no means shy birds, and hop about the trees close by while their nest is being examined. Five is the ordinary number of eggs, which differ very much in appearance and size: the longest I have measures 125 and the shortest 11. Some are paler, some darker; some are of a uniform pale greenish-ash colour with a darker ring, while others are thickly speckled and freckled with a darker shade of the same colour. Some lack the odd ink-scratch which is so often to be seen on the larger end, and is the most peculiar feature of the egg, while a few have it at the thinner end.

"I should describe the average type as a long egg for its breadth; ground-colour greenish ashy with very thick sprinklings of spots of a darker and more greenish shade of the same colour, a ring of a darker dull olive round the large end, on which are one or two lines that look like a haphazard scratch from a fine steel pen."

From Dharamshala Captain Cock wrote to me that this was "a most common bird at Dharamshala; appears in large flocks during the winter, and often mixes with Garrulus bispecularis and Urocissa flavirostris. Pairs off about the end of April, when nidification begins. Builds a rather rough nest of sticks, generally placed on a tall sapling oak near the top; sometimes among the thicker branches of a pollard oak: outer nest small twigs roughly put together; inner nest dry roots and fibres, rather deep cup-shaped. Eggs number from four to five and vary in shape. I have found them sometimes nearly round, but more generally the usual shape. They vary in their colour, too, some being much lighter than others, but most of them have a few hair-like streaks on the larger end."

From Mussoorie Captain Hutton tells us that "the Black-throated Jay breeds in May and June, placing the nest sometimes on the branch of a tall oak tree (Quercus incana), at other times in a thick bush. It is composed of a foundation of twigs, and lined with fine roots of grass etc. mixed with the long black fibres of ferns and mosses, which hang upon the forest trees, and have much the appearance of black horse-hair. The nest is cup-shaped, rather shallow, loosely put together, circular, and about 4 inches in diameter. The eggs are sometimes three, sometimes four in number, of a greenish stone-grey, freckled, chiefly at the larger end, with dusky and a few black hair-like streaks, which are not always present; they vary also in the amount of dusky freckling at the larger end. The nestling bird is devoid of the lanceolate markings on the throat."

From Nainital Colonel G. F. L. Marshall writes: "The Black-throated Jay builds a very small cup-shaped nest of black hair-like creepers and roots, intertwined and placed in a rough irregular casing of twigs. A nest found on the 2nd June containing three hard-set eggs was placed conspicuously on the top of a young oak sapling about 7 feet high, standing alone in an open glade, in the forest on Aya Pata, which is about 7000 feet above the sea. Another nest, found at an elevation of about 4500 feet on the 9th June, contained two eggs; it was placed about 10 feet from the ground in a small tree in a hedgerow amongst cultivated fields."

Mr. Hodgson notes from Jaha Powah: "Found five nests of this species between 18th and 30th May. Builds near the tops of moderate-sized trees in open districts, making a very shallow nest of thin elastic grasses sparingly used and without lining. The nest is placed on some horizontal branch against some upright twig, or at some horizontal fork. It is nearly round and has a diameter of about 6 inches. They lay three or four eggs of a sordid vernal green clouded with obscure brown."

The eggs are somewhat lengthened ovals, very much smaller than, though so far as coloration goes very similar to, those of G. glandarius. The ground-colour in some is a brown stone colour, in others pale greenish white, and intermediate shades occur, and they are very minutely and feebly freckled and mottled over the whole surface with a somewhat pale sepia-brown. This mottling differs much in intensity; in some few eggs indeed it is absolutely wanting, while in others, though feeble elsewhere, it forms a distinct, though undefined, brownish cap or zone at the large end. The eggs generally have little or no gloss. It is not uncommon to find a few hair-like dark brown lines, more or less zigzag, about the larger end.

In length they vary from 103 to 123, and in breadth from 078 to 088; but the average of twenty-four eggs is 112 by 085.

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