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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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62. Dryonastes ruficollis (J. & S.)  Rufous-necked Laughing-Thrush

Garrulax ruticollis (J. & S.), Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 38; Hume, Rough Draft N.& E. no. 410.

Of the Rufous-necked Laughing-Thrush, Mr. Blyth remarks: "Mr. Hodgson figures the egg of a fine green colour."

The egg is not figured in my collection of Mr. Hodgson's drawings.

Writing from near Darjeeling, in Sikkim, Mr. Gammie says: "I have seen two nests of this bird; both were in bramble-bushes about five feet from the ground, and exactly resembled those of Dryonastes caerulatus, only they were a little smaller. One nest had three young ones, the other three very pale blue unspotted eggs, which I left in the nest intending to get them in another day or two, as I wanted to see if more eggs would be laid, but when I went back to the place the nest had been taken away by some one. Both nests were found here in May, one at 3500 feet, the other at 4500 feet.

"I have taken numerous nests of this species from April to June, from the warmest elevations up to about 4000 feet. They are cup-shaped; composed of dry leaves and small climber-stems, and lined with a few fibrous roots. They measure externally about 5 inches in width by 35 in depth; internally 325 across by 225 deep. Usually they are found in scrubby jungle, fixed in bushes, within five or six feet of the ground. The eggs are three or four in number."

Many nests of this species sent me from Sikkim by my friends Messrs. Mandelli and Gammie are all precisely of the same type - deep and rather compact cups, varying from 5 to 6 inches in external diameter, and 325 to 375 in height; the cavities about 325 in diameter and 225 in depth. The nest is composed almost entirely of dry bamboo-leaves bound together loosely with stems of creepers or roots, and the cavity is lined with black and brown rootlets, generally not very fine. They seem never to be placed at any very great elevation from the ground.

The eggs of this species, of which I have received a very large number from Mr. Gammie, are distinguishable at once from those of all the other species of this group with which I am acquainted. Just as the egg of Garrulax albigularis is distinguished by its very deep tone of coloration, the egg of the present species is distinguished by its extreme paleness. In shape the eggs are moderately broad ovals, often, however, somewhat pyriform, often a good deal pointed towards the small end. The shell is extremely fine and smooth, and has a very fine gloss; they may be said to be almost white with a delicate bluish-green tinge. In length they vary from 095 to 11, in breadth from 06 to 083; but the average of forty-one eggs is 102 by 075.

65. Dryonastes caerulatus (Hodgs.). Grey-sided Laughing-Thrush

Garrulax caerulatus (Hodgson), Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 36; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 408.

A nest of the Grey-sided Laughing-Thrush found by Mr. Gammie on the 17th June near Darjeeling, below Rishap, at an elevation of about 3500 feet, was placed in a shrub, at a height of about six feet from the ground, and contained one fresh egg. It was a large, deep, compact cup, measuring about 55 inches in external diameter and about 4 in height, the egg-cavity being 4 inches in diameter and 2 inches in depth. Externally it was entirely composed of very broad flag-like grass-leaves firmly twisted together, and internally of coarse black grass and moss-roots very neatly and compactly put together. The nest had no other lining.

This year (1874) Mr. Gammie writes: "This species breeds in Sikkim in May and Jane. I have found the nests in our Chinchona reserves, at various elevations from 3500 to 5000 feet, always in forests with a more or less dense undergrowth. The nest is placed in trees, at heights of from 6 to 12 feet from the ground, between and firmly attached to several slender upright shoots. It is cup-shaped, usually rather shallow, composed of dry bamboo-leaves and twigs and lined with root-fibres. One I measured was 5 inches in diameter by 25 in height exteriorly; the cavity was 4 inches across and only 13 deep. Of course they vary slightly. As far as my experience goes, they do not lay more than three eggs; indeed, at times only two."

Dr. Jerdon remarks that "a nest and eggs, said to be of this bird, were brought to me at Darjeeling; the nest loosely made with roots and grass, and containing two pale blue eggs."

One nest of this species taken in Native Sikkim in July, was placed in the fork of four leafy twigs, and was in shape a slightly truncated inverted cone, nearly 7 inches in height and 55 in diameter at the base of the cone, which was uppermost. The leaves attached to the twigs almost completely enveloped it. The nest itself was composed almost entirely of stems of creepers, several of which were wound round the living leaves of the twigs so as to hold them in position on the outside of the nest; a few bamboo-leaves were intermingled with the creeper's stems in the body of the nest. The cavity, which is almost perfectly hemispherical, only rather deeper, is 35 inches in diameter and 225 in depth, and is entirely and very neatly lined with very fine black roots. Another nest, which was taken at Rishap on the 21st May, with two fresh eggs, was placed in some small bamboos at a height of about 10 feet from the ground, it is composed externally entirely of dry bamboo-leaves, loosely tied together by a few creepers and a little vegetable fibre, and it is lined pretty thickly with fine black fibrous roots. This nest is about 6 inches in diameter and 35 high exteriorly, while the cavity measures 35 by 2.

The eggs sent me by Mr. Gammie are a beautiful clear, rather pale, greenish blue, without any spots or markings. They have a slight gloss. In shape they are typically much elongated and somewhat pyriform ovals, very obtuse at both ends; but moderately broad examples are met with. In length they vary from 105 to 133, and in breadth from 076 to 086; but the average of thirty-five eggs is 118 nearly by 082 nearly.

69. Garrulax leucolophus (Hardw.). Himalayan White-crested Laughing-Thrush

Garrulax leucolophus (Hardw.), Jerdon B, Ind. ii, p. 35; Hume. Rough Draft N. & E. no. 407.

According to Mr. Hodgson's notes, the Himalayan White-crested Laughing-Thrush breeds at various elevations in Sikkim and Nepal, from the Terai to an elevation of 5000 or 6000 feet, from April to June. It lays from four to six eggs, which are described and figured as pure white, very broad ovals, measuring 12 by 09. It breeds, we are told, in small trees, constructing a rude cup-shaped nest amongst a clamp of shoots, or between a number of slender twigs, of dry bamboo-leaves, creepers, scales of the turmeric plant, etc., and lined with fine roots.

Dr. Jerdon says: "I have had the nest and eggs brought me more than once when at Darjeeling, the former being a large mass of roots, moss, and grass, with a few pure white eggs."

One nest taken in July at Darjeeling was placed on the outer branches of a tree, at about the height of 8 feet from the ground. It was a very broad shallow saucer, 8 inches in diameter, about an inch in thickness, and with a depression of about an inch in depth. It was composed of dead bamboo-leaves bound together with creepers, and lined thinly with coarse roots. It contained four fresh eggs. Other similar nests contained four or three eggs each.

From Sikkim, Mr. Gammie writes: "I have found this Laughing-Thrush breeding in May and June, up to about 3500 feet; I have rarely seen it at higher elevations, and cannot but think that Mr. Hodgson is mistaken in stating that it breeds up to 5000 or 6000 feet. The nests are generally placed in shrubs, within reach of the hand, among low, dense jungle, and are rather loosely built cup-shaped structures, composed of twigs and grass, and lined with fibrous roots. Externally they measure about 6 inches in diameter by 35 in depth; internally 4 by 225.

"The eggs are usually four or five in number, but on several occasions I have found as few as two well-set eggs."

Numerous nests of this species have now been sent me, taken in May, June, and July, at elevations of from 2000 to fully 4000 feet, and in one case it is said 5000. They are all very similar, large, very shallow cups, from 6 to nearly 8 inches in external diameter, and from 25 to 35 in height; exteriorly all are composed of coarse grass, of bamboo-spathes, with occasionally a few dead leaves intermingled, loosely wound round with creepers or pliant twigs, while interiorly they are composed and lined with black, only moderately fine roots or pliant flower-stems of some flowering-tree, or both. Sometimes the exterior coating of grass is not very coarse; at other times bamboo-spathes exclusively are used, and the nest seems to be completely packed up in these.

The eggs of this species are broad ovals, pure white and glossy. They vary from 105 to 113 in length, and from 086 to 095 in width, but the average of eighteen eggs is a little over 11 by 09.

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