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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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Family CRATEROPODIDAE     Subfamily CRATEROPODINAE
 

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70. Garrulax belangeri, Less. Burmese White-crested Laughing-Thrush

Garrulax belangeri, (Less.), Hume, Cat. no. 407 bis.

Mr. Oates, who found the nest of this bird many years ago in Burma, has the following note: "Nest in a bush a few feet from the ground, on the 8th June, near Pegu. In shape hemispherical, the foundation being of small branches and leaves of the bamboo, and the interior and sides of small branches of the coarser weeds and fine twigs. The latter form the egg-chamber lining and are nicely curved. Exterior and interior diameters respectively 7 and 3 inches. Total depth 3 and interior depth 2 inches. Three eggs, pure white and highly glossy, and they measure 114 by 87, 11 by 88, and 103 by 086."

The nests of this species are large, loosely constructed cups, much resembling those of its Himalayan congeners. The base and sides consist chiefly of dry bamboo-leaves with a few dead tree-leaves scantily held together by a few creepers, while the interior portion of the nest, which has no separate lining, is composed of fine twigs and stems of herbaceous plants and the slender flower-stems of trees which bear their flowers in clusters. The nests vary a good deal in exterior dimensions as the materials straggle far and wide in some cases, and the external diameter may be said to vary from 6 to 8 inches, and the height from 325 to 45; the cavities are more uniform in size, and are about 35 in diameter by 2 in depth.

The eggs are moderately broad ovals, at times somewhat pointed perhaps towards the small end, pure white and fairly glossy.

Major C. T. Bingham thus writes of this bird: "It is very difficult to either watch these birds, unseen yourself, at one of their dancing parties, or to catch one of them actually sitting on the nest. Twice had I in the end of March this year come across nests with one or two of these birds in the vicinity, and yet have had to leave the eggs in them as uncertain to what bird they belonged. At last, on the 2nd April, I came in for a piece of luck. I was roaming about in the vicinity of my camp on the Gawbechoung, the main source of the Thoungyeen river, and moving very slowly and silently amid the dense clumps of bamboo, when my ears were saluted by the hearty laughter of a flock of these birds, evidently not far off. Very quietly I crept up, and looking cautiously from behind a thick bamboo-clump, saw ten or twelve of them going through a most intricate dance, flirting their wings and tails, and every now and then bursting into a chorus of shouts, joined in by a few others who were seated looking on from neighboring bushes. During one of the pauses of the applause, and while the dancers were busy twining in and out, a single rather squeaky 'bravo' came from a bamboo-bush right opposite to me. Looking up I was astonished to see a nest in a fork of the bamboo, and on the nest a Garrulax who, probably too busy with her maternal duties to watch the performance going on below her attentively, came in with a solitary shout of approbation at an unseemly time. I watched the performance a few minutes longer, and then frightened the old hen on the nest. The terrific scare I caused by my sudden appearance is beyond description. The dancers scattered with screeches, and the old hen dropped fainting over the side of her nest with a feeble remonstrance, and disappeared in the most mysterious way. After all the nest contained only one egg, very glossy, white, and fresh. The nest was better and stronger built, though very like that of Garrulax moniliger, constructed of twigs, and finely lined with black hair-like roots; it measured some 6 inches in diameter, the egg-cavity about 1 inch deep. Subsequently I took three other nests, on the 4th April and 23rd May. The first contained three, the two latter three and four eggs respectively. A considerable number of eggs measure from 122 to 106 in length, and from 92 to 81 in breadth, and average 113 by 088."


72. Garrulax pectoralis (Gould). Black-gorgeted Laughing-Thrush

Garrulax pectoralis (Gould), Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 39; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 412.

Mr. Oates tells us that he "found the nest of the Black-gorgeted Laughing-Thrush in the Pegu Hills, on the 27th April, containing three fresh eggs; the bird was sitting. The nest was placed in a bamboo-clump about 7 feet from the ground, made outwardly of dead bamboo-leaves and coarse roots, lined with finer roots and a few feathers; inside diameter 6 inches, depth 2 inches. Two eggs measured 104 by 083 and 086. Colour, a beautiful clear blue."

One of these eggs sent by Mr. Oates* seems rather small for the bird. It is a very broad, slightly pyriform oval, of a uniform pale greenish-blue tint, and very fairly glossy. It measures 105 by 087.

*[I fear I may have made a mistake in identifying the nest referred to. With this caution, however, I allow my note to stand.--ED.]

This egg appears to me to be an abnormally small one. A nest sent me from Sikkim, where it was found in July, contained much larger eggs, and more in proportion to the size of the bird. The nest I refer to was placed in a clump of bamboos about 5 feet from the ground. It was a tolerably compact, moderately deep, saucer-shaped nest, between 6 and 7 inches in diameter, composed of dead bamboo-sheaths and leaves bound together with creepers and herbaceous stems, and thinly lined with roots. It contained two eggs. These are rather broad ovals, somewhat pointed towards one end, of a uniform pale greenish blue, and are fairly glossy.

These eggs measured 133 and 130 in length, and 098 in breadth.

Mr. Mandelli sent me two nests of this species, both taken in Native Sikkim, the one on the 4th, the other on the 20th July. Each contained two fresh eggs. One was placed in a small tree in heavy jungle, at a height of about 6 feet from the ground, the other in a clump of bamboos a, foot lower. Both are large, coarse, saucer-shaped nests, 7 to 8 inches in diameter, and 35 to 4 in height externally; the cavities are about 45 inches in diameter, and less than 2 in depth; the basal portion of the nests is composed entirely of dry leaves, chiefly those of the bamboo, loosely held together by a few stems of creepers; the sides of the nest are stems of creepers wound round and round and loosely intertwined, and the cavity is lined with rather coarse rootlets, and in one case with fine twigs.


73. Garrulax moniliger (Hodgs.). Necklaced Laughing-Thrush

Garrulax moniliger (Hodgson) Jerdon B. Ind. ii, p. 40; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 413.

Of the Necklaced Laughing-Thrush Dr. Jerdon says: "I procured both this and the last (the Black-gorgeted Laughing-Thrush) at Darjeeling, and have also seen one or both in Sylhet, Cachar, and Upper Burma. They both associate in large flocks, and frequent more open forest than most of the previous species. The eggs are greenish blue."

From Sikkim, Mr. Gammie writes: "In the first week of June I found a nest in low jungle, at 2000 feet, containing four greenish-blue eggs, but, as I did not see the bird, left it until my return a week later. I then saw the female, but in the interval the young had been hatched. The nest closely resembled that of D. caerulatus, both in shape and composition, and was similarly situated between several upright slender shoots to which it was firmly attached. It was, however, within five feet of the ground, which is lower by 5 feet or so than D. caerulatus generally builds.

"I have found this species breeding from April to June, up to elevations not much exceeding 2500 feet. It affects the low, dense scrub growing in moist situations, and usually fixes its nest between several upright sprays, within 5 or 6 feet of the ground. The nest is cup-shaped, made of dry bamboo-leaves, intermixed with a very few pieces of climber-stems, and thickly lined with old leaf-stalks of some pinnate-leaved tree. Externally it measures about 55 inches in diameter by 4 in height; internally 35 by 275.

"The eggs are four or five in number."

Mr. Oates writes: "On the 27th April I shot a female in the Pegu Hills off her nest. This latter contained one young one, and one deformed egg, which unfortunately got broken; colour a deep blue. The nest was placed in a small seedling bamboo about 6 feet from the ground at a joint where a number of small twigs shot out, inverted umbrella fashion. The nest in every respect closely resembled that of G. pectoralis."

He subsequently remarked: "Breeds in Lower Pegu chiefly in July. Average of six eggs, 116 by 88; colour, very glossy deep blue. Nest placed in forks of saplings within reach of the hand, massive, cup-shaped, and made of dead leaves and small branches; lined with fine twigs. Outside diameter 7 inches and depth 4; interior 4 by 2."

A nest found below Darjeeling in the first week of June on the branch of a good-sized tree, at a height of 12 feet from the ground, was similar to that described by Mr. Gammie, and contained a single fresh egg. This is a moderately broad oval, somewhat pointed towards the small end, and exhibits very little gloss. It is of precisely the same colour as those of the preceding species, but measures only 12 in length by 09 in breadth.

Writing from Tenasserim, Major C. T. Bingham says: "Between the 25th March and 28th April I found at least twenty nests of this bird. They were broad, shallow cups of roots and twigs, lined with fine black grass-roots, and placed at heights varying from 4 to 10 feet above the ground, invariably in the forks of low bamboo. The number of eggs varied from 3 to 5; blue in colour, and fairly glossy."

Numerous nests from Sikkim, Pegu, and Tenasserim are all of precisely the same type as described by Mr. Gammie; but some are fully 7 inches in external diameter, and in several the cavity is at least 4 inches in diameter.

The eggs of this species obtained by Mr. Gammie vary very much in size and shape, and somewhat in colour. Some are considerably elongated ovals, with a marked pyriform tendency. Others are particularly broad ovals for this class of egg. The shell is fine and compact, and as a rule they seem to have a fine gloss; but one or two specimens almost want this. In colour they are a pale, clear, slightly greenish blue, unspotted and unmarked. In length they vary from 101 to 113, and in breadth from 081 to 09, but the average of thirteen is 107 by 085.
 

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