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Genus CHRYSOCOLAPTES, Blyth, 1843
Bill stout and long, culmen nearly straight; nasal ridge strongly marked, commencing at base of bill halfway between culmen and commissure; nostrils elongate, exposed. Feet large, first or hind toe well developed; fourth toe longer than third; claws very large. Head large and conspicuously crested, neck very small. Outer pair of tail-feathers just exceeding the coverts in length. Plumage very like that of Brachypternus; yellow or red above; white, the feathers edged with black, below.
Key to the Species
Coloration: Bill dusky blackish; irides crimson; legs and feet horny plumbeous Jerdon). Male. Forehead with large buffy-white spots on a brown ground; long feathers of crown and occiput crimson, a black border, often mixed with white anteriorly, to the crown; hind neck and middle of upper back white; remainder of back, scapulars, smaller wing-coverts along the forearm, tail-coverts and tail black; larger and median secondary-coverts olive with golden-yellow edges, outer webs of secondaries golden olive, rest of quill-feathers brownish black, all outer webs with spots, brownish or greenish outside, white inside, inner webs with large white spots; sides of head and neck and underparts white or buffy white, except a broad black band from each eye down the side of the neck, two black lines on each malar region, the two meeting at the side of the throat, and a median line clown the throat, or five lines in all; breast-feathers with broad black lateral margins producing a striped appearance, abdominal with narrower and less defined borders; under tail-coverts mixed black and white. Female, Coronal and occipital feathers golden yellow, broad forehead spotted as in the male.
In young males the crest- feathers are dull scarlet, in young females the yellow crest-feathers have red tips.
Size: Length about 12.5; tail 3.5; wing 6.25; tarsus 1.1; bill from gape 2.2
Distribution: This Woodpecker is found throughout the greater part of the Indian peninsula and Ceylon, in forest-tracts, ranging to Dehradoon and the Oudh Terai in the north, the Aravalli Hills to the west, Bihar and Chhota Nagpur to the east. On the Malabar coast it appears to be much less common than the next species, but has been recorded from Ratnagiri, Goa, and the Nilgiris. It is, as a rule, rare or very locally distributed.
Habits: This, though a forest bird, is not an inhabitant of thick jungle, and has been observed in cultivation occasionally. According to Davidson it breeds in the hills around Khandesh in November, December, and January, and lays a single white egg in a hole in a tree as usual. Generally a new hole is cut out every year.
Coloration: Bill bluish brown; iris pinkish yellow; eyelids dark slaty blue legs greenish blue (Oates). Male. Forehead and border of crown to above eye brown, crown and occiput covered with long crimson feathers and bordered with black; hind neck in the middle white, the feathers often bordered with black and the white more or less reduced to spots; back, scapulars, and whole outer surface of wings, except primary-coverts and outer webs of primaries, golden olive, the feathers with bright golden or sometimes scarlet edges; quills and primary-coverts brown, inner webs with round white spots, tips of primaries often pale; rump crimson; upper tail-coverts and tail black. Sides of head and neck and lower parts as in C. festivus, except that there is more black, especially on the fore neck and breast, which are generally black with white spots. Females have the crown and occiput black with round white spots. In young males the forehead is colored as in females.
Size: Length about 13; tail 4.25; wing 6.5 (varying from 5.85 to 7.45); tarsus 1.3; bill from gape 2.
Distribution: Throughout the lower Himalayas as far west as Dehradoon, rare in lower Bengal, Manbhoom (Beavan), Dholbhum and Borabhum (Tickell), and common in the neighborhood of the Malabar coast from western Khandesh to Cape Comorin. This species has not been recorded from other parts of the Indian peninsula, but east of the Bay of Bengal it appears to be found from Assam throughout Burma and the neighboring countries to Singapore, Siam, and Cochin China.
The Malabar race (wing 5.8-6.3; culmen 1.7-1.9) is much smaller than the Himalayan (wing 6.7-7.45; culmen 2-2.4) and has been distinguished as C. delesserti; but Hume has shown that in Burma there is a complete gradation between the two, and that Malay peninsula birds are small like those from Malabar. In many species of Oriental birds and mammals the size diminishes to the southward. The true C. strictus is peculiar to Java, and is distinguished by the female having a yellow head as in C. festivus.
Habits: This bird is found both in thick forest and in cultivation, and in Burma often haunts trees on the banks of streams. It has, Jerdon says, a high-pitched, faint, screaming note, quite unlike the loud and harsh call of Brachypternus aurantius. It also, like others of this genus, makes a great noise when tapping by repeating its strokes with unusual rapidity. It breeds on the Nilgiris between 5500 and 7000 feet in December, January, and February, and in the northern Satpuras near Bombay in March, making a large hole in the trunk of a tree from 6 to 60 feet from the ground, and laying a single white egg.
Coloration: Back, scapulars, and outer surface of wings, except primary-coverts and outer webs of primaries, dull crimson, edges of feathers brighter, rump also brighter. In all other respects this species resembles C. gutticristatus except that there is every where more black and less white, there are only white spots on the back of the neck, and the sides of the head above the malar region and of the neck are almost all black, the superciliary stripe being represented by a row of white spots. The black borders of the breast-feathers are very broad. Sexual distinctions as in C. gutticristatus.
Bill brownish or olivaceous at the base, greenish white in the middle, the tip dusky; iris yellowish white; legs and feet greenish slate (Legge).
Size: Length about 11.5; tail 3.5; wing 5.9; tarsus 1.1; bill from gape 1.9
Distribution: Confined to Ceylon. This Woodpecker is found in forests almost throughout the island, on both hills and lowlands.
Habits: Similar to those of C. gutticristatus. Legge observed
birds of this species haunting a nest-hole high up a large tree in January in
such a manner as to indicate that they had young.
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