Fauna of India (Birds)  vol iii 1895 - by W. T. Blanford

Page 25
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Genus HEMICERCUS, Swainson, 1837

Size small; bill straight, compressed towards the end, nasal ridge well marked, beginning at the base halfway between culmen and commissure and extending half the distance to the tip; nostrils covered with plumes; feet very large, hallux well developed, fourth toe longer than third; a long crest on the occiput and nape; neck very slender; tail very short, bat little exceeding the tail-coverts and only about one-third the length of the wing, the tail-feathers rounded at the end, outer pair distinctly shorter. Plumage black or dark olivaceous grey and buff. Both sexes have in the middle of the back a tuft of bristly feathers smeared with a viscid secretion having a peculiar resinous scent. Only three species are known, of which one is peculiar to Java, the others inhabit India and Burma.

Key to the Species
A. Crown red in males, olive-grey like remainder of head in females, ruddy buff in young ... H. sordidus
B. Crown black with white specks in males, buff in females and young                        ... H. canente

Hemicercus sordidusGrey-and-Buff Woodpecker

Dendrocopus sordidus, Eyton, A.M.N.H. xvi, p.229 (1845)
Hemicercus concretus (Temm), apud Blyth, J.A.S.B. xiv, p.195; id. Cat. p.54; Horsf. & M.Cat. ii, p.650
Hemicercus sordidus, Tweeddale, Ibis, 1877, p.291; Hume & Dav. S.F.vi, p.128; Hume, Cat.no. 165 bis; Oates, B.B.ii, p.32; Hargitt, Ibis, 1884, p.247; id. Cat. B.M. xviii, p.483

Coloration: Bill plumbeous grey; irides red-brown; legs and feet plumbeous, tinged greenish (Davison). Male. Forehead and crown crimson; coronal feathers elongate, the crimson cap tapering to a point on the occiput; long nuchal crest, with the sides of the head and neck, chin, throat, and breast olivaceous grey; hindneck buff; back, scapulars, wing coverts, and tertiaries black, each feather with a buff margin and many with a buff bar across the middle; remaining brownish black except the inner margin towards the base, which, with the rest of the wing-lining, is buff; on the secondaries some triangular buff spots appear on the outer webs, which gradually increase till they become bars on the tertiaries; lower back uniform grey; rump buff; upper and lower tail-coverts black tipped with buff; tail black, the outer feathers barred and tipped with buff; a slight trace of a buff line down the side of the neck; abdomen grey, with buffy-white edges to the feathers. Female. Forehead and crown olive-grey like the rest of the head. In the young of both sexes the crown and long nuchal crest are ruddy buff, the feathers tipped with olive-grey; in males the long nuchal feathers become partly crimson, as these become olive-grey the crown becomes crimson, the passage being gradual. The whole mantle is buff with black spots, the rump-feathers are edged with grey, and those of the lower parts with buff in very young birds.

Size: Length 5.5;  tail 1.2;  wing 3.4;  tarsus 0.6;  bill from gape 1.

Distribution: The Malay peninsula, Sumatra, and Borneo, ranging north into the extreme south of Tenasserim, a single specimen having been obtained by Mr. Davison at Bankasun.

Hemicercus canenteHeart-spotted Woodpecker

Picus canente, Less. Cent. Zool. p.215, pl. 73 (1830)
Hemicercus canente, Blyth, J.A.S.B. xv, p.282; id. Cat. p.54; Horsf. & M.Cat. ii, p.650; Jerdon, B.I.i, p.280; Hume, S.F.iii, p.61; id. Cat.no.165 bis; id. S.F.xi, p.61; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p.74; Walden, Ibis, 1876, p.344; Hume & Inglis, S.F.v, p.25; Butler, ibid. p.503; Hume & Dav. S.F.vi, pp.127, 500; Bingham S.F.ix, p.161; Oates, B.B. ii, p.30; Hargitt, Ibis, 1884, p.252; id Cat. B.M. xviii, p.486; Salvadori, Ann. Mus. Civ. Gen. (2) v, p.564; Oates in Hume’s N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p.314
Hemicercus cordatus, Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L.S. xi, p.211 (1840); id. Ill. ind. Orn. pl. xl; Blyth, Ibis, 1866, p.354; Hume & Bourd. S.F.iv, p.389; Hume, Cat.no. 165; Butler, S.F.ix, p.385; Davison, S.F.x, p.354; Hargitt, 1884, p.257; id Cat. B.M. xviii, p.488; Barnes, Birds Bom. p.114

Coloration: Bill black; irides dark reddish brown; legs and feet very dark green, sometimes appearing almost black (Davison). Male. Top and sides of head with long occipital crest, nape and sides of neck, back, scapulars, upper and lower tail-coverts, and tail black, the forehead and anterior portion of crown with minute white spots; a band round the hind neck, connected with a median patch on the interscapulary tract and running forward along the sides of the neck to the chin, including the throat and malar region, buff, as are also all the wing-coverts along the forearm, the wing-lining, and the rump; quills black, margined with buff towards the base of the inner webs; tertiaries and a few of the larger and median coverts buff, each with a heart-shaped black spot near the end; fore neck, breast, and abdomen dusky olive, darker behind, flanks black. In the female and in the young of both sexes the forehead and crown are buff.

Size: Males: length 6.4;  tail 1.4;  wing 3.9;  tarsus 0.7;  bill from gape 1.1. Females are rather smaller: wing 3.7;  bill from gape 0.9.

The Malabar variety H. cordatus measures less on an average (wing in males about 3.7, in females 3.6) but small Burmese specimens are identical in measurement with large Malabar skins,. The Malabar form has, as a rule, a more slender but not a shorter tarsus. I can find no characters by which the two geographical. races can be constantly distinguished.

Fig. 18 - head of H. canente

Distribution: Throughout the Burmese countries from Cachar in the north to Kussoom, about 150 miles south of the Tenasserim. frontier in the Malay peninsula, ranging eastward to Siam, Cambodia, and Cochin China. Also in the forests along the Malabar coast of India both below and above the Ghats from Khandala to Cape Comorin. The only place in the interior of the Peninsula whence this bird has been reported is in the Chanda forests, where Jerdon says he found it. I was on two occasions for some months each time in the forests around Chanda and certainly never saw it,. nor has it been observed in the Central Provinces since Jerdon’s time. Jerdon does not say he obtained specimens; and although he very rarely made a mistake, I think the occurrence of this species in the Indian peninsula, except in the Malabar tract, needs confirmation.

Habits: Found in pairs, sometimes in families, in forest or clearings, usually haunting the tops of high trees. The note is peculiar, rather loud and long, and is frequently uttered. The eggs, usually’ two in number, have been found by Mr. Inglis in Cachar in March, by Major Bingham and Mr. Davison in Tenasserim in December and March, and by Mr. Darling near Kussoom, Malay Peninsula, in July: they are white and glossy, deposited on chips in a hole made in a tree, and measure about 0.9 by 0.7.

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