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Genus HEMILOPHUS, Swainson, 1837
Size very large. Bill large, culmen curved at the base, then straight, tip compressed and chisel-shaped; nasal ridge well developed, near the culmen, continued almost to the tip; nostril large, rounded, covered with plumes; feet and claws large; hallux well-developed; fourth toe shorter than third; wings and tail long; tail-feathers very strong and pointed, the outer pair just extending beyond the coverts; feathers of the head short, harsh and scaly; no crest. Plumage ashy. A single species, which is the largest Indian Woodpecker.
Coloration: Bill bluish white, black on the culmen and tips of both mandibles; mouth bluish black; eyelids plumbeous; iris dark hazel- brown; legs dark plumbeous; claws bluish (Oates). Male. Ashy grey; head paler, especially in front, all feathers of forehead, crown, neck, and breast with small pale tips. A large dull pale crimson patch in the malar region below the eye. Chin, throat, and foreneck saffron-yellow, tinged with red, especially on the foreneck, the feathers of the yellow area short and stiff; whole body slaty ash, paler and isabelline round the vent. Quills and tail-feathers darker; outer webs of primaries. sometimes tipped pale. The female wants the red malar patch, and the throat and foreneck are yellow without any red. In young males the forehead and greater part of the crown are tinged with pale crimson.
Size: Length of males about 20; tail 7; wing 9; tarsus 1.55; bill from gape 3; females rather less.
Distribution: The Terai and base of the Himalayas, as far west as Kumaon (or, perhaps, Dehradoon), not common; also from Assam throughout Burma to Cochin China, Sumatra, Java, and. Borneo, sparingly distributed as a rule, but common in a few localities.
Habits: This grand Woodpecker is a denizen of high forests, and
especially of hilly tracts, and is generally seen high up the stems and upper branches of trees, keeping in small parties of from three or four to ten or twelve, and very
noisy, often uttering a peculiar querulous call. The nest was found by Bingham during the rains in a Kanyin tree (Dipterocarpus alatus) that had been blown down
and used as a bridge over a stream. The birds had made a hole 3 inches in diameter, extending a foot inwards and then 8 inches downwards. The hole contained two fresh
glossy white eggs, measuring 1.41 x 1.11.
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