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Genus THEREICERYX, Blanford, 1893
Bill shaped somewhat as in Megalaema, but the upper mandible is not quite so high, and the bill is generally pale yellowish throughout. Nostrils exposed. Wing rounded. The plumage is peculiar; the head, neck, and breast are brown, more or less streaked with white, the rest of the plumage green.
Three species are found within Indian limits, a fourth, T. phaeostictus (phaeostriatus), inhabits Cochin China. The members of this small group have hitherto been referred by various writers either to Megalaema or to Cyanops.
Key to the Species
Fig. 25 - head of T. zeylonicus
A large naked space round the eye extending to the gape, lores almost entirely naked, Culmen much curved.
Coloration: Head and neck all round, with the breast, and some times the upper abdomen, brown, the feathers with narrow pale shaft-stripes, the pale shafts generally inconspicuous on the head, but becoming more and more distinct behind; upper parts from neck bright green; interscapulary feathers, scapulars, and upper wing-coverts more or less distinctly pale-shafted. with small terminal whitish spots. Abdomen paler green than back; tail below washed with light verditer-blue; quills brown, with pale Inner margins and the primaries narrowly pale-edged near the end.
Bill pale orange-brown; iris red-brown; bare orbital skin dull orange; legs light yellowish brown (Jerdon).
Size: Length 10.5; tail 3.2; wing 4.7; tarsus 1.25; bill from gape 1.8. Ceylon and Tranvancore birds run smaller, wing about 4.4.
Distribution: Almost throughout India and Ceylon. Common at the base of the western Himalayas in the Dehradoon and Rohilcund Terai, throughout the North-west Provinces and the wooded parts of central India, eastern Guzerat, the Central Provinces, and south-western Bengal, the forest-tracts between the Ganges and Godavari, some of the better wooded regions of the Madras presidency, and near the Malabar coast; wanting in the Punjab and Sind, in Rajputana except around Mount Abu, in lower Bengal, and, I believe, in the open parts of the Deccan and Carnatic. In Ceylon this Barbet inhabits most of the low country and the lower hills, except close to the sea-shore, or in dense damp forest.
As in so many other cases, the southern bird from Ceylon and Travancore is rather smaller and darker. This is typical T. zeylonicus. The north Indian bird caniceps is larger and slightly paler. The intermediate form from the Bombay coast has been separated as inornata. I can discover no constant distinction: some freshly moulted northern forms are quite as dark in colour as Ceylonese, and in the British Museum collection there is a female Ceylon skin with the wing 4.6 long, and a female Allahabad specimen with the wing measuring 4.5, both being adult and thoroughly good specimens.
Habits: Like other Indian Barbets, this species lives chiefly upon fruit and seeds, and especially on the figs of the banyan and other kinds of Ficus. It is said, however, occasionally though rarely to eat insects, and Layard has related how an individual, kept in captivity, killed and swallowed small birds (Munias), its fellow-captives. The best known characteristic of this Barbet is its loud dissyllabic call, which Jerdon represents as kutur kotur kotur preceded by a harsh sort of laugh; this call is heard from January or February till June. Each bird continues to call for some time, frequently even on moonlight nights. The flight is strong but heavy and somewhat undulating. In northern India the breeding season is chiefly in March and April; 3 or 4 eggs are laid in a hole hollowed by the bird itself in a tree. The eggs are dull white slightly glossy, and measure about l.21 by 0.88.
Naked space round eye much smaller than in T. zeylonicus and not extending to gape.
Coloration: Crown and nape brown, with rather broad white shaft-stripes. Upper plumage from the neck grass-green; feathers of the upper back with narrow white shafts. Lores and cheeks whitish; ear-coverts whity brown. Chin and throat white; sides of neck, breast, and upper abdomen coloured like the crown, but the white shaft-stripes on the breast are much broader; lower abdomen and under tail-coverts light green, the feathers with broad whitish median stripes. Quills dark brown, with pale yellow inner margins; primaries with pale outer borders near the tips; tail washed with light blue below.
Bill horny yellow; orbits deep yellow; irides brown; feet fleshy yellow (Scully).
Size: Length 11; tail 3.3; wing 5.1; tarsus 1.25; bill from gape 1.7; These are the dimensions of eastern Himalayan and Burmese birds; western Himalayan are larger, Malay specimens smaller.
Distribution: Throughout the lower Himalayas as far west as the Sutluj, not ascending more than 2000 or 3000 feet, and eastward to Yunnan; also in Assam, and to the southward throughout Burma, in Siam and Cambodia, and in Java, but not in the Malay peninsula nor in Sumatra.
The original T. lineatus is the Javan race, which is small (wing about 4.6), whilst the big west Himalayan race (wing 5.3) has been distinguished as Megalaema hodgsoni; but, as Shelley has shown, the eastern Himalayan, Assamese, and Burmese birds are intermediate in size. The case is similar to that of T. zeylonicus and T. caniceps, the southern race being smaller and darker, but the distinction in size between T. lineatus and T. hodgsoni is much greater.
Habits: Similar to those of T. zeylonicus. The call is a monotonous dissyllabic note. The eggs, four in number, are laid in March and April, and measure about 1.27 by 0.87
Naked space round eye much smaller than in T. zeylonicus; area above the gape feathered.
Coloration: Head above and nape dark brown not striated; hindneck greener, the feathers pale-shafted; sides of neck brown, with pale shaft-stripes. Upper plumage from neck bright grass-green; sides of head, chin, and throat whitish, except the lores, a band running back from the eye, and a narrower rather broken malar stripe, which are dark brown. Breast whitish, the feathers with dark-brown edges; abdomen and under tail-coverts pale green. Quills blackish brown, with pale buff inner margins. Primaries pale-edged outside near tips; lower surface of tail washed with pale verditer-green.
Bill pale horny brown; irides red-brown; orbital skin brown; legs plumbeous brown (Jerdon); orbital skin dusky slate; legs greenish plumbeous (Butler).
Size: Length 9; tail 2.6; wing 4; tarsus 1.05; bill from gape 1.5. Specimens from the North (Megalaema sykesii) average slightly larger than those from Travancore.
Distribution: The Sahyadri and other ranges of hills near the Malabar coast from the Tapti to Cape Comorin. This bird is found up to the tops of the Nilgiris and Palnis.
Habits: Very similar to those of T. zeylonicus and T.
lineatus, Davison says this bird clings like a Woodpecker and taps
(probably only when cutting its nest-hole). The call is less loud than that
of T. zeylonicus but similar. T. viridis breeds from February to May, laying
three or four eggs in a retort-shaped nest-hole; the eggs are white, only
moderately glossy, and measure about 1.13 by 0.86.
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