679. Merula protomomelaena.
The Black-busted Ouzel.
Turdus dissimilis, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xvi, p. 144, (1847); Godw-Aust. J. A. S. B. xli, pt. ii, p. 142; Seebohm, S. F. viii, p. 437. Geocichla dissimilis (Blyth), Blyth, Cat. p. 163, ; Jerd. Ibis, 1872, p. 136, pl. vii; Hume, Cat. no. 358 ; id. S. F. ix, p. 103, xi, p. 126. Turdulus cardis (Temm.), apud Jerd. B. I. i, p. 521. Turdus protomomelas, Cabanis, Journ. f. Orn. 1807, p. 286. Geocichla tricolor, Hume, Ibis, 1871, p. 411; id. S. F. iii, p. 409. Merula protomomelaena (Cab.), Seebohm, Cat. B. M. v, p. 265.
The Variable Pied Blackbird, Jerd.
Coloration. Male. The whole head, neck, and upper breast black; upper plumage, wings, and tail dark slate-colour; sides of the lower breast, sides of the body, axillaries, and under wing-coverts bright orange-ferruginous ; middle of lower breast, abdomen, vent, and under tail-coverts white.
Younger males have the upper wing-coverts tipped with rufous and some black spots on the red of the lower parts of the plumage.
Female. The whole upper plumage olive-brown tinged with slaty ; wings and tail brown, suffused with olive on the outer webs ; sides of the head ashy brown, the shafts of the ear-coverts whitish; chin and upper throat white streaked with brown, the streaks increasing in number at the sides ; upper breast olivaceous, spotted with black; middle of lower breast, abdomen, vent, .and under tail-coverts white; sides of breast, sides of body,' axillaries, and under wing-coverts bright orange-ferruginous.
In the male the bill and orbital skin are yellow; iris deep brown ; legs and feet dusky orange-yellow (Cripps). In the female the legs, feet, bill, and eyelids are wax-yellow (Hume); iris deep brown (Scully).
Length about 9; tail 3.3; wing 4.7; tarsus 1.3; bill from gape 1.1.
The synonymy of M. protomomelaena has been determined entirely by a careful perusal of the various original descriptions of the bird, which fortunately are sufficiently in detail to render the identification certain. Judging from Hume's remarks (S. F. ix, p. 103), any appeal to Blyth's types in the Indian Museum on this point must prove useless if not misleading. Blyth applied the name Turdus dissimilis to specimens of both M. unicolor and M. protomomelaena, confounding the two together, and consequently it is advisable to discard this name.
Distribution. I have examined specimens of this Ouzel from Dibrugarh in Assam, the Tipperah hills and Manipur. Blyth appears to have procured it from the neighbourhood of Calcutta, and I know of no other locality for this species, which is probably a constant resident in the above-mentioned places.
Scully (S. F. viii, p. 284) records a specimen of this Ouzel from Nepal, but judging from his description, in which a supercilium is mentioned, and the sides of the breast and flanks are referred to as ferruginous, there can be little doubt that the bird was M. obscura, which Hodgson procured in Nepal, one of his specimens being now in the British Museum.