(2014) Rallina euryzonoides nigrolineata Gray.
THE INDIAN BANDED CRAKE.
Rallina superciliaris superciliaris, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. vi, p, 16.
Rallus nigrolineata Gray, Cat. B. of Nepal, p. 143, 1848.
This Crake, or Rail, occurs in suitable localities from the base of the Himalayas to, and including, Ceylon. It also has been found in Southern Burma, the Malay States and Annam.
Whether these birds are resident or migratory is not yet solved. Many observers say that they are without doubt migratory, coming in considerable numbers to certain districts to breed, after which they vanish entirely.
Bell, one of the finest observers in the field India has ever had, writes about these birds in Kanara :—“I have never seen one during the dry months, though I am constantly in their breeding haunts during that time. Whether they migrate or not from the district we do not know for certain, but it seems probables ; it would be interesting to know where they go” (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xiv, p. 394, 1902).
* Rallus superciliaris Gray in preoccupied by Rallus superciliaris Vieill. (Nouv. Dict. Hist. Nat. xxviii, p. 565, 1819), The next oldest and, therefore, specific name, is euryzonoides Lafresnaye (Review Zool. p. 368, 1845), and the subspeoific name for our Indian bird is nigrolineata Gray (ref. vide supra).
The first record of this bird’s noting was one by Betham (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xiv, p. 180, 1902), who had two nests, one with seven and one with eight eggs, brought to him by his shikari, who shot the bird on the second nest with a bow and arrow. The eggs were white and Betham and I doubted their authenticity, which was later proved. After this T. R. Bell (ibid, p, 393) recorded in full the nesting habits of this bird. He says that on the 8th August, 1898, “A ‘kunbi,’ or aborigine of the place, brought H (ervey) the news that there was a nest with large white eggs in a bush in a place called Binghy. We both went out and were much exercised in our minds at the sight of the nest—a more or less round, untidy structure of dead leaves and a thin twig or two, with a slight concavity in the centre, placed in a low bush in scrub-jungle on flat ground, surrounded by hills on three sides, within a mile of the sands of the sea-shore. The nest was well hidden by the foliage of the bush and was placed on the thin interlaced branches about two and a half feet from the ground ; there were six white eggs in it of a slightly creamy shade. We sat down to wait for the bird. We had not waited long before we were rewarded by the sight of a Banded Crake that came sneaking out with much circumspection from some thick jungle close by. It disappeared in a second and we shot it the second time it appeared. It was a female in full male plumage,'’
Later he adds : “We found that the Banded Crake was a fairly common bird in the jungles along the coast during the monsoon and we obtained altogether some dozen nests containing eggs varying in number from four to seven in the clutch, besides finding many empty ones. The nests are placed in bamboo clumps, on creeper masses, on the tops of a stump etc., and were at the most six feet from the ground. The birds breed in the densest jungles as well as in the scrub jungle from sea-level up to the top of the highest hills, which,are here about 1,800 feet.”
In 1902 Betham (op. cit. p. 824) had further eggs brought to him with the bird and examined one nest which “was about 3 feet from the ground, in a dense tangle by the side of a mountain stream, and was built on interlaced stems. The nest was a rough structure of twigs lined with damp leaves.”
In 1916 B. B. Osmaston succeeded in getting more nests near Dehra Dun, of which he writes (op. cit. vol. xxiv, p. 824, 1917) : “On July 10, white exploring a small nulla about a mile from Dehra full of exceedingly dense jungle, I came on a nest of this bird in the middle of a low thick bush. The nest was 4 feet from the ground, composed of dead leaves and a few sticks, with a depression in the centre. The bird was sitting on the nest.
“On my advancing my hand in the direction of the neat, the bird, instead of making off, stood in the nest, puffed out her feathers and pecked viciously at my hand. Having done this she sat down again on the eggs.
“On my second visit on the following day the bird did not wait for me to put out my hand hut left the nest, walking along a branch in my direction and opened the attack by pecking me on the hand. She then returned to her nest and settled down again on her egga.”
To summarize these notes, we find that this Crake breeds in dense jungle in ravines on the coastal districts and in the sub¬ Himalayas, mating a nest of grass and leaves, sometimes with a lining of finer material in a well-marked cavity. The nest is placed on bushes etc. at some height from the ground and never on it and, finally, the vicinity of swamp, lake or pond is not a desideratum.
The breeding season is after the rains break, and all the nests recorded have been found between the middle of June and end of August and middle of September.
From four to eight eggs are incubated, the normal clutch being six or seven.
In shape the eggs axe broad ovals, the two ends almost equal. The texture is fine, close and hard, the surface slightly glossy hut, to the touch, reminds one of the “soapy” feel of Coucal's eggs. It is a texture intermediate between that of some of the smaller Bitterns and that of the Cuckoos mentioned.
Including Bell’s large series the average size of ninety eggs is 33.7 x 26.0 mm. : maxima 35.8 x 25.4 and 35.1 x 28.1 mm. ; minima 30.9 x 25.0 mm.
2014. Rallina euryzonoides nigrolineata
(2014) Rallina euryzonoides nigrolineata Gray.