(419) Iole icterica Strickl.
THE YELLOW-BROWED BULBUL.
Iole icterica, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 405.
Iole icterica is found almost throughout the South-Western side of India from about Mahableswar to Cape Cormorin and in the greater part of Ceylon. In India it occurs from almost the level of the plains up to 6,000 or, perhaps, 7,000 feet, though Mr. F. N. Betts says that in the Nilgiris it does not ascend over 4,500 feet. He adds:—“It is almost confined to the heavy evergreen jungle which covers so much of the slopes of the hills.” In Travancore Bourdillon says that this Bulbul “is confined to the Hills, where it frequents forest. I have seen it at all elevations from the foot to 2,000 feet in the South ; above this in Pirmerd and the Cardamon Hills and still higher in the High Range.”
Stewart found them in Travancore, chiefly at about 1,000 feet, breeding in mixed jungle and in thick forest. Davidson, writing of Kanara, says that it “is found all over the district with the exception of the extreme North-Western portion. It is locally common, but keeps generally in the vicinity of evergreen jungle. I have taken very many of its nests, generally suspended between two twigs on a small tree from eight to twenty feet from the ground but, occasionally, in the branches of a large tree.” Finally, in regard to Ceylon, W. E. Wait notes (‘ Birds of Ceylon,’ p. 56) :— “Restricted to forest and high jungle throughout the low country and up to about 4,000 feet or even higher.”
H. Wait describes the nest of this Bulbul in the Nilgiris as follows :—“ This bird, though very common in the Nilgiris at elevations from 4,000 to 5,000 feet, is a very shy nester, and its nest, which is not easily found, is, as far as my experience goes, invariably placed on the top of young thin saplings at heights of from 6 to 10 feet from the ground. The saplings chosen are almost always in thick cover near the edge of dry water-courses. They generally lay in May but I have found nests in March. In shape the nest is a moderately deep cup, nearly hemispherical, with an internal diameter of from 2.1/2 to 3 inches—a true Bulbul’s nest, composed of grass and bents and lined with finer grasses. The nest is always suspended by the outer rim between two lateral branches, and never, I believe, built in a fork, as is so common in the case of many other Bulbuls.”
Hume adds that in nests sent to him by Mr. Wait there are a few leaves and that some are made of excessively fine twigs.
Miss Cockburn gives a similar description to that of Wait but says some of the nests are so thin that it is possible to see the eggs through the bottom.
Legge describes a nest taken in Ceylon as apparently more substantial than “those described above:—“Large for the size of the bird, the foundation being bulky and composed of small twigs, moss and dead leaves, lined with fine roots ; the upper edge of the body of the nest was woven round the supporting branches. The bottom of the nest was in the fork.”
The breeding season in Ceylon is during the first half of the year but eggs have been taken in August, and Phillips has sent me eggs taken by him in September. This nest, it should be noted, was not like the one described by Legge, but was a suspended cup made of wiry grass-stems and rather flimsy. In Travancore Stewart took their eggs in March and April ; in Kanara Davidson and Bell obtained eggs from February to May ; whilst Kinloch took them in the Nelliampatti Hills in February.
The normal full clutch in two only, but three eggs are laid fairly frequently.
The eggs are all of one type, though they vary greatly in depth of colour. The ground-colour varies from a very pale creamy pink, almost white, to a warm salmon-pink. The markings consist of innumerable specks, freckles or, in a few cases, very small irregular blotches, ranging in colour from the palest reddish pink to a rich light red. The markings, of whatever size, cover the whole egg, generally slightly more numerous at the larger end, though very rarely forming a cap.
Two clutches in my series are worth recording separately. One is perfectly white, similar to a clutch of three taken by Miss Cockburn, with just a few faint specks at the larger end. The other clutch are bright salmon pink eggs with deep chestnut spots and inky secondary blotches. These are very extraordinary eggs and can be matched by some of those of Malacocincla abbotti, which bird, however, is not to be found within 1,000 miles of Ceylon, where these were taken.
Thirty-six eggs average 23.1 x 16.6 mm. : maxima 25.0 x 17.2 mm. ; minima 21.3 x16.3 and 22.0 x 15.5 mm.
419. lole icterica Strickl
(419) Iole icterica Strickl.