(77) AEgithaliscus concinnus iredalei.
THE RED-HEADED TIT.
AEgithaliscus concinnus iredalei Stuart Baker, Bull. B. O.C., xli, p.2 (1920) (Simla).
AEgithaliscus erythrocephalus. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 50.
Vernacular names. Pyiong-Samyi (Lepcha).
Description. Forehead, crown and nape chestnut; a broad eyebrow from the eye to the nape white; lores, round the eye, ear-coverts, a band under the eyebrow and a large round patch on the throat black; chin and a moustachial streak white ; remainder of the lower plumage ferruginous, with a paler band across the breast next to the black of the throat; upper plumage and wing-coverts bluish grey; primary wing-coverts and winglet dark brown ; quills brown, narrowly edged with bluish grey; tail dark brown suffused with bluish grey, the outer web of the outermost feather white, the inner tipped with white; the next two feathers tipped with white.
Colours of soft parts. Bill black; gape fleshy; iris pale yellow or creamy yellow ; legs buffy yellow ; claws livid (Scully).
Measurements. Length about 110 mm.; wing about 48 to 52 mm.; tarsus about 13 mm.; culmen 6 mm.
Distribution. Himalayas from Chitral to the Mishmi Hills over 5,000 feet, and in the Miri Hills, according to Stevens, over 4,000 feet.
Nidification. The breeding season of this little Tit commences about the middle of March and continues throughout April and May. The nest is a lovely little ball of moss, mixed with cobwebs, lichen and seed-down and is thickly lined with soft feathers or with feathers and seed-down mixed. About Simla it is often placed at the end of a branch of a deodar, at other times in small oaks and even in bushes and tangles of creeper. The eggs are a very pale pink with a ring of faint red freckles round the larger end, but they vary from almost pure unmarked white to a pink with a dense dark ring of reddish brown. 100 eggs average 13*88 x 10-57 mm. The clutch is from three to eight eggs. They breed at heights from 6,000 to 10,000 feet or more.
Habits. The Red-headed Tit associates in small flocks, probably merely family parties, frequenting both lofty trees and low bushes and shrubs when hunting for food, which consists almost entirely of insects. It is said, however, to also eat certain fruit and nuts. It is as restless and energetic as the rest of the family, and keeps up a constant rather shrill " tweet" as it flits or scrambles from one branch to another.
It appears to be a resident wherever found, moving up and down very little with the change of seasons.