(362) AEgithina tiphia tiphia.
THE COMMON IORA.
Motacilla tiphia Linn., S. N., p. 186 (1758) (Bengal). JEgithina tiphia. Blanf. & Gates, i, p. 230.
Vernacular names. Shoubiga or Shoubigi (Hind.); Patsu-jitta (Tel.); Pachapora (Tam.); Cha-tuk, Taphika, Fatickja-tonfik (Beng.); Barsat-Sorai (Assamese); Daotisha gurrmo gadeba (Cachari); Inga-ruina (Kacha Naga); Vohjong pong (Mikir); Shive-pi-so (Burmese).
Description.— Male breeding. Lores, forehead, crown, back, upper tail-coverts and tail black, the bases of the feathers yellow-green and showing through on the back; rump green; wings black with two wide bars of white, formed by the median coverts and tips of greater; edges of inner secondaries white; outer secondaries and primaries- very narrowly edged with white; ear-coverts, sides of head and whole lower plumage yellow, washed with green on the flanks, vent and under tail-coverts, brightest on throat and upper breast.
Colours of soft parts. Iris yellowish white to bright pale yellow; bill slaty-blue, the culmen blackish; legs and feet clear slaty-blue to dull plumbeous.
Measurements. Length about 140 mm.; wing 59 to 68 mm.; tail about 50 mm.; tarsus about 18 to 19 mm.; culmen about 12 to 13 mm.
Female. Above green or yellowish green, the tail rather darker and faintly edged with yellowish white, the black of the wings in the male replaced by brown ; entire under plumage yellow, tinged with greyish green on flanks.
Male in winter plumage is similar to the female but has the tail black and the undersides rather brighter.
The description of the male given above is quite exceptional, more green and much less black being the rule and many breeding males have practically no black on the upper parts other than the wings and tail.
Distribution. All India, except S. Travancore, East of a line, roughly speaking, drawn from the head of the Gulf of Cambay through Abu to Simla and excluding that portion of South, Central India occupied by AE. t. humei. It extends through Assam, Burma, certainly to the north of the Malay Peninsula, east to Western Siam,, Annam (Robinson & Kloss) and the Kachin Hills. There is a specimen in the British Museum collection received from Khorasan in Persia.
Nidification. The Common Iora breeds from April to July, making a very neat, cup-shaped nest of fine, soft grasses lined with the same and well matted outside with cobwebs and spiders' egg-bags. It measures about 2 1/2" (62.3 mm.) in diameter by about 2" (50 mm.) deep, the walls being very thin, only some 3 or 4 mm. thick. It may be placed in either a horizontal or vertical fork of any bush or small tree at any height from 2 to 30 feet from the ground. The eggs number two to four, most often three, and are very unusual in coloration; they are of two types— one with a pale creamy or greyish-white ground-colour, with a few irregular longitudinal marks of grey and underlying ones of neutral tint. The second type has the ground-colour a beautiful pink and the markings are reddish. Eggs from Siam are much more speckly in their character. 60 eggs average 17.6 x 13.9 mm., the greatest and least length and breadth being 19-0x14-3; 18.1 x 15.0; 16.2 x 14.0 and 18.2 x 13.2 mm.
Habits. The Iora is a bird of the plains and lower hills, seldom being found much over 2,000 feet, though stragglers may rarely wander up as high as 8,000 feet (Simla). It is a familiar little bird, haunting gardens, orchards and the outskirts of villages as well as the fringe of forests and scrub-jungle. In the breeding season it performs wonderful acrobatic feats, darting up into the air and then with all its feathers, especially those of the rump, puffed out, it comes spinning down in a spiral to the perch it has left. Arrived there it spreads and flirts its tail like a little Pea¬cock, drooping its wings and uttering all the time a protracted, sibilant whistle or chirrup. It has a great variety of notes, the most striking of which is a prolonged " we-e-e-e-tu," a long, drawn-out wail with the last note dropping suddenly. This seems never to be uttered except in the rains, and when constantly repeated to the accompaniment of the splash of rain and the sough of the wind, is one of the saddest little bird-notes imaginable. It is generally found iu pairs and is not gregarious, though, where it is common, three or four may be seen together on the same tree, hunting actively for the insects which form its food.