(1271) Aethopyga dabryi Verr.
The Flame-breasted Sunbird.
Aethopyga dabryi, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iii, p. 387.
This Sunbird, which was described from Szechuan, extends from. Western China, Kauri-Kachin Hills and Shan States to Muliyet. I also found, over forty years ago, what I believed at the time to be this species breeding in North Cachar, but the specimens are not now available for examination, and we never trapped a male on the nest, though we saw them in the immediate vicinity and I shot similar males in the same forests. These, with their con¬spicuous flame-coloured breasts, differed very strikingly from the much paler yellow-breasted isolata, which also occurred in these forests. I give my notes on the breeding for what they are worth.
Three nests with eggs, with others given away many years ago, were found by me personally at Hangrum on the 7th and 11th May and the 7th June at an elevation of some 5,200 feet upwards. The nests were all much the same—oval-shaped, made of fine fibrous material, mixed with a little moss, a few shreds of grass well wound together and lined with the most beautifully white soft cotton-down, showing through the other materials in places. They were fixed to bracken-fronds and in each case the materials were well wrapped round the midribs of the frond with no pear-neck between the supports and the egg-chamber, differing in this respect from the more or less pear-shaped nests of isolata. The bracken selected for the site was always in forest of rather stunted Oak (Quercus serratifolia) with undergrowth of ferns, Jasmine, Raspberries etc., while every tree and stone was covered with luxuriant green moss, hanging in great wreaths from every branch. Everywhere also grew masses of Orchids such as Celogyne odorata, Vanda coerulea, Dendrobium chrysotoxicum, D. dalhousianum etc., many in full bloom during May and June, forming a scene of great beauty for the little birds to breed in and an ample attraction for the tiny insects on which they live.
All my eggs, so far as I remember, or have notes, were taken between the 7th May and the 30th June, but I remember seeing two young in a nest hatched in the first week in May, so evidently laid about the 20th April,
In appearance the eggs are like those of Ae. siparaja seherioe, but I have one clutch which is very pretty, all three eggs being white with small, sparse, primary blotches of reddish-brown and a few secondary ones of lavender. In some clutches of the seherioe type the markings form well-defined zones at the larger end.
In shape and texture they are quite typical of the genus.
Eight eggs average 14.3 x 10.8 mm. : maxima 15.1 x 10.6 and 14.6 x 11.1 mm. ; minima 13.5 x 10.8 and 15.0 x 10.5 mm.
In every nest found wo trapped the female on the nest. She sat until we almost knocked against the nest, returning to it on each occasion within five minutes of our leaving it.
1271. Aethopyga dabryl
(1271) Aethopyga dabryi Verr.