243. Aegithina tiphia.
The Common Iora.
Motacilla tiphia, Linn. S. N. i, p. 331 (1766). Motacilla zeylonica, Gm. S. N. i, p. 964 (1788). Iora zeylonica (Gm.), Myth, Cat. p. 213 ; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 267; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 101 ; Hume, Cat. no. 467. Iora typhia (Linn.), Blyth, Cat. p. 214; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 266 ; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 103; Hume, S. F. v, p. 428; Anders. Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 660; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 490; Hume, Cat. no. 468: id. S. F. xi, p. 185; Barnes, Birds Bom. i, p. 190. Aegithina tiphia (L), Sharpe, Cat. B. M. vi, p. 7 ; Oates, B. B. i, p. 202 ; Oates in Hume's N. & F. 2nd ed. i, p. 151.
The Black-headed Green Bulbul, The White-winged Green Bulbul, Jerd.; Shoubiga or Shoubigi, Hind.; Patsu-jitta, Tel.; Pacha-pora, Tam.; Chah-tuk, Taphika, Fatickja tonfik, Beng.
Coloration. Male. In full summer plumage the lores, forehead, crown, and back are black, the bases of the feathers on the back yellow and showing through the black; rump greenish yellow ; upper tail-coverts and tail black; lesser wing-coverts black ; median ones white; greater ones black, tipped with white ; quills black, narrowly edged with pale yellow ; sides of the head and neck, chin, throat, and breast deep intense yellow ; abdomen, sides, vent, and under tail-coverts dull greenish yellow. The back is sometimes yellow merely fringed with black, and the head is sometimes not quite black but yellow much mixed with black.
The male in winter loses all or most of the black on the upper parts except on the tail and wings, and becomes yellowish green.
Female. At all seasons the upper plumage is green; the tail greener and duskier, the edges yellowish ; lesser wing-coverts green; median coverts dusky green, broadly tipped with white; greater coverts dusky green, the outer ones broadly tipped with white, the inner broadly edged with white on the outer webs ; quills dark brown, edged with pale yellow; lores, sides of the head, and entire under plumage yellow.
Iris yellowish white; lower mandible and the margins of the upper nearly to the tip blue; remainder of upper mandible black ; feet and claws plumbeous.
Length 5.4; tail 2; wing 2.4; tarsus .75; bill from gape .7.
Throughout its great range the Common Iora is subject to variations in its plumage, which appear to be due chiefly, if not entirely, to climatic influences.
The females may be dismissed with the remark that they do not vary in any appreciable degree either locally or seasonally.
Young birds resemble the female, and young males begin to acquire the adult summer plumage in the first spring, but do not acquire it in its entirety the first summer, and consequently young males of every degree of blackness are met with in the summer.
Adult males in summer plumage vary excessively according to locality. In Southern India, Ceylon, and the Malay peninsula the upper plumage, except the rump, is often unbroken black, and these birds retain traces of black on the upper plumage in winter. In all other parts of its range the adult in summer has a variable amount of black on the upper plumage. Sometimes the nape and back are entirely black, in other cases the crown and nape are black and the back fringed with black, and in others again there is nothing but A few patches of black here and there. These birds lose all the black in the winter except on the wings and tail.
In a portion of the Central Provinces, as pointed out by Hume, the females are duller coloured than those from other parts, and the male in winter plumage is without any black on the head and back; but in the summer the male is almost as black as specimens from Southern India and Ceylon.
Distribution. The whole Empire with Ceylon except that portion of India which lies west of a line, roughly speaking, drawn from the head of the Gulf of Cambay through Abu to Dehra. This species does not appear to ascend the hills to a greater height than 3000 feet.
Habits, &c. This bird frequents orchards, low trees, and brushwood, feeding on insects which are found among the leaves. It commences to breed in May, or probably earlier, making a beautiful cup-shaped nest of very small size, which it fixes in the fork or on the bough of a small tree at no great height from the ground. The nest is made of fine fibres and grass, and coated outside with cobwebs. The eggs, usually three in number, are greyish white, streaked with brown and reddish brown, and measure .69 by .54.