This species is found over a very wide range of country from Ceylon, almost throughout India, Burma, Siam, the Malay Penin¬sula, Java and Borneo and, as might be expected, shows a very great variation in plumage, especially in the breeding season. Birds from the South of India and "Ceylon are very like those from the extreme South of Burma and from the Malay Peninsula, as is so often the case with species which extend from one end of the Indo-Burmese horseshoe to the other. Gradations from North to South are, however, very gradual and it is difficult to define where the meeting lines of the various races are to be found and on this account it is only possible to divide the species into very few well-defined geographical races.
We have, however, the following subspecies which seem worthy of attention:—
(1)A very black-backed bird from Ceylon and South Travancore, possibly reappearing in South Malaya,;
(2)A bird with a much greener and less black back, which occurs over the whole South-East, East and North-East India, Burma, etc.; and
(3) A third form in which the male has no black in the non- breeding season and in which the female is duller and paler than those from elsewhere.
Key to Subspecies.
A. Upper parts greenish, more or less marked with black from crown to
rump, the bases of the feathers [p. 340.
showing through as greenish .... AE. tiphia tiphia, breeding,
B. Whole upper plumage from crown to rump black, bases showing through as bright yellow
AE. t. zeylonica, breeding, [p. 342.
C. Upper parts mostly black hut with a great deal of yellow showing
through, especially on nape AE. t. humei, breeding, p. 342.
D. Above rather dark yellowish green, [p. 341.
tail black AE. t. tiphia, non-breeding,
E. Above a still darker shade, tail [p. 342.
black ,. AE. t. zeylonica, non-breeding,
F. Above paler, more yellowish, tail [p. 343.
green AE. t. humei, non-breeding,
G. Above greenish yellow AE. t. tiphia, , p. 341.
H. Above darker greenish AE. t. zeylonica, , p. 342.
I. Above very pale dull greenish
yellow AE. t. humei, p. 342.
AE. t. scapularis is the Javan form which is probably the same as those from Sumatra, Borneo and South Malaya. Birds from Siam, Cochin China and further east are very richly coloured and orange below, whilst those from Annam are again somewhat different, the females being very grey on the breast and -flanks.