(1274) Aethopyga nipalensis nipalensis.
The Nepal Yellow-backed Sunbird.
Cinnyris nipalensis Hodgs., Ind. Rev., ii, p. 273 (1837) (Nepal). Aethopyga nepalensis. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 355.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Male. Forehead to hind-neck, chin and throat metallic green; sides of the head black ; sides of the neck and the back deep crimson-maroon; scapulars and lower back olive-green ; rump bright yellow ; upper tail-coverts and three-quarters of central tail-feathers metallic green, terminal quarter of central feathers black; lateral tail-feathers black, all but the pair next the central ones with pale brown tips ; breast golden yellow, finely streaked with scarlet; lower abdomen, posterior flanks, vent and under tail-coverts olive-yellow, the last more yellow; axillaries and under wing-coverts white washed with lemon-yellow.
Colours of soft parts. Iris deep brown or crimson-brown ; bill black; legs and feet dark brown to black.
Measurements. Wing 53 to 56 mm.; tail 63 to 69 mm.; tarsus 14 to 15 mm.; culmen 18 to 20 mm.
Female. General colour above olive-green, washed with yellow on the rump and with concealed brown centres to the feathers of the crown; wing-feathers dark brown, edged rufescent olive-green ; chin, throat, sides of neck and upper breast olive-grey, changing to olive-yellow on the abdomen and to yellow on the under tail-coverts.
The females of this group are separated from those of the siparaja group by their yellow under tail-coverts and greyer chins and throats. The bill is also more strongly curved.
Distribution. Eastern Nepal, (Sikkim, Assam North and South of the Brahmaputra, Manipur, Kauri Kachin Hills, Shan States.
Nidification. Hodgson found these Sunbirds breeding in Eastern Nepal, they also breed commonly in Sikkim and round about Darjeeling and I have taken the nest once in the Khasia Hills where the bird is very common. The nest is the usual pear-shaped structure but without a porch over the entrance, very like a large edition of the nest of AE s. saturata and built of just the same materials but with more cotton-down and less fibre and finer roots in its external walls. Hodgson described the nests as oval, rather than pear-shaped, but otherwise like those taken by myself. The eggs are said to number two or three, white in ground-colour with spots and mottlings of reddish-brown in a ring at the larger end. The only three eggs I have seen agree well with this description and measure 16.9 x 12.7, 16.0 x 13.0, and 16.0 X 12.6 mm. Hodgson's eggs were longer but narrower, measuring 17.3 x 10.9 mm. They are early breeders, Hodgson's and my own eggs being taken in April and I have seen advanced young in the first week of May. They breed in glades and the more open parts of evergreen-forest.
Habits. Very similar to those of other Sunbirds. They are not shy birds and are common in gardens and along roads, feeding on the nectar in the flowers as well as on insects. They occur at all heights between 3,000 and 10,000 feet, possibly most often between 4,000 and 7.000 feet, and are resident throughout the year except at the highest elvations.