(1272) Aethopyga saturata saturata.
The Black-Breasted Sunbird.
Cinnyris saturata Hodgs., Ind Rev., ii, p. 273 (1837) (Nepal). Aethopyga saturata. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 354.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Male. Forehead, crown, nape, hind-neck and a broad moustachial streak metallic bluish-purple : back very dark crimson-maroon ; lores, sides of the head and neck, lesser wing-coverts, scapulars and lower back deep dull black ; a very narrow yellow band, sometimes invisible, above the rump ; rump, upper tail-coverts and two-thirds of the central tail-feathers metallic blue, terminal third blackish; wing-teat hers dark brown with very fine black edges, often totally abraded; chin, throat and breast velvety-black; abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts dull green-grey; axillaries and under wing-coverts yellowish-white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill black; legs and feet -dark brown.
Measurements. Wing 52 to 59 mm.; tail 70 to 84 mm.; tarsus 14 to 15 mm.; culmen 18 to 20 mm.
Female. Above dull pale green with a band of whitish-yellow across the rump; wing- and tail-feathers brown edged with olive-green; below rather paler greenish; axillaries and under wing-coverts yellowish-white.
Distribution. Garhwal, Nepal, Sikkim, Assam, Cachar, Manipur, Chin Hills and Yunnan.
Nidification. A. M. Primrose first took the nest of this Sunbird in Cachar in 1898 and after this Dr. Col tart's and my Naga collectors brought us nests, eggs and birds from the lower hills round Margherita in Assam, whilst Whymper took nests in Naini Tal. The nests were all alike, made in great part with very fine black rootlets or fibre, mixed with moss, coarser roots and grass-stems and with one or two bamboo-leaves in the base; inside there is a thin lining of grass-stems and then the true lining of cotton-down. The nests are shaped like pears with a porch over the entrance which is about half-way down and, for the size of the bird, the nest is rather bulky. The eggs number two or three and are of two types. The first is the pale pink freckled type already described as the common type of AE. s. seheriae; the second lias a pure white ground-colour with comparatively bold blotches and spots of deep brown with a few underlying of dark neutral tint. In this second type the markings are very sparse except at the larger end where they form well-defined rings or vague caps. Fifteen eggs average 14.7 x 11.3 mm.; maxima 15.3 x 12.0 and 14.7 x 12.1 mm.; minima 14.2 X 11.1 and 15.0 x 10.5 mm. In Assam the breeding-season is May and June; in Naini Tal June and July. They breed in forest, scrub jungle or in bamboo jungle, attaching their nests low down on the ends of branches of bushes or bamboos.
Habits. The Black-breasted Sunbird keeps much to the lower hills and the adjacent plains. In Summer it ascends the hills in some numbers up to about 5,000 feet, many, however, remaining to breed in their Winter quarters. It is a bird of the jungle but does not mind whether this is dense evergreen forest, thin bush and bamboo cover or comparatively open deciduous oak-woods. In flight, diet, voice etc it resembles very, closely the other Sunbirds of this genus. In Yunnan Forrest obtained this Sunbird in the Tengueh District in what he describes as open scrub-jungle at about 5,000 feet.