(1265) Aethopyga siparaja vigorsi.
Vigors's Yellow-backed Sue-bird.
Cinnyris vigorsi Sykes, P. Z. S., 1882, p. 98 (Deccan). Aethopyga vigorsi. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 350.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Male. Upper parts like a very dark AE. s. seheriae; crown metallic green ; hinder crown and nape blackish, showing more or less copper reflections; back deep crimson-red, the feathers with black bases which show through ; rump yellow ; visible portions of tail metallic green; greater coverts and wing-quills very dark brown edged narrowly with paler brown; a long moustachial streak and patch behind the ear-coverts metallic purple-violet; sides of bead, neck and. breast crimson-scarlet, brighter and more scarlet in the centre and with numerous fine streaks of yellow; abdomen, posterior flanks, vent and under tail-coverts dark ashy-grey ; under wing-coverts and axillaries ashy-white.
Colours of soft parts, Iris crimson to red-brown; bill horny-black, paler below; legs and feet dark brown to blackish.
Measurements. Wing 60 to 66 mm.; tail 51 to 60 mm.; tarsus 15 to 16 mm.; culmen about 20 to 21 mm.
Female. Whole plumage dull smoky olive-green, the crown browner and the lower parts more ashy ; under tail-coverts edged with pale dull yellow; axillaries and under wing-coverts ashy-white, the inside of the shoulder yellowish.
Young males are like the female.
Distribution. The West coast of India from Bombay to Travancore. Jerdon's record of this bird from Bastar, South-East of Nagpur, requires further confirmation.
Nidification. Vigors's Yellow-backed Sunbird breeds about Mahabaleshwar in June and September and O'Donnel took a nest in the latter month near Poona. The nest is a typical Sunbird's, sometimes with, occasionally without, a porch over the opening. Eggs taken by Davidson and Wenden are very like those of Aethopyga s. seheriae but larger, 16.0 x 12.2 mm.; a pair taken by Mr. O'Donnel and now in my possession have a pale grey ground and are thinly freckled all over with rather darker yellowish-grey, numerous enough at the larger end to form an indefinite cap.. They measure 18.3 x 12.3 and 17.8 x 12.6 mm.
Habits. This appears to be a Sunbird both of open country and of the deeper forests but there is very little on record about it. In Khandesh it is found frequenting the dense tree-forest growing in the ravines and pockets of the hill country, feeding both upon the tops of the highest trees and the lower bushes alike. Its flight is said to be very powerful and the note to be the loud trill common to all the Sunbirds.
This bird differs from AE. s. seherice so greatly that one is tempted to give it the status of a species but in Burma we get a few individual specimens of cara which show fine streaks of yellow on the breast, whilst in AE. s. siparaja they are again more conspicuous. It seems therefore reasonable to consider this a representative race of siparaja in Southern India, developed by isolation to an extreme degree of variation from its parent stock.