302. Pseudominla castaneiceps castaneiceps

(302) Pseudominla castaneiceps castaneiceps (Hodgs.).
Pseudominla castaneiceps castaneiceps, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 288.
The exact range of this Chestnut-headed Tit-Babbler is doubtful and, with more material, the Burmese Southern form will almost certainly have to be separated. At present it is supposed to extend from Nepal, Sikkim and Assam, North of the Brahmapootra, through the North Chin and Kachin Hills into the Shan States and hills of East Central Burma to Tenasserim.
This is a Tit-Babbler of high elevations. Stevens (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xxix, p. 739, 1923) says that it is generally distributed between 3,500 and 10,000 feet according to season, and that it was commonly observed in Shamdong and Singtam at 2,400 (Winter). He found it breeding plentifully at 5,000 feet. It is a forest bird, breeding in forests of big trees and, so far as is at present recorded, never breeding elsewhere. Stevens obtained it in the Abor-Miri Hills “above the range of Pseudominla cinerea.” The nests and eggs of this bird are described in Hume’s ‘Nests and Eggs,’ vol. i, p. 118, but some of the descriptions do not apply at all to this bird. Hodgson’s nest and eggs are so different from the real thing that we need not refer to his description.
Gammie’s nest is, however, correct and is exactly like some found by Osmaston and Stevens in Sikkim except that it was not domed. He writes :—“A nest of this bird, with one fresh egg and female, was brought to me in May. The man said he found the nest in the Rungbee forest, at 6,000 feet, among the moss growing on the trunk of a large tree, a few feet from the ground. It was a solid cup, made of green moss, with an inner layer of fine dark coloured roots and lined with grassy fibres. Externally it measured 4 inches in width by the same in depth ; internally 1.5 wide by 1.25 deep.” Both Osmaston and Stevens found nests which very closely agreed with this but all Osmaston’s and all but one of Stevens’s were domed.
Osmaston says : “These little birds are common in the forests from 6,000 to 8,000 feet.
“I found a nest of this species on the 25th of May at about 6,500 ft. on Mt. Tonghe (Sikkim). It was built up against a moss-covered trunk of a tree, 9 ft. from the ground. It was domed and roughly spherical, 6" in diameter, and composed externally of moss, followed by a layer of dry bamboo leaves and lined scantily with black hair-like rhizomorph.”
Stevens describes his nests as domed with one exception and as “very loose bulky structures composed of moss, dead leaves and grass, the first-named forming the base of the nest. Taken at elevations between 5,500 and 7,000 feet.”
Davison found two nests of the Tenasserim bird in February and, curiously enough, one was domed and one cup-shaped. One nest was placed like those already described in the moss against a tree-trunk in dense forest “beautifully worked into the moss growing on the trunk, and it was only with considerable difficulty, and after looking for some time, that I found it. The egg-cavity of this nest was also lined with fibres and dried bamboo leaves.
“The cup-shaped nest was placed about 5 feet from the ground, in a mass of creepers growing up a sapling.”
In the North of India all the properly authenticated nests have been taken in May and June, whilst in Tenasserim Davison took both of his in February.
The full complement of eggs seems to be four, sometimes three only.
The ground is a dead chalky-white, very seldom smoother, and with a slight gloss. The primary markings consist of fair-sized blotches of inky-black with equally numerous secondary markings of pale inky-lavender. Both kinds of markings form well-marked rings round the larger end of the egg and are sparse elsewhere. In some the rings are not quite so well defined and the markings are also more numerous over the rest of the surface, whilst in a few others they are strictly confined to the one dense ring. In a few eggs there appears here and there a brown dot or blotch. They are decidedly handsome eggs.
In shape they are broad or normal ovals, not much compressed, and never pointed at the smaller end.
Twenty-eight eggs average 17.7 x 13.4 mm. : maxima 18.3 x 13.3 and 18.1 x 14.2 mm. ; minima 17.0 x 12.9 mm.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. 1932.
Title in Book: 
302. Pseudominla castaneiceps castaneiceps
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Chestnut Headed Babbler
Alcippe castaneceps castaneceps
Vol. 1

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