(380) Criniger gularis flaveolus (Gould).
THE INDIAN YELLOW WHITE-THROATED BULBUL.
Criniger tephrogenys flaveolus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 363.
Criniger gularis flaveolus, ibid. vol. viii, p. 612.
This fine Bulbul has been recorded from as far West as Garhwal, where, however, it must be very rare ; it occurs in Nepal, Sikkim and the whole of the outer ranges of the Himalayas as far East as Assam, Manipur and Tippera. In the Assam Hills we found it breeding most commonly between 1,000 and 2,500 feet, but it certainly nests occasionally up to nearly 5,000 feet, as I took one nest myself at 4,600 feet. Mandelli took many nests up to 4,000 feet in Sikkim, though Stevens estimates its highest limits at 1,500 feet, and speaks of it as “strictly a plains bird.” Again, he records it as occurring plentifully throughout the Plains in forest in North Lakhimpur, whilst Hole and Inglis got it in the foot-hills in Cachar.
Mandelli’s nests were all “placed in branches of small trees in the midst of dense brushwood or heavy jungle, at heights of from 4 to 10 feet from the ground. The nests are broad and saucer-like, nearly 5 inches in diameter, but not much above 2 in height externally ; the cavities average about 3.25 in diameter and about 1 in depth. The body of the nest is composed of dead leaves, the sides are more or less felted round with rich brown fibrous, almost wool-like roots ; inside the leaves fine twigs and stems of herbaceous plants, all of a uniform brown tint, are wound round and round, apparently to keep the leaves in their places interiorly ; and then the cavity is lined with jet-black horsehair-like vegetable fibres.”
Although doubted by Hume, Mandelli’s nests and eggs were of course correctly identified, but the nests differ in some respects from those found by myself. My description (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. 1892, p. 4) is as follows :—“The outside of the nest is composed of dead leaves and bamboo spathes rather strongly fastened together with a few hair-like fern-roots and a number of elastic stems of weeds ; inside the outer shell, which can be stripped off without damaging the remainder of the nest, there are a few more dead leaves very strongly bound together by innumerable fern-roots, all of the finest description, and, also, all black ; so firm is this part of the nest that, if the outer part and the lining be taken away, a strong and perfect cup remains, capable of withstanding considerable force. The true lining is composed entirely of coarse fern-roots, very rarely of fine twigs (as thick as pins). These three portions of the nest as a rule show three distinct shades of colour ; the outermost part, in the material of which dead leaves predominate, is of a yellow or light reddish ; the fine fern-roots cause the central part to appear of a dead, dull black ; whilst the innermost part is nearly always of a dark reddish- brown.
My measurements of nests agree well with those of Mandelli, but the situations selected in Assam differ rather from those chosen in Sikkim. I suppose I have now seen some scores of nests in situ, yet I have never taken them from small trees at ten feet from the ground. Most nests are built in among masses of weeds, brambles and similar cover in a small bush or tangle of vines and weeds anything between a few inches to two or three feet from the ground. Exceptionally they may be four feet and, I think, I have seen one about five feet up in a cane-brake in ground which was practically a swamp. Cane-brakes close to a stream running through a really tropical evergreen forest, where everything is always wet, seems to be a very favourite situation for the nest. So, also, is the rank vegetation growing about palm-ferns in similar humid spots. Everything round may be reeking and the base and loose outer leaves of the nest quite soaked, yet the inner part keeps dry and smug.
Another point about this bird’s nest is the clever way the pliant weed-stems are wound round the supporting twigs in and out of the other materials, so that at one and the same time they keep all the loose leaves of the nest together and keep the nest itself firmly attached to its supports.
In the Cold Weather, when these Bulbuls consort in noisy flocks, they may sometimes be seen in bamboo-jungle and secondary growth, but I have never found them breeding in such cover. The breeding season is principally May and June but I have eggs taken on the 24th April and again as late as the 24th July. I do not think they are double brooded.
Both birds take part in incubation, for I have caught both sexes repeatedly on the nest and eggs. I believe, also, but am not quite sure, that both male and female help in the construction of the nest.
Incubation probably takes thirteen days.
The eggs number three or four, one number as often as the other ; sometimes two only are laid but, in these cases, Jays, Magpies or Lizards probably account for the shortage. An interesting question in regard to these birds, which breed in these soaking positions in humid forests, is in regard to leeches. In the Rains these are so numerous that men walking along the rain-sodden paths have to stop at intervals to scrape the leeches off their legs. Small mammals are sometimes killed and even the bigger ones suffer by exhaustion from them. One small leech could kill a nestling in a few seconds yet I have never found a trace of such an event having happened. Why is this so ?
The eggs are certainly the most beautiful of all the eggs of Bulbuls. The principal types are the same as those I have already described for the preceding members of the genus. Other types are the following:—Ground-colour carmine-pink, the blotches and hiero¬glyphics being a deep blood-red or purple red, with others under¬lying of dark lavender or purple-grey. Many of these are collected in rings round the larger end but are numerous elsewhere also. Another type has the ground a vivid rose-pink with primary markings of pinkish brick-red and others of light red splashed freely over the whole surface but coalescing to form caps or rings at the larger end.
Another type—and this approaches a rather abnormal type of Microscelis egg—has the ground-colour a pale, slightly yellow- cream, whilst the blotches are very large, some being deep blood- red, some a deep purple and a few a rich red-brown.
Individual eggs often have a single long line, twisted or straight, covering nearly the whole of its length or circumference.
A few eggs are pale, both in ground-colour and markings, except for one or two conspicuous blood-red or nearly black spots.
As already stated, the texture of these, and of all other eggs of the genus is very fine, close and hard, with an intense gloss not approached in the eggs of any other Bulbul. They are also very hard shells, not easily broken.
Sixty eggs average 26.9 x 18.6 mm. : maxima 27.5 x 18.6 and 26.1 x 20.0 mm. ; minima 23.3 x 18.3 and 24.8 x 18.0 mm.
380. Criniger gularis flaveolus
(380) Criniger gularis flaveolus (Gould).