(671) Anthipes monileger leucops Sharpe.
THE ASSAM WHITE-GORGETED FLYCATCHER.
Anthipes monileger leucops, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 245.
This race of White-gorgeted Flycatcher is found in the Assam Hills South of the Brahmapootra. It also occurs in Manipur, the Chin and Lushai Hills and the hills of Central Burma at least as far South as Karenni. Probably, wherever found, it breeds, as, so far as I have observed, it is very sedentary and moves very little in elevation at the change of seasons. I have found it, in both Summer and Winter, between 3,000 and 6,000 feet but, generally, between 2,500 and 4,500 feet, and at all. times in thick cover, not always forest, but sometimes dense bush-jungle, bamboo jungle with grass and shrub undergrowth, or deep tree-forest. Nowhere have I found it common and as, in addition, it is a shy, retiring little bird, it is one hard to find and equally hard to observe for more than a few odd moments.
The first nest I ever took of this bird was found on the 3rd May, 1895, at an elevation of about 4,800 feet. It was built on the bank of a small but deep ravine running through rather dense forest, being placed on the ground in among the roots of a bush, and so well concealed that I should never have spotted it but for the bird leaving it at the moment of my passing. A glimpse at the nest showed me it was something new, so nooses were set about the entrance, and within a quarter of an hour both birds had returned and been caught. The nest was a globular affair of grass, leaves and a few ragged old bamboo-leaves, neither very neatly nor very compactly put together, with a lining of very fine grass-stems. Outwardly it measured about 6 inches in its longest diameter by about 4.1/2 in breadth, the egg-chamber being about 2.1/2 inches in diameter by rather less than 3.1/2 in depth.
Another nest, much like that just described, was brought to me by a Naga boy the same day, together with the female, which he had caught on the nest. This nest was taken from a pile of loose stones fallen from the side of a jungle-track and quite overgrown with bushes.
Other nests taken later were very similar to the first two ; some were rather neater and more compact, thus making the external measurements rather smaller each way. In one or two nests a few dead leaves were added to the fabric of the walls and in one there was a little dry moss also. Every nest I have seen in situ was ball-shaped, but they are so flimsy that they stand no rough handling, and this may account for Mackenzie describing it as cup-shaped. He writes :—“Nest a deep cup in the grass at the base of a tree-stump ; built of grass, leaves, and a very little moss, lined with fine grass-fibres. A few bamboo-leaves and skeleton leaves were worked in with the other materials.” This nest, which was taken in the Chin Hills at about 6,000 feet, contained four eggs, off which the bird was shot.
The entrance to the nest is always very large and very badly finished off, so that any disturbance of the loose leaves round it makes them fall back, the dome of the nest being destroyed.
Most nests are placed on the ground on banks or among boulders, but I have taken one from a thin fork of a dead sapling, about 3 feet from the ground, quite hidden in a rank growth of ferns and Cala¬diums. I have also seen one built in an upright fork of a dense bush within a few inches of the ground.
All my eggs, as well as the single clutch taken by Mackenzie in the Chin Hills, were laid in May but we know too little about this bird’s breeding to say how long the breeding season lasts. As, however, I have seen eggs almost hatching on the 8th May, it must certainly sometimes breed and lay in the end of April.
The full complement of eggs is four, and no smaller clutch than this has been taken showing incubation. I have also seen four young in the nest.
The eggs have a china-white ground, with small freckles and blotches varying in colour from pinkish-red to rusty red and reddish-brown. In nearly every egg these markings are sparse everywhere except in a dense ring round the larger extremity, and get fewer still towards the smaller end. The clutch taken by Mackenzie only differs from others in being rather more densely marked.
In shape the eggs are broad, blunt ovals ; the texture is hard and fine, with a strong surface-gloss.
Twenty-four eggs average 18.2 x 13.8 mm. : maxima 19.7 x 14.0 and 19.0 x 14.1 mm. ; minima 17.2 x 13.9 and 17.3 x 13.2 mm.
The great difference in the nests and eggs of this genus when compared with those of Cyornis and Olcyornis is most striking. The nest is more like that of the genus Ochromela, whilst the eggs approach those of the Paradise Flycatchers.
Of the birds trapped on their nests in North Cachar, two were males and one female.
671. Anthipes monileger leucops
(671) Anthipes monileger leucops Sharpe.