910. Arachnothera chrysogenys.
The Yellow-eared Spider-hunter.
Nectarinia chrysogenys, Temm. Pl. Col. pl. 388, fig. i (1826). Arachnothera chrysogenys (Temm.), Blyth, Cat. pp. 222, 327; Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 729; Hume, S. F. iii, p. 85; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 177 ; Shelley, Mon. Nect. pp. xlix, li, 365, pl. 117; Hume, Cat. no. 224 ter; Oates, B. B. i, p. 331; Gadow,Cat. B. M. ix, p. 108.
Coloration. Upper plumage dull olive-green, the feathers of the head dark-centred; coverts and quills dark brown, broadly edged with the colour of the back ; tail olive-green ; feathers on the edge of the upper eyelid and a bunch of feathers springing from near the angle of the gape bright yellow; ear-coverts and sides of neck like the back; cheeks, chin, throat, and upper breast dull brownish green, the centres of the feathers darker ; lower breast, abdomen, vent, and under tail-coverts yellow; sides of the body yellow, tinged with dusky; under wing-coverts and axillaries pale yellow.
Legs and feet fleshy white ; the bill darker horny brown ; the edges of both mandibles to within .6 of tip dirty yellow; gape fleshy white ; irides brown (Davison).
Length 7; tail 1.7; wing 3.5; tarsus .75; bill from gape 1.8.
Distribution. Tenasserim south of Mergui, extending down the Malay peninsula to Sumatra, Java, and Borneo.
Arachnothera flavigastra is a closely allied species inhabiting the Malay peninsula, and is likely to occur in Tenasserim. It may be recognized by its larger size, by the eye being entirely surrounded by yellow, and by its stouter and more flattened bill.
Arachnothera crassirostris (Reichb.) occurs in the Malay peninsula, and is not unlikely to be found in Tenasserim. This species resembles Arachnothera longirostris very closely, but may be known by its much broader and rounder bill and by the chin and throat being of the same colour as the breast.
The following species, on being critically examined, proves to be no Sun-bird. I failed to discover this, however, till I was working the Nectariniidae, with which it has always been associated.
My reasons for excluding this bird from the Nectariniidae are threefold:
It has no serrations on the margins of the mandibles, a character found in all the Sun-birds.
It has, according to "Wallace (Ibis, 1870, p. 49), a tongue which is " short, triangular, horny at the tip, and entire."
It has habits which resemble those of no other species of Sunbird.
I know the bird well in life, but prefer to quote what Davison says on this point:—
" In its habits this species differs conspicuously from all its congeners, reminding one very much of the "White-eyed Tit (Zosterops palpebrosus) or again of Timalia (Cyanoderma) erythroptera. Except perhaps during the breeding-season, it goes about in small parties of from five to ten in amongst the undergrowth, or the skirts of the forest, or in scrub-jungle, hunting amongst the foliage and roots of the trees for insects, on which it chiefly subsists, and keeping up the while an incessant twittering.
" Of other species of Sun-birds a dozen, or even at times fifty, may be seen about a single tree ;' but in the case of these there is never any concerted action between more than a single pair. They do not go about in flocks, though' many individuals may happen to collect in a single place, but the present species, when not breeding, is almost always seen in flocks working together in concert, invariably moving away from one place to another at the same time and hunting, some high and some low, just as a mob of our Titmice on the Himalayas may often be seen doing."
The nestling bird resembles the female, and therefore the proper position of this species appears to be among the Crateropodidae in the subfamily Liotrichinae, probably near Myzornis (Vol. i, p. 233).