1557. Ardea insignis.
The Great White-bellied Heron.
Ardea insignis, Hodgs. in Gray's Zool. Misc. p. 86 (1844), descr. nulla; Hume, S. F. vi, p. 470 (1878), descr. princ.; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 245; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 232; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxvi, p. 70. Ardea nobilis, apud Gray, Cat. Mamm. &c. Coll. Hodgs. p. 133 (1846) ; nec Blyth. Ardea sumatrana, apud Blyth, Cat. p. 278, pt.; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 740, pt.; Hume, N. & E. p. 610; nec Baffles. Ardea fusca, apud Hume, Cat. no. 922; Cripps, S. F. xi, p. 332 ; nec Blyth.
Coloration. Similar to A. sumatrana, but greyer and not so dark above, the wings and tail-feathers bluish grey; neck and sides of head purer grey and less rufous ; the breast-plumes have white-ends and shaft-stripes, and, especially, the lower breast, abdomen, under tail-coverts, axillaries, and wing-lining are white; thigh-coverts white in front, grey behind.
Young birds want the ornamental plumes, and have the upper surface brownish. They may be recognized at once by the white breast and abdomen.
Coloration of soft parts not recorded. Tail 8.5; wing 21.5; tarsus 7.5; bill from gape 8.
Distribution. This species is known from the Terai of Nepal, Sikhim, and Bhutan, where it has been collected by Hodgson and Mandelli. Cripps states that he once saw it above Negheri Ting in Upper Assam, and Oates records it from Bhamo. It is just possible that some of the large Herons seen at times in the Peninsula of India may have belonged to this species.
Habits, &c. Hume says that a huge stick-nest on a tree in the swampy Terai was pointed out to him as belonging to this bird, which was said to breed in July and August.