(180) Babax lanceolatus lanceolatus.
THE CHINESE BABAX.
Pterorhinus lanceolatus Verr., Nouv. Arch. Mus. Paris, vi. p. 36 (1871) (Chinese Tibet).
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Crown bright rufous-brown with dark centres to the feathers; remainder of upper plumage and wing-coverts darker rufescent brown, each feather broadly edged with pale fulvous grey, white on sides of neck, almost so on nape and darkest on rump; upper tail-coverts grey with obsolete concealed dark centres; tail rufous-brown, duller than crown; lores and forehead fulvous, the latter merging into the crown; ear-coverts striped white and brown; a broad moustachial streak varying from chestnut to almost black; chin, throat and upper breast fulvous white, a few indistinct dark striae on the latter; sides of breast and flanks pale fulvous with broad brown and chestnut streaks, disappearing on the abdomen and centre of breast; under tail-coverts and thighs earthy-brown.
Colours of soft parts. Iris white to bright orange; bill horn-coloured; legs paler horny-brown.
Measurements. Wing 93 to 115 mm.; tail 125 to 140 mm.; tarsus about 38 mm.; culmen 27 to 28 mm. The largest and smallest birds come from the same place. Hartert gives the wing up to 110 mm.
Distribution. I cannot distinguish between lanceolate, yunnanensis and bonvaloti; the range therefore of this Babax is E. Tibet, W. China, Yunnan, Kachin Hills and N. Shan States.
Nidification. This bird was found breeding by Harington, Pershouse and others in the Bhamo Hills between 5,000 and 6,000 feet, making a cup-shaped nest of dead leaves, grass, bits of bracken, etc, lined with roots and placed in low bushes in thin scrub-jungle or mixed bracken and bush. The breeding season appears to be April to June. The eggs number from two to four, generally three, and are rather long, pointed ovals in shape, rather dark spotless blue in colour, and with a fine, close texture and surface but no gloss. 15 eggs average about 27.3 x 20.3 mm.
Habits. This Babax is said to haunt thin scattered forest or " the more open hillsides, which are covered with bracken and bramble bushes, and never enters the dense secondary growth which springs up after cultivation " (Harington). They go about either in pairs or small parties and keep up a continuous flow of soft and musical notes, varied occasionally by a harsher outburst. They are no better fliers than the rest of the family, and are equally strong and active on their legs.