(489) Heteroxenicus nipalensis nipalensis.
The Nepal Short-wing.
Brachypteryx nipalensis Hodgs., Moore, P. Z. S.,'1864, p. 74 (Nepal). Drymochares nipalensis. Blanf. & Oates, i; p. 188.
Vernacular names. lnrui~piji (Kacha Naga).
Description.— Adult male. Lores and an obsolete frontal band "black; a white eyebrow, often concealed by the feathers of the crown; sides of head and neck, whole upper plumage and visible portions of wings and tail deep slate-blue; chin, throat and centre of abdomen white ; sides of breast and flanks smoky-slate, shading into the blue of the upper parts and generally forming a well-defined band across the breast.
Colours of soft parts. Iris hazel-brown to dark brown; bill dark brown above, yellowish horny below and with yellow-white gape; the bill is nearly black in the breeding season ; legs and feet fleshy white to dark purplish fleshy.
Measurements. Total length about 130 mm.; wing 58 to 64 mm.; tail 27 to 32 mm.; tarsus about 26 mm.; culmen 11.5 to 13 mm.
Female. Lores and feathers above the nostrils fulvous ; sides of head and neck and whole upper plumage ferruginous olive-brown; a concealed white eyebrow; below dull white; sides of breast, a band across it and flanks fulvous.
Colours of soft parts and Measurements the same as in the male but the bill is never black.
Distribution. The Himalayas from Garhwal to Eastern Assam, North and South of the Brahmaputra, Chin Hills, Hills of Arrakan, Tenasserim.
Birds South of the Brahmaputra and in the extreme East of Assam only differ from those of the West in that the males are like the females and never put on the blue plumage except in very rare cases, and even then, as a rule, only partially. I can see no other difference in either coloration or size.
Heteroxenicus w. Carolines La Touche, 1898, found in Fohkien, is a well-marked race with much brighter under plumage, more fulvous buff and much less brownish; this race also occurs in Annam and will probably be found in the Shan States.
H. n. harterti Weigold, 1922, from Setchuan seems very doubtfully distinct from Carolina.
Nidification. In the Hills South of the Brahmaputra the Nepal Short-wing breeds from the end of April to June or the first few days of July, between 3,000 and 6,000 feet. In Sikkim it breeds in June and July between 4,000 and 7,000 feet. The nest is globular, made of moss, roots, leaves and bracken, bound together with grass and moss and lined with skeleton leaves. It is generally placed against a tree or clump of shrubs, sometimes in amongst the branches low down or, rarely, on the ground itself. It may be placed in thin shrub or secondary growth or in dense-evergreen forest and is generally well hidden. The bird lays three to four eggs which are miniatures of those of Brachypteryx major but smaller and shorter in proportion. The ground-colour is some shade of olive-green or pale sea-green and usually this is almost entirely obliterated by innumerable freckles of light reddish. The eggs appear practically unicoloured, varying from olive-green to olive-brown. Sixty eggs average 19.5 x 14.5 mm.: maxima 22.3 X 15.0 mm.; minima 18.5 x 14.2 and 19.0 x 14.0 mm.
Habits. In the winter the Nepal Short-wing is found either singly or in pairs, never in flocks like the Timaliine birds. It is a very shy, retiring little bird, keeping entirely to undergrowth of evergreen forests, secondary growth in deserted cultivation or, less often, to low scrub-jungle. It is essentially a ground-bird in all its habits, seeking its insect-food almost entirely amongst the leaves and fallen rubbish but sometimes working through the* low undergrowths and picking ants and Aphidae off the lower stems and branches. It has a pretty little song of a few short jerky notes, which it is fond of: repeating, perched on a low branch in the middle of a bush or cane-brake. According to Stevens it descends in winter to the foot-hills and even into the Plains, but South of the Brahmaputra we never obtained it much below 3,000 feet.