490. Heteroxenicus sinensis

(490) Heteroxenicus sinensis Rickett & La Touche.
Heteroxenicus sinensis, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 20.
This Short-wing is really a Western Chinese form but has twice been recorded from within Indian limits, in both cases a female being caught on her nest and eggs, and in both instances, after I had locally identified them, the skins were sent to Dr. Hartert to compare with Chinese specimens, and by him the identification was confirmed.
In the first instance a bird was brought to Dr. H. N. Coltart with eggs and the remains of a nest by Trans-Dikku Nagas, which was said to have been taken at about 6,000 feet on an extension of the Patkoi-Naga Hills. This was in 1903. The second occasion was in 1907, when a Naga table-servant of mine, who was also a keen skinner and collector, went home for short leave and, on his return, brought me a small collection of bird-skins from Hungrum, North Cachar, all collected at about 5,000 to 6,000 feet, and which had all been trapped on their nests. Among them was another female of this species, a nest and three eggs. The nests had, apparently, been very much like those of the preceding bird but, perhaps, more bulky, though this may have been due to their having been much handled and knocked about before we saw them. They were domed and built of the same materials, a little moss outside and many skeleton leaves in the inner portions and lining. Both were said to have been built among orchids on fallen logs in deep, wet, evergreen forest. Both were taken in the latter half of July.
The eggs taken in Assam are similar to those of the preceding birds. The ground-colour is not visible and the eggs appear to be uniform rather dark olive-brown, but with a high-power magnifying glass one can see the olive-grey ground showing through the tiny dark olive-brown specks. The three eggs taken in North Cachar measure 21.9 x 16.5, 21.2 x 16.2 and 21.9 x 16.3 mm., showing them to be much broader, more bulky eggs than any I have seen among hundreds of those of H. n. nipalensis.
La Touche (‘ Birds of E. China,’ p. 133, 1930) gives the following account of its breeding in North-West Fokhien :—
“The bird inhabits the dense dwarf-bamboo undergrowth in the forest (altitude about 6,500 feet) and is difficult to observe. The nest is built in April, and is a domed structure with side or front entrance, composed of moss with the egg-cavity strengthened with dry leaves and thickly lined with moss-roots. It is placed at a height of about 18 inches from the ground against the moss- grown trunk of a tree. The eggs are laid early in May. These are ovate inclining to oval, or sometimes pyriform in shape, of smooth satiny texture, orange or pinkish-buff, sometimes speckled with a slightly darker tint of orange. They measure 21.5 x 16 mm.”
Some of La Touche’s eggs are now in my collection, and I think I would call them pale bright terra cotta rather than orange-tinted. Although in every other respect like the Assam eggs, the colour is so utterly different that I very strongly suspect that if ever sufficient material of the Assam bird is obtained it will prove to be at least subspecifically different. Only females having been got so far, the males may show that the bird is quite a different species.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 2. 1933.
Title in Book: 
490. Heteroxenicus sinensis
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Chinese Shout Wing
Brachypteryx montana sinensis
Vol. 2

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