1113. Cacomantis merulinus.
The Rufous-bellied Cuckoo.
Cuculus merulinus, Scop. Del. Flor. et Faun. Insubr. ii, p. 89 (1786); Strickland, J. A. S. B. xiii, p. 391; Blyth, Cat. p. 72. Cuculus flavus, Gmel. Syst. Nat. i. p. 421 (1788). Cuculus sepulchralis, S. Mull. Verhand. Land- en Volk. p. 177, note (1839-1844). Polyphasia merulina, Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 697. Cacomantis threnodes, Cab. & Heine, Mus. Hein. iv, p. 19 (1863) ; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 158 ; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 207 ; xi, p. 72 ; id. Cat. no. 209; Cripps, S. F. vii, p. 265 ; Bingham, S. F. ix, p. 167; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 111 ; Salvadori, Ann. Mus. Civ. Gen. (2) v, p. 568; vii, p. 428. Cacomantis merulinus, Cab. & Heine, Mus. Hein. iv, p. 21; Walden, Tr. Z. S. viii, p. 54 ; ix, p. 160 ; Shelley, Cat. B. M. xix, p. 268. Polyphasia tenuirostris, apud Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 335; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xxxix, pt. 2, p. 98 ; Simson, Ibis, 1882, p. 87; nec Cuculus tenuirostris, Gray. Polyphasia rufiventris, Jerdon, Ibis, 1872, p. 15. Cacomantis passerinus, Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 80; nec Cuculus passerinus, Vahl. Cacomantis rufiventris, Armstrong, S. F. iv, p. 312; Wardl. Bams. Ibis, 1877, p. 458; Anderson, Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 587.
Chota bhrou, Beng.
Coloration. In the adult the head and neck all round are ashy, rather darker above; back, scapulars, and wings brown, slightly glossed with bronze; inner webs of quills with a white patch near the base ; upper tail-coverts blackish and glossy, with ashy edges; tail black, tipped white and with oblique white bars on the inner webs of the outer feathers, most marked on the outermost; on the lower surface the pale ashy generally extends to the upper breast, but sometimes not so far; rest of lower parts, including the wing lining, varying from rufous buff to ferruginous red, edge of wing whitish. Some birds (C. threnodes) are much darker than others.
The young bird is brown above, at first with a few rufous bars and tips to the feathers, but later with all the upper plumage and tail-feathers barred chestnut and black; lower parts white or rufous, with narrow brown bars throughout. This changes gradually into the adult plumage. In the last stage before the adult the whole under surface to the chin is rufous buff; this is the form known as C. sepulchralis. As so frequently occurs in Cuckoos, the changes are gradual and intermediate forms common.
Upper mandible and tip of lower dark horny, remainder of lower brownish orange; iris pale yellow, sometimes brown and occasionally crimson; feet brownish yellow or deep yellow.
Length about 9; tail 4.2 to 5.5; wing 4.3; tarsus .75; bill from gape .95.
Distribution. Two specimens were obtained by Hume from Raipur; no other occurrences of this species have been recorded from the Indian Peninsula (one is labelled Madras in the British Museum, but evidently by mistake). This Cuckoo is found about Calcutta, throughout Eastern Bengal, Assam, and the hills to the southward, the Eastern Himalayas from Nepal, also in Burma, Southern China, and the Malay Peninsula and islands, including the Philippines.
Habits, &c. The Rufous-bellied Cuckoo is found chiefly in brushwood and about clearings. It has a less plaintive call than C. passerinus and is a very noisy bird. The eggs have not been identified with certainty; Captain Feilden found what he took for them at Thayetmyo in the nests of Tailor-birds.