1112. Cacomantis passerinus.
The Indian Plaintive Cuckoo.
Cuculus passerinus, Vahl, Skriv. Nat. Selsk. iv, p. 57 (1797); Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 235. Cuculus tenuirostris, J. E. Gray in Hardw. Ill. Ind. Zool. ii, pl. 34, fig. 1 (1833-4); Blyth, J. A, S. B. xiii, p. 391; xviii, p. 805 ; id. Cat. p. 72, partim; Layard, A. M. N. H. (2) xiii, p. 453. Polyphasia tenuirostris, Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 698. Polyphasia nigra, apud Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 333; id. Ibis, 1872, p. 14; Simson, Ibis, 1882, p. 87; nec Cuculus niger, L. Cacomantis passerinus, Cab. & Heine, Mus. Hein. iv, p. 18 (1862); Ball, S. F. vii, p. 207 ; Cripps, ibid. p. 265 ; Hume, Cat. no. 208 ; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 55; Butler, ibid. p. 388; Davison, S. F. x, p. 360; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 127; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 385; Shelley,_ Cat. B. M. xix, p. 277. Polyphasia passerina, Jerdon, Ibis, 1872, pl. 1; Holdsworth, P. Z. S. 1872, p. 431. Ololvgon passerinus, Butler, S. F. iii, p. 461; Fairbank, S. F. iv, p. 255.
Pousya, Mahr.; Chinna katti pitta, Tel.; Koha, Cing.
Coloration. In the adult the upper parts are dark ashy; the wings throughout brown, glossed outside with greenish bronze; inner webs of the quills with a white patch near the base; tail nearly black, tipped with white, the outer feathers obliquely banded with white on the inner webs, the white bands most developed on the outermost rectrices; lower parts ashy, paling on the abdomen; edge of wing, vent, and lower tail-coverts white. Occasionally there is no white and the bird is dark ashy throughout, as figured by Jerdon in the ' Ibis.'
The young at first are dark glossy brown above, each feather with a rufous edging; the lower parts are white with brown bars, and the throat and breast tinged with rufous; the tail is black, with broad white and rufous bars and markings.
In the second stage the whole upper plumage, with the sides of the head and neck, is bright chestnut, the back and wings broadly barred with black, the head, hind-neck, rump, and upper tail-coverts with merely a few black spots, and the tail with some irregular black shaft-marks, a larger subterminal black patch and a white tip to each feather. The lower plumage is white, narrowly banded with black ; the chin, throat, and upper breast more or less suffused with chestnut.
In older birds of this stage, the head, hind-neck, back, rump, and tail-coverts become immaculate, the bars on the wings are resolved into spots; only the subterminal black patches remain on the tail-feathers, and many of the bars on the throat and breast fade away, these parts becoming bright chestnut. After this the adult plumage is rapidly assumed by the acquisition of ashy patches.
Bill dark brown; mouth salmon-colour; iris reddish brown or sometimes yellowish ; legs dingy yellow or brownish grey.
Length about 9 ; tail 4.5; wing 4.5 ; tarsus .7 ; bill from gape 1.
Distribution. The greater part of India from the Himalayas to Ceylon inclusive, rare in the north-west, and although found at Mount Abu, wanting elsewhere throughout Rajputana and the Indus plains. This Cuckoo occurs in the Himalayas from Simla to Sikhim, ascending the hills to the westward up to about 9000 feet, according to Jerdon; and its range extends to Eastern Bengal, where it meets the next species. In the peninsula of India it is chiefly found in forest-regions, and is most abundant in Bengal, Orissa, the wooded tracts west of the latter, and on the hills in the neighbourhood of the Malabar coast.
Habits, &c. Jerdon describes this Cuckoo as haunting forests, groves, gardens, and low bush-jungle, wandering much, and having a plaintive call, which was represented by Elliot as whe-whew, whe-whe-e-w. In Ceylon and at Mount Abu this bird is said to be migratory, but elsewhere it is believed to be resident. The eggs have been taken in September by Miss Cockburn on the Nilgiris, in the nests of Prinia inornata. The young have been found in Dehra Dun by Mr. B. Thompson in nests of Pyctorhis sinensis and Lanius erythronotus. C. passerinus also lays in the nest of Molpastes bengalensis. The eggs are pale blue, blotched and spotted towards the large end with reddish brown and purple, and measure about .8 by .55.