(543) Calliope pectoralis pectoralis.
The Himalayan Ruby-throat.
Calliope pectoralis Gould, Icones Av., pt. ii, pl. iv (1837) (West Himalayas) *, Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 103.
Vernacular names. Daogulugajao (Cachari).
Description.— Adult male. Forehead and short supercilium white; whole upper surface slaty-grey, more or less tinged with ashy and darker next the white forehead; lores, sides of the head, chin and throat black ; ear-coverts and behind them greyer; wing-coverts like the back ; quills dark brown edged with olive-rufous ; tail dark brown, sometimes blackish, the lateral feathers white on rather more than the basal half and tipped white ; chin and throat bright crimson; breast black, fringed with olive-brown or ashy-brown; remainder of lower parts white, the flanks suffused with grey or, occasionally, with olive-brown. In breeding plumage the upper parts are more ashy and the breast is wholly black or almost so.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown or hazel; bill black, lighter at the tip ; legs and feet brown, fleshy-brown or plumbeous brown.
Measurements. Total length about 155 mm.; wing 68 to 78 mm.; tail 56 to 64 mm.; tarsus about 30 mm.; culmen about 14 mm.
Female. Whole upper plumage olive-brown; wing-quills edged with fulvous ; tail-feathers dark brown, the lateral feathers tipped with white ; lores, edge of forehead and short supercilium dingy-white; chin and throat dull white; sides of head, chin and throat, breast and flanks fulvous-brown fading to fulvous-white on the abdomen.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill and feet as in the male.
Measurements. A little smaller than the male, wing 68 to 72 mm.
Nestling. Above brown, darker on the crown, each feather with a fulvous central streak; wing-coverts like the back; chin whitish; breast and flanks fulvous, the feathers edged with dark brown ; centre of abdomen and under tail-coverts buffy-white.
The male from the earliest age has the base of the tail white.
The young male assumes the adult male plumage described above in the first autumn but does not attain the red and black breast until the following spring. A few individuals, however, retain the female upper plumage until the second autumn moult.
Distribution. The Himalayas from Afghanistan and Baluchistan, Kashmir, Ladak, G-arhwal and the Simla States to Nepal. In winter it descends to the foot-hills and occasionally a short way into the adjacent plains of the North-West districts of India.
Nidification. The Himalayan Buby-throat breeds on the N.W. frontier of India between 9,000 and 14,000 fe"et during June; in Gilgit, Kashmir and N.W. Ladak in June and July between 11,000 and 14,000 feet. It makes a domed nest of grass, lined with the same, placed on the ground among thick tussocks of grass, scrubby bushes, etc., often on the banks of small streams, at other times far from any water. Both Whitehead and Col. A. E. Ward describe the nest as a very roughly-made untidy affair.
The eggs number from three to five, generally four, and are quite indistinguishable from those of the last bird. Thirty eggs average 21.5 x 15.3 mm.: the maxima are 23.2 x 16.3 inm., and the minima 20.4 X 15.0 and 20.8 x 14.5 mm.
Habits. Similar to those of Calliope calliope.
On the North-West Frontier this bird seems to be a favourite foster-parent for the Cuckoo (C. canorus telephonus).