543. Calliope pectoralis pectoralis

(543) Calliope pectoralis pectoralis Gould.
Calliope pectoralis pectoralis, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 92.
The Western form of the Himalayan Ruby-throat breeds from Afghanistan and Baluchistan, through Kashmir, Ladak, the Simla States and Garhwal, to Nepal. It breeds in these mountains at elevations of 9,000 feet upwards, but generally above 11,000 feet. Whitehead found it breeding in some numbers between 12,000 and 13,000 feet in the Kurram Valley, whilst Whymper took many nests between 13,000 and 14,000 feet in the Garhwal Hills. In these same hills, in the Tons Valley, Osmaston also took nests between 12,000 and 13,000 feet. In Kashmir Ward, Buchanan and others have found them breeding at considerably lower levels, such as near Apharwat at 9,000 feet.
Hume’s account of the nest and eggs (‘Nests and Eggs,’ vol. ii, p. 97) is of course wrong, as no Ruby-throat ever lays buff eggs. The first authentic description of this bird’s breeding is that of Osmaston (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xi, p. 68, 1897), who writes :—“On June the 7th and 9th, in the Harki Dun, I was lucky enough to stumble on two nests of this bird which, owing to the careful manner in which they were concealed, would certainly have escaped my notice had they not been betrayed in both cases by the sudden exit of the bird near my feet. The nest is a domed structure with a large opening on one side near the top. It is rather loosely constructed of coarse grass and lined with finer grass. The locality selected was an open rocky slope with grass and low scrub between the stones and rocks, and the nests were placed on the ground among the grass and scrub. The eggs, fresh in both cases, were three in one nest and four in the other.”
All the nests found by Osmaston seem to have been of the domed shape but this is not invariably so, and sometimes they are of the ordinary cup-shape. Whymper (op. cit. vol. xvii, p. 237) says :— “Calliope pectoralis occasionally builds a domed nest ; the firstclutch of eggs I got was from such a nest after seeing many ordinary undomed nests with young. It was a ball of dry grass placed among short grass and quite in the open, i. e., without any rocks or bushes about it. Afterwards I saw the nests with a sort of half-dome. They use nothing but grass for their nests.” Buchanan, writing of the nests he first took in Kashmir, says :—“The nests which I found were at an elevation of about 11,000 feet. They were cup-shaped, made of grass and placed on sloping ground under a tuft of grass or small bush.”
Although the shape of the nest varies considerably, the sites chosen do not. They are always in the open, generally on sloping hill-sides covered with grass and preferably on those with stones and rocks lying about, interspersed with small bushes. They are usually very well concealed, nearly every nest found having been given away by the female, a very close sitter, leaving it almost at the foot of the finder. Almost invariably the nest is made of dried grass only, the lining being of rather finer grass than the rest of the nest, though Whymper found burhel hair used as a lining in two or three instances.
The breeding season seems to be almost exclusively June, but an odd clutch may be laid in the last week of May, while Crump collected their eggs as late as the 20th July for Ward and myself on the Kashmir-Ladak borders.
The number of eggs laid is three or four, generally the latter ; in colour they are rather dull Hedge-Sparrow’s-egg blue, in many with a tinge of green and almost invariably with a certain amount of pale reddish speckling or freckling at the larger end, where they often form an indistinct ring or cap. Occasionally the freckles are more numerous and well defined and, in such cases, they are scattered over the whole surface. One clutch taken by Whymper is a very pale skim-milk blue, with the usual freckling, though very faint, at the larger end. In shape the eggs are rather long ovals but very little compressed at the smaller end. The texture is rather fine and close and most eggs have a slight gloss.
One hundred eggs average 21.6 x 15.4 mm. : maxima 23.3 x 16.4 and 23.2 x 16.5 mm. ; minima 20.0 x 14.4 mm.

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: 
543. Calliope pectoralis pectoralis
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Himalayan Ruby Throat
Calliope pectoralis pectoralis
Vol. 2

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