(390) Cerasophila thompsoni Bingham.
THE BURMESE WHITE-HEADED BULBUL.
Cerasophila thompsoni, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 373.
This remarkable Bulbul is an inhabitant of the hills of the Southern Shan States, East Central Burma and Western Siam. Wickham found it not uncommon in Taung-gyi and Mackenzie and Wickham took several nests at Thandoung in the Karen Hills. It breeds, apparently, between 4,500 and 6,000 feet or higher.
It is only very recently that the breeding of this bird has been discovered, and this only a year or two after the bird itself had been found to occur within our limits.
The first nest taken is recorded in the Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. (vol. xxx, p. 223, 1925) by P. F. Wickham :—
“Mr. F. S. Grose, of the Burma Frontier Service, found the nest on the Taunggyi Hill, Southern Shan States, on the 28th April this year (1924). The birds were not so numerous at this time as in the Winter months and, while nesting on the hill both before and after this date, only one or two had been seen.
“The elevation of the nest site is about 4,800 feet.
“The nest, a fairly neat cup, built practically on the ground, but attached to the stems of a plant, was of coarse grass, lined with fine grass and was situated on a steep slope just below a path on each side of which the grass and light scrub had been cut back.
“The nest was, therefore ; in an exposed situation and in a some¬what abnormal and unexpected site. Its inside diameter was about 80 mm. ; the eggs, three in number, slightly incubated, by no means glossy, were typical Bulbul’s eggs, the grey markings amongst the red being perhaps more numerous than usual ; one egg was more boldly marked than the others ; their average measure¬ment is 23.0 x 16.8 mm.”
In 1929 Mackenzie took further nests in Thandoung (ibid. supra, vol. xxxiii, p. 991), which he describes as follows :—“Last year I failed to get a nest, but this year I found one on April 8th containing three fresh eggs. I saw the bird return to the nest and identified it, but could not get a shot, so left my man to secure it. He put it off the nest when he went back from where he had been waiting and subsequently shot it.
“The nest was a surprise. It was placed in a hole in a bank (a cutting for a path) about 3' above the path and consisted of small bright yellow grass seed-stems, or rachAe of Paung (Saccharum arundinaceum), from which the seed had all been stripped off, and a very few pieces of larger grass and bamboo leaves across the outer lip. It was rather a flimsy affair, and came to pieces soon after being taken out. A shallow cup, say 3.1/2" x 1.1/2", with no trace of a dome.
“The eggs were of the ordinary, fairly bright-coloured Bulbul type.
“I wrote the above on April 15th and, since then, I have found four more nests. One contained two young, one a clutch of three eggs and one a clutch of four. In the two nests mentioned the eggs were too hard to blow.
“All the nests were in banks ; ..... they were all similar in con¬struction to the first nest I took.”
The first clutch of three and two single eggs from Mackenzie are now in my collection. The three are eggs with a pink ground densely speckled with light red, this colour darkening to deep red at the larger end, where the spots coalesce to form caps. These eggs are almost glossless.
The odd eggs saved from the other two clutches are much the same but are highly glossed, although so far incubated, but the markings form rings instead of caps.
The texture is fine and close but apparently fragile, whilst the shape is an ordinary rather broad oval.
The average of eight eggs is 22.45 x 16.65 mm. : maxima 23.1 x 17.2 mm. ; minima 22.0 x 16.2 mm.
All Mackenzie’s eggs were taken in April.
390. Cerasophila thompsoni
(390) Cerasophila thompsoni Bingham.