(917) Horeites brunnifrons brunnifrons.
The Rufous-capped Bush-Warbler.
Orthotomus brunnifrons Hodgs., P. Z S., 1845, p. 29 (Nepal). Horeites brunneifrons. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 440.
Vernacular names. Lik-lik-pho (Lepcha).
Description. Forehead, crown and nape chestnut-brown, shading into rufous olive-brown on the upper plumage and exposed wings and tail; supercilium pale buff; lores and a line behind the eye blackish; sides of the head and ear-coverts ashy-brown; chin, throat and breast grey, almost white in the centre; flanks darker grey, posteriorly shading into ochraceous on the vent, thighs and under tail-coverts; middle of the abdomen white; under wing-coverts and axillaries mottled brown and white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris hazel; bill above blackish, below fleshy-yellow; legs and feet fleshy-white, darker on the joints and toes.
Measurements. Total length about 115 mm.; wing 47 to 51 mm.; tail 37 to 46 mm.; tarsus about 20 mm.; culmen 9 to 10 mm.
Young birds have but little chestnut on the head and the underpays are very ochraceous.
Distribution. Nepal, Sikkim, Assam to the Chin Hills.
Nidification. The Rufous-capped Bush-Warbler breeds in Sikkim and South Tibet at elevations between 9,000 feet and 13,000 feet. Osmaston found it breeding near Darjeeling, Stevens took several nests on the Singalila Ridge and I have had nests and birds sent me from Northern Chambi. The breeding-season seems to be May, and the nest is very like that of Horornis, domed, oval in shape, made of grass, moss and lichen and lined with fine grass and feathers. It is placed on low bushes in forest or in scrub-jangle. The eggs number three to five and are bright terracotta, generally with darker markings forming a cap at the larger end. Twenty eggs average 17.8 x 12.9 mm.: maxima 18.0 x 12.8 and 17.0 x 13.3 mm.; minima 16.4x 12.5 and 18.0 x 12.0 mm.
Habits. Mr. Osmaston says:—"It frequents the low scrub consisting of dwarf bamboo (grazed down), berberis, etc., in the more open portions of the Silver Fir and Rhododendron forest. It is a busy noisy little bird with a strange unmistakable call which it constantly repeats, consisting of a few ordinary chirping notes followed by a curious grating mouse-like sound, twice repeated and of a ventriloquistic character." It is as great a skulker as the genus Horornis and extremely active on its feet.. In Winter it extends to the foot of the hills and the adjacent plains. Mr. H. Stevens found it common in the plains of Lakhimpur, North of the Brahmaputra, in January and December.