(476) Tesia castaneocoronata castaneocoronata.
THE CHESTNUT-HEADED WREN.
Sylvia castaneocoronata Burton, P. Z. S., 1835, p. 152 (152). Oligura castaneicoronata. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 193.
Vernacular names. Tisi (Nepal); Samtit-pho (Lecha)
Description. Forehead, crown, nape, lores, ear-coverts and a line under the eyes bright chestnut; a small patch of white feathers at the posterior corner of the eye; cheeks, chin, throat, breast and abdomen bright yellow, the breast suffused with olivaceous and mottled with a few indistinct brown bars; sides of breast, abdomen and under tail-coverts olivaceous; upper plumage,, wings and tail dark olive-green.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown to red; bill yellowish-homy or brownish-yellow ; legs fleshy-yellow.
Measurements. Length about 100 mm.; wing 43 to 48 mm.; tail about 15 mm.; tarsus 23 mm.; culmen about 10 to 11 mm.
Distribution. Himalayas from Garhwal to the extreme East of Assam; the Khasia, Naga and Cachar Hills South of the Brahmaputra but not recorded from Manipur or farther South and East.
Nidification. The Chestnut-headed Wren breeds between 6,000 and 8,000 feet in the months of June and July, building a nest much like that of the last bird but less well put together and lined with feathers instead of roots. During the breeding season it haunts oak and other forests where there is ample undergrowth and where the moss and parasitic plants are luxuriant.. The nest is placed either in a bush or low branch of a tree and no-attempt seems to be made at concealment, though in appearance it is so like the numerous clumps of moss which are to be seen in every direction that it would never attract attention. Occasionally a nest may be found in amongst the moss on a tree-trunk or hanging from a branch and in such cases they are very difficult to detect The eggs number three or, less often, four and are like those of the Slaty-bellied Wren but usually much darker and richer in colouring. Fifteen eggs average 17.4 x 12.9 mm. and the extremes are : maxima, 18.3 x 13.4 mm. and minima, 16.8 x 12.4 mm. A larger series would probably give a smaller average.
Habits. The Chestnut-headed Wren has been found as high as 11,000 feet in Sikkim and, on the other hand, Stevens has found them in the low foot-hills of the Assam Himalayas. In their haunts and actions they very closely resemble Tesia cyaniventer Osmaston says:—"This pretty little bird, like Tesia, has the habits of a Wren and frequents brushwood under high forest, rarely ascending more than a few feet above the ground. It is common in the neighbourhood of Darjeeling at all elevations up to 8,000 feet, according to season.
" It has a shrill call of four notes resembling that of Culicicapa ceylonensis which it utters as it moves restlessly about in thick cover."
It is entirely insectivorous in its diet and just as averse to taking flight as is the Slaty-bellied Wren.