(1258) Chalcoparia singalensis lepida.
The Indian Ruby-Cheek.
Certhia lepida Lath., Ind. Orn., i, p. 299 (1790) (India, now restricted to Cachar). Chalcoparia phaenicotis. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 373 (part).
Vernacular names. Dao-tisha Sundai (Cachari).
Description. - Male. Similar to the preceding bird but with a paler rufous throat and breast and this colour not extending so far on to the lower breast; the abdomen and flanks are generally more yellow, less olive.
Colours of soft parts as in the other race.
Measurements. Wing 52 to 55 mm.; culmen 12 to 13 mm.
Female. Hardly distinguishable from the female of C. s. singalensis, but generally a little more green above and with a slightly paler throat and upper breast.
Distribution. The whole of the Terai from Sikkim to Eastern Assam ; Assam South of the Brahmaputra and Manipur ; Tippera, Chittagong, Dacca and Mymensingh in Eastern Bengal.
Nidification. The Indian Ruby-Cheek breeds in March and again in June and possibly has two broods in the year. The nest is a pear-shaped, domed affair with a porch over the entrance almost concealing it. It is made entirely of very fine black fibres, I think torn from the bark of palm-ferns, fern-rachides and maidenhair-fern stems, lined with the finest of the same materials. The neat itself is compact and well built but the materials stick out and hang below the nest so that it looks as if, when first seen, it was a lump of fibre combed out. It measures about 120 turn. hig;h by about 80 to 90 mm. broad. The eggs are always two in number and differ considerably from those described by Herbert as being laid by the Malay Ruby-Cheek. The ground-colour is pure white but in most eggs this is almost entirely obscured by innumerable freckles of dark grey which coalesce and form rings or caps at the larger end. They are, in fact, very like small eggs of the House-Sparrow but they are very fragile and entirely glossless. The few eggs I have seen average 16.9 x 12.05 mm.: maxima 18.3 x 12.3 mm.: minima 16.0 X 11.7 mm.
Habits. This beautiful little bird is resident between 1,500 feet and the plains adjacent to the hills but does not seem to wander far from the broken ground. In Cachar I found it keeping much to heavy forest, especially to the sides of foot-tracks, small rivers and similar partly-open spaces where flowers grew in the sun and these in turn attracted insects. At the same time the few nests seen were in thin scrub-jungle growing on the sites of deserted villages and cultivation. The Ruby-Cheek seems to be absolutely fearless of man and the flocks in which they collect will hunt diligently for food on bushes and trees within a few feet of the observer. I have not heard any note other than the constant twitter, not unlike that of the White-Eyes, uttered when feeding.