(1257) Chalcoparia singalensis singalensis.
The Malayan- Ruby-Cheek.
Motacilla singalensis Gmelin, Syst. Nat., i, p. 964 (1788) (Ceylon, in errore; Malacca, Oberholser). Chalcoparia phaenicotis. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 373 (part).
Vernacular names. Nok-ka-tate (Siam),
Description. - Male. Whole upper plumage and lesser wing-coverts brilliant metallic green; tail black, edged with metallic green ; median and greater coverts black, edged with the same; primary coverts and quills black, edged with purple; lores black; cheeks and ear-coverts metallic copper, bordered by brilliant violet-purple; chin, throat and breast ferruginous; remainder of lower plumage olive-yellow, darker on the flanks; axillaries and under wing-coverts white, tinged with yellow.
Colours of soft parts. Iris golden-orange to crimson; bill black, the gape orange and the mouth yellow; legs yellow to greenish-yellow.
Measurements. Wing 51 to 55 mm.: tail 39 to 41 mm.; tarsus 14 to 15 mm. ; culmen 12 to 14 mm.
Female. Similar to the male below but duller and paler ; above green, wings and tail black, edged with rufous-yellow on the primaries and secondaries.
Young birds are like the female but have the throat and breast all yellow like the abdomen.
Distribution. Burma, West and South Siam, Malay States, Sumatra, Java.
Nidification. Oates and Herbert are the only ornithologists who have taken the nests and eggs of this bird. The latter describes them as follows : - "The nest is generally built in a lime-bush, at about 4 to 8 feet from the ground and, when hanging beneath the leaves at the end of a branch, is not easily recognized as a nest. It is of quite a distinctive type and the six nests I have taken have all been exactly the same, so there is no mistaking the identity. The portico is a very prominent feature and is nearly as large as the egg-chamber. The nesting material is fibre of varying degrees of coarseness, that of the interior being comparatively fine, whilst that of the outside presents quite a ragged appearance. Cobwebs are extensively used for keeping the numerous threads in their places. The breeding-season is February to July, so probably two broods are reared. I have found three lots of eggs in February and March, young in April, eggs in June and several lots of young in July.
"The eggs are much elongated and slightly pyriform ovals. The ground is cream-colour, with a pinkish tinge in one case, and the greater part of the surface is mottled and clouded with pale purplish-grey. The markings are sparsely dotted about in the form of specks and spots of purplish-black. Some eggs are finely freckled in purplish-grey, the freckling being confluent on the large end, whilst another pair are heavily marked with purplish-black spots and irregular blurred lines."
The eggs, now in my collection, measure from 16.0 x 11.3 mm. to 17.7 x 12.0 mm.
Habits. The Ruby-Cheek is a bird of the plains and lower hills up to about 1,500 feet, rarely ascending as high as 2,500 feet. It frequents both the most dense evergreen-forest and open country, if well-wooded and with ample cover available. About Bangkok Herbert found it round about the town and in the scrub- and bush-jungle surrounding the adjacent villages. Oates also says that it commonly enters compounds, orchards and gardens. " In the non-breeding season it collects in small flocks and hunts for its insect, diet both on bushes and trees. It is very active and quick both in flight and in clambering about trees and branches. On trees its actions are similar to those of Zosterops and it adopts the same Tit-like attitudes. In flight it is more like the Sunbirds And, like these latter, sometimes hangs poised on its wings as it probes the flowers for insects and honey."