(368) Chloropsis aurifrons aurifrons (Temm.).
THE INDIAN GOLD-FRONTED CHLOROPSIS.
Chloropsis aurifrons aurifrons, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 346.
This beautiful bird has a very wide range, breeding practically over the whole of it except in the actual plains. It is found throughout the Lower Himalayas from Garhwal and the Simla States to Eastern Assam. Thence it extends South in India to the hilly country of North and North-East India as far as Chota Nagpore, Rajmahal, Santhal Parganas etc. It is. common over the whole of hill Burma to Tenasserim, where it meets C. a. inornata ; it also occurs in the Shan States and in North and Central Siam.
I can find no notes on the nidification of this bird other than my own in ‘The Ibis’ of January 1895. Since then I have taken a considerable number more nests, which have modified and added to the knowledge then in my possession. This Chloropsis is a bird of evergreen forests during the breeding season, though it keeps to the more open parts or the outskirts of the heavier forests. It seems to like trees at the edge of jungle tracks or those on the open banks of the larger hill-streams, or even trees standing a few yards inside forest on the borders of cultivation. They also breed in coppices of thick forest filling in pockets in otherwise grass- covered hills but, when breeding in these, they choose big trees inside the woods. They breed at all elevations from 2,000 to 6,000 feet, but most often round about 3,000 to 3,500 feet in the warmer, wetter valleys. Occasionally they may breed as low as 1,000 feet, but I have no actual proof of their doing so.
The favourite site for the nest is very high up in a fork of an outer branch of some forest tree, often 30 or 40 feet from the ground and on branches so thin that they are practically safe from any but an avian thief. Sometimes, however, they place their nests on smaller saplings and trees, either in outer branches or in small forks where they are more easily got at. Nests on the higher branches can generally be got only by tying the nest-branch to another and then cutting it off and gradually lowering branch, nest and eggs to the ground.
The nest is a cross between that of some of the Bulbuls, such as Microscelis, and the Shrikes of the genus Lalage. They are generally pendent or semi-pendent between horizontal twigs or forks, and in these instances are in shape shallow saucers
3 inches or less across by 2 or less in depth. They are made of fine twigs, grass, leaves and a little moss, wound about and attachedto the supporting twigs by shreds of grass and strips of bamboo leaves, and they are lined with roots and fine grass-stems. On the outer part of the nest there are always a number of cobwebs used both to strengthen the nest itself and its attachment to the supports. Occasionally a nest is decorated outside with a little moss or lichen. Nests built in between upright twigs or forks are similar in construction but often deeper, sometimes measuring as much as 3 inches in depth.
The birds give away the position of the nest when once their habits are known, but at first I found it very difficult to locate them unless they were lower down than usual. The birds, however high their nests may be, nearly always descend a tree down to about 20 feet or so and curse all intruders bitterly from that level and then fly right away. It is necessary, therefore, generally to look much higher up in the trees than the level at which the birds are melodiously swearing at you.
I have taken eggs as early as the 3rd May and as late as the 16th August, but June is the month in which most eggs are laid.
The number in a full clutch is two or three, most often, I think, the former.
In colour these eggs are rather remarkable for a Timaliine bird, though they somewhat approach some of the Bulbuls such as Iole icterica. They remind one at once of the eggs of the White-tailed Blue Robin and of the Flycatchers of the Niltava and Eumyias groups. At the same time the eggs are always definitely marked more or less and never give the impression of uni-coloured eggs when looked at from a little distance. The ground-colour is a pale cream or buffy-cream stippled, freckled or lightly blotched all over with pale reddish. In some eggs these markings are equally stippled all over the surface, in others most numerous towards the larger end, yet never forming rings or caps. I have one clutch of three which are pale buff, unmarked except for a few tiny specks of deep red at the larger end of two eggs, and here and there over the whole surface in the third. My description of the eggs in ‘The Ibis’ (1895) gives a somewhat wrong impression, though perfectly correct for the few I then had seen. When there are series before one of both the Gold-fronted Chloropsis and Jerdon’s Chloropsis, the difference between the two is really startling, and one would think that the two series could not belong to birds of the same genus, though aberrant eggs of each group may approach the other.
In shape the eggs are typically long ovals, a little pointed at the smaller end. The surface is smooth and fine but quite glossless.
Twenty eggs average 23.4 x 15.5 mm. : maxima 24.6 x 15.6 and 21.1 x 16.5 mm. ; minima 20.2 x 15.4 and 23.1 x 15.0 mm.
368. Chloropsis aurifrons aurifrons
(368) Chloropsis aurifrons aurifrons (Temm.).