238. Chrysomma altirostris

(238) Chrysomma altirostris griseigularis Hume.
THE ASSAM YELLOW-BILLED YELLOW-EYED BABBLER.
Pyctorhis altirostris griseigularis, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 236.
Chrysomma altirostris griseigularis, ibid. vol. viii, p. 602.
This Babbler seems to be confined to the immense expanses of grass, ekra and reed found all along the foot-hills of the Himalayas from Bhutan to the East of Assam, where it is common, and thence to the grass-plains of the Surrma Valley, where it is rare. As I have already mentioned, it is doubtful where this bird and the preceding meet, but Harington considers the birds obtained by him at Bhamo, in Upper Burma, are nearer to this race, though they are somewhat intermediate between the two. More material may enable one to distinguish yet a third race. In North Lakhimpur it is very common but I never saw it except in very long grass or reeds, where it skulks about, constantly flitting from one reed to another, but every now and then, possibly only in the breeding season, mounting to the top of one of the highest reeds and there pouring out his jerky but sweet little song of half a dozen notes before once more tumbling down into the lower reeds. So far as I have experienced it breeds only in tall elephant-grass or reeds and my nests were taken when after buffalo. When so engaged, mounted on an elephant, the birds allowed a very close approach and the nest was found by the bird flying off it as the elephant actually brushed against the tuft of grass on which it was built. There were two eggs in the first nest seen but, although we spent all next day trying to find more nests and the birds were common, we neither found nests nor saw any signs of their breeding. In July 1908 Stevens found them building at Diju and obtained a nest which he sent me, and the next year a Miri Constable, who was with me when I found my first nest, was deputed to work the same ground from an elephant after the Rains had broken. In June he obtained one nest with two eggs, found empty nests and many birds carrying materials, and in the first week of July found three nests with two and three eggs.
Pellorneum ruficeps. The Southern Spotted Babbler. (Mahableshwar, 1922.)
The nests are all much alike ; the one first taken by me was a very short inverted cone and, later, I saw one or two similar¬shaped ones, but most were cups, very deep, but not prolonged at the base. They were in other respects quite typical of the genus, beautifully finished off nests, made of fine shreds torn from dead blades of elephant-grass, plastered over in the usual way with cobwebs and all so tightly drawn that it is difficult to understand how the frail little birds could pull the strips so tight. The lining was made of very fine fibre, probably torn from the roots of the ekra, every fibre exactly in its place and none projecting over the edge. Most nests—we saw many, if the empty and half-built ones are included—were built on single, stout stems of ekra, at the junctions of the leaf-blades with the stems or just above where the stems split into two or three branches. Only a few nests embraced more than one stem of grass or ekra, and in all these instances the stems were much thinner.
There seems no doubt that the normal breeding-time of this little bird is after the Rains have well started, for I have worked the right ground for them from the 20th and 25th May without finding a nest, so that taken on the 28th April may be considered abnormal.
All my nests have contained two or three eggs only, but one would imagine four or five to be the full clutch.
The eggs follow the same types as do those of the other Yellow-eyed Babblers and are very beautiful and striking. One pair in my collection, of a variety not represented elsewhere, is a deep salmon pink, faintly blotched with rather deeper salmon-red. The likeness of all my eggs to those of the genus Alcippe is very striking.
Fourteen eggs average 18.1 x 14.6 mm. : maxima 18.6 x 14.5 and 18.2 x 15.0 mm. ; minima 17.6 x 14.8 and 18.1 x 14.2 mm.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. 1932.
Title in Book: 
238. Chrysomma altirostris
Spp Author: 
Hume.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
238
Year: 
1932
Page No: 
200
Common name: 
Assam Yellow Billed Yellow Eyed Babbler
M_ID: 
25262
M_CN: 
Jerdon's Babbler
M_SN: 
Chrysomma altirostre
Volume: 
Vol. 1
id: 
13442

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