(234) Pyctorhis sinensis sinensis.
THE INDIAN YELLOW-EYED BABBLER.
Parus sinensis, Gmel., S. N., i, p. 1012 (1788) (Sina) (China). Pyctorhis sinensis. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 137.
Vernacular names. Gal-chasm or Bulal-chasm (Hind., South); Bara-podna (Hind., N. W. P.); Terra Kali-iitta (Tel.).
Description. Whole upper plumage, ear-coverts and sides of the neck rufescent brown, changing to cinnamon on the exposed parts of the wing-quills; lores, a snort eyebrow, the eyelids, chin, throat, cheeks and breast pure white; abdomen, vent, flanks and under tail-coverts pale fulvous; tail faintly cross-rayed.
Colours of soft parts. Iris pale lemon-yellow to brightest golden; bill black, yellowish at the nostrils; legs pale orange-yellow; claws pinkish ; mouth yellow in winter, black in summer.
Measurements. Length about 170 to 180 mm.; wing 65 to 70 mm.; tail about 85 to 90 mm.; tarsus about 25 mm.; culmen about 12 mm.
Distribution. Whole of India and Burma, except those portions noted as the habitat of the next form, South to Tenasserim and extending into Siam and Annam.
Nidification. In Assam this Babbler breeds principally between the 15th May and 15th July, but in India, further south, they breed from June to September, whilst Col. Sparrow took them in Trimulgherry in October, The nest is a beautifully built cup or inverted cone of fine soft grass and fibre lined with the same and well bound with cobwebs. It may be placed in a bush, a weed, a clump of grass or in sugar-cane or crops. In Assam they build in the centre of the great seas of sun-grass which run for miles over the undulating plateaus between 1,000 and 3,000 feet and are never found elsewhere, but in other parts of India they build in all kinds of scrub- and grass-land and even in gardens. The eggs number three to five and vary greatly in colour. The most common type is pale yellowish or pink in ground-colour, rather densely marked all over with light red speckles and spots or more rarely blotches. Another type has bold smears and blotches of pale pinky-red, reddish brown or deep purple-brown, sometimes with a few irregular streaks and lines and generally with some underlying marks of a dull neutral tint. A third type has a pure white ground with bold blotches of deep purple-brown at the larger end. 100 eggs average 17.9 x 14.9mm.; the maxima are 20.3 x 16.5 and 20.1 x 16.6 nun., and the minima 16.8 X 15.0 and 17.0 x 13.6 mm.
Habits. Found at all elevations from the plains up to nearly 6,000 feet, but is most common under 2,500 feet. It is not a gregarious bird, but keeps in pairs, wandering about in grass, scrub, secondary growth and even in gardens and the bushes surrounding villages, but never in forest. It clambers about much as the typical Babblers do in the lower growths, but does not feed on the ground and flies better and more freely than they do. It has a sweet note, almost a song, in the breeding season, which it frequently utters from the top of some high piece of grass or other perch elevated above its surroundings.