895. Arachnechthra asiatica.
The Purple Sun-bird.
Certhia asiatica, Lath. Ind. Orn. i, p. 288 (1790). Nectarinia asiatica (Lath.), Blyth, Cat. pp. 224, 328. Arachnechthra asiatica (Lath.), Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 743; Jerd. B. I. i, p. 370 ; Hume, N. 8, E. p. 151; Wald. Ibis, 1870, p. 20; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 190; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 252. Arachnechthra intermedia, Hume, Ibis, 1870, p. 436; id. N. & E. p. 154. Nectarinia (Arachnechthra) brevirostris, Blanford, Ibis, 1873, p. 86. Arachnechthra edeni, Anderson, Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 661, pl. xlix (1878). Cinnyris asiaticus (Lath), Shelley, Mon, Nect. pp. xxviii, xxxvi, 181, pl. 57; Hume, Cat. no. 234; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 566; Gadow, Cat. B. M. ix, p. 56; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 259; Oates, B. B. i, p. 321; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 137.
The Purple Honey-sucker, Jerd.; Shakar khora, Hind.; Jugi jugi, Bhagalpur; Than kudi, Tam; Gewal kurulla, Cing.
Coloration. Male. The whole upper plumage, sides of the head and neck, and the lesser and median wing-coverts metallic violet-blue or greenish; greater coverts and all the quills brown, edged paler; tail bluish black ; chin, throat, and fore neck metallic violet; breast like the sides of the neck; a narrow band below the breast coppery brown, of varying extent, sometimes absent; the large pectoral tufts mixed orange-red and bright yellow; abdomen, vent, and under tail-coverts violet-black.
Female. Upper plumage, wings, and sides of the head and neck greenish brown; lower plumage rather bright yellow; tail dark brown or blackish, the laterals narrowly tipped with white.
Young males have generally a broad stripe from the chin to the abdomen dark metallic violet; the remainder of the lower plumage yellow.
Bill black ; iris hazel-brown; eyelids plumbeous ; legs black ; claws dark horn.
Length 4.5; tail 1.5; wing 2.1; tarsus .6; bill from gape .8.
Birds from Burma are remarkable for the rich tone of their coloration, the prevailing tint being rich violet. In India, especially in the dry north-western portions, the prevailing tint is rather green. Intermediate birds are also found; and this variation of colour, coupled with a bill which also varies remarkably in length has caused this bird to be subdivided into several races, none of which, however, appears worthy to be upheld.
Distribution. The whole peninsula of India from Cape Comorin to the Himalayas, where this species is found up to 5000 feet, and from Sind and the Punjab to the extreme east of Assam, thence extending south through Burma to Central Tenasserim and the Thoungyeen valley. The furthest point south in Tenasserim where this bird has been observed on the sea-board is Yay. This Sun-bird also occurs in Ceylon.
Outside Indian limits, this species is found on the west as far as Persia, and on the east it extends to Cochin China.
Habits, &c. Breeds almost the whole year round, having two or more broods. The nest is a pear-shaped structure suspended from a low branch and composed principally of grass, with which, however, are combined various other materials. The outside is invariably ornamented with cobwebs to which are attached pieces of bark, dead leaves, and excreta of caterpillars. The entrance, at the side, is overhung by a small porch in most instances. The eggs, two or three in number, are dull white, marked with various shades of brown and measure about .64 by .46.