(24) Cissa chinensis chinensis.
THE GREEN MAGPIE.
Coracias chinensis Bodd., Tabl. Pl. Enl., p. 38 (1783) (China). Cissa chinensis. Blanf. & Oates, i; p. 28.
Vernacular names. The Green Jay, Jerdon; Sirgang (Beng.); Chap-ling-pho (Lepcha) ; Rab-ling-chapa (Bhutea) ; Pilitel (Dafla Hills) ; Lil Sorai (Assamese); Dao-gatang-lili (Cachari).
Description. Head and neck greenish yellow; general body plumage green; lores and a band through each eye meeting on the nape, black ; cheeks, sides of neck and whole lower plumage paler green ; tail green, the central feathers tipped with white, the others tipped with white and with a subterminal black band; lesser wing-coverts green, the other coverts red; quills brown on the inner webs, red on the outer; the inner secondaries tipped with pale blue and with a band of black in front of the tips.
Colours of soft parts. Iris blood-red, pale blue-brown in young birds; bill deep coral-red; legs coral-red; claws horny red; eyelids yellowish brown, the edges red.
Measurements. Total length about 370 to 380 mm.; wing about 150 mm.; tail about 200 mm.; tarsus about 40 mm.; culmen about 37 mm.
The plumage of this bird in ill-health, in captivity and after death changes greatly; the yellow pigment all evaporates, leaving the bright green a dull blue whilst the red also fades greatly, young birds occasionally have the whole lower parts almost white and in some adults the green is partially replaced by bright azure-blue.
Distribution. Himalayas from the Jamna Valley to the extreme east of Assam, North and South of the Bramaputra, Eastern Bengal, Burma, Shan States and Northern Siam.
Nidification. The breeding season in the Himalayas commences in the last few days of March and continues through April and May, a few birds laying in June and even in July but these latter may be second broods. They build cup-shaped nests of twigs, leaves, grass, roots and bamboo-leaves, lined with roots and placed on a high bush, small sapling or a clump of bamboos. The eggs number from four to six, in Burma often only three and are very magpielike in their general appearance, but more grey and not green in general tone. Here and there a rather reddish clutch may be found and even more rare, a clutch that is almost white. They measure on an average for 200 eggs 30.2 x 22.9 mm.
This Jay breeds at all elevations from the foot-hills to nearly 4,000 feet, but is not common above 2,500 feet.
Habits. This beautiful Magpie is an inhabitant of low-level, evergreen forests and heavy jungle, but may also be found in bamboo-jungle and the more dry, deciduous forests, such as oak, etc. In Burma they seem to be more often found in dry open parts than in the heavier evergreen cover. Their name "Hunting Jay," or "Hunting Magpie,"is well applied, as they are determined hunters of big insect life and of small unfledged birds, etc., and for their quarry they will regularly quarter the country they work over. They feed alike on high" trees, scrub-jungle and actually on the ground itself. Their notes are very harsh and strident and they are rather noisy birds although shy and wild.