(1864) Columba pulchricollis.
THE ASHY WOOD-PIGEON.
Columba pulchricollis Hodgs.? in Greys Zool. Misc., p. 85 (1844) (Nepal). Alsocomus pulchricollis. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 37.
Vernacular names. Hko (Burmese); Ka-o (Lepcha) Daohuk-uruma majungbi (Cachari).
Description. Head and nape dove-grey, paler on the sides and faintly glossed with grey-green ; chin and centre of throat white ; a patch on the neck black, the feathers broadly tipped buff, paling to whitish on the extreme edges; the patch produced as a narrow buff collar round the fore-neck, paling to almost white on the lower throat; next to this collar the feathers are blackish-brown, highly glossed with green and purple, reaching back to the interscapulars ; lower back and rump slaty-black, changing to slaty-grey on the shorter upper tail-coverts; longest tail-coverts and tail blackish-brown ; wing-coverts plumbeous-brown, darkest next the back, palest on the outer greater coverts; primaries and secondaries dark brown, the second to the fifth primary narrowly edged with pale rufous; breast slaty-brown, changing to dull buff on the abdomen and vent, the flanks washed with lilac-slate ; under tail-coverts buff; axillaries and under wing-coverts blackish-brown.
Colours of soft parts. Iris pale yellow ; bill livid at the base, yellow in the middle to the tip; cere tinged greenish ; legs and feet deep coral- or purple-red, soles paler and claws horny-brown.
Measurements. Total length about 375 to 400 mm.; wing 194 to 216 mm.; tail 120 to 130 mm.; tarsus about 22 to 25 mm. ; culmen 16 to 17 mm.
Distribution, Nepal, Sikkim and Tibet between 7,000 and 10,000 feet and possibly a good deal higher ; the hills of Assam between 5,000 feet and the highest peaks, Shan States and Formosa. Robinson informs me that it is also found on the coast and islands of the North Malay Peninsula.
Nidification. Osmaston found this Pigeon breeding during May and June in some numbers in Darjeeling, building the ordinary form of Dove's nest in small trees in dense forest. Masson took an egg in the same district on the 11th June and I found a few pairs breeding in June on the highest ridges of the Barail range in Assam, making their nests in stunted trees in the oak-forest at 5,000 feet upwards ; some of these nests were lined with a few feathers—a very curious character. One nest with an egg was taken in August, possibly a second brood. A single egg only is laid and five of these average 37.6 x 27.4 m,m.; maxima 42.3 X 30.0 mm. ; minima 37.0 X 27.0 mm.
Habits. This is one of the most shy of all the Pigeons, keeping much to densely-foliaged trees and, as it is also a very silent bird, it may be more common than it appears to be. I have only seen it in pairs or singly but Stevens saw them in large flocks apparently working South from Sikkim. It is, I think, a sendentary bird but may wander to lower levels during the Winter, though never into the plains. Its flight is like that of other Pigeons but, when starting, it descends instead of rising suddenly into the air, hence the loud clapping of the wings over the back is never heard as it is in the flight of the latter. They are great fruit-eaters and also eat millet, Indian corn and ripe rice and I found the crop of one bird full of tiny snails.