661. Thamnobia cambaiensis.
The Brown-backed Indian Robin.
Sylvia cambaiensis, Lath. Ind. Orn. ii, p. 554 (1790). Thamnobia cambaiensis (Lath.), Blyth, Cat. p. 165; Horsf. & M Cat. i, p. 283 ; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 122 ; Stoliczka, J. A. S. xxxvii, pt. ii, p. 40, xli, pt. ii, p. 237 ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 182; id: N. & E. p. 309; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 216 ; Hume, Cat. no. 480 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. vii, p. 55; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 198; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 71.
Coloration. Male. When freshly moulted in September, the whole upper plumage is sandy brown; upper tail-coverts and tail black; wings dark brown, the lesser coverts and a portion of the median ones white, the remaining coverts with bluish edges; lores, sides of the head and neck, chin, throat, breast, upper part of abdomen, and the sides of the body glossy black with a few sandy edges; lower part of abdomen and the under tail-coverts deep chestnut.
The male continues in this plumage up to February, when the feathers of the upper plumage become much darker in colour, owing apparently to the wearing away or casting off of the tips. During the summer the plumage resembles that of T. fulicata in many respects, but is seldom or never so dark.
Female. Ear-coverts and round the eye rufous, the former with pale shafts; chin, cheeks, and a frontal band over the lores pale fulvous ; with these exceptions, the whole plumage is sandy brown, tinged with ashy below; tail and wings dark brown ; middle of the abdomen, vent, and under tail-coverts chestnut.
The young are rufous, the feathers of the back obsoletely barred and the wing-coverts and quills broadly edged with brighter rufous; upper tail-coverts smoky brown ; tail very dark brown; lower plumage ashy brown tinged with rufous and slightly mottled; under tail-coverts, vent, and middle of abdomen pale chestnut.
Iris dark brown ; legs, feet, and bill black (Hume Coll.).
Length about 6.5; tail 2.7; wing 3; tarsus 1.05; bill from gape .75.
Distribution. A resident in a very large portion of India proper. On the west this species extends to Sind and the Punjab; on the north to the lower ranges of the Himalayas, ascending them at times up to 5000 or 6000 feet; on the east to the Rajmehal hills and Midnapur, and on the south to Ahmednagar and the Godavari valley.
Habits, &c. Breeds from March to August, constructing a flimsy nest of miscellaneous materials in holes of walls, banks, &c, and laying four to six eggs, which are greenish white mottled with reddish brown, and measure about .79 by .59.