(36) Crypsirhina varians.
THE BLACK RACKET-TAILED MAGPIE.
Corvus varians Lath. Ind. Orn. Suppl., xxvi, (1801) (Java) ; Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 35.
Vernacular names. Ami-whine (Burmese).
Description. The whole plumage metallic bronze-green, tinged with bluish on the head; wings, brown, the outer webs of the primaries greenish, the other quills more or less entirely tinged with greenish; tail black, with the same tinge but with more sheen; forehead, round the eye and about the gape dull black, the feathers of a velvety texture.
Colours of soft parts. Iris blue; bill black, mouth flesh-colour; legs and claws black.
Measurements. Length about 310 to 330 mm.; wing about 110 to 116 mm.; tail from about 175 to 200 mm.; tarsus about 30 mm.; culmen about 23 mm.
Distribution. This fine little Magpie has its headquarters in Pegu, extending up the valleys of the Irrawaddy and Sittaung to some way north of Thayetmyo and Toungoo. To the west it extends to Bassein, south to Mergui and into Sumatra, Borneo and Java. To the east it extends to Siam, where it is very common in the south, and to Cochin China.
Nidification. The breeding season lasts from April, in which month Hop wood took eggs in Tavoy, through May and June to July, in which latter month Nurse took eggs in Pegu and Herbert found them breeding in Siam. The nest is a typical Magpie's nest, though without a dome. It is a shallow cup of fine twigs, roots and tendrils with a diameter of about 5" to 6" by 1" deep intern¬ally and some 9" in external diameter. It is generally placed in a thorny bush or tree 8 to 12 feet from the ground.
The eggs are two to four in number, typically Corvine in appearance, and average 24.8 x 18.3 mm.
Habits. The Racket-tailed Magpies are birds of comparatively open forest and light bush, tree, or bamboo-jungle. They eat both fruit and insects, and may be seen clinging to the outer branches of trees as they search the leaves and flowers for the latter. They are not gregarious, though sometimes two or three may be seen in company; their usual note is a not unpleasant metallic call, and they do not appear to possess the harsh notes so common to this group.