655. Muscicapula unicolor unicolor

(655) Muscicapula unicolor unicolor (Blyth).
THE INDIAN PALE BLUE FLYCATCHER.
Cyornis unicolor unicolor, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 230.
Muscicapula unicolor unicolor, ibid. vol. viii, p. 628.
This fine Blue Flycatcher breeds in the Outer Himalayas, between 5,000 and 8,000 feet, from Sikkim to the Chin Hills.
Very little is known about its breeding but it is undoubtedly a bird of humid subtropical forests. Mandelli found it breeding in Native Sikkim and sent Hume two nests, of which one was taken on the 1st August. Hume describes these nests as follows :— “It is a massive cup of moss and fern-roots strongly felted together, about 3.75 inches in diameter and 2 inches in height exteriorly, with a shallow central cavity about 2 inches in diameter and 0.75 inch in depth. It contained two eggs nearly ready to hatch off ; it was placed in a depression in the trunk of a huge tree about 10 feet from the ground. Another nest of this species sent me from Sikhim was a felted mass of that peculiar grey stringy lichen that is commonly called ‘old man’s beard.’ It was little more than a pad 4 inches in diameter and 1 inch in thickness, with a slight hollow in the centre for the egg, and was placed in a hole at the junction of a large branch with the trunk of a tree.”
Since Mandelli’s time no European has taken the nest, but twice, in the five years I was in Margherita, Trans-Dikku Nagas brought down nests, eggs and birds to Dr. Coltart and myself from hills between 5,000 and 7,000 feet. The two nests were both exactly alike, massive cups of green moss mixed with moss and fern-roots and lined with the latter. In size the inner cup was about 2.3/4 inches across by nearly 2 deep, the outside evidently having been made to fit into the holes between stones in which the Nagas said they had been placed. Both nests were said to have been built in ravines or banks of watercourses running through heavy forest. One nest contained two and the second four eggs, and they were taken about the first week in April and about the 10th June.
In Shillong I never came across this Flycatcher, but one of my collectors has recently sent me two nests and eggs with the skin of a female of this species. These two nests, taken on the 9th and 12th May respectively, each with four eggs, are probably of the same pair of birds. The two nests, one taken in 1926 and one in 1930, were compact moss-nests lined with moss-roots and lichen and had been placed in between boulders on. the banks of a little stream running through Pine forest but with heavy evergreen growth along the banks of the stream itself. The two nests wore built in spots within a few yards of one another.
The eggs, although so large, are quite typical Muscicapula eggs. One pair is exactly like the most common type of pallipes egg ; another set of four has a deep yellow buff ground practically obliterated by numerous freckles and small ill-defined blotches of dark reddish-brown, making the eggs look as if unicoloured bright chocolate-brown. The two other clutches are intermediate, the one nearer the pallipes type, the other nearer the chocolate set in appearance.
In shape they are broad, blunt ovals, the texture very hard and fine, glossless in the light-coloured pair, highly glossed in the others.
The fourteen eggs average 23.1 x 17.5 mm. : maxima 24.2 x 18.1 mm. ; minima 21.5 x 17.3 and 23.0 x 16.8 mm.
The females were snared on the eggs in all four instances, but released in one case.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 2. 1933.
Title in Book: 
655. Muscicapula unicolor unicolor
Spp Author: 
Blyth
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
655
Year: 
1933
Page No: 
196
Common name: 
Indian Pale Blue Flycatcher
M_ID: 
27811
M_SN: 
Cyornis unicolor unicolor
Volume: 
Vol. 2
Term name: 
id: 
13808

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