Cyornis Blyth, J. A. S. B., xii, p. 941 (184:2). Type, Phaenicura rubeculoides, Vigors.
The genus Cyornis contains a very large number of species of Flycatchers m which the sexes are always different in colour, and which appear to be congeneric in structure, habits and in type of coloration. They are birds which are often very difficult to discriminate from one another, and with some of the females it is impossible to do so. The difficulty is greatly added to by the fact that frequently species are separated from one another by characters which, in the majority of Passerine genera, would only infer geographical or subspecific variation. Species of this genus are found all over India, Burma and China, and South into Malaya and the Islands.
In Cyornis the bill is about half the length of the head, depressed and rather broad at the base; the rictal bristles are moderate; the first primary is generally small but varies considerably and the wing is pointed ; the tail is square or nearly so.
In this genus all the males are blue or black on the upper plumage, whilst the females are of various shades of brown or rufous.
By some ornithologists the genus Cyornises split up into several genera, whilst by others it is lumped into the all-embracing genus Muscicapa.. Oates' arrangement seems to be a convenient one, retaining a group of birds which, to most observers, would seem very closely allied, yet differentiated from other groups by certain characters by which they can be obviously and easily distinguished.
Key to Species. Males.
A. Base of tad white.
a. White on tail extending nearly to tip
of 3rd pair C. cyanea, p. 215.
b. White on tail confined to base.
a1. Upper plumage blue.
a2. Breast orange-chestnut.
a3. No white supercilium C. hodgsonii, p. 216.
b6. A white supercilium C hyperythra, p. 217.
b2. Breast white to buff or fulvous-grey.
c1. Breast and abdomen greyish
white, tinged fulvous ....... C. tricolor, p. 219.
d3. Breast and abdomen pure white C. superciliaris, p. 221.
b1. Upper plumage black C. melanoleuca. p. 224.
B. No white on tail. c. Upper plumage blue.
c1. Crown and rump different blue to back.
c2 Axillaris and under wing-coverts
white .. C. sapphira, p 225.
d2. Axillaries and under wing-coverts
chestnut C. rivida, p. 226.
d1. Crown, rump and back same colour.
e2. Chin, throat and breast dark blue,
abdomen white C. pallipes, p. 227.
f2. Chin and throat blue C. rubeculoides, p. 231.
g2. Point of chin black, breast and
flanks rufous C. banyumas, p. 233.
h2. Whole lower plumage blue . . C. unicolor; p. 229.
i2 Point of chin black, breast bright ferruginous.
e3 Culmen under 13 mm C. tickelliae, p. 234.
f1. Culmen over 13 mm C. magnirostris. p 236.
A. Upper plumage brown or rufescent.
a. Base of tail white C. cyanea, p. 215.
b. No white on tail.
a2. Breast chestnut or ferruginous a3. First primary not less than
half second C. pallipes, p. 227.
b3. First primary less than half second.
a4. Culmen under 13 mm....C. rubeculoides, p. 231.,& C.
banyumas, p. 233
b4. Culmen over 13 mm C. magnirostris, p. 237.
b2. No chestnut on breast. c3. Whole lower plumage earthy-
brown . C. unicolor, p. 229.
d3 .Lower plumage never brown.
c4. Wing always over 90 mm ... C. vivida, p. 226.
d4. Wing always under 85 mm.
a3. Second primary equal to 9th, tail under 45 mm. .. C. hyperythra, p. 217.
b3. Second primary shorter than 1st secondary ; tail over
45 mm C. tricolor, p. 219.
c5. Second primary between 6th and 7th.
a6. Lower plumage ashy-brown, white on abdomen C. hodgsonii, p. 216,
b6. Chin, throat and breast
buff C. melanoleuca, p. 224.
c6. Chin, throat and breast
chestnut…………….C. sapphira, p. 225.
B. Upper plumage with some blue.
c. Blue confined to rump, upper tail-
coverts and tail C. superciliaris, p. 221.
d. Whole upper plumage dull blue C. tickellis, p. 234.