(1144) Delichon nepalensis.
Delichon nepalensis Hodgs. & Moore, P. Z. S., 1854, p. 104, pi. lxiii (Nepal). Chelidon nepalensis. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 271.
Vernacular names. Bere-Dao (Cachari); Inrui-bi (Naga).
Description. Upper part and sides of head, neck, back, scapulars, wing-coverts, longest tail-coverts and tail black, glossed with deep blue: feathers of hind neck white at the base and showing as a broken collar ; rump white ; shorter upper tail coverts white with black tips; wing-quills black, edged glossy ; lower cheeks and ear-coverts unglossed black ; chin and throat unglossed black, the latter generally mottled with white; under tail-coverts black glossed with blue; remaining lower plumage white ; axillaries and under wing-coverts black.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown ; bill horny-brown to blackish-brown; legs and feet fleshy-white.
Measurements. Total length about 120 mm.; wing 96 to 98 mm.; tail 38 to 41 mm.; tarsus about 10 to 11 mm.; culmen 6 mm.
Young birds have no gloss on the black, which is browner and duller and the throat seems more mottled with white; the lower plumage, especially the throat, is suffused with grey.
Distribution. Himalayas from Naini Tal to Eastern Assam and South to Cachar and Manipur.
Nidification. In 1893 I found this little Martin breeding in a huge colony on most inaccessible rocks of a cliff over the Boila stream at about 5,000 feet, a few birds only building under the rafters of a house built on the edge of the cliff. Whymper found an even larger colony, numbering about 3,000 pairs, breeding on a cliff near Nairn Tal in April. Most of these nests were out of reach or were rendered unapproachable by numerous bees' nests but a few of the outlying ones were reached and the eggs were taken, in each case four in number and nearly all too hard-set to be blowable. They are, of course, pure white, rather fragile eggs and vary in length between 17.3 x 13.1 and 19.1 x 12.0 mm. and in breadth between 19.0 X 11.3 and 18.3 x 13.4 mm.
The nests are exactly like those of the Common House-Martin, but in many cases those seen both by Whymper and myself had practically no overhead protection and in these cases the mud sides were continued over the entrance and back to the cliff as a roof. Many nests were built a little apart from others but many also were built in small clusters of half-a-dozen to some twenty or thirty nests. I took eggs from the North Cachar Colony in April, May and again in July in different years and the birds probably have two broods.
Habits. This Martin is a non-migratory bird. Whymper found them present in their breeding haunts in Nairn Tal during December and whenever I visited the breeding colony in N. Cachar the birds were always to be seen hawking around, Summer and Winter alike. They were absolutely tame, flitting backwards and forwards within a few feet of us as we watched them, whilst those which nested in the house went in and out quite regardless of the inhabitants and no wit disturbed by a large and very smoky fire. They are birds of low elevations between 3,000 and 5,000 feet but occasionally are found up to 8,000 feet.