18. Dendrocitta himalayensis.
The Himalayan Tree-pie.
Dendrocitta sinensis (Lath.) apud Blyth, Cat. p. 92; Horsf. M. Cat. ii, p. 568; Jerd. B. 1. ii, p. 310. Dendrocitta himalayensis, Blyth, Ibis, 1865, p. 45; Hume, N. & E. p. 423; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. iii, p. 79; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 386; Hume, Cat, no. 676; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 329 ; Oates, B. B. i, p. 403 ; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 259; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. i, p. 23. Dendrocitta assimilis, Hume, S. F. v, p. 117; id. Dav. S. F. vi, p. 386 ; id. S. F. vii, p. 519; id. Cat. 676 bis.
The Himalayan Magpie, Jerd.; Kokia-Kak, at Mussoorie; Karrio-pho, Lepch.; Karriah-ban, Bhut.; Kok-long-ah, Assam.
Coloration. Forehead, lores and feathers above the eye black; sides of the head, chin and throat dark sooty brown, fading and overspreading the sides of the neck and breast; crown of the head, nape, and upper back ashy: back and scapulars clear brownish buff; rump and upper tail-coverts ashy ; wings and their coverts black, all the primaries but the first two with a patch of white at their base, forming a conspicuous spot; central pair of tail-feathers ashy for two thirds of their Length, then black ; the others all black, except the extreme bases, which are ashy ; abdomen and flanks cinereous; thighs brown; vent and under tail-coverts chestnut.
The young do not differ much from the adult; the colours are paler, the feathers of the upper plumage are tipped with buff, and the under tail-coverts and vent are reddish brown.
Bill black ; irides reddish brown ; feet brownish black, in young birds leaden black ; claws dusky (Scully).
Length 16; tail 9 ; wing 5.5; tarsus 1.1; bill from gape 1.3.
Tenasserim birds have the cheeks, ear-coverts, and throat paler, and the sides of the neck and the upper back tinged with brown They are, however, hardly separable from some Himalayan birds.
Distribution. Throughout the Himalayas from the Sutlej valley to Sadiya, and thence through the Assam hill-tracts to Tenasserim, where it has been procured as far south as Muleyit mountain. In the Tweeddale collection there is a specimen labelled as having been obtained at Murree, and Blyth records the species from Arrakan, whence, however, I have not seen a specimen. It is found in billy tracts at elevations from 2000 to 6000 or 7000 feet, and does not appear to occur in the plains.
Habits, &c. According to Jerdon, this species is found in the more open parts of the forest and near cultivation and villages. It breeds from May to August. The nest is usually a shallow, flimsy saucer of twigs built in a small tree. The eggs, which are marked with olive-brown, measure 1.14 by .85.
A closely allied species is D. sinensis, with which the present species was long confounded. D. sinensis occurs throughout China, is of smaller size, has the tail-coverts whiter and the central tail-feathers entirely white.