(31) Dendrocitta leucogastra.
THE SOUTHERN TREE-PIE,
Dendrocitta leucogastra Gould, P. Z. S., 1833, p. 57 (Malabar Coast); Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 31.
Vernacular names. Neela val Kaka (Tel.).
Description. Forehead, anterior half of crown, sides of the head, chin, throat, upper breast and thighs black; posterior crown to hind neck, lower breast to vent and upper tail-coverts white; back, scapulars and rump chestnut-bay; under tail-coverts chestnut; wings black, the primaries with a large patch of white at their base; central tail-feathers grey, broadly tipped black; the next pair half grey and halt: black and the others nearly entirely black.
Colours of soft parts. Bill black, legs and feet duller black; iris brown to red-brown.
Measurements. Length about 475 mm.; tail 250 to 300 mm.; wing about 140 to 155 mm.; tarsus about 30mm. and culmen about 25 mm.
Distribution. Southern India from South Travancore to the "Wynaad. McMaster records a specimen from Chikalda in the Gawilgarh Hills, apparently a straggler only. It keeps principally to the western coast.
Nidification. Nest and eggs of this bird were taken by Bourdillon in March and by Mr. J. Stewart from February to May and again in August, and the latter gentleman informs me that they breed twice in the year. The nest is similar to that of the preceding bird and is placed in small trees and high bushes but it is always built in heavy forest and never near villages. Three eggs only are most often laid but four is not uncommon and sometimes two only are incubated. In general appearance they cannot be separated from those of himalayensis, described below.
Fifty eggs average 28.2 x 20.5 mm.
Habits. Found from the foot of the hills up to about 5,000 feet, generally below 3,000 feet. The flight, voice and general habits are like those of the Common Indian Tree-pie but this bird is essentially an inhabitant of heavy forest and shuns the immediate vicinity of mankind.
Key to Subspecies.
A. Central tail-feathers pale grey, with no
black tip B. s. sinensis.
B, Central tail-feathers darker grey, with a
a. Paler and brighter in colour; vent
and centre of abdomen almost white. D.s. himalayensis, p. 52.
b. Darker and duller in colour; vent
and centre of abdomen ashy D. s. assimilis, p. 53.