Dendrocitta rufa- Scop.
674. :- Jerdon's Birds of India, Vol. II, p. 314 ; Butler, Guzerat; Stray Feathers, Vol. III, p. 494 ; Deccan, Stray Feathers, Vol. IX, p. 413 ; Murray's Vertebrate Zoology of Sind, p. 177; Swinhoe and Barnes, Central India ; Ibis, p. 128.
THE COMMON INDIAN MAGPIE.
Length, 16 to 18 ; expanse, 17 to 19 ; wing, 5.8 to 6.5; tail, 8 to 10.5 ; tarsus, 1.1 to 1.2 ; bill at gape, 1.2 ; bill at front, 1.1.
Bill black; irides blood-red; legs dark-slaty. Whole head, neck, and breast, sooty-brown or blackish, deepest on the forehead, chin, and throat, and passing into dusky-cinereous ; scapulars, back, and upper tail-coverts, dark ferruginous; wing-coverts, and the outer web of the secondaries, light grey, almost whitish in some ; rest of the quills black ; tail ashy-grey, the feathers all broadly tipped with black, least so on the centre feathers; beneath, from the breast, ferruginous or fulvous.
This Tree Pie is, I believe, a permanent resident throughout the district, but I have only been able to procure eggs in Sind. During part of the hot weather they become very scarce, if not altogether absent, and are then probably engaged in breeding in some near but more suitable locality.
In Sind they breed during May and June, almost always choosing babool trees, placing the nest in a stoutish fork near the top ; they are composed at the bottom of thorny twigs, which form a sort of foundation upon which the true nest is built; the latter consists of fine twigs, lined with grass roots; the nest is frequently of large size. The eggs, four (more rarely five) in number, vary most astonishingly in both ground-color and in the character of the markings. Typically they are longish ovals, a good deal pointed at one end. A common type is a pale salmon or pale greenish-white, thickly splashed and marked with bright or brownish-red ; the other type is greenish-white or pale stony color, and the markings are olive and pale purplish-brown, others are intermediate between these two types ; some of these eggs are exact counterparts, except in size, of eggs of Lanius lahtora. In length they measure from 1.0 to 1.3 inches, and in breadth from 0.78 to 0.95, but the average is about 1.17 inches in length by 0.87 in breadth.