Genus DENDROCITTA Gould, 1833.
In the Tree-pies we have a collection of birds which are closer to Pica than to either Urocissa or Cissa, inasmuch as they have black bills and very numerous stiff, but somewhat short, bristles completely concealing the nostrils. The bill, however, is short, with the commissure greatly curved and in one species, D. bayleyi, the tail approaches the next genus in structure, the central tail-feathers being gradually enlarged throughout their length, not suddenly at the tip as in Crypsirhina.
The Tree-pies are sociable, associating in small flocks and they are arboreal, seldom descending to the ground. They have a series of clear metallic notes, which sound very pleasantly in the jungle. They construct large nests, generally in trees, and lay eggs which are less Corvine in appearance than those of the true Magpies. Their food consists of both fruit and insects.
Key to Species,
A. Tail ashy with black on terminal half.
a. Crown brown, abdomen rufous D. rufa, p. 48.
b. Crown black, abdomen and hind neck
white D. leucogastra, p. 51,
c. Crown black, abdomen and hind neck
ashy D. sinensis, p. 52.
B. Tail entirely black.
d. No white spot on wing D. frontalis, p. 54.
e. With a white wing-spot D. bayleyi, p. 55.
This species extends over a very wide area and, as might be expected, varies greatly in different portions of its range, though their variations have until now been almost entirely overlooked.
Lanius rufus of Linne *, the name which has generally been accepted as applicable to this bird, cannot be used as it is preoccupied by him in an earlier page of the same work. Curiously enough, however, Latham* independently named it Corvus rufus a few years later from a bird obtained on the Malabar coast, so the name rufus will, therefore, still hold good.
Key to Subspecies.
A. Colours of head and back contrasting strongly.
a. Lighter both above and below and not
nearly so richly coloured D. rufa rufa, p. 48.
b. Darker and more richly coloured above and
below D. r. vagabunda, p. 50.
B, Colours of head and back blending with one another.
c. Tail 195 to 241 mm.; dark dull plumage.
a1. Darker, more brown D. r. saturatior, p. 51.
b1 Paler and redder D.r. kinneari, p. 51.
d. Tail 242 to 287 mm.; pale dull plumage D, r. sclateri, p. 50.