(1306) Dicaeum minullum olivaceum.
The Plain-coloured Flower-pecker.
Dicaeum olivaceum Walden, Ann. Mag. N. H. (4) xv. p. 401 (1875) (Tounghoo) ; Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 380.
Vernacular names. Bongfang daotisha (Cachari),
Description. Similar to the Nilgiri Flower-pecker but much darker both above and below, the lower surface being a dull ashy-green with a slight buffy-yellow wash.
Colours of soft parts. Iris deep brown; bill plumbeous, the culmen and tip dark horny-brown ; legs and feet dark plumbeous or slate-colour.
Measurements. As in the Belgaum Flower-pecker.
Distribution. The Himalayas from Nepal East to Assam, both North and South; Manipur; the Hills of Burma, throughout the Malay Peninsula; Siam, Shan States, Yunnan, Annam and South China.
Individual variation in this race is considerable but 1 can find no constant character by which further division into geographical races can be made Freshly moulted specimens are much brighter and greener than faded ones and again some individuals in the same stage of plumage are much darker than others.
Nidification. The Plain-coloured Flower-pecker breeds from the level of the plains, probably often in the plains themselves,up to about 6,000 feet but is most common from the foot-bills up to about 3,000 feet. Like most of the other Dicaeums it especially frequents fruit groves and, above all orange groves, for breeding purposes but it also breeds in cultivated country, thin forest and the outskirts of heavy evergreen-forest. I have found its nest ar all heights above the ground ; once at least in weeds and grass within a few inches of it and often over 40 feet in high trees. The nest is exactly like that of D. cruentatum and the other races of Dicaeum and needs no separate Description. I have seen nests with eggs on the 12th March and others in early August, but May and June are the two principal laying months. The grey-white eggs, two or three in number, average, for forty, 14.5 x 10.6 mm.: maxima 15.9 x10.4 and 15.7x11.1 mm.; minima 13.0 x 9.9 mm.
Habits. This is a very common little bird in Assam, but apparently less so over the rest of its range though it seems to be resident wherever found. It is common and breeds in the plains of Assam not very far from the hills and occurs up to the summits of the Southern hills and up to some 6,000 or 7,000 feet on the more Northern ranges. Its favourite resorts are orange groves and clumps of trees covered with parasites. When the oranges are in flower it feeds largely on nectar as well as insects and at other times diligently searches the orange-leaves and parasitic plants for insects. It is an excessively energetic, restless little bird, turning and twisting about in every kind of attitude as it quests for its food. Its note when feeding is the usual twitter of the genus and when flying from one tree to another it utters a constant chip, chip, chip. They keep in pairs, but even where common and several pairs may be seen feeding on the same big tree it is rare to see two pairs together in the same patch of parasitic plant.