334. Chaptia aenea.
The Bronzed Drongo.
Dicrurus aenaus, Vieill. Nouv. Diet. d'Hist. Nat. ix, p. 586 (1817). Chaptia malayensis, A. Hay, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xv, p. 294 (1846); Blyth, Cat. p. 200; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 393; Tweedd. Ibis, 1877, p. 315 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Af. iii, p. 244; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 218 ; Hume, Cat. no. 282 bis. Chaptia aenea ( Vieill.), Blyth, Cat. p. 200; Horsf. S/ Af. Cat. i, p. 159 ;Jerd. B. I. i, p. 483; Hume, N. & F. p. 192 ; id. S. F. iii, p. 100; Armstrong, S. F. iv, p. 320; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. iii, p. 243 ; Anders. Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 652; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 217; Hume, Cat. no. 282; Oates, S. F. viii, p. 106; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 272 ; Bingham, S. F. ix, p. 173; Oates, B. B. i, p. 223 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 155; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 100; Oates in Hume's N. & F. 2nd ed. i, p. 210.
Buchanga, Beng.; Chota Kesraj at Gorakhpur ; Chaptia, Nep.
Coloration. The whole plumage black glossed with metallic bronze or lilac ; lower abdomen, vent, and under tail-coverts dull brownish; under wing-coverts generally tipped white, the axillaries less frequently so.
Bill, legs, and feet black; iris red or reddish.
Length about 9.5 ; tail 4.5 to 6 ; wing 4.2 to 5 ; tarsus .65; bill from gape 1.
It seems impossible to separate the race of this bird which inhabits India and the greater part of Burma from the race which is found in Southern Tenasserim, the Malay peninsula, Sumatra, and Borneo. Typical specimens may be selected from the Himalayas and from Sumatra which present certain points of difference, but these are by no means striking, and the two varieties are connected together by other specimens which it is difficult to assign to either race.
Birds of this species from India have the wing of the average Length of 4.7 inches. In Tenasserim the wings of this bird average the same, but some few specimens can be found with wings no longer than 4.2, and in Sumatra we meet with wings measuring 4.4. The tails vary immensely in Length even in the same localities. In Sumatra they range from 4 to 4.2, and iu India they ordinarily measure 4.7; but a remarkably fine Sikhim bird has the tail actually 6.2 in Length, and others from the same place have it no longer than 4.4. I think, therefore, that we may discard size as a character by which the two races may be separated.
With regard to colour, Indian birds have a perceptible grey dulness on the rump, and they have the abdomen generally, but not always, greyish. Sumatran birds have the rump as black and as glossy as the other parts of the upper plumage, and the abdomen, as a rule, dark-coloured. They have, moreover, a lilac gloss on the upper plumage, which is generally absent in Indian birds, but some fine Sikhim specimens show traces of it. There are no other differences between the two races.
Distribution. The western portion of India from Travancore up to Khandala; the Himalayas from Mussooree to the extreme end of the Assam valley; Eastern Bengal; thence through the entire eastern portion of the Empire, ranging down the Malay peninsula to Sumatra and Borneo.
Jerdon records this bird from the Bastar country in the Central Provinces, where, however, it has not again been observed either by Ball or any other ornithologist.
Habits, &c. This species is found in forest country, from the level of the sea up to 7000 or 8000 feet. It takes its station on the summit of lofty trees, and swoops on insects with a very graceful flight, returning to the same perch. It breeds from April to June, constructing its nest, which is made of grass and vegetable fibres overlaid with cobwebs, in the fork of a branch at a considerable height from the ground. The eggs, three in number, are pinkish marked with red and purplish, and measure about .82 by .61.