(782) Chibia hottentotta hottentotta.
The Indian Hair-crested Drongo.
Corvus hottentottus Linn., S. N., i, p. 155 (1766) (Sikkim). Chibia hottentotta. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 320.
Vernacular names. Krishna-raj, Kishen-raj, Kesraj (Beng. and Hind.); Kesya, Jobraj (Nep.) ; Povong-pho (Lepcha) ; Yentika passala poligadu (Tel.).
Description. Whole plumage black; the head, neck, wings, tail and breast with metallic-blue gloss, inclining to bronze on the wings and tail in certain lights.
Colours of soft parts. Iris red-brown to dark brown; bill, legs and feet black.
Measurements. Total length about 300 mm.; wing 155 to 180 mm.; tail about 145 to 160 mm.; tarsus about 22 to 24 mm.; culmen 26 to 32 mm. Southern birds average a great deal smaller than Northern ones, thus birds from Bombay have a wing measuring 158 mm., whilst those from North-West India average over 175 mm. At the same time there is great overlapping and at present very little material available from Southern India for comparison, so, for the present, I retain all but the small-billed Chinese birds under the one name.
Young birds are browner with less gloss and the axillaries and under wing-coverts tipped with white ; the neck-hackles, which in the adult run up to as much as 30 mm., are short and the long hairs which spring from the head not more than 50 mm. as against nearly 100 mm. in the adult.
Nestling. Brown with obsolete white bars to the abdomen, flanks and breast; bold white tips to the axillaries and under wing-coverts and pale edges to the wing-coverts.
Distribution. Travancore, Malabar and Bombay Presidency; Central Provinces and Chota Nagpore; the Himalayas from Murree to Eastern Assam; Burma South to Tenasserim; Shan States, Northern Siam and Yunnan.
Nidification. The Hair-crested Drongo breeds from February and March to June in Western India and during April, May and June in Northern India and Burma. The nest is merely a large edition of the Common Drongo's nest but is nearly always placed high up in a tree standing in forest. The eggs number three or four, rarely five or, equally seldom, two only. They are longer and more pointed in shape than other Drongos* eggs, in groundcolour varying from pure white to deep salmon, pale creamy eggs being the most common. The markings consist of rather pale reddish blotches, somewhat longitudinal in character and fairly profuse everywhere. A few eggs are marked with scanty specks or spots of purple-brown or blackish. Two hundred eggs average 29.2 x 21.2 mm.: maxima 34.5 x 22.0 and 31.0 x 22.8 mm.; minima 25.0 X 20.5 and 27.5 x 19.8 mm.
Habits. This Drongo is essentially a forest-bird and frequents broken ground, low hills and the bigger mountains up to some 3,000 feet, wandering occasionally 1,000 feet higher than this. It is not gregarious and does not assemble in flocks but an unusually ample supply of food will attract many individuals and pairs which feed quite amicably together. Thus a flight of termites or a Bombax in full bloom, with its great red flowers full of insects, will attract among other birds many of this species. They feed largely by searching flowers and leaves for insects but also catch these on the wing when they have the opportunity. Their ordinary flight is more powerful and less dipping than that of most Drongos whilst their calls are even louder and more diversified than any but those of Dissemurus.