(789) Dissemurus paradiseus grandis.
The Assam Large Racket-tailed Drongo.
Edolius grandis Gould, P. Z. S., 1836, p. 5 (Assam). Dissemurus paradiseus. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 325 (part.).
Vernacular names. Bhimraj, Bhringraj (Hind.); Kaljia(Nep); Parvak or Parvak-pho (Lepcha); Dao-rajah gaschim (Cachari).
Description. This is the largest of all the races of this species, with a magnificent crest reaching oyer the whole crown and a very long tail with large rockets.
Measurements. Wing 155 to 182 mm.; tail up to 560 mm. and often exceeding 500 mm.; culmen 32 to 35 mm. and stout in proportion.
Distribution. The Himalayas from Mussoorie to Eastern Assam; South to Sambalpur, Raipur and the Northern reaches of the Godavari River; North Chin and Kachin Hills; Northern Shan States and Yunnan.
Nidification. This fine Drongo breeds during April and May from the level of the plains* up to about 4,500 feet, but not often above 3,000 feet. The nest is the usual cradle swung in the fork of some small branch at the top of, or outside, some tree standing in forest, deep or open, or in well-wooded open country. It is fragile-looking, but strong in fact, being composed of very fine twigs, weed-stems, roots and grasses well interlaced and very firmly attached to the supporting fork, round which the materials are wound and then strengthened with cobwebs. The lining consists of a scanty amount of grass-stems and the outside is often more or less decorated with lichen, scraps of moss, bark, etc, It measures anything between 5 1/2 and 6 1/2 inches in diameter by less than half its width in" depth. Most nests are placed high up in big trees and are very difficult to get at but a few are built within 15 or 20 feet of the ground. The eggs number three or four and vary rather less than do those of most Drongos. In shape they are rather long and pointed; in colour they vary from pure white, which is rare, to a rich cream, marked with primary blotches or spots and specks of some shade of reddish, brown or purple and with secondary marks of lavender and pale neutral tint. In most eggs the markings are fairly numerous at the larger end and sparse elsewhere hut they vary greatly in this respect. Forty-eight eggs average 30.4 X 21.6 mm.: maxima 32.4x 22.5 mm.; minima 26.0 x 20.8 and 27.0 x 20.0 mm.
Habits. Preferably this Drongo frequents dense damp forests but it is also found in all well-wooded country and is especially partial to bamboo-jungle, in which grow scattered big trees. In a natural state they are entirely insectivorous, though they may swallow a great deal of honey together with the insects they extract from flowers, but in a state of captivity they will eat plantains greedily. Bees are swallowed by them in great numbers and without any injury and they also devour every kind of beetle, their larvae and butterflies. Their notes are all most musical, and, though they have no really connected song, one mellow whistle follows another in such rapid succession that it is much the same in effect. They mimic many other sounds as well as those of other birds and a fine male bird, for many years the unconfined pet of the Sepoys in one of the N. Cachar stockades, sounded the reveille every morning with absolute correctness and punctuality.