(1844) Ducula badia griseicapilla.
THE GREY-HEADED IMPERIAL PIGEON.
Ducula griseicapilla Walden, Ann. Mag. N. H., xvi, p. 228 (1875) (Karen Hills); Blanf. & Oates, iv. p. 22.
Vernacular names. Hgnet-nga (Burmese); Daohukuruma gagao (Cachari) ; Inruikuru gaherba (Katcha Naga).
Description. Differs from D. b. insignis in having the crown, forehead and nape grey, in some specimens quite sharply defined from the vinous or lilac-grey of the hind-neck; the rump and upper tail-coverts are often more brown and less grey.
Colours of soft parts. Iris greyish-white; corneous tip of bill pale brown, rest of bill and gape and feet rich purplish lake-red; claws brown (Davison).
Measurements as in the preceding race. Davison gives the weight of two males as 1 lb. 7 oz, and 1 lb, 4 oz. respectively. Females weigh a trifle less.
Distribution. Assam, in the Surrma Valley, but not in the hill-ranges of the Brahmapootra River or in the Khasia Hills, in which insignis occurs ; Cachar, Sylhet, Manipur. Bengal East of the Bay of Bengal and all Burma South to Tenasserim and East to Annam. Birds from Muleyit are of this form and this mountain probably forms its Southern limit. It is also found in the Shan States and Tuonan, whence Rothschild records it under the name of D. b. badia from the South-west.
Nidification. Davison obtained a nest and egg of this Pigeon on Muleyit on the 27th January, on a tree close to a path in dense virgin-forest; Hop wood took eggs in March and April in the Chin Hills, Harington during March and April in the Kachin Hills and I several from March to June in North Cachar. In the latter district they breed from about 2,000 feet up to 6,000 and invariably in deep forest. The trees they build in are usually small and the nests low down between 12 and 20 feet from the ground, whilst the nest itself is as carelessly and loosely put together as that of any other Pigeon. One egg only is laid and twelve of these average 45.1 x 34.0 mm.: maxima 49*1 X 33*8 and 45.2 x 36.1 mm.; minima 43.6 x 33.1 and 44.4 x 32.0 mm.
Habits. The Grey-headed Imperial Pigeon is essentially a bird of mountain-forests, though it makes occasional descents into the more open plains at certain seasons of the year when the Fici are in full bearing. At these times the flocks which collect are sometimes very large, numbering hundreds, though at other times twenty form a large flock. When feeding on these great trees they clamber slowly about from one branch to another, or flutter the few feet between them. They are not nearly so expert as are Green Pigeons in getting about a tree and cannot hang upside down as these birds often do when feeding. At the same time they are far more peaceable and though their deep calls of " wuck-wurr, wuck-wurr " may be resounding from every part of the tree, there are but few squabbles and no real fighting. It is almost incredible the size of the fruit these birds can swallow but in many cases the figs and other fruits are much bigger than their own heads. The birds are excellent eating but should be skinned before they are cooked and, as their flesh speedily absorbs the flavour of what they feed on, they naturally vary greatly in delicacy and flavouring. Their flight is very swift and direct but they keep so much to dense forest that it is not often one can make a big bag of any species of Imperial Pigeon. They occasionally descend to the ground both to drink and to eat mud and earth at salt-licks and they walk well and fairly easily.