(229) Dumetia hyperythra.
THE RUFOUS-BELLIED BABBLER.
Timalia hyperythra Frankl., P. Z. S., 1831, p. 118 (Ganges near Benares).Dumetia hyperythra. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 133.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Forehead and anterior half of crown reddish brown, the feathers of the former rigid and pointed, with large fulvous streaks and with the shafts black when viewed in certain lights; feathers round the eye white; upper plumage, tail and exposed wing olive-brown, the tail cross-rayed; cheeks fulvous with pale shafts; ear-coverts like the upper plumage but paler and with still paler shafts ; entire lower plumage pale fulvous.
Colours of soft parts. Iris light to dark brown; bill pale horny or pale livid brown ; legs pale fleshy-white to fleshy-grey.
Measurements. Total length about 135 to 145 mm.; wing 53 to 56 mm*: tail about 65 mm.; tarsus about 18 to 20 mm.; culmen about 12 to 13 mm.
Distribution. This little Babbler is found South as far as Khandala on the West and the Godaveri Valley on the East. Thence it is found throughout the Central Provinces, Central India, Chota Nagpur, the dry western portions of Bengal, Orissa and Behar, and thence to the Lower Himalayas from Sikkim to Kumaon. To the West it occurs as far as longitude 75°.
Nidification. The Rufous-bellied Babbler breeds from early June to the end of August and early September, making a ball-shaped nest of grass and bamboo leaves, lined with finer grass or a little hair, sometimes with no lining at all; in size it varies in diameter from 5 to 6 inches. Often the nest is placed in, or at the foot of, a clump of bamboos, at other times in grass, bushes or cactus hedges. The eggs number three or four, and are in shape short, blunt ovals with a smooth and rather glossy texture. The ground is white varying occasionally to pink, and they are rather profusely marked all over with specks and blotches of light reddish to dark brown, generally more numerous at the larger end. Fifty eggs average 17.3 x 13.8 mm.
Habits. This little bird is a typical Babbler in all its ways. Though much more shy than the " Seven-Sisters " group, it has the same gregarious, cheerful habits, the same follow-my-leader style of clambering along from one tuft of grass or one bush to another and, like those birds, is very conversational and argumentative, though it indulges in softer notes and fewer quarrels. It prefers mixed scrub and grass, or grass alone, to other haunts, out may also be found in bamboo-jungle and thin forest or secondary growth.