(517) Enicurus maculatus maculatus.
The Western Spotted Foresail.
Enicurus maculatus Vigors, P. Z. S., 1830, p. 9 (Himalaya, restricted to Simla). Henicurus maculatus. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 83.
Vernacular names. Khanjan (N.W. Fron.).
Description. Forehead and anterior crown white; whole head to neck and breast black, generally with a bronze sheen on the crown; back, breast and scapulars black with bold white spots so numerous on the hind-neck as to form a collar and on the lower back reduced to broad fringes, lunate in shape; rump and upper tail-coverts white; tail black, the bases and tips white and the two outermost pairs wholly white; wings black, the greater coverts white-tipped forming a broad bar ; inner secondaries white at the base and with white spots at the tips ; lower plumage white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill black, legs and feet white to pale fleshy-white, sometimes pinker and darker on the joints.
Measurements. Total length about 270 to 280 mm.; wing 100 to 112 mm.; tail about 135 to 145 mm.; tarsus 29 to 30 mm.; culmen 19 to 21 mm.
The young have the head, back and breast a dark rich brown, sometimes immaculate (probably the older birds) and sometimes with indistinct pale centres to the feathers above and strongly marked streaks on the breast.
The nestling is dark grey above; chin, throat and breast grey with broad white centres; wings and tail as in the adult but with very broad white edges and tips.
Distribution. The Himalayas from the extreme North-West Frontier to Nepal, at all heights between 2,000 ft. and 12,000 ft.
Nidification. The Western Spotted Forktail breeds throughout its range between 3,000 and 9,000 feet, principally between 4,000 and 7,000 ft. It makes a very neat cup-shaped nest of living green moss very tidily lined with skeleton leaves or, according to Hume, with fine roots. It is always placed near water, generally on or in between boulders on the sides of hill-streams. Occasionally it may be built amongst the roots of trees on the banks of a stream and often it may be found on and under boulders in midstream. The eggs number three or four and in shape are long ovals, often rather pointed. The ground-colour is pale greenish, dull pinkish or pale stone-colour and the markings consist of numerous small blotches, freckles and spots of reddish brown, sometimes scattered boldly all over the eggs, at other times feeble and indistinct though equally numerous. Thirty eggs average about 25.3 x 17.8 mm. The breeding-season is from April to early July, later in the higher hills, earlier in the lower ranges and valleys.
Habits. Superficially our Indian Forktails remind one very much of the Wagtails. When wandering along some shady forest-path, or scrambling along the bed of a half dried up stream one catches sight of a black and white bird running rapidly away, for a second or two it stops, jerks and wags its tail up and down, not sideways, and then flits away a hundred yards or so before again settling. This may be repeated three or four times and then the bird slips away on one side through the forest and emerges again just behind you. Their flight is fairly fast but dipping and singularly graceful, as indeed are all the actions of the Forktail. They are not shy and one can watch them indefinitely if remaining reasonably quiet. Like the Wagtails they scuttle about hither and thither after insects, their little white legs carrying them with great rapidity but, unlike the Wagtails, they will sometimes submerge themselves entirely under water as they pursue their prey. Their note is a single shrill cry uttered both on the wing and when at rest.