519. Enicurus schistaceus

(519) Enicurus schistaceus.

The Slaty-backed Forktail.

Enicurus schistaceus Hodgs., As. Res., xix, p. 189 (1836; (Nepal). Henicurus schistaceus. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 84.

Vernacular names. Inruidiba (Kacha Naga).

Description. A frontal line running back to the eye pure white, lores and next the nostril, chin, cheeks, upper throat and sides of neck black ; crown to lower back slaty blue-grey; rump and upper tail-coverts white; tail-feathers black with white lips and bases and the two outermost pairs pure white; lesser wing-coverts black broadly edged with slate-colour ; median and greater coverts black, the latter broadly tipped with white forming a wing-bar; quills black, all but the first two primaries with a white patch at the base of the outer web ; innermost secondaries broadly tipped with white; below from lower throat to under tail-coverts pure white.

Colours of soft parts. Iris brown to blackish brown ; bill black; legs practically white to pale fleshy or livid fleshy; claws whitish.

Measurements. Total length about 250 mm.; wing 89 to 101 mm.; tail 101 to 128 mm.; tarsus 27.5 to 28.5 mm.; culmen 18 to 19 mm.

The young birds have the black upper parts replaced by rich brown, and the breast and flanks with rufous-brown edges and indefinite bars.

The Nestlings have the upper parts from forehead to rump ashy-brown; the chin, throat, breast and flanks smoky-brown with pale centres giving a mottled appearance.

Distribution. From Kumaon {Hume) to Eastern Assam, both North and South of the Brahmaputra, practically the whole of Burma, Siam, Shan States, Yunnan and the greater part of Southern China.

Nidification. The nest of the Slaty-backed Forktail is exactly like that of the Spotted Forktails, though it averages somewhat smaller and possibly has more leaves and roots worked into the body of the nest. The sites selected are also the same as those chosen by these birds. The eggs, which number three or four, are of two types : firstly, very much like small, washed out eggs of E. m. guttatus; secondly, and more often, pure white eggs, or with only the faintest tinge of green or cream, quite boldly spotted and speckled with reddish brown, with others underlying them of violet and pale reddish lavender. In Eastern Assam, where the bird is very numerous, the eggs were nearly all of this type; in Sikkim, West and South Assam, they are more often of the former type. One hundred eggs average 21.4 x 16.3 mm.: maxima 24.0 X 17.0 mm.; minima 20.0 x 16.0 and 21.1 x 15.3 mm. They are early breeders, commencing to lay in the second week in April and few laying after May.

Habits. Those of the genus. The Slaty-backed Forktail is found principally between 1,000 and 5,000 feet ascending some two thousand feet higher, whilst in winter it is found right down to the foot-hills and plains adjacent to them.

The Fauna Of British India, Including Ceylon And Burma-birds(second Edition)
Baker, EC S (1922–1930) The fauna of British India including Ceylon and Burma. Second edition. vol.2 1924.
Title in Book: 
519. Enicurus schistaceus
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Slaty Backed Forktail
Slaty-backed Forktail
Enicurus schistaceus
Vol. 2

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith