350. Erpornis xantholeuca xantholeuca

(350) Erpornis xantholeuca xantholeuca Hodgs.
Erpornis xantholeuca xantholeuca, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 325.
This curious little Babbler breeds throughout the Outer Himalayas from Nepal to Eastern Assam and Manipur. It is found throughout the hills of Burma, Siam and the Malay Peninsula and, on the material available, I have not felt justified in accepting any division of races within this area. It is resident and doubtless breeds wherever found. In Assam it is to be seen from the foot-hills up to some 3,000 feet. In the breeding season it seems to keep much to moist, deep evergreen forest in the lower valleys between 1,000 and 2,000 feet. Oates speaks of it being found up to 5,000 feet, but Stevens never obtained it over 3,300 in Sikkim, an elevation which agrees better with its distribution in Assam. Only once have I known it over 3,800 feet, a nest taken at Cherra-poongi, in the Khasia Hills, having been found at an elevation of nearly 4,000 feet.
Its favourite resorts are the banks of hill-streams or small glades and open spaces near the edge of forest, and it does not breed far in the interior of these unless by village tracks or streams. I have also sometimes seen this bird in the much drier grass country to the North-East of the Cachar Hills. This country consists of rolling grass-covered hills, the bottoms of the dips between the hills filled with rather dense forest with ample undergrowth, and frequently with small streams running through them.
The few nests I have taken were attached to small hanging or horizontal twigs of bamboo-clumps or the twigs of a bush, always in evergreen forest and always by a stream or small, more or less open and sun-lit space. As a rule they are only two to four feet from the ground, but one attached to a branch of a small sapling may have been six feet up.
The nests are little cradles built into, but pendent between, small branches or horizontal twigs, never in between upright ones. They are made of fine fibres, moss- and fern-roots, well interlaced, but not sufficient in number to make bulky nests, and they look more fragile than they are. The lining is of very fine rachides, all black in colour, so that the nests are very dingy-looking little affairs.
Hopwood took one nest of this species at Tounghoo, apparently very similar to those taken by myself. In epistola he writes :— “It was taken in the Pegu Yoma forests in heavy jungle which varied from moist moderate to dense evergreen, the latter along the borders of the streams. The nest was just at the upper edge of the evergreen forest and was built in a small bamboo about two or three years old. There was a pretty thick growth of young bamboos and the twig selected for the nest was bent over like this [sketch of a thin horizontal twig], about three feet from the ground.”
This nest was taken on the 24th of March but all my Assam eggs were taken in the end of April and in May.
The number of eggs laid seems to be two or three only, generally the former. The ground is china-white and they are thinly marked with freckles or small blotches of pale pinkish-red. These are usually least scanty at the larger end where, in a few eggs, they form an ill-defined ring.
In shape they are rather long, obtuse ovals. The surface is distinctly glossy and the texture fine, close and hard.
Twenty eggs average 16.7 x 12.7 mm. : maxima 18.8 x 14.0 mm. ; minima 15.2 x 12.0 mm.
The only two birds actually trapped on their nests were both females.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. 1932.
Title in Book: 
350. Erpornis xantholeuca xantholeuca
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
White Bellied Herpornis
Erpornis zantholeuca zantholeuca
Vol. 1

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