(651) Cyornis sapphira.
The Sapphire-headed Flycatcher.
Muscicapula sapphira Tickell, Blyth, J. A.S. B., xii, p. 939 (1843) (Darjiling). Cyornis sapphira. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 20.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description.— Adult male. Forehead, crown and nape brilliant ultramarine-blue ; sides of head, neck, back, rump and wing-coverts deep purplish blue; upper tail-coverts bright blue; tail black, edged with bright blue ; wing-quills and primary-coverts black, edged with deep blue; lores and a line through the eye black; chin, throat and upper breast light chestnut; an interrupted band below the chestnut deep blue; remainder of lower parts a very pale blue-grey ; axillaries and under wing-coverts white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown or hazel; bill black; legs and feet light horny-brown to dark ashy-brown.
Measurements. Wing 60 to 63 mm.; tail 40 to 46 mm.; tarsus about 16 mm.: culmen about 8.5 to 9 mm.
Female. Whole upper plumage rufous-olive, more rufous on the forehead; upper tail-coverts bright ferruginous; tail dark brown tinged strongly with ferruginous; lores and edge of forehead mixed fulvous and brown; a ring of bright fulvous round the eye; chin, throat and breast pale, bright orange-chestnut; remainder of lower plumage dull white, the flanks and under tail-coverts suffused with brown.
Colours of soft parts as in the male.
Measurements. A little smaller than the male, wing 58 to 61 mm.
Nestling. Similar to that of C. superciliaris, but a deeper fulvous on the throat and breast.
Distribution. Sikkim to Eastern Bengal, Chin and Kachin Hills.
Nidification. 1 found this bird breeding in North Cachar between 3,500 and 6,000 feet and Dr. H. N. Coltart obtained nests, eggs and birds from the Trans-Dikhu Nagas at Margherita, probably taken at about 6,000 feet. The nest is the usual moss cup, lined with fine hair-like roots and placed either in a hollow in the face of a steep bank or in a hole in a tree or dead stump.
The eggs, three or four in number, are just like those of C. superciliaris. I found all those I obtained myself in nests in forest, either dense evergreen or of oak, but the latter were covered all the year round with masses of orchids, ferns and moss and the undergrowth was always green.
This Flycatcher breeds throughout May and June.
Habits. The birds seen by me in North Cachar were all either in pairs or single, frequenting high undergrowth or small trees, from the tops of which they made their sallies after insects. I never heard their song.