651. Muscicapula sapphira

(651) Muscicapula sapphira Tickell.
Cyornis sapphira, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 225.
Muscicapula sapphira, ibid. vol. viii, p. 628.
This Flycatcher probably breeds from Sikkim to Eastern Assam and the Chin and Kachin Hills. In Sikkim no one has ever taken a nest, but Stevens saw it in Summer in the warmer valleys, and believed it bred at about 6,000 to 7,000 feet.
It is essentially a forest bird and was not uncommon in the stunted Oak forest at 6,000 feet in North Cachar, as well as in the thick evergreen forest down to 4,000 feet. I found one nest at the latter height and a few others about 6,000 feet, and the former altitude must, I now think, have been very unusual.
The first nest taken of this bird was found by Nagas on the 4th May, 1891, the female being trapped on the nest and afterwards identified in the British Museum. This nest and other nests taken later are described in ‘The Ibis’ (1906, p. 273):—
“I took no nests of this species on the ground nor did any of my collectors ; all were placed either in, or half in, holes and hollows of tree-stumps. Where they were altogether inside, the entrance was often quite exposed, but where they projected at all they were always well concealed by moss, lichens, ferns, or orchids.
“For the size of the birds the nests were often bulky, the materials filling up hollows, sometimes 8 inches across, whilst the depth of the nest itself was as much as 3 or 4 inches.
“In all cases the materials used were of the same kind, princi¬pally moss, this, in the main, consisting of long thin sprays taken from neighbouring trees, which were covered with hanging moss often as much as 18 inches in length. At the base of the nest this was thrown in anyhow and was much mixed with roots, lichen, fern-stems, small bits of bark, and other similar materials ; but, as the nest itself began to evolve from the materials, the rougher articles were discarded, and finally a neat little cup was formed almost entirely of moss, moss-roots and the rachides of maiden¬hair ferns, while in a few cases feathers were also incorporated with the other materials, or sometimes a little cotton-down. The interior of the cup was rather more than 2 inches in diameter and 1 inch in depth, but in some cases the depth exceeded the width.
“The full complement of eggs is four.”
The birds breed in May and June and probably some eggs are laid in the end of April, as I have seen quite advanced young in early May.
The eggs vary very much. The first clutch of eggs taken had the ground a very faint creamy white, the larger ends stippled with pale red, these marks coalescing to form distinct zones. These eggs measure 16.6 x 13.0, 16.2 x 11.8 and 16.0 x 11.5 mm. and are probably rather abnormal both in shape and colour.
Other eggs range from rather pale yellowish-grey to a warm buff-stone in ground-colour and from the faintest stippling and freckling of pale reddish to a dense stippling of reddish-brown so thickly disposed as to make the eggs look all of this colour.
In shape and texture they are typical of the genus and sixteen eggs average 15.4 x 11.8 mm. : maxima 16.2 x 12.2 and 16.0 x 12.3 mm. ; minima 15.0 x 11.6 mm.
Both sexes incubate but I have never seen a nest being built. The male frequently breeds in immature plumage and I have seen very few in really full dress.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 2. 1933.
Title in Book: 
651. Muscicapula sapphira
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Sapphire Headed Flycatcher
Sapphire Flycatcher
Ficedula sapphira
Vol. 2
Term name: 

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