647. Muscicapula superciliaris superciliaris

(647) Muscicapula superciliaris superciliaris (Jerdon).
THE WESTERN WHITE-BROWED BLUE FLYCATCHER.
Cyornis superciliaris superciliaris, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 221.
Muscicapula superciliaris superciliaris, ibid. vol. viii, p. 628.
This pretty little Flycatcher is one of the most common of breeding birds throughout the Lower Himalayas as far East as the Simla States and Garhwal, extending Northwards throughout Kashmir, though in lessening numbers, breeding at all elevations between 5,000 and 10,000 feet.
In Simla, where they are extremely numerous, Jones and Dods¬worth took many nests at about 7,000 feet. In Murree, Mussoorie etc. Marshall, Rattray, Mackinnon and others took them at from 5,000 to 7,500, and Marshall says “the general average elevation was about 6,500. Bates took one nest at Tiderwat, Kashmir, at 10,000 feet.
As regards its habitat in Kashmir, Osmaston writes (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xxxi, p. 987, 1927) :— “This bird, so common in the hill-forests in Garhwal and Kuman, is not very common in Kashmir. It is found in the mixed forest of blue pine, silver fir and broad-leaved species at from about 6,300' to 9,000', and here they breed.” Davidson found them numerous at Gund over the wooded hills, at an elevation of 7,500 feet and upwards.
At whatever height they are found breeding it will always be in well forested country, though the woods themselves may be of rather scattered Pines or of mixed character and far more dense.
The nests are always placed in holes or rifts in trees, though the height from the ground and the nature of the hole varies greatly. Thus, of three nests taken by Davidson at Gund, “the first was in a disused hole of a Woodpecker, 20 feet from the ground ; the second in a hole in a thin tree only 12 feet from the ground, while the last was over 25 feet, in a rotten branch of a dead tree.”
Hume says that they make their nests “occasionally between two stones of the terraced wall of some fallow or deserted field.” Osmaston once actually found the birds had appropriated the deserted nest of a Wren.
The nest is a well-made little cup of green and dried moss lined with fibre or roots. Sometimes it is lined with hair and rarely with a few feathers. Bates describes the nest taken by him at Tiderwat as “composed of a layer of moss, then a layer of birch-bark and finally lined with hair.” Osmaston says the nests “are composed of moss and grass and are lined with fine strips of bark and a little hair.”
The egg-cavity is a tiny neat cup averaging something under 1.3/4 inch across and varying in depth from 1 to 1.1/4 inch. Out¬wardly the nests conform to the shape of the hole in which they are built but, as the birds usually select small holes, they are seldom more than three or four inches in diameter.
The breeding season runs from April to July and, perhaps, some birds have two broods. In and around Simla Jones and Dodsworth took or found nests with eggs from the middle of April to the end of June ; Davidson took two nests in Gund between the 20th and 28th May and Bates took his nest at Tiderwat, with three fresh eggs, on the 21st July.
The normal full clutch of eggs is four, occasionally three ; Osmaston certainly speaks of three to five eggs as the full complement, but I have never seen a five and there were none such in his collection when he made it over to me. Hume also says they lay from four to six, but no other collector has ever found more than four.
They are quite unlike those of the tricolor group and, instead of being pink eggs, vary from pale olive-greenish to dull stone-buff in ground-colour, while the markings range from pale reddish brown in the green eggs to warm reddish-brown in the other type. In the pale green eggs the marks consist of minute freckles at the larger end, where they coalesce to form a cap and are sparse else¬where. In the red eggs they consist of the same minute frecklings but, so numerous over the whole egg, that it looks as if uniform rich red-brown. Intermediate eggs occur, but the large majority are definitely of one or other of the extreme types.
In shape they are rather broad, short ovals, but rather longer ovals are not rare. The texture is close and fine but the surface glossless or nearly so.
One hundred eggs average 16.0 x 12.2 mm. : maxima 17.2 x 12.2 and 17.1 x 13.0 mm. ; minima 14.2 x 11.9 and 14.5 x 11.5 mm.
Many males breed in immature or half full plumage. I can find nothing on record as to which sex incubates or builds the nest or how long incubation lasts.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 2. 1933.
Title in Book: 
647. Muscicapula superciliaris superciliaris
Spp Author: 
Jerdon
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
647
Year: 
1933
Page No: 
189
Common name: 
Western White Bbowed Blue Flycatcher
M_ID: 
28304
M_SN: 
Ficedula superciliaris superciliaris
Volume: 
Vol. 2
id: 
13803

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