(124) Dryonastes caerulatus subcaerulatus.
THE SHILLONG LAUGHING-THRUSH.
Garrulax subcaerulatus Hume, S. F., vii, p. 140 (1878) (Shillong). Dryonastes subcaerulatus. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 76.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Similar to the last, but has the ear-coverts and cheeks above and below them white, just tipped here and there with black; the three outermost pairs of tail-feathers are broadly tipped with white and the upper parts are rather paler.
Colours of soft parts and Measurements as in B. c. caerulatus. Distribution. Khasia Hills only.
Nidification. The Shillong Laughing-Thrush breeds in May and June in the pine-forests between 4,000 and 6,000 feet. The nest is like that of the last bird, but seldom has bamboo leaves in the materials of which it is composed and, on the other hand, often has pine needles. It is generally placed in a high, thin bush in one of the numerous bush- and fern-covered nullahs or ravines running through the pine-forests but it may also be found in tangles of raspberry or blackberry vines within a couple of feet of the ground. The eggs number two or three, very rarely four, and are like those of caerulatus, perhaps a little more highly polished, yet never like the eggs of the Rufous-necked Laughing-Thrush. Forty eggs average 29.3 x 20.8 mm., but vary very greatly in size.
Habits. This is not so noisy a bird as most others of the geuus Dryonastes, but it has the same habit of wandering about in flocks of half-a-dozen to a dozen in undergrowth and scrub-jungle, all the while keeping up constant conversation which now and then breaks out into violent abuse or argument. Many of its notes are very full, soft and pleasant, but others are equally harsh and discordant. It feeds much on the ground or in low bushes, but I have seen it working at some height on the rhododendron trees near the Shillong Peak. It never seems to descend below 3,000 feet and is found up to 6,200 feet on the highest peaks.