(141) Ianthocincla cineracea cineracea.
THE ASHY LAUGHING-THRUSH.
Trochalopterum cineraceum Godw.-Aust., P.Z. S., 1874, p. 15 (Naga Hills).
Ianthocincla cineracea. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 85.
Vernacular names. Lehu (Angami Naga).
Description. Forehead, crown and nape black; lores, a broad supercilium, ear-coverts and under the eye dull white, a narrow line over the ear-coverts and a broad moustachial streak black, the latter ending in streaks on the sides of the upper neck; upper plumage and wing-coverts olivaceous-ashy, tinged with rufous on the upper tail-coverts; secondaries and the tail like the back, each feather with a subterminal black band and a white tip; primaries ashy on the outer web ; primary-coverts black; winglet ashy on the outer webs, dusky on the inner; chin and throat pale fulvous, with the shafts black; whole remaining lower plumage fulvous, tinged with olive on the flanks and albescent on the abdomen.
Colours of soft parts. Iris pale buffish yellow to orange-yellow; lids pale lavender, edged dusky; bill horny-brown, tipped paler and with whole lower mandible pale horny-yellow; legs and feet pale dull fleshy.
Measurements. Total length 225 to 235 mm.; wing 86 to 89 mm.; tail about 100 mm.; tarsus about 32 mm.; culmen about 20 mm.
Distribution. Naga Hills, Khasia and N. Cachar Hills, Manipur, Lushai and Chin Hills. Does not apparently extend eastwards to Lakhimpur.
Nidification. Numerous nests were taken by Col. Tytler in the Naga Hills in May and June and by Messrs. Mackenzie, Hopwood and others in the Chin Hills in March and April. They are com¬posed of ferns, leaves, roots and grass, lined with finer roots and often bound round with tendrils and stems of plants; they are rather more compact than most nests of this group and are placed in bushes or small saplings in forest. The eggs are generally two only in number, sometimes three: the texture is very fine and close and the surface smooth and silky to the touch, not hard and glossy as in B. ruficottis. In colour they are pure unspotted blue-green. 150 eggs average 25-3 x 18-6 mm.
Habits. This is not a very gregarious bird, and though it may sometimes be found in small family parties, it more often wanders about in pairs, scratching on the ground amongst the fallen rubbish for insects or clambering through the undergrowth and bracken. It constantly utters conversational notes, some sweet and some harsh, but never breaks out into a paroxysm of sound like some of the other Laughing-Thrushes do. It haunts elevations of 6,000 feet upwards and is rare below 5,000 feet.