(128) Garrulax leucolophus leucolophus.
THE HIMALAYAN WHITE-CRESTED LAUGHING-THRUSH.
Corvus leucolophus Hardw., Trans. Linn. Soc, xi, p. 208 (1815) (Mt. above Hardwar). Garrulax leucolophus. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 77.
Vernacular names. Rawil-Kahy (Hindi in N. W.P.); Karrio-pho (Lepcha) ; Karria-goka (Bhutan) ; Naga-dhaopooleka (Assam); Dao-flantu (Cachari).
Description. Lores, ear-coverts and round the eye black; the rest of the head to nape and to lower breast pure white, the longest feathers of the crest dark ashy-grey; a ferruginous collar below upper breast merging into the olive-brown of the rest of upper and lower plumage; wings brown, the outer webs of the feathers like the back; tail brown washed with olive-brown; flanks, lower breast and abdomen like the back, but with a tinge of rufous throughout.
Colours of soft parts. Iris red or red-brown; bill horny-black to black; legs and feet slate to fleshy-grey, the soles paler and claws darker; orbital skin dull slate.
Measurements. Length about 300 mm.; wing 132 to 137 mm.; tail about 130 to 135 mm.; tarsus about 45 mm.; culmen about 28 to 30 mm.
Distribution. Himalayas from Simla to North Chin Hills, Kachin Hills and North and Central Burma.
Nidification. As with so many of the common birds, the breeding season of this Laughing-Thrush is very extended, eggs being laid from the end of March to the beginning of August, the latter being second broods. They breed from practically the level of the plains up to 5,000 feet, but between 1,000 and 2,500 feet is the favourite altitude. The nests are broad, but shallow, cups, rather loosely put together and are generally composed for the main part of grass and bamboo leaves, bound together with stems of plants, tendrils, roots and fern-rachides and mixed more or less with dead leaves, dried moss, etc. The lining is of coarse roots, fern-rachides and tendrils. They may be placed in almost any position from low down in scrub and brambles to 20 feet up in small saplings, but a common site is some thorny, and not too dense, bush in light undergrowth.
The eggs number from three to five, two or six only very rarely. They are a pure china-white in colour, hard and glossy with numerous pits, a feature shown in no other egg of this family. In shape they are very spherical, and but; for their stoutness and the pits might easily be mistaken for Kingfishers' eggs. 200 eggs average 28.1 x 22.8 mm., and the extremes in length and breadth are 30.0 X 23.4 mm,, 28.7 x 24.1 mm. and 25.0 x 21.0 mm.
Habits. The White-crested Laughing-Thrush is extremely abundant in the lower hills in the North and South of the Brahmaputra. It is one of the noisiest of birds, always calling to one another in notes of varying degrees of harshness, the big flocks in which it congregates every few minutes indulging in an outburst of cackling and laughing calls in which each member tries to out-shout the rest. These outbursts are often accompanied by dancing and flapping of wings as the birds clamber about the undergrowth or work along the ground underneath. They are not shy birds, and if one keeps quiet they show far more interest in each other and in their food than they do in the intruder. Moreover, they are most inquisitive Birds and must investigate carefully everything they cannot understand. They may be found in flocks even in the breeding season, and a bird seated on her nest has been heard joining in the chorus of a number engaged in the cackling and clambering round about her.