179. Stactociehla merulina merulina

(179) Stactocichla merulina merulina (Blyth).
Stactocichla merulina merulina, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 186.
The Spotted-breasted Laughing-Thrush is found only in the hills South of the Brahmapootra in Assam, extending thence into the Lushai Hills and Manipur.
It breeds, but not in very great numbers, between 3,000 and 6,000 feet and probably up to 8,000 feet in the Naga Hills, as I saw it above Henema at this elevation. It is a very sedentary bird and pairs may be seen in the same locality year after year, in the Winter with their last year’s family and in the Summer after April in pairs only. It is occasionally to be met with in dense bamboo- jungle, more especially if this is just a break in evergreen forest but normally, its habitat is forest, and this the deepest and dampest it can find. The nests are of two descriptions, according to whether it is built in evergreen forest or in bamboo-jungle. In the former case the nest is generally placed in some thick shrub, either in among the lower twigs and branches or right down among the roots. The materials in these nests consist of roots, grass, bamboo and other leaves, more or less mixed with bracken-fronds and moss, whilst the lining is made of moss and fern-roots, occasionally of fine creeper- stems, tendrils or very fine pliant twig-tips. The nests are rather bulky cups, measuring about 6 inches in diameter by 3 deep. When first made they are fairly compact and well put together but the sites selected are generally so damp that the materials quickly rot and then bear little handling. Nests built in bamboo-jungle are usually placed well inside bamboo-clumps, at other times in the dense masses of small twigs which grow on the outside near the base. The materials used in these latter nests consist principally of bamboo-leaves, these being bound with a few soft weed-stems and long fine roots ; inside this are numerous coarse fern-roots and stringy, tough bamboo-roots, well intertwined ; inside this again is the true lining, composed of fem and moss-roots, mostly of the finer description but mixed with stouter ones. These nests are generally rather more compact and also smaller than those built in the damper forest, measuring about 4.1/2 to 5 inches externally across by about 3 inches deep and about inches by 1.1/2 internally. The base and lower parts of the walls are bulky but the latter taper up to the lips, where they are only a few millimetres thick, though the straggling ends of the loose leaves and other materials make the extreme external measurements much more.
The greater number of birds breed in June and July, though I have taken a few eggs in the end of April and a good many in May.
The number of eggs laid is generally two only, but very often three are laid and I have once taken four.
In colour they are uniform unmarked blue with a tinge of green, in depth of tint just a little warmer than in the eggs of Garrulax moniligera. They also differ from that bird’s eggs in having the surface more satiny- and less hard china-blue, more like, in fact, the eggs of Babax. In shape they are broad ovals, usually slightly pointed at the smaller end.
Fifty eggs average 28.7 x 21.2 mm. : maxima 31.2 x 20.8 and 29.3 x 22.2 mm. ; minima 26.8 x 21.5 and 29.0 x 19.2 mm.
Incubation period not known but is probably fourteen to fifteen days. Both sexes assist in incubation.
The bird is a close sitter, slinking off the nest just before one thinks she is going to risk being caught. While the nest is being examined they skulk in the jungle near by but return directly one has left. They are very quiet, undemonstrative birds.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. 1932.
Title in Book: 
179. Stactociehla merulina merulina
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Spotted Breasted Laughing Thrush
Garrulax merulinus merulinus
Vol. 1
Term name: 

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