(126) Dryonastes sannio Swinhoe.
THE WHITE-BROWED LAUGHING-THRUSH.
Dryonaster sannio, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 144.
This bird has a wide breeding range. It has straggled into Cachar. It occurs, but is rare, in Manipur and the Chin Hills, and becomes extremely common in the Kachin Hills and Shan States, whence again it has been, reported from as far East as Fokhien.
The first nest ever taken of Dryonastes sannio was one found by me in North Cachar and was typical of the few others seen in that district. “In general appearance it was like the nests of D. ruficollis, but was larger and more massive in proportion. Outwardly it measured fully 6.6" in diameter, and the external depth was about 4", the measurements inside being about 3.5" x 2.5". All the materials used were very dark and consisted of dead, almost rotten, sun-grass, fern and moss-roots, a few dead bamboo leaves, and one or two other leaves, all bound together with soft weed-stems and a few tendrils and lined with coarse fern-roots and fem-stems.”
Some nests were made almost entirely of bamboo-leaves and grass.
My nests were all taken in dense virgin forest, or in strips of secondary growth or bamboo growing in between such forest. Some were in thick bushes quite low down, others in small saplings, but in the dozen nests seen during my fifteen years in North Cachar more than half were placed quite low down in thick bushes or in tangled raspberry vines.
Harington was the first to describe this Laughing-Thrush breeding in Burma. He writes (Journ. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xix, p. 112):—“ It is an early breeder : many nests found in April had young birds. All the nests found by me in the Kachin Hills were placed near the ground, either in bramble bushes or in thick grass, and not in saplings as those found in the Shan. States,
“It lays two types of eggs, the commonest being a pure pale blue, the other, which seems to be found later in the season, a pure-glossy white.”
I found three or four eggs laid equally often, but Harington who, of course, saw many more eggs than I did, considers four to be the normal clutch, whilst he once found five.
Hopwood and Wickham also found many nests near Maymyio but seem to have found three eggs only quite as often as four. Hop wood also notes that he often found nests constructed partly of twigs.
The eggs are either white or very pale blue, rarely a little deeper blue but, at their darkest, much paler than the eggs of the Grey¬sided group. Harington thought that the white eggs were those laid late in the season but, judging from the very large series which I have seen, over 200 eggs, this is not the case, white eggs being as common in April as in May, whilst all my deepest blue eggs were laid in the latter month. Wickham took a clutch of three eggs on the 30th March and I have seen two taken in June. All others were taken equally often in April and May.
In shape the eggs are rather broad ovals, as a rule not much compressed at the smaller end but, exceptionally, inclining to peg-top shape. Dryonastes ruficollis, D. sannio and D. galbanus can be distinguished from all other Garruline eggs by their intense gloss and very smooth fine surface.
One hundred eggs average 26.0 x 19.4 mm. : maxima 28.7 x 19.0 and 27.7 x 20.75 mm. ; minima 22.6 x 18.8 and 24.5 x 16.5 mm.
126. Dryonastes sannio
(126) Dryonastes sannio Swinhoe.