(584) Geocichla wardi.
The Pied Ground-Thrush.
Turdus wardi Jerdon, J. A. S. B., xi, p. 882 (1842) (Mysore). Geocichla wardi. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 137.
Vernacular names. Daokat meberung (Cachari).
Description.— Adult male. Whole head, neck, breast and upper plumage black, the rump and upper tail-coverts with crescentic black tips; tail black, the centre feathers tipped with white, the white increasing laterally until on the outermost a broad tip and the whole of the inner web is white; a broad white supercilium ; wings black, the lesser and median coverts mostly white; the greater tipped with white, the primaries are edged with white on the centre of the feathers and the secondaries are tipped with white; rest of plumage white, the flanks boldly barred with black and the under tail-coverts with concealed black bases.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown ; bill bright yellow or yellow -ochre, tipped with black; legs and feet fleshy ochre.
Measurements. Total length about 225 mm.; wing 116 to 119 mm.; tail 69 to 78 mm.; tarsus 29 mm.; culmen 22 mm.
Female. Above olive-brown ; the longer feathers of the rump tipped with white bars; tail dark olive-brown tipped with white in the same way as, but to a less extent than, in the male; wings dark olive, the coverts tipped with fulvous; a narrow fulvous and white supercilium; lores blackish, sides of head and throat mixed buff and blackish; chin white; throat and upper breast fulvous-white barred with blackish; remainder of lower plumage white, heavily barred on all but abdomen and vent with dark brown and sometimes more or less suffused with ochre on the flanks and breast.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown ; bill horny yellow; legs and feet yellow.
Measurements. Wing 118 to 117 mm.
Nestling. Dark brown above with pale shafts ; below like the female but even more heavily barred; wings as in the female.
Distribution. From the Sutlej Valley in the Himalayas to the extreme East of Assam North of the Brahmaputra and, exceptionally, on the higher ranges of the Naga and Cachar Hills to the South of this river. East of Sikkim it is comparatively rare but I have seen specimens from the Hills North of Darrang and above Sadiya. In "Winter it wanders to the extreme South of India and Ceylon, but it passes over the lower-lying country without stopping until it arrives at the Nilgiris and higher hills of Southern India.
Nidification. Breeds during May and June, its eggs having been taken as late as the 17th July by Mr. S. L. Whymper. The nest is a broad cup made of moss, roots, grass and leaves lined with the latter, and often a considerable amount of mud is used in the base and inner lining of the nest. It is built at some 6 to 20 feet from the ground in small trees either on the outskirts of forest, in fairly thin jungle or even in gardens and compounds. The eggs, which number three or four, are just like those of G. c. cilrina but are generally paler. The ground-colour is a very pale sea-green or blue-green and the markings consist of fairly profusely-scattered blotches of pale reddish brown. They measure about 26.3 x 19.4 mm.
Both parents take part in incubation.
Habits. This very striking-looking little Thrush breeds between 4,000 and 7,000 feet but more often under 6,000 feet than over except in the hills South of the Brahmaputra. Although a conspicuous bird except in deep forest, it does not shun observation and frequents the vicinity of houses rather than the deeper forests. It has no song apparently and is a very quiet though restless bird. Like all the species of this genus, it keeps almost entirely to the ground when feeding.