1569. Gorsachius melanolophus.
The Malay Bittern.
Ardea melanolopha, Raffles, Tr. Linn. Soc. xiii, p. 326 (1822). Tigrisoma melanolopha, Blyth, Cat. p. 281; Bayard, A. M. N. H. (2) xiv, p. 114. Gorsachius melanolophus, Blyth, Ibis, 1865, p. 38; Holdsworth, P. Z. S. 1872, p. 478; Blyth, Birds Burm. p. 160; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 484; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xlvii, pt. 2, p. 21; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 1169 ; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 260; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxvi, p. 166. Gorsakius melanolophus, Hume, S. F. ii, p. 312; Bourdillon, S. F. vii, p. 524; Hume, Cat. no. 936 bis; id. S. F. ix, p. 230; Hume & lnglis, ibid. p. 259 ; Butler, ibid. p. 435 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 386; Hume & Cripps, S. F. xi, p. 336 ; Davidson, Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. vi, p. 340.
Coloration. In adults the crown and long nuchal crest are black, washed with ashy grey; sides of head to above the eyes, and sides and back of neck light chestnut; upper parts generally, including wing-coverts, cinnamon speckled with black, the black forming close imperfect wavy bars; outer primary-coverts black, tipped with white ; quills black, chestnut towards the ends and tipped with white; upper tail-coverts dark rufous-brown; tail blackish, rufescent towards the end ; chin and throat white ; fore neck and upper breast isabelline brown with black streaks, passing into white, with black and rufous spots and blotches, on the lower breast and abdomen ; lower tail-coverts mostly white.
Young birds have a black crown with white or buff arrowhead-shaped markings ; upper parts blackish brown with narrow wavy and zigzag buff crossbars; quills black, speckled with white at the tips : lower parts rufous-buff, speckled and blotched with white and black, chin mostly white. There appears to be a gradual passage into the adult plumage.
Culmen black; sides of upper mandible and the lower mandible fleshy; sides of face greenish and slaty; irides golden yellow; legs and feet greenish, brown in front (Legge).
Length 20; tail 3.8; wing 10.5; tarsus 2.75; bill from gape 2.5.
Distribution. A rare bird in Ceylon and in the hill-forests near the Malabar coast of India as far north as the hills west of Belgaum. It is not known to occur elsewhere in the Indian Peninsula, but is found in Assam, Cachar, Manipur, Arrakan, Pegu, Tenasserim, the Nicobar Islands, the Malay Peninsula, and as far east as Formosa and Hainan, the Philippines, and Borneo. '
Habits, &c. This Heron occurs chiefly in forests, and is said to be a seasonal migrant to Ceylon, arriving about November, but if so, it probably conies from India, not, as some ornithologists have supposed, from the eastward. It breeds on the Malabar coast, for Davidson, when in Kanara, obtained the young unable to fly ; the nidification is, however, unknown. It is a bird of nocturnal habits, roosting on trees in the day, and feeding at night on fish, crabs, worms, &c.