(962) Gracula indica (Cuvier).
THE SOUTHERN GRACKLE.
Eulabes religiosa, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iii, p. 17.
Gracula indica, ibid. vol. viii, p. 649.
The Southern Grackle is found in Ceylon and in western Southern India as far North as Goomsoor and the Northern Circars in the East and as far North as Kanara in the West.
The brothers Bourdillon record this Grackle as very common in Travancore from, the foot-hills up to 4,000 feet, where they took a series of eggs during March, April and May. In Hume’s ‘Nests and Eggs’ F. Bourdillon describes a “nest” as made “of straw and. feathers” and again another one as of “grass, feathers and odds and ends in a hole in a tree.” Later, Stewart found it extremely common round about the Venture Estates in Travancore, obtaining for me a fine series of eggs, the notes sent therewith being to the following effect:—“This Myna is extraordinarily common in some parts of Travancore from the Plains up to at least 4,000 feet. They breed in forest but they prefer dead trees in cultivation or in Tea estates or on the fringes of forest bordering the latter, while occasionally they nest in dead trees standing all alone in the open. They nearly always select a hole in dead trees rather than holes in living ones, and almost invariably such as are in the trunk of the tree rather than in branches. These holes may be anything from 10 to 40 feet up, but even those low down are often hard to get, as the trees are too rotten to climb and, if hewn down, the eggs are broken. There is no real nest. Sometimes there is a lot of miscellaneous rubbish collected, such as grass, leaves, bamboo spathes, dead wood etc., upon which the eggs are laid, but at other times there is nothing but a little touch-wood. The breeding season is from February to April, the earliest date being the 6th February and the latest the 28th April, but Bourdillon took one nest on the 27th May. In July some birds seem to breed again, and fresh eggs were taken on the 28th of that month.”
The full clutch of eggs is three but, sometimes, two only are laid.
In Ceylon Phillips took three very much incubated eggs from a hole in a dead tree in a clearing on the 25th May. Legge, however, says that in the Pasdun Korale they were breeding in August.
When first laid the eggs are a beautiful bright blue in ground¬colour, but they fade very quickly as they become incubated, or if they are taken and exposed to the light. They are marked with scattered spots of varying shades of red or red-brown, in some cases very pale and indistinct, in others quite a deep rich chocolate and, in a few, almost black. In character they range from specks and spots to bold blotches, in most eggs scanty everywhere, but less so at the larger end. I have one set of three eggs of which two are normally though well blotched, while the third has just a few very large blotches of deep chocolate and chocolate-brown, running into one another at the larger end. In most clutches two eggs are alike and the third strikingly different, being much more, or much less, marked than the other two. The secondary markings, only noticeable in the more richly-marked eggs, are of lavender and pinky grey.
In shape the eggs vary from ordinary to long ovals, usually blunt but, sometimes, slightly pointed. The texture is rather coarse, but the shells stout and, when fresh, showing a fair gloss.
Forty eggs average 31.6 x 23.0 mm. : maxima 35.5 x 23.4 and 32.9 x 24.8 mm. ; minima 30.8 x 23.4 and 30.9 x 21.8 mm.
962. Gracula indiea
(962) Gracula indica (Cuvier).