(962) Eulabes religiosa.
The Southern Grackle.
Gracula religio&a Linn., Syst, Nat., 12th ed. i, p. 154 (1766) (Asia. Travancore). Eulabes religiosa. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 510.
Vernacular names. Kokirri maina (Hind.); Konda-gorinka (Tel.).
Description. A white patch at the base of the primaries ; portions of the head as shown in the figure below bare; remainder of plumage black, glossed on the head, scapulars and upper back with purple and on the breast and remaining upper plumage with green.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown with an outer ring of white ; bill orange-yellow ; lappets and bare skin on the head yellow to orange-yellow; legs and feet bright yellow.
Measurements. Total length about 250 to 260 mm.; wing 136 to 143 mm.; tail 64 to 66 mm.; tarsus about 30 mm.; culmen 23 to 25 mm.
Young birds are dull brown-black throughout, the feathers of the flanks and abdomen narrowly fringed with whitish. The bare skin on the head is less in extent and there are no lappets.
Distribution. Nothing new has been added to the distribution of this Grackle since Oates wrote the first volume of the ' Avifauna It is found throughout Ceylon up to some 2,000 feet, and throughout the forested Hills of South India as far North as Goomsur and the Northern Circars on the East and as far as North Kanara on the West.
Nidification. The Southern Grackle breeds principally from March to May, but also occasionally in January and February. Legge also records them breeding in August in Ceylon, whilst Wait gives June to August as the breeding-season for that island. In India they certainly nest as high as 4,000 feet, though more often at and under 2,000 feet. The eggs, two or three in number, are laid in natural hollows in trees between 10 and 30 feet from the ground. There is no real nest but sometimes a large amount of rubbish is collected; dead leaves, grass, feathers, cast snake-skins, etc.; at other times they are laid on the bare wood. In colour the eggs are a bright, deep Thrush's egg blue; in some they are richly, though sparsely, blotched and spotted with deep chocolate and reddish brown with underlying marks of lavender ; in other eggs the markings are all faint and small and in others again the markings are intermediate. The colour of these eggs fades very quickly after they are first laid. 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.
Habits. This Grackle is a bird of well-wooded and forested country and is especially partial to small cultivated clearings inside and on the outskirts of forest. Though not gregarious in the true sense,of the word, they are very sociable and several will often be found feeding together. Their diet is mainly frugivorous but they also eat termites, grasshoppers and locust larvae. Like all Grackles they have an immense repertoire of notes - melodious, noisy and raucous and they are admirable mimics, copying the notes of other birds freely in a wild state and learning to talk well in captivity.