(541) Grandala caelicolor.
Grandala caelicolor Hodgs., J. A. S. B., xii, p. 447 (3843) (Nepal); Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 110.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description.— Adult male. Wings, with the exception of the lesser and median wing-coverts, winglet and tail black, the feathers edged with deep blue; remainder of plumage bright purple-blue, brighter below and still brighter and more ultramarine on the upper tail-coverts.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill, legs and feet black.
Measurements. Total length about 220 mm.; wing 136 to 143 mm. (W. China); 143 to 150 mm.(India); tail 82 to 87 mm.; tarsus about 28 to 29 mm.; culmen 16 to 17 mm.
Female. Whole plumage brown, darker above and paler below, with a tinge of slaty-blue on scapulars, rump, and upper tail-coverts ; chin dull fulvous; crown, nape, upper back, throat, breast and abdomen streaked with pale, dull fulvous or fulvous-white; a patch of white on the outer web of the inner primaries connecting with another similar patch on the lores of the secondaries, the innermost of which are also tipped with white.
Young. Like the female but more broadly and profusely streaked with pale fulvous or white, the streaks on the throat and breast becoming broad, triangular spots.
Young males acquire the dark wings and tail of the adult at the first Autumn moult as well as a considerable amount of blue. The fully adult plumage is attained at the first Spring moult.
Distribution. Garhwal, Nepal, Sikkim, Tibet and mountains of Western China. The Western Chinese birds are brighter and rather smaller and may eventually have to be separated.
Nidification. Whymper found two nests in the middle of July with well-grown young above the snow-line in Garhwal at about 16,700 feet and his collector took a nest with two eggs in June at about the same place. A nest is described as " placed under a ledge of rock at the top of a snow-bank, neatly built of fine moss with a lining of feathers, a rather large nest, 9 inches across, internally 3 1/4 inches."
The eggs are typical Thrushes' eggs, not unlike many of those of Geocichla, the ground-colour is a pale greenish white and they are plentifully blotched and spotted all over with primary markings of reddish brown and secondary markings of neutral tint and purplish grey. They measure 26.9 x 20.5 and 28.4 x 18.9 mm.
Habits. The Grandala is a bird of the very highest altitudes, apparently breeding above 16,000 feet only and certainly wandering up to 20,000, whilst, in Summer, it seems seldom to venture below 14,000 and even in Winter not below some 10,000 feet. They consort in large flocks, Wollaston mentions flocks of 50, which do not altogether disperse in the breeding months, the birds continuing to collect together when feeding. As far as is known, they are entirely insectivorous, feeding much on a small white moth. The flight is described by Wollaston as like that of a Starling but according to Whymper it is exactly like that of the faster-flying Thrushes.