725. Hemipus picatus eapitalis

(725) Hemipus picatus capitalis (McClell.).
Hemipus picatus capitalis, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 307.
The Brown-backed Pied Shrike is distributed throughout the Lower Himalayas from Kuman to Eastern Assam. It is common in the hills of the Surrma Valley, Manipur, Chin Hills, North Kachin and Bhamo Hills into the Shan States, Yunnan and the Indo¬-Chinese countries as far East as Yuen Chung in China.
In Hume’s ‘Nests and Eggs’ (vol. i, p. 329) there are descriptions of the nests and eggs of this little Shrike by three writers—Hutton, Jerdon and Gammie. Of the three, Gammie alone was correct in his identification, giving a very good account of the nest and eggs. He writes:—“Common as it is in Sikkim, I have but once taken its nest, and that in the first week in May, at 4,000 feet elevation. The nest is made of black, fibry roots, sparingly lined with fine grass-stalks, and covered outwardly with small pieces of lichen bound to the sides with cobwebs. It is a very neat, diminutive cup, measuring externally 1.9 inch across by an inch deep. Internally 1.5 by half an inch.
“The whole nest, though quite a substantially built structure, is barely the eighth part of an ounce in weight. It was placed on the upper side of a horizontal branch close to its broken end, almost fifteen feet from the ground, and contained two fresh eggs.”
Mandelli’s nests and eggs agree well with that taken by Gammie.
Macdonald (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xvii, p. 188, 1906) found this little Shrike breeding at Popa and took two nests. He does not, however, describe either nests or eggs, contenting himself by saying that the birds give away their nests by sitting close.
I took a few nests myself during May and June in the Cachar and Khasia Hills. The description of the nests themselves might be that of Gammie repeated. They were shallow little cups, generally built on the upper surface of fair-sized branches of trees between 15 to 25 feet from the ground. The nest could seldom be seen from any points below, but the birds sat very tight, and by their agitation and fussiness gave away the fact that the nestswere close by. By retiring a few feet and watching the bird back on to the nest they could soon be spotted. The birds, both cock and hen, were very tame, returning very quickly to the nest even if one were standing in the open, only a few feet away.
The eggs seem to be of two types. In the one the ground is quite white, and the whole surface is blotched with rich chocolate and with underlying spots of inky grey, both kinds of spots more numerous at the larger ends, where they also form dense rings. The other type is exactly like the eggs of the genus Staphida. The ground is white and the surface is lightly speckled, spotted, or blotched with blackish-brown or, more rarely, reddish-brown, with the usual underlying inky spots, sometimes wanting in the feeblest-marked eggs. Every intermediate form occurs, and is represented even in my small series of eight clutches.
The breeding season in India is May and June and in Burma April. Gammie also took his nest in Sikkim in May, but Mandelli took both his, built within a few feet of one another, on the 15th August.
I have seen the cock bird incubating, so there is no doubt he takes his share in this duty, but I cannot say what he does in the building line.
Thirty-two eggs average 16.0 x 12.8 mm. : maxima 17.2 x 13.3 and 15.9 x 13.7 mm. ; minima 14.8 x 11.2 mm.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 2. 1933.
Title in Book: 
725. Hemipus picatus eapitalis
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Brown Backed Pied Shrike
Hemipus picatus capitalis
Vol. 2
Term name: 

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