(724) Hemipus picatus picatus.
The Black-backed Pied Shrike.
Muscicapa picata Sykes, P Z. S., 1832, p. 85 (Deccan). Hemipus picatus. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 471.
Vernacular names. Choto kala Latora (Hind.).
Description.— Adult male. Whole upper plumage glossy black, the feathers of the lower back narrowly and those of the rump broadly edged with white, making a white band above the tail-coverts ; the lateral tail-feathers tipped with white, this increasing in width to the outermost; wing-feathers black, the median coverts and the inner secondaries broadly edged with white and the innermost greater coverts white also on the inner webs; chin, cheeks and sides of neck, running up in a semi-collar, white; remainder of lower plumage dull vinaceous brown.
Colours of soft parts. Iris hazel to dark brown; bill black ; legs and feet plumbeous brown, the claws almost black.
Measurements. Total length about 140 mm.; wing 56 to. 64 mm.; tail 51 to 57 mm.; tarsus about 13 mm.; culmen about 11 mm.
Female. Whole upper plumage dark brown instead of black ;. tail as in the male.
Nestling brown above, barred with rufous and black; below fulvous squamated with brown.
Distribution. Ceylon, South - "Western India from Cape Comorin to Bombay; Nilgins and hills of Mysore, Deccan, Bengal, Behar, Tippera, Chittagong, practically the whole of Burma except the extreme North, Malay States, Borneo, Java and Sumatra. Of the Annam birds some are of this and some of the next race.
Nidification. The Black-backed Pied Shrike breeds in March, April and May in the Western Ghats, where nests were obtained by Messrs. J. Davidson and T. R. Bell, some of which have been sent to me. The nests are small shallow saucers made of roots, fine twigs and perhaps a scrap or two of grass, lichen or moss all neatly and strongly fastened together with cobwebs. Nearly all the nests are built in cotton-trees, generally about ten or twelve feet from the ground but sometimes as high as 30 feet up and though the trees are leafless, they are very hard to spot as they are built on the upper surface of one of the outer branches. Even when found they are sometimes almost impossible to get at. The eggs number two or three only; the ground-colour is a pale greenish white and they are thickly and boldly blotched with inky-black and with underlying marks of grey. They measure about 15.0 x 12.5 mm..
Habits. This little Shrike is curiously like a Flycatcher in its ways, catching insects on the wing in little sallies from a branch or post but occasionally seizing them on the ground in the usual Shrike-like manner. It frequents both tall tree-forest and mixed scrub and small tree-cover, often little more than thin bush-jungle. In the non-breeding season it is found in quite open country and even in gardens and village cultivation.