(391) Hemixus flavala flavala.
THE HIMALAYAN BROWN-EARED BULBUL.
Hemixus flavala Hodgs., J.A.S.B., xiv, p. 572 (1845) (Nepal): Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 263.
Vernacular names. Nalli-pindi (Lepcha), Dao bulip-gadeba (Cachari).
Description. Upper plumage and smaller wing-coverts dark ashy, the feathers of the crown edged paler and the upper tail-coverts tinged with olive-green; tail brown, tinged with olive¬ green on the basal half of the outer webs ; greater coverts brown on the inner and olive-yellow on the outer webs ; quills brown, the earlier primaries edged with grey below the emarginations; all the other quills margined with olive-yellow, very narrow on the outermost and increasing until it covers the whole of the outer webs of the innermost secondaries; lores and cheeks blackish; ear-coverts bronze-grey; chin, throat, centre of the abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts white; breast, sides of neck and flanks grey.
Colours of soft parts. Irides dull crimson or reddish brown; bill black; the legs vary much between horny-brown and dark plumbeous, in a few specimens being almost black.
Measurements. Length about 210 mm.; wing 94 to 99 mm.; tail about 86 mm.; tarsus about 18 mm.; culmen about 15 mm.
The female is, as usual, a little smaller ; wing about 90 to 96 mm.
In the young the crown is very dark, showing up as a distinct cap.
Distribution. Himalayas from Mussoorie to Eastern Assam, N. Chin Hills, Kachin Hills to Yunnan. South Assam, Manipur, Chittagong Hill tracts and Arrakan.
Nidification. This Bulbul breeds at elevations between 3,000 and 6,000 feet in scrub-jungle and the dense secondary growth on deserted cultivation, or occasionally in the undergrowth of forests. It is very partial to the banks of tiny streams such as are dry during the winter but form rapid little water-courses during the rains. The nest is a rather deep cup, composed outwardly of grass stems only. Sometimes a few bamboo leaves, a twig or two and some roots may be added to the other materials, but it is curious that whatever the article chosen it is nearly always yellow, tan, or pale brown in colour. Externally the nests roughly average about 3.5" x 2.5" and they are nearly always placed close to the ground, somewhere between 2 and 5 feet from it, and well hidden in a thick bush or dense mass of brambles or creepers. Nests may be found any time from early May to late July.
The eggs are either two or three in number, rarely four, and vary in ground-colour from pearly-white to pale salmon. They are profusely covered all over with specks and spots of light pinkish red to a reddish brown. In shape they are rather long, often pointed, ovals. Fifty eggs average 23.6 x 17.3 mm., the extremes being 25.5 X 18.0 mm., 22.1 x 17.6 mm. and 24.0 x 16.3 mm. The greatest length and breadth occurs in the same egg.
Habits. The Brown-eared Bulbuls come well into the plains in winter but in summer keep above 2,000 feet and ascend to 6,000 or perhaps 7,000 feet. They collect in very large flocks containing 20 to 30 individuals and haunt both the higher trees and low scrub and brushwood. They are noisy birds and have many harsh notes but they also have a rather pretty, jerky little song which they sing at all seasons. They keep much to the more open wooded parts until the breeding season commences, when they retire to the deeper forests. They have a curious habit of swinging themselves on the pliant ends of the small bamboo, Bambusa vulgaris, several birds often perching on the same hanging end and evidently enjoying themselves as they sway in the breeze.