(311) Leioptila capistrata capistrata.
THE BLACK-HEADED SIBIA.
Cinclosoma capistratum Vigors, P. Z. S., 1831, p. 56 (Himalayas) (Darjiling). Lioptila capistrata. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 196.
Vernacular names. Sambriak-pho (Lepcha); Sesigona (Bhut.); Sibya (Nep.).
Description. Forehead, crown, crest, nape and sides of the head black, the ear-coverts sometimes dark brown; the whole lower plumage, rump and upper tail-coverts and a broad collar round the neck deep bright rufous; back and scapulars greyish-brown : median tail-feathers rufous for three-quarters of their length, then with a dark hand and a bluish tip; in the other feathers the rufous portion rapidly diminishes and the black increases; lower wing-coverts rufous; primary-coverts black; greater coverts white at base, forming a broad band, the exterior feathers blue tipped with black, the others tipped with rufous; inner secondaries chestnut edged with blue; the other quills dark brown, the primaries with the outer webs pale blue, the outer secondaries dark blue.
Colours of soft parts. Iris reddish-brown to brilliant crimson, perhaps according to age; bill black; legs fleshy-grey to purplish-brown, claws horny-brown.
Measurements. Total length about 220 to 230 mm.; wing 91 to 96 mm.; tail about 100 mm.; tarsus about 30 mm.; culmen about 20 mm.
Distribution. Eastern Himalayas, Naini-tal to Dafla Hills.
Nidification. The Black-headed Sibia breeds during May and June at elevations between 5,000 and 7,000 feet, making a very compact, deep cup of moss, sometimes mixed more or less with scraps of dead leaf, lichen, etc. Between the outer nest and the true lining of fine roots and fern-rachides is an inner lining of soft grass and shreds of fibre and leaves. The nest is very hard to locate, as it is generally high up in pine-, fir-, or deodar-trees in the bushy extremities of the outer branches. The eggs are generally two, more rarely three, and are pale blue in ground-colour with splashes, smears and blotches of pale and dark brownish-red with a few spots and hair-lines of very dark red-black. The shell is fine but not glossed, they are fragile eggs for their size and in shape they are rather broad blunt ovals. They measure about 24.1x19.1 mm.
Habits. This Sibia is found in flocks, often of some size, in tree forest between 5,000 and 8,000 feet elevation, wandering a good deal lower in the cold weather. They are entirely arboreal and keep much to the higher branches of firs, spruce and similar trees, using their wings far more and their feet far less than birds of the preceding sub-family; at the same time their flight is dipping and slow, nothing like that of the Turdidae. They are rather noisy birds, but their notes are very pleasing and Hutton says their "loud, ringing call titteree, titieree, tueeyo quickly repeated may be constantly heard on wooded banks during summer.