(310) Sibia picaoides picaoides.
THE LONG-TAILED SIBIA. -
Sibia picaoides Hodgs., J. A. S. B., viii, p. 38 (1839) (Nepal); Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 195.
Vernacular names. Matcheo-pho (Lepcha).
Description. Whole upper plumage, wings and tail deep slaty-brown, the tail tipped with white and the wings with a white patch formed by a spot on each outer web of four of the secondaries; forehead and lores blackish; throat and breast slaty-brown; remainder of lower plumage ashy-grey, becoming albescent on the abdomen.
Colours of soft parts. Iris red or crimson, occasionally brown; bill black or horny-black; legs dusky grey, claws horny-black.
Measurements, Total length about 340 mm. ; wing 120 to 125 mm. ; tail about 210 to 220 mm.; tarsus about 30 mm.; culmen about 24 mm.
Distribution. .Nepal and Sikkim to Assam North and South of the Brahmaputra; Chin Hills, Kachin Hills, Shan States and Karenni to Tenasserim.
Nidification. A nest taken by Mr. H. Stevens in Sikkim at about 8,000 feet elevation, where this Sibia was common and no others were present, was assuredly of this bird though the owner of it was not shot. It was a compact nest made entirely of moss, lined with moss roots and was placed at the end of the branch of a pine-tree. The one egg it contained measured 24.5 X 18.3 mm. and is exactly like those of Leioptila gracilis, described further on.
Habits. This beautiful Sibia is not uncommon from 3,000 to 8,000 feet, frequenting forests in small parties or in pairs and feeding largely on the insects which are found in flowering trees, such as the "cotton-tree etc. They are not noisy birds but frequently utter a note which Jerdon terms " a sort of whistling call," shrill but not unpleasant. According to Stevens it is found in the foot-hills in Lakhimpur in January and February in flocks numbering as many as twenty.