1108. Hierococcyx sparverioides.
The Large Hawk-Cuckoo.
Cuculus sparverioides, Vigors, P. Z. S. 1831, p. 173; Blyth, J. A S. B. xi, p. 898; xii, p. 240; id. Cat. p. 70. Hierococcyx sparverioides, Bonap. Consp. Av. i. p. 104; Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 699; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 331 ; Blyth, Ibis, 1866, p. 362 ; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. 2, p. 23; Jerdon, Ibis, 1872, p. 14; Hume, S. F. iii, p. 80; ix, p. 248; xi, p. 72; id. Cat. no. 207; Armstrong, S. F. iv, p. 311; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xiv, pt. 2, p. 70; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 157; Ball, S. F. vii,p. 207; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 256 ; Davison, S. F. x, p. 359 ; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 108 ; Marshall, Ibis, 1884, p. 411; Salvadori, Ann. Mus. Civ. Gen. (2) iv, p. 581; vii, p. 380; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii. p. 384; Shelley, Cat. B. M. xix, p. 232. Cuculus strenuus, Gould, P. Z. S. 1856, p. 96. Hierococcyx strenuus, Hume, P. A. S. B. 1872, p. 71.
Bora Bharao, Nepal; Nimbin-piyul, Lepch.
Coloration. The adult has the lores whitish; crown, nape, and sides of head and neck ashy, varying from rather pale to blackish, passing into the colour of the back, which with the remainder of the upper parts is rich brown with a purplish gloss ; quills barred with white on the inner webs; tail brown above, pale brownish grey below, tipped with white or rufous white, and crossed outside the coverts generally by 3, sometimes by 4, black or dark brown bands, the last the broadest, and the last but one the narrowest and separated from the last by a narrow space; beneath the chin is dark ashy, with a whitish moustachial stripe on each side; throat white, more or less streaked with ashy and rufous and passing into the more rufous upper breast, which also has ashy shaft-stripes; lower breast, flanks, and abdomen white, more or less suffused with rufous and transversely banded with brown; vent, lower tail-coverts, and edge of wing white.
The young is brown above, the feathers margined and faintly banded with rufous, and the lower parts are rufescent white, with large streaks and drops of dark brown, becoming arrowhead marks on the flanks ; the chin is blackish and there is a slight rufous collar. As the bird grows older the head becomes dark ashy, the markings on the flanks and abdomen assume the appearance of bands, and there is a gradual passage into the adult.
Upper mandible dark brown, lower greenish; gape and orbit yellow; iris yellow or orange in the adults, brown in the young; legs deep yellow; claws paler yellow.
Length about 15 ; tail 8.25 to 9.25; wing 8.5 to 10 ; tarsus 1.05; bill from gape 1.4. Females are smaller than males, and Burmese specimens larger than Himalayan, which again exceed Nilgiri birds in size.
Distribution. Throughout the Himalayas as far west as Chamba, ascending in summer to elevations of 9000 ft. or more; probably scattered here and there over the better wooded parts of the Indian Peninsula in the cold season, but only recorded from Raipur in the Central Provinces. Common on the Nilgiris in Southern India, but not observed on the Palnis, the Travancore ranges, nor the Ceylon hills. To the eastward this Cuckoo is found throughout the hills south of Assam and Burma, ranging to China, Japan, the Philippines, the Malay Peninsula, and Borneo.
Habits, &c. Probably a resident in the Himalayas and Nilgiris and in Burma, though it may be found at higher elevations in the summer. It has a loud melodious call, similar to that of H. varius, and heard about Darjiling from April to June. Its flight is swift and graceful. Its food, partly at all events, consists of caterpillars. According to Mr. Hodgson's notes, the female lays her eggs in the nests of Trochalopterum nigrimentum and Ixops nepalensis amongst other birds; but on the Nilgiris this bird is believed to have been observed by both Miss Cockburn and Mr. E. H. Morgan to build its own nest, of sticks, without lining, and to lay 3 or 4 nearly white slightly speckled eggs, measuring 1.39 by 1.05.