1109. Hierococcyx varius.
The Common Hawk-Cuckoo.
Cuculus varius, Vahl, Skriv. Nat. Selsk. iv, p. 61 (1797); Blyth, Cat. p. 70; Layard, A. M. N. H. (2) xiii, p. 462. Cuculus lathami, Gray in Hardwicke's Ill. Ind. Zool. ii, pl. 34, fig. 2. Hierococcyx varius, Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 700; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 329; Blyth, Ibis, 1866, p. 361; Adam, S. F. i, p. 373 ; Butler, S. F. iii, p. 460: Bourdillon, S. F. iv, p. 392; Fairbank, S. F. v, p. 397; Vidal, S. F. vii, p. 55; Ball, ibid. p. 207; Cripps, ibid. p. 264; Hume, Cat. no. 205; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 255; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 240; Reid, S. F. x, p. 27; Davison, S. F. x, p. 359 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 126; Davidson, Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. i, p. 182; Oates in Humes N. & F. 2nd ed. ii, p. 383 ; Shelley, Cat. B. M. xix, p. 234. Hierococcyx nisoides, Blyth, His, 1866, p. 362; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 371.
Kupak or Upak, Pupiya, H.; Chok-gallo, Beng.; Bim-pi-yul, Lepcha; Kutti-pitta, Tel. ; Zakkhat, Deccan ; Irolan, Mal. This is the " Brain-fever bird'' of Anglo-Indians.
Coloration. Upper plumage ash-grey; quills browner, their inner webs broadly barred with white, some white on outer upper tail-coverts ; tail grey, tipped with rufescent and usually with 4 bars (occasionally 5) beyond the coverts, the terminal bar broadest, the others each with a pale or rufescent posterior border, and the penultimate much nearer to the last than to the antepenultimate; occasionally the penultimate band is faint or wanting; sides of head ashy, lores and cheeks whitish ; chin and throat white, more or less tinged with ashy; fore-neck and breast rufous mixed with pale ashy, lower breast with bars; abdomen white, anteriorly tinged rufous and with transverse grey bars, posteriorly like the under tail-coverts pure white; edge of wing the same.
The young above dark brown with rufous cross-bars; lower parts white, tinged with rufous in places and spotted with brown except on the lower abdomen and lower tail-coverts ; tail marked as in the adults, but more rufous. The sides of the neck soon become rufous and form a partial collar, the spots on the flanks change to arrowhead marks and interrupted bars, then the breast grows rufous and the cap grey. From this there is a gradual passage into the adult plumage.
Culmen and tip of bill black, the rest greenish ; iris yellow or orange in adults, brownish in the young; gape, orbit, feet, and claws yellow, pale or bright according to age.
Length about 13.5; tail 7; wing 6.75 to 8; tarsus .95; bill from gape 1.25.
Distribution. The whole of India and Ceylon, extending to Eastern Bengal (Dacca, Eurreedpore), but not to Assam, the Garo hills, nor Cachar, and west to Mount Abu, Rajputana, but not to Sind nor the Punjab. This Cuckoo occurs along the base of the Himalayas from Kumaun to Bhutan, ascending the hills in summer to about 7000 feet. It is found to a similar elevation on the Nilgiris and on the Ceylon hills, but on the Palnis and Travancore ranges it is said not to ascend beyond about 1000 feet. Reported occurrences of this bird in Assam and Burma are probably due to error.
Habits, &c. A resident throughout its range, except in Ceylon, where this Hawk-Cuckoo is described by Legge as arriving in November. It is more common in well-wooded country, but is generally distributed throughout the Indian Peninsula, and is well known by its call, or, as Jerdon terms them, " its loud crescendo notes," which, as he says, sound something like pipeeha, pipeeha, each repetition higher in the scale. In the breeding-season from April till June this is frequently heard by night as well as by day. H. varius feeds partly on caterpillars, but largely, it is said, on fruits and buds. Its eggs are chiefly laid in the nests of various Babblers and have been taken in those of Crateropus canorus, G. griseus, and Argya malcolmi ; they are blue and measure 1.05 by .79.