1078. Chaetura indica.
The Brown-necked Spine-tail.
Acanthylis caudacuta, apud Blyth, Cat. p. 84 ; Layard, A. M. N H. (2) xii, p. 170; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xxxix, pt. 2, p. 94; nec Latham. Acanthylis gigantea, Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 387; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 172 ; Beavan, Ibis, 1867, p. 317 ; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 84; Wardlaw-Ramsay, Ibis, 1877, p. 459; nec Temm. Chaetura indica, Hume, S. F. i, p. 471 (1873); ii, p. 155; iv, pp. 223, 286; xi, p. 30; id. Cat. no. 96; Hume & Inglis, S. F. v, p. 17; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 46; Hume & Bourdillon, S. F. vii, p. 34; Davison, S. F. x, p. 347 ; Hartert, Cat. B. M. xvi, p. 475. Hirundinapus giganteus, apud Walden, Ibis, 1874, p. 131; nec Temm. Chaetura gigantea, apud Jerdon, Mad. Jour. L. S. xiii, pt. 2, p. 144; Blyth, J. A. S. B. xi, p. 885; Hume, S. F. iv, pp. 223, 287; id. Cat. no. 96 bis; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 46; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 314. Hirundinapus giganteus & H. indicus, Oates, B. B. ii, p. 5.
Coloration. A large velvety black spot before the eye, with a white spot in front extending to the nostril; crown and sides of head, hind-neck, sides of rump and upper tail-coverts, upper surface of wings and tail blackish brown, with dark metallic green gloss; back pale brown, darker on the edges; lower parts rich brown; chin and throat much paler, but the feathers of the latter with dark tips; a longitudinal band on the flanks behind the thighs; area behind vent and lower tail-coverts white.
Bill black; irides dark brown; legs and feet pale fleshy pink (Baker).
Length about 9 ; tail 2.6; wing 8; tarsus .68. The tail is slightly wedge-shaped, and the shafts of the feathers are very strong and project nearly half an inch.
Distribution. Ceylon and Southern India; not observed north of lat. 12° in the Peninsula; commonest about the Nilgiris and other ranges; also Cachar, the Assam hills, and Manipur, throughout the Burmese countries, apparently passing farther south into the allied C. gigantea, which is only distinguished by wanting the white loral spots. The specimen from Tenasserim referred by Hume to C. gigantea, though not belonging to that race, may be an intermediate form. The two are merely races.
Habits, &c. Similar to those of C. nudipes, these Swifts being equal, or possibly even superior, in speed. So wonderful is their flight that Mr. H. P. P. Carter remarked that a flock of Alpine Swifts, passing over immediately after some of the present species, "seemed to fly like Owls after the arrow-like speed of the Spine-tails." He found that those he shot had fed on beetles, green bugs, sand-wasps, and grasshoppers. The nests were discovered by Mr. E. C. S. Baker in the North Cachar hills, on April 26th, and described by him in the ' Asian.' They were large, shallow, oval cups attached to the walls of (artificial) limestone caves, and composed of moss and mud. They measured about 6 by 3 1/2 inches outside, 4 1/2 by 3 inside, and nearly an inch deep. Only fragments of eggs, which were white and devoid of gloss, were found, but in one nest were three young birds.