(1319) Pitta caerulea caerulea.
The Giant Pitta.
Myiothera caerulea Raffles, Trans. Linn. Soc, xiii, p. 301 (1822) (Sumatra). Pitta caerulea. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 390.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Male. Forehead, anterior crown, sides of the crown, lores, ear-coverts and sides of the head and neck pale grey-brown, each feather edged with black, boldly on the crown, obsoletely on the sides of the head; a broad coronal streak widening out on the nape and hind-neck, meeting another black line running back from the eye under the supercilium; back, wing-coverts, rump, upper tail-coverts and tail bright blue, brightest next the black neck; quills black, the primaries with a grey-blue patch at the end of the outer web, the secondaries increasingly and more bright blue until the innermost are all of this colour; chin fulvescent white changing to fulvous on the throat; fore-neck fulvous, the feathers edged narrowly with blackish ; remainder of lower plumage fulvous, varying considerably in depth and richness; bases of the feathers of the extreme upper breast black, often showing through and forming a broken collar between the breast and fore-neck.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown (Herbert), hazel-grey (Davison); bill black, inside of the mouth white; legs and feet pale grey, fleshy-grey or bluish-fleshy.
Measurements. Wing 138 to 155 mm.; tail 61 to 67 mm.; tarsus 54 to 59 mm.; culmen 32 to 35 mm.
Female. Edge of forehead, lores, sides of head and a broad supercilium ashy-grey, the feathers very finely edged with black ; crown, nape and hind-neck greyish-rufous, each feather boldly edged with black; a broad line, sometimes partly concealed, from the eye to the nape black; a broad collar of black below the hind-neck ; back, scapulars and wing-coverts rich rufous, the greater coverts more grey and edged with paler blue-grey; primaries black with grey tips to the outer webs ; secondaries dark brown with more grey on the outer webs and the inner with broad blue tips and terminal edges ; rump and upper tail-coverts bright blue ; tail darker blue; chin and throat almost white, remainder of lower plumage fulvous or brownish-fulvous; axillaries and wing-coverts mottled fulvous and brown.
Colours of soft parts. Bill blackish-brown, the lower mandible paler.
Young birds have the forehead to the upper back greyish-fulvous, each feather edged and centred dark brown.; tail blue as in the adult; remainder of upper plumage and wings chocolate-brown ; sides of the head fulvous, the feathers edged with black ; chin and throat whitish; breast chocolate-brown, with broad fulvous terminal bars to many of the feathers; remainder of lower plumage brown paling, to fulvous on the vent, posterior Hanks and under tail-coverts.
Distribution. Tenasserim from Nwalabo Mountain throughout the Malay Peninsula to Sumatra. South-West Siam. It does not extend to Borneo where it is replaced by P. c, hosei, which has a very different female.
Habits. There is little recorded about this beautiful Pitta beyond Davison's remarks: They are extremely shy and not at all like the other Pittas. Directly they catch sight of yon they rise, flying low but rapidly, and not alighting under 200 or 300 yards, when, of course, in the dense forests where alone they occur all trace of them is lost. They doubtless must call; but I have never heard their note to distinguish. My specimens had fed entirely on large black ants."
It is not yet known whether this bird is migratory, partially so, or quite sedentary, but probably it will be found to be a resident species, merely retiring into yet deeper forest at certain seasons of the year.