387. Mieroscelis psaroides nigrescens

(387) Microscelis psaroides nigrescens Stuart Baker.
THE ASSAM BLACK BULBUL.
Microscelis psaroides nigrescens, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 371.
This dark form of Black Bulbul is very common in all the hill- ranges of Assam South of the Brahmapootra and East of the Dibong, occurring in the Abor and Miri Hills North of the Brah-mapootra. East it occurs throughout the Northern Chin Hills to the Chindwin, which seems to form its Eastern boundary. It may be found at all elevations in Winter between the foot-hills and their adjacent plains up to 7,000 feet. It breeds freely in and round about Margherita, roughly 700 to 1,200 feet above sea-level, but in the Surrma Valley hills, Manipur and Chin Hills it does not breed below 2,500 feet and seldom below 3,000 ; at the same time I have taken a nest at about 5,800 feet on the Barail Range in Cachar.
Over the greater part of its range it is a forest breeder, selecting trees of considerable size in which to place its nest just as the preceding bird does, and in similar situations. I have, however, on several occasions taken nests from high straggling bushes and from small saplings. This was especially the case in one part of North Cachar. Here I found the bird breeding on the precipitous hills surrounding the upper part of the Laisung Valley. These hills, owing, perhaps, to their great steepness, have but little soil on them, except that which is washed by the rains into deep crevices or on to the numerous narrow ledges. In such places a considerable amount of scrub-jungle grows, interspersed with numerous stunted trees, which seem to die early, for almost two out of every three are more or less dead and rotted. It was on these dead trees that the Black Bulbuls had selected sites for their nests ; nor were the branches selected at the tops or outsides of these trees, such as would be normally used, but the nests were placed in the first bifurcation of the main trunk about 15 feet from the ground. This was a favourite ground for many kinds of Bulbuls, although it was a most desolate kind of place. Looking at it from the grand trees and dense green forests of the hills opposite, the half-clad precipice looked as if some blight had been cast upon it. Probably the rotten trees, the open sunlight, with abundance of food, and freedom from ground-vermin more than compensated the birds for the thin cover and poor view.
The nests are similar to those made by the Himalayan Black Bulbul but I think moss is used generally and more freely in the Assam birds’ nests. Most nests were usually more or less completely covered on the outside with moss, and I cannot remember many which had none. Bamboo-leaves were often used between the inner and outer walls of the nests I pulled to pieces and, when there were no bamboo-leaves handy, the birds substituted dry bracken and dead fern-leaves.
The breeding season is May and June and I have taken eggs in April and July.
Both birds take part in incubation, as both were frequently caught by the Nagas on their nests, but I cannot say if both sexes assist in building the nest.
The normal full clutch of eggs is three, four only occasionally and two quite frequently.
They are not distinguishable from the eggs of any other Microscelis, but I have taken a few varieties not represented in my series of the other species. One very fine clutch of three has the ground white with the greater part of the surface smeared and heavily blotched with deep purple-brown, this colour covering the greater part of the large end and middle of the egg but less thickly laid on at the small end. Another beautiful clutch of three has the ground-colour a very pale rosy pink ; two of the eggs are spotted with purple-brown and lavender, principally at the larger end, with most of the spots in an ill-defined ring ; the third egg has great blotches of red-brown at the big end and only a few freckles of the same colour at the small end.
In texture the eggs are rather coarse and not very close grained, the surface having no gloss. In shape they vary from rather long ovals to decidedly broad blunt ovals.
Sixty-four eggs average 27.1 x 19.9 mm. : maxima 29.6 x 19.2 mm, and 29.0 x 20.5 mm. ; minima 24.7 x 19.3 and 25.8 x 18.0 mm.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. 1932.
Title in Book: 
387. Mieroscelis psaroides nigrescens
Spp Author: 
Stuartbaker.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
387
Year: 
1932
Page No: 
340
Common name: 
Assam Black Bulbul
M_ID: 
22310
M_SN: 
Hypsipetes leucocephalus nigrescens
Volume: 
Vol. 1
id: 
13573

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith