(839) Phragmaticola aedon.
The Thick-billed Warbler.
Muscicapa aedon Pall., Reise Prov. Russ. Reichs, iiif p. 695 (1776) (Dauria). Arundinax aedon. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 390.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description.— Summer. Lores dull white; feathers round the eye fulvous ; whole upper plumage fulvous olive-brown, the concealed parts of the wing-feathers brown; the upper tail-covert are paler and more pure fulvous; lower plumage white or very pale fulvous, the breast generally suffused with buff and the flanks buff extending on to the sides of the abdomen ; under tail-coverts, axillaries and under wing-coverts buff.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown ; " upper mandible dark horn-colour, lower one flesh-colour, the tips of both and the gape tinged with orange; mouth bright salmon-colour" (Oates); legs and feet plumbeous or dark horny-brown.
Measurements. Total length about 190 to 200 mm.; wing, d 73 to 83 mm. (86 mm., Hartert) 72 to 80 mm.; tail 78 to 87 mm.; tarsus 27 mm.; culmen 15 to 16 mm.
Young are more richly coloured above and below, with a faintly rufescent tinge on the former and a decided brown tinge on the latter.
Distribution. Breeding in South Siberia from Tomsk to Manchuria and North China. Wintering in Eastern Bengal, Nepal Terai, Bhutan Duars, Assam, Burma and Siam. It has also been recorded from the Carnatic and Bangalore.
Nidification. This Warbler is said to make a deep cup-shaped nest of dry grass, lined with finer grass or horse-hair, which it builds on a Willow or Birch bush one to five feet from the ground. The eggs number three to five and are very unusual. In colour they are a pale rosy-purple or violet, marked with very fine hairlines of black or deep purple. They measure about 23.0 x 16.5 mm. (Dresser).
Habits. In its breeding-haunts it is said to be a shy retiring bird, haunting humid and marshy places, covered with reeds, bushes or low trees. It has a fine song and a loud call-note, which Dresser syllabifies as tschok, tschok. In Burma and Assam, where it is quite common in winter, it is not nearly so shy, though, as it quietly clambers about in reeds, grass or low scrub, it does not attract much attention. It wanders freely into gardens and cultivated country as long as there is sufficient cover.