(719) Lanius cristatus cristatus.
The Brown Shrike.
Lanius cristatus Linn., S. N., ed. x, p. 93 (1758) (Bengal); Blanf. & Oates, i,p, 468.
Vernacular names. Kakhate (Beng.); Ker-khelta (Hind.); Batte-gada, Batte-kiriti-gada (Tel.); Hnet-beloo (Burm.).
Description. Forehead and a well-defined supercilium white; lores and a line through the ear-coverts black; upper plumage and wing-coverts brown, strongly tinged throughout with Indian red and still purer red on the crown; upper tail-coverts tinged with rufous; tail rufous-brown, obsoletely cross-barred with brown and tipped paler; wing-coverts and quills brownish black margined with rufous-fulvous; chin, throat and cheeks white remainder of lower plumage bright pale fulvous, richest on the flanks.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill bluish horny, browner on the terminal half and dark at the tip; legs slaty-brown, claws black.
Measurements. Total length about 190 mm.; wing 83 to 91 mm.; tail 75 to 87 mm.; tarsus about 25mm.; culmen about 15 mm.
Young birds are barred with black on the upper parts; the rufous margins to the wing-feathers are very broad; the sides of the neck, the flanks and breast are also squamated with narrow black crescentic bars.
Nestling like the young bird but even more boldly barred with black.
Distribution. In Summer throughout Siberia from Lake Baikal to Kamchatka and possibly the Hills of Northern China. In winter it is found practically throughout Northern India as far South as Mt. Abu on the West and Orissa on the East. It is found over all the Indo-Chinese countries and South China. A few birds are resident in the Eastern Himalayas.
Nidification. Taczanowski describes the nest and eggs taken by him as similar to those of L. collurio. I took a good many nests in the North Cachar Hills and these were all massive but not very deep cups of grass, roots and weed-stems, lined with grass. In nearly every instance they were placed in small trees on the outskirts of forest and not on trees and bushes in the open. The eggs are exactly like those of Lanius n. nigriceps but considerably smaller, though the nests of the two species are so unlike one another. Fifty eggs average 21.8 x 16.9 mm.: maxima 23.8 X 17.1 and 23.0 x 18.0 mm.; minima 20.0 x 17.0 and 22.0 x 15.2 mm. The breeding-season is from the end of April to the end of June.
Habits. The Brown Shrike is much more a bird of well-wooded tracts than are most species of this genus and is often found in light forest and the outskirts of evergreen forest when in India. In its Northern habitat it is said to frequent marshes and bush-covered plains near water but not to enter the surrounding forests. It is an active, quicker Shrike in its movements than its larger relations and will occasionally seize an insect on the wing as a Flycatcher does.