(718) Lanius senator niloticus.
The Eastern Woodchat-Shrike.
Enneoctonus niloticus Bonpte., Rev. Zool., 1853, p. 439 (the White Nile).
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Lores and feathers next the nostrils white; broad forehead and a line through the eyes and ear-coverts, extending down the sides of the neck, black; anterior crown, nape and hind neck bright chestnut; back black shading into grey on the rump; upper tail-coverts white; tail black with white bases and tips to each feather, the white increasing laterally until the outermost feather is all white with a black patch on the inner web; scapulars white; wing-feathers black with a broad white patch at the base of all the primaries; inner secondaries edged with whitish; below white, sometimes washed with fulvous but never strongly. This form differs from the Western Woodchat in having the white bases to the feathers much broader.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; legs and feet horny-brown to blackish.
Measurements. Total length about 180 mm. ; wing 96 to 104 mm.; tail 71 to 83 mm.; tarsus about 25 mm.; culmen 14 to 15 mm.
Young. Pale grey above, barred throughout with dark brown ; below white, very faintly barred on breast and flanks with wavy lines of brown ; wing-feathers broadly edged with rufous-white; inner secondaries and scapulars mottled and barred with pale rufous and white; tail like that of the adult.
Nestling like the young bird but more definitely barred below.
Distribution. Breeding in Persia and Palestine and in Winter South to N.E. Africa, Arabia and very doubtfully to India. Ticehurst has recorded that the specimen said by Murray to have come from Daolutpur, in Sind, was really sent him by Cumming from Pao. It is, however, certain to be obtained at odd times on the Afghan-Baluchistan frontier and a specimen sent to me from Quetta for identification was undoubtedly this bird.
Nidification. The Eastern Woodchat breeds in some numbers in the hills of Palestine during May and June and in Meso¬potamia and Persia in April and May. In the first-named country it builds in olive-groves, placing its nest in these trees between three feet and twenty feet from the ground. The nest is a compact massive cup made almost entirely of flowering weeds, the flowering ends placed outside so that the nest is very conspicuous. The eggs number four to six and are replicas of those of the Red-backed Shrike but average rather duller, whilst the pink or cream type is exceptional. Forty eggs average 22.8 x 16.8 mm.: maxima 25.0 x 18.0 and 24.8 x 18.1 mm.; minima 21.3 x 16.1 and 22.8 x 15.5 mm.
Habits. This Shrike seems to prefer very open country without forest but with a sufficiency of bushes and orchards. It frequents the more barren and stony hill-sides in the Judaean Hills and similar country in Persia and Mesopotamia, not being found, except as a Winter visitor, in the open plains of the latter country. It is not shy and is said to have a rather sweet song, though its ordinary notes are harsh and discordant.