(351) Liothrix lutea callipyga.
THE INDIAN RED-BILLED LIOTHRIX.
Bahila callipyga Hodgs., Ind. Rev., 1838, p. 88 (Nepal). Liothrix lutea. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 221.
Vernacular names. Nanachura (Dehra Doon); Rapchil-pho (Lepcha); Daotisha-buku-gajao (Cachari).
Description.— Adult male. The whole upper plumage and sides of the neck olive-green, the forehead and crown tinged with yellow; middle pair of tail-feathers and the outer webs of the others black, inner webs brown and all tipped white ; the primaries edged with yellow and later on with crimson ; outer secondaries black, with a patch of orange-yellow at the bases of the outer webs ; inner secondaries olive-green tinged with rufous; lores orange-yellow ; a ring round the eye yellow; ear-coverts silvery-grey; a narrow moustachial streak dusky green; chin and throat bright yellow, turning to deep orange-yellow on the lower throat; centre of breast and abdomen, the vent and under tail-coverts yellow; sides of breast and abdomen slaty-green.
Female differs from the male in having the crimson on the wing replaced by yellow.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown or red-brown; bill brilliant orange-red throughout in summer, blackish at the base in winter; legs and feet yellowish brown to dark brown.
Measurements. Total length about 145 to 155 mm.; wing: males 65 to 71 mm., females 61 to 65 mm.; tail 55 to 60 mm.; tarsus about 25 mm.; culmen 10 to 11 mm.
Distribution. The Himalayas from Simla to Eastern Assam, the Khasia Hills, Chin Hills and N. Arrakan.
Nidification. The Red-billed Liothrix breeds throughout its range between 3,000 and 8,000 feet in almost any kind of forest, pine, evergreen, deciduous, or in secondary growth and heavy scrub-jungle, but it certainly prefers forest of pine or fir with undergrowth. Its nest is a neat cup of grass, bamboo and other leaves and moss; the latter material often forming nearly the whole nest, whilst the lining is of fine roots and tendrils. It is generally placed in a fork, upright or horizontal, or in amongst a few twigs of a bush or bramble, at some height between 2 and 10 feet. It is seldom well hidden and is often very conspicuous. 200 eggs average 21.9 x 16.1 mm. and the extremes are 23.2 x 17.0, 23.0x17.1, 18.9 X 15.2 and 21.4 x 15.0 mm. In colour they vary from almost pure white to pale blue and the markings consist of sparse spots and blotches of reddish brown with others, underlying these, of neutral tint, generally confined to the larger end and often forming an ill-defined zone. The shape is a blunt, broad oval and the texture is close, hard and glossy, often very highly so.
The breeding season lasts from early April to September but most eggs are laid in May and June.
Habits. This bird is found in the cold weather in small parties of half-a-dozen or so wandering about in the lower growth in forests and scrub but not frequenting the higher trees unless frightened into them. They are cheerful little birds, constantly chatting to one another and, in the Khasia Hills, very bold and confiding, though they are said elsewhere to be shy birds. In the breeding season, however, when they break up into pairs they are much shyer and quieter, though the male may often be seen perched on some bramble, quivering his wings and fluffing out his feathers as he trills his pretty little love-song to his mate nearby.