(1286) Leptocoma minima (Sykes),
THE SMALL SUNBIRD.
Leptocoma, minima, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iii, p. 405,
The Small Sunbird occurs and is resident in Western India from about the latitude of Bombay, in the Bombay Presidency, South to Travancore and Ceylon ; it also occurs in the North-West Province, where, however, it is a rare bird.
It frequents thin and evergreen-forest, scrub, secondary growth and gardens, though I have never heard of it breeding in the last mentioned, It is found alike in the plains and low hills, while in the Nilgiris and other hills of South India it ascends as high as 5,000 feet, though probably not very often.
In Hume’s ‘Nests and Eggs’ there are two notes on the breeding of this bird—Davison’s, which is undoubtedly wrong, and Bourdillon’s, which is correct ; but the latter’s note is very meagre, only referring to “a hanging nest at the extreme end of a gamboge bough found by Ferguson.” Later Bourdillon took nests himself and sent me two sets of eggs taken by him in Travancore. Davidson and Bell took many nests and eggs in Kanara, the former having a note on the bird and its nest (Journ. Bomb. Nat, Hist, Soc. vol. xi, p. 675, 1898) which reads:—“This lovely little bird is intensely common in all the forests below the Ghats, along the Ghats, and in the central part of the district, but absent from Halyal, Mundgoda, and the extreme East. It breeds from December to April, making its nest at low elevations, nine out of every ten I have found being within five feet of the ground. By far the largest number of nests I have seen have been built on the tops of stems of Karwe (Strobilanthes), placed either on the sides of roads or in forest. The nests are very small and neat hanging balls of bright green moss and white lichens, and are Easily distinguishable from those of any other Sunbird of Western India, The eggs are two ; white closely mottled with fine spots of purplish red, and in no way resembling those of A. asiatica or A. zeylonica. I must have taken much over fifty nests, so there can be no doubt as to the coloration of the eggs at least in Kanara.”
Other nests taken by Bell, Bourdillon and others closely resemble those described by Davidson and apparently measure about 4 by 3 inches. One nest taken by Bourdillon was externally composed, entirely of lichen and cobwebs.
The breeding season in Ceylon and Travancore is February, March and April and in Kanara December to April, In the Nilgiris, it breeds in September and October, in which months Howard. Campbell found nests both empty and with young.
The eggs, always two in number, are far more like those of the genus Aethopyga than those of Leptocoma asiatica. The ground, is white with a dense ring of dark reddish spots round the larger end and very few reddish specks elsewhere. I have many of the eggs taken by Davidson, and all are like this except one pair which answers to his description “mottled with reddish.” The secondary markings, hardly visible, consist of specks and freckles of very pale lilac-grey. In shape the eggs are broad ovals, generally blunt, occasionally rather pointed. The texture is fine but not very close, glossless and very fragile.
Twenty eggs average 14.0 x 10.2 mm. : maxima 14.5 x 10.4 mm. ; minima 13.5 x 9.9 mm.
1286. Leptocoma minima
(1286) Leptocoma minima (Sykes),