(1287) Leptocoma zeylonica.
The Purple-rumped Sunbird.
Certhia zeylonica Linn., Syst. Nat., 12th ed. i, p. 181 (1766) (Ceylon). Arachnechthra zeylonica. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 864.
Vernacular names. Shakar khora (Hind.); Man choonyi (Beng.); Than-kudi (Tam.); Mai sutika (Cing.).
Description, - Male. Forehead, crown and lesser wing-coverts mixed metallic green and purple-copper varying in degree according to the light; neck, sides of the head, back, scapulars and median wing-coverts deep dull crimson; rump and upper tail-coverts metallic purple-blue; tail black, the lateral feathers tipped with pale brown, broadly below, narrowly above; wing-quills and greater coverts brown with rufous edges ; chin and throat metallic purple; a band of dull crimson and then one of black across the breast, the two often much mixed; breast, abdomen and under tail-coverts bright yellow; the flanks, axillaries and under wing-coverts greyish-white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris crimson to red-brown ; bill, legs and feet black.
Measurements. Wing 51 to 54 mm.; tail 33 to 36 mm.; tarsus 15 to 16 mm.; culmen 13 to 16 mm.
Female. Upper plumage and wing-coverts ashy olive-brown; upper tail-coverts and tail black, the feathers of the latter tipped with pale brown as in the male; wing-quills and greater coverts brown edged with rufous; lower plumage as in the male but duller and with the chin, throat and sides of the head ashy-white; lores and a patch behind the eye dark brown; a small, indefinite supercilium whitish.
Distribution. Ceylon ; India North to Bombay, throughout the Central Provinces and thence East to Chota Nagpur and Bengal as far West as Burdwan commonly and, rarely, to Calcutta, where I have myself seen it-. It is common in Dacca and Faridpore and is said to occur in Assam but I never met with it during 30 years' residence in that Province. Inglis did not obtain it in Cachar or Primrose in Goalpara. It does not occur in Bihar, On the East of India its distribution is not satisfactorily worked out, but I have had eggs, nest and bird sent me from the Cuttack District of Orissa.
Nidification. The Purple-rumped Sunbird breeds throughout its habitat in practically every month of the year, though few nests will be found during the great heat of May, June and July. The nest is similar to that of the Purple Sunbird, and like that bird's, is often placed in a mass of cobweb so that it looks more like a mass of windblown odds and ends, caught by the cobwebs, rather than a bird's nest. On the whole it is built at greater heights from the ground, more often over ten feet than under, and often twenty, thirty feet or more high up on an outer slender branch of a big tree. The eggs number two, very exceptionally three, and cannot be distinguished from those of L. asiatica though a large series may average paler. Eggs boldly marked or with well-defined blotches are as rare in one as in the other. A hundred eggs average 16.4 x 11.8 mm.: maxima 18.0 x 12.2 and 17.0 X 12.7 mm.; minima 14.4 X 11.2 and 14.9 X 11.0 mm.
Habits. Similar to 1 hose of the Purple Sunbird. They frequent both forests, especially the thin deciduous Sal forests, cultivated lands and gardens, and have been known to build their nests inside verandahs and buildings, though not nearly so commonly as does the Purple Sunbird. They are birds of the plains but ascend the Nilgiris, Palnis and other South Indian Hills up to some 2,500 feet and are found up to 3,000 feet in Travancore.