948. Leptopoecile sophise obscura

(948) Leptopoecile sophiae obscura Przew.
Leptopoecile sophioe, obscura, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 543.
Since the second volume of the ‘Fauna’ was written a good deal has been learned about the distribution of these quaint little birds. Ludlow found the typical form in Lakak and, doubtless, breeding there. The present race breeds throughout Southern Tibet and the North of Sikkim, extending thence into the North-East of Tibet and due East to the Yangtse-Kiang. In the North-West of Tibet it is replaced by the typical form.
All round the Gyantse plateau between 12,000 and 15,000 feet it is extremely common, breeding in the stunted, thorny bushes which cover the greater part of the plain. The nests are placed quite low down in the centre of the bushes, often within a few inches of the ground, seldom over two feet above it. The bushes are so thorny and the small branches so tough and wiry that even when the nests are located— a difficult matter in itself—they have to be practically cut out of the surrounding branches.
The nests may be round, oblong, or a long oval but, of whatever shape they may be, they are always domed. The round nests vary much in size ; the smallest sent to me was under 4.1/2 inches in diameter, with a tiny egg-chamber about 2 inches across and deep. Another measured over 6 inches each way. The oval nests may be anything between 5.1/2 and 7 inches deep by about 4.1/2 to 5 in diameter. Finally the long-shaped nests may be as much as 9 or 9.1/2 inches in depth and between 4 and 5.1/2 inches in diameter. The chamber for the eggs is always about the same, the whole of the lower parts of all nests —round, oval or oblong—being a solid mass of material.
They are very beautiful nests, made principally of a dull brown vegetable down, sheep’s wool, feathers of all kinds, tiny twigs and shreds of grass. All these articles are wonderfully interwoven and mixed up, the nest forming a sort of dense sponge with a tiny cavity at the middle or top, the whole outer surface decorated with spiders’ egg-bags, while webs are employed everywhere to solidify the structure. The supporting twigs are embodied wholly or partially in the fabric and have to be torn or cut away when the nest is removed. As a rule there is no lining, the eggs resting on the soft yielding materials of which the nest is formed. In a few, however, there is a dense lining of soft feathers. In the body of the nest feathers of Perdix hodgsonioe, Tetraogallus Choughs, Finches etc., etc. are used, often forming quite an interesting accumulation.
They are early breeders and I have eggs taken by Steen as early as the 17th April, while most of the eggs sent me have been obtained in this month. On the other hand, its nest has been found with fresh eggs in the middle (18th) of July and, probably, some birds have two broods in the year.
The full clutch of eggs is four to six, but five seems to be the number most often laid according to Steen, Kennedy and others, while Ludlow found four to be the general full complement.
The ground is pure white and the average egg is freely speckled at the larger end with deep red or purple-brown, the specks often forming rings. Sometimes the specks are very minute and scanty and sometimes larger, like small pins’ heads, and a little more dense in numbers.
The texture is very fine but quite glossless. The shape varies from short, broad ovals to a fairly long oval.
Fifty eggs average 15.1 x 11.6 mm.: maxima 16.0 x 12.1 and 15.5 x 12.2 mm. ; minima 14.3 x 11.0 and 14.8 x 10.9 mm.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 2. 1933.
Title in Book: 
948. Leptopoecile sophise obscura
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Tibetan Tit Warbler
Leptopoecile sophiae obscurus
Vol. 2

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