(156) Trochalopteron phoenicium phoenicium (Gould).
THE NEPAL CRIMSON-WINGED LAUGHING-THRUSH.
Trochalopterum phoenicium phoenicium, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 168.
The typical race of Crimson-winged Laughing-Thrush breeds from Nepal to the extreme East of Assam, the Dibong River probably forming its Eastern limit. It is common round Darjiling, where Gammie took seven nests between 4,000 and 5,000 feet. In 1903 Osmaston found nests up to 6,000 feet and in 1913 Primrose took a nest at “something over 2,500 ft.” Inglis says that it is common in the Rangbang Valley between 3,000 and 5,000 feet and Stevens found it up to 5,800 feet in Native Sikkim.
W. P. Masson collected nests and eggs of this species for me near Darjiling and these agree well with Gammie’s description:—
“The locality chosen for the nest is in some moist forest amongst dense undergrowth. It is placed in shrubs, at heights from 6 to 10 feet from the. ground, and is generally suspended between several upright stems, to which it is firmly attached by fibres. It is chiefly composed of dry bamboo-leaves and a few twigs, and lined with black fibres and moss-roots. A few strings of moss are twisted round it externally to aid in concealing it. It is a moderately deep cup, measuring externally about 5 inches in diameter and 4 inches in height, and internally 3.1/2 inches in width and 2 inches in depth.” The nests sent me by Masson and others taken by Stevens and Osmaston only differ in having a much greater variety of materials. In with the bamboo-leaves are mixed other leaves, pieces of bracken, roots, an odd strip ox two of grass, dry moss and even lichen. Another point is that they are often built lower down than 6 feet. Osmaston took one nest in a bramble, 4 feet from the ground, growing in high mixed forest of Oaks, Magnolia etc., and another similar nest in thick undergrowth in Oak and Chestnut forest.
The outer part of the nest appears always to be green moss, usually covering it completely, but sometimes only in patches here and there.
The eggs number two or three, rarely four, and are very beautiful. The ground-colour is a blue, much the same as that of an English Path through woods in which T. P. BAKERI commonly breeds. (Near Laisung, N. Cachar Hills, May 1894.)
Thrush’s egg, and they have numerous long and short twisted lines and a few spots scattered irregularly all over the surface, seldom being much more numerous at the larger than the smaller end. In colour the marks are a darkish vandyke-brown, sometimes paler. In a few eggs the blotches are much larger and appear as if smudged, and in these there are generally a good many secondary smudges of grey-brown, though in the normal type of egg secondary blotches are few in number or altogether absent.
In shape the eggs are blunt ovals, in some approaching elliptical and in very few pointed ovals.
Fifty eggs average 25.9 x 18.5 mm. ; maxima 28.5 x18.5 and 25.4 x 19.2 mm. ; minima 23.5 x 16.6 mm.
They breed throughout May and June, whilst Osmaston has taken nests with eggs as late as the 7th July.