(491) Hodgsonius phaenicuroides phaenicuroides.
Brachypterus phaenicuroides Hodgs., Gray, Cat. M. & B. Nepal, App. iv, p. 153 (1846) (Nepal). Hodgsonius phaenicuroides. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 190.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description.— Adult male. Plumage above and below dark, but fairly bright, slaty-blue; the wing-quills brown, edged with the same blue; bastard-wing black with broad white tips; central pair of tail-feathers blue-black, the next pair light, bright chestnut on half the outer web and obliquely to the base of the inner web, the four outer pairs chestnut on the basal halves, black on the terminal halves; abdomen white, posterior flanks and vent suffused with brownish ochre; under tail-coverts slaty-brown with broad white tips.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill horny-brown above, lower mandible light horny, gape yellow; legs pale reddish brown to olive lead-colour.
Measurements. Total length 180 to 190 mm.; wing 73 to 77 mm.; tail 75 to 82 mm.; tarsus 30 mm.; culmen 15 mm.
Adult female. Upper plumage olive-brown, tinged with rufous on the margins of wing-quills and tail; the bases of the rectrices tinged with chestnut where they are chestnut in the male; sides of head and lower plumage ochraceous, suffused with brownish on flanks and albescent on chin, throat and abdomen; under tail-coverts dark ochraceous edged and centred paler.
Young. Upper plumage dull rufescent brown, the feathers-edged darker and with fulvous spots, most marked on head and nape; below dull fulvous, each feather edged with brown and with pale centres or shaft-stripes.
Distribution. Himalayas from Kashmir to North-East Assam.. Yunnan. The Yunnan bird is rather dark but agrees with the Hima¬layan bird, rather than with the Chinese, in size.
Nidification. Hodgson's Short-wing breeds throughout its habitat at elevations between 6,000 and 12,000 feet during June, a few birds laying in July. The nest is a massive cup of leaves and grass lined with finer roots and grass and often with a little hair, fur or feathers. It is placed either actually on the ground or within a few inches of it in thick undergrowth and bushes. The birds generally lay three eggs, sometimes only two and very rarely four; in colour these are a dark blue, darker than those of any other Indian bird except Garrulax albigularis but, unlike these latter, they have no gloss. In shape they are rather broad ovals and the texture is stout and smooth. Forty eggs average 21.7 X 15.9 mm. and the extremes are: maxima 24.1x 16.3 and 22.1 x 17.0 mm.; minima 20.0 X15.3 mm.
Habits. This Short-wing is much more of a true Chat in its habits than the other birds of the subfamily. Davidson says: "the male has the habits of a Robin, hopping about with its tail over its back and is very pugnacious to other birds trespassing in its vicinity. Both sexes, however, were partial to thick cover and, except in the neighbourhood of the nest, very shy." They have a sweet little song, which they utter from the tops of low bushes and they keep less to the ground and more to bushes in their search for food than do any of the other Brachypteryginae.