73. Maehlolophus spilonotus

(73) Machlolophus spilonotus spilonotus (Blyth).
THE NORTHERN BLACK-SPOTTED YELLOW-TIT.
Machlolophus spilonotus spilonotus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 89.
The breeding range of this Tit extends from Garhwal to the Miri Hills and Lakhimpur in East Assam and to the Lushai Hills in the South but apparently not into the Chin Hills.
This is an extremely common Titmouse in the Khasia Hills above 5,000 feet, being occasionally found a few hundred feet lower. To describe the nesting of the Yellow-Tit would be to repeat all over again that of the Northern Grey-Tit and the Green-backed Tit.
It commences to breed in March and I have taken eggs as early as the 25th of that month. From then onwards eggs are equally numerous throughout April and early May, after which nests, if found, will usually have young in different stages of fledging. They continue, however, to lay until the end of June, such eggs I think being mostly second broods, though I do not believe they are normally double-brooded.
One difference between this genus and the Grey-Tits is that the former undoubtedly prefers holes in trees, rather than holes in walls, in which to breed. Round Shillong itself the Pine woods give but scanty chances to tree-hole breeding birds and in con¬sequence they resort to the stone walls which support every road and pathway. Higher up where there are Rhododendrons and Oaks with good holes in them suitable for nesting purposes the birds never breed in the stone walls, though they are equally numerous there as lower down.
The nest is the same pad of fur, hair or wool as that made by the other Tits but I have seen several nests of this bird made with a basis of chips of bracken-leaves. The fur most often used by this bird is that of the Bamboo Rat and, when that is superimposed on moss, the contrast between the green and chestnut is very striking.
The bird is just as bold as is the Grey-Tit and I have often opened up a nest and taken the bird out with my hand. One bird returned three times and tried to settle on the eggs as I was examining them. Eventually I gave her to my orderly to hold while I rebuilt the nest wall up and saw her once more safely on her eggs, protesting loudly against our interference.
The eggs only differ from those of the Grey-Tit in being as a series more handsomely and boldly blotched and in being larger. Looking at them as a whole, although they are not much longer they are decidedly broader in comparison, and this makes them look very big. Individual clutches can be matched in colour by others of the Grey-Tits. In a few of the eggs of the Yellow-Tits the ground is distinctly washed with pink.
Sixty eggs average 17.6 x 14.1 mm. : maxima 19.0 x 14.9 mm. ; minima. 16.6 x 13.7 and 17.0 x 13.0 mm.
The eggs number four to six and the largest clutch I have taken is seven, but this is rare.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. 1932.
Title in Book: 
73. Maehlolophus spilonotus
Spp Author: 
Blyth.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
73
Year: 
1932
Page No: 
69
Common name: 
Norrn Black-spotted Yellow-tit
M_ID: 
21298
M_CN: 
Yellow-cheeked Tit
M_SN: 
Machlolophus spilonotus
Volume: 
Vol. 1
id: 
13292

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith