(1884) Macropygia unchall tusalia.
THE BAR-TAILED CUCKOO-DOVE.
Coccyzura tusalia Hodgs., J. A. S. B., xiv, p. 809 (1843) (Nopal). Macropygia tusalia. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 49.
Vernacular names. Tumi (Nepalese); Ka-er (Lepcha); Daotu-kunt laima (Cachari).
Description.— Adult male, forehead, lores, cheeks, chin and throat buff, faintly tinged with lilac; crown, hind-neck and sides of neck behind the ear-coverts metallic lilac-purple, this colour not contrasting with but changing gradually from the buff of the face ; rest of upper plumage barred black and rufous, the black being less broad on the upper back, more so on the upper tail-coverts, overlaid on the former with a green? purple or copper sheen; tail dark brownish-black, narrowly barred with rufous, these bars being obsolete or absent on the outer feathers, which are dark grey with a broad band of black about one-third of their length from the tip, the intermediate feathers grade into the central ones ; wing-coverts and inner secondaries like the back ; primaries and outer secondaries dull deep brown ; upper breast lilac like the shoulders but with the black bars absent or nearly so, and with the metallic sheen very distinct; lower breast with no sheen, changing gradually into buff on the lower abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts.
Colours of soft parts. Iris, outer ring pink, inner ring pale blue; bill deep blackish lead-colour; eyelids fleshy-purple and narrow naked orbital skin grey; tarsus dull purplish-red or pinkish-brown, claws horny-black.
Measurements. Total length about 400 to 420 mm.; wing 177 to 203 mm. : tail 200 to 210 mm.; tarsus about 16 to 18 mm.; culmen 13 to 14.5 mm.
Female. Upper plumage much duller, especially the head ; the head and breast are barred throughout more or less with dark brown.
Measurements. Wing 173 to 196 mm.
Young birds are like the female but with no gloss at all.
Distribution- Himalayas, Simla States and Garhwal, Kashmir to Eastern and Southern Assam; Hills of Burma South to Muleyit; Shan States, Karenni and a straggler in Siam. Birds from the Himalayas average larger than Southern birds and have on the whole wider black barring but the overlapping is so great that it is impossible to divide these into two more races.
Nidification. I found this bird breeding in great numbers in the Southern and Eastern Hill ranges of Assam between 4,000 and 6,600 feet from May to August, whilst Osmaston took a number of nests about Darjeeling in June and July. All ours were on small trees between six and twenty feet from the ground but Robinson found a nest in a bamboo-clump. The nests are well made for Doves' nests and occasionally have a scanty lining of moss or grass. One or two eggs are laid which are tinted buff to a rather warm cafe-au-lait, which soon fades. Two hundred eggs average 35.3 x 25.4 mm.: maxima 38.1 x 26.2 and 37.1°x 27.6 mm.; minima 30.4 X 25.3 and 34.2 x 19.8 mm. Both sexes take part in incubation and the birds probably pair for life. The male has a pretty display ; perching high on a bare branch, he suddenly soars into the air, loudly clapping his wings above his back, then from thirty or forty feet he sails down with wings outspread and all his plumage puffed out, the long spiny feathers of the rump standing up like a puff-ball.
Habits. This is a forest-bird, keeping much to dense forest but resorting in immense numbers to open cultivation clearings to feed on rice, grain or mustard shoots. In the cold weather also it sometimes resorts to more open and cultivated country for the same purpose but, however numerous they may be, they remain in pairs only. Their call is a very deep " croo-um," the second syllable being a booming note audible from a great distance. It is a noisy bird in the breeding-season, very silent at other times. It is a most tame and confiding bird and very leisurely in its movements, whether feeding on the ground or on fruit, acorns and berries on trees.