(267) Malacocincla sepiaria abbotti.
Malacocincla abbotti Blyth, J. A. S. B., xiv, p. 601 (1845) (Ramree,. Arrakan). Turdinus abbotti. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 154.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Whole upper plumage rich olive-brown, the forehead with fulvous streaks, the other feathers with pale shafts ; exposed parts of wing-quills like the back; upper tail-coverts and tail deep rufous; lores round the eye and a short supercilium dark grey; ear-coverts rufous with fulvous shafts ; chin, throat and cheeks pale grey; sides of neck, breast and body earthy ferruginous, centre of breast and abdomen whitish; under tail-coverts bright ferruginous.
Colours of soft parts. Iris light reddish brown to red ; eyelids plumbeous; upper mandible dark horny-brown, tip and lower mandible pale horny or bluish-horny; legs and feet pale fleshy, claws pale horny.
Measurements. Total length about 180 mm.; wing 74 to 77 mm.; tail about 50 to 52 mm.; tarsus about 25 mm.; culmen about 18 mm.
Distribution. Nepal, Sikkim, E. Bengal, Assam, Burma to the Malay Peninsula, and Siam.
Nidification. In India this bird breeds in April and May and sometimes in June, whilst in Burma its nest has been found from February to May. It breeds only in deep, wet tree-forest with ample undergrowth and preferably near some stream, making a massive nest of dead leaves, weeds and grass with an inner cup of leaves, roots and weeds compactly bound together and lined with roots. It may be placed in a clump of weeds, a low bush or in some fern-palm near the ground. The eggs number three to five and are very beautiful; the ground-colour varies from a very pale to a rich pale salmon-pink, whilst the markings consist of spots, blotches and lines of deep red-brown with paler spots of light red -and neutral tint. In shape they are normal ovals and the texture is fine with a good gloss. They measure about 22.2 x 16.5 mm. but vary greatly in size.
Habits. Abbott's Babbler is a bird of the plains and the foothills, rarely being found much over 2,000 feet. It haunts deep forest where it is always humid and green and where the trees have an ample undergrowth of plants, weeds and bushes. In N. Cachar it was always to be found near rivers and streams and it is very partial to places where palm-ferns grow in great luxuriance. They have a pleasant whistling note but are very silent birds, creeping about in the dense undergrowth very quietly and stealthily. They are apparently entirely insectivorous.