267. Malacocincla sepiaria abbotti

(267) Malacocincla sepiaria abbotti Blyth.
THE INDIAN RUSTY-VENTED BABBLER.
Malacocincla sepiaria abbotti, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 260.
Abbott’s Babbler, by which name this Babbler has hitherto been known, is resident and breeds all through the lower outer ranges of the Himalayas from Sikkim to Assam and through all the hill-ranges of Burma to the Malay Peninsula and East to Siam.
It is a bird of low elevations, seldom venturing above 2,000 feet, and it is most common, when breeding, between the plains and foot-hills at about 1,000 feet. It keeps, so far as I know, entirely to the interior of wet deep jungles and forests and is not found in scrub or bamboo-jungle. Its favourite haunts are the edges of forest on the banks of the larger streams and it seems to have a curious predilection for the vicinity of palm-ferns. It was not uncommon in the Jetinga Valley in North Cachar, in the higher reaches of the Sonacherra in Gowhati and the Khasia Hills and on the Dihing where it ran through heavy forest, in Lakhimpur. Prom the forests bordering all these streams I have had nests, whilst Primrose also took it near the Subansiri in Gowhati. The nest is generally placed quite close to the ground in a thick bush, a tangle of briars or mixed ferns and grass at the foot of palm-ferns, whilst I also took one nest which was edged into one of the rough projections in the trunk of a palm-fern about two feet from the ground.
The nest is a bulky cup made of dead leaves, weed-stems, a little moss and grass with a good lining of rather coarse red roots. The outer part, which consists of loosely put together dead leaves, perhaps mixed with a few long roots and weed-stems, falls to bits rather quickly when removed from its original position, but the inner cup, together with the lining, stands a great deal of pulling about. Occasionally one finds a nest with the outer part made almost entirely of bracken-fronds and, in these instances, they are always bound round well with weed-stems, so that the whole nest can for a short time be lifted up bodily without fear of destruction, though leaving a mat of leaves, such as is generally collected by the bird, for the nest to rest on. Bamboo-leaves, though these may be plentiful in the vicinity of the nest, seem to be seldom made use of by this species. The nests are well concealed but their bulk makes them easy to find ; moreover, the parent birds do not vacate them when disturbed as quietly as many of their relations do. They slip quietly enough over the edge of the nest but then proceed for a few yards with rather a fussy flight before reaching the ground, when they soon get out of sight with long hops.
In Assam they breed principally in April and early May, though I have taken a nest as late as the 3rd July. In Tavoy Hopwood took a nest on the 10th March, but Oates took three nests on the 22nd and 23rd May and 10th June, all with eggs, in Southern Pegu.
The nests found by Oates agree well with those found by me, and he, too, alludes to their fondness for palms and says : “ I have found old nests in dwarf palm-trees at the junction of the frond with the trunk.” Other nests, however, were found by him in stout weeds about two feet above the ground.
Oates gives the measurements of his nests as about 5 inches in exterior diameter with a cup about 2.1/2 inches in diameter by about 2 inches deep. My nests, I should think, averaged nearly another inch in external diameter, though the egg-cavity was about the same.
The eggs, which number three to five, are very beautiful. The ground is a bright salmon colour and they are marked with a few bold blotches and a few short twisted lines of deep red. The underlying spots are of lavender, deep in tint and rather conspicuous, whilst often there are additional smears of pink. A few eggs are paler and have only a few very fine lines of reddish.
Twenty eggs average 21.8 x 16.2 mm. : maxima 24.0 x 17.3 mm. ; minima 20.0 x 15.7 and 24.0 x 15.5 mm.
The shell is stout, the surface very fine and glossy, and in shape they are rather long ovals distinctly compressed at the smaller end.

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: 
267. Malacocincla sepiaria abbotti
Spp Author: 
Blyth.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
267
Year: 
1932
Page No: 
222
Common name: 
Abbotts Babbler
M_ID: 
24562
M_CN: 
Abbott's Babbler
M_SN: 
Malacocincla abbotti
Volume: 
Vol. 1
id: 
13465

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