(1434) Thereiceryx viridis (Bodd.).
THE SMALL GREEN BARBET.
Thereiceryx viridis, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed, vol. iv, p. 113.
This little Barbet ranges from about the latitude of Mahableshwar, Belgaum and the whole of the Deccan, to the hill-ranges of South Travancore.
It is never found in evergreen or really heavy forest, but with this exception frequents almost any kind of well-wooded country from the foot-hills up to the summits of the highest hills of Son them India. It is quite one of the best known and most familiar of birds in the Nilgiris and other parts of South-West India, breeding in gardens and villages, by roadsides and in orchards, or in trees and old stumps standing in cultivation. It prefers trees which are partly or wholly decayed, but sometimes drills its nest-hole in quite Bound wood. In Travancore Bourdillon says that though the bird is exceedingly common, eggs arc hard to get, as the birds breed in such rotten trees that they cannot be climbed.
The nest-hole may be made at any height from 5 to 25 feet from the ground while, occasionally, they excavate them, according to Butler, at heights of 50 and oven 60 feet.
They return year after year to the same tree, each year cutting out a new entrance, generally into the old chamber hut, sometimes, into a new one. Nine entrances have been found in one tree all leading to the same chamber. Darling says that in the Nilgiris he has taken five clutches of eggs or. young from nest-holes all made in the same tree, but the most any other collector has recorded is two nest-holes in the same tree but far apart.
They are most tenacious in keeping to their nesting sites. Butler records again and again having taken two or more clutches of eggs from the same nest-hole without driving the birds away. From one he records taking clutches of eggs on the 23rd March, 8th and 23rd April and 6th May. His notes, given below, are very interesting :—“The birds are not at all shy when breeding ; but as it is difficult to know when to cut into the nest, as it takes them a long time to excavate the egg-chamber, I have usually adopted the following plan, namely, to watch the birds from time to time when they are boring, when, as a rule, as you approach they come to the mouth of the hole and fly out. As soon, however, as the eggs are deposited, instead of flying out, the hen bird usually peeps cautiously out of the hole, and remains motionless, with her head projecting from the entrance, remaining thus until you move away, when, if you have not frightened her, she will gradually withdraw her head and sink down into the hole again. Having satisfied myself that there are eggs, I next proceed to cut a wedge out with a saw as neatly as possible on the upper side of the bough, opposite the egg-chamber (or a little above it), which is usually about 9 inches from the entrance, and if there are eggs remove them, carefully replacing the wedge ; the birds will probably then lay again in a few days in the same hole, and in some instances will go on laying again and again until the end of the season. As a rule the holes are bored in dead branches on the underside, though in some instances they are bored in green wood."
In the Nelliampathy Hills Kinloch found them breeding in February, and elsewhere they occasionally breed in March, but April and May are undoubtedly the normal breeding months.
As a rule three eggs are laid, sometimes two only and very rarely four.
Thirty eggs average 26.2 x 20.3 mm. ; maxima 29.0 x 19.9 and 27.1 x 21.6 mm. ; minima 24.6 x 19.3 and 27.0 x 18.9 mm.
1434. Thereiceryx viridis
(1434) Thereiceryx viridis (Bodd.).