1381. Megapodius nicobariensis.
The Nicobar Megapode.
Megapodius nicobariensis, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xv, pp. 52, 372 (1846) ;id. Cat. p. 239; Pelzeln, Novara Reise, Vog. p. 110, pls. iv, vi, fig. 12 (egg); Ball, J. A. S. B. xxxix, pt. 2, p. 32; id. S. F. i, p. 82; Hume, S. F. i, p. 313 ; ii, pp. 276, 499; id. Cat no. 803 oct. ; Hume Sf Marsh. Came B. i, p. 119, pl.; iii, p. 428, pl. ii (egg); Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 449; Ogilvie Grant, Cat. B. M. xxii, p. 447. Megapodius trinkutensis, Sharpe, A. M. N. H. (4) xiii, p. 448; Walden, A. M. N. H. (4) xiv, p. 163.
Coloration. Sides of the crown behind the eyes, sides of head behind ears, and the nape ashy grey ; upper parts, including wings and tail, rufescent brown with an olive tinge ; chin and throat pale grey, remainder of lower parts greyish brown.
Younger birds are rufous brown beneath, only the chin and throat being greyish.'
Bill light greenish to yellowish; lores and sides of head red ; irides brown; tarsus and toes dark horny, sometimes greenish in front; back and sides of tarsi and tibio-tarsal joint dull red ; soles pale carneous, sometimes pale yellow (Hume).
Length 16 ; tail 3; wing 9 ; tarsus 2.75; bill from gape 1.25.
Distribution. The Nicobar Islands. No Megapodes occur at the Andamans, but some are said to have been seen at Table Island in the Cocos, where Hume found some hillocks that might have been old nest-mounds.
Habits, &c. This Megapode keeps near the sea-shore in scrub and jungle, and is found in pairs, or in flocks that may contain at times 30 to 50 birds. It runs rapidly, and does not take flight till pressed, and it has a cackling call. It feeds on land-mollusca and insects, with vegetable substances. Like other members of the genus, these Megapodes lay their eggs in a large mound built by themselves of vegetable matter covered with sand, the heat produced by the decay of dead leaves &c. apparently sufficing for incubation. The eggs are elongate ovals, very large for the size of the bird, ruddy pink when first laid, and they measure about 3.25 by 3.07. These birds are delicious eating.