(87) Melanochlora sultanea sultanea.
THE INDIAN SULTAN- TIT.
Parus sultaneus Hodgs., Ind. Rev., 1836, p. 31 (Nepal). Melanochlora sultanea. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 241.
Vernacular names. Bon-tylia-pho (Lepcha); Dao-rajah-gatang-lili (Cachari).
Description. Adult male.—Forehead, crown and crest brilliant yellow; the rest of the head, whole upper plumage, wings and breast deep black, with a metallic lustre on wings and back; tail the same with outermost feathers tipped with white; remainder of lower plumage deep bright yellow, the thighs mixed with some white.
Colours of soft parts. Bill black; mouth dark fleshy; eyelids plumbeous; irides dark brown or red-brown; legs dark slaty, claws dark horny.
Measurements. Total length about 200 mm.; wing 110.5 to 115 mm.; tail about 85 to 95 mm.; tarsus about 24 mm.; culmen about 1 7 mm.
Adult female and young. The black of the male is replaced with greenish brown, the yellow is paler and duller, and the chin and throat are yellowish brown.
Distribution. The Lower Himalayas from Nepal, through Assam, North and South of the Brahmaputra to the Kachin and Shan Hills and to Arrakan. Birds from Karenni and North Siam are of this race.
Nidification. A nest taken by me in N. Cachar on the 17th May, 1890, was similar to that of a Titmouse, a pad of moss with dense lining of cotton-down, placed in a crevice in a big bough of an oak. The eggs, seven in number, are like those of a Machlolophus and measure about 19.2 x 15.3 mm. They were on the point of hatching.
Habits. The Sultan Tit goes about in small flocks of half-a-dozen or so very much like the birds of the genus Machlolophus and have the same manner of searching for insects in the branches of trees, but their actions are somewhat slower and more deliberate. They eat both insects and fruit and seeds, principally the first-named, and their call is a loud, rather shrill note bearing a resemblance to the note of the Great Tit.
They are low-level birds, being found principally at and below 2,000 feet, though they ascend sometimes as high as 4,000 feet. They may be found both in evergreen and deciduous forest, preferring the former, and they also frequent bamboo-jungle and scrub and secondary growth. They are not shy birds.