1736. Microhierax melanoleucus melanoleueus

(1736) Microhierax melanoleuca melanoleucus Blyth.
THE INDIAN WHITE-LEGGED FALCONET.
Microhierax melanoleucus melanoleucus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. v, p. 54.
This species of Falconet is found over the whole of Assam and Manipur. Channell obtained it in Jaipur in the extreme West of Assam, and I have myself obtained it in Manipur, while it also occurs in Hill Tippera and Chittagong in Eastern Bengal.
This fine little bird is a resident wherever found from the Plains up to some 5,000 feet in the hills, but it is most common between the plains Adjacent to the bills and about 3,000 feet. It is equally a bird of clearings and more open spaces in heavy forest and the open land of tea-gardens and semi-cultivated fields and grass. Perhaps of all kinds of country it prefers tea-gardens alongside forest where a few of the larger trees are still allowed to stand.
It lays its eggs in the deserted nest-holes of Woodpeckers and Barbets, hut beyond this really very little is known. The. first egg taken was one found by myself laid in a Barbet’s nest-hole at Gunjong in the North Cachar Hills at about 2,500 feet. The tree was a big one and the nest-hole was bored in the under-surface of a branch about 40 feet from the ground. At the bottom of the hole were two good handfuls of beetles’ elytra and other insect remains, buried among which was a single egg. The female was shot as she flew from the hole and, on dissection, proved to contain another egg of which the shell was just forming, and others in different stages of development. The tree, standing in a clearing in forest, was one which had been ringed and died, but was still sound except in one or two branches.
* As I was Bending this MS. to the printers I received with other eggs from Mr, T. A. Livesey a beautiful clutch of live egga of this Falcon, They ate pure white and of the texture already described. They were taken in 1925 by one of Livesey’a collectors with a parent bird in a natural hole in a tree, with the usual pad of insect remains. The breeding was so unlike what might have been expected that the man’s story was not believed until an egg had been sent to me for identification.
Coltart also obtained single eggs of this Barbet from very similar trees in similar positions and one from a hole in an enormous Cotton tree, standing in tea-cultivation, fully 100 feet from the ground. In each case the nest-hole was nearly half full of remains of insects beetles, dragonflies and termites, the wings of the two former making quite a soft bed. The birds must either use the same hole several succeeding years or must eat much of their insect food inside the nest-hole even he fore they have laid any eggs.
The breeding season seems to be from early March to the middle of May, but neither Coltart nor I have ever succeeded in taking more than a single egg, whereas the full clutch must be three or four at least, as we have seen that number of young birds with their parents.
The eggs are exactly like those of the Black-legged Falconet already described and have the same soapy surface and same pale yellowish-green inner membrane when fresh.
Six eggs average 27.9 x 22.4 mm. : maxima 29.1 x 22.3 mm. ; minima 24.0 x 20.4 mm.
Both sexes incubate or, perhaps, one should say that both sexes have been shot flying out of holes in which an egg had been deposited.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 4. 1935.
Title in Book: 
1736. Microhierax melanoleucus melanoleueus
Spp Author: 
Blyth.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
1736
Year: 
1935
Page No: 
38
Common name: 
Indian White Legged Falconet
M_ID: 
11253
M_CN: 
Pied Falconet
M_SN: 
Microhierax melanoleucos
Volume: 
Vol. 4
id: 
14908

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