983. Micropternus phaeoceps.
The Northern Rufous Woodpecker.
Picus rufus, Gray in Hardw. Ill. Ind. Orn. i, pl. xxix, fig. 2 (1830-32), nec Gmel. Micropternus phaioceps, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiv, p. 195 (1845); id. Cat. p. 60; Tytler, A.M.N. H. (2) xiii, p. 367 (1854); Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 667; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 294; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xxxix, pt. 2, p. 267 ; xliii, pt. 2, p. 176 ; Ball, S. F. ii, p. 392; vii, p. 206 ; Hume & Oates, S. F. iii, p. 72 ; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 77; Gammie, S. F. iv, p. 511; Hume, S. F. v, p. 480 ; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, pp. 145, 501; Cripps, S. F. vii, p. 262; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 249. Phaiopicos blythii, Malherbe, Rev. May. Zool. 1849, p. 534. Meiglyptes rufinotus, Malh. Bonap. Consp. i, p. 113 (1850). Micropternus barmanicus, Hume, P. A. S. B. 1872, p. 71. Micropternus rufinotus, Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xiv, pt. 2, p. 70. Micropternus phaeoceps, Hume, Cat. no. 178; id. S. F. ix, p. 112; xi, p. 64; Bingham, S. F. ix, p. 164; id. Ibis, 1885, p. 332; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 57; Salvadori, Ann. Mus. Civ. Gen. (2) iv, p. 580; v, p. 568; vii, p. 380; Hargitt, Ibis, 1885, p. 3 ; id. Cat. B. M. xviii, p. 393; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 308.
The Bengal Rufous Woodpecker, Jerdon ; Firing, Lepcha.
Coloration. Male. The whole plumage dull rufous (light chestnut) ; top of the head and occiput tinged with dusky brown, the feathers slightly paler at the edges, feathers of the chin and throat with much more distinct pale edges; feathers beneath the eye and for a short distance forwards and backwards tipped with crimson ; upper parts from the neck and the wing and tail-feathers with black transverse bars, 'which sometimes disappear completely on the back, and are very narrow on the tail-feathers; lower surface rather duller in colour than the back, and without black bars except occasionally on the flanks, thigh- and under tail-coverts.
In females there is no red below the eye. The young generally have crescentic black or dusky marks on the underparts.
Bill very dark brown, plumbeous at the base of the lower mandible; irides brown, eyelids plumbeous; legs and feet greyish brown (Oates).
Length 10 ; tail 3 ; wing 5; tarsus .95; bill from gape 1.25.
Distribution. The forests at and near the base of the Himalayas as far west as Dehra Dun ; the greater part of Bengal and parts of the forest-region between the Ganges and Godavari, east of the meridian of 80° or 82° * ; Assam, Cachar, Manipur, and Burma as far south as Moulmein; also Siam, Cambodia, and Cochin China.
Habits, &c. A quiet bird, generally silent but far from shy, and where common, as in parts of Burma, found in both evergreen and deciduous forest, in bamboo-jungle, and occasionally in cultivation. It feeds chiefly on the ants that form nests in trees, and has been several times found by Mr. Gammie in Sikhim, and by Major Bingham in Tenasserim, to make a hole in the middle of one of these ants' nests, and to lay its eggs in a cup-shaped cavity in the middle. The eggs, generally three in number, are laid in April and May; they are thin, fragile, without gloss, and measure about 1.16 by .7. The ants' nests are well known ; they are a foot or more in diameter, and are composed of the leaves and twigs of the tree cemented together by a felt-like substance.
Barnes in the ' Birds of Bombay' includes M. phaeoceps, because according to Jerdon it is found in some of the forests of Central India. The mistake has been repeatedly made of supposing that Jerdon, by the words ' Central India,' meant the region so-called at the present day, whereas in the Introduction to the ' Birds of India,' p. xl, he defined the area, which as understood by him comprised Chutia Kagpur and the forest-tracts extending southward to Bastar. M. phaeoceps is not known to occur anywhere within 300 miles of the Bombay Presidency.