(377) Minla ignotincta Hodgs.
THE RED-TAILED MINLA.
Minla ignotincta, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 355.
The Red-tailed Minla is found from Nepal and Sikkim to the extreme East of Assam, South to Manipur, Cachar, the Khasia Hills etc. It breeds probably up to 10,000 feet. Blanford recorded it at 9,000 feet ; Stevens adds it is generally distributed up to 8,500 according to season, that it is commonly resident around Gopaldhara at 4,500 to 6,000 feet, between which limits it breeds, whilst in the cold weather it descends right down to the foot-hills. He also found them in the foot-hills of the Miri-Abor Ranges and gives an excellent little description of their haunts:—“ frequenting the forest growth wherever the sun can penetrate to patches where the surrounding rocks break up the forest and give it access.” This is typical of the country it loves—wet, humid forest of great tree- growth, dripping mosses and ferns, luxurious undergrowth, broken up everywhere by narrow rocky gorges and huge boulders, which stand up ten to twenty feet among the trees, themselves covered with a growth always green and fresh—year in, year out. In similar places, but at higher elevations, it makes its nest.
The only record of its nest is that of Hodgson ; fortunately this is so full and good that it would do for all:—“ It breeds in the central region of Nepal and near Darjiling during May and June. It builds a beautiful, rather deep cup-shaped nest of mosses, moss- roots and some cow’s hair, lined with these two latter. The nest is placed in the fork of two or three branches of some bushy tree at no great height from the ground and is attached to one or more of the stems in which it is placed by bands of moss and fibres. A nest taken on the 24th May measured externally 3.28 inches in diameter and 2.25 in height ; internally the cavity was 2 inches in diameter and 1.62 in depth.
“They lay from two to four eggs.”
There is little to add to the above. Masson sent me eggs from Sikkim taken in May at about 9,000 feet and the nests are identically like that of Hodgson’s.
The very few remaining nests I have seen call for no remark.
Hodgson found his nest in May, and all the others of which I have records were taken in May and June. Hodgson also says that the eggs number four in a clutch and this may be so, but I have always been most unlucky in getting full clutches. Masson found two eggs in one nest and one young and one addled egg in another, and for the rest I have one set of three and odd eggs only.
They are rather pale Thrush’s-egg blue in colour, sometimes rather brighter and deeper, while the markings consist of specks and tiny spots of black or reddish-brown, generally forming a well- defined ring about the larger end and sparse or absent elsewhere. The secondary marks, easily seen with a glass, are lavender or pinky-grey, distributed under the primary markings or mixed up with them. In shape they are generally fairly long ovals, the texture fine and close and the surface with a faint gloss.
They are very like the eggs of the genus Siva.
Twelve eggs average 19.4 x 14.4 mm., much the same as those taken by Hodgson ; maxima 20.1 x 14.1 and 19.2 x 15.2 mm. ; minima 18.6 x 14.2 and 19.2 x 12.6 mm.
377. Minla ignotincta Hodgs
(377) Minla ignotincta Hodgs.