(635) Hemichelidon ferruginea Hodgs.
THE FERRUGINOUS FLYCATCHER.
Hemichelidon cinereiceps, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 206.
Hemichelidon ferruginea, ibid. vol. viii, p. 627.
The Ferruginous Flycatcher breeds in the Himalayas, at 4,000 feet upwards, from Garwhal to Eastern Assam, Manipur and the higher hill-ranges of Northern Burma, into the Shan States and Western China.
In Assam I found this bird breeding between 4,000 and 6,000 feet, generally at about 5,200, though one nest obtained near Gungong was under 3,000 feet, a most exceptional occurrence. The only three nests I ever saw were, in two instances, in stunted Oak forest with ample undergrowth of Jasmine, Caladiums and bracken. The forest was very humid and every tree well covered with luxuriant moss and orchid growth. In the third instance it was built in very dense mixed jungle of small clump-bamboo, tree and bush growing in a deep ravine running through grass-land. The two nests built on trees in Oak forest were neat, though rather massive, little cups of green moss and lichen, lined with hair-like roots, probably fungoid. They measured, roughly, 4.1/2 inches across by about 3 deep, the cavities for the eggs being about 2 x 2 inches. One nest was built on a projection where a large branch had been broken off from the trunk of a tree, about 25 feet from the ground, the other was built on a natural swelling in the trunk a few feet higher on another Oak-tree in the same forest. These were taken on the 4th and 14th May. The third nest differed from the other two in being placed in a dead stump not more than 15 feet from the ground. This nest was composed solely of moss, even to the lining. Inside, where it fitted into the shallow hole, it was shapeless, but on the outer side it was neatly finished off as a sort of half cup. Two nests contained single eggs, the third three, the latter being taken on the 29th May. The nests are very difficult to find, as they seem to be generally placed in or on the moss with which they are built and are, therefore, invisible at a very short distance. All my nests were found by the bird flying off and, even then, in one instance, the nest could not be seen until the tree had been climbed.
Osmaston found this bird nesting near Darjiling and writes (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xv, p. 513, 1904) :—“This is a common Flycatcher between 6,000 and 8,000 feet, frequenting open glades in lofty Oak forest. I found three nests in June and July at about 7,000 feet. Two were almost inaccessible, built on slight projections caused by broken branches near the top of big dead trees, 40 or 50 feet from the ground. The third was on the side of a branch of a small tree (Turpinia pomifera) about 10 feet from the ground.
“The nest is composed of moss, lined with a mixture of white lichen and black rhizomorph. The egg-cavity measures 2" across by 1.1/4" in depth.”
Later, Osmaston took other nests with eggs in June and July. All the nests he found had either two eggs or three young ones.
The breeding season at the higher elevations appears to be June and July but, below 6,000 feet, May and June.
The eggs, two or three in number, are very much like those of Hemichelidon sibirica and cover much the same range of coloration, but those taken by myself are a deeper brown.
Nine eggs average 17.9 x 13.6 mm. : maxima 19.2 x 13.3 and 19.0 x 14.3 mm. ; minima 16.2 x 12.2 and 16.7 x 12.0 mm.
The birds, so far as I have been able to observe them, are the most quiet, sedentary and least restless of all the Flycatchers. I have seen one sit for hours on the same branch, just flitting silently off every now and then after some passing insect and then returning at once to its perch. It is very crepuscular and more lively in the dusk and early mornings. It gives no help in finding the nest and generally wears out a watcher’s patience before giving away its whereabouts. Both sexes incubate.
635. Hemichelidon ferruginea
(635) Hemichelidon ferruginea Hodgs.