(677) Alseonax muttui.
Butalis muttui Layard, A. M. N. H. , (2) xiii, p. 127 (1854) (Ceylon). Alseonax, muttui. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 36.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Crown dark olive-brown shading into ruddy-brown on the back and upper plumage, the feathers of the head faintly centred darker; upper tail-coverts and tail ferruginous; quills dark brown, the inner secondaries edged with ferruginous; lores and ring round the eye white; a line from the corner of the bill to under the eye dark brown and often a trace of a second line from below the bill; between these two lines, chin and throat white; ear-coverts olive-brown; breast and flanks olive-brown with a chestnut tinge ; abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts white suffused with chestnut; under wing-coverts pinkish grey.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown ; bill black with a tiny pale tip and the lower mandible yellowish ; legs and feet fleshy-yellow or wax-yellow.
Measurements. Wing 70 to 75 mm.; tail 54 to 64 mm.; tarsus about 13 to 13-5 mm.; culmen about 13 to 14 mm.
Young. Above brown, spotted with fulvous and with obscure dark margins to the feathers of the back and innermost secondaries ; below the breast is rufous, the feathers boldly edged with black.
Distribution. Resident above 4,000 feet in Sikkim, Bhutan and the hills of Assam, both North and South of the Brahmaputra. It is found both Summer and Winter between 4,000 and 6,000 feet but in the latter season some birds migrate south to Travancore and Ceylon. Brooks observed it at Madhapur in Bengal and it is not rare in Winter in that Province and in the plains of Assam but its Winter movements are still very imperfectly known. It will most probably be found to be resident and to breed over much of its supposed Winter habitat, where there are mountains of sufficient height.
Nidification. Layard's Flycatcher breeds in Sikkim and the Assam Hills in May and June, making a very compact and beautifully put together small cup nest of green moss lined with roots and hair. This it places either in a hollow in a tree or bank, or in a tangle of creepers, raspberry-vines, or similar thick cover. The eggs three to five in number are typical little Cyornis eggs, the general shade of colour being perhaps rather more grey-green than olive-green. They measure about 17.0 x 13.2 mm.
Habits. Except that it is a much more retiring and secretive bird than any of those of the genus Siphia, it greatly reminds one of them in its ways. As a rule, it selects a perch on one of the lower branches of a tree in heavy forest, where it sits motion¬less, every now and then launching itself into the air after some passing insect, often capturing those of considerable size. In the breeding-season it often gives vent to a soft low note, at the same time puffing out its feathers and rapidly vibrating its half-opened wings. At the same season it has a pleasant, but rather "feeble, little song, very seldom uttered. It does not seem to mind observation and I have often watched one, half an hour at a time, from a distance of not more than four or five yards.