(554) Notodela leucura.
The White-tailed Blue Robin
Muscisylvia leucura Hodgs, P. Z. S., 1845, p. 47 (Nepal). Notodela leucura. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 112.
Vernacular names. Mangshia (Lepcha).
Description.— Adult male. Forehead, eyebrow, and the smaller upper wing-coverts near the bend of the wing bright cobalt-blue ; the whole upper plumage black suffused with blue; lores, sides of the head and neck, and lower plumage deep black, with a few of the feathers of the abdomen sometimes fringed with blue ; a concealed patch of white on each side of the neck ; wings black, the feathers edged with bluish ; tail black, all the feathers except the middle and outermost pairs with a large patch of white on the outer web, increasing in size towards the middle of the tail; under tail-coverts fringed with white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown ; bill, legs and feet black.
Measurements. Total length about 180 mm.; wing 91 to 100 mm.; tail 69 to 80 mm.; tarsus 27 to 28 mm.; culmen 15 mm. A male from Perak is very small, wing only 87 mm., smaller than any Indian, Burmese or Chinese females.
Female. The whole plumage rufescent-brown, the feathers of the wings and tail edged with bright ferruginous and a ring of this colour round the eye; on the tail the black of the male is replaced with brown ; lores, chin, throat and sides of the head with pale shaft-stripes.
Measurements a little smaller than the male, wing 88 to 91 mm.
Young have the plumage reddish brown with bright shaft-streaks and rufous tips to the feathers. Tail like the adults in both sexes from the first.
Distribution. Simla (Dodsworth) through Nepal and Sikkim to the extreme East and South of Assam, Manipur, the hills of Burma and Malay States as far South as Perak and East to Yunnan, Annam, Shan States and Northern Siam.
Blyth's record from Mussoorie has never been confirmed.
Nidification. This Robin breeds principally in May and June, but I have taken eggs as early as April 4th and again as late as August. It is resident everywhere between 3,500 and 9,000 feet, making a nest of leaves and roots, more or less mixed with fern-leaves, grass, etc., and always with a good deal of moss on the outer part. When placed in an exposed situation it is domed, but when built, as is more usual, under a ledge of rock or stone, a fallen tree or in a hollow of tree, etc., it is merely deep cup-shaped. The eggs are three or tour in number, very rarely five, and vary from a taint pinkish or clay-white to a deep salmon-clav, or pinkish cafe-au-lait. Some eggs appear to be quite spotless, whilst others are profusely covered with innumerable tiny freckles of a shade of colour darker than the ground. Some eggs are highly glossed, most are moderately so, but a few are glossless. The eggs cannot be separated from those of Niltava grandis.
One hundred eggs average 23.3 x 17.1 mm. and the extremes are : maxima 25.4 x 18.1 and 24.1 x 18.4 mm.; minima 20.1 X 17.4 and 21.4 x 15.9 mm.
Habits. The White-tailed Blue Robin is not migratory, but moves vertically according to the seasons, being found in summer between 3,500 and 9,000 feet, and in winter right down to the plains m Assam and to the foot-hills elsewhere. It is not nearly such a skulker as are most of the birds of the nearest genera, and though it feeds both on the ground and in bushes it also does so on the smaller trees, and when disturbed instead of skulking away into the undergrowth it flies up to the higher trees. It is fond of perching in the open on some twig or post, where it sits flirting its tail and, in summer, repeating its very sweet and powerful little song. It is often found in bamboo-jungle, though it prefers shady evergreen forest.