(481) Brachypteryx major major*.
The Rufous-bellied Short-wing.
Phaenicura major Jerd., Madr. Jour. L. S., xiii, p. 170 (1844) (Nilgiris). Brachypteryx rufiventris. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 185 (1889).
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Lores and frontal line black ; above this faint traces only of a blue line on forehead and above eye ; upper plumage, wings and tail, sides of head and neck dark slaty-blue; chin, throat and breast slaty-blue, nearly as dark as the back; centre of abdomen whitish; remainder of lower plumage pale chestnut, suffused with brown below breast and on flanks.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill black; legs and feet pale fleshy-brown, claws darker.
Measurements. Total length about 170 to 180 mm.; wing 78 to 83 mm.; tail 59 to 65 mm.; tarsus 29 mm.; culmen 16 mm.
Distribution. Nilgiris; Bramahagiris, Coonoor and adjacent hill-ranges.
Nidification. The Rufous-breasted Short-wing breeds in the Nilgiris in March, April and May from about 5,000 feet up to the highest levels. It makes a cup-shaped nest of green moss lined with roots and outwardly fitting the hollow, in tree or bank, in which it is placed. The tree selected, generally in preference to a bank, does not afford much concealment as,unlike H. cruralis, it does not choose one covered with moss or parasites. The eggs seem to be always two in number. In shape they are long, rather narrow ovals. The ground-colour is a greyish white, greenish white or yellow, but this is so completely covered with minute freckles ot reddish brown" that the egg appears to be unicoloured olive-brown. In a few specimens the marks are confluent as a cap or ring and in some they are sufficiently sparse for the ground¬colour to show through and they then appear to be an olive-green.
My eggs, taken by Sir A. G. Cardew, Major Packard and others, average only 23.7 X 16.5 mm. but Hume gives the length as up to 25'9 mm. and the breadth up to 17 5 mm.
Habits. This Short-wing is common in the Nilgiris about Oota-camund, haunting the sholas, or copses, in the hollows between the grass-covered hills. Although they do not keep to very heavy cover they are shy retiring birds. The cock is said to have a very pretty little song, but so low that it is not often heard.
* This species cannot bear the name rufiventris, Jerdon 1572, as he had already given it the name of major in 1844.