(614) Myiophoneus temminckii temminckii.
The Himalayan Whistling-Thrush
Myiophoneus temminchiiVigors, P. Z. S.? 1831, p. 171 (Himalayas); Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 178.
Vernacular names. Kastura (N.W. Provinces); kaljit (Doon); Chamong-pho (Lepcha); Tetiman (Bhutea); Simtung (Khasia); Di-Daokat gashim (Cachari).
Description. Lores, chin and upper throat black; forehead bright deep blue; whole head, back, wing-coverts, breast and flanks deep blue-black, each feather with a terminal spot of glistening blue ; the spots on the head, neck and throat elongate and gradually widening to broad, circular drops on lower breast and back; tail deep prussian blue; wings deep blue, the median coverts with bold white tips ; abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts blackish brown.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown or black; bill yellow, the culmen and base of upper mandible blackish ; legs and feet black.
Measurements. "Wing 158 to 180 mm.; tail 116 to 122 mm.; tarsus 50 mm.; culmen 28 to 30 mm.
Young birds are like the adult but duller and without the glistening spots.
Distribution. Himalayas from the Afghan Frontier to the extreme East of Assam, North and South of the Brahmaputra, Chin Hills, Arakan and the Kachin Hills between the Chindwin and the Irrawaddy. A few birds from the Chindwin are rather like the next race, and here and there on the other hand individuals are found across the East of the Irrawaddy nearer this form than eugenii.
Nidification. The Himalayan Whistling-Thrush breeds from the level of the foot-hills up to some 9,000 feet and occasionally up as high as 12,000 feet in Tibet. The nest is a very massive cup, made of living moss with the muddy roots still adhering to the moss and mixed up with it, whilst the lining is of tine dry maidenhair fern and moss-roots. The internal cup may be some 4 to 5 inches across and rather more than half as deep, but the size of the nest from one outer edge to the other is often over a foot and the weight runs up to 6 or 7 pounds. It is nearly always placed near running water: in among boulders or roots on the bank, under an overhanging clod of earth, in or under some stump of dead tree, high up in rock or cliff or actually in the stream itself. A very favourite position is under a waterfall, and I have found more than one, to enter which the birds had actually to pass through the edge of the fall to get to their young. In these cases the nest, young birds and the sitting old ones were always more or less wet from the spray.
They lay three or four eggs and but rarely five. They are just like those of the Malabar Whistling-Thrush but rather larger and more unicoloured, the freckles and blotches being still more ill-defined than they are in these eggs. Two hundred eggs average 35.8 x 24.8 mm.: maxima 40.3 x 26.0 and 35.1 x 27.1 mm.; minima 34.0 x 26.4 and 38.4 x 24.4 mm.
They breed from April to August, often rearing two broods.
Habits. An extremely common bird throughout the greater part of its range this fine Thrush is found on every stream, flitting hither and thither up and down them and constantly uttering its loud, sweet notes so like the human whistle, but much clearer and more resonant. They feed both on the streams and in wet bush-forest, working the leaves and moss just like our English Thrush, turning them over and then listening with head on one side for the movements of a hoped-for worm or other prey. Their alarm-note is like that of the Blackbird and when disturbed they fly far and fast but they are very confiding birds and do not resent being watched. At the same time, they do not frequent the vicinity of buildings as the Malabar bird does.