256. Napothera brevicaudata striata

(256) Napothera brevicaudata striata (Blyth).
THE ASSAM SHORT-TAILED WREN-BABBLER.
Turdinulus brevicaudatus striatus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 251.
Napothera brevicaudata striata, ibid. vol. viii, p. 603.
This quaint little bird, more like a Wren than a Babbler in super¬ficial appearance, shape and in many of its ways, is confined to Assam and Manipur. It occurs in Lakhimpur South and North of the Brahmapootra but Stevens did not come across it West of the Subansiri, and probably this or the Dibong will prove to be the boundary.
It is a most secretive little bird, quiet and retiring more than skulking, haunting deep, wet, broken forest between 3,000 and 7,000 feet, where it runs ever in and out of the great moss-covered boulders, very active and quick on its legs but very loth to fly and, if startled, always scurrying away on its legs into cover rather than seeking safety by flight. It may sometimes frequent types of jungle other than the deep forest though I have never seen it in them but, on the other hand, I have hardly seen the bird except round about its nest, watching the latter until one of the pair returned to it, got noosed, examined and once more released.
The nest is nearly always placed on the ground, generally in between boulders, but sometimes it may be built in a hollow in the face of a pile of boulders and rocks. At other times it may be wedged in among the roots of a tree or just on a mossy bank with no special protection other than the ferns and weeds growing about it. Always it is well hidden and always it is in a damp situation, often so wet that the nest outside the lining is quite sodden.
In shape the nest is domed, or nearly so, and is made of dead leaves, dead grass, semi-decayed bracken and fern-fronds, a few wisps of grass and moss bound together with fine roots. The lining is also of dead leaves, but the innermost of these are dry, though the whole nest is like a little steamy oven. The position is upright, the entrance near the top, whilst in some cases the top is open except for a certain amount of material from the prolonged back, which forms a canopy over it. In size the measurements are, roughly, about 7 by 4.1/2 inches wide externally, the egg-cavity being about 3 inches across. It is quite well put together, but the rotten condition of the material makes the whole drop to pieces when handled.
Both birds take part in incubation, for we caught the male on the nest quite as often as the female. They are not nervous of being watched if one keeps absolutely still, but the slightest movement sends them into cover. When the nest is found they slip quietly off it but keep close by, the two birds running about within a few yards until they think it is safe to return, when One or the other slinks back whilst the remaining bird resumes its occupation of feeding.
The birds breed during May and June, a few laying in the latter half of June and the first few days of July.
The full complement of eggs is three or four. The ground is generally a pure china-white, rarely with a faint pink tinge, and they are spotted and blotched freely, but not thickly, with deep red-brown or dark brick-red, the markings rather more numerous at the larger end.
I have one clutch of three with a pinkish ground and numerous freckles of pinkish-red, denser and forming little caps at the larger extremity. Another clutch is white with faded pink spots. The secondary markings are few or entirely absent, but in one or two eggs show up as inky-grey blotches at the larger end.
In shape the eggs are broad blunt ovals, the smaller end very slightly compressed, some eggs looking like short ellipses. The shell is stout and the texture close and hard, often with a fine gloss.
Thirty eggs average 21.3 x 16.0 mm. : maxima 22.0 x 16.0 and 21.0 x 16.8 mm. ; minima 19.2 x 15.6 and 19.3 x 15.1 mm.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. 1932.
Title in Book: 
256. Napothera brevicaudata striata
Spp Author: 
Blyth.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
256
Year: 
1932
Page No: 
215
Common name: 
Assam Short Tailed Wern Babbler
M_ID: 
24488
M_SN: 
Napothera brevicaudata striata
Volume: 
Vol. 1
id: 
13456

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