155. Gypsophila crispifrons.
The Limerock Babbler.
Turdinus crispifrons, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xxiv, p. 209 (1855) ; id. Birds Burm. p. 114; Wald. Ibis, 1876, p. 353 ; Hume, S. F. v. p. 87; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 262; Hume, Cat. no. 390 quat.; Bingham, S. F. ix, p. 179. Gypsophila crispifrons (Blyth), Oates, B. B. i, p. 61; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. vii, p. 661.
Coloration. Adult. The whole head, neck, and lower plumage pure white ; upper plumage olive-brown, the feathers of the back margined with black; each tertiary quill of the wing minutely tipped with white.
Younger birds have the forehead, lores, ear-coverts, a large space round the eyes, cheeks, chin, and throat pure white; remainder of lower plumage ochraceous olive-brown, with some blackish marks on the breast; crown, nape, and back olive-brown, each feather edged with black; remainder of upper plumage, tail, and exposed parts of wings plain olive-brown; tertiaries tipped with white.
What appear to be the young of the year have the crown, forehead, nape, and back olive-brown, margined with black ; rump, upper tail-coverts, tail, and exposed parts of wings plain olive-brown ; sides of the forehead aud an indistinct supercilium grayish white with blackish specks; ear-coverts dark brown, with white shafts ; chin, throat, and upper breast white streaked with dark brown, the streaks being nearly confluent on the breast; remainder of lower plumage ochraceous olive-brown. They appear to undergo no moult the first autumn, but to retain the young plumage till the first spring, when the change towards adult plumage probably begins by the chin and throat becoming white.
Iris pale red, red, light red, deep red-brown; upper mandible dark brown, lower pale plumbeous; legs, feet, and claws dark purplish brown (Hume Coll.).
Length about 8; tail 3; wing 3.2; tarsus 1.1; bill from gape .9.
The above description of the plumage has been taken from a series of 76 specimens in the Hume Collection. Unfortunately the birds were all procured in December and March, with the exception of one shot in November and six in January. The series is therefore very incomplete, and it is quite impossible to arrive at any conclusion regarding the plumage of the young and its gradual development into that of the adult. The plumage is very perplexing and incomprehensible at present. Hume's note on the subject should be carefully read.
Distribution. The limestone ranges of the central portion of Tenasserim, such as those at Wimpong, the Thoungsha Gyne river, and Momenzeik.
Habits, &c. Davison remarks that this bird is excessively lively and sprightly. It keeps up continually a twittering chattering note, and sometimes will perch itself on some point of rock and with lowered wings and erected tail will pour forth a fine and powerful song. It feeds principally upon insects and land-shells.