(258) Turdinulus roberti roberti.
Pnoepyga roberti Godw.-Aust. & Wald., Ibis, 1875, p. 252 (Chaka, Manipur).
Vernacular names. Dao-mojo gashim, Dao-pufli-kashiba (Cachari).
Description. Above rich brown, more rufescent on upper tail-coverts ; the feathers of head, back and scapulars edged with blackish and with pale greyish centres; lores grey; ear-coverts brown with grey centres ; supercilium and patch under ear-coverts rufous, the feathers of the latter with specks at the tips; chin and throat white with black specks forming three distinct lines from chin to breast; breast rather rufous-brown with broad white centres; flanks more rufous with still paler shaft-stripes; centre of abdomen almost white with faint rufous edgings; under tail-coverts the same but darker; wing brown, the outer webs of the quills suffused with dark rufous, greater and median coverts and secondaries with distinct white tips.
Colours of soft parts. Irides red; upper mandible dark plumbeous, tip and lower mandible paler and tipped almost white; legs fleshy-brown, claws paler.
Measurements. Length about 100 mm.; wing 50 to 55 mm.; tail about 18 mm.; tarsus about 18 mm.; culmen 12 to 13 mm.
Distribution. Cachar, Manipur, Naga Hills and Khasia Hills.
Nidification. This little Wren-Babbler breeds freely both in the N. Cachar and Khasia Hills from 4,000 feet upwards from the end of April to the end of June, making a nest an absolute miniature in every way of that of the Short-tailed Babbler. It also places it in precisely the same sort of position and in the same forests.
The eggs number three or four, more often the former, and are like those of T. b. brevicaudatus but smaller, not so glossy a white and with more numerous but smaller specks and spots. Forty eggs average 19.3 x 14.8 mm.
Habits. " Wren-Babbler" describes this bird exactly and in all its ways it is more Wren than Babbler. They haunt dense, dark forest wherever there are openings for streams, pools or natural small glades and they specially affect places strewn with mossy boulders, fallen trees covered with ferns and orchids, old stumps etc. and over these they dodge about and scramble hither and thither just as does our little Wren at home. Sometimes, however, they hop more sedately about amongst the fallen leaves, turning them over for the hidden insects, or they creep through the bracken and scrub more in the manner of a genuine Babbler. Fly they will not, but however hard pressed seek safety on their legs, scuttling away into the undergrowth where they speedily become non est. They are, so far as I know, always found in pairs and not in flocks but, as I have seen them principally in the breeding season it may be that they collect in flocks in the winter. Their cry is a rather shrill " chir-r-r " but they have also a rather pleasant but low set of whistling notes. They are extraordinarily tame and, if quiet, one can watch them for a long time without disturbing them.