258. Napothera roberti roberti

(258) Napothera roberti roberti (Godw.-Aust.).
THE CACHAR SMALLER SHORT-TAILED WREN-BABBLER.
Turdinulus roberti roberti, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 253.
Napothera roberti roberti, ibid. vol. viii, p. 603.
As its name infers, this little Babbler is restricted in its range to the hills of Cachar and other ranges South of the Brahmapootra. South it is found in Manipur and it certainly occurs in the Naga Hills but does not extend far East, as birds from the Patkoi-Naga Hills are all of the next race.
It breeds over all its range between 4,000 and 6,000 feet and sometimes down nearly to 3,000 feet, as it was common in the valleys of the Barail Range at a little over this elevation. In all its ways it is a small copy of its larger cousin the Assam Short¬tailed Wren-Babbler. Most of my nests were found as the birds slipped out of them when I was only a few feet away, and we saw few birds that were not first noticed in this manner. They are very tame, confiding little birds, although such inveterate hiders in the densest forest. They often haunt and nest in tiny open patches in these forests, open spaces perhaps only ten to twenty yards across, and effectively screened from interference by the great trees surrounding them. Even in these open spaces, however, cover is always ample, for boulders are strewn about and crops of rocks show here and there above the moss- and flower-covered ground. If, after they have been disturbed from their nests, one sits motionless and silent on a rock near by, the pair soon return and seem to take no notice of the watcher. One would think these little brown birds must have a real love of beauty, judging from the sites they select for their homes. One such I well recollect. At the base of a great rock they had placed their nest in a cosy, even if very damp, little hollow ; above them grew a vast sheet of maidenhair fern, the fronds of which fell over the nest and hid it from view. In the glade itself the brilliant green of the moss growing everywhere, on ground, rocks and trees alike, set off as a brilliant background the orchids which grew in profusion on every tree. Here a pile of golden Dendrobiums, there a bunch of the white and sweet-smelling Celognes contrasting with great masses of purple Dendrobiums and blue Vandas. If the beauties of flowers and orchids palled, the birds had only to climb to the top of their rock-fortress and from it gaze out on a view hard to beat. Many hundreds of feet below them wound the Jiri River, a silver thread in the distance, twisting and turning between the great forest-clad mountains on either side, perhaps a wisp or two of mist creeping, like spirits of the woods, along the stream and then fading into nothingness as the sun rose and flooded the whole scene with a shimmering golden heat, never penetrating to the cool depths of their own retreat.
In their nests, however, one could hardly say that the birds lived up to their surroundings. Whether domed or deep cup¬shaped, generally the former, they were made of the same dark semi-decayed materials approved by their bigger cousins, from which their own nests only differ in size.
In the Khasia Hills they were common in some of the higher peaks, 5,000 to 6,000 feet, where there is suitable humid forest of Oak, Rhododendron etc., but they are never, so far as I am aware, found in the Pine forests which cover most of the higher hills in this district. They breed early, commencing in April and laying throughout May and early June.
The eggs, generally four in number, very rarely five or three, differ in no way except in size from those of the larger group, brevicaudata.
Forty-four eggs average 19.3 x 14.8 mm. : maxima 20.0 x 15.0 and 18.1 x 15.2 mm. ; minima 17.8 x 14.7 and 19.0 x 14.0 mm.
In shape they are very broad obtuse ovals but, as a series, perhaps not quite so broad proportionately as those of brevicaudata. The surface is smooth and glossy and the texture hard and fine, the shells being very strong for their size.

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: 
258. Napothera roberti roberti
Spp Author: 
Godw.-aust.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
258
Year: 
1932
Page No: 
217
Common name: 
Cachar Smaller Short Tailed Wren Babbler
M_ID: 
24499
M_SN: 
Napothera epilepidota roberti
Volume: 
Vol. 1
id: 
13458

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