685. Niltava macgrigoriae

(685) Niltava macgrigoriae.

The Small Niltava.

Phaenicura macgrigoriae Burton, P. Z. S., 1835, p. 152 (Himalayas). Niltava macgrigoriae. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 42.

Vernacular names. Phat-tagrak-pho (Lepcha).

Description.— Adult male. Forehead, lores and around the eye black; posterior forehead, sides of crown, rump and upper tail-coverts and a patch on either side of the neck brilliant cobalt-blue; remainder of upper plumage and exposed parts of wings and tail deep but bright, purple-blue; quills and greater wing-coverts brown narrowly edged with purple-blue; chin, throat, sides of neck and upper breast deep purple-blue, shading to ashy-grey on the lower breast and to pale ashy on the abdomen, flanks and under tail-coverts; axillaries and under wing-coverts white.

Colours of soft parts. Iris bright hazel to deep brown; bill black; legs and feet horny-brown to reddish black (Jerdon).

Measurements. Total length about 125 to 130 mm.; wing 63 to 67 mm. j tail 54 to 58 mm.; tarsus about 15 mm.; culmen about 8 5 to 9 mm.

Female. Upper plumage fulvous olive-brown, tinged with rufous on the back and more strongly so on rump and upper tail-coverts ; wings and tail brown, edged with rufous and the central rectrices wholly of this colour; a spot of brilliant blue on either side of the neck; lower plumage ochraceous ashy, paling on abdomen and under tail-coverts ; chin paler and more rufous ; under wing-coverts and axillaries pure white.

Colours of soft parts as in the male but bill more horny-black.

Measurements. Wing 60 to 65 mm.

Nestling. Above dark brown, each feather with a broad central streak of rufous; below dull rufous-brown, the feathers of the breast edged dark brown.

Distribution. Himalayas, Mussoorie to Eastern Assam, Manipur, Chin and Kachin Hills, hills of Central Burma to Tenasserim; Shan States, Siam.

Nidification. The Small Niltava breeds between 4,000 and 7,000 feet, rarely down to 3,000 feet, in April, May and June. The nest is a small replica of those of 2V". grandis and N. sundara, and is generally placed in hollows between rocks and boulders so common in all the broken forest-land in the hills. Occasionally it is placed in a bank or in a hole in tree or stump and the site selected is frequently near a tiny stream. The eggs are nearly always four in number, as with all Niltavas, but they are not so unicoloured or so pink or red in general tone as those of the others. Most eggs are well blotched over the whole surface with dull reddish, but in many specimens the markings form a ring or cap at the larger end and in others the ground-colour is very, pale and shows up well everywhere. One hundred eggs average 18.1 x 13.6 mm.: maxima 19.l x l4.1 and 18.0 x 14.2; minima 16.0 X 13.1 and 19.0 x 12.9 mm.

Habits. This is a much more sprightly, active little bird than either of the other species of Niltava, feeding almost entirely on the wing, not venturing on to the ground and frequenting open places such as rivers and forest-glades. Its sweet little jerky song is often uttered, especially in the mornings and evenings and it is very crepuscular in its Habits. It wanders some distance into the plains in Winter.

The Fauna Of British India, Including Ceylon And Burma-birds(second Edition)
Baker, EC S (1922–1930) The fauna of British India including Ceylon and Burma. Second edition. vol.2 1924.
Title in Book: 
685. Niltava macgrigoriae
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Small Niltava
Small Niltava
Niltava macgrigoriae
Vol. 2

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith