(684) Niltava sundara sundara.
The Indian Rufous-bellied Niltava.
Niltava sundara Hodgs., Ind. Rev., i, p. 650 (1837) (Nepal); Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 41.
Vernacular names. Niltava (Nep.); Margong (Lepcha).
Description.— Adult male. Crown, nape, rump, upper tail-coverts and lesser and median wing-coverts bright cobalt-blue; a patch on the side of the neck a paler, even brighter blue ; tail black, the central feathers and edges of lateral tail-feathers like the rump ; back, scapulars and edges of greater wing-coverts and quills deep purplish blue ; forehead, lores, sides of head, chin and throat black with deep blue reflections; remainder of lower plumage and under wing-coverts bright orange-chestnut.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill black ; legs dark horny-brown.
Measurements. Total length about 160 to 170 mm.; wing 80 to 86 mm.; tail 65 to 75 mm.; tarsus about 20 mm.; culmen about 10 to 11 mm. (the feathers of the forehead are very thick and well cover the base of the culmen).
Female. Forehead, lores and a ring round the eye fulvous ; whole upper plumage fulvous olive-brown, greyish on the crown, more fulvous on the rump and chestnut on the longest tail-feathers; tail chestnut; wing-feathers brown edged with chestnut-rufous; a brilliant patch of blue on either side of the neck; a large round patch of white or fulvous-white below the throat; point of chin and sides of chin fulvous; centre of chin and remainder of lower plumage rich olive-brown, paler and tinged with buff on the abdomen and under tail-coverts.
Colours of soft parts as in the male hut bill a horny-black.
Measurements. Wing 76 to 81 mm.
Nestling. Brown above with fulvous-rufous spots; below ochraceous-brown, squamated with blackish brown.
Niltava sundara dhvidi from Fohkien is a larger bird, wing 88 to 93 mm.; N s. denotata from S.E. Yunnan is easily separable from the other races by its pale under plumage.
Distribution. Himalayas from Simla to the extreme East of Assam, South to Manipur, Lushai, Chin and Kachin Hills, hills of Central Burma to Tenasserim ; Peninsular Siam, Northern Siam, probably Shan States and Szechuan in Western China.
Nidification. Quite similar in all respects to that of N. grandis grandis, though the nest is smaller and is generally placed in clefts in rocks or in between boulders. It breeds from the end of April to early July and I have taken nests, probably second broods, in August. The eggs only differ from those of N. grandis in being smaller and in being more often definitely speckled or blotched. One hundred eggs average 21.4 x l5.5 mm.: maxima 22.1x16.0 and 21.9x16.1 mm.; minima 19.7 x 15.1 and 20.0 x 1.46 mm.
Habits. Very common in the Khasia Hills, much less so in the other ranges South and North of the Brahmaputra. It is found principally between 3,500 and 6,000 feet, wandering higher in Summer and right into the foot-hills in Winter. Like the preceding bird, it keeps much to low jungle and shuns observation, though it is not really shy. It is a beautiful singer, as are all the Niltavas.