27. Nucifraga hemispila.
The Himalayan Nutcracker.
Nucifraga hemispila, Vigors, P. Z. S. 1830, p. 8; Gould, Cent. pl. 36; Blyth, Cat. p. 90 ; Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 503; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 304; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. ii, p. 54; Blanf. J.A.S.B.xYi, pt. ii, p. 69; Hume, N. & E. p. 415 ; id. Cat. no. 660; Brooks, S. E. iii, p. 253; Sharpe, Cat. B. 31. iii, p. 54; Oates in Hume's N.& E. 2nd ed. i, p. 30. Nucifraga immaculata, Blyth, Ibis, 1867, p. 36.
Coloration. Naral bristles, forehead, crown, nape, hind neck, and upper tail-coverts chocolate-brown; with these exceptions the whole of the plumage is umber-brown, the sides of the head and neck streaked with white; chin and throat with a few small white shaft-streaks; the back, breast, and upper abdomen with oval white drops; under tail-coverts pure white; wings glossy black, the lesser and median coverts with triangular white tips; central tail-feathers black, the others very broadly tipped white, the amount of white decreasing inwardly; a few of the inner primaries with a large oval white mark on the inner web, probably disappearing with age, as it is absent in some birds.
Some birds have the spots on the breast rufous; this may be accidental and due to staining ; it is not the plumage of the young, in which the rufous is of a different character.
The young are pale brown with rufescent drops which speedily turn white ; the head soon turns to the adult colour.
Legs and feet black; iris reddish to deep brown (Hume).
Length about 15 ; tail 6 ; wing 8.5; tarsus 1.6; bill from gape 1.9.
Distribution. The Himalayas from the Sutlej valley to Bhutan. Stoliczka states that this bird is common in the N.W. Himalayas from low elevations to the limit of trees. Blanford found it rare on the outer ranges of Sikhim, but common in the pine-forests of the interior, and Hume remarks that it is very common in the hills north of Simla.
Habits, &c. A nest described by Hume was situated on a tree near the trunk and about 50 feet from the ground. The nest was like a Crow's, a platform of sticks mixed up with twigs and moss, and lined with grass and fir-needles. On the 11th May this nest contained four young birds.