(953) Oriolus oriolus kundoo Sykes.
THE INDIAN GOLDEN ORIOLE.
Oriolus oriolus kundoo, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd. ed. vol. iii, p. 6.
This Oriole is found over the whole of India from the extreme South to the Himalayas up to some 5,000 feet commonly, and in some places up to 7,000 and 7,500 feet. Rattray took many nests in the Murree Galis at these elevations, while Jones and Dodsworth also found it numerous in the Simla States up to 7,000 feet. In Kashmir it does not appear to often breed above 5,000 feet, but I have had one nest and eggs from Sonamurg, taken at about 8,000 feet, which is quite exceptional. Biddulph obtained a nest in Gilgit, but at what height is not recorded. East I obtained a specimen in Calcutta, but have heard of no other record of its occurrence in extreme Eastern Bengal, though it is common in Behar and Western Bengal. In Southern India it does not ascend the hills to any height, though found up to 3,000 feet.
There is, of course, an immense amount of information recorded about this common and striking bird, but nearly all of it is repetition of the same thing and not worth quoting.
It is a bird of open country, well-wooded but not actually forested, and it breeds freely in gardens, round villages, even in the trees forming avenues in big towns, and in orchards and in single trees in cultivated tracts. It is difficult to say if it has any special preference in its choice of trees as nesting-sites. Possibly more nests are built in Mango-trees in orchards than in any other. Tamarind-trees are often built in, the slender hanging boughs forming admirable supports for their nests. Other trees in which nests have been recorded are Neem, many Fici, Sissoo, any Acacia, Casuarina etc., whilst rarely it has been taken from tall bushes such as Ber, Custard Apple, or small Guava trees. As a rule the nest is not placed at any great height from the ground. Many writers talk of the nest being well concealed in “the tops of high Mango-trees,” but I have seen many within reach of the hand or but little higher. On the whole, some height between 10 and 20 feet is most common, and this is the position given by Blewitt, Inglis, Coltart, Betham, Dodsworth, Jones and others.
The nest is a cradle or hammock invariably built in a horizontal fork and never in an upright one, though occasionally it may be fixed between two twigs. The nest is usually composed of grass, shreds of bark, or other long fibrous material of a similar nature and, in most cases, is well and strongly put together, the materials being passed round either supporting twig and then round the base and sides of the nest itself, which hangs between the two. The nests I have found myself have always been strong and well put together, but some are said to be frail and so thinly woven that the eggs can be seen from below. The nests certainly vary greatly in size and Hume says :—“I have seen one with an internal cavity 3.1/2 inches in diameter and over 2.1/2 deep. I have seen others, scarcely over 2.1/2 inches and not 2 in depth, which you could have put bodily, twigs and all, inside the other.”
Sometimes all sorts of odd materials are used for nesting purposes, such as strips of linen, paper, wool, shavings, shed snake-skins etc. One nest I saw was made entirely of strips of rag, except for the usual lining of fine grass-stems ; another was in great part formed of bits of newspaper woven in with soft grass-blades, while a third was made of nothing but a soft tow-like fibre, probably the inner bark of some tree.
The breeding season is very regular, lasting all through May and June, while a few birds bred in late April and a few others in early July. Inglis has taken several nests in early April, one or two in the first week, and one nest, which was probably a second brood, in the end of July. They are not, however, usually double-brooded.
The eggs generally number three in a full clutch, sometimes only two, and very seldom four.
The eggs are, of course, exactly like those of the European Golden Oriole. The ground is a hard china-white, exceptionally tinged with pink, perhaps even less often than in the European bird. The markings consist of black spots, sometimes small, sometimes rather large and, occasionally, quite large ; as a rule they are scanty and just a little more numerous at the larger end than elsewhere. A few eggs have them rather more freely scattered about but they are never numerous and sometimes very scanty. A few eggs are marked with deep maroon-red instead of black, and a few other eggs with large black blotches have the edges of these reddish and looking as if they had run.
The texture is hard, fine and highly glossy. In shape they are long ovals.
One hundred eggs average 29.0 x 21.1 mm. : maxima 32.5 x 21.5 and 27.0 x 22.3 mm. ; minima 25.0 x 19.0 mm.
953. Oriolus oriolus kundoo
(953) Oriolus oriolus kundoo Sykes.