(961) Oriolus traillii.
The Maroon Oriole.
Pastor traillii Vigors, P. Z. S., 1831, p. 175 (Himalayas, Darjiling). Oriolus traillii. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 508.
Vernacular names. Melambok (Lepcha); Tania-pia (Bhut.).
Description. - Adult male. Whole head and neck glossy black; wings and thigh-coverts dull black; tail chestnut-maroon ; remainder of plumage deep crimson maroon, highly glossed.
Colours of soft parts. Iris pale buff to deep orange-yellow; bill bluish lead-colour, paling towards the tip ; legs and feet plumbeous, the claws tipped blackish.
Measurements. Total length about 280 mm,; wing 142 to 152 mm.; tail 101 to 111 mm.; tarsus 28 to 29 mm,; culmen 29 to 31 mm.
Female. Head and neck glossy black; mantle dull maroon-brown, gradually changing to crimson-maroon on the rump and upper tail-coverts ; tail chestnut-maroon, the central feathers and outer webs of the lateral feathers maroon-brown; lower plumage greyish white, darkest on breast and flanks and albescent on the centre of the abdomen, streaked throughout with blackish; old females are often tinged with crimson on the flanks; under tail-coverts crimson-maroon; thigh-coverts blackish.
Colours of soft parts as in the male but duller.
The Young male is like the female but more richly coloured and with the lower parts whiter, less grey-brown ; the flanks and breast are more suffused with crimson.
Nestling. Above brown, rather darker on the crown, the feathers of the mantle and the wing-coverts edged with rufous ; rump brown, streaked darker and suffused with chestnut; tail-feathers maroon-brown, the inner webs of all the lateral feathers chestnut-pink; chin and throat brownish white, streaked with dark brown; breast almost entirely brown; abdomen and flanks white with brown centres; thigh-coverts dark brown ; under tail-coverts pale pinkish chestnut.
Distribution. Throughout the Himalayas from the Sutlej Valley to Eastern Assam, Manipur, the Hilly tracts of Burma to Tenasserim, Shan States, Siam and Annam.
I can trace no constant differences in the plumage of this bird necessitating its division into geographical races.
Nidification. The Maroon Oriole breeds in the Hills of Assam between 2,000 and 6,000 feet during May and June and in Sikkim during April and May. The nest is a typical Oriole's and the eggs are like those of the European Oriole but with a pink ground-colour, generally fairly deep in tint. The surface of the shell is very glossy. Twenty-four eggs average 29.4 X 20.6 mm.: maxima 30.7 X 21.0 and 28.9 x 21.7 mm.; minima 26.3 x 21.4 and 30.5 x 18.1 mm.
Habits. The Maroon Oriole is far more a forest bird than is any of its yellow cousins, even the Malay Golden Oriole. It is also a wilder, more shy bird. Otherwise, except that its flight seems more direct and rapid and less undulating, it differs in no respects from these birds. In North Cachar I found it fed largely on the fruit of the various Fici when these were ripe.