958. Oriolus xanthornus xanthornus

(958) Oriolus xanthornus xanthornus (Linn.).
THE INDIAN BLACK-HEADED ORIOLE.
Oriolus xanthornus xanthornus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iii, p. 11.
The Black-headed Oriole is found over practically the whole of India, omitting the extreme South of Travancore and the North¬
- West corner of India West of a line drawn roughly from the Sutlej Valley to Khatiawar. It extends throughout Assam and Burma, South into the Malay States and East through the Shan States, Siam, Annam and Cochin-China.
This is a bird of well-wooded areas, not of forests, and is much less common in the more arid and dry parts of India. All along the wetter parts of the Bombay Presidency and Malabar and, again, in Eastern Bengal, Behar and Assam, it is extraordinarily common, breeding in gardens, in and round villages and, more than anywhere else, in orchards of Mango-trees. The nest is like that of other Orioles, and Hume gives a very good description of it :— “The nest of this species, though perhaps slightly deeper, is very much like that of O. kundoo ; it is a deep cup, carefully suspended between two twigs, and is composed chiefly of tow-like fibres, then slips of bark and the like, and is internally lined with very fine tamarisk-twigs or fine grass, and is generally more or less covered over externally with odds and ends, bits of lichen, then flakes of bark, etc. The egg-cavity measures about 3 inches in diameter and nearly 2 inches in depth.”
To this I can merely add that most of the nests I have seen have been built almost entirely of the tow-like fibre, with a few leaves worked into the base. Both Coltart and I have taken nests built into an upright fork of a Mango-tree ; such nests, however, do not average one in hundreds. Many nests have a good many cobwebs used both in the body of the nest and worked round the supporting twigs with the other material. Bamboo-leaves are said to be some¬times used, though I have only once seen such. The nests are generally placed between 6 and 20 feet from the ground but, some¬times, much higher. The favourite trees are undoubtedly Mango and Tamarind, but practically any kind of tree, big or small, may be nested in occasionally.
The principal breeding season is April, May and June, but Law found fully-fledged young on the 23rd March and I have taken fresh eggs in August. Bingham found half-fledged young in Tenasserim on the 5th March, but Hopwood took fresh eggs in April, May and June. In the Central Provinces Blewitt says they breed in June and July, and in the drier areas they seem to wait to breed until the rains break. Many birds have two or more broods.
The normal full clutch is three, two only being freely incubated, while four eggs are said to be laid occasionally.
The ground-colour is a warm salmon-pink, the spots being of chestnut-brown to deep red-brown, with others underlying of rather dark inky. I have seen a few clutches with a white ground but this is very exceptional in this species. The spots are distributed in the usual manner, nowhere numerous, but more so at the larger than the smaller end. In some eggs they form quite well-defined rings such as are very seldom seen in the eggs of other species of Oriole.
Sixty eggs average 28.0 x 19.4 mm. : maxima 31.6 x 21.3 mm. ; minima 24.0 x 19.4 and 26.5 x 18.0 mm.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 2. 1933.
Title in Book: 
958. Oriolus xanthornus xanthornus
Spp Author: 
Linn.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
958
Year: 
1933
Page No: 
503
Common name: 
Indian Black Headed Oriole
M_ID: 
19529
M_SN: 
Oriolus xanthornus xanthornus
Volume: 
Vol. 2
Term name: 
id: 
14058

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