(814) Orthotomus sutorius patia Hodgs.
THE BURMESE TAILOR-BIRD.
Orthotomus sutorius patia, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 412.
This race, which was, of course, named from a Nepal bird, extends from that State through the Outer and Lower Himalayas to, but not including, the Shan States, the birds of which seem to be nearer longicaudus, the Chinese race. It is found throughout Burma to the South of Tenasserim, where it meets and merges into maculicollis of the Malay States and Siam. Kloss considers that some of the birds from western Central Siam are also referable to this race.
On the dividing line of these races it is often quite impossible to determine what name the bird should bear and I have, therefore, left these out of consideration here altogether.
All that is recorded in Hume’s ‘Nests and Eggs’ about this bird are Oates’s remarks that they are very common all over the plains but that he himself did not observe it in the hills., In the Khasia Hills it was common at 5,000 feet and occurred quite regularly up to 6,000 feet, but in the North Cachar Hills adjoining it was rare above 3,000 feet. In nearly all the Burmese hills it is common up to 4,000 feet where there are villages and Cultivation.
There is but little that can be said about this race in addition to what has been already said about the Indian form. It is not quite so exclusively a bird of civilization, and in Assam and parts of Burma breeds in thin scrub and on the outskirts of forest.
The nest is exactly the same as that of the typical form and goes through the same variation. I have, however, twice seen nests built in the upright leaves of the Ginger-plant, a position, I believe, never used by any of the other races of Tailor-Birds.
The breeding season extends through May, June and July, a few birds breeding in April and a good number in August, while odd nests may be taken any time between March and October.
The number of eggs laid is generally four, sometimes three only. On the other hand, fives and sixes are not very uncommon and I have seen at least a dozen clutches containing the latter number.
In appearance the eggs of all the Tailor-Birds are the same but I have one curious abnormal clutch of four eggs of this race which are just like large round eggs of Cisticola cursitans.
A curious instance about the nesting of this bird is, perhaps, worth recording. In 1914 I was sent a very unusual nest of this Tailor- Bird attached to six leaves of a creeper growing over the porch of a Khasia’s house. The clutch contained five eggs with an exceptionally pink ground, with one pigmy egg with a white ground and one egg rather smaller than the other three. In 1931 I had a similar nest sent me containing five exactly similar eggs taken from the same creeper. The owner of the cottage said that the pair built there annually, but one can hardly imagine a Tailor-Bird living eighteen years.
Two hundred eggs average 15.9 x 11.3 mm. : maxima 17.5 x 12.4 and 15.0 x 13.0 mm. ; minima 13.3 x 11.0 and 14.3 x 10.0 mm. The pigmies referred to above are not included in these measure¬ments.
Both sexes incubate, the male sitting as much as the female. The position adopted when sitting looks very curious ; the tail is forced over the back until it points in the same direction and just over the bill, both protruding from the front of the top of the nest.
Both sexes also take part in the construction of the nest, the male not only bringing the materials but placing them in position.
Incubation takes eleven to twelve days, the eggs sometimes hatching on the thirteenth day, probably when the weather is cold. When hatching on the eleventh day, the actual time taken is eleven and a half days or more—that is to say, an egg found on the morning of the 1st was hatched on the evening of the 12th.
814. Orthotomus sutorius patia
(814) Orthotomus sutorius patia Hodgs.