(51) Parus major cinereus.
THE INDIAN GREY TIT.
Parus cinereus Vieill., Nouv. Dict. d'Hist. Nat, xx, p. 316 (1818) (Java). Partes atriceps. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 46.
Vernacular names. Ram-gangra (Beng.).
Description. Forehead, lores, crown, nape, chin, throat, breast, a band on either side the neck connecting the nape with the breast, and a band down the middle of the abdomen, black; cheeks and ear-coverts white; the upper part of the back next the nape white; remainder of back, rump, scapulars, lower and median coverts ashy grey; winglet and greater coverts black, edged with ashy grey and the latter broadly tipped with white; quills dark brown, the earlier primaries and inner secondaries edged with white, the other quills with ashy grey; upper tail-coverts deep ashy blue; tail black, the four median pairs of feathers ashy grey on the outer webs and all but the middle two pairs tipped with white; fifth pair white, with the shaft black and a band of black on the inner web; outer pair nearly entirely white with black shafts; sides of the breast and abdomen vinaceous; under tail-coverts black in the centre, white at the sides.
Colours of soft parts. Bill black; iris brown; legs and feet plumbeous.
Measurements. Total length about 140 mm.; wing 60 to 68 mm.; tail 53 to 61 ram.; tarsus about 15 mm.; culmen about 10 mm.
The young of this and all the allied grey forms have a tinge of yellow on the lower parts and generally a good deal of green on the upper.
Distribution. Northern India, Assam, Western Burma to Sunda Island and Java.
Nidification. Breeds throughout its range but at different times in different localities from March to June. The nest is placed in a hole of a tree, wall or, more rarely, in a bank and consists of a pad of moss, hair, wool or fur: occasionally with some vegetable cotton and feathers. Wickham reports that it took readily to nest-boxes placed low down on trunks of trees in his garden at Maymyo. The eggs, four to six in number in India, three or four only in Burma, are white or very pale pink with spots and specks of reddish brown. They average about 17.0 x 13.3 mm.
Habits. Though not gregarious in the strict sense of the term, these little birds are very sociable and may often be seen consorting in small parties in favourite feeding-haunts. They are restless, active little birds, clambering about branches and twigs in their search for insects, now hanging head downmost to reach some tempting morsel below, now standing on tip-toe to get to one above them and then once more scuttling round to catch some quickly moving ant or spider. They feed on all kinds insects, many seeds and fruits and in times of stress practically anything that comes to hand. A meaty bone is a tempting bait to them as is a split cocoa-nut hung in a tree near their haunts. They are essentially arboreal in their habits but occasionally descend to the ground after insects. Their note is a rather shrill whistle and their flight rather feeble and dipping. They are resident birds almost wherever found, moving about to some extent according to the seasons.