(59) Parus monticolus monticolus.
THE GREEN-BACKED TIT.
Parus monticolus Vigors, P. Z. S., 1831, p. 22 (Himalayas, Simla) ; Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 49.
Vernacular names. Sarak-chak-pho (Lepcha); Daosir-whet (Cachari).
Description. Cheeks and ear-coverts white; the whole head, nape, breast and a broad band down the middle of the abdomen black ; a whitish patch on the nape ; back and scapulars greenish yellow ; rump slaty ; upper tail-coverts black; tail black, the outer webs suffused with blue, all the feathers tipped with white, the outer web of the outermost feather entirely white; lesser wing-coverts black, edged with slaty ; the other coverts and the winglet black, edged with blue and tipped with white, forming two wing-bars ; the earlier primaries edged with white at base and below the emarginations; the others, with the outer secondaries, edged with blue and tipped with white; innermost secondaries black edged and tipped with white; abdomen, sides of breast and axillaries bright deep yellow ; under tail-coverts black, tipped with white.
Colours of soft parts. Bill black; iris brown; legs dark slate or plumbeous, claws horny-brown to blackish.
Measurements. Total length about 130mm.; wing 64 to 69 mm.; tail 54 to 60 mm.; tarsus about 18 to 20 mm.; culmen about 10 mm.
The female is a little smaller with a wing of 60 to 65 mm.
Distribution. The Himalayas from the extreme N.W. to Manipur, Chittagong and the N.E. of the Chin Hills.
Nidification. This little Tit breeds throughout its range at altitudes between 4,000 and 9,000 feet in April, May and June. It makes a nest of moss, fur, wool and hair, sometimes of one, sometimes of two or more of these materials, and often with a dense lining of feathers. Any convenient hole will suffice whether it be in a tree, a wall, part of a building or occasionally a bank. In Shillong it has been found in a hole in the thatch of a house but, for nesting purposes, this bird does not frequent houses and buildings as often as do the Grey-Tits.
The eggs number from four to six and even eight and are white, boldly and freely blotched with red and reddish brown. 100 eggs average 17.1 x 12.8.
Habits. A high-level bird, this little Tit is seldom found much below 5,000 feet, whilst it may be seen in the Western Himalayas up to and over 10,000 feet. It is a sociable, familiar little bird, haunting gardens and the vicinity of human habitations, keeping much to the trees and taller shrubs, on which it keeps up an ever-restless hunt for its insect food. It also eats many fruits but is not a seed-eater, nor does it seem to enjoy a stray meat-bone from the kitchen as cinereus does. Its note is a very loud four syllabic whistle, which may be written ti-ti-tee-it, the third syllable much prolonged. In Shillong, where it is very common, this call is the first bird-note to be heard in the early dawn when it is most persistent and shrill though quite musical.