1043. Pelargopsis gurial.
The Brown-headed Stork-billed Kingfisher.
Halcyon capensis, Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S. xi, p. 231; Layard, A. M. N. H. (2) xii, p. 171; nec L. Halcyon gurial, Pearson, J. A. S. B. x, p. 632 (1841); Blyth, Cat. p. 47 ; id. Ibis, 1865, p. 30 ; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xxxix, pt. 2, p. 95. Halcyon bruniceps, Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S. xiii, pt. 2, p. 143 (1845). Halcyon leucocephalus, Horsf. M. Cat. p. 123 (partim); Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 222 ; McMaster, J. A. S. B. xl, pt. 2, p. 108; nec Gm. Halcyon capensis, Walden, P. Z. S. 1866, p. 553; nec L. Pelargopsis gurial, Sharpe, P. Z. S. 1870, p. 66 ; id. Mon. Ale. p. 105, pl. 34; Ball, S. F. ii, p. 386; vii, p. 203; Fairb. S. F. iv, p. 254; v, p. 394 ; Hume, S. F. v, p. 18; xi, p. 44; id. Cat. no. 127; Cripps, S. F. vii, p. 259; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 295; Vidal, S, F. ix, p. 49; Reid, S. F. x, p. 21; Davidson, ibid. p. 296; Davison, ibid. p. 351; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 98; Littledale, Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. i, pp. 32,197 ; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 11; Sharpe, Cat, B. M. xvii, p. 101. Pelargopsis burmanica, Sharpe, P. Z. S. 1870, p. 67 ; id. Mon. Alc. p. 109, pl. 35; Ball, J. A. S. B. xii, pt. 2, p. 277 ; id. S. F. i, p. 57 ; Walden, Ibis, 1874, p. 136; Hume, S. F. ii, p. 165; iii, p. 50; id. Cat. no. 127 bis ; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 70; Bingham, S. F. v, p. 83: ix, p. 154; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 73 ; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 78; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 12; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xvii, p. 104.
The Brown-headed Kingfisher, Jerdon ; Gurial Beng.; Badami Kowrilla, H. (Oude); Maha pelihuduwa, Waturanuwa, Cing.; Hsin-pay-nyin, Burm.
Coloration. Crown, nape, and sides of head, including the cheeks and ear-coverts, brown, varying in shade from dark brown to (in some Burmese birds) whity-brown; neck all round and lower parts, including wing-lining, varying from buff to deep brownish yellow, usually deeper on the breast and abdomen; upper back, scapulars, wings, longer tail-coverts, and tail dull greenish blue ; quills and tail bluer; primaries except outer webs towards the base, inner webs of secondaries, and lower surface of tail brown ; back, rump, and shorter tail-coverts bright pale blue.
In young birds the buff feathers of the neck and breast have dark edges; the end of the bill, too, is dusky.
Bill dark blood-red; irides light brown; legs dull scarlet (Jerdon). Eyehds pinkish fleshy, the edges red (Oates).
Length about 15; tail 4 ; wing 6; tarsus .75 ; bill from gape 3.8.
The Burmese race has been distinguished as P. burmanica. Very many Burmese specimens have pale whity-brown caps and dark ochraceous lower parts, but birds in abundance occur throughout Burma that are absolutely undistinguishable from many Indian individuals. Very dark-headed birds are peculiar to India (the darkest are from the Malabar coast), but they are not a majority. The two races are not, I think, sufficiently distinct to be classed apart.
Distribution. Along rivers and streams and about large pieces of water in well-wooded countries almost throughout the Empire.
"Wanting in Rajputana, Sind, and the Punjab, and very rare in the open tracts of the North-west Provinces and Central India, on the Deccan tableland, and in the Carnatic; but occurring in Guzerat and throughout the Malabar coast and in Ceylon, in the wooded country between the Godavari and Bengal, near the base of the Himalayas as far west as Dehra Dun, and, still more commonly, in Bengal, Assam, Burma, and the Andaman Islands. This Kingfisher ranges into the northern part of the Malay Peninsula, and to Siam, Cambodia, and Cochin China. Farther south in the Malay Peninsula it is represented by another race, P. fraseri.
Habits, &c. Unlike the last two, this is chiefly a freshwater Kingfisher, though it may occasionally be seen on tidal streams. It is more often found on well-wooded rivers, large marshes, or tanks, perched on a branch overhanging the water, and plunging occasionally for fish. It also feeds on frogs, crabs, and it is said mollusca. According to Davison, it sometimes eats lizards. It has a loud peculiar cry several times repeated, generally uttered during flight. It breeds from April to June in Northern India, earlier in the South, generally in a hole in the bank of a stream; but Mr. Cripps in Assam found a nest in a dead and rotten tree, and Major Bingham in Tenasserim obtained the eggs from a nest of grass-roots in the fork of a bamboo, and saw the parent bird distinctly. The eggs, 3 to 5 in number, are of the usual Kingfisher type, and measure about 1.17 by 1.05.