240. Pellorneum ruficeps ruficeps

(240) Pellorneum ruflceps ruflceps Swainson.
Pellorneum ruflceps ruflceps, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 238.
This race of Spotted Babbler is found over the whole, of Southern India except South-West India, including Coorg, Wynaad, South-West Mysore and Travancore. North it extends to the hills of Chota Nagpore and to Mahableswar, where it was found breeding by Mr. W. A. Pain.
Its breeding haunts are practically any good cover other than heavy grass. Miss Cockburn says she has “only known them to frequent small woods and brush-wood, a little higher than the elevation of the Coffee Plantations” on the Nilgiris, but Davidson (Barnes’s ‘Birds of Bombay,’ p. 242) noted for Barnes : “This bird is common in the Kanara jungles, and I have noticed it through all the hill parts of Nassik. It breeds in April and May in Kanara, making its nest on the ground in thick evergreen jungle, where there is no grass. The nest is a large ball of leaves with the entrance at the side. The number of eggs I have found have always been either two or three.” Elsewhere (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xi, p. 652, 1898) Davidson says the nests are placed on the ground, generally without any cover.
Miss Cockburn gives a description of the nest in the Nilgiris which differs considerably from most Spotted Babblers’ nests:— “Three nests of these birds were found in the months of March and April 1871. The first was placed upon the ground, close to a bush. The nest, consisting of dry leaves and grass, appeared to be merely a canopy for the eggs, which were almost on the bare ground, having only a very few pieces of straw under them. The second nest was built in the same way under a bush. The third nest was constructed under a large stone and with the same materials.” The last nest contained two young, the others each three eggs.
So far as is recorded, and judging from the few eggs in my collection, the breeding season in the Nilgiris and Palni Hills is from February to the middle of April, while in the Bombay Presidency it is the middle of April to the middle of June, in which latter months Davidson obtained nests and eggs in Kanara. In the North of the Central Provinces Osmaston took nests with three eggs each at Pachmarhi on the 1st May and 2nd June, both “among dead leaves on the ground of steep banks in dense forest by streams.”
The eggs number two or three only. The ground is white, sometimes very faintly tinged with dull cream or equally dull pale grey-green, whilst the markings consist of innumerable small specks, spots and blotches of brown. This brown varies from a dark reddish-brown to a chocolate-brown and in nearly all eggs the secondary specks of lavender are equally numerous and have a distinct effect on the general tint of the eggs. As a rule the specks and spots are numerous everywhere, sometimes very dense, but in most they are appreciably more dense at the larger end and in a few they form a ring or cap. Occasionally the blotches are larger, fewer and richer in colour. One clutch taken by Osmaston has a very purplish tinge owing to the secondary markings being very thick and confluent at the larger end. These eggs could be matched in colour by Bulbuls’ eggs of the genus Otocompsa.
Twenty-one eggs average 21.6 x 16.2 mm. : maxima 23.0 x 17.0 mm. ; minima 20.0 x 15.8 and 22.1 x 15.1 mm.
In shape they vary from broad ovals very little compressed to rather narrow ovals strongly compressed and almost pointed at the smaller end. The texture is neither very fine nor very close and the shell is decidedly fragile for the size of the egg. Most eggs are quite glossless but here and there a clutch shows a certain amount.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. 1932.
Title in Book: 
240. Pellorneum ruficeps ruficeps
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Spotted Babbler
Pellorneum ruficeps ruficeps
Vol. 1

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