(738) Pericrocotus brevirostris brevirostris.
The Indian Short-billed Minivet.
Muscipeta brevirostris Vigors, P.Z. S., 1831, p. 43 (Mussoorie). Pericrocotus brevirostris. Blanf. & Oates, i. p. 483.
Vernacular names. Chota Phari-balal-chasm (Hind.).
Description.— Adult male. Whole head, back, scapulars, lesser wing-coverts, outer median and greater coverts black ; entire lower surface, rump and upper tail-coverts scarlet-crimson, rather pale below; quills black with the bases of all but the outer four with crimson bases; tips to greater coverts and bases of secondaries crimson, the crimson extending as an edge to two or three of the middle secondaries; tail, central feathers black, the next pair red on the outer web, black on the inner, the black decreasing in extent on each succeeding pair.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill and legs black.
Measurements. Total length about 180 mm.; wing 88 to 96 mm.; tail 93 to 115 mm.; tarsus about 16 mm.; culmen 11 to 12 mm.
Female. Forehead greenish yellow, eyelids feathered yellow above and below lemon-yellow; upper part of the head, back, scapulars and lower wing-coverts light grey, tinged with olive; rump olive-yellow; upper tail-coverts brighter, more orange-yellow; wing-feathers black, marked as in the male but with yellow, not red; tail as in the male but yellow and black ; lower surface yellow, slightly deeper on the breast.
Young. Above olive-green, the feathers edged paler and barred with blackish; below yellow, mottled with brownish green on the breast and flanks.
Distribution. Northern India from the plains adjacent to the foot-hills of the Himalayas up to 10,000 feet in the mountains themselves, from Gilgit and Murree to Nepal, extending as far South as the Central Provinces and Lower Bengal in Winter.
Nidification. The Short-billed Minivet breeds in April, May, June and July in the Himalayas from 3,000 up to about 8,000 feet and at this time completely deserts the Plains and lower hills. The nests are just like those of other birds of this genus, shallow saucers made of fine twigs, bents' and roots, matted with cobwebs and covered outside with lichen or bark to resemble the bough on which they are placed. The eggs number two to four and are short broad ovals in shape and in colour are white just tinged with cream, buff or green, profusely covered with blotches, spots and longitudinal marks of brownish red with secondary markings of grey or neutral tint. Fifty eggs average 19.8 x 15-1 mm.: maxima 21.0 x 15.0 and 20.2 x 15.9 mm.; minima 18.6 x 15.1 and 19.6 x 13.0 mm.
Habits. This Minivet most undoubtedly moves vertically with the seasons, though it is not migratory in the true sense of the word. It is not rare in the foot-hills and adjoining plains in Winter but is seldom seen below 3,000 feet once the breeding-season commences. It has the usual gregarious and cheerful habits of the genus and often several family parties will join together to form a flock of thirty to forty birds. The members scatter a good deal when feeding, though they keep up a constant twittering call to one another the whole time and the flight of any one bird to a distant tree is the signal to one and, all to follow up at short intervals. It is a tame bird and does not shun observation unless too closely pressed.