495. Pericrocotus brevirostris.
The Short-billed Minivet.
Muscipeta brevirostris, Vigors, P. Z. S. 1831, p. 43. Phoenicornis brevirostris ( Vigors), Gould, Cent. pl. 8. Pericrocotus brevirostris (Vigors), Blyth, Cat. p. 193; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 141; Jerd. B. I. i, p. 421; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. ii, p. 27;, Henders. & Hume, Lah. to York. p. 184; Hume, N. & E. p. 183; Sharpe, S. F. iv, p. 209; Hume, S. F. v, p. 187; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 211; Anders. Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 648; Hume, Cat. no. 273; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 268; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. iv, p. 79; Scully, Ibis, 1881, p. 435; Oates, B. B. i, p. 240; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 152; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 96; Oates in Hume's N & E. 2nd ed. i, p. 337.
Coloration. Male. The whole head, back, scapulars, lesser wing-coverts, sides of the head, and throat glossy black; entire lower surface, rump, and upper tail-coverts crimson ; greater coverts black, tipped with crimson; primaries black, all except the first four with a crimson patch upon them ; secondaries crimson on the basal half and black on the terminal half : tertiaries wholly black ; middle tail-feathers black; the next pair black with the greater portion of the outer web red; the others all red, except at the bases, where they are black.
Female. Forehead, rump, upper tail-coverts, and all the lower plumage yellow; ear-coverts greyish yellow; crown of the head, back, and scapulars ashy green ; lesser wing-coverts brown, edged with green; median and greater coverts brown, tipped with yellow; wing brown, marked with yellow in the same manner as the male is marked with red; tail also as in the male, the red being replaced by yellow.
Bill and legs black ; irides dark brown (Jerdon).
Length about 7.5; tail 4; wing 3.5; tarsus .6; bill from gape .75.
The intensity of the colouring of this species varies much according to locality. Specimens from Sikhim and Assam and the tract of country reaching down to Tenasserim are a deep crimson, whereas skins from more western countries are a dull scarlet.
Distribution. The Himalayas from Murree and Gilgit to Assam, up to 10,000 feet of elevation; the plains of India from the foot of the Himalayas to about the twentieth degree of north latitude, with the exception apparently of Sind, Cutch, and Kattywar. Prom Assam P. brevirostris ranges southwards through the hill-tracts as far as Karennee on the one side and to Arrakan, according to Blyth, on the other. I did not procure this species in Pegu, but a specimen obtained by Davison in the pine-forests of the Salween river, and now in the British Museum, is referable to it.
To the east of India this bird extends into China and on the west to Afghanistan.
P. brevirostris is said by many writers to he migratory and to be found in the Himalayas in summer and in the plains in winter. Scully, however, distinctly states that this species is found in Gilgit in the winter, and he also observes that it is common in the valley of Nepal throughout the year. The alleged migratory habits of the bird therefore require confirmation.
Habits, &c. Breeds in the Himalayas in May and June, constructing a cup-shaped nest of fine twigs, grass, &c, covered with cobwebs and lichens, on a tolerably high branch of some tree. The eggs, three to five in number, are whitish marked with rod and purple and measure about .75 by .58.
P. miniatus from Java differs from P. brevirostris in having the greater wing-coverts entirely black.