(745) Pericrocotus peregrinus peregrinus.
The Small Minivet.
Parus peregrinus Linn., S. N., i, p. 342 (1766) (Umbala). Pericrocotus peregrinus. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 487.
Vernacular names. Bulal-chasm (Hind.); Sath-sayili Chota-sath-saki-kapi (Beng.); Kunkumpu-jitta (Tel.).
Description.— Adult male. Upper head, neck, back, scapulars and lower wing-coverts grey ; rump and upper tail-coverts bright scarlet; median and greater coverts black; quills dark brown, all but the first four or five primaries with a diagonal patch of cream or pale scarlet at the base; outer secondaries with the patch more scarlet; the middle pair of tail-feathers black, lateral feathers with broad scarlet-cream tips and black bases; lores, chin, throat and sides of head dark grey or darkish grey ; breast and flanks scarlet, the yellow bases to the feathers showing up as orange through the red; abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts white, more or less suffused with yellow.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown ; bill, legs and feet black.
Measurements. Total length about 150 mm.; wing 66 to 72 mm.; tail 65 to 72 mm.; tarsus about 15 mm.; culmen about 9 mm.
Female. Above similar to the male but a paler, browner grey, with the red on the wings replaced by orange-yellow and the scarlet-cream of the tail-feathers paler; the upper tail-coverts are always more or less scarlet and the rump is tinged with yellow; chin, throat and underparts greyish white very faintly suffused with yellow.
Colours of soft parts and Measurements as in the male.
Young birds are like the female and seem to lose the barring of the nestling stage quicker than most Minivets.
Nestling. Barred above with dark brown and with terminal yellow tips.
Distribution. North-West and Western India, South to about Belgaum, Central India, East to Western Bengal, Chota Nagpore, Oudh and Behar.
Nidification. The Indian Small Minivet breeds in Behar, Oudh and the North-West from March to May and in Central India, Bombay, etc., after the rains break from June to September. The nest is a tiny cup seldom exceeding two inches in diameter by one inch in depth and, as it is usually placed very high up in some big tree such as a Mango and Tamarind, it is very hard to find. It is the usual lichen-coated nest built by all Minivets and calls for no special
Description. The eggs number two or three, very rarely four, and vary very greatly in coloration. The ground is a pearly white, often tinted with sea-green, sometimes with pale buff or cream. The markings are some shade of reddish brown, sometimes very pale and confined to the large end where they form a ring or cup, sometimes dark and bold and numerous over the whole surface. Every intermediate type may also be met with. Fifty eggs average 16.4 x 13.2 mm.: maxima 18.0x14.0 mm.; minima 15.0 X 13.0 and 16.0 x 12.7 mm.
Habits. The Small Minivet is a bird of well-wooded tracts but not of dense forests and frequents cultivation and the vicinity of houses and villages, quite commonly entering and even breeding in gardens. It is a very cheerful active little bird associating in small or large flocks during the non-breeding season. It is a bird of the Plains and does not ascend the mountains above the foot-hills.