490. Pericrocotus speciosus.
The Indian Scarlet Minivet.
Turdus speciosus, Lath. Ind. Orn. i, p. 363 (1790). Phoenicornis elegans, McClell. P. Z. S. 1839, p. 156. Pericrocotus speciosus (Lath.), Blyth, Cat. p. 192 ; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 143; Jerd. B. I. i, p. 419; Hume, N. & E. p. 182; Sharpe, S. F. iv, p. 206; Hume, S. F. v, p. 192; Ball, S. F. v, p. 414, vii, p. 210; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. iv, p. 71 ; Hume, Cat. no. 271; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 268; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 151 ; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. i, p. 335. Pericrocotus elegans (McClell.), apud Anders. Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 648.
The Large Minivet, Jerd. ; Sahili, Sath suki kapi, Hind.
Coloration. Male. The whole head, back, scapulars, and lesser coverts glossy black ; lower surface from behind the throat, rump, upper tail-coverts, and under wing-coverts scarlet; greater coverts black, very broadly tipped with scarlet; primaries black with a band of scarlet across all but the first two ; secondaries scarlet at the base and black elsewhere; each of the later secondaries with a scarlet oval drop near the extremity of the outer web; tail scarlet, except the middle pair of feathers and the bases of the others, which are black.
Female. Forehead, paling posteriorly up to the crown of the head, the sides of the head, and the whole lower plumage yellow ; rump and upper tail-coverts yellow tinged with green; back of the head, back, scapulars, and lesser coverts deep grey ; greater coverts blackish tipped with grey; primaries dark brown, with a band of yellow across all but the first three; secondaries dark brown, the bases of all bright yellow; the later secondaries with an oval yellow spot near the tips of the outer webs; tertiaries plain dark brown: middle tail-feathers black ; the next pair black, with the terminal half of the outer web yellow ; remaining feathers yellow with the bases black.
Bill and legs black ; iris brown (Hume Coll.).
Length about 9; tail 4.3; wing 4.15; tarsus .8; bill from gape .95.
The third primary in this species is sometimes entirely black, and in the same way the middle pair of tail-feathers are occasionally slightly margined with scarlet.
Distribution. The Himalayas from the Sutlej valley to the extreme eastern part of Assam up to elevations of 5000 or 6000 feet; the N. W. Provinces and Oudh; Chutia Nagpur and the Central Provinces as far south as Bastar and Jeypore; Bengal; Assam and all the hill-ranges southwards to Manipur and extending to the Kakhyen hills east of Bhamo. Fea recently procured this bird in Karennee.
This species overlaps the range of the next in the hill-tracts of Assam and Northern Burma, but there is no evidence to show that the two species interbreed, nor have I seen any specimen which could not be with certainty assigned to one or the other.
Habits, &c. According to Hodgson P. speciosus commences to breed in April and constructs a beautiful cup-shaped nest of moss and moss-roots coated with lichens and spiders' webs in a slender branch of a tree. Some eggs of this bird found by Hutton are described as being greyish white marked with yellowish brown and inky purple and measuring .9 by .72.
The next species has usually been identified with McClelland's Pericrocotus elegans from Assam. His type, however, which is still preserved in the British Museum, is clearly referable to P. speciosus.