(733) Pericrocotus speciosus speciosus.
The Indian Scarlet Minivet.
Turdus speciosus Lath., Ind. Orn., i, p. 363 (1790) (Darjiling). Pericrocotus speciosus. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 479.
Vernacular names. Dao-ribi (Cachari); Ingorui (Kacha Naga); Vohshener (Mikir).
Description.— Adult male. Whole head, neck, back, scapulars and lesser wing-coverts glossy black; rump, upper tail-coverts and whole lower plumage scarlet, the abdomen and under tail-coverts more or less tinged with orange; greater wing-coverts scarlet; primary-coverts black; primaries black with a broad band of scarlet across the base of all but the first two or, occasionally, first three; secondaries black, the innermost with oval scarlet drops on the outer webs ; tail scarlet, the central feathers either all black or with scarlet patches on the edge of the outer web or,, sometimes, with a scarlet streak at the tip.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill and legs black.
Measurements. Total length about 230 mm.: wing 96 to 106 mm.; tail 86 to 100 mm.; tarsus about 18 mm.; culmen about 14 to 15 mm.
Female. Forehead and short narrow supercilium orange-yellow, paler posteriorly and changing to grey on the posterior crown, back, scapulars and lesser coverts, the latter often tinged with olive-yellow ; rump and upper tail-coverts rich yellow tinged with green ; greater coverts black tipped with yellow ; primaries black with a broad yellow patch at the base of all but the first two or, rarely, three; secondaries black with yellow bases and the innermost with the oval spots, sometimes spreading into yellow borders, on the outer webs; lores blackish grey, whole lower plumage bright yellow; tail, central pair of feathers black generally without any yellow marking, next pair black tipped with yellow and with yellow on the outer web in varying degree; remaining feathers yellow with dark bases of varying width and shape; in a few cases the yellow is somewhat orange towards the base.
Colours of soft parts as in the male. Measurements. Wing 92 to 101 mm.
Young males are like the female. The change of plumage from yellow to red in all the Minivets is very interesting, as specimens are numerous which show signs of attaining an increase of red in the old feathers prior to the moult. Birds in this stage show no signs of the barring on the upper surface and are obviously undergoing, or about to undergo, the second moult.
Nestling. Upper parts olive-brown, the feathers very narrowly tipped with yellowish and with subterminal dark bars.
Distribution. The Himalayas from the Sutlej Valley to Eastern Assam North of the Brahmaputra. Birds From the Khasia Hills are certainly referable to this race, but those from the adjoining North Cachar Hills are nearer fraterculas. The fauna of the Khasia Hills is more like that of the Northern Hills than that of the Southern and at one time these hills were undoubtedly bisected by the Brahmaputra. This species extends across the Northern Kachin Hills into Yunnan (Rothschild).
Nidification. This Minivet breeds from the end of April to early June, making a lovely, shallow saucer-shaped nest of fine pliant twigs, grass-sterns and fine roots well matted together with spiders' webs and invariably decorated with lichen, scraps of bark or moss to make it resemble the tree on which it is placed. The site selected is apparently always in forest and generally in such as is very heavy and humid and the nest is placed on some small tree, alive or dead, between ten and twenty feet from the ground. The eggs probably number two to four, though I have never seen more than three myself. The ground-colour is a pale sea-green, spotted and blotched with dark brown and with secondary blotches of dark lavender. They measure between 20.3 x 16.0 mm. and 23.0 x 16.9 mm. The birds breed between 3,000 and 6,000 feet and possibly a good deal higher.
Habits. Differ in no way from those of the next race.