(66) Lophophanes rufonuchalis rufonuchalis.
THE SIMLA BLACK-TIT.
Parus rufonuchalis Blyth, J. A, S. B., xviii, p. 810 (1849) (Simla). Lophophanes rufonuchalis. Blanf. & Oates, i. p. 58.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Ear-coverts, under the eye and a stripe down the neck white; remainder of head and neck, breast and a broad baud down the abdomen black; nuchal spot white, tinged with ferruginous next the back; upper plumage olive-green ; lower abdomen and sides of the body ashy-olive; under tail-coverts and axillaries chestnut; under wing-coverts pale fulvous.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; legs, feet and bill black.
Measurements. Length about 130mm.; wing 73 to 77 mm.; tail about 55 mm.; tarsus nearly 20 mm.; culmen about 10 mm.
The young have the black replaced with brown and the chestnut with pale rufous.
Distribution. Turkestan and Afghanistan and N.W. Himalayas to Garhwal.
Nidification. Mr. L. L. Whymper is the only collector who has ever found this bird's nest. He writes :—
"I found this bird fairly common at 10,000 feet and upwards in the Bhaghirattie Valley, where Brooks got a nest with young and I was lucky enough to find six nests. These were all in the ground, either under stones or in actual holes such as rat-holes, and all were found between the 8th and 22nd of May.
" Speaking generally it is impossible to find them except when the birds are building," for they are in the most unlikely places that show no sign whatever of a nest. Four eggs seem to form the full clutch. The nest is the ordinary pad of wool and hair with a little moss below and around.
" The male has an aggravating habit of carrying in wool after the eggs have been laid."
Three eggs given me by Mr. Whymper measure about 18.0 x 13.0 mm.
Habits. Similar to those of the Crested Hill-Tit, with which it sometimes consorts.