553. Adelura coeruleocephala

(553) Adelura coeruleocephala (Vigors).
Adelura coeruleocephala, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 104.
The nests and eggs described in Hume’s work as taken by himself certainly do not refer to this bird, but those taken by Wardlaw- Ramsay may have been correctly identified. The colour of the latter eggs is exceptional, but a clutch taken by Whymper, who knew the bird well and took several nests, is, apparently, much the same.
It is found in the breeding season from Turkestan to Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Kashmir and as far East as Sikkim and Bhutan. Records of its Summer habitats are rare. Buchanan, who was probably the first to take a fully authenticated nest of this species, sent me a female from Murree, shot off its nest above Changla Gali at 10,000 feet ; Whitehead found it breeding in the Kurram Valley at 11,000 but records it as “abundant from 7,500 feet to 12,000 feet Whymper took several nests between 10,000 and 14,000 feet in Garhwal ; whilst Whistler records taking its nest in Lahul, but gives no further details.
It breeds both in forest and in scrub-jungle and, perhaps exception¬ally, on more open mountain slopes which are only covered with grass, thorny low bushes and stunted Rhododendrons. Generally the nest is built in a hollow in a bank, some natural hole under a stone or among the roots of a tree and, wherever placed, it seems to be always very well hidden. Whitehead found one nest at Bulta Kundi, Kurram Valley, built on a fallen tree, secreted between the loose bark and the wood, whilst a second was taken from a hole at the foot of a Silver Fir. Buchanan’s nest, taken near Changla Gali, was “built in a hole of a tree, 5 feet from the ground,” a site which seems to be rare, if not abnormal.
Whymper says that the females sit so close and are so difficult to dislodge from their nests that they seldom give the position away, whilst they are so well hidden that it is most difficult to find them. Most of his nests were obtained by watching the birds collecting building material and tracking them to their nests. Even this, however, was hard and often fruitless work, for the birds are very wary and secretive when nest-building and soon seem to become aware that they are being watched.
The nest is cup-shaped and is normally built mainly of grass, more or less mixed with moss and roots, lined with hair and, nearly always, a certain number of feathers. Sometimes a few soft and small twigs are employed in the construction of the nest, whilst one of those taken by Whitehead is described as “a solid cup of twigs, coarse grass and moss.”
The normal breeding season seems to be from the end of May to the end of June, a few eggs being laid in July.
The eggs, which number three or four, generally the latter, vary from a pale grey-green stone-colour to a pale dull creamy buff. If carefully examined they are seen to be invisibly speckled with faint light red, the specks sometimes becoming more con¬spicuous and forming zones round the larger end but, in both my palest and darkest clutches, the markings are quite invisible without a glass. An abnormal clutch of three has the ground a creamy buff, in two eggs quite strongly speckled all over with reddish, and in the third well blotched with reddish and also with a dark well-defined ring of coalescing reddish freckles at the larger end. I can match these eggs with those of the Verditer Flycatchers’, but there is no doubt about them, as the birds were watched building the nest, from which they were taken. The shell is very fine and close, with a slightly glossy surface, and in shape the eggs are short, broad, rather pointed ovals.
Thirty eggs average 19.3 x 14.4 mm. : maxima 20.3 x 15.2 and 20.0 x 15.3 mm. ; minima 18.3 x 13.8 and 18.4 x 13.3 mm.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 2. 1933.
Title in Book: 
553. Adelura coeruleocephala
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Blue Headed Robin
Blue-capped Redstart
Phoenicurus coeruleocephala
Vol. 2

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