(881) Acanthopneuste occipitalis occipitalis.
The Large Crowned Willow- Warbler.
Phyllopneuste occipitalis Blyth, J. A. S. B., xiv, p. 393 (1845) (S. India). Acanthopneuste occipitalis. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 418.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. An irregular coronal streak from the forehead to the nape yellowish grey ; a fairly well-denned pale yellow supercilium to the nape; remainder of the upper plumage olive-green, the head darker and more brown; wing-feathers brown edged with olive-green and with yellow tips to the median and greater coverts forming two wing-bars, the former often slight and sometimes absent; tail brown edged with olive-green; lores and feathers behind the eye brown; ear-coverts and cheeks yellow mixed with dusky ; below yellowish white suffused with brown on the breast and flanks; axillaries and under wing-coverts bright yellow.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown ; bill horny or horny-brown above, below pale horny or yellowish; legs and feet pale brown or plumbeous-brown.
Measurements. Total length about 135 nam.; wing 58 to 69 mm.; tail 44 to 50 mm.; tarsus 17 to 18 mm.; culmen 11 to 12 mm.; second primary intermediate between sixth and seventh.
Distribution. Breeding in Turkestan, Afghanistan, Kashmir and Garhwal Hills. In Winter South to Travancore and Orissa in India; East to Bengal and rarely to Assam.
Nidification. The Large Crowned Willow-Warbler is an exceedingly common bird from the North-West Frontier to Nepal, breeding during May and June between 6,500 and 9,000 feet. It makes a nest principally of moss, but sometimes mixed with a little hair, grass or fur. It is lined with scraps of moss felted together in a pad which is sometimes mixed with the same materials. In shape it fits the hole in which it is placed, sometimes being cup-shaped and at others domed or semi-domed, the entrance to the hollow being banked up with moss leaving a small circular hole for the birds to go in and out by. It may be placed in practically any hole in bank, wall, dead tree, living tree or even in an old building, whilst Rattray found it breeding under the eaves of bungalows in Murree. The nest is generally very well hidden but the birds are so noisy and demonstrative when it is approached that it is easy to find it once one knows the habits of the birds themselves. The eggs number four to six and are pure white with a fair gloss. Fifty eggs average 16.4 x 12.7 mm.: maxima 18.0 x 13.0 and 17.3 x 13.2 mm.; minima 15.0 x 12.0 and 15.1 x 11.9 mm.
Habits. This Warbler is a bird of forests and well-wooded areas and where there are sufficient trees will come into gardens and compounds, being far more confiding and familiar in its ways than most Willow7-Warblers. In Winter it is extremely common in the greater part of Northern India, and it has been found as far South as Travancore and is not uncommon in the Southern Bombay Presidency. I found it not rare over the whole of Assam daring October and again in March, most birds passing through and not wintering in that Province. It is an extraordinarily active, energetic little bird, ever on the move and often fluttering into the air after passing insects and catching them on the wing like a Flycatcher.