881. Acanthopneuste occipitalis occipitalis

(881) Acanthopneuste occipitalis occipitalis (Blyth).
THE HIMALAYAN LARGE CROWNED WILLOW-WARBLER.
Acanthopneuste occipitalis occipitalis, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii. p. 479.
This is one of the most common of our breeding birds in Kashmir, the Simla States, Garhwal and all the Outer Himalayas right away as far West as the Kurram Valley, where Whitehead took its nest.
It is a bird of forest and woodland but in many places it enters and breeds in gardens and in the immediate vicinity of buildings and villages ; indeed it sometimes breeds actually in buildings. Rattray says of the bird :—“Very common, especially round Murree, nests in almost any situation. I have found them in holes in trees, in banks, in stone walls, under eaves in houses and under a large stone in a deep ravine.” He also comments on the number of times he has found Cuckoos’ eggs in this bird’s nests. “I have found five eggs of Cuculus saturatus and three of Cuculus poliocephalus in these birds’ nests. On two occasions the nest was the full depth of my arm inside the tree.” Davidson also got the egg of C. poliocephalus in the nest of this bird as well as in that of P. humii.
It breeds principally between 6,000 and 7,000 feet, and Crump took eggs at Kishtwar in Ladak at elevations a little over the latter height. It is not, however, a bird of great elevations and is not apparently found in the Pine, Pine and Birch and Birch forests between 11,000 and 13,000 feet. On the whole it likes country of much the same nature as that frequented by the Large-billed Willow-Warbler but it is a much bolder little bird and much less shy of man. Round about Murree it nested generally in the more open ravines running through forest, and Davidson found it common in much the same country in the Sind Valley. Brooks says that “it is perhaps the most common bird in Cashmere, even more so than Passer indicus. It is found at almost all elevations above the valley where good woods occur.”
Some of the various situations in which it places its nest are described by Brooks (Hume’s ‘Nests and Eggs,’ vol. i, p. 267). He took one from “a hole under the roots of a large tree on some steep bank-side. I found one in a decayed stump of a large Fir-tree, inside the rotten wood. Another nest was also placed in a rotten stump, but under the roots.”
Rarely their nests have been found in the deserted nest-holes of Woodpeckers, a Cuckoo’s egg having been taken from one such nest into which the Cuckoo could not possibly have entered. David¬son also records (Ibis, 1898, p. 18) that he took nests from holes in trees as high as 20 feet “and even in the ground and under stones.” As a rule the nest is very well hidden but, as Cock says, “the nests are easy to find, as the birds are very noisy and demonstrative when anyone is near their nest.” Cock also says that a favourite place for a nest is "where the road has a stone embankment to support it, between the stones.”
The nest is a very loosely, carelessly built globe, roughly anything between 5 and 7 inches in diameter but, when placed well inside holes, may be any shape, cup, shallow or deep, semidomed, carelessly roofed in with a little grass or as completely domed as when built in an unprotected hollow. It is usually built mainly of moss but, with this, is often mixed grass, bark, small dead leaves and various other articles, sometimes one or two bits only, sometimes quite a lot. A few nests built in holes are just moss cups, others have a Hning of roots and grass, while yet others are mere pads fitting into the bottom of the holes. The lining is nearly always the same moss, more or less felted together with wool, vegetable cotton or, very rarely, hair.
A few birds breed in early May and I have eggs taken by A. E. Jones near Simla on the 4th of this month. Most birds, however, breed in June, while quite a number do not lay until the first ten days of July. One nest taken by Buchanan contained four fresh eggs on the 4th of February, quite an abnormal time for any passerine bird to be breeding in the Murree Hills.
The eggs in a full clutch nearly always number four, though only three are incubated occasionally. I have heard of five being laid but have never seen a clutch of this size, though. Davidson records clutches of six.
The eggs are typical of the species, white with the usual texture, some of the eggs, like those of the preceding bird, being slightly glossy.
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.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 2. 1933.
Title in Book: 
881. Acanthopneuste occipitalis occipitalis
Spp Author: 
Blyth
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
881
Year: 
1933
Page No: 
429
Common name: 
Large Crowned Willow Warbler
M_ID: 
23041
M_CN: 
Western Crowned Warbler
M_SN: 
Phylloscopus occipitalis
Volume: 
Vol. 2
id: 
13994

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