891. Seicercus xanthoschistos xanthoschistos

(891) Seicercus xanthoschistos xanthoschistos (Hodgs.).
Seicercus xanthoschistus xanthoschistus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 489.
The Eastern form of this Flycatcher-Warbler extends from Nepal to the Chin Hills, where it has been obtained on the higher ranges about Mt. Victoria.
According to Hodgson it breeds both in Nepal and Sikkim between 6,000 and 7,000 feet. Stevens, however, limits its elevation to 5,000. In Assam we found it breeding between 3,000 and 6,000 feet, while in the Naga Hills it possibly breeds as high as 8,000, where there are suitable woods. In Lakhimpur we found a few birds breeding at 1,000 feet but, as I have noted elsewhere, birds which normally breed at 3,000 feet are here found quite commonly.
In its nidification this bird differs but little from other members of the genus. It keeps entirely to woods during the breeding season but, like the others, does not mind whether these are Pines or evergreen so long as there are patches of bush and other trees in among the Pines.
Gammie took a nest at Rishap, 5,000 feet, in Sikkim, on the 20th May, of which he writes (‘Nests and Eggs,’ vol. i, p. 271) :— “The nest was in thin forest, near its outer edge, and placed on the ground beside a small stem. It was domed, and composed entirely of moss, with the exception of a few fibres in the dome or hood portion, and was lined with thistle-down. The extreme diameter was 3.3 inches, the height 3.2 : the cavity was 1.6 in diameter, and only an inch in depth below the lower margin of the entrance, which was the rim of the true cup, over which the hood was drawn. The nest contained four fresh eggs.”
The nests are hardly ever cups as described by Hume, and I have only seen one such, and that surely abnormal. The cups sent him were probably only the inner felted portion of moss, which is easily detachable from the outer and more loosely constructed part.
I took and saw numerous nests of this Warbler in the hills South of the Brahmapootra, all of which agreed well with Gammie’s description, with the one exception referred to. Most nests were lined with the soft down from the pods of the Cotton-tree (Bombax malabarica) and were rather larger than Gammie’s, varying from 3.5 to 4 inches in diameter either way.
Most of those found by myself were placed on the ground in mossy banks, sometimes at the foot of a stump or trunk of a tree, sometimes between boulders on the banks of ravines, but nearly always well hidden in among the surrounding moss, weeds, grass or fallen debris.
The breeding season commences at the end of April and I have taken eggs in the last week of that month, but most eggs are laid in May, many in June, while Coltart took fresh eggs as late as the 6th August in Margherita.
The full clutch of eggs is four, though sometimes three only are laid. They are typical of the genus but, on the whole, they are the most fragile and least glossy of all the eggs laid by any member of it.
Fifty eggs average 15.7 x 11.9 mm. : maxima 17.1 x 12.4 mm. and 17.0 x 13.1 mm. ; these are both from the same clutch, one of almost abnormally large eggs ; the next largest are 16.2 x 12.0 and 15.2 x 12.2 mm. ; minima 14.1 x 10.5 mm.
Both sexes incubate and we have caught both in snares on the nest, but in about three times out of four it was the female which was sitting. Both also assist in building the nest but I have only seen the male bringing materials, and never actually engaged in putting them in position. Incubation, I think, takes ten days. Eggs found on the 13th May were three in number, and on the 25th four young had hatched.

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: 
891. Seicercus xanthoschistos xanthoschistos
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Eastern Grey Headed Flycatcher Warbler
Phylloscopus xanthoschistos xanthoschistos
Vol. 2

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