The genus Phylloscopus contains fifteen Indian species, which are for the most part winter visitors to the plains, retiring for the summer either to the Himalayas or further into Central and Northern Asia. They are all birds of very small size and delicate structure. They closely resemble the birds of the next genus, from which, however, it is desirable to keep them separate on grounds of convenience and structure. In this genus the bill is of much the same shape as in Acanthopneuste, but narrower and much smaller compared with the size of the bird. This would be but an indifferent character were it not accompanied by another which renders the separation of the genera quite easy if good specimens are examined. This is that in Phylloscopus the supplementary hairs stop short at the lower edge of the nostrils and do not overhang them, whereas in Acanthopneuste these hairs grow quite up to the culmen and over the nostrils, making this latter genus quite Muscicapine and a connecting one between Phylloscopus and Cryptolopha.

The Willow-Warblers frequent trees and bushes, among the leaves of which they search for insects, frequently launching out after the winged ones in the manner of a Flycatcher. They are not aquatic, nor do they, as a rule, frequent grass and reeds. The males probably of all have a pretty song in the breeding-season. They make rather large soft nests either on the ground or on the branches of trees, and the eggs are either pure white or else white spotted with red.

In Phylloscopus the supplementary hairs in front of the rictal bristles vary in strength, in some species being weak and in others stronger; but the rictal bristles themselves are always fairly strong. The first primary is small but not minute, and the Length of the second varies in each species, generally furnishing a useful character for identification. The tail is either square or slightly forked.

The various species of Phylloscopus resemble each other so closely as to render their identification no easy matter without actual comparison with named specimens. The annexed key will, it is hoped, enable all the species to be identified if the plumage is fresh. If the plumage be worn it will, in most cases, be impossible for any one but a practised ornithologist to name the species. If colour fail the next best guide will be dimensions and the proportions of the primaries, but these are by no means constant.

In Phylloscopus there are two moults a year, the sexes are alike, and the young are more brightly coloured than the adults.

Key to the Species*.

a. Upper plumage uniformly of one colour.
a1. Under wing-coverts and axillaries yellow.
a2. Lower plumage deep yellow…………….. P. affinis, p. 401.
b2. Lower plumage pale dull yellow…………….. P. tytleri, p. 402.
c2. Lower plumage buff…………….. P. tristis, p. 403.
b1. Under wing-coverts and axillaries brown ; lower plumage buffish yellow…………….. P. indicus, p. 404.
c1. Under wing-coverts, axillaries, and lower plumage dusky oil-green…………….. P. fuliginiventris, p. 404.
d1. Under wing-coverts, axillaries, and lower plumage rich buff…………….. P. fuscatus, p. 405.
e1. Under wing-coverts and axillaries yel¬lowish white or white ; lower plumage very pale buff.
d2. Smaller; wing 1.85 to 2.1…………….. P. neglectus, p. 406.
e2. Larger ; wing 2.05 to 2.4…………….. P. sindianus, p. 406.
b. Crown darker than back, and variegated with coronal bands.
f1. Lower portion of rump bright yellow.
f2. Inner webs of outer tail-feathers white.
a3. Throat and upper breast grey…………….. P. maculipennis, p. 400.
b3. Throat and upper breast yellow…………….. P. pulcher, p. 407.
g2. Inner webs of outer tail-feathers not white…………….. P. proregulus, p. 408.
g1. Lower portion of rump not yellow, but coloured like upper portion.
h2. Lower plumage rather deep yellow tinged with ochraceous …………….. P. subviridis, p. 409.
i2. Lower plumage very pale yellow or yellowish white.
c3. Supercilium greenish yellow; both wing-bars distinct…………….. P. superciliosus, p. 409.
d3. Supercilium pale buff or brown, very distinct; upper wing-bar less distinct than lower …………….. P. humii, p. 410.
e3. Supercilium brownish buff, distinct; upper wing-bar indistinct…………….. P. mandellii, p. 411.

The Fauna Of British India including Ceylon and Burma
OATES EW. The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Vol.1 1889.
Title in Book: 
Book Author: 
Eugene William Oates, Edited by William Thomas Blanford
Page No: 
Vol. 1
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