(1325) Pitta cucullata cucullata.
The Green-Breasted Pitta.
Pitta cucullata Hartl., Rev. Zool., 1843, p. 65 (Malacca); Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 395.
Vernacular names. Phattim-pho (Lepch.).
Description. Forehead to nape rich rufous-brown; a narrow line over the eye and rest of head, chin, throat, sides of neck and a broad collar on the hind-neck black; back, scapulars and rump rich dark grass-green ; upper tail-coverts glistening pale ultramarine; tail black tipped with dull blue; lesser wing-coverts ultramarine; median and greater coverts grass-green, the latter darker and bluish; primaries white, with black bases and tips; outer secondaries black, with blue-green margins to the terminal halves of the outer webs; the green increasing in extent and becoming brighter until the innermost are all green like the back; breast, flanks and edges of abdomen bright pale green washed with ultramarine, in many specimens the blue wash being very strong; centre of abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts bright crimson; thighs brownish-green; axillaries and under wing-coverts black.
Colours of soft parts. Iris hazel-brown or " coffee-brown " ; eyelids plumbeous; bill black, inside of mouth fleshy; legs and feet fleshy-pink, pale fleshy-lavender or fleshy-horn.
Measurements. Total length about 190 to 200 mm.; wing 109 to 119 mm.; tail 39 to 42 mm.; tarsus 38 to 42 mm.; culmen 20 to 22 mm.
Young birds are like the adult but have the crimson of the abdomen and vent pale.
Nestlings have the crown a rather duller brown ; the black of the chin, sides of head and narrow collar is duller ; the upper plumage is brown washed with green; the upper tail-coverts are dull, pale greenish-blue; tail dark brown washed with green; lesser wing-coverts dull green with narrow brown rims; median coverts while, with greenish-brown concealed bases and very narrow brown margins ; greater coverts dull green ; quills like the adult but duller; throat brownish-white ; remaining lower parts dull brown, paling to pink on the abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts.
Colours of soft parts. Iris glaucous blue, changing to dull brown; bill black, the tip and gape dull orange; legs and feet fleshy or lavender-white.
Distribution. The Himalayas and sub-Himalayan Terai from Nepal to the extreme South and East of Assam; Gonda in the United Provinces, Eastern Bengal in Tippera, Mymensingh, Chittagong and (once) Noakhali; Chin Hills and Shan States to the extreme South oil Burma, Malay States and Siam.
Nidification. The Green-breasted Pitta breeds from the end of April to July in Oudh, Bihar, Eastern Bengal and Assam and the Terai up to 5,000 or 6,000 feet. The nest is like that of all Pittas; when bamboo leaves are available, these form the favourite material but are mixed with roots, leaves and grass and sometimes these alone with twigs are used. As they are built on the ground and among fallen debris, the latter is often formed into a little raised passage to the entrance of the nest. The eggs number three to six and differ from those of the Indian Pitta in being much more profusely marked and often in having a few additional lines and scriggles of purple-black; in most eggs also the spots are much less bold and definite. Fifty eggs average 27.1 X 21.0 mm.; maxima 28.0 x 22.0 and 25.8 x 22.5 mm.: minima 23.0 X 22.0 and 25.6 x 19.6 mm.
Habits. This Pitta is more a bird of the lower hills than the plains though it is resident over a considerable extent of the latter along the sub-Terai It is found in evergreen-forest, bush and bamboo-jungle and sometimes in grass lands with patches of tree-forest here and there. Even where common it is not an easy bird to find and watch, for it is so shy and so quick in getting away when disturbed that usually all one sees is something, bird or mammal, bounding away into cover. On the rare occasions I have been able to watch it, it was busy feeding on termites; these it caught with great dexterity, leaping up into the air after them or pursuing them with remorseless energy on the ground. Those which crept under leaves or moss were promptly exposed by a couple of lusty kicks and seized with the bill. It breeds up to 5,000 feet and possibly 1,000 feet higher and the birds are very close sitters, seldom quitting their nests until almost trodden on. It is certainly resident wherever found though it may move about locally under stress of food conditions.