129. Pomatorhinus erythrogenys.
The Busty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler.
Pomatorhinus erythrogenys, Vigors, P. Z. S. 1831, p. 173; Gould, Cent. pl. 55; Blyth, Cat. p. 140; Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 235; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 31; Stol. J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. ii, p. 37; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xxxix, pt. ii, p. 209; Hume, N. & F. p. 251; Brooks, S. F. iii, p. 237; Wardlaw Ramsay, Ms, 1878, p. 142; Anders. Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 634; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 285; Hume, Cat. no. 405; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 288; Oates, B. B. i, p. 75 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. vii, p. 430; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. i, p. 87. Pomatorhinus ferrugilatus, Hodgs. As. Res. xix, p. 180 (1836).
Ban-bukra, at Mussoorie; Yongohut-pho, Lepch.
Coloration. Upper plumage, tail, and the exposed parts of closed wing olive-brown; lores white streaked with grey; some white feathers on the eyelids; a moustachial stripe, red near the bill and then black; forehead, ear-coverts, sides of the neck, thighs, and under tail-coverts chestnut; sides of breast and body chestnut washed with olivaceous; chin, throat, centre of breast, and abdomen white, the chin and throat striped with very pale grey.
Nestlings are rufous all over except on the throat.
Legs and feet brownish fleshy; bill light horny; iris light greenish white, yellowish white, very pale yellow (Hume); iris pearly white (Davison).
Length about 11; tail 4; wing 4; tarsus 1.5; bill from gape 1.5.
The above description applies to birds collected in the Himalayas west of Nepal, whence the type of Vigors's P. erythrogenys came.
All birds from this region, without exception, have the chin and throat white, very sparingly streaked with pale grey. In the countries east of Nepal all birds have the chin, throat, and upper breast dark grey streaked with white. So constant are these characters that the tract from which a specimen came can be instantly known by a glance at the bird.
When we come to Nepal we find a mixture of both races. Hodgson's collection contains both, but he only figured the grey-throated one. Scully only obtained the grey-throated race in the Nepal valley, but the only two specimens of his that I have been able to examine are not nearly so dark as Sikhim examples, and the same may be said of Hodgson's. Mandelli's Dolaka (E. Nepal) specimens are identical with Sikhim ones, being quite as dark. It thus appears that in Nepal there is an intermediate race, and under these circumstances I have not thought it proper to keep the north-west race distinct from the Sikhim one, but it will probably have to be done hereafter when a complete Nepal series is available for examination. The existing Nepal series is a very bad one.
The Tenasserim bird appears to be distinct, being a small bird with the wing 3.5 and tail 3.7; and the whole chin and throat are pure white without a trace of grey. I have, however, examined only one specimen, and these characters may not be constant *.
The black cheek-stripe is present in all the races and is certainly not a character possessed only by the male. It is found in all well-prepared skins of both sexes.
Distribution. The Himalayas from Murree to Bhutan ; the Khasi hills; Bhamo; the pine-forests of the Salween valley; Thatone, Tenasserim. This species appears to be found at all elevations from 2000 to 10,000 feet or even higher.
Habits, &c. Breeds from April to June, constructing a domed nest of grass and leaves on the ground or in a thick bush close to the ground. The eggs, three or four in number, measure 1.11 by .8.
* Count Salvadori has recently sent me another specimen, procured by Fea in Karennee. It agrees exactly with Hume's Tenasserim bird both in dimensions and colour. The Count has named this race P. imberbis (Ann. Mus. Civ. St. Nat. Genova (2) vii, p. 410, 1889), but too late for the name to be more than noticed here,