(211) Pomatorhinus ferruginosus phayrei.
PHAYRE'S CORAL-BILLED SCIMITAR-BABBLER.
Pomatorhinus phayrei Blyth, J. A. S. B.; xvi, p. 462 (1847) (Arrakan); Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 121.
Vernacular names. Bao-buku-gajao(Cachari); Inrui-gojo (Kacha Naga).
Description. Similar to the last, but the upper plumage olive-brown with no rufous tinge; above the white supercilium there is a trace of a black line; the under parts are much more rufous. The crown is practically con-colorous with the back.
Colours of soft parts and Measurements as in ferruginosus.
Distribution. Hills South of the Brahmaputra, Chin Hills and Arrakan Yomas.
Nidification. Breeds in considerable numbers in the Khasia and N. Cachar Hills between 3,000 and 5,000 feet, most commonly at 3,000 to 3,500 feet. The nest is the usual football-shaped affair, lying on its side, very loosely and untidily made, principally of bamboo leaves and bracken, more or less mixed with grass, roots and a few leaves. In most nests there is no true lining but, in a few, fine grass is used for this purpose. The entrance, which may be anything up to 4" wide, is at one end low down and the ends of the materials stick out all round, half biding it from sight. The nest is sometimes placed on the ground, but far more often in bushes some feet above it, and I have taken one nest which lay on the top of a bush about 7 feet up, easily visible from the hill-path above but looking like a mass of rubbish blown together by the wind against a jutting branch. Three is the number of eggs most often laid, sometimes four, frequently two only. Fifty eggs average 27.1 x 19.1 mm. The breeding season lasts from May to July but I have seen nests with eggs both in April and late August.
Habits. Phayre's Scimitar-Babbler is a bird of thick forest and dense undergrowth, found but little in bamboo-jungle and still less in the grass-covered hills, except in the mornings and evenings when feeding. It is to be met with both in pairs and in small parties, silent as a rule but occasionally bursting into a chorus of rather sweet, full notes when anything of special interest is seen or if suddenly disturbed. They slink about in a very rat-like manner on the ground under the bushes but move from one piece of cover to another in big bounds, only taking to wing when actually forced to do so. They fly much like the Laughing-Thrushes, alternate sailings and furious flappings, tail bent up or down and widespread and legs carried well forward and down unless the flight is prolonged. They are not shy birds and are very inquisitive and cannot resist a closer acquaintance with any novel sight or sound. I have seen these birds mobbing a civet cat much as the birds of the genera Turdoides and Argya will mob a village cat which invades their territory.