208. Pomatorhinus horsfieldi travancoriensis

(208) Pomatorhinus horsfieldi travancoriensis Harington.
The Southern Brown-flanked Scimitae-Babbler.
Pomatorhinus horsfieldi travancoriensis, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 211.
This bird has the widest range of all the Scimitar-Babblers of the horsfieldi group and is found all over Southern India South of the range of the other subspecies already dealt with. It is, however, a hill form and will not be obtained except on hills and mountains from 2,000 up to 8,000 feet, being extremely common on the Nilgiris and adjourning hills and again in the Travancore Hills above 2,000 feet.
This Scimitar-Babbler is a shy, retiring bird of the forest. In the Nilgiris it breeds freely in the larger well-wooded sholas and, in the lower elevations, in the more extensive forests. In Travancore both Stewart and T. P. Bourdillon say that, though common and often heard, its deep “hoot-hoot” being constant evidence of its near presence, it is seldom seen and that it keeps, whether breeding or not, to deep tree-forest, though Stewart has occasionally taken its nest in Tea-bushes in Tea-gardens. It also seems partial for nesting purposes to the banks of roads running through the forest. Normally the nest seems to be much like that of other Scimitar- Babblers—a ball, round or oval, of loosely put together grasses and bamboo-leaves with a better constructed inner cup of fine roots and finer grasses. The grass is, however, more often mixed with other materials than one finds in most Scimitar-Babblers’ nests. Fern-fronds, dead leaves, coarse roots and pieces of bracken are frequently to be seen whilst, occasionally, nests may be made almost entirely of moss.
Hume describes such a nest taken by a Mr. Carter on the Nilgiris on the 7th April. The nest “is a huge globular mass of moss and fine moss-roots some 7 inches in diameter, with, on the upper side, an entrance to a small egg-cavity some 3.1/2, inches in diameter, and 2 inches in depth. It is a most singular nest, a great compact ball of soft feathery moss and very fine moss-roots, which latter predominate in the inside of the cavity and so form a sort of lining to it. The great body of the nest is below the cavity, the over¬hanging dome-like covering of the cavity being comparatively thin.”
Jerdon also describes a Nilgiri nest as made of moss and moss-roots.
Bourdillon took many nests of this Scimitar-Babbler and most of these he describes as domed affairs made of leaves and grass lined with roots, but in one or two he mentions moss as being used with the other materials, and in one he uses the expression “a great deal of moss.”
The nest is nearly always placed on the ground, on a bank for choice, under the shelter of a bush, tree-roots or overhanging top to the bank but, occasionally, it is placed off the ground in a bush.
In Travancore they breed principally from December to February, but Stewart took one nest as late as the 2nd May. In the Nilgiris and other hills, although they do lay sometimes in December and January, more eggs are to be seen from the end of March to May. Many birds probably have two broods. Sometimes they sit very close, and one’s attention is first attracted to the nest by a rat-like object bounding away from just under one’s feet, for they never seem to fly when leaving the nest.
As to the number of eggs laid, Hume says “they lay five” ; Davison says “the normal number seems to be five,” and Miss Cockburn says “three to five.” Then we have Bourdillon, who tells me they never lay more than three and often only two ; Stewart’s experience is the same, whilst both Cardew and Howard Campbell in the Nilgiris found two more often than three. Finally, in my own series I have no bigger clutch than three.
They are of the usual pure white, rather thin shell, with fine texture but no hard china gloss.
Twenty eggs average 25.6 x 18.8 mm. : maxima 27.4 x 20.4 and 27.3 x 21.2 mm. ; minima 24.4 x 18.2 and 25.3 x 18.0 mm.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. 1932.
Title in Book: 
208. Pomatorhinus horsfieldi travancoriensis
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Sourn Indian Scimitar Babbler
Pomatorhinus horsfieldii travancoreensis
Vol. 1

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