224. Pomatorhinus hypoleucos hypoleucos

(224) Pomatorhinus hypoleucos hypoleucos (Blyth).
Pomatorhinus hypoleucus hypoleucus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 222.
This Scimitar-Babbler, a species distinguishable at a glance from all others of the genus by its massive bill, is resident and breeds throughout the lower hills of Assam, Manipur, the Looshai Hills and Chin Hills. This is not a bird of high elevations, though I once found a nest at Guilang, about 4,000 feet. Its habitat is the foot-hills at 1,000 feet and under and the adjacent plains, where it keeps to the densest of bamboo, scrub- or cane-jungle, seeming to prefer the last-named wherever available. Sometimes it is to be met with in forest, especially where the undergrowth is heavy and the ground swampy, but it practically never ventures into open country or grass-lands, either for breeding or feeding.
The first nest I found was in the Jetinga Valley at about 500 feet ; it was placed in a tangle of extremely thorny cane-brake in soaking wet evergreen forest on the banks of the Jetinga stream. A bird scurrying along the ground attracted my attention to what looked like a mass of wind-driven bamboo-leaves, visible from the track I was passing along, yet almost ungetatable. Patience and time, however, enabled me to cut a path through the few yards of matted canes and then, putting my hand into the mass of leaves, I took out three fine white eggs of this Scimitar-Babbler. The nest was a huge semi-domed affair, lying on its side, and measuring about 14 inches long by about 10 wide, made of bamboo-leaves and grass with a few dead leaves and roots mixed in, the rough and meagre lining consisting of a few roots and finer scraps of grass. Retiring, I hid myself carefully and, in a few moments, I saw the bird sneaking like a rat through the dead leaves and fallen debris ; in a minute she was on the nest again but, directly I stood up and exposed myself, she leaped out of the nest and I shot her as she bounded off, taking leaps which must have been three feet long at a time.
Other nests found later were similar in construction but made more exclusively of bamboo-leaves. They were placed on the ground in bamboo- and scrub-jungle of the thickest kind or in cane- brakes like that already described. One of my collectors said that the bird was very common in the immense reeds, canes and elephant-grass stretches of Sylhet at the foot of the Khasia Hills but that it was impossible to locate their nests, though their deep low hoots could be heard everywhere in the mornings and evenings. The one nest he succeeded in getting was placed in among a dense mass of shrubs and prickly creepers.
A nest found by Hopwood differed considerably from those obtained by me. He describes it (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xxi, p. 1198, 1912) as “made of the twigs and tendrils of a creeper, and thickly lined with roots and fibres of ferns. It was placed in a fork of a bamboo and contained two eggs. It was taken on the 26th January.
They are very early breeders, some birds laying in January and February, whilst my latest were taken on the 25th April. Mr. H. A. Hole took eggs during January and February in Sylhet and Cachar and Inglis told me that they certainly bred in these months in Hylakandy.
They lay two or three eggs, perhaps usually the latter.
Twelve eggs average 30.1 x 21.7 mm. : maxima 32.5 x 22.2 and 29.8 x 22.4 mm. ; minima 27.5 x 21.0 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: 
224. Pomatorhinus hypoleucos hypoleucos
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Arrakan Heavy Billed Scimitar Babbler
Pomatorhinus hypoleucos hypoleucos
Vol. 1

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