119. Pomatorhinus melanurus.
The Ceylonese Scimitar Babbler.
Pomatorhinus melanurus, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xvi, p. 451 (1847) ; id. Cat. p. 146; Hume, S. F. i, p. 437; Legge, S. F. iv, p. 245; Whyte, S. F. v, p. 202 ; Wardlaw Ramsay, Ibis, 1878, p. 132 ; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 383 ; id. Cat. no. 404 bis; Leyye, Birds Ceyl. p. 501; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. vii, p. 414; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. i, p. 83.
Coloration. Forehead, lores, ear-coverts, and beneath the eve black ; a white supercilium from the nostrils to the nape bordered above by dark brown or black ; crown and nape rufescent brown ; upper plumage, sides of neck and body, vent, and under tail-coverts rufous-brown ; chin, throat, breast, and abdomen pure white; tail blackish, washed with ferruginous near the base.
Iris brownish red, dull red, or reddish brown ; orbital skin and eyelid dull blue ; bill gamboge-yellow, more or less blackish from the forehead to a short distance in front of the nostril; legs and feet plumbeous or greenish plumbeous, feet generally more bluish than tarsi; claws dusky, pale horn at base (Legge).
Length about 8.5; tail 3.6 ; wing 3.5; tarsus 1.2; bill from gape 1.2.
The ear-coverts are occasionally streaked with white and the edges of the breast and sides of neck are also streaked with the same. The head and upper plumage vary a good deal in depth of colour, the crown being occasionally a very dark brown or blackish, but after examining a very large series I am of opinion that all the Ceylon birds are of one species.
This bird has the same general character of plumage as the three preceding ones, but it differs in not having any chestnut on the side of the neck, the sides of the neck as well as the edges of the breast being of the same rufous-brown as the upper plumage.
Distribution. Confined to Ceylon.
Habits, &c. Breeds from December to February, constructing a nest made of leaves and grass on a bank in jungle. The eggs measure .97 by .7.