(209) Pomatorhinus horsfieldi melanurus.
THE CEYLON SCIMITAR-BABBLER.
Pomatorhinus melanurus Blyth, J. A. S. B., xvi, p. 481 (1847} (Ceylon) ; Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 118.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Similar to horsfieldi horsfieldi but with no demarcations between the plumage of the upper parts and the sides of the breast and neck, the latter being of the same ferruginous, brown as the former; the tail is very dark marked with ferruginous at the base.
Colours of soft parts. Iris reddish brown to dull red; orbital skin and eyelid dull blue; bill pale to dark yellow, blackish on the base; legs and feet slaty or greenish plumbeous ; feet, generally more bluish than tarsi, claws dusky-horny.
Measurements. Length about 210 to 215 mm.; wing about 86 to 94 mm.; tail about 95 mm.; tarsus about 30 mm.; culmen about 25 to 26 mm.
Distribution. Ceylon only.
The Description given above is for the individuals obtained in the South, where heat and humidity are at their greatest. Birds, obtained on the Horton Plains and at the highest altitudes are more olive than rufous and paler, less rich, in coloration throughout. I cannot, however, on the material available define the habitat of either form, and therefore refrain from naming another new race.
Nidification. Breeds in the months November to March, making a typical Scimitar-Babbler's nest and laying two or three pure white eggs, indistinguishable from those of other species. It is noticeable that the eggs of Southern Scimitar-Babblers are more regularly elliptical and less pointed oval in shape than are those of Northern birds, but every variation is to be found in both. Two eggs of the present bird measure 23.0 x 17.8 mm.
Habits. These Babblers associate either in pairs or small flocks, haunting any class of thick cover and working both the ground, bushes and the lower branches of trees for food. Legge describes their habit of indulging in dances and gesticulations, if such a term may be applied to birds. Their voice, flight and general habits are similar to those of the Indian species.
Key to Subspecies.
A. Crown of head nearly black, much darker
than back P.f. ferruginosus, P. 213.
B. Crown of head olive-brown or practically
con-colorous with back,
a. Breast bright ferruginous P. f. phayrei, p. 214.
b. Breast pale ferruginous buff P.f. albigularis, p. 215.
c. Breast buffy white or very pale buff.... P.f. mariae, p. 215.