209. Pomatorhinus horsfleldi melanurus

(209) Pomatorhinus horsfieldi melanurus Blyth.
Pomatorhinus horsfieldi melanurus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 212.
As its name implies, this bird is found only in Ceylon, where it keeps to the damper forests in the hills and is rare, though it occurs, in the drier areas. Wait says “it is a shy woodland species, which keeps close to cover, and ventures near habitations only when the thickets admit. In the hills it is especially fond of the strips of jungle bordering streams.”
It also enters Tea-gardens and sometimes places its nest in a Tea-bush close to the forest. The nest itself and the site in which it is placed vary so greatly that it is hard to generalize. In most cases the nest is typical of that of the species, that is to say, a large oval ball of leaves, bamboo-leaves and grasses with an inner cup of fine roots, the latter compact and well put together, the former very loose and falling to pieces when handled. Among the more abnormal nests the following may be quoted:—“Nest of dead leaves and decaying vegetable matter, lined with fine grasses” (W. W. A. Phillips). “An untidy and rather deep cup composed of dried bark of the Dadap tree and a few dried leaves, the interior being fined With dried Dadap leaves” (T. E. Tunnard), “The nest was of a far neater construction than is usual with this bird, being a compact cup of fine rootlets and grass with a few dead leaves attached to the outside” (T. E. T.).
In regard to the site, the usual position is on the ground, in preference on a bank, in fairly thick forest. Hume, quoting Legge, refers to this curious variation : “Mr. Bligh has found the nest in crevices in trees, between a projecting piece of bark and the trunk, also in a jungle-path cutting and on a ledge of a rock. It is usually composed of moss, grass-roots, fibre and a few dead leaves, and the structure is rather a slovenly one.”
Phillips took one nest from a hole in a tree in forest and Tunnard found one nest built in the fork of a tree in forest, six feet from the ground, and a second placed low down in a garden-hedge.
The breeding season extends from December to May, January and February being the two months in which most eggs are laid.
Hume quotes Legge to the effect that the eggs number three to five, and Wait, probably also quoting Legge, gives the same numbers as found in a full clutch. Five, however, must be wrong, for Wait, Phillips, Kellow, Tunnard and others seem never to have found more than three eggs in a nest, whilst they have also found two eggs only frequently incubated.
Thirty-two eggs average 25.1 x 18.6 mm. : maxima 27.1 x 20.0 mm. ; minima 22.9 x 17.8 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: 
209. Pomatorhinus horsfleldi melanurus
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Ceylon Brown Flanked Scimitar Babbler
Sri Lanka Scimitar Babbler
Pomatorhinus melanurus
Vol. 1

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