215. Pomatorhinus rufleollis bakeri

(215) Pomatorhinus ruflcollis bakeri Harington.
Pomatorhinus ruficollis bakeri, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 217.
This race of Rufous-necked Scimitar-Babbler is found throughout the hills of Assam South of the Brahmapootra, extending quite commonly into the Chin Hills.
It is a very numerous breeder in the South Assam Hills between 3,000 and 5,000 feet, whilst on Mount Victoria, in the Chin Hills, it nests nearly up to 7,000 feet. In the Bhamo Hills both Harington and Grant obtained it between 3,000 and 5,000 feet. My own experience of this bird is that it prefers tree-forest with a good deal of undergrowth. As a rule it selects forest which is humid and green all the year round, but I have also taken its nest from stunted Oak forest with a carpet of Caladiums, Jasmine, brambles and other plants. Here, though the undergrowth is more scanty, there are thick patches of Blackberries and Raspberries in which the Scimitar-Babblers can comfortably hide their nests. Sometimes the nest is built in or under clumps of bamboos in mixed bamboo or scrub-jungle and sometimes they are placed in the tangled secondary growth in deserted rice-fields. In the Khasia Hills I have also seen nests built in bracken and grass on the outskirts of Pine forest and once I found a nest built in a thick Daphne-bush inside Pine forest.
Most nests are, I think, placed actually on the ground, though generally it is in places where this slopes well so as to carry off the rain, which would otherwise soon destroy the nests. At other times they are placed low down in bushes, creepers or vines and but very rarely in a bush more than four feet from the ground.
The nests, which are of the usual dome-shape, measure anything between 6 and 8 inches in length and between 4 and 6 in breadth, with an inner cup of about 3.1/2 by 3 inches. The outer part of the nest is made most often of bamboo-leaves, not interlaced, but each layer at right angles to the next, and consisting of four to six such layers. Sometimes these are strengthened and bound with a few long roots, a weed-stem or two or a tendril but, for the most part, they have no binding and fall to pieces directly they are moved. Bracken-scraps, fern-leaves and grass are often mixed with the bamboo-leaves and I have taken a nest composed outwardly entirely of bracken. The inner cup or lining is of bamboo-roots much more strongly and tidily put together and often finished off with quite a good lining of fine roots.
Unfortunately the nests are so badly built that it is impossible to examine the contents without damaging them and the birds desert at once, even if incubation is quite advanced. Like most Scimitar-Babblers, they sit close, only leaving when an intruder is within a few feet of the nest. If this is high up they tumble out of it on to the ground and then leap away into the cover, generally remaining close by and, every now and then, giving an impatient little “hoot-hoot” or chuckle. If the nest is not handled too much they return to it at once and are very easy to snare but, if the material is badly displaced, they seem to spot it from some distance and keep away.
In Assam it breeds principally in May and June, a few birds laying both in April and July. In the Chin Hills it is rather earlier, more eggs being laid in April than later on, whilst, in the Bhamo Hills, Grant took eggs in April and Harington saw birds taking food to their young in that month, though he failed to locate the nests.
The eggs number three to five, generally four only. Fifty of them average 23.4 x 17.4 mm. : maxima 25.6 x 18.1 and 24.3 x 18.8 mm. ; minima 21.5 x 17.5 and 23.2 x 15.7 mm.
Both birds share in the building of the nest but the cock bird seems to do all the carrying work, whilst the hen puts the materials together. She is much more particular than is he and discards much of what he brings, though this may be only henpecking, as I have seen him offer a discarded bamboo-leaf a second time and have it accepted, and I have also seen the hen, when her husband’s back was turned, using the very pieces which a minute before she had told him were useless. So, too, both sexes take a part in incubation, as those trapped on the nest were as often one sex as the other.
Incubation takes, so far as I could make out, fourteen days.
Pomatorhinus ochraceiceps.

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: 
215. Pomatorhinus rufleollis bakeri
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Cachar Rufous Necked Scimitar Babbler
Pomatorhinus ruficollis bakeri
Vol. 1

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