(199) Pomatorhinus schisticeps schisticeps.
THE SLATY-HEADED SCIMITAR-BABBLER.
Pomatorhinus schisticeps Hodgs., As. Res., xix, p. 181 (1836) (Nepal); Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 116.
Vernacular names. Pabdoa (Beng.): Phoyeum-pho or Phurreeam-pho (Lepeha); Bhiakuroh (Parbuttiah).
Description. Forehead to nape dark slate, the shafts darker; upper plumage and wing-coverts rufescent olive-brown; a bold supercilium from nostrils to nape white; lores and ear-coverts black; a large patch on the sides of the neck extending to sides of breast and abdomen rich maroon-chestnut, streaked with white except on the neck; flanks, vent and under tail-coverts dusky olive-brown; remainder of under parts from chin white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris pale yellow, pale reddish yellow or pale creamy; pale glaucous-brown in young birds; bill pale dull yellow, the base of the upper mandible blackish; legs slaty, claws horny and soles yellowish.
Measurements. Length about 270 mm.; wing about 98 to 106 mm.; tail about 115 to 120 mm.; tarsus about 32 mm.; culmen . about 27 mm.
Distribution. Nepal, Sikkim and hills North of the Brahmaputra; how far East is not known exactly at present, but Stevens found it common in N. Lakhimpur.
Nidification. This Scimitar-Babbler breeds freely from the foothills of the Himalayas up to at least 5,000 feet, but is most common between 1,500 and 2,500 feet. It makes a nest of grass, leaves and fibrous material, either cup-shaped or with the materials produced so as to make it domed though the top is so fragile that it often collapses and appears to be only part of an ill-made shallow saucer. The eggs are three or four in number, pure white, as with all Scimitar-Babblers, fragile for their size, .sometimes highly glossed, sometimes almost or quite glossless, generally a distinctly pointed oval, and they measure about 26.4 x 18.0 mm. The breeding season is April, May and June.
Habits. The Slaty-headed Scimitar-Babbler is a sociable, noisy bird but its notes when disturbed or alarmed are very mellow .and musical and during the breeding season, when the flocks break up into pairs, it has a low, musical " hoot-hoot," which the two birds constantly utter as they wander about hunting for food. They keep much to low jungle, secondary growth and bamboo-jungle and also feed on the ground, turning over the leaves and rubbish just as the true Laughing-Thrushes do.