(940) Prinia inornata inornata.
The Indian Wren-Warbler.
Prinia inornata Sykes, P. Z. S., 1833, p. 89 (Deccan) j Blanf. & Oates, i, p 452.
Vernacular names. Lota-kun-jitta (Tel.); Niongpho (Lepcha).
Description.— Summer. Whole upper plumage and visible parts of wings pale earthy-brown with darker centres to the feathers ; the wing-quills edged a little more rufescent; tail pale earthy-brown, faintly cross-rayed, edged with rufous and the inner webs much paler than the outer, generally with an ill-defined dark subterminal bar; a short supercilium and feathers round the eye fulvous-white; lores dark brown ; ear-coverts and upper cheeks pale brown; whole lower plumage pale pinkish-fulvous, darker on the thighs, vent and under tail-coverts ; axillaries and under wing-coverts fulvous.
Colours of soft parts. Iris yellowish brown to bright yellow ; bill black in Summer, brown, with a paler fleshy base, in Winter ; legs and feet fleshy-white to light yellowish brown.
Measurements. Wing 51 to 53 mm.; tail 50 to 65 mm.; tarsus about 22 mm.; culmen 10 to 11 mm.
In Winter the upper plumage is more fulvous-brown, the darker centres only showing on the crown.
Distribution, The whole of India, North of the Nilgiris and Northern Travancore; East to Upper Assam, North ot the Brahmaputra.
Nidification. The Indian Wren-Warbler commences to breed in June as soon as the Bains break and continues until August and September. In Oudh most eggs are laid in July and these two latter months ; in East Bengal and North Assam, however, many nests may be found in March and February. In shape the nests are either globular, oval, or deep purses. The domed nests vary from about 4 to 6 inches either way but the purse nests are generally much more narrow, seldom more than 3 inches wide but, on the other hand, very deep, sometimes as much as 8 or 9 inches and usually 6 inches or more. They are made entirely of very fine strips of grass-blades, strongly and carefully interwoven but without any lining. They may be placed in coarse grass, weeds or in a low bush and, where there are Tea-gardens, tea-bushes form a very favourite site. The eggs are bright blue, spotted sparingly but boldly with reddish brown, purple or blood-red brown and black and often have numerous hair-lines as well. The underlying spots are of lavender or pale purple-grey. The effect of the blue ground and dark marking is very bold and handsome. In shape the eggs are broad blunt ovals, and two hundred of them average 15.6 x 11.5 mm.: maxima 18.0 x 12.5 and 16.1 x 12.5 mm.; minima 14.0 x 10.6 and 14.5 x 10.1 mm.
The eggs number three to five.
Habits. This is a very familiar little Warbler, being found in some numbers, wherever there is sufficient low cover, round about houses, villages and towns, often entering into and even breeding in shrubs and grass in gardens. It has a loud note sounding like weet-weet-weet, which it often indulges in, but no song, though, like the other Prinias, the male is very fond of mounting some high perch, where it twitters and trills excitedly, evidently in the full belief it is singing. Its flight is the usual top-heavy, feeble attempt of the genus and it is much more active on its legs preferring to escape upon them into thick cover rather than take to wing. It prefers grass-cover to any other, but also frequents bushes, crops and secondary growth, though it is never found in heavy jungle or forest. It ascends the foot-hills up to some 3,000 feet but is not common over that elevation.