(1335) Psarisomus dalhousiae.
The Long -tailed Broadbill.
Eurylaimus dalhousiae Jameson, Edin. N. Ph. J., xviii. p. 389 (1835) (North India). Psarisomus dalhousiae. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 11.
Vernacular names, Rai-i (Nepal.); Dang-mo-mith, Dang-mit-pho (Lepcha) ; Dao-hangari rajah (Cachari).
Description. A narrow frontal line, lores and anterior ear-coverts greenish-yellow; a patch on the crown bright blue; a smaller, elongate spot on either side of the hinder crown bright yellow, often suffused in part with bright blue or green and sometimes paler at the. base; remainder of crown and nape, posterior ear-coverts and sides of neck black; chin and throat bright yellow produced as a collar behind the black but interrupted in the middle^ by a patch of bright blue; upper plumage, lesser and median wing-coverts and innermost .secondaries bright grass-green ; greater coverts black, edged with grass-green ; primaries black, the basal half of the outer webs brilliant ultramarine, shading into blue-green and then green towards the tips; secondaries black with green outer edges ; central tail-feathers bright blue, gradually getting more green towards the outermost feathers which are blackish on the inner webs; under surface of tail and wing black, the latter showing a white patch on base of the inner webs of the primaries, quite concealed from above ; thighs blackish; remainder of lower plumage bright pale grass-green, in most individuals more or less washed with blue.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown or red-brown ; bill apple-green, the ed^es of the commissure paler and yellowish and a broad dark streak down the centre; legs and feet dull light green, or plumbeous-green.
Measurements. Total length 250 to 270 mm.; wing 95 to 107 mm.; tail 95 to 136 nun.; tarsus 27 to 28 mm.; culmen 17 to 18 mm. long and 16 to 17 mm. wide at the gape.
Northern birds are larger than Southern but there is much overlapping and I can find no other characters by which we can separate this wide-spread species into geographical races. Wing measurements in detail are as follows : -
Sikkim. Assam and Shan States .... 100 to 107 mm.
Annam 100 to 101 mm.
Malay States 95 to 104 mm.
Borneo and Sumatra 95 to 100 mm.
Young birds are like the adult but have no blue on the head and the chin an 1 throat are greenish-yellow.
The colours of the soft parts are different: the iris is pale glaucous blue and the orbital skin livid yellow; the bill is pale to dark pinkish-horny : the legs and feet livid flesh-colour, merely tinged with brown.
Distribution. Himalayas from Kuman aud Mussoorie on the West to Eastern Assam ; Manipur, Lushai Hills, Tippera and Chittagong Hill Tracts; throughout the hills of Burma South to the Malay States; Shan States, Siam and Annam ; Borneo and Sumatra.
Nidification. This beautiful Broadbill breeds freely between 2,000 and 4,000 feet and less frequently up to 6,000 feet and down to the foot-hills and adjoining plains. The earliest date I have taken eggs was the 3rd of April and the latest the 24th of August, undoubtedly a second brood. May and June are the principal breeding months. The nest is quite typical of the family and larger than any except that of the Dusky Broadbill. It is the usual immense pear-shaped structure, even more untidy than most and with a very long tail, whilst in size it- may be anything between 3 feet and 4| feet long. The lining is occasionally of green leaves but generally of dead leaves, grass and fibres only. All the nests I have seen have been in evergreen-forests, though in some cases these were comparatively narrow strips on the banks of streams and occasionally mixed with bamboo. In nine cases out of ten they are built so as to overhang water. One nest is recorded as having been attached to telegraph-wires. The eggs number from four to eight, five and six being the usual full clutch ; in colour they vary very greatly and, curiously, they go through exactly the same types of coloration as do those of the Common Black Drongo. Some are pure white; others white boldly and handsomely blotched with light reddish-brown or deep reddish-brown; others again vary from the palest cream or pink to warm salmon-pink with the same variation in the blotches. Most eggs have underlying marks of reddish neutral tint or lavender but they are not very distinct or very numerous. Two-hundred eggs average 27.4 x 19.4 mm.: maxima 29,6 x 19,5 and 29.2 x 20.5 mm.; minima 25.0 x 18.8 and 27.0 x 17.0 mm.
Habits. The Long-tailed Broadbill is resident from the foothills up to about 6,000 feet and in the Winter wanders into the plains. It is a bird of evergreen-forests and its favourite haunts seem to be deep shady ravines in dense forest without much undergrowth. Like most Broadbills its active hours are in the mornings and evenings ; at these times it is fairly alert but it is very confiding and fearless and does not resent being watched at close quarters. It is, like all the family, mainly insectivorous but it will eat any small living thing and one I shot had eaten two small green tree-frogs. It eats many larvae and pupae which it gets out of the bark of trees, to which it may often be seen clinging for this purpose. A noticeable habit of this Broadbill is to alight at the extreme end of a hanging creeper or pendent bough and thence climb cautiously up it, searching the leaves for insects as it climbs. Its actions when thus engaged are very parrot-like and the broad soft soles of its feet give it a very-tenacious grasp of comparatively small twigs or plant-stems. It flies well but not very quickly and often catches insects in flight. It has a soft chirring note when feeding, a not unmusical, but rather shrill, whistling call and several harsh tin-kettley notes when annoyed or disturbed.