1139. Palaeornis cyanocephalus

1139. Palaeornis cyanocephalus.

The Western Blossom-headed Paroquet.

Psittacus cyanocephalus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 141 (1766). Psittacus purpureus, Mull. Natursyst. Suppl. p. 74 (1776) ; Walden in Myth's Birds Burnt, p. 56. Palaeornis bengalensis, apud Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S. xi, p. 208. Palaeornis cyanocephalus, Wagl. Mon. Psitt. (Abh. k. bayer. Ak. Wiss. i,) p. 517; Blyth, Cat. p. 5 (part.); Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 616 (part.); Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 174; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xx, p. 448. Palaeornis rosa, apud Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 259; Beavan, Ibis, 1865, p. 409; Blyth, Ibis, 1870, p. 162 ; Gould, Birds of Asia, vi, pl. 2 (pt. xxvi). Palaeornis purpureus, Hume, N. & E. p. 116; id. Cat. no. 149; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 241; Tidal, S. F. ix, p. 51; Butler, ibid. p. 384; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 109; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 87.

The Rose-headed Parrakeet, Jerdon; Tuia Tola, H. (in S. India); Faraida, Beng.; Tui-suga, Nepal; Kir, Mahr.; Rama chilluka, Tel.; Batu girawa, Malitchia, Cing.; Killi, Tam. Ceylon.

Coloration. Male. Head above and at the sides red, tinged with blue (like the bloom on a plum) on the lower cheeks, occiput, and nape, most strongly near the narrow black collar that includes the chin and extends from the lower mandible round the neck; hind-neck and sides of neck, behind the collar, verdigris-green; rump the same; back and scapulars yellowish green; wings green; quills pale-edged ; coverts edged with verdigris; a deep red patch on the middle secondary-coverts; median tail-feathers blue, greener towards the base, broadly tipped white, the next pair with the outer webs blue, the others green on the outer, yellow on the inner webs, all except the median pair tipped with yellow, all yellowish below ; lower parts light yellowish green ; axillaries and under wing-coverts bluish green. Occasionally the wing-spot is orange, not red.

Female. Head dull bluish grey (plum-blue), cheeks and chin greyer and paler; no black nor verdigris collar, but a yellow ring round the neck, broader on the side and covering the throat.

Young birds are green throughout, and assume the cap gradually.

Upper mandible orange-yellow, lower black or blackish; iris white or yellowish white ; feet dusky sap-green.

Length about 14; tail 8.5; wing 5.25; tarsus .6; bill from cere to tip .6. Females rather less.

Distribution. Throughout the Peninsula of India and Ceylon in suitable tracts, extending west to Mount Abu, Sambhar, and the Eastern Punjab, and throughout the lower Himalayas (according to Hume) to near Murree. This bird is found on the Western Himalayas up to about 5000 feet. This species and the next both occur in the Terai of Eastern Nepal, Sikhim, and the Bhutan Duars, and perhaps in parts of Bengal. The statement (S. P. vii, p. 261) that this species occurs in Dibrugarh, Assam, appears due to some mistake. Mr. Cripps's specimens in the Hume collection are all P. rosa.

Habits, &c. This is far more a forest-bird than P. torquatus, though it is found in well-wooded cultivated districts as well as in forest. It is somewhat migratory, retiring to the denser woods and often to hill-forests to breed, and visiting more open country in the rains. Its flight is even swifter than that of P. torquatus, and its cry is softer and more musical; otherwise its habits are the same. The breeding-season is from February to May; and the eggs, which are usually four in number, are white when fresh, broader in proportion than those of P. torquatus, and much smaller, the average measurements being 1 by .81. This Paroquet is less frequently kept tame than P. nepalensis and P. torquatus.

There can be no question that the Indian, not the Burmese, species was the Psittacus cyanocephalus of Linnaeus. There was a mistake, as Legge pointed put, in Gould's ' Birds of Asia,' and the names of the two were exchanged. This was also noticed in Gould's letterpress under P. rosa. "Blossom-headed Parrakeet" is Latham's name, and more than 100 years old.

The Fauna Of British India including Ceylon and Burma
Blanford, William Thomas, ed. The Fauna of British India: Including Ceylon and Burma. Vol.3 1895.
Title in Book: 
1139. Palaeornis cyanocephalus
Book Author: 
William Thomas Blanford
Page No: 
Common name: 
Western Blossom Headed Paroquet
Plum-headed Parakeet
Psittacula cyanocephala
Vol. 3

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