(1497) Psittacula eupatria nepalensis Hodgs.
THE INDIAN LARGE PAROQUET.
Psittacula eupatria nepalensis, Fauna B. L, Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iv, p. 109.
The actual breeding range of this Paroquet has not been very well defined. It breeds in the hills of the Western Himalayas as far East as Nepal and over the whole of Northern India in the plains as far as Western Bengal, whence it has been recorded from Calcutta, though I should expect the Calcutta birds to be indoburmanica. South it occurs in Raipur and Sambalpur in the Central Provinces and also in the West as far South as Kanara, These last birds again may be the same as the Ceylon form, an opinion undoubtedly finally held by Davidson.
Like the last race, this Paroquet may be found in any kind of country, and is common in Northern India in gardens, avenues to roads and in cultivated land round villages. It will breed in practically any tree which suits its convenience. Possibly Mango trees in groves provide the favourite nesting sites and, as a rule, they prefer to make their nesting-holes at great heights from the ground, somewhere between 20 and 40 feet up. At the same time many nests may betaken between 10 and 20 feet from the ground, Hutton says that he has found the Cotton-tree (Bombax heptaphyllum, and B. malabaricum) the favourite trees for nesting, while some birds select such hardwood-trees as the Sal (Shorea robusta). As a rule the birds choose natural holes in which to deposit their eggs ; in some cases these are used just as they are, but often the birds enlarge both the entrance and the internal chamber. At other times these Paroquets drill neat circular holes into rotten trees and cut out the whole of the chamber for themselves, while occasionally they are said to hollow out their homes in trees which are quite sound and hard. It is said also that they sometimes make use of deserted nesting-holes of Barbets or Woodpeckers, enlarging those which are not big enough to allow of their easy entrance and exit.
Osmaston took one clutch of eggs “in a square hole in the dome of a big mosque-like building in Peshawar city, 50' up. Nest of straw, feathers etc, (a deserted Myna’s nest).”
Often, of course, the holes used by Paroquets in trees have been previously occupied by Mynas, Pied Robins etc., and then the old nests of these birds are not turned out but serve as soft beds for the young Paroquets ; at the same time I do not think the birds themselves ever make a nest of any sort.
Ticehurst (Ibis, 1923, p. 43) thinks that in Sind this bind is not indigenous but that the birds, which are now “common in Karachi, but are not found elsewhere, are all the descendants of escaped birds.” This, however, is not the case. Bulkly took the eggs of this Paroquet before I went to India in 1881 near Karachi, and Eates tells me that the bird is extremely common in Upper Sind in many places. At Ubauro ho found forty nests in one day in February mostly containing callow young, but a few with eggs, of which he sent me a clutch of four. The inhabitants spoke of the birds as being known from all time "within human knowledge.”
In Karachi Ticehurst says it “breeds early, and chiefly utilizes bungalow chimney-pots for nesting in the absence of suitable trees” ; But Eates found them “breeding in holes in large siris, pipal and lai trees,”
The breeding season is from December to April, most birds laying in January and February.
The full clutch consists of three or four eggs.
Sixty eggs average 35.2 x 28.7 mm. : maxima 29.7 x 29.0 and 35.7 x 30.3 mm. ; minima 32.2 x 28.4 and 34.9 x 27.3 mm.
Both sexes incubate and both assist in making the nest-hole, which work proceeds at a great speed. If the wood is at all soft the birds tear out great fids in their powerful bills, and a couple of hours suffices to make the entrance and two or three more to complete the nest-chamber. When the wood is hard the work may take a week or even ten days.
The birds sit very tight, often refusing to move and attacking with savage bites any hand which may be foolishly inserted. Anyone wishing to remove eggs of any Paroquet should swathe their hands in a cloth or wear very stout leather gauntlets.
Hutton says that incubation takes about twenty-one days, and I have found that with the next race, indoburmanica, nineteen to twenty-one days is the time occupied. The fledgling period lasts over a month.
1497. Psittacula eupatria nepalensis
(1497) Psittacula eupatria nepalensis Hodgs.