(105) Psittiparus ruficeps bakeri.
Scaeorhynchus ruficeps bakeri Hartert, Nov. Zool., vii, p. 548 (1900) (Hungrum, N. Cachar).
Vernacular names. Daomaogasha gajao (Cachari); Indo-rui Ingaoria (Naga) ; Vohtera (Mikir).
Description. Differs from the Red-headed Parrot-Bill in having the under parts tinged everywhere with buff and in being a little larger.
Measurements. Wing 90 to 95 mm.; tail about 95 mm.; bill from forehead to tip in a straight line 16 mm., and about 14 mm. deep as against 12 mm. in ruficeps.
Colours of soft parts as in ruficeps, but the bill is a darker horny-brown, more especially above, and the legs are generally quite a dark slate-blue.
Distribution. Hills south of the Brahmaputra, Chin Hills, Shan States through the hills of Central Burma to Tenasserim.
Nidification. This Parrot-Bill breeds principally in late May and early June, but eggs have been taken from the 15th April to the 24th July. The nest is composed of shreds of grass, shreds of bamboo leaves and the bark of reeds and bamboos, lined with finer grasses and strips of bark and bound together with cobwebs. In shape it is a deep, very well-built cup, externally about 3 to 4 inches broad and deep, whilst internally it is nearly an inch less each way. It may sometimes be placed in reeds and high grass, more often in bamboo clumps, but most nests will be taken from small saplings and high or low bushes. The height from the ground may be anything from 2 to 8 feet.
The eggs, either two or three in number, rarely four, remind one very much of those of the Garden-Warbler. The groundcolour is white tinged with green, grey or yellowish, sometimes reddish. The markings consist of spots, irregular blotches and cloudings of pale sienna-brown, reddish brown and neutral tint; these, never very numerous, are scattered indefinitely over most of the larger half of the egg; sometimes they are quite sparse and confined to the big end. Forty-five eggs average 21.5 x 16.7 mm.
Habits. Baker's Parrot-Bill is found at all heights between 2,000 and 5,000 feet, ascending some 1,000 feet higher than this in the summer and perhaps 1,000 feet lower in the winter. They wander about in parties of a dozen or so, seldom showing themselves except momentarily as they clamber through the grass or undergrowth. Occasionally they will visit the higher bushes and small trees in searching for insects but these they leave at once when disturbed. When feeding they utter a constant " chee-chirrup," but when separated from one another their call is the typical bleat of the family. So curiously like is it to the plaintive bleat of a small kid in distress that I have more than once been deceived by it.
Whilst almost as active as the Titmouses in climbing about, they are much less so on the wing, for their flight is fluttering, ill-sustained and weak, nor do they ever take to wing unless com-pelled.
Their food is principally insectivorous, but they also eat a certain amount of seeds and even grain.