359. Pteruthius xanthochloris

(359) Pteruthius xanthochloris occidentalis Harington.
The Simla Green Shrike-Babbler.
Pteruthius xanthochloris occidentalis, Fuana B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 336.
This, a Western form of the preceding bird, is found from the Sutlej Valley to Garhwal and probably Western Nepal. Rattray found it common in Murree from 7,000 feet upwards, Whymper records it as breeding rarely at Naini Tal, probably at about 5,500 feet, whilst Osmaston took several nests at Chakrata between 8,000 and 9,000 feet, and some years before this in the Tons Valley at 8,000 feet. In the Simla States it must be comparatively common between 6,500 and 8,000 feet, and here Jones took three or four nests in the years 1915 to 1919.
The first collector to discover the nest and eggs of this Shrike- Babbler was B. B. Osmaston, who thus writes about them (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. ix, p. 65, 1897) “On April 14th I found a nest of this bird containing two fresh eggs. The nest was at an elevation of 8,000 feet, in mixed spruce and deodar forest, and was suspended like that of an Oriole or White-eye from the slender horizontal forked twig of a deodar sapling, about 7 feet above the ground. It was in shape a deep cup, very thin and delicate, but neatly put together.
“The groundwork of the nest consists of root-fibres and a grey hair-like tree lichen (Usnea sp.), decorated on the outside with ordinary grey leaf lichens, the whole structure being bound together with silky spider cocoons and threads. The deep cavity is lined with fine black hair-like fibres (the rhizomorph of a fungus) and the nest is attached to the twigs by the red egg-cocoons of a spider.
“Two appears to be the full complement of eggs for this species as I waited two days after finding the nest, but no more were laid.”
In the same journal (vol. xxiv, p. 369, 1916) A. E. Jones gives a good account of another nest taken near Simla at 8,000 feet on the 12th June :—“ The nest was suspended from the angle where two slender horizontal twigs of a wild Laurel bifurcated, and was 18" from the ground. The locality is well wooded and has abundant undergrowth.
“Materials of the nest, which is a very flimsy structure, are green moss and very fine (hair-like) grass. This is smeared over with a fine layer of spiders’ webs and then exteriorly decorated with flakes of lichen. The lining consists of black stems of the maidenhair fern and fibrous grasses. Suspension is effected by spiders’ webs. It is a deep purse-shaped structure, but the edge where there is no suspension is much lower than where this has been effected.
“Dimensions of the nest are : Depth, exterior, 4 inches by 2.1/2 inches (this at the point where suspension ceases). Depth, interior, 2.1/4 inches by 1.1/4 inches (also where suspension ceases).
“There were two slightly incubated eggs in the nest.”
Round Simla this Shrike-Babbler seems always to place its nest very low down, and other nests of Jones were taken from “a tiny fork of a laurestinus bush 2 feet from the ground” ; from “a branch of a bush only a foot from the ground” ; and again “from 2 tiny twigs of an oak 3.1/2 feet from the ground.”
Osmaston found his nests built in Silver Firs and Oaks four and five feet from the ground, whilst one of Rattray’s was in a Deodar fifteen feet from the ground.
All the nests appear to have been very similar in construction, all were pendent and all were taken in forest, generally consisting of Silver Fir, Spruce, Deodar, Oakse tc., with plenty of under¬growth.
The breeding season seems to be April, May and June, though Rattray took two nests in July and Buchanan one in August in the Murree Hills.
They lay two to four eggs, one number as often as the other.
The eggs apparently go through much the same range of variation as the oenobarbus group but, undoubtedly, the most common type has a pale pink ground with blotches of chestnut-red, generally forming a ring or cap at the larger end and sparse elsewhere. A clutch of four taken by Rattray is rather unusual ; the ground is a decided, though not bright, pink and the freckles and blotches consist of purple brown, numerous everywhere but coalescing almost to form caps at the big ends.
In shape the eggs vary from very broad ovals to rather long narrow ovals with decidedly pointed smaller ends. The texture is fine and close but the surface varies from dull with no gloss to a quite high gloss, especially noticeable on the palest eggs.
Thirty-four eggs average 18.4 x 13.7 mm. : maxima 21.0 x 16.0 (one of a clutch of exceptionally big eggs taken at Murree, all four over 20.0 x 15.2 mm.) ; minima 17.0 x 13.3 and 17.6 x 13.0 mm.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. 1932.
Title in Book: 
359. Pteruthius xanthochloris
Spp Author: 
Harington.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
359
Year: 
1932
Page No: 
314
Common name: 
Simla Green Shrike Babbler
M_ID: 
19396
M_CN: 
Green Shrike-babbler
M_SN: 
Pteruthius xanthochlorus
Volume: 
Vol. 1
id: 
13549

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