(400) Molpastes cafer burmanicus Sharpe.
THE BURMESE RED-VENTED BULBUL.
Molpastes hoemorrhous burmanicus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 385.
Molpastes cafer burmanicus, ibid. vol. viii, p. 613.
Although it is rather hard to define the Western limits of this race, it may be said to range from Manipur and the Chin Hills South to Rangoon and East to the Sittoung River.
Some birds in the Eastern hills South of the Brahmapootra are somewhat intermediate but, for the purpose of this work, I shall retain all these latter under the name of bengalensis.
Although this bird is just as common round towns, villages and gardens as are the other forms, it is not so persistent an adherent to civilization and will often be found at some distance from dwellings. Its nest may often be found in bamboo- and scrub-jungle, light secondary growth and the outskirts of forest, though very rarely inside the latter.
Messrs. Mackenzie and Hopwood took a fine series of this Bulbul’s eggs, now in my collection, in various parts of Burma, but chiefly in the Chin Hills. The former notes about their nests:—“ These vary a good deal in the matter of materials but not much in con¬struction. Generally they are placed in bushes in gardens and round the towns and villages and quite often in small trees. Among other places I have taken them from are bamboo clumps, in which they may be placed as high as twelve feet from the ground, one of a little cluster of big trees on a golf links, a thick camphor bush beside a ride, sometimes in light open jungle but, most often, from bushes and fruit-trees in gardens.
“The nest is not always placed upright forks of branches and on several occasions I have round more or less suspended nests. One such was really suspired like an Oriole’s, the nest itself being bound to the supporting twigs by cobwebs passed round and over them. Other nests are more like Drongo’s nests, built in horizontal forks of branches or between horizontal twigs, the nest-material embracing those on either side.
“The materials used are grass, leaves, bamboo leaves, roots etc. ; sometimes one or two of these, sometimes more, and yet at other times nearly all grass or grass and roots.
“One nest had the bottom very thin, with a basis of dead leaves, very withered, bound together with cobwebs ; inside the leaves was an inner lining of coarse grass and then a real lining of fine grass just neatly moulded round to fit the inside. Cobwebs were used all through the nest to hold the materials together and also— this was a suspended nest—to fasten the nest to the suspending twigs.
“My nests were all taken at heights between two feet, very low down in bushes, and nearly twenty feet up in bamboo clumps and small trees.
“In size the nests are much the same. One measures on the outside 3.3/4" across and 3" deep, the egg-cavity being 2.3/4" in diameter by 2" deep. This is a compact, very well built nest, and loosely, carelessly built ones, which often occur, would be a little broader, but no deeper.”
The nesting season is much less erratic than for most Bulbuls of this species. Four out of five nests with eggs will be found in April and they continue to lay in lessening numbers in May and during the first half of June. A few odd nests may be seen still later and two of Cook’s nests were taken at Maymyio in July, whilst Harington took one nest with three eggs in Rangoon on the 31st August, and Wickham obtained one at Maymyio, also with three eggs, on the 8th of that month.
The number of eggs laid is two or three, generally the latter ; four must be most exceptional, as in Hopwood’s and Mackenzie’s huge series there is only one such.
In coloration they go through all the varieties already described but, as a whole, are decidedly more richly coloured than any of the Southern Indian forms, making a series almost as handsome as one of the Bengal bird’s eggs. It is unnecessary to go into details of types beyond saying that the one which has the ground-colour deep pink, salmon or cream, with extra large and sparse blotches of purple-red and almost black, is comparatively common. Some of these are much clouded with secondary marks of inky grey and I have one pair in which the whole of the larger ends are thus clouded, giving a very peculiar effect.
Two hundred eggs average 22.6 x 16.2 mm. : maxima 26.0 x 17.2 and 23.0 x 18.2 mm. ; minima 18.25 x 15.0 mm.
I have seen two or three pigmy eggs of this species, but the measurements of these are not included in the above.
Both sexes take part in incubation.
400. Molpastes cafer burmanicus
(400) Molpastes cafer burmanicus Sharpe.