(399) Molpastes cafer pallidus Stuart Baker.
THE CENTRAL INDIAN RED-VENTED BULBUL.
Molpastes hoemorrhous pallidus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 385.
Molpastes cafer pallidus, ibid. vol. viii, p. 613.
This race occurs North of the imaginary line drawn from 20° on the West to 18° on the East across the South of India. North it extends on the West through Bundelkhand and the Rewah States to the Southern portions of Cutch, Khatiawar and Rajputana. On the East it is the form found in Behar and the dry districts of Western Bengal.
There is little one can write about the nidification of this Bulbul that has not already been written about the Ceylon race. It is the same familiar bird haunting gardens, villages and towns and eschewing forests and wilder country at any distance from human beings and their dwellings.
Their nests, also, are placed in similar positions and situations, ornamental shrubs in gardens, small fruit-trees and creepers on dwellings all being favourite sites for their nests.
Hume’s deseription of two nests taken by him in Bareilly would do for most other nests of this species equally well:—
“Close to the tank is a thick clump of Sal-trees (Shorea robusta), the great building timber. of Northern India.
“In one of these a comma Madras Bulbul” [he refers to pallidus] “had made its home. The nest was compact and rather massive, built in a fork, on and round a small twig. Externally it was composed of the stems (with the leaves and flowers still on them) of a tiny ground-like (Senecio) asteraceous plant, among which were mingled a number of dead and skeleton leaves and a few blades of dry grass ; inside, rather coarse grass was tightly woven into a lining for a cavity, which was deep, being about 2 inches in depth by about 3 inches in diameter.
“This is the common type of nest, but about half an hour later, and scarcely a hundred yards further on, we took another nest of the same species. This one was built in a Mango-tree, towards the extremity of one of the branches where it divided into four upright twigs, between which the Bulbul had firmly planted his dwelling. Externally it was as usual composed of the withered stems of the little asteraceous plant, interwoven with a few jhow-shoots (Tamarix dioica) and a little tow-like fibre of the putsan (Hibiscus cannabinus), while a good deal of cobweb was applied externally here and there. The interior was lined with excessively fine stems of some herbaceous exogenous plant, and there did not appear to be a single dead leaf or a single particle of grass in the whole nest.”
Other nests taken near Delhi are said by Blewitt to be made “on the outside coarse grass, with fine khus or fine grass for the lining. Very frequently horse-hair is likewise used for lining the interior of the cavity.
“I have seen some nests bound round on the outside with hemp, other kinds of vegetable fibres, and even spiders’ webs.”
An unusual nest taken by W. Theobald in Monghyr “was composed of very small twigs and lined with fine grass-roots,” but a yet more curious nest, taken by A. Anderson, had “the upper portion of the nest for an inch all round composed entirely of green twigs of the neem tree on which it was built and the under surface (below) was felted with fresh blossoms belonging to the same tree. The green twigs had evidently been broken off by the birds, but the flowers were picked up from off the ground, where they were lying thick.”
Sometimes the nests are very flimsy and carelessly put together. Bates (‘Bird Life in India’) writes that the nests “are very loosely made, thin walled cups of bents, in comparison with which the nests of the Southern Red-Whiskered Bulbuls are most solid structures. It really does seem extraordinary that these cheery little birds should be so common when one thinks of the astonishing number of nests which are destroyed, many through the birds’ own stupidity.”
The nesting season extends from April—rather unusual—into September, which is exceptional. May and June are undoubtedly the months in which most eggs are laid, though in Poona Nurse found them breeding in August, and in Baroda, Poona and Khandalla Sir Percy Cox took a really beautiful series between the 16th May and the 16th October, more being found in August than in any ether month.
The number of eggs laid is, perhaps, normally three, but two only are often incubated and four hardly ever found.
The eggs vary to just the same extent as do those of the preceding Bulbul and there is no further description necessary.
Sixty eggs average 21.9 x 16.2 mm. : maxima 23.8 x 16.3 and 21.4 x 18.7 mm. ; minima 20.1 x 16.0 and 22.2 x 15.3 mm.
399. Molpastes cafer pallidus
(399) Molpastes cafer pallidus Stuart Baker.