(427) Pycnonotus finlaysoni finlaysoni Strickl.
THE MALACCAN STRIPE-THROATED BULBUL.
Pycnonotus finlaysoni finlaysoni, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 412.
The range of this bird’s habitat is Taunghoo, East of the Sittoung River, South throughout the Malay Peninsula but not the islands, where it is replaced by other subspecies.
Bingham obtained a single nest of this bird on the 22nd May, 1877, in the jungles below the Circuit House in Moulmein. “A neat, though thinly made cup-shaped nest in the fork of a tall sapling, some 12 feet above the ground. Coming closer, I perceived it contained eggs, which were plainly visible through the frail structure of the sides. The nest was rather a deep cup, and, notwithstanding its flimsy sides, strongly made of grass-roots, lined with very fine black roots of fern.”
Darling obtained three nests at Taroar, in the Malay Peninsula, on the 8th and 10th February and 16th March. Two of these were on bushes 5 and 3 feet from the ground, and the third in a small sapling 5.1/2 feet from the ground. The three nests were all cup-shaped, and are described as follows:—“ The foundation was of leaves and fine grass, lined with fine grass and a few cocoanut fibres” ; “foundations of dead leaves built of fine twigs and fibrous bark, lined with fine grass, bents and moss roots” ; whilst the third nest “was of the ordinary Bulbul type, but better put together and neater. The foundation was of fine fibrous bark and twigs, lined with fine grass stalks.” All were placed in vertical forks and not in horizonta, or pendent positions.
Except that one of these was built on a sapling “on the top of a thinly wooded hill,” we are, as usual, told nothing about the kind of country in which this Bulbul nests. Fortunately, Mackenzie and Hopwood supply this deficiency, they having taken many nests near Victoria Point, whilst Cook took others at Ataran. The following summarizes the notes of these three gentlemen :—
The birds breed in light forest and also in bamboo-jungle and secondary growth, but their favourite nesting sites are in scrub round villages, grazing lands interspersed with bushes and trees, and sometimes even in large gardens. The nests are very frail- looking affairs, and one can often see the eggs or young through the sides or the bottom. They are not, however, as frail as they look, and perform their function of holding the young until they are fledged quite satisfactorily. They vary much in their construction, vide, the three found by Darling and described in Hume’s ‘ Nests and Eggs.’ Some are made of tiny twigs of a thorn-bush or cane, others are made of grass-stems, the lining all black and contrasting with the yellow grass of the exterior material. Some have quite a number of leaves used in the body of the nest and many have roots and fibre. The lining seems to be generally of yellow grass, some¬times of fungoid mycelAe. The nests are built at any height between 2 and 10 feet from the ground, most often in low thick bushes, often in small, almost bare saplings and, occasionally, in bamboo- clumps. Hopwood adds that the fibre used in the nests is taken, he believes, from palm-trees. The measurements he gives are, roughly, about 3.75 x 1.75 inches externally and about an inch less each way for the cavity.
They breed from February to early May, the latest dates recorded for eggs being the 3rd and 5th May for two nests taken by Cook at Ataran in 1912 and 1913.
The number of eggs laid is two generally, sometimes three and sometimes one only.
Most of the eggs of the genus Pycnonotus dealt with up to now have been to all intents and purposes very much the same in all respects as those of Molpastes and Otocompsa. The present bird’s eggs have a distinct character shared by many of the species and subspecies of Pycnonotus which are described later in this volume. A few eggs may be matched by common types of eggs of Molpastes, and it is remarkable that such eggs average bigger than most finlaysoni eggs and approach those of Molpastes in size as well as in character.
Taken as a series, the eggs are small, rather long ovals in shape and, whatever the colour, there is a pinky look about them. These are the three principal characteristics.
Taken more in detail, most eggs have a pale cream ground marked with blotches of a rather chestnut-red, sometimes quite light, sometimes rather darker. In two out of three clutches the blotches are more numerous at the larger end, where they form indefinite caps or rings ; here, also, are many blotches and smears of lavender-grey, often showing up strongly, especially at the extreme big end. Some eggs have the blotches, both chestnut and grey, fairly numerous over the whole egg. Another type, which seems more common in the eggs of the genera Pycnonotus and Brachypodius than in any of the others, is an egg which, looked at superficially, seems to be a uniform salmon-pink with a grey cap at the larger end. If examined carefully, these eggs will be found to have a warm salmon ground flecked all over with tiny specks of light red, whilst the larger end is practically covered with grey secondary blotches showing through the others.
The shell, for a Bulbul’s, is fairly fine and close and there is often a pronounced gloss.
The average of twenty-five eggs is 22.1 x 15.6 mm. : maxima 23.1 x 16.5 mm. ; minima 18.8 x 15.0 and 20.2 x 14.8 mm. Two very large sets of the Molpastes type of eggs, although sent me from an excellent authority, always fill me with doubt whenever I look at them, and if we eliminated these five eggs the average would come down greatly, while the maxima would be only 21.5 x 16.0 mm.
427. Pycnonotus finlaysoni finlaysoni
(427) Pycnonotus finlaysoni finlaysoni Strickl.