(433) Pycnonotus luteolus (Lesson).
THE WHITE-BROWED BULBUL.
Pycnonotus luteolus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 417.
The White-browed Bulbul is found throughout the greater part of the plains and lower hills of Southern India from Baroda on the West and Midnapore on the East, South to Cape Comorin and in Ceylon.
In Ceylon this is undoubtedly a bird of the forest and jungle rather than of villages and gardens. Wait, in ‘Birds of Ceylon,’ writes of its habits and habitat:—“ Very much the same as those of the Madras Bulbul, but it is not nearly so partial to cultivation, being especially common in bushy scrub, Lantana, chenas, low jungle, and the Undergrowths in dry forests.”
In India, although it is often found in similar kinds of jungle, it is also often found breeding in gardens and in scrub round villages. Both the Aitken brothers and Jerdon found nests in their own gardens, these being the only ones recorded in Hume’s ‘Nests and Eggs.’ Davidson, also, says that it shuns heavy forest but that “it is extremely common in the ‘lankana’ or wild heliotrope surrounding the old fort at Halyal. I have taken numerous nests there, generally suspended from the ‘lankana’ about 1.1/2 or 2 ft. from the ground.”
Mr. B. Aitken sent a nest with two eggs to Hume which he took himself “ from a thickly foliaged tree in a garden. It was placed on the top of the main stem of the tree, which had been abruptly cut off about 5 feet from the ground, where the stem was about 3 inches thick.
He adds : “I draw your attention to the manner in which this nest has been tied at one place to a twig to prevent its being blown off its very (apparently) insecure site.”
Hume describes this nest as “a rather loose straggling structure, exteriorly composed of fine twigs. The cavity, hemispherical in shape, is carefully lined with fine grass-stems. Outside, it is very irregularly shaped, and many of the twigs used are much too long and hang down several inches from the nest ; but on one side the outer framework has been tied with wool and a little cobweb to a live twig to which the leaves, now withered, are still attached. No roots or hair have entered into the composition of this nest.”
The nest obtained by Jerdon, very similar otherwise, had both hair and roots used in its construction.
Two nests taken by McArthur at Khamptee, C.P., are curious in that one has bits of paper and the other a piece of snake-skin used, among other materials, in making them. These nests also have cobwebs employed, both to keep them together and to help in fastening them to the twigs, a common feature which has been observed and commented on also by Wilhams at Bangalore and by others elsewhere.
In Ceylon Wait and in Bangalore Williams both say that the nest is much like that of Molpastes, sometimes larger, sometimes smaller. As in other parts of India, they are nearly always placed in bushes quite low down.
In India these birds seem to breed principally in May and June but Aitken took one nest in September, probably a second brood, as he had previously seen a pair going about in his garden with a young one.
In Ceylon they breed from December to June, February and March being the favourite months, though eggs may possibly be taken in every month of the year.
The number of eggs laid is almost invariably two, three being quite exceptional.
Although Hume says that these eggs are quite unlike any others, I confess that to me they appear to be individually in no way different to those of Otocompsa jocosa. As a series they look like Pycnonotus eggs ; the specks and blotches run very small and numerous, the shape is decidedly long, and heavily blotched eggs are rare. The typical Pycnonotus type of brownish eggs with profuse fine speckling is fairly common but redder in colour.
Sixty eggs average 22.9 x 15.8 mm. : maxima 25.5 x 15.6 and 24.6 x 17.0 mm. ; minima 19.0 x 15.6 and 23.8 x 15.6 mm.
433. Pycnonotus luteolus
(433) Pycnonotus luteolus (Lesson).