(429) Pycnonotus melanicterus.
THE BLACK-CAPPED BULBUL.
Muscicapa melanictera Gmel., S. N., i, p. 941 (1789) (Ceylon). Pycnonotus melanicterus. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 288.
Vernacular names. Ka-karulla (Ceylon).
Description. Head to neck above black; remaining upper plumage and wing-coverts olive-green; quills brown, their outer webs olive-green ; tail dark brown, the central pair suffused with olive-green on the base and the others all tipped with white; whole lower plumage bright yellow, the sides of the breast and flanks washed with olive; under wing-coverts and edge of wing yellow.
Colours of soft parts. Iris bright to dull red ; bill black ; legs and feet dark blackish brown to practically black. In the female the iris is brown and the "legs and feet deep plumbeous or blackish blue " (Legge).
Measurements. Total length about 160 to 165 mm.; wing 68 to 74 mm.; tail about 60 to 65 mm.; tarsus about 15 mm.; culmen about 13 mm.
Distribution. Ceylon only.
Nidification. The nest is a small cup of dead leaves, fine twigs and grasses, stems of plants and roots firmly bound together and lined with fine dead grass. It is placed in a bush, creeper or other cover at from 3 to 10 feet from the ground, generally, however, within 4 or 5 feet. Legge records its nest from April to September and eggs have been taken by Messrs. Stewart, Phillips and Sykes between January and May, so that it probably breeds in almost any month of the year. The nest is nearly always placed in forest, that which is rather thin being preferred to that which is very dense.
The eggs, of which there are either two or three, have a reddish-white ground-colour and are profusely covered with small blotches of various shades of reds and red-browns underlying which are sparser secondary markings of neutral tint and lavender-grey. Six eggs average 21.2 x 15.6 mm. The texture is not nearly so smooth as in most Bulbuls' eggs and is very dull and glossless.
Habits. This beautiful little Bulbul is found from the plains up to about 5,000 feet, wherever there is forest or the country is well-wooded and wet. It is not found in the dry zone and prefers above all lightly forested valleys along which streams run. It feeds on injects and seeds which it seeks in the lower bushes and trees, seldom wandering into the higher ones. It consorts in small parties of four or five and is said to be very sociable with other birds. Legge describes its note as " whee-whee, whee-whee."