(944) Regulus regulus himalayensis Jerdon.
THE SIMLA GOLDCREST.
Regulus regulus himalayensis, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 539.
As Meinertzhagen has separated the form found in Sikkim East¬wards from that found West of Nepal, the area of the present bird is accordingly restricted to the Himalayas from Afghanistan, through Kashmir, to Garhwal and Western Nepal.
Very little that is satisfactory is known about this bird’s breeding. It keeps during the breeding season to forest, both open and fairly dense, and also to open but well-wooded country in which there are many clumps, small spinneys and numerous single trees, such as Deodars, Firs, Pines etc., and it probably nests between 8,000 and 12,000 feet.
The first authentic nest of this bird ever taken was that found by Sir E. C. Buck “at Rogee, in the Sutlej Valley, on the 8th June, on the end of a deodar branch 8 feet from the ground and partly suspended. It contained seven young birds fully fledged.” The nest and parent birds were sent to Hume, who describes the nest as follows:—“The nest is a deep pouch suspended from several twigs, with the entrance at the top, and composed entirely of fine lichens, woven or interlaced into a thick, soft, flexible tissue of from three-eights to half an inch in thickness. Externally the nest was about 3.1/2 to 4 inches in depth and almost 3 inches in diameter.”
Ward obtained three clutches of eggs on the Ladak border of Kashmir between 10,000 and 12,000 feet in June and July 1908.
Previous to this both Buchanan and Ward had taken nests and eggs in the Lidar Valley, on each occasion one or both of the parents being secured. The nests were quite typical, but the eggs were described as “white, spotted with red at the thick end, less so towards the thinner.” When Ward’s eggs came into my possession there were none of the red-spotted eggs among them, and they had probably been given away, but there were three clutches and one single egg all of quite a different type.
Whitehead, however, took a nest in Bulta Kundi, Khagan Valley, containing three young and an addled egg. The nest was typical, a bag of moss, lichen and fine roots hanging to the end of a branch of a Paluda-tree at 10,800 feet elevation. Of this and the egg Whitehead records in his notebook and elsewhere :—“It contained three young and an addled egg. The latter was white, with large dark red spots, very different from the normal type, but Capt. Buchanan, who has seen many nests, tells me that the white, heavily spotted type was the one he usually met with out here.”
I never saw the eggs taken by Buchanan, but Ward sent me one clutch of those taken by him, to look at, and these certainly were exactly like the one undoubted egg obtained by Whitehead.
All the nests taken have been of exactly the same description— beautiful pendent little bags of lichen, moss and tiny moss-roots, all felted into a soft mass, about 4 inches wide and the same deep, the walls between 1/2 and 1 inch thick, with a tiny egg-cavity about 2 inches across and the same, or more, in depth. All were built attached to pendent twigs of some conifer at heights from 10 to 40 feet from the ground, so well hidden that they were only discovered on the birds leaving them.
Of the eggs I have seen most were of the white type already described, more like small Tits’ eggs than those of a Goldcrest. The rest are like the eggs of the British Goldcrest or of the Fire crest, and vary from pale dull creamy buff, blurred—one cannot say blotched—at the larger end with dull grey, to a warm pink-buff exactly like the eggs of the Firecrest. I have also the broken remains of one egg, taken from the oviduct, which is exactly half-way between the normal and the Tit-like types. This egg is pale fawn, with a cap of deep red spots at the larger extremity.
There seems to be no doubt that in the Himalayas the Goldcrest lays sometimes one, sometimes another of the types described.
Thirteen eggs average 14.3 x 10.7 mm. : maxima 15.0 x 11.1 mm. ; minima 13.9 x 10.6 and 14.1 x 10.3 mm.
From Buchanan’s, Ward’s and Whitehead’s observations it would seem that the breeding season is from the end of May to the middle of July.
944. Regulus regulus Wmalayensis
(944) Regulus regulus himalayensis Jerdon.