(700) Rhipidura aureola aureola.
The White-browed Fantail Warbler.
Rhipidura aureola Less., Traite,p 390 (1830 or Jan 1831) (Bengal). Rhipidura albifrontata. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 52.
Vernacular names. Marcharya (Hindi in the south) ; Manati (Mai.); Darari-pitta (Tel.) ; Chak dil (United Provinces).
Description.— Adult male. Forehead and a broad supercilium to the nape white ; lores, sides of face, ear-coverts and anterior crown black, posterior crown brownish black, changing to brown, slightly tinged with ashy on the back and wings; wing-coverts boldly tipped with white; tail dark brown, the central pair of feathers either immaculate or very narrowly tipped with white, the next pair more broadly tipped and the white increasing in extent until the outermost pair has only a patch at the base brown ; chin and throat black, the chin and upper part of the throat with broad white fringes to the feathers, these fringes obsolete or absent on the lower throat leaving this as a black band between the upper throat and the white of the rest of the lower parts ; sides of the breast and axillaries dark brown; under wing-coverts brown and white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill, legs and feet black.
Measurements. Total length about 175 to 180 mm ; wing 80 to 89 mm.; tail 90 to 100 mm.; tarsus about 19 to 20 mm.; culmen about 10 mm.
Female only differs from the male in being slightly paler and browner on the head.
Nestling. Supercilium white; upper plumage brown fringed with rufous; the white fringes of the chin and throat barely noticeable; breast brownish with obsolete rufous bars; wing-coverts broadly tipped with rufous.
Distribution. The whole of India with the exception of South Travancore and Assam South of the Brahmaputra.
Nidification. Breeds throughout its range up to about 5,000 feet and occasionally 1,000 feet higher. Its breeding:-season is very protracted and eggs may be found any time from March to August, most birds apparently breeding at least twice. The nest is a beautifully made little cup of fine shreds of grass-blades, sometimes mixed with a few of the finer grass-stems, shreds of bamboo or other leaves ; these are, however, never very conspicuous and, as a whole, the nest looks as if made of dry grey grass well coated with cobwebs and sometimes decorated with spiders' egg-bags. Often the bottom of the nest is prolonged into a cone and sometimes furnished with a long thin tail of loose scraps of grass. It is placed either on a small horizontal branch or in a small vertical or horizontal fork and may be at any height from four to forty feet from the ground, though, as a rule, a site under fifteen feet is selected.
The eggs are generally three in number, sometimes two or four; in colour they are pale yellowish white or pale fawn, occasionally almost pure white and rarely tinged with pink; the markings consist of small blotches of yellowish brown with secondary markings of neutral tint and pale grey, nearly always distributed in a ring about the larger end and sparse elsewhere. One hundred eggs average 16.8 x 12.2 mm.
Habits. This Fantail Flycatcher,like others of the genus, is a bird of open but well-wooded country and is not found inside heavy forest either conifer or evergreen. It is a very lively, cheerful and energetic little bird, constantly on the move and constantly spreading and flirting its long fan-like tail so as to display the white tips. It feeds, as far as 1 have seen, entirely on the wing and never on the ground, though it will occasionally descend to the ground during the breeding-season and display there. It feeds largely on gnats, mosquitoes, and ephemera, often so tiny as to be invisible to the human eye, though the bird may be seen snapping here and there and obviously feeding.
It has a sweet song and a beautiful call-whistle, very like that of a human being ascending the scale for several notes.