296. Rhopoeiehla atriceps

(296) Rhopocichla atriceps nigrifrons (Blyth).
Rhopocichla atriceps nigrifrons, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 282.
As its name denotes, this subspecies is confined to Ceylon, breeding practically throughout the island. Legge’s notes on its nidification are very full and cannot be added to :—
“The breeding season in the North of the island lasts from November until March, and in the South, where most of our birds nest during the rains, from March until August. Mr. Parker writes me that in the Seven Korales they breed mostly in May. The nest is generally placed in a bramble or straggling piece of undergrowth, often in a prominent position near a jungle path, at a height of from 2 to 4 feet from the ground. It is almost invariably made of dry leaves placed horizontally or in layers one on the other, the top being supported by the intermixture of a few twigs, and the opening being a wide unfinished orifice almost on a level with the bottom of the interior, which is composed of the same materials as the outside. The structure thus formed is a shapeless, globular mass, sometimes of one foot in diameter at least, and from its large size and generally exposed situation is one of the first nests which meet the eye in the Ceylon jungles.
“The birds construct their nests with great rapidity, picking up the leaves one after the other from just beneath the spot in which they are building. I have seen them, from a place of concealment, sticking the leaves into the structure at the rate of two or three a minute. From the number of these leaf-nests one finds in the forests of Ceylon it would appear that probably several are constructed by the same birds before the eggs are deposited in the one finally chosen by the little architect. They are used as roosting places by the young brood, who resort to them at night after they have reached their full size and are abroad with their parents.”
Elsewhere Legge says they frequent “underwoods, thicket, and tangled jungle” and that it is found at all elevations where there are “either forest, low jungle or even scrubby copse,” and “it is especially numerous in these portions of the Western and Southern Provinces, in which the forest and jungle contain bamboo undergrowth.”
To the above excellent account we may add that Phillips has found some nests of this bird lined with the mid-ribs of small leaves and that very often lie has also found the staple material for the outer part of the nest to consist of bamboo-leaves.
They breed in every month of the year, the favourite months being those mentioned by Legge.
The eggs are always two only in number and could not be distinguished from those of the other races.
Two rather unusual clutches are : one pair with pale chestnut spots instead of the dark brown or reddish-brown, and another pair very small and densely marked like Dumetia eggs.
Thirty eggs average 19.6 x 13.7 mm. : maxima 21.3 x 13.9 and 19.1 x 15.2 mm. ; minima 17.8 x 13.5 and 18.3 x 13.3 mm.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. 1932.
Title in Book: 
296. Rhopoeiehla atriceps
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Ceylon Black Fronted Babbler
Dark-fronted Babbler
Rhopocichla atriceps
Vol. 1

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