(262) Rimator malacoptilus.
THE LONG-BILLED WREN-BABBLER.
Rimator malacoptilus Blyth, J. A. S. B., xvi, p. 155 (1847) (Darjeeling); Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 175.
Vernacular names. Karriak-tungbrek-pho (Lepcha); Dao-mojo-buku-galao (Cachari).
Description. Forehead, crown, nape, sides of the neck and mantle dark rufescent brown, with very distinct fulvous shaft-stripes; the feathers of the back with the inner webs black and the outer webs brown and with pale fulvous shafts; rump, upper tail-coverts and tail plain rufescent; wing-coverts and the outer webs of the quills rufous-brown, the former with pale shafts; lores fulvous; ear-coverts rufous-ashy with paler shafts; cheeks mixed black and fulvous, with a black line above; chin fulvous-white; throat, breast and abdomen rufescent brown,with large pale fulvous shaft-streaks ; sides of body and thighs plain rufescent brown; vent and under tail-coverts ferruginous.
Colours of soft parts. Iris light red-brown; upper mandible very dark horny, blackish at the base, paler at the tip ; gape and edge of lower mandible blackish, remainder pale horny; legs pale livid fleshy with no tinge of red but the tarsi tinted brown,thesoles, claw and joints very pale.
Measurements. Total length about 125 to 130 mm.; wing 57 to 60 mm.: tail about 25 mm.; tarsus about 23 mm.; culmen about 21 to 24 mm.
Distribution. Sikkim to E. Assam North and South of the Brahmaputra; Manipur and Looshai.
Nidification. This Babbler breeds in the hills both North and South of the Brahmaputra throughout Assam from 4,000 feet upwards,and in the extreme East, nearer the snowy mountains,down to 3,000 feet. It breeds in much the same sort of country as Turdinulus but affects more open forest and nests may be found,though rarely, in scrub-jungle or deserted, over grown, cultivation. The nest is a large domed affair,measuring 8 or 9 inches in height by 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 in breadth, the entrance, which is near the top, measuring about 2 inches across. It is made of dead leaves, bracken fronds, grass, sometimes a little moss, and lined with dead leaves only. It is always placed on the ground and nearly always amongst the roots of bushes or at the foot of some tree. The breeding season lasts from the end of April to July. The eggs are three or four in number, rarely five, pinkish white to pale salmon-pink in ground-colour and marked with spots and small blotches of reddish-brown and paler smears of the same with here and there lines and scriggles of deep red-brown. The texture is fragile and practically gloss-less, the shape an obtuse oval and thirty eggs average in sire21.2 x 15.5 mm.
Habits. In habits this little bird is more of a Babbler and less of a "Wren than those of the preceding genus; it frequents the same kind of forest as Turdinulus but may also be found in scrub and deserted clearings. It keeps much to the ground, on which it feeds in the same manner as the Scimitar-Babblers, turning over the leaves and scratching in the mould for insects. It has a sweet, chirping whistle which it utters as a call or when frightened or disturbed. It keeps in pairs, not in flocks, and is wholly insectivorous in its diet.