970. Saroglossa spiloptera spiloptera

(970) Saroglossa spiloptera spiloptera Vigors.
Saroglossa spiloptera spiloptera, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iii, p. 25.
This Stare occurs from Dharmsala to Garhwal and, probably, Western Nepal.
Hutton found this bird breeding in the hills (? below Mussoorie etc.) up to some 6,000 feet and says that it was abundant at 5,200 feet. He very rightly points out its close resemblance to Starlings in habits, and writes :—“Like the two species of Acridotheres, it nidificates by itself in holes in trees, lining the cavity with bits of grass.”
In 1898 Osmaston (B. B.) found a single nest in the Tons Valley, Garhwal, at about 4,000 feet, on the 12th May. This was just a nest of leaves and rubbish in a natural hole in a tree about 20 feet up.
Whymper took numerous nests below Naini Tal between 4,500 and 5,500 feet, while Jones took one in the Bhagat State, Simla Hills, at about 3,500 feet.
The birds select trees standing in cultivation, open wooded country or on the edge of forest. Most of Whymper’s eggs were taken from natural hollows in Cotton-trees (Bombax malabarica) at heights between 20 and 30 feet from the ground, but Jones took eggs from a Woodpecker’s nest-hole in a “Kyphul” tree at about 18 feet up. The nests seem to be always the same, just a handful of leaves, roots, etc. placed in a careless and shapeless pad at the bottom of the tree. Whymper, however, says that this Stare almost always continues to take green leaves into the hole after the eggs have been laid, just dropping them in over the eggs. On one occasion an examination of a nest failed to reveal the eggs but, on a second search being made, they were found buried deep below the leaves.
They seem to be difficult birds to locate when breeding and very little is known about their nesting-habits beyond what Whymper has told me. All the nests taken by him were between the 9th and 22nd May, and the only other date I have recorded is that of the one taken by Jones, which was found on the 24th May.
Philip Mackinnon, who took many nests and eggs of this species, which I cannot now trace, told me that he found them “breeding below Mussoorie freely from the end of April to the first week in June.” This was at an elevation of 4,000 to 5,000 feet.
The birds lay three or four eggs, generally the latter. They vary in ground-colour from a very pale stone, which is rare, or very pale blue to a fairly warm greenish-blue. The markings consist of small blotches, spots and specks of pale to rather deep reddish-brown, fairly numerous everywhere, but still more so at the larger and. There are also a fair number of inconspicuous secondary blotches of pale pinkish-brown and lavender.
In shape the eggs are long, rather pointed ovals, the texture fine but fragile and the surface glossless.
Thirty eggs average 25.4 x 18.0 mm. : maxima 28.5 x 19.7 mm. ; minima 23.7 x 17.7 and 25.3 x 16.2 mm.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 2. 1933.
Title in Book: 
970. Saroglossa spiloptera spiloptera
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Spotted Winged Stare
Spot-winged Starling
Saroglossa spiloptera
Vol. 2

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