(501) Oreicola jerdoni.
Oreicola jerdoni Blyth, Ibis, 1867, p. 14 (India, Purnea); Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 66.
Vernacular names. Dao tisha-gashim (Cachari).
Description—Adult male. Whole upper plumage, wings and tail glossy blue-back; whole under plumage white; under wing-coverts black sometimes tipped with white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill and legs black.
Measurements. Total length about 150 to 155 mm.; wing 67 to 69 mm.; tail 61 to 69 mm.; tarsus 23 mm.; culmen 11 mm.
Female. Whole upper plumage brown, tinged with rufous on the lower back and rump ; upper tail-coverts rufous; wings blown edged with the colour of the back; chin and throat white; remainder of lower plumage pale fulvous, darkest on breast and flanks.
Colours of soft parts as in male.
Measurements a trine less than the male, wing 64 to 68 mm.
A young male is like the female but darker and broadly marked above and on the breast with dark edges to the feathers.
Distribution. The sub-Himalayan Terai and adjoining plains from Eastern Behar and Eastern Bengal, through Assam and a great part of the Chin, Kachin Hills and lower hills of Central Burma to Prome.
Nidification. I found this Chat breeding in great numbers in the vast plains of sun-grass, or that ching-grass. on the North bank of the Brahmaputra in the Lakhimpur District. Stevens found them breeding right under the foot-hills in the same district and they occur as far West as the grass-plains in the Northern parts of the Kamrup District but in much smaller numbers. They also breed in some of the upland grass-plains in the Chin Hills. The nest is very hard to find, being tucked away amongst the roots of the grass and quite invisible until these are torn apart. It is well built of roots and black fibrous materials, lined with fine grass and in shape it is a compact, stout little cup. They lay from early April to the end of May, but principally in the last week in April. The eggs number three or four, sometimes two only being incubated. In colour they are a bright hedge-sparrow blue, only in rare instances with a very faintly freckled ring at the larger end. The texture is close and fine with a slight gloss, and they are very stout little eggs for their size. Thirty eggs average 16.2 x 13.2 mm.: maxima 18.0 X 13.6 mm.; minima 15.2 X 12.4 mm.
Habits. Jerdon's Bush-Chat is just like the other Chats of the genus Saxicola in all its ways but is not, perhaps, quite so quick or lively in its movements on the wing whilst it is even more active on its legs when hunting for its insect-food. It takes most of its prey by short flights from some twig at the top of a bush or a tall reed, either descending to the ground or clinging to the lower parts of the reeds, etc. Sometimes, however, it regularly hunts amongst the bottoms of the reeds and grass for insects more like a Babbler than a Chat. It is a very silent little bird but the male sometimes utters a low "chit-churr, chit-churrr," accompanying the note with a flirt of its expanded tail. Its flight is direct and strong bat under ordinary circumstances it seldom flies far.