(837) Schaenicola platyura.
The Broad-Tailed Grass-Warbler.
Timalia platyura Jerd., Madr. Jour. L. S., xiii, p. 170 (1844) (Nilghiris). Schaenicola platyura. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 384.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description.— Plumage April to June. Lores and small indistinct supercilium pale grey ; the whole upper plumage rich brown tinged with rufous, rather brighter on the wings ; back, rump and tail faintly cross-rayed and the tail a darker brown, pale-tipped; chin, throat and centre of breast and abdomen white ; remainder of lower plumage, cheeks, ear-coverts and sides of neck rich ochraceous, this colour often meeting across the throat.
Colours of soft parts. Iris olive-brown; bill black above, pale horny-blue below; legs and feet brown in front, pale fleshy behind and on soles.
Measurements. Total length about 175 to 180 mm.; wing 63 to 67 mm.; tail 59 to 66 mm. (Travancore and Ceylon); wing 66 to 71 mm.; tail 60 to 70 mm. (Belgaum); tarsus about 21 mm.; culmen about 11 to 12 mm.
Birds obtained in Belgaum in August-September are much paler throughout; the upper parts are fulvous-brown and the lower parts are pale ochraceous-white. Judging from the birds in the British Museum series, there is no seasonal difference in the length of the tail.
Distribution. Nilgiris, Palni Hills to South Travancore and North to the Bombay Presidency to Belgaum and Kanara.
Nidification. Col. A. E. Butler in 1880 found the bird breeding during September in Belgaum, and in 1900 Mr. T. H. Bell again obtained nests and eggs in the same district during the same month. The nests are balls of coarse grass-blades mixed with a few finer stems and strips but without any real lining. They are generally placed in patches of thick high grass near rice-fields, and are Veil hidden in thick tussocks someone to two feet from the ground. The eggs, four or five in number, are short broad-ovals, pinky-white in ground-colour and speckled and blotched with pinkish red and with secondary spots of lavender. These are scattered everywhere but are more numerous at the larger end. Ten eggs average 19.4 x 14.8 mm. and vary between 19.0 x 14.1 and 20.0 x 15.3 mm.
Habits. Very similar to those of Megalurus and Chaetornis, singing in the same manner as it soars into the air. It is, however, a greater skulker, much more shy than Megalurus and often frequents very heavy jungle. It is said sometimes to sing when perched on a bush or mound, a thing I have never seen M. palustris do.