(118) Sitta formosa.
THE BEAUTIFUL NUTHATCH.
Sitta formosa Blyth, J. A. S. B., xii, p. 938 (1843) (Darjiling); Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 306.
Vernacular names. Dao~mojo~gadela (Cachari); Tishe Kuyi gumbo (Lepcha).
Description. Upper plumage black, streaked with pale blue on the upper back and the sides of the neck and with brilliant cobalt-blue elsewhere; sides of the head and chin fulvous white, the feathers found the eye and over the ear-coverts blackish at their bases; lesser wing-coverts, primary-coverts, primaries and secondaries bright blue; edges of the median and greater coverts and of the inner secondaries white; remainder of wing blue; scapulars, lower back and rump verdigris-blue; central tail-feathers blue with black bases and black next the shafts; the next two pairs black edged with blue; the others black with progressively larger white tips, blue-edged on the exterior margins; lower plumage dull chestnut.
Colours of soft parts. Iris red-brown or dark brown; bill black with base and gonys black; legs greenish horny (Jerdon) or yellowish brown.
Measurements. Length about 185 mm.; wing 114 to 118 mm.; tail about 58 to 60 mm,; tarsus about 21 mm,; culmen about 17 mm.
Distribution. Himalayas from Sikkim to the Miri and Arbor Hills in Eastern Assam. Also hill-ranges in South Assam as. far East as Lakhimpur. The Salween-Mekong watershed in the ISLE. Shan States.
Nidification. The few nests found by me in the Khasia and North Cachar Hills were all on the highest ranges from 5,000 feet upwards. They were placed in trees at considerable heights from the ground and contained from four to six eggs or young. The eggs only vary from those of S. c. cinnamoventris in being larger and broader ovals. Sixteen eggs average 20.6 x 15.2 mm. and vary between 18.0 x 14.7 and 22.6 x 15.8 mm.
Habits. The Beautiful Nuthatch, well named from its lovely colouring, seems to be a rare bird everywhere. I never saw it. but in pairs or in family parties after the young had hatched, and it is the. most shy and elusive of all the Nuthatches found in Assam. Its actions when on trees, rather slow and deliberate for this genus, reminded one of Woodpeckers and its note also differed from all other Nuthatches in its low, rather sweet tone.. On the wing it was exceptionally swift, and its beauty when the sun caught it in flight could only be likened to that of the Ruddy Kingfisher under similar circumstances.