(470) Spelaeornis caudatus.
The Tailed Wren.
Tesia caudata Blyth, J. A. S. B., xiv, p. 589 (1845) (Darjiling). Urocichla caudata. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 341.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Lores and sides of the head grey; the whole upper plumage olive-brown, the feathers with terminal black edges and faint shaft-streaks; wings and their coverts chestnut-brown; tail rufous-brown; chin and throat bright chestnut; breast paler chestnut, each feather with a black centre and tip ; sides of the body the same; abdomen black, each feather with a white shaft-streak, in most cases hidden, and a large subterminal square white spot.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown ; bill blackish; legs brown.
Measurements. Total length about 100 mm.; wing 47 to 51 mm.; tail 31 to 35 mm.; tarsus about 20 mm.; culmen about 11 to 12 mm.
Distribution. Sikkim only as far as is known at present.
Nidification. Nothing recorded beyond Hume's note to the effect that it builds " a deep cup-shaped nest about the roots of trees or in a hole in fallen timber; the nest is a dense mass of moss and moss roots, lined with the latter. The eggs are spotless white." A nest and four clutches of eggs taken in Sikkim at about 8,000 feet and sent to me do not agree with this description. The nest sent has evidently been egg-shaped and is made of dead leaves, fine twigs, bracken and grass, all very decayed and well matted together. The lining is very much like that of the Long-tailed Wrens' but is brown in colour instead of whitish and not quite so firmly stuck together. The eggs, two clutches of four and two of three, are just like those of Spelaeornis I. longicaudatus, i. e. pure but rather dull white, feebly speckled with reddish-brown and deep purple-brown. They measure on an average for twenty eggs 18.1 X 14.1 mm., and the extremes are 19.9 X14.2 and 18.6x14.5 mm. maxima and 17.3 x 14.2 and 17.9 x 13.8 mm. minima.
These nests were all found in heavy, damp forest and were placed on the ground on banks amongst weeds, moss and caladiums. They were taken between the 17th May and the 28th June, at an elevation of 8,000 feet and over.
Habits. Nothing recorded. Mr. Masson, who sent me the nest and eggs, could only say that they belonged to a small Wren which he could never catch on the nest or see quickly enough to shoot as it left it. The birds apparently were not common, though they were in fair numbers along the ridges above Darjeeling between 8,000 and 10,000 feet. They were never seen outside the dense, damp, evergreen forest.