(474) Sphenocichla roberti.
ROBERT'S WEDGE-BILLED WREN.
Sphenocichla roberti Godw.-Aust. & Wald.,Ibis, 1875, p. 251 (Hemeo, N. Cachar); Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 336.
Vernacular names. Ting-linrui gadiba (Kacha Naga). Description. Above dark reddish golden-brown, the feathers of the head and mantle with darker margins and obsolete ashy terminal spots ; wings and tail the same barred with darker brown or blackish and the coverts with indistinct ashy tips ; the wing-quills and rectrices are sometimes slightly reddish on the outer webs; ear-coverts brown with darker streaks ; a short indistinct black and white supercilium ; below from chin to abdomen golden-brown, edged with blackish and with broad white sub-edges disappearing on posterior flanks, abdomen and under tail-coverts.
Colours of soft parts. Iris rich brown; bill very pale bluish-slaty, the base of maxilla and culmen much darker; legs dark brown, the soles, claws and edges of scutellations pale slaty.
Measurements. Wing 71 to 74 mm.; tail 58 to 64 mm,; tarsus 26 to 27 mm.; culmen 25 mm.
Distribution. Assam, Hills South of the Brahmaputra. Godwin-Austen procured this Wren in North Cachar and Manipur; it was also obtained by me in the .North Oachar and Khasia Hills, by Tytler in the Naga Hills, and Coltart had it brought in to him by the Trans-Dikku Nagas from somewhere near Margherita.
Nidification. On the 24th May, 1898, a bird of this species was brought to me by a Naga with nest and four eggs. The former was merely a mass of fine grasses, tendrils and bents with no lining, placed at the bottom of a long crevice in a large oak-tree, about 20 feet from the ground. The site selected, which I afterwards saw, was just such a one as would be used by a Tree-Creeper. The eggs are pure white, broad, rather pointed ovals; the shells are very fragile, partly owing to their being very bard set and had only the faintest gloss. Other eggs brought to me were quite similar and seven specimens vary between 20.7 x 17.0 and 22.3 x 17.4 mm.
Habits. The little I saw of the habits of this bird showed an approach both to the Wrens and Tree-creepers. It was a very active climber about the rough bark of the bigger trees, though I never saw it on the higher branches; on the other hand, it hunted about in the undergrowths much as the Wrens do. It flew quite well with a direct, quick flight from tree to tree or bush to bush but seemed to prefer legs to wings as means of progression. I never heard its note and the contents of the stomach was entirely insectivorous, mostly wood-lice and small boring beetles. The Naga name Ting-linrui is applied to all the Wrens and Creepers with some qualifying adjective following. These natives, who are extraordinarily close observers, say that this bird is a true Tree-Creeper in all its actions.