(273) Stachyris chrysaea chrysaea.
THE NEPAL GOLDEN-HEADED BABBLER.
Stachyris chrysaea Blyth, J. A. S. B., xiii, p. 379 (1844) (Nepal); Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 163.
Vernacular names. Syak-birang-pho (Lepcha).
Description. Forehead golden-yellow; crown and nape the same streaked with black; lores and a short moustachial streak black; ear-coverts oil-yellow ; upper parts, sides of neck and exposed parts of wings bright olive-yellow; tail brown washed with yellow on the outer webs; entire lower plumage bright yellow.
Colours of soft parts. Iris golden-brown or light brown; bill dark slaty-horn above, paler below; legs and feet pale yellowish-brown to greenish-brown.
Measurements. Total length about 112 to 115 mm.; wing about 48 to 51 mm.; tail about 50 mm.; tarsus about 18 to 19 mm.; culmen about 12 mm.
Distribution. Nepal, Sikkim to Assam, N. Chin Hills and Manipur to Kachin Hills.
Nidification. This pretty little Babbler makes a nest which is a small, neat facsimile of that of the last species but which is sometimes placed in bushes or, more often, bamboo clumps a few inched, to a couple of feet from the ground. It is generally domed but cup-shaped nests may be found when placed in positions where there is cover overhead as in a thick clump of bamboo. It breeds principally above 3,000 feet during May, June and July, laying four eggs which are normally pure white but rarely a faintly spotted egg may be found somewhat like those of the next genus. The surface is close and has a fair gloss and the shell is comparatively harder than that of the Black-throated Babbler. Sixty eggs average 15.4 x 12.1 mm.
Habits. The Golden-headed Babbler collects in the winter in quite large flocks numbering sometimes as many as 40. They keep to the bushes and undergrowth in damp tree-forest, seldom if ever descending to the ground but .perpetually on the move on wing or feet as they scramble or flit from one twig to another in search of their insect food. The entire time the whole flock keeps up a constant soft, low twittering which rises to shriller and louder notes of expostulation when disturbed. They do not mind being watched and I have often sat for some minutes within a few feet of a flock before they took their departure. In the breeding season the flocks break up and the birds frequent bamboo and secondary jungle as well as forest. It is found up to at least 6,000 feet.