281. Stachyridopsis pyrrhops Blyth

(281) Stachyridopsis pyrrhops (Blyth).
THE RED-BILLED BABBLER.
Stachyridopsis pyrrhops, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p.
This quaint little Babbler is found throughout the Himalayas from Murree and Kashmir to the Simla Hills and the Dun, breeding between 3,000 and 6,000 feet. About Simla Jones says it is not uncommon up to 7,000 feet, whilst near Dehra Dun Osmaston obtained nests as low down as 2,500 feet. At Mussoorie they are most common between 5,000 and 6,000 feet and ascend higher than the latter. In Kashmir, also, Ward has found them breeding at over 7,000 feet.
The Red-billed Babbler frequents light open forest and hill-sides more or less covered with bush and scrub and, like so many other small Babblers, is especially fond of growth in deserted cultivation. The neat is nearly always placed low down, in a shrub in dense under¬growth but I have at least one record of it having been built on a bank on the ground. On the other hand, no one seems to have taken its nest from bamboo-clumps, such favourite sites for the nests of its nearest relations.
The nest itself is a ball of grass or leaves, sometimes well put together, but generally rather loosely and carelessly. As a rule there is no lining, other than the smallest blades and leaves being used for the innermost part of the nest. The size of the nest varies extraordinarily, this depending on the amount of materials used and the compactness with which they are put together. Hume’s summary of Hodgson's notes runs :—“ Mr. Hodgson found the nest of this species in Nepal at an elevation of 6,000 feet in shrubby upland, placed in a small shrub about 2 feet from the ground. It was a very deep cup, about 4 inches in length, and 2.5 inches in diameter externally, placed obliquely endwise upon cross-stems of the shrub and opening, as it were obliquely, upwards at one end, the cavity being about 1.5 in diameter. The nest was made of dried leaves and grass pretty compactly woven.”
To contrast with this, Rattray’s notes on one of his nests reads :— “I found one nest of this bird near the Waterworks, Mussoorie, placed in a small bush. The nest was a round ball of broad grass blades with the entrance on one side, very loosely constructed, and the outside diameter must have been nearly ten inches.”
They seem to have a very long nesting season. Jones found a brood of young hatched and out of the nest on the 23rd April near Simla, whilst Whymper took fresh eggs as late as the 6th of July at Naini Tal and Capt. R. A. Skinner took others at Dagshai on the 7th of that month.
The eggs are like all other eggs of Stachyridopsis, broad white ovals with a slight gloss, lightly speckled and spotted, chiefly at the larger end, with pinkish-red or brick-red. Pure white eggs are rare, and I have seen no clutch with all the eggs unspotted.
Thirty-two eggs average 16.5 x 13.0 mm. : maxima 17.5 x 13.1 and 17.2 x 13.8 mm. ; minima 15.9 x 12.8 and 17.0 x 12.6 mm.
The full clutch is three or four eggs, perhaps more often four.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. 1932.
Title in Book: 
281. Stachyridopsis pyrrhops Blyth
Spp Author: 
Blyth.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
281
Year: 
1932
Page No: 
235
Common name: 
Red Billed Babbler
M_ID: 
24330
M_CN: 
Black-chinned Babbler
M_SN: 
Stachyridopsis pyrrhops
Volume: 
Vol. 1
id: 
13477

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith