(277) Stachyridopsis ruficeps ruficeps.
THE BED-HEADED BABBLER.
Stachyridopsis ruficeps Blyth, J. A. S. Bv xvi, p. 452 (1847) (Darjeeling; ; Blanf. & Oates, i. p. 164.
Vernacular names. Syak-birang-pho (Lepcha).
Description. Forehead, crown and nape bright chestnut, the forehead with obsolete dark shaft-stripes; lores bright yellow; upper plumage, tail and exposed parts of wings olive-brown, tinged rufous ; chin and upper throat pale yellow with conspicuous black shafts; sides of the head and neck and entire lower plumage fulvous yellow; the sides of the body, thighs, vent and under tail-coverts tinged with olivaceous.
Colours of soft parts. Iris golden-brown, red-brown or crimson; bill bluish plumbeous, darker above, paler and rather fleshy below; legs pale yellowish- or fleshy-brown.
Measurements* Total length about 120 to 125 mm.; wing 54 to 58 mm.: tail about 50 to 52 mm.; tarsus about 17 to 18 mm.; culmen about 10 mm.
Distribution. Sikkim and hills North of the Brahmaputra. Khasia and N- Cachar Hills. Annam (Robinson & Kloss). It must also occur" in the intervening countries in extreme N. Burma but so far has not been recorded thence.
Nidification. This little Babbler breeds in Sikkim from 3,000 feet upwards and in the Assam Hills from 2,500 feet, commencing in early April and continuing until the end of June. The nest is a small, rather neatly made egg-shaped structure with the entrance at the top, or small end ; outwardly it is composed of dead bamboo leaves but inside is more or less mixed with roots and fibrous material and generally lined with fine roots. The site selected is either a mass of twigs low down in a bamboo clump or some thick bush; rarely it is placed actually on the ground. The eggs, four in number, have a pearly white ground with faint specks and small blotches, generally disposed as a ring round the larger end and sparse or absent elsewhere. A few eggs may be found which are pure white and equally seldom a clutch comparatively boldly marked. The shape is a short, broad oval, the texture stout and glossy. Thirty eggs average about 15.8 x 12.4 mm.
Habits. In winter the Red-headed Babbler may be found anywhere between the foot-hills and 6,000 feet or even higher, frequenting fairly thick undergrowth, scrub- or bamboo-jungle. It consorts in small flocks and feeds low down in whatever cover it may happen to be in, but does not descend to the ground. Its note is a soft, low whistle, seldom used, and a little chattering twitter occasionally uttered as the birds flit about the bushes.