169. Stachyrhis nigriceps.
The Black-throated Babbler.
Stachyris nigriceps, Hodgs. Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiii, p. 378 (1844) ; Hodgs, in Gray's Zool. Misc. p. 83 (1844) ; id. P. Z. S. 1845, p. 22 ; Blyth, Cat. p. 150; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 231; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 21; Hume, N. & E. p. 242 ; id. S. F. iii, p. 117; Oates, S. F. v, p. 252; Anders. Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 636; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 264; Hume, Cat. no. 391; Oates, S. F. x, p. 206; id. B. B. i, p. 48; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. vii, p. 532 ; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 141; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. i, p. 110.
The Black-throated Wren-Babbler, Jerd.; Sangriam-pho, Lepch.
Coloration. Forehead, crown, and nape black, the feathers edged with white, giving a streaked appearance to those parts ; round the eye white; ear-coverts varying from orange to rufous-brown and plain brown ; cheeks white ; chin grey ; throat sometimes entirely black, sometimes black mottled with white ; whole upper plumage rich olive-brown, the tail and exposed parts of wings rufous; entire lower plumage bright fulvous, tinged with olivaceous on the lower abdomen, flanks, and under tail-coverts.
The colour of the ear-coverts varies somewhat according to locality. Birds from the Himalayas have them dark brown with the posterior portion rufous ; those from Assam, the hill-tracts of Bengal, and Upper Burma orange or rufous in some form or other; and Pegu and Tenasserim birds have them rufous but more or less intermingled with brown.
The black throat occurs chiefly among birds from Assam, the hill-tracts of Bengal and Upper Burma.
Hume is of opinion that the colour of the bill changes in the breeding-season. He states that in the cold season (November to February) the upper mandible is pale brown, the lower pale yellowish horny. I can find no indication of this seasonal change in the large series now in the British Museum, but perhaps it is not apparent in dry skins.
Upper mandible bluish black, lower pale bluish; the anterior half of the margins dusky ; eyelids bluish ; iris orange-brown; legs pale dusky green ; claws yellowish (April).
Length about 5.5; tail 2 ; wing 2.2; tarsus .85 ; bill from gape .75.
Distribution. The Himalayas from Nepal to the extreme east of Assam and thence south through all the States and hill-tracts of Eastern Bengal to Arrakan, Pegu, and Tenasserim. This species appears to be found up to 10,000 feet of elevation in summer.
Habits, &c. Breeds from March to June, constructing a domed nest of grass and leaves on the ground generally on banks. The eggs measure .76 by .58.