(991) Temenuchus pagodarum.
The Black-headed Myna.
Turdus pagodarum Gmel., Syst. Nat., i, p. 816 (1789) (Malabar). Temenuchus pagodarum. Blanf. & Gates, i, p. 533.
Vernacular names. Popoya maina, Bamuni maina, Puhaia (Hind.); Monghyr pawi, Brahmini maina (Beng.) ; Pabiya pawi (Muttra) ; Papata gorinki (Tel.) ; Popata pariki, Rawanati (Tarn.); Martintro (Port, in Ceylon).
Description. Head, forehead to nape and long crest glossy black; sides of head and neck, back of latter, chin, throat and breast to abdomen rich buff, the feathers of all but the lower breast lengthened and with faint pale shaft-stripes; remaining upper plumage, wing-coverts and inner secondaries grey ; primary-coverts and primaries black; the edge of the shoulder of the wing white; central tail-feathers grey-brown, the lateral feathers dark brown with white tips increasing on the outermost feather to half the inner and two-thirds the outer web; axillaries and under wing-coverts white; vent, thigh-coverts, posterior flanks and under tail-coverts white more or less tinged grey.
Colours of soft parts, Iris white to greenish or pearl-white; bill yellow, blue at the base and greenish in between; legs and feet bright yellow.
Measurements. Total length about 190 mm.; wing 102 to 109 mm.; tail 67 to 71 mm.; tarsus about 29 mm.; culmen about 18 to 19 mm.
Young birds are light brown above with a darker brown cap and dark brown tail- and wing-quills ; below, the colour is a pale dull buffy-brown; the markings on the lateral tail-feathers are dull and less in extent.
Distribution. The whole of India from Ceylon to the Hima¬layas up to 4,000 or 5,000 feet. It has been found in Afghanistan and in Grilgit at 8,000 feet. To the East it is rare in extreme Eastern Bengal but it occurs in Dacca, where I have seen it, as also in Gowhati in Western Assam. Its occurrence in Arakan has never been confirmed and Blyth's record is probably due to an error.
Nidification. This handsome, sprightly little Myna breeds during May and June but eggs have been taken as early as April and as late as August. It makes its nest in almost any kind of hole in tree, stump or building; over most of its area it prefers trees but in Madras Jerdon says it generally builds in houses, pagodas, etc., from which habit it takes its name. The lining placed in the hole is nearly always rather meagre, consisting of a few leaves, scraps of grass and other oddments, sometimes with a scanty lining of feathers or wool. The eggs number three or four, rarely five, and are exactly like those of the genus Sturnia. One hundred eggs average 24.6 x 19.1 mm. and the extremes are: maxima 29.2 x 20.3 mm.; minima 21.8 X 16.8 mm. (Hume).
They breed up to 4,000 feet but generally below 2,000 feet and in the Plains everywhere.
Habits. The Black-headed Myna is found everywhere except in heavy forest and in the desert portions of the North-West. It is typically a plains' bird but straggles up to great heights occasion¬ally. It feeds both on the ground and on trees; at times it may be seen among cattle with the Common Myna, feeding on grasshoppers and insects, whilst at other times it feeds on lofty flowering trees in company with the Grey-headed Myna and other arboreal birds. It is very tame and confiding and a very cheerful bird in all its ways; even its notes are pleasing, whilst during the breeding-season they almost rise to the dignity of a song. In flight it is less swift and straight than the truly arboreal Mynas but quicker and steadier than the ground-feeding species.