1129. Taccocua leschenaulti.
The Sirkeer Cuckoo.
Taccocua leschenaultii, Less. Traite, p. 144 (1831); Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiv, p. 201 ; id. Cat. p. 77 ; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 352; Holdsworth, P. Z. 8. 1872, p. 433 ; Hume & Butler, S. F. iii, p. 461; v. p 218; Hume, Cat. no. 219 ; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 266; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 56; Butler, ibid. p. 389; Davison, S. F. x, p. 361; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 134 ; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 408. Centropus sirkee, Gray in Hardw. Ill. Ind. Zool. i, pl. 28 (1830-32). Taccocua infuscata, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiv, p. 201 (1845); id. Cat. p. 77 ; Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 687; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 353; Hume. Cat. no. 221 ; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 258. Taccocua sirkee, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiv, p. 201; id. Cat. p. 77 ; Horsf & M. Cat. ii, p. 687 ; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 353; id. Ibis, 1872, p 16; McMaster, J. A. S. B. xl, pt. 2, p. 209 ; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xii pt. 2, p. 234; Hume, Cat. no. 220 ; Marshall, Ibis, 1884, p 411; Oates tn Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 408 ; Shelley, Cat. B. M. xix, p. 381. Taccocua affinis, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xv, p. 19 (1846); id. Cat. p. 77 ; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 354 ; King, J. A. S. B. xxxviii, pt. 2, p. 214; Blanford, J. A. S. B. xxxviii, pt. 2, p. 168; id. S. F. v, p. 245; Fairbank, S. F. iv, p. 255; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 208; Hume. Cat no. 222.
The Southern, Bengal, Northern, and Central Indian Sirkeers, Jerdon; Jangli tola, H.; Adavi chilluka, Potu chilluka, Tel.
Coloration. Upper parts light earthy brown, varying in tint from olive-grey to pale sandy or yellowish brown, always with more or less of a green satiny gloss on the wings and middle tail-feathers, and generally with some on the upper surface throughout; quills hair-brown ; all tail-feathers except the middle pair black with broad white tips, middle tail-feathers narrowly and subobsoletely banded; chin and throat pale buff, fore-neck and upper breast varying from greyish brown more or less tinged with rufous to buff like the throat; lower breast and abdomen, with the wing-lining, rufous, varying in depth of tint; shafts of head, neck, back, and upper breast-feathers shining black.
Bill cherry-red, yellowish at the tip ; irides reddish brown; feet plumbeous (Jerdon).
Length 16.5 to 17.5 ; tail 8.5 to 10; wing 5 to 6.5 ; tarsus 1.7; bill from gape 1.4.
Distribution. The Peninsula of India and Ceylon. This species inhabits the lower Himalayas from the Bhutan Duars to Chamba, and is found, though very rarely, in Sind and the Punjab on the west, and throughout Bengal on the east, but not beyond; it is generally distributed in the peninsula, but is not common ; and in Ceylon it is rare and local; it ascends the hills in Southern India to 5000 or 6000 feet and those of Ceylon to about 4000.
As with many other Indian birds there are three fairly marked races : (1) a large dark-coloured form (T. infuscata) inhabits the base of the Himalayas ; (2) a paler race, not quite so large (T. sirki), is found in Upper India, the N.W. Provinces, Punjab, &c.; whilst (3) the birds of Southern India and Ceylon are smaller and darker (T. leschenaulti). Skins from Bengal and the Central Provinces (T. affinis) are intermediate in character. Hume has shown that of the four supposed species of Blyth and Jerdon only two can be distinguished at all, and these pass into each other, and Shelley has, I think, rightly united the whole. The English name "Sirkeer" was used by Latham, Hist. Birds, iii, p. 267. The origin of the term, a supposed Indian name " Surkool" or " Sircea," has not been traced. As it is impossible to say which of the specific names sirkee and leschenaulti was first published, I give the preference to the less barbarous of the two.
Habits, &c. This, like its allies, is a Ground-Cuckoo, found chiefly in thickets or long grass, very shy and rarely seen. It feeds on the ground, chiefly on grasshoppers and other insects, such as beetles and termites, occasionally on lizards. Its flight is very feeble. It breeds in Northern India from May to August, but on the Nilgiris and Malabar coast in March and April, and makes a loose cup-shaped nest of twigs lined with green leaves, in which are laid usually three chalky white eggs, measuring about 1.39 by 1.07.