(727) Tephrodornis pelvica pelvica.
The Nepal Wood-Shrike.
Tentheca pelvica Hodgs., Ind. Rev., i, p. 477 (1S37) (Nepal). Tephrodornis pelvicus. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 473.
Vernacular names. Vohpigli (Mikir); Ramnun-pho or Rabnion-pho (Lepcha).
Description. Lores and a line through the eye to behind the ear-coverts black ; crown and nape ashy-grey, changing to ashy-brown on the back, wings and tail; rump whitish, barred with black and ashy-brown ; the shorter tail-coverts white, the longer ashy-brown barred with black; tail ashy-brown, tipped narrowly with pale rufous and subtipped blackish ; most of the coverts and inner wing-quills tipped paler; chin, throat and breast pale ashy-fawn, fading to unite on the centre of the abdomen and ear-coverts.
Colours of soft parts. Iris bright golden-yellow; edge of the eyelids plumbeous-blue ; bill black; legs and feet bluish plumbeous to dark plumbeous-brown.
Measurements. Total length about 230 mm.; wing 116 to 120 mm.; tail 82 to 90 mm.; tarsus about 20 to 21 mm.; culmen about 20 mm.
Female. Like the male, but with the head the same colour as the back and the eye-band brown.
Colours of soft parts. Iris glaucous blue to yellowish brown; bill brown, the base and gonys pale yellowish horny; feet dull plumbeous. Very old females sometimes attain a wholly black bill.
Young like the female but barred everywhere above with blackish, the wing-feathers edged with fulvous and the inner quills barred with dark brown; the head and neck are spotted with white and there are a few similar white spots on the back.
The iris is a dull grey-blue.
Distribution- Himalayas from Nepal to Eastern Assam, practically the whole of Burma in suitable localities ; the Northern parts of the Malay Peninsula; Shan States, Yunnan, Siam and Cochin China. In the South of the Malay States it is replaced by T. p. gularis, a race very closely allied to T. p. sylmcola.
Nidification. In the Hills South of the Brahmaputra this Shrike breeds in April and May in dense forests of evergreen. The nest is a shallow cradle of roots, fine twigs and tendrils fastened together with cobwebs and decorated with lichen and scraps of moss; the lining consists of a few fine roots only. It is not in the least like that described in ' Nests and Eggs,' which was assuredly a Shrike's nest, but is like that of Hemipus or Tephrodornis pondiceriana. The site selected seems to be always one close to some tiny stream and the nest is placed in a horizontal fork or on the upper surface of a branch five to ten feet from the ground. The eggs number two or three and in character are like large Minivets', though of two types. One has the ground-colour white, faintly tinged with green or buff, the markings consisting of numerous large spots and small blotches of vandyke-brown with secondary spots of neutral tint. The second type has the markings more longitudinal and so numerous as to run into one another as in the eggs of Pericrocotus erythropygius. In shape they are broad ovals and they measure about 22.0 x 17.8 mm.
Habits. In the non-breeding season the Wood-Shrike keeps in small flocks consisting of the parent birds and their last brood, two families sometimes joining forces. They are excessively noisy birds, constantly calling and chattering to one another exactly as do birds of the genus Gampsorhynchus and they have also, the habit of playing at follow-my-leader from one branch to another in the bamboo or other thin jungle which they frequent, by preference, at this season. They feed both on trees and bushes, and occasionally on the ground but they never perch like Shrikes on a look-outpoint of vantage and seize passing insects, always hunting for them among the living foliage or fallen leaves. In "Winter they are most common from the foot-hills up to about 2,000 feet, in Summer ascending some 2,000 feet higher and breeding only in the deepest forests. I have never heard them utter anything one could call a song.