(689) Tchitrea paradisi affinis* Blyth.
THE BURMESE PARADISE FLYCATCHER.
Terpsiphone paradisi affinis, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 267. Tchitrea paradisi affinis, ibid. vol. viii, p. 632.
The Burmese Paradise Flycatcher extends from Assam and the districts of Eastern Bengal throughout the whole of Burma and the Indo-Chinese countries to Yunnan and Annam.
* Recently Whistler and Kinnear (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xxxvi, p. 90, 1932) commented on my denseness in not seeing the differences between the birds inhabiting Sikkim to Assam and those inhabiting the North-West Himalayas. Possibly birds from N.E. Himalayas are separable from leucogaster, and many systematists would consider them a good subspecies. As a matter of fact, however, they have nothing to do with nicobariensis and, if we want to split these birds up further, we must admit more races and restrict affinis to the extreme Southern form and create new races for central dry Burma and for the birds ranging from Sikkim to N. Burma. The Nicobar birds are so obviously different that the name cannot stand for either of these.
In its breeding habits the Burmese race differs very little from the Indian but is not so invariably a frequenter of cultivated tracts and of gardens and orchards. Though it does not shun these latter, it may be found in thin forest, scrub and secondary growth and, most often, in bamboo or in mixed bamboo- and scrub-jungle. Rarely it may even be met with in true evergreen forest. Oates says :—“I found the nest in the evergreen forests of the Pegu Hills on the 30th April,” while in Tenasserim Darling, on the “21st April, found a nest just building, three feet from the ground, in a fork of a small sapling in bamboo-jungle, east of Tavoy.”
It ascends the hills far more freely than does the common Indian form but not to so great heights as the Himalayan bird. At 2,500 feet it breeds freely over the whole of its area and has been found at odd times nesting at 3,000 feet, whilst I once took its nest at 3,500 in the Khasia Hills. In the plains it may be found wherever there is suitable cover and rough broken ground, but it is more common in the hills.
The nest differs in no way from that of its Indian relations, but one described by Oates is rather unusual. He writes (Hume’s ‘Nests and Eggs,’ p. 26) :—“The interior of the nest is a perfect hemisphere ; exteriorly the depth is rather greater than the diameter.
“Interior diameter, about 2.1/2 inches.
“Exterior diameter, about 3.1/2 to 4 inches.
“The foundation and exterior were formed almost entirely of dry bamboo-leaves, well curved to shape, and of coarse fibres ; the interior was formed with fine fibres and a few grass-stalks.”
I have sometimes seen a few bamboo-leaves incorporated with the grass, but this latter has always been the main material used.
The eggs are like those of the preceding bird but, as a whole, they are deeper coloured, and the variety with the. very pale ground is rare. A very pretty clutch of three, taken by Coltart, has the blotches larger and bolder than usual, one egg having a blotch over 6 mm. each way.
One hundred eggs average 20.0 x 14.9 mm. : maxima 21.4 x 15.0 and 21.2 x 15.9 mm. ; minima 18.6 x 14.4 and 19.5 x 14.0 mm.
Both birds take part in the construction of the nest, though the male generally merely brings the material. Both sexes also take part in incubation, though possibly the male only does so when the hen is feeding. The finest male I ever saw, with four large, flaunting, white tail-feathers, was trapped on the nest, and when we first found it he was sitting on it, a curiously conspicuous object from a great distance. The male often breeds in immature red dress and I have seen him nesting before he has even acquired the long red tail-feathers.
The nuptial flight of this bird is very beautiful. The male launches himself very slowly from some high twig and rises and drops every few yards, with slowly beating wings, his long white tail undulating behind him with each rise and fall as he flies round in small circles before once more alighting on the perch he first left.
689. Tehitrea paradisl afflnis
(689) Tchitrea paradisi affinis* Blyth.