(1840) Sphenocercus apicaudus apicaudus.
THE PIN-TAILED GREEN PIGEON.
Treron apicauda Blyth. J. A. S. B., xiv, p. 854 (1845) (S.E. Himalayas). Sphenocercus apicaudus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 16.
Vernacular names. Song-pong (Lepcha); Daorep-galao (Cachari); Limberdum Kokhila (Hind.); Bor Haitha (Assam); JSarial (Bengal Terai); Ngu (Burmese).
Description.— Male. Whole head and neck bright yellowish grass-green, paling on the nape and changing to olive-green, washed with grey, in a broad collar on the hind-neck; back, scapulars and wing-coverts grass-green, very faintly vermiculated darker; rump and upper tail-coverts bright greenish-yellow; quills and greater coverts of the wing black, the three outermost primaries narrowly edged yellow ; secondaries more broadly edged yellow and innermost secondaries concolorous with the back, very broadly edged with yellow, these yellow borders and tips forming two bold wing-bars; under plumage greenish-yellow; the breast washed with orange-pink, which shades off into the surrounding parts ; flanks, lower abdomen and vent much darker and with pale yellow-buff edging to the feathers, varying in extent; under tail-coverts cinnamon, margined outwardly with buffish-white; axillaries mixed green and grey; tail grey, dark above and pale below, the central feathers green or greenish on the narrowed ends; shafts brown above, white below.
Colours of soft parts. Iris, outer ring pale to bright salmon-pink, terra-cotta or carmine-red, inner ring bright pale blue; orbital skin pale livid blue to bright blue; bill pale bluish-horny or greenish-horny, cere and base brighter blue; legs and feet coral-red or lake-red.
Measurements. Total length about 400 to 430 mm.; wing 160 to 175 mm.; tail 220 to 254 mm.; tarsus about 23 to 25 mm.; culmen about 15 to 16 mm. Weight 6 1/2 to 8 oz., according to Cripps sometimes as much as 9 oz.
Females usually have much shorter tails, 150 to 175 mm. Weight 7 oz. or under.
Female is duller everywhere, the grey of the hind-neck is absent or faint; there is no orange on the breast; the under tail-coverts are paler and duller, the outer webs almost entirely while and the centres marked with dull sage-green.
The young male resembles the female but partially acquires the grey neck and orange breast at the first autumnal moult.
Distribution. Throughout the lower Himalayas and the broken country adjacent to them from Kuman to E. Assam, through Burma to Tenasserim. It straggles into the plains of Behar and Bengal and I received one skin from Perak in the Malay Peninsula. Robinson and Kloss have not, however, met with this bird and its occurrence must be abnormal in the Malay States and the skin, in shocking condition, may have been that of seimundi.
Nidification. This beautiful Pigeon breeds from the foot-hills of the Himalayas up to some 5,000 feet, less often up to 6,000 and possibly rather higher again both in Sikkim and Nepal. The breeding-season is long, lasting from March to August, whilst many birds have two broods. The nest is the usual platform of twigs and the favourite site is a mass of small branches of saplings, about fifteen to twenty feet from the ground. They prefer fairly deep forest for breeding purposes but in most cases select trees near open glades or river-banks. One hundred eggs average 31.7 X 23.8 mm.: maxima 35.0 x 24.1 and 34.1 x 26.1 mm."; minima 27.6 x 23.0 and 30.7 x 22.1 mm.
Habits. This Pigeon is essentially a bird of the hills rather than of the plains and is resident at all heights up to 6,000 feet throughout the year. Into the plains it makes sudden irruptions but this is due to food-supply only and not to pressure of climate. There is little to record of these birds different to the other genera. They may be rather more persistent climbers and their long tails give them a very parrot-like look when thus employed. They have all the notes of other Green Pigeons and both this and the next species also indulge in a curious chattering. Its flight is straight and steady and extraordinarily swift. Hume considered it a stupid bird because it preferred to seek safety in dense cover rather than take to flight but experience has probably taught them the wisest course to take.