1271. Crocopus phoenicopterus.
The Bengal Green Pigeon.
Columba phoenicoptera, Lath. Ind. Orn. ii, p. 597 (1790). Columba militaris, Temm. Pigeons, pl. 1 (nec pl. 2) (1808). Columba hardwickii, Gray in Griff. An. Kingd. viii, pl. 291 (1829). Treron phoenicoptera, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiv, p. 849; id. Cat. p. 229. Treron viridifrons, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiv, p. 849 (1845); id. Cat. p. 228; Blanford, ibis, 1870, p. 469. Crocopus phoenicopterus, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 447; Beavan, Ibis, 1868, p. 370; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xxxix, pt. 2, p. 272; McMaster, J. A. S. B. xl, pt. 2, p. 214; Lloyd, Ibis, 1873, p. 414; Adam, S. F. i, p. 390; Ball, S. F. ii, p. 423; Hume, N. & E. p. 491; Hume, S. F. iv, p. 2; Cripps, S. F. vii, p. 296; Hume, Cat. no. 772 ; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 339; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 370; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxi, p. 26. Crocopus viridifrons, Jerdon, B. I, iii, p. 449; Hume, S. F. iii, p. 161; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xxxix, pt. 2, p. Ill ; xlv, pt. 2, p. 83; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 143; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 410; Anderson, Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 664; Hume, Cat. no. 773 bis; Bingham, S. F. ix, p. 194 ; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 307 ; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 290; Salvadori, t. c. p. 28.
Haridl, H.; Haitha, Assamese ; Ngu, Bom-ma-di, Burm.
Coloration. Occiput and nape, with ear-coverts, dark grey ; lores, forehead, cheeks, chin, throat, upper breast, and neck all round greenish yellow, becoming deeper on the upper breast and still darker and tinged with olive on the hind neck; an ashy-grey collar round the base of the neck; back, rump, scapulars, tertiaries, and most of the wing-coverts yellowish olive-green, growing grey in general, but not always, on the rump and upper tail-coverts; smaller wing-coverts near the bend of the wing lilac; quills blackish, narrowly edged with yellow outside, greater coverts with broader yellow outer borders ; terminal half of tail dove-grey, basal half yellowish green above, black beneath ; lower breast, abdomen, and whole inner surface of wings light ashy grey, contrasting sharply with the yellow upper breast, but becoming tinged with yellow towards the vent; tibial plumes pure yellow; lower flanks dark green, with broad yellowish-white edges ; under tail-coverts dull chestnut, with buff tips.
Females are slightly smaller, and the lilac patch on the wing is, as a rule, less extensive.
Soft parts of bill greenish, hard parts bluish white ; iris blue, with an outer circle of pink ; legs orange-yellow ; claws bluish (Oates).
Length about 13 inches, tail 4.5, wing 7.5, tarsus 1, bill from gape 1 ; in females, length 12.5, wing 7.2.
Distribution. Along the base of the Himalayas as far west as the Jumna, scattered over the Eastern Punjab and Northern India generally, but less commonly than the next species ; occurring exclusively in Lower Bengal and to the eastward in Assam, and throughout Burma, Cochin China, and Siam.
The Burmese bird is generally distinguished as O. viridifrons, but this is, I think, an incorrect interpretation of the facts. There are in the Indian Empire two perfectly well-marked species—C. phoenicopterus, as described by Latham, with an ashy-grey lower breast and abdomen and with green on the forehead and tail; and 0. chlorogaster, with the lower breast and abdomen greenish yellow like the upper breast and throat, and with (normally) no green on the forehead or tail. But throughout Northern India both these birds occur and also numerous intermediate forms, and as these intermediate forms are well known from occurring in the best-explored region, they have come to be regarded as typical phoenicopterus, and the more cha¬racteristic Burmese birds have been distinguished as viridifrons, on account of their having rather more yellowish green on the tail and forehead and a grey rump. Not one of the distinctions is constant, there being for instance specimens of green-rumped birds from Thayet Myo, Pegu, Toungoo, aud Cochin China in the British Museum collection.
Habits, &c. The common Green Pigeons of India and Burma are usually seen in flocks, which feed on fruit (the figs of the banyan tree for instance), and may often be recognized by their peculiar, rather musical call. They always perch on trees, and resemble the foliage so closely in colour that it is often almost impossible to see them unless they move, and even then difficult to watch them. They are occasionally caged for the sake of their notes. The breeding season is from March to June, and they lay, like so many other pigeons, two oval white glossy eggs on a loosely-constructed platform of small sticks, without any lining, and placed on the branch of a tree. The eggs measure about 1.25 by .95.
According to Jerdon the next species (the habits of both are identical) comes to the banks of rivers in flocks about 9 A.M. to drink, but Hume (S. P. x, p. 59) doubts whether they ever drink, and I cannot recollect seeing them do so.