(1841) Sphenocercus sphenurus sphenurus.
THE WEDGE-TAILED GREEN PIGEON.
Vinago sphenura Vigors, P. Z. S., 1831, p. 173 (Darjiling). Sphenocercus sphenura. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 16.
Vernacular names. Kokla, Kokila (Hind.); Kaku (Lepcha); Gnu (Burmese); Haintha, Bor Haintha (Assam); Daorep-gadeba Cachari); Rainal (Pahari, Simla).
Description. Head and neck yellowish-green, the crown tinged with rufous-orange; the green of the hind-neck passing into olive-grey on the upper back and from that again into maroon on the scapulars, interscapulars, back and lesser wing-coverts; lower back, rump, upper tail-coverts, the remaining wing-coverts and inner secondaries olive-green; the median coverts often edged or suffused with maroon in old birds; greater coverts narrowly edged with yellow on the outer webs; quills black or blackish-grey, the second to fourth primary very finely edged with yellow; the secondaries gradually changing from black to green, the outer with fine yellow edges to the outer terminal halves; central rectrices green like the lower hack, the outermost dark grey washed with green, these between grading from one to the other; chin and throat yellow ; breast washed with orange-pink ; lower breast and abdomen greenish-yellow; flanks and thighs dark green with broad yellow margins; vent pale yellow; short outer tail-coverts yellow and green, the longer pale dull cinnamon with narrow dull green centres and shafts; under wing-coverts and axillaries grey, the latter mixed with green.
The maroon on the upper parts varies greatly in extent.
Colours of soft parts. Iris, inner ring bright pale ultramarine, outer buffy-pink to bright crimson ; orbital skin pale lavender or smalt-blue; bill pale dull smalt-blue or greenish-blue, the tips and cere brighter and more blue; legs coral-red to pure deep crimson.
Measurements. Wing 173 to 185 mm.; tail 114 to 139 mm.; tarsus 16.5 to 19 mm.; culmen about 16.5 to 19 mm.
Female like the male but with no rufous on the crown and no maroon on the upper plumage; the under tail-coverts are pale ochre with green centres and white shafts.
Young birds are like the female but duller and darker.
Distribution. Kashmir, Kuman, Garhwal Hills to Assam, Burma, Shan States to Tenasserim.
Nidification. The breeding-season appears to be April to June, a few birds having second broods in July and August. They breed certainly up to 8,000 feet and down to some 2,000 feet or even lower, but they are most numerous between 3,500 and 5,000 feet. Except that they often select lofty situations for their nests in high trees and keep more exclusively to forest there is nothing in their nidification different to that of the preceding bird. Two hundred eggs average 31.5 x 23.1 mm.: maxima 33.8 X 24.4 mm.; minima- 28.0 X 22.0 mm.
Dodsworth gives the period of incubation as 18 days; I had estimated it as 13 to 14 days.
Habits. Very similar to those of the Bin-tailed Green Pigeon but it is more entirely a forest-bird. In the West of its range it appears to be migratory, leaving many places during the non-breeding-season. In the East, Assam etc, it is resident all the year round, nor do its numbers fluctuate much, though the birds wander in the coldest months into the plains. Their whistling is the sweetest and fullest of all the Green Pigeons and for this reason they are very favourite cage-birds.