(146) Ianthocincla austeni austeni.
THE CACHAR LAUGHING-THBUSH.
Trochalopteron austeni Godw.-Aust., J. A. S. B., xxxix, ii, p. 105 (1870) (Hengdang Peak, N. Cachar Hills). Ianthocincla austeni. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 87.
Vernacular names. Dao-gajao-i-ba (Cachari),
Description. Forehead, crown, nape, hind neck and sides, and the whole neck reddish brown with pale streaks; rump paler, without pale shafts; upper tail-coverts and middle pair of tail-feathers rufous; other feathers black with white tips and with the bases suffused with rufous on the outer webs; wing-coverts and inner secondaries reddish brown, the latter and the longer coverts tipped with white and with subterminal dusky marks; outer webs of the earlier primaries grey, those of the other quills reddish brown; lores dusky; ear-coverts dark rufous-brown with pale shafts ; chin, throat and breast rufous-brown, indistinctly barred with dusky and whitish; remainder of lower plumage rufous-brown, with broad and distinct white bars preceded by a dusky line; under tail-coverts narrowly tipped with white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown or lake-brown; bill dark horny, blackish at the tip, paler on lower mandible; legs dull fleshy- or livid-brown.
Measurements. Total length about 250 mm.; wing 100 to 105 mm.; tail about 120 mm.; tarsus about 35 mm.; culmen 20 mm.
Distribution. Khasia, Cachar and Naga Hills. Hengdang Peak is on the watershed between the Cachar Hills and Manipur, and doubtless it will be found also in the higher hills of the latter state.
Nidification. This rare Laughing-Thrush breeds throughout its range between 4,000 and 8,000 feet, principally about 6,000 feet, but it is not very uncommon on the higher hills about Cherrapunji in the breeding season at little over 4,000 feet. It breeds in the end of April and May, and possibly sometimes has a second laying as I have a nest taken in August with fresh eggs. The nest is like that of I. rufogularis, but seems to be generally placed in a low bush, or a tangle of canes or raspberry bushes quite close to the ground. The eggs, two or three in number, are pure white, fragile, with a very slight gloss, and 48 average about 26.3 x 19.0 mm.
Habits. I found the bird in the Khasia and Cachar Hills in rhododendron and stunted oak forest, going about in pairs or small family parties in the dense undergrowth. They were just as loath to take to wing as other members of this subfamily, and when forced to do so fluttered and sailed alternately to the next bit of cover, into which they tumbled headlong rather than settled. They kept up a continuous chatter, but were not particularly noisy. Those examined by roe had eaten both insects and seeds, several containing masses of a small red ant, a most vicious biter.