(165) Trochalopterum cachinnans cachinnans.
THE NILGIRI LAUGHING-THRUSH.
Crateropus cachinnans Jerd., Madr. Jour, x, p. 255, pi. 7 (1839), (Nilgiris). Trochalopterum cachinnans. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 97.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Point of forehead black; sides of the forehead and broad supercilium white; crown and nape slaty-brown, the feathers very narrowly margined with black ; the lateral feathers of the forehead and crown black on their inner, white on the outer, webs, forming a black line above the supercilium; lores, chin and a streak behind the eye black ; feathers of the eyelid white; ear-coverts pale rufous ; sides of the nape ashy at the end of the supercilia, this colour suffusing the whole of the nape;, upper plumage, sides of neck, wings and tail olive-brown; throat and breast bright rufous; abdomen a duller rufous; thighs, vent, under tail-coverts and sides of the body rufescent olive-brown;. under wing-coverts rufous.
Colours of soft parts. Iris red-brown to crimson; legs, feet and bill black.
Measurements. Length about 225 to 235 mm.: wing 92 to 96 mm.; tail about 100 mm.; tarsus 30 to 32 mm.; culmen about 16 to 18 mm.
Distribution. Nilgiris, from 4,500 feet upwards.
Nidification. Breeds from February to the end of June throughout its range. The nest is made of grass, leaves, moss, small twigs and other miscellaneous bits, and is lined with roots and fibre and frequently with fur, cotton-wool or feathers. In shape it is a very deep cup, rather bulky but compact, and it is placed in an upright fork of some bush or small tree in forest. The eggs are nearly always two in number, sometimes three but never more. In ground-colour they are a pale, rather washed-out blue and are speckled and blotched with reddish or pinkish brown, a few eggs having also one or two darker spots or hairlines. They average about 25.0 x 18.8 mm.
Habits. This Laughing-Thrush is extremely common all over the Nilgiris above 4,000 feet wherever there is sufficient cover. It is always found in parties, sometimes consisting of a dozen or more birds, and is one of the noisiest of the family, though its notes are not so discordant as those of Garrulous leucolophus, etc. It keeps much to the ground and to dense undergrowth, and though its diet is partly insectivorous, Jerdon remarks that it feeds principally on the imported Peruvian cherry (Physalis peruviana). It is sdd to be a shy bird except in the breeding season, when it sits very close and becomes much bolder.