165. Trochalopteron caehinans caehinans

(165) Trochalopteron cachinans cachinans Jerdon.
THE NILGIRI RUFOUS-BREASTED LAUGHING-THRUSH.
Trochalopterum cachinans cachinans, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, pl 176.
This Laughing-Thrush has a very restricted range, being found only on the Nilgiri Hills from 4,500 feet upwards.
The nest of this bird is placed on a bush or small tree at all heights from 3 or 4 feet to 12 or even 15 above the ground. Betham says that well-wooded sholas, that is to say, copses or woods filling the valleys between the hills, are nearly always selected as sites, the nest being built on a bush or tree not very far in from the edge of the forest. It has also been known to breed in gardens with quiet remote shrubberies, but this is exceptional.
The nest is well described by Howard Campbell, who took many nests in the Nilgiris :—
“These birds are extremely common, laying at all heights above 5,000 feet, generally building their nests in the sholas, where there is good cover. The nests are neat but fairly big cups, the depth and diameter being about the same, some five or six inches each way. They are made of grass, roots, moss and a little lichen, and are lined with roots and a fibre which they obtain from the bark of the Peruvian Cherry, in addition to which they may often have a lot of feathers and, sometimes, scraps of wool, hair or fur. The amount of moss used varies considerably. In some nests the whole of the basis on which it is made is moss and the same material covers practically the whole of the outside. In other nests there is very little moss on the outside, though I don’t remember any nests with none at all. I have seen nests in which many skeleton leaves were incorporated and a few in which the birds had used spiders’ webs and egg bags.”
Miss Cockburn gives a description of its nest much the same as Campbell’s, but she says “there is a lining of fine grass and roots and the withered fibrous covering of the Peruvian Cherry (Physalis peruviana), the nest being finished with a few feathers, in general belonging to the bird.” (The italics are mine.)
Darling also says that “the cavity is lined with fur, cotton-wool, feathers etc.,” so that evidently fur and feathers do enter into the composition of the lining sometimes, although recent observers have not recorded this.
Other nests taken by Carter, Miss Cockburn, Davison etc. agree well with Campbell’s description. All these observers, and others, give the normal nesting-season as February to May inclusive ; Bates, however, found them continuing to breed much later. On the 10th of July he found that a pair of birds were busy building, and on the 20th July he obtained a second nest with two fresh eggs.
The birds have the reputation of being very shy and nervous but Bates found one pair, of which he was photographing the nest, extraordinarily tame.
The normal full complement of eggs is two, and three are seldom laid. Wait, writing from Coonoor to Hume, said that “T. cachinans breeds about May and lays from three to five oval eggs,” but no other correspondent of Hume’s ever found more than three.
The eggs are pale blue and the markings consist of indefinite blotches, spots and specks of pale reddish-brown and dark brown with a few nearly black. Here and there are short lines of. the same colour and in some a few smudges. In my series I have no very unusual specimens but Hume writes :—“In some eggs the markings are almost entirely wanting, there being only a very faint brownish-pink freckling at the large end ; and in many eggs, even in some that are profusely spotted all over, the markings consist only of darker or lighter brownish-pink shades.”
All my eggs are rather short, blunt ovals but Hume had some pyriform eggs and remarks that these are common. His eggs are all in the Natural History Museum but there are few pyriform ones among them.
Forty eggs, including Hume’s, average 25.6 x 18.8 mm. : maxima 26.2 x 19.4 and 26.1 x 20.9 mm. ; minima 23.0 x 18.4 and 24.1 x 17.9 mm.
Trochalopteron jerdoni fairbanki.
The Travancore White-breasted Laughing-Thrush. (Kodaikanal, Palni Hills, 1929.)

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. 1932.
Title in Book: 
165. Trochalopteron caehinans caehinans
Spp Author: 
Jerdon.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
165
Year: 
1932
Page No: 
137
Common name: 
Nilgiri Rufous Breasted Laughing Thrush
M_ID: 
24927
M_SN: 
Trochalopteron cachinnans cachinnans
Volume: 
Vol. 1
id: 
13371

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