(150) Trochalopterum erythrocephalum nigrimentum.
THE SIKKIM RED-HEADED LAUGHING-THRUSH.
Trochalopterum nigrimentum Oates, Blanf. & Qates, Avifauna B. I.,i, p. 91 (1889) (Nepal) (ex Hodgson MS.).
Vernacular names. Tarphom-pho (Lepcha); Paniong (Bhutea)* Description. Similar to T. erythrocephalum, but the forehead is rufous with black shafts and the anterior portion of the crown deep grey, each feather black in the centre; the ear-coverts are black with pinkish-white edges and the lores, cheeks, chin and upper throat are black. The upper tail-coverts are olive-green.
Colours of soft parts. Bill dark horny-brown or blackish brown; legs dark fleshy or yellowish brown ; iris grey-brown; "red" (Jerdon).
Measurements. Total length about 260 to 270 mm.; wing 100 to 105 mm.; tail 112 to 115 mm.; tarsus about 38mm.; culmen about 21 to 22 mm.
Distribution. Eastern Nepal to the Daphla and Mikir Hills in Assam.
Nidification. Breeds throughout its range in the months of April, May and early June at elevations of 5,500 feet upwards. The nest is a massive deep cup made of leaves, grass and a large proportion of moss, bound together with tendrils and roots. The lining generally consists of fine roots with an inner lining of matted dead leaves, but this latter is not always present. Most nests are placed in thick bushes, but others may be found on small saplings, and the site selected is either the fringe of forest and heavy jungle or scrub-jungle and secondary growth. The eggs number two or three and are like those of the rest of the genus, but are generally very sparsely marked. Seventeen eggs average about 28.7 X 21.1 mm.
Habits. This is a bird of high elevations from 5,000 up to 9,000 feet or more. It has the usual habits of the genus and is quite common in the woods round about Darjeeling, where in the early morning and evening it may often be surprised on the roads and jungle paths, hunting in small parties for insects in the cattle droppings, but scuttling off promptly into cover when disturbed.