92. Trochalopterum squamatum.
The Blue-winged Laughing-Thrush.
Ianthocincla squamata, Gould, P. Z. S. 1835, p. 48; Jard. Selby, 111. Orn. new ser. pl. iv. Cinclosoma melanura, Hodgs. As. Res. xix, p. 147 (1836). Garrulax squamatus (Gould), Blyth, Cat. p. 96. Trochalopteron squamatum (Gould), Horsf. M, Cat. i, p. 211; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 46; id. Ibis, 1572, p. 306; Hume, N. & E. p. 260; id. Cat. no. 420; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. vii, p. 367; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. i, p. 61.
Tarmal-pho, Lepch.; Nabom, Bhut.
Coloration. A black streak over the eye from the lores to the nape; lores and sides of head rufous ; upper tail-coverts chestnut; with this exception the whole upper plumage is rufescent olive-brown, each feather with a terminal lunate black tip; wing-coverts chestnut, dusky internally; primary-coverts dusky edged with black; winglet bluish ashy; the outer primaries with the outer webs pale blue, the others with them entirely black ; basal portion of the outer webs of the secondaries chestnut, extending slightly to the tertiaries ; remainder of wing black, the later quills minutely tipped white ; tail bronze-colour, the tips chestnut; lower plumage fulvous, each feather with a terminal black bar; under tail-coverts and thighs castaneous.
Legs and feet fleshy ; bill blackish, pale greyish horny at base of lower mandible and tip of both mandibles ; iris brilliant white with a faint greenish tinge (Hume).
Length about 10; tail 4; wing 3.8 ; tarsus 1.5; bill from gape 1.
No writer appears to have noticed the two very distinct varieties of this bird which seem to be found together in every locality in the same manner that Garrulax pectoralis and G. moniliger occur together. In T. squamatum, to which the above description applies, the tail is bronze-colour; in T. melanurum the tail is deep black, and moreover the crown of the head is ashy and the lower plumage and sides of the head olivaceous. Hodgson collected both varieties and he figured the latter bird. There is a very large series of this bird in the British Museum and it is quite evident that the colour of the tail is not a question of sex, nor does it appear to be one of age. I keep the two races together at present and content myself with pointing out the differences in hopes that the question may be worked out by those who have the opportunity.
Hume informs us that in this species the male has grey lores, and the female fulvous-brown ones. This is certainly the case in the only two specimens in the Hume Collection which are sexed; but I question if the inference drawn from it is correct, as it is altogether opposed to the rule which obtains in all the Crateropodinae - the perfect identity of the sexes.
Distribution. The Himalayas from Nepal to the Daphla hills ; the Khasi hills ; the Lhota Naga hills ; Manipur. This species appears to be found from 2000 to 6000 feet.
Habits, &c. Breeds from April to June, constructing a nest of the usual form in a bush near the ground and laying from three to five eggs, which are spotless blue and measure 1.2 by 1.87.