(170) Trochalopterum virgatum.
THE MANIPUR STREAKED LAUGHING-THRUSH.
Trochalopteron virgatum Godw.-Aust., P. Z. S,, 1874, p. 46 (Razami, Naga Hills) ; Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 100.
Vernacular names. Dao-phere (Cachari).
Description. Point of the forehead and a long supercilium extending to the nape white; lores ferruginous; cheeks, lower part of ear-coverts and under the eye fulvous-white; upper part of ear-coverts ferruginous, with pale shaft-streaks; crown, nape, mantle, lesser wing-coverts and sides of the neck reddish brown, with very white shafts; lower back, scapulars, rump and upper tail-coverts ashy-brown, with white shafts ; tail olive-brown, distinctly cross-rayed; the outer feathers tipped with white; greater wing-coverts chestnut, with white shafts and tips; primary-coverts pale rufous, with white shafts and brown tips; winglet deep ashy, with the outer webs white along the shafts; wings ashy; the middle feathers washed with chestnut and the inner secondaries edged with paler ashy; chin and throat deep chestnut, shading off into yellowish-buff on the remainder of the lower plumage, all the feathers with white shafts.
Colours of soft parts. Legs and feet pale horny or fleshy, the soles paler and more yellow; bill dark brown,.paler at the gape; iris hazel-brown; orbital skin dusky plumbeous.
Measurements. Length about 250 mm. ; wing 85 to 89 mm.; tail about 110 to 115 inm.; tarsus about 31 mm.; culmen about 17 mm.
Distribution. Hills south of the Brahmaputra, Manipur, Lushai and Chin Hills.
Nidification. This Laughing-Thrush breeds throughout its range between 3,000 and 8,000 feet, making a deep, compact, cup-shaped nest of leaves, roots, bamboo leaves and grass, and always with more or fewer tendrils and a little moss. The lining is of roots and mos3 roots or fern-rachides, and the inner cup usually measures about 4 in. x 2.75 in. or less and the outer about 6 in. x 5 in. Most nests are placed close to the ground in dense tangles of creepers and vines or thick bushes, but they sometimes select higher bushes or small saplings for nesting purposes. Eggs maybe found from May to July. These are either two or three in number and are a pale unspotted blue with a soft satiny texture, almost glossless though intensely smooth. 100 eggs average 26.0 x 19.2 mm.
Habits. This is not a gregarious bird and I have generally seen it in pairs only, nor is it as noisy as most of its relations though it has some quite sweet conversational and call-notes. It keeps almost entirely to thick undergrowth of forests or to the ground itself in bracken and brambles. Those I examined had fed on insects only, chiefly a small grasshopper and a very odoriferous little bug, but doubtless they also eat seeds. They are found up to 8,000 feet or over and never descend below some 3,000 feet.
Key to Subspecies.
A. Head and mantle ashy with dusky streaks.
a. Lower plumage rufescent.
a1. Grey margins to feathers narrow .. T. l. lineatum, p. 180.
b1. Grey margins to feathers broad T. l griseicentior, p. 181.
b. Lower plumage paler and more grey.
c1. Ear-coverts chestnut T. l. gilgit, p. 182.
d1. Ear-coverts pale rusty T. l. ziaratensis, p. 182,
B, Head and mantle reddish brown with
glistening black shaft-stripes T. 1. imbricatum, p. 183.