162. Trochalopteron variegatum

(162) Trochalopteron variegatum variegatum (Vigors).
Trochalopterum variegatum variegatum, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 173.
The range of this subspecies is from Chamba East through the Simla States and Garhwal to Nepal. Hume gives the breeding elevation as from 4,000 to 8,000 feet, but 4,000 feet must be too low and I can trace no authentic records of nests or eggs having been found at this elevation. To quote a few of the ornithologists who have taken many eggs. Whymper speaks of 7,000 to 9,000 feet as the breeding belt in Garhwal ; in Simla Dodsworth took one clutch at 6,500 feet, but others at 7,000 and 7,500 and upwards. From the same State Jones has sent me clutches of eggs taken at 8,000 and 8,600 feet and one only as low as 7,500 ; finally, Osmaston took, or saw, many nests at Chakrata at about 9,000 feet elevation.
They breed in forest of various kinds ; Oak, Oak and Silver Fir, Deodar, mixed forest in deep nullahs but, whatever the forest, sometimes dense and sometimes more open, a thick undergrowth seems essential. The nest may be placed low down in bushes or in small saplings, Oaks, Silver Fir and others, from 6 to 10 feet up. On the other hand Hume actually “obtained one placed in a thick tuft of grass, growing at the roots of a young Deodar, not above six inches from the ground.”
Hume says the nest is a “pretty compact, rather shallow cup, composed exteriorly of coarse grass, in which a few dead leaves are intermingled ; it has no lining but the interior is composed of rather finer and softer grass than the exterior, and a good number of dry needle-like fir leaves are used towards the interior. It is from 5 to 8 inches in diameter exteriorly, and the cavity from 3 to 3.5 inches in diameter and about 2 inches deep.”
Osmaston and Whymper both found a good many leaves built into the body of the nest and at times fine twigs, roots and lichen (Usnea barbata) were also employed for this part of the nest, whilst all my correspondents mention a lining of some kind, generally grass, though Whymper found pine-needles often used for this purpose. Jones also sometimes found scraps of grass used on the outside of the nest.
The principal breeding month is June, though many birds lay towards the end of May, whilst others continue breeding through July. Hume also apparently found eggs in April.
The eggs number two or three and I have never seen or heard of four, though Hume speaks of four being laid and, as this number is sometimes laid by the Western form, presumably it may also be laid by the Eastern.
They are handsome eggs, the typical blue or blue-green in colour, a trifle deeper and brighter than in most, whilst they are also more profusely blotched and spotted than the eggs of any of the preceding Laughing-Thrushes except those of the phoeniceum group. The blotches, some quite large and as much as 2 to 4 mm. across, are scattered over the whole surface, but nearly always more numerous at the larger end. In colour they range from what Hume calls a pale “liver red” to red brown, dark brown or brownish-black. Secondary markings are seldom present but, when they are, are of a pale reddish-grey.
Sixty eggs average 28.6 x 20.7 mm. : maxima 31.1 x 22.0 and 30.0 x 22.5 mm. ; minima 26.1 x 20.2 and 26.2 x 20.0 mm.
TROCHALOPTERON VARIEGATUM SIMILE. The Western Variegated Laughing-Thrush (Dungagali, 1905.)In shape the eggs are broad ovals, generally very obtuse at the smaller end. The texture is not, I think, quite as close and fine as it is in most Trochalopteron eggs and there is no gloss.
Jones says that the birds sit very close, though they never allow the intruder to reach the nest before they slip quietly off into the undergrowth, skulking round until the unwanted visitor disappears.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. 1932.
Title in Book: 
162. Trochalopteron variegatum
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Eastern Vaeiegated Laughing Thrush
Variegated Laughingthrush
Trochalopteron variegatum
Vol. 1

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