(192) Argya caudata caudata.
THE COMMON BABBLER.
Cossyphus caudatus Dumont, Diet. Sci. Nat., xxix, p. 266 (1823). Argya caudata. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 106.
Vernacular names. Dumri (Hindi in the South); Huni (Tarn.); Heddo and Lailo (Sind); Chil-chil (Hind, in the N.W.P.); Peng or Chota-penga (Hindi); Sor (in the N.W.); Chinna sida (Tel.).
Description. Whole upper plumage fulvous-brown, each feather with a dark brown shaft-streak; wing and tail-coverts with only the shafts dark; quills brown, lighter on the outer webs; tail olive-brown, cross-rayed and the shafts very dark; chin and throat fulvous-white; lores brown; ear-coverts rufescent; lower plumage pale fulvous, albescent on the abdomen and the sides of the breast faintly streaked.
Colours of soft parts. Bill light brown, yellow at base below ; legs and feet yellow; claws fleshy-brown; iris brown or yellow (Bingham); iris red-brown (Jerdon).
Measurements. Total length about 230 mm.; wing 78 to 84 mm.; tail about 120 to 125 mm.; tarsus about 28 mm.; culmen about 19 to 20 mm.
Distribution. Every portion of India proper, from Sind to E. Bengal and Calcutta; from the foot of the Himalayas to the Palni Hills; the Laccadives and in Rameswaram Island. Not Burma.
Nidification. This Babbler breeds practically throughout the year, certainly having two broods and sometimes possibly three.
The principal months are March to May before the rains break and again in July to September. The nest is a fairly neat cup made of grass, with roots, grass, bark and other fibrous material to a lesser extent mixed with it. There is either no lining or a very slight one of fine grass stems. It may be placed in almost any position low down; generally in a thorny bush, but also in cactus hedges, orange-trees, babools, tufts of grass, tangles of canes or vines, creepers over trellis-work or any similar site. It measures roughly about 5" x 2 1/2" externally by about 3" x 2", or rather less, inside. The eggs number three or four, in South India sometimes only two. They are of the typical dark glossy-blue colour common to the genus, in shape broad, blunt ovals, whilst the average of 200 eggs is 21.2 x 16.1 mm.
Habits. In the North of India this is one of the most common and familiar of birds, entering and breeding in compounds and all round about villages, but it is found wherever there is open country with sufficient cover in the way of bushes, hedges and scrub. It does not haunt forests, but is often found in high grass-covered plains when they are dry. In the South of India it is said to be less confiding in its habits and rather to shun the vicinity of human beings. Its flight and manners generally are similar to those of the last bird, but it is less noisy. Its voice is described by Jerdon as a " low, undertoned warbling whistle" and it also has a constant soft chattering.