391. Acanthoptila nepalensis.
The Spiny Warbler.
Timalia nipalensis, Hodgs. As. Res. xix, p. 182 (1836). Timalia pellotis, Hodgs. As. Res. xix, p. 182 (1836). Timalia leucotis, Hodgs. in Gray's Zool. Misc. p. 83 (1844). Malacocercus nipalensis (Hodgs.), Blyth, Cat. p. 140; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 222. Acanthoptila nipalensis (Hodgs.), Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 57; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 459; id. Cat. no. 431; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. vii, p. 380; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. i, p. 252. Acanthoptila pellotis (Hodgs.), Hume, N. 8; E. p. 269. Malacocercus pellotis (Hodgs.), Hume, Cat. no. 431 bis.
The Spiny Babbler, Jerd.
Coloration. In winter, the whole upper plumage, tail, and visible portions of the wings are rich olive-brown, the feathers of the head and back with stiff black shafts; tail distinctly darker cross-rayed; lores and the feathers behind and below the eye whitish ; ear-coverts brown, the central portion mixed with white; lower plumage rufescent, each feather with a dark brown shaft-streak, the streaks increasing in size as they recede from the head ; under tail-coverts and flanks plain rufescent brown.
In summer, the lores, the feathers round the eye, the ear-coverts, cheeks, chin, Sind throat become white, the shafts of the throat-feathers glistening; the lower plumage becomes whiter, especially on the abdomen.
Bill dusky horn; legs dull fleshy brown; iris smoky brown (Hodgson, MS.).
Length about 10; tail 5; wing 3.5; tarsus 1.2 ; bill from gape 1.1.
On examining Hodgson's specimens of this bird, also one procured by Captain Pin will and one by Mandelli, there can be little doubt that the Spiny Babbler has a summer and a winter plumage. Two specimens are in the summer plumage, and one of these is moulting and acquiring some rufous feathers on the throat.
Distribution. Appears to be fairly common in Nepal. The Pin-will collection contains a summer-plumaged bird from the N.W. Himalayas (probably Kumaun), and the Hume collection one from Dolaka procured by Mandelli.
Habits, &c. Hodgson remarks of this bird that the sexes are alike, that it is solitary, tenants low bushes, flies very ill and unwillingly, and that it feeds entirely on the ground. He adds that it is found by bushy rills, and that it hides itself instantly. It makes a loose, shallow, grass nest in a fork of a tree. One nest is stated to have measured nearly 5 inches in diameter and nearly 2 in height externally. The eggs are verditer-blue, and measure 1.1 by .65.
On the label of the Pinwill specimen there is a remark that this bird is a fine songster.