183. Turdoides terricolor terricolor

(183) Turdoides terricolor terricolor Hodgs.
THE BENGAL JUNGLE-BABBLER.
Turdoides terricolor terricolor, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 191.
The Bengal Jungle-Babbler breeds throughout the greater part of the Plains of Northern India from the United Provinces to Eastern Bengal. It has been recorded from Cachar and from Kamrup in Assam but I never met with it in either district. It occurs in the Eastern parts of Rajputana which are sufficiently well watered, but the bird of the Western and North-Western areas is the same as the Sind race. South of Rajputana it occurs West almost to the Bombay Presidency. The form in the South of Baroda seems nearer to the Southern race than the Sind race, as one would have expected, and the overlapping and intergrading of the three subspecies is very complicated. It is apparently controlled to a great extent by the question of humidity and the consequent vegetable growth. Although typically a plains’ bird, the Jungle-Babbler ascends the Himalayas to a considerable elevation, and Stevens records seeing a pair in Sikkim at 5,500 feet.
This Jungle-Babbler breeds principally after the Rains break in June, July and August, but eggs may be taken in most months of the year at odd times. Thus Inglis took a nest of six eggs in December and remarks that the breeding season is “any time from March to September.” Harvey took eggs in February and Coltart took others in November, so that not many months are left vacant. They are not forest birds, but with that exception may place their nests anywhere in gardens, orchards, hedges in cultivation, bushes in waste ground or in solitary trees or cacti in either cultivation or waste. The nest is a very rough untidy affair, cup-shaped and built of all sorts of material, such as grass, roots, leaves, straw, an odd cast skin of a snake, a scrap or two of string or cotton and, rarely, a strip of rag. The principal ingre¬dient is roots, Inglis says chiefly the aerial roots of fig-trees, and next in demand come grass and dead leaves. The lining is nearly always of roots or grass-bents but is often very scanty. Hume, however, found that the birds sometimes used hair with which to line their nests. Two nests recorded by him as taken ip the Dun were made entirely of “fine woody tendrils” and lined with line roots. Inglis, who has probably seen more of. this bird’s nests, than any other collector, thinks the favourite sites for them are in trees, generally small ones, about 20 feet from the ground, but they have been taken from 30 feet or more up in big Mango trees in orchards and, on the other hand, not 2 feet from the ground in thick bushes. Once I have seen a nest placed in thatching- grass growing in a matted tangle with small bushes.
The normal number of eggs in a clutch is four, Hume says three or four, but Inglis and Coltart took many clutches of five or six, and the former took one of seven.
In colour they are a deep turquoise-blue, unspotted and with a fine gloss ; in shape they are short ovals not much compressed at the smaller end, yet never quite elliptical, though sometimes nearly so. Hume says that they vary from a pale blue to a blue almost as deep as that of Garrulax albogularis, but as a whole I think the eggs are most exceptionally constant in shade, extremes being very rare.
One hundred eggs average 25.2 x 19.6 mm. : maxima 29.2 x 19.0 and 25.7 x 20.8 mm. ; minima 22.8 x 18.6 and 24.0 x 18.0 mm.
The gloss on the surface of this bird’s egg and the shape serve to distinguish it superficially from the elliptical, non-glossy eggs of the two Cuckoos, Hierococcyx varius and Coccystes jacobinus, which habitually cuckold them. At the same time the eggs of the Cuckoo and the foster parent are so like one another that I have repeatedly had clutches of eggs sent to me containing both without the sender being aware of the fact.
Although this is one of the best known and most familiar birds in India, I can find nothing on record about the construction of the nest and which sex is responsible for the work, nor does it seem even to be known whether both sexes do or do not incubate the eggs.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. 1932.
Title in Book: 
183. Turdoides terricolor terricolor
Spp Author: 
Madarasz.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
183
Year: 
1932
Page No: 
152
Common name: 
Bengal Jungle Babbler
M_ID: 
24728
M_SN: 
Turdoides striata striata
Volume: 
Vol. 1
Term name: 
id: 
13389

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