(571) Turdus boulboul.
The Grey-winged Blackbird.
Lanius boulboul Lath., Ind. Orn., i, p. 80 (1790) (India; now restricted to Darjeeling). Merula boulboul. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 130.
Vernacular names. Kasturi (Hind.); Patariya masaicha (Beng.); Phoyiong-pho (Lepcha) ; Chemam (Bhut.).
Description.— Adult male. Tips of median wing-coverts, outer webs of greater coverts and inner secondaries and edges of outer secondaries ashy grey; remainder of upper plumage, wings and tail black; below from chin brownish black* paling towards the centre of the abdomen and vent and the feathers of these parts narrowly margined with pale silvery grey.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown, the eyelids orange-yellow ; bill coral-red to deep orange, possibly according to age, blackish at the tip ; legs and feet brownish yellow.
Measurements. Total length about 280 mm.; wing 141 to 147 mm.; tail 107 to 112 mm.; tarsus 34 mm.; culmen 21 to 22 mm.
Female. Has the black of the male replaced by olive-brown and the marks on the wing are pale rufous, not contrasting much with the other parts.
Colours of soft parts as in the male but the bill yellow to orange. Measurements. Wing 136 to 146 mm.
Nestlings. From the earliest stages the males seem darker than the females, being dark brown as against rufous-brown in the latter. The upper parts are streaked with fulvous and have darker edges to the feathers; below they are broadly edged with brown. Young males seem to have a transition stage between this and the adult plumage, losing the bars on the lower plumage but retaining the narrow pale shaft-stripes.
Distribution. Murree, East to the extreme East and South of Assam and Manipur.
Nidification. Breeds throughout its range from the end of April to June but occasionally much earlier, as Stevens found a nest with eggs on the 8th of March at Polpoti in Nepal at about 5,000 feet. It breeds in great numbers about Murree, up as high as 10,000 feet but more often between 7,000 and 8,000 feet. In the hills South of the Brahmaputra it is a rare resident, breeding as low as 4,500 feet. The nest is a large and rather massive cup of moss, foots and grasses with an internal lining of mud, not always, however, present, and an inner lining of grass and roots. It is placed either on the ground, among the roots of a tree, on a steep bank, on a ledge of rock or on a stout branch of a tree some 10 to 20 feet from the ground. The eggs are rather of the Blackbird's type of egg but often much more richly coloured. The ground-colour varies from a pale dingy green to a rather bright yellowish or pinkish stone-colour, whilst the numerous, rather smudgy markings are of pale dull reddish brown. They are scattered fairly equally over the whole surface, seldom more numerous at the larger end. Forty eggs average 29.4 x 21.8 mm. maxima 33.9 x23.3 mm.; minima 26.5 X 20.1 and 27.2x 19.9 mm.
Habits. This Blackbird is a forest bird, though it frequents the outskirts and open glades rather than the interiors, except during the breeding months. It is very sedentary and does not appear to move much with the seasons, even vertically. It probably seldom wanders much above 9,000 feet and, on the other hand, even in Winter is equally seldom found below 3,000 feet. It is a quiet bird, feeding much on the ground and shunning observation. The song is a fine deep series of whistles, much like the early spring song of our English Blackbird but it sings very little except in the early mornings.