(583) Turdus feae.
Merula feae Salv., Ann. Mus. Civ. Gen., (2) v, p. 514 (1887) (Muleyit Mt.); Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 135.
Vernacular names. Daokat jadi,(Cachari).
Description.— Adult male. Whole upper plumage russet-brown; a narrow supercilium white; lores black; a patch under the eye and chin white; centre of lower breast, abdomen and under tail-coverts white, the last with broad grey-brown margins ; remainder of lower surface, under wing-coverts and axillaries grey, the sides of the head, neck and breast more or less suffused with the rusty hue of the upper parts.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown to deep chocolate; bill dark brown, yellowish at the base and nape ; legs and feet pale yellow-brown.
Measurements. Wing 124 to 131 mm.; tail 80 to 96mm.: tarsus 30 mm.; culmen about 19 to 20 mm.
Female. Above like the male; below, chin and throat white speckled with brown and the grey of the male replaced by fulvous-grey except in very old birds, which are almost as grey as the males.
Distribution. Assam, South of the Brahmaputra, Manipur and the hills of Central Burma to Muleyit Mountain in Tenasserim.
Nidification. Fea's Thrush is probably resident throughout its range, and in the hills South of the Brahmaputra it certainly breeds at all heights over 4,000 feet, though not often below 5,000 feet. It makes a typical Blackbird's nest of twigs, leaves, grass and a great deal of moss, both dry and green ; the lining is of grass but under this there is always a layer of moss, roots and mud and often there is a considerable amount of earth mixed with the materials in the body of the nest. It is a rather massive cup, fairly well put together and is generally placed in a small tree or sapling between 8 and 20 feet from the ground but sometimes it is placed low down in Azalea and Rhododendron bushes. It is not well concealed and as the bird always leaves it with a loud alarm-cry it is not easy to miss it. All those I have seen were placed on trees and bushes well inside heavy wet forest growing on steep hillsides, broken with rocks and stony ravines. They breed from the end of May to the middle of July.
Four seems to be the full complement of eggs laid and these vary extraordinarily in colour. Some are just like very small eggs of the Missel-Thrush, others have a bright pale blue ground-colour with a ring or cap of reddish blotches at the larger end and most are pale greenish in ground-colour, richly blotched all over with bright reddish marks of some size. In shape they are broad ovals but little" compressed at the smaller end. Sixteen eggs average 27.3 x 19.8 mm. the maxima are 29.2 x 20.0 and 28.7 x 20.8 mm.; the minima are 25.7 X 19.0 mm.
Habits. I found this bird to be a frequenter of the interiors of dark, wet forests above 4,000 feet, keeping to the densest parts, especially in the vicinity of small mountain-streams. It is apparently more of a tree- than a ground-feeder but was several times noticed hunting huge moss-covered boulders and rocks in the Rhododendron-forests above Shillong. Once or twice I saw it perched high up on a Rhododendron, uttering its short and jerky but rather sweet song but it was very shy and all one usually saw of it was a hurried glimpse as it shot across the stream or from one tree to another. The stomach of one bird contained a mass of small black spiders and wild strawberries, both insects and fruit being exceedingly common on and round the rocks in the Khasia Hills forests. Its flight is very rapid but never seems to be prolonged. As far as is known at present Fea's Thrush is not migratory and in Assam it did not even move vertically with the seasons.