(568) Turdus merula bourdilloni.
Merula bourdilloni Seebohm, Cat. B. M., v, p. 251 (1881) (Travanore); Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 125. Merula erythrotis. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 12C.
Vernacular names. Poda palisa (Tel.).
Description.— Adult male. Differs from the Ceylon Blackbird in having no slate-grey or blue-grey edges to the feathers.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill, legs and feet bright orange-red.
Measurements. Total length about 250 mm.: wing 117 to 124 nam.; tail 90 to 99 mm.; tarsus about 34 mm.; culmen about 22 mm.
Female differs from that of the Ceylon race in being browner above and much paler and browner below, the flanks and abdomen being marked with a very faint lilac tinge.
Colours of soft parts similar to the male but duller.
Measurements. The wings of the females measure from 110 to 124 mm.
Nestling similar to that of kinnisii but not quite so dark. Merula erythrotis of Davison is nothing but a female bourdilloni with some pigment on the head which has turned the cheeks, throat, etc. very red. This pigment, as Grant has shown (Ibis, 1896), is removable with a piece of damp blotting-paper.
Distribution. South-West India from South Travancore to the Palni Hills.
Nidification. Bourdillon says that the breeding-season of this Thrush is from April to June, during which months it nests in the higher hills above 3,500 feet in Travancore and as low down as 3,000 feet in the Palni Hills. The nest is a very massive, deep cup of moss and moss roots lined with mud and sometimes with much mud in the body of the nest. The inner lining is of fine grass and fine roots. In size it is anything from 5 to 8 inches externally both in diameter and depth, whilst the internal measurements are about 4 by 3 inches or rather less.
The eggs seem to number only two or three, judging from the few clutches found but possibly these were not full clutches though on one occasion a single egg was taken partly incubated. They resemble the eggs of Turdus m. simillimus, but are rather more richly and profusely marked. Five eggs sent me by Mr. T. F. Bourdillon measure 27.8-30.l mm. X 20.1-22.9.
Habits quite similar to those of T. m. kinnisii, but more entirely a forest bird and confined to the evergreen forests with ample undergrowth. It is not a rare bird but though its fine song may often be heard throughout the breeding-season it is very shy and is seldom seen.