568. Tardus merula bourdilloni

(568) Turdus merula bourdilloni Seebohm.
THE TRAVANCORE BLACKBIRD.
Turdus merula bourdilloni, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 127.
This Blackbird, hitherto called Bourdillon’s Blackbird, is confined to the Palni Hills, southwards through Mysore and Travancore. In the latter it breeds above 3,500 feet and in the former down to 3,000 feet. In the Nelliampathy Hills A. P. Kinloch took several nests at about 3,500 feet.
Capt. Horace Terry was the first collector to find the nests of this bird, taking one with one egg on the 18th May, 1883, and one with two eggs on the 3rd June of that year. The parents were shot and the skins are now in the British Museum. Terry describes the nests as follows :—“The first nest was placed in the fork of a tree some fifteen feet from the ground, and was just like the nest of M. simillima. The body of mud, lined with fine grass, and the outside with coarse grass and roots wound round, and covered all over with green moss. A strongly built, rather shallow cup, 3.5 inches across and 2 inches deep inside ; 5 inches across and 4 inches deep outside. It contained one very slightly incubated egg, just like the egg of M. simillima. On the 3rd June I found a similar nest with two fresh eggs and shot the male bird.”
Bourdillon (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xv, p. 466, 1904) says that this Blackbird is fairly common above 3,500 feet in Travancore, where a nest taken by him and Fergusson “was placed on an overhanging branch about 12 feet from the ground. It was composed almost entirely of fresh moss with a few roots and small sticks interwoven in the structure. The outside measurement was 8 inches long, 6 inches broad and 8 inches deep. The cavity of the nest was 3 inches deep and 4 inches across, the interior being lined with fine grass and roots and neatly finished off. The nest contained two fresh eggs.” Another nest taken by Bourdillon on 14th May, 1907, was quite similar, both being taken in dense evergreen forest at 3,500 feet.
Kinloch took several nests in early April in the Nelliampathy Hills, the builders of which are now in the Bombay Museum. The nests were described to me as very bulky moss-nests, lined with grass and roots and with a middle layer of hard clay. They were all built on small trees in deep forest and, of three nests taken, two contained three and one four eggs.
The breeding season would appear to be April, May and June, but a greater knowledge of the habits of this bird might increase this duration greatly.
The number of eggs is probably most often three, rarely four, and sometimes only two.
In appearance the eggs are like those of T. m. simillimus and T. m. kinnisii and equally handsome. I have, however, a single egg in my series, the one taken by Terry, which is of the green Blackbird’s-egg type and could be matched by many eggs of the European bird. One clutch of three is of the bold blue ground, sparsely blotched type so common in simillimus.
Twenty eggs average 27.6 x 20.5 mm. : maxima 30.1 x 22.9 mm. ; minima 25.6 x 20.3 and 29.6 x 19.0 mm.
Bourdillon describes it as a shy, silent bird, keeping almost entirely to the interior of evergreen forest and difficult to catch on the nest, a character very different to that of its nearest cousin in Ceylon, which is a vigorous and constant singer and easy to watch and observe in its building-quarters.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 2. 1933.
Title in Book: 
568. Tardus merula bourdilloni
Spp Author: 
Seebohm.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
568
Year: 
1933
Page No: 
113
Common name: 
Travancore Black Bird
M_ID: 
27333
M_SN: 
Turdus simillimus bourdilloni
Volume: 
Vol. 2
Term name: 
id: 
13742

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