(567) Turdus merula kinnisii.
The Ceylon Blackbird.
Merula Kinnisii Blyth, J. A. S.B , xx, p. 177 (1851) (Ceylon). Merula kinnisi. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 124.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Whole upper plumage, wings and tail black with distinct, broad blue-grey margins ; lower plumage brown, suffused with slaty and less broadly margined with paler brown.
Colours of soft parts. Iris pale brown to dark brown; eyelids and bill orange-yellow; legs and feet lemon-yellow to yellow-ochre.
Measurements. Total length about 240 mm.; wing 107 to 113 mm.; tail 85 to 93 mm.; tarsus about 33 mm.; culmen about 22 mm.
Female. Above dark brown, suffused with slaty on the mantle and margins of wings; below brown, palest on the abdomen, less strongly marked with purplish slaty and sometimes faintly showing pale shafts in the feathers of the posterior flanks and abdomen.
Colours of soft parts as in the male but paler and duller.
Measurements. Wing 104 mm.; tail 78 mm.; tarsus 32 mm.
Nestling. Above rich dark brown, feathers of mantle with pale shafts and those of back and coverts with dark edges ; below rich fulvous, the centre of the chin and throat immaculate, the remainder with lighter shafts and broad dark brown edges.
Distribution. Ceylon only ; above 2,500 feet.
Nidification. The Ceylon Blackbird appears to breed in April, May and June, making a cup-shaped nest of moss, leaves, roots and grass, matted together internally and lined with mud, inside which is a further lining of fine moss. According to Legge and his correspondents it may be placed in almost any position—outhouse, a bush in a garden or in cultivated ground, or well inside dense forest in some small tree or sapling. Legge gives the normal full clutch of eggs as four and says they are like those of the English Blackbird. Eggs taken by Captain Aldworth on the Bopat Range in April and May are like those of the Nilgiri Blackbird but rather more richly coloured, certainly they are not like those of an English Blackbird. They measure about 23.8 x 20.9 mm. and are short broad ovals in shape.
Habits. The Ceylon Blackbird is found from about 2,500 feet to the tops of the highest ranges. It has been found feeding on grains of rice left by pilgrims on the summit of Adam's Peak; it is very common on the Horton Plains and again at Nuwara Eliya. It is said to be a shy bird, keeping much to dense forest with ample undergrowth, feeding both on the ground and on the tops of the highest trees. It is a fine songster, the song being like that of its English relative but softer and lower. "When singing it comes often into the more open parts and edges of the forest, especially in the mornings and evenings, when it sings most regularly.