(569) Turdus merula nigropileus.
The Black-capped Blackbird.
Turdus nigropileus Lafres., Deless., Voy. de l'lnde, pt. ii, p. 27 (1843) (India i now restricted to Ootacamund, Nilgnis). Merula nigropileus. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 126.
Vernacular names. Kasturi (Hind.) : Poda palisa (Tel.).
Description.— Adult male. Forehead to nape and sides of head black; hind neck, interscapulars, sides of neck and whole lower plumage, brownish grey, more rusty on the breast and more grey on the flanks and the centre of the abdomen albescent; remainder of upper parts, wings and tail dark ashy, the tail darker and browner than the back.
Colours of soft parts. Iris reddish brown to dark brown; bill dull pale orange to orange-yellow ; legs and feet dull pale yellow to lemon-yellow.
Measurements. Total length about 260 mm.; wing 126 to 132 mm.; tail 86 to 95 mm.; tarsus 33 mm.; culmen 22 mm.
Female. Whole upper plumage ashy brown, the cap slightly darker and browner, the rump greyer; ear-coverts pale-shafted; chin aud throat grey, streaked with brown.
Colours of soft parts as in the male but darker and duller.
Measurements. Wing 122 to 130 mm.; tail 92 mm. Young male like the female but more heavily streaked on chin and throat.
Distribution. Western India, North of the range of the last bird, i. e. North of Mysore and the Nilgiris, through the South Bombay Presidency as far North as Mount Abu and to Sambulpur and Raipur in the Central Provinces. A specimen from Travancore in the British Museum seems to be this bird though labelled unicolor.
Nidification. The Black-capped Blackbird breeds throughout the hills and broken country of the Southern and central parts ot its range from June to September between the toot-hills and 3,000 or 4,000 feet. In the extreme North and East it is probably only a non-breeding visitor during the Winter. The nest is the usual mud and moss nest with a grass lining built by all these Thrushes but has less moss and more twigs and grass used in its construction. It is generally placed in a tall bush or sapling, sometimes in a comparatively low bush, on the outskirts of: forest. It may occasionally be found in open country and, even less often, well inside forests.
The eggs number three to five, and fifty eggs average 27.4 x 20.9 mm., the extremes being: maxima 29.4 x 22.1 mm. and minima 24.8 X 20.0 mm.
It is worthy of note that our Southern Indian species of Turdus which are so closely allied to the European Blackbird, all lay eggs nearer those of the Song-Thrush in colour, whereas our Northern Thrushes reverse the process and lay eggs more like those of the Blackbird.
Habits. The Black-capped Blackbird is a rather more familiar bird in its habits than either of the last two races; it inhabits both the lighter forests and open country and may even be found in the surroundings of villages and in gardens. In the Winter it wanders well into the plains but shortly before the rains break, in May, it moves into the more broken ground and ascends the hills to some 5,000 or 6,000 feet. It is a fine songster.