667. Merula simillima.
The Nilgiri Blackbird.
Turdus simillimus, Jerd. Madr. Journ. L. S. x, p. 253 (1839). Merula simillima (Jerd.), Blyth, Cat. p. 162 ; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 401; Jerd. B. 1. i, p. 524 ; Hume, N. & E. p. 232 ; Fairbank, S. F. v, p. 403; Seebohm, Cat. B. M. v, p. 251; Hume, Cat. no. 360; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 88.
Coloration. Male. Forehead, crown, and nape black ; the whole upper plumage and the outer webs of the feathers of the wings and tail dark ashy brown; the whole lower plumage, axillaries, and under wing-coverts dark brown, the feathers indistinctly edged paler.
Female. The whole upper plumage, including the forehead, crown, and nape, dark ashy brown ; the whole lower plumage, including the axillaries and under wing-coverts, brownish grey, some of the feathers of the abdomen with whitish shafts ; chin and throat streaked with dark brown.
Iris brown; bill reddish orange; orbital skin and eyelids yellow ; legs orange-yellow (Wardlaiv Ramsay).
Length about 10.5 ; tail 4.2 ; wing 5 to 6.2; tarsus 1.25; bill from gape 1.2.
Distribution. A resident on the higher portions of the Nilgiri hills, the Brahmagiris in Coorg, and the Palni hills.
Habits, &c. Frequents dense woods, occasionally entering gardens. Breeds from March to May, constructing a massive cup-shaped nest of ferns, grass, moss, and roots, more or less plastered together with mud, in a branch of a tree up to 20 feet from the ground. The eggs, usually four or five in number, are greenish marked with brownish red, and measure about 1.17 by .86.