(579) Turdus unicolor.
Turdus unicolor Tickell, J. A. S. B., ii, p. 577 (1833) (Borabhum, Bengal). Merula unicolor. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 132.
Vernacular names. Desi pawai (Hind.); Mach-asah (Beng.); Poda palisa (Tel.).
Description.— Adult male. Whole upper plumage and visible portions of wings and tail ashy grey; lower plumage pale slaty grey, the abdomen, vent and greater "part of the under tail-coverts white ; the chin is generally rather paler grey than the throat and the feathers are black-shafted; axillaries ashy grey, generally tipped with buff ; under wing-coverts chestnut on the" outer webs and tip, and grey at the base of the inner web.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown or reddish brown ; bill yellow, darker at the tip and base of culmen ; legs and feet orange-yellow to light brown.
Measurements. Total length about 250 mm.; wing 121 to 129 mm.; tail 80 to 85 mm.: tarsus about 31 to 32 mm.; culmen 19 to 20 mm.
Female. Upper plumage olive-brown; lores dark brown with faint pale superciliary streak above; sides of the head and ear-coverts mixed brown and fulvous, the latter also with pale shaft-stripes ; chin and throat white or fulvous-white, streaked with deep brown, the spots forming lines down the sides of the chin, throat and fore-neck; breast olive-grey, more or less suffused with ochre and spotted with dark brown; flanks still more ochreous; abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts white. Under wing-coverts and axillaries as in the males.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill yellow; legs and feet yellow to orange-yellow.
Measurements. Wing 114 to 126 mm.
Nestling. Above rufous brown with broad fulvous central streaks ; below fulvous with broad brown bars.
Older birds are more like the females with profuse black spots or bars on the lower plumage and narrow pale shaft-streaks on the upper.
Distribution. The Himalayas from Chitral to Eastern Assam, Cachar and Manipur, South to Khandala, Raipur, Orissa and Western Bengal and Behar. The specimen referred to this species by Jerdon, said to have been taken in Permeade, Travancore, is only a very discoloured specimen of Turdus m. nigripileus.
Nidification. This Thrush breeds throughout the Himalayas from the extreme North and West as far East as Nepal and, more rarely, in Sikkim but apparently does not breed in the hills North of Assam. It will be found principally between 0,000 and 8,000 feet but wanders both higher and lower than this for nesting purposes, and the few birds which breed in Sikkim probably all breed at 9,000 to 10,000 feet. It makes a nest, deep cup-shaped, of green and dry moss, moss and other roots, grasses and an odd leaf or two, the lining being of fine roots only. Some nests are well and compactly built, whilst others are very rough, untidy affairs. Most are placed in trees at some height between 6 and 20 feet from the ground ; a few are placed in among the roots of fallen trees or in similar situations, whilst very rarely they may be placed actually on the ground. The eggs number three or four and occasionally five, and vary in colour from the true Blackbird type to others boldly and handsomely blotched with reddish brown on a cream ground. The general tint is normally reddish, eggs with a greenish ground being exceptional and even in these the blotches usually give the tone. Fifty eggs average 27.3 x 19.5 mm.: maxima 30.0 x 19.3 and 27.1 x 20.3 mm.; minima 24.8 X 19.2 and 25.3 x 18.5 mm. The breeding-season lasts from early May to the end of June.
Habits. One of the most, if not the most, common Thrushes in Kashmir and the North-West Himalayas. It abounds in the Valley of Kashmir, where one or more pairs may be found in every grove and patch of cover round about the villages, for it perhaps haunts the vicinity of habitations and villages even more than forests, though it is found in these also. It has a fine Blackbird-like song and sings constantly during the breeding-season.