(579) Turdus unicolor Tickell.
THE GREY THRUSH.
Turdus unicolor, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 138.
This is certainly the most common of all our Thrushes breeding in the North-West of India, being found from the Afghan Frontier as far East as Sikkim. In this latter State it is by no means common, and Stevens believes that it breeds at much greater elevations than it does further West.
In Hume’s time little was known of this bird’s nests and eggs beyond two nests taken in banks by Marshall near Murree, two nests taken by Cock in the Sindh Valley, Kashmir, and one taken by Hume at Koteghur.
In Kashmir, round Srinagar, as well as in many other places, and in the Murree Galis, it is a very common bird, breeding in great numbers both in the well-forested galis and ravines and also in the more open country. Rattray and others took many nests round about Murree between 5,500 and 7,500 feet and they undoubtedly breed in these hills up to some 10,000 feet, as nests have been taken at about this elevation on Miranjani. Most collectors since Hume’s time have found innumerable nests in Kashmir, where it is one of the most familiar birds, even in the neighbourhood of the capital, where they build in the groves, orchards and gardens. In Kashmir, although a good many nests may be found in banks, hidden in some natural hollow or in among the roots of a tree, most birds make their nests in trees at heights varying from 5 to 25 feet from the ground. As a rule the nests are placed in among thick clusters of shoots which completely conceal them, or where they are hidden by overhanging foliage or creepers but, less often, they may be in quite conspicuous positions. Osmaston found them often on Mulberry-trees, where they were well con¬cealed, but one pair of birds built their nest, found by him, on an Apple-tree in a garden, obvious to any passer-by.
About Murree most nests were built in banks but Rattray saw several in trees 20 and 25 feet from the ground. The nests are campact cups of grass and roots, generally well covered with moss exteriorly and lined with finer grasses and roots. In some nests dead leaves, bracken and fern-fronds form a part of the materials used, and in some there is a certain amount of earth between the lining and body of the nest. Roughly, the nests measure between 6 and 7 inches across the top by rather more than half as much in depth, whilst the egg-cavity measures between 3 and 4 inches in diameter by 2.1/2 to 3 in depth. Like most Thrushes’ nests, those of this bird are well made and stand a lot of rough handling.
The breeding season lasts from the end of April to the end of June. Hume took a nest on the 20th April at Koteghur, whilst in Kashmir Ward has taken fresh eggs as late as the first week in July.
The eggs number three or four, the only clutch of five I have seen being one taken by Ward on the 18th May near Srinagar.
The eggs vary very much. Typically they have a ground¬colour ranging from pale grey-green to pale stone-buff and they are profusely blotched over the whole surface with pinkish-brown, reddish-brown or light brown. In some eggs the blotches, always more or less longitudinal in shape, are so numerous that they practically obliterate the ground-colour ; in others they are not so numerous and are bolder in character. One type of egg is very like that of a Missel-Thrush. The ground is pale creamy buff, the markings consisting of chestnut primary blotches and pink-lavender secondary ones. Another clutch has the ground very pale grey-green with rather sparse but bold blotches of deep red- brown and others of pale lavender and pink-lavender ; yet another clutch has the same ground-colour speckled with minute specks of light red, none as big as a pin’s head. In texture the eggs are similar to others of the genus and in shape are generally rather long but very blunt ovals, about 25 per cent, being shorter and broader.
Fifty eggs average 27.8 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.
579. Turdus unicolor
(579) Turdus unicolor Tickell.