(592) Arceuthornis viscivorus bonapartei.
The Himalayan Missel-Thrush.
Turdus bonapartei Verr., Nouv. Arch. Mus. Paris, vi, Bull. p. 34 (1870) (Mupin). Turdus viscivorus Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 148.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. "Whole upper plumage pale greyish brown, with a very faint tinge of ochraceous, sometimes absent and nearly always rather more pronounced on the rump and upper tail-coverts ; tail brown, the leathers, unless abraded, narrowly edged with whitish and the outer tail-feathers tipped with white, this extending -well down the inner web; wings brown, the median and greater coverts and all the quills edged with sandy-white; lores and round the eyes sandy-white; ear-coverts brown streaked with sandy; lower plumage pale buff, the chin and the middle of the throat nearly white and spotless, the remainder boldly spotted with dark brown, the spots triangular on the upper breast and sides of the head and neck, round elsewhere. Axillaries and under wing-coverts white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill above dark horny-brown, sometimes a little paler at the base, below yellowish at the base, dark brown on the terminal third; legs and feet pale yellowish brown, the claws darker.
Measurements. Total length about 300 mm.; wing 160 to 175 mm.; tail 110 to 125 mm.; tarsus 23 to 25 mm.; culmen about 22 to 24 mm.
This form of Missel-Thrush differs from true A. v. viscivorus in being larger and much paler, especially above. The European Missel-Thrush is an almost rufous-brown above and the ochre is much more distinct.
The Young bird has the feathers of the upper parts tipped with black and with white centres, dull on the head, boldly marked elsewhere.
Distribution. From Transcaspia through Central Asia, South to the Himalayas as far East as Nepal and North-East as far as Lake Baikal.
Nidification. This Missel-Thrush breeds throughout its range in May and June and commonly in the Western Himalayas from Chitral to Gurhwal between 6,000 to 10,000 feet but not often below 8,000 feet. The nest is made of leaves, grass, bracken and fern-fronds, and is lined with mud and an inner lining of roots and grass. It is a big, heavy affair some 8 or 10 inches in diameter and is placed on trees generally some 4 to 10 feet from the ground. The eggs are just like those of the Common Missel-Thrush and fifty eggs average 31.3 x 22.4 mm.: maxima 34.0x23.0 and 30.0 x 23.6 mm.; minima 27.4 x 21.4 and 28.5 x 20.7 mm.
Habits. The Himalayan Missel-Thrush is not migratory and even in Winter is never found very low down in the hills and never wanders into the Plains. Its habits are those of its European cousin, rather shy yet haunting groves and orchards in the vicinity of buildings as well as wilder country. It is a fine songster, though it also has many harsh call-notes. Its food consists of insects of all kinds, and snails, slugs, worms and berries.