(19) Urocissa melanocephala melanocephala.
THE CHINESE RED-BILLED MAGPIE.
Coracias melanocephalus Lath.,Ind. Orn., i, p. 170 (1790) (China). Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Head, neck and breast black; a large patch on the nape, continued down the back lavender- or pale blue-grey, and feathers of the fore crown tipped with the same colour; lower plumage greyish white with a bluish sheen; under tail-coverts the same, but bluer and with a black band at the tips of the feathers with a greyish-white subterminal band; tail azure-blue, broadly tipped with white and all but the central pair of feathers with a broad subterminal band of black ; wings dull blue-brown, the primaries edged with brighter blue and brown on the inner webs; the inner secondaries blue on both webs.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown or red-brown; bill and feet coral-red to crimson, claws horny.
Measurements. Total length about 550 mm.; wing 180 to 200 mm.; tail 375 to 425 mm. ; tarsus about 45 mm.; culmen about 32 to 33 mm.
Distribution. China, and Yunnan. A bird from the South-Shan States, perhaps from the extreme East, seems referable to this subspecies.
Nidification. In Chihli, La Touche took its nests and eggs in May. He describes them as having a clayey-brown ground-colour, very heavily marked. Two clutches sent to me are green eggs, very small, about 29x24 mm., and just like Koels' eggs. There may possibly be some mistake about them. The breeding season seems to be May.
Habits. These appear to be similar to those of our Indian birds.