12. Urocissa occipitalis.
The Red-billed Blue Magpie.
Psilorhinus occipitalis, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xv, p. 27 (1846) ; id. Cat. p. 93. Psilorhinus magnirostris, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xv, p. 27 (1846) ; id. Cat. p. 93. Urocissa sinensis (Linn.), apud Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 577; Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 309. Urocissa occipitalis (Bl.), Jerd. B. I. App. p. 873; Hume, N. & E.. p. 419; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. iii, p. 70 ; Hume, Cat. no. 671; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 327 ; Oates, B. B. i, p. 400; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 258; Salvadori, Ann. Mus. Civ. Gen. (2) v, p. 618; Oates in Hume's N. 2nd ed. i, p. 14. Urocissa magnirostris (Bl), Hume, S. F. iii, p. 144; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. iii, p. 71; Hume Dav. S. F. vi, p. 385 ; Anders. Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 592 ; Hume, Cat. no. 671 bis; Bingham, S. F. ix, p. 191.
Nil-Khant, at Mussoorie; Digg-dall, at Simla.
Coloration. Head, neck, and breast black ; a large patch on the nape, continued down the back of the neck, white ; some of the feathers of the crown also tipped with white; lower plumage white tinged .with purple; tail blue, broadly tipped with white, and all but the central pair of feathers with a band of black next the white tips : wings brown ; the first two primaries edged with blue, the next five edged with blue above the margination and with bluish white below; the other primaries and secondaries almost entirely blue on the outer web ; the tertiaries blue on both webs ; the whole of the quills tipped with white, at first on the outer web only and gradually extending to both webs ; back, scapulars, and rump purplish blue, the wing-coverts brighter; upper tail-coverts blue tipped with black, and with a band of bluish white next the black tips.
Iris brown, probably turning to red in very old birds ; bill and legs varying from red to crimson; eyelids greyish white; claws horn-colour; mouth flesh-colour.
Length up to 28 ; tail up to 19 ; wing 8; tarsus 1.9; bill from gape 1.8.
In the ' Birds of Burmah ' I entered fully into the question of the identity of U. magnirostris with U. occipitalis, and it is not necessary now to discuss the subject again.
Distribution. The Himalayas from the Sutlej valley to Nepal. I can find no evidence of this bird's occurrence in Sikhim, Bhutan, or Assam; but it reappears in the Naga hills, about Bhamo, in Arrakan and generally throughout Burma in suitable localities down to Tenasserim. It also extends into Siam. In the Himalayas and the hill-ranges of Eastern Bengal it is found at an elevation of 5000 feet and higher, but in Burma it occurs at the level of the sea or not much above it. It is a permanent resident throughout its range.
Habits, &c. This Magpie is found in Small parties of from three to six individuals. It breeds from March to July according to locality, constructing a solid cup-shaped nest of twigs and branches in trees at all heights from the ground. The eggs, three to five in number, are like those of Pica rustica in colour and they measure about 1.3 by .95.
In Burma this Magpie affects the dry forests which occupy large tracts of country in the plains, and not the moister or evergreen forests of the hills.