(23) Urocissa flavirostris cucullata.
THE WESTERN YELLOW-BILLED MAGPIE.
Urocissa cucullata Gould, B. of A., v, pi. 51 (1861) (Kulu Valley). Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Similar to the last but altogether a paler bird, and more especially so in the lower parts, which are almost pure white with scarce a tinge of lilac.
Distribution. N.W. Himalayas and W. Nepal.
Nidification, This Magpie breeds wherever found above 5,000 feet. It is common at Simla and again in the galis in the Murree Hills, where Rattray, Buchanan and others have taken many nests. The breeding season appears to be May but Major Lindsay Smith took one nest as late as the 15th July. It lays three or four eggs and both these and the nests are much like those of the Red-billed Magpie. As a whole, however, the eggs are duller and not so boldly marked. They measure 33.8 x 23.1 mm. (60 eggs) and do not differ in shape or texture from those of occipitalis.
Habits. This Magpie, like the red-billed bird, haunts principally evergreen forests and heavy jungle. It is equally omnivorous and equally an enemy to small mammals, unfledged young of other birds, and to insects of all kinds. It eats fruit greedily in captivity and probably also in a wild state. It is a shy and rather retiring bird and is never found in the vicinity of villages and cultivation. The call is very harsh and penetrating, and during the breeding season is freely indulged in.