23. Urocissa flavirostris cucullata

(23) Urocissa flavirostris cucullata Gould.
THE WESTERN YELLOW-BILLED MAGPIE.
Urocissa flavirostris cucullata, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 44.
This Magpie breeds practically throughout the North-West Himalayas, being common in Kuman and even more so all round the, Murree Hills, where Rattray took many nests, between. 5,000 and 9,000 feet, all through May and June. In these same hills Marshall, however, recorded taking fresh eggs as late as the 15th August. It is also common in the Garhwal Hills and probably extends into Western Nepal. The nest is always built in trees in well-wooded country, but not always in forest. One taken by Whymper in Ramree, Garhwal, was built in an Oak-tree in the open at about 8,000 feet ; two others taken by Rattray in Dunga Gali, on the 22nd May, each containing four eggs, were both built in small trees growing in a ravine in comparatively dense forest, whilst others, again, taken by the same collector in Changla Gali in May and June, were on the outskirts of open forest. Oaks seem to be the favourite tree everywhere, though others are often selected. Captain Cock, very nearly seventy years ago, took six nests around Dharamsala and says that most of these were placed in hill oaks in the thick mass of twigs growing where these had been polled and they were in some cases very difficult to see. When a nest is built in a densely foliaged tree it may be well concealed by the mass of leaves or branches round it. Often, however, it is built in some small tree, low down, where it is most conspicuous. The birds sit close and sometimes will not leave the nest until the tree is climbed close up to the nest itself.
Marshall describes the nest as a rough structure of twigs and roots, lined with grass and generally placed close to the trunk of the tree, and he adds : “the outer part of the nest is large compared to the true nest and consists of a heap of twigs etc., like what is gathered together for the platform of a Crow’s nest.” Others describe the nest as small and poorly built of twigs etc., in some instances being really quite flimsy. It is never domed like the nests of the true Magpies. The lining is nearly always of fine grass-bents over an inner lining of black and red roots, but some¬times roots only are used, the finest being those used for finishing off the work.
The eggs number three or four to six ; according to Hume the usual number is five, but Rattray and Whymper found four to be the normal clutch, whilst they also took three eggs which were more or less incubated. Personally I have never seen or had sent me a clutch of six.
The eggs, as a whole, are rather dull, an olive-brown tint predomi¬nating. The ground-colour varies from a pale olive or yellowish-stone to a pale dull olive-brown. In the most common type the markings consist of small reddish-brown blotph.es and freckles scattered lightly over the whole surface and more numerous at the larger end, where, however, caps or rings ; are exceptional. The secondary marks are of dull neutral tint. In the second type the whole surface of the eggs is densely covered with rather longi¬tudinal small blotches and specks of brown, leaving but little of the ground-colour to show through. In shape the eggs vary from a broad, rather elliptical oval to a long oval, with the smaller end distinctly compressed. The texture is rather coarse and the surface glossless or practically so, though I have one clutch in which the gloss is highly developed.
One hundred eggs average 33.8 x 23.1 mm. : maxima 37.1 x 24.1 and 33.0 x 24.2 mm. ; minima 30.0 x 22.1 mm. A pigmy egg in my collection measures 27.9 x 20.4 mm.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 1. 1932.
Title in Book: 
23. Urocissa flavirostris cucullata
Spp Author: 
Gould.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
23
Year: 
1932
Page No: 
29
Common name: 
Western Yellow Billed Magpie
M_ID: 
20398
M_SN: 
Urocissa flavirostris cucullata
Volume: 
Vol. 1
id: 
13249

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith