(604) Zoothera marginata Blyth.
THE LESSEE BROWN THRUSH.
Zoothera marginata, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 168.
The Lesser Brown Thrush has a breeding habitat extending from Sikkim to Eastern Assam, both North and South, the Chin, Kachin and Bhamo Hills, Yunnan, Siam and the whole of the hill-country of Burma South to Tenasserim.
It is found everywhere at lower elevations than the preceding bird and breeds freely at 3,000 feet in the Assam Hills. It haunts the same kind of forest as its larger cousin and, like that bird, is a most persistent frequenter of deep forest adjacent to small water¬courses, whether these be at 2,500 or 7,000 feet, which elevations roughly, limit its breeding area. The sites selected for the nest are thick bushes, small trees or tangles of cane-brake, brambles etc., but one nest was obtained from thick bracken and fern resting on some fallen branches about 3 feet from the ground. Another unusual place in which we found a nest was in an Azalea-bush in very thick cover of Azaleas and Rhododendrons growing on boulder land on the banks of the Umiam stream.
The nest is exactly like that of the Large Brown Thrush except that, so far as I have seen, it is never of the shapeless character- sometimes adopted by that bird. The materials also are the same, though I took one queer nest in North Cachar which was “a rather massive, shallow cup, about 4 inches in internal diameter by rather more than one inch in depth ; the exterior materials were coarse-fern-roots, grass, twigs and dried stems of plants, all intertwined with one another and with here and there a dead leaf fastened in. The lining was of grass and fine fibres and was fairly thick.”
The fairly neat moss-made, cup-shaped nests averaged about 5.3/4 x 2.1/4 inches deep externally and 3.1/2 inches wide by 1.1/2 inch deep internally.
The breeding season is principally June and July but I have taken fresh eggs from the 21st May to the 3rd August. In Sikkim Gammie took a nest with three partially incubated eggs on the 31st May, and Mandelli another on the 29th July. The nests were taken at about 5,000 feet and are described as very much the same as those taken by myself.
Three or four eggs are laid which are like those of the preceding bird but more handsome and much more varied. Many eggs, most in fact, are like the two types and their intermediates already described, but others are different to any of these. Some of them are of the Missel-Thrush type, pale livid pinkish with sparse but bold blotching of red ; another clutch has three eggs with a bright green ground boldly speckled and blotched with dark red-brown, whilst the fourth has a pale cream ground freckled all over with light red ; another clutch has two eggs a warm buff densely blotched with deep red-brown, forming caps at the larger end, the third egg being bright green with very dark red-brown spots. Another very handsome type has a rich cream ground handsomely blotched with chestnut-red. Many clutches have one egg quite different in coloration to the others, a character not unusual in Thrushes’ eggs, but I know of no other group in which the eggs of the same clutch contrast so startlingly with one another.
In shape the eggs range from ordinary ovals to rather long ones and the texture is typical of the genus Turdus. The eggs can always be separated from those of Geokichla citrina by the surface-having little or no gloss.
Fifty eggs average 27.0 x 20.0 mm. : maxima 31.0 x 21.4 mm. ; minima 24.8 x 19.0 mm.
This bird is just as shy as the Large Brown Thrush and just as hard to get a sight of on the nest, but it returns quickly and is easy to snare. Both birds share in incubation and the Nagas caught both sexes on the nest.
604. Zoothera marginata
(604) Zoothera marginata Blyth.