(599) Oreocincla mollissima mollissima.
The Plain-backed Mountain-Thrush.
Turdus mollissimus Blyth, J. A. S. B., xi, p. 188 (1842j (Darjeeling). Oreocincla mollissima. Blanf. & Oates, n, p. 154. Oreocincla dixoni Seebohm; Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 155.
Vernacular names. Phanniok-kiok-pho (Lepcha); Telia kanrim (Bhutea).
Description. Whole upper plumage rich olive-brown with a strong rufescent tinge in most specimens ; wing-feathers dark brown edged olive-brown ; the median and greater coverts tipped in varying degree with fulvous ; two central pairs of feathers olive-brown, outermost pair olive-brown with a black base and white tip, intermediate feathers blackish with very narrow white tips; a ring of fulvous feathers round the eye; cheeks and ear-coverts mixed fulvous and black; below ochraceous changing to pure white on the abdomen, each feather with a terminal crescentic black band; under tail-coverts fulvous-white and brown ; axillaries white broadly tipped with black; under wing-coverts black tipped with white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill horny-brown or blackish, the base of the lower mandible paler ; legs and feet fleshy yellow or light yellowish brown.
Measurements. Total length about 270 mm.; wing 130 to 148 mm.; tail 100 to 130 mm.; tarsus about 31 mm.; culmen from true base 24 to 27 mm., from feathers of forehead 21 to 24 mm.
As I have already noted in the Bulletin, specimens from West of Nepal are a more golden olive-brown than a rutous olive-brown and in most cases this distinction suffices to separate them, but many individuals overlap.
The Young bird has the head and mantle streaked with fulvous, the underparts more heavily barred and the wing-coverts more broadly edged and tipped with fulvous.
Distribution. Nepal, Eastern Assam in the Himalayas, Chin and Kachin Hills, Hills of Central Burma to Northern Tenas¬serim, North and South Shan States, Annam, Siam and Yunnan.
Nidification. At present unknown with any certainty, but it is undoubtedly a forest-breeding bird, probably at elevations between 8,000 and 11,000 feet and possibly up to the extreme limit of the forest-line some 1,000 feet higher. A nest and eggs sent to me, said to belong to this species, are certainly those of a Thrush of some kind. The nest is a deep, massive cup of green moss lined with black roots. The eggs are in ground-colour a dead white, marked densely at the large end and profusely elsewhere with specks, spots and blotches of reddish. These eggs average 34.3 x 24.5 mm. More information is required before these eggs, taken in Sikkim, can be accepted as correctly identified.
Habits. The Plain-backed Mountain-Thrush is found in winter down to 4,000 feet in the Himalayas and the hills of South Assam but in Summer not below 8,000 feet and it probably does not breed even as low as this. It is a shy, wild bird, haunting both dense and thin forest and does not feed nearly so much on the ground as do the birds of the dauma group. It is, however, a much stronger flier and in all its ways is much more typically Thrushlike than they are.