Page:The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma (Birds Vol 1).djvu/168

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132 SITTID^.

Colours of soft parts. Iris red-brown or dark brown; bill black with base and gonys black; legs greenish horny (Jerdon) or yellowish brown.

Measurements. Length about 185 mm.; wing 114 to 118 mm.; tail about 58 to 60 mm.; tarsus about 21 mm.; culuieu about 17 mm.

Distribution. Himalayas from Sikkim to the Miri and Arbor Hills in Eastern Assam, Also hill-ranges in South Assam as- far East as Lakhimpur, The 8alween-Mel<ong watershed in the N.E. Shan States.

Nidification. The few nests found by me in the Khasia and North Cachar Hills were all on the highest ranges from 5,000 feet upwards. They were placed in trees at considerable heights from the ground and contained from four to six eggs or young. The eggs only vary from those of S. c. cinnamoventris in being larger and broader ovals. Sixteen eggs average 20*6 x 15*2 mm. and vary between 18-0 x 14*7 and 22-6 x 15-8 mm.

Habits. The Beautiful Nuthatch, well named from its lovely colouring, seems to be a rare bird everywhere. I never saw it but in pairs or in family parties after the young had hatched, and it is the most shy and elusive of all the Nuthatches found in Assam. Its actions when on trees, rather slow and deliberate for this genus, reminded one of "Woodpeckers and its note also differed from all other Nuthatches in its low, rather sweet tone,. On the wing it was exceptionally swift, and its beauty when the sun caught it in flight could only be likened to that of the Euddy Kingfisher under similar circumstances. (llJJ) Sitta frontalis frontalis. The VELYET-FKOIfTED NuTHATCH. Sitta frontalis Ilorsf., Trans. Linn. Soc, xiii, p. 162 (1821) (Java);. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 307.

Vernacular names. Dao-mojo-buJcii-gajao (Cachari).

Description. Forehead and supercilium black; whole upper plumage and exposed parts of wings and tail purplish blue : inner webs of all primaries, outer webs of the first two and concealed portions of rectrices blackish brown; ear-coverts lilac; chin and throat whitish; lower plumage greyish, more or less suffused with dull lilac.

Colours of soft parts. Iris yellow, brown in the young and sometimes in the adult female; eyelids plumbeous; bill coral-red,. black in the quite young with a pinkish gape and base; legs fleshy-brown or reddish brown, never red.

Measurements. Total length about 125 to 130 mm,; wing 70 to 75 mm.; tail about 40 mm,; tarsus 17 to 18 mm.; culmen 12 to 13 mm.