Page:The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma (Birds Vol 1).djvu/399

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355
MINLA.

low scrub and evergreen forest. Two hundred eggs average 20-9 x 16-1 mm. and the extremes are 23-4 X 16-0; 22-8 x 17-0 and 19-4 X 16-0; 210 x150 mm.

Habits. The Mesias gather together in the cold weather in flocks of considerable size, sometimes as many as twenty, or even thirty, forming a flock. They are not shy birds and -will allow very close observation, flitting about the bushes and lower trees within a few yards of the watcher, constantly uttering a chirrup- ing cry with occasional clear, loud, whistling notes every now and then. They are restless, active little birds and form a wonderful spectacle of bright colour in front of heavy green bushes and undergrowth. Genus MINLA Hodgson, 1838. The genus Minla, as restricted by Gates and adopted here, contains one Indian bird of pleasing plumage, found on the Himalayas and hill-ranges of Assam. In Minla the bill is slender, curved, notched and pointed and about half the length •of the head; the tail is as long as the wing and slightly graduated. The head, as in practically all the birds of this Subfamily, is not actually crested but the feathers of the crown are very full and more or less erectile.

(377) Minla ignotincta.

The Red-tailed Minla.

Minla ignotincta Hodgs., Ind. Kev., 1838, p. 33 (Nepal); Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 245.

Vernacular names. Minla (Nepal); MeghUm-ayene (Lepcha).

Description. — Male. The forehead, crown, nape and middle of the upper neck black; a very broad, long supercilium white, meeting the opposite one on the upper back; lores, ear-coverts and a band extending nearly to the end of the supercilium black; back, rump and scapulars deep vinaceous; upper tail-coverts black; tail black, tipped and edged on the outer webs with •crimson, the two middle tail-feathers with a white streak at the base of the inner webs, the outer feathers suffused with red on the inner webs; wing-coverts and iniier secondaries red, edged with white, the latter also broadly tipped with white; primaries and outer secondaries black, edged with crimson on the greater part of the outer webs; the earlier primaries margined with white near the tips, the outer secondaries tipped with white; chin vellowish white; entire lower plumage yellow, sparingly and narrowly streaked with brown.

Colours of soft parts. Iris greyish or brownish white; bill, upper mandible and tip of lower blackish-horny; rest of lower mandihle hornv-grey or bluish-greenisb-horny; legs and test 2 A 2