Page:The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma (Birds Vol 1).djvu/432

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388
PYCNONOTIDÆ.

Description. Differs from M. h. hæmorrhous in having the black of the head gradually shading into the blackish brown of the lower back and the lower breast. The ear-coverts are dark chocolate-brown and the whole plumage is much darker than in M. h. hemorrhous and a fortiori than that of M. h. pallidus.

Colours of soft parts. Iris hazel or dark brown; bill and legs black, the latter rarely with a brownish tinge.

Measurements. This is the largest of the Indian races and larger than any of the other races except chrysorrhoides. Wing 103 to 111 mm.

Distribution. The Himalayas and Sub-Himalayan terai and adjoining plains from Kumaon to East Assam; Oudh, Northern Behar; East Bengal from about Chota Nagpur; Khasia Hills and Naga Hills East to Lakhimpur; N.W. Cachar. In Manipur and in East Cachar the common type is burmanicus, though here, as one would expect, many birds are half-way between the two. In Central Cachar the birds are quite intermediate but here and there, even as far West as the Khasia Hills, birds of the Burmese type are not uncommon.

Nidification. The Bengal Red-vented Bulbul breeds freely throughout its range from the level of the plains to at least 7,000 feet. In the plains it begins in March and continues until May, many birds having a second brood after the rains break in June and July. In the hills May seems to be the great breeding month but eggs have been taken in practically every month of the year. The nest is the usual cup-shaped affair made by all Bulbuls but is possibly rather bigger and bulkier than those made by its more southern cousins. It is placed in bushes or trees in gardens, roadsides, orchards etc. and also in the scrub round villages. In the Khasia and Cachar Hills it also breeds in thin jungle and the extreme outskirts of forest.

The normal full clutch is three or four eggs and rarely even five may be laid. Typically they are rather broad obtuse ovals but they vary considerably in shape. In colour again typical eggs are white to strong pink or lilac-pink profusely spotted, speckled and blotched with various shades of brown or reddish brown with sparser secondary markings of pale lavender and neutral tint. They, however, vary enormously and many eggs are extremely richly and handsomely marked, whilst others are not. 200 eggs average 22.9 × 16.9 mm. and the extremes are 25.0 × 17.0; 24.0 × 17.5 and 20.9 × 17.5; 21.8 × 15.3 mm.

Habits. The Bengal Red-vented Bulbul is not gregarious in the true sense of the word but it is so common that it will be seen in numbers wherever the country is at all suitable and there is no garden of any size which does not have several resident pairs as well as innumerable casual visitors. They are charming and sprightly birds in their ways and actions and most of their notes are very pleasant. Like many other Bulbuls they are very pugnacious and during the breeding season no other Bulbul is allowed within the