black, all the primaries but the first two with a patch of white at their base, forming a conspicuous spot; central pair of tail-leathers ashy for two-thirds of their length, then black; the others all black except their extreme bases, which are ashy; abdomen and flanks cinereous; thighs brown; vent and under tail-coverts chestnut.
Colours of soft parts. Bill black; irides reddish brown; feet brownish black, claws horny black.
Measurements. Total length about 400 mm.; tail from 200 to 210 mm.; wing from 132 to 140 mm.; tarsus about 30 mm.; culmen about 32 mm.
The young are paler and duller, the feathers of the upper part are tipped with buff, the under tail-coverts and vent are reddish brown and the legs are dull leaden black and the iris blue-brown.
Distribution. Throughout the Himalayas from the Sutlej Valley, through Assam and throughout the Burmese hills as far as, but not including, Tenasserim.
Nidification. The Himalayan Tree-pie breeds during April, May and June at all heights from the level of the plains to at least 7,000 feet. It makes a nest like that of D. rufa rufa and builds it in similar situations, but selects forest, either light or heavy, well away from habitations for this purpose. The nest is often much smaller and more fragile than that of the Common Tree-pie and I have known it placed in quite low bushes. The eggs number from three to five, the latter number being exceptional. The ground-colour may be any tint of pale stone, very pale cream or pale reddish, and more rarely pale greenish white. The markings are of pale sienna and grey-brown, darker richer brown, or dark reddish brown; typically the markings are richer and bolder than they are on the eggs of the Common Tree-pie and are often confined to the larger end in a ring or cup. Very few of its eggs could be confounded with those of that bird.
Two hundred eggs average 28·8 x 20·1 mm.
Habits. The Himalayan Tree-pie is found all over the plains of Assam and also in the plains close to the foot-hills of the Dooars and Nepal Terai and ascends everywhere up to 5,000 feet and often considerably higher. They are forest birds and do not care for the vicinity of villages and houses but otherwise they are much like r. rufa in their ways. They are equally noisy but not, I think, so musical, and like the rest of the family, are great persecutors of small birds during the breeding season.
(33) Dendrocitta sinensis assimilis.
The Burmese Hill Tree-pie.
- Dendrocitta assimilis Hume, S. F., v, p. 117 (1877) (Muleyity: Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 32.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. This subspecies is a rather darker, duller bird