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Full text of "The food of birds in India"

1 9 1 L 



THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA 



C. W. MASON, M.S. E.A.C, 




THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 

PRESENTED BY 

PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND 
MRS. PRUDENCE W. KOFOID 



) 



Jnly l&t . ENTOMOLOGICAL SBRIBS Vol. III. 

MEMOIRS OF THE 

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURK 

IN INDIA 

THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA 



BY 

C. W. MASON, M.S.B.A.C., 

Lately Su/ternumerary Entomologist, Imperial Department of 
Agriculture for India 

EDITED BY 

H. MAXWELL-LEFROY, M.A.. F.K.S., F.Z.S., 
Imperial Entomologist. 




AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE, PUSA 

PUBLISHED BY 

THB IMPERIAL DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE IN INDIA 

THACKER, SPINK & CO., CALCUTTA 
W. THACKER & CO., 2, CREED LANB, LONDON 



CALCUTTA : 
PRINTED BY THACKKK, SPINK AND CO. 



.c< 




PREFACE. 

THE following pages contain a summary of the recorded facts of 
the Food of Birds in India, and a statement of the food of the 
individual birds shot or observed by Mr. Mason at Pusa in 1907, 
1908, 1909. It has been necessary to edit the original manuscript 
and I have added a short section (IV) in which I have tried to sum 
up the practical results and to make the question clearer to the 
reader who is not an Entomologist. My responsibility ends there, 
and the student of birds will find Mr. Mason's observations in the 
body of the work. The identification of the insects in the stomachs 
was partly done by the staff in charge of the collections here and 
Mr. C. H. Tipper kindly identified the Molluscs in the Indian Mu- 
seum. I have revised the nomenclature of the insects throughout 
and believe it to be correct ; the author is responsible for the ident- 
ification of the birds. 

The identification of material in the stomachs is not easy and 
has not been possible in the case of the seeds ; we will gladly do what 
we can to assist other observers in this respect with insects if they 
will send preserved stomachs, but we can only do so, as a rule, in the 
caie of birds shot in the plains. 

H. M. L. 



M3667P8 



THH: FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA 

BY 

0. W. MASON, M.S.K.A.O., 

Lately Supernumerary Entomologist, Imperial Deparment of 
Agriculture for India. 

EIUTRD BY 

H. MAXWELL LEB^ROY, M.A., F.K.S., F.Z.B., 
Imperial Entomologist. 

INTRODUCTION. 

This paper is largely a compilation from various sources of 
what little is known of the food of Indian birds at the present time. 
It contains also numerous field notes on the food of the common 
species of the plains together with the records of 1,325 stomachs 
which have been examined in the laboratory. Many of the quota- 
tions are practically reduplications of each other, and they have 
been quoted in order to have all references from the works of va- 
rious authors in one paper, and therefore in the form which anyone 
interested in economic ornithology may find most useful. In most 
cases, especially with the game birds and ducks, I have quoted in 
full, paraphrasing only where a full quotation was unnecessary. 
In the case of the birds I have myself been able to examine, the 
references have frequently been compounded with my own field 
notes, the reference being acknowledged. The literature at my 
disposal has been somewhat limited and there may be records in 
papers and works already existing which I have been unable to con- 
sult. I have quoted from Evans (Cambridge Natural History, 
Birds), as this work, though necessarily not containing much more 

1 



2 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

than a wide generalization of the food of birds, and much of which 
does not apply directly to India, gives a very good idea of what the 
food of various orders of birds consists. 

There is a great deal of literature from other countries on the 
food of many of our Indian birds, and in all probability foods of 
widely distributed species differ but little in different localities. 
We cannot, however, assume that this is so, nor even that because 
a bird is beneficial or injurious in one country it is equally so in 
another, where climatic conditions and food supply are different. 
We must know the food of Indian birds in India. 

The following works have been consulted, and the abbrevia- 
tion used in the text are here given : 

"Birds of India." Jerdon ._ ... ... ... Jerd. B. I. 

" Game birds of India, Burma and Ceylon." Hume and Marshall ... H. M. G. B. 

Indian Museum Notes ... . ... ... ... I. M. N. 

Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society ... ... B. N. H. S. J. 

Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal ... ... .. A. S. B. 

"Fauna of British India." Birds. Gates and Blandford ... ... F. I. 

" Indian Ducks and their Allies." Stuart Baker ... ... S. B. I. D. A. 

'Birds." Evans Cambridge Natural History . ... ... E. B. C. N. H. 

" Game, Shore and Water Birds." A. le Messurier ... , A. le M. 

"Biidsof the Plains." Dewar ... ... ... ... Dewar. B. P. 

"The Indian Crow." Dewar ... ... ... ... Dewar. I. C. 

Manual of Forest Zoology. Stebbing ... ... S. M. F. Z. 

Dictionary of Economic Products of India. Watt, ... ... Watt. 

District Gazetteers for Assam, Baluchistan, Bombay, Central 
Provinces, Madras, North-West Frontier Province, North-West 
Provinces, Province of Oudh, Punjab and of the Sirmur State. 
The general account of birds in the Imperial Gazetteer has also been 
consulted ; this latter account gives an excellent description of the 
general distribution of birds throughout India. 

It will be noticed that some well-known papers such as "Stray 
Feathers" are not included in these works consulted as they were 
not available. 






PART I. 

Economic Entomology is a subject that has only recently been 
dealt with in India and that inadequately. In England even, 
it is not so advanced as one would expect, due to the fact that there 
is no definite organisation for the study of the subject. Many 
countries notably the United States of America, Germany, France, 
Austria, have accumulated a large amount of information on this 
subject. 

In India we have had and still have many first class observers 
of Birds. Ornithology is a subject which naturally appeals to 
most men whose work or leisure takes them into various districts 
and especially the wilder and little known ones. The observations 
of these men have naturally tended in a few directions, namely, 
a definite knowledge of what species of birds occur within Indian 
limits, a knowledge which is all-important from an economic side 
of the question, definite localities in which me various species occur, 
their life history and general habits. Very little is on record with 
regard to the actual food of birds, and no definite work has been 
done in this direction. It is now a generally recognised fact that 
birds play a very important part in checking ravages of insects 
on the farm and elsewhere. But owing to ignorance, lack of observ- 
ation and often to faulty observation a very small percentage of 
the good done by birds in checking undue proportion of insect life 
is attributed to them, and for similar reasons some birds at present 
considered beneficial are injurious and vice versa, or else fall under 
a neutral heading, whilst others again are both beneficial and 
injurious depending on locality and food supply. 

Improvements in agriculture such as are now going on, natur- 
ally tend (and will continue to do so) to the introduction of new 
varieties of crops into districts suitable for them, and in which as 



4 THE 1POOD OF BIBD8 Df INDIA. 

yet they have not been grown. Now a crop newly introduced into 
a district is grown experimentally at first, on small areas ; should 
these small areas be attacked by insects and newly introduced 
crops often are so the people of that district will conclude such 
crops are not worth taking up on a commercial scale, if most of them 
are to be grown to feed insects. Insecticides and practically-applied 
scientific measures can play an important part in checking insect- 
attack. Such measures are all importat on experimental areas 
and during sporadic insect-attacks ; but it is as well to bear in mind 
that natural checks are quite as important, if not more so. Natur- 
al checks are always there, always keeping the balance of life more 
or less even, and it is these we have to thank for limiting injury 
to crops and orchards to a very large extent ; they act as a conti- 
nual check on injurious insects and insects which are generally re- 
garded as harmless, but which may at any time change their habits 
somewhat to the injury of crops. These checks consist of parasitic 
and predaceous insects, animals, frogs, reptiles and above all birds. 
As man upsets the balance of nature by extending cultivated 
areas and by a more or less artificial production of crops, he lays 
himself open to attack from all sides, and must make as much use 
as he can of the help given him by nature against these attacks. 
(See Indian Insect Pests, Chapter V.) 

From the most casual field observations, much can be learnt 
in a general way about the food of certain birds during some parts 
of the year. We can see Mynahs catching moths, crickets, &c., and 
eating maize, the Hoopoe probing the ground for caterpillars, the 
Rose Ringed Paraquet pulling wheat and mustard to pieces and 
taking more than his share of lichis ; and many other similar rotes 
can be made about these and other species of birds. It is therefore 
quite an easy matter to state that the food of such and such a bird 
consists of, say berries, beetles and grubs, and it is interesting to 
know such is the case. Such sweeping statements are, however, 
valueless to any one in a practical way except as showing vaguely 
what class of food a bird may be expected to take at certain seasons, 
and merely show how little is known about that bird's food. Scienti- 



MASON AND LEFBOY. 5 

ftcally such information is practically valueless, and for all practi- 
cal purposes can only be used as a doubtful basis for future work on 
the subject. But it must always be remembered that field observa- 
tions, if first hand and made by capable men, are invaluable as 
a supplement to laboratory examination and determination of 
stomach contents of birds, and should be recorded whenever pos- 
sible, however vague and useless they may appear. 

In India, at present practically nothing is known about what 
birds do eat. From the economic point of view, the scientific iden- 
tification of birds' food is of the utmost importance, and espe- 
cially with regard to the insect portion. Economic Ornithology 
is, therefore, a sister science to Economic Entomology, just as much 
or perhaps even more so than Botany. 

To aid agricultural interests, nature is called in practically 
and artificially, and every effort should be made to use such helps 
from every possible source. Wild birds are the source in question 
here. We should therefore know the value of every separate 
species of bird to man, i.e., know what insects, what seeds, what 
fruits and other vegetable and animal materials are taken as food 
by birds at all times of the year under all conditions, climatic and 
physical. We can then, by encouragement of useful species and 
destruction of harmful ones, check the attacks of insects on crops, 
and enable the country to increase crop outturns, and in every 
\v-iy benefit agricultural and therefore the country's interests. 



PART II. 

With regard to their food birds fall naturally into three main 
classes : 

I. Insectivorous. 
II. Omnivorous. 

III. Graminivorous or vegetarian. 

Each of these three classes can, however, be sub-divided, but they 
are sufficient for practical purposes here. 

I. Insectivorous birds are those whose food consists mainly 
of insects and it is from this class that we expect, and 
get, more help than from the other two. 
II. Omnivorous birds, strictly speaking, are those which eat 
everything and anything. Many of these prove bene- 
ficial, especially during the breeding season, whilst 
many are certainly more injurious than beneficial. We 
include here under this heading all birds not under 
headings I and III. 

III. Graminivorous or vegetable feeders comprise some of 
most injurious species and are of no use as a general 
rule. The sole benefit we can expect from these is in 
aiding seed distribution, in connection with forestry, 
and the possible destruction of a certain number of 
insects in wild fruits, which may at times make inroads 
on cultivated varieties. 

INSECTIVOROUS BIRDS. 

The sweeping statement is often made that because a bird is 
insectivorous, that bird is beneficial. This is in some cases abso- 
lutely wrong. Some birds will almost certainly be found to feed 
on beneficial insects only. How can these birds be beneficial ? 



MASON AND LEFBOT. 7 

Again, many birds, entirely insectivorous, take more beneficial 
insects than injurious or harmless ones. How can these be bene- 
ficial ? The beneficial action in destruction of injurious and harm- 
less insects is more than counterbalanced by the injurious action 
in destruction of beneficial insects. Many birds will probably be 
found to take harmless insects only. I consider a bird that feeds 
on harmless insects to be beneficial. He keeps a check on undue 
proportion of these insects, and therefore prevents to some extern 
any likelihood of such insects making sudden inroads on crops, 
which might occur under abnormal or other climatic conditions. 
Again, a bird may consume vast quantities of injurious insects and 
yet by carrying eggs and larvae from one place to another, act as 
the direct agent for spreading the attack of some insect pests. This 
is not beneficial action. 

Agriculturally all insects fall under one of three definitely 
marked headings : 

I. Beneficial and Useful 

1. Act as checks on undue multiplication of other insect and 

plant life, which is injurious or likely to be injurious 
to agricultural interests, to stores and plant life. 

Among these are included the Lady-bird beetles (Coccinellidce) 
which control to some extent the attacks of Plant lice 
(Aphidce) ; Ground-beetles (Carabidce) and Tiger-beetles 
(Cicindelidce) carnivorous. The Ichneumonidce and 
other parasitic Hymenoptera. Many flies (Tachinidce, 
etc.), also parasitic on caterpillars and other injurious 
insect life. Dragon-flies (Odonata), Ant-lions (Myrmeleo) 
and Lace- wing flies (Chrysopidce), all carnivorous. 

Some Hemiptera or bugs suck out juices from caterpillars, 
etc., and kill them. 

2. Play a considerable part in the fertilization of flowers. 

Bees (Apidce), and possibly many other forms. 

3. Live on animals and plants to the benefit of their ho$1s, 

Mallophaya (?) 



3 THE POOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

4. From which some valuable marketable product is ob- 
tained : Silk, honey, wax, lac, dye, &c. 

Silk from various members of the Saturniadse esp. A. 
ricini, and A. paphiw and Bombycidae- Bombyx wort. 
Honey and wax from bees (Apidce). 

Lac and dyes from one or two members of the scale insects 
(Coccidce). 

II. Injurious 

1. Disease carriers to animals. 

Mosquitoes, Fleas. (Culicidcv and Siphonaptera.) 

2. Destructive to crops, forests, stored grain, fabrics, 

timber and food stuffs. Insects destructive to crops 
are various and cause damage in a number of ways. 
Caterpillars eat leaves and bore into the stem and 
roots, various beetles such as the Chrysomelidce are 
defoliators and the Iarva3 of others tunnel into twigs 
and stems such as Buprestidce and CurculionidcB of 
various species. Aphidce and other Hemiptera suck 
out the juices of plants. 

Stored grain and food stuffs are attacked by many well- 
known pesis such as the Rice Weevil, and many other 
beetle and moth larvaa. 

Forests and timber by various wood-borer Iarva3 (Coleop- 
tera and Lepidoptera) the former too often by defo- 
liating caterpillars. 

Fabrics by clothes moths, wood-boring beetles and others. 

III. Harmless or neutral 

These insects that cannot be classed as either beneficial 
or injurious. This class contains by far the larger 
proportion of insect life, but vast numbers of which, if 
adopting the same habits as are seen in others of the 
same families and genera, may become pests, and 
especially if imported into other countries without their 
natural enemies. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 9 

The most important groups of insects we have included 
under this heading are the Ants (Formicidce) and th e 
Dung beetles (Scarabceidce}. , These two groups are 
exceedingly numerous both in species and individuals 
and form an important item in the food of most of 
the insect eating birds. 

The economic importance of orders and families, etc., of 
insects mentioned in this paper as taken by birds is separately 
discussed or stated on pp. 

VEGKTARIAN AND GRAIN-EATING BIRDS. 

As a general rule, it is among purely seed and fruit-eating birds 
that injurious species will occur. A purely fruit-eating bird can 
never be regarded as beneficial, except from a forestry point of view. 
Ssed-eating birds, that eat weed seeds only, are as a rule said to be 
beneficial. On the whole perhaps they are, though there are 
arguments against this. It is a well-known fact that birds act as a 
natural means for seed distribution, that the germinating power of 
seeds is often not injured in the least by passing through the bird, 
and that many seeds (e.g., Loranthus spp.) are specially adapted 
for this method of distribution ; and again many species of birds 
have the power of ejecting from the mouth both distasteful food 
and also hard seeds when the pulp surrounding them has been 
digested. Such birds, therefore, though destroying many seeds, 
distribute others further afield than would otherwise have been the 
case and are injurious rather than beneficial, except from a forestry 
point of view. In India, I consider a bird eating weed seed as of 
no value whatever. They may keep weeds down to a certain 
extent, but this is of minor importance in a country where labour is 
cheap and where farming is not practised on such intensive lines 
as elsewhere. Even in intensive cultivation we cannot rely on 
weeds being kept down by birds and the expense of cultivation to 
eliminate weeds is, I believe, not reduced in the slightest by the 
action of birds. We cannot expect the complete elimination of 
any one of the commoner weeds by the agency of bird? alone. If 



10 THE POOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

any species of bird fed almost entirely on one species of weed and 
there seemed to be every possibility of that weed being eliminated, 
the bird, finding its food supply diminishing, would migrate. It is 
a proved fact that the presence of at any rate a fair number of 
species of birds in certain districts is to a large extent regulated by 
food supply. And again, many birds eating weed seed will take a 
considerable amount of grain from standing crops and seeds from 
seed crops in many instances. 

OMNIVOROUS BIRDS. 

Omnivorous birds are both insect and vegetable feeders, and 
their diet also contains various other forms of food. This group as 
here arranged contains all birds which cannot be classed with insec- 
tivorous or vegetable feeding birds. It could well be subdivided 
into two or three specialised groups, as shown on page 26. 

Animal Diet other than Insects. This class of food, together with 
insects and grain, comprises the food of omnivorous birds. This 
forms a large proportion of the food of many birds, often comprising 
the total food of some species. In many instances, however, birds 
taking such food will also have a portion of their diet composed of 
insects or vegetable material. Such diet comprises the following : 

Mammals which the bird either eats as carrion, or else kills 
itself, birds, frogs, reptiles, fish, mollusca, Crustacea, spiders, excreta 
and offal. 

Mammals. Hawks and owls are practically the only classes 
which take mammals for food, though there are others that do so 
occasionally, such as shrikes, rollers, &c., and these cannot be 
regarded in most cases as injurious if so doing : a few kids and lambs 
may be taken, and if so the individual bird that does so can be 
destroyed. In so me few cases too, small beneficial mammals such as 
shrews are taken. Otherwise these classes of birds are beneficial 
and need protection only from skin and egg collectors. They will 
not, as a rule, be destroyed for plumage, and certainly not for food. 
Many hawks and owls feed extensively on large insects also, prin- 
cipally Orthoptera, and Lepidopterous larvse. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 11 

Frogs, Lizards. Birds which eat toads, frogs, lizards (and 
snakes ?) are undoubtedly injurious in this respect, hawks and owls 
especially. The amount of insects a frog can eat is enormous, 
the variety of insects he takes is astonishing : he is practically an 
exclusive insect feeder, limited only by stomach capacity. A 
frog knows to a nicety how large an insect he can get outside of. 
Frogs and toads are recognised as one of the best methods for keep- 
ing greenhouses and gardens free from insects. They seem parti- 
cularly partial to grasshoppers and ephemerids, but moths, ants 
and beetles of every description do not come amiss. They have 
been seen also to take small millipedes. Toads are said to take bees 
from the hive, but this can easily be prevented by practical measures 
adopted by the bee-keeper. Lizards are a little more fastidious, 
they prefer moths and flies to anything else. They undoubtedly 
take beneficial insects as well, but in spite of this they mu^t at pre- 
sent be considered beneficial. Any one who watches the common 
house lizards of India cannot help noticing that beetles, and other 
hard insects, are carefully left alone, and that they seldom touch 
ants. The common small hemiptera or stink-bugs (Cydnus), so 
common round our lamps in the rains, are also carefully left alone. 
I saw a young lizard take one once. He did not seem to like it 
and retired behind a book on my writing table most probably to 
get rid of it. He has not taken one again, though not for want of 
opportunity. 

Spiders, Fish, Molluscs, Crustacea, &c. Some birds take spiders, 
but to no great extent, not enough to be regarded as injurious from 
that cause alone, though a habitual spider-eater is injurious. Fish 
and mollusc-eating birds are of no importance generally in India ; 
when they are injurious which would be very locally, they can be 
destroyed. Mollusc and snail feeders are at any rate, if not in India, 
beneficial in other countries, especially with regard to the checking 
of liver fluke in sheep. 

Birds. Birds which prey on other birds do a considerable 
amount of good and at the same time harm. No doubt many birds 
of no economic value are taken, and also even if the birds taken 



12 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

are beneficial, in very many cases they will prove to be diseased 
or weak ; this destruction being then a benefit to the species. Again 
many will be taken if abnormally coloured, the bird of prey being 
the aid therefore in that natural selection which protects so many 
forms of life from their foes. Young poultry suffer to some extent 
from ravages by birds of prey, as well as from rats, mongooses and 
snakes. These birds can be kept off to a large extent if not allowed 
to breed in the vicinity, a fact already recognised by natives in some 
parts of the country. It is during the breeding season that ravages 
on poultry will mostly be committed by birds. On the other hand 
there are numbers of birds which take nestlings and eggs from 
smaller species ; while others will turn out some from their nests 
(e.g., sparrows turn out martins) when they have built them, and 
use the nest for themselves, so harrying these that nesting, and 
therefore normal reproduction, are greatly interfered with and 
checked. Both these cases, namely, destruction of young and eggs 
of other birds and usurping their nests, should tell heavily against 
the bird that does so, provided that the species the eggs belong to, 
and the birds turned out of their nests, are of beneficial economic 
importance. When considering, therefore, the economic importance 
of any one species of bird from its food only, we realize how complex 
a subject this is, and how much must be learnt about the bird under 
all conditions of life before definite measures for protection or other- 
wise can be adopted. 

Some birds are undoubtedly injurious to crops, &c., for part 
of their lives, but before they can be classed as injurious their feed- 
ing habits for the rest of their life must be carefully observed. 

As an instance of the above point, the Rosy Pastor (Pastor 
roseus) is an excellent example combining both a marked beneficial 
and a marked injurious action at different seasons. In some part 
of the year it will, if allowed, do an immense amount of damage 
to jowari when ripening ; at another the numbers of locusts it 
destroys is enormous, and it also acts as an agent for limiting the 
damage of locusts since by continuous persecution of these insects, 
it drives them from one locality to another, thereby spreading the 



MASON AND LEFROY. 13 

damage over a larger area. It is (and probably will remain so), 
a much debated question as to whether damage to jowari or the 
destruction of locusts is the most important factor. 

A bird injurious to a crop may do harm to that crop in various 
ways, but this damage may be entirely counteracted by the bird's 
other feeding habits, especially during the breeding season, when 
it will be found in some cases that vast quantities of caterpillars 
are fed to the young. And again, owing to the construction of the 
stomachs of young birds, caterpillars are often fed to the young of 
birds which, when mature, are. almost purely grain-eatii)g. The 
stomach of young birds is not so powerful as that of older birds in 
most species, and therefore needs softer food. We commonly hear 
or see it stated that a bird is a pest, and should be kept down in 
numbers, because it has been observed to damage fruits, vegetables, 
and so forth. The informant totally ignores what form of food has 
been taken by this bird during the rest of the year. It will, as often 
as not, be found with careful observation that the food then consists 
of insects, many of which are injurious, slugs, &c., and the conclu- 
sions arrived at and stated, from one or two casual field observa- 
tions, are exactly contrary to the real facts of the case. 

It is also important to note that the breeding season of most 
birds common in the plains takes place during the cold weather 
and the earlier part of the hot weather. It is during this time that 
the first broods of a number of our caterpillar pests appear. A 
check on these insects before they have had time to multiply to ai,y 
extent is all-important, and this check will be given provided we 
have the birds on the spot to give it. Many birds, such as ciows, 
apparently feed little on caterpillars until these insects have become 
very numerous, in fact, when they are swarming, and any number 
eaten at that time does little good, certainly very little in compari- 
son to that done by a bird that feeds on them habitually. A bird 
that eats a few swarming caterpillars in the first broods, and when 
they have not reached any terious proportions, does infinitely moie 
good than if the caterpillars were only taken when they were noticed 
to be swarming, even if at the latter time these caterpillars formed 



THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

the sole food of that bird. At the latter time the damage is done, 
while if some caterpillars are eaten in the early broods, for every 
one eaten then, thousands, that would otherwise have appeared 
later in the year, are non-existent. It is, therefore, obvious that a 
bird that feeds habitually on injurious insects is of far more econo- 
mic value than another bird, whose diet varies according to food 
supply. Every bird's food must vary somewhat according to food 
supply, and we, therefore, speak in the sense applicable to the above. 

One often hears that great authorities on birds refuse to give 
an opinion as to whether partially insectivorous or omnivorous 
birds should be encouraged and protected, and with very good 
reason. Birds can in some cases increase with extraordinary rapid- 
ity, and if encouraged it is surmised that insect -life- of which there 
is abundance in India at present would rapidly decrease ; birds 
being unable to find food elsewhere, would then undoubtedly attack 
crops. This theory might very possibly prove correct, but until it 
is put into practice no one can foretell definitely what would happen. 
In considering this question the following points should always be 
borne in mind. The theory advanced above can have no applica- 
tion to birds not indigenous to the country, or rather to birds which 
may have been recently imported. Now a bird provided that it is 
a resident species is undoubtedly a far easier thing to destroy than 
many insects, in spite of the fact that most insects destroyed by bird? 
are also those most readily destroyed by science applied in a prac- 
tical manner, and should the bird prove the theory advanced above, 
that bird could be checked after its beneficial work was done. With 
migratory species it is a very different matter. Should birds be 
protected and encouraged, they may exterminate certain insects, 
amongst which some crop pests would certainly occur, and as likely 
as not some parasitic insects as well. But enough is now known 
and more will shortly be known about importation of insect para- 
sites to render that importation a safer procedure and more reliable 
than formerly. 

In considering the whole question of economic ornithology 
every point for and against the bird in question must be carefully 



MASON AND LEFROY. 15 

balanced. Impartiality, not personal opinion, is essential. Person- 
al opinions can but apply to very local conditons in most cases, 
and must be avoided. All sentimental ideas about protection of 
beautiful species or song birds must be totally ignored. It must 
always be borne in mind, however, that in no case do we wish to 
see any one species totally exterminated. 

In all probability, when we know enough about the food of 
birds, it will be found that comparatively few can be considered as 
actually beneficial or harmful ; by far the greater number comirg 
under a neutral heading. Many will be found to do damage to crops, 
fruits, etc., locally only, and so to need local check and not a gene- 
ral one. Even this classification may, however, need modification 
under different local conditions. It is, therefore, exceedingly diffi- 
cult to state anything definite about birds which can apply generally 
throughout India. We can certainly advise nothing until we have 
sufficient information from all the chief districts in India. 

The whole question of economic ornithology is, at present, a 
very doubtful one. It may be that in countries where no pro- 
tection exists and where birds of all kinds are ruthlessly persecuted, 
we hear of no more insect plagues than in countries which afford 
protection to some of these birds. This may perhaps hold good 
in a temperate climate. I believe this does not apply in the least 

to India and other hot climates, where insect life is so abundant 



and where it can and does increase so abnormally under certain 
conditions. 

In the study of the food of birds, mention must be made of 
caged birds. Of birds kept under these conditions little, if any, 
information of value can be obtained, so long as the food has to be 
provided for these birds. If we know what the food of a certain 
species is in the wild state, we can then by caging some birds of this 
species form a vague idea of the proportion of, and preference shown 
for, certain kinds of food ; we can get very little real idea as to the 
quantity. If the natural food is but vaguely known we learn prac 
tically nothing by this method. The only real application of this 
method of any value and it is of great value when possible for 



i THE POOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

furthering our knowledge of the food of nestlings- -is to obtain and 
cage a clutch of young birds, so placing them that the old birds 
will come and feed the young. We can then identify accurately 
what food is fed to the young in definite proporton, and in fact 
get a full and accurate idea as to what the nestlings are brought up 
on until they can leave the nest, or obtain food for themselves. 
This method is, however, only practicable occasionally, and with 
but few species of birds. The food of nestlings is a very important 
item of economic ornithology. A definite study of the food of 
nestling? is required of each species, just as much as that of the 
food of adults. 

SUMMARY. 

In the study of economic ornithology it is essential to know 
practically everything about the bird with which we are dealing. 
The food of every different species of bird under every condition 
throughout the year is of primary importance, and the food of the 
nestling is an important item under this heading. All foods (insect, 
vegetable or otherwise), must be identified scientifically whenever 
possible or necessary. Field observations are invaluable as a 
supplement to laboratory examinations, and bring to light many 
details we cannot obtain in a laboratory, even with regard to the 
food of birds. 

We must know localities, life-history and habits of all species, 
including especially where, when, and how often birds nest during 
the year, their methods of feeding, migration, if any, etc. 

We must consider carefully and impartially every point with 
regard to each species, their beneficial, injurious and neutral feeding 
qualities, and their general utility, if any, to man. 

Finally we must know how we can best protect and encourage 
beneficial species, and how to get rid of, or diminish the numbers of, 
injurious species in tbe most effective and practical manner. 

METHOD OF STOMACH EXAMINATION, ETC. 
The examination of the birds' stomachs I have collected has 
been done on very similar lines to those adopted by Mr. Newstead 



MASON AND LEFROY. 17 

and described in the supplement to the Board of Agriculture Journal 
for December 1908. 

The* stomachs are cut open as carefully as possible so as not 
to injure the contents, which owing to partial digestion are as a rule 
very liable to break up, and so, in the case of insects especially, 
rendered much more difficult to identify. The stomachs are then 
immersed in water, and the contents washed out into a white saucer 
or what is still better a white porcelain photographic developing 
dish (I plate size is the best for the smaller stomachs). The larger 
and more easily identifiable portions of the food material are then 
removed one by one, identified, and tabulated. All the unidenti- 
fiable material is placed in bottles containing a weak solution of 
spirit or formalin, or in the case of seeds is dried and then put up 
in glass tubes. If the stomach contents do not wash out readily 
it is best to scrape them out with a needle : a brush should not be 
used, as with it insects are far more likely to be broken, and one 
cannot see what one is doing nearly so well. After all the readily 
identifiable material has been removed and noted, the water is run 
off the dish, none of the material being allowed to escape, and clean 
water is added. This is not necessary in the case of the stomachs 
of the smaller birds, but is so with the larger ones and especially 
if omnivorous, these latter always containing a large percentage 
of semi-digested animal and vegetable matter. The rest of the food 
is then treated and examined as described above. In the case of 
the smaller birds it will often be found necessary to examine the 
food or portions of it under a glass, and a magnification of 10 is 
quite sufficient for the purpose. 

Stomachs should be examined as soon after they have been 
obtained as possible. It is always a difficult matter to identify a 
great deal of the contents of the stomachs, and if they have been 
kept for any time in spirit, identification is still more difficult. This 
is especially the case with caterpillars and any food material that 
may have colouring matter in it, as this is usually destroyed by the 

* Here as elsewhere in this paper with reference to my own notes, the word ' stomac h' 
is used to denote the whole alimentary canal t and not the crop and gizzard only. 

2 



18 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

spirit. The stomachs too become hard, and there is therefore i 
greater risk of breaking the contents when the stomachs are cut 
open. 

It will be noticed that in many instances in the records the 
following kind of note is made after many insects of which as a rule 
only the family or sub-family is stated (Pusa No. 25). This number 
refers to the number of the insect in the Pusa collection, the name 
having as yet not been definitely determined. In the case of some 
of the seeds unidentified, numbers are also placed against them 
referring to seeds I have numbered and put up in a reference collec- 
tion of seeds taken from birds, the collection beirg ?.t present in 
the laboratory of the Imperial Ertomologist. 

In recording the materials forming the food fourd ir. the 
stomachs I have examined, the number of insects of each species, 
the number of seeds, etc., has been recorded as nearly correctly as 
possible. Every insect ond part of an insect or other food 
material found in the contents must be carefully examined in orderto 
determine the species if possible and therefore there is no extra 
work entailed or time spent in making these tables ; we have too the 
total contents of the stomachs in a tabular form, which may be of 
use to anyone who has not the same ideas as to the economic im- 
portance of the insect food as is here stated. 

I have made no statements in a general way as to the relative 
bulks of the food taken. We see it stated repeatedly that relative 
bulks of food taken by birds are very important in any conclusion 
that we may wish to draw from ecoromic entomology. This is ?n 
extremely difficult point to settle and can only be obtained after 
the most careful study of the question. From stomach examina- 
tions in the laboratory we can learn very little indeed about 
proportion in which the foods are taken, and our only method for ob- 
taining this end practically consists of a complete study of the food 
of the birds, from specimens obtained throughout the year under all 
climatic, physical and seasonal conditions and even at different 
times during the day (this latter point is certainly one of importance 
n so me birds and possibly therefore in most). When we have these 



MASON AND LEPBOY. 



19 



laboratory records, we can compound them with the figures we have 
obtained in field observations and draw our conclusions. 

Comparative bulks of foods if expressed merely as percentages 
are of absolutely no value whatever, and cannot give any idea as 
to the true economic ratio of the food of the bird in question. What 
we want to know is the exact number of grains of corn, the number 
of insects, etc., taken, and we must not draw our conclusions from a 
small number of records nor from a mass of records that have been 
accumulated at one season of the year only. We must take a fair 
average. We must consider the economic importance of each item 
of food taken, whether the grain is of value being taken from stand- 
ing crops or otherwise, and whether the insects and other animal 
and vegetable food are of any importance, and if so what and to 
what extent. We can then obtain a definite ratio between the 
economic value of the various foods eaten, and from it draw conclu- 
sions definitely as to whether the species of bird in question can be 
regarded as beneficial or otherwise. 

LIST OF BIRD8 EXAMINED. 



Fauna of 
India No. 


Name of Bird. 






No. of 
specimens. 


Page. 


4. 


Corvus macrorhynchus 






37 


29 


7. 


Corvus splendens 






49 


32 


16. 


Dendrocitta rufa 






13 


40 


31. 


Parus atriceps 






10 


46 


1 10. 


Crateropus canorus 






36 


51 


226. 


Zosterops palpebrosa 






15 


58 


243. 


Aegithina tiphia 






6 


60 


282. 


Molpastes bengalensis 






37 


63 


321. 


Sitta castaneiventris 






9 


68 


327. 


Dicrurus ater 






62 


69 


374. 


Orthotomus sutorius 






4 


81 


381. 


Cisticola cursitans 






5 


82 


404. 


Phylloscopus affinis 






1 


83 


407. 


Do. tristis 






12 


83 


410. 


Do. fuscatus 






7 


83 


417. 


Do. superciliosus 


- 




1 


84 


421. 


Acanthopneuste nitidus 






1 


84 


422. 


Do. viridanus 






2 


- 


476. 


Lanius erythronotus 






1 


87 


488. 


Tephrodornis pondicerianus 






7 


88 


500. 


Perecrocotus peregrinus 






4 


88 


510. 


Graucalus macii 


i 




3 


89 


518. 


Oriolus kundoo 


. 




13 


90 


521. 


Do. melanocephalus 






23 


92 


528. 


Pastor roseus 






6 


95 



20 



THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

LIST OF BIRDS EXAMINED. (continued.} 



Fauna of 
InHia No. 


Name of Bird. 


No. of 
specimens. 


Page. 


538. 


Sturnia malabarica 


7 


99 


549. 


Acridotheres tristis 


35 


101 


551. 


Do. ginginnianus 


\8 


106 


555. 


Sturnopastor contra 


15 


108 


562. 


Siphia albicilia 


12 


111 


592. 


Culicicapa ceylonensis 


1 


113 


598. 
644. 


Terpsiphone paradisi 
Ruticilla rufiventris 


3 

5 


113 
115 


647. 


Cyanecula suecica 


3 


116 


666. 


Copsychus saularis] 


12 


117 


686. 


Geocichla citrina 


2 


120 


698. 


Oreocincla dauna 


1 


121 


720. 


Ploceus baya 


7 


122 


734. 


Uroloncha malabarica 


11 


123 


735. 


Do. punctulata 


3 


124 


775. 


Gymnorhis flavicollis 


12 


126 


776. 


Passer domesticus 


8 


127 


809. 


Cotile sinensis 


1 


131 


826. 


Motacilla alba ... 


10 


131 


829. 


Do. personata 


7 


132 


833. 


Do. borealis 


3 


133 


835. 


Motacilla beema 


4 


134 


841. 


Anthiis maculatus 


67 


134 


847. 


Anthus rufulus 


4 


136 


863. 


Calandrella dukhenensis 


53 


137 


871. 


Mirafra erythroptera 


3 


141 


895. 


Arachnechthra asiatica . . '. 


14 


142 


919. 


Dicaeum erythrorynchum 


9 


144 


972. 


Liopicus mahrattensis 


3 


147 


976. 


lyngipicus hardwickei 


3 


147 


983. 


Micropternus phaeoceps 


3 


148 


986. 


Brachypternus aurantius 


16 


148 


J003. 


lynx torquilla 


8 


151 


1008. 


Thereiceryx zeylonicus 


44 


153 


1019. 
1022. 


Xantholaema haematocephala 
Coracias indica 


15 
18 


154 
155 


1026. 


Merops viridis 


43 


160 


1027. 


Do. philippinus 


13 


164 


1033. 


Ceryle varia 


5 


167 


1062. 


Lophoceros birostris 


6 


170 


1067. 


Upupa indica 


24 


171 


1093. 


Caprimulgus macrurus 


3 


178 


1107. 


Cuculus micropterus 


1 


180 


1109. 


Hierococcyx varius 


17 


180 


1118. 


Coccystes jacobinus 


4 


182 


1120. 


Eudynamis honorata 


15 


183 


1129. 


Taccocua leschenaulti 


1 


184 


1130. 


Centropus sinensis 


5 


184 


1138. 


Palaeornis torquatus 


53 


188 


1139. 
1152. 


Do. cyanocephalus 
Strix flammea 


7 
1 


189 
191 


1180. 


Athene brama 


8 


193 


1196. 


Gyps bengalensis 




196 


1220. 


Butastur teesa 


17 


202 


1228. 


Haliastur indus 


10 


205 


1229. 


Milvus govinda 


13 


207 


1244. 


Astur badius 


6 


210 


1249. 


Pernis cristatus 


4 


212 



MASON AND LEFROY. 

LIST OF IUUDS EXAMINED. (continued.) 



21 



Fauna of 
India No. 


Name of Bird. 


No. of 
specimens. 


Page. 


1271. 


Crocopus phsenicopterus 








Ill 


217 


.... 


Columba intermedia 










218 


1307. 


Turtur suratensis 








6 


219 


1310. 


Turtur risorius 








19 


220 


1311. 


ffinopepelia tranquebarica 








2 


221 


1372. 


Francolinus vulgaris 








30 


235 


1384. 


Turnix tanki 








10 


248 


1401. 


Amaurornis phoenicurus 








5 


252 


1417. 


Sypheotis bengalensis 








2 


260 


1418. 


Oedicnemus scolopax 








3 


262 


1429. 


Hydrophasianus chirurgus 








2 


264 


1431. 


Sarcogrammus indicus 








9 


264 


1435. 


Hoplopterus ventralis 








8 


265 


1447. 


Aegialitis dubia 








1 


265 


1461. 


Totanus glareola 








24 


267 


1462. 


Totanus ochropus 








10 


268 


1464. 


Totanus calidris 








2 


269 


1471. 


Tringa minuta . . 








3 


270 


1484. 


Gallinago coelestis 








12 


271 


1503. 


Sterna seena 








1 


275 


1528. 


Phalacrocorax javanicus 








7 


278 


1542. 


Inocotis papillosus 








2 


280 


1555. 


Ardea cinerea . . 








1 


284 


1565. 


Ardeola grayi 








4 


286 


1593. 


Anas poecilorhyncha 








3 


294 


1601. 


Querquedula circia 








2 


297 


Iffel 


'BwC-^Cu-* C6tov*0u3)i-o 


3 


19S 



With regard to the classification of birds according to their 
food I ca-nnot do better than quote in full a paper by W. L. Sclater 
(I. M. N., Vol. II, 117-121), which not only gives a classification of 
the birds of India according to their food in a generalized form, but 
also supplies much interesting and, from an economic point of view, 
valuable information. 

The only essential alteration necessary is that of substituting 
the word ' ' mainly " for " purely ' ' in the heading of ' ' purely insec- 
tivorous" birds. This is no doubt what the author meant, for no 
one could class most of these families as purely insectivorous : 
they are mainly insectivorous certainly, but of those thus grouped 
it is generally known that the Shrikes [Laniidse] are partially carni- 
vorous, eating both lizards and small birds : that the Ground Cuckoos 
[Cuculidae] have a very mixed diet and should possibly be included 
as omnivorous, and that the Koel and one or two other species of 
cuckoos entirely or partially exist on fruit only ; that Rollers [Cora- 



22 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

ciadce] take mice, etc. Frogs have also been found to form some 
part in the food of the common Babbler [Crateropodidae] ; the King- 
crow [Dicruridse] eats worms and spiders, and so forth. 

From the " purely insectivorous " birds we must undoubtedly 
transfer the Motacillidse to the group containing birds of mixed diet. 
Wagtails have been found to take grain from near stables (whether 
these grains were taken in mistake for other food has nothing to do 
with the question here) and Pipits feed often very largely off weed 
s-^ds and vegetable matter and are by no means qualified to be 
called mainly insectivorous birds. If we are to place the Cuculidse 
in any other group, and their food as a group is far too varied to be 
called insectivorous, we must place them as omnivorous. This is 
a far more satisfactory classification and more correct. 

In the present paper it will be noticed that birds are subdivided 
into three headings only : 

Insectivorous. Birds that eat insects mainly, that is, insects 

form the greater part of their food. 

Mr. Sclater's purely insectivorous birds come under this 
I heading. 

Graminivorous and Vegetarian. Birds whose diet consists 

mainly of vegetable matter or entirely so. 
Mr. Sclater's frugivorous birds come under this heading. 
Omnivorous. Birds that have a mixed diet, though they 
may not be strictly omnivorous. Few birds are so. 
Mr. Sclater's birds of mixed diet, birds which live in or about 
water and wet places, carnivorous and omnivorous, are 
all included in this group. 

' THE ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE OF BIRDS IN INDIA/ 
" Birds may be economically considered in two very different 
ways : firstly, from the direct point of view of the economic products 
of the birds themselves ; secondly, from the indirect point of view 
of the benefit derived from the destruction of noxious insects by 
birds which, no doubt, is of very great importance to agriculture. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 23 

" It has been argued by certain people, interested in agriculture, 
that insectivorous birds, which are so directly important as insect 
pest destroyers, should be protected by law, but the question arises 
as to whether insectivorous birds are destroyed for their direct 
prolucts in any quantities which would make it worth while to 
introduce spacial legislation for their protection. In considering this 
question, the first thing to do is to find out what birds are destroyed 
in any large numbers in India. 

" There are only two purposes for which this is done. 

1. For the sake of their skins or feathers, which are export- 
ed in considerable quantities. 

2. For eating purposes. 

The following are the principal birds killed for their skins and 
feathers : Herodiis albi, Herodiis intermedia and Herodias gnr- 
zett i (Egrets), all of which have in the breeding reason a dorsal or 
p33fcoral train of what are known as decomposed feathers ; that is, 
feifch^rs whose barbs are not connected with one another. These 
eathers are sold and exported in very large quantities and fetch 
very high prices. 

" Other birds of the heron family such as Buphus coromandus 
(the Cattle Egret) Ardeola leucoptera (the Pond Heron), Ardea cine- 
re i (the Blue Heron), all produce feathers which are sold in large 
quantities but not at such high prices as those of the egrets proper- 

" Another bird whose feathers have a certain market value is the 
Indian Snake Bird [Plotus melmogaster]. The lengthened scapular 
feathers, which are the only ones sold for export, are also according 
to Jerdon, ' looked on as a badge of royalty by the Khasias, and 
were once the badge of one of the Bengal regiments of Irregular 
Cavalry/ 

" Many of the pheasants are exported in large quantities, more 
especially the Monaul [Lophophorus impeyanus]. The bulk of the 
specimens of the pheasants brought down to Calcutta are shot, I 
believe, in Bhutan and Nepal, and I have been offered as many as a 
thousand skins at once. The other pheasants occurring in any 
quantity likely to be exported are the two species of Ceriornis 



24 THE FOOD Of BIRDS IN INDIA. 

(C. satyra and C. melanocephil'i) known as the Sikkim and Simla 
Argus Pheasants respectively, though, of course, they are neither of 
them the true Argus, which is a bird found in the Malay Peninsula 
only. 

" The only other birds which to my knowledge are exported in 
any quantity are the common species of the genus Palceornisto which 
all the Indian parrots belong, the Blue Jay or Roller (Coracias), 
the King-fishers (Ceryle and Halcyon) ; and the jungle fowls (Gal- 
lus). The heckles of the southern jungle fowl (G. sonnerati) are 
used for making fishing flies among other things. 

" For the following list of the birds commonly eaten in India, I 
am greatly indebted to Mr. Hume's Gleanings from the Calcutta 
markets (Stray Feathers, Vol. VII, p. 479), which not only gives the 
birds brought to the market in Lower Bengal, but which is also 
more or less applicable to the whole of India. 

Charadrius f ulva . . . . Golden Plover. 

Gallinago stenura . . . . The Pin-tailed Snipe. 

Gallinago gallinura . . ... The Common Snipe. 

Totanus glareola . . . . The Spotted Sand-piper or Snippet. 

Totanus calidris . . . . The Red-shanks or Snippets. 

Hydrophasianus chirurgus . . . . The Pheasant -tailed Jacana. 

Nettopus coromandelianus . . . . The Cotton Teal. 

Chaulelasmus streperus . . . . The Gadwall. 

Dafila acuta . . . . The Pintail. 

Fuligula rufina . . . . The Redcrested Pochard. 

Fuligula nyroca . . . . The White-eye. 

Querquedula circia . . . . The Blue- winged or Garganey Teal. 

" The following are the birds commonly eaten when shot by 
European sportsmen throughout India, but are not found anyhow 
commonly in the Calcutta bazaar :- 

Crocopus phosnicopterus . . . . Hurrial or Green Pigeon. 

Columba intermedia . . . . Kabutar or Blue Rock pigeon. 

Eupodotis edwardsi . . . . Tokdar Sohan or Bustard. 

Sypheotides bengalensis . . . . Charras or Florikin. 

Grus antigone . . . . Sarus or Sarus Crane. 

Ciconia leucocephala . . . . Manikjor or Beaf-steak bird. 

Calandrella brachydactyla . . . . Baghaira or Ortolan. 

Pterocles exustus . . . . Kuhar or Sandgrouse. 

Pavo cristatus . . . . Mor or Peacock. 

Gallus ferrugineus . . . . Jungli Murghi or Jungle Fowl. 

Gallus sonnerati . . . . Gray Fowl. 

Galloperdix spadiceus .. .. Red Spurfowl. 

Francolinus vulgaris . . . . Kalatitar or Black Partridge . 



MASON AND LEFROY. 25 

Francolinus pictus . . . . Painted Partridge. 

Ortygornis gularis . . . . Bantitar or The Kyah Partridge. 

Coturnix communis . . . . Batter or Gray Quail. 

" But in a country such as India, where an enormous percentage 
of the inhabitants are purely vegetable feeders, the number of birds 
killed for the table (except, perhaps, in the neighbourhood of great 
towns, such as Calcutta) is insignificant. Of all the birds men- 
tioned in the above list, both killed for their plumage and their 
flesh, hardly one can be called an insectivorous bird. 

" The food of the Herons and Egrets consists entirely of fish and 
frogs ; the Cattle Egret perhaps devours a few grasshoppers, but 
the bulk of the food consists of fish and tadpoles ; the Snake Bird 
is entirely piscivorous. 

" Pheasants only occur at considerable elevations in the Hima- 
layas ; they are chiefly vegetable feeders, though now and then 
they may devour a few insects. 

** Parrots are all fruit eaters and do considerable damage in this 
way. Neither Snipe nor Ducks are insectivorous in a true sense of 
the word. 

" The following is a list of the purely insectivorous birds : 

Paradoxornithinae . . . . . . Crow-tits. 

Crateropodinae . . . . . . Babbling Thrushes. 

Timeliinae . . . . . . Solitary Babblers. 

Brachypteriginae . . . . . Ground Babblers. 

Liotricinae . . . . . . loras and Green Bulbuls. 

Dicruridse . . . . Drongos or King crows. 

Certhiidae .. .. Creepers 

Sylviidae .. .. .. Warblers. 

Laniidse . . . . . . Shrikes and Minivets. 

Muscicapidae . . . . . . Fly-catchers. 

Saxicolinae . . . . . . Chats. 

Ruticillinae . . . . . . Redstarts and Robins. 

Accentorinae . . . . . . Hedge Sparrows. 

Hirundinidse . . . . . . Swallows. 

Motacillidae . . . . . . Wagtails and Pipits. 

Pittidae . . . . . . Ground Thrushes. 

Cypselidae .. .. .. Swifts. 

Caprimulgidae . . ; . Goatsuckers. 

Picidaa . . . . Woodpeckers. 

Upupidse . . . . Hoopoes. 

Meropidse ... . . Bee-eaters. 

Coraciadae .. .. Rollers. 

Trogonidse .. .. . Trogons. 

Cuculidse ... .. Cuckoos. 



26 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

" The following are the birds of m'xed diet, partly insectivorous, 
and partly fruit and grain eaters in varying proportions. 

Parinse . . . . . . Tits. 

Sibiinee . . . . . . Sibias, White-eyes, &c. 

Brachypodinee . . . . . . Bulbuls. 

Sittidse . . . . . . Nuthatches. 

Oriolidae . . . . . . Orioles. 

Sturnidse . . . . . . Starlings and Mynahs. 

Turdidse . . . . . . Thrushes. 

Fringillidse . . . . . . Finches. 

Alaudidse . . . . . . Larks. 

Nectariniidaa . . . . . . Sun- birds. 

Dicaeidse . . . . . . Flower-peckers. 

Phasianidse . . . . . . Pheasants. 

Tetraonidee . . . . . . Partridges. 

TurnicidaB . . . . . . Button Quails. 

Rallidse .. .. .. Rails. 

Gruidse .. .. .. Cranes. 

Otididse . . . . Bustards. . 

Limicolae . . . . Waders of all sorts. 

" The following are the birds which live either in or about water 
and wet places ; their food consists of fish, frogs and tadpoles, 
aquatic larvae of insects, and such small animals as fresh-water 
crustaceans. 

Cinclinse . . . . . . Ouzels. 

Halcyonidse . . . . . . King-fishers. 

Phalacrocoracidae . . . . . . Cormorants. 

Pelecanidae .. .. .. Pelicans. 

Ardeidae . . . . . Herons and Egrets. 

Tantalidse .. .. .. Ibis. 

Anseres .. ... .. Ducks. 

Laridaa . . Gulls and Terns. 

" To complete the list of birds I have divided the rest of them 
into the following three groups : 

( Striges . . . . Owls. 
Carnivorous < ; 

1 Accipitres . . . . Vultures and hawks. 

I Corvinae . . . . Crows. 
Omnivorous 

' Ciconndae . . . . Storks. 

'Eulabetidae . . . . Hill Mynahs. 

Ploceidae . . . . Weaver birds. 

Bucerotidaa . . . . Horn bills. 

iTugivorous ( Capitonidae . . . . Barbets. 

Psittacidae . . . . Parrots. 

Columbae . . . . Pigeons. 

.Pteroclidie .. .. Sand grouse. 



MASON AND LEFEOY. 27 

" From the above lists it will be seen that few, if any, of those in 
the lisfc of purely insectivorous birds are to be found among the birds 
nnntioned in the first part of the paper, i.e., those destroyed for 
plumage or food. With regard to those of a mixed diet given in the 
other lists, it would certainly be inadvisable to protect them, since 
they may do much greater harm in devouring fruit and grain than 
they do good in destroying insects such is especially the case with 
crows and starlings. 

" With regard to the time of breediug, most small birds in Upper 
India at any rate bresd between April and July. Of course, there 
are many exceptions ; but the four months April, May, June and 
July would practically cover the breeding time of nearly all the 
birds which require protection. 

" In Southern India many birds breed in December and January, 
and in th3 hills the breeding season, as for instance, in the case of the 
Monaul, is in July and August. In the case, however, of Lower 
Bengal, the bsst months are undoubtedly April, May and June." 
[Indian Museum Notes, Vol. II, 117-121]. 

^ For further information with regard to feathers used for 
omiments. etc., reference should be made to Watt's Dictionary of 
Economic Products, the Report from the Select Committee of the 
House of Lords on the Importation of Plumage Prohibition Bill 
(13-7-03), Dr. Forbss Watson's List of Indian Products, etc. It 
is also interesting to note that the tail-feathers of the Racket -tailed 
Drongos and the brighter coloured feathers of the Hornbills are 
used in head-dresses by some hill tribes in Assam, etc., and that 
the beak of the larger Hornbills is also said to be used for carving 
work. 

THE FOOD OF BIRDS. 

In the following pages, the birds are considered in order, 
following the volumes of the Fauna of India and using the num' 
bering and nomenclature there adopted. 



28 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA 

PASSERES. 
Corvidce. 

The Corvidce are divided into the following sub-families : 
Corvince, Parince and Paradoxornithince. , 

They are the most omnivorous of all birds : they eat all kinds 
of food from carrion to grain. Jer. B. L, I, 292. 

Corvince comprise Crows, Magpies, Jays, Nutcrackers and 
Choughs. Speaking of Corvince (Crows and Magpies) Jerdon (B.L 5 

I, 292) says: "Crows live on all kinds of food, may be seen eatirg 
carrion with vultures ; eating winged Termites with Fly-catchers 
and Bee-eaters, fishing with Gulls and Terns at the wake of a ship, 
plucking fruit with Green Pigeons and Cuckoos, or eating grain with 
Sparrows and Weaver-birds. ' 

"The majority feed habitually on the ground, others are 

strictly arboreal Most of them are omnivorous, but some 

of the smaller tropical species appear to confine their diet to 
insects/' F. L, I, 11. 

"The Corvidce are almost omnivorous, Ravens and other strong 
species even attacking weakly ewes or lambs and preying on small 
mammals, birds and reptiles : Hooded and Carrion Crows, Rooks, 
Magpies, Jackdaws and Jays suck eggs ; while Rooks, though un- 
doubtedly beneficial, also grub up seed corn and potatoes. An 
immense amount of insect-life is however destroyed and the larger 

forms dispose of carrion Magpies and Jays feed largely upon 

the ground and eat slugs, snails, worms, insects, nuts, acorns, 
grain, seeds of conifers and other fruits. Nutcrackers devour 
quantities of the last.... Jays store provisions and Jackdaws 
pick insects off cattle/' E. B. C. N. H., 556. 

Corvus : very predaceous and carnivorous. Jerd. B. I., 

II, 293. 

Ravens : Pigeons, pigeons' eggs, hares, chucor : trained for 
hares. J. A. S. B., 1907, III, 116. 



MASON AND LEPROY. 



4. Corvus macrorhynchus, Jungle Crow. 



29-1-09. Flower of Bombax malabaricum. 

2-2-09. Flower of Bombax malabaricum. 

2-2-08. 3 Myllocerus discolor. 

Flower of Bombax malabaricum. 
12-2-08. Flower of Bombaac malabaricum. 

4-3-07. 6 Catharsius sabceus. 

Grass and weed seeds. 
12-3-08. Potato peelings, bits of onion, fat, etc.. 

2 small worms. 
12-3-08. 17 Oats. 
12-3-08. 96 Oats. 
12-3-08. 123 Oats. 
12-3-08. 84 Oats. 
14-3-08. 4 Chrotogonus sp. 

19 Oats. 

A few leaves and shoots. 
26-3- 09. 5 Catharsius sabceus. 

1 Monophlebus stebbingi, female. 
1 Ficus sp fruit. 
4 or 5 blades of grass. 
1-4-07. 1 Centipede. 

4 Oats. 

12 Wheat grains, other vegetable matter. 
1-4-08. Stomach empty. 

Alimentary canal contained the remains of kitchen scraps only 
'-4-09. 1 Onthophagus spinifer. 

1 Ber fruit ? (Zizyphus jujuba.) 
1 Piece of brick. 

1 Piece of bone. 
Several small sticks. 

4-08. 5 Catharsius sabceus. 

2 Onthophagus sp. 

Some Ficus fruit remains. 
12-5-08. Stomach almost empty. 

Vegetable remains only. 
12-5-08. Stomach entirely empty ; alimentary canal contained a few oat 

husks. 
21-5-08. 2 Centipedes. 

Vegetable and other refuse from kitchen. 
30-6-09. 1 Chrotogonus sp. 

5 Camponotus compressus. 

Ficus fruit and vegetable matter. 
29-9-08. 2 Frogs. 

1 Centipede. 

2 Earthworms. 

A good deal of vegetable matter mostly grass but a good prcpor 

tion of leaves. 

12-10-08. Maize only. 

31-10-08. 1 Coprid sp. 

21 Moth eggs. 



30 THE POOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

4. Corvus macrorhynchus, Jungle Crow. contd. 

A vast amount of other matter probably remains of caterpillars, 

which it was feeding on when shot. 
Sept. and Oct. 07. 
10 Specimens. 

301 Maize seeds. 
7 Frogs. 
2 Lizards. 
, 31 Weevils Astycus sp., Myllocerus sp. 

A large proportion of young wheat and oat blades amongst the 

other vegetable matter. 

A large proportion of the maize was obtained otherwise than in 
the field. 

Summary. Of 65 insects taken by 33 birds, none are beneficial, 
40 injurious and 25 neutral. 14 birds took injurious and 6 neutral 
insects. 

Worms were taken by 2, lizards by 2, frogs by 8, and centipedes 
by 3. 

Vegetable food was far in excess of the animal. Oats were 
taken by 6, wheat by 1, maize by 11, Ficus fruit by 3 and ber 
(Zizyphus jujubd) by one, Bombax flower by 4 ; all contained vege- 
table matter. 

Of the feeding habits of this crow Jerdon B. I., II, 296 
remarks : "It is gregarious ; feeds onofTal and carrion. It is often 
the first to discover the carcase of any dead animal. Like the rest 
of its tribe, however, it will partake of any kind of food, arid Sunde- 
vall said that he found nothing but larvae and butterflies in those he 
examined. 

It is very destructive in some places to young chickens, pigeons, 
&c., and I am informed, will occasionally destroy a young kid. 
It also pilfers the eggs and the nestlings of many birds ; on which 
account the King Crow (D. macrurus] pursues it more relentlessly 
than it does the common crow.'* 

Crows feeding on the carcase of a dead camel. .. .2 or 3, if not 
all, of these, were Jungle Crows. But possibly there were some 
carrion crows among them. B. N. H. S. J.. 19. 358. 

Little can be said of the Jungle Crow that does not equally 
apply to the house crow. The Jungle Crow, however, is not "quite 



MASON AND LEFROY. 31 

such a common bird, nor does he frequent large towrs and villages 
so much. He is always found in and around villages and in thin 
jungle. Both C. mavrorhynchus, and C. splendens may nearly 
always be seen in each others company, and their food differs to a 
very slight extent 

The Jungle Crow is very fond of frogs and lizards, and is often 
seen worrying the latter to death and then rot eating them. He 
feeds on carrion and offal, and kitchen refuse just as much as t he- 
House Crow, and also takes grain. 

Maize in all parts of India North and South- suffers consi- 
derably from the attack of this bird especially in garden cultivation, 
and early crops. In Madras, and on the West Coa^t especially, 
the Jungle Crow does some considerable damage to the paddy when 
ripening. I noticed this at Coimbatore, Shoranore, Salem, etc. 
He is a great pest to groundnut cultivation, and in many districts 
where this crop is grown, coolies with slings have to be employed as 
bird-scarers. No doubt (7. splendens also attacks paddy and ground- 
nut, but I did not notice this bird at the time. The Jungle Crow is 
also very partial to the flowers of the silk-cotton tree- Bombax 
maldbaricum to all kinds of Ficus, and to Mulberries. 

The insect food is not particularly varied, consisting mostly 
of dung beetles and various scarabids :Onthophagus, Gymno- 
pleurus, etc., and weevils. Centipedes are occasionally taken, and 
these together with grass and weed seeds of various sorts form a 
very large percentage of its food. The stomachs I have examined 
have almost invariably contained vegetable matter much in excess 
of any other food material. 

Flying Termites and swarming caterpillars are similarly taken 
by both the common species of Crows, and no doubt the Jungle 
Crow also destroys locusts, though we have no definite records of 
its doing so. Grasshoppers are taken to some extent and therefore 
we may assume that locusts are taken also. 

Damage to crops is similar to that caused by the House Crow ; 
linseed has, however, not been found in a single case. 



32 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

The Harial is stated from the Punjab to keep loopers- Tarache 
notabilis in check. This cannot refer to the Green Pigeon nor to 
the Common Indian Bee-eater both of which are locally known as 
Harrial, the former being purely frugivorous, the latter purely 
insectivorous and obtaining all its food on the wing and certainly 
not eating caterpillars. I believe this reference is to this Crow. 

The Jungle Crow destroys and eats a large number of wild 
birds' eggs during the breeding season. A. S. B., LXIX, 104. 

"The cultivators in certain parts " Faridpore, etc., ' 'put bam- 
boo poles here and there in the fields so that 'Saliks', Crows, etc., 
may sit on them and eat the grasshoppers." (Hieroglyphus banian) 
Kept. Ent. Collr., Dacca, 14-9-09. 

5. Corvus frugilegus. Rook. Worms, snails, and grubs in 
meadows and ploughed land. F. I., I, 19. 

6. Corvus cornix. Hooded Crow. In addition to eating the 
usual food of its ally, it is said to feed on grain. F. I., I, 20. 

7. Corvus splendens. Indian House Crow. 

2-2-07. Grass roots, a few oat blades, much unidentified vegetable matter. 

10-2-07. Flower of Bombax malabaricum. 

12-2-07. Flower of Bomhax malabaricum. 

2 Wheat grains. 
1 Small pebble. 

1-3-08. 12 Opatrum sp. 

5 Oats. 

6 Vegetable matter. 
14-3-08. 201 Oat grains. 
18-3-08. 173 Oat grains. 
18-3-08. 96 Oat grains. 
21-3-08. 66 Oat grains. 

12 Wheat grains. 
21-3-08. 94 Oat grains. 

3 Peas. 

12-4-08. Kitchen scraps including remains of fish, potato and u;i.e .- 

portions of shell of hen's egg. i_ 

14_4_08. 1 Small Centipede. 

3 Wheat grains. 

2 Linseed grains. 

Some grass and bits of roots and leaves. 
14-4-08. 8 Small worms. 

3 Schizodactylus monstrosus. 
2 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

1 Oryllotalpa africana. 

1 Legs of an ant (Camponotus compressus). 



MASON AND LEFROY. 



33 



Corvus splendens : (contd.) 



21-5-08. 



10-6-08. 



22-6-08. 
22-6-08. 
30-6-09. 



30-6-09. 



30-6-09. 
30-6-09. 



30-6-09. 
30-6-09. 



30-6-09. 



2-7-08. 

23-7-08. 
26-7-08. 
4-8-08. 
10-8-08. 
3-10-08. 



9-10-08. 



10-10-08. 



10-10-08. 



6 Opatrum sp. 

2 Mesomorpha villiger. 

1 Gymnopleurus miliaris. 

Some vegetable matter. 
1 Lizard. 

Some pieces of melon or pumpkin. 

Leaves and shoots. 

Potato peelings, 5 or 6 oats from stables and general kitchen 
refuse. 

1 Small frog. 

2 Centipedes. 

A few roots and leaves. 
33 Termites. 
42 Termites and some vegetable matter. 

2 Ophiusa melicerte larvae. 
26 Maize grains. 

Ficus fruit. 

9 Ophiusa melicerte. larvae. 
41 Maize grains. 

Vegetable matter. 
2 Bits of bone. 

22 Ophiusa melicerte larvae. 

1 Ophiusa melicerte larvae. 
13 Maize grains. 

Ficus fruit. 
Ficus fruit. 

2 Ophiusa melicerte larvae. 
9 Maize grains. 

Vegetable refuse, &e. 

1 Catharsius sabceus. 

23 Maize grains. 
Ficus Fruit. 

Mostly wild fig fruits (picked up from ground). 
Rice and scraps of pumpkin thrown away in the field by coolies. 
19 Maize grains. 
7 Maize grains. 
33 Maize grains. 
7 Catharsius sabceus. 

24 Onthophagus spinifer. 

2 Onitis distinctus. 

1 Gymnopleurus miliaris. 
75 Panicum sp. seeds. 

2 Frogs. 

Kitchen scraps and vegetable matter. 

1 Oniticellus pallipes (Coprid). 

2 Coprid sp. 
2 Coprid sp. 

10 Oat grains. r J 

12 Maize grains. 

6 Wheat grains. 

4 or 5 Ficus fruits. 



34 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Corvus splendens : contd. 

10-10-09. 5 Camponotua compressus. 

3 Opatrum sp. 
1 Catharsius sabceus. 
30 Maize grains. 

Some vegetable matter. 
19-10-07. 25 Maize grains. 

Remains of perhaps 30 Rhynchophora, Astycus sp. and Myllocerus 

sp. ? ? 

20-10-08. 21 Oat grains germinated (these had been pulled up in the field. 
Each grain well-rooted) and a considerable number of corn 

blades. 

20-10-08. 12 Wheat grains. 

20-10-08. Gizzard empty. A few young oat blades in alimentary canal. 

20-10-07. Grass leaves (or oats, wheat, &c.) and roots. 

Some Ficus fruit. 
1 Small frog. 
3 Oat grains germinated. 
11-11-07. 2 Millipedes. 

1 Frog. 

20 Panicum sp. seeds and other weed seeds. 
9-12-08. Remains of several young oat plants. 

19-12-07. 6 Cutworms (Agrotia sp.). 

1 Elaterid grub. 
1 Carabid sp. 
Several bits of root and weeds. 

Summary. Of 226 insects taken by 42 birds, 1 is beneficial, 
153 injurious and 72 neutral. Ten birds took injurious insects, 8 
neutral and one beneficial. One contained insects only. 

All except one bird contained vegetable matter ; oats were 
taken by 13, wheat by 6, maize by 11, linseed by 1, peas by 1, Bom- 
bax flower by 2, and Ficus fruit by 6. 

Four birds took frogs, 3 centipedes, 1 a lizard and 1 worms. 

The Indian House Crow is one of the commonest and most 
familiar of Indian Birds, haunting especially the neighbourhood 
of towns and villages. Crows are omnivorous and certainly nothing 
seems to come amiss to the Indian House Crow. In towns these 
birds, with kites and dogs, act as useful scavengers, taking all 
manner of rubbish and offal, and may always be found round 
kitchens cleaning up scraps and stealing everything they can. They 
feed largely on carrion and any dead animal, jackal, dog, rat, &c., ' 'on 
the corpse of some dead Hindoo or on that ol a dead bullock" 
(Jerd. B. I., II, 299). They are proverbially mischievous and steal 



MASON AND LEFROY. 35 

anything they can, especially bright objects. They will also rob 
food of all descriptions from the kitchen, meat, bread, flour, &c., 
even taking dog's food, and often another crow's. " Crows steal 
food of animals in public garden, Trevandrum, no matter whether 
fish, flesh or fruit, all the same to this insatiable robber." (B. N. 
H. S. J., XV, 225). 

Crows eat a great variety of fruits : Banyan, pipal, and Ficus 
of all kinds. " They are always the first to attack a ripening mul- 
berry or cherry tree." (Dewar. I. C., 17). They are very fond of 
wild mulberries and eat large quantities of this fruit both picking 
them from the tree or when fallen. They are particularly fond of 
the large red flowers of the silk cotton tree (Bombax malabaricum) 
and I have several times seen crows eating the fruit of Cephalandra 
indica (a wild cucurbitaceous plant). At Panimangalore in Madras 
I noticed crows attacking jack fruit. This is unusual. Crows do 
no harm to orchards. 

Crows are said to be particularly fond of the young and eggs 
of other birds. ' Sparrows are the favourites ' (Dewar, I. C., 16), 
more than other birds, but this I believe due to the fact that such 
birds are commoner than other birds in towns and localities fre- 
quented by crows and are therefore more readily obtained. ' They 
also take Bulbuls ' (Dewar, I. C., 17). Crows rifle a nest of Nuci- 
fraga hemispila (B. N. H. S. J., XVII, 817) and no doubt do the 
same to any nest when they get the chance. I have seen a nest of 
Crateropus canorus robbed of its eggs. 

A great variety of seeds is eaten by crows and at times they 
do a great deal of damage to crops. As soon as a crop such as wheat 
or oats begins to ripen the crow breaks down a plant or pulls the head 
to the ground, if he cannot get at the seed, and then extracts the 
grain. In the case of maize, sorghum, &c., the crows perch on the 
plant and pick out the grain. If the crop is stocked before being 
carried, crows are then more obvious on the crop than at any other 
time : they sit on the stooks and feed entirely on the grain, just as 
the rook, C. frugilegus, does in England, &c. Crows damage maize 



36 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDli. 

and oats more than other crops, but they will also eat wheat, bar- 
ley, linseed, juar, and no doubt all cereal crops suffer to some ex. 
tent, and perhaps pulses. The greatest amount of damage is done 
however soon after planting, when the crow will dig or pull up oats 
and wheat, as a rule just as the seeds are germinating ; and again 
when young cereals are coming above ground, crows pull up and eat 
the young plants. They do not, as a general rule, pull up the plants 
to get at insects damaging those plants. If they did, they would 
scarcely be likely to eat the plants, on not finding insects. Insects 
are no doubt taken if found under these circumstances. A consi- 
derable amount of grain eaten by crows is picked up in farmyards, 
and from among cattle food round stables. Some also is undoubted- 
ly taken from cattle dung, together with dung beetles (Scarabceidce) 
of various kinds. A considerable number of wild grass and other 
weed seeds are taken, and also leaves and weeds including fumitory 
(Fumaria parviflora). Crows seem to delight at times in pulling 
up garden plants, sweet peas, &c., and it is said, in picking flowers. 
' It is needless to say that they scrape up and eat newly 
sown seeds." (Dewar, B. P.). Crows rob chillies spread on the 
house roofs to dry. (B. N. H. S. J., XIII, 622). I have seen this 
on several occasions, but do not know whether the crow eats them, 
or simply takes them because of their bright colour. 

With regard to their insect food, crows do not seem to have 
such a varied diet as one would expect. Being omnivorous, they 
can always obtain food in abundance anywhere, and therefore it is 
hardly to be wondered at that they do not feed much on insects as 
a general rule. If a flight of winged Termites takes place, as a rule, 
but by no means always, crows will be there catching the insects 
on the wing, together with numerous other birds, King crows, Kites, 
Rollers, Bee-eaters, Doves, &c., and as Jerdon remarks " mayhap 
bats" (Jerd. B. I., II, 299). Swarms of locusts are nearly always 
accompanied by crows as well as the Rosy Pastor, and they destroy 
large numbers of these insects. And again, we have several records 
where crows have destroyed large numbers of swarming caterpillars 
(C. P. &E. B. & A.). 



MASON AND LEFROY. 37 

During an attack of the Castor Semi-looper (Ophiusa melicerte) 
on Castor, 1909, these Crows fed to a certain extent on these cater- 
pillars, but they were not present in large numbers and by no means 
attacked the caterpillars so much as one would have expected. 
Comparatively few birds were among the Castor and most were 
feeding as usual in the fields and trees, some examined at the time 
proving to have fed largely on Ficus, various insects, &c. The 
stomach contents of the birds shot on this occasion are among the 
records for 30-6-09. 

Other than these instances we have few in which it can be said 
that crows are as beneficial as they could be. In fact they are not 
generally b3neficial at all. If they eat injurious insects, it is only at 
a time when these are in great numbers, a time when the damage 
caused by these insects has been done and when the destruction of 
thousands of these insects hardly makes any appreciable difference 
in their numbers. I consider an attack on insects by birds under 
these conditions as to all intents and purposes valueless : it can be 
of very small value in comparison with the good done by some bird 
which feeds habitually on injurious insects throughout the year and 
which, therefore, is always checking undue proportion of that insect's 
numbers. However actual and not comparative economic import- 
ance is the point in question here. A crow only helps to lessen to a 
small extent the undue proportion of any one species of insect, 
when he notices they are in swarms and feels inclined to eat or 
worry them. 

Crows have been said to feed on grubs (Hypera variabilis) on 
Senji. They will feed on silkworm moths (Attacus ricini) while 
alive, after being thrown away from the silk house. I once, at Pusa, 
took numbers of silkworm eggs from some crows, but these were 
almost certainly eaten together with the moths, the eggs not having 
been laid. Mr. Finn remarks " though most which are at all 
insectivorous with which I experimented, captive or wild, showed 
more or less desire for butterflies, some would not eat them at all 
crows (C. splendens) for instance." (A. S. B., LXVI, 667). The pre- 
sence of the larvae of Laspeyresia jaculatrix, a Tortricid moth, was 



38 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

observed on a sissoo tree (Dalbergia sissoo) on account of the crows 
there feeding upon them. (H. M. Lefroy, 1906-09). After land 
has baen irrigated crows sometimes come in order to capture the 
insects that have been flooded out. These insects mainly consist 
of crickets (Brachytrypes achatinus and Gryllotalpa africana) and the 
Locustid [Schizodactylus monstrosus], and in addition cutworms and 
ants. Worms, too, are probably taken to some extent. Irrigated 
and flooded lands are also visited for crabs, frogs, and fish as well 
as for insects. " Crows may be seen on the coast squabbling with 
seagulls over fish thrown away by the fisherfolk" (Dewar, I. C., 
21), and also on the sea shore they hunt for crabs, Crustacea ard 
small invertebrates. (Dewar, I. C., 22-23). They will, too, at times 
follow a plough picking up beetles, cutworms, Elaterid grubs, milli- 
pades, and centipedes ; but this is not a favourite method of obtain- 
ing food. More often than not the plough is rot followed by ary 
crows, and even if there are crows about they sometimes are there 
simply waiting for scraps thrown away by coolies working in the 
field. Out of 21 visits to a field when bsing ploughed in order to 
obta ; n birds when so feeding, on seven occasions only were these 
birds seen on the land. This is, however, rather below the average. 
On pasture lands crows do little if any good. They are then usually 
feeding on grass, roots and leaves, &c., and pickirg out grain and 
beetles from cattle dung. From their actions when atterdirg cattle, 
buffaloes, or animals of any sort in the field, we may almost cer- 
tainly conclude that they are feeding on ticks ard flies which are on 
these animals. I have so far however, rot obtained either of these 
from the stomachs of birds seen feeding under these conditions. 
(Jerd. B. I., II, 299) states definitely that they do so. "Crows 
will eat ticks that infest the skins of cattle/' (Dewar, I. C., 18). 

Crows may frequently be seen looking into pots on toddy palms 
but whether they take the insects that collect round the pots, or 
the toddy itself I do not know. They certainly do not seem to be 
so overcome by the toddy (if they take it) as Loriculus is said to be. 

Crows are decidedly inquisitive birds. They take delight in 
worrying other birds and animals for no apparent reason whatever, 



MASON AND LEFROY. 39 

A very common habit which can often be noticed in India is the 
love they, with other birds, have of mobbing snakes. King-crows 
and mynahs usually join the crows in this, and should a snake cross 
a lawn or open space in the day time one can usually tell what is 
the matter by the noise that these birds make in concert. 

Crows may often be noticed worrying kites, though the kite 
takes very little notice of such attentions. An instance is recorded 
in the Bombay N. H. S. Journal how on a Green Pigeon shoot crows 
followed the pigeons and so showed on what trees the pigeons had 
settled. 

Pitta brachyura (933) is often mobbed by crows. B. N. H. S. J., 
XVI, 491, and Jerd. (B. 3, 138) mentions the fact that a Scops 
giu found dead was probably killed by crows. I have seen crows 
pursuing and mobbing Strix flammea, which I once disturbed from 
a pipal tree at midday. The owl soon escaped. Crows will in fact 
mob any bird that happens to pass by, when they have nothing 
else to do. 

Of crows Mr. W. L. Sclater (I. M. N., Vol. II, pp. 117-121) 
says : "With regard to those of mixed diet. . . .it would certainly 
be inadvisable to protect them, since they may do much greater 
harm in devouring fruit and grain than they do good in destroying 
insects, such is specially the case with crows and starlings." 

From a glance at the stomach records one would feel that with 
regard to their insect food these crows are certainly beneficial, but 
it must be remembered that some considerable damage is done to 
grain, possibly considerably more than the injurious insects would 
have done. Crows cannot be definitely classed as beneficial, and 
require if anything to have their numbers kept within certain limits 
as is the case with C. frugilegus in England. Local conditions are 
the only ones that can determine this, and certainly nothing can 
possibly be said by way of recommendation either way, generally 
speaking for India, with a bird that has such varied food materials. 

The Koel (Eudynamis honorata) deposits its eggs in the rests 
of this species, and though it apparently does not turn out the cro\\s 
from the nest possibly keeps a small check on the crow's numbers. 



40 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

I have, however, never seen young crows and young koels being 
fed together after leaving the nest, which would certainly have been 
the case had the two species of birds been reared up in the same 
family. 

8. C. insolens. Burmese House-crow. The usual pest. B. N. 
H. S. J., XVII, 184. 

Pica. Very omnivorous. (Jerd. B. I., II, 305). 

Magpies rob and kill a bulbul. (B. N. H. S. J., XIII, 184). 

Magpies eat eggs of Amaurornis phcenicurus. (B. N. H. S. J., 
XIV, 776). Magpies suck eggs ; Magpies (and Jays) feed largely 
on the ground and eat slugs, snails, worms, insects, nuts, acorns, 
grain, seeds of Conifers and other fruits. 

Urocissa. Chiefly on large insects. (F. L, I, 26). 

12. U. occipitalis. Eed-billed Blue Magpie. It will eat raw 
meat, young or small birds, insects, and indeed almost any kind of 
food. (Jerd. B. L, II, 310). 

13. U. ftavirostris. Yellow-billed Blue Magpie. Chiefly on 
large insects, grasshoppers, locusts, &c. (Jerd. B. I., II, 311). 

14. Cissa chinensis. Green Magpie. Grasshoppers, locusts, 
mantids, &c., off leaves and branches. . . . Also small birds. Highly 
ca,rnivorous. (Jerd. B. I., II, 312). 

Birds. (A. S. B., XXXIX, II, 109). 

Dendrocittince. Fruit and insects, and occasionally even cap- 
ture young and sickly birds. (Jerd. B. L, II, 313). 

16. Dendrocitta rufa. Indian Tree Pie. At times it feeds 
almost exclusively on fruit, at other times on insects, grasshoppers, 
locusts, mantides, and caterpillars. Mr. Smith says, he had known 
this bird enter a verandah of a house, nip off half a dozen young 
geraniums, visit a cage of small birds, begin by stealing the grain, 
and end by killing and eating the birds. Mr. Buckland informs me 
that he has known it enter a verandah and catch bats. (Jerd., 
B. L, II, 314). 



MASON AND LEFROY. 



41 



Spends most of its time in picking insects off the leaves and 
branches of trees. When fruit is in season, if feeds largely on that 
and frequently descends to the ground to feed and drink. (Dewar, 
B. P., 71). ' Dendrocitta rufa is very plentiful here' (Cawnpore) 
as are also fruit trees, and I have never seen one feed on anything 
but fruit/ (B. N. H. S. J, XVI, 503). 

Stomachs examined : 

12-1-08. Entirely on Ficus fruit. 

13-2-08. 2 Small caterpillars. 

Much Ficus fruit remains. 
26-2-09 2 Myllocerus ? discolor. 

Ficus fruit. 

8-3-09. 7 Myllocerus discolor (heads, elytra). 

3 Noctuid ? moths heads. 

Other remains probably parts of the 3 moths or of others. 
12-3-09. 2 Mutilla 6 maculate. 

3 Opatrum depressum ? 

Ficus fruit. 

26-3-08. 20 Small broken Geometrid caterpillars. 
Much vegetable matter : Ficus fruit. 
20-4-09. 1 Sphex lobatus. 

2 Cremastogaster subnuda. 
Ficus fruit. 

Remains of a small bird (Phylloscopu-s f). 
19-6-08. 3 Polistes hebrceus. 

1 Rhynchium (2 wings). 
Parts of an Hemipteron. 

1 Spi'der (leg only). 

3 Fleshy fruits with hard stones. 
19-7-08. 1 Myllocerus sp. 

2 Small Geometrid caterpillars. 
6 Ficus fruits. 

23-7-08. 2 Polistes hebrceus. 

1 Vespa orientalis. 
1 Hemipteron. Scutellum. 

Leg and broken thorax of large Carabid. 
About eight banian fruits. 
21-8-08. 2 Polistes hebrceus. 

3 Myllocerus maculosua. 

1 Spider (legs). 
Ficus fruit. 

9-10-08. 3 Polistes hebrceus. 

2 Myllocerus discolor. 

2 (Remains of) other weevils. 

Other remains unidentifiable. 
12-10-08. 1 Myllocerus maculosus. 

16 Flat leguminous seeds. 
' 2 Other seeds. 
- . / N. 61 Small brown seeds, No. 5. - ~. ^ 



42 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Summary. Of 68 insects from 13 birds, 13 are beneficial, 48 
injurious and 7 neutral ; 9 took injurious insects, 5 beneficial and 
4 neutral. 

Two birds took spiders and one a small bird. Of 11 birds that 
took vegetable matter, 9 took Ficus fruit. 

The Indian Tree-pie is a very common bird, usually occurring in 
pairs or small parties of 6 or 7 birds. It is found everywhere 
where there is plenty of shelter, and is, especially fond of Ficus 
trees. Most of the food is obtained on the ground, and on trees 
and bushes, and a very small proportion on the wing and that 
only when flying Termites emerge. 

This bird is to a very large extent a vegetable feeder, though it 
does not apparently damage crops or planted seeds. It takes a 
variety of weed seeds and fruits of all kinds including all the com- 
mon species of Ficus, Ber fruit (Zizyphus jujuba), Mulberries, 
Sissoo seeds, &c. Of cultivated fruits when they are in season 
it takes peaches, loquats, planta'ns, &c., and besides eating the 
fruit on the trees it will often knock off a considerable amount more. 
Not only does it thus damage the fruit, but it also breaks off small 
branches (which often contain fruit buds) of brittle wooded varieties 
of trees when it alights on them, and is therefore not to be desired 
in a carefully kept orchard. Leaves and buds of various sorts are 
also eaten, but apparently only of wild plants. 

The Tree-pie's insect food is very varied, but undoubtedly 
some preference is shown to caterpillars, principally Geometrids 
and some other smooth varieties I have never -known it touch 
a hairy one to beetles which are mostly Tenebrionids and to a 
less extent to the common wasp [Polistes hebrceus]. I once had two 
Sphingid larvaa (Theretr^ oldenlindice) in a tin on my window 
ledge, and while reading I heard a slight noise and saw one 
of these birds fly off with the second of these larvse, the first having 
been taken without my noticing it. It does not as a general 
rule take crickets ; I have continually watched Tree-pies feeding 
in the same place as Brahminy Kites, the latter feeding entirely 
on the crickets (Brachytrypes achatinus) and have only once seep 



MASON AND LEFBOY. 43 

the Tree-pie take one of the crickets. At Pusa this bird was 
somewhat of a nuisance round the silk-worm rearing house, as it 
stole a good many of the caterpillars (Attacus ricini) being reared 
there in 1907. 

A favourite hunting ground with this bird is bungalow veran- 
dahs. It is by no means a shy bird, perhaps being one of the boldest 
birds that we have, and will even enter a room in search of food. 
In Southern India, however, it is said to be not quite so bold. "It 
frequents gardens, but I have never known it enter a verandah." 
B. N. H. S. J.. XV, 256. I once saw a Tree-pie take a lizard from a 
window in the following manner. He saw the lizard from outside, 
and when after one or two attempts he found he could not get at 
] t through the glass, he flew down, entered the room through the 
door, and after capturing the lizard took it outside and ate it. 
That Tree-pie had been in the bungalow before, and so apparently 
knew his way about well. Lizards are very often taken from the 
outsides of window panes and in verandahs, but I have never no- 
ticed any lizards other than the common Indian house lizard 
(Hemidactylus gleadovii) to be taken. 

Tree-pies are particularly fond of lizards, and it is for this reason 
more than anything else that they enter verandahs so boldly. 

'" Particularly fond of lizards." B. N. H. S. J., XIII, 622. 
I have seen the following insects taken in verandahs : 

Foliates hebrceus. Spodoptera mauritia. 

Ophideres fullonica. Prodenia littoralis. 

Ophideres materna. Ancylolomia chrysographella. 

Plecoptera reftexa. Plusia sp. 

Caradrina exigua. Opatrum spp. 

Sand flies Phlebotomus spp ? are also said to be taken, but 
I have not observed this. Spiders are also taken in verandahs as 
elsewhere. It will be seen that many of the insects taken in veiar- 
dahs belong to injurious groups, but all the good done by the des- 
truction of these injurious insects is more than counterbalanced 
by the harm done in destruction of spiders and lizards. 

This diet is supplemented by insects of various other kinds, 
and occasionally by snails, centipedes, small frogs and birds. 



44 THE POOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Daring the nesting season the Tree-pie is said to rob other birds' 
nests, being very fond of nestlings and eggs. B. N. H. S. J., XIV, 
164. Orthotomus sutorius, B. N. H. S. J., XIII, 622. Young 
Thamnobia cambaiensis, B. N. H. S. J., XVI, 503, and is also said 
to persecute Zosterops palpebrosa at the breeding season, B. N. H. 
S. J., XIII, 623. It takes doves' eggs. Dewar B. P., 69. I have 
seen it eating a young Arachnechthra asiatica, but do not know if the 
Tree-pie had killed it. 

The young are fed almost entirely on caterpillars, fruit perhaps 
forming some proportion of their diet. 

My records of 12 stomachs of this species examined in 1907, 
together with a number of stomachs (bottled) have been mislaid. 
I noted in a report at the end of that year as follows : " It is to 
a large extent a vegetable feeder, taking amongst other fruits those 
of the ber (Zizyphus jujuba), pipal and various other species 
of Ficus and apparently a large proportion of its diet consists 
of weed seeds. It sometimes feeds on the ground, but never feeds 
on young plants or crops, or on planted seeds : leaves of variors 
kinds are eaten though to a minor extent. Insects and spideis 
are eaten though to a less extent than vegetable matter, several 
stomachs examine..! containing neither. As a rule, several insects 
occur, these h^irg small crickets, ants of various la-ge ope<'ie.< (i.'am- 
ponotus, Myrmecocystus, &c.) and beetles, mostly Tenebriomd*. 
Caterpillars form a large portion of the insect-food, these being 
mostly G-eometrids, none are hairy, and the scutella of various small 
Hemiptera are almost always present. I noted two birds to have 
taken spiders, one spider in each. bird : a Chrysis sp. occurred once. 
This bird occasionally takes small snails. It frequently hawks in 
Bungalow verandahs, taking lizards and moths and occasiorally 
beetles." 

17. D. leucogastm. Southern Tree-pie. Fruit only. Jerd. 
B. I., II, 318. 

18. D. himalayensis. Himalayan Tree-pie. Feeds on trees 
on insects and fruit. I have, however, seen it on the ground eating 
grain. Jerd r B. I., II, 316. 



MASON AND LEtfROY. 45 

19. D. frontalis. Black-browed Tree-pie. Fruit and insects 
of various kinds. Jerd. B. I., II, 317. 

Crypsirhina. Search leaves for insects. They also feed on 
fruit. F. I., I, 34. 

Platysmurus. Insects and occasionally fruit, probably among 
trees. F. I., I, 36. 

GARKULIN^E. 

Feed on various kinds of insects and fruit, occasionally robbing 
other birds' nests of their young and eggs. Jerd. B. I., II, 306. 

All kinds of animal and vegetable food. F. I., I, 37. 

Garrulus. More frugivorous than most oi the Corvidce, but they 
will eat also insects, worms, eggs and even small birds. Jerd. B. I., 
II, 307. 

Nucifraga. Chiefly on seeds and nuts, but also on insects and 
small birds. Jerd. B. I., II, 303. Seeds of Pine and cedar ; they 
also eat seeds and fruits and also insects. F. I., I, 40. 

27. Nucifraga hemispila. Himalayan Nutcracker. (14 nuts, 
a kind of bastard hazel). B. N. H. S. J., XVII, 229. Seeds of 
Pinus excelsn, walnuts when in season, grubs, larvae of beetles, 
and other boring insects. B. N. H. S. J., XIV, 819. 

Graculus. Much the same substances as the rook. F. I., I, 
42. 

30. Pyrrhocorax alpinus. Yellow-billed Chough. Various 
fruits, especially the mulberry. Jerd. B. I., II, 319. 

PARING. 

TITS. 

Strictly arboreal, omnivorous, feed equally on seeds, fruits and 
insects and they pierce hard seeds and nuts with their strong coni- 
cal bill, holding it with their feet and thus extract the kernel. Jerd. 
B. I., II, 271. 

Tits live chiefly on insects, but they also eat seeds and in the 
hard weather no sort of food comes amiss to them. F. I., I, 45. 



46 



THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 



The food consists mainly of insects, their eggs, larvae and pupse, 
but at times of Conifer seeds, acorns, beech-mast, nuts and the like; 
while in winter a suspended meat bone, fat, or crumbs prove great 
attractions. No doubt a certain amount of fruit is eaten in summer 
and buds are plucked in spring, but the latter commonly contain 
injurious grubs. E. B. C. N. S., 540. The commoner species are 
very partial to coconut at all times of the year if given to them. 

31. l*arus atriceps. Indian Grey Tit. 

Various insects and seeds. Jerd. B. I., II, 278. 

Stomachs examined : 

2-2-09. 15 Weevils (much broken). 

2-2-09. 2 Myllocerus discolor. 

18 Small Coleoptera. 

1 Bud and some vegetable matter. 
10-2-08. 3 Myllocerus sp. 

2 Drasterius sp. 

5 Small Elaterids. 
15-2-07. 4 Small Weevils. 

5 Tineid caterpillars. 
1 Hemipteron (scutellum.) 
13 Pentatomid eggs : (Coptosoma sp. ?). 
8-3-09. 1 Weevil. 

Some broken buds. 
20-5-08. 1 Tanymecus sp. 

3 Small weevils. 

3 Small caterpillars. 
10-6-08. 5 Small weevils. 

1 Flea-beetle (Halticince). 

3 Buds and some other vegetable matter. 

1 Piece of bark. 
19_7_08. 5 Small weevils (Cryptorhynchinoe). 

1 Camponotus compressus. 

1 Polyrachis simplex. 
103 Pentatomid eggs. 
20-7-08. 1 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

12 Tanymecus sp. arid other weevils. 

1 Small Elaterid. 

1 Bud. 
31-10-08. 2 Balaninus sp. 

8 Myllocerus sp. and other weevils. 

2 Small caterpillars. 

1 Hemipteron (scutellum.) 

Summary. Of 219 insects taken by 10 birds, are beneficial, 
i 1-8 are neutral and 71 injurious. Seven took neutral and 10 
:ii ur'.ous insects. Three birds took vegetable matter. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 47 

Field Notes. The common tit of the plains ; breeds in holes in 
trees but those in walls, &c., seem to be preferred. The young are 
fed chiefly on small caterpillars (probably Geometrids) on spiders, 
and on young crickets, such as Brachytrypes achatinus and on 
mole crickets (Gryllotalpa africana). 

In most of the stomachs containing vegetable matter this form 
of food was probably derived from the contents of the caterpillars, 
which usually occur in the bird. 

34. Parus monticola. Green-backed Tit. Insects and larvae 
Jerd. B. I., II, 277. 

35. Mgithaliscus erythrocepkalus. Red-headed Tit. Chiefly 
insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 271. 

40. Sylviparus modestus. Yellow-browed Tit. Chiefly on 
minute insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 267. 

43. Machlolophus haplonotus. -Southern Yellow Tit. Fruit 
and insects, like other Ampelidce. Bombay Gazette, Ahmedabad. 
IV, 81. 

PARADOXORNITHIN^E. 

Their food is not grain and seed, but insects. F. I., I, 60. 

50. Conostoma cemodium. Red-billed Crow-Tit. Chiefly in- 
sects in summer, in winter doubtless some vegetable food. Jerd, 
B. I., II, 11. 

51. Paradoxornis flavirostris. Yellow-billed Crow-Tit. Various 
seeds. Jerd. B. I., II, 4. 

It does not appear to be the usual habit of these birds to eat 
seeds. F. I., I, 62. 

Wild berries : entirely a fruit eater. B. N. H. S. J., VIII, 166. 
Suthora. Feeding on insects. F. I., I, 63. 

53. S. unicolor. Brown Crow-Tit. Bugs and other insects. 
Jerd. B. I., II, 7. 

55. -S. nepalensis. Ash-eared Crow-Tit. Habits of a Parus. 
Jerd. B. I., II, 9. 



48 



THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 



58. S. rufipes. Smaller Red-headed Crow-Tit, Bamboo 
seeds. Tickell found it feeding on grain, maize, rice and buck- 
wheat. Jerd. B. I., II, 6. 

59. S. atrisuperciliaris. Black-browed Crow-Tit. Grass- 
hoppers and small beetles. B. N. H. S. J., VIII, 169. 

60. Scceorhynchus ruficeps. Larger Red-headed Crow-Tit. 
Mostly insectivorous : rice, grain and berries. B. N. H. S. J., 
VIII, 170. 

61. S. gularis ( = ? Megalaima caniceps). ''Those I have 
killed had the bristles about their bills covered with gummy matter, 
evidently from some fruit." A. S. B., XL (II), 209. 

Speaking of the food habits of the Corvidce as a class is a very 
different matter in comparison with those of all other families of 
the Passerine group. In nearly all other Passerine groups we find 
that there is a general similarity of feeding habits amongst the va- 
rious species and genera of one family, but in the case of the Corvi- 
dae generic, and in some cases specific distinction, is essential. 

Corvince. The genus Corvus contains 

1. Ravens. Mostly carnivorous but with the general 
habits of the crows. Such individuals as attack lambs, 
Ravens are said to do this at times can easily be des- 
troyed. They occur in North-West India. 

2. The Carrion-crow is comparatively rare, but is 
in other countries generally considered as in- 
jurious owing to the fact that it destroys a 
considerable number of the eggs of other birds, 
notably of game. The Rook, Crows and the Jackdaw 
are in all probability beneficial provided that they are 
kept within certain number limits. They are more 
omnivorous than other members of the genus, the 
Crows, which are the only species of importance in the 
plains, practically eating every thing ; in fact they are 
the most truly omnivorous birds there are. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 49 

The Magpies are almost, though not quite, as omnivorous 
as Crows. They are all hill species and of little 
importance. 

The only Tree-pie (Dendrocitta) of importance is D. rufa. 
The habits have already been discussed, and it is appar- 
ently beneficial, though it may at times do some damage 
in orchards, and we must regard other species in the 
same light, though they are uncommon and entirely 
confined to the hills. They are mostly insectivorous 
and frugivorous. 

The Nutcrackers (Nucifraga) are entirely hill birds, and when 
common may damage nuts, though much damage attri- 
buted to these birds is probably done by squirrels. 
They are said to eat boring beetle grubs, and if so this 
more than counterbalances any damage they may pos- 
sibly do to nuts, which are mostly wild species, hard- 
shelled and of little real value. 

Parince. Tits, though fairly numerous in species, are 
noticeably absent from the plains where we have only one 
common species, P. atriceps. All the other species are practically 
confined to the hills. Tits in India as elsewhere are probably 
beneficial. 

Paradoxornithince. Crow-Tits have the habits of Tits and are 
confined to the hills. 

CKATEROPODID^E. 

The Crateropodidce are subdivided into the following sub- 
families : Crateropodina, Timeliince, Brachypterygince, Sibiince, 
LiotrichinoB and Brachypodince. 

Of the TimeliincB, Evans says " Many species scratch up the soil 
or dead leaves in search of insect** and other larvae which, with seeds, 
constitute the chief food : fruit however or even small reptiles, 
crabs, worms, molluscs, are occasionally eaten/' E. B. C. N. H., 
503. He includes however several genera placed elsewhere in the 
Fauna of India, such as Suthora, &c. 

4 



50 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

The Crateropodince comprise Laughing Thrushes, Babblers and 
Scimitar Babblers. 

"All feed on the ground like Thrushes. They pass a good deal 
of their time on trees, but they probably derive no portion of then 
food directly from trees, the fruit they occasionally eat being 
picked off the ground as they forage for insects." F. I., I, 72. 

Dryonastes. They eat almost every sort of insect and the 
smaller reptiles, and they no doubt partake of fruit also. 

62. D. ruficollis. Insects and seeds. ...Hamilton "Insects, 
plantains, &c." Jerd. B. L, II, 38. 

Ganulacince. Laughing Thrushes. Chiefly on the ground. 

Eat insects, berries, and caterpillars Grain, larvae of insects in 

the dung of cattle... On the whole they are more insectivorous 
than frugivorous or graminivorous, yet they are more capable 
of a graminivorous diet than the true thrushes. Often kept in 
Nepal in walled gardens, when they are very useful, destroying 
Iarv88 and insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 34. 

64. Garrulax chinensis. Black-throated Laughing-Thrush. 
In captivity on raw meat, bees, wasps and large beetles, and small 
snakes. Jerd. B. L, II, 34. 

69. Garrulax leucolophus. Himalayan White-crested Laugh- 
ing-Thrush. Turn over dead leaves for insects, but also eat various 
berries. Jerd. B. L, II, 35. 

78. lanthocincla ocellata. White-spotted Laughing-Thrush. 
Various fruits and seeds. Jerd. B. L, II, 42. 

79. /. cineracea. Ashy Laughing-Thrush. Fruits and 
insects. F. L, I, 86. 

82. Trochalopterum erythrocephalum. Red-headed Laughing- 
Thrush. Snails. A. S. B., LXIX, 158. 

85. T. nigrimentum. Western Yellow-winged Laughing- 
Thrush. Insects and grain among dung of cattle. F. L, I, 92. 

86. T. melanostigma. Chestnut-headed Laughing-Thrush. 
Exclusively on insects. F. I., I, 93. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 51 

93. T. cachinnans. Nilgiri Laughing-Thrush. Chief food 
appears to be fruit, especially that of the peruviana, but they 
occasionally eat caterpillars and other insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 49. 

101. Grammatoptila striata. Striated Laughing-Thrush. Fruit 
and seeds only. A. S. B., XLV, 73. 

Fruit and insects, chiefly the latter. Jerd. B. I., II, 212. 

102. G. austeni. Austen's Striated Laughing Thrush. 
Entirely of fruits and seeds. F. I., I, 104. 

104. Argya earlii. Striated Babbler. More exclusively on 
insects than Ch. caud ta. Jerd. B. I., II, 69. 

105. A. caudata. Common Babbler. In confinement on 
grain. Jerd. B. I., II, 68. 

107. A. malcolmi. Large Grey Babbler. They feed chiefly 
on the ground especially round the trunks of large trees, near hedge- 
rows, turning over the fallen leaves with their bills and sometimes 
with their claws and picking up various insects, beetles, cockroaches, 
grasshoppers, &c., and also seeds and grain. I once saw one in vain 
attempt to catch a grasshopper on the wing. Jerd. B. I., II, 64. 

110. Crateropus canorus. Jungle Babbler. 

Stomachs examined : 

9_1_08. 23 Mesomorpha villiger. 
3 Opatrum depressum. 

Vegetable matter including grass, grass-seeds and broken ber fruit 

which was undoubtedly taken from ground. 
19-1-08. 2 Camponotus compressus. 

Vegetable matter : leaves and grass with a few seeds. 
2-2-07. 2 (Ecophytta smaragdina. 

10 Myllocerus discolor. 
3 Mesomorpha villiger. 
14 Opatrum sp. 

Weed seeds and leaves, including 1 shoot of bamboo, and a little 

Ficus. 

2-2-07. Entirely vegetable, weed seeds and leaves, partly grass. 

' 2-2-08. 1 Blattid. 

6 Camponotus compressus. 
3 Opatrum depressum. 

14_2-08. 2 Camponotus compressus. * ,; 

23 Mesomorpha villiger. 
1 Trox indicus. 

1 Myllocerus discolor. , L '' 

2 Itlandut. I . i _ / . 
1 Small caterpillar. _ . _ . , . *_ 



52 



THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 



Stomachs examined : contd. 



1 Fly. 

Some vegetable matter. 
15-2-09. 16 Opatrum sp. 

2 Myllocerus discolor. 

1 Mesomorpha villiger. 

23 Cydnus nigritus. 
9 ,, varians. 

18-2-07. 9 Opatrum depressum. 

18-2-07. 1 Camponotus compressus. 

27 Mesomorpha villiger. 
1 Scleron orientale. 

3 Opatrum sp. 

Grass seeds and leaves. 
26-2-09. 1 Blattid sp. 

1 Myllocerus discolor. 
17 Mesomorpha villiger. 
12-3-09. 5 Myllocerus discolor. 

4 Pieces of doub grass. (Cynodon dactylon). 
Fie us and other remains. 

14-3-07. 1 Camponotus compressus. 

1 1 Mesomorpha villiger. 

5 Myllocerus discolor. 

1 Cutworm, Agrotis sp. Larva. 

28-3-08. Entirely vegetable : ficus : grass leaves and some weed seeds. 

1-4-08. 1 Onthophagus sp. 

1 Hister sp. 

1 Trox indicus. 

2 Small Elaterid. 
7 Cydnus nigritus. 

3-4-08. 2 Myllocerus sp. 

20 Myllocerus discolor. 

6 Paddy grains and other vegetable matter. 
12-4-08. Entirely weed seeds and leaves : almost empty. 
14-4-07. 1 Elaterid grub. 

3 Cutworms sp. 

Some ficus fruit and other weeds and seeds and insect remains. 
14-4-07. 10 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 
5 Mesomorpha villigar. 

Some ficus and other remains. 
16-4-08. 5 Mesomorpha villiger. 

20 Tenebrionids. Opatrum sp. 
3 Myllocerus discolor ? 

3 Caterpillars, Agrotis sp. 
13-5-07. 2 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

1 Opatrum sp. 

4 Cutworms, Agrotis sp. Larvae. 
Ficus fruit. 

18-5-08. 1 Chrotogonus sp. 

2 Brachytrypes achatinu*. 

24 Camponotus compressu*. 
4 Opatrum sp. 

1 Scleron orientale. 



MASON AND LEPROY. 



seeds and other weeds and 



Stomachs examined : contd. 

5 Myllocerus blandus. 
21-6-07. 2 Gryllotalpa africana. 

6 Hydrophilides. 
1 Aphodius sp. 

Ficus fruit. 
21-6-07. Entirely vegetable, doub grass and 

leaves. 
22-6-08. 1 Gryllotalpa africana. 

1 Asiytus sp. 

1 Myllocerus discolor. 

3 maculosus. 

1 Small Coprid. 

Various elytra and vegetable matter. 

16-7-08. Absolutely empty : probably vegetable only. 

20-7-08. Vegetable including Ficus. 

1 Paddy grain. 
12-8-08. 10 Camponotus compressus. 

3 Onthophagus spinifer. 

6 Cydnus nigritut. 

1 ,, variant. 

3 Opatrum sp. 

4 Worms. 
19-8-08. 3 Small frogs. 

Ficus fruit. 
2-9-08. 1 Camponotus compressus. 

1 Small frog. 

Vegetable grass weed leaves, &c., few seeds of ficus. 
12-10-07. 4 Myllocerus sp. 

2 Astycus sp. 

3 Small frogs. 

Some vegetable matter. 
12-10-07. 1 Myllocerus discolor. 

2 Small frogs. 

Leaves and weed seeds. 
12-10-08. 1 Haltica cyanea. 

1 Coprid. 

1 Anomala viridis. 
14-11-08. 3 Myrmecocystus setipes. 

1 Phidole (malinsi sp. ?) 

1 Opatrum depressum. 

3 Myllocerus sp. 

1 (Coprid ? Legs only). 

1 Hemipteron (head). 
12-12-07. 12 Opatrum depressum ? 
12-12-07. 21 Opatrum depressum ? 
17-12-07. 3 Small Coleoptera. 

Ber buds, Ficus, weed leaves and seeds. 

Summary. Of 456 insects taken by 36 birds, are beneficial, 185 
inj irioiis, and 271 neutral. Twenty- four birds took injurious insects 
and 22 neutral. Twelve took insects only, 4 took frogs and 1 worms. 



04 THE POOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Vegetable matter forms a considerable portion of the diet, 
and this consists very largely of wild fruits. 23 birds took vegetable 
matter and of these 10 took Ficus fruit, 2 " ber/' and 2 took 
paddy grains. 

The " Seven Sisters," so called from their habit of going about 
in parties of six or seven ; I, however, have seen as many as 23 in a 
flock. Their food is, I believe, obtained entirely on the ground, and 
consists of a great variety of insects and weed seeds, with an 
occasional frog, spider, or centipede. The food is obtained in 
jungle, along roads and in compounds ; cultivated areas and crops 
hardly ever seem to be visited, and this only when there are large 
trees or jungle close by. The insect food is obtained by turning 
over leaves and rubbish. Fruits, namely, bei (Zizyphus jujuba) 
and Ficus of several species are eaten to some extent, but I believe are 
always picked up off the ground. I have been told that at times 
this bird feeds extensively on fruit buds, and does some consider- 
able damage, but have at present not been able to verify this. I 
have not examined any nestlings of this species, but from 
observations made in the field they appear to be fed principally on 
caterpillars. I have on several occasions seen geometrid larvae 
fed to the young with a certain proportion of beetles, and 
an occasional cricket or small grasshopper. 

Conclusion: Probably beneficial. 

111. Crateropus griseus. White-headed Babbler. They are 
occasionally seen seeking insects or grain from heaps of dung. . . .now 
and then one will make a clumsy flight after a grasshopper. They 
often appear to pick insects off the branches. Jerd. B. I., II, 60. 

I saw worms ? and Tenebrionid beetles, and one grasshopper 
taken by this bird in Madras and Palur. 

120. Pomatorhinus horsfieldii. Southern Scimitar Babbler. 
Entirely on insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 31. 

Insects which it picks off leaves, ground or trunks of trees. 
It uses its long bill as a probe by means of which it drags out insects 
which lurk in crevices of the bark of trees. B, N. H. S. J., XVI, 153, 



MASON AND LEFROY. 55 

16, &c. Pomatorhinus exclusively insectivorous. Jerd. B. I., 

II, 28. 

< 

TIMELIIN^E. 
BABBLERS, SHRIKES, TITS, AND SPOTTED-BABBLERS. 

They are mostly social, or even gregarious : they are a good 
deal on the ground, on which they hop vigorously, or climb with 
facility through tangled thickets and reeds, and their food is both 
insects, fruits and grain. Jerd. B. I., II, 1. 

Solitary in their habits or rather are less gregarious than the 
Crateropodinse. Some of them are said to go about in flocks, but 
this by no means a general or usual character with them : they are 
above all things skulkers frequenting the ground or underwood, 
and being seldom found many feet above ground. F. I., I, 129. 

Timelines. Babbling-Thrushes. Chiefly on ground. Their 
food is both insects, fruits and grain. Jerd., B. I., II, 1. 

136. Dumetia albigularis. Small White-throated Babbler. 
Insects almost exclusively. Jerd. B. I., II, 27. 

137. Gampsorhynchus rufulus. White-headed Shrike-Babbler. 
Grasshoppers and other insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 14. 

139. Pyctorhis sinensis. Yellow-eyed Babbler. Mostly on 
insects, often on ants and small Coleoptera. Jerd. B. I., II, 16. 

144. Pellorneum ruficeps. Spotted Babbler. Fond of thick 
jungle in which it wanders about like a lark, and turns over leaves 
in search of moths several of which I saw captured. B. N. H. S. J., 
XV, 347. Various insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 27. 

155. Gypsophila crispifrons. Limerock Babbler. Feeds prin- 
cipally on insects and land shells. F. I., I, 150. 

163. Alcippe nepalensis. Nepal Babbler. Chiefly insects. Jerd. 
B. I., II, 18. 

164. A. phceocephala.Nilgm Babbler. Chiefly insects 
Jerd. B. I,, II, 19, 



56 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

166. RhopocicJda atriceps. Black-headed Babbler. Lives on 
various insects, small Mantidse, grasshoppers and the like. Jerd. 
B. I., II, 19. 

169. Stachyris nigriceps. Black- throated Babbler. Chiefly 
insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 21. 

170. S. chryscea. Golden-headed Babbler. Minute insects 
on flowers and buds. Head often covered with pollen. Jerd. B. I., 
II, 23. 

172. Stachyrhidopsis ruficeps. Red-headed Babbler. Mi- 
nute insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 22. 

176. Mixornis rubricapillus. Yellow-breasted Babbler. In- 
sectivorous. B. N. H. S. J., X, 458. 

178. Schceniparus dubius. Hume's Tit-Babbler. Entirely 
insectivorous. F. I., I, 169. 

182. Sittiparus castaneiceps. Chestnut-headed Tit-Babbler. 
In addition to Tit-like habits they frequently climb upon the 
vertical trunks of trees, clinging to the bark or moss, and search- 
ing every cranny or crevice for insects. 

185. Rimator malacoptilus. Long-billed Babbler. Remains 
of insects in its stomach. Jerd. B. I., I, 493. 




Whistling Thrushes, Blue Chats and Short-wings. Habits 
terrestrial. 

187. Myiophoneus temmincki. Himalayan Whistling-Thrush. 
Larvae of Libellulce and some other water insects. Jerd. B. I., I, 
500. Largely on snails, the shells of which are frequently found 
accumulated on the ground where the bird has the habit of break- 
ing them. F. I., I, 179. 

189. M. horsfieldi. Malabar Whistling-Thrush. Various in- 
sects, earthworms, slugs, shells and also crabs, which I have fre- 
quently found constituting its sole food and the remains of legs, &c., 
of these Crustacea are generally found on the rocks at the edge of 



MASON AND LEFBOY. 57 

every pool of water frequented by it. Earthworms and snails in 
captivity. Jerd. B. I., I, 499. 

Larvivora : mostly ground birds ; on insects. Jerd. B. I., 
II, 145. 

190. Larvivora cyanea. Siberian Blue Chat. Insects' nests 
and larvae. Jerd. B. I., II, 146. 

191. L. brunnea. Indian Blue Chat. Insects' nests and 
arvse. Jerd. B. I., II, 146. 

197. Drymochares cruralis. White- browed Shortwing. Lar- 
vae of insects, and worms. Jerd. B. L, I, 495. 

198. D. nepalensis. Nepal Shortwing. Chiefly insects. Jerd. 
B. L, I, 494. 

Tesia. Insects and seeds. 

202. Oligura castaneicoronata. Chestnut-headed Shortwing. 
I found insects alone in its stomach. Jerd. B. I., I, 487. 

SIBIIKffl. 

Sibias, Barwings, Staphidias, Sibias, Yuhinas, White-eyes, 
Ixulus and Herpornis. 

203. Sibia picaoides. Long-tailed Sibia. Fruit and insects. 
Jerd. B. L, II, 56. F. L, I, 195. 

204. Lioptila capistrata. Black-headed Sibia. Fruit of the 
epiphytic Andromedae. . .it occasionally however picks insects from 
moss or crevices of bark. Jerd. B. I., II, 55. Fruit and insects. 
F. L, I, 197. 

205. L. gracilis. Busy after insects on the large flowering 
forest trees, Simul esp. A. S. B., XXXIX, II, 105. 

208. L. annectens. Blyth's Sibia. Almost equally of insect, 
their nests, larvae and pupae, and of seeds. Berries are frequently 
eaten. Jerd, B. L, II, 249. 




58 THE POOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

210. L. pulchella. Beautiful Sibia. Flowers of Rhododen- 
drons, for insects. Jerd. B. L, II, 201. 

Do., heads and throats being covered with pollen. A. S. B., 
XLIII, II, 164. 

211. Actinodura egertoni. Rufous Bar-wing. Fruit and 
especially on insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 53. 

213. Ixops nepalensis. Hoary Bar-wing. Insects chiefly on 
Rhododendrons. Jerd. B. I., II, 53. F. L, I, 204. 

214. /. dafl<jpnsis. Austen's Bar-wing. Often entirely on 
green aphis. Larval form of the common locust and small h?rd 
seeds. B. N. H. S. J., VIII, 202. 

Siva hunt large trees searching the leaves for insects. Jerd. 
B. L, II, 253, &c. F. L, I, 207. 

Yuhina feed on viscid stony berries and fruit and tiny insects 
that harbour in the cups of large deep flowers, such as Rhododen- 
drons. Jerd. B. I., II, 260. Feed largely on berries in addition 
to insects. F. I., I, 211. 

223. Y. gularis. Stripe- throated Yuhina. Small insects and 
larvae. In winter they feed a good deal on small berries of various 
kinds. Minute insects in Rhododendrons. Jerd. B. L, I, 261. 

224. Y. occipitalis. Slaty-headed Yuhina. Berries. Jerd. 
B. I., II, 262. 

225. Y. nigrimentum. Black-chinned Yuhina. Seeds and 
small insects. Jerd. B. L, II, 262. 

Zosterops : insects on leaves. F. I., I, 212. 

226. Zosterops palpebrosa. Indian White-eye. Minute in- 
sects that infest flowers. Black berries of Rhamnus sp. Jerd. 
B. I., II, 266. Insectivorous. B. N. H. S. J., X, 459. 

White-eyes and Flower-peckers do great damage to ripe 
mangoes and guavas. B. N. H. S. J., XI, 623. Plantains in 
captivity. B. N. H. S. J., XIII, 623, 



MASON AND LEFROY. 



59 



These birds all contained small buds and seeds only. 
them contained a little Ficus fruit. 



Three of 



Stomachs examined : 

3-3-07. 
12-3-08. 

1 25-3-08. 

18-4-07. 

17_4_09. 

23-5-08. 

31-5-07. 

5-10-08. 

21-10-07. 

ll-12-07. y 

, ! 5-2-08. 1 Weevil (legs only). ', 

2 Small larvae, possibly Tineid. 
Some buds. 
9_3_07. 1 Camponotus compressus. 

2 Tanymecus hispida. 

Some buds and vegetable matter. 
20-2-09. 1 Polyrachis simplex. 

Some weevils legs. 

Buds and vegetable matter. 
20-3-08. 1 Tanymecus indicus. 

Buds and vegetable matter. 
29-3-09. 1 Phidole malinsi? 

3 Tanymecus sp. 

Some buds and vegetable matter. 

Summary. Of 12 insects taken by 15 birds, 9 are injurious and 
3 neutral. Four birds took injurious insects, these being mostly 
weevils though ants and small caterpillars occurred, and 3 neutral. 
All contained vegetable matter : 3 Ficus fruit. 

Natives have informed me on several occasions that this bird 
damages mangoes to some extent when the fruit is nearly or quite 
ripe. 

Ixulus. Minute insects and larvae. Jerd. B. L, II, 217. 

232. /. flavicollis. Yellow-naped Ixulus. Hunts among 
leaves for insects. B. N. H. S. J., XIX, 120. Minute insects and 
larva?. 



Liothrix, Cutia, 
Sultan bird, Minlas, 
Hypocolius. 



LIOTRICHIN.E. 

Shrike-tits, loras, Chloropsis, Blue-bird, 
Warbler Tit, Fire-caps, Spotted- wings, 



60 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

235. Liothrix lutea. Red-billed Liothrix. Berries, fruit* 
seeds and insects ; apparently picks gravel off roads. Jerd. B. I., 
II, 251. Fruit and seeds as well as insects. A. S. B., LXVI, 614. 

236. Cutia nepalensis. Nepal Cutia. Fruit and insects. 
Jerd. B. L, II, 248. 

Pteruthius : insects and berries. F. I., I, 224. 

237. P. erythropterus. Red-winged Shrike-Tit. Fruit and 
soft insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 245. 

238. P. ceralatus. Tickell's Shrike-Tit. Searches moss and 
lichens, at tops of trees for insects. Jerd. B. I. A. S. B., 69, 109. 

239. P. melanotis. Chestnut-throated Shrike-Tit. Fruits 
and seeds ; others had only eaten insects. Jerd. B. L, II, 247. 

241. P. xanihodoris. Green Shrike-Tit. Fruits and seeds ; 
others had only eaten insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 247. 

243. Mgithina tiphia. Common lora. Various insects and 
larvae, spiders, &c. Jerd. B. L, II, 102. Insects found among 
leaves. F. I., I, 231. 

Stomachs examined : 

12-2-07. 1 Mesomorpha villiger. 

3 Myllocerus discolor. 

Other coleopterous elytra. 

2 Spiders. 

Remains of some buds ? 
13-3-09. 5 Myllocerus discolor. 

1 ,, hit nidus. 

3 Tanymecus hispida. 
3-4-07. 4 Camponotus compressus. 

2 Aphodiids. 

1 Hydrophilid. 
12-4-08. 3 Tanymecus hispida ? 

1 Tanymecua sp. 

2 Myllocerus sp. 

3 Scymnus nubilans. 

1 Olanis soror. 
3 Aphodiids. 

124-08. 4 Rhyssemus germanus. 

2 Aphodiids. 

$-6-07. 5 Rhyssemus germanus, 

I Opatrum sp. 



liASON AND LEFROY. 6l 

Summary. Of 55 insects taken by 6 birds. 4 are beneficial, 
18 injurious, find 33 neutral. One bird took beneficial insects, 
3 injurious and 5 neutral. Only 1 bird took vegetable matter. 

246. Myzornis pyrrhura. Fire-tailed Myzornis. Small insects. 
Jerd. B. I., II, 264. 

247. Chloropsis aurifrons. Gold-fronted Chloropsis. Insects 
principally. F. I., II, 235. Entirely insectivorous ; hunts tall 
shrubs (red-flowering) for insects of all kinds (two leguminous 
seeds which were probably taken for beetles, which were crowding 
on the plant) ; also white ants. B. N. H. S. J., VIII, 8. Insects on 
tea when flowering. B. N. H. S. J., 10. Catching insects on wing 
like Bee-eaters or Shrikes. B. N. H. S. J., XVII, 188. In captivity 
feeds principally on fruit, but it is also an insect-eater and takes 
grasshoppers greedily. B. N. H. S. J., XVII, 789. 

248. C. malabarica. Malabar Chloropsis. Fruit and insects, 
principally insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 99. 

249. C. hardwickii. Orange-bellied Chloropsis. Almost 
entirely insectivorous ; individual preference once shown to young 
oranges. In captivity plantains, insects especially grasshoppers, 
bees and wasps. B. N. H. S. J., VIII, 9. Often among cherry 
bloom. B. N. H. S. J., XVII, 789. 

252. C. jerdoni. Jerdon's Chloropsis. Fruit and insects. 
Jerd. B. I., II, 98. Bomb. Gaz., Ahmedabad, IV, 75. 

254. Irena puella. Fairy Blue-bird. Chiefly fruit of various 
kinds, but I dare say may take caterpillars occasionally. Jerd. 
B. I., II, 105. Principally fruit. F. I., I, 241. Partly of insects, 
partly of berries. B. N. H. S. J., XV, 262. 

255. Melanochlora sultanea. Sultan bird. Insects chiefly ; 
exceedingly fond of caterpillars and occasionally takes pulpy 
berries. Jerd. B. I., II, 282. Minla insects on trees. Jerd. B. 
I., II, 255. 

261. Psaroglossa spiloptera. Spotted- wing. Hutton-berries. 
Jerd. B. I., II, 336. F. I., I, 250. 



62 THE FOOD OP BIBDS IN INDIA. 

Insectivorous. Insects in flowers of Simul tree. B. N. H. S. 
J., X, 459. 

262. Hypocolius ampelinus. Grey Hypocolius. Chiefly 
fruits ; legs and wings of beetles, but does not take them on 
ground or on wing. B. N. H. S. J., XII, 761. 

BRACHYPODIN^E. 

BULBULS. 

Bulbuls feed largely on fruit, but also devour insects, in doing 
which they do not use their feet to hold their prey, but depend 
entirely on their beaks. A. S. B. J., LXVI, 614. Common and 
Green Bulbuls feed on white ants. B. N. H. S. J., X, 303. 
Common Bulbul feeds on worms. B. N. H. S. J., VIIJ, 210. 

In the Shevaroys (Madras), a species of Bulbul, or perhaps 
more than one species, does some corsiderable damage to the coffee 
berries in some plantations during the cold months, October to 
March, when the berries are ripening. The attacks do not, however, 
occur year after year but seem to be regulated by the bird's food 
supply in its usual haunts. The coffee is attacked when the bulbul'g 
food supply fails elsewhere. 

Criniger. Feed on fruit, berries varied with insects. F. I., 
I, 255. 

263, C. flaveolvs. White- throated Bulbul. More exclusively 
fruit than other bulbuls. B. N. H. S. J.. IV, 4. Entirely on fruit. 
Jerd. B. I., II, 84. 

267. Trtcholestes criniger. Hairy-backed Bulbul. Insects 
appear to be the principal food. F. I., I, 258. 

269. Hypsipetes psaroides. Himalayan Black Bulbul. 
Nectar in flowers of Rhododendron arboreum, from which it 
also obtains insects. It is fond of wild Mulberries and cherries. 
Fruits and berries. Jerd. B. I., II, 78. 

Fruit and nectar contained in the large flowers of such trees 
as Rhododendrons. F. I., I, 261. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 63 

Although the berries of Viburnum foetens ore the staple food 
of this bulbul, it is, to a great extent in the breeding season at any 
rate, insectivorous, and is often seen fly-catching from the tree tops 
in the evenings. B. N. H. S. J., XIX, 146. 

270. H. concolor. Knocks off wild cherry flowers. A. S. B., 
LXIX, 110. 

271. H. ganeesa. Southern Indian Black Bulbul. Stony 
fruit (Sykes). Jerd. B. I., II, 79. Fruit and berries. F. I., I, 262. 

Hemixus. Chiefly fruit eaters. F. I., I, 263. 

272. H. flavala. Brown-eared Bulbul. Berries and insects. 
Jerd. B. I., II, 81. 

275. H. macclellandi. Rufous-bellied Bulbul. Chiefly on 
fruit. Jerd. B. I., II, 80. On berries, probably entirely vegetarian. 
B. N. H. S. J., VIII, 4. 

277. Alcurus striatus. Striated Green Bnlbul. Chiefly on 
fruit, sometimes on insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 82. 

Molpastes feed mostly on fruit, and they are always to be found 
on fruit bearing trees in large numbers. F. I., I, 267. 

278. Molpastes hcemorrhous. Madras Red-vented Bulbul. 
Chiefly on fruits, but sometimes on insects on the ground. It 
destroys various buds and blossoms also, and is very destructive 
to peas, strawberries, Brazil cherries (Physalis peruviana) and other 
soft fruit. Jerd. B. I., II, 95-96. In a vegetable garden it is very 
destructive. Bomb. Gaz., Cutch. Vol., X, p. 75. 

279. M. burmanicus. Burmese Red-vented Bulbul. White 
ants on wjng. B. N. H. S. J., VII, 413. They probably come up to the 
hills for nesting purposes, and to feed on the wild raspberries which 
fruit in such profusion about this time. B. N. H. S. J., XIX, 121. 

282. Molpastes bengalensis. Bengal Red-vented Bulbul. On 
toddy pots on palms. B. N. H. Si J., XIII, 624. 

Stomachs eymined : . L-i '< - 

12-1-07. Ber (Zizyphua jujuba) fruit. >, _ ; 

F icus fruit. 
12-1-07. Ber (Zizyphus jujuba) fruit. 



64 



THE fOOt) OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 



Stomachs 

8-2-09. 

10-2-09. 
13-2-07. 

19-2-07. 



29-2-08. 
29-2-08. 

12-3-09. 
12-3-09. 
15-3-07. 
15-3-07. 
12-4-08. 



12-4-08. 

12-4-08. 
12-4-08. 

20-5-08. 
28-5-08. 



3-6-09. 
10-6-07. 
10-6-07. 



20-6-08. 
20-6-08. 



22-6-08. 



exmined : contd. 

15 Myllocerus blandus. 
26 ,, discolor. 

Ficus only. 

Ber fruit (Zizyphus jujuba). 
Ficus fruit. 

5 Camponotus compressus. 
3 Mylloeerus blandus. 

2 Opatrum sp. 
Ficus fruit. 
Ficus fruit. 

A few grass and weed seeds and leaves. 
1 Myllocerus sp. 

Ficus fruit, grass and weed seeds. 

Ficus fruit. 

Ficus fruit. 

Ficus fruit. 

Ficus fruit. 
1 Chrotogonus. 

1 Oxya sp. ? 

3 Opatrum sp. 

Ficus fruit, grass and weed seeds and leaves. 
3 Camponotus compressus. 

2 Opatrum sp. 

1 Himatismus sp. 

A little Ficus fruit. 

Ficus fruit. 
1 Caterpillar. 

Ficus fruit. 

Pipal (Ficus religiosa) fruit. 

Grass and weed seeds and leaves. 

1 Camponotus compressus. 

2 Scleron orientale. 
1 Carabid head. 

5 Myllocerus sp. 

1 Cydnus nigritus. 
Ficus fruit. 
Ficus fruit. 
Ficus fruit. 

2 Chrotogonus sp. 
5 Myllocerus sp. 

2 Caterpillars (Geometrid). 
fruit. 



1 Onthophagus spinifer. 
3 Myllocerus sp. 

1 Catharsius sabceus. 
Grass seeds, &c. 

2 Chrotogonus sp. 

1 4p indica (worker). 
1 florea (worker). 
1 Myllocerus sp. 
Several Coleopterous elytra. 



MASON AND LEFBOY. 



65 



1 Dynastid (? sp.). 
1 Moth's head. 
1 Caterpillar. 

Some Fields fruit. 
8-7-08. [A young bird.] 

Young shoots of grass and of ? maize 
21-7-08. [A young bird.] 

Ficus fruit. 
21-7-08. 1 Myllocerus discolor. 

Ficus fruit. 

6-8-08. 6 Myllocerus discolor. 

6 Fruits (? Nim). 

Some grass blades, &c., seeds. 
24-8-08. 1 Myllocerus sp. 

3 Opatrum ? 
1 Penthicus sp. 
1 Himatismus sp. 

Ficus fruit. 

6-9-08. Ficus fruit. 

6-9-08. Ficus fruit. 

3-10-07. Some Ficus. 

Stomach practically empty. 
3-10-07. 1 Phidole malinsi. 

14 Myllocerus maculosus. 
1 Myllocerus ? sp. ? 
1 Oymnopleurus miliaris ? 
4_10-08. 1 Camponotus compressus. 

Vegetable matter including Ficus. 
4-11-08. 1 Chrotogonus sp. 

1 Camponotus compressus. 

Banyan fruit (Ficus). 
21-11-07. Ficus fruit. 

21-11-07. Ficus fruit. 

Summary. Of 129 insects taken by 37 birds, 3 are beneficial, 
96 injurious and 30 neutral.* 16 birds took insects and of these 2 
took beneficial ones, 14 injurious and 9 neutral, 2 had eaten 
insects only. 

35 of the 37 birds took vegetable food, 21 of these containing 
vegetable matter only. Ficus fruit is largely eaten and was found 
in 31 birds 14 having fed only on this fruit. 3 took 'ber' fruit, 
1 nim and 1 maize shoots. 

The food of this bird is undoubtedly more vegetable than ani- 
mal, and consists to a very great extent of fruits of Ficus of several 
species, ber, mulberries, also grass and weed seeds and leaves. 
Insects are taken to a certain extent, chiefly weevils. As is usual 



* I have seen 
T f B. y. 



this bird eating Gryllotalpa afrficana, which does not appear in the above list. 



66 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

\\ith such birds that are more or less omnivorous, termites when the 
flying ones emerge are taken : grasshoppers and ants are also occa- 
sionally eaten. The food of the young, as far as I have noted, is 
purely vegetable, consisting of tender shoots and Ficus fruit. It is 
said to do some damage to peaches, loquats, pomegranates, and 
even to eat plantains in orchards and garders. 

One bird shot in 1907 contained some indigo seeds. 

284. M. leucogenys. White-cheeked Bulbul. Seeds, fruit and 
insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 91. 

285. M. leucotis. White-eared Bulbul. In captivity on grass- 
hoppers and meal worms. B. N. H. S. J., XIII, 699. At Kasauli, 
I saw this species taking ants off the stems of pine trees, scrambling 
about the stems while doing so. I also saw it feeding on two spe- 
cies of red mountain berries near Kalka. 

288. Otocompsa emeria. Bengal Red-whiskered Bulbul. 
Chiefly on fruit and seeds on the Neilgherries, robbing the gardens 
of peas, strawberries, &c. ; now and then it takes insects. Jerd. 
B. L, II, 93. White ants on the wing. B. N. H. S. J., VI, 264. 

290. 0. flaviventris. Black-crested Yellow Bulbul. Chiefly 
fruits. Jerd. B. I., II, 83. 

292. Spizixus canifrons. Finch-billed Bulbul. Stomachs full 
of insects, chiefly small beetles, and a few hard seeds, soft winged 
insects, small moths, metallic winged flies. B. N. H. S. J., VI, 
12. Insect feeder, and does not live entirely on fruit. A. S. B., 
XXXIX, II, 106. 

295. Jole icterica. Yellow-browed Bulbul. Fruit ; possibly in- 
sects may be taken. Jerd. B. I., I, 289. 

303. Pycnonotus gularis. Ruby-throated Bulbul. Chiefly on 
fruits and berries. Jerd. B. I., II, 88. 

305. P. luteolus. White-browed Bulbul. Entirely on fruits. 
Jerd. B. I., II, 85. 

310. Micropus melanocephalus. Black-headed Bulbul. Al- 
most entirely fruit. Two woodlice, small green grasshoppers, 
white ants. B. N. H. S. J., VIII, 4. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 67 

313. M. phceocephalus. Grey-headed Bulbul. Chiefly on 
stony fruit, Jerd. B. I., II, 89. 

Crateropodidce are divided into 6 sub-families which must 
be dealt with more or less separately. 

The Crateropodince with the exception of some species of the 
two genera Argya and Crateropus, are confined to hill tracts and are 
not found on the plains. They live in brushwood or jungle and 
feed on insects found under leaves, etc., on the ground. Some take 
fruits and may possibly take them from bushes where bush fruit is 
grown, but in most cases the fruit is picked up from the ground. 
They are probably all beneficial. 

The Timeliince are almost entirely hill birds, a few species only 
occurring on the plains. Their food consists chiefly of insects. 
The Brachypterygince and Sibiince are also hill birds, of the latter 
Zosterops, probably injurious, occurring in the plains. Liotrichince 
feed on insects, fruit and berries. The plains species of Aegithina 
are mostly insectivorous, as also of Chloropsis, while Lrena is more 
frugivorous. 

Brachypodince. The Bulbuls are both frugivorous and insecti- 
vorous, and at times some of these are injurious to fruit orchards, 
though as a class they are beneficial. Molpastes, Pycnonotus and 
Micropus all occur in the plains. In the hills some species are in- 
jurious at times to coffee plantations. 

As a family these birds are beneficial, but at all times those spe- 
cies that take fruit, and a few that take berries, are liable to make 
inroads on fruit orchards and, in special cases, on coffee plantations. 

SITTID.E. 

The Nut-hatches feed on insects and hard fruits, such as nuts. 
F. I., I, 299. 

The Nut-hatches seldom seek their food upon the ground, but 
search every cranny and dig in rotten wood for insects, their larvae 
and so forth, or collect nuts, acorns, beech-mast and seeds. E, B. 
C. N. H., 538. 



68 



THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 



315. Sitta himalayensis. White-tailed Nut-hatch. Insects off 
hark, occasionally one in the air. Jerd. B. L, 385. 

321. Sitta castaneiventris. Chestnut-bellied Nut-hatch. 
Stomachs examined 

11-2-08. 1 Small Elaterid. 

1 Hemipterous scutellum. 

2 Ants wings. 
2 Spiders. 

27-5-07. 23 Cremastogaster subnuda. 

2 Pieces of wing ? 

1 Spider. 
28-6-08. 5 Coleoptera. (Myllocerus sp. ?). 

1 Noctuid's head. 

1 Tabanid. 
29-6-08. 9 Small Elaterids. 

1 Myllocerus sp. 
30-6-08. 7 Weevils. 

1 Hemipterous scutellum. 
12-6-08. 5 Elaterids. 

1 Mesomorpha villiger. 

1 Jassid. 

1 Termes sp. 

Much disintegrated coleopterous remains. 
9-7-08. 11 Hydrophilids. 

2 Jassids. 
30-10-08. 1 Myllocerus sp. 

3 Weevils. 

4 Hemipterous heads. 

Remains of other coleoptera unidentifiable. 
12-11-08. 5 Small Elaterids. 

1 Myllocerus discolor. 

2 Tanymecus sp. 

Remains of Jassids, and some small coleoptera probably 
Aphodiids. 

Summary. Of 89 insects taken by 9 birds, 26 are injurious 
and 63 neutral. 7 birds took injurious insects and 8 neutral. 2 
birds took spiders. 

323. Sitta leucopsis. White-cheeked Nut-hatch. Chiefly on 
seeds of Pinus gerardiana. F. I., I, 306. 

325. Sitta frontalis. Velvet-fronted Blue Nut-hatch. Va- 
rious small insects and larvae off bark. Jerd. B. I., I, 389. 

The nest of this species was found in a sissoo tree about 8 feet 
from the ground. The young were fed largely on small caterpillars and 



MASON AND LETROY. 69 

Hemiptera of various species. Two of the insects fed on one occa- 
sion were undoubtedly the red cotton bug [Dysdercus cingulatus]. 

This is the only occurrence I have noted of this species at Pusa. 
The nest was found on March 23, 1907. 

The SittidcB are beneficial. 

DICRURID^. 
DRONGOS. 

The food consists of insects of all kinds which are captured 
on the ground, on leaves or flowers, on the backs of cattle, or at 
times upon the wing, individuals often returning to their perches 
like fly-catchers. E. B. C. N. H., 529. 

They feed habitually on the wing, darting from one perch on 
a tree into the air to catch an insect and returning to the same or 
an adjoining branch. The Dicruri frequently perch on the backs 
of cattle. F. I. I., 308. All drongos hawk insects in the air. 
[mp. Gaz., I, 242. 

Species which occur in forest country feed more on the wing- 
probably almost entirely so than species occurring in more open 
country. D. <iter, if anything, feeds more on the ground than on 
the wing, whilst Chibi i holtentott i feeds still less habitually on the 
whig than the other drongos, finding most of its food by hunting 
on trees for insects. 

327. Dicrurus ater. It feeds chiefly on grasshoppers and cric- 
kets, which as Sundeval remarks, appear to be the chief insect 
food for birds in India. Also now and then on wasps or bees, dra- 
gon-flies and occasionally moths or butterflies. It generally seizes 
its insect prey on the ground, or whips one off a stalk of grain, fre- 
quently catching one in the air. Winged termites and locusts. 
Jerd., B. I. I., 428. 

Stomachs examined 

11-1-08. 2 Myrmecocystus setipes. 

4 Opatrum sp. 

3 Cutworms. 
15-1-08. 1 Gryllotalpa africana. 

Some remains of beetles. 



70 



THE FOOD 0* tflRDS IN INDIA 



Stomachs examined contd. 

25-1-08. 1 Myrmecocyitua tetipea. 

3 Opatrum depreatum. 

5 Small caterpillars. 
9-2-08. 2 Qryllotalpa africana. 

1 Oryllodea melanocephalua. 
3 Opatrum sp. 

15 Rhyaaemua germanua. 

1 Small Cetoniid. 
12-2-09. 1 Camponotus compreaaua. 

2 (Ecophylla amaragdina. 

6 Myllocerua diacolor. 

2 Cutworms (A. apinifera). 
15-2-08. 2 Ohrotogonut sp. 

2 Opatrum sp. 

5 Noctuid caterpillar. 
28-2-08. 2 Opatrum sp. 

6 Opatrum depreaaum. 
1 Scleron orientate. 

1 Moth. 
28-2-08. 1 Chrotogonua sp. 

1 Qryllotalpa africana, 

5 Melolonthid larva. 

5 Cutworms. 
10-3-08. 2 Myllocerus discolor. 

5 Small Carabids. 

5 Cutworms. 

3 Lygceua sp. 

12-3-09. 4 Scolia quadripustulata. 

12-3-09. 3 Scolia quadripustalata. 

1 Noctuid (sp. ? wing only). 
25-3-08. 1 Gryllotalpa africana. 

1 Myrmecocystua setipea. 

16 Small Geometrid ? larvae. 
3 Hemiptera. 

1 Monophlebus stebbingi. 

2-4-08. 1 Chilomenea sexmaculata. 

1 Spodoptera mauritia. 

2 Pyralids ? 

1 Spider. 
11-4-08. 2 Chrotogonus sp. 

2 Myllocerua sp. 

5 Small caterpillars. 
11-4-08. 3 Myllocerua discolor. 

1 ,, maculosus. 

2 Small moth's heads. 

1 ,, geometrid caterpillar. 

20-4-09. 3 Oaatromargus sp. 

1 Chryxia sp. 

14-5-08. 1 Remains of a cricket. 

6 Chilomenea aex-moculata. 
1 Small caterpillar. 

Remains of T beetles and ants. 



MASON AND LEPBOY. 



71 



Stomachs examined contd. 



23-5-08. 1 Myllocerua sp. 

Remains of Myllocerus sp. 4, and some anta (6) probably 

Camponotus compressua. 
31-5-08. 6 Myrmecocystus aetipea. 

17-6-08. 1 Termea sp. 

3 Myllocerua T sp. 

2 Nootuid moths. 

4 Cutworms. 

1-7-08. 1 Atractomorpha crenulata T 

3 Termea sp. 
3 Opatrum sp. 

11-8-08. 1 Chrotogonus sp. 

3 Stizua veapiformis. 
1 Melolonthid larva. 
21-10-08. 1 Brachytrypea achatinua. 

1 Gryllode* melanocephalut ? 

Other remains, probably of both ants and beetles. 
11-11-08. 1 Oniticellua pallipea. 

1 Onthophaijus sp. 

2 Heteroderes sp. 

1 Paederua variicomia. 

1 Carabid head. 
2-12-08. 1 Dorylua sp. 

2 (Ecophylla amaragdina 

3 Myllocerua sp. 
1 Aatycua sp. 

1 Componotua compreasus. 
3 Cutworms. Agrotia sp. 
11-10-08. 2 Camponotus compressus. 

1 Onthophagua apinifer. 

1 Melolonthid larva. 

2 Elaterid grubs. 
12-10-08. 2 (Ecophylla amaragdina. 

5 Camponotua compreasus. 

3 Opatrum sp. 

Summary. Of 234 insects taken by 27 birds, 14 are beneficial, 
133 injurious and 87 neutral. Twenty-three birds took injvrious 
insects, 4 beneficial and 18 neutral. One took a spider. 

The food of the young appears to be much the same as that 
of the adult. I have not, however, examined any very young birds. 

The following are records of the stomach contents of young 
birds soon after they had left the nest ; they were capable of flying, 
though not of obtaining their own food, apparently. The parents 
were feeding them 



72 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

12-6-08. 1 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

2 Opatrum sp. 
2 Small larvae (cutworms). 
12-6-08. 2 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

5 Broken caterpillars. Possibly more. 
28-6-08. 2 Gryllotalpa africana. 

2 Nezara viridula. 
2 Caterpillars. 

Other unidentifiable matter probably the remains of more 

caterpillars. 
28-6-08. 1 Chrotogonus sp. 

2 Myllocerus maculosus. 
1 Tenebrionid. 
Caterpillar remains ? 

Summary. Of 22 insects in 4 birds, 19 are injurious and 3 
neutral. None are beneficial. Four birds took injurious insects, 2 
neutral and none beneficial. 

During July 1908 whenever flying termites were emerging, 
King-crows were noticed to be very busy catching these insects, 
and fed large quantities of them to the young. One evening I 
watched two young birds being fed, apparently entirely on these 
insects, and in half an hour counted 23 visits made by the parent 
birds to their two young : the insects captured were almost certainly 
entirely termites. This is the only occasion on which I have no- 
ticed more than one insect brought at one time by this species to 
its young. The old birds continually fed one bird and then went 
to the other and fed it also without hawking between whiles. This 
is in all probability due to the fact that flying termites are exceed- 
ingly easy to capture. It is extremely unlikely that the termite is 
broken up and part fed to one bird and part fed to the other. From 
the stomach contents recorded above, it is, however, worth noticing 
that soft insects are almost entirely fed, and in all probability when 
the young are in the nest the food consists almost entirely of cater- 
pillars and grubs. 

Total Summary. Of 257 insects taken by 31 birds, 37 are bene- 
ficial, 177 injurious and 43 neutral. Injurious insects were taken by 
29 birds, beneficial by 13 and neutral by 8. 

Conclusion. Beneficial. 

The King-crow is quite one of the most widely distributed birds 
in India, is found at elevations over 5,000 feet and is one of the com- 



MASON AND LEFBOY. 



monest and most interesting birds of the plains. It can be seen 
almost anywhere in open country, preferring cultivated areas and 
grass lands rather than jungle, though it occurs very commonly 
in the thinner jungles. It is one of the first three birds one notices 
when coming across India. The King-crow (D. ater) the common 
Indian bee eater (M.. viridis) and -the blue jay (Coracms mdica), 
show a remarkable preference for perching on telegraph wires from 
which they can get a very good view of any insect flying by or on 
the ground. It is a very easy bird to observe in the plains, as it is 
so common, and not at all shy. Curiously enough, in the hills (Ka- 
sauli), I found it comparatively hard to get near for close observa- 
tions, though fairly common there. 

The Bang-crow is almost entirely insectivorous, capturing its 
prey in the air, on the ground, and even skimming the surface of 
pools and rivers in pursuit of Ephemerids and Hydrophilids. From 
the different orders of insects known to form its food, practically 
no insect comes amiss to it. Size of the insect is apparently of 
little matter, since we find the King-crow takes insects varying in 
size from those as large as the Bombay Locust (Acridium succinc- 
tum) down to the some of the smallest Histerids. No preference 
seems to be shown to any one species or family or insects, though I 
have certainly -observed three cases of apparent dislike. Two of 
these occasions occurred with a whitish Fulgorid Lawana cons- 
persa. In each instance the bird swooped at the insect and when 
almost up to it swerved off and left it. The insect was flying 
slowly in open jungle and could have been caught easily ; it does 
not smell offensively, nor has the colouration anything to do with 
the case, for I have seen the King-crow catching S. auriflua (the 
White Cane Borer) on the wing flying over oats, and once the 
common white butterfly Belenois mesentina. The second case 
was noticed at. Indigo mahai, when the King-crows were round 
the vats in numbers, capturing beetles, chiefly Tenebrionids 
(Opatrum sp.) and weevils, of which Myllocerus maculosus and 
M. blandus were the commonest species, small moths and 
probably spiders, though these are not often taken. Dragon-flies 



74 THE ^OOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

of several species were present in swarms, but the birds never touch- 
ed them, no doubt preferring insects more readily captured. On 
only one occasion have I found the King-crow take a dragon-fly. 
Other insectivorous birds, notably Meropida? (M. viridis and philip- 
pinus), have frequently been observed to take dragon-flies, and there 
seems to be no obvious reason why the King-crow should not do so, 
except that insects on the ground may be captured more readily 
than on the wing, though this seems hardly applicable to so active 
a bird as the King-crow. 

The King-crow captures insects in various ways, some of them 
very ingenious ones. The usual method is to sit on an exposed 
bough of a tree, a post telegraph wires are always used when 
available and when no mynahs are about and in fact any place from 
which a good view of the surrounding country can be obtained. 
When an insect flies by, the bird swoops at it, returning as often as 
not to a similar perch to kill and eat its capture. Sometimes 
the insect is taken to the ground and eaten. Insects are taken on the 
ground almost, if not quite, as often as on the wing, the bird remain- 
ing on the ground for a few seconds to eat the insect. Though 
great numbers of insects are taken on the ground, it is a noticeable 
fact that ants are practically never taken. Hovering around bushes 
and low plants in quest of insects is another common method, and 
on more than one occasion I have seen a King-crow apparently deli- 
berately brush against the outer twigs of a sissoo, capturing small 
moths (Geometrids and Pyralids), as they flew out on being dis- 
turbed. During cultivation operations, especially ploughing, these 
birds may be seen in large numbers over the fields. At such times 
they sit on any large lump of earth and pick up any caterpillar or 
grub which is turned up : naturally the food then almost entirely 
consists of cutworms (larvae of Agrotis ypsilon, and other Noctuids 
of the same class), beetles and crickets to a less extent, and also 
Melolonthid grubs. On one occasion 35 King-crows were observed 
in one field which was being ploughed. At such times they do not 
congregate together but are scattered over the field in pairs or 
singly. When rubbish is being filled or emptied, King-crows are 



HASON AND LEFROY. 75 

almost invariably present, taking grubs and insects of all sorts. 
On grass lands its favourite perch is on the backs of cattle, sheep or 
goats, and sometimes ponies, from which frequent sallies are made 
at insects disturbed by the cattle. It is said flies are captured at 
such times, but at present I have taken no diptera from the King- 
crow's intestines even after the bird obtained had been observed 
apparently catching flies in this way. If a flock of Mynahs (A. 
tristis) I have seldom seen a King-crow accompanying the Pied 
Mynah (Sturnopastor contra) happens to be working a grass field, a 
King-crow is almost certain to be close by or among them and cap- 
tures insects put up by the Mynahs. Insects are then as a rule 
taken on the wing, though grasshoppers are taken on the ground 
and the efforts of the bird to capture insects if the grass is at all long 
are very amusing : he is by no means active on the ground under 
the best circumstances. If the Mynahs move off to fresh hunting 
grounds, the King-crow accompanies them at some distance behind. 
The fact that the King-crow does not accompany S. contra so much 
is, I believe, partly due to the fact that that species does not work 
such long grass as A. tristis, and the shorter grass lands do not 
contain so many insects. As a rule, the Mynah and the King-crow 
get on fairly well together, and the Mynahs never seem to resent 
his presence, in spite of the fact that the King-crow is continually 
chasing the Mynahs and robbing them of some insect. There is a 
very interesting account in the Bombay Natural History Society's 
Journal, XVI, pp. 364-366 (D. Dewar) of this commensalism of the 
King-crow and the Mynah in Madras and the same habits can be 
observed throughout Bengal, in the Central and United Provinces and 
the Pun jab, and there is no reason to suppose one may not observe 
the same whenever these two birds occur. Again, in company with 
Mynahs, King-crows frequently accompany cattle, etc., walking 
through grass-lands and open jungle, taking insects as they are put 
up. Two species of moths taken under such conditons are Trigonodes 
hyppasia and Plecoptera reflexa : grasshoppers and moths form the 
greater proportion of insects taken under these conditions. If the 
cattle are going in one direction, the birds keep more or less up 



76 



THE tOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 



with the leading cattle. I have seen sixteen birds with twenty-five 
cattle feeding close together ; not unfrequently quarrels arise, but 
with King-crows this is never a serious affair, one or other soon 
moving off, though as a rule not fax. 

At any place where grass lands are being burnt off, King-crows, 
in numbers, in company with other birds (such as Kites, Blue 
Jays and Wagtails) are always present, flying after moths and va- 
rious insects almost through the flames. 

If the insect captured is a large one and especially in the case 
of moths, it is generally broken up to some extent before being 
eaten. Moth's wings are often ripped off. This fact a.ffords very 
good proof that field observations are essential for accurate deter- 
mination of a large proportionof some birds' food, and that no bird's 
food material can be put down as only consisting of certain kinds of 
insects, &c., until very thorough field observations have been made 
under every possible condition. 

The following table shows the number of insects taken from 
birds examined during 1907 and 1908, all obtained at Pusa. This 
table probably includes about three-fourths of the total number of 
insects in the birds at the time of examination. It is impossible to 
obtain accurate figures, as in all cases numbers of insects are com- 
pletely broken up, very often nothing more than the elytra of 
beetles or heads of moths being visible among the stomach 
contents 



Year. 


No. of 
birds. 


Orthop- 
tera. 


Lepidop- 
tera. 


Coleoptera. 


Neurnptera. 


Hemip- 
tera. 


Hymenop- 
tera. 


Total. 


1908 


22 


11 


96 


76 


4 


9 




218 


1907 


31 


22 


121 


99 


29 


20 


1 


282 



Giving % of 

1908 9'94 iusects in each bird. 

1907 9-1. 



Imagines of Lepidoptera are not apparently taken to so great 
an extent as Coleoptera, the numbers shown in the table being com- 
posed of larvae to the extent of about two-thirds. Very few larvae 
of beetles are taken, these" being the larvae of Melolonthids (chafers) 



MASON AND LEFEOY. 77 

turned out of rubbish or picked up during cultivation operations. 
No doubt, many more imagines of lepidoptera are taken than the 
figures show, the inaccuracy of these being due to the fact that 
moths are broken up very much before being eaten. 

The Neuroptem practically consist only of winged termites. 

From the above account of insects eaten by the King-crow, 
it will be seen that very few beneficial insects are taken. Chilomenes 
sexmaculata has only been found in one bird, this bird containing 
the remains of six of these insects.* They were captured in Feb- 
ruary over a wheat crop, C. sexmaculata being especially partial 
to the wheat aphis (Siphonophora granaria). One bird contained 
a wing of a dragon-fly, an insect which if anything is beneficial. 
(In England I have seen dragon-flies, I believe Libellula quadra- 
tulata, take two species of butterflies, Brenthis euphrosyne and 
Pieris napi.) Other small animals such as worms and spiders, 
both of which are beneficial, are taken occasionally. No special 
preference is shown to any species of beneficial insect, but undoubt- 
edly they would be taken when met with. The vast quantity of 
injurious insects eaten completely counterbalances the fact that 
any beneficial ones are taken. Amongst the more important pests, 
the following are of the greatest economic importance : Of Or- 
thoptera, the Bombay locust (A. succinctum), grasshoppers notably 
Chrotogonus, ground grasshoppers which do vast damage to young 
crops, and various crickets. Of Neuroptera, termites. Of Coleop- 
tera, Cetoniids, Coprids and the larvae of Anomala varidns, a com- 
mon root pest. Of the Lepidoptera, agrotids and cutworms, Sp. 
mauritia and also Scirpophaga auriflua. 

We may hence consider the King-crow to be as beneficial as a 
general insect feeder can be, and he should be encouraged in every 
possible way. 

The powerful build of the King-crow eminently fits him for se- 
curing insects on the wing, but all the same he is very partial to 
grubs and caterpillars. His tail is far too long and cumbersome 
to allow him to make a practice of picking caterpillars off trees and 

* #ut gee also under date 14-5-08 in Tabl of Stomach-contents. T. B. I 1 . 



78 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

bushes, and so he has to make use of such opportunities as are 
given him during ploughing operations, &c., for obtaining such 
food. To supplement these opportunities he often makes very 
good use of his fighting powers, and he generally selects the Hoopoe 
to rob. As a rule a Hoopoe eats a caterpillar whole, but should the 
caterpillar (or the earth-worm) happen to be a large one, or again 
if the Hoopoe has young and is making a collection of insects to take 
to the nest, the caterpillar is not eaten immediately. The King- 
crow will then swoop down on the Hoopoe and almost invariably 
steal the caterpillar. Hoopoe? and King-crows often seem to have 
ittle quarrels, probably on this account alone. 

The King-crow is a very pugnacious bird and attacks kites, 
crows, mynahs, &c., with great vigour. I once saw a King-crow 7 
settle on the back of a common kite. A similar event is also on 
record. He is particularly pugnacious during the breeding season 
and keeps all birds at a proper distance at that time and especially 
crows. In a fight he does not always get the best of it. I have 
seen him hustled by an Oriolus melanocephalus, and he has been 
"bustled by Chloropsis aurifrons." (B. N. H. S. J., VIII, 10). 
Again " numbers squat on the ground with mynahs and wag- 
tails (M. borealis) constantly chasing the latter." (B. N. H. S. J., 
XVI, 486). As a rule, however, he gets on very well with Mynahs 
and does not attack or worry smaller birds than himself. The King- 
crow will often have a tussle with a Mynah over an insect, and this 
occurs when the King Crow is waiting near the Mynahs and picking 
up any insects that may be disturbed from the grass. I once saw a 
Magpie-robin playing with a mole cricket. A Mynah (A. tristis) 
suddenly fleW down and captured the cricket, and began to peck at 
it. A King-crow then appeared and went for the Mynah, which 
skulked under a bush and then began to run round and round it. 
The noise made by these two birds soon brought another King- 
crow on the scene, and these two King-crows soon stopped the 
manoeuvres of the Mynah, which dropped the cricket and flew off. 
The fight had attracted thirteen Hoopoes to the spot. Worms are 
often robbed from Mynahs, 



MASON AND LEPROY. 79 

Encouragement. It is useless to try and make these birds 
breed anywhere, they are far too touchy at the breeding season. 
If their presence is desired on any crop, a few bamboos or sticks 
stuck in various places encourage the birds to a certain extent. This, 
however, I would not recommend on a cereal crop such as wheat, for 
the birds seem inclined under such conditions to take Lady-bird 
Beetles which are beneficial. These perches must be higher than 
the crop they are placed in. Among crops, such as maize, it is a 
very good plan to grow a few bajra plants, as these form an excel- 
lent post of vantage for the birds. These plants grow in some cases 
considerably higher than the maize. I have noticed in dis- 
tricts where this bajra is grown among maize that the King-crows 
always chose to sit on the bajra heads and were always more 
numerous in the fields where the bajra plants were growing. 

All my efforts at trying to induce these birds to occupy artificial 
nests placed in trees have failed. Apparently they cannot be 
encouraged in this way. 

328. Dicrurus longicaudatus. Indian Ashy Drongo. Chief 
food : bees, bugs, and other insects. Jerd. B. I., I, 430. Butterfly. 
B. N. H. S. J., IX, 337. 

In Cashmir very often robs the Hoopoe of its prey. Jerd. B. I., 
I, 392. 

330. Dicrurus ccerulescens. White-bellied Drongo. Grass- 
hoppers. B. N. H. S. J., IV, 313. 

335. Chibia hottentotta. Hair-crested Drongo. Apparently 
feeding on insects in flowers of Bombax milubiricum ; wasps, 
bees, green beetles and rarely vetches (probably taken with an in- 
sect by mistake) ; also fruits. Jerd. B. I., I, 439. Insects in flowers, 
taking fewer on wing than other drongoes. F. I., I, 321. 

340. Dissemurus paradiseus. L&rgei Racket-tailed Drongo. 
Locusts and large insects. B. N. H. S. J., X, 610. Wasps. B. N. 
H. S. J., VIII, 21. Termites and other insects. B.N.H. S. J., XII, 
392. Bees, wasps, beetles, dragon-flies, locusts and mantids. In 



80 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

captivity raw meat, lizards, and almost any animal matter. 
Jerd. B. I., I, 435. Robs insects from other birds by imitating 
a harrier's cry and charging down on them. B. N. H. S. J., XV, 
455. 

D. paradiseus. D. platurus. Termites. B. N. H. S. J., VII, 417. 

Drongos take termites. B. N. H. S. J., X, 303. 

Other than for Dicrurus ater we have very little information 
on the food of the Dicruridae. The different species have on the 
whole similar habits and these birds form one of the most, if not 
quite the most, beneficial group that we have in India. 

CERTHIID.E. 

TREE-CREEPERS AND WRENS. 

The food of creepers consists of insects and their larvae, ants 
and spiders. Seeds of conifers occasionally vary the diet. E. B. 
C. N. H., 572. The tree-creepers feed on insects, especially on 
beetles and spiders, which they find in the crevices of bark. Jerd. 
B. I., I. 380. The tree-creepers (Certhia) feed entirely on insects. 
F. L, I, 328. 

Wrens (Troglodytidce) hunt for insects, their larvae and spiders 
among fallen leaves, in crevices of rocks and so forth ; while they 
occasionally eat worms, molluscs, crustaceans and seeds. E. B. C. 
N. H., 521. 

The true wrens feed on insects, and occasionally seeds. 
Jerd. B. L, I, 491. 

348. Tichodroma muraria. Wall-creeper. Chiefly spiders 
and coleoptera. Jerd. B. I., I, 383. Chiefly of spiders and insects. 
F.I, I, 335. 

353&. Elachura hoplonota. Plain Brown Wren. Ants, small 
bright beetles on orchid flowers. B. N. H. S. J., VII, 319. 

Pncepyga. Insects and seeds. Jerd. B. I. ? I, 488, 



MASON AND LEtfROV. 8l 

SYLVIID^E. 

WAKBLERS. 

The majority feed solely on insects, a very few on flower 
buds, and even on fruit. Jerd. B. I., II, 113. 

Sylviince live on insects and their larvae, small molluscs and 
fruit, the first named being either caught in the air or sought upon 
the leaves and branches. E. B. C. N. H., 517. 

360. Locustella certhiola. Pallas' Grasshopper Warbler. En- 
tirely on insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 160. 

362. L. straminea. Turkestan Grasshopper Warbler. En- 
tirely insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 160. 

363. Acrocephalus stentoreus. Indian Great Reed-warbler. 
Grasshoppers and other insects among grass, crops and vegetables. 
Jerd. B. L, II, 155. 

366. A. dumetonim. Blyth's Reed- warbler. Like the others 
entirely on insects. Jerd. B. I, II, 6. Bushes for insects. B. H. 
H. S. J., XIII, 625. 

374. Orthotomus sutorius. Indian Tailor Bird. Various in- 
sects, chiefly ants, cicadellse and various small larvae off bark and 
leaves. Jerd. B. L, II, 166. 

Stomachs examined 

10-2-09. 1 Tenebrionid. 

1 Hemipterous scutellum 

Other insect remains unidentifiable. 
10-2-09. 1 Aphodiid. 

2 Coleopterous elytra. 
15-2-09. 4 Polyrachis simplex. 

1 Coleopterous elytron. 

Other insects remains unidentifiable. 
24-2-09. 2 Myllocerus blandus. 

1 Small weevil. 
1 Dipteron. 

Other insect remains unidentifiable. 

Summary. Of 14 insects taken by 4 birds, 3 are injurious, and 
11 neutral. One bird took injurious insects and all took neutral. 

6 



82 THE POOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

381. Cisticola cursitans. Rufous Fantail Warbler. Often 
insects on ground, among corn, &c. ; ants, larvae of grasshoppers 
and various other small insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 175. 

Stomachs examined 

4_4_07. 3 Cryptorhynchus sp. 

^ 4 Small weevils. 

15-5-08. 1 Phidole malinsi. 

4 Weevils spp. ? 
3 Aphis sp. 

Some vegetable matter. 
21-5-07. 1 Chrotogonus sp. 

2 Ephemerids. 

3 Small weevils. 
31-6-09. 1 Tryxalis sp. 

1 Mesomorpha villiger. 

2 Small Lepidopterous larvae. 

Summary. Of 27 insects taken by 5 birds, 23 are injurious 
and 4 neutral. Four birds took injurious insects and 3 neutral. 

382. Franklinia gracilis. Franklin's Wren-warbler. Minute 
insects in flowers. Jerd. B. I., II, 172. 

389. Megalurus palustris. Striated Marsh -warbler. Chiefly 
grasshoppers and coleoptera, Jerd. B. I., II, 71. 

390. Schcenicola platyura. Broad-tailed Grass-warbler. Small 
insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 73. 

394. Hypoldis rama. Syke's Tree-warbler. Insects on trees 
and in air. Jerd. B. I., II, 189. 

SylviincB. Warblers. Less insectivorous than other warblers, 
most eating freely buds, flowers and fruits. Jerd. B. I., II, 207. 

399. Sylvia jerdoni. Eastern Orphean Warbler. Various 
insects, grubs, and caterpillars, and also on flower buds. Jerd. 
B. 1, II, 209. 

401. 8. althcea. Hume's Lesser White-throated Warbler. 
Pupae of ants. Jerd. B. I., II, 209. 

402. S. affinis. Indian Lesser White- throated Warbler. In- 
sects and flowar buds. Jerd. B. I., II, 219. 



MASON AND tEFROYi 83 

PhylloscopincB. Grass Warblers. Exclusively insectivorous, 
feeding on minute insects, flies, cicadellse, &c., &c., on leaves, or 
caught in the air. Jerd. B. I., II, 187. 

405. Phylloscopus affinis. Tickell's Willow-warbler. 

8-2-08. Legs of a small weevil. 

Other insect remains (coleoptera only). 

407. Phylloscopus tristis. Brown Willow-warbler. Insects 
in air and in sand of rivulet. Jerd. B. I., II, 187. 
Stomachs examined 

December, 1907. 1 

> 7 Specimens. 
January, 1908. \ 

These birds contained 

7 Small Staphylinids. 

1 Small Elaterid. 

7 Small Lepidopterous larvae (Geometrids ?) 

1 Small Tipulid. 

1 Bibio sp. 
3 Muscids. 

300 Aphis gossypii. 

A large quantity of buds T and small pieces of leaves, probably 

derived from the larvae eaten. 
5-2-09. 4 Tanymecus sp. 

2 Myllocerus blandus. 
5-2-09. 4 Myllocerus 1 sp. ? 

3 Other coleopterous elytra. 
17-4-09. 4 Geometrid larvae. 

6-4-08. 12 Small Coleoptera (Aphodiids ?). 

7 Small Geometrid larvae. 
8-3-09. 9 Ephemerids. 

1 Dipteron. 

Summary. Of 366 insects taken by 11 birds, 7 are beneficial, 
329 injurious and 30 neutral. 

410. Phylloscopus fuscatus. Dusky Willow-warbler. 
Stomachs examined 

8-3-09. Coleopterous remains. 

Some vegetable matter. 
12-3-09. 1 Chilomenes sexmaculata. 

2 Geometrid larvae. 

Other insect remains unidentifiable. 
10-4-09. 2 Lepidopterous larvae. 

Other remains of insects unidentifiable. 
4-10-08. 4 Geometrid larvae. 

2 Pyralid larvae. 
31-10-08. 7 Weevils. 

1 Small Coprid. 



84 THE POOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

A few Ficus seeds. 
1 Shot. 
20-11-07. 1 Myllocerus sp. 

Some pieces of leaf. 
A few Ficus seeds. 
1-12-07. 2 Myllocerus sp. 

4 few Ficus and weed seeds. 

Summary. Of 22 insects taken by 7 birds, 1 is beneficial, 20 
injurious and 1 neutral. One bird took a beneficial insect and 
6 injurious and 1 neutral. Four contained some vegetable matter, 
and in 3 of these Ficus seeds were in greater proportion than other 
vegetable matter. 

417. Phylloscopus superciliosus. Crowned Willow-warbler. 
Insects on trees. B. N. H. S. J., X, 610. 

13-2-08. 2 Blattids. 

1 Phidole malinsi. 
1 Tanymeciis sp. 

Various coleopterous remains. 

1 Spider. 

Summary. One injurious, and 3 neutral insects taken. 
Acanthopneuste. Willow- warblers and Cryptolopha. Fly- 
catcher-warblers feed on insects on leaves. F. I., I, 423. 

421. Acanthopneuste nitidus. Green Willow-warbler. 

9-12-07. 3 Small Hydrophilids. 

Broken remains of small coleoptera. 

2 Small Spiders. 

Hunting insects on cluster beans. 
Summary. Three neutral insects taken. 

422. A. viridanus.' Greenish Willow-warbler. 

21-12-07. 21 Ants legs. 

3 Small Coleoptera. 

Other remains of Coleoptera unidentifiable. 
12-1-08. 1 Tanymecus sp. 

Other remains of Coleoptera unidentifiable. 

Summary. One bird took neutral insects, the other one 
injurious insect. 

458. Suya crinigera. Brown Hill-warbler. Small insects and 
larvae on the ground. Jerd. B. I., II, 183. 

464. Prinia socialis. Ashy Wren- warbler. Feed in the same 
way as 0. longicauda (Sykes). Jerd. B. L, II, 171. That is, various 



MASON AND LEFROT. 85 

insects, chiefly ants and cicadellaB, and various small larvae off buds 
and leaves, and not ^infrequently seeking them on the ground. 

465. Prinia sylvatica. Jungle Wren-warbler. 

8-2-09. 1. Acantholepis fraucnfeldi var. bipartita. 

1. Coleopterous grub. 

Some buds and vegetable matter. 

466. Prinia inornata. Indian Wren- warbler. Insects on 
bushes, &c. Jerd. B. I., II, 179. True friend of the husbandman, 
since it feeds exclusively on insects. Dewar, B. P., 220. 



That the smaller warblers, those especially of the genus Phyl- 
loscopus may be regarded as beneficial is correct. There are but 
few exceptions to their general beneficial feeding qualities, and in 
India at present nothing is said against them. Those few species 
about which we have some definite knowledge, are all neutral or 
beneficial, one, at any rate, P. tristis, being known to take the 
Cotton Aphis freely, and these insects (Aphides) will, in all pro- 
bability, be found to form a portion of the food of every species. 
Some English species are at times undoubted pests of garden 
fruits, but this is in most cases counterbalanced by the numbers 
of insects consumed. In India their fruit-eating propensities 
would certainly not tell against them in the plains, most species 
being only cold weather migrants, but it is quite possible that some 
may be found to do local damage to fruits in the hills. We have 
no records of this at present. 

LANIID^E. 

SHRIKES. 

MalaconincB. The retiring members of this subfamily are com- 
monly seen hopping or climbing about thick undergrowth in search 
of insects and their larvae, or hunting for worms and spiders on the 
grounds. 

Pachycephalince. The majority of the members hop actively 
about leafy trees, or search the ground for insects, their larvae and 
berries. 



86 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Laniince. (Shrikes Proper). The food, which may be taken on 
the wing, or procured upon the ground, consists of small mammals 
and birds, insects, snakes, frogs, or even crabs & fruit, the creatures 
not devoured at once being impaled on thorns or spiky leaves. 

PrionipincB. (Wood Shrikes). They frequent trees and bushes, 
and eat molluscs and fruit, but live chiefly on insects captured 
on the branches, or on the ground, if not by darting into the air 
from a perch. E. B. C. N. H., 533-535. 

LaniidcB. The habit of keeping a larder is probably restricted 
to the larger species, and these only impale their victim when there 
is still something left on it left over, after they have eaten so much 
that for the time being they cannot possibly stow away any more. 
They feed on large grasshoppers, small lizards and birds and on field 
mice, but the usual food appears to be small insects. The young 
seem to be fed chiefly on large green caterpillars. Dewar B. P., 
163-7. 

They live chiefly on insects, impaling them on thorns before 
eating them. Bom. Gaz., Vol. XII, p. 34. 

These birds live almost entirely on insects ; the true shrikes 
occasionally seizing a small bird or mammal. Some descend to 
the ground to seize their prey, a few catch insects entirely on the 
wing, and others again merely search branches and leaves for their 
food. F. I., I, 455. Insects, small mammals and birds. Jerd. 
B. I., I, 986. 

Lanius. Capture insects on the ground, returning to their 
perch to devour them. Some species have the habit of impaling 
their prey on a thorn, and then tearing them to pieces. F. I. I., 
457. 

469. Lanius lahtora. Indian Grey Shrike. It has the usual 
habits of the tribe, sitting on the top of some low tree, on the watch 
for a mole cricket, a locust, or some young or sickly bird to come 
near. Mr. Phillip states he has seen it capture small birds. Jerd. 
B. I., I, 401. }-grown squirrel. B. N. H. S. U. 12. 572. 

473. Lanius vittatus. Bay-backeo^\Shrike. Young seem to be 
fed chiefly on large green caterpillars. Dewar, B. P., 167, 



MASON AND LEFROY. 87 

475. Lanius nigriceps. Black-headed Shrike. Grasshoppers 
and other insects on the ground. Jerd. B. I., 1, 404. Mole crickets 
B. N. H. S. J., 10, 610. 

476. Lanius erythronotus. Rufous-backed Shrike. Small 
caged birds (amadavit). Dewar, B. P., 165. 

Stomach examined 

13-5-07. 1. Trithemia pallidinervia. 
1. Myllocerua ap. 

Summary. One injurious and one beneficial insect taken. 

477. Lanius tephronotus. Grey-backed Shrike. Easily caught 
by an insect bait. Jerd. B. I., 1, 404. Mole crickets. B. N. H. 
S. J., X, 610. 

481. Lanius cristatus. Brown Shrike. White ants. B. N. 
H. S. J., X, 303. 

Stomachs examined* 

11-3-09. 8 Chrotogonua ep. 
12 Ephemerids. 

1 Small Coprid. 

1 Myllocerua discolor. 

1 Plecoptera reflexa. 
28-6-08. 6 Coleopterous elytra. 

1 Moth'a wing. 

1 Spider. 
0-10-08. 1 Myllocerua discolor. 

3 Tanymecua indicut. 

1 Pyralid's wing. 

1 Caterpillar. 
26-10-07. 11 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

1 Cicada. 

2 Caloclytus annularia. 
10-12-07. 11 Cr&mastogaster subnuda. 

3 Myllocerua discolor. 
1 Small Weevils. 

12 Small Coleoptera (elytra.) 
7-12-07. 15 (Ecophylla Smaragdina. 

3 Opatrum sp. 
12-12-08. 4 Cremaatogaster subnuda. 

13 Opatrurm depresaum. 

Summary. Oi 111 insects taken by 7 birds, are beneficial, 
37 injurious and 74 neutral. No birds took beneficial insects, 6 

The records stand under L. ffiitatus in Mr. Mason's Manuscript, but appear to belong tu 
No. 488. Tephrodornis pondicerianut. (See page 19.) T. B. F, 



88 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

took neutral and 6 injurious : 1 took a spider. This species feeds 
mostly on the ground. 

484. Hemipus picatus. Black-backed Pied Shrike. Now and 
then insects in the air. Jerd. B. I., I, 413. 

Malaconince (Wood-shrikes) on insects and leaves and branches. 
Jerd. B. I. G., 408. 

Tephrodornis arboreal, never catch insects on the wing. 
F. I., 1, 473. 

486. Tephrodornis pelvicus. Nepal Wood-shrike. (Hodgson) 
Grylli, also mantids, crickets, grubs and caterpillars. Jerd. B. I., I, 
409. 

487. Tephrodornis sylvicola. Malabar Wood-shrike. Insects 
on trees. Jerd. B. I., I, 411. 

488. Tephrodornis pondicerianus. Common Wood-shrike.* 
Chiefly coleoptera and orthoptera. Jerd. B. I., I, 411. 

Pericrocotus are arboreal ; insects on branches, only occasion- 
ally in the air or on the ground. F. I., I, 478. In flocks searching 
for insects. Bengal Gaz., Monghyr, 23. 

495. P. brevirostris. Short-billed Minivet. Coleoptera the 
chief food. Jerd. B. I., I, 421. 

500. P. peregrinus.SmaM Minivet. Small cicadas, beetles, 
Iarva3, &c. Jerd. B. I., 424. 

Stomachs examined 

8-3-09. 3 Small Geometrid larvae. 

1 Tani/mecus sp. 

1 Small Cerambycid. 
18-4-07. 1 Tanymecus sp. 

2 Small caterpillars. 
Some buds. 

4-10-08. Buds only. 

14-10-08. 4 Weevils. 

5 Small caterpillars. 

1 Calodytus annularis. 

Summary. 18 injurious insects were taken by 4 birds. 2 ol 
these birds took vegetable matter. 

tf, I 'See note against No. 481. Laniut UitfaAus, on preceding page. T. B. f. 

. ^^ I * 



MASON AND LEFROY. 89 

CampopJiagincB. Entirely insectivorous, caterpillars, &c. 
Jerd. B. I., I, 414. 

Campophaga. arboreal. 

505. C. melanoschista. Dark-grey Cuckoo-shrike. Chiefly 
caterpillars, also on other soft insects, as well as bugs and beetles, 
but never berries as Hodgson says it frequently eats. Jerd. B. I., 
I, 416. 

508. C. sykesi. Black-headed Cuckoo -shrike. Caterpillars 
and other soft insects. Jerd. B. I., I, 415. 

Graucalus. Insect food obtained among foliage ; arboreal, oc- 
casionally feeding on the ground. 

510. Graucalus macii. Large Cuckoo -shrike. Insects, chiefly 
caterpillars, mantids, locusts and other soft insects, but it also eats 
fruit, especially the fruit of the banyan. Jerd. B. I., 1, 417. In- 
sects and fruit on trees. Bom. Gaz., Cutch, Vol. X, p. 70. 

Stomachs examined 

26-2-09. 11 Weevi\s-[Astycus and Myllocerus spp.] 
1 Homoeocerus inornatus. 

1 Nezara viridula. 

2 Geometric! caterpillars. 
29-4-07. 1 Gryllodes melanocephalus. 

1 Gryllotalpa africana, 
6 Weevils sp. 

3 Hemiptera sp. ? 
5-6-08. 1 Gryllotalpa africana. 

15 Myllocerus sp. 

2 Nezara viridula. 

3 Cydnus nigritu*. 
1 Oydnua sp. 

Summary. 3 birds took 48 insects, 45 of which are injurious : 
1 bird took 3 neutral insects. 

Artamince catch their food entirely on the wing. F. I., 1, 498. 
A. S. B., LXIX, 115 (fuscus). 

513. Artamus leucogaster . White-rumped Swallow Shrike. 
Grasshoppers and other insects kicked up from grass. B. N. H. S. 
J., 17, 157. Insects on wing and turned up by the plough. B f N, 
H, S. J., 12, 395. 



90 THE POOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

The Laniince or Shrikes are in all probability beneficial. We 
have few stomach records, and references to the food of the various 
species of this family are few also. They certainly appear bene- 
ficial from what we know of them at present. About half of the 
Indian species occur in the plains. 

The Artamince or Swallow Shrikes of which there are only two 
species in India are regarded as one of the most useful groups in 
Australia. The Australian species occurs in the Andamans. 

ORIOLIM;. 

ORIOLES. 

Orioles feed upon both fruit and insects, and so cannot be re- 
garded as unmixed blessings to the agriculturist. Dewar B. 
P., 136. 

Their food is fruit and soft insects, such as caterpillars. Jerd 
B. 1., II, 106. Orioles frequent forests confining themselves to 
trees on the fruit of which they subsist together with insects found 
on the leaves. In habits strictly arboreal, never descending to the 
ground. F. I., I, 500. 

To say that orioles never descend to the ground is not strictly 
applicable to our two common Indian species. They may often be 
seen to fly down onto low shrubs such as Oleander, and will often 
go to the ground, in all probability to pick up some insect they have 
shaken off the bush. I have on several occasions seen insects taken 
on the ground, and sometimes even on a road. 

518. Oriolus kundoo. The Indian Oriole. It feeds chiefly 
on fruit, especially on the fruits of the banyan and pakur, on mul- 
berries, &c., and also occasionally on caterpillars and other soft 
bodied insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 208. 

Stomachs examined 

7-1-08. 1 Small Carabid. 

1 Lygceiis hospes. 

1 Nematode worm. 

F icus fruit. 
8-2-07. 4 Dysdercus cingulatus. 

3 Lygceus hospes. 



MASON AND LKfROY. 



91 



Stomachs examined contd. 

2 Lygasut sp. 
Ficut fruit. 

8-2-07. Ficus fruit. 

20-2-07. 2 Dysdercut cingulatut. 

Ficus fruit. 
13-3-07. 2 Weevil*. 

1 Dysdercus cingulatus. 

1 Nezara viridula ? 

2 Hemipterous scutella. 
20-3-07. 3 Myllocerus sp. 

Ficus fruit. 
11-4-09. 1 Camponotus compreasus. 

3 Myllocerus discolor. 
Ficus fruit. 

15-4-07. 3 Dysdercus cingulatus. 

2 Geometric! ? larvae. 
20-5-07. 4 Larvae. (Ocinara varians ?) 

Ficus fruit. 

16-5-08. 1 Large weevil. 

-- 4 Myllocerus sp. 

1 Hemipteroua scutellum. 
Ficus fruit. 

13-8-08. 8 Dysdercus cingulatus. 

2 Spiders. 

Ficus buds and fruits. 
7-9-08. 4 Myllocerus maculosus. 

1 Hemipterous scutellum. 

Ficus fruit and two buds. 
12-10-07. Acw* fruit. 

Summary. Of 52 insects taken by 13 birds, 1 is beneficial, 
40 injurious and 11 neutral. 11 birds took insects, 2 having eaten 
insects only. 1 took spiders. The vegetable food consists only of 
Ficus fruit, and this forms the greater bulk of the food taken. Two 
birds had eaten this fruit only. 

This bird is a migrant though a few remain during the cold wea- 
ther. It is very common during the hot weather and the rains. 
It feeds principally on Ficus fruits, but also largely on caterpillars 
and bugs (Hemiptera) amongst which, Dysdercus cingulatus the 
Red Cotton Bug frequently occurs ; this insect is taken off trees, 
seldom if ever off the cotton plant. This Oriole occasionally comes 
to the ground to feed, and while there has been seen to take the 
following insects, From a grassy " band " which it fed to its young, 
a grub of Anomala varians (sp. ?) a fairly large Carabid on a 



92 



THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 



road, and from grass at the side of a road a Pyralid moth and here 
also it attempted to catch a noctuid (Chloridea obsoleta) which, 
however, got away ; and a beetle (possibly a Tenebrionid) on a 
road. The young are fed principally on caterpillars and Ficus fruit, 
and to a less extent on moths, bugs and earthworms. No damage 
appears to be done to orchard fruits. It feeds, however, exten- 
sively on wild fruits, especially on Ficus and on mulberries. 

521. Oriolus melanocepkalus. It feeds chiefly on fruit, espe- 
cially on the figs of the banyan and other Fici ; it is said also to 
eat blossoms and buds. Jerd. B. I, II, 111. Almost entirely on 
fruit. Bom. Gazette, Cutch, Vol. X, p. 76. 

Stomachs examined 

9-1-08. 3 Myllocerus discolor. 

1 Spider. 

22-1-08. 7 Dysdercus cingulatut. 

2 LygcBus hospes. 
1 Noctuid moth. 

2-2-09. 1 Odynerus punctum. 

1 Lawana conspersa. 

Ficus fruit. 
3-2-07. 1 Lygceus hospes. 

3 Myllocerus sp. 

1 Dysdercus cingulatus. 
Ficus fruit. 

12-2-08. 1 Foliates hebroeus. 

2 Spiders. 
Ficus fruit. 

14-2-07. Ficus fruit. 

17-2-08. 8 Dysdercus cingulatus. 

2 Myllocerus discolor. 
2 Myllocerus blandus. 

Small Geometrid larva. 
10-3-07. 1 Dysdercus cingulatus. 
2 Lygceus sp. 
1 Nezara viridula ? 

Ficus fruit. 
19-3-07. 5 Geometrid larvae. 

Ficus fruit. 
21-4-07. 5 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

1 Caradrina pecten ? 
Ficus fruit. 

21-4-07. 2 Small larvae. 

Ficus fruit. 
30-4-07. 5 Opatrum sp. 

2 Myllocerus discolor. 

3 Small weevils. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 93 

Stomachs examined contd. 

4-5-08. 3 Dysdercus cingulatut. 

2 Nezara viridula. 

1 Hemipterous scutellum. 

1 Noctuid moth. 
4-5-07. 3 Myllocerus maculosus. 

Ficus fruit. 
4-5-07. 1 Rhynchium sp. 

3 Myllocerus discolor. 

1 Lepidopterous larva ? 

Ficus fruit. 

20-5-07. Ficus fruit. 

20-5-07.. Ficus fruit. 

7-9-08. 1 Polistes hebrceua. 

1 Myllocerus sp. 

Fictis fruit. 

^ 30-9-07. 1 Noctuid (wings). 

1 Nezara viridula. 
3 Hemiptera [heads]. 

Trace of Ficus fruit. 
10-10-08. 1 Astycus lateralis. 

1 Myllocerus maculosua. 
Ficus fruit. 

1-11-07. Ficus fruit. 

1-11-07. 3 Myllocerus sp. 

2 . Astycus lateralis. 

3 Weevils. 

2 Larvae (Lepidoptera 7). 
10-11-07. fictw fruit. 

Summary. Of 95 insects taken by 23 birds, 4 are beneficial, 
73 injurious and 18 neutral. 5 had eaten insects only. 4 took be- 
neficial insects, 17 injurious and 7 neutral. 2 birds took spiders : 
Ficus appears to be the only fruit taken. 17 birds had eaten this, 
5 containing nothing else. 

The food and feeding habits of the Black-headed Oriole are 
practically identical with those of the Indian Oriole. It is, however, 
a resident throughout the year. I have seen it apparently feeding 
on the ground twice, but could not see what it may have been feed- 
ing on. 

522. Oriolus trailli. Caterpillars only. Jerd. B. L, II, 112. 

Three species of Orioles occur in the plains, the two mentioned 
above being the only common species. Both these common species 
are beneficial. In some districts these birds are apparently eaten 



4 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

by natives. They need protection on the same lines as is suggested 
under Coracias indica (No. 1022). 

The Orioles are all probably beneficial. 

EULABETID.E. 

GRACKLES OR TALKING MYNAHS. 

Entirely frugivorous. Jerd. B. I., ii, 337. Strictly arboreal 
feeding entirely on fruit. F. I., 1, 509. 

523. Eulabes religiosa. Southern Grackle. Fruits and ber- 
ries of various kinds. Jerd. B. I., ii, 238. 

524. E. intermedia. Indian Grackle. Large numbers snared 
and exported to Calcutta until quite recently but the trade is now 
forbidden. B. N. H. S. J., XVII, 158. 

527. Calornis chalybeius. Glossy Calornis. Feeding chiefly 
upon figs, and honey out of flowers. B. N. H. J. S., XVII, 158. 
Ficus fruits. B. N. H. S. J., XII, 397. 

Probably of no importance. Most are frugivorous and haunt 
hill tracts. 

STURNIDAE. 

Mainahs and Rosy Pastors. "Gram and other leguminous 
rabi crops are much damaged by illi the larvae of Chloridea obso- 
leta, a green caterpillar, that eats out the pods. It is especially 
liable to spread in cloudy weather and its great foes are Mainas 
and Rosy Pastors ; when there are trees round a field for these 
creatures to perch on they will soon make an end of the caterpillars. 
A field attacked by illi often seems perfectly alive with starlings 
of all kinds hopping up and down in pursuit of their prey which they 
eat without ceasing all day long." Balaghat Dist. Gaz., 1907. 

The more terrestrial forms walk and run excellently, often stop- 
ping suddenly to probe the soil for worms or larvae, which with in- 
sects generally, and molluscs provide the chief sustenance. A large 
amount of fruit is also consumed, including berries and seeds ; 
Frogs, and as some say, callow nestlings are devoured ; Pastor, Dilo- 



MASON AND LEFBOY. 95 

phus and Aoridotkeres destroy locusts ; Eulabes and its allies prefer 
vegetable food. E. B. C. N. H., 561. The starlings are gregarious, 
feeding alike on grain, fruit and insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 320. They 
frequent trees, but the major portion of their food is obtained on 
the ground. F. I., 1, 517. 

528. Pastor roseus. Kosy Pastor. 

The following account is taken from Indian Museum Notes : 
"In view of the great effect which the bird undoubtedly has 
in keeping the locusts in check it has been suggested in several 
quarters that it might be a good thing to take measures to have it 
protected by legislation. It seems very doubtful, however, to what 
extent any such measure would be useful in the end, in view of the 
great injury the bird is said to do to grain crops in India. Jerdon 
(B I., Vol. II, p. 333) says " It usually makes its appearance in the 
Deccan and Carnatic about November, associating in vast flocks, 
and committing great devastations on the grain fields more 
especially on those of the cholumor jowaree (Andropogon sorghum) 
whence its familiar name in the south. Mr. Elliott says "Is very 
voracious and injurious to the crops of white jowaree." He also 
describes how the coolies are stationed in the fields with the slings, 
&c., to scare the birds whose depredations are committed in the 
mornings and evenings, and adds. "The Tilliars are so active that 
if they be able to alight on the stalks for an instant, they can 
pick out several grains. They prefer the half ripe Jowaree, whilst 
the farinaceous matter is still soft and milky. When they can no 
longer get grain, they feed on various grass and other seeds, flower 
buds, fruit, and also on insects, seeking them on the ground, but 
they are rarely seen with cattle in India. The Telugu name is de- 
rived from the name of a plant whose fruit they are particularly fond 
of. Mr. Blythe remarks that 'They visit the neighbourhood of 
Calcutta only at the end of the cool season, when flocks of them are 
not unfrequently observed upon the arboreal cotton tree then in 
bloom/ Burgess state? that he has seen them busily feeding on the 
flowers of the leafless caper, a shrub very common in the Deccan 
on the banks of the large rivers. Dr. Adams says that 'it is very 



96 THE POOD OF 6IR&S IN INt>lA. 

abundant in the Punjab committing great havoc on the grain there/ 
In the North -West of India and Afghanistan they devour large 
quantities of mulberries in the spring. They at times, however, 
feed much on insects, and are called the "locust-bird" in Persia, 
according to Chesney. . . .Burgess also states that in 1850 towards 
the end of August he saw a large flock feeding on insects in the open. 
They do not breed in India." 

<( It has been noticed also that when the locusts enter a grain 
field, the Tilliars do not pursue them into it, but station themselves 
all round its borders and kill the locusts as they issue forth/' 

The following reports are also from the same source. Locusts 
in parts of Sind in 1889-1890 were exterminated by the Jowari bird. 
Mr. Omanney mentions that these birds were great enemies of the 
locust (Khandesh 1883). Similar reports were made by Dr. F. 
Chand, Gujranwalla, 1891 ; by the Director of Land Records and 
Agriculture, Punjab, the Bannu District 1891 by the Acting De- 
puty Commissioner of Thar and Parkar, Sind, 1891. Major H. P. 
Leigh says it appears in Kohat with Kabul sparrows, when the 
mulberries are ripe ; it preys on the locust, but if in small numbers 
will not face a large swarm. It appears to kill them for amusement 
rather than for food leaving them in a very mutilated condition. 
The Deputy Commissioner, Dera Ismail Khan, wrote in 1891 that 
the rosy pastor eats locusts greedily, and though large swarms of 
these insects appeared but little damage was done to the crops as 
the birds drove them off. Mr. E. C. Cotes also notes this habit in 
" the locust invasion of 1889-1892." (1. M. N., Ill, 79.) 

Jerdon also notes (B. I. II. 334) this bird is more a grain and 
fruit eater perhaps than any other members of the family. 

Stebbing (M. F. Z.), with regard to the distribution of seeds by 
means of birds voiding undigested seeds, says : ' ' A good example 
of this action of birds can be seen in the Changa Manga plantation, 
where the Rosy Pastor, which assembles in enormous flocks to feed 
on the fruits of the mulberry trees in the plantation, has distributed 
the seed, and consequently planted up considerable areas in this 



MASON AND LEFROY. 97 

manner. On the other hand, this bird is a serious pest in fields of 
grain." 

The Rosy Pastor is a great enemy to the larvae of Chloridea 
obsoleta on gram and other leguminous crops. Balaghat Dist. 
Gaz., 1907. 

At certain times of the year large flocks of Tilliars (the Rosy 
Pastor) visit the district, and wage war against the locusts, if there 
are any about. Punjab Gaz., Jhelum, 25. 

Rosy Pastor " The hereditary enemy of the locust." Punjab 
Gaz., Shapur, 21. 

Pastor roseus stays as long as there is any grain or fruit to be 
had. Bom. Gaz., Cutch, Vol. 5. 

In large flocks in every grain field. Bom. Gaz., XII, 36. 

The damage done to grain crops, especially jowari, is always 
greater if there are any trees about on which the birds can perch in 
the neighbourhood. If there are no trees the birds can be driven 
off the fields much more effectively, and the damage therefore to 
cropped areas is not nearly so great. Planting up of babul trees 
is therefore unpopular in some localities. Bom. Gaz., Sholapur, 
XX, 514. 

Notoriously destructive to grain crops, especially millet. 
Imp. Gaz. I, 243. 

The " golia " (? Rosy Pastor) is a bird which appears in 
October ; it damages the crops, but as a set off against this it is a 
special enemy of the locusts. Punjab Gaz., Hissar, 20. 

March and April, insects in the flowers of Bombax malabari- 
cum. Bom. Gaz.. Ahmedabad, IV, 82. 
stomachs examined 

14_4_08. 1 Myllocerus maculosus, 

Ficus fruit. 
14-4-08. >| 

14-4-08. I Ficus fruit (F. religioaa). 

14-4-08. | 

15-4-08. 

1~-4_08 ' FLCUS fruit (F. religiosa). 

Summary. 1 injurious insect taken ; examined 6 birds. All 
had eaten Ficus fruit, 



98 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

I have only seen this bird twice in Behar in the last three years 
and the six specimens then obtained proved to have fed almost 
entirely on Ficus fruit. In September 1908 I noticed this species 
to be very generally distributed from Delhi to Rohri (via Bhatinda) 
in cultivated areas. It appeared to be in small flocks, only about 50 
birds at the most in a flock, and so in this respect much resembling 
the Bank Mynah (Acridotheres ginginianus) and to feed all day 
long in the crops of jowari. Most of the bird scaring is done from 
"machans" erected in the middle of the crop, the birds being scared 
off the crop by slings, shouting, beating tins, &c. Almost every year 
when one hears of locust swarms these birds together with crows 
are reported to accompany the swarms and to act as a considerable 
check on the numbers of the locusts. They not only destroy large 
numbers of locusts, but also do much good, since, by worrying the 
insects, they drive them on from place to place, so checking the dam- 
age to some extent and preventing the crops of one locality from 
total destruction. The damage is lessened and spread over a larger 
area. The only record we have of this bird attacking other insect 
pests was in conection with a spasmodic and an unique attack on 
various crops by a species of cricket, possibly Liogryllus bimaculatus. 
This attack was completely checked by this bird. 

It is more than probable that this species, when noticed on the 
jowari crops and apparently feeding entirely on the grain, also takes 
some insects. In very few cases will it be found that more or less 
omnivorous birds have their diet consisting entirely of one farm of 
food at any time. 

[ It is extremely uncertain how far one can say that this bird 
really does any good with locust-hoppers. They come in flocks and 
feed during the day when the hoppers are fairly active, with the 
result that the swarms break up and scatter, making the work of 
destruction more difficult. I have never seen or heard of a case 
where the birds were numerous enough to really effect the numbers 
of the hoppers materially ; the flocks of birds are very impressive, 
but each bird eats only a few hoppers and they are not restricted 
wholly to them, but appear to require other food at the same time, 



MASON AND LEFROY. 99 

In the case of winged locusts, each locust is broken up and only a part 
is eaten but only a small number are killed. 

On the other hand, a bird that eats Chloridea obsoleta on gram is 
doing very material good and this observation requires confirmation. 
There is a need for accurate observation and stomach examination 
of this bird in some locality in Northern India throughout the year, 
to provide data on which to estimate the real value of this bird, 
H.M.L.] 

Sturnus. Starlings feed chiefly on the ground on insects and 
worms, but they are fond of fruit and berries which they pick off 
trees. 

529. Sturnus humii. Himalayan Starling. Grain and insects 
among cattle. Jerd. B. I., 11, 312. 

532. Sturnw menzbieri. Common Indian Starling. Grain and 
insects among cattle. Works grass lands like a Mynah. Jerd. 
B. L, II, 322. 

Sturnia more arboreal than true starlings, feeding on insects 
and the nectar contained in flowers, but they also feed on the ground 
a good deal. F. I., I., 525. 

537. Sturnia Uythii.Blyth's Mynah. Entirely arboreal. 
Insscbs and larvae, small shells (Bulimi) and occasionally on fruit. 
Jerd. B. L, II, 332. 

538. Sturnia malabarica. Grey-headed Mynah. Strictly ar- 
boreal. I do not remember ever having seen a Grey-headed Mynah 
on the ground. B. N. H. S. J., XVI, 488. Feeds chiefly on trees, 
on various fruits and seeds, also on insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 331. 

Stomachs examined 

15-2-09. 16 Myllocerus sp. 
1 Tanymecus sp. 

These insects were obtained from flowers of Bombax malabaricum. 
A little Ficus fruit 
2-4-08. 1 Ephemerid. 

6 ? Carabids ? 
1 Myllocerus maculosus. 
1 Pyralid ? 

[Vegetable master: consisting of Ficua an. grass seeds. 



100 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Stomachs examined contd. 

15-5-08. 1 Small beetle. 

Ficus fruit. 
24-5-08. 1 Gryllid. 

14 Myllocerus sp. 

Ficus fruit, 
22-6-08. 1 Monomma brunneum. 

Ficus fruit. 

20-7-08. 6 Coleopterous elytra. 

1 Elaterid. 

9 Geometric! caterpillars. 
3 Ocinara varians larvae. 

There was a moth's cocoon in this bird's beak when shot. 
23-8-08. 1 Astycua loteralis. 

1 Hemipteron sp.? 
Ficus fruit. 

Summary. Of 64 insects taken by 7 birds, 6 are beneficial, 47 
injurious, and 11 neutral. 1 bird took beneficial insects, 5 injurious, 
and 5 neutral. 6 contained Ficus fruit, one of these also containing 
other vegetable matter. 

This bird chiefly haunts Bombax malalaricum when in flower 
and also Sissoo. It occasionally comes to the ground to feed on insects 
though it is, for the most part, frugivorous. It is far more numerous 
at Pusa during the rairs than at other times. It breeds in holes 
in trees, and feeds the young mostly if not entirely on lepidopterous 
larvae and grubs. I have seanMelolonthid, Geometrid and Noctuid 
larvae fed to the young. 

540. Sturnia andamanensis. Andaman Mynah. Leaf-rolling 
caterpillars on bamboo, general insect feeder. B. N. H. S. J., XII, 
397. These caterpillars are, in all probability, the larvae of the com- 
mon Pyralid Pyrausta codesalis. 

541. Sturnia erythropygia. Nicobar Mynah. Berries and 
fruits : occasionally insects on wing. B. N. H. S. J., XII, 398. 

544. Temenuchus pagodarum. Black-headed Mynah. Brah- 
miny Mynahs do not seem to be particular what they eat. Numbers 
will usually be seen in the neighbourhood of the conservancy trenches. 
B. N. H. S. J., XVI, 488. At Madras it feeds chiefly on the ground 
among cattle, in company with A, tristis, picking up grasshoppers 
and other insects. It also feeds on trees, on various fruits, berries 



MASON AND LEFROY. 101 

and flower buds and occasionally insects. Adam says that in Kash- 
mir it feeds on seeds and buds of pines. When the silk-cotton tree 
comes into flower, it is always to be found feedirg on the insects 
that harbour in the flowers. Jerd. B. I. II, 230. 

I once saw one of these Mynahs pick up a large caterpillar in 
some grass by the side of a road. 

547. Graculipica burmanica. Jerdon's Mynah. When the 
big cotton trees (Bombax maabaricum) are in Lower, these bhds 
may be seen and heard in immense numbers. B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 
189. 

Acridotheres. The true Mynahs prefer insect food but will also 
eat grain, and indeed are almost as omnivorous as the ciows. Jeid. 
B. I., II, 324. 

549. A. tnstis. Common Mynah. Fragments of cooked lice 
round houses : others attend flocks of cattle picking up grasshoppers 
disturbed by their feet while some hunt for grain or fruit In- 
troduced to Mauritius from India to destroy grasshoppers and is per- 
fectly naturalized there. Jerd. B. I., II, 325. 

Some kinds of birds, such as Sparrows, Mynahs and Wagtails 
eat weevils (Calandra oryzae) I. M. N., 1., 28. 

This objectionable bird is doing its best to oust Slurnia anca- 
manensis from the Andamans. It was introduced in 1873. B. N. 
H. S. J., XVII, 159. 

They have also been introduced to Hawaii, and New Zeals hd 
and in some localities are said to be a great nuisance, as they drive 
away pigeons and fowls and are said to destroy nests and eggs of 
domestic birds. 

The " gurral " (t A. tristis) is another bird which has a well 
developed taste for standing crops. Punjab Gaz., Hissar., 20. 

Gulgul is a local name in the Central Provinces for A. Iristis 
and therefore gurral may possibly refer to the same species. Grain, 
fruit and insects. Bombay Gaz., Ahmedabad, IV, 82. 



102 



THE FOOD OF BIEDS IN INDIA. 



Stomachs examined 

1-1-08. 1 Chrotogonus sp. 

3 Paddy grains. 

Ficus fruit. 
5-2-08. 5 Oat grains. 

7 Maize grains. 

Ficus fruit. 
5-2-08. 1 Ephemerid. 

1 Myllocerus discolor. 

1 Hemipteroub scutellum. 

7 Maize grains. 

Ficus religiosus fruit. 
6-2-09. 7 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

1 Camponotus compressus. 
Maize grains. 

Oat husks and grass blades. 
10-2-08. 1 Opatrum sp. 

5 Oats. 

Ficus sp. fruit. 
Bombax malabaricum flower. 
15-2-08. 8 Maize grains. 

Ficus fruit. 

15-2-08. Ficus fruit. 

28-2-08. 6 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

3 Camponotus compressus. 
1 Phidole malinsi. 
1 Myllocerus sp. 
1 Bibio sp. , 
1 Bagrada picta. 
Grass seeds. 
Ficus religiosus fruit. 
28-2-08. 1 Camponotus cdmpressus. 

1 Anomala varians. 
1 Green Geometrid larva. 
2-3-08. Ficus religiosus fruit. 

14-5-08. 1 Gryllotalpa afr'cana. 

1 A pis indica. 
12 Tenebrionids. 
1 Spider. 

Ficus fruit. 

14-5-08. 6 Chrotogonus sp. 

1 Tryxalis sp. 
5 Brachytrypes achatin'us: 

Ficus fruit. 
29-5-08. 5 Chrotogonus sp. 

3 Opatrum sp. 
22-6-08. 1 Troa; indicus (sp. ?) 

1 Carabid sp. 

2 Weevils probably Myllocerus sp. 
.F icws fruit. 

25-6-08. 2 Chrotogonus sp. 

1 Oxya sp. ?. 



MASON AND LEFKOY. 



Stomachs examined contd. 

1 Tanymecus sp. 
3 Myllocerus sp. 
7 Maize grains. 

5-7-08. 7 Liogryllus bimaculatus ? 

Ficus fruit. 

87-08. 8 Brachytrypes achatinus 

3 Myllocerus maculosus. 

2 Earth-worms. 
24-8-08. 1 Small grasshopper. 

I Ephemerid. 

I Sphex lobatus. 

I Scolia quadri-pustulata. 

1 Myllocerus sp. 

1 Spider. 

Ficus fruit. 

A few small seeds. 



14-8-08. | 
to 5-11-08. I 
9-10-08. 



12-11-08. 



9-12-08. 
9-12-08. 
9-12-08. 
9-12-08. 



Eleven birds contained maize grains and Ficus frui*' only. 

1 Coprid sp. ? 
Ficus fruit. 
Vegetable matter. 

1 Dorylus sp. 

2 Astycus lateralis. 

1 Small beetle. 

2 Myllocerus maculosus. 

2 Carabids. 
Vegetable matter. 
Ficus fruit. 
Ficus fruit. 
Ficus fruit. 

3 Camponotus compressus. 
1 Gymnopleurus miliaris. 

Ficus fruit. 



Summary. Of 110 insects taken by 35 birds, 58 are injurious, 
5 beneficial and 47 neutral. 45 birds took beneficial insects, 13 in- 
jurious and 12 neutral. One bird took worms, and 2 took spiders. 
Two birds took insects only. 

Twenty-nine birds took Ficus fruit, this food forming the greater 
proportion of the food found in the stomachs examined ; 5 took 
oats, 16 maize, and 1 paddy grains. One took the flower of Bomlax 
malaba icum and 5 contained other vegetable matter. Eighteen 
contained vegetable matter only. 

The Common Mynah has the usual habits of the starlings, work- 
ing grass lands, and freshly ploughed fields for insects. It is not a 
general fruit eater, though a large proportion of its food consists of 



104 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

the fruits of the various common Indian Fici. This is apparently 
the only class of fruit it habitually eats. It is said to do no harm to 
orchard fruits, and only visits such places for insects which it can 
pick up off the ground. I remember in one instance taking a straw- 
berry out of the stomach of a Mynah. When any Ficus is ripe all 
birds found in the locality, if examined, are almost certain to contain 
some of this fruit. Of other vegetable materials which form part cf 
the Mynah's food, the large succulent flowers of the Silk-cotton Tree 
(Bombax malabaricum) are largely eaten in February and March, 
grass and weed seeds and more rarely leaves are taken throughout 
the year. In a few cases I have noted that white fleshy axils 
had been eaten. Of cereals maize is the particular favourite 
and some considerable damage is done to this crop from mid June 
until the harvest is finished, some preference being undoubtedly 
shown to the seeds while still soft and unripe. Eleven birds examined 
during this period have contained nothing but this food together 
with a little Ficus fruit. Wheat is occasionally taken, and bats to 
an even less extent. Sorghum was said in December 1906 to have 
been damaged considerably by Common Mynahs at Pusa, but I 
fancy this was not due to A. tristis, but to A. ginginianus and S. 
contra. 

With regard to its insect food the Mynah is not at all parti- 
cular. Grasshoppers, crickets, and the larvae of both Coleoptera 
and Lepidoptera are perhaps taken more than any other foims. 
Grasshoppers are mostly taken when the birds accompany cattle 
feeding on grass lands, the insects being disturbed by the cattle. 
Crickets are usually taken in irrigated land when they are drowned 
out, or flooded out, of their holes. Irrigated lands, too, afford 
this bird a good hunting ground for worms, which are eagerly 
sought for at all times, but notably during the rains. Mynahs eat a 
considerable number of moths of all descriptions. I have seen 
Plusia orichalcia and Ancylolomia chrysographella and various other 
Noctuids and Pyralids taken on the wing. These birds are some- 
times present during attacks of swarming caterpillars and with 
Sturnopastor contra were said to have considerably checked these 



MASON AND LEFEOY. 105 

insects (Prodenia littoralis, Caradrina exigua, and Spodoptera mau- 
ritia) in the Central Provinces in 1908. I have seen it also per- 
suing Papilio pzmmin and P. demoleus, and also the common wasp 
Polistes hebrceus. At the commencement of the rains when the 
flying termites emerge the food consists largely of these insects, 
taken both on the wing and at the emergence exits ; in the latter 
case both the winged and wingless forms of the termites being 
taken. With its fig diet numbers of the fig parasite are eaten. 

When working grass lands and when following the plough 
great numbers of cutworms and some Melolonthid larvae are eaten, 
as often as not at such times the food being composed almost entirely 
of the former pests. 

During the attack of Ophiusa melicerte on castor at Pusa in 
1909 the Mynah was present, though in no great numbers, and was 
feeding to a certain extent on these caterpillars helping with other 
birds to check the numbers of the insects. The first larva of Ophiusa 
coronita was found at Pusa (H. M. Lefroy) owing to the fact that 
a Mynah was seen trying to take it from its food plant (QuisqualisJ 
The Common Mynah and also Starlings are said to feed on beetle 
grubs in " Senji," but I doubt their ability to do so as they do not 
usually feed on boring insects. 

I have ssldom noticed Mynahs eating beetles, the only ones so 
far noted being various species of Tenebrionids especially Opatrum 
spp., and Bolboceras calanus (on one occasion only). An apparent 
dislike is at times shown towards various species of Carabids Ch- 
Icenius sp., &c.) I have often seen these birds feeding on roads 
where there were plenty of these beetles and yet they were not 
touched. 

The food of the young consists mostly of larvae of various sorts; 
cutworms of several species Agrotis ypsilon, A. ftammatra ? A. spini- 
fera, &c. varied with a certain proportion of Melolonthid larvae, 
grasshoppers, crickets and soft fruits such as Ficus. I noticed on 
one occasion, when a young bird was being fed in the field, that 
its food then consisted almost entirely of the common cricket 
Liogryllus bimaculatus. 



106 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

During the rains a very favourite hunting ground with the My- 
nah is banks, grassy or otherwise, in which various species of crickets 
have their burrows. They may be seen hunting there all day wait- 
ing for a cricket to come out, but they appear to catch more in the 
evenings when the crickets come out in greater numbers. King- 
cuows capture many of these insects at the same place and not in- 
fra^ueatly rob the Mynahs. The two species of crickets taken in 
at such times are Brachytrypes achatinus and to a less extent 
Gryllotalpa africana, ; the latter coming out of their burrows later in 
the evenings. Mynahs join with crows and king-crows in mobbing 
snakes. ' I know of few things more amusing than to witness a 
pair of Mynahs give a snake a bit of their minds as they waltz along 
baside it in a most daring manner." Dewar, B. P., 97. 

551. Acridotheres ginginianus. Bank Mynah. Usual habits 
of the group, feeding much with cattle and partaking alike of insects, 
gcain and fruit. Jerd. B. I., 99, II., 327. When indigo is cut, this 
bird occurs commonly in the fields for insects ; also among cattle 
picking insects off their legs. B. N. H. S. J., XVIII., 630. 

Stomachs examined.' 

24-8-08. 1 Cyrtacanthacris ranacea. 

2 Chrotogonus sp. 

2 Gamponotus compressus. 

1 Penthecus sp. (Pusa No. 2442). 

1 Myllocerus sp. 

1 Sphceridium 5-maculatum. 

Chla?.niu8. 

1 Chlcenius sp. (Pusa No. 1172). 

1 Histerid. 

3 Carabids (spp.) 
23 Diptera. 

30-6-09. 3 Small coleopterous elytra. 

7 Ophiusa melicerte larva. 

1 Nezara viridula. 
30-6-09. 1 Coleopterous elytron (Tenebrionid ?). 

92 Ophiusa melicerte larvae. 
30-6-09. 2 Camponotus compressus. 

1 Opatrum sp. 

5 Ophiusa melicerle larvae. 
30-6-09. 14 Ophiusa melicerte larvae. 
30-6-09. 12 Ophiusa melicerte larvae. 
30-6-09. 8 Ophiusa melicerte larvae. 

30-6-09. 7 Ophiusa melicerte larvae. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 107 

Summary. Of 106 insects taken by 8 birds, 4 are beneficial, 
67 injurious, and 35 neutral. One bird took beneficial insects, 8 
injurious, 4 neutral. 

This bird appears only to hunt in flocks, much more so than 
is the habit with the Common Mynah (A. tristis}. During the last 
two years I have only seen it atPusa on one or two occasions ; on the 
first it was feeding among cattle on various insects, among which 
from the stomach then obtained it appears it was largely feeding 
on flies. The second occasion it appeared in fairly large numbers 
during a very bad attack of the common castor pest, Ophiusa meli 
cer'e. The seven birds then obtained showed that it was feeding 
almost entirely on this caterpillar, the greatest number in one 
stomach being 14. The flock of birds in the 2 acres of castor 
numbered at least two hundred, and estimating the number of 
caterpillars eaten per bird per day as 50 a very low estimate - we 
see that these birds destroyed at least 10,000 caterpillars in one day. 
This bird appears to be locally known as the '* Tilliar," and 
therefore in any local reports it is as well to note that in parts of 
Behar at any rate this name does not apply to the Rosy Pastor. 

Information with regard to this bird's food is at present very 
limited, but from what is on record it would appear that this Mynah 
is the most beneficial of the whole group. It is possible, however, 
that damage reported to crops, such as that I have already mention- 
ed under A. tristis (damage to sorghum at Pusa in 1906), maybe due 
to this species. 

This sudden appearance at Pusa, where the bird is but seldom 
observed, is an excellent instance of local migration for food, and it 
would be interesting to know by what means the bird detected the 
presence of the caterpillars. It may also be interesting to note 
that in the attack abovementioned A. tristis was only present in 
very small numbsrs, and certainly destroyed very few caterpillars 
in comparison with A. ginginianus. These birds disappeared as 
soon as there were no more caterpillars to feed on, a few remaining 
in the fields accompanying cattle, which is the commonest method 



108 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

adopted by this bird for obtaining food. It is in appearance very 
much like A. tristis and may easily be confounded with this bird at 
a distancs, by anyone who has not closely studied the habits and 
appearance of both species. 

552. Aethiopsar fuscus. The Jungle Mynah. Seeds and fruit 
of various kinds, and it is very often seen clinging to the tall stem 
of the large Lobelia so common on the Neilgherries, feeding on the 
small insects (bugs chiefly) that infest the capsules of that plant. 
Jerd. B. I., II, 328. 

On the Gauhati-Shillong road, this Mynah may be found at 
every halting stage, where it feeds on the remains of cattle food and 
the spilt rice and gram. -B. N. H. S. J., XVII, 795. 

Grain, fruit and insects. Bom. Gaz., Ahmedabad, IV, 82. 

554. Aethiopsar albicinctus. Collared Mynah. Feeding on 
the ground, or on the insects and nectar in the huge flowers of the 
cotton tree. F. I., I, 542. 

555. Sturnopastor contra. Pied Mynah. Grain, fruits and 
insects among cattle. Jerd. B. I., II, 324. 

Stomachs examined 

8_2-09. 7 Opatrum depression. 

Ficus fruit. 

12-2-08. 1 Melolonthid larva. 

1 Coprid. 

Ficus fruit. 

22-2-08. Ficus fruit. 

1-3-09. Ficus fruit. 

1-3-08. 5 Opatrum sp. 

12-3-08. 1 Onthophagus sp. 

1 Caterpillar. 
Ficus fruit. 

16-3-09. Ficus fruit. 

16-4-08. Ficus fruit. 

21-4-08. Ficus fruit. 

30-4-08. 5 Chrotogonus sp. 

2 Cutworms. 
Ficus fruit. 

2-5-08. 1 Onthophagus sp. 

Ficus fruit. 
13-5-08. 2 Tryxalis sp. 

1 Chrotogonus sp. 

2 Cutworms. 



MASON AND LEFEOY. 109 

Stomachs examined contd. 

F icus fruit. 
21-6-08. 3 Camponotus compressu*. 

1 Small cricket. ' 
Vegetable matter. 

22-6-08. 3 Ants (legs only). 

2 Opatrwm (depressum ?) 
I Carabid. 

1 Small caterpillar. 

Ficus fruit. 
27-11-08. Grass and weed leaves and seeds. 

Summary. Of 39 insects taken by 14 birds, 1 is beneficial, 25 
injurious, and 13 neutral. One bird took a beneficial insect^ 6 
neutral and 7 injurious insects. One bird took insects only, 12 bird's 
took Ficus fruit which forms a greater percentage of this bird's food 
than that of the Common Mynah, and 2 took other vegetable 
matter. Six took vegetable matter only. 

The Pied Mynah has much the same feeding habits as the 
Common Mynah. On the whole, however, it is decidedly more vege- 
tarian. Some of this species may nearly always be seen in company 
with A. tristis working grass and cultivated fields, and they are 
seldom seen by themselves in flocks of more than 20 birds or so. 
When any Ficus fruit is ripe or a cereal crop, such as maize, the birds 
flock to these and at such times will be found to feed on little else. 
They seem even more partial to Ficus fruit than the Common 
Mynah. Some considerable damage is. done at times to the various 
common cereal crops maize, sorghum and paddy especially. Its 
insect food is much the same as that of the Common Mynah, consist- 
ing as far as one can S3e in the field very largely of grasshoppers, 
small moths, &c. I have not noticed it to take flying Termites. 

The Sturnidce. Starlings and Mynahs are perhaps the most 
widely distributed and generally known of all our Indian birds, and 
it is to this group in particular that special attention is required 
in order to determine whether they are of sufficient economic in> 
portance to require protection and encouragement. Information 
with regard to the food of the commoner species is at present ab- 
solutely inadequate fqr any definite statement to be made, and can 



110 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

only be given when we have a far larger series of stomach records, 
and also reliable information from field observations from the main 
localities frequented by these birds. 

With regard to the Rosy Pastor little can be said beyond what 
has already been noted. It must, however, be borne in mind that 
as soon as the locusts migrate from the hills for their breeding grounds 
these birds attack them ; they therefore attack the first swarms and 
reduce their numbers considerably before egg-laying commences, the 
good done at that time therefore being of far more value than if the 
insects were only attacked after egg-laying had commenced or finish- 
ed. The Rosy Pastor does not breed in India ; if it did so, it would 
probably have the habits of the Common Mynahs in feeding its young 
on caterpillars to a great extent and also on other insects, and we 
could then put it down as beneficial in India generally, in spite of 
the vast damage done to ripening jowari, &c. As it is, it seems a 
doubtful question as to whether the harm done outweighs the good. 

Sturnopastor and Acridotheres have already been discussed. 
They at times appear to do some considerable damage to maize, 
sorghum and other grains, but they are also very general insect feed- 
ers, being especially fond of grasshoppers, and it would seem that 
they are beneficial, and that the custom of putting out boxes for 
the birds to breed in, as practised in some parts, is to be commended. 
Even when these birds are found in cereal crops and feeding on the 
grain, a fair proportion of this grain is picked up off the ground and 
the stomachs of birds obtained under such conditions nearly always 
contain a number of insects. The food of the young too consists 
almost entirely of insects, and these mostly injurious ones. They 
are, as a rule, encouraged in fruit orchards. 

Sturnus contains one species which migrates to the plains in 
the cold weather S. menzbieri, and which works grass lands like 
a typical starling. I have not seen it on ploughed or cultivated 
lands. Other genera are composed mostly of uncommon or hill 
species which can have but little reference to agriculture, and we 
can safely assume that as long as these birds are not greatly on the 



MASON AND LEFROY. Ill 

ncrease they are beneficial. We have no definite records of any 
damage being done to fruit by this family. 

Of crows and starlings Mr. W. L. Sclater (I. M. N., Vol. II, p. 
121), says : " With regard to those of mixed diet. . .it would cer- 
tainly be unadvisable to protect them, since they do much greater 
harm in devouring fruit and grain than they do good in destroying 
insects, such is specially the case with crows and starlings." 

We know practically nothing of value of the food of the starlings 
in India. Of the mynahs more but not enough is yet known. As 
with all omnivorous birds before we can think of protection we must 
know the beneficial importance of the species in question at the 
present time, and also, a fact which is equally if not even more im- 
portant, what food that species will lake if by any chance its present 
normal food supply fails. 

MUSCICAPID^E. 

The Flycatchers feed on insects which they either catch on the 
wing starting from a perch to which they return several times, or 
by running with the aid of their wings along the limbs of trees. F 
I. II, 2. 

All the species of true flycatchers catch their prey on the wing 
or by running along branches, occasionally going to the ground. 
Insects their chief food. Jerd. B. I., I., 443. Termites. Jerd. B. 
I. I, 292 

Little but insects which are caught habitually on the wing. 
E. B. 0. N. H, 508. 

562. Siphia albicilla. Eastern Red -breasted Flycatcher. Ap- 
pea,rs to tind sufficient insects to feed on in the pine trees. B.N. H. 
S. J. XVII, 957. 

Stomachs examined 

31-1-08. 1 Small dragon fly. 

2 Myllocerus discolor. 
9 Tanymecus sp. 

8-2-09. 1 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

1 Camponotus compressus. 
4 Opatrum sp. (depressum f ) 
1 Mesomorpha villiger. 



112 



THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 



Stomachs examined contd. 



1 Lepidopterous larva. 

1 Dipteron (head). 
8-2-09. 2 Mesomorpha villiger. 

4 Aphodiids. 

3-3-07. 2 Myrmecocystus setipes. 

4 Tanymecus ? elytra. 

3-3-07. 3 Camponotus compressus. 

2 Mesomorpha villiger. 
1 Opatrum sp. 

1 Pyralid wing. 

12-3-09. 1 Hypsa ficus ? 

10_3_08. 6 Elytra of Tanymecus ? Myllocerus 

6 Aphodiids. (Pusa No. 2106). 

1 Pyralid wing. 

1 Dipteron. 

U_4_09. 3 Opatrum sp. 

1 Scleron orientale. 

4 Myllocerus discolor. 
1 Thea cincta. 

12-4-07. 4 Myrmecocystus legs ? (4 insects). 

1 Opatrum sp. 

1 Coccinella 1-punctata. 

5 Rhyssemus germanus. 

3 Tanymecus sp. 
11-10-08. 1 Camponotus compressus. 

12 Myllocerus sp. 

1 Hemipterous scutellum. 

11-11-07. Weevil remains only (7 or 8 specimens). 

30-11-07. 3 Tanymecus sp. 

1 Myllocerus sp. 

1 Noctuid larva. 

2 Pyralid wings. 

1 Cydnus nigritus. 

Summary. Of 108 insects recorded in the stomachs of 12 birds, 
3 belong to the beneficial group, 64 to the injurious, ard 41 to the 
neutral. Three birds took beneficial insects and 11 injurious, and 
8 neutral. 

The food of this flycatcher consists almost entirely of beetles, 
but a very fair proportion of ants is eaten. It may be seen day 
after day in the same place pursuing insects on the wing and 
especially various kinds of small moths. I have seen it take several 
species of Pyralids, including Ancylolomia chrysographella, Pyrausta 
codesa^s, and one or two Noctuids including Caradrina pecten, and 
Plusia sp. Once it was seen to take an Opatrum sp. from the ground. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 113 

Conclusions. The stomach records are perhaps too few for any 
definite conclusion, but from these together with the field notes and 
from what is known in a general way about the food of Flycatchers, 
we may certainly class this bird as beneficial. 

580 Stoparola so^dida. Dusky-blue Flycatcler. Mulberries. 
B. N. H. S. J., 303 ? 

581. Stoparola albicaudata. Nilghiri Blue Flycatcher. Old 
and young birds eating fruit. B. N. H. S. J., XVI, 153. 

591. Ochromela nigrirufa. Black-and-Orange Flycatcher, 
young, receive an insect from its mother. B. N. H. S. J., XVI, 134. 

Niltava said to eat berries. F. I., II, 39. 

Niltava and other forms eat berries and the like in ]ate summer, 
E. B. C. N. H., 509. 

592. Culicicapa ceylonensis. Grey-headed Flycatcher. 
Stomachs examined 

2-3-09. 1 Aphodiid. 

Remains of other small coleoptera. 
7 Small flies. 

1 Hemipteron (head). 

Summary. Of 9 insects taken all are neutral. 

594. Niltava sundara. Rufous-bellied Niltava. Chiefly in- 
sects from ground, and even leaves and branches. Hodgson says 
it sometimes eats berries and seeds in winter. Jerd. B. I., I, 474. 

598. Terpsiphone paradisi. Indian Paradise Flycatcher. It 
sometimes enters verandahs and hawks insects from trellis-work 
(Madras). B. N. H. S. J., XVI, 489. 

Feeds chiefly on small flies and cicadella3 ; in captivity on fiiee 
and mosquitoes ; flies atracted by the odour of shrimps. Jerd. B. 
I., I, 477. Flies and spiders on window frame (Muscitrsea = ? Terpsi- 
phone). Bom. Gaz. Thana, Vol. XIV. 

Stomachs examined 

2-7-08. 3 Myllocerus ? sp. ? 

2 Coleoptera (elytra). 

A mass of finely broken insects, possibly Psyllids or Jassids. 
4_7_08. 1 Coleopterous elytron. 

4 Flies. 
12-8-08. 6 Flies. 

8 



114 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Summary. Of 16 insects taken, 3 are injurious, 13 neutral. 
Rhipidura pick flies off cattle.- E. B. C. N. H., 508. 

604. Rhipidura albifrontata. White-browed Fantail Flycatcher. 
Its chief food is mosquitoes and other small dipterous insects 
also the small cicadellse (? Jassidse) that are so abundant on every 
tree in India. Pursuing flies from the back of a cow. Jerd. B. I., 
II, 453. Insects on cattle, eye flies, parasites. B. N. H. S. J., X, 
302. 

605. Rhipidura albicollis. White-throated Fantail Flycatcher. 
Small flies and mosquitoes. Jerd. B. I., 452. 

Flycatchers are not numerous in species on the plains, about 
one in four of the recorded Indian species occurring, and some 
of these but rarely. They are in all probability beneficial. They 
are as a general rule insectivorous, though some species take fruits, 
berries and seeds occasionally. 



Saxicolince and RuticillincB feed chiefly on the ground, and are 
more insectivorous than thrushes. Redstarts and chats will take 
insects on the wing. E. B. C. N. H, 517. 

SaxicolincB. Chats. Habits muscicapine : the insect food cap- 
tured by sallies from a fixed perch. The Chats feed entirely on in- 
sects, which they capture generally on the ground from a fixed perch, 
such as the summit of stones, a stalk of grass, or a branch of a bush 
and then return at once to their post of observation. F. I., II, 57. 

608. Pratincola caprata. Common Pied Bush-chat. I saw 
this bird at Kasauli catching small grass moths (Pyralids 
and Geometrids). 

629. Cercomela fusca. Brown Rock-chat. Feeds on the 
ground on various coleopterous insects, ants, &c. Jerd. B. I., 
II, 134. 

RuticillincB. Forktails, redstarts, blue-throats, nightingales, 
robins, grandala, calene, and shamas. Habits terrestrial: the 



MASON AND LEFROY. 115 

insect food captured on the ground. Feed principally on the 
ground, they are almost entirely insectivorous. F. I., II, 81. 

Henicurus. Found in mountain streams, feeding on insects 
found at the edge of water. F. I., II, 82. 

630. Henicurus maculatus. Western Spotted Forktail. Va- 
rious insects and larvae. Jerd. B. I., II, 213. 

637. Microcichla scouleri. Little Forktail. Various water 
insects, chiefly on the larvae of various Neuroptera that frequent the 
wet rocks and edges of rapids. Jerd. B. I., II, 215. 

638. Chimarrhornis kucocephalus. White-capped Redstart. 
Insects at edge of water. Jerd. B. I., II, 144. 

Ruticilla. Feed on the ground largely, but also capture insects 
on the wing. F. I., II, 98. 

639. Ruticilla frontalis. Blue-fronted Redstart. Insects on 
ground. Jerd. B. I., II, 141. 

644. Ruticilla rufiventris. Indian Redstart. On ground on 
various insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 138. 

Stomachs examined 

5-2-09. 3 Camponotus compressus. 

2 Mesomorpha villiger. 
5 Small caterpillars. 

21-2-07. Camponotus compressus. 

1 Phidole malinsi. 

1 Hemipterous scutellum. 

3 Small caterpillars. 
2-3-09. 3 Camponotus ccfmpressus. 

4 Myllocerus discolor. 

5 Hydrophilids. 

1 Geometric! larva. 
3-4-07. rSmall Elaterid. 

3 Elaterid grubs ? 

1 Carabid.1 

2 Myllocerus sp."- 

1 Geometrid caterpillar. 

1 Moth's wing. 

2 Hemiptent (scutella). 
2 Cydhius sp. 

9-12-07. 1 Camponotus compretius. 

12 Phidole malinsi. 
2 Cremastogaster subnuda. 
1 Onthophagus sp. 



116 THE FOOD OF BIBBS IN INDIA. 

Stomachs examined contd. 

1 Gymnopleurus miliarit. 

3 Small caterpillars. 

1 Hemipterous scutellum. 

Summary. Of 70 insects taken by 5 birds, 1 is beneficial, 22 
injurious and 47 neutral. One bird took beneficial insects, 5 
neutral and 5 injurious. 

This bird seems to haunt rahar, mustard and indigo more 
than any other crops. It, however, occurs in waste lands and 
jungle. 

Rhyacornis. Inhabit mountain streams. F. I., II, 98. 

646. Rhyacornis fuliginosus. Plumbeous Redstart. Aquatic 
insects and larvae at the edge of water. Insects on a wall. Jerd. 
B. I., II, 143. 

647. Cyanecula suecica. Indian Blue-throat. Insects on 
ground. Jerd. B. I., II, 153; and N. H. S. J., XI, 80. 

Stomachs examined 

1-2-08. 3 Opatrum depressum. 

1 Scleron orientale. 

4 Small beetles. 
1 Myllocerus sp. 

15-2-09. 5 Mesomorpha villiger. 

1 Pachnephorus impressus. 

2 Caterpillars. 
^12-12-07. 4 Myrmecocystus setipes. 

5 Myllocerus discolor. 

3 Hydrophilids. 

1 Small Dytiscid. 
1 Dipteron. 
1 Caterpillar. 

Summary. Of 32 insects taken by 3 birds, 13 are injurious and 
19 neutral. One bird took beneficial insects, 3 injurious and 3 
neutral. 

Practically all the food is obtained on the ground, and it is 
very fond of hunting about water channels for insects and worms ; 
the latter are not often eaten, or at any rate do not form so large 
a proportion of the food as insects. I have only once seen this bird 
on a bush, and it was then apparently hunting for insects. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 117 

650. Calliope camtschatJcensis. Common Ruby-throat. 
Various insects on the ground, especially in covered plantation of 
betel vine. Jerd. B. I., II, 150. 

lanihia. Insectivorous, sometimes pulpy berries. Jerd. B. I., 
II, 146. 

658. Grandala ccelicolor. Hodgson's Grandala. Insects and 
gravel: habits of a starling. Jerd. B. I., II, 120. Insects on 
ground. -F. L, II, 111. 

659. Notodela leucura. White-tailed Blue Robin. (Hodgson) 
'feeds equally on pulpy berries:" various insects. Jerd. B. I., 

II, 119. 

661. Thamnobia cambaiensis. Brown-backed Indian Robin. 
Insects on wing. Jerd. B. I., II, 122. 

662. Thamnobia fulicata. Black-backed Indian Robin. In- 
sects on wing. Jerd. B. I., II, 121. 

663. Copsychus saularis. Magpie-robin. Insects of various 
kinds: small grasshoppers, beetles, worms, &c. Hodgson asseils 
that in winter they like unripe vetches, &c., but this is quite 
opposed to the usual habits of the group. Jerd. B. I., II, 115. 

Stomachs examined 

2-1-08. 2 Small grasshoppers. 

1 Opatrum sp. 

Some vegetable matter. 
5-2-09. 7 Camponotus compressus. 

3 Myrmecocystus setipen. 
1 Myllocerus discolor. 
1 Tanymecus sp. 
1 Weevil ? sp. ? 
12 Mesomorpha villiger. 
12-2-07. 17 Opatrum depressum. 

1 Myllocerus sp. 
20-2-08. 2 Apis indica. 

5 A pis florea. 
3 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

1 Scleron orientale. 

2 Opatrum depressum. 

Some weed seeds and leaves. 
26-3-07. 1 Gryllotalpa africana. 

2 Chrotogonus sp. 



118 



Stomachs examined contd. 

3 Opatrum sp. 

Some vegetable matter. 

4-5-07. 3 Camponotus compressus. 

5 Opatrum sp. 

2 Mesorrtorpha villiger. 

23-6-07. 3 Chrotogonus sp. 

5 Opatrum sp. 

1 Onthophagus sp. 

1 Earthworm. 
10-7-08. 1 Tiphia sp. 

2 Anomala larvae. (A. variant). 
1 Aetycus lateralis. 

I Myllocerus maculosus. 

1 Bud. 

9-10-08. 3 Melonthid larvae. 

3 Opatrum sp. 

1 Small weevil. 

4 Cutworms. (A. ypsilon?) 

1 Spider. 

12-10-08. 4 Camponotus compressus. 

2 Onthophagus spinifer. 
Other insect remains. 

10-11-08. 3 CEcophylla smaragdina. 

2 Polyrachis simplex. 
1 Cataulacus taprobance. 

4 Camponotus compressiis. 
7 Opatrum sp. 

5 Myllocerus discolor. 
1 Weevil. 

1-12-07. 12 Opatrum sp. 
1 Cutworm. 

Summary. Of 142 insects taken by 12 birds, 7 are beneficial, 
50 injurious, and 85 neutral. One bird took beneficial insects, 11 
took injurious and 11 neutral. One bird took a spider and 1 a worm, 
both of which are beneficial, 4 contained vegetable matter. 

Notes. Nests of young have been watched on several occasions : 
the young are fed mostly on grubs and caterpillars, many of which 
are cutworms. They are occasionally fed with Gryllodes melanoce- 
phalus and Gryllotalpa afr^cana. A Blue Jay [Coracias indica] has 
often been seen trying to rob a nest containing eggs or young ; in 
one case attacks on three successive days were repelled, the Jay then 
giving up the attempt. A Mynah was once seen to steal a mole 
cricket from a Magpie Robin. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 119 

Conclusion. The beneficial insects taken are of minor import- 
ance, and I believe it probable that the bees were not taken alive. 
The injurious insects are of far more economic importance than the 
beneficial and we may therefore conclude that this bird is pro- 
bably beneficial. 

664. Cittocincla macrura. Shama. Grasshoppers, &c. In 
captivity on " chenna " and yolk of hard boiled eggs, and will 
thrive well if occasionally given a few maggots or insects. It 
also eats raw meat. Jerd. B. I., II, 117. 

TUEDIN^J. 

Black-birds, ouzels, thrushes, field- fares and red-wings. 
Habits terrestrial and arboreal, both insectivorous and frugivorous. 
They differ chiefly from the Saxicolinse and the Ruticillinse in being 
less dependent on insects for their food berries forming a consider- 
able portion of their diet during the cold weather. Thrushes feed 
a good deal on the ground. F. I., II, 120. 

Thrushes feed chiefly on the ground, where they hop about 
scratching and searching for worms, molluscs and insects fruit is 
also eaten. E. B. C. N. H., 517. 

(Merulidse) thrushes insects, especially the softer kinds, grubs, 
snails and also fruit, rarely hard seeds. Jerd. B. I., I, 485. 

(Merulinae) insects, molluscs, earthworms ; with several, espe- 
cially in winter, also fruits and berries Jerd. B. I., 510. 

667. Merula simillima. Nilgiri Black-bird. Snails, glow 
worms, caterpillars and other soft insects, but a good deal on fruit, 
especially on the hill goose-berry (Physalis peruviana). Jerd. B. 
I., I, 525. 

671. Merula nigripileus. Black-capped Black-bird. Like 
other black-birds, feeds much on the ground on snails, soft insects 
and occasionally on fruit. At Nellore I found that it had lived al- 
most entirely on the pretty Helix bistrialis.JeTd. B. I., I, 523. 

676. Merula boulboul. Grey-winged Ouzel. In captivity on 
earthworms. B. N. H. S. J., XIX, 150, 



120 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

677. Merula airigularis. Black- throated Ouzel. Insects and 
berries. Jerd. B. L, I, 529. Wild cherries, A. S. B., LXIX, 161- 

683. Geocichla wardi. Pied Ground-thrush. Various insects - 
Jerd. B. I., I, 521. 

685. G. cyanonotus. White- throated Ground- thrush. Chiefly 
insscts, such as ants, cockroaches and beetles, but no t unfrequently 
also stony fruit. Jerd. B. I., I, 517. 

686. G. citrina. Orange-headed Ground- thrush. On insects 
on ground among leaves. -Jerd. B. I., I, 518. Insects on ground. 
B. N. H. S. J., XI, 81. 

Stomachs examined 

2-2-09. 1 (Ecophylla srrtaragdina . 

1 Phidble malinsi. 

3 Opatrum elongatum. 
6 Opatrum sp. 

4 Opatrum sp. 

1 Myttocerus sp. 

1 Himatismus sp. 

1 Noctuid larva. 

3 Hemiptera (heads). 

1 Small worm. 

14-2-09. 6 Camponotus compresses. 

24 Opatrum depressum. 

5 Mesomorpha villiger. 

3 Myllocerus sp. 

4 Hemipterous scutella. 

Summary. Of 63 insects taken by 2 birds, 29 are injurious ard 
34 neutral. Both birds took neutral and injurious insects, and 01 e 
bird took a worm. 

690. Petrophila erythrogastra. Chestnut-bellied Rock-thrush 
Chiefly insects. Jerd. B. I., I, 143. 

Hawking and catching winged insects. -B. N. H. S. J., X, 151. 

691. P. cinclorhyncha. Blue-headed Rock-thrush. Appears 
to feed on various fruits and berries. Jerd. B. I., I, 516. 

692. P. solitaria ? Eastern Blue Rock-thrush. Bread, in- 
sects, centipedes, grain, small fruits, snails, slugs, worms, lizards. 
B. N. H. S. J., XI, 161 and 336. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 121 

693. P. yanus. Western Blue Rock-thrush. Chiefly on 
Coleoptera and ants. Jerd. B. I., I, 513. 

698. Oreocincla dauma. Small-billed Mountain Thrush. Its 
food does not differ from that of the thrushes. I found fruit and 
seeds in those I examined. -Jerd. B. I., I, 534. 

Stomachs examined 

2-2-09. 1 Myrmeleo larva. 

6 Prionocerus bicolor. 
3 Opatrum depressum. 
1 Cut-worm. 
1 Geometric! larva. 

Summary. Of 12 insects taken, 1 is beneficial, 5 injurious and 
6 neutral. Though feeding on the ground this bird does not ap- 
parently take ' ber ' (Zizyphus jujuba) fruit, when fallen. 

701. 0. mollissima. Plain-backed Mountain Thrush. Insects 
and berries. Jerd. B. I., I, 533. 

Cochoa feed on the ground and on trees. F. I., II, 158. 

706. C. purpurea. Purple Thrush. I have taken from their 
stomachs several kinds of stony berries, small univalve mollusca 
and sundry kinds of aquatic insects. Jerd. B. I., II, 243. 

Cinclince. Dippers or Water Ouzels. Habits aquatic. They 
are admirably fitted for obtaining their food in the water. F. I., II, 

162. 

They dive noiselessly in search of insects, their larvae and pupae, 
or molluscs ; fish spawn has not been found in the stomach. E. B. 
C. N. H. 

709. Cinclus asiaticus.Biown Dipper. Various water in- 
sects and larvaa, also shells when it can get them, and, it is said, ova 
of fishes.- Jerd. B. I., I, 50. 

Accentorince. Accentors. Habits terrestrial. They feed on 
insects and also it is said on small seeds. F. I., II, 57 & 167. 

Accentors feed much on the ground, on various insects, worms 
and seeds. Jerd. B. L, II, 284-285. 



122 THE POOD OF "BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Saxicolince. More than half the Indian species are found in the 
plains, many being migrants, visiting the plains in the cold weather. 
Their food appears to consist entirely of insects. 

Ruticillince. About half a dozen species are found in the plains, 
the Magpie Robin being the only resident. They are all almost en- 
tirely insectivorous, though at times the Magpie Robin undoubtedly 
takes vegetable matter. It is also probable that several species 
take worms and spiders, especially the robins and blue and ruby- 
throats. 

TurdincB. Almost entirely confined to the hills, about ten spe- 
cies occurring sparingly in the plains during the cold weather. In 
addition to insects they live to some extent on fruit, and may at 
times be found to damage garden bush and other fruits. In other 
respects they are almost certainly beneficial. 

Cindince ' frequent mountain streams ' and are too few in 
species and individuals to be of any account. 

Awentorince.- -Exclusively hill birds and are probably beneficial. 



WEAVER BIRDS AND MUNIAS. 

The food generally procured upon the ground, consists mainly 
of seeds, but it is varied by insects occasionally taken on the wing- 
fruits and flowers ; while the birds play havoc with rice and other 
crops, often clinging to the stems until they have eaten every grain 
from the head. E. B. C. N. H., 578. 

Ploceince. Weaver birds feed largely on grain and seed. F. L. 
II, 174. Weaver birds live almost exclusively on grain. ' Grain.' 
Jerd. B. I., I, 292. 

720. Ploceus baya. Baya. Grain of all kinds, especially rice 
and various grass seeds ; " The fig of the Banyan." Sykes. Jerd. 
B. I., II, 345. 

' Nests are a source of danger in the fire season in Assam. 
During a fire they catch light at base, the few threads by which they 



MASON AND LEFROY. 123 

are suspended quickly burn through, and the nest resembles a fire 
balloon, and may be blown away many hundred yards across cleared 
fire lines into areas which would otherwise be safe from infection. 
It is recommended that in such localities all weaver birds nests should 
be cleared from trees on fire lines, and closely adjacent to such. 
Mr. Perree." S. M. F. Z. Grain, Bom. Gaz., Ahmedabad, IV, 83. 

Stomachs examined. 

13-10-09. 3 Birds, grass seeds only. 
12-11-07. Grass seeds only. 

14-11-08. 3 Birds, grass seeds only. 

721. Ploceus megarhynchus. Eastern Baya. Considerable 
damage to grain notably paddy. B. N. H. S. J., XI, 81. 

ViduincB. Munias. They feed on the ground or else cling to 
the heads of flowering grass or corn, and they consume large quanti- 
ties of grain. F. I., II, 181. 

Munia feed much on rice as well as grass seeds. Jerd. B. I., 
II, 353. 

725. Munia malacca. Black-headed Munia frequents dry 
grain and sugar-cane fields. Jerd. B. I., II, 353. Grass seeds. 
Bom. Gaz., Ahmedabad, IV, 83. 

726. Munia atricapilla. Chestnut-bellied Munia. Damages 
ripe paddy. B. N. H. S. J., XI, 353. Locally known as rice 
sparrow. B. N. H. S. J., XVII, 960. 

727. Uroloncha acuticauda. Hodgson's Munia. In very large 
flocks in the rice fields as the grain as ripening and must do a great 
deal of damage. B. N. H. S. J., XVII, 960. 

728. Uroloncha striata. White-headed Munia. Vast flocks 
in paddy fields. Jerd. B. I., II, 356. 

730. Uroloncha jumigata. Andaman White-backed Munia. 
Bamboo or grass seeds. B. N. H. S. J., XVII, 160. 

734. Uroloncha malabarica. White-throated Munia. 

5-2-09. Small weed seeds and vegetable matter. 

9-10-08. Weed seeds, chiefly grass and vegetable matter. 

9-10-08. Grass seeds and other vegetable matter, 
10-3-08. 



124 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

21-6-08. Grass seecU and other vegetable matter. 

21-6-08. 

21-6-08. 1 Paddy grain. 

Grass seeds and other vegetable matter. 
13-8-08. 
13-8-08. 
13-8-08. 
8-9-08. 1 Chrotogonus sp. 

1 Batch of Blattid eggs. 

Several grass seeds. 

Summary. One injurious insect taken, and a batch of eggs of a 
Blattid [neutral insect]. All the 11 birds had taken weed seeds, and 
1 took a paddy grain (which cannot have been taken from a stand- 
ing crop.) 

735. Uroloncha punctulata.- Spotted Munia. 

12-6-07. 2 Weevils (9 legs only). 

Small weed seeds. 
28-7-08. Grass seeds only. 

28-7-08. Grass seeds only. 

Summary. One bird took 2 injurious insects, all 3 had taken 
weed seeds. 

A nest of this species was watched for some time, but being high 
up in a bamboo fork, nothing could be identified. It undoubtedly 
fesds the young to some extent on smallish caterpillars. 

Ploceince or Weaver Birds, all occur in the plains, and are well 
known pests to grain. Nothing appears to be on record of what 
these feed on when grain is not obtainable. 

ViduincB or Munias. The Indian species all appear to be plains' 
birds. The common species do some considerable damage to grain, 
especially paddy, but a large percentage of their food in all probabi 
lity consists of small weed seeds and sometimes of insects. 

FRINGILLID^E. 

FINCHES. 

FringillidcB is sub-divided into Coccothraustince, Fringillince and 
EmberizinoB. The food consists mainly of seeds, but other fruits, 
bads, leaves, insects and their larvae are also eaten, not to mention 
peas, crocus flowers and the like ; crossbills and some other forms 
cleverly extract the seeds of fir cones. E. B. C. N. H., 568. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 125 

The finches are normally graminivorous or frugivorous, but they 
.ilso eat insects, and the young are fed entirely on these. They are, 
for the most part, gregarious and arboreal, but they descend to the 
ground freely to pick up food. F. I., II, 194. 

Finches for the most part feed on seeds. Jerd. B. I., II, 341. 

CoccothraustincB. Grosbeaks or haw-finches. The Indian 
grosbeaks live in forests and feed on stony fruits. F. I., II, 196. 

Frequent forests and live mostly on stony fruits. Jerd. B. L, 
II, 384. 

744. Mycerobas melanoxanthus. Spotted- winged Grosbeak. 
Remains at Mussoorie as long as there are ripe cherry stones to 
crack : ripe stony fruits. Jerd. B. I., II, 387. 

Fringillince. Cross-bills, finches, linnets, twites, siskirs, 
bramblings, sparrows. Feed both on seeds and insects. F. I., 202. 

The finches are chiefly seed-eaters the young of most are fed 
with vegetable food, not with insects as is the case with the 
sparrows and buntings. Jerd. B. I., II, 383. 

Sparrows (Passer) feed chiefly on grain, but will also eat in- 
sects, and many feed their young chiefly on the latter food. Jerd. 
B. I., II, 362. 

Pyrrhula. Bull-finches feed much on buds of trees, especially 
in winter. Jerd. B. I., II, 389. 

746. Pyrrhula erythrocephala. Red-headed Bullfinch. (Hut- 
ton), feeds on ground as well as on berry-bearing bushes. Jerd. 
B. I., II, 389. 

Loxia. The crossbills feed chiefly on seeds from the cones of 
various pine trees. F. I., II, 208. 

750. Loxia himalayana. The Himalayan Crossbill. The 
Crossbill is stated to eat apples arid other fruit. Jerd. B. I., II, 
393. 

751. Hcematospiza sipahi. Scarlet Finch. Fruits and seeds 
of various kinds. Jerd. B. L. II, 395. 

753. Pyrrhospiza punicea. Red-breasted Rose-finch. Search- 
ing for food at the camping grounds. F. L, II, 212. 



126 THE POOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

758. Propasser rhodochrous.* Pink-browed Rose-finch. Alight 
on the ground in search of seeds. Jerd. B. I., II, 402. 

761. Carpodacus erythrinus.- -Common. Rose-finch. Seeds of 
bamboos, and so much is this its habit that its Telegu name (yedra- 
pichike) signifies " bamboo sparrow." Various seeds and grain: 
also not unfrequently of flower buds and young leaves. Adams 
states that in Kashmir it feeds much on the seeds of a cultivated 
vetch. Jerd. B. I., II, 399. 

762. Carpodacus severtzovi. SevertzofFs Rose-finch. Berries 
of sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) especially. Jerd. B I., 
II, 398. 

764(6). Rhodospiza obsoleta. Desert Finch. Sunflower seeds, 
&c., grass seeds. B. N. H. S. J., XIII, 708. 

767. Carduelis caniceps. Himalayan Goldfinch. Feeds chiefly 
on the seeds of the thistle. F. I., II, 226. Seeds of thistles. 
B. N. H. S. J., XVI, 53. 

771. Metoponia pusilla. Gold-fronted Finch. Feeds on this- 
tles. Jerd. B. I., II, 411. 

774. Pringilla montifringilla. Brambling. On the ground 
both on seeds and insects, as well as on trees. F. L, II, 334. 

Sparrows (Fringillince) live chiefly on grain, but will also eat 
insects, and many feed their young chiefly on the latter food. 
Jerd. B. I. 362. I. 292. 

Sparrows do some considerable damage to paddy crops in 
Madras generally. 

775. Gymnorhis flavicollis. Yellow-throated Sparrow. 
Stomachs examined 

3-2-07. Some leaves, grass and weed seeds. 

5-2-09. 7 Myllocerus discolor. 

21-2-09. Legs of small weevils. 

Some vegetable matter. 
Some grit and sand. 
1 Small stone. 

13-3-07. 1 Myllocerus discolor. 

1 Tanymecus hispida. 
1 Piece of Ficus fruit. 
Some grass and weed seeds. 



MASON AND LEPROY. 127 

Stomachs examined contd. 

12-4-07. 3 Shoots of ? bamboo. 

Some leaves, grass seeds and weed seeds. 
20-5-08. 2 Myllocerus sp. ? (broken elytra). 

Some ants ? legs. 
Weed seeds and vegetable matter. 
3-6-07. 1 Onthophagus spinifer. 

2 Myllocerus discolor. 
1 Tanymecus sp. 

Weed and grass seeds and leaves. 

31-6-08. Entirely vegetable mostly consisting of small hard black seeds. 

27-7-08. 1 Small Geometrid larva. 

Grass seeds, weed seeds, and some vegetable matter. 
4-10-08. 1 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

Small grass and weed seeds and some vegetable matter. 
15-10-07. Entirely grass seeds. 

11-11-07. 1 Oat grain. 

1 Maize grain. 
Ficus fruit. 
Grass, and some small weed seeds. 

Summary. Of 17 insects taken by 12 birds, 2 are neutral and 
15 injurious. The remains of other injurious insects (weevils) and 
neutral insects (ants) were also noted. Seven birds only contained 
insects. Eleven birds contained vegetable matter consisting of 
grass seeds leaves and weed seeds. Two had eaten some Ficus fruit 
and one a maize and an oat grain. 

776. Passer domesticus. House Sparrow. Passer domesticus 
and the common striped squirrel (Sciurus palmarum) two of the great- 
est pests of most stations. I have frequently seen it chase and 
capture moths in a room. Jerd. B. I. II, 363-4. 

Some kinds of birds eat weevils ((C. oryzce) such as sparrows- 
I. M. N. I, 28. 

Ascend hills at times where there is cultivation, following the 
rice carts. B. N. H. S. J., XV, 459. 

Dewar says sparrow nestlings in the early stages are fed almost 
exclusively on caterpillars, grubs and insects. "It is the custom 
to speak of the sparrow as a curse to the husbandman. The bird is 
popularly supposed to live on grain, fruit, seedlings and buds those 
of valuable plants by preference. There is no denying the fact that 
the sparrow does devour a certain amount of fruit and grain, 
but, so far from being a pest, I believe that the good it does by des- 



128 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

troying noxious insects far outweighs the harm. Adult sparrows 
frequently feed on insects. I have watched them hawking flies in 
company with the swifts, and the skill displayed by the ' spadger ' 
showed that his was no ' prentice ' hand at the game. Sparrow 
nestlings are, in the early stages, fed almost exclusively on caterpil- 
lars, grubs and insects." There are usually five or six in a nest, 
and assuming that the hen sparrow feeds them 15 times an hour for 
12 hours a day for 20 days bringing three caterpillars at each visit, 
the brood is responsible for the destruction of 10,000 insects, mostly 
caterpillars. There are two broods at least in the year, thus account- 
ing for 20,000 insects fed to the young in the nest not inclusive of 
what the cock and hen eat, and what the cock brings to the nest. 
Tiny green grubs in a sausage-shaped sack also caterpillars and on one 
occasion a mulberry were seen fed to the young. ' But it was not 
often that she gave them fruit ; green caterpillars formed quite nine 
tenths of what she brought in the remainder was composed chiefly 
of grubs, with an occasional grasshopper or moth. As the yourg 
grew older, the proportion of insect food given to them diminished 
until, when they were about 22 days old, their diet was made up prin- 
cipally of grain." Dewar B. P., 16-28. 

Common House-Sparrow is only too common at all times ard 
places. Punjab Gaz., Shahpur, 21. 
Stomachs examined. 

3-3-07. 1 Coleopterous elytron (Tanymecus sp. ?) 

Grass and weed seeds. 
28-5-08. 2 Coleoptera (Myllocerus sp. ?, & an Aphodiid ?). 

Small weed and grass seeds. 
30-5-07. Small weed and grass seeds and apparently some buds. 

A few Ficus seeds. 

21-6-08. Small pieces of weeds, small seeds and broken vegetable matter. 
9-10-08. Weed and grass seeds, and some vegetable matter. 
12-10-08. Grass and weed seeds and leaves. 
2-10-08. 6 Oats (obtained from stable). 
Small grass and weed seeds. 
16-11-08. Grass and weed seeds and leaves 

Summary. Three insects only were taken from the stomachs of 
8 birds ; 2 are injurious and one neutral. One bird contained some 
oats taken from a stable, and each bird contained grass and weed 
seeds far in excess of any other food. 



MASON AND LEPROY. 129 

Notes. This bird has been said to eat larvae and imagines of the Potato Moth (Phthorimcea 
operculella) both in the field and in the store. It undoubtedly eats many insects. At Kasauli 
I saw it frequently pursuing and capturing moths. They appeared particularly fond of 
hunting trellis work on verandahs for insects especially moths, and I saw several Ganophus 
eoloris taken and eaten (captured as they were at rest on the trellis or wall). Besides some 
small Pyralids, a Lycaenid (Ilerda se.no) and an Agrotis sp. were also seen captured at the 
same place. The first Scardamia metallaria recorded from Pusa I took from a house-sparrow. 
The grubs of the "Senji" weevil (Hypera variabilis) and also the larvae of Tarache notabilis 
are both said to be eaten by the sparrow, a considerable check being kept on the latter by the 
bird. 

It is interesting to note that though this sparrow appears to occur in numbers wherever 
there are Europeans, yet at Pusa we hardly ever see this bird, and therefore we have no stomach 
records of any importance. 

This bird is generally regarded as a pest. I very much doubt this 
for India as a whole... In cultivated areas in the neighbourhood of 
towns the bird will almost certainly prove a pest, but where it occurs 
only in small numbers, which would be in country places away from 
towns, this bird is most probably beneficial. Considering, however, 
the fact that this species is an undoubted pest in some countries, 
its protection cannot at present be recommended in India. 

777. Passer pyrrhonotus. Rufous-backed Sparrow. 
Appeared to feed on the seeds of grasses. B. N. H. S. J., XIX, 260. 

786. Fringillauda nemoricola. Hodgson's Mountain Finch. 
Kernels and hard seeds digested by trituration with gravel. 
(Hodgson). Jerd. B. I., II, 414. 

Embsrizinw.- -Buntings, Buntings frequent cornfields, waste 
lands and grassy tracts. They devour grain in large quantities, 
and also feed on seeds of all sorts. F. I., II., 250. 

The young are said to be fed chiefly on insects. Jerd. B.I., II, 
369. 

790. Emberiza fucata. Grey-headed Bunting. (Swinhoe) 
standing cornfields in China. Jerd. B. I., II, 376. 

796. E. hortulana. Ortolan Bunting. The true Ortolan. 
Watt. D. E. P. I. 0. 251. ' 

797. Emberiza aureola. Yellow-breasted Bunting. (Swinhoe) 
ripening corn in China. Jerd. B. I., II, 380. 

798. E. spodocephala. Black-faced Bunting. Damage ripe 
paddy. B. N. H. S. J., II, 83. 



130 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

799. E. melanocephala. Black-headed Bunting. Notorious 
for the ravages it commits in cornfields. Imp. Gaz., I., 245. 

Great devastation in cornfields. F. L, II, 352. 

Very destructive to crops of Jowari and other grains. Jerd. 
B. I., II, 378. 

A common winter visitant, joining with the Weaver-birds 
in plundering the grain fields. Bom. Gaz., Vol. XX, 514 
(Sholapur). 

803. Melophus melanicterus. Crested Bunting. Grasshop- 
pers : also same to young. 

Coccothraustince are entirely confined to the hills and feed ap- 
parently entirely on hard or stony fruits. They may possibly be 
found to make inroads on some orchard fruits, but are not 
recorded as doing so. 

FringillincB. Bull Finches, Cross-bills and Rose Finches may 
all be expected to do some damage to orchard fruits, though this is 
probably counterbalanced by the other forms of food taken. With 
the exception of the Common Rose Finch and the Desert Finch 
they are confined to the hills. 

We have no definite proof that the Sparrows are pests in India. 
The few records available and references seem to point that 
they are beneficial. Seeing, however, what pests these birds are in 
other countries it appears that they certainly do not merit protec- 
tion. Only 4 species are found in the plains. 

EmberizincB. The Buntings, most of those that occur in the 
plains being winter migrants (2 species apparently are residents), 
do some considerable damage to grain. Little is on record other- 
wise, and as with the FringillinaB the young are fed to a great extent 
on insects, mostly caterpillars. I noted this of the Yellow Ammer 
(Emberizina citrinelh) in England and in all probability the .Indian 
species have practically the same feeding habits. Emberiza 
hortulana, the true Ortolan of Europe, is but occasionally seen in 
India. 



MASON AND LEFEOY. 131 

HIRUNDINID^E. 

SWALLOWS. 

Himndinidce. Martins and Swallows. The whole food con- 
sists of small insects caught on the wing. F. I., II., 267. (Hirundi- 
nes) exclusively on small insects : mosquitoes, midges, gnats. 
To feed young, insects are collected in a ball in the mouth. 
B.N.H.S.J., III, 43. 

Insects, which form the whole of their sustenance, are habitual- 
ly taken on the wing. E. B. C. N. H., 524. 

809. Cotile sinensis. Indian Sand-Martin. 

Stomach examined 

7_6_08 1 Gymnopleurus parvus. 
7 Pyrrhocorids sp. ? 
1 Fly maggot. 

Summary. One bird contained 9 neutral insects. 

The Swallows, Martins and Sand-Martins feed entirely on insects 
in the air, and are, I believe, always regarded as beneficial. They 
are noted in the Board of Agr. leaflets (No. 55) as taking Tipulidce 
or Crane-flies which are of doubtful economic importance in India, 
and Aphidce which are injurious in India as elsewhere. They are 
therefore to be regarded as beneficial. 

MOTACILLID.E. 

WAGTAILS & PIPITS. 

The food consists of seeds, insects, worms, small mollusca 
and crustaceans, usually procured on the ground. Wagtails hunt 
for flies round cattle. E. B. C. N. H., 501. 

Mostly on insects, a few only partake of grain or seeds. Jerd. 
B. I., II., 211. They feed entirely on insects. F. L, II, 285. 

Some kinds of birds eat weevils (Calandra oryzce) such as 
Wagtails. I. M. N., I., 28. 

826. Motacilla alba. White Wagtail. 

Stomachs examined 

3-1-08. 12 Phidole malinsi. 
4 Hydrophilids. 
\ Opatrum sp. 



132 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Stomachs examined contd. 

8-1-08. 7 Camponotus compressus. 

2 Philode malinsi ?. 

1 Weevil (head only). 
1 Small caterpillar. 

3 Small snails (Hydrobia sp.). 
17-1-08. 4 Hydrophilids. 

2-2-07. 7 Rhyssemus germanus. 
3-3-07. 2 Cctmponotua compressus. 

1 Phidole malinsi. 

2 Scleron orientate. 

1 Bibionid fly. 

2 Small caterpillars. 
5-3-08. 7 Hydrophilids of 3 spp. 

12-4-07. 7 Hydrophilidce. 

3 Rhyssemus germanus, 

4 Oat grains. 

4-10-08. Hydrophilidce. (Approx. 10). 
2 Small caterpillars. 

1 Small seed. 

29-10-08. 10 Chrysocoris alba var. pattens. 

2 Small caterpillars. 
12-12-07. 2 Chrysis sp. 

3 Small beetles. 
. 2 Oat grains. 

Summary. Of 93 insects taken by 10 birds, belong to the 
beneficial group, 10 to the injurious and 83 to the neutral. One 
bird had eaten snails, one small seeds and two had eaten oats. 

5 birds took injurious insects, and 10 neutral. 

Notes. The food consists by no means of insects only ; weed seeds are occasionally taken, 
oats from stables, not so far as I know from the field (crops or stubbles) and also small snails. 
I have seen it on more than one occasion eating worms. 

827. Motacilla leucopsis. White-faced Wagtail. Insects round 
houses, hedges, &c. Jerd. B. I., II, 219. 

829. Motacilla personata. Masked Wagtail. Flies that in- 
fest the vicinity of stables and out-houses. Jerd. B. I., II, 219. 

Stomachs examined 

13-2-07. 16 Phidole malinsi. 

4 Cremastogaster subnuda. v i 
1 Small Elaterid. 

1 Small caterpillar. 

5 Oat grains. 
29-3-07. 3 Rhyssemus germanus. 

5 Fifes. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 133 

Stomachs examined contd. 

Other remains unidentifiable. 

2 Pieces of grass. 
29-3-07. 3 Chrysis sp. 

5 Rhyssemus germanus. 

3 Flies. 

18 Aphis sp. 
13 Oat grains. 

9-4-08. 1 Chrotogonus (small larva). 
3 Camponotus compreasus. 

1 Cydnus nigritus. 
1-10-08. 1 Small Elaterid. 

Myllocerus 7 remains. 
Probably also remains of flies. 

2 Small snails (Hydrobia sp.). 
3-12-07. 3 Flies. 

21 Aphids. 

1 Small snail. 

12-12-07. Some insects' legs, weevils and ants, and the remains of broken beetle 
elytra. 

3 Pieces of grass. 

Summary. Of 89 insects taken by 7 birds 45 are injurious, 
and 44 neutral. None are beneficial. 4 birds took injurious 
insects and 6 neutral, not including one in which only remains of 
insects were found. 2 birds took oats from around stables, 2 
contained species of grass and 2 small snails. 

Conclusion. This bird is apparently beneficial. 

831. Motacilla madraspatensis. Large Pied Wagtail. Catch- 
ing flies and insects by water's edge. B. N. H. S. J., XIII, 382. 
In captivity prefers insects except Hemiptera. Then in order grass- 
hoppers, Mantidse, caterpillars, crickets, flies, butterflies and wasps. 
It does not care for harder insects, therefore not liking beetles, and 
will not touch cockroaches or bugs. Also sandhoppers, annelids 
and Crustacea. B. N. H. S. J., XI., 535. Flies. Dewar, B. P., 26. 

833. Motacilla borealis. Grey-headed Wagtail. Insects dis- 
turbed by cattle. Jerd. B. L, II, 224. 
Stomachs examined 

9-1-08. 1 Small Elaterid. 

4 Elytra (Coleoptera).' 1 ^ 

8 Caterpillars ? mandibles. 
7 Small caterpillars. 
1 Haltica ? sp. ? 
1 Spider. 



134 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Stomachs examined contd. 

4-4-09. 1 Haliplus augustifrons. 

2 Pachnephorus bretinghami. 
20 Hydrophilidse (3'species). 

4-4-09. 1 Small Elaterid. 

24 Hydrophilidae (3 species). 
1 Small caterpillar. 

Summary. Of 66 insects taken by 3 birds, 18 are injurious, and 
48 neutral. Three birds took injurious, and 3 neutral insects. One 
took a spider. 

835. Motacilla beema. Indian Blue-headed Wagtail. 

Stomachs examined 

29-3-09. 4 Flies (Muscids). 

3 Heteroderes sp. 

1 Cydnus nigritus. 
4-4-09. 7 Flies (Muscids). 

1 Heteroderes sp. 

2 Beetles legs (possibly Myllocerus sp). 
4 4-09. 9 Flies (Muscids). 

Mesomorpha villiger. 
6-4-09. 3 Flies (Muscids). 
2 Heteroderes sp. 
2 Cydnus nigritus. 

Summary. Of 36 insects taken 5 are injurious, beneficial 
and 31 neutral. Three birds took injurious, beneficial, and 4 
neutral insects. 

Notes. Three birds obtained on 4-4-09 contained nothing identifiable except 100 (approx.) 
Aphides* which were probably obtained from "doub" grass as these birds were only noticed on 
grass lands, but the aphides could not be found on the grass ; 73 were in one bird. 

Conclusion. Probably beneficial. 

839. Limonidromus indicus. Forest Wagtail. Dung of cat- 
tle for insect larvae (Layard, Ceylon). Jerd. B. I., II., 227. jj 

Pipits, chiefly feed on insects, but also eat grass seeds, and other 
grain. Jerd. B. I., II. , 300. Frequent the ground, but a few species 
occasionally perch on trees and even run along the larger boughs 
in persuit of insects. F. I., II, 301. 

841. Anthus maculatus. Indian Tree-pipit. Various insects, 
and also on seeds on ground and on trees. Said to kill 

* Probably Macrosiphum granarium the wheat aphis [H. M. L.] 



MASON AND LEFROY. 



135 



many mosquitoes. Jerd. 
LXV., 81. 

Stomachs examined 



B. I., II., 229. Millet. A. S. B. 



1907. 31 specimens. 

These invariably contained grass, weed-seeds and vegetable matter in 
major proportion. Most (23) also contained traces or, in a few cases, 
a large percentage of insect remains, weevi'.s find ants principally. 

1908. 23 specimens. 

Similar to those examined in 1907. 19 contained insects. 
8-3-07. 1 Bagrada picta. 

2 Ephemerid wings. 

3 Myllocerus sp. 

Grass and weed seeds. 

1 Small pebble. 
8-3-07. 3 Phtidole malinsi. 

2 Cydnus nigritus. 
Grass and weed seeds. 

18-3-09. 2 Ephemerids ? 

2 Tanymecus sp. ? 
1 Bagrada picta. 

3 Hemiptera (heads). 
12 Grass seeds. 

1 Small pebble 

18-3-09 2 Small weevils Myllocerus sp. ? a considerable amount of other co 
leopterous remains, in all probability weevils. 

3 Small seeds. 

1 Small pebble. 
18-3-09. 3 Chrotogonus sp. '? larvae. 

1 Myllocerus sp. 

2 Small snails (Planorbis sp.). 
1 Grass seed. 

18-3-09. 2 Hydrophilids. 

1 Cydnus nigritus. 

Small broken Coleoptera. 
20-3-08. 2 Astycus ? sp. ? 

Grass and weed seeds. 

26-3-07. Some broken Coleopterous remains ('weevils). 
1 Drasterius sp. (Pusa No. 2148). 

1 Cydnus sp. (Pusa No. 543). 
8 Small dark seeds. 

26-3-07. 8 Myllocerus sp. Tanymecus sp. 
26-3-07. 5 Myllocerus sp. 

14 Hydrophilids. Apparently 5 species. 
8-4-07. 3 Chrotogonus sp. larvae. 

2 Small snails. 

Grass and weed-seeds, 
9-4-09. 1 Myllocerus sp. 

Grass, and weed-seeds. 
20-4-07. 2 Aphodiids. 

1 Cydnus nigritus. 
Grass and weed-seeds. 



136 THE FOOD OF BIEDS IN INDIA. 

Summary. Of 66 insects recorded from 67 birds are bene- 
ficial, 37 injurious and 29 neutral. The number of insects in 42 of 
these birds, the insects being solely ants (neutral) and weevils 
(injurious), was not recorded. Eleven birds took vegetable matter 
only, in all 64 birds containing vegetable matter-whilst 3 con- 
tained insects only. Two birds contained small snails. 

Conclusion. Beneficial. 

842. Anthus nilghirensis. Nilgiri Pipit. Various insects and 
grass seeds. Jerd. B. I., II, 230. 

843. Anthus cockburnice. Rufous Rock-pipit. Various in- 
sects. Jerd. B. I., II, 236. 

845. Anthus richardi. Richard's Pipit. Various insects and 
grass seeds. " Ortolan/' Jerd. B. I., II, 233. 

847. Anthus rufulus. Indian Pipit. 
Stomachs examined 

5-2-09. 12 Myllocerus sp. 

1 Phidole malinsi. 
12-6-08 1 Chrotogonus sp. 

3 Cremastogaster subnuda. 

Phidole malinsi. 
12-6-08. 14 Termes sp. 

1 Hemipterous head. 
1 Large spider. 
5-7-08. Blades and seeds of grass and other vegetable matter. 

Summary. Of 33 insects taken by 4 birds, 27 are injurious, 6 
neutral, none beneficial. Two birds took neutral insects, 3 in- 
jurious, 1 grass seeds and vegetable matter, and 1 a spider. 

853. Oreocorys sylvanus. Upland Pipit. Insects and Grass 
seeds. Jerd. B. I , II., 233. Grylli, and other insects and seeds. 
Jerd. B. I., II., 240. 

Almost without exception the Wagtails are winter visitors 
to the plains one species apparently being a resident (M. madras- 
patensis). We have insufficient records at present for any definite 
conclusions, and though these birds are almost certainly beneficial 
they can only be regarded in that light in so far as they keep 
down an excessive abundance of insect life. 



MASON AND LEFBOY. 137 

Of the Pipits, which take by far more vegetable matter as food, 
the records point more definitely to the fact that they are beneficial. 
Eight or 9 species occur in the plains. At least two species are sold 
as " Ortolans, " namely, Anihus maculatus and Corydalla richardi. 

ALAUDID^E. 

LARKS. 

Feed partly on grains, and much on grasshoppers andinsecls, 
Jerd. B. I., II, 415. 

854. Alcemon desertorum. Desert-Lark. Seeds. Jerd. B. I. f 
II, 435. 

855. Otocorys penicillata. Gould's Horned Lark. Grain found 
in cattle dung. (Dickson & Ross.) Jerd. B. I., II, 430. 

857. Otocorys elwesi. Elwes' Horned Lark. Grain found in 
cattle dung. (Dickson & Ross). Jerd. B. I. II, 430. 

861. Alauda gulgula. Indian Sky-Lark. "An Ortolan/' 
Jerd. B. I., II., 435. This bird occasionally feeds on worms. I have 
seen the young fed on small moths, small grubs and caterpillars. 

863. Calandrella dukhunensis. Rufous Short-toed Lark 
Feed on seeds. "An Ortolan." Jerd. B. I., II, 435. Almost 
entirely " Ortolans." F. I., II, 329. 

The following are records from stomachs obtained in January, 
February and March 1908-1909. 

1 Weevil. '.;. . 

29 Grass seeds. -. ;. 

5 Weevil and other insect remains unidentifiable. 

3 Grass seeds. 

1 Polyrachis simplex. 

4 Remains of weevils. 

1 Caterpillar. 

2 Grass seeds. 

1 Tanymecus sp. 
1 Small Geometrid caterpillar. 
43 Grass seeds. 

7 Tanymecus indicits. 

13 Other insect remains unidentifiable, probably entirely of weevils. 
34 Grass seeds. 



138 THE FOOD OF BIEDS IN INDIA. 

4 Weevils. 
31 Grass seeds. 
1 Piece of brick. 

1 Weevil (legs only). 

Some grass seeds and vegetable matter. 
3 Pieces of brick. 

1 Tanymecus itfdicus. 
1 Carabid. No. 2115. 
Grass seeds and some vegetable matter. 

1 Weevil's leg. 
211 Grass seeds. 

3 Weevils (remains). 
29 Grass seeds. ., 

1 Tanymecus indicus. 

8 Remains of other weevils. 

9 Grass seeds. 

2 Leguminous weed seeds. 

1 Small stone. 

2 Tanymecus sp. 
151 Grass seeds. 

10 Tanymecus (Mspida and indicus). 
43 Grass seeds. 

1 Tanymecus sp. head only. 
38 Grass seeds. 
1 Small snail (Corbicula orientalis Lank). 

1 Mesomorpha villiger. 

Tanymecus indicus. 

10 Insect remains, probably of the above two species. 
Grass blades and seeds. 

1 Small Weevil. 
93 Grass seeds. 

2 Myllocerus discolor. 

40 Grass seeds and some vegetable matter. 

Insect remains possibly weevils. 
10 Grass seeds. 

1 Piece of snail shell (No. 15). 

5 Small pieces of brick. 

3 Weevils (legs only). 
134 Grass seeds. 

3 Weevils' legs. 
8 Grass seeds. 
3 Pieces of brick. 
3 Tanymecus indicus. 

6 Grass seeds. 

2 Small shells. (No. 15, 

7 Mesomorpha villiger. 
1 Myllocerus discolor. 

1 Wheat grain. 
Some grass seeds and otkerjregetable matter. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 139 

7 Myllocerus blandus. 
9 Grass seeds ? 

2 Phidole malinsi. 
1 Small weevil. 
9 Aphodiids. 

1 Ant pupa. 

2 Myllocerus discolor. 

Some buds and grass seeds. 

3 Small stones. 

1 Chrotogonus sp. 
1 Portions of a caterpillar. 
Some beetle ? remains. 

1 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

3 Carabid and 5 weevil remains. 

1 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 
Beetle and weevil remins. 

Entirely on grass seeds. 

4 Aphodiids. 

Other coleopterous remains. 
15 Grass and weed seeds. 

1 Scleron orientale. 
1 Weevils leg. 

Grass and weed seeds. 

Grass and weed seeds only. 
6 Tanymecus sp. 
1 Small snail (Corbicula orientalis Lank). 

Grass and weed seeds and some vegetable matter. 
1 Scleron orientale. 

5 Tanymecus sp. 

1 Myllocerus sp. 

14 Small grass and weed seeds. 

2 Small snails (Corbicula orientalis Lank). 
1 Small snail (Planorbis sp). 

3 Anthomyiid flies. 
1 Hister cenescens. 

1 Hister scissifrons. 

1 Myllocerus blandus. 

3 (Ecophylla smaragdino. 

10 Grass seeds, and a little vegetable matter. 

5 Aphodiids. 

1 Myllocerus discolor. 

1 Tanymecus (indicus). 

21 Grass and weed seeds. 

1 Myllocerus discolor. 

2 Weevils (heads). 
63 Grass seeds, &c. 

1 Forficulid clasper. 
1 Small Elaterid. 
1 Aphodiid- 



140 THE POOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Chiefly vegetable matter. 

1 Weevil. 
1 Caterpillar. 

3 Cydnus sp. (Pusa No. 543). 

1 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

1 Amblyrrhinus poricollis. 

4 Moths. Noctuid or Pyralid ? 

2 Small pieces of brick. 

2 Myllocerus sp. 

1 Ant Pupa. (Oamponotua compretsua . 

1 Small caterpillar. 

Some vegetable matter. 

4 Myllocerus discolor. 
1 Muscid, Stomoxys? 

1 Tetragonoderus sp. 

1 Stenalophus quinquepustulatus. 

1 Myllocerus discolor. 

2 Amblyrrhinus poricollis. 
Some grass and weed seeds. 

1 Stomoxys ? 
1 Chironomid. 

1 Forficulid clasper. 

4 (Ecopyhlla smaragdina. 

1 Camponotus compressus. 

1 Mesomorpha villiger. 

3 Small black seeds. 

Coleopterous remains. 

2 Black seeds. 

6 Myllocerus blandus. 
Other weevil remains. 

Finely disintegrated coleopterous remains/ 

1 Amblyrrhinus poricollis. 
Coleopterous remains mostly of weevils. 

1 Chrotogonus sp. 

4 Weevils. 

1 Small caterpillar. 
1 Hemipteron (head). 

1 Myllocerus discolor. 

3 Broken caterpllars. 
Some vegetable matter. 

Coleopterous remains. 
30 Grass seeds. 

Coleopterous remains. 
1 Piece of brick. 

4 Amblyrrhinus poricollis. 
Broken coleopterous remains. 

3 Small pieces of brick. 



MASON AND LEPROY. 141 

Summary. Of 230 insects taken by 53 birds, 6 are beneficial, 
60 neutral, and 164 injurious. Three birds took beneficial insects, 
17 neutral and 42 injurious. Forty birds took vegetable matter, in 
only two instances was the food composed entirely of this food. 
Thirteen birds had taken insects only. Five had taken snails, and 
one a wheat grain. A large proportion, at any rate, of the uniden- 
tifiable insects was probably weevils of common species. 

Conclusion. Beneficial. 

871. Mirafra erythroptera. Red-winged Bush-Lark. 
Stomachs examined 

13_4_08. 3 Myllocerus sp. 

18 Leguminous weed seeds. 
27-4-09. 1 Camponotus compressus. 
3 Tanymecus sp. 

Grass and weed seeds. 
5-5-07. Various coleopterous remains. 
Grass and other weed seeds. 

Summary. Six injurious insects and 1 neutral insect were taken 
by 3 birds. All contained weed seeds. 

877. Ammomanes phcenicura. Rufous-tailed Finch-Lark. 
Seeds of various kinds and hard insects. Jerd. B. L, II, 423. 

879. Pyrrhulauda grisea. Ashy-crowned Finch-Lark. '* Or- 
tolan/' Jerd. B. L, II. , 425. Bombay Gaz., Ahmedabad, IV., 84. 

The Larks feed on insects and seeds of various kinds. From 
the stomach records these seeds apparently consist for the most 
part of grass, at any rate in the common species. Most species are 
found in the plains. Otocorys are hill birds, while Calandrella are 
mostly winter migrants to the plains, other genera containing hill 
species, plains species or migrants. 

Alauda gulgula, Calandrella 3 spp. and Pyrrulauda grisea are 
5 species which are captured in large numbers and sold as "Ortolans/' 
all being beneficial species. 

NECTARINIID.E. 

SUN-BIRDS. 

These birds feed on the nectar of flowers and minute insects, 
and many chiefly on spiders. Jerd. B. I., I, 359. 



142 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

The Sun-birds. . .are entirely arboreal in their habits, and feed 
on minute insects, and on the nectar of flowers. F. I., II, 343. 

White-ants flying. B. N. H. S. J., X., 303. 

Sun-birds do not live exclusively upon honey. They vary this 
diet with minute insects which they pick off flowers and leaves. 
D. B. P. The food consists mainly of insects sometimes taken 
on the wing with their larvae and spiders. E. B. C. N. H., 570. 

882. Aeihopyga seherice. Himalayan Yellow-backed Sun-bird. 
Larvae of flies, spiders and ants= In captivity on sugar and water, 
honey, and bread and milk. (Sykes). - Jerd. B. I., I., 363. 

886. Aethopyga vigorsi. Vigors' Yellow-backed Sun-bird. 
Larvss of flies, spiders and ants. Jerd. B. I. I., 364. 

887. A. ignicauda. Fire-tailed Yellow-backed Sun-bird. 
Largely on honey secreted by the various species of Rhododendron 
found in the hills. B. N. H. S. J., XV, 514. 

888. A. gouldoe. Mrs. Gould's Yellow-backed Sun-bird. Feed- 
ing young on insects. B. N. H. S. J., IX., 500. 

890. A. saturata. Black-breasted Yellow-backed Sun-bird 
Common among wild cherry flowers. A. S. B., LXIX, 125. 

894. Arachnechthra lotenia. Loten's Sun-bird. Spiders in 
verandah. Jerd. B. I., I., 364. 

895. A. asiatica. Purple Sun-bird. Partly on nectar of 
flowers, but a good deal on insects, small cicadellse, flies, spiders, 
&c. Jerd. B. 1. 1., 371. Small insects off ground and on wing. B. 
N. H. S. J., XIV, 364. 

Stomachs examined 

8-2-09. 12 Tineid caterpillars. 
15-2-08. 1 Spider. 
20-2-08. 3 Small Geometrid larvae. 

2 Small spiders. 
18-2-07. 5 Small flies. 
12-3-09. 5 Small Geometrid larvae, 

probably obtained from a Sissoo tree. 
17-3-07. 3 Small flies. 
20-3-08. (Empty). 



MASON AND LEFROY. 143 

Stomachs examined contd. 

11-04-09. (Empty). 

19_4_08. 2 Small flies. 

1 Spider. 

15-5-08. (Empty). 

6-6-07. 4 Small flies. 

20-8-08. (Empty). 

31-10-08. 1 Myllocerus sp. 

1 Small caterpillar. 

1 Cydnus nigritus. 

4 Jassids. < 

10-11-07. 2 Small flies. 

Summary. Of 43 insects taken by 14 birds, 27 are injurious. 
16 neutral and none beneficial. Four birds took injurious insects 
5 took neutral (flies from flowers), 3 took spiders and 4 were empty, 
The last probably contained nectar, though this was not noted. 

897. A. pectoralis. Malay Yellow-breasted Sun-bird. Par- 
tial to flowers of coconut palms. F. I., II, 362. 

901. A. zeylonica. Purple Rumped Sun-bird. Honey of flow- 
ers and small insects which infest flowers and buds, &c. In captivity 
on sugar and water or fruit jam. Jerd. B. 1. 1,, 369. 

Arachnothera. Affect the flowers of plantain trees (Musa] 
more than those of any other tree. Jerd. B. I., I, 369. 

"? O. " ' '' 

906. A. magna. Larger Streaked Spider-hunter. Insects 'off 

flower buds and leaves. Jerd. B. I., Ill, 361. 

' 



FLOWER-PECKEKS. 

'v -' ^ 

i Flower-peckers do great damage to ripe mangoes and 
guavas. B. N. H. S. J., I, 623. Insects and small berries. F. I., 
II, 375. 

The food consists of insects varied by spiders, fruit-buds, seeds, 
and perhaps honey. E. B. C. N. H., 571. 

915. Dicceum ignipectus. Fire-breasted Flower-pecker. Small 
insects and flower buds. Jerd. B. I., I, 377. 

918. Dicceum virescens. Andamanese Flower-pecker. Fruit 
of Loranthus. B. N. H. S. J., XVI, 161, 



Young tamarind shoots. 



144 THE POOD OF filfcDS IN INDIA. 

919. D. erythrorhynchus. Tickell's Flower-pecker. Nectar of 
flowers and minute insects ; Layard found that it ate occasionally 
viscous berries, probably those of a Cuscuta. Jerd. B. I., I, 375. 

Damage ripe mangoes and guavas. B. N. H. Si J., XIV, 
364. 

2-3-07. 
6-4-08. ' 
16-4-07. 
9-10-07. 
12-11-08. 
13-11-07. 
20-11-07.- 

11-4-09. (Empty). 
21-10-08. 1 Small moth. 

Some buds and shoots. 

Summary. Of 9 birds obtained 1 was empty, 7 contained 
shoots of tamarind, and 1 had taken a small moth, and a little vege- 
table matter. 

921. Piprisoma squalida. Thick-billed Flower-pecker. Small 
spiders, insects' eggs and larvae, aphides, &c. Jerd. B. I., I, 377. 

925. Pachyglossa melanoxantha. Yellow-bellied Flower-pecker* 
Small insects and viscid berries. (Hodgson in Jerdon B. I.), F 
I., II, 386. 

The heads of the Nectarinidse and of the Dicaeidae, especially 
the former, are often noted as being covered with pollen from the 
various flowering plants that they frequent, some species notably 
Arachnechthra asiatica. haunt orchards when the trees are in flower, 
and may therefore act to some extent as fertilizing agents by carry- 
ing pollen from one flower to another. This is especially the case 
with bell-shaped flowers, such as ornamental hibiscus, pomegranate, 
&c. 

Of the Sun-birds the species of Mthopyga are confined to the 
hills, while other genera occur at lower elevations and some in the 
plains (Arachnechthra). The Dicceidce are similarly distributed, the 
greater number of both families occurring in Burma. The habits 
of both are alike. They feed on minute insects in flowers, and also 
on nectar, and occasionally do some damage to ripe fruits especially 
mangoes. 



MASON AND LEFBOY. 145 

PITTIDJE. 
PITTAS. 

Live habitually on the ground, and feed on insects. F. I., II, 
387. 

927. Pitta nepalensis. Blue-naped Pitta. Various hard in- 
sects, Jerd. B. I., I, 504. 

933. Pitta brachyura. Indian Pitta. Various coleopterous 
insects. Jerd. B. I., I, 504. White coffee grub in manure 
heap. B. N. H. S, J., X, 303 ? 

The Pittas generally speaking are confined to the hills of Assam 
and Burma. One species only is found more or less throughout In- 
dia, namely, Pitta brachyura. 

EURYL^MI. 
BROAD-BILLS. 

Wallace says they do not capture insects on the wing, but 
pick ants and small Coleoptera off the bark and leaves of trees. 
Jerd. B. I., I, 235-236. As a rule on insects. Imp. Gaz., I, 246- 
Broad-bills are forest birds living generally in small flocks among 
high trees and feeding as a rule on insects. F. I., Ill, 3. Little 
but insects, taking them on the wing. E. B. C. N. H., 468-469. 

937. Eurylcemus javanicus. Harsfield's Broad-bill. This 
species feeds on insects and small reptiles. F. I., Ill, 4. 

939. Corydon sumatranus. Dusky Broad-bill. Small evil 
smelling beetle. B. N. H. S. J., XIV, 422. 

940. Cymborhynchus macrorhyncus. Black-and-red Broad-bill. 
Entirely insects. F. I., Ill, 8. Berries. E. B. C.'N. H. S., 468. 

942. Serilophus lunatus. Gould's Broad-bill. Is stated to 
live on fruit and berries. ~ Jerd. B. I., I, 239. Feeds chiefly on 
insects. F. I., Ill, 9. 

943. S. rubripygius. Hodgson's Broad-bill. Various in- 
sects. Jerd. B. I., I, 239. It feeds on insects, and I have shot 
one in Manipore that had eaten small land mollusca. F. I., Ill, 9- 

10 



146 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

944. Psarisomus dalkousice. Long-tailed Broad-bill. I did 
not observe it capturing insects on the wing, but I found on exa- 
mination that it had eaten locusts and Coccidae. Jerd. B. I., I, 
237. 

Feeds on insects which are sometimes captured on the wing. 
F. I, III, 12. 

945. Calyptomena viridis. Green Broad-bill. Entirely on 
fruit. F. I., HI, 13. 

The Broad-bills are mostly from Burma and the Malay Penin- 
sular, extending to the Himalayas as far as Mussoorie. 

PICI. 

WOOD-PECKEES AND WRYNECKS. 

PicidcB. All Indian Picidce are insectivorous, a large propor- 
tion of them feeding mainly, and some entirely on ants. F. I. 
Ill, 16. 

Chiefly on insects and especially larvse, which they discover 
by tapping on the trees, and when they find a likely spot they dig 
vigorously into it. A few of the Wood-peckers feed habitually 
on the ground on ants and other insects, and some (Piculets) 
appear to hop about brushwood and fallen trees. Some of the 
American Wood-peckers eat nuts and fruit, and even it is said 
eggs. Jerd. B. I., I, 269. 

Pici feed on wood-boring insects and are therefore of great 
use to the forester. S. M. F. Z. 

Wood-peckers extract the grubs and pupa3 of Hoplocerambyx 
spinicornis from ' sal ' trees. S. Forest Bui. No. 2. 

Many form prey largely on ants. Others again devour a 
large quantity of fruits, seeds, and .perhaps Indian corn. Omit- 
ting, however, the sap-sucking propensities of the American spe- 
cies, the harm done is outweighed by the good. E. B. C. N. H. 
458. 

According to Uzel, wood-peckers eat Thysanoptera (Thrips) 
under bark of trees. Sharp C. N. H., Insects. Part II, 530. 



MASON AND LEPEOY. 147 

Almost entirely insects, picked out of the bark of trees and 
rotten wood. Bomb. Gaz., Deccan, Vol. XII, 35. Not a few 
birds confine their attention to the creeping things that inhabit 
the bark of trees. Such are the Wryneck, the Tree-creeper, and 
the Wood-pecker. Of these the Wood-pecker is chief. Dewar, B. 
P., 84. 

Gecinus obtain their insect food more frequently on the 
ground and fallen trees than is usual with Wood-peckers. F. I., 
Ill, 18. 

946. Gecinus squamatus. West Himalayan Scaly-bellied Green 
Wood-pecker. Small black ants are the favourite food, the 
Wood-pecker stands by the side of the ants' run, and picks 
them off as they come along. A. S. B., LXIX, 164. 

952. G. cJdorogaster. 'South Indian Yellow-naped Wood- 
pecker. (Layard) breaks into dried dung for insects. (Legge. 
ants, besides coleoptera. F. I., Ill, 25. 

969. Dendrocopus auriceps. Brown-fronted Pied Woodpecker 
At Mussoorie destroys fruits, such as pears, &c. (Tytler). Jerd. 
B. I., I, 274. 

972. Liopicm mihrattensis. Yellow- fronted Pied Wood- 
pecker.) 

Stomachs ex<muned 

22-5-08. 1 Small Elaterid. 

1 Small Hydrophilid. 

3 Geometrid larvae. 
5-7-08. 1 Myllocerua sp. 

I Geometrid larva. 

4 Other caterpillars. 

1 Monophlebus octo-caudata. 
1 Tachardia lacca. 

Some Ficus fruits. 
26-9-09. 14 Amblyrrhinus poricollis. 

5 Buprestid larvae. 

Summary. Thirty-two birds took 32 insects, of which 29 are 
injurious, 2 neutral and one useful. Qne bird took Ficus fruit. 

976. lyngipicus hardwickei. Indian Pigmy Wood-pecker. 
Various small insects and their larvae. Jerd. B. I., I, 278. 



148 ?HE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Stomachs examined 

10-4-08. 1 Apia florea. 

2 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 
1 Camponotus compressus. 
5 Cremastogaster subnuda. 

4 Pupae of small moths. (?) found under bark). 
13-5-07. 12 Tanymecus sp. 

3 Caterpillars. 

Other insect remains unidentifiable. 
17_7_09. 2 Drasterius sp. (Pusa No. 2148.) 
12 Small Elaterids. 
1 Tanymecus sp. 
1 Buprestid larva. 
1 Large Geometrid larva. 

Summary. Of 45 insects taken by 3 birds, 1 is beneficial, 22 
neutral, and 22 injurious. One bird took beneficial insects and 
all had eaten injurious. 

983. Micropternus phceoceps. Northern Rufous Wood- 
pecker. It feeds chiefly on ants that form nests in trees. F. I., 
III. 56. The ants referred to are probably the common red ant 
Oecophylla smaragdina. 

Stomachs examined 

18-3-08. 1,459 Cremastogaster subnuda. 
8-2-09. 2,600 Cremastogaster subnuda. 
12-4-09. 725 Crematogaster subnuda. 
304 Phidole malinsi. 
23 (Ecophylla smaragdina (pupae). 

4 (Ecophylla smaragdina (larvae). 
9 Pieces of bark. 

Summary. 5,115 neutral insects taken by 3 birds. 

986. Brachypternus aurantius. Feeds much on ants. F. I., 
Ill, 60. Not a few birds confine their attention to the creeping 
things that inhabit the bark of trees, such as the Wryneck, the Tree- 
creeper and the Wood-pecker, and of these the Wood-pecker is the 
chiaf. It sometimes ventures on the ground from which it digs 
out insects. Dewar B. P., 87. 

Common in Indian forests : feeds on grubs and pupae of the 
''sal" pest, Hoplocerambyx spinicorniK, in Eastern Bengal and 
Assam. S. M. F. Z., 1908. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 



149 



Stomachs examined 

9-1-08 3 Camponotus comprestua. 
1 Derosphcerus rugicollis. 
21 Myllocerus discolor. 

3 Small caterpillars. 

1 Centipede. 

4 Ber (Zizybus jujuba) buds. 
21-1-07. 3 Camponotus compressus. 

2 Weevils sp. ? 

1 Opatrum ? 

2 Mesomorpha villiger. 
8-3-09. 39 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

6 Meranoplus bicolor. 

1 Copelatus indicus (Dytiscid) 

8-3-09. 33 Myllocerus discolor. 

3 maculosus. ? 
10-3-07. 19 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

1 Opattn&m sp. 

2 or 3 Cerambycid larva. 
1 Piece of bark. 

12-3-08. 12 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

4 Camponotus compressus. 
1 Derosphcerus rugicollis. 

18-3-07. 23 Phidole malin*i ? 

Remains of ants entirely ; almost empty. 
23-3-07. 1 Ephemerid. 

19 Myllocerus discolor. 

1 Derosphcerus rugicollis. 

2 Geometrid caterpillars. 
1 Piece of bark. 

12-4-08. 28 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

223 Meranoplus bicolor. 
30-4-07. 3 Camppnotus compressus. 

12 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

91 Cremastogaster subnuda. 

3 Caterpillars (one of which was a cutworm apparently). 
1 3_5_07. 12 (Ecophylla smaragdfina. 

123 Meranoplus bicolor. 

3 Hemiptera (scutella). 

15-5-08. 1 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

10 Camponotus compressus. 

12 Myrmecocystus setipes. 

37 Hemiptera spp. 

1 Spider. 

2 Ficu$ fruits. 
20-6-07. 23 Camponotus compressus. 

16 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

3 Opatrum sp. 

1 Small caterpillar. 
1 Cydnus sp. 
1 Fiput fruit. 



150 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Stomachs examined contd. 

11-10-07. 301 Meranorplus bicolor. 
16 Phidole malinsi ? 

1 Myllocerus sp. 
11-10-07. 743 Meranoptus bicolor. 

3 Astycus lateralis. 

2 Hemiptera (heads). 
12-12-08. 6 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

9 Caffnponotus compr&ssus. 
1 Remains of Opatrum sp. 
1 Moth head. 

3 Hemiptera (scutella.) 
1 Piece of bark. 

Summary. Of 3,921 insects taken by 16 birds, none are bene- 
ficial, 96 are injurious and 3,825 neutral. Thirteen took injurious 
insects, and all took neutral. 

One bird took a centipede, 2 Ficus fruit, 1 Ber buds, and 3 
pieces of bark. One took a spider. 

This Wood-pecker occasionally feeds on the ground. By far 
the largest portion of its food consists of ants. It may frequently 
be seen hunting ants on Ber, and in consequence I have paid con- 
siderable attention to this bird, in order to ascertain whether, by 
hunting these ants, it may damage lac in any period of its growth. 
Most of the ant-hunting is done on stems and thick boughs. I 
have never seen it on a lac-infected part of a tree. It does not 
feed on the lac-insect. It is said to be very partial to toddy palms 
in Madras (B. N. H. S. J., XVI, 491) ; and it is possible that this 
habit may be due- to the presence of Oryctes rhinoceros and Rhyn- 
chophorus ferrugineus in these trees. 

987. Brachypternus eryihronotus. Ked-backed Wood-pecker. 
Feeds largely on red ants. F. I., Ill, 61. ((Ecophylla smaragdina ?} 

988. Tiga javanensis. Common Golden-backed Three-toed 
Wood-pecker. Feeds on caterpillars and pupae of the bee-hole 
borer of the tesik-Duomitus ceramicus. S. M. F. Z. 

Picumnino3. Piculets. 

1001. Picumnus innominatus. Speckled Piculet. Various 
insects and according to Mr. Thompson on eggs and larvae of 
wood-boring beetles. F. I., Ill, 77. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 151 

Among decaying bark for insects. Jerd. B. I., I, 301. 

1002. Sasia ochracea. Rufous Piculet. Entirely insects. 
Jerd. B. I., I, 302. 

Various insects, partly at all events Coleoptera. F. I., Ill, 78. 

lyngince. Wrynecks. Feed chiefly upon the ground on ants 
and the like, and do not seek for insects under the bark of trees to 
the same extent that wood-peckers do. E. B. C. N. H-, 464. 

1003. lynx torquilla. The Common Wryneck. Various 
insects chiefly ants captured on the ground. F. I., Ill, 78. 

Chiefly ants off the ground or occasionally on the boughs of 
trees. Also ant's eggs (pupae ?). Jerd. B. I., I, 303. 

Stomachs examined 

12-2-07. 205 Phidole malinsi. 

13-3-07. 353 Phidole malinsi. 

1 3-3-07. 4 Camponotus compressus. 

420 Phidole malinsi. 

10-3-08. 95 Phidole malinsi. 

.1 Camponotus compressus. 

4 Myllocerus discolor. 

1-4-07. 72 Phidole malinsi. 

16-4-07. 173 Phidole malinsi. 

1 Myllocerus maculosus. 

16_4_07. 201 Phidole malinsi. 

6 Camponotus compressus. 

3 Myllocerus discolor. 

26-9-09. 33 Camponotus compressus. 

Summary. Of 1,540 insects taken by 7 birds, 21 are injurious 
and 1,519 neutral, the latter being entirely compo'sed of a small ant 
Phidole malinsi. 

The Wryneck obtains most of its food on the ground among 
low crops. I obtained nearly all these specimens among cotton, 
which crop it especially appears to frequent. It is not a common 
bird and may easily be overlooked. I have not noticed it on the 
ground in the jungle : a winter migrant so far observed between the 
two following dates during the cold weather, September 26 (1909), 
and March 25 (1907). 

Picince. The Wood-peckers are not well represented on the 
plains. Of some 50 species recorded as Indian, only 10 or so occur 



152 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

on the plains and some of these not on the plains proper. A 
large number are confined to Burma and the Malayan region. 

Picumnince. The Piculets are entirely hill birds. 

lyngince. The Wryneck is a winter visitor to the plains and 
apparently an uncertain one. possibly its migration only occurs 
to localities with a suitable food supply. This is especially notice- 
able at Pusa. In 1906-7 there was a considerable cotton crop and 
the birds were fairly numerous. In 1907-8 the cotton was less in 
area and few birds were heard or seen, one specimen only was ob- 
tained. Few specimens were seen or heard in 1908-9 ; the cotton 
crop had been abandoned, and it is possible that either its food 
is more abundant in the neighbourhood of cotton, or that the cotton 
plant forms good cover for the bird. 

The family Pici feeds very largely on ants, and judging 
from the stomach records by no means so much on boring insects 
as is thought to be the case. They may be regarded as beneficial. 
The economic importance of at any rate the common plains spe- 
cies of Pici depends almost entirely on the economic importance 
we attach to ants. 

ZYGODACTYLI. 

Jndicatoridce. Honey-guides. Said to disclose locality of 
bees' nests to share in spoil, and are sometimes found in bees' 
nests (dead). Jer.d. B. L, 1,306. Bees, grubs, and honey. E. B. C. 
N. H., 452. Afford assistance in discovery of bees' nests. Imp. 
Gaz., I, 247. 

1004. /. xanihonotus. Yellow-backed Honey-guide. In the 
stomach were several predatory wasps and a small quantity of 
green vegetable matter. F. I., Ill, 82. On bees swarming 
round a hole in a tree. B. N. H. S. J., XIX, 153. 

Capitonidce. Barbets. Indian species are occasionally in- 
sectivorous, but none except Calorhamphus feed much on insect 
food. F. I., Ill, 83. Barbets feed almost exclusively on fruits and 
berries. Jerd. B. L, II, 308. Chiefly fruit. Jerd. B. I., II, 309, 



MASON AND LEFROY. 153 

The food consists of fruit of every sort, buds and petals of 
flowers, and even green bark, or in many cases almost entirely of 
insects ; in captivity pieces of meat or small birds are acceptable, 
the latter being usually battered upon some hard substance 
before being swallowed. E. B. C. N. H., 249. 

Fruit-eating Birds. Imp. Gaz., I, 447. 

I learnt, when in the Shevaroys, that barbets of some species, 
occasionally do some considerable amount of damage to coffee 
plantations, just as the berries are ripening. The pulp surround- 
ing the sead is eaten, the seeds being discarded. 

1006 & 1007. Megalcema marshallorum. Great Himalayan 
and M. virens, Great Chinese Barbets. 

Entirely on fruit. F. I., Ill, 86, 85; & Jerd. B. I., I, 308. 
Fruit (marshallorum). A. S. B., L-XIX, 165. 

1008. Thereiceryx zeylonicus. Common Indian Green Bar- 
bet. Chiefly on fruit and seeds, and especially on the figs of the 
banyan and other kinds of Ficus : rarely insects. F. I., Ill, 88. 
Layard. One in captivity killed and ate munias. Fruits 
and berries, occasionally insects. Picking at the flowers of a tree. 
-Jerd. B. I., I, 311. 

1907, 1908 & 1909. 21, 9, & 11 birds, examined in these 
three years respectively, contained nothing but fruits of various 
species of Ficus and occasionally Ber (Zizyphus jujuba.) 

Summary. Forty-two birds took Ficus fruit, and 1 took 2 
beneficial insects. This bird is a general fruit pest in the orchard 
at Pusa, and is said to take such fruits as loquats and peaches, 
visiting the orchard early in the morning and late in the evening 
only. I have seen it on several occasions taking whiteants (Termes 
obesus) on the wing. It flies straight from one tree to another, 
and if a termite happens to come in its way, it takes it. It is too 
clumsy in flight to hawk insects properly. 

1010. Thereiceryx viridis. Small Green Barbet. Always 
fruit in its stomach. Jerd. B, I., I, 312. 



154 THE POOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

1012. Cyanops asiatica. Blue-throated Barbet. 
Fruit broken up. F. I, I, 313. 

1015. Cyanops flavifrons. Yellow-fronted Barbet. Fruit 
eating. F. I., Ill, 95. 

1017. Cyanops franklini. Golden-throated Barbet. Eating 
fruits. Jerd. B. L, I., 314; & F. L, III, 97. 

1019. Xantholcema hcematocephala. Crimson-breasted Barbet. 
Blyth found that in captivity one would take insects but not swal- 
low them, and forsook them immediately fruit was offered. Its 
chief food is fruit of various kinds, sometimes perhaps insects. 
Jerd. B. I., I, 316. Fruit, taking insects occasionally. Flying 
Termites. F. I., Ill, 99. Taps trees like a wood-pecker, and 
feeds on fruit similar to green pigeon. B. N. H. S. J., VIII, 12. 

Does not touch insects : only insects eaten are termites caught 
on the wing. B. N. H. S. J., VIII, 326. Robbed of Ficus fruit by 
Molpastes bengalensis. B. N. H. S. J., XIII, 714. 

Stomachs examined.-- 

1907 5 birds examined. 

1908 7 

1909 3 

All contained Ficus fruits only.. 

Summary. Fifteen birds contained Ficus fruij&only. I have 
repeatedly watched this bird at all seasons of the year, February, 
May, August, and September, for half an hour or so on end, 
pulling bits of bark off trees and especially dead branches, but 
when shot, the bird has contained nothing but fruit. If therefore 
this habit of tapping trees and pulling bark off branches, &c., is 
acquired for the purpose of rinding suitable nesting sites only^ 
this species has more than one brood during the year, or else its 
breeding season extends over a very large period. " It breeds in 
Northern India in March, April, and May, earlier further South, 
and in Ceylon from January to June." F. I., III., 99. 

Indicatoridce. One rare species occurs in the hills. 

Capitonidce.Qt the Barbets only two species occur in the 
plains, and both these are common. They feed almost entirely 



MASON AND LEPROY. 155 

on Ficus fruit, but other fruits are taken to some extent ; in some 
localities coffee plantations suffer from ravages of these birds, and 
in others orchard fruits are taken in considerable numbers. Insect 
food is seldom taken and these birds have nothing to recommend 
their protection. 

ANISODACTYLI. 



Coracias and Eurystomus. The food, largely procured when 
hopping on the ground, consists of small reptiles, frogs, beetles, 
worms, slugs, and grasshoppers, if not of grain.- -E. B. C. N. H., 
377. 

1022. Coracias indica. Indian Roller or Blue Jay. The 
Blue Jay is a good friend to the gardener, since it feeds exclusively 
on insects and small animals. Jerdon cites as the chief articles 
of its diet, large insects, grasshoppers, crickets, Mantidce, and 
beetles with an occasional field mouse and shrew. To this he 
might have added frogs and small snakes. D. B. P., 12. 

Jerdon also states (B. I., I, 214). ' When the winged ter- 
mites issue from their nests after rain, the Roller like almost every 
other bird, catches them on the wing." ' It is sometimes 
trapped by bird lime, the bait being a mole cricket, or shrew (Mus 
lepida) ; (Laggada lepida, Watt, R., 51). Often seen in gardens 
and orchards, where it hawks insects, and sometimes feeds on 
lizards and mice. Imp. Gaz., I, 248. 
Stomachs examined. 

14-1-08. 4 Gryllotalpa africana. 

2 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

2 Caterpillars ? 

12-2-07. 1 Gryllodes melanocephalus. 

27 Myrmecocystus setipes. 

3 Opatrwm sp. (depressum ?) 
2 Tryx ind'icus. 

28-2-07. 5 Myrmecocystus setipes. 
1 Trox indicus. 
6 Caterpillars. 
9-3-08. 3 Gryllotalpa africana. 

6 Myrmecocystus setipes (winged). 



156 



THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 



Stomachs examined contd. 

2 Opatrum sp. (depressum). 

3 Trox indicus. 
22-3-07. 49 Myrmecocystus setipes. 

2 Trox indicus. 

4 Weevils ? Myllocerus sp. 
2 Opatrum (? sp. depressum). 
2 Mesomorpha villiger. 

2 Smooth lepidopterous larvse. 
24-3-09. 1 Atractomorpha crenulata. 

13 Claspers (forficulid.) 

2 fEcophylla smaragdina. 

1 Carabid sp. ? 

4 jPrar indicus. 

9 Cutworms (mandibles). 

17 Other mandibles ? 

24-3-09. 2 Atractomorpha crenulata. 

4 Chrotogonus sp. 

1 Locustid sp. 

2 Grasshoppers (mandibles.) 
1 Camponotus compressus. 

1 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 
1 Scarites sp. 
1 Carabid grub. 

3 Caterpillars (mandibles). 
Other remains of insects. 

1-4-07. 45 Myrmecocystus setipes. 
21-4-07. 3 Chrotogonus sp. 

1 Tryxalid sp. larva. 

12 Myrmecocystus setipes. 

4 Camponotus compressus. 
10-5-07. 10 Chrotogonus sp. 

5 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

Other insect remains probably Myllocerut. 

2 Derosphcerus rugicollis. 
6-6-07. 3 Schizodactylus monstrosus. 

2 Oryllotalpa africana. 

14 Myrmecocystus setipes. 
1 Oymnopleurus cyaneus. 

18-6-07. 4 Chrotogonus sp. 
1 Tryxalis sp. 

3 Grasshoppers ? (remains). 

1 Oryllotalpa africana. 

3 Myrmecocystus setipes. 

2 Coprid remains (two insects). 
2 Trox indicus. 

1 Chrysomelid sp. 
1 Large caterpillar (cutworm). 
1 Antenna of a Noctuid. 
1 Spider. 

21-6-08. 2 Oryllotalpa africana. 
5 Myrmecocystus setipes. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 157 

Stomachs examined contd. 

21 Opatrum sp. 

Other Coleopterous remains. 

2 Oymnopleurus cyaneus (? 2). 
28-6-08 7 Chrotogonus sp. 

9 Camponotus compressua. 

3 Small Coleop. elytra. 

1 Lnwana conspersa. 
28-6-08. 3 Grasshoppers. 

2 Schizodactylus monstrosus. 
2 Myrmecocystus setipes. 

1 Small ant, Phidolef 
1 Trox indicua. 

1 Leg of large Coprid. (Catharsius sabceutl) 
12-10-07. 6 Chrotogonus sp. 

4 Onthophagus spinifer. 
Other legs unidentifiable. 

2 Remains of frogs. 
30-10-07. 4 Remains of grasshoppers. 

4 Myrmecocystus setipes. 
1 Opatrum depressum. 
9 Jaws and other remains of insects. 
31-10-08. 1 Acridium ceruginosum. 
1 Ehynchium sp. 
1 Opatrum sp. 
1 Tenebrionid. 
9 Melolonthid larvae (?) jaws. 

Summary. Of 412 insects taken by 18 birds, 4 are beneficial, 
111 injurious, and 297 neutral. Three birds took beneficial insects, 
17 injurious, and 18 neutral. Of the injurious insects taken 52 
are grasshoppers, 18 crickets, and 23 caterpillars mostly cutworms. 
We can see then that the good done by the destruction of these 
injurious insects far more than counterbalances the fact that some 
beneficial insects were taken. One bird took a spider and another 
two frogs. 

Notes. This bird is widely distributed throughout India. It 
is very commonly seen along most Indian railways, being parti- 
cularly fond of perching on telegraph wires. Its food, which 
consists almost exclusively of insects, is obtained nearly always 
on the ground. The Blue Jay chooses some exposed bough of a 
tree, often a dead one, or some such exposed post from which it 
can watch for insects on the ground, and when it sees an insect 
floats down to the ground silently and slowly, captures the insect, 



168 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

eats it, and then flies off again. They occasionally sit on a lump 
of earth in a ploughed or cultivated field, and sometimes on grass 
itself on grass lands, and hawk their food from there. I have seen 
it capture and eat on the ground Gryllodes melanocephalus, Gryl- 
lotalpa africana, Ants (Camponotus compressus), Termites, beetles 
of various kinds (Trox, Opatrum, &c.) and also large beetle grubs 
possibly Melolonthids. Insects are seldom captured on the wing 
in fact only when the flying Termites emerge in the early part of 
the rains, and at that times the Blue Jay feeds almost exclusively 
on these insects. 

The young are fed largely on crickets and large grubs or cater- 
pillars. I have only been able to observe one nest and did not 
discover this until the young were nearly ready to fly. The old 
birds are wary and give little chance for accurate observation. 

On several occasions 1 have seen a Blue Jay attempt to rob 
a Magpie-robin's (Copsychus saularis) nest, which was in a hole 
in a tree, both when it contained eggs and young, but the robins 
succeeded in driving it off on each occasion. We may, therefore, 
conclude that at any rate sometimes the .Blue Jay eats the eggs 
and the young of other birds. 

At the breeding season the most extraordinary powers of flight 
are exhibited and it is from this that one of the bird's common 
English names " Roller " is derived. At other times the flight 
is lazy and slow, even when flying to the ground to obtain food, 
and gives one the impression that the bird could not be in a hurry 
if he tried. 

Conclusion with Notes. 

This bird is certainly beneficial. The plumage is very gaudy 
and it is possible that some numbers of this bird's skins are 
exported for sale or otherwise to other countries. But should this 
bird be protected it is not only at the port of export that legislation 
is required. This much protection already exists. Being one of 
our common species of birds, and the gaudy colour very striking to 
any one new to .the country, numbers of these birds are shot by 



MASON AND LEFROTf. 159 

Europeans in order to send one or two wings home, and they are 
sent home not declared, or falsely declared. From what I have 
seen I do not imagine that more than one out of six pairs of wings 
ever sees the destination for which they were originally obtained. 
Some specimens are not good enough, while others are put away 
forgotten, and eventually thrown away. It is against this that 
protection is required. 

1023. Ooracias ajfinis.- -Burmese "Roller. Eating a young 
bulbul, it bad apparently killed. B. N. H. S. J., XV1L 193. 
Macdonald. 

1024. Coracias g-irrula. European Roller. In -Asia it fee^s 
cbiefly on beetles. Jerd. B. I., II, 219. 

1025. Eurystomus orientalis. Broai-billed Roller. Termites, 
B. N. H. S. J., XII, 560. 

Insects on Ground.- In confinement eats plantains. F. I., III. 
108. " Stated to take its prey more on the wing than the common 
rollers. Layard says that it clings to trees like a woodpecker 
and that he saw it tearing away the decayed wood round a hole 
in a dead tree. Their stomachs were, says he, full of wood-boring 
Coieoptera, swallowed whole, merely a Httle crushed and I sa\\ 
them be-at their food against the trees Ooleoptera m its stomach. 
Jeod. B. I., i, 220. 

Broad billed rollers. Termites. B. N. H. S. J., VII, 417. 

MEROPID^E. 
BEE-EATERS. 

They feed on insects, often on wasps and bees, a ad hence their 
common name in English and other European languages, and they 
always capture them in the air. They usually crush their insect 
prey when they seize it, killing it at once and thus do not get 
stung. Jerd. B. I., I, 204. 

Termites. Jerd. B. I., I, 292. 

They crush or beat the insect against their perch before 
swallowing it. F. I., Ill, 110. 



160 



THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 



The larger species prey on bees. D. B. P., 209. 
They hawk insects in the air ; insects are also picked off the 
backs of cattle, and more rarely captured on the ground. E. B. 
C. N. H., 388. 

1026. M crops viridis. The Common Bee- eater. 
Stomachs examined. 

9-1-08. 14 Apis indica. 

2 Myllocerus maculosus 

2 discolor. 
1 Myrmecocystus setipes. 

4 Moths wings, and remains. ? 
2-2-07. 6 Apis indica. 

3 Apis ftorea. 
2-2-07. 4 (5 ?) Apis indica. 

12-3-07. 4 Apis indica. 

3 Myllocerus discolor. 

5 Aphodiids. 
12-3-08. 3 Apis ftorea. 

1 Chrysis sp. 
14-3-07. 2 Apis indica. 

8 ftorea. 
24-3-09. 5 Apis indica. 

4 ftorea. 

2 Diptera (heads. ) 
4-4-07. 6 Apis indica. 
4-4-07. 3 Apis indica. ? 

7 ftorea. 

10-4-09. 8 Apis sp. from hive. 
10-4-08. Crickets ? winga. 

3 Apis ftorea 
21-4-07. 12 Apis ftorea. 

6 Moths. Remains of 3 ? more moths 

1 Mylloceriis discolor. 
21-4-07. 3 Myrmecocystus setipes. 

2 Myllocerus maculosus. 
14-5-07. 7 Apis indica. 
14-5-07. 13 Apis indica. 

4-6-08 4 Chrotogonus sp. 

4 Foliates hebrceus. 
1 Vespa orientalis. 

1 Carabid (legs only). 

1 Spider. 

22-5-08. 14 Apis ftorea. 

6-7-08. 1 Fly (Lucilia ?). 

1 Coprid. 

1 Cricket (Trydactylid). 

1 Chrysis sp. 
27-7-08. 6 Apis ftorea. 

1 Chrysis sp. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 



161 



Stomachs examined contd. 



1 Myllocerus discolor. 
6-8-08. 2 OyiiuwpleuTus parvus. 

4 Apis florea. 

1 Chrysomelid sp. 
21-8-08. 16 Apis florea. 

1 Myllocerus sp. 
24-8-08. 1 Apis florea. 

1 Carabid sp. 

1 Onthophagus spinifer. 

1 Carabid (Tetragonoderus.) 

5 Flies (Muscids ?). 
31-9-08. 1 Halictus sp. 

6 Diptera (House ? flies). 
4-10-08. 4 Camponotus compressus. 

1 Tiphia sp. (Scoliid). 
1 Halictus cuniculus (Apid). 
1 Weevil. 
1 Balaninus sp. 
1 Onthophagus spinifer. 
1 Myllocerus maculosus. 
9-10-08. 1 Dragon fly. 
3 Apis indica. 
1 Foliates hebrceus. 
1 Sphex lobatus. 

1 Tabanid. 
12-10-07. 12 Apis florea. 

2 Moth remains. 
1 Myllocerus sp. 

12-10-07. 7 Apis indica. 
20-10-08. 2 Apis florea. 

3 Myllocerus discolor. 

1 Chrysid sp. 
21-10-07. 3 Apis florea. 

2 Coccinella 1-punctata. 
1 Myttorerus discolor. 

1 Gymnophurus miliaris. 
12-11-08. 9 Apis indica. 

Summary. Of 284 insects taken by 30 birds, 202 are beneficial, 
41 injurious, and 41 neutral. Twenty-six birds took beneficial 
insects, 15 injurious and 12 neutral. 

Of the beneficial insects taken practically 200 are the two com- 
mon species of bees in the plains : these bees probably play a very 
important part in the fertilisation of various fruit trees. The 
smaller variety Apis florea is always present in great numbers on 
mangoes when in flower and on all garden fruits, such as peaches, 

U 



162 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

loquats, &c. One bird took a spider. I believe this bird takes 
many more smaller insects than the records show. 

Notes. During the rains of the present year (1909) and in 
the hot weather previous- to the rains these birds were a great 
nuisance round the bee-hives at Pusa. They feed at such times 
almost entirely on the bees taking them as they leave or enter the 
hives. In spite of repeated efforts to stop these birds by destroy- 
ing such as were near the hives, no sooner had one or two been 
shot than more came. In the beginning of July two young queen- 
bees had hatched and both these disappeared on their fertilisa- 
tion flight, and I believe were taken by the Bee-eaters. They 
did not move from the hives in order to take up new quarters for 
then some of the bees would have swarmed with them. The failure 
of the bees at Pusa is, I believe, almost entirely due to the presence 
of these birds. A party of 6 or 7 Bee-eaters was always in the 
neighbourhood, and even when the hives were beii g examined 
would come and take the bees. They are quite fearless and will 
take bees hovering round the frame one is examinirg, almost 
brushing one's face in so doing. The following is a list of the 
stomach contents of 13 of these bee-eaters shot in the vicinity of 
the bee-hives during 1909. 

10-4-09. 8 Bees. 
12-4-09. 6 Bees. 
12-4-09. 3 Bees. 

2 Mnscids. 
25-4-09. 4 Bees. 
12-4-09. 11 Bees. 

5-5-09. 9 Bees. 

5-5-09. 7 Bees. 

2 Mylloeerus maculosu*. 
26-5-09. 4 Bees. 
12-6-09. 3 Bees. 
12-6-09. 6 Bees. 

7-7-09. 4 Bees. 

2 Mylloeerus maculosiis. 

7-7-09, 9 Bees. 

7-7-09. 12 Bees. 

Summary.^Qt 92 insects taken by 13 birds, 86 are bees from 
the hives, 2 are neutral, and 4 injurious. Ten birds had taken 
bees only. 



MASON AND LEFBOY. 163 

Putting these results with the first lot summarised we have 

Of 376 insects taken by 43 birds, 300 are beneficial, 53 injurious, 
and 23 neutral. Forty-two birds took beneficial insects, 17 
injurious, and 7 neutral. 

Conclusion. Though generally regarded as beneficial " because 
it is insectivorous" the notes and records of the stomach con- 
tents made at Pusa during the last 2i years certainly show it 
to be injurious. This may have local application only, but it is 
injurious here at Pusa, and in similar districts. Should bee-keeping 
ever be taken up commercially in the plains, and there seems 
every chance that such will be the case, this bird will prove one 
of the worst pests to the bee-keeper. 

T believe, however, that the food of this species is not suffi- 
ciently known. From watching birds feeding they apparently 
take many more small insects than these records denote ; such 
insects probably consist of a variety of small moths and flies ; 
small beetles perhaps are taken to a greater extent than any other 
form of food. 

A common resident though not so common during May to 
August or December and January as during other months. This 
Bee-eater is purely insectivorous and may be seen singly or in 
small parties waiting on trees, posts, telegraph wires and even 
lumps of earth in the middle of fields and swooping at insects as 
they fly by. It does not remain so long on the wing as M. philip- 
pinus. 

Its food consists principally of bees and other Hymenoptera, 
small beetles especially Myllocerus sp. moths, crickets, &c. Moths 
of various sorts, Noctuids and Pyralids, one of which was Ancyl- 
lolomia chrysographella, have, on several occasions, been seen to 
be taken, but beirg soft insects they are, as a rule, impossible to 
identify in contents of stomach, especially as larger insects at any 
rate are battered about a good deal before being eaten. If a Bee- 
eater captures a fairly large insect or one that can sting, it in- 
variably kills it by striking the lower mandible on its perch and 
in so doing often breaks the insect. 



164 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Dewar (Birds of the Plains) remark that " the large species " 
(of Meropidse) ' ' prey upon bees hence the popular name, but 
I doubt whether the little Merops viridis tackles an irsect so 
large as a bee. It feeds on smaller flying things, which it captures 
on the wing/' In addition to such insects as Apis indica ard 
Apis florea, our two common bees, M. viridis takes Polistes heb- 
rceus, Sphex lobatus and Chrotogonus, all larger than these bees, 
and I have also seen Melanitis ismene captured and large dragor- 
flies (Crocothemis servillia). From the post-mortem records, bees 
apparently form the greatest percentage of its food. On several 
occasions I observed one of these birds capturing Bees as they 
were entering the Bee-hives at Pusa, and on shooting this bird 
I found it contained eight workers. I have never seen it takirg 
bees from wild nests. Jerdon (B. I., I, 204) gives an excellert 
account of this bird's habits and states that it " captures insects 
with an audible snap while on the wing and frequently takes two 
or three insects before it re-seats itself on its perch" and adds, 
" I have seen one occasionally pick an ins e ct off a branch, or a 
stalk of grain or grass, and Mr. Blyth informs me that he had seen 
a number of them assembled round a small tank, seizing objects 
from the water in the manner of a Kingfisher." 

1027. Merops philippinus. Blue-tailed Bee-eater. Now and 
then pick an insect off the surface of the water. They feed on 
wasps, bees, dragon-flies, bugs, and even on butterflies which 1 
have seen this species frequently capture. -Jerd., B. I., I, 208. 

Bees form a portion of its diet. F. I., III. . I 

Stomachs examined. 

f 4-4-09. g Platygomphua dolobratus. 

1 Dipteron. 

4_4_09. 1 Trithemis pallidernervis. 
1 A pis indica. 
1 Xylocopa dissimilis. 

1 Megachile carbonaria. 
4_4_09. 3 Trithemis sp. 

2 Megachile carbonaria. 
4-4-09. 1 Megachile carbonaria. 

1 Dragon fly sp. 
.12-4-09.^59 Apis florea, 



MASON AND LEfKOY. 165 

Stomachs examined contd. 

7-5-09. 1 Crocothemis servillia. 
5 Apis indica. 
2 Apis florea. 
20-5-08. 7 Apis indica. 

2 A pis florea. 

1 Chrysis sp. , 

3 Rhynchium sp. 
20-6-08. 1 Camponotus compressus. 

4 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 
1 Small beetle. 

7-7-08. 1 Apis indica. 

7 Apis florea. 

1 Rhynchium bengalense. 

28-8-08. 1 Polistes hebrceus. 

1 Gymnopleurus parvus. 

8-10-07. 9 Apis florea. 

4 Apis indica. 

9-10-08. 2 Myllocerus discolor. 

12-10-08. 1 Polistes hebrceus. 

1 Vespa orientalis. 

1 Coprid sp. 

Summary. Of 83 insects taken by 13 birds, 70 are beneficial, 
3 injurious and 10 neutral. Ten birds took beneficial insects, 2 
injurious and 4 neutral. 

Notes. This bird hawks its prey more in the neighbourhood 
of water than does M. viridis. It also keeps longer on the wing 
and does not hawk so near the ground. Insects are, however 
frequently taken just over the surface of water. These birds are 
commoner in the hot weather and rains than in the cold weather 
and usually occur in small flocks of from 4 to 12 birds. 

On several occasions I have seen Noctuid moths taken. At 
times its food consists entirely of the common wasp Vespa 
orientalis, and on dull days when dragon-flies are inclined to sit 
on grass-stems this bird feeds almost entirely on these insects then. 
Crocothemis servillia is one species I have seen taken in large quan- 
tities on such times. 

On one occasion I noticed about 40 of these birds hawking 
insects over a large wood-stack, and they were apparently at the 
same place for some considerable time. They were feeding pre- 
sumably entirely on two species of wood-boring beetles Dino- 



166 THE FOOD Or BIRDS IN INDIA. 

derus minutus and Sinoxylon anale the only two insects I could 
see on the wing at the time. A large proportion of the insects 
taken were seen to be these two insects. The fact that it takes 
these Wood-borers may be of some little value, if the bird occurs 
in districts where these stacks exist. Considerable damage is at 
times done to wood in stacks (I saw. at Quetta, a great deal of 
wood practically ruined by borers of various kinds which had 
attacked it after it had been stacked), and the presence of these 
birds is then of some value, as a check on these insects. 1 have 
not observed this habit with M . viridis, but considering the general 
similarity in the feeding habits of the two species, we may certainly 
assume that viridis will take these insects. 

1028. Merops persicus. Blue-cheeked Bee-eater. Said to 
line its nest with Dragon-flies wings. S. J. Pt. I., C. N. H., 424. 

1029. Merops apiaster. European Bee-eater. Polistes hedrceus. 
B. N. H. S. J. XIV, 627. 

Nest holes in which were strewn remains of beetles and winged 
jnsects. B. N., H. S. J., XVI, 749. Said to line nest with elytra 
and legs of beetles. Jerd., B. L, I, 211. This and other large 
Bee-eaters feed on various insects chiefly bees and wasps. F. I., 
Ill, 114. In Spain is a perfect pest to the bee-keeper, catching 
the workers as they enter and leave the" hive. E. B., C. N. H., 
p. 388. 

1030. Melittophaga swinhoei. Chestnut- headed Bee-eater^ 
"Gnats over water (probably ephemerids C. W. M.). "Blue dra- 
gon-fly. Larvae and eggs of mosquitoes." B. N. H. S. J., X, 540. 
Small black beetles on sand (not flying). Usually feeds as other 
bee-eaters, on insects on wing. B. N. H. S. J., XII, 561. 

1031. Nyctiornis athertoni. Blue-bearded Bee-eater. B. N. 
H. S. J., XII, 60. Bees : beetles. Remains of bees, beetles, and 
wasps stored in nesting holes. B. N. H. S. J., VI, 333. Bees : 
leaf and flowers hunted for insects. Eggs eaten by Khasias, so few 
clutches get hatched. B. N. H. S. J., XVII, 965. Its food is 
bees and wasps, also Scarabaei, Cicadse, &c. Jerd. B. I., I, 212. 



AND LEtfROlf. 16T 

HALCYONES. 
KINGFISHERS. 

The Kingfishers are a well-known tribe, most of them diving 
in the water for small fishes, others eating crabs, insects and rep- 
tiles. Jerd. B. I., I, 220. 

The chief enemies with which the fish (trout) have to con- 
tend are Otters, Kingfishers, &c. B. N. H. S. J., XVI, 381. 

Water Kingfishers. Not entirely piscivorous, but eat insects 
and small crustaceans especially when they seek the sea shore, as 
do several species of Halcyon, Alcedo and Ceryle, towards winter. 
E. B. C. N. H., 383. 

Wood-Kingfishers. Insects caught in the air, caterpillars, 
reptiles, frogs, crustaceans, worms, and mollusca, though they 
occasionally eat fish. E. B. C. N. H., 384. Fish from tanks. 
Bengal Gaz., Monghyr, 22. 

1033. Ceryle varia. Indian Pied Kingfisher. Entirely fish. 
Jerd. B. I., I, 234, & F. I., Ill, 120. 

Stomachs examined. 

12-1-07. Fish. 

8-3-07. Fish. . . 

18-3-08. Fish. 

21-5-07. Fish. 

11-11-08. Fish, 

Summary. Five birds had fed entirely on fish. 

1034. Ceryle lugubris. Himalayan Pied Kingfisher. Entirely 
fish. Jerd. B. I., I, 234, & F. L, III, 121. 

1035. Alcedo ispida. Common Kingfisher. Small fish, 
tadpoles and aquatic insects. Jerd. B. L, II, 231. Mainly fish, 
and occasionally tadpoles and aquatic insects. F. I., Ill, 123. 
Fish. Bom. Gaz., Cutch. Vol. X, p. 65. 

1038. Alcedo grandis. Blyth's Kingfisher. Fish (chiefly or 
wholly). F. I., Ill, 126. 

1039. Alcedo euryzona. Broad-zoned Kingfisher. Fish en- 
tirely. F. I. III., 126. 



K)8 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

1040. Ceyx iridactyla. Indian Three-toed Kingfisher. Ex- 
clusively small fish and aquatic insects. Jerd. B. L, I, 230 & F. 
I, III, 128. 

1041. Pelargopsis amauroptera. Brown-winged Kingfisher. 
Feeds chiefly on fishes. Jerd. B. I., I, 224. 

1043. Pelargopsis gurial. Brown-headed Stork-billed King- 
fisher. Fish, rats and occasionally frogs. Jerd. B. L, I, 223. 
Fish, also frogs, crabs, molluscs & lizards. F. L, III, 131. Fish, 
small lizards, crabs, prawns, birds' eggs, mynah's young. B. N. 
H. S. J., X, 540. 

Halcyon. This genus feeds on rats, grasshoppers and other 
nsects. Jerd. B. L, I, 222. 

1044- Halcyon smyrnensis. White-breasted Kingfisher. King- 
fishers appear to be almost as omnivorous as toads and Eha on page 
26 of his Common Birds of Bombay mentions how this White-breast- 
ed Kingfisher (H. smyrnensis) feeds on frogs, w^ater insects, crabs, 
&c., and even swallows small birds when kept in an aviary. We 
have certainly seen them dive on to dry land and capture lizards, 
Calotes versicolor. B. N. H. S. J., XVI, 758. Small birds in dry 
weather. B. N. H. S. J., XIII, 184. In captivity. Fish, meat, 
lizards, shrimps, grasshoppers. B. N. H. S. J., XIII, 365. Fish, 
crabs and insects. B. N. H. S. J., XII. 562. Land-crab, mouse, 
lizard, grasshopper or other insect. Near water, fish, tadpoles and 
water insects. Layard states that he has seen it seizing butterflies. 
Jerd. B. L, I, 225. Occasionally fish, chiefly insects, small lizards, 
sometimes mice, or land-crabs. F. I., Ill, 133. Often far from 
water, living on insects, small reptiles, &c. B. N. H. S. J., XVII, 
965. Chiefly insectivorous. Imp. Gaz. L, 248. Grasshoppers and 
locusts. A pair of these birds was observed day after day in 
Madras city, and no food was seen to be captured other than these 
insects. The food is taken to the top of a tree and then eaten. 
I have also seen the bird taking grasshoppers at Pusa and 
Chindwara, once at Pusa (10-4-08) eating a lizard. I once saw 
a cricket (Brachytrypes achatinus) taken from the wall o a 



MASON AND LEFKOY. 169 

bungalow verandah. These crickets are largely eaten during 
the rains. 

1045. H. pileata. Black-capped Kingfisher. Fish and insects. 
Jerd. B. I., I, 226. Fish and crabs. F. I., Ill, 134. Fish and 
beetles (H. surinamensis). B. N. H. S. J., XIII, 379. Land crabs. 
B. N. H. S. J., XI, 164. 

1046. Callialcyon lilacina. Ruddy Kingfisher. Insects, small 
reptiles. B. N. H. S. J., X, 540. 

1047. Sauropatis chloris. White-collared Kingfisher. Feeds 
largely on grasshoppers as well as fish. B. N. H. S. J., XVII, 163. 
Small crabs, and molluscs. Bombay. Gaz., Cutch, Vol. X, p. 64. 

1048. S. occipitalis. Blyth's White-collared Kingfisher. 
Lizards and shell fish. F. I., Ill, 137. 

1049. Caridagrus concretus. Sumatran Kingfisher. Lizards 
and large wood lice. F. I., Ill, 138. 

1050. Carcineutes pulchellds. Banded Kingfisher. Lizards 
and various insects. F. I., Ill, 139. 

BUCEROTID^E. 

Hornbills live almost entirely on fruit, which they swallow 
whole. In captivity they will eat small birds, mice, meat, rice or 
anything that is offered to them. It is said that some of the 
African species live on reptiles, beetles and even on carrion. Jerd. 
B. I., I, 240-241. 

BucerotidcB. Fruits and insects the latter occasionally hawked 
for in the air, constitute the normal food, but the larger forms 
devour small mammals, birds, eggs and reptiles, with grubs 
flowers and young shoots. Berries of Strychnos and figs seem 
greatly in favour. E. B. G. N. H., 392. Hornbills are all mainly 
frugivorous. Imp. Gaz., I, 249. 

1051. Dichoceros bicornis. The Great Ho rnbill. Snails, beetles 
and centipedes, will eat fruit, lizards, snakes and insects. B. N. 
H. S. J., X, 400 ? Food consists mainly of fruit, but insects and 
lizards are also eten. Tickell F. I., Ill, 143. Fruit (fig, &c.), 



ifO THE FOOD OP filRDS Itf 

the only food in the wild state of this, as of most other, Indian 
Hornbills. Jerd. B. I., I, 244. It is also said to eat plantains, 
banyan, wild fig, lizards, mice, scorpions ; and kills and eats 
snakes ; ripe berries and fruit. Ripe berries and fruits ; snakes. 
Bombay Gaz., dutch. Vol. X, p. 65. 

1052. Anthracoceros coronatus. Malabar Pied Hornbill. Fruit 
and berries, especially kuchla (Strychnos nux-vomica). ' Banian 

and other figs" White notices that one he examined had 

eaten an egg. Jerd. B. I., I, 246. 

1053. A. albirostris. Indo-Burmese Pied Hornbill. Chiefly 
fruit and berries : also noticed by Mr. Inglis to catch and eat fish. 
"Very fond of snakes (Ramsay)." F. I., Ill, 146. Lizards, 
small fish : feeds much on the ground both on fallen forest fruit and 
also on any odd animal food it can pick up. B. N. H. S. J., XVII, 
966. Ficus fruit. A. S. B., LXIX, 129. 

1054. Rhytidoceros undulatus. Malayan Wreathed Hornbill. 
Entirely on fruit (almost). F. I., Ill, 147. 

1055. R. subruficollis. Blythes Wreathed Hornbill. Entirely 
on fruit. B. N. H. S. J., XVII, 966. 

1056. R. tiarcondami. Narcondam Hornbill. Figs exclu- 
sively. B. N. H. S. J., XVI, 620. 

1057. Aceros nepalensis. Rufous-necked Hornbill. Food 
similar to other hornbills. F. I., Ill, 150. Fruit of various kinds 
and in captivity meat (raw or dressed), fruit, rice made into balls 
with ghee, &c. Jerd. B. I., I, 251. 

1060. Ptilolcemus austeni. Godwin- Austen's Hornbill. Be- 
sides fruit, mantids, blattae and locusts. F. I., Ill, 153. 

1061. Berenicornis comatus. Long-crested Hornbill. Often 
feeding on ground and eating lizards, &c., as well as fruit. F. I., 
Ill, 154. 

1062. Lopkoceros birostris. Common Grey Hornbill. Chiefly 
fruit but occasionally insects. F. I., Ill, 156. Chiefly fruit 
especially figs of banian, pipal and other fig trees, sometimes 



MASON AND LEFROY. 1?1 

however feeding on large insects, on one occasion I found that it 
had eaten Mantids and Locustidse. Jerd. B. I., I, 249. 

Stomachs examined. 

Pusa 11-11-07. Figs. ; . 

1-2-08. Figs. 

4-3-08. Figs. 

12-4-07. Figs. 

12-4-07. Figs. 

12-10-08. Figs. 

None of the specimens, I have examined, have contained 
insects. All 6 birds contained Ficus fruit only. 

1063. L. griseus. Malabar Grey Hornbill. Fruit. F. I., Ill, 
157. Fruit of various kinds. Jerd. B. I., I, 250. 

1064. L. cingalensis. Ceylonese Hornbill. Fruit. F. I. 
TIT, 158. Fruit of various kinds. Jerd. B. I., I, 250. 

UPUPID^E. 

HOOPOES. 

Hoopoes are ground feeders. Jerd. B. I., I, 390. The 
Hoopoes feed on the ground on grubs and insects. F. I., Ill, 159. 
The food consists of flies taken on the wing, insects generally 
and worms, individuals being frequently observed climbing rock 8 
or branches of trees in search of prey, and carefully examining 
heaps of refuse. E. B. C. N. H., 395. 

1066. Upupa epops. European Hoopoe. Insects and espe- 
cially grabs which they extract with their long bills from some 
distance beneath the surface. F. L, III, 161. 

1067. Upupa indica. Indian Hoopoe. It feeds entirely or. 
the ground... and picks up various insects as Coleoptera, ants, 
small grasshoppers, and as Mr. Burgess informs us the larvaa of 
the ant-lion (Myrmeleo). It frequently searches the dung of 
cattle for grubs, and other insects. Jerd. B. I., I, 392. 

Stomachs examined. 

12-1-08. 3 Opatrum sp. 

5 Lepidopterous larvae (cutworms.) 
1 Fly puparium. 



172 



THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Stomachs examined contd. 

3 Hemiptera (scutella). 

Grass leaves and a few seeds. 
3-2-07. Nothing identifiable. 

Minute fragments of insects probably all Coleopterous. 
10-2-07. 5 Anomala varians. Larvae. 
26-2-08. 1 Polistes Jiebraeus. 
8 Elaterid larvae. 
8 A gratis larvae. 

10-3-07. 12 Cutworms. Agrotis sp. 
12-3-08. 1 Chrotogonus larva. 

2 Gryllodes melanocephalus. 

3 Camponotus compressus. 
2 Cutworms. (Agrotis sp.) 

1-4-07. 8 Various Tenebrionid remains. 
2 Opatrum depressum. 
1 maculatum. (?) 

4 Opatrum sp. 

6 Cutworms. (Agroti* ? sp.). 
3-4-09. 1 Coprid sp. 

15 Noctuid larvae (cutworms ?) 
1 Geometrid larvae. 

1 Snail. (Bythinia sp.) 

2 Bits of brick-tile. 
H_4_09. 11 Cutworms. 

1 Leg of a Carabid ? 
1 Spider. 
1 Blade of grass. 
12-4-09. 6 Myllocerus discolor. 

1 Moth's head. 

7 Cutworms (Agrotis sp). 

2 Hemiptera (Cydnus ?) 
13_4_08. 3 Gryllotalpa africana. 

1 Myrmecocystus setipes. 

3 Camponotus compressus. 
1 Anomala pallida. (?) 

7 Cutworms. 

Unidentifiable matter probably remains of caterpillars. 
29-4-08. 2 Schizodactylus monstrosus 

1 Gryllodes melanocephalus. 

6 Remains of ? Tenebrionids 
1-5-07. 2 Schizodactylus monstrosus. 

1 Cutworm. 
20-5-07. 1 Elaterid grub. 

5 Geometrid larvae. 

3 Remains of 3 other caterpillars 

1 Moth ? Caradrina exigua. 
28-5-08. 1 Chrotogonus sp. L. 

5 Myrmeleo larvae and four pairs jaws. 

9 Cydnus nigritus 

1 Monophlebus stebbingi. 

5 Caterpillars. 



MASON AND LEFEOY. 



173 



Stomachs examined contd. 



12-6-07. 
19-6-07. 



28-6-08. 



10-7-08. 



14-7-08. 



1 Small caterpillar. 
1 Spider. 

6 Anomala varians. L. 
3 Chrotogomis sp. L. 
3 (Ecophila smaragdina. 
3 Myrmecocystus setipes. 
1 Phidole (?) sp. malinisi.) 
1 Coprid leg ? 

1 Neuropterous larva ? Myrmele*. 
14 Legs and insects remains, beetles and ant?. 

1 Melolonthid (?) (Anomala) leg. 
6 Caterpillars, 4 kinds. 

2 Gryllotalpa africana. 

1 Moth (? Plecoptera reflexa). 
6 Cydnus nigritus. 
1 Te,rmes sp. 
9-9-08. 11 Onthophagus spinifer. 

1 Carabid. (part of elytron). 
1 Aphodiid (2106). 

5 Anomala varians L. 

3-10-08. 1 Forficulid clasper (?) Chelisoches melanocephalus. 
1 Opatrum sp. 
1 Jaw of a caterpillar. 

1 Spider. 

(practically empty!) ' 

0-10 07. 1 Chrotogonus. 

6 Opatrum depressum 

3 Cutworms. 

2 Two or three broken caterpillars. 
10-11-07. 1 Small green caterpillar 

Summary. Of 278 insects taken by 24 birds 13 are beneficial, 
180 injurious, and 85 neutral. Five birds took beneficial insects. 
12 neutral and 21 injurious. Three birds took spiders, 1 a snail, 
and 1 vegetable matter. 

Field Notes. 

The hoopoes are usually to be found in the neighbourhood of 
towns and villages and in and around cultivated areas and waste 
lands as long as these are not too far from trees, or bits of jungle. 
They are seldom seen far out in the open. Their favourite haunts 
are avenues, especially if grass is growing in these, grasslands and 
lawns. They naturally prefer damp localities to dry ones, foocf 
being then more readily procurable. It is almost entirely insec- 
tivorous, sometimes however taking worms, which and also large 



174 THE TOOT) OT BIRDS IN INDIA. 

caterpillars, it is said, to throw up in the air and catch in its beak 
as they fall ; but I have never seen this, though I have watched 
them feeding for hours at a time, and that on worms, as well as 
other food. 

The insect food is obtained mostly on or from under the ground, 
rarely on trees, or in the air. I have on several occasions seen a 
hoopoe fluttering on to a rough tree stem to capture ants, and on 
two or three occasions to take winged termites on the wing. 
The main portion of its food is obtained either by probing 
grassland for surface caterpillars and beetle grubs, or by turning 
over leaves and rubbish for insects. It rarely picks them off 
plants. 

I have seen it eating the following insects, Anomala viridis, 
Anomala varians, and its larvae, Gryllotalpa africana, Termites, 
Surface caterpillars of several species Agrotis ypsilon, A. spini- 
fera, &c., Opatrum spp. and some crickets, grasshoppers, Chroto- 
gonus sp., Tryxalis, <#c., and also ants. It certainly prefers large 
insects to small ones. It eats worms and small snails occasionally, 
and one stomach I examined contained some grass blades, though 
these were probably taken in along with insects by mistake. It 
is often robbed of its prey by the King crow and occasionally by 
the House crow (Corvus spkndens.) 

Young birds are fed almost entirely on caterpillars (probably 
all cutworms), grubs of Melolonthids, and crickets. The amount 
of insects fed during the day to a nest of half -grown young is extra- 
ordinary. A nest was watched one day from 6 A.M. to 7-30. In 
the first hour 58 visits were made by the old birds to the nest. In 
these visits 45 insects were almost certainly cutworms, 10 were 
other caterpillars and grubs (some were whitish with brown heads 
almost certainly the larvae of Anomala varians) and three were 
crickets (one of these may have been a large beetle), were fed to 
the young, and during the second half hour, 27 larvae and grubs. 
All this food was obtained from grass lawns, or under sissoo and 
mango trees. Only one insect was brought at each visit, and all 
these insects were large ones. 



MASON AND LBFROY. 175 

This nest was again watched a week later. The birds seemed 
more wary on this occasion and in consequence but few of the 
insects fed could be seen ; however what were seen consisted of 
the same kinds as before observed, and there is no reason to expect 
the food would have been altered. 

The following visits were made during the morning to the 
nest : 

6-7 A. M. 55 visits. 

7-8 A. M. (52 approximately). 47 were seen and I left the nest for a few minutes. 

8-9 A. M. 56. 

9-10A. M. 46. 

10-1 IA. M. 35. 

11-12A. M. 42. 

286 

It will therefore be seen 286 visits were made in six hours. 
About two visits per hour were made when apparently 1:0 insects 
were brought : therefore about 280 insects were fed to the young. 
I could not see how many young there were for certain, but I think 
there were four, perhaps five not more. For some days after the 
young had flown, a party of seven hoopoes were continuously 
together. It is therefore probable the nest contained 5 young. 
Assuming there were 5, each bird ate 56 insects which is certainly a 
big feed for the morning only, and the old birds were apparent!} 
feeding or giving insects to the young most of the day. The re- 
mains of S. monstrosus have been found below the entrance to a 
nest. 

The young are not fed in March before 6 A.M. as a rule. 
I, however, saw an insect brought to the nest at 4-10 A.M. on one 
occasion. No other visit was made till 6. It was moonlight and 
the insect could not be identified, probably a cutworm which could 
be found easily if the bird could see, at that hour. The old birds 
each keep to their own hunting ground and on one occasion when 
the two happened to be hunting near each other, a quarrel arose 
and one bird was driven elsewhere to hunt. As a rule they perch 
near the nest first to look round for danger and almost al\vays 



176 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

utter a grating note on approach to nest and again on entering 
or leaving the nest. 

I have never heard the Indian Hoopoe utter the typical ' hoop* 
note on the ground. Some species do so according to Evans. 

Nests of hoopoes casually watched for an odd minute or so, 
have never shown otherwise than that the young are fed on larvae 
and crickets (perhaps occasionally larvae of grasshoppers). Mole 
crickets (Gryllotalpa africana) are undoubtedly fed, as also the 
Berwa. (Schizodactylus monstrosus.) 

A young hoopoe kept for some days would eat almost any 
caterpillar given it. It did not touch moths, even when bodies 
only were fed, but took crickets readily. 

ANISODACTYLI. (Summary). 

CoracicB or Rollers number only four species of which the 
Blue Jay is the only generally distributed one. It occurs through- 
out India, not, however, being found in the hill tracts and is re- 
placed by C. affinis in the East. The Broad-billed Roller is from 
Burma and the eastern portion of India, while the European 
Roller is a winter migrant to the Punjab and the North-West. 

The Rollers are almost entirely insectivorous and are bene- 
ficial. 

The Meropes or Bee-eaters are all with one exception found 
on the plains, two species only being, however, of general occurr- 
ence. Their food is entirely of insects, but at present we cannot 
definitely state their value. Those species of which we have any 
records of value appear to be injurious, as they take by far more 
beneficial insects than injurious ones. 

Halcyones or Kingfishers. Some six or seven species are re- 
corded from the plains, others being confined to frll tracts and the 
Malayan region. One or two are salt water species. They feed 
very largely on fish, while some take a variety of insects mostly 
of large species, such as locusts. The only damage likely to occur 
from the sub-order is with the purely fish-eating species, which at 



MASON AND LEFROtf. 1?7 

times may prove pests in any stream in which there are fish of 
value, and in the destruction of tadpoles. Fresh-water fish-eat- 
ing propsnsities denote a bird to be injurious. 

Bucerotes or Hornbills. One species only can be claimed as 
a plains species, namely, Lophoceros birostris. Most species are 
from Burma or the Malabar coast, and forest districts and the 
Malayan region. They are almost entirely frugivorous feeding 
on wild fruits of various kinds, more especially on the different 
varieties of Ficus. 

Upupce or Hoopoes are represented by two species only. The 
food of the Indian Hoopoe has already bsen discussed and both 
species have similar habits. The European Hoopoe summers in the 
Himalayas migrating to Chota Nagpur, Assam, &c., in the cold 
weather, while the Indian species is a generally distributed resi- 
dent, not however occuring in Sind and the Western portion of 
the Punjab. 

The Hoopoes are beneficial. 

MACROCHIRES. 

Cypseli. The Swifts are all more or less gregarious, feed on 
insects, and convey pellets of their insect prey to their young. Jerd. 
B. I. I, 170. 

1075. Tachornis batassiensis. Palm-Swift. Mouth all slimy, 
and filled with the down of some syngenesious or asclepidious plant, 
which they apparently catch during their flight. Jerd. B. I. I 18, 

1078. Chcetura indwa. Brown-necked Spine-tail. Beetles, 
screen bugs, sand wasps, and grasshoppers. F.I. Ill, 174. 

Owls feed either by twilight or during the night, and live on 
small mammalia, especially mice, rats, and shrews, also on birds, 
which they sometimes surprise : when sleeping, various reptiles, fishes 
and insects. Jerd. B. I. I., 115 

It hunts entirely by night, not coming forth till it is quite dark, 
and lives on rats, mice, shrews, &c. Into a room after a rat. Jerd. 
B. 1. 1, 118. 

12 



lt8 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

1081-1085. Collocalia. " This gsnus contains birds gener- 
ally designated Swiftlets by Indian oinithologists, some of which 
b iild the edible nests of commerce. Hume showed that in the 
Andamans the pure white nests are always made by one species, 
C. francica, whilst other species use extraneous substances such 
as grass and feathers cemented together by the inspissated saliva, 
and their nests are consequently less valuable, or in some kinds, 
not worth collecting. During the day the birds hunt about for 
insects." (F. I. Ill, 175). They usually nest in caves, in limestone 
formations. (Watt). 

Caprimulgi. Night Jars. Almost universally insects cap- 
tured on the wing. One species is said to live a good deal on fruit. 
Jerd. B. I. I, 188. All live on insects which they capture on the 
wing. Jerd. B. I. I, 192. Their food consists of insects and 
largely of beetles which they capture chiefly, at all events, on the 
wing. F. I. Ill, 184. The food consists, as a rule, of insects, and 
especially beetles, captured in the air ; but the Podargidae are 
asserted to pick Pbasmidse and Cicadid* off the trees, and even 
to eat fruit, a? Steatornis does, and mice. E. B. C. N. H., 417. 

1091. Caprimulgus asiaticus. Common Indian Night-jar. 
Enters verandahs in search of moths. Jerd. B. I. I, 177. Va- 
rious moths and insects. Bomb. Gaz. Cutch, Vol. X., pape 63, 
& Vol. XII, 34. 

1093. Caprimulgus mawurus. Horsfield's Night-jar. 
Stomachs examined 

8-8-08. 2 Catharsius sabceus. ^* 

1 Onitis philemon. 

1 Onthophagus bonasus 
12 Apogonia carinata. 

2 Astycua lateralis. 

5 Tanymecus sp. 

11-10-08. 38 Coleopterous mandibles (Cop*-ids). 
V. 1 Hemipteron (head.) \ 

20-10-08. 1 Vespa orientalis. 

21 Mandibles. (Coprids and 4 Carabids). 
1 Opatrum sp. 

6 Forficulid claspers. 

1 Hemipteron (head.) < 



MASON AND LEFROY. 179 

Summary. Of 92 insects taken by 3 birds, 4 are beneficial, 
19 injurious, and 69 neutral. 

Podargi. Frogmouths. Insectivorous. F. I. Ill, 193. 

1097. Batrachostomus hodgsoni. Hodgson's Frogmouth. 
Beetles. F. I. Ill, 195. 

The Swifts are, for the most part, resident in hill tracts, the 
only two species occurring in the plains have already been noted. 
They are presumably beneficial. 

The Night Jars are mostly found in the plains some extending 
into hill tracts in the North- West. Two species only (macrurus 
and indicus) bsing generally or locally distributed throughout the 
plains. They are usually regarded as beneficial. They may pos- 
sibly be so. 

The Frogmouths frequent low hill tracts not being found 
West of Sikkim in the North. Of the same economic importance 
as the Night- jars. 

TROGONES. 

TROGONID^:. 

Trogons. 

Harpactes. The Trogon flies out from time to time in 
pursuit of insects, chiefly beetles, moths, or cicadas, but it will 
occasionally feed on insects on the ground. Indian Trogons have 
not been observed to eat fruit as some of the gorgeous American 
forms do. F. I. Ill, 199. Sit on trees, darting off to catch a pass- 
ing insect or to secure a tempting fruit. The Old World forms 
seem to prefer an insect diet. E. B. C. N. H., 442. 

1100. H. fasciatus. Malabar Trogon. Various insects chief- 
ly coleopterous. Layard says it feeds on Spiders, Mantidse, and 
Goleoptera, Jerd. B. I. I, 202. Large Moth. B. N. H. S. J. X, 
292. 

1101. H. erythrocephalus. Red-headed Trogon. Coleoptera 
chiefly. Jerd. B. I. I., 203. 



180 THE FOOD OF BIRDS Iff INDIA. 

The Trogons are uncommon birds, found in forest areas. 
Three occur in Burma, one extending to Nepal. H. fasciatus is most 
common near the Malabar coast. Of no agricultural importance. 

CUCULDXffl. 

Most feed on insects, some on fruit. Jerd, B. I. I, 318. I, 292. 
Cuculw. Chiefly on caterpillars and soft insects. F. I. 
IIT, 205. Chiefly of caterpillars. Jerd. B. I. I, 321. 

1104. C. canorus. Cuckoo. Caterpillars, grubs, worms, soft 
bodied insects. F. I. III., 207. A favourite hunting ground in a 
patch of dock-weeds full of hairy caterpillars. B. N. H. S. J. 
XVIII, 277. In England generally regarded as beneficial, owing 
to the fact that it eats hairy caterpillars which other birds will not 
touch. The food consists of insects arid their larvae, the stomach 
often becoming lined with hairs of caterpillars, our cuckoo does 
not touch eggs. E. B. C. N. H., 354. 

1107. C. micropterus. Indian Cuckoo. Chiefly on cater- 
pillars. Jerd. B. I. I, 326. 

Stomach examined 

3-10-08. 1 Gryllotalpa africana. 

1 Sphex lobatus. 

1 Hymenopteron (segments only). 

1 Oxycetonia albopunctata. 

1 Melolonthid grub. 

1 Hypsa alcifron. 

Summary. Of 6 insects taken, 4 are injurious, 1 beneficial, 
1 neutral. 

1108. Hierococcyx sparverioides. Large Hawk Cuckoo. 
Partly at all events caterpillars. F. I. Ill, 213. One specimen 
had fed on caterpillars entirely. Jerd. B. I. I, 331. 

1109. H. varius. Common Hawk Cuckoo. On caterpil- 
lars and other soft insects and on fruits. It is very fond of the 
fig of the ban} an and other Fici. Jerd. B. I. I, 330. Partly on 
insects, but largely it is said on fruits and buds. F. I. Ill, 214. 



MASON AND LBFBOY. 



181 



Stomachs examined 



3-2-07. 2 Gryttodes melanocephalus. 

4 Dysdercus cingulatus. 
3 Lygceus sp. 

22-2-08. 3 Schizodactylus monstrosus. 

1 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

12-3-08. 5 Schizodactylus monstrosus. 

19-3-08. 2 Ghrotogonus sp. 

6 Opatrum sp. 

27-3-07. 2 Schizodactylus monstrosus. 

1 Cfryllotalpa africana. 

3 Camponotus compressus. 

2 TYoa; indicus. 

1-4-07. 2 Tryxalissp. 

5 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

2 JVox indicus. 

3 Dysdercus cingulatus. 
Some Ficus fruit. 

12-4-07. 12 Camponotus compressus. 
3 Phidole malinsi ? 

3 2Yoo; indicus 

1 Remains of a Noctuid (Ophiusa arctotcenia.) 
14-4-08. 27 Hairy caterpillars (Lymantriid ?). 
14-4-08. 23 Hairy caterpillars (Lymantriid ?). 

Both these last two birds were shot together ; one had fed on one 
species of caterpillar, the other on another, probably all from 
sissu trees. 
6-5-07. 3 Tryxalis sp. 

5 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

2 Dysdercus cingulatus. 

4 Lygceus sp. 

Apparently some Ficus fruit. 
2-6-07. 16 Anomala varians, L. 

3 Elaterid grubs. 
21-6-07. 1 Anomala (varians ?), L. 

2 Cutworms, Agrotis sp. 

1 Dysdercus cingulatus. 
Some Ficus fruit. 

22-6-08. 4 Schizodacylus monstrosus. 

5 Brachytrypes achatinus. 
28-6-08. 1 Gryllotalpa africana. 

82 Caterpillars (Arctiid ?). 

3 (Noctuids). 
20-7-08. 11 Anomala varians, L. 

2 Cutworms (Agrotis ypsilon ?). 
Some Ficus fruit. 

6-8-08. 1 Gryllotalpa africana. 

21 Anomala varians, L. | .-._. 

1 Carabid sp. 

1 Astycus lateralit, 



182 THE POOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Stomachs examined contd. 

7-10-07. 3 Myllocerus discolor. 
6 Astycus lateralis. 
1 Anomala varians, L. 

Summary. Of 300 insects taken by 17 birds, 1 is beneficial, 253 
injurious, and 46 neutral. 4 birds took Ficus fruit. 2 birds took 
beneficial insects, 4 neutral and 17 injurious. 

1112. Cacomantis passerinus.- Indian Plaintive Cuckoo. 
Caterpillars and other soft insects. Endeavour to catch a butter- 
fly in its feet. Jerd. B. I. I, 334. 

1114. Penthoceryx sonnerati. Banded Bay Cuckoo. Cater- 
pillars chiefly. F. I. Ill, 220, B Jerd. I. I, 327. 

1115. Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus. Violet Cuckoo. Mainly 
caterpillars. F. I. Ill, 221. 

1116. C. maculatus. Emerald Cuckoo. Entirely on insects 
(in Assam account to Mr. Cooper's on ants). F. I. Ill, 223. 
Insects. Jerd. B. I. I, 338. 

1117. Surniculus lugubris. Drongo Cuckoo. Caterpillars, 
and beetles with various seeds. F. I. Ill, 224. 

1118. Coccystes jocobinus. Pied crested Cuckoo. Insects, 
chiefly mantids, grasshoppers, caterpillars, &c. Jerd. B. I. I, 340, 
Insects not unfrequently from the ground. F. I. Ill, 226. 

16-6-08. 21 Chrotogonus sp. 

34 Ocinara varians, L. 
3 Geometrid, L. 
5 Caterpillars ? Hypsids. 
29-6-08. 17 Chrotogonus. 

1 Oryllotalpa africana. 
': 3 Myllocerus sp. 

5-7-08. 1 Tryxalis sp. 

3 Coccinella 7-punctata. 
1 Weevil ? 

Intestines of ? a caterpillar. 
6-9-08. 1 Cricket (wing). 

4 Oides bipunctata. 
23 larvae.? 

16 Geometrid caterpillars. 
1 A gratis sp., L. 

5 Dipterous puparja. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 183 

Summary. Of 140 insects taken by 4 birds, 3 are beneficial, 
131 injurious, and 16 neutral. 1 bird took beneficial ; 4 injurious and 
1 neutral insects. 

t have seen the young fed by Crateropus canorus on cater- 
pillars, and other insects possibly grasshoppers. 

1119. Coccystes coromandus. Red-winged Crested Cuckoo. 
On caterpillars. F. I. Ill, 227. 

Eudynamis. Most frugivorous of all the Cuculince. Jerd. 
B. 1. I, 342. 

1120. Eudynamis honorata. Koel. Almost exclusively on 
fruit of various kinds, especially banian, pipal and other figs, and 
also says Mr. Blythe much on that of Mimusops elengi, ejecting 
large seeds of fruits it has eaten. Jerd. B. 1. 1, 343. Entirely fruit. 
F. I. Ill, 230. Frugivorous. Imp. Gaz. I, 251. The Koel eats fruits 
only. S. M. F. Z., 1908. Fesds on fruit. E. B. C. N. H., 356. 

1Q_3_07. Ficus. 

21-4-08. Ficus. 

13-5-07. Ficus. 

18-5-07. Litchi fruit. 

28-5-08. Hard seeded fruit, possibly litchi. 

16-6-07. Ficus. 

19-6-07. Mulberry. 

8-7-08. Ficus. 

8-7-08. Ficus. 

21-8-08. Ficus. 

The young birds as soon as they leave the nest are fed entirely 
by their hosts the common crows on Ficus fruit. 

24-7-08. Ficus fruit. , . 

24-7-09. 

29-7-08. 

3-8-09. 

4-8-09. 

7-8-08. 

Summary. Of i5 birds examined, 12 have contained Ficus 
fruit, 1 mulberry, and 2 ? litcbi. 

Many feed on the ground : a few are frugivorous. F. I. Ill, 
127. They live mainly on insects. Jerd. B. I. I, 345, 319. The 



184 THE POOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

food consists of seeds, insects, worms, small mammals, birds, and 
molluscs. E. B. C. N. H., 357. 

1122. Rhopodytes viridirostris. Small Green-billed Malkoha. 
Various large insects grasshoppers, mantids, caterpillars, &e., 
Jerd. B. I. I., 347. 

1123. R. tristis. Large Green-billed Malkoha. Large insects, 
mantids, crickets, grasshoppers and also large caterpillars. Jerd. 
B. I. I, 346. Insects of all kinds. F. I. Ill, 232. 

1124. R. diardi. Diard's Green-billed Malkoha. Insects of 
all kinds. F. I. Ill, 233. 

1126. Phcenicophaes pyrrhocephalus.'Red-taceA Malkoha. 
Chiefly fruit, occasionally small insects. F. 1. Ill, 235. A fruit- 
eating species. E. B. C. N. H., 357. 

1127. Rhamphococcyx er^Arot/na/fo/s. -Coleoptera, Hemiptera 
and very large caterpillars. F. I. Ill, 236. 

1128. Rhinortka chlorophcea.- Raffle's Green-billed Malkoha. 
Insects. F. I. Ill, 237. 

1129. Taccocua leschenaulti. Sirkeer Cuckoo. Lizards, lo- 
custs, beetles. Jerd. B. I. I, 354. Feeds on ground chiefly on 
grasshoppers and other insects, such as beetles and termites (whose 
nsts Jerdon says it is often found near), occasionally on lizards. 
F. I. Ill, 239. 

Stomachs examined 

22-6-08. 1 Opatrum sp. 

1 Coprid (? sp.). 

Alimentary canal and gizzard practically empty. 
Some unidentifiable matter. 

Summary. Two neutral insects taken. 

1130. Centropus sinensis. Common Coucal or Crow-Phea- 
sant. It eats various large insects, centipedes, scorpiors, lizards, 
and small snakes and also slugs and cateipillars, occasiorally pil- 
fering other birds' eggs. Jerd. B. I. I, 349. Feeds on ground 
on insects and occasionally on lizards and small snakes. F. 1. III. 
241. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 185 

Davison speaking of the Rain tynail-Coturnix coromandelica, 
says: " I hardly ever walked out without discovering broken eggs 
lying about. I suspect the Common Crow-Pheasant and a large 
lizard are generally the offenders. H. M. G. B. II, 157. 

Stomach .s examii Led 

4-2-08. 8 Tryxalissp. 

1 Copris orientalis. 

1 Centipede. 

2 Land crabs. 
4 Spiders. 

7 Shells. (Opercula of Vivipara or Ampullaria sp. ). 
Leaves and much vegetable matter. 

20-5-08. 15 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

2 Chrotogonus sp. 

3 Tryxalis sp. 

12 Grasshopper larvae. 

4 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 
1 Anomala varians. 

1 Cutworm (Agrotis sp. larva.) 

8 Hemiptera spp. 
7 Spiders. 

23-5-08. 14 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

5 Opatrum sp. 
20-7-08. 2 Grasshoppers. 

1 Anomala viridis. 
1 Chlaenius sp. Pusa No. 227. 
1 Carabid. 
11 Astycus lateralis. 

1 Tanymecus sp. 

2 Lizards' tails. 

1 Mollusc (bivalve) (Gorbicula nrientalis). 
17-10-07. 2 Chrotogonus sp. 

5 Camponotus compressus. 
15 Opatrum depressum. 

3 Small frogs. 

Grass and leaves, &c. 

Summary. OM13 insects taken by 5 birds, 2 are beneficial, 88 
injurious, and 23 neutral. 1 bird took beneficial insects, 4 neutral 
and all 5 injurious. 

Molluscs were taken by 2 birds, centipedes by 1, crabs by 1, 
spiders by 2, lizards by 1, frogs by 1 and vegetable matter by 2. 
Doubtfully beneficial. 

1132. Centropus andamanensis. Andaman Coucal. Frogs, 
crabs. B. N. H. S. J, XII, 566, 



186 THE POOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

1133. C. bengalensis. Lesser Cotacal. Grasshoppers. F. I. 
Ill, 244. 

With regard to the Cuckoos, and I here refer to the true para- 
sitic Cuckoos the Cuculinse, and not to the Koel or the ground 
Cuckoos, these are generally regarded as being beneficial, the reason 
being that they are the only, or almost the only, group of birds that 
will eat hairy caterpillars. We have many references to birds other 
than the Gu-ckoos eating hairy caterpillars, but these are excep- 
tions and Cuckoos are the only birds that do so habitually. I 
have examined a considerable number of different species of birds, 
and in no other case have I found a bird other than a Cuckoo 
touch this particular kind of food. Cuckoos, therefore, being the 
only real bird check we have on hairy caterpillars, which are 
mostly defoliators, need all the protection we can give them, and 
should be encouraged as much as is possible. They can only be 
encouraged in one way, namely, by the encouragement of their 
hosts. This brings up an interesting, if unimportant point. The 
hosts of Cuckoos comprise a great number of species of birds, some 
few of which may possibily be injurious, but the greater proportion 
are almost certainly beneficial. By parasitising these birds 
one Cuckoo is produced instead of four or five of the species para- 
sitised. Is the good a Cuckoo does of more economic importance 
than the good these other birds should have done ? This we can- 
not decide until we know all the hosts and what they feed on, i.e. 
their economic importance. However this may be the Cuckoo 
is a special check on one particular class of insect, and even if 
proved not to do so much good as is generally supposed, merits 
protection from this one cause alone. It is special checks such as 
these that are of the greatest importance at times, and these are 
the species of birds to which the economic ornithologist must pay 
special attention. It is one of his main objects to discriminate 
such species or genera of birds. 

Of these true cuckoos, besides the genus Cuculus which con- 
tains but one species common to the plains Cuculus micropterus , 
we have the following Hierococcyx in which genus occurs the 



MASON AND LEFROY. 187 

Common Hawk-Cuckoo or Brain fever bird (H. varius). This bird 
is undoubtedly beneficial. Few if any beneficial insects are taken, 
but the food consists almost entirely of injurious insects or those 
allied to them ; amongst these we commonly find grasshoppers 
(Chrotoqonm, Tryxalis, &c.), crickets ( Brachytrypes and Gryllotalpa) ; 
Schizodzctylus ; lirvse of Lepidoptera both smooth and hairy ; beetles 
especially the larvae of and imagines of Anomala, and imagines of 
Elaterids and Rhynchophora, whilst Rhynchota, amongst which 
occurs the Red Cotton bug, Dysdercus cingulatus, form a certain 
proportion of their diet. Fruits of various kinds but especially of 
th^ Piii are also freely eaten. 

Of oth^r genera of this sub-family all references point mainly 
to the fact that the species eat caterpillars ; Coccystes jacobinus, 
a very common species in Behar during the rains only, feeds largely 
on Chrotogonus. Species other than those mentioned above are 
practically confined to the hills, with the exception of Cacomantis 
passerinus. 

Of the Phcenicophaince the Koel Eudynamis honorata is en- 
tirely frugivorous and is only of economic importance in that it 
has the habit of depositing its eggs in the nest of the common 
species of Crows Corvus splendens and C. macrorhynchus and may 
thus help to limit their numbers to some extent. Few cultivated 
fruits are taken, its fruit diet consisting mostly of Fici. Phceni- 
cophaes pyrrhocephalus is mostly a fruit eater, whilst the remaining 
genera contain birds that appear to be mostly insectivorous, though 
some take lizards, frogs, &c. Mantids appear to be the only bene- 
ficial insects included in the diet, and spiders are occasionally 
eaten. In this group are the Ground Cuckoos, birds that are not 
parasitic and whose diet is far more varied than that of the Cuculince. 
Centropus sinensis is the common plains species and may or not be 
beneficial. It eats any living animal matter and varies this with vege- 
table matter occasionally, sometimes it is said being a foul feeder. 

We can regard the Cuckoos as a class as beneficial, and it is 
unfortunate that they are not more numerous (as far as tjieir 
feeding propensities go). 



188 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

PSITTACI. 

PARROTS. 

They dwell chiefly in forests, and live on fruit, grain, or roots, 
Jerd. B. I. I, 253. Most wasteful feeders and are usually great 
pests to grain and fruit crops. S. M. F. Z., 1908. Paraquets do a 
certain amount of damage to crops. Bengal Gaz., Monghyr, 22. 

Psittaci. Plantains, papaw apples, figs, and tarmarinds, being 
varied with flowers, buds, leaves, hard palm nuts and fruits of 
Platanus, Casuarina, Banksia, Cactus, or Capsicum. E. B. C. 
N.H., 364. 

Palaeornis all species of green parrots have similar habits. 
All are gregarious, and feed almost exclusively on fruit and seeds. 
They do much damage to the crops, destroying more than they eat 
since they have a way of breaking oft' a head of corn, eating a few 
grains, and then attacking another head. When green parrots are 
plentiful the long suffering ryot sees them among the ills to which 
the flesh is heir to. When the crops are cut the parrots feed 
among the stubble, picking up the fallen grains. Dewar. B. R., 191. 

1135. PalcBornis nepalensis. Large Indian Paroquet. Fruits 
and grain. Jerd. B. I. I, 257. 

1138. Palceornis torquatus. Rose-ringed Paroquet. Very des- 
tructive to most kinds of grain, as well as to fruit in gardens. 
Burgess says that they carry off the ears of corn to trees to devour. 
When grains are cut it feeds on the stubble corn fields, also on 
meadows picking up what seeds it can. Hunting for any tree that 
may be in fruit. Jerd B. I. I, 258. 

Much damage by pilfering grain and fruit. F. I. Ill, 251. 
Fruits and grains. E. Be. N. H. S., 368. 

Stomachs examined : 

I have examined 53 stomachs of this bird during 1907 & 1908 
al various seasons 

December- March. 14 These birds had fed entirely on mustard, and wheat ripe and unripe. 

Percentage of mustard about 75. Percentage of wheat about 25. 
May. 6 Lichis. They do not apparently eat the seeds. 

The pulpy arila of Ccphalaodrq. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 

July. 6 Fruit of Cephalandra indica. 

August-September 10 Maize. 
2-2-08. 1 ~| 

1-3-07. 1 \Ficus and also contained a little her (Zizyphus jujuba) fruit. 

21-1-07. 1 ) 

5-1-07. 1 \ 

12-2-08. 1 _ .. . _. 

1-5-07 1 j Entlrely Flcus - 

10-11-07. lj 

2-2-08. 1 j 

14-2-07. 1 \Ficu8 and flower of the silk-cotton. 

5-3-07. lj 

26-6-08. 1 300 seeds (Sissoo ?). 

1 paddy grain. 
1 pea. 

1139. Palceornis cyanocephalus. Western Blossom-headed 
Paroquet. 

Much damage to ripe crops, especially paddy. Fruits and 
grains which it picks off the standing corn, 0*- in the stubble fields. 
Jerd. B. I. I, 260. 

Stomach ,v examined. 



22-6-08. 




22-6-08. 




3-7-08. 
3-7-08. 


Various Ficus fruit. 


3-7-08. 




12-4-08. 




12-4-08. 1 Geometrid larva. 
Ficus fruit. 



1141. P. schisticeps.Tlie Slaty-headed Paroquet. Favourite 
food is seeds of wheat, pomegranates, and apricots. Jerd. B. I. 
I. 261. 

1143. P. columboides. The Blue-winged Paroquet. Chiefly 
fruits of various kinds. Jerd. B. I. I, 262. 

1145. P. fasciat-us.Thz Red-breasted Paroquet. Visits plains 
when rice is ripe ; feeding on cowdung. Jerd. B. I. I, 263. De 
vouring paddy. B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 487. 

Damage tops of mangroves in Andamans by pulling off the 
leaves (Rhizophora mucronota). B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 240. 

Loriculus feed on various fruits and flower buds, probably 
hunting the latter for nectar ; said to be particularly fond of the 



190 THE FOOD OF BlfcDS IN INDIA. 

coconut palm juice, and L. indica the juice of the wild palm 
(Caryota urens). F. I. Ill, 262. 

1150. L. vernalis. The Indian Loriquet. Said to suck honey 
from flowers. E. B. C. N. H., 368. Fruit especially guavas. B. 
N. H. S. J. XVII, 487. 

Of the parrots not a single species can be termed in any way 
beneficial. This family includes the greatest bird pest we have 
in India the Rose-ringed Paroquet (Palceornis torquatus). This 
bird occurs generally throughout India. Not only does it do 
immense damage by eating grain of all kinds and especially cereals 
such as maize, wheat, barley, paddy, &c., mustard and occas ; orally 
linseed and peas, but they destroy very much more than they 
require for food, and may often be seen wastefully pulling wheat 
heads to pieces on tree tops to which they have carried them after 
picking them off the plant, and eating but few of the seeds. They 
are also at times exceedingly destructive to fruits. Numbers of 
wild fruit of various kinds are taken, especially Ficus spp., the arils 
of Cephalandra, but a preference always seems to be shown to culti- 
vated varieties when they are in season. They are particularly 
partial to mangoes, litchis, and loquats. 

From a note in the " Pioneer " (4-9-08) and as stated by Mr. 
Sclater in Ihd. Mus. Notes, Vol. II., 117-121, it is evident that there 
is a trade for the feathers of green paroquets; this should be 
encouraged as much as possible as it will do much towards limiting 
or reducing the numbers of a species of bird so wantonly destruc- 
tive for the whole of its existence. 

STRIGES. 
OWLS. 

The Owls are entirely carnivorous, and always catch their prey. 
They feed mostly on small mammals, hares, rats, mice, &c., a 
few feed on fish, and the smaller species are to a large extent insec- 
tivorous. 

The food consists of small mammals such as lemmings, rate, 
voles, mice ; of insects, with perhaps beetles in especial, and to a 



MASON AND LBFROY. 191 

less extent of birds, reptiles, bats, worms, slugs and snails. The 
stronger forms even capture young fawns, rabbits, hares, large 
grouse and so forth. While the snowy (Nyctea) Screech (Strix}, 
and Wood (Syrnium) Owls occasionally take fish, which with 
crabs constitute the chief diet of Ketupa. E. B. C. N. H., 401. 

They are as a rule nocturnal, and are almost always regarded 
as being beneficial, since they act as a very good check on various 
small rodents. 

Owls are nocturnal or crepuscular and carnivorous and live for 
the most part on mammals, on other birds, or on reptiles, few sub- 
sist on fish, and many of the smaller kinds on insects. The 
indigestible portions of the food bones, hair, scales, &c., are dis- 
gorged as pellets. It is not an uncommon thing to find masses of 
small bones in a hollow tree, thus accumulated. F. I. Ill, 264. 

Owls are really most valuable birds, as they feed on and keep 
down rodent mammals, and large injurious insects. Steb. M. F. Z. 

1152. Strix flammea. Barn Owl. Rats, mice, and shrews. 
Jerd. B. I. I., 118. Almost entirely on rats and mice. F. I., Ill, 
266. Pellets only of rats and mice. B. N. H. S. J. XII, 569. It 
feeds almost exclusively on rats, mice, shrews, and other enemies 
of the farmer, and as an exceptional case it will take a young bird, 
which is usually a sparrow. It will often enter a bungalow after 
rats and moths, &c. Dewar, B. P., 143. Cf. B. of A. and F. 
Leaflet No. 51. The White or Barn Owl. 

The food consists chiefly of small rodents, though birds, bats 
insects and even small fish are eaten. When this bird frequents 
dove cotes, it destroys the rats which prey upon the eggs and the 
young of pigeons, and is itself pratically harmless. E. B. C. N. 
H., 411. 

Stomach examined. 

12-9-08. Remains of two mice. 

In England I have seen this bird take leverets, and young rab- 
bits, and it is occasionally reported as having taken game birds 5 
but it is generally acknowledged now, 'and rightly so, to be 
beneficial. 



192 THE FOOt) OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

1156. Asio otus. Long-eared Owl. Mice, moles, beetles, Jerd. 
B. I. I, 126. Mice, insects, and small birds. F. I. Ill, 271. 

1157. Asio accipitrinus. Short-eared Owl. Field mice. B. 
N. H. S. J. XI, 163. A coleopteron. 

B. N. H. S. J. XIV, 534. Small mammals. F. I. Ill, 272. 

1160. Syrnium indrani. Brown Wood-Owl. In captivity, 
small birds, lizards, and fish. F. I. Ill, 276. 

1161. Syrnium ocellatum. Mottled Wood-Owl. Crabs and 
beetles. B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 667. Chiefly on small mammals 
rats, mice, squirrels, F. I. Ill, 278. Young in captivity, lizards, 
grasshoppers, cockroaches. Bombay Gaz., Cutch, Vol. X, p. 59. 

1162. Syrnium seloputo. Malayan Wood-Owl. Beetles. F. 
I. Ill, 279. 

Ketupa. This genus feeds on fish, crabs, and aquatic animals 
chiefly. Jerd. B. I. I. 133. Fish, crabs and insects their main diet, 
E. B. C. N. H., 414. Chiefly fish and Crustacea. Imp. Gaz. I, 
251. 

1164. Ketupa zeylonensis. The Brown Fish-Owl. Mice, 
lizards and birds, in captivity. B. N. H. S. J. XI, 164. 

Not exclusively fish. B. N. H. S. J. Ill, 224. Fish, but more on 
crabs ; by natives asserted to kill cats. Jejd. B. I. 1, 134. 

Chiefly fish and crabs, but also kills birds and small mammals 
at times. F. I. 3, 282. 

Fish and crabs, Bom. Gaz., Cutch, Vol. X, p. 59. 

1165. Ketupa flavipes. Tawny Fish-Owl. Fish and crabs 
Jerd. B. 1. 1. 135. F. I., 3, 282. Fish, swooping like a fish-eagle. 
B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 969. Fish. B. N. H. S. J. XI, 224. 

1166. Ketupa javanensis. Malay Fish-Owl. Feeds largely 
on insects, but probably eats fish and crabs as well. F. I., 283. 

Bw&o. - All seem destructive to game and often to poultry. 
E. B. C. N. H., 414. 

1167. Bubo ignavus. Eagle Owl. Game birds, hares, rab- 
bits, and even fawns of deer, and especially it is said on crows. F. 



MASON AND LEFROY 1 . 193 

I. 3, 285. Hares, rabbits, large game birds and rodents, being said 
moreover to attack Fawns. E. B. C. N. H., 413. 

1168. Bubo bengalensis. Rock Horned-Owl. Rats, mice, 
birds, lizards, snakes, crabs, and large insects. Jerd. B. I. I., 129. 
F. I. 3, 285. 

Rats, lizards, and crabs : remains of a peafowl. Bom. Gaz., 
Cutch, Vol. X, p. 59. 

1169. Bubo coromandus. Dusky Horned-Owl. Prefers bul- 
buls to common mynahs in captivity. B. N. H. S. J. XII, 286. 

Small mammals, frogs, lizards, &c., Anderson mentions seeing 
one pursue a heron. It also kills, and eats crows. F. I., 287. 

1170. Huhua nepalensis. Forest Eagle-Owl. Probably on 
birds and mammals, and it is said to kill pheasants, hares, young deer, 
&c. F. I. Ill, 289. Pheasants, hares, rats, snakes, ard sometimes on 
the fawns of theRatwa, and Gooral (Hodgson). Jerd. B. I. 1, 133. 

1172. Nyctea scandiaca. Snowy Owl. Lemmings, rats, mice, 
squirrels, hares, birds, large or small, fishes, and doubtless insects. 
E. B. C. N H., 412. 

Scops owls are as a rule insectivorous, occasionally eatirg small 
birds and animals. F. I. Ill, 290. Mice, small birds, grasshoppeis, 
moths, and beetles, E. B. C. N. H., 413. 

1173. Scops giu. Scops Owl. Insects. Jerd. B. I. I, 138. 

1176. Scops balli. Andaman Scops Owl. To a considerable 
extent on caterpillars. B. N. H. S. J. XII, 570.1J 

1178. Scops bakkamcena. Collared Scops Owl. Chiefly in- 
sects ; on blossoming trees for coleoptera. Jerd. B. I. I, 140. 

1180. Athene brama. Spotted Owlet. Captures beetles and 
other insects on the wing, or snatches them off a branch of a tree, 
and dropping on any small mouse, shrew, lizard, or insect it may spy 
on the ground. Jerd. B. I. I, 142. 

Lives chiefly on insects, partly on mice, shrews, lizards or small 
birds. F. I. III., 303.* 

* A : . B. The stomach-records placed under No. 1188, Ninox obscurn, in Mr. Mason's MS. 
evidently belong here. See also page 20. T. B. F. 

13 



194 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

1183. Glaucidium cuculoides. Large Barred Owlet. Field- 
mice and rats (small). B. N. H. S. J. XI, 229. 

Quail (Coturnix communis), and large crickets. B. N. H. S. J, 
XIII, 531. Partly insects, also small birds and mammals. F. I. 
I, 305. One eating a rat ; its crop contained a mouse, and some 
beetles. Jerd. B. I., 145. 

Insects, lizards, worms, frogs, toads, and white ants. I once 
saw an owl, possibly this species, taking grasshoppers or other 
large insects, at about 2 P.M., near Darbhanga in Jan. 08. 

1184. Glaucidium radiatum. The Jungle Owlet. Chiefly 
beetles. Also lizards and centipedes. Jerd. B. I. I, 144. Small 
birds as well as lizards and insects. F. I. Ill, 307. Swooped at a 
wounded tree-warbler. Bombay Gaz., Cutch, Vol X, p. 60. 

1185. Glaucidium castanonotum. Chestnut-backed Owlet. 
Chiefly insects, and lizards, occasionally on small mammals and 
birds. F. I. Ill, 307. Mice, birds, but largely insects. B. N. H. 
S. J. X, 284. 

1186. Glaucidium brodiei. Collared Pigmy Owlet. Chiefly 
insects, mice, rats, small birds ; young barbet, blue-eared barbet 
(Cyanops ci/anotis), coral-billed scimitar babbler (Pomatorhynus 
phayrii). B. N. H. S. J. ? 

Young male Pericrocotus speciosus. B. N. H. S. J. XIII, 568. 
Partly on insects, partly on birds, small mammals and according 
to Stoliczka, lizards, and frogs. F. I. 3, 3, 7. Chiefly on beetles 
and other insects. Jerd. B. I., 146. 

1187. Ninox scutulata. Brown Hawk-Owl. Insects not in- 
frequently captured in the air, also mice, lizards, &c. F. I., 311. 

Insects occasionally mice and reptiles. Jerd. B. I. I, 148. 
Insects. E. B. C. N. H., 408. 

1188. Ninox obscura. Hume's Brown Hawk Owl. Rats and 
mynahB. B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 488. 

Stomachs examined * 

3-3-00. 3 Coprids. 

3 Cathartiut tabctus. . ' * 

* These records belong to No. 1180 (See p. 193). 



MASON AND LEFROY. 19.5 

Stomachs examined contd. 

12-3-09. 7 Chrotogonus sp. 

3 Brachytrypes achatinus.' "\ 
12-3-09. 3 Catharsius sabceus. 

12-3-09. 3 Chrotogonus sp. 

1 Atractomorpha crenulata. 

1 Gryllotalpa africana. 
[ 8-6-08. 1 Chrotogonus sp. 

2 Tryxalis sp ? 

14 Opatrum sp. 
1 Coprid. 

1 Carabid ? (Head only). 

8-6-08. 6 Brachytrypes achatinut. >' 

10-10-08. 2 Coprids sp. 

1 Catharsius sabceus. 

15 Onthophagus spinifer. 
20-10-08. 3 Chrotogonus sp. 

1 Gryllotalpa africana. 

Each bird examined contained a certain amount of beetles 
remains which could not be identified. 

Summary. Of 69 insects taken by 8 birds, 1 is beneficial, 40 
neutral, and 28 injurious. All birds took injurious insects, 4 took 
neutral insects, and 1 a beneficial insect. The injurious insects 
are of more economic importance than the beneficial, but the 
stomach records are too few for any definite conclusion. 

The Owls occur throughout India being perhaps more numerous 
in species in forest and hill tracts. About 12 species are found in 
the plains. Most of the larger genera are represented in the plains, 
the hills chiefly the Himalayan tracts in Burma and in the Malayan 
region. They are crepuscular and nocturnal. A few of the larger 
species attack fawns and some of the larger mammals, but the diet 
of most is composed chiefly of small birds and mammals such as 
rats and mice, and large insects such as grasshoppers, the insects 
being chiefly taken by the smaller owls. A few take fish. 

Damage to game and fish may occur with one or two species of 
owls but taken as a group they are certainly beneficial. In forming 
this conclusion we have to take into account what is known of the 
food of the family in countries other than India. Our records and 
references to the food of the family are far less than would have been 
expected from such an interesting group of birds. 



196 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

ACCIPITKES. 

This Order comprises the Ospreys, Vultures, Eagles, Kites, 
Buzzards, Falcons and Hawks. 

' Some live chiefly on living animals they catch, others content 
themselves with such animals as they find dead. Some of the most 
typical groups are spread all over the world, but there are many 
peculiar to the warmer regions, where there is a greater abundance 
of animal life, and especially a great increase in the numbers of rep- 
tiles and insects ; and those also that are fitted for devouring carcases 
which putrify so soon as in warm climates, are only developed in 
these countries, and here multiply numerically to a larger extent 
than any of the others/' Jerd. B. I. I. 2. 

Birds of prey being essentially carnivorous, are in most cases ex- 
tremely useful, either as scavengers, or in destroying small mammals* 
insects, and diseased or sickly birds. Some feed largely on frogs and 
lizards and are therefore possibly injurious, as also the fish-eating 
varieties. At times too some considerable damage is caused by 
taking poultry and even young domestic animals. 

PANDIONID^E. 

1189. Pandion haliaetus. Os prey. 

j A winter visitor feeding on fish, Imp. Gaz. I., 252. " Fish/' 
Jerd. B. I. I, 80. F. I. Ill, 314. Fish of all sizes up to its own 
weight/' B. N. H. S. J. X, 459. Little but fish. E. B. C. N. H., 
149. Surface swimming fish. E. B. C. N. H., 181. 

VULTURIDJE. 

' Useful." ' Devouring carcases of dead animals and other 
offensive matter, which would otherwise in the hot regions of the 
world tend to increase predisposition to disease. Jerd. B. I. I, 4. 
Indispensably useful in a hot climate, feeding on carcases of dead 
animals. 

1196. PswJidogyps bengalensis. Indian White-backed Vulture. 
Carcases ; human bodies. I once shot two of these birds in order to 
obtain some lice from them, but did not examine their stomach 



MASON AND LEFROY. 197 

contents. They had gorged on a human body. Carrion. Punjab 
Gaz., Hissar, 20. 

Neophron ; animal and vegetable refuse or dung, also follows 
the plough and devours worms, grubs, insects, reptiles and frogs. 

E. B. C. N. H., 145. 

1197. Neophron ginqinianus. Smaller White Scavenger Vul- 
ture. Human ordure, not so often on dead animals and carrion. 
Jerd. B. I. I, 12. F. I. Ill, 327. 

Occasionally on grass lands, hunting for frogs, and large crick- 
ets. I have seen it take Brachytrypes achatinus on a grass lawn. 

FALCONID.E. 

These birds fly well and take their prey on the wing, feeding on 
small mammals, birds, reptiles, fishes, and insects, a few of the lar- 
ger kinds not disdaining carrion or garbage. Jerd. B. I. I, 19. 

Nearly all are carnivorous ; a few of the smaller species being 
insectivorous partly or wholly, and the majority capture living prey. 

F. 1. Ill, 328. Their diet varies considerably and consists of mam- 
mils, birds, rspbiles, fish, frogs, tortoises, crabs, molluscs and insects. 
Ayuila, Haliastur eat carrion while the larger forms kill fawns, 
monkeys, foxes, hares, and other creatures of considerable size. 
Buzzards keep down rabbits and hunt rats and mice as assiduously 
as Harriers and the Kestrel ; the latter devours quantities of insects, 
and the so-called Honey-buzzard (Pernis) gains its name from its 
fondness for grubs of bees and wasps. Kites work havoc among 
poultry ; the. Golden Eagle and still more the Peregrine Falcon, 
among moor-fowl ; the last two proving an advantage in Scotch 
deer forests, where the noisy grouse disturb the stags, but being 
in paril of extermination on the moor lands ; yet it is questionable 
whether more good than harm is done by the destruction of 
weakly game. The Osprey and Sea-Eagle eat little but fish, though 
they are not alone in that habit. E. B. C. N. H., 148-149. Several 
hawks are said to be very fond of Dragonflies. S. I. C. N. H., 424. 

1199. Gypavtus barbatus. Bearded Vulture ; Lammergeyer. In 
Africa said to feed on reptiles and tortoises dropping them on 



198 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

rocks, (Hutton) Carrion, rarely taking off anything larger than a 
fowl, which it devours as it flies. (Adams) ' Preys much on mar- 
mots." (Bishop Heber) ' Children at Almora/' In Europe 
said to take lambs, kids, young chamois, and even children ; also 
said to hurl chamois, and even on the Himalayas, Ovis ammon, off 
the cliffs. Natives of the Himalayas say it carries away Ibex, 
young bears, sheep and goats. Jerd. B. I. I, 15-16. 

Supposed in the Alps to live upon lambs and children, but 
found in the Himalayas, where it is common, to subsist upon 
carrion and to have a particular preference for bones. Imp. Gaz., 
I, 252. 

Such stories of taking children and throwing goats over preci- 
pices are now discredited. It is somewhat doubtful whether this 
great bird ever attacks living prey, its food consisting chiefly of bones 
and offal. It rarely descends on a carcase ; but Hume found it 
feeding on human ordure. Large bones, as the old story goes, are 
dropped to break them. F. I. Ill, 330. Swooped at young 
markhor. B. N. H. S. J. XII, 343. 

Carcases in parts of Spain and India ; in Macedonia lambs, kids, 
fowls, and no doubt it occasionally kills small mammals and birds. 
It perhaps scares young animals over cliffs, and like Neophron 
is said to carry bones and land- tortoises up into the air, letting them 
drop to break them. E. B. C. N. H., 15L 

Aquila. Eagles prey on mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs, etc., 
and all or nearly all feed on carrion as well. The largest of them 
destroy various quadrupeds, but few of them disdain food that has 
not been killed by themselves, and some feed greedily on carrion. 
Jerd. B. I. I, 55 ; carrion, if fairly fresh and newly born lambs. 
E. B. C. N. H., 148,160. 

1200. Aquila chrysaetus. Golden Eagle. Antelopes, foxes, and 
wolves are hunted by this eagle when trained. Jerd. B. 1. 1.. 156. 

Their prey consists of antelopes, wolves, foxes, fawns, lambs, 
hares, rabbits, marmots, geese, ducks, grouse and so forth, with 
carrion if sufficiently fresh. E. B. C. N. H., 161, 



MASON AND LEPROY. 199 

Atkinson in his travels on the Amoor describes and figures a 
scene which he asserts he witnessed himself. Some wolves had' 
pulled down a deer, when two Golden Eagles came down from a 
vast height, attacked the wolves, killed two of them, and pulled their 
livers out. Jerd. B. I. I, 57. 

Work havoc among moor-fowl, yet it is questionable whether 
more good than harm is not done by the destruction of weakly game. 
B. B. C. N. H., 149. 

1201. Aquila heliaca. Imperial Eagle. Feeds much on carri- 
on, though it also kills small mammals, birds, and lizards for food. 
F. I. Ill, 335. 

" It pounces on hares, florikins, rats, lizards, and various other 
mammals and birds, and in default of these will eat carrion. I 
have several times seen one captured in a net by a portion of the car- 
case of a sheep being put down as a bait/' In captivity prefers 
raw meat to birds or animals alive or dead. Jerd. B. I. I, 337. 

1202. Aquila bifasjata. Steppe Eagle. Same habits as A. 
heliaca. 

1203. Aquila vindhiana. Indian Tawny Eagle. Frequently 
carries off chickens, ducklings, and other poultry. It feeds occa- 
sionally on hares, partridges, and other game, also rats, lizards 
snakes, and even insects, and will always descend to fresh carcases 
of sheep. It, however, habitually subsists by robbing kites, falcors. 
etc. I once saw a pair of ' Woklabsj 5 kill a florikin Otis aurita. 
Jerd. B. I. I, 61. Small mammals, lizard, snake or frog, and shares 
carcases of dead bullocks with vultures. Robs Accipitrine birds, 
nuisance in falconry, mistaking jesses for prey. F. I. Ill, 339. 
This bird eats anything in the way of flesh it can obtain. If the op- 
portunity offers, it will pounce on a squirrel, a small bird, a lizard, or 
a frog, but it is a comparatively sluggish creature, and so robs other 
Raptores in preference to catching its own quarry. Dewar, B. P., 
176. Sypheotis aurita. Jerd. B. I., 623. H. M., 338. 

1204. Aquila fu 1 veswns.- Brook's Eagle. Partly on frogs, 
F, 1. Ill, 340 t 



200 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

1205. Aquila maculata. Large Spotted Eagle. All sorts of 
birds, or small animals, squirrels, rats ; also lizards and frogs. Jerd 
B. I. I, 59. Chiefly frogs in India, but occasionally on small mam- 
mals, lizards, &c. Frogs, reptiles, and grasshoppers, in addition to 
small mammals and birds. E. B. C. N. H., 162. 

1206. Aquila hastata. Small Indian Spotted Eagle. Plunders 
birds nests, and also eats the cocoons of silkworms. Mr. Frith 
of Mymengingh saw it pulling down the nest of Sturnopastor contra. 
Jerd. B. I. I, 63. Frogs. B. N. H. S. J. XIV, 174. 

1207. Hieraetus fasciatus. Bonelli's Eagle. Various kinds of 
game, hares, jungle and spur- fowl, partridges, even on peafowl ; 
also on ducks, herons, and other water-fowls, Tantalus leucolophus, 
Most native falconers relate of it taking favourite hawks. He 
also gives an instance of pigeon-houses being devastated in the 
Neilgherries by this bird. Also ' ' I have very little doubt that this 
Eagle could be trained to kill antelopes, fawns, and probably 
bustards." Jerd. B. I. I, 69. 

' Lives on mammals and birds of its own killing, and never 
known to touch carrion. Jerdon mentions it as particularly destruc- 
tive to pigeons." F. I. Ill, 344. 

' It is said to disdain carrion ; it preys on small mammals ; 
and birds of all sizes. It takes game birds by preference, but when 
hungry will not draw the line at the crow." Dewar Sypheotis 
aurita. H. M, G. B. 3, 338. 

Wild peacocks. B. H. S. J. X, 505. Chickens. B. N. H a 
S. J. XV, 142. Bonelli's Eagle constantly carries off wounded 
birds, even of the larger species (Anser ferus) 4 M. 9 B III, 59. 

1208. Hieraetus pennatus. Booted Eagle. Squirrels, rats, 
doves, pigeons, chickens, &c. Layard mentions once having seen it 
pounce on a bulbul, in a bush. Hunts often with kites in canton- 
ments and villages and the blame of carrying off chickens, pigeons, 
&c., should rest with them rather than the kites. Jerd. B. I. I, 64. 
Squirreb, rats and other small animals, doves, pigeors, &c., and 
poultry. F. I. Ill, 345. Doves, poultry, &c. B, N. H. S. J. 10, 505. ? 



MASON AND LKFROY. 201 

1210. Ictinaetfi malayensis. Black Eagle. Most destructive 
to small game, a reward for its destruction being offered by the Nil- 
giri game association. B. N. H. S. J. XIV, 164. Largely on young 
eggs of birds, also occasionally feeds on reptiles. F. I. Ill, 
348. 

Almost exclusively lives by robbing nests of young and eggs. 
I dare say if it saw a young or sickly bird it might seize it," but 
it is pot fast enough for a pheasant or a partridge. Hodgson ' ' It 
preys on pheasants as well as their eggs." "I have invariably 
found that eggs and nestlings alone had been its food. In three cases 
I found the eggs of the hill quail Coturnix erythrorhyncha, of 
Malacoccercus, and of some doves- Turtur with nestlings, and the 
remains of some eggs which I did not know. I have known it also 
after circlirg several times over a small tree, alight on it and carry 
off the contents of a doves nest.'' Jerd. B. I. I, 66. Bat. B. N. H. 
S. J. X, 284. I have been told it will take Jungle-fowl. 

Sp zae us, L^mnaetus, Neopus, Nisaetus. The food is extremely 
varied, including in different cases, monkeys, bucks, lambs, goats, 
hares, rabbits, birds as large as bustards and geese, lizards, frogs, 
or even fish. E. B. C. N. H., 160. 

1211. Spizaetus cirrhatus. Crested Hawk-Eagle. Hares, part- 
ridges, young Pea-fowl, Jungle-fowl, &c. Jerd. B. I. I, 73. To 
these Blanford adds squirrels, lizards, &c. F. I. Ill, 351. 

Very destructive to poultry. B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 670. Fowls 
and chickens. B. N. H. S. J. XV, 716. 

Night-hawk. Caprimulgidse. B. N. H. S. J. X, 505 ? Very 
destructive to poultry yards : it preys also on bush quail, and it 
has been seen pursuing green pigeons. It also attacks and kills 
small snakes. Bombay Gaz., Ratnagiri, Vol. X, p. 56. 

1212. Spizaetus limnaetus. Changeable Hawk-Eagle. Koel 
(Eudynamis honorata), mynah, pigeons, chickens, B. N. H. S. J. 
XII, 685. Equals No. 1211 in habits. F. I. Ill, 352. 

1213. Spi'aetus nepalensis. Hodgson's Hawk-Eagle. Phea- 
sants, partridges and other game birds, Jerd, B.I. I, 74, Phea- 



202 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

sants, and on other game birds, and on hares, and other small ari 
mals. F.I. 111,353. 

1214. Spizaelus kelaarti. Legge's Hawk-Eagle. Similar to 
No. 1213. 

Circaetus. This genus feeds mostly on reptiles. Jerd. B. I. 
1,74. 

1216. Circaetus gallicus. Short-toed Eagle. Chiefly snakes, 
lizards and frogs, but will eat anything, rats, crabs, and large insects. 
F. I. Ill, 357. Chief food lizards and snakes, but it will eat anything, 
rats, weakly birds, crabs, frogs, centipedes and large insects ; I have 
seen one strike at a wounded hare, and it will occasionally carry off 
a wounded duck and teal. It pounces on snakes and guanos- 
Monitor. Jerd. B. I. I, 77. Snakes, &c. B. N. H. S. J. X, 505. 

Snakes form its favourite food, while frogs and fish from the 
shallows, small mammals, birds, lizards, crabs and insects, are added 
to it's daily fare. E. B. C. N. H., 153. 

' I saw one of these fine birds attempt to carry off a cobra in 
the public gardens at Chilkalda : my approach drove the eagle 
away from the reptile, which however it had crippled completely." 

A. S. B. XL. (11), 107. 

Spi'ornis. Serpent Eagles. On reptiles and frogs. B. N. H. 
S. J. X, 505. 

1217. Spilornis cheela. Crested Serpent-Eagle. Devastates 
poultry yards, even attacked a turkey. B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 
969. Fowls, A. S. B. 29-2-240. Crabs. B. N. H. S. J. XII, 685. 
Raw meat in captivity. B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 64. Eel about a 
foot long. B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 670. Snakes, lizards and frogs form 
its chief food. Bombay Gaz., Cutch, Vol. X, p. 56. 

1220. Butastur teesa. White-eyed Buzzard Eagle. Land 
crabs. B. N. H. S. J. IX, 101. On telegraph poles for rats and worms. 

B. N. H. S. J. XIV., 807. Turnix pugnax. B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 
759. 

Rats, mice, lizards, small snakes, frogs, crabs, and large insects- 
Now and then it may manage to seize a young or sickly bird. Mr, 



MASON AND LEFROY. 203 

Burgess states he took the remains of a full grown quail from ore. 
It occasionally captures locusts on the wing. Jerd. B. I. I, 93. 

Feeds on small mammals, reptiles, frogs, crabs, and insects. 
F. I. (2) 364. 

Small mammals, lizards, frogs and crabs. E. B. C. N. H., 167. 
One of the commonest birds, of this family, at Pusa, and especially 
numerous during the hot weather and the rains. It feeds very large- 
ly on insects especially grasshoppers, and also on frogs and 
mica. When the flying Termites emerge, I have seen it feeding on 
these insects entirely ; it takes them on the wing, as well as on the 
ground. At other times it may often be seen walking on the 
ground, picking up various kinds of insects and frogs. I have 
never seen it swoop at small birds but it will take wounded ones ; I 
once wounded a Gymnorhis flavicollis ; the sparrow towered, and 
the Butastur took it as it reached the ground. It also feeds 
largely on frogs. I have on two occasions seen this bird take the 

^ / 

common snake Tropidonotus stolatus. 

25, 12-4-08. 23 Chrotogonus sp. 

1 Mouse. 

1 Portions of a lizard. 
12-4-08. 15 Chrotogonus sp. 

1 Small frog. 

1 Remains of a small bird. 
12-7-08. 46 Termes obesus. 
18-7-08. 23 Termes obesus. 

1 Catharsius sabceus. 

1 Frog. 

25-8-08. 1 Anomala varinns. Larva. 

12 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

2 Schizodactylus monstrosus. 
1 Gryllatalpa africana. 

3 Frogs. 

5-3-09. 5 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

3 Remains of three mice. 
5-3-09. 1 Lizard. 

1 Mouse. 

I have on several occasions seen it eating mice, and frogs, and 
once a small snake. 

Summary. Of 129 insects taken by 7 birds 1 is neutral arc 
128 injurious, 2 took lizards, 3 frogs, 3 mice, and 1 a snail 
bird, 



204 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

1221. Bu'astur liventer. Rufous-winged Buzzard-Eagle. Robs 
Astur badius of a lizard A. S. B. LXIX, 133. Snakes, and crabs 
fresh-water F. I. 3, 365. 

Haliaetus. Sea Eagles. Little but fish. E. B. C. N. H., 
149. 

1223. Haliaetus leucoryphus. Pallas' Fishing-Eagle. Fish, 
bald coots, ducks, &c. B. N. H. S. J. X, 55. Principally on fish, 
but also on water birds, snakes, frogs, &c. F. I. 3, 367. Water fowl 
especially bald coots, as much as on fish. B. N. H. S. J. II, 
221. 

Chiefly on fish, also on turtle, and snakes ; and most probably 
will take any other food, and often carries off a wounded duck. 

The ring tailed Eagle constantly carries off wounded birds, 
even the larger species (Anser ferus) H. M. G. B. Ill, 59. 

1224. Haliaetus leucogaster. White-bellied Sea-Eagle. Fish 
birds and mammals, and carrion. B. N. H. S. J. 10, 505. Snake, 
fish, fowls. B. N. H. S. J. Young chickens. B. N. H. S. J. XII, 
58. Chiefly on fish and sea snakes, which it captures from the 
water, but it will also eat dead fish, or crabs, and it not infrequently 
robs theosprey of its prey. F. I. Ill, 369. Chiefly on sea snakes, 
also on fish ; on rats, crabs, and anything living it can catch, and 
will eat dead fish. It robs the Osprey. Jerd. B. I. I, 85. Snakes, 
fish, poultry, Bombay Gaz., Cutch, Vol. X., p. 57. 

122lD. Haliaetus albicilla. White-tailed Sea-Eagle. Mainly on 
fish. F. I. 3, 369. Food consists largely of fish ; said to be very 
destructive to lambs ; eats carrion. E. B. C. N. H., 163. 

1227. Polioaetus ichthyaetus. Large Grey-headed Fishing-Eagle. 
Chiefly fish, fresh water preferred. F. I. Ill, 371. Chiefly fish but 
will carry off a teal, or a wounded duck and strikes at other birds. 
Jerd. B. 1. 1, 82. 

1227. Polioaetus humilis. Hodgson's Fishing-Eagle Entirely 
on fish, or such small reptiles, and animals as may be found on river 
banks. B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 970. Robs fish traps. Chiefly fish. E, 
B, C. N. H,, 164, 



AND LEFHOY. 205 

Haliastur. Garbage, small mammals, birds, lizards, frogs, 
crustaceans, insects and their larvae : fish. E. B. C. N. H., 168. 
Kites work havoc among poultry. E. B. C. N. H., 148. 

1228. Haliastur indus. Brahminy Kite. I cannot give a better 
note on this bird's food than by quoting in full from Jerdon. ' Mr. 
Smith quoted from Notes on Indian Birds, P. Z. S., 1857, 85, says : 
' This bird is among the first objects which attracts the eye of a 
stranger, for they swarm about the shipping at Calcutta, and are 
useful in removing any offal which may be thrown away ; but 
though their usual food is carrion, yet they kill fish, and not unfre- 
quently carry of a snipe which the sportsman has levelled/ Hodg- 
son says, it chiefly feeds on insects and quests like a Circus. From 
my own observations it certainly prefers aquatic food, and is most 
numerous in the vicinity of sea-shores, large rivers, tanks and rice cul- 
tivation. About large cities and towns, and where there is much ship- 
ping, it gets its chief food from garbage arid offal thrown overboard, 
or, occasionally from what is thrown out in the streets and roads. 
Near large rivers or lakes it manages to pick off the surface of the 
water small fishes, or a prawn occasionally ; but its chief food, away 
from towns and cantonments, is frogs, and crabs, which abound in all 
rice fields, and the remains of which last, picked clean, may be fourd 
so abundantly along the little bunds that divide the fields from each 
other. It will also eat water insects, mice, and shrews, and yourg 
or sickly birds ; and many a wounded snipe I have seen carried off 
by the Brahminy Kite. In wooded countries I have seen it questing 
over the woods, and catching insects, especially large Cicada?, and I 
have also seen it whip a locust off standing grain. Now and then it 
gives hot chase to a crow, or even to a common kite and forces them 
to give up some coveted piece of garbage or dead fish/' ' It is 
said sometimes to carry off young chickens ar.d pigeons." Jerd. 
B. I. I, 102-103. It abounds in ports feeding on refuse thrown over- 
board. It also picks small fish off the surface of water with its 
claws and captures frogs and crabs in paddy fields and marshes. 
Small birds are seldom assailed by it unless sickly or weak, but Mr. 
Rainey saw one kill and eat a king-fisher Alcedo ispida that had 



206 THE tfOOD OF BlfeDS IN INDIA. 

carried off a small fish on which the kite was in the act of stooping. 
F. I. Ill, 373. Fish, Crustacea, frogs, B. N. H. S. J. X, 505 ? Ter- 
mites. B. N. H. S. J. XIV, 559. Termites flying from ground. 
B. N. H. S. J. XII, 289. Carrion. E. B. C. N. H., 148. Chiefly 
on fish. Imp. Gaz., I, 253. 
Stomachs examined 

13_5_07. 5 Schizodactylus monstrosus. 

3 Gryllotalpa africana. 
7 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

Remains of a small bird. 
3 Frogs. 

12-6-08. 2 Mice. 

1 Lizard. 
3 Frogs. 
10-7-08. 2 Schizodactylus monstrosut. 

1 Gryllotalpa africana. 
21-8-08. 16 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

3 Blades of grass. 
5-9-08. 2 Young chickens. 

10-9-08. 2 Atractomorpha crenulata. 

Remains of a small bird. 
3_10-07. 32 Chrotogonus sp. 

1 Frog. 
10-10-07. 16 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

2 Frogs. 

10-10-07. 12 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

12-10-08. 3 Liogryllus bimaculatus. > 

1 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

Feet and legs of a small bird. 
3 Worms-Nematodes (parasitic ?). 
5 Shot. 

Summary. 100 injurious insects taken by 10 birds, 4 birds took 
9 frogs between them ; 3 took small birds : 1 a lizard ; one 2 mice, 
and 1 young chickens. 

This bird occurs more commonly during the rains, but may 
be seen nearly the whole year round in the neighbourhood of water. 
It is nearly always present during irrigation operations, and at such 
times feeds on all kinds of crickets, which come to the surface on being 
flooded out, on grasshoppers and on frogs. I have seen it on several 
occasions take worms and lizards and at times individuals are a great 
nuisance to chicken runs, taking off the young birds. I have never 
seen them attempt to capture wild birds. During the rains I 
have frequently seen Brahminy Kites waiting on trees near grassy 



MASON AND LEFROYi 20? 

banks where various crickets abound. As soon as the cricket ap- 
pears the kite swoops down, taking the insect in its claws during 
flight, and carries of! the cricket, devouring it as it flies. On flat 
land the bird captures these insects on the ground not when in flight 
only. 

1229. Milvus govinda. Common Pariah-Kite. As is well 
known kites pick up garbage of all kinds, fragments of meat, and fish, 
and generally the refuse of man's food. They are excessively bold and 
fearless, and often snatching morsels off a dish en route from the 
kitchen, and even according to Adams, seizing a fragment from a 
man's mouth. At our sea ports kites find their daily sustenance 
among the shipping, snatching scraps of refuse from the surface of 
the water. Away from the haunts of man, some seek their reptile 
food over the fields and hedgerows, or with the Brahminy Kites hunt 
the edgss of tanks, rivers, and marshes, for frogs, crabs, and fish. 
Now and then one will seize a chicken or wounded bird of any kind, 
and Mr. Blyth mentionn that he once knew one to kill a full grown 
hen. Mr. Phillips says it will carry off parrots and chickens. The 
food of the kite is usually devoured on the wing, or if too large, 
carried to the nearest house or tree. Jerd. B. I. I, 105-107. 
Female kite kills a crow to feed its young one. Dewar B. P., 148, 
Chickens. Bombay Gaz., Cutch, Vol. X, p. 58. Hawk (chil) 
is said to eat corpses, Punjab Gaz., Hissar, 20. 

-A.s examiii ect 



10-3-07. 3 Gryllotalpa africana. 

Various kitchen scraps. 
1-4-07. Remains of a chicken. 

16-4-08. 1 Mouse. 

Kitchen scraps. 
16-4-08. 6 Chrotogonus sp. 

5 Brachytrypes achatinua. 

Kitchen scraps. 
16^4-08. 1 Mouse. 

3 Frogs. 
1 Lizard. 

Kitchen scraps. 

4-5-09. 9 Brachytrypes achatinui. 

1 Mouse. 
1 Lizard. 
4-5-09. 1 Mouse. 



208 THE POOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Stomachs examined contd. 

10-5-09. 15 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

3 Gryllotalpa africana. 
17-5-09. 17 Brachytrypes achatinut. 

Some chicken bones. 

6-6-08. 1 Chicken, partially digested. 

1 Chrotogonus sp. 
1 Cicindela cerulenia. 
1 Cicindela gramniophora. 
1 Onthophagus spinifer. 

N. B. These insects probably came from the stomach of r. 

chicken. 
12-7-08. 11 Frogs. 

3 Brachytrypes achatinus. 
21-8-08. 2 Small birds. 

1 Mouse. 
1 Frog. 

12-9-08. Kitchen refuse, parts of a chicken, bones, some fat, potato scraps, 

&c. 

Summary. Of 65 insects taken by 13 birds, 2 are beneficial 
(N. B. These were probably eaten by the chicken taken by the 
same bird), 62 are injurious, and 1 neutral. 1 took beneficial 
insects, 7 injurious, and 1 neutral. 4 birds took chickens, 2 small 
birds, 3 frogs, 5 mice, 2 lizards, and 5 contained refuse matter. 

The food of the common kite differs little from that of the 
Brahminy Kite. He is, however, a far bolder bird, and haunts 
towns and villages to a far greater extent and therefore his food 
consists more of refuse and scraps than his ally. It will even 
knock a cigarette out of ones hand. I have seen lizards, frogs, 
and snakes eaten by this bird, though do not know if he ever kills 
the latter. He is a great nuisance to poultry, often taking the 
young chickens. I do not know if he habitually feeds on carrion, 
but have seen a kite eating a dead rat, and a dead jackal, dead 
mynahs, &c. Any article of food is stolen whenever possible- 
This kite feeds also to some extent on insects, especially crickets 
which appear above ground during irrigation operations, but he 
does not haunt such places so much as the Brahminy Kite. 

1232. Elanus cceruleus. Black- winged Kite. Lizards. B. N. 
H. S. J. XVII, 670. Insects in grass. B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 710. 
Chiefly on insects and small mammals. F. I. Ill, 380. Chiefly 



MASON AND LEFROY. 209 

insects but also mice and rats, and probably young and feeble birds. 
Eating the carcase of a dove that had been dead some time. Jerd. 
B. 1. 1, 113. Insects, snakes, small mammals and more rarely birds. 
E. B. C. N. H., 171. I saw one of these birds once capture and eat 
a frog. 

Circus. ---Harriers. Insects, reptiles, small mammals, and 
young or sickly birds. ' Jerd. B. I. I, 95. Mainly small mammals, 
but partly of birds, reptiles, fish, frogs, insects and even eggs, 
Hunt rats and mice. E. B. C. N. H., 148 and 155. Hawking over 
every field in search of small birds, and lizards, ortolan and quail 
being especially marked out as their quarry. Bengal Gaz., 
Monghyr, 22. 

1233. Circus macrurus. Pale Harrier. Lizards and insects, 
occasionally mice and young or sickly birds. F. I. Ill, 383. 

Reptiles, and insects, also occasionally on small mice and 
shrews and weak, sickly or wounded birds, especially quails. 
Jerd. B. I. I, 97. Larks. Bom. Gaz., Cutch., Vol. X, p. 58. 

1234. C. cineraceus and 1235. C. cyaneus have similar 
habits. 

1236. C. melanoleucus. Pied Harrier. Chiefly snakes, liz- 
ards, frogs, insects with birds and mice. F. I. Ill, 386. Frogs, 
mice and other small prey. B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 970. Carrion 
from the beach, small mammals, birds and grasshoppers. E. B. C. 
N. H., 167. 

1237. C. ceruginosus. Marsh Harrier. Teal. B. N. H. b. J. 
X, 505. Frogs, fish, insects, small and weakly birds, and eggs, 
and often carries off a wounded snipe or teal, or makes a meal off 
a wounded duck that is too heavy for it to carry away. F. I. Ill, 
387. Chiefly frogs, fish, and water insects, also rats, shrews, and 
various young or weakly birds : not infrequently carries off a 
wounded snipe or even a teal. Jerd. B. I. I, 100. Larks. Bomb. 
Gaz., Cutch, Vol. X, p. 58. 

Buteo. Buzzards. Mammals, reptiles and insects seized on 
the ground. F. I. Ill, 389, Frogs and lizards. B. N. H. S. J. 

14 



210 THE FOOD OF BIEDS IN INDIA. 

XII, 290. Insects, reptiles, young or feeble birds and small 
mammals. Jerd. B. I. I, 87. 

Small mammals and especially rodents, also small birds, rep- 
tiles, frogs, beetles and grasshoppers, and many game-keepers now 
recognise the bird's utility by protecting its breeding quarters. E. 
B. C. N. H., 165. 

Keep down rabbits and hunt rats and mice. E. B. C. N. H., 
148. 

1239. Buteo ferox. Rough-legged Buzzard. Migratory, visit- 
ing North-Western India from October to March, and very abund- 
ant in desert and semi-desert tracts, when it lives mainly on the 
Indian Desert Gerbille (Gerbillus hurriance). It is also very com- 
mon in marshy ground and it feeds on frogs, rats, mice, lizards, and 
large insects. F. I. Ill, 392. 

1241. B. desertorum. Common Buzzard. Mouse, lizard, B. 
N. H. S. J. XVII, 670. Lizards, frogs, rats, shrews, and young or 
sickly birds. Jerd. B. I. I, 88. 

1243. Astur palumbarius. Goshawk. Birds, hares, gazelles. 
B. N. H. S. J. X, 505 ? Very destructive to pheasants and other 
game birds. Jerd. B. I. Pheasants, partridges, pigeons, and othei 
birds, and on small mammals. F. I. Ill, 397. 

Much esteemed for hawking in India. The baz is trained to 
strike the houbara bustard, kites, and neophrons, duck, and many 
other large water birds, as cormorants, herons, ibises, &c. It is, 
however, chiefly trained to catch hares. The Jura is trained to 
strike partridges, rock-pigeons, crows, teal, &c. Jerd. B. I. I, 46. 
Small mammals and birds. E. B. C. N. H., 156. 

1244. Astur badius.* Shikra. General food as Jerdon says^ 
appears to be lizards but it frequently seizes small birds, rats, mice 
and sometimes does not disdain a grasshopper. It is more commonly 
trained than any other Indian bird of prey, and is flown at quails, 
partridges, and more commonly crows. 

It has been seen feeding on flying termites or white ants. 
F. I. Ill, 339- 400 F, It can be taught to strike the common 



MASON AND LEFROY. 211 

crow, small grey hornbill, crow-pheasant, young pea fowl, and small 
herons. Jerd. B. 1. 1, 50. 

Small birds. B. N. H. S. J. X, 505. Dicrurus ater.The 
black drongo. B. N. H. S. J. XIV, 559. Flown at small birds. B- 
N. H. S. J. XII, 290. Lizards. A. S. B. J., 69, 115, &c. 

Flown at Mynahs and small birds,' Crateropus canorus.A. S. 
B. J. 64, 729. Frogs. E. B. C. N. H., 157. Robbed of a lizard 
by Butastur liventer. A. S. B. LXIX, 133. 

Stomachs examined 

5-5-07. 1 Chrotoyotutt p. 

1 Small lizard. 

Remains of a mouse. 
5-6-07. 1 Gryttodet melanoecphalut. 

49 Caterpillars, obtained from a sissutree. / 

15-4-08. 9 Chrotogonut sp. 

3 Sehizodaeiylut tnonsiromt. 
3 Geometrid caterpillars. 
1 Small bone. 

15-3-09. 2 Chroiogonut sp. 

1 Small snakes. 
1 Lizard. 

1 Mouse or rat ; the animal had been pulled to pieces and the tail 
had been eaten first, presumably, being the only portion in 
the gizzard. 
10-4-09. 13 Chrotogonus sp. 

1 Schizodactylut monstronu. 
1 Gryllotalpa afrieana. 
15-6-09. 7 Braehytrypca achatinui. 

1 Small bird (Sylviid ?). 

Summary. Six birds took injurious insects totalling 91 ; 2 
birds took lizards, 2 mice, 1 snake, and 1 a small bird. 

1244a. Astur butleri. Nicobar Short-toed Hawk. Lizards. 
B. N. H. S. J. XII, 685. 

1245. Astur s)loensis. Horsfield's Short-toed Hawk. Lizards 
and frogs. F. I. Ill, 491. 

1246. Lophospizias trivirgatus. Crested Goshawk. Small 
birds and lizards. F. I. 3., 402. Birds. Trained in Ceylon after 
partridges. In Ceylon robs hens eggs. Jerd. B. I. I, 48. 

1247. Accipiter nisus. Sparrow-Hawk. Chiefly on birds up 
to the size qf a pigeon an(l even sand grouse, F. I. Ill, 403. Birds 



212 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

used chiefly for capturing partridges, quails, courier plovers 
Cursorius and even rock-pigeon Pterocles. Jerd. B. I. I, 52. 

1248. Accipiter virgatus. Besra Sparrow Hawk. Small birds 
but also on lizards, and insects. F. I. Ill, 405. The female used 
for capturing partridge, quail, snipe, and doves : the male for 
sparrows, brahminy mynahs Pastor paqodarum- and other small 
birds. Jerd. B. I. I, 54. 

Pernis. Bees and wasps, the combs and the young of which 
form the principal food of this genus. 

1249. Pernis cristatus. Crested Honey-Buzzard. Honey and 
the young of bees and wasps; but it will also eat caterpillars, ants, 
and any other insects, and occasionally rats and reptiles, and it 
said by the natives the eggs and the young of other birds. Jerd. B. 
1. 1, 120. Oriolus melanocephalus. Eggs and young of small birds. 
B. N. H. S. J. Ill, 758. Fond of grubs of bees and wasps. E. L . L , 
N.H., 148. 

Stomachs examined 

9-4-07. 2 Chrotogonui sp. 

24 Camponotui comprrtsut. 
3 Frogs. 
[1 Lizard. 

8-6-08. Remains of a small bird ? chicken. 

12-8-08. 25 Chrotogonus. 
13-6-07. 5 Schizodtictylua monstrosug. 

1 Brachytrypes achatinus. 
3 Small frogs. 

Summary. Three birds out of 4 took 63 insects, of these ^ 
being injurious and 24 neutral ; 2 took insects only. 

Two Birds took frogs, 1 a lizard, and one a chicken. 

Baza. Feed upon the ground on chameleons, grasshoppeis, 
and other insects. E. B. C. N. H., 173. 

1251. Baza lophotes. Black Crested Baza. Insects : a lizard 
once found in its stomach. F. I. 3., 410. Almost entirely insecti- 
vorous. Jerd. B. I. I, 111. Crops full of grasshoppers, and the 
remains of a brightly coloured Cicada with red underwings, four 



kASON AND LEFEOY. 213 

in this forest, Momai, Assam and so it is evident they must at times 
feed on insects, though I believe, I have also seen a small lizard 
taken from the crop. B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 531. 

1253. Baza ceylonensis. Legge's Baza. Lizard. F. I. Ill, 412. 

Palco. The true Falcons have been trained from time imme- 
morial to hunt and capture various kinds of winged game and 
even mammals. 

1254. Falco peregrinus. Peregrine Falcon. Chiefly water-birds. 
I have seen the'Bhyri strike down various water-birds, teal, duck, 
&c.; and on one occasion I saw a pair pursue and kill a snipe. I have 
often had wounded teal and snipe, and other birds carried off by 
them. Jerd. B. I. I, 23. Largely feeds off duck and waders, 
pigeons, partridges, &c. F. I. B., 414. 

Pheasant, Imperial pigeon. B. N. H. S. J. 12, 290. Large 
paroquet. B. N. H. S. J. 17. 51. Trained to strike Egrets, Herons, 
Storks, Cranes, Grus virgo, Anastomus, Ibis papillosus, Tantalus 
leucocephalus, &c., and has been known to strike down a bustard. 
Jerd. B. I. I, 24. Havoc among moor-fowl. E. B. C. N. H, 148. 

Ducks, guillemots, pigeons, grouse, and partridges, varied by 
rabbits and so forth, yet in spite of the undoubted damage caused 
to game, preservers would be wise to spare a due proportion of 
individuals in view of their utility in killing off the more weakly and 
diseased birds. E. B. C. N. H., 179. 

1255. Falco peregrinator. Shahin Falcon. Destroys large 
quantities of game, partridges, quails, &c., and it is said to be very 
partial to paroquets. Devouring a goat-sucker Caprimulgidse. 
Jerd. B. 1. 1, 27. Palceornis nepaknsis. Jerd. B. I. I, 257. Part- 
ridges, quails and other birds but especially on pigeons and paro- 
quets bats and goat-suckers. F. I. Ill, 416. Used in falconry 
for partridges, and florikin Otis aurita , and occasionally stone 
plover Oedicnemus crepitans , and jungle-fowl. Jerd. B. I. I; 
and F. I. Ill, 415. 

1256. Falco barbarus. Barbary Falcon. Partridges, &c. 
According to Jerdon trained to take mallards, &c. F. I. Ill, 14. 



214 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN ifcfclA. 

. ;'*' 1257. Falco jugger. Laggar Falcon. A great variety of 
small birds, and often snatching a chicken in the midst of a canton- 
ment. Jerd. B. I. I, 31. Trained for crows, paddy-birds Ardea 
bubulcus, night Herons, partridges, florikin, and even the Heron 

A. cinerea. Jerd. B. I. I, 31. Drongo. B. N. H. S. J. XIV, 174. ? 

1258. Falco cherrug. Saker or Cherrug Falcon. Antelopes. 
Jerd. B. I. I, 29. Feeds in the Punjab very much on the Uromas- 
tix hardwickii, a lizard of dry regions. It is trained for hares, 
gazelles cranes, Houbara Otis macqueeni, herons, kites Milvus 
govinda. F. I. Ill, 421. 

1260. Falco subbuteo. Hobby. Small birds, larks, & and 
not infrequently insects. One crammed with Dragon-flies. Jerd. 

B. I. I, 34. Much on insects, especially Dragon-flies. F. I. Ill, 
423. Chiefly insectivorous. B. N. H. S. G. XIX, 505. Trained for 
quails, larks, hoopoes, and king crows. F. I. Ill, 423. For 
quails and larks in Europe. Jerd. B. I. I, 34. Insects and birds. 
E. B. C. N. H, 176. 

1261. Falco severus. Indian Hobby. Chiefly insectivorous. 
B. N. H. S. J. 10., 505. Locusts or grasshoppers. B. N. H. S. J. 
XIV, 174. Largely perhaps chiefly on insects. F. of I, III, 424. 

1262. Erythropus amurensis. Eastern Red-legged Falcon. 
Rice fields in evenings for moths and beetles. B. N. H. S. J. 
XII, 61. 

1263. Msalon regulus. Merlin. Small birds chiefly, formerly 
a favourite with Falconers. F. I. Ill, 427. Used to be trained 
for quails, larks and even snipe. JerdonI, 36. Small birds chiefly. 
E. B. C. N. H., 177. 

1264. Msalon chicquera. Turumti or Red-headed Merlin. 
Grasshoppers : ants. B. N. H. S. J. XIV, 174 ? Small birds arid 
mice in cultivated areas. B. N. H. S. J. ? Mainly on small 
birds : trained for Coracias indica. F. I. Ill, 428. 

Lark, sparrows, wagtails : chiefly on birds especially social 
larks (Coryphidea calandrella), sparrows and the small ringed plo- 
vers (Charadrius), also not unfrequently bats. Flown at quail, 



MASON AND LEFRO*. 215 

partridges, mynahs, and especially Coracias indica. Jerd. B. I. 
I, 37. 

Tinnunculus. Less rapacious and more insectivorous. Jerd. 
B. I. I, 38. 

1265. Tinnunculus alaudarius. Kestrel. Smaller birds than 
larks : large insects, reptiles and mammals. B. N. H. S. J. X, 505 1 
Subsists on insects (especially locusts), lizards, frogs, mice, rarely 
if ever touching birds. F. I. Ill, 430. Chief food is lizards, but 
it also eats rats and mice, insects (especially grasshoppers and 
locusts), rarely young or sickly birds. (Flown in Europe at larks, 
quails, &c.). Jerd. B. 1. 1, 39. Rats and mice. E. B. C. N. H., 148. 

Small mammals and coleoptera furnish most of the food, a 
few birds very seldom game lizards, frogs, worms, grass- 
hoppers, and insect-larvae varying the diet. E. C. N. H., 175. 

1266. Tinnunculus cenchris. Lesser Kestrel. More gregarious 
and more insectivorous than the Kestrel. F. I. Ill, 431. Mountain 
Pipit : known to be insectivorous and has been seen seizing insects 
on the wing and pulling off elytra of beetles. Jerd. B. 1. 1, 140. 

Microhierax (Falconets) feed on insects. Imp. Gaz. I, 254. 

1267. Microhierax eutolmus. Red-legged Falconet. Small 
birds and insects : formerly trained for small birds. F. I., 433. 

1268. Microhierax melanoleucus. White-legged Falconet. In- 
sects on wing. A. S. B. XLV, 67. Scimitar babbler. B. N. H. 
S.J. ? 

1269. Microhierax fringillarius. Black-legged Falconet. On 
dry branch from whence it pounces on its prey, beetles, &c. B. N. H. 
S. J. XVII, 764. More on small birds than other members of the 
genus. F. I. Ill, 434. Insects and birds even as large as quails. 
E. B. C. N. H., 173. 

1270. Poliohierax insignis. Feilden's Hawk. Chiefly insects 
with an occasional mouse, snake or lizard. F. I. Ill, 436. 

Pandionidce. The Osprey, a migrant, is generally distributed 
in suitable localities near the sea coast and backwaters throughout 



216 THE tfooD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 



India in the cold weather. Its food consists entirely of fish and it 
is therefore injurious. 

Vulturidce. -The Vultures, of which we have nine species are to 
be met with generally throughout India. They are the most useful 
of scavengers. 

Falconidce. This family comprises the Eagles, Kites, Harriers, 
Hawks, Buzzards and Falcons. 

Of the Eagles (11 genera), most occur in the plains, those few 
recorded from hill tracts only being apparently rare birds. Many 
species haunt plains and hill tracts alike, some preferring forests. 
other large plains more or less open. One species only Haliaetus 
leucogastris is found habitually on the coast. Most are more com- 
monly met with in localities other than the South of the Penin- 
sular, and some two or three species are winter visitors. 

Only five species of Kites are recorded. The Brahminy and 
Pariah Kites are well-known throughout India, the Black-winged 
Kite being not so commonly met with. They are exceedingly use- 
ful as scavengers and from the stomach records appear beneficial 
so far as their insect food is concerned. Inroads on chicken runs are 
probably due to individual birds only, and then especially in the 
breeding season. They can therefore be dealt with by the destruc- 
tion of the individuals which habitually frequent poultry yards, by 
preventing the birds from breeding in the neighbourhood of these 
yards and by protecting the young chickens from attack. 

The Harriers Circus cineraceus, ceruginosus and macrurus 
are of general occurrence, the last being a winter visitor ; cyanevs 
occurs chiefly in the North-West, being replaced in the East by 
melanoleucus. 

They are generally regarded as beneficial. 

Hawks. The Goshawk is confined to the Himalayas. The 
' ' Shikra ' ' is generally distributed, and, though some occur on the 
plains, most other species are more frequently found in forest and 
hill tracts. The Sparrow-hawk is a winter visitor to hill forest tracts 
only These birds are probably mostly beneficial. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 217 

Falcons. The Peregrine .is the best known of this group, and 
occurs as a winter visitor, especially on the sea coast. The ' Shahin' 
is a resident in the more wooded tracts, and the ' Laggar ' prefers 
more open and cultivated localities, while the ' Cherrug ' is essen- 
tially a desert species. All these birda are well known to Falconry. 
Their economic importance is a much-debated and an undecided 
question. 

Other birds worthy of mention in this family are the Hobbies, 
which are crepuscular in habits, and found chiefly in the Himalayas. 
The Merlin occurs in the North-West in winter and the Red-headed 
Merlin (Chiquera) occurs throughout India, as also the Kestrel. 
These three birds are regarded as beneficial. 

For full accounts of Falconry cf. Journal, -Asiatic Society. 

COLUMBIA. 
PIGEONS AND DOVES. 

Pigeons feed on fruit and grain, never touching insect-food, 
though a few eat snails. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 442. Fruit pigeons eat 
figs, palm nuts, grapes and so forth. E. B. C. N. H., 328. 

Treronince. Fruit pigeons. Live on fruit, banyan and pipal. 
Imp. Gaz. I, 255. 

Crocopus. Purely fruit, especially banyan and Ficus. F. I., 
IV, 4. Green pigeons fruit. Jerd. B. I. I, 292. 

1271. C. phcenicopterus. Bengal Green Pigeon. Banyan es- 
pecially. F. I. IV, 6. Ficus fruit. A. S. B. LXIX, 135. 

Stomachs examined 

1907-09. 110 Approximated) Fieut fruit. 
3-4-07. 1 Myllocerus discolor. 

Ficus Fruit. 

I have examined over a hundred birds of this species and in 
only one case found an insect which was undoubtedly taken by 
mistake. The food consists entirely of Ficus spp. (F. religiosus, 
F. bengalensis, &c.). This bird descends to the ground only to drink. 

1272. C. chhrogaster. Southern Green Pigeon. After drink- 
ing appears to pick up small pebbles, pieces of gravel or sand. Jerd. 



218 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

B. I. Ill, 449. Occurs where Banyans and Pipals are ripening. 
Bomb. Gaz. XII, 36; and XXIII, 67. Betul, D. G., 22 ; Nagpur, 
D. G., 20. Banyan, pipal, bair, Bombay Gaz., Ahmedabad, IV, 83 ; 
and Broach II, 45. 

Osmotreron. Fruit eaters rarely descending to the ground, 
F. L, IV. 

Carpophagince. Fruit pigeons. Eat vast quantities of fruit 
(some are very fond of mice). E. B. C. N. H., 346. Fruit. Imp. 
Gaz. I, 255. 

1284. Carpophaga cenea. Green Imperial Pigeon. Fruit buds 
of Avicennia. Jerd. B. I, III, 456. Figs and other fruits. B. N. 
H. S. J. XVIII, 971. 

1286. Ducula insignis. Hodgson's Imperial Pigeon. Fruits, 
buds of Avicennia and other plants which affect salt and brackish 
swamps, and also pick up salt earth. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 459. Ficus. 
B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 971. 

1289. Myristicivora bicolor. Pied Imperial Pigeon. Largely 
the mace which encloses the nut-meg. E. B. C. N. H., 328. 

1290. Catenas nicobarica. Nicobar Pigeon. Mainly on seeds 
on the ground. E. B. C. N. H., 334. Seeds like prune and sun 
flower B. N. H. S. J. XII, 688. 

Phabince. 

Chalcophaps. On the ground on seeds and fruits. E. B. C. N. 
H., 339. 

1291. Chalcophaps indica. Bronze-winged Dove. Berries and 
seeds picked up from the ground. F. I. IV, 27. 

Columbince. The food of the Wood-pigeon is grain, beech-mast, 
acorns, turnips, and tender shoots of plants. The great damage, 
however, done to crops, such as turnips, peas or barley, by the flocks 
counterbalances their economic value to a certain extent, the most 
typical forms being the worst of offenders. E. B. C. N. H., 328, 

1292. Columba intermedia. Indian Blue Rock-pigeon. Very 
destructive to grain, assembling in vast flocks in the cold weather. 



MASON AND LEFBOY. 219 

Jerd. B. I. Ill, 469. Common in cultivated country and feeds on 
grain and seeds. F. I. IV, 30. Grain, millet. Bombay Gaz., 
Ahmedabad, IV, 86. 

1295. C. eversmmni. Eastern Stock-pigeon. Great consumer 
of grain. (Hamilton). Jerd. B. I. Ill, 468. 

Palumbince. Wood-pigeons are more frugivorous and bud 
eaters than the ordinary pigeons and doves. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 464. 

Dendrotreron not fruit eaters, but live on berries and seeds. 
F.I. IV, 33. 

1297. D. hodgsoni. Speckled Wood-pigeon. Chiefly on ber- 
ries. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 464. 

Palumbus grain, acorns, buds. F. I. IV, 34. 

1298. P. casiotis. Eastern Wood-pigeon, Ring-dove, Cushat : 
grain seeds, acorns, young shoots, &c. F. I. IV, 45. Grain, peas, 
young shoots and leaves, acorns, beech-mast, &c., in woods. Jerd. 
B. I. Ill, 465. 

Alsocomus fruit-eating ; in forests. 

1299. A. elphinstoni. Nilgiri Wood-pigeon. Fruits and buds 
occasionally on small snails ; small Bulimi. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 46. 
Fruits, buds, and according to Jerdon snails. F. I. IV, 36. 

1302. A. puniceus. Purple Wood-pigeon. Chiefly fruit of 
Eugenia jambolana. Jerd. B. I. III. 463. 

Turturince. Doves mostly feed on the ground on grain, pulse 
and other small seeds. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 475. 

Turtur feed almost entirely on the ground on grain and other 
seeds. F. I. IV, 40. 

1304. T. orientalis. Rufous Turtle-Dove. Common when 
paddy is ripe. T. N. H. S. J. XI, 33. 

1307. T. suratensis. Spotted Dove. 

Stomachs examined 

4-3-09. 96 Wheat grains. 
2 Linseed seeds. 
1 Barley grain. 
1 Rabat ed., 



220 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Stomachs examined contd. 

12-3-07. 9 Paddy grains. 

2 Small weed seeds. 
20-3-07. 109 Barley grains. 
24-3-08. 36 Mustard seeds. 

2 Leguminous weed seeds. 
15 Grass seeds. 
28-4-08. 44 Oat grains. 

6 Wheat grains. 

Various weed seeds. 
29-12-08. 31 Paddy grains. 

Various weed seeds. 

These records are a few of a large number examined. Barley i s 
a very favourite food, one crop examined containing over a hundred 
of these seeds alone. Wheat and oats are freely taken and also 
peas and rahar. Every cultivated species of mustards is taken 
when green and when ripe ; linseed is seldom eaten, though one 
stomach contained over fifty per cent, of these seeds. Tfcs and the 
next species are the two commonest doves of the plains, and always 
haunt cultivated areas, as well as thin jungle. If numerous this bird 
certainly does some damage to crops of various kinds, though the 
weed seeds eaten form by far the largest percentage of its food. 
Tt must also be noted that many of the cultivated seeds and grains 
taken as food are gleaned up from stubbles, ploughed lands, roads, 
&c. and often from self-sown plants, not from the standing crops 

1310. T. risorius. Indian Ring Dove. 

Stomachs examined 

12-1-08. 158 Rice grains. 

81 Mustard seeds. 
6 Peas. 

9 Various weed seeds. 
3-2-07. 141 Mustard seeds. 

1 Linseed seed. 
4 Weed seeds. 

3_3_08. 179 Paddy grains. 

33 Mustard seeds. 

21-3-07. 16 Wheat grains. 

4 Linseed seeds. 

2 Barley grains. 
12 Weed seeds. 

24-3-09. 9 Wheat grains. 

3 Paddy grains. 

3 Panicum p. seedi. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 221 

Stomachs examined contd. 

7 Mustard seeds. 
3 Rahar seeds. 

12-4-08. 31 Wheat grains. 
10 Mustard seeds. 

2 Barley grains. 
22-4-07. 73 Wheat grains. 

9 Barley grains. 

3 Linseed seeds. 

12 Weed seeds, various. 
3-11-08. 12 Wheat grains. 

74 Weed seeds, various. 
27-12-06. 94 Paddy grains. 

12 Wheat grains. 
17 Mustard seeds. 

Ten or eleven other specimens examined have contained no- 
thing but small weed seeds. What has already been noted of T. 
suratensis practically applies to this bird also. The present 
species is perhaps more often noticeable in waste pieces of land and 
seems partial to the vicinity of babul trees (Acacia arabica). It 
usually occurs in small flocks of five or six birds, while T. suratensis 
almost invariably occurs singly or in pairs. When the paddy crop 
becomes ripe, this bird apparently feeds entirely on this grain, and 
though no doubt gleaning to a certain extent does some appreciable 
damage. A number of specimens were examined in November, 
and these proved to have taken paddy only as food. 

1311. (Enopopelia tranquebarica. Red Turtle-Dove. In fields 
where grain was scattered. B. N. H. S. J. XII, 689. 

Stomachs examined 

22-6-08. 174. Grass seeds and other vegetable matter. 
22-6-08. 112. Grass and other weeds seeds. 

Macropygiince. Cuckoo doves. More or less frugivorous, oc- 
casionally feeding on the ground. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 472. 

Macropygia. 'Chiefly seeds and berries, one very favourite fruit 
being the chilli (Capsicum fastigiatum), of which it consumes an 
enormous quantity. (W. R. 1. c. p., 215). F. I. IV, 49. 

1312. M. tusalia.- Various fruits. Jerd. B. I, III, 476. 

1313. M. rufipennis. (Davison) exclusively on Nepal chil- 
lies ; small black seeds (No, 1 shot), 39, Green berries like 



222 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

peas. One Long green fruit (1 " and stalk 1 "). B. N. H. S. J. 
XII, 690. 

1315. Geopelia striata. Chiefly on seeds on ground. F. I. 
IV, 52. 

From an economic standpoint for India we may conclude that 
the Columbidce are of no beneficial importance whatever. They cer- 
tainly afford some sort of natural food supply as practically every 
species is very good for food. But few species are habitually used 
for that purpose. Most of them are fruit or seed eaters and there- 
fore are not beneficial from the food standpoint, though it must also 
be added that few do any harm to crops. 

The fruit eating pigeons seem to confine their attention* entirely 
or almost entirely to wild fruits, such as figs, some at times attack 
grapes (but I doubt if this reference applies to India) nut-megs, 
and some possibly take plantains. 

Of other pigeons and doves few can really be regarded as im- 
portant. The Indian Blue Rock-pigeon (Colimba intermedia] and the 
Eastern Stock-pigeon (C. eversmanni) are the most notorious grain 
pests, and the Eastern Wood-pigeon is also said to take corn. 

Doves have already been noted as likely to be pests if occurring 
in any great numbers, but they may be generally regarded as of no 
importance, in India, and in some other countries would be regarded 
as beneficial, seeing that the greater part of their food is obtained by 
gleaning in the fields after the crops are off the land. 

' The pigeons are all used as articles of food, and are prized 
by the natives of India, who consider them specially stimulating 
and nourishing. The most highly appreciated by Europeans are 
the Green pigeons." (Watt). 

PTEROCLETES. 

Ptewletes. Sand-grouse. Feed on seeds. A. LeM., 55. Sand- 
grouse live on hard seeds. F. I. IV, 54. They feed almost entirely 
on hard seeds. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 495. Seeds, tender shoots, bulbous 
grass-roots, and insects, or even of berries, peas and beans. F, T. 
C, N. H,, 323, 



MASON AND LEFROY. 223 

1316. Pterocles arenarius. Large or Black-bellied Sand-grouse. 
As to food I have been often assured that they eat insects freely f 
I can only say that I have examined the stomachs of scores without 
ever finding anything in them beyond small seeds and grains of 
various kinds and little pieces of grass and herbs. On one or two 
occasions I have no doubt seen a single ant or tiny beetle, but these 
were, I believe, picked up by accident along with some seed or other, 
and swallowed involuntarily. There are always, or almost always, 
small stones usually quartz pebbles in the stomach. H. M. G. B. I. 
I, 50. Small seeds. F. I. IV, 55. 

1317. P. fas'iatus. Painted Sand-grouse. In the mornings 
they may always be found in the scrub and amongst the grass and 
rocks at the bases of hills, and even in small patches of cultivation, 
here and there dotted about these, where they feed on grain, seeds 
and the like ; not at all, so far as I have observed, on insects. On 
the 4th of January 1868 I shot 13 brace the crops of everyone 
of which I noted contained exclusively ' Moth/ a common Indian 
pulse. H. M. G. B. I. I, 60. 

1318. P. lichtensteini. Closed-barred Sand-grouse. In the 
forenoon and again towards evening they forage together busily, 
and feed then in cultivated places in maize, indigo, and cotton fields' 
at threshing floors on roads frequented by caravan and in valleys 
where there is wild vegetation. H. M. G. B. I. I, 66. 

1320. Pterodurus alchata. Large Pin-tailed Sand-grouse. 
Entirely on green leaves, seeds, small pulse and grain of different 
kinds. The gizzards contained quantities of small stories. H. M. G. 
B. I. G., 78. 

1321. P. exustus. Common Sand-grouse. They feed on 
various hard seeds, especially on those of various Alysicarpi, Desmo- 
dium, &c., as well as on grass, seed or grain. Jerd. B. I. B., 503. At 
waters edge pick up fragments of sand or gravel. They live wholly 
on seeds, and no small seeds seem to come amiss to them. I have 
found millet, grass, seeds, pulses of various kinds, and all kinds of, 
to me, unknown seeds in their crops, but very seldom a single in* 



224 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

sect, though I have noted two cases in which I found, in one ants, in 
the other small beetles amongst the seeds. H. M. G. B. I. I, 70- 
Its food consists in great part of the seed of the common thistle. 
Bomb. Gaz., Vol. XIX, 40. 

1322. P. senegallus. Spotted Sand-grouse. Their food is 
mostly seeds, but I found a good many insects mixed with these in 
the stomachs of those I examined, and they are I infer less purely 
vegetarians than the large Sand-grouse. H. M. G. B. I. I, 54. 

1323. Syrrhaptes tibetanus.- Semi desert plains, feeding on 
grass, and other seeds and berries, and any young green shoots it 
can find. H. M. G. B. I. I, 44. 

The Pterooletes are by no means generally distributed through- 
out India. They are more or less desert haunting species and are 
migrants and feed on small weed seeds and can only be regarded 
from a sporting point of view. Agriculturally they are of no im- 
portance whatever. 

GALLING. 

Gallince. True Game birds, the Grouse, Fowls, Peacocks, 
Turkeys, Partridges, Quails, Guinea-fowls, Megapodes. The Galli- 
naceous birds form the most useful and most important members of 
the whole class. They scrape in the ground to procure their food. 
In all cases they seek their food on the ground and this consists of 
grain, seeds, roots, buds and insects. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 488. They 
afford more wholesome food to man than any other orders. Jerd. 
B. I. Ill, 490. 

PHASIANID^E. 

1324. Pavo cristatus. Common Peafowl. In confinement they 
will destroy snakes and other reptiles, and in their wild state feed 
much on various insects and grubs, also on flower buds and young 
shoots, as well as on grain. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 508. The peafowl is at 
times omnivorous, and land shells, insects of all kinds, worms, small 
lizards and even tiny frogs may be found in their crops, but by choice 
I think they feed on grain and tender juicy shoots of grass and flower 
buds, and I have scores of times examined their stomachs without 
finding a trace of anything else, although, had they been so minded, 



MASON AND LEFROY. 225 

animal food of all kinds abounded around them. Where numerous 
they do much damage to cultivation, and being excessively fond of 
the buds of trees, are also very destructive to young plantations. 
' Make sad havoc with the channa, urad (both vetches), wheat or 
rice " Colonel Tickell. Mr. Reid remarks that " They live for the 
most part on grain when procurable, but do not object to insects, 
and sorry I am to say it snakes ! Years ago- my cook took a 
small snake, about 8 inches long, from the stomach of one I had 
given him to clean." Mr. Vidal ' ' In the jungles and forests the Pea- 
fowl eat various fruits and berries, such as the wild fig (Covillia glo- 
merata) and the Korinda (Carissa carandus) ; in the neighbourhood of 
cultivated ground, the crop they particularly affect is maize." Mr. 
Sanderson " They feed in the grain fields bordering on jungles, 
and do considerable damage when the grain is nearly ripe, and they 
move considerable distances at different seasons, tempted by ripen- 
ing crops or jungle fruits." H. M. G. B. I. I, 84-88. 

They feed on grain, buds, shoots of grass, insects, small lizards 
and snakes. F. I. IV, 69. Young feed especially on white ants. 
B. N. H. S. J. IV, 1. Amongst birds, peacocks and parrots are the 
most annoying to the cultivator. Betoul, D. G., 1907. 

1325. Pavo muticus. Burmese or Japan Peafowl. Cultiva- 
tion does not appear to entice it far from its leafy fastnesses. H. 
M. G. B. I. I, 94. 

1326. Argusianus argus. Argus Pheasant. The food consists 
chiefly of fallen fruit which they swallow whole, especially one about 
the size and colour of a prune, which is very abundant in the forests 
in the south ; but they also eat ants, slugs, and insects of various 
kinds. H. M. G. B. I. I, 102. They feed on fruit and insects. 
F. I. 4, 72. Vegetable matter and insects. E. B. C. N. H., 207. 

1327. Pnlyplectrum chinquis. Grey Peacock-pheasant. Our 
Tenasserim specimens proved to have fed upon ants and other i - 
sects, and on hard seeds. Mr. Inglis remarks : " The Kookies snare 
numbers ; the bait is a small red berry, of which the bird is very fond." 
Mr, R. A. Clark ' On the rocky faces of the ' Barak ' banks there 

15 



226 

is a tree which in the cold weather bears a fruit with seede like 
those of a chilli. On these the birds feed greedily insects and 
worms with this fruit form their chief food, but I have on one 
occasion found small land shells in the stomach of the adult male 
The spring-traps are baited with a crimson seed which is obtained 
from a forest tree." Darling " They feed in the thick clumps on 
seeds, insect and shells." H. M. G. B. I, 106-109. It feeds like 
the Peafowl. E. B. C. N. H., 208. 

1328. Gallus ferrugineus. Bed Jungle-fowl. In travelling 
through a forest country many will always be found near the roads 
to which they resort to pick up grain from the droppings of cattle, 
&c. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 538. 

Colonel Tickell remarks " Like the Phasianidse wild poultry 
are omnivorous." To a certain extent the Jungle-fowl is omnivo- 
rous, and will eat not only grass and young shoots and flower buds, 
and seeds and grain of all kinds, but worms and grasshoppers and 
beetles and small land shells, but they are preferentially gramini- 
vorous, and I have examined scores which had eaten nothing but 
grain. In the autumn after the millet fields have ripened they grow 
very fat on the grain. Captain Baldwin ( They like to scratch 
about at the back of old cattle sheds, and where crops grow close 
to the jungle side will enter the cornfields to feed." Mr. Rainey 
" Their principal food in the Sunderbands is insects, especially I 
should say the larvae of termites or white ants which abound there. 
Grass seeds also doubtless afford them some subsistence. The ma- 
jority rarely have an opportunity of feeding on grain. It must, 
however, be admitted that those which do thus get a chance of 
partaking the luxuries of civilization evince the greatest partiality 
for them, and regularly every morning and evening make a raid on 
the rice fields near harvest time." H. M. G. B. I, 220-226. Young 
do not thrive on white ants only. B. N. H. S. J. XI, 678. Leaves, 
seeds, insects, and especially grain. E. B. C. N. H., 209. 

1329. Gallus lafayetti. Ceylon Jungle-fowl. Is attracted to 
the particular localities where the " nilloo," the native name for 
some species of Strobilanthus growing at 5,000 feet and upwards' 



MASON AND LEFROY. 227 

is, at the time, in seed. It lives chiefly upon various kinds of wild 
seeds and grain and more especially on white ants. We have often 
seen this species enter cultivated areas in large flocks scratching and 
picking up the grain with great ease. Mr. Layard- " Mother leads 
them* the young V to decaying prostrate trees and scratches 
for white ants which they eagerly devour. Captain W. V. Legge 
' At times when the nilloo, a plant whose seed the Jungle-fow* 
greatly affects, is in flower great numbers resort to the jungles of the 
upper hills of the Nuwara Eliya district. My friend informs me that 
they were so numerous and apparently so stupefied that. H. M. 
G. B. I, 245. 

1330. Gallus sonnerati. Grey Jungle-fowl. It feeds on various 
kinds of grain and very much on insects, especially on various kinds 
of bugs, larvae of small Blattse, &c. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 543. Davison 
says : " When a tract of bamboo comes into seed, or any other parti, 
cular food is locally abundant, they collect there in vast numbers 
dispersing again as soon as the food is consumed. I remember on 
one occasion when the undergrowth of the Sholas about Puykarra 
(which consists almost entirely of Strobilanthus sp.) seeded the jungle- 
fowl congregated there in the greatest numbers, I mean by hundreds, 
and were excessively numerous for more than a fortnight, when they 
gradually dispersed, owing I believe, not so much to the seeds hav- 
ing all been eaten, as to what remained of them having sprouted 
and so become uneatable as for food they seem to eat almost any- 
thing ; grain, grass, seeds, grubs, small fruits and berries and insects 
of different kinds. I have sometimes killed them with nothing but 
millet in their crops ; at other times quantities of grass seeds or again 
after the grass has been recently burnt the tender juicy shoots of 
new grass/' H. M. G. B. I. I, 233-236. 

1333. Catreus wallichi. Cheer Pheasant. ' The Cheer phea" 
sant feeds chiefly on roots for which it digs holes in the ground ; 
grubs, insects, seeds, and berries and if near cultivated fields, sever- 
al kinds of grain form a portion; it does not eat grass or leaves like 
all the rest of our pheasants. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 530. Hume and Mars 
shall quote Jerdon. H. M. G, B. I. I, 174. This pheasant feed" 



228 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

on roots which it digs up, grubs, insects, seeds and berries, &c. F. 
I. IV, 84. E. B. C. N. H., 212. 

1334. Pucrasia macrolopha.- -Koklas or Pukras Pheasant. 
The koklas feeds principally on seeds and buds ; it also eats roots, 
grubs, acorns, seeds, and berries and moss and flowers. It will not 
readily eat grain. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 526. 

Hume and Marshall quote Wilson in Jerdon B. I., as above and 
add Captain Baldwin: "It is in the habit of hunting for food and 
scratching about in search of insects among Khododendrons." 
H.'M. G. B. I. I, 162. It lives chiefly on leaves and buds, but it 
also feeds on seeds, berries, fruit, and insects. F. I. IV, 87. 

1335. Lophura rufa. Vieillot's Fire-backed Pheasant. Davi- 
son : ' ' They never come into the open, but confine themselves to 
the forests, feeding on berries, tender leaves and insects and grubs 
of all kinds, and they are very fond of scratching about after the 
manner of domes-tic poultry and dusting themselves. H. M. G. B. 
1. 1, 213. 

1336. Gennceus albicristatus. White-crested Kalij Pheasant. 
It feeds on roots, grubs, insects, seeds and berries, and the leaves 
and shoots of shrubs. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 534. 

On frequented roads to which horse dung and droppings of 
other beasts containing undigested grain attracts them. Wilson : 
" It feeds on roots, grubs, insects, seeds and berries, and the leaves 
and shoots of plants " Though Wilson does not notice it, they 
feed greedily on grain. H. M. G. B. I. I, 178-181. 

1338. Gennceus melanonotus. Black-backed Kalij Pheasant. 
The food of the Kalij is varied in the extreme. It eats almost every- 
thing, in the shape of seeds, fruit, and insects, but is particu- 
larly fond of the larvae of beetles out of cowdung and decayed wood, 
arid of several of the jungle yams which bear tubers along their vines 
at the axils of the leaves. When the vine borne tubers are exhausted, 
it will scratch away the soil to get at those under ground. Natives 
who have kept them alive say they thrive excellently on yams and 
grubs only, but that no insects come amiss to them except ants* 



MASON AND LEFBOY. 229 

It is also very partial to all kinds of grain from the fields adjoining 
its cover, needs of the Erythrina and Cucurbitous plants, the young 
tops of several nsttles and ferns and the fruits of numerous plants 
especially of the totney (Polygonum molle) and the yellow raspberry 
(Rubus flavus), two shrubs which yield more bird food in Sikkim 
than do any other dozen kinds of plants put together." Gammie 
Colonel Tickell says : " Hill pheasants are sure to be met with ' 
on mountain paths " picking and scratching about the dung 
scattered on the road. H. M. G. B. I. I, 192-193. 

1339. G. horsfieldi. -Black-breasted Kalij Pheasant. Inglis 
* Their food consists of wild berries or fruits, bee ties or other insects. 

Mr. R. A. Clark says : " I once witnessed a fight between a male Kalij 
and a jungle cock (G. ferrugineus) for the possession of a white-ant 
hill from which the winged termites were issuing." Mr. Grippe 
writes : ' ' Their food find consists of berries, grain extracted from the 
droppings of horses, all kinds of tender shoots, and worms." H. 
M. G. B. 1. 1, 197-199. 

1340. G. lineatus. Burmese Silver Pheasant. It is almost 
omnivorous and feeds according to season and locality on all kinds of 
insects, grain, seeds, small jungle fruits and berries, and certain 
young leaves, green shoots and flower bads. Captain Fielden : 

' These birds feed a great deal on the young shoots of a kind of 
Orchis which rather resembles a large Roselle flower, and its juicy 
leaves enable these pheasants to live for some time far away from 
water." Mr. Oates remarks : " Their food is very varied. Ants 
both black and white are eagerly sought after ; the former are an 
especial weakness of our bird, and the only food on which it thrives 
in captivity. During the hot weather pheasants eat the fig of 
the pipal ravenously ; and I have shot birds with nothing but this 
food in the stomach." Davison notes "Their food consists 
of grain seeds of various kinds, young leaves and grass, grubs, and 
H. M. G. B. 1. 1, 205-208. 



1342. Lophophorus refulgens. Monaul. Mr. F. Wilson. ' In 
autumn they resort to those parts of the forests where the ground 



230 THE POOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

is thickly covered with decayed leaves under which they search for 
grubs. In autumn the Monaul feeds chiefly on a grub or maggot 
which it finds under decayed leaves ; at other times on roots, leaves 
and young shoots of various shrubs and grasses, acorns, and other 
seeds and berries. In winter it often feeds in the wheat and barley 
fields, but do p s riot touch the grain ; roots and maggots seem to be 
its sole inducement for digging amongst it. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 511-514. 
H. M. G. B. I. I, 126-128. It lives on insects, seeds, berries, leaves, 
etc. F. I. IV, 97. Roots, grain, fruit, grass, and insect larvae. E. 
B. C. N. H., 216. 

Tragopan. 'Horned Pheasants. Grubs, insects, roots, flowers, 
fruits, and especially seeds or herbage. E. B. C. N. H., 217. 

1344. Tragopan satyra. Crimson Horned Pheasant. To judge 
from those I have examined they feed much on insects, young green 
shoots of bamboo, and on some onion- like bulbs, but Mr. Hodgson 
notes that those he examined had fed on wild fruits, rhododendron 
seeds, and in some cases entirely on aromatic leaves, bastard cinna- 
mon, daphne, &c. H. M. G. B. I. I, 138. 

1345. T. melanocephalus. Western Horned Pheasant. Wilson 
(Mountaineer) : " It feeds chiefly on the leaves of trees and shrubs : 
of the former the box and oak are the principal ones, of the latter, 
riugall and a shrub something like privet. It also eats roots-, flowers, 
grubs, and insects, acorns, and seeds and berries of all kinds, but in 
a small proportion compared with leaves. In confinement it will 
eat almost any kind of food/' Jerd. B. I. Ill, 521. Mr. Young in 
Kullu : "Its favourite food is the berry of an ever green plant called 
in Kullu Dskha ; it is I believe a species of Carunda." Wilson 
(Mountaineer) also quoted cf. Jerdon. B. I. H. M. G. B. I. I, 127. 
This horned pheasant is a forest bird feeding chiefly on leaves of 
trees and bamboos. F. I. IV, 101. 

1346. T. Uyth\ Grey-bellied Horned Pheasant. Mr. G- 
Dammant : ' Two live examples eat worms and a kind of red 
berry very greedily/' H. M. G. B. I. I, 132. The food it is said to 
consist chiefly of berries. F. I. IV, 100. 



MASOti AtfD LEFROY. 23 i 

Ithagene i. -Blood Pheasants. Grass, insects, berries, and shoots 
of juniper or pine. E. B. C. N. H., 218. The principal food con- 
sists of tops of pine and juniper in spring, berries, mosses, and bam- 
boo leaves in winter. A. C. M., 89. 

1347. Ithagenes cruentus. Blood Pheasant. Dr. Hooker : 
" The principal food of the bird consisting of the tops of the pine 
and juniper in spring, and the berries of the latter in autumn and 
winter, its flesh has always a strong flavour/* Jerd. B. I. Ill, 523. 
Mr. Hodgson: ' They greatly affect the clumps of mountain 
bamboo and teed about on ground amongst these much like domestic 
fowls, turning over the leaves and grasses with their feet, scratching 
about in the ground and picking up insects, grass seeds, grain, and 
wild fruits." Dr. Hooker is also quoted. Dr. Jerdon: ' The food 
of those examined consisted entirely of vegetable matter/' Mr. 
W. Blandford: " In their crops I found small fruits, leaves, seeds, 
and in one instance what appeared to me to be. the spore cases of a 
moss ; there were no leaves or berries of juniper, and the birds were 
excellent eating. H. M. G. B. I. I, 155-157. 

It is said by Hooker to feed on the tops of pine and juniper 
and the berries of the latter, but those killed by me in September 
had fed on various leaves, seeds, small fruits, &c., not on conifers. 
F. I. XXIV, 104. 

Perdicince. The food consists of grain, insects and their lar- 
va. E. B. C. N. H., 218. 

1.348. Ophrysia superciliosa. Mountain Quail. Captain 
Hutton : ' Amongst the long grass feeding on the fallen seeds" 
They feed on grass seeds (and probably insects and berries). H. 
M. G. B. II, 106-107. Hutton and others " Seeds of grass." F. 
I. IV, 106. 

J349. Galloperdix spadicea. Ked Spur-fowl. It feeds on 
various kinds of grain, and very much on insects, especially on various 
kinds of bugs, larvae of small Blattse, &c. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 543. Their 
food consists chiefly, according to my experience, of grain and seeds 
of all kinds, and small jungle fruit, the berries of the dwarf Zizy- 



23 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

phus (Jherberry), the figs of the pipal and its congeners, but 1 
have often found the remains of bugs, beetles, and other ir seels in 
their crops mixed with these. H. M. G. B. I, 239. Its food con- 
sists of small fruit, seeds and insects. F. I. IV, 108. 

1350. G. bicalcarata. Ceylon Spur-fowl. Mr. Hara. ' They 
feed on various kinds of grain, but peihaps chiefly on white ants 
and various other insects and their larvae/' H. M. G. 
B. I, 262. 

1352. Bambusicola fytchii. Western Bamboo -Partridge. Feed 
habitually on the ground on grass seeds, berries and insects. H. M. 
G. B. II, 97. 

1353. Rollulus roulroul. Green Wood-Quail. Dense forest, 
feeding on berries, seeds, tender shoots and leaves, and insects of 
various sorts. H. M. G. M. Ill, 103. Berries, seeds, tender shoots, 
leaves and insects. F. I. IV, 112. Seeds, berries, and insects. E. 
B. C. N. H., 221. 

1354. Excalfactoria chinensis. Blue-breasted Quail. They feed 
chiefly on grass seeds ; very little so far as my experience goes, on 
either grain or insects, though they do undoubtedly eat both of these. 
But I have always found them in meadows, where there was but 
little cultivation in the neighbourhood, and perhaps, when they 
occur where millet fields are common, they may as I have been 
told, feed equally on these small grains. Davison : " Those that 
I have examined and I have lately dissected numbers- had eaten 
only grass seeds." H. M. G. B. II, 164. Its food consists chiefly of 
grass seeds. F. I. IV. 114. Mainly upon seeds. E. B. C. N. H., 219. 

Coturnix. True Quails. The food consists of seeds, slugs, 
and insects. E. B. C. N. H., 221. 

1355. Coturnix communis.- Common or Grey Quail. It is 
found in long grass, cornfields, stubble and fields of pulse, wandering 
about according as the crops ripen in different parts of the country. 
Hodgson states that they reach the valley of Nepal, in greatest num- 
bers, at the ripening of the autumn and spring crops respectively. 
Jerd. B. I. Ill, 588. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 233 

When they are in season the millets are I think their chief food 
but they eat all kinds of grain grass, seeds, small fruit like those of 
the Jharberi, and all kinds of small irsects especially beetles, bugs 
and ants. Coturnix Colonel Tickell " It adheres to the paddy 
fieldfi after the crops are cut, gleaning in stubble for grains left by 
the reapers, and when these are exhausted, repairs to the fieldg 
of pulse, vetch, &c. (urhur, chunna, moong, oorud, &c)., which 
are about that time ripe, and feeds on the peas that fall from the 
pods/' H. M. G. B. II, 137, 140. 

1356. C. coromandelica. Black-breasted or Rain Quail. Both 
this and the Grey-quail are very partial to the grains of Cheenee, 
a small millet cultivated extensively in Bengal during the hot wea- 
ther and the rains. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 590. 

Their habits too are very similar, but the present species, on the 
whole, is more of a grass bird than the grey-quail, and feeds more 
on grass seeds ; and though of course found often in millet and other 
crops, is less exclusively devoted to these, and feeds less on grain 
than its cosmopolitan congener. Their chief staple of food is, I 
think, grass seeds, but they eat also all kinds of grain and lentils, 
and many insects, especially termites. I remember shooting one 
that had eaten several of the scarlet velvet mite (Trombidium tinc- 
torum or some such name) that appears so commonly at the com- 
mencement of the rains, a thing that rather startled me, as I have 
noticed that birds generally avoid these gorgeous morsels. H. M- 
G. B. II, 152-153. 

Perdicula. Bush Quails. Seeds and insects. E. B. C. N. H., 
223. 

1357. Perdicula asiatica. Jungle Bush-Quail. Feeding on 
grain dropped by cattle. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 582. Their chief food 
appears to be grass seeds and grains of millets. Ragi stubble is a 
sure find for them ; but they eat any small seeds and grains, and 
sometimes you find quantities of insects, ants and tiny coleoptera in 
their crops. I am disposed, however, to think that they only eat 
these latter when grain and seeds are scarce, for in numbers that 



THE FOOt) OF BIRDS IN 

I have examined nothing absolutely, but these latter were to be 
noticed. H. M. G. B. II, 118. 

1358. P. argunda. Rock Bush-Quail. As regards food, I 
have never detected any difference between the two species. H. 
M. G. B. II, 118. 

Microperdix. Bush-Quails. Seed,s and insects. E. B. C. N. 
H., 223. 

1359. Microperdix erythrorhynchus. Painted Bush-Quail. 
Seeds and insects. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 585. Rocky ground, interspersed 
with bushes, &c., near cultivation, or any road along which cattle, 
carrying grain, habitually pass. Miss M. Cockburn says : " These 
Quails feed on small grain and insects." They feed very greedily 
on the lesser millets, and when they can get any of these like the 
" Sawan ' (Panicum miliaceum], they feed on them exclusively, 
but at other times no small seeds or insects come amiss to them. H. 
M. G. B., 2123-2126. 

1360. Microperdix Uewitti. Blewitt's Bush-Quail. Seeds of 
sorts and insects. (F. R. Blewitt). H. M. G. B. II, 130. 

Arboricola. They feed on seeds and insects and drink 
daily. F. I. IV, 124. The food consists of leaves, roots, berries, 
seeds, grubs, and molluscs. E. B. C. N. H., 222. 

1362. A. torqueola. Common Hill-Partridge. Its food is very 
similar to that of the Coklass pheasant. It feeds on leaves, roots, 
maggots, seeds, and berries ; in confinement it will eat grain. Jerd> 
B. I. Ill, 578. 

1363. A. rufigularis.Blythe's Hill-Partridge. Food precisely 
like that of the common species (torqueolus). Davison ' They 
feed on insects, small land shells, fallen berries and various seeds, 
and are very fond of scratching about among the dead leaves." 
H. M. G. B. II, 76-77. 

1365. A. atrigularis. White-cheeked Hill-Partridge. Mr. 
Grippe " They feed on insects for which they scratch amongst the 



MASON AND LEFROY. 235 

decaying leaves that carpet the ground, seeds and berries of various 
kinds, and on young shoots. H. M. G. B., 2, 80. 

1367. A. brunneipectus. Brown-breasted Hill-Partridge. Mr. 
Darling " They feed amongst the dead leaves on seeds, insects 
and small shells." Colonel Tickell ' 'Amongst the fallen leaves and 
elephant's droppings for the insects that congregate in such spots. 'l 
Mr. Gates " Their food appears to consist of hard seeds, but in one 
instance I found a beetle in the stomach of one of them." H. M. 
G. B., 2, 87-88. 

1368. Tropicoperdix chloropus. Green-legged Hill-Partridge. 
' ' Scratching about the elephant's dung and turning over the dead 
leaves for insects." Colonel Tickell. Mr. Davison " Scratching 
among the dead leaves for insects and seeds." H. M. G. B., 2, 91- 
92. 

1369. Caloperdix oculea. Ferruginous Wood-Partridge. In- 
sects seeds and berries. H. M. G. B., 2, 102. E. B. C. N. H., 221. 

Caccabis. The food consists of leaves, fruits, seeds, and insects. 
E. B. C. N. H., 229. 

1370. Caccabis chucar. Chukor. Gleaning at first mid Sep. 
tembsr in the grain fields which have been reaped, and afterwards } 
during winter, in those which have been sown with wheat and barley 
for the ensuing season, preferring the wheat. The Chuckore feeds 
on grain, roots, seeds, and berries. Mountaineer Jerd. B. I. } 
3, 565. H. M. G. B., 3, 37-38. At times does some little damage 
by pulling grain stacks about in the fields. 

1371. Ammoperdix bonhami. 'Seesee. Their food is, I think, 
chiefly, if not exclusively, grain, seeds, and herbage of different 
kinds. My impression is that they are not insectivorous. H. M. 
G. B., 2, 46. 

Francolinus The diet consists of insects, shoots of plants, 
berries, seeds and bulbs. E. B. C. N. H., 227. 

1372. Francolinus vulgaris. Black Partridge. Insects of all 
sorts larvae, white ants and their eggs, small coleoptera, |pain and 



^236 



THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 



seeds of all kinds, and tender shoots of grass mustard and many sorts 
of herbage. When in the neighbourhood of villages I fear that, 
though not so utterly depraved as the Grey Partridges, they are 
yet by no means scrupulously clean feeders. H. M. G. B. I., 2, 12- 

Stomachs examined 

27-2-07. 3 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

6 Camponotus compressus. 
2 Opatrum depressum. 

1 Scleron orientale. 
6 Oats. 

108 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 
30-2-08. 9 Camponotus compressus. 

12 Opatrum sp. 

2 Mesomorpha rilliger. 

12 Oats. 

9 Wheat grains. 
94 Seeds (No. 16). 
17 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 
20-3-08. 1 Coprid sp. 

2 Spiders. 
10 Oats. 

73 Seeds (No. 16). 
51 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 
28-3-07. 12 Camponotus compressus. 

5 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

2 Polyrachis simplex. 

3 Himatismus sp. 

13 Wheat grains. 

14 Oats. 

91 Seeds (No. 16). 
14 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 
30-3-08. 19 Camponotus compressus. 
1 Mesomorpha villigcr. 

3 Small stones. 
21 Oats. 

8 Leguminous seeds (No. 4). 
16_4_09. 1 Gastromargus sp. 

49 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 

20 Seeds (No. 15). 

51 Leguminous seeds various. 
18-4-09. 2 Gastromargus sp. 

1 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

21 Wheat grains. 

4 Leguminous seeds (No. 2). 
1 Seed (No. 12). 

1 Leguminous seed (No. 5). 

1 Large piece of grass, much half digested matter mostly buds and 

seeds : all vegetable. 
18-4-09. 31 Oats. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 



237 



Stomachs examined contd. 

335 Seeds (No. 16). 
36 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 
18-4-09. 1 Grasshopper. (Jaw only.) 

2 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

2 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 
1 Histcr opacus. 

1 Hister bipustulata. 

11 Himatismus sp. 

1 Opatrum depressum. 

3 sp. 

1 Cicindelid (head). 

1 Cydnus nigritus. 

1 Leguminous seed (No. 8). 
94 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 
31 Seeds (No. 16). 
18-4-09. 1 Sphex lobatus. 

1 Chrysis sp. 

31 Componotus compressus. 
23 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

6 Himatismus sp. 

4 Myllocerus blandus. 
1 discolor. 

93 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 

15 seeds (Nos. 9, 18, 28). 

1 Stone. 

18-4-09 14 Camponotus comprtssus. 
1 Myllocerus discolor. 

5 blandui. 
1 Himatismus sp. 

1 Melolonthid sp. 

1 Small caterpillar. 

2 Cydnus nigritus. 
15 Oats. 

13 Leguminous seeds (Nos. 7, 8, 21, 28). 
43 seeds (No. 5). 

94 Seeds (No. 16). 

1 Piece of red brick. 
18409. 43 Camponotus compressus. 

4 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

3 Polyrachis simplex. 
1 Small Elaterid sp. 

1 Agrotis segetis (Larva). 

6 Oats. 

1 Wheat grain. 

5 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 
9 Seeds (No. 16). 

1 Seed of Abrus precatoriut. 
18-4-09. 1 Grasshopper sp. 

4 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 
17 Myrmecocystus setipet. 

12 Uimutitmus sp. 



238 



THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 



Stomachs examined contd. 

3 Opatrum ep. 
10 Oats. 

39 Leguminous seeds (No. 6). 
163 Seeds (No. 16). 

6 Leguminous seeds (Nos. 3, 4, 18). 
5 Bits of stick. 
18-4-09. 6 Camponotus comprtssus. 

5 Acantholepis fraucnfeldi var bipartite. 
1 Himatismus. 

1 Hister opacus. 

2 ,, bipustulatus. 

4 Myllocerus blandus. 
9 discolor. 

1 Lamellicorn. 
12 Oats. 

29 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 
61 Seeds (No. 16). 

2 Seeds (No. 13). 
18-4-09. 2 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

1 Myrmeleo larva. 

1 Pompilus subsericeus. 

1 Mutitta discrete. 

1 Myrmecocystus setipes. 

5 Phidole malinsi ? 

1 Polyrachis simplex. 

4 Acantholepis frauenfeldi var bipartite. 

15 Camponotus compress us. 

5 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

2 Trox indicus (?) 
31 Himatismus sp. 

1 Opatrum depressum. 

1 Opatrum sp. (Pusa No. 2499). 

2 Opatrum sp. (Pusa No. 2440). 

2 Mesomorpha villiger. 
1 Scleron orientele. 

1 Elaterid. 

1 Bolboceras catanus. 

1 Caccobius vulcanus. 

1 Gymnopleurus miliaris. 

1 Onthophagus bonasus. 

3 Myllocerus blandus. 
3 discolor. 

1 Nezara viridute. 
10 Cydnus nigritus. 

3 varians. 

16 sp. (Pusa No. 543). 

2 Geotomus pygmceus. 

1 Homoeocerus inornatus. 

2 Graptostethus servus. 
1 dixoni. 

I Storfhecorie nigriceps. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 



Stomachs examined c ontd . 

16 Dermatinus lugubris. 

1 Membracid. 
18 Jassids. 

2 Grubs. 

2 Diptera, pupae. 
1 Spider. 

6 Wheat grains. 
55 Oat grains. 

7 Leguminous seeds (Nos. 3, 4, 19). 
52 Seeds (No. 16). 
77 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 

3 Seeds (No. 23). 
1 Seed (No. 12). 

1 Small piece of quartz. 

1 ,, ,, ,, brick. 
18-4-09. 19 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 

13 Camponotus compressus. 

13 Himaiismus sp. 

2 Trox indicus. 

1 Macrochilus 3-pustulatus. (Carabid). 
1 Leptid fly. 
10 Cydnus nigritus. 

4 Cydnus sp. (Pusa No. 543). 
45 Oats. 

161 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 
4 Seeds (No. 16). 
1 Green glass bead. 
1 Shot. 

23-4-08. 1 Acridium ceruginosum. 

9 Camponotus compressus. 

4 Merano'plus bicolor. 

5 Polyrachis simplex. 

1 Mesomorpha villiger. 

2 Aphodius marginellus. 
54 Oats. 

63 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 
93 Seeds (No. 16). 

3 Various seeds. 

4 Bits of brick. 
23-4-08. 15 Camponotus compressus. 

14 Oats. 

18 Leguminous seeds (No- 5). 
24 Seeds (No. 16). 

1 Seed (No. 22). 

5 Bits of red brick. ] 
1 Green glass bead. 

25-4-09. 21 Camponotus compressus. 

1 Himaiismus sp. 

7 Oats. 

2 Leguminous seeds (No. 5), 

19 Seeds (No. 16), 



240 



THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 



Stomachs examined c ontd . 

5 Stones and bits of brick. 
25-4-09. 20 Camponotus compressus. 

3 MyrmecocyStus setipes. 

1 Cremastogoster subnuda. 

1 Opatrum mesonotnm. 

8 Mesomorpha villiger. 

5 Himatismus sp. 

1 Monophlebus octocaudata. 

1 Clavigralla horrens. 

8 Oat grains. 

20 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 
63 Seeds (No. 16). 

14 Leguminous seeds (Nos. 3, 7, 9, 20). 

3 Seeds (No. 14). 

ft? Panicum sp. seeds (No. 10). 

1 Seed (No 24). 

1 Small stone. 

2 Pieces of brick considerable amount of land. 
254-09. 15 Camponotus compressus. 

15 Mesomorpha villiger. 
2 Sphenoptera gossypii. 

6 Himatismus sp. 

2 GymnopleuruK parvus. 
6 Onthophagus damn. 
1 Weevil sp. 

1 Cutworm (Agrotis sp.). 
20 Oats. 

11 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 

12 Seeds (No. 16). 
A few buds. 

5 Shot. 
25-4-09. 6 Camponotus compresaus. 

2 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 
10 Mesomorpha villiger. 

4 Himatismus sp. 

8 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 

9 Seeds (No. 16-). 

(These are eaten in the pod.) 

3 Seeds of Abrus precatorius. 

9 Oat husks, some vegetable matter. 
2;-4-09. 12 Myrmecocystus setipes. 
1 Serica lugubris. 
1 Sphenoptera gossypii. (?) 
1 Wheat grains. 
1 Oat. 
34 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 

4 Seeds (No. 9). 

1 Seed (No. 16). 

2 Leguminous seeds (No. 3). 

much vegetable matter including many (43 approz.) oat huiki. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 



241 



Stomachs examined contd. 



25-4-09. 



25-4-09. 



25-4-09. 



5-4-09. 



25-4-09. 



1 Opatrum sp. 

8 Himatismus sp. 

1 Sphenoptera gossypii. (?) 

9 Oats. 

12 Young oat blades. 

2 Leguminous seeds (No. 18). 
21 (No. 5). 

5 (No. 16). 

. and other vegetable matter. 

1 Small pebble. 

1 Green glass bead. 

1 Camponotus compre-ssus. 
4 Polyrachis simplex. 

3 Himatismus sp. 

2 Myllocerus discolor. 
1 Weevil sp. 

13 Oats. 

23 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 

7 Seeds (No. 16). 

23 Leguminous seeds (Nos. 1, 4, 5, 20, 27). 

1 Seed (No. 13). 

24 Camponotus compressus. 

2 Himatismus sp. 

8 Wheat grains. 

12 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 

24 Large leguminous seeds of various kinds. 
8 Camponotus compressus. 

6 Himatismus sp. 
2 Oats. 

2 Seeds (No. 13). 

7 Peas (No. 7). 

3 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 
112 Seeds (No. 16). 

2 Bits of glass. 

2 Bits of coal. 

3 Camponotus compressus. 

2 Myrmecocystus setipes. 
1 Himatismus sp. 

3 Seeds (No. 14). 

1 Pea. 

6 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 
241 Seeds (No. 15). 

A little Ficus fruit. 

2 Mesomorpha villiger. 
6 Himatismus sp. 

1 Weevil. 

1 Myllocerus sp. 

6 Oats. 

13 Leguminous seeds (Nos. 17, 18, 21, 30). 
11 Panicum sp. seeds (No. 10). 

1 Bed bead. 



16 



242 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Stomachs examined conoid. 

14-6-09. 32 Camponotus compressus. 
4 Polyrachis simplex. 
1 Cremastogaster subnuda. 
1 Himatismus sp. 
22 Opatrum depressum. 
i '. ,. 2 Opatrum sp. 

21 Penthicus sip. (No. 2442). 
6 Tanymecus hispidus. 
1 Carabid. (Pusa No. 1822.) 

1 Hapalochrus fasciatus. 
31 Pulvinaria sp. 

2 Leguminous weed seeds. 

Summary. Of 948 insects taken by 30 birds 6 are beneficial, 203 
injurious, and 739 neutral. Twenty-nine birds took insects, of 
which 5 took beneficial, 19 injurious, and 28 neutral. Two birds 
took spiders. All took seeds, in nearly every case these being in 
greater bulk than the insect food. One bird took seeds only ; wheat 
was taken by 7 birds, oats by 23, peas by 2, and Ficus fruit by 
one only, being picked up from the ground. 

Conclusion. Probably beneficial. 

With regard to the food of this species, it is interesting to note 
that those birds containing oats, grain and a large percentage of 
weed seeds, were those which were shot earlier in the day than those 
with a large percentage of insects. The birds presumably enter 
cultivated areas only early in the morning, retiring to high crops, 
waste lands or jungle, where there is long grass and good cover 
as soon as work commences in the fields. They are seen compara- 
tively seldom in the open during the day and then I believe only 
when they have been disturbed from cover. 

Those birds recorded with a large proportion of insect food, were 
shot between 10 A.M. and 5 P.M. I do not know if standing crops 
are attacked. None of the birds examined had obtained their food 
from this source. The grain and possibly some of 1he weed seeds 
had been gleaned up from stubbles, whilst the greater proportion 
of the weed seeds and I believe all the insects were not taker on culti- 
vated areas, but in rough jungle. The contents of several of the 
stomachs proved that this bird is sometimes a foul feeder. Several 
glass beads and stones or pebbles fairly brightly coloured were 



MASON AND LEFROY. 243 

aten, and it thus seems that the partridge is fond of taking bright 
objects. They have only been noticed to take these in wet weather, 
the beads and pebbles lying on the ground would at that time 
dpp3ar more brightly coloured than if on dry ground, and in a dry 
atmosphere. 

1373. F. pictus. Painted Partridge. The food of the Painted 
Partridge is much the same as that of the Black insects and grubs* 
grain and seeds, and tender shoots and buds of grasses and weeds 
of many kinds, constitute its normal diet, the larvae and eggs of 
white ants bsing special favourites, but in the neighbourhood of 
villages it is often like its northern congener, a foul feeder, and is 
never, I think, so good a bird for the table. H. M. G. B., 2, 23. 

1374. F. chinensis. Eastern or Chinese Francolin. Mr. Gates 
'-' Its food appears, in addition to ants, beetles and so forth, to con- 
sist in a great measure of buds and shoots/' H. M. G. B., 2, 28. 

1375. F. pondicerianus.GiQj Partridge. This partridge feeds 
on grain and seeds of all kinds, and in very partial to small grass- 
hoppers, white ants and other insects. It is often accused of beirg 
a dirty feeder when living near villages, but I am inclined to think 
unjustly. Jerd. B. I., 3, 572. 

They feed on grain of all kinds, grass seeds and insects, especially 
white ants and their eggs and on young leaves of mustard, peas and 
other herbs pecking the grain out of the droppings of passing ani- 
mals. Boldly do they come out at daybreak on to the open thresh- 
ing floors of the native peasants. Unquestionably in the neigh- 
bourhood of villages at seasons when grain is scarce, these birds are 
inveterately foul feeders. H. M. G. B., 2, 53. It feeds on seeds 
and insects and is probably at times a foul feeder, though as Jerdon 
correctly says it is often unjustly accused. F. I., 4, 140. A most 
unclean feeder. Bombay G. Ahmedabad, Vol. IV, p., 27 ; Balaghat, 
D. G., 37; Damoh, D. G., 12 ; Saugor, D. G., 12. 

1376. F. gularis. Kyah or Swamp-Partridge. The Kyah 
is easily reconciled to confinement, even when taken old, and eats 



244 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

greedily of almost everything, but having a special preference to 
white ants. Jerd. B. I., 3, 575. 

In confinement, they should be well fed with paddy or 
unhusked rice, which they will eat freely. H. M. G. B., 2, 62. 

1377. Perdix hodgsonice. Tibetan Partridge. Here and there 
fed by the melting snow above, little patches and streaks of mossy 
herbage on which I suppose the birds must have been feeding. H. 
M. G. B., 2, 66. 

1378. Tetraogallus himalayensis. Himalayan Snow-Cock. 
( Mountain, er). When feeding they walk slowly up hill, picking up 
the tender blades of grass and young shoots of plants occasionally 
stopping to snatch up a certain bulbous root of which they seem 
very fond. " They feed on the leaves of plants and grass, and 
occasionally on moss, roots and flowers ; grass forms by far the 
largest portion. They are very partial to the young blades of wheat 
or barley. Though they will eat grain I doubt if they would live 
long without an occasional supply of their natural green food of 
grass and plants." Jerd. B. I., 3, 553; H. M. G. B., 1, 270-271. 
Insects, buds, roots, grass, moss and fern, E. B. C. N. H., 229. 

1379. Tetraogallus tibetanus. Tibetan Snow-Cock. Hender- 
son ' They had been feeding on grain all picked out of the drop- 
pings of cattle and horses." H. M. G. B., 1, 276. 

1380. Lerwa nivicola. Mountaineer. " The Snow-partridge 
feeds on moss and the tender shoots of ismall plants." Jerd. 

B. I., 3, 557. H. M. G. B., 2, 5. Moss, seeds, and insects. E. B. 

C. N. H., 230. Feeds on shoots, moss, and roots. A. leM., 109. 

Sub-order Peristeropodes. 

Megapodiidce. Fallen fruit, seeds, berries, worms, snails, 
insects and worms. E. B. C. N. H., 191. 

1381. Megapodius nicobariensis. The stomachs of all we ex- 
amined contained tiny land shells larvaB of insects, dissolved matter 
apparently vegetable, and minute fragments and particles of quaitz 
or other hard rocks. H. M. G. B., 1, 120. Young in captivity 
entirely fed on white ants. B. N. H. S. J., 12, 21. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 245 

The Phasianidce from a general economic standpoint are of 
very great importance, more so, in fact than any other group of 
birds. Not only are large industries centred round the domestic 
species turkeys, guinea-fowl, and chickens directly with regard 
to their value as food to man, but the wild species are also almost 
equally important from the direct products we derive from them, 
and because of the large industries that owe a very large percentage 
of their support to the existence of these birds, and from the benefits 
that sport in connection with these birds brings into a country. We 
do not discuss the domestic species here, but it is worthy of men- 
tion that in orchard cultivation these birds do an immense amount 
of good by devouring grasshoppers and other insects, and in fact 
do and will prove a valuable asset on any farm, both directly ar.d 
indirectly. I have not examined many stomachs of poultry, but 
those that I have contained as a rule mostly insects, of which more 
than half are grasshoppers. Beetles form a considerable proportion, 
especially common species of Tenebrionids. They eat a good deal 
of animal matter, such as frogs and mice, and therefore are to some 
extent scavengers. 

Of the wild species the Pheasants and the Partridges we hear 
that local damage is done by the Peacock, Jungle-fowl, some of the 
Quails and the Chucor to grain crops and millets at times. Those 
species, however, that feed on grain can only do so at certain periods 
of the year, and, though some considerable damage may occur at 
these times, the good done at other periods of the year- in all proba- 
bility more than counterbalances any harm done ; for, judging by 
the records we have of the Black-partridge, these birds feed very 
largely on injurious insects at any rate during such times as grain 
is not available in the field as food, and in all probability much of 
the grain eaten is obtained by gleaning. 

Of the food of the Phasianidce, Evans (C. N. H. 203) says 

' Their food is chiefly vegetable and includes shoots, buds, leaves. 

grass, bulbs, seeds, berries and other fruits, with a certain amount 

of grit; but worms, molluscs, ants and their COCOOLS swell the list/''" 

It is noticeable that most Indian species feed to a large extent on 



246 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Termites when these insects are available, many of the birds habi- 
tually scraping in the ground to get at them. Some are also at tirm s 
foul feeders. 

The following is from the Second Annual Report S. A. C. L. B. 
(Fuller, Natal, 1908), with regard to the locust-egg eatirg propen- 
sities of the Guinea-fowl, presumably the bird usually known by 
that name. ' Whilst these birds are our best natural alli's, many 
other animals can be mentioned such as baboors ard all kinds of 
predaceous insects, rodents, and reptiles. Special mention should 
be made of the habit of the Guinea-fowl and mier-cat in digging 
up locust eggs and devouring them. Several large areas of eggs 
were thus destroyed in Moreed and Zoutpansburg, and immerse 
swarms of ' voet-gangers ' (hoppers) were destroyed by the former 
in all parts of the colony. The guinea-fowl contrary to popular 
belief does not stay in the lands during summer, but retires to 
the bush in order to mate and rear its young. Whilst there it 
destroys many ' voet-gangers ' in places which are difficult for us 
to work. Observations also show that they do no haim to 
crops." It would therefore seem that a judicious importation of 
these birds into locust producing districts in India might be of 
some considerable value. In spite of the fact that the Nilgiri 
Gam? Association have apparently failed to introduce the Guinea- 
fowl into their district (Nilgiri D. G., 36-37), these birds thrive in 
many parts of the country, and are kept domesticated in large 
numbers, and we see no reason why wild birds of various species 
if turned down should not thrive also, in suitable localities. The 
keeping of poultry is certainly to be recommended always. In 
addition to their value as food the feathers of many species are 
used for decorative purposes, and in minor industries for making 
artificial flies for fishing, arrow flights, etc. 

The Peacock (P. cristatus) occurs in the North-West being re- 
placed in Burma by its ally P. muticus. The Jungle-fowls are found 
generally in hilly jungle tracts and the Pheasants are entirely con- 
fined to the hills, chiefly the Himalayas, four being practically cor- 
fined to Burma and the Malayan region. 



MASON AND LEFPOY. 247 

Of the Quails and Partridges about seven species are found in 
the plains, two of which are migrants, notably the common Grey 
Quail. They are found principally in the more Northern parts of 
India, but are generally distributed. The Kyah is a swamp haunt- 
ing spscies. The other species are from the hills, some being fourd 
at very high altitudes, and six are from Burma and the Malayan 
region. 

" Partridges and Quails (see Hume and Marshall) are kept by 
natives in Northern India for fighting purposes. They are con- 
fined in small cages and carefully trained for the purpose." (Watt). 
Patting aside all other considerations from their feeding habits alone 
this group is probably beneficial in spite of the fact that some dam- 
age is done to grain crops. 

HEMIPODII. 

Turnix. The food of all species consists principally of smal 
seeds ; small insects and tips of grass and leaves are also eatenl 
F. I. IV, 120. 

1382. Turnix pugnax. Bustard Quail. It feeds on grain 
of various kinds, but also very much on small insects, larvae of 
grasshoppers and the like. Jerd. B. I., 3, 596. 

Small millets, grass-seeds, ants, white and black, and other 
small grains and insects constitute its food (taigoor). Grass-seed 
and the tips of tender blades of grass are probably its chief food ; 
bub it also eats a variety of tiny seeds, beetles and other insects. 
It seems to be very little of a grain eater (plumbipes}. H. M. G. 
B. II, 171, 178. 

1383.- Turnix dussumieri. Little Button Quail. " Two or three, 
shot during the cold season had eaten only grass seeds while 
two shot in my garden in Etawah had fed almost exclusively on 
termites." Captain E. A. Butler writes of a young bird, " In 
confinement it lived almost exclusively on white ants until ful 
grown, after which it fed upon seed/' H. M. G. B., II, 194, 97. 



248 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

1384. Turnix tanki. Indian Button Quail. I have never 
seen them in fields or stubbles, nor had any of the few I have exa- 
mined eaten any grain, only grass seeds and small black fragments, 
which might have been portions of small hard seeds or of tiny 
coleoptera. H. M. G. B. II, 189. 

Stomachs examined 

6-3-07. Small weed seeds. 

12-3-08. Small weed seeds. 

18-3-09. 1 Phidole malinsi. 

12 Camponotus compressus. 

1 Himatismus sp. 
45 Leguminous seeds (No. 5). 
145 Weed seeds (No. 16). 

A variety of weed seeds. 
18-3-09. 10 Camponotus compressus. 

1 Noctuid moth. 
43 Weed seeds (No. 5). 

A variety of other weed seeds. 
1 Small pebble. 

18-3-09. 1 Himatismus sp. 

1 Opatrum sp. 

A variety of small weed seeds. 
18-3-09. Small weed seeds. 

18-3-09. Small weed seeds. 

18-3-09. Small weed seeds. 

5-5-07. 1 Tenebrionid. 

3 Small Elaterids. 

Small weed seeds. 
10-07. Small weed seeds. 

Summary. Of 31 insects taken by 10 birds one^is injurious, 
and 30 neutral ; none are beneficial. Four birds took neutral insects, 
one injurious and all had eaten weed seeds in far greater proportion 
than insects. 

This bird usually occurs in jungle, but during 1807 it was 
sometimes to be seen in a cotton crop. It is apparently almost 
purely seed-eating, but rarely taking insects. The weed seeds eaten 
are usually small and are of the same varieties as those found in 
the Black Partridge. 

1385. Turnix albiventris. Nicobar Button Quail. Small 
seeds. H. M. G. B. II, 199. 

1386. Turnix blanfordi. Burmese Button Quail. Grain, 
seeds, small insects, and tiny green shoots. H. M. G. B. II, 184, 



MASON AND LEFfcOY. 249 

These little Quails haunt grass lands and low jungle scrub, 
the three first mentioned species occurring in the plains. Their 
food consists principally of a variety of small weed seeds, with the 
addition of a few insects. They are of practically no importance 
from an economic standpoint, if anything being beneficial. 

GRALLATORES. 

Feed on fish, reptiles, molluscs, insects, and a few on vegeta- 
ble matter. A. C. M., 121. 

Grallce. Sub-order Fulicarice. Rallidce. Rails, Crakes and 
Coots. The food is in most forms chiefly vegetable, consisting 
of various water plants, seeds, etc., but in addition most of the spe- 
cies live on insects and their larvae and on small crustaceans. F. 
I., 4, 157. The Gallinulinae (coots and water hens) live chiefly on 
vegetable matter, seeds, etc. (713). The rails (Rallinse) feed much 
on small molluscs, insects and their larvse, occasionally on grain 
and vegetable matter. (721). Jerd. B. I., 3, 721., 713. Chiefly 
vegetable. S. M. F. Z., 1908. Partially vegetable diet. A. C. 
M., 122. 

The food consists of worms, molluscs, insects and their larvge 
green herbage, tubers, roots of aquatic plants and seeds. Poryhyrio 

cause serious damage to potato, rice, and corn-crops.... 

Some of the stronger species occasionally prey on mice, lizards, young 
birds and eggs. E. B. C. N. H., 245. 

1387. Eallus indicus. Indian Water Rail. Their food... con- 
sists chiefly of insects of all kinds, small shells, worms, grass and 
other seeds and green vegetable mater. H. M. G. B. I., 1, 259. 
It feeds partly on small insects, mollusca and worms, and partly 
on vegetable matter. F. I., 4, 159. 

1388. Rallus aqtiaticus. Water Rail. Of its Indian habits 
we know nothing. Macgillivray remarks " Its food consists of 
worms, slugs, helices, limnise, insects , and seeds of gramineae." 
H. M. G. B. I, 1, 262. 



250 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

1389. Hypotcenidia striata.- Blue-breasted Banded Rail. 
Their food is very varied, chiefly, I think, worms, small snail 
and other shells, tiny grasshoppers, and other insects, but grass- 
seeds and vegetable substances are generally found mingled with 
their other food, and with it an abundance of coarse sand... In 
confinement eating greedily, worms, small snails, boiled rice, 
vegetables, almost anything of this kind you can give them. H. 
M. G. B. L 1, 250. Beetles appear to be the chief food. B. N. 
H. S. J., 165. 

1392. Porzana parva. Little Crake. The food of this spe 
cies seems to consist far more exclusively of insects than that of 
Baillon's. Tn more than a dozen specimens that I have examined 
the stomachs contained water bugs and beetles, small insects of all 
kinds, and larvae of various, to me, quite unknown, species, with 
here and there a few small black seeds and a trace of vegetable 
matter. . .many minute pebbles. H. M. G. B. I, 210. Mainly on 
water-insects and larva?. F. I. IV, 165. 

1393. Porzana pusilla. Eastern Baillon's Crake. Larva? 
under lotus, etc., leaves form a large portion of their food. ' Others 
say that this species feeds very little on anything but insects. I 
have always found quantities of small seeds and remains of green 
vegetable matter in the stomachs, besides tiny snail shells, water 
beetles, and all kinds of aquatic insects and their larva?. On seve- 
ral occasions I have found the tiny wild rice grains mixed with 
other food, but though they keep so much about rice fields, I have 
never noticed that they had eaten paddy, the grains being perhaps 
too large." H. M. G. B., 1, 205. 

1394. Porzana maruetta. Spotted Crake. This bird feeds on 
aquatic insects, and insect larva?, small worms and small snails, 
as well as tender shoots of water herbage and grass seeds, and 
usually seeks its food in shallow water or on moist and swampy 
ground, etc. H. M. G. B., 1, 215. 

1396. Rallina fasciata. Malayan Banded Crake. When one 
has recorded the food, flight, and habits of one of these crakes 



MASON AND LEFBOY. 251 

there remains little to be said about the others unless you have 
watched them very closely. H. M. G. B. I, 1, 235. 

1397. Rallina canningi. Andamanese Banded Crake. Cap- 
tain Wimberley writes: "Its food appears to consist of irsects 
and fresh water fish. The latter I infer, as some of those I sent 
you were taken in snares laid on the ground baited with fresh- 
water shrimps, which were all eaten/' H. M. G. B. 1, 242. A 
forest bird haunting swampy ground," . . ." and feeding on insects 
and fresh water Crustacea." F. I. IV, 170. Beetles, grasshoppers, 
worms, small snails, caterpillars. B. N. H. S. J. 2, 696. 

1398. Amaurornis fuscus. Ruddy Crake. Rush-fringed ponds 
on the leaf-paved surfaces picking up all kinds of irsects ard 

the larvse of these so abundantly adhering to the lotus leaves 

All kinds of aquatic insects, little moths, mosquitoes, tiny worms, 
larvae of all sorts, grass seeds and small grains of various kinds 
and tender green shoots or leaves (and as usual a quantity of fine 
gravel) constitute the contents of their stomachs, but in very vary- 
ing proportions, not only according to localities and perhaps ir di- 
vidual idiosyncracies, but according to the hour at which they 
were killed ; and I came to the conclusion (I give it for what it may 
be worth) that in the early morning when out in the open they 
feed chiefly on insects and that during the day. . .they feed more on 
seeds and vegetable substances. H. M. G. B. 1, 219. Feeds on 
insects and seeds. F. I. IV, 171. The moths noted probably 
belong to the Hydro campinee, probably various spp. of Nymphula. 

1399. A.bicolor. Elwes' Crake. The contents of the stomach 
of one specimen are noted as " insects, grain and gravel," and 
Godwin-Austen says that two in capacity ate earthworms 
greedily. H. M. G. B. 1, 224. Earthworms in captivity, XLIII 
(11), 175. 

1400. Afa&ocl. Brown Crake. Its food too, although simi- 
lar to that of the other species, includes a far larger piopoition of 
tiny snail and other shells and of worms and slugs.. .After a good 
fall of rain,, .chiefly on small worms. H. M. G, B. I, II, 226, 



252 



THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 



1401. Amaurornis phoenicurus. White-breasted Water-hen. 
It feeds on both grain and insects. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 720. It feeds 
on insects, molluscs, and grain, etc., F. I. IV, 174. 

Stomachs examined 



Mull.) 



22-1-09. 102 Small seeds. 

3 Leguminous weed seeds. 
3 Small spiral shells. (Melanin tuberculata. 
8 Pieces of root. 
10 Pieces of bulbous root of a water weed. 

1 Small pebble. 
23-7-08. 1 Liogryllus bimaculatus. 

2 Apis florea. 

1 (Ecophylla smaragdina. 
1 Phidole malinsi. 
1 Onthophagus cervus. 

3 Carabid larvae. 

3 Beetles (Remains of Tenebrionids ?). 

6 Opatrum sp. 

1 Aphanus sordidus. 

3 Crickets (remains) ?. 

4 Leguminous weed seeds. 
57 Small grass seeds. 

7-9-08. 2 Camponotus compressus. 

1 Myrmecocystus setipes. 
1 Atmetonychus peregrinus. 
1 Myllocerus sp. 
12 Phytoscaphus triangularis. 
3-10-07. 5 Labidura riparia. 

6 Onthophugus cervus. 
17 Opatrum sp. 
23 Myllocerus sp. 

Some weed seeds and roots. 
3 Small stones. 

Broken pieces of shells Corbicula 

favidens. 

8-10-08. 1 Batch of Mantis eggs. 

79 Myllocerus discolor. 

Summary. Of 169 insects taken by 5 birds, 5 are beneficial, 
121 injurious and 43 neutral. One bird took a batch of Mantis 
eggs, these being beneficial, 1 took beneficial insects, 4 injurious, 
and 3 neutral. Three took vegetable matter, chiefly water weeds : 
2 took shells. 

1402. Gallinula chloropus. Moor-hen. The food of the 
water hen is chiefly vegetable, but it also take aquatic irsects, 
larvae and even it is said small fish. Jerd. B. I., Ill, 719, 



orientalis Lank & Unio 



MASON AND LEFROY. 253 

Like other Rails it feeds on various kinds of vegetable food 
and on insects. F. I. IV, 176. 

1403. Gallicrex cinerea. Kora or Water-cock. It feeds on 
rice and other grains, on shoots of various water plants, and also 
on small mollusca and insects. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 717. Its food is 
mainly vegetable. F. I. 3, 178. 

Porphyrio cause serious damage to potato, rice, and con - 
crops. E. B. C. N. H., 245. 

1404. P. poliocephalus. Purple Moorhen. It feeds chiefly 
on seeds and vegetable matter, committing great havoc on the 
rice fields. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 714. Its food is mainly vegetable and 
it commits great havoc in rice fields by cutting down the growing 
rice. F. I. IV, 180. Damages paddy. B. N. H. S. J. XIV, 
764. 

1405. Fulica atra. Coot. The Coot feeds chiefly on vege- 
table matter, seeds and shoots of aquatic plants. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 
716. The food consists of water plants, insects, mollusca, etc. 
F. I. IV, 181. 

Heliornithidce.Fmioots. The food is in all cases of small 
fish, crustaceans, insects and seeds. E. B. C. N. H., 267. 

1406. Heliopais personata. Masked Finfoot. The food 
consists of mollusca and insects, probably of vegetable substances 
also. F. I. IV, 183. 

Rallidce. Of the Rails two species occur in the plains. The 
Crakes (Porzana) are all winter visitors to the plains, while Amau- 
rorms, the Coots and Moorhens are nearly all residents. The 
whole group are marsh birds, the Moorhens and Cools sperdirg 
much of their time on the water. None are really beneficial, and 
in one or two cases considerable damage is done to paddy. 

The Heliornithidoe are represented by one species which is 
local and rare. 



254 THE FOOD OF BIEDS IN INDIA. 



GRUID^E. 
Cranes. 

Feed much on grain, a few also on insects, frogs, and fish. 
Jerd. B. I. Ill, 661. Cranes are in the main vegetable feeders, 
though they occasionally eat irsects, reptiles and fish. F. I. IV, 
185. The food consists of grain, pulse, acorns, shoots, floweis, 
roots, tubers, and the like, with the occesional addition of small 
mammals and birds, reptiles, amphibiars, worms, irsects, ard even 
fish. E. B. C. N. H., 253. 

1407. Grus communis. Common Crane. It feeds chiefly on 
grain committing great havoc in the wheat fields, and in rice fields 
in Bengal, but it also eats shoots of plants and floweis, and occa- 
sionally, it is said, insects and reptiles. On one occasion I found 
that the flowers of Carthamus tinctorius had been the only food 
partaken of. It is stated in China to devour sweet potatoes. It 
is occasionally hawked by the " Bhyri ' (Falco peregrinus). 
Jerd. B. I. Ill, 665. 

' Perhaps minute shells or insects on sand. A Crane recently 
arrived before there is grain, or young juicy shoots to eat, and that 
is perforce feeding chiefly on insects, worms, small frogs, and even 
fishes, is no doubt very indifferent eating, but the same bird four 
months later, when for six weeks it has been gorging itself daily 
with gram, wheat, rice, pulses, and peas of various kinds, almost 
to the exclusion of animal food, is as fat tender and well-tasted 
a bird as can be found. In India the Crane undoubtedly prefers 
grain of all kinds, wheat, gram, rice and pulses, together with the 
tender young shoots of these to all other food. Perhaps of a* 
things they most love the young pods of arhar or dhal (Cayanus 
indicm). Not only do they eat the young pods at such times, 
but also quantities of the yellow pea-like flowers, and at other 
times too, flower buds do not come amiss to them, and Jerdon 
mentions one he had examined that had fed exclusively on the 
buds of the safflower. Vegetables also attract them, and in China 



MASON AND LEFROY, 255 

(Swinhoe) they feed chiefly at one time on the sweet potato." In 
the Punjab these Cranes are very partial to the water-melons, and 
appear to attack ''the melons chiefly for drinking purposes," 
though sometimes the seeds are eaten. These water-melons are 
of no market value. ' I myself believe the common Crane to be 
by preference mainly a vegetarian ; but at all times a small ad- 
mixture of animal food may be traced in the stomachs of some 
birds, and when their favourite food is scarce, they eat water- 
crickets and other insects, slugs and worms, small shells, both 
land and water, and I have found the remains of small fish occa- 
sionally in their gizzards. Of course these latter contain, like 
those of all such birds, quantities of small pebbles, mostly quartz, 
some as large as peas, a few at times larger. H. B. G. B. Ill, 
25 = 27. Cranes that have fed for a time on the grain and shoots 
of wheat, rice, gram, arhar, and other crops are delicious ; ill-fed 
birds are coarse. F. I. IV, 187. 

Anthropoides virgo and Grus cinerea ( = communis) occur in flocks 
in wheat fields when the wheat is ripening. They do much damage 
to the crops and leave as soon as the wheat fields are bare. Bomb. 
Gaz., Broach, 360. 

1408. Grus leucogeranus. Great White Crane or Siberian 
Crane. Rushes and aquatic plants, exclusively a vegetable feeder. 
" I have never found the slightest traces of irsects or reptiles (so 
common in those of other species) in any of the 20 odd stomachs 
of these white Cranes I have myself examined. The stomach 
contains an enormous amount of pebbles. Other Cranes and 
notably the common and the Demoiselle daily pay visits in large 
numbers to our fields, where they commit great havoc, devourirg 
grain of all descriptions, flowers, shoots, and even some kinds of 
vegetables. The white Crane, however, seeks no such dainties, 
but finds its frugal food, rush seeds, bulbs, corms, and even leaves 
of various aquatic plants, in the cool waters where it spends its 
whole time. H. M. G. B. Ill, 16." 

1409. Grus antigone. Sarus. Saruses feed upon vegetable 
substances, insects, earthworms, frogs, lizards and other small 



256 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

reptiles with an occasional snake thrown in by way of condiment. 
D. B. P., 38. 

' Their food is very varied, frogs, lizards and all small rep- 
tiles, insects of all kinds, snail and other land and water shells, 
seeds, grains and small fruits of various kinds, green vegetable 
matter and the bulbous roots of various species of aquatic plants, 
and they sgem to feed indifferently on wet and dry fields or dry 
grassy uplands, on the margins and in the shallows of rivers, broads 
and swamps on the young paddy plant and sometimes do con- 
siderable damage to the nurseries probably also other green 

shoots, grasshoppers and frogs, and perhaps young fish I do 

not think they catch live fish, although the young wh^n domesti- 
cated are fed by the Burmans on small fish and shrimps. H. 
M. G. B. Ill, 5. It feeds less exclusively perhaps on grain than 
the other Cranes met with in India. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 663.'* 

Kooian and Saras Cranes live on frogs and fish. Punjab 
G-az., Hissar, 20. Apparently obtain some portion of their food 
by digging in the ground with their bills. 

1411. Anthropoides virgo. Demoiselle Crane. Though I have 
found animal food similar to that devoured by the Common Crane 
in the gizzards of the present species, it has always been in small 
quantities, and the greater bulk has always proved to be grain 
and green vegetable matter. Mr. G. Vidal ' ' In Sattara stubbles 
in early morning their favourite food is the karda or safflower 
oil seed (Carthamus tinctorius)/' Mr. G. Davidson " In Sholapur 
and Sattara districts principally on karda/' H. M. G. B. I. Ill, 
35-36. 

Feeding in early morning in kardai or safflower, of which they 
are particular!^ fond. Bom. Gaz., Vol. XIX, 40. In the Daman 
a sort of field mouse (Drui) is\>ften very destructive to the crops, 
and multiplies exceedingly till drowned out by the floods, or 
exterminated by the Adjutant and Cranes. Punjab Gaz., Dera 
Ismail Khan. 

The Kulan are fond oi fields of gram, when the grain has not 
yet hardened. Punjab^Gaz., Delhi. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 257 

The Koolan spends the day near or on the river Sutlej, and 
dies inland to feed on the green crops, or sown grain morning and 
evening. Punjab Gaz., Ludhiana. 

Koolan and Saras Cranes live on fish and frogs. The Koolan 
is also partial to seeds of wheat and barley. Punjab Gaz., Hiss ar, 
20. Anthropoides virgo and Grus cinerea ( = communis) occur in 
flocks in wheat fields when the wheat is ripening. They do much 
damage to the crops, and leave as soon as the wheat fields are 
bare. Bomb. Gaz., Broach, 360. Paddy. B. N. H. S. J. XIV, 766. 

It is very destructive to grain fields, especially wheat in 
Central India, and to Chenna (Cicer arietinum) in the Deccan. 
It is stated that they occasionally eat mice, snakes, &c. Jerd. B 
I. Ill, 667. This species together with grey geese is said to do an 
immense amount of damage to young cereals of all sorts, but 
especially wheat in various localities in the Central Provinces 
(Saugor, Hoshangabad, &c.) 

Cranes with the exception apparently of the Great White Crane 
are all injurious in India, committing great havoc on most cold 
weather crops, especially the young cereals. They occur chiefly 
in Northern India and Burma in the cold months. 

OTIDIDJE. 

Their food is chiefly insects, occasionally in dearth of this 
aliment shoots of plants, grain and vegetable matter. Jerd. B. I. 
Ill, 607. The diet consists chiefly of juicy plants, such as young 
corn and turnips, clover and plantains, but it includes berries and 
seeds, insects, and their larvae, molluscs, myriapods, frogs, or even 
small reptiles and mammals. E. B. C. N. H., 263. 

1412. Otis tarda. Great Bustard. Our single Indian spe- 
cimen bird fed entirely on green mustard leaves, and I may note 
that according to all authorities it chiefly feeds on grain and leaves, 
though also eating insects and does not appear to be ever the 
coarse feeder that its Indian ally is. H. M. G. B. I, 2. 

1413. Otis tetrax. Little Bustard. With us they live chiefly 
on the leaves of the sarson, a kind of mustard, but I have also found 

17 



258 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

remains of insects and land shells in their stomachs and in Europe 
they are said to eat slugs, snails and small reptiles. H. & M. G. 
B. I, 4. Chiefly vegetable matter. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 625. 

1414. Eupodotis edwardsi. Great Indian Bustard. In long 
grass for grasshoppers, not for the grass (Roussa) seeds. Bustards 
change their ground much according to the season, and the supply 
of grasshoppers and other insects. " Besides grasshoppers, which 
may be said to be the favourite food, the Bustard will eat any 
other large insect, more especially Mylabris or blistering beetle, 
so abundant during the rains : the large Buprestes, Scar abaci, 
caterpillars, &c., also lizards, centipedes, small snakes, &c. Mr. 
Elliot found a quail's egg entire in the stomach of one and they 
will often swallow pebbles or any glittering objects that attracts 
them. I took several portions of a brass ornament, the size of a 
No. 16 bullet out of the stomach of one Bustard. In default of 
insect food, it will eat fruit of various kinds, especially the fruit 
of the Ber (Zizyphus jujuba] and Caronda (Carissa carandas), 
grain and other seeds, and vegetable shoots." Jerd. B. I. Ill, 
609. 

It feeds on insects, especially grasshoppers, on small reptiles 
on fruit, on grain, shoots of grass, &c. F. I. IV, 196. Jerdon as 
above quoted. H. & M. G. B. I III, 8-9. 

They are very coarse feeders and in the Punjab, I have found 
large lizards, desert rats and all kinds of reptiles in their stomachs, 
besides quantities of the young green shoots of the lemon grass of 
which they seem very fond. H. & M. G. B. I. Ill, 11. Lives 
ehiefly on insects. H. & M. G. B. I. Ill, 12. Large grasshopper 
and locusts. B. N. H. S. J. VI, 11. 

NOTES. In Rajputana (Deo la, &c.), where this bird comes 
for breeding purposes, it feeds largely on the green blister beetle 
(Cantharis tenuicollis), which often taints the flesh of this bird. 

1415. Houbara macqueen'. Houbara. " Adams states that 
it is very destructive to young wheat fields in winter, eating the 
young shoots, but its chief food is doubtless insects of various 



MASON AND LEPROY. 259 

kinds/' One English specimen shot was filled with caterpillars, 
snails and beetles. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 615. 

Very largely on the small fruit of the Ber, or the berries of 
the Grewia, or the young shoots of the lemon grass and other 
herbs: now picking off an ant or two, now a grasshopper or beetle 
and now a tiny land shsll or stone, but living chiefly as a vege- 
tarian and never with us (to judge from the thousands I have 
examined) feeding on lizards, snakes and the like. H. & M. G. B. 
I. Ill, 18-19. On seeds and insects, and there is a small weed that 
covers open sand-waste in this part (Sirsa Dist.) of the Punjab that 
they are very fond of. It has a small flower like a forget-me-not. 
B. N. H. S. J. XVI, 373. 

Seeds, small fruits, shoots of plants, and insects. Houbara are 
excellent eating as a rule, but they contract a strong and un- 
pleasant flavour at times from feeding on shoots of mustard and 
other allied plants grown as oil-seeds. F. I. IV, 197-198. 

1416. Sypheotis aunta. Lesser Florikin or Likh. The chief 
food of the Florikin is grasshoppers. I have found also blister 
beetles (Mylabris), Scarabsei, Centipedes and even small lizards. 
Jerd. B. I. Ill, 623. 

" The Lesser Florikin, according to my experience feeds largely 
on vegetable substances, berries, green shoots of grain, grasses and 
all kinds of herbs, but it also eats insects in abundance, especially 
grasshopper^ and the glittering Cantharids, and Jerdon says, 
beetles, centipedes and on small lizards. H. & M. G. B. I. Ill, 
37." 

Hodgson notes : " Stomachs full of Grylli, thin coated small 
beetles " ? Chrysomelides " fireflies and gorgeous gad flies." It eats 
chiefly Grylli and a few aromatic weed tops and sesamum buds. 
H. & M. G. B. I. Ill, 37. Young brought up on grasshoppers. 
H. & M. G. B. I. III. 39. Like other Bustards on seeds and 
insects. F. I. IV, 200. " At times it is rather dangerous to eat 
them owing to their fondness for feeding on the blister-fly." 
Bombay Gaz., Swat and Broach II, 45. 



260 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

In Rajputana (Deola, &c.), where this bird comes for breeding 
purposes, it feeds largely on green blister beetle (Cantharis tenui- 
collis], which often taints the flesh of this bird. 

1417. Sypheotis bengalensis. Bengal Florikin. From Feb- 
ruary to April it may be seen stalking about the thin grass early 
in the morning, and it is noticed to be often fourd about newly 
burnt patches : one or more may be noticed making their way to 
some cultivated spot, a pea field. 

In September and October when it feeds on the blister fly 
(Cantharids), the florikin is considered unfit for food. Bombay 
Gaz., Broach II, 359. Or mustard field to make its morning 
repast after which it flies back to some thick patch of grass to 
rest during the rest of the day. It feeds chiefly on insect food, 
grasshoppers, beetles and caterpillars, but will also eat small lizards, 
snakes, centipedes, &c., and Hodgson says, sprouts and seeds of 
various plants, and that their diet is chiefly vegetables. This, 
however, is opposed both to my experience and the analogy of the 
other members of this family. It occasionally, however, does eat 
sprouts and flowers of certain plants, but whether from desire or 
taken in along with some grashopper or beetle, I cannot say. Jerd. 
B. I. Ill, 616. 

Patches of cultivation, particularly of mustard plants (Rai, 
Tori and Sarsori) are acceptable to it as multiplying its chances 
of acceptable food. 

The exquisitely flavoured bird is a rather promiscuous feeder : 
small lizards, young snakes, insects of most sorts, but above all 
locusts, and after them grasshoppers, beetles, the sprouts and seeds 
and succulent runners of various grasses, berries, strong fruits, 
aromatic lactiferous leaves and stems of various plants, with 
mustard tops and other dainties, all contributing to its nourish- 
ment. The largest portion of its usual food is vegetable, but 
insects abound, and especially locusts, and many are almost exclu- 
sively eaten Cerealia are eschewed, but plenty of hard seeded 
grasses and such like are taken and a goodly portion of gravel, &c.. 
to digest them. H. M. G. B. I, 25, &c. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 261 

In October and November the bird is often found on the high 
strips of ground near to paddy fields or even in the paddy, feeding 
on its blossom, while later on, in January, it is found in the 
mornings and evenings in the mustard crops, then in flower, but 
during the day it returns to its favourite high lands. Burnt grass 
lands it also much affects, and while there I have found its crop 
full of insects and even little bits of burnt grass or seed. In 
February and March (Bhutan Duars) they keep to the ooloo grass 
but near water, which becomes scarce at this time, and where the 
stunted cardamom, of which they are very fond, is found. 

Assam : In early part of cold season they are found in mustard 
fields, where they find many insects, especially when the mustard is 
in flower. When this is cut low grass jungle, known in Assam 
as the ooloo grass, is their favourite haunt, especially when the 
grass has been burnt and young shoots are sprouting freely. H. M. 
G. B. I, 27. 

Stomachs examined 

12-3-07. 9 Chrotogonus sp. 

6 Camponotus compressus. 

4 Opatrum depressum. 

5 Opatrum sp. 

3 Scleron orientale 

4 Cutworms. 

Some vegetable matter probably young shoots 
18-4-09. 2 Acridium aeruginosum. 

6 Chrotogonus sp. 

1 Rhyothemis variegata ? 

1 Polistes hebrceus. 

1 Opatrum sp. 
15 Mesomorpha villiger. 

1 Trox indicus. 

3 Derosphcerus rugicollis. , ' 

8 Small Carabids ? 
1 Cutworm. 
1 Other larvae. 
1 Tipulid larva ? 

Summary. Of 72 insects taken by 2 birds, 28 are injurious. 
34 neutral, and 10 beneficial. Both birds took injurious and neu- 
tral insects ; one took beneficial insects and the other took some 
vegetable matter. 



262 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Two beetles taken from the stomach of this species by 
Mr. Mackenzie, are Blosyrus asellus and Colasposoma pulcherrima. 
The Bustards are essentially plains birds, and confined to the 
more Northern parts of India, one species only- S. aurita being 
found in the South. Sypheotis certainly appears to be beneficial. 

LIMICOL.E. 

The food consists of crustaceans, molluscs, worms, and insects ; 
rarely of small fish or eggs of other birds ; but not uncommonly 
of vegetable matter, on which the ' ' Thinocorythidae ' entirely 
subsist. 

(EDICNEMID^E. STONE-PLOVEES AND STONE- CURLEWS. 

1418. (Edicnemus scolopax. Stone-Curlew. Almost entirely 
insects. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 635. Insects, worms and snails. F. I. 
IV, 205. Worms, insects, molluscs or even reptiles, frogs and 
mice. E. B. C. N. H., 297. 

Stomnchs examined 

12-3-08. 9 Chrotogonus sp. 

4 Camponotus comprewus. 

12 Remains of Tenebrionids, possibly Mesomorpha, and Opatrum spp. 
13-6-09. 1 Chroiogonus sp. 

1 Trox indicus. 
23 Himatismus sp. 

1 Carabid sp ? (Pusa No. 2115.) 
15_6_09. 4 Chrotogonus sp. 

3 Gryllotalpa africana. 

5 Camponotus compressus. 

Summary. Of 63 insects taken, 17 are injurious, 45 neutral, 
and 1 beneficial. One bird took a beneficial insect, all took 
neutral and all injurious ones. 

Esacince. Slugs, insects, mollusca and Crustacea. Jerd. B. 
I. Ill, 652. 

1419. Esacus recurvirostris. Great Stone-Plover. Crustacea, 
shell fish and occasionally insects. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 653. Crustacea, 
molluscs and occasionally insects. F. I., 206. Crustacears ard 
molluscs. E. B. C. N. H., 297, 



MASON AND LEFROY. 263 

1420. Esacus magnirostris. Australian Stone-Plover. Crus- 
taceans and molluscs. E. B. C. N. H., 297. 

DROMADHXE. 

1421. Dromas ardeola. Crab-Plover. Small crabs and other 
Crustacea, and perhaps also on shell fish. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 659. 
Chiefly crabs. F. I. IV, 206. Small crustaceans. E. B. C. N. H., 
296. 

GLAREOLID.E. 

Cursorince. Coursers and Courier-Plovers. 
Cursorius. Feed almost entirely on Coleoptera and other 
insects. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 626. 

1422. Cursorius coromandelicus. Indian Courser. Various 
insects, chiefly Coleoptera and the larvae of certain grasshoppers. 
Jerd. B. I. Ill, 627. 

1423. Cursorius gallicus. Cream-coloured Courser. The food 
consists almost entirely of insects, such as grasshoppers, yet it 
includes small molluscs. E. B. C. N. H., 294. 

Glareolince. Swallow-Plovers. Semi-nocturnal, hawking moths 
in air. Jerd. B. I. III., 633. 

P atincoles. Ordinarily capture insects on the wing. E. B. 
C. N. H., 294. Swallow -Plovers, hawk insects on river banks. 
Bengal Gaz., Monghyr, 21. 

Glareola, insects. E. I. IV, 215. 

1425. Glareola orientalis. Large Indian Pratincole or Swallow- 
Plover. Principally moths, Coleoptera and Hemiptera. F. I. IV., 
255. Insects in the air, moths and beetles. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 631. 

1427. Glareola lactea. Small Indian Pratincole. Mostly 
beetles and mosquitoes. They were fourd hunting for ireecte 
well after sunset. B. N. H. S. J., XVI, 7. Several which I exa- 
mined had partaken only of a species of Cicindela. Jerd. B. I, 
III, 630. 



264 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

PARRIDJE. 

1429. Hydrophasianus chirurgus.- Pheasant-tailed Jacana. 
Chiefly vegetable matter, but also on shells and water insects. In 
confinement thrive well on shrimps. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 711. 

Insects, molluscs, seeds and roots. E. B. C. N. H., 300. \ 

Stom 'i chs examined 

5-2-09. 6 Broken bivalves. (Corbicula orientalis ?) 

3 Opercula of? (Vivipara or Ampullaria.). 
12 Small stones. 

A large quantity of sand. 
4-4-09. 1 Small shell. (No. 14.) 

Several broken bivalves, other pieces of shell and a great deal of 
sand. 

Summary. Both birds contained shells ard sard, ore small 

CHARADRIID^;. 
Stone-Plovers, Sand-pipers and Snipes. 

Chamdriidce. Plovers. Plovers feed almost entirely or ir seels 
and worms. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 633. 

1430. Strepsilas interpres.- Chiefly small shells and various 
insects. Jerd. B.I. Ill, 657. Turns over stones, &c., to find crus- 
taceans, mollusca and worms. F. I. IV, 224. 

1431. Sarcogrammus indicus. Red-wattled Lapwing. Various 
insects, shells, and worms. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 648. Insects ard 
small Crustacea. D. B. P. M. N. 57. 

Stomach* examined 

12-3-07. 17 Opatrum depressum. 
14-3-09. 2 Chrotogonus sp. 

1 Apomecyna pertigera ? 

1 Leguminous weed seed. 

3 Small pieces of bamboo. 

1 Prawn. 
14-4-09. 1 Forficulid clasper. 

1 Onthophagus sp. 

2 Coleoptera (mandibles). 

2 Tipulid larvae. 
144-08. 14 Opatrum depressum. 

1-5-67. 33 Elaterid grubs. 
10-5-07. 21 Elaterid grubs. 

3 Mesomorpha villigt 
13-6-09. 2 Chrotogonus sp. 

1 Brachytrypes achatinut. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 265 

Stomachs examined contd. 

1 Onitis distinctus. 
1 Cydnus nigritus. 
13-6-09. 7 Chrotogonus sp. 

Remains of some ants. 
1 Onitis distinctus. 
I Myllocerus sp. 
1 Small shell (Bythinia sp.). 
12-10-08. 3 Chrotogonus sp. 

3 Onthophagus spinifer. 

1 Gymnopleurus miliaris. 

4 Small weed seeds. 

Summary. Of 118 insects taken by 9 birds, 51 are injurious ; 
6 birds took injurious insects, 4 neutral and 4 injurious. One bird 
took a prawn, 1 a shell, and 2 vegetable matter. 

1433. Sarciophorus malabaricus. Yellow-wattled Lapwing. 
Beetles, white ants and worms. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 650. Insects. 
F. I. IV, 227. 

1435. Hoplopterus ventralis. Indian Spur-winged Plover. 

Stomachs examined 

12-1-08. 
10-2-07. 
10-2-09. 

12-4-07. 

fAll contained small molluscs only (chiefly Melartia luberculata). 

J- 4 U / 

9-10-08. 
9-10-08. 
8-11-07. 

1436. Vanellus vulgaris. Peewit. Habits similar to those of 
Indian Plovers. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 644. Chiefly on worms, insects 
and their larvae. F. I. IV., 231. 

1437. Chettusia gregaria. Sociable Lapwing. Feeding in 
paddy fields. B. N. H. S. J. XVI, 8. 

Charadrius. Golden Plovers feed on worms and irsects. F. 
I. I. IV, 235. 

1439. Charadrius fulvus. Eastern Golden Plover. Beetles 
and other hard insects, worms, &c. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 639. 

1447. Aegialitis dubia. Little Ringed Plover. Insects. Jerd. 
B. I. Ill, 364. F. I. IV, 243. 



266 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA.. 

Stomach examined 

14-4-09. 1 Scleron denticolle. 

1 Weevil. 

6 beetles. (Pusa No. 1184). 
1 Carabid grub. 
1 Tabanid. 
8 Dipterous larva. 

Summary. Two injurious insects, 1 beneficial, and 15 neutral. 
Hcem itopodincB. 

Hcematopus. Various molluscs, worms, and small Crustacea. 
Jerd. B. I. Ill, 659. 

1450. Hcematopus ostralegus. Chiefly mollusca ; open bi- 
valves ; also worms and various sea insects. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 660. 
Molluscs and crustacea. F. E. IV, 246. Feeding on crustaceans 
mostly. B. 0. H. S. J. XIV, I. Molluscs and shell fish. Bombay 
Gaz., Ahmedabad, IV, 91. Limpets in Scotland, E. B. C. N. H. 
Ill, 56. Mussels. E. B. C. N. H., 276. 

1451. Himantopus candidus. Insects, small molluscs, and 
worms. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 7056. F. I. IV, 248. Insects, &c. E. B. C. 
N. H., 277. 

1452. Recurvirostra avocetta. Small worms, young molluscs, 
and larvae of water insects. (Pallas). In Central Asia on small 
worms, insects and saline, crustacea. Jerd B. I. Ill, 706. Insects, 
small molluscs and worms. F. I. 4, 249. Aquatic creatures. 
E. B. C. N. H., 278. 

1453. Ibidorhynchus sir uthersi. Minute univalves. Jerd. B. I. 

III, 686. Insects, and, it is said, crustacea and mollusca. F. I. 

IV, 250. 

Totaniince. Sand-pipers pick up various small crustacea 
and mollusca, generally from the surface of the ground. Jerd. 
B. I. IV, III, 696. 

1454. Numenius arquata. Shells. B. N. H. S. J. XIV, 769. 
Insects, worms, berries, and so forth. E. B. C. N. H., 288. 

1456. Limosa belgica. It feeds partly on insects, mollusca 
and worms, partly in India at all events on rice and millet. F. I. 



MASON AND LEFEOY. 267 

IV, IV, 255. They feed largely on rice, both wild and cultivated, 
their favourite food, but also eat seeds of some of the millets, of 
grass, sedges and the like, and numbers of small insects, tiny shells, 
and occasionally worms and grubs, and soft bodied Crustacea. 
They feed in recently cut rice fields, sometimes in water picking 
insects off the surface. " or again walking along the wather's edge 
on sands or mud banks, picking up small shells and shrimps. " 
H. M. G. B. I. Ill, 411-412. 

1457. Limosa lapponica. Small Crustacea, annelida and 
mollusca. F. I. IV, 257. Chiefly on small shrimp-like things, 
small mollusca, sand worms and insects, but most of their stomachs 
contained matter that I took to be minute acephalae or jelly fish. 
H. M. G. B. I. Ill, 418. 

1460. Totanus hypoleucus. Common in paddy fields from 
September to May. B. N. H. S. J., XVI, 9. 

1461. Totanus glareola. Wet paddy fields from August to 
May. B. N. H. S. J. XVI, 9. 

Stomachs examined 

6-1-07. 1 Zygopterid. 

4 Spiral shells. (Melania tuberculata). 
1 Shell. 

Some sand. 

2-2-07. 3 Small snails. (Planorbis sp.). 

20-2-08. 2 Small snails. (No. 5). 

3 Seeds. 

1-3-09. 1 Small snail. (No. 5). 

1-3-09. 4 Small snails, (llanorbis). 

1 Shrimp. 

1-3-09. A few pieces of some shells. (Planorbis) and some sand. 

1-3-09. Some aquatic vegetable matter. 

5 Shot. 

1-3-09. 1 Shell. (Planorbit sp.). 

1 Hyphoporus aper. 

1 Small feather. 
1-3-09. 2 Weevils. 

Other Coleopterous remains. 

1 Small black seed. 
1-3-09. 4 Myllocerus sp. 

1 Opatrum sp. (Pusa No. 2499). 

1 Mesomorpha villiger. 

1 Ontlwphagus j/usilus. 
6-3-09. 1 Shell. (Planorbis sp.). 



268 



THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 



Stomachs examined contd. 

6-3-09. 1 Broken shell and some sand. 

6-3-09. 2 Small shells (Planorbis -sp.). 

6-3-09. 1 Myllocerus sp. 

2 Small seeds. 

3 Shells. (Flanorbis sp.). 
9-3-07. 1 Small dragonfly. (Zygopterid.) 

1 Oamponotus compressus. 
1 1 HydropJiylids. 

Some sand. 

9-3-07. 3 Hypkoporus aper. 

1 Opatrumsp. 
Some sand. 

12-3-08. 1 Dragonfly larva. 

1 Prawn. 

1 Shell and other broken shell remains. (Planorbis sp.). 
23-4-07. Some aquatic vegetable matter. 

Sand. 

28-3-09. 1 Camponotus compressus. 

9 Laccophilus ftexuosus. 
1 Coprid ? leg. 
1 Small piece of brick. 
1 Feather. 
28-3-09. 1 Laccophilus ftexuosus. 

1 Myllocerus sp. 
Other insect remains. 
Some sand. 

28-3-09. 1 Myllocerus sp. 

3 Laccophilus ftexuosus. 

Remains of shells. (Planorbis sp.) and vegetable matter, 
28-3-09. 1 Onthophagus dama. 

5 Laccophilus ftexuosus. 

2 Opatrum sp. 

One piece of shell. (Planorbis sp.). 
19-11-08. 1 Small biva've. (Corbicula orientalis). 

Shell remains. 
12-12-07. Bivalve remains. (Corbicula orientalis ?) 

Some sand. 

Summary. Of 55 insects eaten by 24 birds, 9 are injurious, 

3 beneficial and 43 neutral. Of 12 birds that contained insects, 

4 took beneficial, 9 neutral and 6 injurious. Sixteen contained 
shells, 1 a prawn, 1 a shrimp, 3 a feather, and 6 vegetable matter. 

1462. Totanus ochropus. 

Stomachs examined ~ 

6-1-08. 3 Small bivalves. (Corbicula orientalis) some broken shells and sand 

19-3-08. Remains of various shells. (Planorbis and Melania). 

19-3-08. Remains of various shells. (Planorbis and Melania). 

2 Carabid heads. . 



MASON AND LEFROY. 269 

Stom chs examined contd. 

20-3-07. 1 Coleopterous elytron. 

A little sand. 
24-3-07. Empty. 

22-3-08. 1 Opatrum sp. 

3 Myllocerus sp. 

Some insect remains (beetles.) 
A little broken shell and sand. 
12-4-08. 1 Hyphoporus aper. 

1 Crab ? 

Broken shells. (Planorbis) and sand. 
12-4-08. 12 Hyphoporus aper. 
13 Small shells. 
1 Prawn. 

Some insect remains and sand. 
1 l-H-07. Broken shells. (Planorbis). 

Some sand. 
11-11-07. Empty. 

Summary. Of 20 insects taken by 10 birds, 15 are neutral, 3 
injurious and 2 beneficial, 1 bird took beneficial insects, 1 injurious 
and 2 neutral. Shells were eaten by 6, a prawn by 1 and a crab 
by 1. 

1464. Totanus calidris. Redshank. Molluscs, crustacears, 
worms, and aquatic insects. E. B. C. N. H., 283. Fish. B. N. 
H. S. J. XIV, 770. 

Stomachs examined 

12-1-08. 1 Small snail. (Corbicula orientalis.) 

Some sand. 

22-1-09. 1 Small snail. (Corbicula orientalis.) 

3 Small stones. 

Some green water weed. 

Some sand. 

Summary. Both birds took snails, one some aquatic weed. 

1465. Totanus fuscus. Spotted Redshank. Fish. B. N. H. 
S. J. XVI, 766. 

1466. Totanus glottis. Greenshank. Occasionally eats fish. 
E. B. C. N. H., 284. 

1467. Totanus guttifer. Armstrong's Sand-piper. " The 
stomachs of some I killed contained small fish ard cirstscea, while 
those of others were crammed with larvae and small molrusca." 
(Dr. Armstrong). H. M. G. B. Ill, 404. 



270 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

1468. Pavoncella pugnax. Buff and Keeve. Feeds greedily 
on rice. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 688. Insects, Crustacea and wonrs. 
F. I. IV, 270. Seeds, insects and worms. E. B. C. N. H., 285. 

Tringince. Stints. Soft insects, worms larvae, small ciiis- 
tacea and mollusca. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 687. 

Tringa. Worms, small Crustacea and insects and their larvae, 
which are obtained either from the sand or mud banks on the 
coast, or in estuaries, or from marshy ground inland. F. I. IV, 272. 

1471. Tringa minuta. Little Stint. 

Stomachs ex mined 

14-4-09. 3 Copelatus pugnax. 

8 Small shells. (Planorbi-i sp.). 

Other insect remains unidentifiable. 
15-4-08. 12 Copelatus pugnax. 

Shell remains. 
2Q-*-09. Small .broken spiral shells. (No. 5). 

Summary. Fifteen neutral insects taken. All 3 birds had 
eaten shells. 

Scolopacince. Snipes feed on worms and soft larvse. Jerd. 
B. I. Ill, 669. 

1482. Scolopax rusticola. Woodcock Worms. Jerd. B. I. 
III. I have found worms of all sizes and shapes, grubs, larvae, 
fragments of black Coleoptera, tiny scraps of grass, and a sticky 
glutinous animal substance. Besides this their gizzards always 
contain a quantity of gravel. H. M. G. B. I. Ill, 316. Chiefly 
worms, grubs, and insects. F. I. IV, 284. Worms, small 
molluscs, and insects. E. B. C. N. H., 289. 

1483. Gallinago nemoricola. Wood- snipe Not such a great 
devourer of worms as the Woodcock : large naked soft grubs, 
small aquatic insects and remains of insects especially tiry 
black Coleoptera, small hard black seeds probably accicerUlh 
taken, though. Hodgson also notes these, ard gravel. H. ? 
G. B. I., 329. Grubs and insects. F. I. IV, 286. 

* Month not recorded by error T. B. F. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 271 

1484. Gallinago coelestis. Common Snipe. Feeding chiefly 
at night on worms and various aquatic insects. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 
675. Worms, water grubs, aquatic insects and tiny water shells 
and Crustacea, the entire food. H. M. G. B. I., 3, 345. Feed 
chiefly on worms ; also eat larvae of aquatic insects, ^irsll 
Crustacea and mollusca. F. I. IV, 288. Worms, small molluscs 
and insects. E. B. C. N. H., 290. 

Stomachs examined 

9-1-08. 3 Coleopterous elytra. 

2 Small snails. (Planorbis sp.). 

Much sand. 
23-2-09. 1 Small snail. (Planorbis sp.). 

4 Black seeds. 

1_3_09. Pieces of broken shell. 

8-3-09. 3 Snail shells. (Planorbis sp.). 

10-3-09. Remains of a broken shell (?) and some sand. 

12-3-07. 1 Snail shell. (Planorbis sp). 

12-3-09. 1 Shell. (No. 5). 

4 Black seeds. 
A little sand. 

14-3-08. 3 Coleopterous elytra. 

1 Water Shrimp. 

1 Small mollusc. 
15_3_09. 2 Snails. (Planorbis sp.). 

5 Leguminous weed seeds. 
Some grit and sand. 

19-4-09. 2 Elaterid grubs. 

1 Cutworm. 

1 Cydnus nigritus 

4 Grass blades. 

19-4-09. 1 Mesornorpha villiger. 

1 HUter sp. 

1 Lamelicorn. 

1 Elaterid grub. 

2 Cutworms 

1 Geometrid larva 

6 Blades of grass. 

13-10-09. A few snails. (No. 29.). 

12-12-07 1 Small snail.( No. 5.) 
Some sand 

Summary. Of 17 insects taken by 12 birds, none are bene- 
ficial, 6 are injurious and 11 neutral. Two birds took injurious 
insects, 4 neutral, 10 birds took shells, 5 vegetable matter, and 1 a 
shrimp. 



272 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

1485. Gallinago stenura. Pin-tailed Snipe. Of the food of 
the pintail and fantail snipe Hume says : ' In the pintail you 
find all kinds of land organisms, grubs, caterpillars, small insects, 
Crustacea, shells and grass, as well as and more frequently than 
worms, water grubs, aquatic insects, and tiny water shells and 
cmstacea which constitute the entire food, in this country at 
any rate, of the fantail. H. M. G. B. I. Ill, 347. One that I shot 
on the borders of a mustard field in the factory compourd had 
about a dozen caterpillars from 0. 5" to 1. 25''' lorg in its gizzard 
(T. R. Cripps.) H. M. G. B. I. Ill, 345. 

1486. Gallinago solitaria. Indian Solitary Snipe. They feed 
chiefly on small insects and tiny grubs. ' I have found a mass 
of minute black Coleoptera in the stomachs of two or three ; of one 
I find noted minute shells. There is always a quantity of gravel 
or coarse sand in the gizzard. H. M. G. B. I. Ill, 335. Insects 
and grubs. F. I. IV, 291. 

1487. Gallinago gallinula.J&ck Snipe. Their food here 
consists of grubs and worms, and tiny insects, shells ard Crus- 
tacea, besides which a certain amount of green vegetable matter, 
minute portions of weed, club moss, and grass, as far as I 
could make out is occasionally found in their stomachs. I have 
never chanced to find any seeds, but it seems certain they do 
eat grass seeds at times in Europe and probably they do the 
same here. H. M. G. B. I. Ill, 378. 

1488. Rostratula capensis. Painted Snipe. Exact record not 
forthcoming. I remember that insects and tiny Crustacea and 
shells land and water predominated, and there were also grubs 
and caterpillars, and some admixture of vegetable matter, but 
I have also an idea that I repeatedly noticed grain and seeds 
of sedges, and grass in their crops. Of this latter I carrot row 
be sure but I find that Hodgson notes finding both rice and 
fragments of mustard seeds in their gizzards, so that my 
remembrance is probably correct. H. M. G. B. I. Ill, 385. 
Mainly on insects grubs and mollusca, but also eat grain, seeds 
of grass, &c. F. L, 4, 295. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 273 

Stomachs examined 

15-10-09. A few small snails (No. 29.) 

Of the Limicolae most species are migrants as a rule visiting 
plains or the neighbourhood of the sea coast in the cold 
weather. 

(Edicnemidae and Glareolidae are mostly plains residents. 
They are generally distributed, the various species haunting dif- 
ferent localities, being found on dry plains, the sea shore, hill and 
forests tracts. Some are resident and some migratory. 

The Parridae or Jacanas are found in the neighbourhood of 
tanks and rivers in the plains of India and in Burma. 

Charidriince or Plovers are mostly found in the plains as 
winter visitors, these migrants being more numerous in the 
North-western portion of the Empire. Three or four species are 
residents in the plains, some extending into Burma. The 
members of the genus Mgi litis are all winter visitors to the 
plains, two species, however being confined to the coast, namely, 
geoffroyi and mongolica ; all are migratory. 

Hcematopodince. The Oyster Catcher frequents the sea coast 
only, while the Stilts and Avocets are met with in various parts of 
India, the Ibis-bill even in hill tracts. 

Totaniince. All the sandpipers (Totanus) are winter migrants 
to India, and though generally distributed are more numerous 
in the more Northern parts of India ; one or two species are con- 
fined to the coast. 

The Stints (Tringa) are most numerous on or near the coast. 
Some extend inland along river beds and all are winter visitors. 

Scolopacjice. The Wood-cock and Wood-snipe breed in hill 
tracts the Himalayas, the former occurring generally throughout 
hill tracts in India in the cold weather. Other snipes are mostly 
winter visitors, haunting wet or damp localities, and but rarely re- 
corded as breeding on the plains. G. solitaria, however, haunts 
high lands and R. capensis is a local migrant. 

This order is of considerable economic importance. The 
Plovers are certainly beneficial in one or two cases, but from a 

18 



274 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

food standpoint most are probably of little importance. Most are 
excellent eating, and the Snipes probably afford more in the way 
of sport than any other group of birds in India. 

GAVLE. 

Skuas, gulls and terns live chiefly on fish, and Crustacea, 
a few on insects and others on carrion and refuse, and they 
either pick their prey off the surface of the water or plunge for it. 
Jerd. B. I. Ill, 828. The food consists mainly of fish, molluscs, 
crustaceans and worms, but it is varied in the stronger forms by 
small mammals, young birds and eggs. Skuas give chase to their 
smaller kin and force them to disgorge the fishes they have just 
caught, while even solan geese are sometimes victimized. Insects and 
their larvae, turnips, berries and grain are also eaten by these omni- 
vorous but useful creatures. Their main sustenance is naturally 
derived from the ocean, or its oozy shores, but flocks are com- 
monly seen on pastures and arable lands near the beech, or fol- 
lowing the plough further from the sea. E. B. C. N. H., 302. 

Larince. Gulls. Fish, worms and garbage thrown from 
ships. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 829. They feed but little on living fish, 
chiefly on dead fish, Crustacea, and garbage of all kinds floating 
or on the shore ; and inland they eat insects and worms, eggs ard 
weakly or young birds. F. I. IV, 298. 

1489. Larus ichthyaetus. Great Black-headed Gull. Fish. 
B. N. H. S. J. XV, 70. 

1490. L. ridibundus. Laughing Gull. Fish. B. N. H. S, 
J. XV, 70. Occasionally feeds in ne,vly ploughed fields. Jerd. . 
B. I. Ill, 832. 

1491. L. brunneicephalus. Brown-headed Gull. Fish. B. N. 
H. S. J. XV, 70. Occasionally feeds in newly ploughed fields. 
Jerd. B. I. Ill, 832. 

1495. L. cachinnans. Yellow-legged Herring Gull. Fish. B. 
N. H. S. J. XV, 70. 



MASON AND LEFEOY. 275 

Sternince. Terns. Always seek their food while flying, occa- 
sionally plunging into the water for it, but generally seizing it of! 
the surface ; a few hunt over marshes and fields, and eat grasshoppers 
and other insects. They subsist chiefly on living prey especially 
fishes and many Terns also feed on Crustacea or various floatirg 
animals that they scoop up from the sea, and others live to a great 
extent on insects. F. I. IV, 306. 

The food consists of fish and crustaceans, insects said some- 
times to be taken on the wing frogs, newts, locusts, grasshoppers , 
caterpillars, leeches, molluscs and medusae. E. B. C. N. H., 303. 

1496. Hydrochelidon hybrida. Whiskered Tern. Aquatic food, 
but not infrequently hunting over fields, &c., on grasshoppers, 
caterpillars and other insects. Jerd. B. Ill, 837. Aquatic irsect, 
varied by frogs, newts and small fish. E. B. C. N. H., 837. 

1498. Hydroprogne caspia. Caspian Tern. Fish and prawns. 
Jerd. B. I. Ill, 837. F. I. IV, 310. 

1499. Sterna anglica. Gull-billed Tern. Feeds alike on aqu- 
atic food, and on grasshoppers, beetles and other insects. Jerd. 
B. I. Ill, 836. Aquatic food and insects. F. I. IV, 312. 

1501. S. media. Smaller Crested Tern. Fish. F. I. IV, 314. 

1502. S. bergii.L&ige Crested Tern. Fish. F. I. IV, 314. 

1503. S. seena. Indian River Tern. 

Stomach examined. 

7-9-08 3 Dragorifties. Beneficial insects. 

1506. S. fluviatilis. Common Tern. Fish-eating exclusively. 
F. I. IV, 318. 

1509. S. sinensis. White-shafted Tern. 

1510. S. minuta. Little Tern. 

1511. S. saundersi. Black-shafted Tern. The three small 
Terns feed chiefly on fish. F. I. IV, 321. 

1512. S. melanauchen. Black-naped Tern. Fish. B. N. Ji. 
S J. XIII, 152. 



276 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

1513. S. ancestheta. Panayan Tern. Chiefly small fish and 
Crustacea (whatever it can pick up from the sea). F. I. IV, 324. 

1514. S. fuiginosa. Sooty Tern. Fish, cephalopods, and 
Crustacea picked up from the sea. F. I. IV, 323. 

Anous. The Noddies. Mollusca and fatty matter on the 
water. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 845. Floating mollusca or dead fish or 
offal on the sea. F. I. IV, 328. 

Larince. " The Gulls are sea birds as a rule, though many 
of them are found about rivers and marshes, and even inland far 

from water Many of them are migratory Seven species have 

been recorded on Indian coasts and rivers, but whilst all of these 
occur to the Westward in Sind, only four have been observed in 
the Bay of Bengal, and but two in Ceylon. " 

All species except L. hemprichi are migratory, visiting India 
in the winter. L. hemprichi, L. gelastes, and L. affinis are more 
confined to the sea coast than the other four species. 

These birds no doubt do some damage by destruction of fish 
on which they largely feed when on the sea coast, but considering 
the numbers in which these birds occur, comparatively little 
damage is done, as the fish diet consists largely of dead fish, the 
birds therefore acting as scavengers. When inland their diet is 
somewhat different, and then consists to some extent of insects, 
but chiefly of carrion ; in one or two instances Gulls are undoubted- 
ly beneficial, and notably L. ridibundus, when found inland feeding 
largely on injurious insects. If fish manure is used in any local- 
ity in which these birds are numerous, the manure must be spread 
and dug or ploughed in immediately, or it will be found that the 
greater proportion, if not all, of the manure will be taken off for 
food by these birds if left exposed on the land for even a short 
time. 

The Sternice or Terns. 

SternincB or Terns haunt different localities. Some seven 
species are entirely Sea-Terns, and these live for the most part on 
fish and are therefore possibly injurious to some extent. They live 



MASON AND LEFROY. 277 

much more on live fish than dead, and so their diet differs consi- 
derably from that of the Gulls. Of the species not generally found 
on the sea coast H. hybrida is an inland resident throughout India, 
S. anglica, S. fluviatilis, and the three Ternlets (sinensis, minuta 
and saundersi) are of general occurrance, and S. seena and S. melan- 
ogastzr preferably frequent rivers. 

The Terns are probably mostly migrants, going North to breed 
in the hot weather ; the river Terns, however, breed in large 
quantities in India. The Terns do not appear to be of any bene- 
ficial importance, and need more or less specific distinction. 

Rhynchops. Small fish, crustaceans, &c., E. B. C. N. H., 304. 

1517. Rhynchops albicollis. Indian Skimmer or Scissorsbill. 

Asserted to pick up small fish and Crustacea but I have 

generally discovered merely a little oily fluid. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 
847. Fish. F. I. IV, 328. The skimmer haunts large rivers. 

Stercorariidce. Skuas live chiefly by robbing other birds. 
Jerd. B. I. Ill, 828. Rob Gulls, Terns and Petrels of their food. 
A. le M., 230. Rob sea-birds of fish and other food. At times 
the Skuas feed on eggs, on young and sickly birds, and on some 
mammals. F. I. IV, 328. 

1518. Stercorarius crepidatus. Richardson's Skua. 

1519. Stercorarius pomatorhinus. Pomatorhine Skua. Of 
both these species. ' The food consists chiefly of fish, which 
the smaller gulls are forced to disgorge, while Kittiwakes and 

the like are themselves devoured in default of other prey; 

Rob even Terns. E. B. C. N. H., 305. Skuas are sea birds. 

Steganopodes. Pelicans, Frigate-birds, Cormorants, Gannets, 
and Tropic-birds. These birds are almost exclusively piscivorous, 
and are therefore generally regarded as injurious. 

STEGANOPODES. 

Pekcanidce. Pelicans. They live on fish, and when in flocks 
often capture their prey by forming in single, double or even 
triple line across a piece of water, and driving the fish before 



2 "8 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDlA. 

them by beating the water with their wings. When the fish 
are driven into shallow water, the Pelicans scoop them up 
into the'r pouches. F. I. IV, 333. 

1520. P. roseus. Eastern White Pelican. Clears whole 
tanks and " jhills " of fish. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 856. 

1523. P. philippensis. Spotted-billed Pelican. Used by 
natives for catching fish of species of Colisa and Anabas. 
Jerd. B. I. Ill, 860. Feeds young on water weeds. B. N. B. 
S. J. XIV, 401. 

Fregatidce. Frigate-birds. Live by piracy ; do not confine 
themselves to fish taken by other birds ; they often capture 
flying fishes, cuttle fishes, crabs or even yourg turtles. F. I. IV, 
338. Rob Gannets, Terns and Gulls of their prey. A. le M., 240. 

Phalavocoracidce. Cormorants and Darters. 

Phaacr coracince. Cormorants. Fish. F. I. IV, 340. The 
food normally of fish is varied by crustaceans or even frogs and 
newts. E. B. C. N. H., 78. 

1527. P. fuscicollis. Indian Shag. Trained for fishing. Jerd. 
B. I. Ill, 863. 

1528. P. javanicus. Little Cormorant. 
Stomachs ex mined. 

13-2-07. "'1 

24-3-09. 

26-5-08. 

28-5-07. All the^e birds contained remains of fish'only. 

1-6-08. 
11-10-07. 
11-10-07. 

Plotince. Darters or Snake-birds. 

1529. Plotm m^anogaster. Indian Darter or Snake-bird. 
Entirely fish. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 866 ; and F. I. IV, 344. 

Suidce. Gannets, Solan Geese or Boobies. Fish. Tropical 
species very generally on flying-fish, but remains of cuttle fish 
have been found in their stomachs. F. I. IV, 346. Surface 
swimming fish, squids and the like. E. B. C. N. H., 75. It is 



MASON AND LBFROY. 279 

conjectured that Gannets destroy more than 100,000,000 of her- 
rings yearly. A. le M., 238. 

1530. Sula leucogaster. Booby or Brown Gannet. Flying- 
fish. 

PhaethontidcB. Tro pic-birds. The food consists of fish, squids, 
and other produce of the sea. E. B. C. N. H., 73. 

1534. Phaethon ftavirostris. White Tropic-bird. Flying-fish. 
Jerd. B. I. Ill, 350. 

Of th2 Steganopodes the Pelicans occur both on the sea and 
inland. The Cormorants are to be found in all well watered dis- 
tricts in India and Burma, one species only P. carbo being found 
commonly on the sea coast. 

The Darter has an inland distribution similar to that of the 
Cormorants. 

The remaining families, the Gannets, the Tropic-birds and the 
Frigate-birds are all entirely confined to the sea and ocean. 

TURBINAKES. 
PETRELS. 

Petrels are birds of the ocean, passing the greater part of their 
time far from land. They feed on Crustacea, mollusca, small fish, 
alive or dead, and similar aliment. Some of them, as the Ful- 
mars and Daption, follow ships and feed on any refuse, especially 
fat, that may be thrown overboard. F. I. IV, 352. 

Putrescent fish, and any other floating animal and oily 
matter. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 826. 

Procellari formes. (Albatrosses and Petrels). ' The food con- 
sists of fish, crustaceans, Cephalopods and other molluscs, jelly 
fish and the like. Albatrosses and Fulmars being said to force 
other species to part with their booty, after the manner of Skuas, 
or even to devour nestlings. Herbage is rarely found in the 
otomach, but blubber of dead animals and scraps thrown over- 
board ire eagerly swallowed/' E. B. C. N. H., 62. 



280 fHE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

HERODIONES, 

Hero Hones. Ibises, Spoonbills, Storks, Herons. Carnivore us ? 
especially fish and are seldom used for food. 
S. M. F. Z., 1908. 

Sub -order : Platalece. 

I^ididce. Chiefly aquatic insects, molluscs, crustaceans and 
worms ; but small fish, lizards, newts, frogs, grasshoppers and 
beetles form part of the diet. E. B. C. N. H., 100. 

1541. Ibis melanocephala. White Ibis. Molluscs, Crustacea, 
insects, worms ; in water. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 768 ; and F. I. Ill, 
362. 

1542. Inocotis papillosus. Black Ibis. It feeds chiefly on 
dry land. It eats beetles, crickets and all sorts of insects, 
occasionally crabs, prawns, and aquatic insects. Adams states 
it feeds on carrion ? Beetles, scorpions, &c. It is accused by the 
n^ives of consuming much grain. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 370. Said 
to feed partly on grain, but chiefly on insects, Crustacea, &c. 
F. I. IV, 363. This bird is called the "planters' friend" by 
many Europeans on account of the number of crickets they kill 
in indigo fields. B. N. H. S. J. XV, 13. 

Sakri. 

27-9-09. (A young bird). 

7 Brachytrypes achatinus. 

9 Forficulid claspers 
*6 Camponotus compressiis. 

*1 Polyrhachis simplex. 

1 Onitis philemon. 

1 Copris sp. 

*1 Onthophagus dama. 

*1 Onthophagus cervus. 

*1 Onthophagus longicornis. 

*4 Onthophagus gazella. 

*3 Pheropsophus bimaculatus. 

*2 Chlaenius marginatus. 

*1 Chlcenius circumdatus. 

*1 Chlcenius sp. (Pusa No. 1825). 

*1 Macrochilus 3-pusMr* f us. 

*2 Garabids spp. 

7 Cybister confusus larvae. 

75 Hydrophilus sp. larvse. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 281 



Sakri contd. 



*l Opatrum sp. 

*2 Opatrum depressum. 

17 Agrotis sp. larvae (cutworms). 

2 Prodenia liltoralis larvae. 

1 Sphceridium annulatum. (Belostomid). 

9 Small frogs. 

4 Small ash. 

1 Young paddy plant ? 
27-9-09. 6 Brac'iytrypes achatinus. 

1 Onitis philemon. 
*8 Onthophagus spp 
*3 OntJiophagus gazella. 
*3 Aphodiids. 
*1 Tenebrionid. 
10 Hydrophilus sp. larvae. 

4 Cybister confusus larvae. 
25 Frogs. 

1 Small fish. 

2 Earthworms. 

Summary. Two birds took 141 insects, of which 32 are 
injurious, including 17 cutworms, 109 neutral and are beneficial. 
Both took frogs, which at this time of the year appear to be the 
main food, and fish. One contained earthworms. 

These records not the summary are of the total number of 
insects and animal food found in the stomachs of the two birds. 
But I do not believe that the black Ibis is either capable of taking, 
or content to take, such small insects as some of those recorded. 
In the first record all the frogs were in a more than semi-digested 
condition, and therefore none of their stomachs could be examined. 
In the latter, however, 7 frogs were whole and had only just 
been eaten when the bird was shot. An examination of their 
food proved that they had fed entirely on small beetles, mostly 
Onthophagus, while a few Aphodiids and Tenebrionids were also 
present. We may therefore assume with certainty that the 
smaller insects food found in the bird's stomachs was derived from 
the stomachs of the frogs eaten. It is possible that the Carabids 
in the first record were taken by the bird, but they are often taken 
by frogs and were so most probably in this case. A star is placed 
against the insects in the stomach records to denote the insects 
which were almost certainly derived from the frogs, and these 



282 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

insects have not been included in the summary. It is interesting 
to note that the Cybister and Hydrophilus larvae averaged about 
3 inches in length. 

1544. Plegadis falcinellus. Glossy Ibis. Frequents edges of 
tanks, &c., and feeds on insects, Crustacea, mollusca, worms, &c. 
" Adams states it feeds on carrion, beetles, scorpions, &c., but I 
think he has confounded this bird with the last. (/. papillosus}." 
Jerd. B. I. Ill, 771. Insects, Crustacea, mollusca, worms, &c. 
P. I. IV, 365. 

P/ataMcE. Spoon-bills. Fish, frogs, crustaceans, molluscs 
beetles, and insect larvae. E. B. C. N. H., 103. 

1545. Platalea leucorodia. Spoon-bill. Feeds in shallow water 
on various aquatic insects and larvae, small Crustacea and mollusca, 
and also frogs and fish. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 764. Insects, Crustacea, 
worms, mollusca and on water plants, occasionally on fish 
and frogs. F. I. IV, 367. 

CICONIA. 

ClCONIID^E. 

Ciconia. The storks feed on insects, reptiles, fish and crup- 
tacea. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 735. 

1546. Ciconia alba. -White Stork. Grasshoppers, lizards, 
snakes, centipedes, &c. Often hawked by the Bhyri. Jerd. 
B. I. Ill, 736. Insects, reptiles, fish. F. I. IV, 369. 

1547. G. nigra. Black Stork. Chiefly aquatic food. Jerd. 
B. I. Ill, 735. 

"The Adjutants and true Storks are all more or less foul 
feeders, and in the East do much service as scavengers/' Watt. 
S. 2909. 

1548. Dissura episcopus. -White-necked Storks. Grass hop- 
pars, lizards, crabs and molluscs and aquatic insects. Jerd. B. I. 

III, 737 Insects, reptiles, frogs, molluscs, crabs, fish &c. F- I. 

IV, 371. Large molluscs and frogs. 



MASON AND tEFROY. 283 

1549. Xenorhynchus asiaticus. Black-necked Stork. Various 
water animals, fishes, and molluscs. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 734. Like 
other Storks on fish, reptiles, frogs, crabs, molluscs, &c. F I 
IV, 373. 

Leptoptilus. The Adjutants devour carrion of all kinds, as 
well as fish, reptiles, Crustacea, &c., and serve the purpose of 
scavengers in some of our large cities. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 729. 

1550. Leptoptilus dubius. Adjutant. In Calcutta and some 
other large towns, the Adjutant is a familiar bird unscared by 
the near approach of man or dog, and protected by law in some 
cases. It is an efficient scavenger attending the neighbour- 
hood of slaughter-houses and especially burning grounds of Hin- 
doos, where the often half-burnt carcases are thrown into the rivers. 
It is also diligently looks over the heaps of refuse and offal thrown 
oib ii th.3 s breaks to await the arrival of scavengers carts, where 
it nay ba sesri in company with dogs, kites and crows. It likes 
fco vary its food, however, and may often be seen searching 
ditches, pools of water and tanks for frogs and fish. In the 
Deccan it soars with Vultures ready to descend on any carcase 
that may be discovered. The Adjutant occasionally may seize a 
crow or a mynah, or even as related a cat. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 731. 
Adjutants as useful scavengers are in many places protected by 
law. Their food, however, is not confined to carcases and offal, 
thsy live also at times on fish, reptiles and frogs like other Storks^ 
F. I. IV, 374. Adjutant is a Stork which has acquired the habits 
of a Vulture. Forsaking to a large extent frogs and such like 
cUlicitfias, which constitute the normal diet of its kind, it lives 
chiefly oa offal. Dewar B. P., 29. Improved sanitary conditions 
hive baaishsd both offal and Adjutants from the city. Imp 
Gaz., I. 264. In the Daman a sort of field mouse (Drui), is often 
very destructive to the crops, and multiplies exceedingly till 
drowned out by the floods, or exterminated by the Adjutant and 
Cranes. Punjab Gaz., Delhi. Dead cow. B. N. H. S. J. Russell, 
viper. B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 501. Eating carrion with Vulture 8 



284 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Bomb. Gaz., Vol. XX, 520. Eaten by Mohammedans. B. N. H. 
S. J. XV, 75. 

1551. Lsptoptilus javanicus. Small Adjutant. Fish, frogs 
and more especially crabs, and also on large locusts. Jerd. B. I. 
Ill, 733. Fish, reptiles, locusts, crabs, &c. F. I. IV, 375. 

1552. Pseudotantalus leucocephalus. Painted Stork. Fish, 
frog, or crab. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 762. Usual habits of Storks. F. 
I. I, 377. Feeds young on water weed. B. N. H. S. J. XIV, 
401. 

1553. Anastomus oscifans. Open-bill. It lives chiefly on 
molluscs, especially on the large Ampullaria, but also on various 
others. Col. Sykes states that he found it feeding on a species 
of "Unio." ' In default of its proper food, will eat fish, frogs, 
&c., but shell-fish are its peculiar aliment." Jerd. B. I. Ill, 765. 
Chiefly on fresh-water mollusca, especially Ampullaria and it is said 
Unio and they occasionally eat fish, crabs c., but subsist mainly 
on mollusca. F. I. IV, 378. Natives say they feed on dead bodies. 
B. N. H. S. J. XVI, 15. Extracts Unio and other molluscs from 
their shells. E. B. C. N. H., 97. 

ARDE.E. 

Ardeidce. Herons. They feed chiefly on fish, also on crabs, 
frogs and a few on insects which they seek for on land, among 
cattle. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 738. 

1554. Ardeamanillensis. Eastern Purple Heron. Fish, frogs, 
&c. Jerd. B. 1. II, 744. In the higher hills the streams have 
no fish and very little insects or reptile life to form food for these 
birds. B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 974. 

1555. Ardea cinerea. Common Heron. Chiefly fish : a fa- 
vourite quarry for the Bhyri. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 742. Chiefly small 
fish and frogs. F. I. IV, 383. " The eel's foe, the Heron." 
Ardea cineria. Dewar, B. P., 6. Stomach examined. 10-12-07 
3 frogs. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 285 

1556. Ardea sumatrana. Dusky-grey Heron. Small fish and 
crabs. F. I. IV, 383. 

1562. Bubulcus coromandus. Cattle Egret. It always attends 
cattle whilst grazing and picks up grasshoppers and the larvae 
disturbed by them ; now and then it varies its food with small 
fish, tadpoles and aquatic insects. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 750. This 
Egret is a constant attendant on cattle, either oxen or buffaloes, 
frequently perching on their backs and feeding mainly on the 
insects that are attracted by cattle, and on grasshoppers. F. I. 
IV, 389. Leech or parasite off aligators ? (B. coromandus), white 
Egret. B. N. H. S. J. II, 224. Follows grazing cattle, "but like 
other Egrets it feeds also on fish and tadpoles.' 5 Bombay Gaz., 
Ahmedabad, IV, 95. 

Stomachs examined. 

3-12-09. 1 Chrotogonus sp. 

9 Other grasshoppers. 

1 Sternolophus quinque-pustulatus. 

1 Spodoptera mauritia larva. 

2 A gratis sp. larvse. 

3 Hyostola trochala larvse. 
34 Sarcophagidce. 

2 Muscidce. 

28 Earthworms. 
19-12-09. 14 Grasshoppers (several species.) 

3 Chrotogonus sp. 

1 Onthophagus gazella. 

1 Carabid sp. 
19 Sarcophagidce. 

3 Tipulid (?) larvae. 
10 Earthworms 

19-12-09. 

10 Chrotogonus sp. 

2 Acridium ceruginosum. 

2 Atractomorpha crenulata, 

5 Remains of about five other grasshoppers. 

6 Agrotis sp. larvae. 
2 Small Carabids. 

1 Opatrum depressum. 
24 Sarcophagidcs. 
12 Muscidce. 

6 Remains of about six other flies, probably all Muscids. 

4 Earthworms. 

Summary. Of 166 insects taken by 3 birds, 3 are beneficial, ': 
neutral and 160 are injurious. 



286 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

1565. Ardeola grayi. Pond-heron. Its especial food is 
crabs. It will, of course, also eat fish, frogs, and various 
aquatic insects. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 751. 

It feeds chiefly on frogs and crabs, occasionally on fish, 
insects, &c. F. I. IV, 394. 

Stomachs examined. 

14-1-08. 3 Brachytrypes achatinut. 
1 Grasshopper head- 
3 Small ants. 

1 Caterpillar ? 
24-3-09. 1 Atractomorpha crenulata* 

2 Tryxalids. 
1 Oxya sp. 

1 Crickets leg. 
5 Zygopterids. 
1 Crocothemis servillia. 
17 Dragon-fly larvae. 
1 Pelogonus marginatuf- 
1 Hyphoporus ap c r. 
1 Dytiscid. 
Several broken elytra (Dytispids ?> (4 spms.) 

1 Moth's antenna. 

2 Tabanidae. 
1 Museidae. 

1 Small fish, 
1 Prawn. 
-t-09. 5 Trithemis pallidinervis. 

9 Plalygomphus dolobratus. 
12 Zygopterids. 

One blade of grass or water weed. 
7-9-08. 3 Trilhemis pallidinervis, 

Summary. Of 76 insects taken by 4 birds, 52 are beneficial, 
14 injurious, and 10 neutral, 3 birds took beneficial insects, 2 
in]urious and 2 neutral, 1 contained a fisu, and a prawn, and 
another a blade of grass. 

1567. Butorides javanica. Little Green Heron. Crabs and 
other food. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 753. Crabs, frogs, small fish, &c. 
F. I. IV, 396. 

1568. Nycticorax griseus. Night Heron. Fish, frogs, &c. 
F. I. IV, 398. 

1569. Gorsachius melanolophus. Malay Bittern. Feeding at 
night on fish, crabs, worms, &c. F. I. IV, 399, 



MASON AND LEPEOY. 287 

Ardetta. Go out to feed at night on fish, frogs, water in- 
sects and worms, and about the sea-coast on crabs and other 
Crustacea. Some occasionally feed during daylight. F. I. IV, 
400. 

1572. Ardetta cinnamomea. Chestnut Bittern. Fish. B. N. 
H. S. J. XIII, 153. 

1573. Dupetor flavicollis. Black Bittern. Shell and other 
fish and water insects. B. N. H. S. J. XV, 77. 

1574. Botaurus stellaris. Bittern. Fish, frogs, water-insects, 
crustaceans and worms. F. I. IV, 405. 

Frogs, fish, &c., and it is recorded that a Water Rail entire 
was taken out of the stomach of one in Scotland. F. I. Ill, 
758. 

The Platalece or Ibises and Spoonbills occur practically 
throughout India. They are mostly marsh loving birds and are 
probably of little importance, one species at any rate in some part 
of the year is considered beneficial, namely, the Black Ibis (In* 
ocotis papillosus). 

Ciconice or Storks occur throughout India, being perhaps less 
common towards the South. Of these birds the Adjutants, which 
have a somewhat different diet from that of other Storks, are 
regarded as being beneficial as they are good scavengers. "The 
adjutants and true storks are all more or less foul feeders and 
in the East do much service as scavengers/' (Watt). 

The Ardece comprising the Herors, Egrets and Bitterns occur 
in all parts of India, and are residents generally performing local 
migration according to food supply. They are marsh birds es- 
sentially, one genus Lepterodius frequenting the sea-shores 
Most feed on fish, frogs and such food as is to be found in shallow 
water, and are therefore not beneficial, while one or two of the 
Egrets, which at times obtain a certain amount of their food on 
dry land, are then beneficial, feeding as they then do very largelv 
on grasshoppers. 



288 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

f i PHQENICOPTERI. 

Phcenicopteridce. Flamingoes. They appear to feed on 
various minute animal and vegetable substances which they find 
n fchs soft mud of the lakes and salt water lagoons they 
frequent. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 774. 

Aquatic herbage, frogs, crustaceans, molluscs, and so forth. 
E. B. C. N. H., 107. 

1575. Phoenicopterus roseus. Common Flamingo. It feeds 
on minute molluscs, small insects and Crustacea, worms, &c., 
which it scoops up by its inverted bill. I have however generally 
found some mud in the stomachs of those I have examined. 
It also eats confervas, and other soft vegetable matter, and in 
confinement, will eat bran mixed with water, boiled rice, &c. 
Jerd. B. I. Ill, 776. 

The food of flamingoes consists, according to most authors, 
partly of small crustaceans, worms, and insects, with larvae and 
ova, partly of vegetable matter, but Gadow says essentially of 
organic slime, confervae. F. I. IV, 409. 

What they actually feed on is not at all well known- a 
considerable part of their diet is vegetarian, but they are also 
in all probably far more given to animal food than has generally 

been believed to be the case. Mr. Eagle Clarke (Rhone 

delta) almost entirely, if not quite, on a tiny Phyllopod, the 
brine-shrimp (Artemia salina), which he states is found there in 
marvellous abundance. S. B. I. D. A., 6. 

Vegetarian largely : small phyllopod : shrimps (Artemia salina . 
B. N. H. S. J. XI, 7. 

ANSERES. 
SWANS, GEESE AND DUCKS. 

Fam. AnatidcB. 

They feed on mud flats, and beds of such food plants as Zos- 
tera (Grasswrack). The usual food is vegetable consisting of 



MASON AND LEFROY. 289 

grass, CJiara, Zostera, Ulva, and other plants. E. B. C. N. H., 
113-114. 

SUBFAM. Cygnince. Swans. Swans feed on the seeds and 
roots of water plants and also on grass. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 777. 
A. le M., 251. 

1577. Cygnus olor. Mute Swan. They feed chiefly on aquatic 
plants, partly on insects and their Iarva3, molluscs, etc. F. I. 
IV, 414, 

1578. Cygnus musicus. Whooper. These swans are, I fancy, 
chiefly vegetarians, feeding mostly on herbs, and their seeds and 
sometimes flowers, weeds and grasses. H. M. G. B. Ill, 48. 

Their (C. bewicki) food, like that of other swans, seems 
to consist of seeds, stems, and corms of rushes, and various kind 6 
of aquatic herbs together with perhaps worms and the larvse 
of insects. H. M. G. B. Ill, 52. Aquatic plants. E. B. C. 
N. H., 135. 

SUBFAM. Anserince. Geese. True Geese feed entirely on 

vegetables, grazing on grass and young corn, their short stout 

bill being well suited for biting off the shoots. Jerd. B. I. 
Ill, 778. 

They generally feed on grass or other green vegetable food ; 
some forms however feed on marine plants. F. I. IV, 415. 

! Anser. All Grey Geese feed chiefly by day among green corn, 
stubble, peas, beans or clover, retiring at night to sand banks, 
or mud flats in winter. E. B. C. N. H., 132. 

1579. Anser 'erus. Grey Lag Goose. The Grey Lag Goose 
is occasionally met with in vast flocks which feed on young corn, 
grass, etc. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 779. 

They feed exclusively, so far as my experience goes, on 
tender shoots of grass, young corn, and other spring crops, and 
on grain of all kinds gram when nearly ripe being a great attrac. 
tion to them. Three or four hundred of these birds will clear 



290 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

off an incredible amount of grain in a morning. H. M. G. B. 
Ill, 57. 

Grass and green crops. F. I. IV, 417. If there are any 
young crops of wheat in the district, the sportsman should be 
out before daybreak, and he may then get within easy shot of 
the birds as they feed on the young growth. Geese are almost 
invariably vegetarians, and get their food by grazing, in which 
way large flocks will do immense damage to young crops in a 
single night. They are destructive birds also, owing to the fact 
that they pull so much of what they feed on up by the roots and 
thus destroy what they do not eat. S. B. I. D. A., 69. 

1580. Anser albifrons. White-fronted GOOBC. It is stated to 
frequent marshes and rarely to visit cornfields. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 781. 

The specimens I killed had fed entirely on some species of wild 
rice, and on tender green shoots of some grass or grain. H. M. G. 
B. I. Ill, 75. 

1581. Anser erythropus. Dwarf, or Lesser White-fronted, 
Goose. 

Food similar to that of other Geese grain and green shoots. 
H. M. G. B. I. Ill, 78. 

1583. Anser indicus. Barred-headed Goose. It grazes on the 
river banks and fields of corn, chenna, etc. Jerd. B. I. I, 783. 

As soon as the crops are cut and carried and the stubbles have 
b^en pretty well gleaned, they disappear. They feed in fields, 
browsing on the young wheat or waddling among the heavy clods 
amidst which the gram grows, to devour the young shoots, or later 
the ripening pods of this vetch. All vetches, lentils, grain, tender 
grasses, and herbs, seem equally to suit their taste, and so long as 
these are available they eat nothing else. H. M. G. B. I. Ill, 84. 

The usual habits, feeding on grass and crops of wheat, barley, 
gram, etc. F. I. IV, 420. 

They are, of course, almost entirely vegetable feeders, and 
it is wonderful what damage a flock can do to young crops even 
in a single night ; and where they are numerous they take no 



MASON AND LEFROY. 291 

small percentage of the wretched villager's winter crops. They 
will eat almost any young tender green stuff, but probably prefer 
the late rice crops to any other. S. B. I. D. A., 87. 

SUB-FAMILY. Anatince. Typical ducks, Sheldrakes, etc. 

1584. Sarcidiornis melanonotus. Comb Duck or Nukta. Go 
to paddy fields to feed on the grain. (Theobald). Their food 
consists chiefly of tender shoots and seeds of aquatic herbage, 
worms, larvae of water insects, small shells, fresh water Crustacea 
and occasionally a tiny fish or two. They do not visit, as a 
rule, or rob our fields much in Upper India ; I have never found 
any grain, but wild rice seed, nr their stomachs and only once or 
twice have I seen them browsing on the turf near the water's 
edge. ' At night they roam over the paddy stubble, and I 
have found their stomachs full of rice during the harvest/' 
(Tickell). H. M. G. B. I. Ill, 91-96. 

Though Hume never found any grain except wild rice in 
the stomachs of the birds he examined, others, besides Tickell t 
have found that cultivated rice forms one of the articles of 
their diet. They eat all sorts of shoots, roots, seeds, etc., of 
water plants, varying this vegetarian food with a little animal 
stuff now and then, such as worms, spawn, larvae, and perhaps 
an occasional fish. S. B., 9, $7, 28. 

1585. Asarcornis scutulatus. White-winged Wood-Duck. 

" My birds were practically omnivorous, but would touch no 
dead animal food." Small fish, worms, grasshoppers, frogs, and 
snails only eaten if alive. Paddy and husked rice, but preferred 
animal food to grain. ' Green food of all sorts they refused 
unless very hungry, and I could never induce them to eat any 
sort of water weed." S. B. I. D. A., 38. Jj 

1586. Rhodonessa caryophyllacea. Pink-headed Duck. 
v 'Shillingford) Half-digested water weeds and various kinds of 

small shells. H. M. G. B. Ill, 176. 



292 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Referring to the above ' this is important, however, as it 
shows that it is both an animal and a vegetarian feeder." S. B. 
I. D. A., 46. 

1587. Tadorna cornuta. Sheldrake. 

All those I have examined had fed chiefly on land and water 
shells, and fresh water shrimps of kinds, but also contained some 
green vegetable matter and a quantity of coarse sand. H. M. 
G. B. Ill, 136. 

Their food appears to be mainly animal and consists of 
shell -fish, water-insects, prawns, and shrimps, and practically all 
or any of the small animal life found on the shores at low tide 
or in shallow water. A small amount of vegetable matter is doubt- 
hss eaten now and then, but merely as one takes vegetable with 
a meat diet. S. B. I. D. A., 111. 

Aquatic plants, molluscs and insects. E. B. C. N. H., 128. 

1588. Casarca rittila. Ruddy Sheldrake or Brahminy Duck. 
Grazes in the young cornfields just like Geese ; it also picks 

up seeds of grass, grain, etc. A writer in the Indian Sporting 
Review for 1854 states, that " it is often found devouring carrion 
on the banks of rivers." Jerd. B. I. Ill, 792. 

No doubt they will graze on young grass and corn when this 
comes down to the water's edge, and in jhils gobble up various 
kinds of water weeds and seeds, but tiny fry of fish, ehrimps 
and all kinds of small land and water shells have proved the chief 
food of those I have examined. On the Jumna I continually 
found their stomachs half full of small spiral univalve shells, 
Tame ones I had were fed upon tiny frogs, and though they are 
decidedly omnivorous, and do at times eat grain and green shoots 
of all kinds, I think that in India at any rate the animal element 
predominates in their diet. 

It has also been charged against them that they feed on 
carrion. Mr. Rainey writes " I have heard from several sports- 
men that it is a foul feeder, and I myself on one occasion, in 
1868, actually saw it eating carrion." H. M. G. B, III, 128, 



MASON AND LEPROY. 293 

They are very carnivorous and will take almost anything they 
can get, including fish, flesh, and all kinds of grain, water-weeds, 
seed, and growing crops, in which they are sometimes found 
grazing like Geese. There can be little doubt also that they 
sometimes fall so low as to take ofial. S. B. I. D. A., 130. 

It feeds partly on grass or crops like Geese, partly on molluscs 
and Crustacea. F. I. IV, 429. 

Grazes on corn and grass like a Goose. E. B. C. N. H., 129. 

Feeds often on grain inland in large flocks. Punjab Gaz., 
Ludhiana, 15. 

Dendrocycna. In winter the flocks cause great damage to 
corn or rice near the lagoons, and other waters they frequent. 
E. B. C. N. H., 130. 

1589. Dendrocycna javanica. Whistling Teal. 

Feeding like Geese on short fine grass, and Mr. Cripps says 
" This species is often seen on freshly ploughed paddy fields, 
evidently feeding on the grains of paddy that have been left above 
ground after sowing." They are chiefly, I think, vegetarians, and 
devour rice especially, wild and cultivated, most greedily, but 
they also feed on all kinds of seeds, rushes and other water 
plants, the herbage, bulbs and corns of these and on grass, and 
at times small shells, worms and a variety of insects are found 
in their stomachs. Once I shot one that disgorged as it fell, a 
tiny silvery fish about two inches in length. But as a general 
rule (and I have dissected many), they feed principally, I believe, 
on vegetable substances. H. M. G. B. Ill, 111-112. 

They feed on anything and everything, but bring up their 
young principally on animal food, and they themselves, in the 
adult state, probably prefer vegetable food. They graze often in 
the rice-fields, but only when the plant is very young, and I have 
seen them grazing on the coarse dhub-grass which often grows on 
sandy spots at the edges of tanks and jhils in the cold weather. 
I have found that they eat large quantities of a very small fresh- 
water snail. S. B. I. D. A., 103. 



294 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

1590. Dendrocycna fulva. Large Whistling Teal. 

Their food during the cold season consisted mainly of rice, 
but they are very miscellaneous feeders, and I have found in their 
stomachs, not only all kinds of aquatic seeds, bulbs, leaf-shoots, 
and buds, grass and rush, but small shells, insects, worms, and 
larvae, and on one occasion a tiny frog. Still, grains of rice, wild 
and cultivated, constituted the bulk of their food. H. M. G. B. 
Ill, 121. 

These duck or teal are practically as omnivorous as is the 
domesticated duck, and will eat almost anything they can get 
hold of, preferring perhaps a vegetarian to a meat diet. S. B. I. 
D. A., 96. 

1591. Nettopus coromandelianus. Cotton Teal. 

Rice grains, especially the seed of the wild rice known as 
" Pasiae " in Upper India, and of the shoots of various kinds of 
aquatic plants, water insects, and their " larvae/' Minute fishes 
and fresh-water crustaceans ? H. M. G. B. Ill, 104. 

1592. Anas boscas. Mallard. 

(Macgillivray) " Seeds of Graminese and other plants, fleshy 
and fibrous roots, worms, mollusca, insects, small reptiks, ard 
fishes are the principal objects of its search." H. M. G. B. Ill, 
154. 

Chiefly on vegetable food, though it occasionally feeds on 
Crustacea, mollusca, frogs, or, fish. F. I. IV, 436. 

1593. Anas pcecikrhyncha. Spotted-billed Duck. 

They are very miscellaneous feeders, and I have found woiirs, 
small frogs, and insects and their larvae in their stomachs; but 
grain (wild rice by preference), and all kinds of rush, grass and 
water-plants and their roots, constitute the bulk of their food, 
and "I have often examined birds that had fed on vegetable 
matter only." H. M. G. B. Ill, 167. 

They are principally vegetable feeders, and do a good deal of 
damage to rice, both when young and when in the ear, trampling 
down a great deal more than they eat ; they also, at times, eat 



MASON AND tEtfnot. 295 

all sorts of miscellaneous food, such as water-mo llusca, frogs, 
worms, insects. S. B. I. D. A., 136. 

Their food differs little from the mallard. F. I. IV, 438. 

Stom'ichs examined. 

12-1-08. A few small water snails ( Vivipara crassa ?}. 
12-1-08. One small water snail, and some vegetable matter. 
12-1-08. 1 Frog: 

3 Small snails. (Vivipara crassa ?). 

Some vegetable matter. 

1594. Eunetta falcata. Crested or Falcated Teal. 

Radde tells us " that the stomachs of some he shot on the 
13th April just after their arrival, contained nothing but fragments 
of quartz and a few shoots of plants." H. M. G. B. Ill, 232. 

Its diet seems to be principally, if not wholly, vegetarian. 
S. B. I. D. A., 146. 

1595. Chaulelasmus streperus.- Gadwall. 

With us their chief staple food, so long as they can get it is 
wild rice (though in some parts they feed in cultivated rice fields 
largely), and later the seeds, leaves and flower buds of all kinds of 
rushes and aquatic plants. Insects and their larvse are also largely 
consumed, and sometimes small worms. H. M. G. B. Ill, 183. 

Food similar to the mallard. F. I. IV, 441. 

Almost entirely vegetable feeders, subsisting much on wild 
and cultivated rice, water-weeds, &c., and seldom varying their 
diet with animal food. A drake shot in Silchar was found to 
contain a mass of small white worms in addition to some water 
berries and half ripe rice. S. B. I. D. A., 151. 

(Domes at night in huge flights to feed on the weeds in the 
nala. Punjab Gaz., Ludhiana, 15. 

1597. Nettium crecca. Common Teal. 

(Theobald). ' They feed mainly on the tender shoots of weeds 
and grasses." " Their feeding places are always the swampy 
margins and weedy shallows of broads or sluggish streams." 
There they feed on wild rice, grasses of all kinds, and their 
seeds, and all sorts of tender shoots, roots, conns, and bulbs, as 



296 THE POOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

well as insects and their larvse, tiny shells and worms. But this 
animal food forms but a small proportion of their diet here ; 
indeed no traces of it have been visible in numbers that I have 
examined, and in captivity they thrive a ne pouvoir plus without 
it (which some of the larger dr.cks do not), and so I am inclined 
to grade them as essentially vegetarians. H. M. G. B. Ill, 212. 

They feed chiefly on plants. F. L, IV 444. 

Their food is undoubtedly mainly vegetable, but they do not 
despise worms, insects, etc., which may come in their way. S. B. 
I. D. A., 172. 

1598. Nettium albigulare. Andaman Teal. v 
Paddy fields to feed. H. M. G. B. Ill, 244. 

1599. Mareca penelope. Widgeon. 

" With us in the N.-W. Provinces they are more purely grass - 
eaters than any other duck." Grass chief food, mingled with 
this a few fresh water shells, insects and roots, and the leaves of 
rushes and aquatic plants, and a little grain. ' I have often 
seen them on land grazing like Geese." Along the coast on all 
kinds of shell-fish, shrimps and the like, as well as on vegetable 
matter (green sea weed ?) of various kinds. H. M. G. B. Ill, 200. 

Graze like Geese ; feed on grass, aquatic plants,' insects, 
Crustacea, and mollusca. F. I. IV, 447. 

Of two birds shot in Silchar, the stomachs contained nothing 
but the white tendril-like roots of a small water plant which 

grows profusely where the water is only a few inches deep They 

graze a good deal, like Geese, on young grass, and also young 
crops, and in addition to various other vegetable substances, eat 
water snails, worms, insects and shell-fish of sorts. Morris 
writes : " This species feeds principally on water insects and 
their larvse, small mollusca, worms, the fry of fish, and frogs as 
also the buds, shoots and leaves of plants and grass, and these 
it browses on in the day time." S. B. I. D. A., 158. 

Chiefly on grass-wrack and the like on mud-flats in winter, 
E. B. C. N. H., 126. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 29f 

1600. Dafila acuta. Pintail. 

Their food is very varied, although, like most of our fowl, wild 
rice, so long as it lasts, is their staple. But besides this, worms, 
small shells both land and water, grass and aquatic plants, 
bulbous roots and corn, and insects of all kinds are found in 
their stomachs. I think that with us they must particularly affect 
shells, because in no less than three cases out of twenty-two 
I have noted ct stomachs almost entirely full of small fragile fresh 
water shells," and in five others I have recorded shells as amongst 
the food found on dissection in the gizzards. H. M. G. B. Ill, 192. 

They feed mainly at night on vegetable food chiefly but also 
on mollusca and insects. F. I. IV, 449. 

Their food seems mainly to consist of small and fragile shell 
fish, but they also eat a large variety of other animal matter, and 
are also to a certain extent vegetarians. S. B. I. D. A., 184. 

1601. Querquedula circia. Garganey or Blue-winged Teal. 

' Weedy tanks are preferred by this teal. They live on the 
tender weeds and grasses." (Theobald). Come in some parts of 
the country in such crowds in to paddy fields as to destroy acres 
of crop at one visit. Their food is chiefly vegetable ; tender 
shoots and leaves of water plants, seeds and bulbs and corms, 
and slender rhizomes of rushes, sedges and the like form the bulk 
of their diet to which at times large quantities of rice, wild and 
cultivated, must be added. Besides this they eat occasionally all 
kinds of insects and their larvae, small frogs, worms, fresh-water 
shells, and the like ; but as a rule, this forms inland in India 
a very small proportion of their food, and no traces of anything 
but vegetable matter have been observable in the stoirachs of 
many I have examined. On the sea coast it is different. There 
I found shrimps, delicate shells, and other animal substances in 
abundance in their gizzards. H. M. G. B. Ill, 218. 

The food of this teal is chiefly vegetable. F. I. IV, 451. 
They feed in the smaller tanks and jhils, and also in the 
paddy fields, and on various young land-crops. . . .Their staple diet 



298 THE FOOD I OF BIRDS IN INDli. 

is vegetarian, and of vegetable matter the staple articles are 
rice both cultivated and wild, various kinds of reeds, roots, etc., 
and such animal matter in the shape of worms, snails and shell 
fish, etc., which force themselves on their notice. The food of the 
Garganey is both vegetarian and animal, and it subsists much on 
surface buds of water plants, and shoots of such as run along 
the surface of the water. It however also eats water-insects, 
worms, and similar food. S. B. I. D. A., 192-194. 

Stomachs examined. 

18-4--09. 4 Sinai] sheila and the remains of about seven more (Flanobig sp.) 
8 Bulbous water weed roots. 

1 Small stone. 

A large amount of sand/ 
18-4-09. 1 Small pointed shell. (Melania tuberculata). t 

2 Larger snail shells. (No. 16). 

4 Bivalves, opercula of Vivipara ? or Ampullaria ? 

2 Small black seeds. (Cf. snipe). 

7 Large piece of a Leguminous weed. 

Summary. Both birds contained shells and vegetable matter. 

1602. Spatula clypeata. Shoveller. 

Feeding near the edges of tanks in shallow water among 
weeds, chiefly on minute worms and Iarva3, which it sifts from 
the mud. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 797. 

Doubtless in more savoury localities, such as the more 
aristocratic Ducks frequent, insects and their larvae, worms, small 
frogs, shells, tiny fish, and all kinds of seeds and shoots of water 
grasses, rushes and the like, constitute their food ; but when they 

take up their abode on one of these it is impossible to say 

what they will not eat. H. M. G. B. Ill, 143. 

It is almost omnivorous, but feeds principally on insects and 
their larvae, worms, molluscs, and on various organic substances 
that are found on the borders of swamps and ponds. F. I. IV, 
453. 

As noted by Hume, they feed with bills and heads under 

water, collecting the numerous forms of animal life which 

bound, and .... They are omnivorous, and will eat almost any- 



MASON AND LEFROY. 299 

thing, but at the same time, animal food undoubtedly forms the 
major portion of their diet. S. B. I. D. A., 199. 

The diet includes herbage, worms, molluscs, crustaceans and 
insects. E. B. C. N. H., 124. 

1603. Marmaronetta angustirostris. Marbled Duck. 

' (Favier.) In Tangiers they feed on winged insects ; in 
Bind the major portion of their food consists of leaves, shoots, 
rootlets, corms and seeds of aquatic plants, intermingled with 
worms, fresh- water shells, insects of all kinds and their larvae." 
Frog ? H. M G. B. Ill, 239. 

" Its food is practically omnivorous/' S. B. I. D. A., 205. 

Netta. Teal feed chiefly at night on water-plants, seeds, 
worms and insects. E. B. C. N. H., 126. 

1604. Net'a rufina. Red-crested Pochard. 

Although mainly vegetarians, they indulge more in animal 
food than the Pochard. I have found small frogs, fish spawn, 
shells, both land and water, insects, grubs, and on three or four 
occasions tiny fish, mixed with the vegetable matter, sand and 
pebbles that their stomachs contained. Usually at least two- 
thirds of their food is vegetable, leaves, stems ; fleshy rhizomes, 
rootlets, etc., of arrow-grasses, Sagittarias, Horn-worts, and the 
like ; but at times they feed largely on the animal substances 
above enumerated, and I examined one male that had entirely 
gorged itself on fishes about an inch in length/' They graze, 
and pick up small shells and insects at the water's edge. H. M. 
G. B. Ill, 258. 

Its food is chiefly vegetable, though it feeds largely on 
insects, worms, frogs and fish. F. I. IV, 458. 

In the centre of huge bhils, '' feeding on and amongst the 
aquatic plants, especially on a long trailing, moss-like weed which 
grew several feet under water. Moreover, I have found in their 
stomachs the roots of plants which do not grow except in fairly 
deep water." Food mostly aquatic, yet they have been known 
to feed on young crops on dry land. Naturally they are principally 



300 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

vegetable feeders, .... but they feed on fish, shell fish, and water 
insects. Hume found one that had gorged itself on fish about an 
inch in length and I dissected one that had eaten, as far as I 
could see, nothing but the tiny red crabs which swarm in such 
countless myriads along the shores of rivers, swamps/' etc. S. B. 
I. D. A., 212. 

Nyroca. The majority .... feed at dawn or dusk on aquatic 
plants and seeds, molluscs, insects, and even small fish and frogs, 
chiefly obtained by diving. E. B. C. N. H., 123. 

1605. Nyroca ferina. Pochard or Dun-bird. Dive for the 
roots and submerged stems and foliage of all kinds of aquatic 
plants . . .in Upper India. . . almost entirely vegetable. I have fourd 
a few insects, grubs, worms, tiny frogs, and a good many shells 
in their stomachs, but seeds, flower buds, shoots, leaves, stems 
and roots of water plants, together with fine pebbles and sand of 
which there is always a considerable quantity, have always consti- 
tuted the bulk of the contents of these. One examined ' ' proved 
to have fed chiefly on marine plants, small Crustacea and mollusca. 
H. M. G. B. Ill, 249. They feed largely by night but also in the 
day, and obtain much of their food, which is chiefly vegetable, by 
diving. F. I. IV, 459. Their bad flavour is, of course, due to 
their food, which when they take to the sea-shore, consists o 
tiny marine shell fish, fishes, etc. ; whereas, when in fresh water 
it consists mainly of a vegetable diet, though, like all ducks, they 
are more or less omnivorous. Principally night feeders. Hume 
once or twice caught them feeding on wild rice land, but nearly 
all their diet is one obtained from fairly deep water amongst roots 
and similar things. S. B. I. D. A., 220-221. 

1606. Nyroca ferruginea. White-eyed Duck. They are with 
us quite omnivorous ; no doubt their food chiefly corsists of vege- 
table matter, leaves, stems, roots and seeds of grass, rush, sedge 
and all kinds of aquatic herbage ; but besides this I have roted 
at different times, amongst the contents of their stomachs, delicate 
fresh water shells and shrimps, insects (including several species 



MASON AND LEPEOY. 301 

of Neuroptera and Lepidoptera) and their larvae, worms, grubs 
and small fishes. H. M. G. B. Ill, 269. Practically omnivorous, 
like most ducks, it appears to feed to a considerable extent on 
insects and their larvae, Crustacea and mollusca. F. I. IV, 461. 
Omnivorous, like all ducks, this species probably makes its diet 
fully f animal. Those birds which I shot in the Diyang and other 
hill streams had all (in addition to the Caddis grubs, dragon fly 
larvae, and similar articles) quite a number of small fish, some of 
them three inches in length. These were nearly all of the " millers 
thumb *' species, so common in every hill-stream. S. B. I. D. 
A., 230. 

1608. Nyroca marila. Scaup. Feed on mud flats ; although 
in a wild state, it feeds chiefly on marine mollusca, yet it soon 
accustoms itself to feeding on vegetable matter, and will freely eat 
grain, especially barley. H. M. G. B. Ill, 273. Derives its name 
from feeding on mussels. F. I. IV, 463. The food of the scaup is 
everywhere chiefly of an animal character. Inland, doubtless, it 
feeds to a certain extent on water weeds, etc., these being mainly 
such as grow at some depth and are obtained by diving ; but even 
here shell fish, frogs, insects, form the greater part of its diet. 
When in its natural element, on sea in creeks, or along the 
coast, it is almost entirely an animal feeder, subsisting on 
shell-fish, small fish, and other marine small life. Its name is 
derived from its habit of feeding on mussels. S. B. I. D. A., 
237. 

1409. Nyroca fuliyula. Tufted Duck. It feeds on water 
insects and mollusca. Jerd. B. I., Ill, 815. Their food is perhaps 
more animal than vegetable. They constantly devour small fish, 
and one finds every kind of water-insects, worm, grub and shells, 
small lizards, frogs, spawn, etc., in their stomachs. Still, like the 
rest they eat leaves, stems and roots of water plants freely, and 
I have several notes of birds which had dined ,or breakfasted 
entirely off some white shining onion-like bulb. H. M. G. B. 
Ill, 281, 



302 THE POOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Their food appears to be largely animal, though of course they 
feed partly on vegetables. F. I. IV, 464. 

Its food is almost entirely animal, much the same, in fact, 
as the scaup, but it is far more a fresh water bird, and far less 
a sea bird than is that duck. S. B. I. D. A., 243. 

1610. Clangula glaucion. Golden-eye. 

(Macgillivray) Their food consists principally of the larvaB of 

aquatic insects, for which they dive in the clear water They 

also feed on small fresh-water mollusca ; but I have not observed 

any vegetable substances in their oesophagus or stomach In 

one instance I have seen remains of small fishes in the gizzard. 
....Especially in frosty weather, resort to estuaries, as well as 
the open coasts, where they procure testaceous mollusca, crus- 
tacea and fishes. (Yarrel) Principally of small fishes. H. M. 
G. B. Ill, 286. 

The stomach contained fish weeds and seed. It is said to feed 
on "Testaceous mollusca, Crustacea and fishes' also on water 
insects and grubs, and, but not often, also on vegetable food, 
principally deep-water weeds, roots and similar articles. Food 
consists almost entirely of animal matter procured by diving. S. B. 
I. D. A., 249-252. 

Erismatura. The food is of fish, molluscs, and insects. E. 
B. C. Nv H., 118. 

1611. Erismatura leucocephala. White-headed Duck. 

They are said to feed on water insects, small fishes, and 
shells as well as vegetable matter ; but I suspect that this is rather 
conjectural. H. M. G. B. Ill, 291. 

SUB-FAMILY. Mergince. Mergansers live chiefly on fish, but 
the bill of fare is varied by grain, pulse, berries, frogs, insects, 
jarvas, worms, molluscs, and crustaceans. E. B. C. N. H., 114. 

Their food consists of little but fish. E. B. C. N. S., 116. 
Chiefly on fish. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 817. 



MASON AND LEPROT. 303 

1612. Mcrgus albellus. Smew. 

Fish, crustacea and water insects. Jerd. B. I. Ill, 819. 

They feed entirely under water. I have examined many 
without ever findirg any vegetable matter in their gizzards, or 
anything but small fish and water insects, chiefly a kind of 
cricket (?) and these they pursue under water. H. M. G. B. Ill, 297. 

Its food, chiefly fish and water insects, is obtained by diving. 
F. I. IV, 468. 

(Hume) Fish. Its food is practically entirely animal, and 
consists of crustacea, molluscs, water-insects, larvae, small fishes, 
etc. S. B. I. D. A., 265. 

1613. Merganser castor. Goosander. 

The great bulk of their food is fish, good-sized ones, often five 
or six inches long, and as in the case of the smew, there are always 
plenty of pebbles in their gizzards. I have found a kind of crayfish 
and water insects in some I have examined. H. M. G. B. Ill, 304.. 

Fish. F. I. IV, 470 

As purely an animal diet as that of any duck in existence, 

and the greater portion of it consists of fish Very often flocks 

will work in concert in their fishing. . . .and will almost exter- 
minate a shoal. They are most voracious birds and do a great deal 
of damage in fishing rivers. Mr. E. T. Booth, in " Rough Notes/' 

writes : " After a shot .... at a number of these birds scores 

of small rudd and roach were discovered lying on the surface 
where the flock had been resting/' Mr. Finn in the Asian: "A 
captive I had under observation devoured no less than forty fish, 
about two inches long, at a meal." S. B. I. D. A., 275. 

The Anseres comprise a very important group of birds. Not 
only are many species kept domestically for the value of their 
products, but many of the wild species form a large natural food 
supply for man. 

They are to a very large extent migrants and therefore we 
cannot regulate their occurrence in any one district except by 



304 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

almost complete extermination. Many do an enormous amount 
of damage to young growing crops chiefly cereals. 

The three main divisions are the Swans, the Geese, and the 
Ducks. 

The Swans are by no means of general occurrence in India in 
fact being rare birds, and therefore of no agricultural importance. 
They certainly never appear in numbers worth consideration. 

The Geese without exception appear to do a great deal of 
damage to grain and other crops ; and this is not only due to the 
fact that they feed on the grain and young growth, but they also 
pull up the young plants, so preventing all chance of any after- 
growth which would result if only the leaves were eaten off. Con- 
siderable damage is also done by treading down the crops affected. 

Ducks. We have nothing definitely on record about the food 
of ducks except in a generalized way. It is however evident 
that little, if any, benefit is derived from them as far as their feed- 
ing qualities are concerned. We can class none as beneficial, most 
will at present come under the neutral heading and some are 
apparently injurious to a greater or less extent. Amongst the 
latter group we may specially mention the " Garganey " or 
"Blue-winged Teal' 3 (Querquedula circia), the "Whistling 
Teal" (Dzndrocycna javanica), and the 'Spotted-bill Duck' 
(Anas pcecilorhyncha) all of which are said to do a great deal of 
damage at times in paddy fields. One or two other species also 
feed on paddy to a minor extent, especially " the Large Whistling 
Teal " (D. fulva), the " Widgeon " (Mareca penelope), the'" Gad- 
wall" (Ghaulelasmus streperus), the "Cotton Teal* (Neltopus 
wromandelianus) , and the ' ' Brahminy duck" (Casarca rutila), 
the two first being of the most importance, and many species 
feed on young crops generally. 

It is also well to note that those species which are injurious 
to crops are the best for food. 

Large numbers of Ducks are kept over in the hot weather in 
* Tealeries/ see Hume and Marshall, III, 209, 



MASON AND LEFROT. 305 

The members of the genus Merganser feed almost entirely 
on fish, and therefore possibly do some damage locally. 

Ducks of most species are obtained for the markets in great 
numb3rs and it is questionable as to whether the benefits derived 
from these local industries counterbalance the value of the crops 
destroyed. Some beneficial action may be attributed to them 
because they eat snails, etc., to a great extent and in most cases 
water insects (some of these however may be beneficial). 

With regard to the benefits derived from the sport in connec- 
tion with ducks and geese what has already been noted under the 
heading of game birds (Phasianidce} equally applies to this group 
and also to the Snipes. 

PYGOPODES. 

PodicipdicB. 

The Grebes frequent ponds, etc., feeding on various insects, 
Crustacea, young fish, etc. They frequently swallow feathers. 
Jerd. B. I. Ill, 820. 

All Grebes have a habit of eating their own feathers. No 
stones are found in the gizzard and the feathers apparently are a 
substitute. F. I. IV, 473. A. le M., 287 (part). 

Fish when procurable, small reptiles, amphibians, molluscs, 
crustaceans, insects and vegetable matter, feathers. E. B. C. 
N. H., 54. 

1615. Podicipes cristatus. Great Crested Grebe. 

Fish : when confined ... it took ordinary fish readily (I have 
seen it eat a dozen as large as large sprats and thicker, and then 
want more). It did not seem to like prawns, nor would it eat a 
small siluroid fish which I offered. On a few occasiors I saw 
it deliberately eat one of its own feathers. A. S. B., 66-726. 

Young on fish. B. N. H. S. J. XVII, 515. 

1616. Podicipes nigricollis. Eared Grebe. 

Feed freely on small prawns and fish. A. S. B., 66-727. 

J617, Podicipes albipennis. Indian Little Grebe, or Dabchick. 

20 



306 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

It hunts insects and crustaceans when at large, as well 
as fish and appreciated a varied diet of these when in captivity. 
A. S. B., 66-729. 

In captivity ' before turning out . . . refused a sharp 
toothed goby ; it took however a spider and some mole crickets, 
small fish, Crustacea ; larvae of water-insects, etc." Jerd. B. I. 
Ill, 823. 



III. SUMMARIES. 
VEGETABLE DIET OF BIRDS. 

Fruit eating birds are extremely numerous, though in most 
cases wild fruits only are taken. Practically all frugivorous birds 
eat the fruits of the common wild Fid, and it is possible that where 
figs (Ficus cunia) are cultivated, some of these birds may take them, 
but we have no records of any such kind. Those birds most likely 
to do so are the Barbets, Orioles and Mynahs. 

Records from the hills are few, and it is from the hills that we 
would most expect records of damage to fruits. Of the plains 
birds the Rose-Ringed Paraquet is a very general pest ; the habits 
of this bird are discussed on page 188. Few other birds are of any 
importance with regard to their fruit-eating propensities, though 
at times White-eyes and Flower-peckers do no little damage to 
mangoes, etc. Fruits of various sorts in orchards are frequently 
damaged by the Tree-pie, by Bulbuls of various species, and by 
Barbets. 

The following is a list of cultivated fruits with the birds at pre- 
sent recorded as taking or damaging them : 

Apples. (Pyrus malus). Loxia. 

Pears. (Pyrus communis). Dendrocopus aurice.pt. 

Apricots. (Prunus armen iaca). Palceornis schisticepi. 

Cherries. (Primus avium). Corvus splendent. 

Hypsipetes psar aides. 

Mycerobas melanozanthus. 
Peaches. (Primus persica). Dendrocitta rufa. 

Molpastes bengalensia. 

Thereiceryx zeylonicut. 
Guavas. (Psidium guyava). Zoster ops. 

Dicoeidce. (D. erythrorhyticltum). 

Loriculus vernalis. 
Pomegranates. (Punica yranatum.) Palceornis schisticeps. 

Molpastes bengcilentii. 

JakjFruit. (Artocarpus integrifolia.)} Corvus splendent. 



308 



THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 



Litchi. (Nephelium litchi). 
Loquats. (Eriobotrya japonica). 

Mangoes. (Mangifera indica). 
Grapes. ( Vitis vinifera). 

Cape Gooseberries. (Physalis peru- 
viana. 

Plantains. (Musa sapientium). 



Palceornis torquatus. 

Eudynamis fionorata. 

Dendrocitla rufa. 

Molpastes bengalensis. 

Thereiceryx zeylonicus. 

Zosterops. 

Dicceidce. (D. erythrorhynchum). 

Treronince. 

Carpophagince. 

Molpastes hcemorrhous. 

Trocalopterum cdchinnans. 

Merula simillima. 

Dendrocitta rufa. 

Dryonastes ruficollis. 

Molpastes bengalensis. 

Bichoceros bicornis. 

Psittaci. 

Otididce. 

Chloropsis harduiwei. 

Molpastes burmanicus. 

Gennceus melanotus. 

Molpastes hcemorrhous. 

Otocompsa emeria. 

Acridotheres tristis. 

Grus communis. 
Corvus macrorhynchus. 
Corvus splendens. 
Pyrrhocorax alpinus. 
Dendrocitta rufa. 
Hypsipetes psaroides. 
Molpastes bengalensix. 
Oriolus kundoo. 
Pastor roseus. 
Eudynamis honorata. 
Stauropala sordida. 

Of cultivated berries the only record we have is that in soir.e 
Madras hill districts (Shevaroys) some considerable damage is done 
at times, though not habitually, to coffee plantations by Bulbuls 
and Barbets, which migrate to the plantations to eat the coffee 
berries when their food supply has failed in their regular haunts. 
Practically all species of frugivorous birds take wild berries of various 
kinds, and should these occur in any locality in which there are cul- 
tivated berries of any kind, local damage may occur. We must 
not, however, assume from their wild feeding habits, that these 
birds will take the berries, but they must be proved definitely to 



Oranges. (Citrus aurantium). 
Raspberries. (Bubus idceus). 

Strawberries. (Fragaria vesca). 



Watermelons. (Citruiius vulgaris). 
Mulberries. (Morus indica). 



MASON AND LEFROY. 309 

take the cultivated berries before any steps should be taken against 
them. 

With regard to the vegetable diet of birds other than fruit it 
has already been mentioned that we can attach little, if any, im- 
portance in India to weed-seed or weed eating birds ; we attach no 
more importance to them than we do to weed eating insects. As a 
rule a weed-seed eating bird is spoken of as beneficial, while we sel- 
dom hear it said or see it stated that an insect with identically the 
same food material is beneficial. It is needless to say that both 
th3 birds and the insects have the same economic importance. 

Weed-seeds are eaten by most of the Passeres, notably Frin- 
gillidcB (Finches), Stwnidce (Mynahs and Starlings), Motacillidce 
(Pipits), and to a less extent by Corvidce (Crows and Magpies), Meruli- 
nce (Thrushes), &c. Amongst other orders the Columbidce (Pigeons 
and Doves) are the greatest consumers of weed seeds, next to them 
being the Phasianidce and Pterocletidce, the latter of no economic 
importance agriculturally though said at times to take pulses. It 
must also be noted that in many instances in which the food has 
been recorded as grain it in reality consists of weeds. Self-sown 
corn or other self-sown cultivated seed is as much a weed as such 
plants which grow wild and are not under cultivation. This, I 
believe, applies at present to India as much as to other countries, 
in spite of the fact that we have in India a much more mixed culti- 
vation than is generally the case elsewhere. 

CEREALS AND OTHER CROPS. 

The following is a list of cereals and other crops the seeds or 
plants of which are eaten or damaged by birds : 

Grain of various kinds is taken by practically all species of seed 
eating birds. Crows (C. splendem and C. macrorhynchus) at times 
do some considerable damage to various grain crops. The Starlings 
(Pastor roseus, Acridotheres tristis and A. ginginnianus) have a large 
proportion of the diet consisting of grain, whilst the Ploceidse prac 
tically feed entirely on grain when available. Of other Passeres 
the Sparrows and Buntings at times do some damage to these crops. 



310 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

The Parrots (Psittaci) are the most notorious grain pests, 
especially the Rosn-ringed Paraquet. Of the Columbinse C. inter- 
media and C. eversmanni are the only two species of importance, 
though most Pigeons other than Fruit Pigeons and all Doves take 
grain to some extent, the Doves chiefly by gleaning in the fields after 
the crops are off the land. All the Phasianidse notably the Peacock, 
the Chukor, Jungle-fowl and the Common Grey-Quail, take grain 
to some extent as also some of the Cranes and Bustards. Several 
Ducks also feed to some extent on this kind of food. 

OATS (Avena sativa). 

There are practically no references to birds eating oats. They 
form a very considerable item in the diet of the two common 
crows Corvus splendens and C. macrorhynchus and have 
also been taken from the stomachs of Acridotheres tristis 
Gymnorhis flavicollis, Motacilla alba, M. personata, and Turtur 
suratensis. The Black partridge (F. vulgaris) gleans oats to 
a very marked extent. The crows take the ripe grain, 
newly planted seeds, and the young plants. 

BARLEY (Hordeum vulgar e). 

Barley has been taken from the stomachs of Conus splendens 
and Turtur suratensis, and is also said to be taken by Wood 
Pigeons, Caccabis chucor and Nyroca marila. Barley is not 
a general grain food for birds. The Demoiselle Crane is said 
to take barley seeds, newly sown. 

PADDY (Oryza sativa). 

Paddy is far the most commonly eaten of all the Indian grain 
crops, and at times a vast amount of damage is done to this 
crop not only by the grain being eaten but also to the young 
plants. In some localities crows are responsible for son:e 
damage, but by far more is done by various species of Weaver 
birds (Ploceidce) and Munias (Viduince) some of the latter 
being known by the name of rice sparrows. Turtur risorius 
does some damage, feeding entirely on this grain when near- 
ly or quite ripe. A few of the Phasianidce take paddy most 



MASON AND LEFROY. 311 

ly by gleaning, whilst the Moorhen ( Porphyrio poliocephalus) 
does immense damage to this crop. Of the cranes Grus 
communis and G. antigone do vast damage to paddy when 
young, in some cases attacking the seed beds. Many other 
birds are said to feed on paddy to some extent, but perhaps 
more damage is done by Geese and one or two species of 
ducks (Dendrocycna spp, Anas pcecilorhyncha, Querquedula 
circia) than by all other species of birds together. They eat 
the grain as it becomes ripe. Wild rice forms the staple food 
of some ducks. 

t 

MILLET (Panicum miliaceum). 

This and other millets are taken by various birds chiefly the 
Quails, probably when available forming the main food of 
the Common Grey Quail. Millets have been taken from the 
stomachs of Corvus splendens, Anthus maculatus, Calandrella 
dukhunensis, Turtur risorius and Francolinus vulgaris, but in 
no case in large numbers and none of these birds appear 
to feed habitually on this seed. 

JUAR (Sorghum vulgare). 

This crop does not appear to be eaten by a great variety of 
birds. The Mynahs, Acridotheres tristis and A. ginginia- 
nus have been noted as attacking this crop, and Corvus 
splendens to a minor extent. Emberiza melanocephala is 
also reported to attack juar. This crop is the favourite 
grain of the Rosy Pastor and an enormous amount of damage 
is done by this bird, especially in the Punjab. 

Juar is particularly liable to the attacks of birds of all sorts 

after it begins to ripen. Betoul, D. G., 1907. 
i WHEAT (Triiicum vulgare). 

Wheat has been taken from the stomachs of Corvus splendens, 
Calandrella dukhunensis, Palceornis torquatus, P. cyanoce- 
phalus, Turtur suratensis, and T. risorius, and is also eaten 
by the Peacock, the Chucor and the Common Grey Quail. 
Of these birds, however, P. torquatus is the only real general 
pest to this crop, whilst the Peacock and the Chucor do 



312 THE FOOD OP BIRDS 18 INDIA. 

but local damage. The Quail probably obtains nearly all itrf 
grain food by gleaning. Crows do some considerable damage 
to the young plants, but nothing in comparison with that done 
by some of the Cranes, Geese and Ducks which often destroy 
acres of the young plants in a night. The Demoiselle Crane is 
said to be partial to wheat grain, and attacks newly sown grain. 
MAIZE (Zea mays). 

The common species of Crows take some considerable amount 
of maize, and all the common species of Myrahs especially 
Acridotheres tristis and Sturnopastor contra. Maize has been 
taken from the stomachs of these and also Gymnorhis flavi- 
collfe and Palwornis torquatus which is as great a pest on 
this crop^as on all other grain crops. Suthora ruficeps and 
Pavo cristatus (Peacock) are also said to take this grain. 
The young plants do not appear to be damaged by birds, 
though the grain is in most cases taken before it is ripe. 

LEGUMINOUS CROPS. 

GROUND-NUT (Arachis hypogcea). 

Occasionally taken by Acridotheres tristis, the common Mynah. 
In some localities this crop is much damaged by the Indian 
House Crow (C. splendens), and Corvus macrorhynchus. 

RAHAR (Cajanus indicus). 

Seeds have been taken from the stomachs of lurtur suratensis, 
T. risorius, and Francolinus vulgaris, but in small quantities 
only. The Common Quail (Coturnix communis) is said to 
glean the seeds from stubbles, and some of the Cranes 
especially Grus communis feed on the flower and pocs alike. 
Some of the Bustards are partial to mustard floweis and 
therefore are almost certain to take the floweis on this ciop, 
if hot too high. 

* CHENNA (Cicer arietinum). The Chick-pea. 

Not a common food. It is said to be taken by the Peacock, 
two species of Quails (C. communis, and C. coromandelica) 

* The author's meauiug is not clear, Cicer arietinum, the chick pea is commonly called 

Gram " whereas Phatevlus mungo is '* Mung " or " Urid." [H.M.L,] 



MASON AND LEFROY. 313 

by the Demoiselle Crane and the Barred-headed Goose (An- 
ser indicus). 
LENTILS (Lens escuienta.) 

Coturnix coromandelica feeds occasionally on this crop, and 

also Geese (Anser indicus). 
"Mora" (Phaseolus aconitifolia). 

The only grain said to be touched by any of the Sand-grouse, 
and is rarely eaten by one species of this family Pterocles 
fasciatus. Some, however, are said to eat bears (probably 
referring to this bean), and some to eat pulse P. alchatm. 
* GRAM (Phaseolus mungo). 

The Peacock, Common Quails, Common and Demoiselle Cranes, 
one or two geese (Anser ferus and A. indicus) and Casarca 
rutila all feed to a minor extent on Gram. The quail, as 
usual, being said to take this food by gleaning. 
PEAS (Pisum sativum). 

All species of birds that take pulse of any kind will be found to 
take peas. They have been taken from the stomachs of 
Corvus splendens, Palceornis torquatus, and Turtur risorius, 
and most Wood-pigeons, Quails, Partridges and Cranes also 
take them to some extent. Two species of Bulbuls are said 
to take peas, namely, Molpastes hcemorrhous, and Otocompsa 
emeria, and to do some damage to garden produce in thi s 
way. 
VETCHES (Vicia saliva ?). 

Said to be taken by Chibia hottentotta, Carpodacus erythrinus^ 
Copsychus saularis, and Coturnix communis, but with the 
exception of the latter species probably only when the usual 
food supply has failed, or by mistake with other food. 

OTHER CROPS. 

POTATOES (Solanum iuberosum). 

Rooks and Moorhens (Porphyrio). 

<' "&" * The author's meaning is not clear, C cer arietinum, the chick pea is commonly called 
'Gram " whereas Phascolu* 'mungo is "Mung" or " Urid " [H. M. L.J 



143 THE F00t> OF BIRDS IN INDlA. 

CHILLIES (Capsicum frutescens). 

Corvus splendens, but only when these are put out to dry, after 

the harvest. No bird appears to touch them in the field. 
The Nepal Chilli (C. fastigatum) is said to be taken occasionally 

by Macropigia rufipennis, the Andaman Cuckoo-dove. 

TIL (Sesamum indicum). 

Sypheotis aurita the Likh, is said to take the buds. 

SWEET POTATOES. (Ipomcea batatas). 

(Taken by the Common Crane in China). 

LINSEED (Linum usitat ssimum). 

These seeds have been taken, though seldom so, from the sto 
machs of Corvus splendens, Turtur risorius, and T. suratensis. 

SAFFLOWER (Carthamus tinctorius). 

Apparently at times forms some considerable proportion of 
the food of the Common Crane. 

BUCKWHEAT (Fagopyrum esculentum). 

Suthora ruficeps, a crow-tit, is said to take this grain. 

TURNIPS (Brassica rapa). 

Wood-pigeons and Bustards are both recorded as taking tur- 
nips. In India the pigeons are the only birds likely to do 
any damage to this crop as it is essentially a garden crop 
in this country. 

MUSTARDS (Brassica spp). 

Mustard has been taken from the stomachs of several species 
of birds, all of which do some considerable damage to 
this crop. The two Doves Turtur risorius and T. suratensis 
take the seeds from the plants as well as by gleaning, but 
Palceornis forquatus is a serious pest to the mustard crops. 
Other birds such as the Partridges and Bustards eat a consi- 
derable amount of the leaves and shoots of the mustard 
plants, and Rostratula capensis, the Painted Snipe, is said 
to eat the seeds. Sarson (B. campestris) is taken by 
Otis tetrax. 



AtfD LEFROtf. 315 

VEGETABLES. 

The two Cranes Grus communis and An'hrop ides virgo are 
both said to take various vegetables and possibly do some 
damage. 

WATERMELONS. Grus communis (Common Crane). 
NUTMEGS (Myristica fragrans). 

The Pied Imperial Pigeon is the only species of bird that is re- 
corded as eating these nuts, a fact which it's generic name, 
Myristicivora seems to imply. 
PALM NUTS (Areca catechu). 

These nuts are eaten by some of the Fruit Pigeons and Parrots. 
WALNUTS (Nuciphraga hemispila). 

Nuts are taken generally by Magpies, Jays, and (Sittidee) 
Nuthatches. 

ANIMAL DIET OF BIRDS. 

Mammals. Rats and mice of various species are the two forms 
of this kind of food most usually eaten. Rats are injurious, but 
mice we cannot include as such as many species are of no agricul- 
tural importance, and shrews are often not discriminated from mice 
in referring to bird's food and this latter group is beneficial. 

Mice are eaten occasionally by one or two Kingfishers, by 
nearly every species of Owl and Hawk, and occasionally by 
Moorhens and Cranes. 

Rats are taken by very much the same class of birds, but not 
apparently by the two latter groups. 

Small mammals, probably referring to rats and mice, are said 
to be eaten by Shrikes, Ground Cuckoos, Horn-bills, Owls and 
Hawks of various species, and occasionally by Cranes and Bustards. 

Hares, which are of little if any economic importance, are taken . 
by a few of the larger species of Owls and Hawks. Squirrels, w r hich 
are injurious, are taken occasionally by Lanius lahtorr, by Owls 
(Syrnium ocellatum and Nyctej_jc tndi^c) and one or two species 
of Eagles (Aquil'i vindi'in^ A. m_cul _/ , Hier<Jtus pennatus, and 
Spiz etus cirrhttus.} The common striped squirrel (Sciurus palma- 




316 THE POOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

rum) is here regarded as injurious as it is said to carry the plague flea. 
It feeds largely on insects, and may often be seen carrying large 
crickets such as Brachytrypes achitinus, and Gryllotilpa africana. 

Voles and other small rodents are taken by Owls, and Shrews 
by Strix flammea, Bubo ignavus, Athene brama, Haliastur indus i 
Circus macrurus and Buteo desertorum. 

Moles by Asio otus. 

Of the larger Mammals Wolves, Foxes and Antelopes are 
taken by Aquila chrysavtus, the latter being also taken by Falco 
cherrug, Gazelles by Astus palumbirius ; bears (young), ibex, 
chamois, children, goats, markhor and Ovis ammon are taken by 
Gypaetus barb^tus ; Fawns of deer by Bubo ignavus, Huhua 
nepalensis and Aquil i chyrysaetus ; Ewes and lambs by the larger 
Corvidce, Aquila chrysaetus and Haliastur albicilii. 

Leptoptilus dubius is said to have taken a cat ; bats are occa- 
sionally taken by Dendrocitta rufa, Ictinaetus malayensis, Aesalon 
chiquera and Falco peregrinator. 

Birds. Most predaceous birds, especially Owls and Hawks 
take a variety of birds as a portion of their food ; as a rule the larger 
species also take game birds of all kinds and some of them make 
inroads on poultry and pigeons, &<c. 

Attacks on poultry runs and domesticated pigeons are practical- 
ly confined to various members of the Falconida?. Of this group 
the Eagles almost without exception take chickens, pigeons and 
sometimes ducks. Of Kites both the common species Haliastur 
indus and Milvus govinda are at times great nuisances near chicken 
runs, and especially during their breeding seasons, they appear to 
take pigeons, but seldom game and rarely ducks. Falco spp. 
Astur palumbarius, Lophospiza trivirgatus, and Spilornis cheela, all 
do some damage, the latter having once been recorded as having 
taken a Turkey. Owls but rarely take poultry ; Acridotheres tristis 
is said to take chickens' eggs. 

Pheasants are said to be taken by Huhua nepalensis, Spizae\'us 
nepalensis, Astur palumbarius, Falco peregrinus and Ictinaetus 
malayensis. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 317 

Partridges are said to be taken by Aquila vindhiana, Astur 
palumbarius, Hieraetus fasciatus, Ictinaetus malayensis, Spizaetut 
irrhatus, S. nepalensis, Falco peregrinus, F. barbarus. 

Pea-fowl by Bubo bengalensis, Haliaetus fasciatus, Spi aetut 
cirrhatus. 

Quail by Butastur teesa, Circus macrurus, Ictinae us ma ayensis, 
Spizaetus cirrhatus, and Falco peregrinus ; C. communis by Glau- 
cidium cuculoides, C. coromandelicus eggs by Centropus sinensis, 
and Eupodotis edwardsi is also said to take Quail's eggs. 

Jungle-fowl by Ictinaetus malayensis, Spizaetus cirrhatus, and 
by Hieraetus fasciatus which bird also takes Spur-fowl. 

(Moor-fowl are taken by Aquila chrysaetus, and Fal.o peregrin- 
us). 

Floricans (Sypkeotis aurita, &c.) are taken by Aquila vindhiana 
and by A. heliaca. 

Ducks and geese are taken by Falco peregrinus and by nearly 
every speci'es of Eagles (Aquila chrysaetus, C rcaetus gallicus, Hie- 
raetus fasciatus, Halietus leucoryphus, Polioaetus ichthyaetus) and 
also by Circus ceruginosus. 

Small birds may form part of any predaceous bird's food, 
but they do so of Hawks and Owls especially. Other than these, 
Crows, Magpies, Shrikes, King-fishers, Adjutants, and Skuas all 
take them to some extent. Nestlings are said to have been taken 
by Starlings. 

Eggs are largely eaten by various members of the Corvidae. 
Hooded, common, and carrion Crows, Ravens, Magpies and Jays 
Also by Larince (Gulls), Stercorariidce (Skuas), Limicolce, Ralida> 
Pelargopsis gurial, Bucerotidce (Hornbills), Centropus sinensis, and 
Circus spp. 

Small birds have been taken from the stomachs of Dendrocitta 
rufa, Butastur teesa, Milvus govinda, Haliastur indus, Astur badius, 
and Pernis cristatus. 

Fish. It is a noticeable fact that though fish form a large 
proportion and in some cases the whole of the diet of many birds, 
yet among the Passeres, which contain more than half the known 



318 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

species of birds in India, we find no single species feeding on live 
fish and only a few members of the family the Crows eating dead 
fish 'that is carrion. 

Amongst other families the Terns (Sternince), Skuas (Stercora- 
ridce), Frigate-birds (Fregatidce), Gannets (Sulidce), Tropic-birds 
(Ph'ie'hontidce), Pelicans (Pele anidce), Cormorants (Phalacrocora- 
cince) and the Mergansers (Mergince) feed almost entirely on fish, 
the last three groups occurring inland on rivers and lakes, &c. The 
King-fishers (Alcedinidce) , and the Herodiones which include 
Ibises, Spoon-bills, Storks, and Herons, feed largely and, in some 
cases, almost entirely on fish. 

Many species of Owls and Hawks feed habitually on fish, and 
with the Fish-owls (Ketupa], the Ospreys (Pandionidce) and the Fish- 
Eagles (Haliaetus) this is practically the only class of food taken. 
Ducks (Anatidce), Cranes (Gruidce) and the Waders (Limicolce) all 
feed on fish to a small extent, while the Gulls practically eat nothing 
but dead fish. 

Fish have been taken from the stomachs of the Pied King- 
fisher (Ceryle varia) the Pond Jleron (Ardeola grayi), and the 
Black Ibis (Inocotis papillosus). 

El : recorded as taken by Spilornis cheela, and Ardea cinerea. 

Flying-fish taken by Frigate-birds (Fregatidce), Sula leucogaster 
the Brown Gannet and Phaethon flavirostris, the White Tropic- 
bird. 

Fish-Spawn. This form of food is apparently taken only by 
one or two species of ducks, Sarcidiornis melanonotus, Netta rufina, 
Nyroca fuligula and possibly by the Dipper (Cinclus asiatica). 

Frogs. No bird takes frogs entirely as the only article of food. 
Frogs are eaten to some extent by Crows (Corvidce), Starlings (Sturni- 
dce), King-fishers (Alcedinidce), and Ground Cuckoos (Centropus), 
but by none of these groups so much as by various species of Owls 
and Hawks or by the Storks, Herons, &c. (Herodiones), and by 
Ducks especially the Mergince. Shrikes (Laniidce), Bustards (Oti- 
didce), and Cranes (Gruidce) are also said to eat frogs. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 319 

Frogs have been taken from the stomachs of the following : 

Indian House Crow (Corvus splendens), Jungle Crow (C. macrorhyn- 
chus), Jungle Babbler (Crateropus canorus), Coucal (Centropus si- 
nensis) White-eyed Buzzard Eagle (Butastur teesa), Brahminy Kite 
(Haliastur indus), Common Pariah Kite (Milvus govind-), the Com- 
mon Heron (Ardea cinerea), and during the rains form a large per- 
centage of the food of the Black Ibis (Inocotis papillosus). 

Amphibians generally are said to be taken by Cranes, and 
Grebes. 

Reptiles. Reptiles (snakes and lizards) are taken to some ex- 
tent by Owls, Hawks, Cranes, and Storks and to a less extent by 
some King-fishers, Bustards, Shrikes, Hornbills, Ground Cuckoos, 
Grebes and Magpies, and also by Anas bosc.s and the Peacock 
(Pavo cristatus). 

Russell's Viper is recorded as having been taken by Leptoptilus 
dubius. 

Tortoises and Turtles by Gypaetus virgatus, Haliaetus, Leucor- 
hyphus and Freqatidce. 

Lizards, though taken by many birds, do not form the main 
diet of anyone species. They are taken by Crows, Magpies, Shrikes, 
King-fishers, Ground Cuckoos (Centropus), by various species of 
Owls and Hawks (Falconidce) and occasionally by the Peacock; 
by Cranes, Ibises, Storks and even some species of Ducks. 

In all probability all species of birds that take lizards take 
frogs as well. Lizards have been taken from the stomachs of the 
Coucal (Centropus sinensis), White-eyed Buzzard Eagle (Butastur 
teesi), Hrtiistur indus, Milvus govind i, Pernis crist'itus and Dendro- 
citti- rufi. The latter and also Crows have frequently been 
seen feeding on these animals. 

The following are recorded : Monitor by Circaetus ga licus, 
Calotes versicolor by Halcyon smyrnensis, and Chameleons by 
Baza. 

I have not observed the food of most of the common lizards, 
but the common House Lizard (Hemidactylus gleadovii), eaten to 
some extent by the Tree-pie (Dendrocitta rufa) is certainly beneficial, 



320 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDI- 

and it will in all probability be found that other species are equally 
beneficial. 

Spiders. Are taken frequently by many birds, though in most 
cases not formiLg any great proportion of the food taken by any 
one species. Some of the Nectarinidce, however, are said to 
consume large quantities, a few living mainly on them. Spiders 
have been taken from the stomachs of the Tree-pie (Dendrociiia 
rufa}, Jungle Babbler (Cra'eropus canorus}, Common lora (Aegithina 
tiphia}, King-Crow (Dicrurus ater), Crowned Willow-warbler (Phyl- 
losiopus supeciliosus), Bush Chat (Tephrodornis pondicerianus), 
Indian Oriole (Oriolus kundoo), Black-headed Oriole (Oriolus 
melanocephalus}, Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis}. Grey-headed 
Wagtail (Motacilla borealis}, Indian Pipit (Anthus rufulus^, Purple 
Sun-bird (ArachnecWira asiatica), Blue Jay (Coracias indica}, 
Common Bee-eater (Merops viridis}, Hoopoe (Upupa indica}, Coucal 
(Centropus sinensis}, and the Black Partridge (Francolinus vul- 
qaris]. None of these contained spiders in numbers sufficient 
to be of real economic importance. 

Other Araneida recorded are : Trombiduim tinctorum. Taken 
by Coturnix coromandlica and Scorpions taken by Centropus sinen- 
si*, Inocotis papillosus, and Plegadis falcinellus. 

Earth-Worms. Many birds, and especially those that like 
water or moist localities, feed to some extent on worms. Crows, 
Babblers, King-crows, Wrens, Shrikes, Starlings, Thrushes, Larks 
and Wagtails and Robins all feed on worms to a greater or less 
extent. Hoopoes, a few Owls and Hawks, Game-birds, Cranes, 
and all the water birds and Ducks take their share. Worms have 
been taken from the stomachs of the House Crow (Ccrvus sphn- 
dens , the Jungle Crow (C. m r 'crorhyn r hus}, Jungle Babbler 
(Crateropus canorus}, King-crow (Dicrurus ater}, Common Mynah 
(Acridothere tristis}, and Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis] 
Black Ibis (Inocotis pipillosus}, (Alauda gu j gula} the Indian Sky- 
lark and the Hoopoe (Upupa indica} have been noticed eating 
them. Crows, Mynahs, Magpie-Robins and other common species 
may often be seen feeding on worms in the rains, and in the 



MASON AND LEFROT. 321 

hot weather they obtain them from the sides of water channels 
used for irrigation.* Earthworms are generally regarded as 
beneficial owing to the physical effect they have on the soil. 

Annelids. Recorded as taken by Motacilla madraspatensis (in 
captivity), and by Limosa lapponica. 

Crwtacea. These animals form some considerable proportion 
of the food of many water haunting species of birds, those that 
take them most frequently being the King-fishers (Alcedinidce), 
Rails (Ralidce) Heliornithidce, Cormorants (Phalacrocoracince), 
Petrels (Turbinares , the Herodiones Ibid dee, Platale'dce, &c., 
Storks (Limicolce), Waders, Gulls (Gavicz] and Terns, Skuas 
(Stercorariidce), Ducks Anseres), and Grebes (Podicipididce)< 

RED CRABS by Netta rufina. 

CRABS by Corvus spkndens, Shrikes, King-fishers, Ground Cuckoos, 
Owls especially the genus Ketupa, Hawks and Eagles, Fri- 
gate-birds (Fregatidce), Storks and Egrets, and by Gannets. 

PRAWNS by Pelargopsis gurial, Haliastur indus, Hydroproyne 
caspia, Inocotis papillosus, Ardeola grayi, Tadorna cornu'a, 
and Podicipes nigricollis. 

SHRIMPS by Halcyon smyrnensis, Rallina canningi, Limosa belgica, 
L. lapponica, Gallinago coelestis, Tadorna cornuta, Casarca 
rutila, Mareca penelope, Querquedula circia, Nyroca ferruginea. 

ARTEMIA SALINA by Phcenicoplerus roseus. 

CRAY-FISH by Merganser castor. 

WOOD-LICE by Micropus melanocephalus, and Coridagrus concretus. 

Mollusca. These animals include snails, slugs and shell-fish 
generally. They are taken for food by birds that for the most part 
frequent damp localities, in many cases forming the principal food 
of such birds. Many birds, however, take pieces of shell for the 
same reason that other species take small stones and grit, 

* The king crow almost invariably robs the worms he eats from other birds. 

21 



322 THE POOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

namely, for trituration to aid in the digestion of other iooci 
materials, and not as direct articles of food. 

Crows, Magpies, some of the Phasianidae, Thrushes (Merulince), 
and Dippers (Cinclince) all take Mollusca to a certain extent and 
especially the two last groups. But it is among the Limicola\ 
Herodiones, and Anseres that we find the species of birds that 
eat this class of food to any great extent. The folio wirg shells 
have been taken from the stomachs of various birds 
Vivipara crassa from Anas poecilorhyncha. 
Planorbis sp. from Querquedula circia, Gallinago ccelestis, Tringa 
minuta, Totanus ochropus, T. glareola, Hoplopterus 
ventralis, Anihus maculatus, and Calandrella dukhu- 
nensis. , '> s ;- ii,.- 

Melania tuberculata from Querquedula circia, Totanus ocfao- 
pus, T. glareola, Hoplopterus ventralis, Amau rn'* 
phcenicurus. 

Corbicula orientalis from Totanus calidris, T. ochropus, T. gla- 
reola, Hydrophasianus chirurgus, Centropus sinensis, 
and Calandrella dukhunensis. 

Bythinia sp. from Sarcogrammus indicus and Upupa nd. a. 
Unio favidens from Amaurornis phcenicurus. 
Hydrobia sp. from Motacilla alba. - ." M 

Vivipara sp. ? or Ampullaria sp. ?^ The opercula of some 
species of shell of one of these two groups were found 
*' I in Querquedula circia, Hydrophasianus chirurgus, and 

Centropus sinensis. 

Shells of other species and genera were taken from Queiquc- 
dula circia, Gallinago ccelestis, Rostratula captnsis, 
Tringa minuta, Totanus glareola, Hydrophasianus chirw- 
gus, and Calandrella dukhin^nsis. 

The following are also recorded in various references : 

Ampullaria sp. and Unio sp. from Anastomus oscitans. 

Bulimi from Sturnia blythii, and Alsocomus elephinston . 

Helix bistralis from Merula nigripileus. 



MASON AND LEPROY. 323 

Uromastrix from Falco cherrug. 

(Limpets from Hcematopus ostra-gus and Mussels from 

Nyroca marila.) 
Of Cephalopods the following : 

Squids are said to be taken by Gannets (Sulidce) and Tropic 
birds (Phcethontidce) \ 

Cuttle fish by Frigate birds (Fregatidce), and Gannets (Suli m 
dee) ; 

Cephalopods generally by Sterna fu'iginosa, and by the Pro- 
celliformes. 

Coelenterata. -Acephala or jelly-fish are said to be taken by 
L^'mosa lapponica and the Procelliformes. 

Annelida. Leeches (Hirudinid) are said to be taken by 
Bubulcus coromandus from crocodiles. 

Myriopods. Centipedes are possibly beneficial, but do not form 
any considerable proportion of the food of any bird, in fact, they 
are seldom eaten at all. They are recorded as eaten by Pe'rophila 
salitoria, Brachypternus aurantius, Bichoceros bicornis, Glaucidium 
radiatum, Circaetus gallicus, Eupodotis edwardsi, Sypheotis au. 
rita, and S. bengalensis. 

I have taken them from the stomachs of the following : 
Corvus microrhynchus, C. splenadens, Dendrocitta rufa, Crateropus 
canorus, Centropus sinensis. The Bustards (Otididce) are also said 
to eat Myriopods. 

Insects. The main work in economic entomology lies naturally 
in accumulating facts about the food of birds both by observations 
in the field and by the examination of the stomach contents in the 
laboratory. This is the basis on which every thing depends- our 
facts. It can, however, be understood readily that these accu- 
mulated facts are of no immediate practical value until we have 
settled finally up to the present time the economic importance of 
the food taken, speaking more especially from a Zoologica 1 point 
of view 



324 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

The classification of insects into definite groups with regard to 
their economic importance can at present be but a temporary one, 
and will undoubtedly need modifications from time to time : 
until we know more of the food of animal life in general the real 
economic importance of many species of birds can but remain an 
unknown quantity. 

The present classification of insects adopted here with regard 
to their economic importance has been arranged in consultation 
with H. M. Lefroy, Esq., Imperial Entomologist, and contains 
therefore as near as possible the correct economic importance of 
the insects mentioned, considering how limited is the knowledge 
of even some of the commonest insects in India at the present 
time. 

It must be borne in mind that the economic importance of 
the insect food as stated in this paper is strictly with reference to 
what is known of the food plants, or otherwise of the insects at 
present recorded as taken by birds in India. Families of insects 
(e.g., Elateridae) well-known as pests in other countries are not in- 
cluded as pests in this paper unless we know that they are pests in 
India, or that from the food of other insects of the same family or 
genus as the insect in question these latter are undoubted pests, 
there being every reason therefore for assuming that this insect 
is also injurious, though its habits and life history are yet un- 
known, or imperfectly known. Beneficial and neutral insects are 
treated in a similar manner. 

ORTHOPTERA. Forficulidce 

The Earwigs are in some few instances said to be injurious 
to flowers, &c., but are not reported so from India. Little appa- 
rently is known about their food in any country, and they have 
therefore been included as neutral. Vegetable and animal matter 
are possibly taken alike for food. 

Forficulidae are taken as food by birds to a small extent only. 
Ohelisoches melanocephalus was found to be taken by the Hoopoe 
(Upupa indica}', 5 specimens of Labidwa riparia were found in 



AND LEFROY. 326 

a water-hen (Amaurornis phcenicurus). Other, or the same spe- 
cies also occurred in Calandrella dukhunensis, Coracias indica, 
Sarcogmmmus indicus, and Inocolis papillosus ; a number of spe- 
cimens also in a Caprimulgus macrwus. 

Blattidce. 

The Cockroaches are classed as neutral. It is a well known 
fact that damage is done by these insects to stored goods, but it 
is obvious that, unless migrating across the open birds cannot get 
at these insects in order to feed on them. (Turkeys do so, and 
probably other poultry). The food of species other than those that 
occur in stores consists of dead animal and vegetable matter, the 
insects being in reality scavengers. 

Cockroaches are probably taken by most ground feeding birds 
which eat insects, but have only been noticed in the stomachs of 
Crateropus canorus and Phylloscopus superciliosus. 

Acridiidoe. 

All the locusts and grasshoppers are injurious. Some are 
major and regular pests to crops, whilst others though not habi- 
tually found on cropped areas may possibly make inroads on crops 
especially when young. They are eaten by practically every spe- 
cies of insectivorous bird, and form one of the main supplies from 
which birds in India draw their insect food. They include the 
swarming locusts and all kinds of grasshoppers, of which Chroto- 
gonus spp., the well known ground grasshoppers, which every year 
do great damage to young crops as they are coming above ground, 
are worth special mention. 

The Starlings and Mynahs are perhaps the greatest enemies 
of these insects, and special mention must be made of the locust 
eating propensities of the Rosy Pastor (Pastor roteus), No. 528. 
Crows, the smaller Owls, and Hawks also at times feed on these 
insects to a very large extent. 

The following genera are noted as taken by birds : Acridium, 
Atractomorpha, Cyrtacanihacris, Gastromargus, Chrotogonus, Oxya 
and Tryxalit. 



326 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Phasmidce. 

Stick insects are included as neutral for India, though well- 
known as defoliators elsewhere. They are said to be taken by the 
Podargidce or Frogmouths. 
Mantidce. 

Praying insects are generally regarded as beneficial and are 
here so also. They are general insect feeders, preferring the softer 
varieties, such as moths and flies, and possibly caterpillars to some 
extent. 

Many birds will certainly be found to take these insects, in 
fact, we may expect all such birds as take locusts and grasshoppers 
to take preying insects. There are numerous references to birds 
taking them, but we have only one definite record, namely, that 
an egg mass was found in a Water-hen (Amaurcrnis phanicurus). 

Green grasshoppers are both predaceous and herbivorous ai:d 
little is known about their food. They have been included as neu- 
tral as a class. 

Schizodactylus monstrosus , the only species of this group 
definitely identified as forming part of bird's food, is freely taken 
by Coracias indica, Upupa indica, Hierococcyx varius, also by the 
commoner Hawks, Kites, Ibises, &c. This species is injurious. 
GryllidcB. 

Crickets are included among the injurious insects. Of the 
smaller species little seems to be known. The larger species men- 
tioned below are burro wers feeding on vegetation and sometimes 
committing some damage by cutting off young plants close 
by the roots. The following species have occurred in birds 
examined : Liogryllus bimaculatus, Gryllotalpa africana, Gryl- 
lodes melanocephalus , and Brachytrypes achatinus, these being taken 
chiefly by Crows, Shrikes, Blue jay (Coracias indica), the Hoopoe 
(Upupa indica), the King-crow (Dicrurus ater), Cuckoos, the 
Owlet (Athene brama), Hawks of various kinds and other birds 
to a less extent. They are in fact taken by much the same spe- 
cies of birds as the Locustidce, the King-fisher (Halcyon smyrnen. 
sif) Jbeing also partial to Brachytrypes achatinus. 



MASON AND LBFROY. 327 

NEUEOPTERA. 

Odonata. The Dragon-flies, though so abundant a form of 
insect life, are comparatively rarely taken as food when in the 
imago state by birds. The larval forms are most frequently taken 
and possibly form a large percentage of the insect-food of the 
Ardece and other water frequenting birds which take aquatic 
insects. Most references that we have to birds taking aquatic 
insects probably refer to the larva? of Odonata. We know little 
of the food of the imagines (they undoubtedly take Ephemerids 
and at times butterflies' and the larvae are as far as we know car- 
nivorous. These insects have therefore been included as bene- 
ficial they are usually regarded as such. 

The Meropidce take these insects only on dull days. Croco- 
tfamii servi'lia has been noted as taken by M. viridis, M. philip- 
pinu-, and Ardeola grayi; Platygomphus dolobratus by M. viridis 
and Ardeola grayi ; Rhyothemis variegata by Sypheotis benga- 
lensii ; and Trithemis pallidinervis by Lanius erythronotus, M. phi- 
lipp'nus and Ardeola grayi. Zygopterids by Totanus glarola and 
Ardeola grayi. Dragonflies are also occasionally taken by Dicru- 
rus ater, Siphia albicilia, and Sterna seena, and are said to be 
taken by Dissemurus paradiseus, M. persicus, Falco subbuteo, and 
Nyroca ferina. 

Phryganeidce. Caddis -flies are both vegetable feeders and 
carnivorous and are included as neutral. They are said to be 
eaten by Nyroca ferruginea. 

Ephemeridce. May- flies ; probably of similar feeding habits to 
the Phryganeidce, but little appears to be known about either group. 
They are therefore also included as neutral. They are taken as 
food to some extent by birds, such as Dicrurus ater, Cisticola cur- 
silans, Phylloscopus tristis, Tephrodornis pondicerianus, Sturnus 
malabarica, Acridotheres tristis, Anthus maculatus, and Brachyp- 
fernus aurantius. 

Termitidce. The White-ants are well-known pests to timber, 
wood-fabrics, &c., and are injurious. They form a considerable 



328 THE FOOD OF BIROS IN INDlA. 

proportion of the food of a number of birds when the winged 
forms emerge from the nests at the beginning of the rains. They 
have at such times been noticed to be taken by the following birds ; 
Co-vus macrorhynchus, C. splendens, Dendrocitta rufa, Crateropus 
canorus, Molpastes bengalensis, Sitta castaneiventris, Dicrurus ater, 
Oriolus kundoo, 0. me^nocephalus, Acridotheres tristis, Anlhus 
rufulus, Thereiceryx zeylonicus, Coracias indica, Upupa indica 
Butastur teesa, Haliastur indus, Turtur suratensis, and T. risorius. 
At the same time Dendrocitta rufa and possibly some other species 
take the unwinged forms of Termites which may then be found 
at the emergence holes of the Termites. Other birds such as 
various species of Bulbuis, Drongos, Shrikes, Flycatchers, Sun- 
birds, Rollers, Swifts, Owls and Hawks are also recorded as taking 
these insects, and in Journal B. N. H. S. (Vol. IX, 229), the follow- 
ing occu s : " I know of no fruit or grain-eating bird that will 
not readily eat these insects/' Possibly the greatest check that 
we have on these insects in the field is the Phasianidce, most of 
which birds seem to be particularly fond of the White-ants and fee d on 
them habitually, scraping and scratching in the nests of the irsects 
and by no means taking them as the time of emergence only. 

Hemerobiidce. 

Myrmeleo sp. Ant-lions are beneficial. They have occurred 
occasionally in the stomachs of Oreocincla dauna, Upupct indica, 
and Francolinus vulgaris. 

HYMENOPTERA. 

Chrysidce or Ruby wasps are parasitic on other Hymenoptera 
mostly on common species of Eumenes which are caterpillar 
feeders principally. This family has, therefore, been placed as 
injurious. As may be expected with such hard insects they 
seldom form the food of birds, having only been noticed to be taken 
by Dendrocitta rufa, Dicrurus ater, Merops viridis, M. philippinus, 
Francolinus vulgaris, Motacilla alba, and M. personata and even 
then in very few instances. 



AND tfipBot. 32$ 



HYMENOPTERA ACULEATA. 

Mutillids. Little is known of this group, and it is therefore 
regarded as neutral. Mutilla discreta occurred in a Francolinus 
vulgaris and Mutilla sex-maculata in Dendrocitta rufa. 

Scoliidce. The feeding habits of these insects are not known : 
they possibly parasitise the larvae of Cockchafers : they must be 
regarded as neutral. 

Scolia quadri-pustulata was found in Dicrurus ater and Acri- 
dotheres tristis ; Tiphia sp. in Copsychus saularis and Merops 
viridis. 

Pompilidce. Not enough is known at present to state for 
certain whether these insects are beneficial or otherwise. A 
number of species apparently feed on spiders, but they apparently 
have other animal food. Once only has a member of this group 
been found to be taken by a bird, namely, Pompilus subsericeus by 
Francolinus vulgaris. 

Sphegidce. This group has varied habits preying on insects 
and spiders. As a group it is neutral. Sphex lobatus, a beneficial 
form which kills crickets, was found to be taken, though not com- 
monly in any case, by Dendrocitta rufa, Merops viridis, Cuculus 
micropterus y and Francolinus vulgaris ; and Stizus vespiformis by 
Dicrurus ater. 

Eumenidce. These wasps are predaceous on caterpillars ard 
may certainly be regarded as beneficial. Rhynchium is the only 
genus we have found to be taken by birds. R. bengalense is taken 
freely by Merops philippinus, and we have an interesting record 
of Thereiceryx zeylonicus taking the same species. Other species 
have been taken from the stomachs of Dendrocitta rufa, Oriolus 
melanocephalus, Coracias indica, and Merops philippinus. These 
insects are, however, not a general insect food for birds. 

Vespidce. The true wasps have been included as neutral. 
Many feed habitually on insects of various kinds, and act as a con- 
siderable check on the numbers of caterpillars, but again some 



330 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

damage is done to fruits and some species are dangerous, because 
of their fierce nature. They do not form a large proportion of the 
food of many birds, the Meropida3 being perhaps the only family 
of birds that habitually feeds on them. Vespa orientdUs was found 
to be taken by Merops viridis, M. philippinus, Dendrocitta rufa, 
and Caprimulgus macrurus ; Polistes hebrceus, which we may consider 
a beneficial species, was taken by Dendrocitta rufa, Oriolus melano- 
cephalus, Acridotheres tristis, Merops viridis, M. philippinus, ard 
Sypheotis bengalensis, and is said to be taken by Merops apiastur. 

Apido3. Bees of both the common species Apis ftorea and 
A. indica are beneficial for their flower visiting propensities alone 
the former being especially noticeable on peaches when in flower 
and undoubtedly most of the fertilization of these flowers is due 
entirely to these insects. Apis indica is also " a very important 
flower fertilizing insect." These two species are practically 
only taken by the Meropidce or Bee-eaters, though the Indica- 
toridce, and Pernis cristatus are said to be very partial to the grubs 
and honey. They have also been taken from the stomachs of 
Molpastes 'bengalensis, Copsychus saularis, lyngipicus hardwickei, 
and Amaurornis phcenicurus. The Meropidce will probably prov e 
a great nuisance to any Bee-keeping industry that may be started 
in the plains, these birds being persistant feeders on all kinds of 
Hymenopterous insects except ants and a few others. Halictus 
cuniculus was taken by Merops viridis and Xylocopa dissimilis by 
Merops philippinus, this latter species being beneficial as it plays 
a very important part in the fertilization of San hemp and possibly 
other leguminous crops. Megachile carbonaria was taken by 
Merops philippinus. 

Formicidce. Ants are of very doubtful economic importance. 
Some are at times troublesome household pests, others again 
keep Aphides, &c., feeding on the honey-dew secreted by 
these insects. Some are perhaps beneficial in that they are sca- 
vengers, and many of those that nest in the soil have some influ- 
ence beneficially in breaking down that soil. We class them here 
as neutral. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 331 

The Ants, like the grasshoppers, are exceedingly abundant 
insects and form a very large proportion of the insect food of birds 
in India. They are perhaps the favourite food of the Wood- 
peckers, Wrynecks, Rollers, and some of the Pheasants. Most 
birds that eat insects of any kind will almost certainly be found 
to take ants of one species or another. The following species occur 
in this paper as taken by birds :Acantholepis fmuenfeldi var t 
bipartita, Camponotus compressus, Catadacus taprobance, Cremas- 
togaster subnuda, Dorylus sp., Meranoplus bicolor, Myrmecocystes 
setipes, (Ecophylla smaragdina, Phidole malinsi, and Potyrachis 
simplex. 

OOLEO PTER A . Beetles. 

Scarabceidce. Dung beetles. Amongst these insects are 
included the Coprince, Aphodiince, Geotrupince and Trogince, species 
of all of which are mentioned. They may possibly play some 
important part in burying in the soil manure, which, without 
their aid, would be washed away by rain or otherwise lost. This 
appears, however, to be of somewhat doubtful importance, and 
the whole of this family are here regarded as neutral. 

This family is an exceedingly numerous one in species and in 
individuals, and forms a considerable proportion of the insect food 
of birds. 

Scarabceini. Various species of Gymnop'eurus occurrec 
Coracias indica, Corvus splendens, C. macrorhynchus, Molp 
bengalensis, Ruticilla rufiventris, Merops vir is, M. phi^ ipp* 
Francolinus vulgiris, Cotile s'nensis, Sarcogrammus indicus. 
cobius vulcanus in Ftancolinus valgaris. 

Coprini.Ot the Coprids Catharsius sabius is taken b; 
macrorhynchus, C. splendens, Molpastes bengalensis, Coracias in\ 
Caprimulgus macrurus, Athene br ma, and Butastur teesa. V\ 
orieiitalis by Centropus sinensis. Onitis distinctus by Sarcogran 
indicus ; Onitis philemon by Caprimulgus macrurus which also 
Francolinus vulgaris took Onthophagus bonasus ; other species of 
Onthophagus by Corvus macrorhynchus, C. splendens, Crateropus 



332 THE FOOD OF BIRD3 irf ItfDfA. 

canorus, Molpastes bengalensis, Dicrurus ater, Sturnopastor contra, 
Ruficilla rufiventris, Gymnorhis fta^icollis, Copsychus saularis f 
Coracias indica, Merops viridis, Upupa indica, Athene brama, 
MHvus govinda, Francolinus vulgaris, Totanus glareola, Amaur- 
ornis phcenicurus, and Sarcogrammus indicus. Omticellus pallipes 
by Corvu? splendens, and Dicrurus ater. 

Apkodiin^e. -TtiBSs being smaller insects than the proceeding 
are as may be expected taken by smaller species of birds, such as 
Orthotomus, Siphia, Aegithina, Sitta, Phylloscopus, Anihus, Calan- 
drella, Motacilla, &c., and in some instances they form a fairly large 
percentage of the food of those small birds. Francolinus and 
Upupa are also recorded as taking them. 

Geotrupince. -Only two occurrences were noted. Bolboceras 
calanus was seen to be partially eaten by a Mynah (A. tristis) 
and was also once found in Frc ncolinus vulgaris. 

Trogince. -Trox (indicus ?) is freely eaten by Coracias indica 
and Hierococcyx varius, and also occurred in Francolinus vulgaris, 
Crateropus canorus, Sypheotis bengalensis. and (Edionemus scolopax. 

Melolonthidce. The Chafers are regarded as injurious as they 
aua ch'i3fly plant root feeders, some species, too, at times do some 
considerable damage by destroying leaves and flowers of crops' 
garden plants, &c. 

The larvae of these beetles are eaten in considerable quan- 
tities by Dicrurus ater, common Mynahs, Upupa indica and 
Hierocozcyx varius ; also sometimes by Copsychus saularis, Cora- 
cias indica, Cuculus micropterus, Francolinus vulgaris (and by 
Gennceus melanotus). 

Apogonia carinata (Melolonthinse) was taken by Caprimulgus 
macrurus ; Anomala spp. by Dicrurus ater, Oriolus kundoo, Crate- 
ropus canorus, Acridotheres tristis, Copsychus saularis, Upupa 
indica, Hierococcyx varius, Centropus sinensis, and Butastur teesa. 

Oryctes rhinoceros is possibly taken by Brachypternus auran- 
tius and another species of Dynastinai was found in Molpastes 
bengalensis. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 333 

Cetoniince. One species occurred in Dicrurus ater ; Oxycet- 
onia albopunctata was once taken by Cuculus micropterus. 

All birds that feed on fairly large insects o*n the ground, and 
especially larvae, will most probably take these Chafers. Birds 
that follow ploughs, &c.. during cultivation operations will cer- 
tainly pick up a considerable number of these insects and keep 
down their numbers to a certain extent. 

Oicinddidce. -The Tiger beetles being for the most part car- 
nivorous are regarded generally as beneficial. They occurred only 
in very few instances in birds examined and do not form an im- 
portant item in the diet of any species. Two species of Cicin- 
dela, namely, C. aurulenta and C. grammophora, were found in a 
Milvus govinda, but had most probably been eaten by a chicken that 
the Kite had eaten. Both these species are neutral in feeding 
habits. Cicindelidce are also on record as eaten by Francolinus 
vulgaris and by Glareola lactea. 

CarabidcB The ground beetles are predaceous and have been 
as usual regarded as beneficial. One or two species are at times 
reported as injurious to strawberries, &c., but we have no record 
of any such, or other damage by these insects in India at present- 
A fair number of birds feed on these beetles, but rot habitually 
nor in preference to other insect food, nor to any marked extent. 
Many of these baetles are possibly distasteful. Carabids of various 
species were found in the following birds : Corvus splendens, 
Dendrocitta rufa, Molpastes bengalensis, Dicrurus ater, Oriolus 
kundoo, Sturnia malabarica, Acridotheres tristis, Euticilla rufiven- 
tris, Calandrella dukhunensis, Merops viridis, Coracias indica 
Upupa indica, Caprimulgus macrurus. Hierococcyx varius. Centre 
pus sinensis, Sypheotis bengalensis, Amaurornis phcenicurus 
Totanus ochropus, (Edicnemus scolopax, and Francolinus vulgaris. 

Of identified species taken the following, Scarites sp. by Cora- 
cias indica; Tetragonoderus sp. by Merops vir:'dis and Calandrela 
dukhunensis ; Chlcenius spp. by Centropus sinensis and Acrido- 
theres tristis ; Ch. circumdatus and Ch. marginatus by Inocotis papil- 
losus ; Stenalophus 5-pustulatus by Calandrella dukhunensis 



334 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Macrochilus 3-pustulatus by Francolinus vulgaris ; Pheropsophus 
bimaculatus by Inocotis papillosus. 

Haliplidoe. -These beetles are very little known, and they 
have with all other water beetles been regarded as neutral. Hali- 
plus angustifrons was taken by Motacilla borealis. 

Dytiscidce also neutral. Hyphoporus aper was taken by 
Totanus glareola, T. ochropus. and Ardeola grayi ; Laccophilus ftex- 
uosus by Totanus glareola ; Corpelatus indicus by Brachypternus 
awantius ; C. pugnax by Tringa minuta. 

HydrophilidcB. -Water scavengers are neutral. They were 
found in Crater opus canorus, Mgithina tiphia, Sitta castaneiv ntris> 
Dicrurus ater, Acanthopneuste nitidus, Ruticilla rufiventris, Cyanes 
cula suecica, Motacilla alba, M. borealis, Anthus maculatus, Liopicus 
mahrattensis, and Totanus glareola ; Sph&ridium 5-maculatum in 
Acridotheres ginginnianus. 

Staphylinidce. The Rove beetles are predaceous and certainly 
not in the least injurious in any way. They have been regarded 
as beneficial. Phylloscopus tristis was found to have taken one 
speciss, and Poedarus variicornis was once taken by Dicrurus ater. 

Histeridce. Little is known of these beetles, some are pre. 
dacsous on various insects and others are possibly scavengers. 
They have here been classed as neutral. 

Histerids are apparently seldom taken by birds ; they are 
recorded from Crateropus canorus, Dicrurus ater, Acridotheies 
ginginnianus, and Gallinago co3lestis. Hister bipustulatus var. 
bimavulata was taken by Francolinus vulgaris, as also H. opacus 
H. scissifrons by Calandrella dukhunensis. 

CoGcinellidce. Lady-bird beetles are undoubtedly on the whole 
beneficial. A few the genus Epilachna are leaf eaters, and at 
times injurious to vegetable crops ; others again eat fungus 
spores and may therefore act as an agent for spore distribution. 
The greater number are well known checks on Aphidce of various 
species. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 335 

These insects are also seldom taken by birds Considering how 
common they are. 

Chilomenes sex-maculata was found in Dicrurus ater, and Phyl- 
loscopus fuscatus ; Coccinella septem-punctata in Siphia albicilia , 
Merops viridis, and Coccystes jacobinus ; Thea cincta in Sophia 
albicilia ; Scymnus nubilans and Clanis soror in Mgithina tiphia. 

Bostrychidce. Those beetles are undoubtedly injurious, doing 
some damage by boring into timber and wood. 

Dinoderus minutus and Sinoxylon anale were seen to be taken 
by Merops philippinus and are also probably taken by M. viridis. 

Malacodermidce. The Glow-worms are probably predaceous 
as well as vegetable feeders, and have been classed neutral. 
Glow-worms are said to be eaten by Merula simillimana, Fire- 
flies by Sypheotis aurita ; Hapalochrus fasciatus was found in a 
Francolinus vulgaris, Prionocerus bicolor in Oreocincla dauna. 

Elateridce. The Click beetles, though serious pests to various 
crops elsewhere, have never yet been recorded as such from India. 
They are regarded as neutral for India. They occurred in most 
numbers in Sitta castaneiventris, and were also taken by Corvus 
splendens, Crateropus canorus, Phylloscopus tristis, Ruticilla rufi- 
ventris, Dicrurus ater, common Wagtails, Calandrella dukJiunen&is 
Upupa indica, Liopicus mahrattensis, lyngipicus hardwickei, 
Hierococcyx varius, Francolinus vulgaris, Turnix tanki, Gallinago 
c&lestis, and the larvae occurred in numbers in one or two 
stomachs of Sarcogrammus indicus. 

Heteroderes sp. was taken by Dicrurus ater and Motacilla 
beema ; Drasterius spp. by Anthus maculatus, and lyngipicus 
hardwickei. 

Buprestidce. These wood-borers are several of them pesis 
to forestry and agriculture and the whole family is to be re- 
garded as injurious. 

Eupodotis edwardsi is said to eat Buprestids, and the larvae 
have been found in two small wood-peckers lyngipicus hardwicxei 



336 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

and Liopicus mahrattensis in several instances Sphenoptera gossypi* 
was found to have been taken by Francolinus vulgar is. 

Tenebrionidce. As a class we regard the Tenebrionidce as 
neutral, most feeding on dead leaves and other vegetable matter. 
One or two species are, however, now regarded as injurious. This 
family of beetles is an extremely numerous one, in individuals 
rather than species, and forms an appreciable proportion of the 
insects taken by birds for food. Probably any species of bird 
that takes insects for food takes these insects. 

Himatismus sp. is taken by Geocicla citrina, Turnix tanki, 
(Edicnemus scolopax, and very largely by Francolinus vulgaris, 
Scleron denticolle by Mgialitis dubia ; S. orientale by Crateropus 
canorus, Molpastes bengalensis, Dicrurus ater, Siphia albicilia, 
Cyanecula suecica, Copsychus saularis, Motacilla alba, Calandrela 
dukhunensis, Francolinus vulgaris and Sypheotis bengalensis. 

Opatrum depressum, an injurious species, by Upupa indica, 
Centropus sinensis, Francolinus vulgaris, Sypheotis bengalensis, 
and Sarcogrammus indicus. Opatrum elongatum by Geocicla 
citrina; Penthicus sp. by Molpastes bengalensis, Acridotheres tristis 
and Francolinus vulgaris ; Derosphcerus rugicollis by Brachypter- 
nus aurantius, Coracias indica, Amaurornis phcenicurus and 
Sypheotis bengalensis. Other Opatrum spp. and other Tenebrioni- 
dce are also recorded from nearly all the abovementioned species 
of birds with the addition of Corvus splendens. Dendrocitta rufa, 
Mgithina tiphia, Orthotomus sutorius. Tephrodornis pondic.rianus, 
Acridotheres ginginnianus, Sturnopastor contra, Hierococcyx varius, 
Taccocua leschenaulti, Totanus glareola and T. ocfiropus. 

Mesomorpha villiger is probably taken by nearly all these 
birds though at present only recorded from 12 species. 

Tenebrionidce do not appear to form the main food of any one 
species of bird. Copsychus saularis, however, feeds at times 
largely on them and Himatismus forms a considerable proportion 
of the insect food of Francolinus vulgaris* 



MASON AND LEFEOY. 337 

Cantharidce. The economic position of these beetles is not 
at all certain. Some may act as flower fertilizers, others feed on 
locust eggs, and some are of medicinal value. Some certainly at 
times do some damage to crops by the destruction of the flowers. 
They have, therefore, been included as neutral. Birds seldom touch 
these insects. Cantharis tenuicollis and Mylabris sp. are taken to 
some very considerable extent by the two Bustards Eupodotis 
edwardsi and Sypheotis aurita. 

Monommidce. Neutral. Monomma brunneum was taken by 
Sturnia malabarica. 

ChrysomelidcB. -The leaf-eating beetles are injurious. Some 
species, perhaps the greater number, are of no real economic im- 
portance, but others defoliate plants that are cultivated and are 
therefore injurious. They appear to be seldom eaten by birds, but, 
in all probability, occurred in more stomachs examined than is 
here recorded. They are in some cases softer beetles than most 
and therefore more readily digested. The Rice Hispa-//. cenes- 
cens was found once in Calandrella dukhunensis ; Oides bipunctata 
in Coccystes jacobinus ; Pachnephorus bretinghami in MotaciV.a 
alba ; P. impresssus in Cyanecula suecica ; Haltica spp. in MotacWa 
borealis and Crateropus canorus ; Colaspopoma pulchtrrimum in 
Sypheotis bengalensis ; other species not identifiable in Oriolus 
kundoo and Merops viridis. 

Cerambycidce. The long-horn beetles are entirely wood borers 
in the larval form. Agriculturally they are of little importance, 
though many species are possibly pests from a forestry point of 
view. They may all without exception be considered injurious. 

The Bamboo -borer Caloclytus annularis was found in Pere- 
crocotus peregrinui and Tephrodornis pondicerianus. Wood-peckers 
are said to take the larvae of Hoplocerambyx spinicornis. Other 
Cerambycids were found in Perecrocotus peregrinus and Brachypternus 
aurantius ; Apomecyna pertigera in Sarcogrammus indicus. 

Curculionidce. The Weevils are, as most common and widely 
distributed classes of insects, taken by practically every insecti- 

22 



338 THE FOOD OF BfclDS IN INDIA. 

vorous bird. Among weevils we have many major pests to crops, 
&c., and unless we know definitely to the contrary all weevils must 
be considered as injurious. 

Species of Amblyrrhinus, Atmetonychus, Balaninus, Phytoscopus, 
Astycus, Myllocerus and Tanymecus are very commonly eaten by 
birds, the last three genera being leaf-eaters. Hypera and Rhyn- 
chophorus, boring weevils, are also recorded as taken, the former 
by Crows and Mynahs, the latter by Brachypternus aurantius ; 
Mynahs, Sparrows and Wagtails are said to take the grain pest 
Calandra oryzcs. Blosyrus asellus was once taken from Sypheotis 
bengalensis. 

LEPIDOPTERA. This order includes the Butterflies, Rhopa- 
locera and the Moths, Heterocera, and is one of the largest orders 
of insects. Amongst them we have some of the worst crop and 
grain pests and none in India can be said to be beneficial to any 
marked degree. The only instance of beneficial action is seen in 
the case of the Eublemmas some of which feed on scale insects, 
which latter are of little economic importance in India. Though 
not directly beneficial some families are of very great use, notably 
the Saturniidse in which family are the Tussar and Eri silk moths, 
and the Bombycidae in which is the Mulberry silk moth Bombyx 
won', in connection with the silk industry. 

Butterflies do not form any appreciable proportion of the food 
of any one species of bird, though a good many birds take these 
insects at times. A long series of experiments with regard to birds 
taking protectively coloured or distasteful insects and especially 
butterflies was made by Mr. Finn, and these are recorded in the 
Journal of the Asiatic Society. They have little importance to 
economic ernithology since most of the experiments were conducted 
with caged birds, these therefore being under unnatural conditions. 

The Butterflies include a number of minor pests, of which Mela- 
nitis ismene was taken by Merops viridis and Papilio pammon by 
Acridotheres tristis. Other well-known pests are Pieris brassicce, Vira- 
chola isocrates, and Papilio demolens. Belenois mesentina a Pierid 



MASON AND LEFEOY. 339 

was seen to be taken on one occasion by the King-crow, and 
Ilerda sena by Passer domesticus, both of which insects are 
neutral. J 

Moths include many major pests of varied habits defoliators, 
miners, cut-worms, grain and fabric pests. The larvae form an 
inexhaus table supply of insects food to almost all species of insec- 
tivorous birds, and even many species of birds that when mature 
feed almost, if not quite, entirely on grain and seeds are when in 
the nest fed very largely on caterpillars by the parent birds. 

The hairy caterpillars of the Arctiidce and the Lymantriidce 
are taken to some considerable extent by the common Hawk- 
cuckoo, Hierococcyx varius ; both these families of insects are inju- 
rious. The larvae of Noctuids, notably the cut-worms and swarming 
caterpillars, some of the best-known pests, are taken by a number 
of different families of birds and form a very general food supply. 
Gut-worms (Agrotis spp.) are taken especially by the Mynahs, 
Upupa indica, Hierococcyx varius, and by Crows ; also occasion- 
ally by Copsychus saularis, Thrushes and Snipe ; they probably 
form a considerable portion of the food of Inocotis papillosus. 
Swarming caterpillars are taken by the same classes of birds ; 
Chloride a obsolete, was only found to be taken by Oriolus kundoo, 
but is said to be kept in check on gram in the C. P. by Mynahs 
and the Rosy Pastor. 

Caradrina was found in the stomachs of Dendrocitta infa, 
Upupa indica, Siphia albicilia, and Oriolus melanocephalus ; 
Prodenia littoralis in Dendrocitta rufa and Inocotis papillosus : 
and Spodoptera mauritia in Dendrocitta rufa, Dicrurus ater, Corvus 
splendens and C. macrorhynchus. Attacks of swarming cater- 
pillars are limited to some extent by Crows and Mynahs ; we have 
one very good instance of this from Balaghat C. P. and others are 
on record from Eastern Bengal. 

Attacks of Caradrina exigua on mangolds and of Chloridea 
obsoleta on gram on the Pusa estate have revealed nothing of 
interest, 



340 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Though these crops were carefully watched and many speci- 
mens of the birds seen feeding in and near these affected crops were 
shot and examined the insects were not found to be touched. An 
attack on Castor by Ophiusa melicerte showed that Acridoiheres 
ginginnianus fed almost entirely on these insects at that time, 
A. tristis and Corvus splendens also taking some considerable 
number ; Ophiusa has also been noted as taken by Centropus 
sinensis and Hierococcyx varius. 

Plusi i spp. are taken by Dendrocitta rufa, Acridoiheres tris- 
tis, and Siphia albicilia ; Plecoptera reftexa by Dendrocitta rufa, 
Dicrurus ater, Tephrodornis pondicerianus, and Upupa indica. 
T.irache notabilis by Passer domesticus and Trigonodes hyppasia 
by Dicrurus ater. 

Moths are generally also taken by Cuculinse, Phasianidse, 
Coraciadae, Meropidae and insectivorous birds. 

Sphingidce. " Birds readily eat the caterpillars when they 
find them and help to check them when they are numerous/' 
Theretra oldenlandice larva taken by Dendrocitta rufa. 

Geometridce. Gnophus coVaris and Scardamia metallaria axe 
the only two definitely identified species that have been noticed 
to be taken by birds, in both instances by Passer domesticus. The 
larvae of this family are mostly defoliators, and though elsewhere 
some species are serious pests especially to fruit orchards, yet in 
India no major pest is a Geometrid. The larvae are freely eaten 
and form a favourite food for nestlings. 

SaturniidcB. To this group belong the Tassar (Anthercea 
paphia) and Eri (Attacus ricini) silk worms. The imagines and 
eggs of the latter were taken from some Crows, the insects having 
been picked up off a rubbish heap, in a dying condition. Dendro- 
citta rufa was also said to take the worms from the silk house when 
given facilities for so doing. The Tassar silk worm larvae, when 
kept in the open, are said to be taken by Crows and Mynahs. Silk- 
worm cocoons are said to be taken by Aquila hastata, and Kites 
take silk worms thrown away from the silk houses. Birds eat 
caterpillars of Anthercea paphia. (I. M. N.). 



MASON AND LBFROY. 341 

Cossidce. These insects are injurious to trees of various 
kinds and are probably taken by most of the borer-eating Wood- 
peckers. Tiga javanicus is said to take the larvae of Duomitus 
cemmicus. 

Bombycidce. 'Important since the silk-worm of the mul- 
berry belongs to this family. They are otherwise possibly 
injurious, being defoliators. Ocinara varians is taken occa- 
sionally by Sturnia mcCabarica, Oriolus kundoo, and Coccystes 
jacobinus. 

Pyralidce. A large family containing many well-known major 
pests to crops, fabrics, &c. The cane pests, Chilo simplex, Anerastia 
sp., Polyocha have not been seen to be taken by any bird, whilst 
Scirpophaga auriflua, another cane pest, has been noted to be 
taken occasionally by the King-Crow. AncycolomiachrysograpJiella, 
the Rice Caterpillar, is taken by Dendrocitta rufa, Acridotheres tristis, 
Merops viridis and almost certainly by common Fly-catchers (Si- 
phia albicilia) and Wagtails. Pachyzancla coclesalis? recorded as 
taken by Sturnia malabarica. Other Pyralids taken to some ex- 
tent by Phylloscopus fuscatus, Oriolus kundoo, Pratincola caprata, 
Tephrodornis pondicerianus, Calandrella dukhunensis, in addition 
to the birds mentioned above. 

Lepidoptera also contain many pests, of which Gelechia, 
Plutella, Anacampsis, Anarsia, and Phthorimcea are well known. 
Phthorimcea operculella is recorded as taken by Passer domesticus. 

Laspeyresia jaculatrix is taken by the common crows, and no 
doubt most insectivorous birds feed on these small moths and the 
Pyralids. The remains of these small moths are extremely diffi- 
cult to identify in any birds stomach and it is in most cases impos- 
sible to do so. 

DIPTERA. Though flies almost certainly form a large percent 
tage of the food of many species of birds, we have few records 
or references to their being taken. 

Culicidce. Mosquitoes have not been found in any bird, but 
are said to be taken by Terpsiphone parasidi, Ripidura spp., Anthus 



342 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

maculatus, Amaurornis fuscus, and Glareola lactea. Melittophaga 
swinhoei is said to take both the larvse and the imagines. 

Ghironomidce. These were taken by Calandrella dukhunensis, 
and gnats and midges are said to be taken by Hirundines, and 
Melittophaga swinhoei. 

Tipulidce. Crane-flies were found occasionally in Phylloscopus 
tristis, Sypheotis bengalensis, and Sarcogrammus indicus. The 
above three families of flies are injurious. t 

Bibionidce. Fever flies were taken by Phylloscopus tristis, 
Acridotheres tristis, and Motacilla alba. They are neutral. 

Simulidce. The Sand-flies are said to be taken by Dendrocitta 
rufa, and are injurious. 

Leptidce. Predaceous and possibly therefore beneficial ; oc- 
curred once in Fr^ncolinus vulgaris. 

Tabanidce. The Gad-flies are injurious and are taken by Sitta 
castaneiventris, Sypheotis aurita, JEgialitis dubia, and Ardeola grayi, 
but in these cases I believe that the flies were taken either dead or 
in a dying condition. Merops viridis also eats them. 

Anthomyidce. Neutral. Habits exceedingly varied, some are 
pests, others possibly beneficial. Taken by Calandrella dukhunensis. 

Muscidm were found to be taken by Phylloscopus tristis, Me- 
rops viridis, and Ardeola grayi, and Acridotheres ginginnianus. Sto- 
moxys by Calendrella dukhunensis. 

Pupse of Diptera were taken in a few instances from the sto- 
machs of Francolinus vulgaris, Upupaindica, and Coccystesjacobinus t 

The classes of birds which particularly take Flies are the Swal- 
lows, Martins and Swifts, the Wagtails, Fly-catchers, Bee-eaters, 
and also the Sun-birds (Nectarinidce). 
HEMIPTERA. 

The Heteroptera or Bugs form a fairly general food for birds; 
but it is possible that a good number of species are distasteful, 
this is most possibly the reason why we have no records of birds 
taking the Rice Bug Leptocorisa varicornis. It is possible that 



MASON AND LEFROY. 343 

the greater number of species are injurious, but some being preda- 
ceous play an important part in checking caterpillars, &c., and are 
therefore beneficial. 

We must therefore class the sub-order as neutral. 

The Pentatomidse are for the most part vegetable feeders, 
some few, none of which have been taken from birds, being preda- 
ceous chiefly among the Amyoteinse. 

Bagrada picta, a well-known pest, is taken occasionally by Acri- 
dotheres tristis and Anihus maculatus ; Nezara viridula also a pest ig 
taken by Graucalus macii, Ruticilla rufiventris, Brachypternus auran- 
tius, Upupa indica, and Francolinus vulgaris. The Cydnince are includ. 
ed as injurious though but little is as yet known of their habits, 
They do not form an appreciable proportion of any bird's food, 
but are taken by a fair variety of species. Cydnus spp. were taken 
by Anthus maculatus, Calandrella dukhunensis, Graucalus macii t 
Rut : cilia rufiventris, Brachypternus aurantius, Upupa indica, and 
Francolinus vulgaris Cydnus nigritus by Crateropus canorus, 
Molpastes bengalensis, Graucalus macii, Siphia albicilia, Ruticilla 
rufiventris, Motacilla personata, M. beema, Anthus maculatus, Arach_ 
nechthra asiatica, Upupa indica, Francolinus vulgaris, Sarcogram. 
mus indicus, and Gallinago ccelestis ; Cydnus varians by Crateropus 
canorus and Francolinus vulgaris ; Chrysocoris alba var. pollens 
by Motacilla alba ; Storthecoris nigriceps by Francolinus vul- 



Coreidce. This family is in all probability entirely herbivo- 
rous, sucking out the juices of plants. Leptocorisa is a member. 
They may be classed as injurious. 

ClavigraVa horrens, which sucks the sap of Cajanus indicus and 
may possibly be injurious, was taken by Francolinus vulgaris ; Ho- 
mosocerus inornatus, which feeds on trees (possibly injurious), was 
taken by Graucalus macii. 

Lygceidce. Practically nothing is known of the food of this 
family, and they must therefore be classed as neutral. Lygceus 
hospes was taken by Oriolus kundoo and 0. melanocephalus, both 



344 THE POOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

of which birds show perhaps a slight preference to Hemiptera as 
food ; Lygceus sp. by Dicrurus ater, Oriolus kundoo, and Hierococcyx 
varius ; Graptosteihus servus, G. dixoni and G. nigriceps by Fran- 
colinus vulgaris. All these species of insects are neutral. 

Pyrrkocoridce. Only one injurious species is known, namely 5 
Dysdercus cingulatus, the Red Cotton Bug, which is taken by Sitta 
frontalis, by Hierococcyx varius, and fairly frequently by Oriolus 
kundoo and 0. melanocephalus. 

Dermatinus lugubris, a neutral species, was taken freely by 
Francolinus vulgaris ; some Pyrrhocorids were taken from the 
stomach of Cotile sinensis. 

Homoptera contain the Fulgorids, Membracids, Jassids, Aphids 
and Coccids. Most of these are injurious as classes. 

Fulgoridce.- Lawana conspersa, included as injurious though 
possibly only a wild plant feeder, was taken by Oriolus kundoo and 
Comcias indica. Pyrilla aberrans, a cane pest, is said to have been 
eaten in large numbers by some small birds, most probably some 
species of Phylloscopus, during the cold weather of 1906 at 
Pusa. , ( ^^ 

Membracids and Jassids are all to some extent injurious 
They are both taken by Francolinus vulgaris, the latter being also 
taken by Sitta eastern iventr is. It is more than probable that many 
of the Warblers and Tits take this class of insect-food to some 
considerable extent. 

Aphids are injurious. They occurred in the stomachs of some 
Wagtails (Motacillidce) and are most probably taken by birds that 
frequent trees and bushes and especially by the Sylviidce, Certhiidce 
and Fringillidce. Aphis gossypii was found to be taken in numbers 
by Phylloscr.pus tristis. 

Coccidce. The scale insects, though not of so much importance 
in India as in other countries, are undoubtedly injurious. They 
have been recorded in very few instances from birds, but in all 
probability, where small birds are common and where these insects 



MASON AND LEFBOY. 345 

occur, they are largely eaten and perhaps kept in considerable 
check by the agency of these birds. 

Munophlebus octocaudata was taken by Cuculus macrurus* 
D cm m ater, Liopicus mahrattensis, Upupa indica and Francoli- 
nus vulgaris, this latter bird also taking a species of Pulvinaria. 
Tachardia lacca, the lac insect, is of considerable importance com- 
mercially in this group of insects, and though there is some consi- 
derable cultivation of this insect at Pusa, on only one occasion 
has a specimen been taken from a bird, namely, Liopicus mahratten 
sis. No other birds have been noticed to feed on this insect, though 
some, notably Brachypternus aurantius, habitually feed on ants 
found and captured on the trees on which the lac is cultivated. 



INDEX TO INSECTS' NAMES. 

The economic importance of the insects mentioned in this paper 
is stated here as follows : 

B. = Beneficial I. = Injurious. 

N. = Neutral. U. = Useful. 



Acantholepii fraunfeldi var. bipartite. Formicidce. N. 

AeridiidcB. Locusts, Grasshoppers, &c. Orthoptera. I. 

Acridium ceruginosum. Acridiidas. I. (1022). 

Agrotis flammatra. Xoctuidce. I. 

Agrotis spinifer. Noctuidce. I. 

Agrotia ypailon. Noctuidce. I. 

Amblyrrhinua poricollia. Curculionidce. I. 

Antylolomia chrysographella. Pyralidce. I. 

Anomala pallida. Melolonthidce. I. 

Anomala varians. Melolonthidce. I. 

Anomala viridis. Melolonthidce. I. 

Anthophila. Bees. Hymenoptera. B. 

Anthomyiidce. Diptera. N. 

Ant Lions. Myrmeleo. B. 

Ants. Formicidce. N. 

4pftan sordidus. Lygceidae. I. 

Aphis gossypii. Aphidce. I. 

Aphidce. Plantlice. Hemiptera Homoptera. I. 

Aphodiidce. Oolfoptera. N. 

Aphodius marginellus. Aphodiidce. N. 

Apidce. Bees. B. 

is ftorea. Apidce. B. 

w indica. Apidce. B. 
4ps mellifica. Apidce. B. 
Apogonia carinata. Melolonthidv. I. 
Apomecyna pertigera. Cerambycidce. I. (1431). 
Zw. Curculionidce. I. 
pere^rintw. CwrcMhonida. I. 
rtcmi. Saturniidce. U. 



Bagrada picta. Pentatomidce. I. 

Balaninus sp. Curculionidce. I. 

Bees. Anthophila. B. 

Beetles. Coleoptera. 

Belenois mesentina. Rhopalocera. N. 

Bdostomidce. Hemiptera Heteroptera. N- 



INDEX TO INSECTS NAMES. 347 



Bibionidce. Fever flies. Diptera. N. 
Blattidce. Cockroaches. Orthoptera. N. 
Blister Beetles. Cantharidce. N. 
Bolboceras calanua. Oeotrupince. N. 
Bombycidce. Heterocera. I. 
Boitrychidce. Coleoptera. I. 
Brachylrypei achatinua. Oryllidce. I. 
Bupreatidce. Ooleoptero. I. 
Butterflies. Rhopalocera. I. 

O 

Caddii flies. Phryganeidce. N. 

Oalandra oryzce. Curculionidce. I. 

Oaloclytua annularit, Cerambycidas. I. 

Oamponotua compresaus. Formicidce. N. 

Oantharidce. Blister beetles. Coleoptera. N. 

Oantharia tenuicollia. Cctntharidce. N. 

(7ara6dcB. Ground beetles. Coleoptera. B. 

(7aradrno exigua. Noctuidce. I. 

Ooradrna pecten. Noctuidce. I. 

Oatoulaetw toprobance. Formicidce. N. 

<7afJiar' a&ceu. Scarabceida. N. 

Ceram&yctdce. Coleoptera. I. 

Cetoniid. I. 

Chelisoches melanocephalua. Forficulidos. N. 

Chilomenea sexmaculata. Coccinellidce. B. 

Ohironomidce. Gnats or Midges. Diptera. I. 

(7Wcenu cm*nuia<w. Carabidos. B. 

Ohlesnius marginatus. Carabidce. B. 

Ohlcenius spp. Carabidce. B. 

Ohrotogonua sp. Orthoptera. I. 

Ohrysia sp. Chry aides. Hymenoptera. I. 

Ohryaocoria alba var. pai/ena. Penta<omdce. N. (826). 

Ohrysomelidce. Leaf-beetles. Coleoptera. I. 

Cicadidce. Hemiptera Homoptera. I. 

Oicmde/rt auruiento. Gicindelidce. N. 

Oicindela grammophora. Gicindelidce. N. 

(7cndeIdcE. Tiger beetles. Coleoptera. B. 

Clanis aoror. Goccinellidce. B. 

Clavigralla horrens. Coreidce. I. 

Click beetles. Elateridce. N. 

Ooccidce. Scale insects. Hemiptera Homopttra. I. 

<7oecmeKa septempunctata. Coccinellidce. B. 

Coccinellidce. Lady -bird beetles. Coleoptera. B. 

Cockroaches. Blattidce. N. 

Coleoptera. Beetles. 

Oopelatus indicus. Dytiscidce. N. 

Copelatus pugnax. Dytiscidce. N. 

Copris orientalis. Scarabceidce. N. 

Copris repertus. Scarabceidce. N. 

Coptosoma. sp. Pentatomidce. N. 

Coreidce. Hemiptera Heteroptera. I. 

Gotsidce. Goat moths. Heterocera. I. 



348 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Crane flies. Tipulidce. Diptera. I. 
Cremastogaster subnuda. Formicidce. N. 
Crickets. Gryllidce. I. 
Crocothemis servillia. Odanata. B. 
Cryptorhynchince. Curculionidce. I. 
Culicidce. Mosquitoes. Diptera. I. 
Curculionidce. Weevils. Coleoptera. I. 
Cybister confusus. Dytiscidce. N. 
Cydnus nigritus. Pentatomidce. I. 
Cydnus varians. Pentatomidce. I. 
Cyrtacanthacris ranacea. Acridiidce. I. 



Dermatimts lugubris. Pyrrhocoridce. N. 

Derosphcerus rugicollis. Tenebrionidce. N. 

Dinoderus minutus. Bostrychidce. I. 

Diptera. Flies, Mosquitoes, Gnats, Midges, &c. 

Dorylus sp. Formicidce. I. 

Dragon flies. Odonata. B. 

Drasterius sp. Elateridce. N. 

Dung beetles. Scarabceidce. N. 

Duomitus ceramicus. Cossidce. I. .^ 'j 

Dynastince. Coleoptera. I. 

Dysdercus cingulatus. Pyrrhocoridce. I. 

Dytiscidce. Goleoptera. N. 

LV. E 

Earwigs. Forficulidce. N. 
Elateridce. Click beetles. N. 
Ephemeridce. May flies. Neuroptera. N. 
Eucosmidce. Lepidoptera. I. 
Eumenidce. Wasps. Hymenoptera. B. 



Formicidce. Ants. Hymenoptera. N. 
Forficulidce. Earwigs. Orthoptera. N. 
Fulgoridce. Hemiptera Homoptera I. 

Q 

Oeometridce. Heterocera. I. 

Geotr.upince. Coleoptera. ~ ' ! | 

Geotomus pygmceus. Hemiptera. I. 
Glow worms. Malacodermidas. N. 
Gnophus collaris. Geometridce. I. 
Graptostethus dixoni. Isygceidce. N. 
Graptostethus nigriceps. Lygceidce. N. 
Graptostethus servus. Lygceidce. N. 
Grasshoppers. Acridiidce. I. 
Ground beetles. Carabidce. B. 
Gryllidce. Crickets. Orthoptera. I. 
Gryllodet mekmocephalut. Gryllida. I. 



INDEX TO INSECTS NAMES. 



Gryllotalpa africana. Gryllidce. I. 

Gymnopleurus cyaneus. Scarabceidoe. N. 

Gymnopleurus miliaria. Scarabceidoe. N. 

Gymnopleurut panws. Scarobceidce. N. 



Halictus cuniculua. Apidce. N. 

Haliplus angustifrons. Haliplidas. N. 

Haliplidce. Coleoptera. N. 

Haltica cyanea. Chrysomelidce. N. 

Halticince. Flea beetles. N. 

Hapalochrous fasciatus. Malacodermidce. N. 

HemerobiidcB. Neuroptera. B. 

Hemiptera. Bugs, Scales, Aphides, &c. 

Heterocera. Moths. Lepidoptera. I. 

Heteroderes sp. Elateridce. N. 

Himatismus sp. Tenebrionidas. N. 

Hispa cenescens. Chrysomelidce. I. 

Hister bipustulatus. Histeridce. N. 

Hister opacus. Histeridce. N. 

Hister scissifrons. Histeridce. N. 

Histeridce. Coleoptera. N. 

Homaeocerus inornatus. Coreidce. I. 

Homoptera. Plant lice, Scales, &c. Hemiptera. I. 

Hoplocerambyx spinicornis. Cerambycidce. I. 

Hydrophilidce. Water scavengers. Coleoptera. N. 

Hydrophilus sp. Hydrophilidce. N. 

Hymenoptera. Bees, Wasps, Ants, &c. 

Hypera variabilis. Curculionidce. I. 

Hyphoporus aper. Dytiscidce. N. 

Hypsa aldfron. Hypsidce. I. 

Hypsa ficus. Hypsidce. I. 

Hypsidce. Heterocera. I. , i ' , ' 



Ilerda sena. Lyccenidce. N. 

J 

Jassidce. Hemiptera Homoptera. I. 



Laccophilu-s flexuosus. Dytiscidce. N. 
Lady-bird beetles. CoMnellidoe. B. 
Labidura riparia. Forftculidce. N. 
Laspeyresia jaculatrix. Eucosmidce. I. 
Lawana con-ip.rsa. Fulgoridoe. I. 
Leptidce. Diptera. B. 
Libellulce. Odonata. B. 
Liogryllus bimaculatus. Gryllidce. I. 
Locustiice. Green grasshoppers. Orthoptera. 
Lucilia sp. Muscidce. N. 
Lyccenidce, Rhopalocera, J. 



350 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Lygceidce. Hemiptera Heteroptera, N. 
Lygceus hospes. Lygceidce. N. 
Lymantriidce. Heterocera, I. 



Macrochilus tripustulatut. Oarabidce. B. 
Malacodermidce. Glow worms. Goleoptera. N. 
Mantidce. Praying insects. Orthoptera. B. 
May flies. Ephemeridce. N. 
Megachile carbonaria. Apidce. B. 
Melanitia imene. Rhopalocera. I. 
Melolonthidce. Chafers. Coleoptera. I. 
Membracidce Hemiptera Homoptera. I. 
Meranoplus bieolor. Formicidce. N. 
Mesomorpha villiger. Tenebrionidce. N. 
Midges. Chironomidce I. 
Monomma brunneum. Monommidce. N. 
Monommidce. Ooleoptera. N. 
Monophlebus stebbingi. Coccidce. I. 
Mosquitoes. Culicidce. I. 
Muscidce. Diptera. I. 
Mutilla diner eta. Mutillidce. N. 
Mutilla sexmaculata. Mutillidce. N. 
Mutillidce. Hymenoptera. N. 
Mylabria sp. Oantharidce. N. 
Myllocerus blandus. Curculionidce. I. 
Myllocerus discolor. Ourculionidce. I. 
Myllocerus maculosu* Curculionidce. I. 
Myrmecocystua setipes. Formicidce. N. 
Jlfyrtnelco sp. Hemerobiidce. B. 

N 

Neuroptera. Dragon-flies, Termites, &o. 
Nezara viridula. Pentatomidce. I. 
Noctuidce. Heterocera. I. 



Ocinara mrians. Bombycidce. I. 
Odonata. Dragon-flies. Neuroptera. B. 
(Ecophylla smaragdina. Formicidce. N. 
OtcJes bipunctata. Chrysomelidce. I. 
Oniticallus pallipes. Scarabceidce. N. 
Oniti distinctus. Scarabceidce. N. 
Onitin philemon. Scarabceidce. N. 
Onthophagus bonaaua. Scarabceidce. N. 
Onthophagua cervua. Scarabceidce. N. 
Onthophagua dama. Scarabceidce. N. 
Onthophagua gazella. Scarabceidce. N. 
Onthophagua longicornis. Scarabceidce. N. 
Onthophagus pusillua. Scarabceidce. N. 
Onthophagua apinifer. Scarabceidce. N. 
depresaum. Tenebrionidos. J. 



INDEX TO INSECTS NAMES. 351 



Opatrwn elongatum. Tenebrionida. N. 

Opatrum spp. Tenebrionidce. N. 

Ophiderea fullonica. Noctuidce. I. 

Ophideret materna. Noctuidce. I. 

Ophiuta arctotania. Noctuidce. I. 

Ophiuta coronata. Noctuidce. I. 

Ophiuta melicerte. Noctuidce. I. 

Orthoptera. Locusts, Grasshoppers, Cricketa, Mantids, &c. 

Oryctea rhinoceros. Melolonthidce. I. 

Oxyo, sp. Acridiidce. I. 

Oxycetonia albopunctata. Melolonthidce. I. 



Pachnephorus bretinghami. Ohrytomelidce. I. 

Pachnephorua impresaua. Ohryaomelidce. I. 

Pachyzemcla codesalia. Pyralidce. I. 

Pcederus variicornia. Staphylinidce. B. 

Pelogonus marginatus. Pelogonidce. Hemiptera. N. 

Pentatomidce. Hemiptera heteroptera. N. 

Penthicua sp. Teneftrtonidce. N. 

Phosmidce. Stick insects. Or<ftop<era. N. 

Pheropsophua. Car abides. B. 

Phidole malinsi. Formicidce. N. 

PWe&ototntw sp. <SmMJidce. I. 

Phryganeidce. Caddis flies. (Trichoptera) Neuroptera. N. 

Phthorimcea operculella. Tineidce (sensu lot.) I. 

Phytoacaphua triangularia. Gurculionidce. I. 

Platygomphaa dolobratua. Odonato. B. 

Plecoptera reflexa. Noctuidce. I. 

Plueia orichalcea. Noctuidce. I. 

Pohstet hebrceua. Vespidce. B. 

mplea;. Formicidce. N. 
Hymenoptera. N. 

6aertcew. Potnpiltdce. N. 
Praying insects. Mantidce. B. 
Pronocer 6tcolor. Malacodermidce. N. 
Prodenia {<toral. Noctuidce. I. 
Pttlvinarta sp. Goccidce. I. 
Pyralidce. Heterocera. I. 
Pyrrhocoridce. Hemiptera Heteroptera. Bugs. I. 

R 

;( 1 ftftopaZoeera. Butterflies. Lepidoptera. I. 
Rhynchium bengalenae. Eumenidce. B. 
Rhynchophorua ferrugineua. Curculionidce. I. 
Rhyothemia variegata. Odonata. B. 
Rhyssemu gertnanui. Aphodiince. N. 

S 

Safttrnudee. Silk worms. Heterocera. I. and U. 
Scale insects. Ooccidce. I. 



352 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Scarabceidce. Dung beetles. Coleoptera. N. 
Scardamia metallaria. Geometridce. I. 
Scarites sp. Garabidce. B. 
Schizodactylus monstrosus. Locuatidce. I. 
Scirpophaga auriflua. Pyralidce. I. 
Scleron denticolle. Tenebrionidce. N. 
Scleron orientals. Tenebrionidce. N. 
Scolia quadripwtulata. Scoliidce. N. 
Scoliidce. Wasps. Hymenoptera. N. 
Scymnus nubilans. Goccinellidce. B. 
Serica lugubris. Melolonthidce. I. 
Simulidce. Sand flies. Diptera. I. 
Sinoxylon anale. Bostrychidce. I. 
Sphceridium annulatum. Hydrophilidce. N. 
Sphenoptera gossypii. Buprestidce. I. 
Sphegidce. Wasps. Hymenoptera. N. 
Sphex lobatus. Sphegidce. B. 
Spodoptera mauritia. Noftuidce. I. 
Staphylinidce. Rove beetles. Coleoptera. B. 
Stenolophus quinquepustulatus. Garabidce. B. 
Stizus vespiformis. Sphegidce. N. 
Stomoxya sp. Muscidce. I. 
Storthecoris nigriceps. Pentatomides. N. 



Tabanidce. Gad flies. Diptera. I. 
Tachardia lacca. Coccidce. U. 
Tanymecus indicus. Curculionidce. I. 
Tanymecus hispida. Curculionidce. I. 
Tarache notabilis. Noctuidce. I. 
Tenebrionidce. Coleoptera. N. 
Termitidce. Neuroptera. I. 
Tetragonoderus sp. Carabidce. B. 
TAea cincta. Coccinellidce. B. 
Tineidce. Heterocera. I. 
Tiphia sp. Scoliidce. N. 
Tipulidce. Crane flies. Diptera. I. 
Tridactylince. Gryllidce. N. 
Trigonodes hyppasia. Noctuidce. I. 
Trithemis pallidinervis. Odonata. B. 
TVoa; spp. Trogince. N. 
Trogince. Coleoptera. N. 
Tryxalis sp. Acridiidce. I. 



Fespa orientalis. Veapidce. N. 
Fe*pidcE, Wasps, Hymenoptera. N. 



INDEX TO INSECTS NAMES. 



W 



Water scavengers. Hydrophilidce. N. 
Weevils. Curculionidce. I. 
White ants. Termitidce I. 



X 

Xylocopa dissimilis. Apidce. B. 

Z 

Zygopterides. Odonnta. B. 



353 



23 



IV. THE VALUE OF BIRDS TO AGRICULTURE. 

In the above pages are given in very full detail the records 
on the food of birds generally and the detailed contents of the 
stomachs of bird shot at Pusa, in the middle o f a very intensely 
cultivated agricultural tract where it might be supposed we could 
form some idea of the value of the birds from the economic 
standpoint. The final object of the enquiry was to elicit definite 
facts on the beneficial or other influence of the birds as a whole 
and of each common bird ; while the very large mass of recorded 
information collected above is of value and was hitherto scat- 
tered, it is of far less value than the actual recognition of the 
exact species of insects eaten coupled with an estimate of the 
position of each insect which has now only become possible as a 
result of the entomological work at Pusa and with the resources 
in identifying and placing insects which this section affords. 
Jerdon's remark, for instance, on the food of Hierococcyx varius, the 
Common Hawk Cuckoo, is " On Caterpillars, and other insects 
and on fruits. It is very fond of the fig of the banyan and 
other Fid." This, while valuable, is not so definite as the sum- 
mary now made possible on the actual identification specimen by 
specimen of 300 insects taken by 17 birds, where we find one insect 
to be beneficial, 253 injurious and 46 neutral. In discussing the 
birds, therefore, from their value in agriculture, I am limiting myself 
to those of which there are actual stomach records since we must 
inevitably come down to estimating the value of the bird by the 
actual value we place upon each insect, a matter very much of per- 
sonal opinion but which must be based upon an intimate knowledge 
of the place, the insects' habits and the local agricultural practice. 
A list of the birds of which there are stomach records is attached, 
with its value (in my opinion) shown. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 



355 



PASSERES. 

CORVID.. 



PARING. 



CRATEROPODID^:. 



DICRURID^E. 



LANIID^E. 



Corvusmacrorhynchus. Jungle Crow. Beneficial. 

The balance is in favour of this bird, the insects 
it eats being destructive ones feeding on germi- 
nating crops. It is on the other hand injurious 
by digging up seeds but as every Astycus and 
Chrotogonus eaten would probably have des- 
troyed hundreds of seedlings, the insect-eating 
aspect is by far the more valuable. 

Corvtis splendens. Indian House Crow. Beneficial. 

The five of the 20-6-09, eating Ophiusa melicerte 
show how difficult it is to judge from stomachs ; 
had these birds not been included, the injurious 
aspect of this bird would have outweighed the 
beneficial. Personally I hold that the benefi- 
cial action of this bird in disposing of insects of 
this sort when they are abundant outweighs its 
injurious action. 

Dendrocitta rufa. Indian Tree-Pie. Beneficial. 

Distinctly beneficial. 

Parus atriceps. Indian Grey Tit. "Beneficial. 

A very beneficial species. Any bird that specialises 
on Myllocerus and Tanymecus deserves the 
greatest encouragement. 
Crateropus canorus. The Seven Sisters. Jungle 

Babbler. Beneficial. 

Distinctly beneficial. 

Zosterops palpebrosa. Indian White-eye. Beneficial. 

Injurious insects are eaten, the vegetable matter 

taken being unimportant. 

Aegithina tiphia. Common Tara. Beneficial. 

The injurious insects eaten are important ones. 
Molpastes bengalensis. Bengal Redvented Bulbul. Beneficial. 
Very clearly beneficial and should be vigorously 

protected and encouraged. 

Sitta castaneiventris. Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch. Beneficial. 

The food is insect, many destructive species 

probably being eaten. 

Dicrurus ater. The King-Crow. Beneficial. 

The food is largely destructive insects and the bird 

is most valuable. 
Warblers. 

Orthotomus sutorius. Indian Tailor Bird. Beneficial. 

Cisticola cursitans. Rufous Fantail-Warbler. Beneficial. 

PhyUoscopus tristis. Brown Willow- Warbler. Beneficial. 

Phylloscopus fuscatus. Dusky Willow- Warbler. Beneficial. 

Lanius cristatus. Brown Shrike. Beneficial. 

A bird that feeds on Chrotogonus and Myllocerus 

is beneficial. 

Pericrocotus peregrinus. Small Minivet. Beneficial. 

Oraucalus macii. Large Cuckoo-Shrike. Beneficial. 

Fed almost wholly on injurious insects, 



356 

ORIOLID.SS. 



STURNID-. 



MUSCICAPID-S. 



THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

Orioles. 

Oriolus kundoo. Indian Oriole. Beneficial. 

Feeds on injurious insects and wild fig fruits. 

Distinctly beneficial. 

Oriolus melanocephalus. Black-headed Oriole. Beneficial. 

Like the last. 

Mainas and Rosy Pastors. 

Pastor roseus. Rosy Pastor. Injurious. 

Whether one ranks this bird as beneficial or not 
must depend on the relative importance one 
attaches to its destruction of locusts and of 
grain. My personal opinion, based on what I 
have seen of its feeding on locusts, is that its 
beneficial action is very much exaggerated and I 
rank it as very injurious bird. When locusts 
do come, they come in such vast numbers that 
even with small hoppers of which each bird can 
eat a number, the flocks of Rosy Pastors do no 
appreciable good and by scattering the swarms 
make destruction of swarms very much more 
difficult. 

Sturnia malabarica. Grey-headed Myna. Beneficial. 

Acridotheres tristis. Common Myna. Beneficial. 

On the whole, beneficial in my opinion and 
distinctly to be encouraged. 

Acridotheres ginginnianvs. Bank Mynah. Beneficial. 

Sturnopastor contra. Pied Mynah. Beneficial. 

Fly-catchers. 

Siphia albicilia. Eastern Red-bieasted Fly- 
catchers. Beneficial. 

Ruticilla rufiventris. Indian Redstart. Beneficial. 

Cyanecula suecica. Indian Blue-throat. Beneficial. 

Copsychus saularis. Magpie Robin. Beneficial. 

Geocichla citrina. Orange-headed Ground-thrush. Beneficial. 
Weaver-birds and Munias. 

Ploceus baya. Baya. Neutral. 

Croloncha malabarica. White-throated Munia. Neutral. 

Gymnorhis ftavicollis. Yellow- thoated Sparrow. Beneficial. 

Passer domesticus. House Sparrow. Injurious. 

The evidence is against this bird, no good reason 
existing for its protection and several against. 

Cotile sinensis. Indian Sand Martin. Beneficial. 
Wagtails and Pipits. 

Motacilla alba. White Wagtail. Beneficial. 

Motacilla personate. Masked Wagtail. Beneficial. 

Motacilla borealis. Grey-headed Wagtail. Beneficial. 

Motacilla beema. Indian Blue-headed Wagtail. Beneficial. 

Anihus maculatus. Indian Tree Pipit. Beneficial. 

Anthut rufulut. Indian -Pipit, Beneficial, 



MASON AND LEFROY. 



357 



NECTARINID^:. 

PICI. 
PICIVJE. 



ZYGODACTYLI. 

CAPITONID^:. 



ANISODACTYLI. 
CORACIID^E. 



MEROPID.E. 



MACROCHTRES. 



COCCYGES. 



Larks. 

Calandrella dukhunensia. Rufous Short-toed Lark. Beneficial. 

A markedly beneficial bird that should be protected 

and not eaten as an " Ortolan. " 

Mirafra erythroptera. Red-winged Bush-Lark. Beneficial. 
Sun-birds. 
Arachnechthra asiatica. Purple Sun-bird. Beneficial. 



Liopicus mahrattensis. Yellow-fronted Pied Wood- 
pecker. Beneficial. 

lyngipicws hardwickei. Indian Pigmy Wood-pec? er. Beneficial. 

Microptermts phceoceps. Northern Rufous Wood- 
pecker. Neutral. 

We class these ants which are its food as neutral. 

Brachypternus aurantius. The Golden Backed 
Wood-pecker. Beneficial. 

lynx torquilla. The Common Wryneck. Beneficial. 



Thereiceryx zeylonicus. Common 
A destructive species. 
Xantholcema hcematocephala. 
Barbet. Eats fig fruits. 



Indian Barbet. Injurious. 



Crimson-breasted 



Neutral. 
Beneficial. 

Injurious. 
Injurious. 



White-breasted King-fisher. Beneficial. 



Neutral. 



Beneficial. 



Coraciats indica. Indian Roller or Blue-Jay. 

The analysis of its food shows it to be distinctly 
beneficial. 

Bee-eaters. 

Merops viridis. Common Indian Bee-eater. 

Distinctly injurious. 

Merops philippinus. Blue-tailed Bee-eater. 

Distinctly injurious by destroying beneficial in- 
sects. 

King-fishers. 

Halcyon smyrnensis. 

Hornbills. 

Lophoceros birostris. Common Grey Hornbill. Feeds 
on figs. 

Hoopoes. 

Upupa indica. Hoopoe. 

Clearly beneficial. 



Night Jars. 
Caprimulguft macrurus. 
Distinctly beneficial. 



Horsfield's Night Jar. 



Cuckoos. 

Hierococcyx varius. Common Hawk Cuckoo. 
Distinctly beneficial as feeding on injurious insects. 



Coccystes jacobinus. Pied 
Distinctly beneficial. 



Crested Cuckoc. 



Beneficia. 1 , 



Beneficial. 



Beneficial. 



358 



THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 



PSITTACI. 
PSITTACID.S:. 

STRIGES. 



ACCIPITRES. 
FALCONID.SJ. 



COT;CMBIDJE. 



GALLING. 
PHASIANID.I. 

HEMIPODII. 

ORALLY 
RALLIDJB. 



LIMICOL^E. 

OEDICNEMID^;. 



Eudynamia honorata. Koel. Neutral. 

Feeds on useless fruits. 

Taccocua leschenaulti. Sirkeen Cuckoo. Beneficial. 

Fed on Opatrum, which though a harmless insect 

in Pusa, is elsewhere destructive to potatoes. 
Centropu-f sinensis. Common Coucal or Crow- Beneficial. 

pheasant. Doubtfully beneficial. 
Parrots. 

Palceorni-i torquatiis. Rose-ringed Parroquet. Injurious 

' ' The greatest bird-pest we have in India. ' ' 

Owls. 

Athene brama. Spotted Owlet. Beneficial. 

The stomach records are too few for any definite 

conclusion, but the evidence is in favour of it 

being beneficial. 



Butastur teesa. White-eyed Buzzard Eagle. Beneficial. 

Haliastur Indus. Brahminy Kite. Beneficial. 

Distinctly beneficial. 

Milvus govinda. Common Pariah Kite. Beneficial. 

Distinctly beneficial, except that it eats chickens. 

Atur badius. Shikra. Beneficial. 

Perm's cristatus. Crested Honey Buzzard. Beneficial. 

Pigeons and Doves. 

Crocopus phcenicopterus. Bengal Green Pigeon. Neutral. 

Turtur suratensis. Spotted Dove. Injurious. 

Turtur risorius. Indian Ring Dove. Injurious. 



Francolinus vulgaris. Black Partridge. Beneficial. 

Turnix tanki. Indian Button Quail. Beneficial. 



Amaurornis phcenicurus. White-breasted Water- 
hen. Beneficial. 

Sypheotis bengalensis. Bengal Florican. ? 

I cannot class this, one Polistet is worth how many 
Chrotogonus 1 



Oedicnemus scolopax. Stone Curlew. Beneficial. 

Sarcogrammus indicus. Red-wattled Lapwing. Beneficial. 

Hoplopteruft ventralis. Indian Spur-winged Plo- 



Aeyialitii dubia. Little Ringed Plover. 



Neutral. 



MASON AND LEFROY. 359 

Totanus glareola. Wood Sandpiper. t 

Totanus ochropus. Green Sandpiper. 

Totanus calidris. Redshank. --enfal. 

Tringa minuta. Little Stint. Neutral. 

Gallinago ccelettia. Common Snipe. Beneficial. 

STEGANOPODES. 

PHALACROCORACIDJE. Cormorants. 

Phalacrocorax javanicus. Little Cormorant. Neutral. 

Eat fish only. 
HERODIONES. 
IBIDID/E. 

Inocotis papillosus. The Black II is. Injurious. 

In my opinion a very destructive bird for eating 
frogs which themselves eat so many injurious 
insects. 
ARDEID.& Herons. 

Bnbulcus coromandus. Cattle Egret. Beneficial. 

Ardeola grayi. Pond Heron. Injurious. 

Feeds on Dragonflies. 
ANSERES. 

Quercedula circia. Garganey or Blue-winged 

Teal. Neutral. 

In the main the birds common in Pusa are from our point of 
view beneficial. I would protect the crows, though 8 ate frogs, be- 
cause of their feeding on Chrotogonus, the very destructive surface 
grass-hopper, but T admit I would like to have 10 stomachs daily 
throughout a whole year on which to form a better estimate. Mr. 
Mason does not hold this opinion, ' ' crows cannot be definitely class- 
ed as beneficial and require if any thing to have their numbers 
kept within certain limits as is the case with C. frugilegus 
in England/' Having to deal less with birds and more with the 
insects like Chrotogonus, I may attach too much importance to 
the insect-eating function of this bird and clearly there is room for 
two opinions. 

The Indian Tree Pie and Indian Grey Tit are clearly beneficial 
and are not probably capable of protection or encouragement. 
Man does not affect them. 

The same applies to the Seven Sisters, the White-eye, the Com- 
mon loras, the Bulbul, and the Nuthatch, all useful small birds 
whose function is a very important one and which require probably 
neither protection nor encouragement. The King-Crow is a most 
important bird, far more so than the records seem to me to 



360 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

show. In some parts of the country branches are put up in paddy 
fields to afford resting places to this bird, which is dependent upon 
them ; this is a custom I would like to see extended to all paddy 
areas ; paddy as a crop offers no resting place to such a bird, nor can 
ground feeding birds feed in it ; it has also (? therefore) abundant 
pests and its worst are just the sort of insects the King-Crow takes, 
i.e., insects it catches flying. 

For other crops, its importance is perhaps less, but for paddy it 
should be helped in every way. 

The Warblers and Shrikes are clearly beneficial in a general way. 
The Orioles are beneficial and deserve protection. The Mynas 
do also, except the Kosy Pastor which I rank as a most injurious bird. 
The common Mynah I would encourage particularly, mainly by plant- 
ing fig trees of all sorts (Pipal, baryar, gular, &c.), as avenue trees 
always where possible ; the good done by mynahs far outweighs 
every other consideration, only those in India who have to do with 
road planting know nothing of birds. It is not uncommon to plant 
mangoes for fruit and timber, it would be better to plant figs for 
birds that keep down surplus insects and bring good crops. 

The Flycatchers, Redstarts, Blue-throat, Magpie-robin and 
Ground-thrush are all beneficial, while the Weaver-birds and Munias 
are neutral. The Yellow-throated Sparrow does good, the House 
Sparrow I class as injurious and by no means worthy of protection. 
Opinions differ about the common house sparrow, but I emphatically 
rank it as injurious from man's point of view. Of the Martins and 
Swallows we really know nothing in India ; what it is they get when 
feeding, high up in the air, it would be very interesting to know. 

The Wagtails, Pipits and Larks are all deserving of protection. 
In particular the Rufous Short-toed Lark (Calandrella dukhu- . 
nensis) so often destroyed as an Ortolan should be protected aid 
not destroyed as it at present is. This is a bird that feeds on weevils 
(Tanymecus and Myllncerus) and on the '* Fatinga " or surface 
grasshopper, all insects that do a great deal of harm. You eat a dish 
of ten Ortolans and you eat birds that daily eat, probably at least 50 
destructive insects apiece, or 15,000 destructive insect* per month 



MASON AND LEFROY. 361 

survive as the result of your dish of Ortolans. Personally I would 
put a high penalty on the destruction of Ortolans. 

The Wood-peckers are beneficial partly by feeding on insects 
attacking trees, partly by destroying the many insects which 
hibernate or rest in the cracks of the bark (e.g., Myllocerus 
discolor}. 

The common Indian Green Barbet is distinctly injurious to 
fruit especially and requires to be kept down. The Crimson-breasted 
Barbet appears to be neutral, eating the fruits of wild figs, but 
these have some economic value as food, and the Barbets as a whole 
seem to have no good points. The Indian Roller or Blue-jay on 
the other hand is a most beneficial bird and one of the commonest 
in the plains. It is one that likes a perch from which to float down 
on to its prey, and could be encouraged. Above all its destruction 
should be met with the heaviest penalties, as its bright plumage ex- 
poses it to attack. 

The common Indian Bee-eater is a beneficial bird, except in 
regard to bees. Our attempts to make bee-keeping in bar-frame hives 
a success have been largely frustrated by these birds. In general 
the bird is beneficial, but to those attempting bee-keeping the bird 
is an enemy. The Blue-tailed Bee-eater is directly injurious from 
the agricultural point of view and does not deserve protection. 
The Hoopoe is deserving of protection in its strongest form and only 
a confirmed bird-maniac would shoot a Hoopoe. The Night Jars and 
the Cuckoos we rank as beneficial, while the Koel is neutral. The 
Crow-Pheasant is very doubtful, it does good and does harm, and 
probably does not stand in need of protection. 

The Parroquets are deserving of no protection at all but of utter 
extermination, and all the nonsense written about their "extermina- 
tion " by ignorant people in England is based on an entire ignorance 
of India. There is no more destructive bird to the crops than the 
parroquet and the cultivater is powerless against it. 

The Owls are beneficial, the Barn Owl eating mice, the Spotted 
Owlet eating insects, including Chrotojonus, the destructive surface 



362 THE FOOD OF BIRDS IN INDIA. 

grasshopper. The white-eyed Buzzard Eagle and the Brahminy 
Kite are beneficial, the common Pariah Kite also, except where 
fowls are kept, and the Shikra and Crested Honey Buzzard 
are beneficial. 

Of the Doves and Pigeons, the Bengal Green Pigeon is neutral, 
the Spotted Dove and Indian Ring Dove injurious, though of little 
importance. They are shot for food to a very slight extent and 
probably are of no economic importance. The Black Partridge 
is distinctly beneficial and deserves protection, while the Button 
Quail is less distinctly beneficial. The White-breasted Waterhen 
is beneficial, the Bengal Florican is doubtful, though insect eating, 
as there are not sufficient stomachs to decide what proportion of its 
food is injurious. The Stone Curlew and Red-Wattled Lapwing are 
beneficial, the Indian Spur-winged Plover neutral, the Little Ringed 
Plover and the Sand-pipers doubtful, the Redshank and Little 
Stint neutral, while the common Snipe is mildly beneficial but not 
important. 

Of the Ibises, Storks, Herons, &c., the Black Ibis I rank as an 
injurious bird, but I admit this to be open to opinion as the frogs 
it eats are balanced by such insects as Agrotis and Prodenia and as 
the frogs' value is by no means certain. There is no definite case 
either way on the evidence, perhaps, and the same applies to the 
Common Herons, in this case feeding on frogs. The Cattle Egret 
is a markedly beneficial bird deserving of protection, while the Pond 
Heron is distinctly not beneficial by feeding largely on Dragonflies. 
Of the Swans, Ducks and Geese, the Garganey or Blue-winged Teal 
is neutral, as are probably all its allies from our point of view. 

In considering this question from the agricultural aspect, in a 
tract such as Behar, the conclusion one comes to in that there are 
large numbers of common birds which are extremely beneficial, 
which deserve protection, and which in the main are not affected 
by man at all. They neither need protection nor can they be en- 
couraged. There are, however, exceptions : the Indian Roller or 
Blue Jay is shot to some extent on account of its plumage ; it should 
be rigidly protected and the export of its skins prevented. The birds 



MASON AND LEFROY. 363 

eaten as Ortolans should be protected, if protection is possible ; 
their value as food is totally insignificant as compared with their 
value to agriculture. Crows are not destroyed probably to any great 
extent. The King-Crow could probably be very greatly helped 
in paddy lands by the provision of perches, and this probably applies 
to other crops not tall enough to act as perches for them. The 
Mynahs could probably be very much encouraged by planting trees 
of the Ficus genus, such as the Pipal, Baryar, Gular, Pakour, 
&c., as roadside trees, which supply food and shelter, and which 
help to maintain such a number of birds that when an out- 
break of a pest occurs the birds are there to eat the 
insects. 

For the Hoopoe, Spotted Owlet, and the Kites, no protection 
is probably needed or practicable. The Black Partridge is shot, but 
the number shot in so large an area as India must be a very insigni- 
ficant one. The Cattle Egret is the only bird other than the Indian 
Roller coming among those of first class importance to agriculture, 
among those here dealt with, which requires protection. The Eg- 
refcs are said to be destroyed in very large quantities during the breed- 
ing season on account of the train of pectoral feathers valued as 
decorations. It is not certain how far other Egrets are valuable ; 
this one has an undoubted agricultural importance and deserves 
protection. It and the Indian Roller are the only two birds amorg 
those exported (see p. 23 above) which are distinctly known to be 
beneficial. On the other hand, the Black Ibis, the Pond Heron and 
other frog-eating birds are probably injurious from our point of view, 
while the Egrets proper (Herodias spp.) are of very doubtful im- 
portance in agriculture. The Rose-ringed Parroquet and probably 
all parroquets are extremely destructive, and it is undoubtedly 
for the good of India that they are killed, though the export of their 
skins is forbidden and they are shipped as " Cowhair " to Singa- 
pore for re-shipment to England. To anyone who has lived in the 
plains and seen the havoc wrought on fruit, on maize and other crops, 
even on the leaves of trees, such as teak, by parroquets, it will be 
incomprehensible that the export of their plumage is forbidden. No 



364 THE FOOD OP BIRDS IN INDIA. 

bird is so destructive in Behar as the Rose-ringed Parroquet. and 
there is not a word to be said in its favour. 

Of other destructive birds, which should be destroyed, the Bee- 
eaters, the House-sparrow and the common Indian Green Barbet 
are the only ones included in the birds investigated here and which 
occur commonly in Behar. 

What is the economic value of these birds which live in densely 
cultivated areas, such as Behar ? One has only to read the lists of 
the food of the beneficial species to get an idea of the immense part 
they play in reducing insect damage. Nearly all insects have 
special enemies such as parasites which attack each individually, but 
which produce alternative abundance and scarcity of each insect ; 
that is, with the natural action of the special checks such as parasites, 
you get alternate " Waves " of insect pest and parasite ; this is 
where the birds' importance is shown ; they are not restricted, they 
eat many kinds of insects and when a pest has for the time got ahead 
and is abundant, the birds are there to feed on it just because it 
is abundant and because at one time one is abundant, at another 
time another is, and the birds eat them all. To put it figuratively 
they cut off the tops of the waves and tend to keep them all at a 
uniform level, none being ever destructively abundant. In my 
opinion from man's point of view this is the special function in 
nature of birds and if the bird population is small, outbreaks of in- 
sects are frequent. To gain a better idea of their action read over 
the groups of insects they eat (pp. 323-345). Locusts and grasshop- 
pers are all injurious and " they are eaten by practically every species 
of insectivorous bird and form one of the main supplies from which 
birds in India draw their food/' We have only one record of a 
bird taking a mantis which is usually a beneficial insect. The in- 
jurious bherwa (Schizodactylus monstrosus) is taken by many birds 
as also are the injurious crickets. Termites (White-ants) are, when 
they emerge from the nest in the flying state, eaten voraciously and 
probably few escape. Yet every one of these flying females is cap- 
able of starting a new nest if it can escape long enough to burrow 
into the soil, and undoubtedly the birds destroy an enormous per- 



MASON AND LEFROY. 365 

centage. The pheasants, partridges, quail, jungle fowl and other 
Phasiamdce-s,re, known to feed on them at all times, even " scratch- 
ing in the nests " to get them. 

It is extremely significant that there is no record of one of the 
Parasitic Hymenoptera, the Ichneumons, as food of our birds ; 
they are the direct checks on insect attack and are nearly all para- 
sites. They are extremely abundant and apparently wholly un- 
touched by birds, while they are the greatest direct check on insect in- 
crease we have ; were birds addicted to feeding on them, it would 
be extremely hard to assess their value and it immensely increases 
the value of birds that they do not feed on them,. Of the wasps, ruby- 
wasps, and digger wasps, which in the main are beneficial, there are 
a few records but not a large amount. For the bees, the Bee-eaters 
are very destructive and we have no good word to say for these birds. 
As a rule the bees, wasps and rubywasps are not eaten and are more 
or less immune, which, as most are beneficial, is to the credit of the 
birds. Many birds feed on ants but, while ants do good, they also do 
harm, and a world over-run by unchecked ants would be unbearable 
to man. 

Birds feed largely on Dung-beetles which we here regard aa 
neutral ; they feed also on Cockchafers which are distinctly destruc- 
tive, and fortunately they feed on the grubs turned up by the 
plough, this being the destructive stage. 

A few birds feed on Cicindelids while many feed on Carabids, 
both beneficial groups probably and both extremely abundant. 
.Of the very abundant Coccinellids (Lady -bird beetles), very few 
are found to be eaten by birds, probably partly owing to their habits 
and small size, and partly to their distastefulness. Coccinellids 
are usually found on leaves, feeding on plant-lice, etc., and birds ear- 
not as a rule get insects off leaves unless by hovering, as they have 
no support while feeding ; this is a point of very great importance 
in considering what birds eat ; ground insects are easily preyed on 
by birds but insects on leaves are not since the bird cannot perch 
on the leaf and must either make a dart or hover ; when an outbreak 
o ^caterpillars occurs, the birds do not gather till the caterpillars 



366 THE FOOD OF BIRDS *1N INDIA. 

descend to pupate ; as soon as the caterpillars come down to the soil 
the birds can get them and until then they seem to pay little atten- 
tion to them. We have noticed this markedly in outbreaks of cater- 
pillars on crops such as castor ; the caterpillars are quite safe so long 
as they are on the large, thin leaves ; but as soon as they descend 
the Mynahs and Hoopoes are after them in great numbers. Coccinel- 
lids never need to come down as they pupate on the leaves and the 
beetles and larvae feed on the insects on leaves as a rule. 

The Buprestids are of less importance to agriculture than to 
forestry, but the fact that the Black Partridge feeds on the cotton 
stem-borer (Sphenoptera gossypii) is worth noting. Several birds 
feed on Opatrum depressum, a species now known to be destructive 
to gram, potatoes, etc., and the various Tenebrionids, so common on 
the soil, are the food of many birds. Most are harmless but the birds 
are probably an important check on them. Cantharids are not eaten 
except by bustards ; their economic importance is very doubtful. 

Considering their enormous number, the Chrysomelids are very 
little eaten and it is surprising that so few Cerambycids are found. 
Weevils are taken by practically every " insectivorous bird " and are 
of very great economic importance, being destructive in very many 
cases and never beneficial. Several of our important pests are of 
this family and the fact that such weevils as Tanymecus, Myllocerus, 
and Rhynchophorus are eaten is significant. 

In the Lepidoptera, Butterflies and Moths, we find the greatest 
food of birds in the countless caterpillars eaten, not one of which 
can be reckoned as beneficial with the sole exception of the wild 
tusser caterpillars, while many are extremely destructive pests. 
Here we would draw special attention to a point nearly always 
ignored by writers, the fact that birds cannot get the caterpillars 
on many crops until the caterpillars come down to the soil. Watch 
caterpillars on castor, for instance ; they are practically untouched 
till they are full grown because the bird can get no foot-hold on the 
leaf, and the caterpillar from hatching to maturity rests on the 
leaf. Erqolis merione for instance rests all day in the very middle 
of the upper surface of the leaf and is quite safe ; it of course never 



MABON AND LEFfcOY. 367 

comes down to the soil, pupating on the leaf. This does not apply 
to caterpillars feeding on low plants that a Mynah for instance can 
get at, and for all caterpillars that pupate in the soil, as the Sphin- 
gids, there is that risky period when they must descend and seek a 
place to burrow into the soil. Most do so at night but many pro. 
bably perish and in a big caterpillar attack, it is very striking to see 
the birds collect to feed when the caterpillars descend to pupate ; 
we use this in fighting caterpillar attacks by cutting bands of the 
crop across which the caterpillars can pass only on the soil where 
the birds can get them and from the rapidity with which birds come 
it is evident they watch insects pretty closely. The reason so many 
Noctuid larvaa hide during the day is probably simply to escape the 
birds, and if one watches caterpillars one can get a picture of the 
ceaseless watch kept by the birds and the ceaseless attempts of the 
caterpillars to evade them. Apart from direct observation one can 
infer it by the devices so common among caterpillars to escape 
the observation of, not parasites, but birds. This is a subject that 
could be discussed in very great detail, but would be out of place 
here. 

In estimating the actual food of birds, one must remember that 
caterpillars are soft, are very often squashed or torn by the bird 
in or before the process of eating and are not easy to recognise at all. 
Our knowledge of Indian caterpillars is not detailed ; we have had 
to collect and compare caterpillars of many kinds in India to be able 
to recognise even our pests from the caterpillar stage alone and as a 
rule when a bird has taken caterpillars one cannot identify them ; 
we have to rely more upon observation than upon detailed stomach 
records. I attribute to birds a very great role in checking caterpil- 
lars alone, and I believe that the reason why a big caterpillar out- 
break is seldom followed by another big brood is due to the work 
of birds in catching the pupating Iarva3 as much as to the action of 
parasites. If this is true, then the direct action of birds in preserv- 
ing crops is immensely important, but it is a matter difficult of direct 
proof and must depend upon one's personal estimate of the influence 
of birds. 



368 THE POOD OF BIRDS Iff INDIA. 

The flies (Diptera) are of less importance directly and do not 
figure much in stomach records except with such birds as swallows* 
swifts, wagtails, fly catchers and bee-eaters. Probably Dragon- 
flies feed immensely on small flies but among birds only the swallows 
and their allies probably exert much influence on the numbers of 
flies. With the Plant Bugs (Hemiptera Heteroptera) we have a 
group of minor importance, and in which the acrid scent is probably 
a protection, though some birds eat them. The Painted Bug (Bag- 
rada picta) is for instance taken very little despite its abundance ', 
our worst bug-pest, the -Rice Bug, is not recorded at all, though 
very common ; the Red Cotton Bug (Dysdercus cingulatus) is taken 
by four birds only, though at times immensely abundant, and though 
inodorous. We may draw attention to the fact that the beneficial 
predaceous bugs (Amyoteince, Reduviidce, etc.), do not seem to be 
eaten by birds. 

In the Homopterous bugs, birds do little to check their increase 
even with such abundant forms as Pyrilla aberrans : this may be 
due to the difficulty of actually getting them off the leaves of the 
cane plant. Aphids are eaten by some birds which seem to be spe- 
cially adapted to feeding on small plants and eating them, but it is 
doubtful how far they help to check them. Scale insects are little 
recorded, except the Giant Mealy Bug (Monophlebus) , but probably 
they are fed on to some extent. 

In this summary we have tried to picture generally the influ- 
ence and value of birds, but this is difficult to present vividly to any 
but persons to whom the names of the insects really represent de- 
finite injurious insects, which cause large losses to agriculture. 
The impression one gains by reading the detailed records and by cor- 
relating it with one's knowledge of the insects is of a ceaseless war 
waged by birds, not as a war but as the daily search for food, on edi- 
ble insects which are mainly those destructive ones which have a 
compensating very high ratio of increase and which are ceaselessly 
breeding and increasing against the ravages caused in their nunobeis 
by their enemies ; one can picture the caterpillars living under con- 
stant menace (not known to them) of discovery by birds ; they are 



itASON AND LEFHOY. 369 

not exempt even in their pupal condition in the soil, the Hoopoe 
especially probably getting many in this way'; even as moths they 
are attacked, though in this stage their protective attitudes and 
colouration protects them to some extent. So too for almost every 
class of destructive insect : grasshoppers are extensively eaten and 
have little protection, except when on swaying plants which afford 
little foothold to birds ; even the larger locusts are attacked ; ter- 
mites are enormously eaten in the stage in which they are capable 
of forming new nests. Beetles are extensively eaten and so are> 
to a less extent, the bugs. On the other hand there is little destruc- 
tion of predaceous insects which are beneficial to agriculture ; the 
enormous host of parasitic Ichneumons and Tachinid flies are not 
eaten, Mantids, predaceous bugs, the predaceous Asilids are practi- 
cally untouched ; the insects feeding on Aphides, the Ladybird 
beetles and Chrysopids are untouched ; the digger wasps and true 
wasps which constantly check insects are not fed on ; and there is 
scarcely a beneficial insect which is checked to any extent by birds. 
To anyone who has studied the influence of these beneficial insects, 
this immunity they have is an enormous factor in preserving the 
balance of life and in maintaining that equable balance of life which 
never lets one species become destructively abundant but preserves 
an equality of all; and that is, to man, the really important thing. 
It is difficult to overestimate the value of birds as a class and their 
special function seems to be, not so much the keeping down of indi- 
vidual destructive species (which is done by the special parasites 
each destructive insect has), as the cutting off of the crest of the 
wave of increase, the checking of those insects which by favour 
of climatic or other influences elude their checks and become abun- 
dant. 

It is unfortunately not so clear how to encourage birds to in- 
crease ; clearly, to increase the numbers of insect-feeding ones one 
must also increase the food and the most we can do is to see that they 
are not checked and that in every locality there are as many birds 
as the insect supply will feed, i.e., these birds require only protection. 
In the case of the King-Crow especially, I would extend the practice 

24 



370 THE POOD OF BIRDS 

of perches in paddy fields and similar low crops by putting in upright 
sticks and branches, as is done in some places, simply in order to 
concentrate these birds where we most want them, in the paddy 
fields. For our most important bird, the Mynah, I would advocate 
the extensive planting of fig trees such as the pipal, banyan, gular, 
etc., as pioviding it with shelter and with food so as to keep its num- 
bers up to the maximum : this can be done only by roadside tree 
planting and in the selection of trees for this purpose I would put 
greater value on these trees than on others. The destruction of 
the Rufous Short-toed Lark or Ortolan should be totally prohibited 
and this bird should be recognised as one deserving of protection. 
So also the Indian Roller or Blue Jay deserves protection. The 
Spotted Owlet and Kites one cannot probably help as they are not 
killed, but the Black Partridge deserves protection. 

A great deal is written about the destruction of birds for plu- 
mage by two classes of people, those who want to protect them, 
and who say they are shot or killed extensively and are smuggled 
out of India in spite of the prohibition of the export of the Plumage 
of Wild Birds in India, and those who want to let this export go on 
openly, as legitimate trade. Of the birds known to be exported, 
the Cattle Egret and the Jay are the only ones we can definitely say 
are beneficial in any way. Their destruction and exportation should 
be prohibited. On the other hand, the Rose-Ringed Parroquet 
and all Parroquets deserve to be exterminated, and if exportation 
of plumage will encourage this it is a mistake to prohibit this export- 
ation. So for the Ibises, Storks, and Herons ; there is no evidence 
tha.t they do anything but harm, and no argument for their preserva- 
tion can be based on their beneficial action. On the other hand 
it is not possible to say that the birds killed for plumage are in the 
main destructive, or in any way affect the ryot. The Parroquets 
do, as we have said, and they should be destroyed and the export 
of their plumage made legal. The Egrets in general, the Peacocks, 
the Jungle Cocks, the King-Fishers, the Pheasants do not affect 
the ryot. Their destruction for plumage will not in any way bene- 
fit nor harm the ryot. The destruction of Cranes, Parroquets and 



AND LBFROY. 371 

some Herons will benefit the ryot, while the destruction of the Cattle 
florets and the Jays will do him damage. It is evident that neither 
the bird protectionists nor the plumage exporters are wholly right 
ind that it is necessary to distinguish carefully in the case of each 
bird. 
CONCLUSIONS. 

(1) In agricultural tracts, the birds play an indispensable part 
in the protection of crops from insects. 

(2) The following have an injurious action : 

Rose Ringed Parroquet and other P a rroquets. 

The Cranes. 

The Herons. 

The House Sparrow. 

Common Indian Green Barbet. 

The Bee-eaters. 

(3) The following deserve protection, being markedly bene- 
ficial. 

The Indian Roller. 

The Ortolan. 

Crows (?) 

The King-Crow. 

Mynahs. 

The Hoopoe. 

The Spotted Owlet. 

Kites. 

The Black Partridge. 

The Cattle Egret. 

(4) Legislation to protect birds or to prohibit export of plumage 
needs to discriminate between beneficial and other birds. 

(5) Tree-planting on roadsides is probably the most important 
lirect way of encouraging beneficial birds, especially if preference 
is given to wild Fig trees and other trees, affording food and shelter 
to the birds feeding both on fruits and on insects. 

H. MAXWELL-LEFROY.