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heard of four being met with. In two instances, I see by my 
notes that single fully incubated eggs were found. 

In this species I have invariably found the female sitting, but 
the male is always near at hand, and very commonly sitting on 
some branch immediately above the nest. I once shot a female 
sitting on a partly incubated egg, and on skinning her found a 
second egg in the oviduct ready for expulsion. I have repeatedly 
taken one perfectly fresh and one partially incubated egg out of the 
same nest, and it seems clear that these birds, like the Harriers 
and many Owls, begin to sit directly the first egg is laid. 

Colonel Butler writes : " Sulckur, 24th January, 1879, a nest in 
the fork of a kundee-tree about 30 feet from the ground. It 
consisted of ordinary sticks like an old Kite's nest, and the tree 
upon which it was built was bare and leafless, recalling to mind the 
figure of the nest of Ketupa ceylonensis in Colonel Marshall's book 
on ' Bird's-nesting in India.' The tree upon which the nest was 
built was growing in the middle of a thick group of bare thorny trees, 
with a clump of date-palms close by, in which the cock bird concealed 
himself. The hen bird sat close, allowing the boy who ascended 
the tree to approach within a yard of her before she left the nest. 
From below she was not visible when sitting, but at a distance of 
40 or 50 yards from the tree her cat-like head could be seen 
occasionally raised above the top of the nest. The nest contained 
a solitary fresh egg, and strange to say, after it was taken, the hen 
bird sat closelv for at least a fortnight without laying again, allowing 
me to visit the nest frequently during that period without forsaking 

Mr. Scrope Doig writes from Sind : " Found nests on 15th 
and 21st February, that contained young ones, two in each.'' 

Mr. J. Davidson, writing of this species in Khaudesh, says : 
" Probably a permanent resident, but scarce. I only came across 
it twice, in both cases in December, breeding." 

Lieut. H. E. Barnes, writing of Eajpootana in general, says : 
" The Dusky Horned Owl breeds during December and January." 

Mr. C. J. W. Taylor, writing from Manzeerabad in Mysore, re- 
marks : " I shot a female off her nest, a mass of sticks, laid be- 
tween two immense arms of a mango-tree ; the nest contained one 
hard- set egg. This was in April 1882." 

Mr. J. E. Cripps writes : " On the deserted ryot's holding, 
where I found a nest of Aquila hastata, and on a tamarind-tree 
within 50 yards of the latter nest, was one of this Owl containing 
a young bird, whose quill- feathers were a couple of inches long. 
This tamarind-tree stood about 100 yards off the public road, and 
the nest was placed about 40 feet off the ground in the centre of 
the tree. It was a huge structure of sticks and twigs, more in fact 
than a man could carry ; no lining, but the nest contained the 
remains of a young Urrua and the heads of 15 young Corvus levail- 
lantii, which had evidently supplied many a meal to the young 
monster. There were also the shells of ever so many Crows' eggs in 
the nest ; the smell from all this was very offensive. The female 

SCOPS. 103 

flew off the nest when my man went up, but I bagged the male, 
which was sitting on one of the side branches. In this clump of 
trees the natives said these birds built every year. I took the 
young one home, and he lived for over a month, feeding on raw , 
flesh. I had to come away from the factory for a few days, and 
the foolish servant left the room-door open, when an Imperial Eagle 
I had got in and tore the unfortunate Owl to pieces." 

The late Mr. A. Anderson furnished me with the following note : 
" I have acquired a pair of really well-marked eggs of the Dusky 
Horned Owl, which I took on the 28th of November last from an 
old nest of Mycteria austral is, shooting one of the parent birds off 
the nest. 

" The markings consist of indistinct lilac blotches, showingthrough 
the shell, as it were, on of course a pure white ground ; and they 
are both profusely though minutely spotted, especially at the extreme 
end, with brown and lilac spots (or rather specks) of various shades." 

These eggs measured 2-33 by 1-89 and 2-89 by 1-9. 

The eggs of this bird vary surprisingly in size and shape. Ty- 
pically they are a broad oval, comparatively very large for the size 
of the bird, but long, oval, pyriform, and nearly spherical varieties 
occur. I have taken a very great number of these eggs myself, and 
have extreme sizes of which the cubic contents of the one are fully 
double those of the other. In colour they are a decidedly creamy 
white, in texture often somewhat coarse, but withal more or less 
glossy. I have many specimens greatly exceeding in size the egg 
of Bubo mcLcimus figured by Hewitson, while I have one specimen 
scarcely exceeding the egg of S. stridula which he figures. 

The eggs vary from 2'2 to 2*55 inches in length, and from 1*75 
to 2 inches in breadth ; but the average of fifty-six eggs measured 
was 2-33 by 1'89 inch. 

Scops pennatus, Hodgs. The Indian Scops-Owl. 

Ephialtes pennatus (Hodgs.}, Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 136. 

Scops pennata, Hodgs., Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. no. 74. 

Of the present species, the Indian Scops-Owl (S. pennatus} I have 
never yet taken the eggs, but Mr. E. Thompson informs me that 
" they breed from March till August, in holes of trees, usually at 
no great height from the ground." He adds, " This is a common 
bird in our forests (G-urhwal), but I never yet took the trouble to 
take their eggs. Several pairs used to breed in the Botanical 
Gardens at Saharunpore. A pair has been breeding for three 
seasons in a small tree in front of the forest Bungalow at Koted- 
wara. Four years ago, a young one, in the rufous phase, was 
brought to me in the month of July." 

This species, at any rate the grey form of it, occurs throughout 
the well-wooded portions of India and Burma (except perhaps in 
the Punjab, west of the Beas, from whence I have seen no speci- 
mens whether from hills or plains), so that there should be no 
difficulty in obtaining full particulars as to its nidification. 



















A L K U K I F L A M M A M . 



MY task being completed, it is now my pleasant duty to 
acknowledge the kind assistance I have received in England 
from many friends ; and I take this opportunity of including 
in the number those gentlemen who have also assisted 
me in writing the ' Birds of India/ so far as it is com- 

It is needless to say that at the Natural History Museum, 
South Kensington, I received the utmost assistance from 
Professor Flower and Dr. Giinther, and the latter gentleman 
placed every facility for work at my disposal. It was a decided 
improvement to work in the well-appointed room now devoted 
to Birds in the new Museum instead of the uncomfortable 
gallery at Bloomsbury where I wrote my ' Birds of Burmah ' 
in 1883 ; and I must admit that the way in which the enormous 
additions to the bird- collection during the past few years 
have been arranged and made available fur study by my friend 
Mr. Bowdler Sharpe must impress everyone with admiration 
for his industry and powers of organization. Both from him 
and his colleague Mr. W. R. Ogilvie Grant I have always 
received the most friendly help on all occasions. 


To the Council of the Zoological Society of London I am 
indebted for the generous loan of the whole of the valuable 
manuscript notes of Mr. Brian Hodgson, now deposited in 
their Library. 

Among the many friends who have rendered me assistance 
I may specially mention Lieut. H. E. Barnes, Mr. W. T. 
Blanford, Colonel E. A. Butler, the Marquess Doria, Colonel 
H. H. Godwin-Austen, Mr. E. Hargitt, Major R. G. 
Wardlaw Eamsay, Count Salvador^ Mr. P. L. Sclater, Mr. H. 
Seebohm, Captain G. E. Shelley, and Canon Tristram. 

The portraits which are issued with this volume are 
those of the late Marquess of Tweeddale, Mr. W. E. Brooks, 
Mr. Bowdler Sharpe, and Mr. W. Davison. 


London, 21st August, 1890. 



Family ALCEDIXID.^. 


Alcedo bengalensis, Gm ..... 1 

- grandis, Bl. .......... 4 

- asiatica, Swaitis ....... 6 

Ceryle guttata ( Vig.) ...... 6 

- rudis (Linn.) .......... 8 

Pelargopsis gurial ( Pears. ) . . 11 

- buruiauica, Sharpe .... 12 

Subfamily DACELONIX^E. 

( ' yx tridactyla (Pall.) ...... 13 

Halcyon smyrnensis (Linn.). . 15 

*occipitalis (BL). . . ____ 19 



Cypselus melba (Linn.) ...... 20 

-- affinis, J.E.Gr ....... 21 

- batassiensis, J. E. Gr. . . 25 
infumatus, Sclater .... 27 

Collocalia unicolor (Jerd.) . . 28 

- line-In, Horsf. 8f M . . . . . 33 

- spodiopygia (Peale) .... 35 
Mftcropteryx coronatus ( Tick.) 36 

Batrachostomus moniliger, 

Layard ................ 38 

- bodgsoni (G. R. Gray). . 39 


Caprimulgus indicus, Lath. . . 40 

kelaarti, Bl. 41 

albinotatus, Tick 43 

jotaka, T. $ S. 45 

macrurus, Horsf. 45 

andamanicus, Hume. ... 46 

atripennis, Jerd. 47 

unwini, Hume 47 

asiaticus, Lath 48 

mabrattensis. Sykes 49 

monticolus, Frankl. .... 51 

Lyncornis cerviniceps, Gould 52 


Coracias indica, Linn 53 

affinis, McCkll 56 

garrula, Linn 56 

Eurystonms orientalis (Linn.) 57 

Family MEROPID^. 

Nyctiornis athertoni (J. $ S.) 58 

Merops viridis, Linn 60 

philippinus, Limn 63 

persicus, Pall. 65 

api aster, Linn 66 

Melittopbagus quinticolor 

(Vieill.) 67 



Dichoceros bicornis (Linn.) . . 68 
Anthracoceros albirostris 

(Shaiv) 72 



Ocyceros birostris (Shaw) 
Anurrhinus tickelli (Bl.) . . 
Aceros uepalensis (Hodgs.) 
Rhytidoceros undulatus 





' siibruficollis '(Bl.) . . .... 81 



Palaeornis eupat.rius (Linn.) . . 82 

torquatus (Bodd.) 85 

purpureus (P. L. S. 

Mull.) 87 

cyanocephalus (Linn.) . . 88 

schisticeps, Hodgs 89 

columboides, Vig 89 

calthropse, Layard .... 90 

fasciatus (P. L. S. Mull.) 90 

nicobaricus, Gould .... 91 
Loriculus vernalis (Sparrm.). . 92 


Family STRIGID^. 

tttrix javanica, Gm 93 

Candida, Tick 95 

Family BUBONID^E. 

Ketuna ceylonensis (Gm.) . . 96 

javanensis. Less 98 

Bubo bengalensis (Frankl.) . . 99 

coromandus (Lath.) .... 101 

Scops pennatus, Hodgs 103 

spilocephalus (Blyth) . . 104 
lettia, Hodgs 104 

plumipes, Hume 105 

bakkamuna (Foi~st.) .... 105 

malabaricus, Jerd 107 

- lempiji (Horsf.) 107 

Carine brama ( Temm.) 108 

Ninox scutulata (Raffl.) 111 

Glaucidium brodiei (Burton) . Ill 

castaneonotum (Blyth) . . 112 

radiatum (Tick.) 112 

malabaricum (Blyth) 
cuculoides ( Vigors) . 
Syrnium sinense (Lath.) . 
ocellatum, Less. 


newarense (Hodgs.) 116 


Subfamily ACCIPITRIN^E. 

Circus oeruginosus (Linn.) . . 
Astur palumbarius (Linn.) . . 

trivirgatus (Temm.). . . . 

badius (Gmel.) 




poliopsis (Hume) 121 

Accipiter nisus (Linn.) 122 

melanoschistus, Hume. . 123 
virgatus (Reinw.) 124 

Subfamily BUTEOXINJE. 
Buteo ferox (8. G. Gmel.) . . 

Subfamily AQUILINJE. 
Gypaetus barbatus (Linn.) . . 
Aquilachrysaetus (Li/tn.) . . . . 

bifasciata, J. E. Gray . . 

vindhiana, Franklin .... 

hastata (Less.) 

clanga, Pall 

Nisaetus fasciatus ( VieiU.) . . 

pennatus (Gmel.) 

Neopus malayensis (Reinw.) . . 
Spizaetus nepalensis (Hodys.). 

cirrhatus (Gmel.) 

limnaetus (Horsf.) .... 

Circaetus gallicus (Gmel). . . . 
Spilornis cheela (Lath.) .... 

melanotis (Jerd.) 

rutherfordi, Swinh 

spilogaster (Blyth) .... 

Butastur teesa (Frankl.) .... 
liventer (Temm.) 

Haliaetus leucogaster (Gmel.). 

leucoryphus (Pall.) .... 


plumbeus (Hodgs) .... 

Haliastur inclus (Bodd.) .... 

Milvus govinda, Sykes 

aftinis, Gould 

melanotis, Temm. Sf 


Elanus creriileus (Desf.) .... 
Pernis ptilorlivnchus ( Temm.) 




Subfamily FALCONING. 

Microhierax oerulescens 

(Linn) 183 

fringillarius (Drap.). . . . 183 

Falco peregrinator, Sundev. . . 184 




Falco atricops, Hume 185 

jugger, J. E. Gray .... 186 

chicquera, Daud. ...... 192 

Tinnunculus alaudarius 

(Linn.) 105 


Gyps fulvescens, Hume 199 

- himalayensis, Hume .... 200 

indicus* (Scop.) 202 

pallesceus, Hume 203 

Pseudogvps bengalensis 

(Gmel.) 205 

Otogyps calvus (Scop.) 206 

Neophron ginginianus (Lath.). 213 


Platalea leucorodia, Linn .... 217 

Tantalus leucoceplialus, Forst. 220 


Anastomus oscitans (Bodd.) . . 224 


Ibis melanocepliala (Lath.). . . 226 

Inocotis papillosus (Temm.}. . 228 
Graptocepbalus davisoni 

(Hume) 231 

Plegadis falcinellus (Linn.) . . 231 


Family ARDEID^E. 

Ardea goliat, Temm 232 

insignis, Hodgs 232 

cinerea, Linn 233 

purpurea, Linn 235 

Ilerodias alba (Linn.) 237 

intermedia, van Hass. . . 240 

garzetta, Linn 242 

Demiegretta gularis (J3osc) . . 244 

sacra (Gmel.) 246 

Bubulcus coromaiidus (Bodd.). 247 

Ardeola grayi (Sykes) 248 

Butorides javanica (Horsf.) . . 249 
Ardeiralla flavicollis (Lath.) . . 251 

Ardetta cinnamomea (Gmel) . 252 

sinensis (Gmel.) '. . 255 

minute (Linn.} 257 

Nyctiardea nycticorax (Linn}. 258 


Leptoptilus argala (Lath.) . 
javanicus (Horsf.) 


Xenorhynchus asiaticns(ZaA.). 265 
Dissura episcopus (Bodd.) .... 268 



Phalacrocorax carbo (Linn.) . 270 

fuscicollis, Steph 272 

pygmaeus (Pall.) 273 

Plotus melanogaster (Penn.) . 274 


Pelecanus manillensis, Gmel. . 276 


Family ANATID^E. 

Subfamily AXSERIXJE. 

Anser cinereus, Mej/er 279 

indicus (Lath ') 279 

Nettapus coromandelianus 
(Gmel.) 280 

Subfamily AXATIN^:. 

Sarcidiornis melanonotus 

(Penn.) 282 

Dendrocygna ] avanica(-To;-s/! ). 284 

fulva (Gmel.) 286 

Tadorna casarca (Linn.} .... 286 

Anas leucoptera (Blijth) 287 

boscas, Linn 288 

pcecilorhyncha (Forst.). . 289 

Rhodonessa " caryophyllacea 

(Lath.) ". 290 

Querquedula gibberifrons (S. 

Mull. )..... 290 

circia (Linn.) 291 

Fuligula nyroca (Giildenst,). . 292 



Order GAVLE. 

Family LARIDJE. 
Subfamily LARIXJE. 


Larus brunneicephalus, Jerd. . 293 

hemprichi, Bonap 293 

gelastes, Licht 294 

Subfamily STERNINVE. 

Sterna caspia, Pall 295 

. bergii, Licht 297 

anaestheta, Scop 300 

- dougalli, Mont 301 

melanauchen, Temm. . . 302 

fuliginosa, Gmel 303 

anglica, Mont 304 

hybrida (Pall.} 305 

seena, Sykes 308 

melanogastra, Temm. . . 310 

sinensis, Gmel. 312 

Anous stolidus (Linn.) 315 

Rhynchops albicollis, Sivains. 316 


Glareola pratincola (Linn.) . . 318 

orientalis (Leach) 319 

lactea, Temm 320 


Cursorius coromandelicus 

(Gmel.) 323 

gallicus (Gmel) 325 

Dromas ardeola, Payk 327 


CEdicnemus scolopax (S. G. 

Gmel.) 331 

Esacus magnirostris (Geoffr. 

St.-Hil) . 334 

recurvirostris (Cui\) .... 335 


s cantiana (Lath.) . . 337 

dubia {Scop.) 338 

jerdoni (Legye) 340 


Lobivanellus indicus (Bodd.). . 340 

atrinuchalis (Blyth) 344 

Lobipluvia malabarica (Bodd.) 345 

Hoplopterus ventralis ( Wagl.) 347 


Scolopax rusticula, Linn 349 

Gallinago nemoricola, Hodys. . 350 
Rhynchaea capensis (Linn.) . . 350 
Triugoides hypoleucus (Linn.) 352 
Himantopus candidus, Bonn. . 353 

Family PARRID^E. 

Metopidius indicus (Lath.) . . 356 
Hydrophasianus chirurgus 

(Scop.} 358 

Order GRALL^E. 


Pterocles exustus, Temm 361 

fasciatus (Scop.) 364 

senegalus (LinnJ) 366 

Family TURNICIP^. 

Turnix taigoor (Sykes) 367 

taiiki, Bitch. Ham 370 

dussumieri, Temm 371 

Family GRUID^E. 
Grus antigone (Linn.) 372 


Family OTIDID^E. 

Eupodotis edwardsi (<7. E. 

Gray} 375 

Sypheotis bengalensis (P. L. S. 

Mutt.) 378 

aurita (Lath.) 380 

Family RALLID^E. 

Porphyrio poliocephalus 

(Lath.) 384 

Fulica atra, Linn 386 

Gallicrex cinereus (Gmel.) . . 387 

Gallinula chloropus (Linn.) . . 389 

Erythra pliosnicura (Penn.) . . 391 

Porzana pusilla (Pall.) 395 

fusca (Linn.) , 396 




Porzana akool (Sykes) 398 

Ralliua canning!^ 7^7.) 398 

Ilypotaenidia striata (im.). . 399 
obscuriora, Hume 400 


Podiceps cristatus (Linn.) . . 401 
Tachybaptes fluviatilis 

(Tmist.) 401 


Pavo cristatus, Linn 40o 

Lophophorus iuipeyanus 

(Lath.) .* 407 

Ceriornis satyra (Linn.) .... 409 
melanocephalus (Gray) . 410 
Pucrasia rnacroloplia (Less.). . 411 
Pkasiamis wallichi (Hardw.) . 412 
Euplocamusalbicristatus( Viy.) 413 
nielanonotus, Blyth .... 415 

- horstieldi, G. R. Gray . . 416 

lineatus (Lath.} 416 

Gallus ferruginous (Gmel.) . . 417 

somierati, Temm 4^0 

lafayettii, Less 4i ) i? 

(ialloperdix spadiceus (Gmel.) 423 
lunulatus ( Valtnc.) .... 425 

- bicalcaratus (Penn.) 426 



Tetraogallus hinialayensis, G. 

JR. Gray * 426 

Lerwa nivicola, Hodys 428 

Francolinus vulgaris (<Sfc?pA.). . 428 

- pictus (J.&8.) 430 

chinensis (Osb.) 431 

Caccabis chukor (J. E. Gray) 431 
Ammoperdix bonhami (G. jK. 

Gray) 433 

Ortygornis pondicerianus 

(Gmel.) 435 

gularis ( Temm.) 437 

Perdix hodgsoniae, Hodr/s. . . . 438 
Arboricola atri<rularis, Blyth . . 439 
rutigularis, Blyth 439 

intermedia, Blyth 440 

Perdicula asiatica (Lath.) .... 440 

argoondah (Sykes) .... 441 
Microperdix erythrorhynchus 

(Sykes) 443 

Coturnix cornmunis, Bonn. . . 443 

coromandelica (Gmel.). . 444 

Excalfactoria chinensis (Linn.) 448 


Megapodiofl nicobariensis, 

Blyth 449 



Page 67. For The Golden Wood- Chat read The Golden Bush- Robin. 

68. For The Red-flanked Wood-Chat read The Rid-flanked Bush-Robin. 
69. For The Blue-headed Wood- Chat read The Blue-headed Robin. 
,, 1 14. After Tliarrhaleus jerdoni (Brooks) read Jordan's Accentor. 
212. For Anthus sordidus, Eiipp., read Anthus cockburniae, 

, For Anthus jerdoni (Finsch) read Anthus similis, Jerdon. 











Family ALCEDINID^l. 
Subfamily ALCEDININ.E. 

Alcedo bengalensis, Gmel. The Little Indian Kingfisher. 

Alcedo bengalensis, Gmel., Jerd. B. Lid. i, p. 230 j Hume. Rough 
Draft y. E. no. 134. 

The breeding-season of the Little Indian Kingfisher seems to 
vary very materially according to locality. In Madras Davison 
found, as he considers, a nest in January ; in the Nilghiris and the 
Deccan it lays in March. I got them in the ' Doon and in the 
Terai belo\v Darjeeling during. May, and Captain Cock obtained 
them in June in Cashmere. They bore a very narrow hole, rarely 
exceeding 2 feet in depth and often scarcely half so long, in some 
bank immediately overlooking water (running water by choice) at 
a height of from G inches to 5 feet above the water-level. The 
passage, which is barely 2 inches in diameter, terminates in a little 
circular domed chamber, perhaps 5 inches in diameter and 3 or 4 
in height, in which the eggs, from five to seven in number, are 
deposited. Every nest that I have seen contained a quantity of 
hair-like fish-bones, and in one case the eggs reposed on a little 

VOL. in. 1 

2 A1.CED1M1LE. 

patch of these, but that they are there placed * a liuing I can 
hardly credit, as in the majority of cases there are fewer hones 
under the eggs than elsewhere in the chamber and passage. 

Mr. E. Thompson tells me that -'in the Bhabur and Knmaon 
Terai this species breeds from March to May, in long narrow holes 
dug out by the birds on the banks of small running streams." 

Captain Hutton says : " On the 14th of June we took five 
semitransparent fleshy-white eggs out of a hole in the bank of a 
stream in the Dehra Doon." 

Messrs. Davidson and Wenden remark of this bird in the 
Deccan : " Fairly common and breeds. A nest taken at Satara 
in June." 

Writing from Ahniednugger in the Deccan, Rev. H. Bruce 
said : " March 15th, 1869. Found this day at Ruhuri two nests 
of Alcedo benyalensis, in one of winch were six eggs and in the 
other five ; the first nest was built in the bank of the river about 
2 feet above the water ; the hole was about 2 inches in diameter, 
dug horizontally in the sandy bank to the depth of 12 or 14 inches, 
and at the end of this was an excavation about 5 inches in dia- 
meter. The eggs were laid in a hollow at the bottom of this ex- 
cavation ; there was a layer of fragments of fish-bones upon the 
earth, and the eggs were laid upon this. The other nest was not 
more than a foot above the water-level, but in other respects 
similar to the first. Both nests were placed directly over the 
water, the first over standing water and the second over rnnn'uu/ 

Colonel Butler writes : ". JBelyaum, 22ud August, 1879. Four 
eggs about to hatch. The nest-hole was situated in a bank over- 
looking a small tank about 2 feet from the level of the water, and 
the eggs were deposited in a good-sized chamber on the bare 
ground without any nest, about a foot from the entrance of the 

" On the 24th August I observed either the same or another 
pair commencing a nest in another tank close by the bank in 
which they were boring being about 7 feet high, overlooking the 
water and facing a public road along which people were constantly 
passing to and fro the whole day. There were two spots much 
marked by the white droppings of the old birds, near the nest, one 
an old root growing out of the bank, the other a projecting clod 
of earth, upon one of which one or other of the birds invariably 
sat. Upon this date, from the actions of the birds, 1 came to the 
conclusion that they were only clearing out the hole. One of 
the birds, presumably the hen, sat on one of the perches outside 
of the nest until the other arrived, when she immediately left her 
perch and entered the nest-hole. After a minute or two the other 
bird (cock presumably) left his perch and passed the hole, uttering 
a short shrill twitter as he flew by, upon which the hen emerged 
from the hole and resumed her seat on the perch till the cock re- 
turned, which was usually in about four or five minutes, during 
which she started down occasionally into the water below to catch 


small fish. I watched this procedure for about au hour and a half, 
the same bird .always going into the hole and coming out again 
as soon as the other one gave her warning of his departure. Xo 
doubt these precautions were adopted to prevent the hen bird 
being surprised and captured in the hole whilst excavating. On 
the 31st I returned to the spot about 9 A.M., and found the cock 
bird on his usual perch guarding the nest. After waiting for about 
a quarter of an hour, the hen flew out of the nest-hole and took 
possession of the vacant perch, and the cock flew away to some 
swampy ground adjoining. Jn a few minutes the hen flew away 
also, but soon returned again and commenced fishing in the water 
below, and as she did not seem inclined to return to the nest I 
came to the conclusion that she had only gone on to the nest to 
lay, and consequently I left the tank with the intention of returning 
again in two or three clays' time. On the 3rd September I re- 
visited the place, and found the cock bird as usual on duty on his 
perch, and after watching him for about twenty minutes he sud- 
denly left his perch and entered the nest-hole, immediately after 
which both birds came out of the hole together and flew to their 
respective perches. The hen then left the tank, and the cock as 
soon as she had gone re-entered the nest-hole. 

" Satisfied at last that the birds were sitting, and that the cock 
had gone on to the nest to sit whilst the hen was away procuring 
food, I walked quietly up to the bank and put a landing-net over 
the hole, catching him as he flew out. I then waited for upwards 
of an hour, intending to catch the hen also, but as she did not re- 
turn, and as it was getting late in the day, I cut into the hole and 
secured seven beautiful fresh eggs. The nest-hole, which was 
about 3 feet above the level of the water, consisted of a narrow 
passage about 2 inches in diameter running obliquely upwards into 
the bank, and terminating about a foot from the entrance in a 
large domed chamber some 5 or 6 inches in diameter. The eggs, 
which were covered all over with the surrounding red soil from the 
birds' feet, were almost spherical, and, when washed and blown, of 
the purest white and very highly glossed, and deposited on the 
bare ground, without even a depression to lie in and no signs 
whatever of a nest. 

" I fancy the Earns is the season at which they breed in this 
part of the country." 

He adds : " Breeds in the Eastern Xarra, Sind, in holes of 
canal-banks. Mr. Doig took the eggs between 12th October and 
2nd December." 

Mr. Davison says : " I took the nest of this species at Ootaca- 
mund in the last week of March. The nest was in a clay bank of 
a stream about 5 feet above the surface of the water. The dia- 
meter of the entrance of the tunnel was about 1*75 inch, and went 
straight into the bank for about 2 feet, where it terminated in a 
small chamber 4 inches in diameter, which contained four perfectly 
fresh, almost round, very glossy, pinky-white eggs. There was no 
attempt at a lining to the chamber beyond the few odd scraps of 


small minnow-bones. I once found what may have been intended 
for a nest in Madras towards the latter end of January, in a well ; 
what I supposed to be the nest was placed in a hole in the masonry 
lining of the well, and round the entrance of the hole was accu- 
mulated a rather large quantity of small partially decayed fish and 
fish-bones ; but these had been placed there apparently not as a 
lining, but with the object of keeping the eggs in the hole, as it 
was one left when the scaffolding was removed, and consequently 
had a perfectly flat floor. I should, however, add that though the 
bird was in the hole, it contained no eggs, and may therefore have 
been only a resting-place." 

Mr. J. Darling, Junior, says : " I found a nest of this bird at 
Neddiwuttum on the Mlghiris, at about 6000 feet above the sea, on 
the 19th April, 1870. The nest was in the bank of a large stream, 
about 2 feet from the water, a circular passage 4 inches in dia- 
meter and 2 feet deep, terminating in a chamber about 8 inches by 
4. There were a few fish-bones scattered about, and plenty of 
decaying insects and small fish,' making a fearful stench. There 
were six quite fresh eggs. In Wynaad they breed plentifully from 
March to May. I have unfortunately always got young ones down 

Writing from Burma, Major Wardlaw Ramsay remarks : " I 
found a nest in the side of an old well in some thick jungle near 
Eangoon, at about 5 feet from the surface ; it contained seven 

Colonel Legge writes, in his ' Birds of Ceylon ' : " In South, 
West, and Central Ceylon the breeding-season of this species is 
from February until June, but in the north I have known it to 
nest in November." 

The eggs are exquisitely glossy, and, when blown, china-white, 
little ovals, or, some few of them, almost spherical. They are very 
like those of Merops viridit, but more glossy, and, as a rule, some- 
what less round. When unblown, they are pinky white. 

In length they vary from 0-75 to 0-87 inch, and in breadth from 
0-65 to 0-72 inch ; but the average, yielded by a large series of 
measurements, is 0*8 by 0'68 inch. 

Alcedo grandis, Blyth. The Great Indian 

Alcedo euryzona, Tcmm,, Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 231. 
Alcedo grandis, Blyth, Hume, Cat. no. 185. 

A correspondent of the ' Asian,' apparently writing from the 
north-east part of the Empire under the name of " Rekab," says : 

" I have taken only two nests of this bird, and one other I have 
had shown me after the eggs and hen bird had been taken and 
brought to me. All three nests were placed, as is usual, at the 
end of a tunnel dug in the earth by the bird itself. In one the 
nest was placed in a chamber at the end of a burrow scarce a foot 
deep, and in another case the burrow was hardly two feet ; but 


in both instances the excavation had been in extremely hard 
clayey soil ; the third, which was made in soft, sandy soil, was 
nearly six feet deep. In every case the nest was made of fish- 
bones ; but in one nest a little moss had also been put down over 
the bones. On both occasions on which I took the nest, it 
emitted a very strong stench on being opened out to the air. Of 
the three nest-holes, two were dug in deep ravines through which 
a little water trickled during the rains, the banks were densely 
covered with forest, and no sunshine could penetrate at any time 
of the day ; the third hole was made amongst the roots of a tree 
growing on the steep slope of a hill-side and amongst extremely 
close bamboo jungle. The entrance to the hole was so placed as 
to be in deep shade throughout the day. The tunnels are made 
sloping upwards towards the chamber, so that no water can pos- 
sibly penetrate to it. 

" The eggs are from two to six in number and are not shaped 
an absolute round. In the first clutch I took, or rather had 
brought to me, the shape was not particularly noticeable ; but in 
the second clutch the eggs were of a short but most distinct oval. 
This may prove to have been an exceptionally shaped lot; but 
I shall have to wait another year or so before I can say for 

" The eggs are, of course, white and very highly glossed. 

"The three nests were taken on the 14th, 17th, and 21st of 
April, 1889. On the 14th and 21st the hen bird was captured 
on the nest, in one case by hand and in the other by a noose placed 
at the entrance ; in the third the hen bird was shot by myself 
whilst leaving the nest ; and on the same day a male, presumably 
the mate, was shot lower down in the same ravine. 

" In May 1888 I had some young birds of this species, which 
were the first I had seen, brought to me ; they were then fully 
fledged and ready to fly. 

" This Kingfisher is one of the rarest, if not the rarest, of those 
to be found on the continent of India, and its extremely shy 
habits make it even more difficult to obtain, whilst observation of 
its habits can only be obtained by chance. It keeps to nullahs 
and ravines in the densest evergreen jungle, and appears to feed 
on fish, tadpoles, and the larger insects. Only once have I been 
able to observe it feeding, and that was in December, 1888, when 
I for some time watched a male bird that was fishing in a small 
rivulet running through steep and well-wooded banks. Its actions 
appeared to be much the same as those of Alcedo bengalensis ; but, 
unlike that bird, it always returned to its perch after an attempt, 
successful or otherwise, to take a fish, whereas the little A. benya- 
lensis seems always to ' move on.' Whilst I was looking on he 
caught some half dozen fish, mostly very small ones ; but one was, 
I should say, nearly three inches long, and which he only swal- 
lowed with some difficulty, tossing his head up and jerking the 
fish about until he got it properly fixed head downwards ; the 
smaller fry seemed to be swallowed at once irrespective of their 


positions. The bird seemed to be successful at taking a fish not 
more than once in every six or seven attempts. I often wondered 
at people talking of the wonderful accuracy with which King- 
fishers dive after fish. I have often had the curiosity to count 
their attempts, successful and otherwise, and my experience goes 
to show that A. benyalensis is the most expert and that Ccryle 
rudis, about which people talk most, is the least accurate. I have 
seen him fail twenty-three times running. 

" The plumage of A. </rftm'lis presents a most striking contrast 
when seen in sunlight and in shade. In the former the bird 
appears to be glistening blue alone, whilst, when in shadow, the 
whole bird looks a sombre black. 

"It is a very silent bird ; its note, like that of the Indian King- 
fisher, but softer, is only heard when the bird is on the wing, and 
then very rarely, as it usually gives one cry just after starting, 
and then relapses in silence. Its flight is exceedingly rapid, and, 
like all Kingfishers, this bird appears to lean from side to side in 
flying; before perching it always flies upu'ards, not down, to the 
intended place." 

Alcedo asiatica, Swains. The Malayan Kingfisher. 

Alcedo meningtirig, Horsf., Hume, Cat. no. 135 ter. 
Alcedo "beavani, Wald., Hume, Cat. no. 135 quat. 

Mr. Gates, writing from Pegu, records the following note 
regarding this beautiful Kingfisher: "July 2nd; nest in the 
steep bank of a ravine in thick forest. Gallery about one and a 
half feet long, terminating in a small chamber. Eggs four, laid on 
the bare soil; very glossy and round, white ; si/e '78 by '69, '76 
by -7, '75 by -7, and -8 by -68. July 14th ; nest with nearly full- 
grown young in similar situation." 

Ceryle guttata (Vigors). The Pied Himalayan Kingfisher. 

Ceryle guttata ( T%.), Jcrd. B. Ind. \, p. 234 : Hume, Rough Draft 
N. 4- E. no. 137. 

The Pied Himalayan Kingfisher breeds undoubtedly in the 
banks of all the larger streams of the Sub-Himalayan ranges, but 
I have only once succeeded in meeting with a nest, and that was 
in June in a stream below Subatoo, and it unfortunately contained 
four young birds. It was a large hole fully 4 inches in diameter, 
ran about 18 inches into the bank of loose decomposed shale, and 
terminated in a chamber containing a quantity of fish-bones and 
grass, fully 10 inches in diameter. Mr. E. Thompson tells me : 
" The large Pied Kingfisher breeds from April to June in the 
banks of the larger well-wooded streams, frequently .in the deepest 
parts of forests. Sometimes and more commonly they breed in 
holes dug out by themselves, at others they suit themselves to 
ledges and shelves of rocks ! Three 1 or four is the usual number of 


young ones. The old birds may often be seen carrying fishes from 
6 to 7 inches in length to feed the young ones with. The fish are 
always swallowed whole.'' 

Mr. J. Inglis writes from Cachar : " This large Pied Kingfisher 
is only to be found in the mountain rivers or streams. I have 
not observed a single bird near stagnant or slow-running water ; 
it is seen nearly always in pairs. Breeds in March." 

A correspondent of the ' Asian,' apparently writing from Cachar, 
and signing himself " Rekab," says : 

"As I have only taken one nest of this bird, I describe that in 
detail, others are sure to resemble it very closely. It was placed at 
the end of a hole excavated in a high bank, and placed at about 
three feet from the top and fully twenty feet above the level of the 
water. The tunnel, independent of the chamber at the end, was only 
about two feet deep : and as the soil was of a very loose, sandy 
nature, and quite without stones or pebbles of any kind, this 
would seem to show that this bird is not in the habit of burrowing 
to any great depth. A. fcngdfattu or Geyx tndactyla would have 
made a tunnel fully six feet deep in such a place. The chamber, 
which was a very large one, was raised high above the entrance, 
the latter being fully eight inches below it. The nest was a mass 
of maladorous fish-bones, some of which were of considerable size, 
and had probably belonged to fish nearly six inches long. It was 
hollow in the middle, the material of the nest being raised some 
way up the wall of the chamber on three sides. The eggs were 
four in number, white and round and of great size. 

** The Cacharis tell me that, as a rule, it only lays two or three 
eggs, commencing to breed in May, but that this depends a good 
deal on the rains being early or late as they may happen to break. 
The nest taken by me was found late iu July, and the eggs were 
very hard-set. The river, in the bank of which the nest was, was 
large enough to admit of small boats navigating it all the year 

11 This bird is exceedingly common on all large hill-streams up 
to a height of about 2000 feet ; above that it is not often met 
with, though on one or two occasions I have seen it flying about 
small streams at a height of nearly 4000 feet. I think that it 
ascends during the breeding-season higher than at other times, 
for in the cold weather it is fairly common in the plains of Cachar : 
but during the three rainy seasons I have been on a visit to that 
district I have only seen one bird. 

" They appear to be entirely fish-eaters, and are never seen away 
from water. 

" Whilst waiting for fish they perch very low down amongst 
the scrubby bushing overhanging the edge of the water, and 
instead of selecting a twig or bough on the outside of the bush, 
they get as far inside as possible ; their love of shade and dark- 
ness of course leads them in like manner to always keep the shady 
side of the stream. They are generally found in pairs and keep 
within hail of one another. When frightened they fly but a short 


distance, speedily resettling, unless the banks are very hare, when 
they continue their flight to the nearest convenient clump of 
shrubs. Their manner of taking prey from the water is by 
swooping down obliquely towards it, continuing their flight and 
not returning to their original perch. Occasionally they hover 
in the air when they are attracted by something in the water, and 
drop almost perpendicularly into it ; in such cases, however, they 
never dive to any depth, seldom immersing more than their head 
and neck. 

" Their usual cry is much like that of all Kingfishers, but very 
loud, and uttered in a very quick succession of notes. Besides 
this cry it gives a low hoarse croak from time to time when seated 
in deep shadow, and this is, I think, the common call to its mate ; 
at all events, when two birds are fishing in company and one 
of them utters this sound, the other bird always answers it. It 
is not a noisy bird on the whole. 

" Its flight is extremely strong, and it is capable of going at great 
speed ; but when not frightened or otherwise hurried, it seems to 
content itself with a sort of half-power speed, and goes along very 
lazily, slowly flapping its wings. 

" This bird is the last of the Kingfishers to retire to roost at 
night. I have sometimes seen it flitting about when it had 
become quite dusk. In flying at any distance the whole bird 
presents a grey appearance, merely the head appearing black 
from the feathers laying down close to the head. This crest can 
be raised by the bird at will, and when uttering the croak above 
mentioned it raises and depresses it two or three times with 
each cry. 

" This bird, when it is successful in taking a fish too big to 
swallow at once, often has to give up its capture to Haliaetus 
fulviventer, which is a frequenter of the same streams as it haunts 
itself, and which is much given to living on other people and by 
other people's exertions, always preferring ready-caught fish to the 
trouble of hunting for them itself. The eagle, on swooping down, 
utters a loud vibrating cry, and, on hearing this, Ceryle drops the 
fish without the slightest hesitation, and, accelerating his speed, 
seeks safety for himself in the nearest cover. 

" As may be imagined, the shadow of any large eagle or hawk 
flying overhead is enough to reduce this bird to absolute silence ; 
the other Kingfishers appear, however, not to mind at all." 

Ceryle rudis (Linn.). The Pied Kingfisher. 

Cervle rudis (Linn.), Jercl B. 2nd. i. p. 232 ; Hume, Eouqli Draft 
. 136. 

The Pied Kingfisher breeds everywhere throughout the plains 
of India, and invariably, I think, in holes of banks overlooking 
running water, and, as a rule, in those of our larger rivers. It is 


rare to find a nest anywhere except from 1 to 5 feet above the 
\vater-level of some perpendicular earthen cliff, going down straight 
into the water. Nine times out of ten the nest-hole can only be 
got at from a boat. 

They lay, I know, from the latter end of January to the com- 
mencement of April ; but I suspect they also lay towards the end 
of the rains, for Mr. E. M. Adam " found a nest, October 30th, 
1866, in a cliff about 18 feet high overhanging the Jumna. The 
hole was about 4.] feet above water-level, and ran for about 7 feet 
into the cliff. It~ contained four young birds able to fly." 

The depth of the nest-hole varies according to the nature of the 
soil, extending to 4 or 5 feet where this is friable and sandy, and 
scarcely exceeding a foot in stiff clayey banks. Usually the burrow 
is quite horizontal and about 3 inches in diameter, and terminates 
in a chamber some 6 or 7 inches across, in which fish-bones and 
grass may be found strewed thinly about, but in which I have 
never seen any approach to a real nest. 

Six is the greatest nnmber of eggs I ever saw taken out of a 
nest, but it is quite common to meet with four or five hard-set 
eggs in a nest. 

Mr. F. E. Blewitt remarks : " This species breeds from February 
to probably the middle of April. For its nest it makes a mode- 
rately-sized circular hole, extending from 4 to 5 feet in the high 
clay or sand-bank of a stream or river. At the termination the 
hole is slightly enlarged for the better reception of the sitting 
birds. The eggs are simply deposited on the sand. On two 
occasions I witnessed the birds constructing the hole or nest; 
they alternately relieved each other at the work, and when tired 
sat together some short distance off on the opposite bank for a few 
minutes. On the 8th February last, near Bamah (Eaepore District), 
in the high bank of the Mahanuddee, I found a nest with three 
fresh eggs, securing with them the parent birds. The length of 
the hole was about 5 feet. The next day I discovered another nest 
in the clay bank of a narrow but deep streamlet, with two fresh 
eggs. The length of the hole was about 3-5 feet. 

" From personal experience I cannot affirm what may be the 
maximum number of the eggs, but last year (in, I think, March) 
my men found six young birds in a nest in the bank of a small 
stream. Of Ah-edo bengalensis, they found, in the SaugOr District, 
seven unfledged young in a nest/' 

Mr. Brooks writes : " I have found the nest of this bird fre- 
quently in the banks of the Tonse and Granges. The nest is about 
3 feet 'in the bank, and some 2 or 3 feet above the water-level, 
and the hole by which the bird enters is about 2 inches in 

Colonel Gr. Marshall says : " This bird is very common in the 
Saharunpore District ; it breeds in the usual places, holes in banks, 
and lays four shining white eggs. In this part of the country it 
breeds in March, and the young are hatched early in April. 

" I iiiv.Hjiiie the young birds live with their parents some time 


after they are fledged, since late in the season I have noticed six 
or seven of them coming out of a single hole. 

" I have noticed a curious fact about this bird ; it is a gregarious 
breeder. I have taken three sets of eggs from the same hole ; the 
hole led to a large open sort of cavern about 3 feet across, which 
was plentifully strewn with grass and rubbish, and the eggs were 
in different corners of it." 

Major Bingham remarks : Breeds in March both at Allahabad 
and at Delhi.'' . 

Messrs. Davidson and AYenden, writing from the Deccan, say : 
" Common. Apparently breeds at all seasons, except the very 
hot months." 

Mr. Benjamin Aitken sends me the following note: "At Akola, 
Berar, in either the end of January or the beginning of February, 
1870, my brother took two out of six eggs from a Pied Kingfisher's 
nest in a river-bank, about two feet above the surface of the water. 
Although the hole was much dug away, the birds continued to sit 
upon the remaining four eggs, which were duly hatched, and soon 
after the young were fledged the parent birds took possession of 
another hole near the first. That bank seemed to be their regular 
breeding-place and was full of holes. Six eggs were again laid, 
and six young birds, looking exceedingly fresh and pretty, 
appeared in due time perched all in a row upon the top of the 
bank. Nearly a mile down the river there was a l>imd, and here 
of course it was easier to catch fish than at the nest where the 
water was running. So from early morning till late at night the 
parent birds continued making trips to get food for their young. 
Each little fish that was brought cost a flight to the bund and 
back of not much less than two miles, and the voracious fledg- 
lings seemed never to be satisfied. As soon, therefore, as the 
latter were able to go the distance, th^y were conducted to the 
bund, where they could be fed with less trouble to the old birds and, 
I don't doubt, more satisfaction to themselves. This arrangement 
was continued for several weeks, the whole family repairing to the 
bund every morning, and flying back to the nest in the evening. I 
regret 1 never took the trouble to watch whether they got into the 
hole to sleep, or took up their positions for the night on the rocks 
and bushes on the river's bank." 

Colonel Legge found this species breeding in Ceylon in March. 
Its nest-hole was excavated in the earthy banks of the Grindurah. 

Mr. Cripps writes from Furreedpore in Bengal : " Excessively 
common. A very cheery bird, always on the move. Xests in 
holes excavated by themselves in river-banks. Length of gallery 
from Ij to 4 feet: no lining to egg-chamber. I have taken a 
clutch of 5 eggs (fresh) on the 26th October, 1877, and found a 
solitary half-grown young one in another nest, on the same date ; 
the last nest of the season was secured on the 1st March, 1878, 
with two hard-set eggs and two callow young. These birds stick 
more to the larp^e rivers, although there may be beels and tanks 


Mr. J. Inglis remarks from Cacbar : " The Pied Kingfisher is 
very common throughout the district ; it always fishes on the 
wing. It breeds here about March." 

Mr. Gates, writing from Pegu, tells us : " In Lower Pegu eggs 
may be taken during the latter half of October and first half of 
^November. Eggs generally five." 

The eggs are typically very broad ovals, at times nearly spheri- 
cal ; not un frequently, however, they are curiously pointed towards 
one end. 

When blown they are a pure china-white and have a high gloss. 

In length they vary from 1*12 to 1*25 inch, and in mvadth 
from 0-9 to 1 inch, but they average about I'ls by 0'04 inch. 

Pelargopsis gnrial (Pears.). The Indian Stork-billed Kinrjfislier. 

Halcyon leucocephalus (GmeL), Jerd. B. Ind. i ; p. 222. 
Pelargopsis gnrial (Pears.), Hi/me, R<wgh Draft N. # E. no. 127. 

Mr. E. Thompson says that this species, the Indian Stork-billed 
Kingfisher, breeds from April to June, laying in a deep hole 
excavated by the birds in banks of streams and rivers. He adds : 
" 1 found in May 1867 a nest containing five young ones. Near 
the inhabited nest were seven others, all deserted, and from the 
debris and marks left each evidently had served its turn as a 
breeding-place and had been discarded for a fresh one the following 
year. Eound on all minor clear running streams of the Lower 

Mr. \V. Theobald makes the following remarks on the breeding 
of this bird in Monghyr : ' Lays in the fourth week of June. 
Eggs four in number, round, with, some minor combinations ; size 
1-09 by 1*02 inch ; colour pure white ; gallery, 1 foot in depth, 
in a steep bank, in jungle. 7 ' 

Mr. J. E. Cripps writes from Assam :" April 27th, 1880. 
Borbam Tea-garden, Dibruglmr. Found four fresh eggs. On the 
borders of the tea-cultivation and alongside of heavy forest, a large 
dead tree had been blown dowii amongst the tea-bushes ; there was 
a deal of earth clinging to the roots of this tree, and in this earth a 
hole had been excavated by the birds. The tunnel was 18 inches 
in length by 3 inches in 'height, and 3| in breadth. The egg- 
chamber was slightly larger than the passage leading to it. Under 
the eggs were pieces of fish-bones, crab-shells, and the wings and 
heads of some kinds of hard-shelled insects. Xo river or tank was 
within half a mile of the place. On the 22nd August last, I saw 
another of these birds rly, with a fish in its mouth, into a hole in a 
dead and rotten chimipa tree, about 15 feet off the ground. This 
tree was about 100 yards from the one above mentioned and was 
in the garden. I had it cut down, but the wood was so decayed 
that the trunk went to shivers, destroying the young and all chance 
of measuring &c. the hole." These four eggs measure 1-1 > by 
LMH;. MM bjtO-99, 1'21 by !<)*, and 1-2 by 1-08. 


Herr Otto Moller, writing from Sikhim, says : " I have only 
succeeded in getting two nests of this bird, which, however, is very 
common in the Terai ; the first, containing 3 fresh eggs, was found 
by my brother, Mr. F. A. Moller, in 1875 (no date). On the 5th 
May, 1878, one of my coolies brought me ?> fresh eggs together 
with the female bird, which he had dug out of the sandy bank of 
a stream. As I had no time to skin the bird the same night, I put 
her in a cage, where she during the night laid one egg more, which 
unfortunately got broken by her flapping. I send you these three 
eggs: the first three found measure T53 by 1*31, 1'50 by 1-26, and 
1-52 by 1-28." 

Colonel Legge informs us that in Ceylon this species " breeds in 
secluded spots, excavating a deep bole in the side of a river-bank 
or in the bund of a tank beneath shady trees. The nesting-time 
in Ceylon is during the first three or four months in the year." 

The eggs of this species sent by Herr Otto Moller are large and 
very broad ovals, almost spherical but that towards one end they 
are somewhat pinched out and have a tendency to form an obtuse 
point there. The shell is pure white and has a considerable amount 
of gloss, but seems from the specimens sent to have a tendency to 
exhibit numerous small pimples or rugosities chiefly towards the 
blunter or more obtuse end. 

The eggs of this species, like that of P. burmanica, appear to be 
extremely small for the size of the bird, being in fact no larger 
than those of Halcyon smyrnensis ; indeed, had I not received them 
on good authority I should have hesitated to have accepted them 
as belonging to this large species. Like the eggs of the rest of the 
family, they are very round, pure white, and have a fine gloss. 

Pelargopsis burmanica, Sharpe. The Burmese Stork-bitted 

Pelargopsis burmanica, Sharpe, Hume, Cat. no. 127 his. 

Major C. T. Bingham writes from Tenasserim : " I am rather 
diffident about writing a note on the finding of the eggs of this 
bird, as they were found by myself personally in a made nest in 
the fork of a bamboo growing near the bank of a choung, a thing 
contrary to the habits of all Kingfishers. Moreover, though I fired 
at the bird as she flew off the nest, I missed her. In my own mind 
there is not a ghost of a doubt that the eggs in question belong to 
the above species, as I had a close look at the bird, as she sat on 
the nest, with a pair of binoculars, at not more than 15 yards 
distance. The nest was, as I have already said, placed in the fork 
of a bamboo near water. It was a loosely constructed shallow cup 
of rough grass-roots, wholly unlined, at a height of about 4 feet 
from the ground. The eggs, three in number, are broad ovals, 
and glossy white in colour. They were found on the 10th April." 

The eggs are very round ovals, pure white and very glossy. 

CEYX. 13 

They measure 1-16 x 1-0, 1-13 x 0-99, 1-2 x 0-98. They are 
too small for Coracias indica, and a fortiori for Eunjstomus orientalis, 
but I have not a sufficient series of eggs of C. affinis to assert that 
they might not have belonged to that species. But then C. affinis 
no more builds a nest such as Major Bingham describes, than do 
the ordinary run of Kingfishers. Again, Nyctiornis athertoni, the 
only other bird that I know that occurs in this locality, that could 
I should have thought possibly have laid these eggs, also breeds in 
holes in trees. 

They are not pigeons' or doves' eggs that is certain ; they 
belong to the bee-eater, roller, or kingfisher groups, and, incredible 
as it may at first sight appear, I incline to believe that the eggs 
really are those of P. bunnanica. No doubt some birds do at times 
go and sit upon other birds' nests, which they find unprotected 
by the real owners, but I never heard of a Kingfisher doing this, 
and Major Bingham could not have been mistaken in the birds, 
which he knows well. 

The circumstance borders on the marvellous, but I think it 
cannot be rejected. 

Major Bingham subsequently found the nest of this Kingfisher 
in holes of banks. He says : " It breeds in the Thoungyeen in 
the latter end of February, in March, and in the beginning of 
April, commencing and finishing the digging of its nest-hole long 
before the eggs are laid. 

" On the 23rd March, being encamped just on the bank of the 
Meplay close to its mouth, I noticed, while seated outside my tent 
in the afternoon, a pair of these birds going in and out of a hole 
in the bank opposite. On inspecting it closer, it proved to be the 
opening to a tunnel 1J inch in diameter, and going in for fully 
five feet, where it ended in a rounded chamber, somewhat larger 
than the passage, in which lay four roundish glossy white eggs. 
There was no lining of any kind, the eggs reposing on the bare 

" They measure respectively 1-19 by 1-05, 1-17 by 1-03, 1-18 
by 1-08, and 1-15 by 1-03." 

The eggs are of the usual type, small perhaps for the size of the 
bird, being little if anything larger than those of Halcyon smyr- 
nensis, very broad ovals, in some specimens quite spherical, puer 
white and very glossy. 

Subfamily DACELONIN.E. 

Ceyx tridactyla (Pall.). The Three-toed Kingfisher. 
Ceyx tridactyla (Pall), Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 229 ; Hume, Cat. no. 133. 

"Writing from north-west Ceylon Mr. H. Parker says : " It 
should be noted that the eggs of this bird are quite unlike those of 
other Kingfishers. They have well-marked small ends and are 
also somewhat pointed at the other end. The shells are of very 


fine texture and are excessively fragile ; they have a decidedly pink 
appearance before being prepared, and afterwards do not assume 
the opaque white of other eggs. The bird breeds in dense forest 
or jungle far from water, in the banks of dry streamlets, the 
months being April, July, and August I believe, and probably also 

A correspondent of the ' Asian/ apparently writing from the 
north-east part of the Empire and signing himself " Rekab," says 
of this species : 

" The eggs are laid in a hollow at the end of a burrow on a 
nest formed of a few small fish-bones, one or two leaves, and 
perhaps a scrap or two of moss. The chamber is rather larger 
for the size of the bird, and the tunnel also is larger in pro- 
portion than that made by other Kingfishers. It is wonderful 
the rapidity with which this tiny bird makes its burrow, when the 
soil is fairly soft and there are no pebbles to hinder it. I was 
once a spectator on such an occasion, and, seated in a boat in the 
middle of the river, I watched the pair of birds working for about 
half an hour. When I first arrived about three inches of excavation 
had been made, and the bird was able to throw out the sand behind 
it as it proceeded with its work ; but, getting deeper in, it had, 
every two or three minutes, to work its way out backwards, push- 
ing the loose saud out behind it. Its action in digging and in 
throwing out the sand behind it was exactly like that of a dog 
burrowing, and the force used was very considerable, and until the 
burrow was some six inches deep the sand flew out in a regular 
shower. I did not see it use its bill except to loosen the soil, all 
the removing being done by the feet. The birds relieved one 
another every eight or ten minutes. 

" In the half-hour, or at the longest the forty minutes, that I 
was present some ten inches of hole had been prepared, and when 
1 returned a fortnight afterwards three eggs had already been 

" This was the only occasion on which I have known this bird 
to select the bank of an open river for purposes of nidificatiou. 
As a rule it breeds in nullahs or small streams running through 

" The eggs are four to six or even seven in number and pure 
white. According to my experience they, though not pointed like 
those taken by Mr. Parker in Ceylon, are less round than the eggs 
of Alcedo ; they are, of course, very small. 

" This lively little bird frequents both forest-streams and nullahs, 
and the larger and more open hill-rivers; but it generally forsakes 
the latter entirely during the breeding-season, from May until 

" It is not at all a shy bird, and will allow close, if quiet, obser- 
vation ; but I have noticed little about it calling for particular 
mention. As far as I have been able to ascertain, it is entirely a 
fish-eater, though it may also devour water-insects, small prawns, 
&c. I have never seen any remains of insects in its stomach. 


* Its cry is ti shrill piping note uttered, whilst ilyiug from one 
perch to the other, at lougish intervals. I have not noticed it 
make any noise whilst perching. Its flight is very swift, and 
the changes of the appearance in its plumage are exceedingly 

" My notes give the 25th of May as the earliest date on which 
I have taken it- eggs. Most were taken in July, and some well on 
into August, the 12th of that month, in 1887, being the latest I 
have recorded." 

Halcyon smyrnensis (Linn.). The White-breasted Kitu/Jish' r. 

Halcyon fuscus (Bpdd.\ Jerd. . Ind. i, p. 121. 

Halcyon smyrnensis (Linn.), Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. no. 129. 

The White-breasted Kingfisher breeds all over the country from 
March to July. It lays from four to seven eggs, five being the 
normal number, in a hole which it excavates for itself, and which 
varies in length from little over 1 to more than 3 feet, although, 
as a rule, it does not exceed a couple. This hole is from 2| to 3 
inches in diameter, and terminates in a chamber some 4 inches in 
height and 8 in diameter. I have never found any nest, so to 
speak, but both the passage and chamber often contain remains of 
frogs, mole-crickets, and the like. 

The nest-holes are commonly pierced in banks of tanks and 
canals, or streams, or pretty high up in cliffs overlooking rivers, 
but the interior of wells is not at all an uncommon situation, and 
in Bajpootana 1 had six eggs brought up to me from a nest-hole 
situated nearly 100 feet below the surface of the country! The 
reason for the birds going to such an extraordinary depth appeared 
to be that the upper 90 odd feet passed through very loose soil, 
where the well was lined with masonry, and it had to go below this 
to pierce a hole. I have also taken the nest (and here the hole 
was barely 18 inches deep) out of the mud bastion of an old native 
fort, some 20 feet above the level of the water in the moat, and 
again in an old mud wall of a deserted house far away in the 

Mr. \V. Theobald makes the following remarks on the breeding 
of this bird in Mergui : " Lays in the fourth week of March : 
eggs tive in number ; blunt oval ; size 1'20 by 1'03 inch ; colour 
pure white : gallery 1| foot, in a stiff bank near a road." 

Mr. AV. BlewittVrites : " I took the eggs of this bird in the 
neighbourhood of Hansie on the 28th June and 4th and 18th of 
July. They were laid in holes excavated in the canal-bank 
without any lining or nest. In one nest-hole I found three, in 
each of the others four eggs, and one of the latter sets were fully 

Colonel G. F. L. Marshall, when at Saharuupoor, sent tne the 
following note : " The eggs are laid in the latter half of April and 
the beginning of May ; the young are hatched towards the end of 
May. Domestic arrangements are commenced early in April. 


" The eggs are laid in holes in the ground. All that I have 
taken have been without exception out of the perpendicular banks 
of the canal. The hole is about 3 inches in diameter at the orifice, 
and generally slopes upward ; it seldom goes more than two and 
a half feet into the bank, and often not more than 15 inches ; the 
egg receptacle is merely a hollow in the earth where the hole 
terminates, and has no lining of any description; it is about 9 
inches wide. 

" The eggs, sometimes four, generally five, in number, are of a 
shining polished white without spot." 

Writing from the Sauibhur Lake, Mr. R. M. Adam tells us : 
"The White-breasted Kingfisher is very common, and breeds in 
the banks of the open wells from March till June. On the 15th 
April, I took a nest 4 feet below the ground-level, and 3 feet deep, 
in which I found two fresh eggs. On the 13th June, I took 
another nest in which I found five eggs, all hard-set ; the nest was 
about 18 inches deep. On] the 27th June, I took a nest with 
four fresh eggs. The unblown eggs were pinkish with whitish 
streaks. In no case had the egg-cavity any lining." 

Captain Burgess records that " this Kingfisher is one of the 
most common of its tribe in the Deccan, frequenting almost every 
stream and nullah. It breeds during the month of May, in holes 
of the banks of rivers, laying as many as seven eggs, of a beautiful 
pinky tinge, owing to the colour of the yolk showing through the 
thin delicate shell." From Ceylon Mr. Layard notes (but this, like 
most of his notes on niclification, requires verification) " that the 
nest of this species is found in decaying trees ; the parent bird 
deposits two white eggs (axis 15 lines, diameter 13 lines), 
beautifully smooth and shining. I have procured eggs in the north 
of the island in December, in the south in April." 

Writing from Sind, Colonel Butler says : " Kurrachee, 7th 
May, 1877. Pound a nest of the White-breasted Kingfisher 
containing five fresh eggs. The nest consisted of a round hole 
about 3^- or 4 inches in diameter, bored in the perpendicular bank 
of a well about 10 feet from the level of the ground. The passage 
was about 2 feet in length, and terminated in a small chamber in 
which the eggs were deposited upon the bare ground. 

" During the last ten days of July 1878, two or three nests 
were found by our men in holes in canal-banks in the E. Narra. 
containing 4 or 5 fresh eggs each ; also other nests later on, in 

Major C. T. Biugham remarks : " At Allahabad this bird was 
decidedly rare. At Delhi it abounds, and there only I have taken 
its nests, or rather eggs, for nests there are none." 

Messrs. Davidson and Wenden, writing from the Deccau, 
sav : Very abundant. Breeds in March and April." 

Mr. E. W. Bourdillon, writing from Travancore, says: 
" Common among the small patches of paddy cultivation and on 
the banks of the larger streams at the foot of the hills, but never 
ascending to any height. The female lays from 4 to 6 round white 
eggs, about the beginning of April, in a hole in a bank." 


Colonel Legge says : " In the west and south of Ceylon this 
species breeds from January till April, and in the north I have 
found its nest as late as July." 

A correspondent of the ( Asian ' writes, probably from Cachar, 
under the name of " Kekah " : " First of course may be mentioned 
the fact that it sometimes breeds, as do other Kingfishers, by 
making" a hole in a bank as a receptacle for the eggs. Even in 
this case it places in the chamber at the end of the shaft a 
quantity of moss, neither making a nest of bones, as do some of 
this family, nor depositing them on a few leaves or the bare soil, as 
is the usual custom. It has, however, another and, at least as far 
as their bills are concerned, a far more general habit of building a 
nest for itself, which may be said to roughly resemble a large untidy 
edition of an English Wren's place of abode. 

"The first time 1 found this out was by having some King- 
fisher's eggs brought to me by a native, who said that he had taken 
them from a moss nest built amongst the overhanging roots of a 
tree growing at the side of a nullah. Some time after, more eggs 
were brought, and the description given of the nest was the same ; 
but as on this occasion I went with the man to the nullah from 
which the nest was said to have been taken and we could find no 
trace of ifc, so I concluded he had only been lying. The native, a 
Bachari, was, however, very positive in his assertions, and went 
away swearing at my incredulity. Within a few days three, I 
think he came back with two newly laid eggs, a quantity of 
moss, and a hen Kingfisher of this species alive in a basket. In 
this case he had found the nest imbedded in a hollow in a rock 
and, setting a noose for the parent bird, had, on catching it, 
brought it to me, together with the remnants of the nest and the 
two eggs. A rupee extracted a promise from him that he would 
leave the next nest he found untouched until I could go myself 
and make a personal inspection of it. Before this, however, JL was 
fortunate enough to find one for myself whilst out shooting. I 
was creeping down a deep nullah, along the bottom of which a little 
water was trickling, and making a false step I splashed into a little 
pool, the noise frightening a Kingfisher, which flew from the bank 
close to my head, and looking up I saw the nest a mass of moss, of 
a large oval in shape, wedged into a hollow between two stones, 
covered at the top with another, and supported underneath by a 
projecting root. It contained four eggs, which I took ; but the 
nest fell to bits on being removed, and appeared to be merely a 
lot of moss pushed into the hollow and then roughly fashioned 
into a hollow oval. The next year a pair of these birds were seen 
to frequent a nullah running near a camping house where I was 
then halting. On some natives and myself searching about, one of 
the former discovered a nest just commenced to be built in a 
hollow, caused by a large oval stone, which had been previously 
half imbedded in the earth, falling out. Dismissing ray men, I 
seated myself on the opposite bank about twenty-five or thirty 
yards off seating myself behind a bush so that, as long as I 

VOL. in. 2 

18 ALCED1K1D.K. 

remained quiet, I should riot be noticed, and had at the same time 
the nest within full view. Taking out a pair of opera-glasses, 
which I find most useful for this kind of work, I had not long to 
wait before one of the birds came back, and, after taking a good 
look at the nest, he went away again and returned in a few minutes 
with a mass of wet moss in his bill ; clinging to the edge of the 
hole it commenced forcing this moss into that already placed at the 
base of the hollow, pushing it with the point and pressing it with 
the sides of the bill, and seeming to use all the force it was 
capable of. I could see no attempt at fastening the moss together 
or of intertwining it in any way, and this nest, when afterwards 
examined, proved to consist of layers of moss placed one on the 
top of the other. The force used in pressing the wet and muddy 
material together had rendered it sufficiently stable to stand the 
work required of it by the bird, but finally on one piece at the 
base being removed the whole structure at once came to pieces. 
Both birds worked at the nest hard for upwards of an hour, until 
nearly 10 A.M., when, as they seemed to have finished work for the 
time being, I went away. I left the camp the next day and did 
not return for nearly a month, when I took six eggs from the nest, 
two of which began to show signs of having been sat on, though 
the others appeared to be fresh. 

" They lay from four to six or even seven eggs, which are, as 
usual, both white and round. The size varies very much with 
different individuals. When the eggs of this or of any other King- 
fisher are first blown, they may be seen to have a peculiar marking, 
resembling what is known as the water-mark on watered white 
satin ribbon. This is only observable when held up to the light 
and it soon fades ; but it is sufficient to distinguish the eggs of 
Kingfishers from other white round eggs, such as those of the Bee- 
eaters and others. The eggs are extremely hard and close in 
texture and are highly glossed ; so close is the grain that if a drop 
of ink be placed on the egg and wiped off in a minute, it will be 
seen that none has penetrated into the shell. 

" The situation chosen for the nest is more often than not in 
dense forest, and may be either the bank of a running stream, a 
ravine with deep precipitous banks, a steep hillside, .or any other 
suitable place which can afford both protection from much sunlight 
and safety from interference from living things other than birds 

" They breed only in the valley, never, as far as I know, 
ascending to any height for this purpose ; 4000 feet is the highest 
altitude at which I have taken their nests. 

" I have taken, or had brought to me, eggs on the Oth of April 
and on intervening dates up to the 26th of July. 

" The habits of this bird are almost as peculiar as are his Mays 
of nidificatiou. Fish form a very minor part of his diet ; a 
principal part of it is locusts and crickets, and this it takes by 
swooping down on them from some perch as if "diving after fish, 
and seizing them from the bushes and grass, without halting in its 


flight. It also captures prawns, small crabs, and water insects 
from stagnant pools, and I have once or twice seen it take cicadse 
from the trunk of a tree." 

Mr. Gates records the following note from Pegu: "April loth. 
Xest with five eggs. 

" June o/v/. Nest with three young birds and one addled egg. 
Breeds in thickly wooded ravines." 

And, lastly, from Tenasseriin I have the following note from 
Mr. J. Darling, Junior : " March 31st. Found a nest of Halcyon 
xniyi'iieusis with 5 eggs, slightly set, some 20 miles E. of Tavoy.'' 

Typically, the eggs of this species, like those of its congeners, are 
very spherical, and one or two specimens that i possess are almost 
absolutely perfect spheres, but here and there a very broad oval 
takes the place of the sphere. The eggs of course are pure white, 
often more or less discoloured as incubation proceeds, and adorned, 
when fresh, with a beautiful gloss similar to that observable on the 
eggs of Hollers and Bee-eaters. Unlike the eggs of these species, 
however, the Kingfishers rapidly lose their gloss, and, as a rule, 
long before the eggs are ready to hatch off they have entirely lost 
that brilliantly polished appearance which distinguishes them when 
freshly laid. In size the eggs vary greatly ; the smaUest specimen 
in my collection is exactly the same size as Hewitson's figure of the 
European Bee-eater's, while the largest is but little smaller than 
the figure immediately below this latter of the European Boiler's 
egg. Of course, as a rule, these eggs are smaller and rounder 
than those of the Indian Roller ; but I have one egg taken by 
Colonel Marshall, E.E., with his own hands, as big as, if not bigger 
than, any Roller' s egg, a surprising fact, considering the relative 
sizes of the two birds. 

In length they vary from 1.05 to 1*27 inch, and in breadth from 
<K)7 to 1-12 inch ; but the average of forty-eight is 1-13 by 1'03 

Halcyon occipitalis (Blyth). The Xicobar King/fisher. 
Halcyon occipitalis (l.\ Hume,Rouyh Draft N. $ E. no. 132 bis. 

Mr. Davisou says: *' I found the Nicobar Kingfisher (in the 
Xicobars of course, to which it is restricted) commencing to breed 
about the latter end of February ; but the only egg I obtained was 
taken from the oviduct of a female which I shot on the 24th of 
February just as it was entering its nest : the egg was perfect, 
and would no doubt have been laid in a few minutes. I found 
three nests on the island of Camorta, and all of them were exca- 
vated in deserted ants' nests. These ants' nests are generally 
placed against the trunks of very large trees, but occasionally 
against those of cocoanut-palrns, at heights of from 4 to 20 feet 
from the ground, and vary from 12 to 30 inches in diameter; 
being composed, as I believe, of some sort of clay, they are 
extremely hard and difficult to break. I had to dig out the nests 



with a large clasp-knife. It is iii the larger nests that the King- 
fishers' uest-holes are excavated. The tunnel, about 2 or 2J 
inches in diameter, is in the centre of the ants' nest, and goes in 
for about 6 inches, where it terminates in a chamber about 7 inches 
in diameter ; the bottom of the chamber contains a quantity of 
pulverized earth. I saw the bird fly out of two of the nests, and 
shot the female above referred to as she was entering the third." 

The egg in question is of the purest white, quite devoid of gloss 
(which it would probably have laid in the normal fashion instead 
of being obtained by a csesariau operation), is a broad oval, some- 
what pointed towards the smaller end, and measures 1*16 by 
0-98 inch. 

The late Mr. A. de lloepstorff furnished me with the following 
note: " I got two eggs on the 13th March, 1875 ; the nest was 
in a hollow white ants' nest in a mangrove-swamp, attached to a 
cocoanut-tree ; a female bird was caught in the nest. These nests 
are very common all over the place. The bird keeps dodging 
round and round and suddenly it disappears. A JS T icobar man saw 
this one, ran up and stopped the hole with a cloth, and we dug 
out mother and eggs." 

Order CORACI^. 

Subfamily CYPSELIN^. 

Cypselus melba (Linn.). The Alpine Kwift. 

Cypselus melba (Linn.}) Jcrd. B. Ind. i ; p. 175 ; Hume, Itouyh 
' Draft N. $ E. no. 98. 

1 have never taken the eggs of the Alpine JSwift, nor do 1 know 
anything positive of its uidification within our limits. 1 have, 
however, several of their nests sent me by Miss Cockburn from 
near Kotagherry (Xilghiris). 

They had been built against a rock more or less overhung by 
slabs of rock. They consist chiefly of feathers firmly cemented 
together with saliva, but vegetable fibre of different kinds of dry 
grass also formed part of the thick, coarse, felt-like mass. 

Three or four nests at least appear to have been grouped 
together in one mass. One chamber, which is perfect, measures 
about 5 inches in diameter and was about 3 to 4 inches in height. 
The walls of the nest average about an inch in thickness, but in 
many places, owing to the necessary fillings-in where the more or 
less circular chambers meet each other there is a much greater 


thickness of material; and where two chambers are nearest to 
each other, the partition wall rarely exceeds | inch. 

Later, Miss Cockburn obtained one egg from a nest on this 
same rock, which she kindly sent me ; she did not take it herself, 
but I think that there is no doubt of its authenticity. It is a very 
long oval egg, pure white and rather glossy, and measures 1-1 
by 0-73. 

Messrs. Davidson and Wenden, writing of the Deccan, say : 
"Permanent resident in Satara. Breeds, D. thinks, about the 
cliffs, and on old buildings in the fort there." 

Colonel McMaster wrote many years ago : "I saw several very 
fine Swifts which seemed to be this species at the old fort Gawil- 
garh and at CMkalda, 3700 feet, in April and May, but could not 
get a specimen. They appeared to be breeding about the perpen- 
dicular oliff* on which Gawilgarh is perched." 

Cypselus affinis, J. E. Gray. The Common Indian Swift. 

Cypselus affinis, Gray, Jerd. B. Incl i, p. 177 ; Hume, Rough Draft 
N. Sf E. no. 100. 

The Common Indian Swift breeds throughout the plains of India, 
and in the Himalayas up to a height of about 6000 feet. I cannot 
hear of its breeding at all high up on the Nilghiris, but I found it 
on the Aravalis breeding at the top of Taragurh and on Mount 

It has at least two broods in a year, and eggs may be found any 
time from February to August, both months included. 

It is very capricious as to its choice of a nest-site, but having 
once secured one to its liking, returns thither with a pertinacity 
that no ordinary persecution in the way of robbing and destroying 
nests will overcome. They breed in company ; solitary nests are, 
as far as my experience goes, unknown ; from a dozen to fifty 
pairs will be found nesting together ; the nests either clustered 
together in one dense mass, as when they choose the roof of some 
little cave, or the interior of some old Moslem dome or Hindoo 
shrine, or else scattered about in little groups, in close proximity, 
as when they occupy a verandah, and each pair of rafters has its 
half-dozen nests. Perhaps, on the whole, it prefers inhabited to 
deserted buildings, but I have found its nest a hundred times 
in both. 

The nests vary very much in size, shape, and material. I have 
taken them from between two very closely-set rafters in a railway- 
station, long half-tubes a foot in length, some 4 inches in external 
diameter, composed wholly of feathers cemented together by saliva, 
and scarcely | inch in thickness. Two now before me are large 
masses, 10 by 6 and 2 J to 3 thick, of grass, in which many feathers 
of doves, parrots, peafowl, sarus, duck, some little sheep's wool, 
and a bit or two of twine are all mingled. The bottom portions 
are a good deal cemented together by saliva, but the interior is by 


no means hard or smooth \ others again are much smaller, globular, 
and having the whole of the materials firmly agglutinated together. 

In the plains they are not generally lined, but in the hills they 
often have a warm lining of grass and feathers. 

Captain Hutton says : " This is a very abundant species at 
Jeripauee, below Mussoorie, coursing and screaming through the 
air with great rapidity and shrillness. It does not construct a 
.nest of mud like the Common Swallow, but attaches straw, rngs 
flags, and feathers, all together by a glutinous cement, beneath the 
roof of verandahs between the beams. The nest, although made 
of such frail materials, which are not interwoven like those of 
other nests, but simply glued together, is nevertheless exceedingly 
tough, and will resist a moderate poke from a stick. It is lined 
with feathers and straw, and the eggs much resemble those of 
H. daurica, being pure white, and of a narrow, lengthened appear- 
ance. With us it breeds in June and July, laying from two to 
four eggs/' 

Mr. James Aitken writes : " This bird is of course abundant, 
and its rushing flight and shrill cry often strongly recall summer 
evenings at home. Its habits are indeed but a feeble copy of those 
of the English bird, the same circling near their nests, always 
screaming as they pass them, and the same assembling in numbers 
high in the air in the evening, though they fly low much more 
frequently. They breed once in February, and again during the 
monsoon. The nests are probably better known than those of 
any other Indian Swallow ; they are generally built under roofs, 
sometimes in a crevice between the wall and the roof, but often 
attached to the roof itself. In the latter case the straws of 
which the nest is composed are so firmly agglutinated that it 
tears like a piece of matting ; and it is generally ornamented 
without, as well as lined within, with feathers. Two or three 
long, white eggs are laid. The young, like those of the English 
Swift, never become perchers, but take boldly to the wing when- 
ever they leave the nest, returning to it when fatigued until 
they acquire their full powers. Numbers take possession of the 
porches and verandahs, where these are high enough, of the 
cut-cherries and other large buildings now erected all over the 
land, and fly backwards and forwards, building their nests, or 
tending their young, totally regardless of the crowd that may be 
moving below. It is no uncommon thing to see the top of an 
archway covered with their nests, all closely packed together, but 
where there is ample accommodation, as in a cutcherry verandah, 
each nest usually stands apart." 

Dr. Scully remarks : " The Common Indian Swift is very 
abundant in the valley of Nepal during about eight months of 
the year, but migrates to warmer regions in winter. It arrives in 
the valley about the first week in March, and by the 10th of that 
month it is found in swarms near all the towns and villages. It 
was noticed in the Nawakot district about the end of November. 
The breeding-season seems to last from April to July." 


Major C. T. Bingham says : " Breeds at Allahabad in February, 
March, and April, and again in July and August. And at Delhi 
in 3 [arch, April, and August." 

Colonel Butler, recording his experiences at Kurrachee and again 
at Mount Aboo, tells us :"Kurmcliee, March 19th, 1877. A 
colony of about 50 nests all stuck together inside the roof of a 
veraudah. Every nest contained two eggs without an exception ; 
and all of the eggs were too much incubated to be blown. I saw 
some hundreds of nests a few days later on the Oyster Bocks in 
the Kurrachee Harbour, and several more colonies 'in other parts 
of Kurrachee. They lay all through the hot weather and in the 

" Hundreds of the Common Indian Swift breed in the celebrated 
Dilwarra temples at Mount Aboo." 

Captain Horace Terry says: "I wonder if these birds are 
influenced in building by the rains, or whether the following cir- 
cumstance is mere chance. Several pairs began to build in the 
veraudah of my bungalow at Bellary, in June 1877. It had then 
been raining for a day or two and then suddenly ceased. The 
birds then left off building and disappeared ; after that the rains 
did not set in regularly till the latter end of the following month, 
when the birds (presumably the same ones) returned, completed 
the original nest, and reared their young." 

Writing from Sambur, Mr. E. M. Adam remarks : " This 
Swift is very common, and builds in the old tombs and mosques. 
I found a conf/eries of about thirty nests in a small tomb, and these 
were all closely packed together ; some had openings at the sides, 
while others had tubular-shaped necks about 2 inches long, pro- 
jecting from the side of the nest. The nests were composed of 
pieces of straw, fine twigs, cobwebs, and fluffy feathers, all agglu- 
tinated together, with here and there some bright-coloured feather 
of a Parrot or Holier stuck carelessly on the outside. A nest 
which I detached measured from opening to end 7| inches, in 
breadth it was 4 inches, and the opening was 2 inches in diameter. 
The nest was oval in form, coarse and lumpy in texture externally, 
but comparatively smooth inside. The egg-cavity had a lining of 
fine feathers, and the entrance was lined with fluffy feathers. 
Xearly every nest contained a bird ; and in some cases I found 
two birds/' 

Dr. Jerdon states that " their nests are composed of feathers, 
grass, straw, cotton rags, sometimes pieces of paper, agglutinated 
firmly together by the secreted mucus of their salivary glands, 
occasionally, perhaps, mixed with mud and rubbish. The inside of 
the nest is hard, glistening, and smooth, and feels, says Theobald, 
1 like coarse cardboard.' They vary much in shape ; sometimes a 
first year's nest is open at the top; but they, are usually closed, 
and communicating at the side ; at times of moderate size, at other 
times very large, and communicating by a sort of tubular neck. 
They are very solid and heavy, and often closely packed together. 
They are built against the rafters or beams, under the roofs of huts 


and houses, in the corners of old stone buildings, and in verandahs, 
either inside or outside, if there is protection from sun and rain. 
Various observers describe the nest as somewhat differently con- 
structed. Burgess says that he has seen their nests crowded 
together under the roofs of old buildings, choultries, and temples 
one nest from a rock was built of mud, lined with grass, and con- 
tained two white eggs. Layard states that in Ceylon they breed in 
great numbers on rocks, also under bridges, and that the nests 
built in clusters are composed of mud and grasses, with a small 
round entrance, precisely resembling those of the Martin (//. 
urbica) ; the eggs, from t\vo to four in number, pure white. Adams 
says that the nest is of mud, mixed with wool and feathers. In 
some of these cases the great weight and solidity of the nests may 
have led the observer to conclude that they were made of mud. 
The nest has generally a slight hollow in one place for the recep- 
tion of the eggs, which are usually two in number, sometimes three, 
and pure white." 

I may here add that I have seen not hundreds, but tens of 
thousands of these nests in all parts of Continental India ; and 
that, like Jerdou, I never knew of this species using any mud in 
the construction of its nests. 

Mr. Gr. Vidal writes from the South Konkan : " Common 
throughout the seaboard. Nests found in February and April in 
clusters on the island fort of Suvamdurg and the rocky cliffs on 
the coast/' 

Mr. W. Y. Legge, writing from Ceylon, says of the breeding of this 
Swift : " The Indian Swift breeds in February and March in the 
south-east of Ceylon, nesting under bridges and in the roofs of 
outhouses. I found a large colony in the month of March, 1872, 
nesting under the tiles and between the rafters of the roof of the 
salt store at Hambantota. The nests were placed close together in 
some instances, and were of all shapes and sizes ; they were con- 
structed of grass and native cotton, and lined with feathers mixed 
wth the latter material. The eggs, in most instances, were three 
in number." 

And Colonel Legge gives March to July as the limits of the 
breeding-season in Ceylon. 

I think three is the normal number ; I have certainly far more 
often found three, or even two, than four eggs. 

Typically, these eggs are excessively long and narrow ovals, 
pointed towards one end, and often somewhat pyriform in shape. 
They vary, however, much both in size and shape ; and of speci- 
mens of my own taking, some are fully one third longer than 
others, while the cubic contents of one egg I have must be fully 
twice that of another. In colour they are of course a perfectly 
pure and spotless white, with commonly scarcely a trace of gloss, 
though occasionally a slightly glossy egg is met with. Several 
specimens I have are fully as long as the egg of Cijpselus apus 
figured by Mr. Hewitson, but their breadth is rarely even five 
sevenths of the one there represented. 


In length these eggs vary from 0*72 to 1 inch, and in breadth 
from 0-52 to 0-62 inch ; but they average 0-87 by O57 inch. 

Cypselus batassiensis, Gray. TJie Palm-Swift. 

Cypselus batassiensis Gray, Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 180. 

Cypselus palniarum, Gray, Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 102. 

The Palm-Swift breeds, I think, twice in the year ; at any rate 
I have myself taken the eggs in March, and again in July, and T 
have had 1hem sent me in the latter part of June and early in 

They nest solely on the " Ten-" or toddy-tree (Borawus Jlabetti- 

The large fan-shaped leaves of this palm get bent by the wind, 
and hang down so that the points of the leaves turn somewhat 
inwards ; and it is to the under surface of that portion of the leaf 
which is bent inwards that the nest is attached. 

The bent portions of the leaf stand at an angle of from 40 to 70 
degrees, so that the under surface becomes in fact the upper 
surface, and presents a sloping furrowed bank to which the nest 
is attached. In one of these furrows formed by the large plaits of 
the leaf, and always about the centre of this latter, a tiny watch- 
pocket shaped nest, composed of fine down of the Aryemone 
mevicana and other plants, or in other cases of fine feathers 
cemented together by the saliva of the bird, is firmly glued. The 
actual pocket of the nest is rarely above 1J inch in circumference 
and | of an inch in depth, but the back portion of the nest runs 
up the plait from 2 to 3| inches. It is a curious fact, that while 
the rest of the nest is pretty soft, the edge of the pocket in front 
is matted into a sort of cord, just as in the case of the watch- 
pocket a piping is run round the edge. In one or two nests that 
I have seen, the birds have incorporated the soft petals of the 
white poppy (so largely grown for opium in Behar, where this 
species is specially abundant) with the other materials of the 

As a rule, only one or at most two pairs are found breeding on 
the same tree ; but I once saw a whole colony located in a single 

Three appears to be the usual complement of eggs, but Mr. R. 
M. Adam, from whom I first of all received the eggs and nest of 
this species, informs me that lie has found as many as five in a 
single nest. 

Mr. E. Thompson, writing from the Mirzapoor District on the 
18th March, 1869, remarked: "On a toddy-palm (Bomssus 
flabelUformis) I observed several nests. With some difficulty I 
got down one with two eggs ; one of the eggs unfortunately got 
broken. The nest was stuck between two ribs of the leaf of the 
palm, and the female bird looked as if she was sitting up against 


it so small did the nest look, and such the apparently uncomfort- 
able attitude of the occupant. 

" Near the nest was a colony of bats, Nycticejus castaneus. I 
killed out of the lot in one shot twenty-one bats. The palm was 
alive with them and with the Swifts. I noticed these birds 
clustering on the leaf of the palm between the ribs of the fronds. 
When moving up and down, they crawled with a shuffling kind of 
motion, as if their legs were too short for progression/' 

Mr. W. Theobald again has the following on the breeding of 
this bird in Monghyr and Prome * : " Lays in the third week of 
June and in July. Eggs, three in number, long pyriform ; size, 
0*80 inch by 0-45 inch ; colour pure white. Xest of vegetable 
down, with a few feathers, agglutinated with mucus to the frond of 
the Borassus.'' 

Major Bingham writes : " I have only found it breeding at 
Allahabad in March, April, and May, and again in July and 
August. The little nests are made of agglutinated feathers in 
shape like a little watch-pocket, and stuck against the underside 
of such leaves of the toddy-palm as have been bent down by the 
wind. The usual number of eggs is three, but I have found 

Mr. James Aitken makes the following remarks : "Palm trees 
are scarce in Berar, but wherever a solitary one rears its head 
there may be found the Palm-Swift flying round and round it. I 
once, and once only, saw several of these birds flying about a grove 
of mango trees where there was not a palm tree within miles." 

Writing of the South Konkan Mr. G. Vidal says: "Seen in 
large numbers at Mill van and Vengorla. I only know at present 
of two Palmyra palms (Borassus JlabeUiformis) in the whole 
district, one at Bankot and one at Mai van. At Bankot, in April, 
I saw a pair of these Swifts flying out of the solitary Palmyra, but 
found no nests. At Malvan, in January and February, I saw 
numbers flying in and out of the leaves of the one tree theiv. 
They must have had nests, but the tree was very high, and I 
could get no one to climb it. There are no Palmyras at Ratnagiri, 
and as the species is common there about the cocoanut and betel- 
nut gardens, it is probable that, as Mr. Davidson noted in Mysore 
(vide S. F. vii. 172), they nest here in betel-nut, if not in cocoa- 
nut palms also. There are certainly fifty times too many birds at 
Malvan to find accommodation in the one Palmyra palm, though it 
is evidently a favourite haunt." 

Mr. J. Davidson writes: " I notice that both Dr. Jerdon and 
Mr. Hume state that the common Palm-Swifts (C. batassiensis) 
invariably breed on the Palmyra palm. In this district the Swift 
is rather common, and the Palmyra palm is very rare; indeed I 
have not seen more than a dozen trees altogether. On almost all 
of them I have found the Swift breeding, but from the number of 

* Mr. Theobald here con r ounded the present and the next species. The 
former is found at Monghyr and the latter at Prome. ED. 


Swifts I have long been sure that they must breed on other trees, 
and to-day I took a nest on a leaf of the betel-nut palm with 
three fresh eggs. There were many other Swifts evidently 
breeding in the same garden. The leaves of the betel-nut palm 
bend down almost in the same way as the Palmyra. The nest was, 
however, on one of the upper leaves which was nearly horizontal." 

Colonel Legge, writing of Ceylon, says : " This species breeds 
from October until April, probably rearing two broods in the 
season, as I have found eggs and young of the same colony during 
both these months." 

The egg, a miniature of that of C. affinis, is a long oval, slightly 
compressed towards one end. The texture of the shell is some- 
what fine, but it has commonly little or no gloss. In colour it is 
a pure white, entirely free from spots or specks. 

In length the eggs vary from O65 to 0-75 inch, and in breadth 
from 0*42 to O43 inch ; but the average of more than fifty eggs 
measured was barely 0*71 by 0-46 inch. 

Cypselus infumatus, Sclater. Sclaters Palm-Swift. 

Cypselus infumatus, Sclater, Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 102 

As yet Sclater's Palm-Swift (C. tectorum, Jerd.) has only been 
found breeding in the Garo and North Cachar Hills, during the 
months of March, April, and May, at heights of from 2500 to 
4000 feet above the sea-level, but it undoubtedly breeds all over 
Burma. The following note was given me by Dr. Jerdon : 
*' They attach their nests to the palm-leaves used by the people to 
roof their huts. The roofs consist of two separate layers of leaves, 
and it is to the upper surface of the lower layer that the nests are 
attached. These nests resemble closely those of C. batassiensis, and 
are tiny little shallow saucers, some 2 inches in diameter, composed 
of some feathery seed, with here and there a stray feather, agglu- 
tinated with saliva after the fashion of the genus/' 

I have never seen the eggs, but Colonel Godwin-Austen tells us 
that " this little Swift was numerous in the Xaga villages around 
Asahi in March and April, and was then breeding in the roofs of 
the houses. A nest that I obtained was attached to the upper 
surface of a kind of palm-leaf, in the thatch of a house ; it is a 
neat, very shallow, construction of fluffy grass-seed, stuck together 
with saliva, a feather or two intermingled with the grass. The 
eggs were two in number, pure white, resting against the lower 
side of the nest, which is just of sufficient depth to retain them, 
so that the parent bird can hardly be said to sit on her eggs in the 
nest, but rather hangs on to it in apparently a most uncomfortable 
position ; and how the young when hatched remain with safety in 
the nest, it is difficult to understand, unless the. power of hanging 
on by the claws is thus early developed." 


Collocalia unicolor (Jerd.). The Nilghiri Swiftlet. 

Collocalia nidifica (Lath.), Jerd. E. Ind. i, p. 182. 

Collocalia unicolor (Jerd.), Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. no. 103. 

The Nilghiri Swiftlet breeds on all the hills of Southern India 
and Ceylon. 

Mr. Davison tells me that "there are several places on the 
Nilghiris where the Hill Swiftlet breeds largely ; one is a large 
rave above the main road from Coonoor to Ooty, close to the last 
toll-bar, before the cantonment of Ooty is reached : another is a 
cave below the Hooker Chinchona Estate at Pykarra, near the 
footpath loading from Pykarra to Musnagoodie, The birds build 
in company, the nests often being placed in regular tiers one above 
the other, and often so close that they touch each other. The nest 
is never composed entirely of saliva, but always consists chiefly of 
a long grey thread-like lichen (so common on all trees on the 
Nilghiris) firmly agglutinated together with the saliva. The nest 
is a small shallow semi-saucer-like structure glued to the rock. 
The normal number of the eggs appears to be two ; they are quite 
white, very elongated, and are nearly the same thickness at both 
ends. They breed in April, May, and the early part of June." 

Mr. A. G. Cardew, C.S., also writing of the Nilghiris, says : 
" This bird breeds at several places on the Nilghiris during May and 
June. The nests occur in the darkest parts of caves, generally in 
complete darkness, and are small but compact cup-shaped struc- 
tures, strongly made of lichen which is fastened together and the 
nest glued to the wall by the mucous secretion of the bird. The} r 
measure about 2^ inches by 2 and are very shallow, the egg-cavity 
not exceeding l| inches in the largest, while in many the walls 
are less than an inch above the bottom of the nest. No lining of 
feathers is used, and the amount of inspissated mucus is very 
small, the structure being wholly of lichen. The number of eggs 
is invariably two. On visiting one of the most populous caves on 
the Gth May, I found 40 nests, among which three or four had 
young birds and an equal number were empty ; every one of the 
remainder contained two eggs. At a later visit on the 20th of 
June, the number of nests was about 25, and of these the majority 
were already empty, three having eggs and four young birds. The 
eggs, which are pure glossless white, are remarkable for their 
slightly cylindrical shape, and measure from 0*82 to 94 in 
length, and from 0*52 to 0'55 in breadth." 

Dr. Jerdon makes the following remarks : " In 1846, I paid a 
visit, in company with Mr. Ward, M.S.C., to Pigeon Island, some 
miles out at sea to the south of Honore, which was said to be the 
resort of these birds. ~V\ r e found a large cave at one end of the 
island with a few of the nests, but of the second-make and 
inferior to the first, being mixed with feathers and extraneous 
matter. There were no eggs at this season (the end of December), 
and we did not see any of the birds to identify the species. A 


native who had guided us to the cave said if we waited till 8 or 9 
o'clock P.M., the birds would coine. We instructed him to do so 
and to catch some of them in a net he had with him for the 
purpose. It is known to have other breeding-places on the 
Malabar coast, viz., the Viugorla rocks, where one hundred- 
weight of nests is said to be produced annually. If so, this must 
be the largest breeding-spot on the coast. Also the Sacrifice 
Rock, 20 miles south of Tellicherry ; besides, I daresay, others. 
I visited Sacrifice Bock in March 1849. There is one cave here, 
which had perhaps fifty to hundred nests, and a few had eggs in 
them. Very few of the nests were of the first make, these being 
annually taken away by some Moplahs from the mainland. The 
birds were at this time flying about, feeding on the flies which 
abounded at the edge of the rock. About twenty couples, perhaps, 
were present, not more. I doubt if all the places I have enume- 
rated on the western coast would contain the nests of a quarter of 
the number of these Swiftlets which I have seen at once in one 
locality ; if so, where do the others breed ? It has been suggested 
that they may nestle in inland caves ; but all my enquiries have 
failed to discover any in India." 

Mr. G. Yidal gives us the following account of a colony breeding 
in a cave on the sea-coast. He says: "This species, as Jerdon 
says, is found at one of the group of rocks which lie between 
Vengorla and Malvan, some five or six miles from the mainland, 
and breeds there regularly every year. The right to collect the 
nests is annually sold by auction, and realizes on an average about 
Ks. 30. Two trips are made by the farmer the first towards the 
end of February, and the second about the first week in April. 
The first harvest yields about 1 4 Ibs., and the second from 28 to 
42 Ibs. Either the yield was overstated by Jerdon, or else the 
number of birds has greatly diminished since he wrote ; half a 
hundredweight is now the maximum outturn. 

" None of the nests I have ever got from the Vengorla rocks are 
pure white. In April 1878 I sent niy shikaree, to bring nests, 
eggs, and birds, and he returned with specimens of all three. The 
birds were all Collocalia, and the nests all mixed with grass and 
feathers, the saliva being pure only where the nest is attached to 
the rock, and on the rim of the saucer. The nests vary a good 
deal in size and shape. They are very shallow, seldom deeper 
than half an inch, and have a diameter of about two inches. 
Externally the saliva, freely mixed with grass and feathers, is 
smooth and coagulated. Inside the cup it forms a network of 
fine shreds. They look at a little distance exactly like deep oyster- 
shells with one side flattened, the saliva, where it is smoothed 
down, having a pearly appearance. As this batch of nests was 
collected about a week after the farmer had paid his last visit to 
the rocks for the season, and had presumably left no nests worth 
taking, and as the natives, who ought to have known, persisted in 
saying that pure white nests were to be had at the first take, I 
could come to no definite conclusion about the matter. However, 


in February 1880, I sent my man again to the rocks, with the 
farmer's people. They were there for three days, and returned on 
the 28th with about 12 or 14 Ibs. of nests, which 1 examined. 
These nests were undoubtedly first nests, as not a single egg had 
been laid. All were quite as impure and mixed with grass and 
feathers as those 1 had got in the preceding April, when there 
were eggs or young birds in every nest. The farmer still held out 
that white nests are sometimes got. Of course it is possible that 
a few pairs of C.syftdiopygia may breed in the same cave, but none 
of the specimens got were of this species, and I think it is highly 
improbable that they occur. Determined to sift the matter as 
closely as possible, I sent my shikaree again with the farmer's 
people for the April take. He spent three days on the rocks, from 
the 7th to 9th of April, and returned with about two dozen of the 
purest and comparatively whitest nests that were found on this 
occasion, as well as eggs and specimens of Gollocalia. The nests 
were all mixed with grass and feathers precisely as before. 

" The evidence, therefore, is now pretty complete, and shows 
conclusively that Collocalia does not make pure white nests in this 
locality. The Vengoiia nests are all despatched to Groa in the first 
instance, but I have not yet ascertained their ultimate destination. 
Commercially, they must rank as a very third sort commodity. 
The nests 1 got in February were literally swarming with common 

Captain Horace Terry writes : " One day, while I was in the 
Pulney Hills (June 1883), a native whom I employed to collect 
for me brought me word that he had found some Swifts breeding 
in a cave. I went with him the next day, and close to the Pillar 
Eocks niy guide showed me a large sort of hole, and intimated I 
was to go down it. I did not quite like the look of it ; it was the 
sort of place where one might meet anything and with no room to 
pass. However, as the man absolutely refused to go first (which 
was odd, as he assured me he had been there the day before), I 
had no choice, so I went. After going through a sort of tunnel 
for some few yards in a downhill direction in the dark, I found 
myself in a good-sized cave with a high roof, and an opening (quite 
inaccessible from the outside) on to the face of the cliff. Here 
were the Swifts safe enough, but what puzzled me was how on 
earth the man knew they were there, as I am quite convinced he had 
never been down that hole before ; there were no signs of footmarks 
in the sand, his description of the cave was quite inaccurate, and 
he could not possibly have seen anything of it from the outside. 
The cave was occupied by a large number of Swifts (C. unicolor) 
flying in and out, who had their nests near the roof of the cave, 
quite out of reach, and it was impossible to get at all near to any 
of them.'' 

Mr. Bourdillon, writing from Travancore, says: "The cave in 
which the Edible-nest Swiftlets breed is on the opposite side of 
the valley to this bungalow, at an elevation of about 2600 feet. It is 
formed by the displacement of a huge mass of rock, which, sliding 


from its original bed, has left a slit in the side of the hill, blocked 
at one end, some 40 yards loug, 30 feet high, and of an average 
width of about 3 feet. The mouth of the cave is much darkened 
with stones and shrubs, so that 10 yards from the entrance, without 
a light of some sort, one gets a very hazy idea of the surroundings. 
AVe had a candle, and after going the whole length of the cave we 
set to work counting the nests of the Swifts. This was no easy 
job ; however, with a little trouble we made out that there were 
fully 250 nests in the cave, of which two in every three were 
occupied by eggs or young. While all this was going on, the old 
birds were in a great state of excitement, and occasionally one, 
more courageous than the rest, would dash at the candle and, 
putting it out, leave us to grope about for the matches. We took 
three or four nests, and altogether a dozen eggs. Of these two 
only were hard-set, the rest being perfectly fresh ; and as we took 
only solitary eggs, it would appear that this Swift occasionally lays 
but one egg, though far more frequently two, and never, I believe, 
more. As I hope my brother will send you specimens of eggs and 
nests, I need only say in passing that the nests are pretty solid 
cups with a shallow cavity, composed principally of moss and the 
feathers of the bird, cemented to the rock and neatly lined with 
threads of the peculiar isinglass-like substance excreted by the 
bird. The eggs are pure white, smooth, and slightly glossy : and 
of those taken the measurements ranged from 0'81 to 0-91 in 
length, and from 0-52 to 0'59 inch in breadth, averaging 0-85 
by 0-55. 

" This accomplished, we had to secure some of the old birds. 
After expending all our small stock of cartridges we had only t\vo 
birds to show, and these on dissection proved to be males. One 
bird was evidently in the breeding-stage and the other not ; and I 
may here note that the breeding one had a very highly-developed 
gland beneath the chin, containing a sticky creamy substance, 
which was no doubt the same as that used to fasten the nest to 
the rock ; this bird also, when shot, had a piece of moss in its 
(>, so that one may fairly conjecture it was still building. The 
other bird had no trace of the gland, at least so far as I could make 
out without the aid of a microscope. My brother will also send you 
with the nests and eggs a sample of the guano which was thickly 
spread over the floor and walls of the cave. This appears to be com- 
posed principally of the undigested portions of the birds" food, with 
some proportion of soluble ammoniacal matter, which has a rather 
disagreeable smell." 

Colonel Legge thus describes the breeding-habits of this Swift 
in Ceylon : " The breeding-season of this little Swiftlet in Ceylon 
lasts from March until June. It nests in large colonies in various 
rav'-s in the hills and mountains of the central and southern parts 
of the island. Many of these are known from seeing the birds 
haunt the vicinity of certain precipitous hills ; but few have been 
visited and examined on account of the general inaccessibility of 
these resorts. Among those which are known are two situated on 


the rocky hills of Diagallagoolawa, near Pittegalla, on the banks of 
the Bemtota river, and which are referred to by Layard ; several 
occupied by large and small colonies on the Dambetenne and 
Piteratmalie estates on the south face of the Haputale range ; one 
on Pedrotallagalla, spoken of by Kelaart ; and another which I am 
informed of in a hill called Maha-ellagala, near the ' Haycock ' 
Mountain, as also another in the Nitre-cave district. Besides 
these there are, I believe, colonies in the ' Friars-Hood ' or some 
of the surrounding rock-hills and in Bittagalla, the above-men- 
tioned mountain, situated between the Central and Trincomalie 
Koads. The celebrated cave in the Haputale range, and the only 
one which I have had the good fortune to visit, is situated on a 
bold peak standing out above and towering over the Dambatenne 
and adjoining estates, which form one of the finest sweeps of 
coffee-ground in Ceylon. ... At a point where the great gorge 
suddenly commenced by a sheer precipice drooping down about 
1000 feet into the lower estate, stood the fine bungalow occupied 
by the gentleman, Mr. Imray, who was to be our kind host for the 
night ; and at the back of this, at the top of a rich slope of coffee, 
towered up a rocky buttress, in which the Swiftlets of Haputale 
propagate their species. In this precipice a vast boulder, about 70 
feet in height and 50 in breadth, has at some period slipped away 
from the face of the mountain, and leans against it at an angle of 
about 30, forming a lofty narrow cavern. Here about 300 pairs of 
birds have their nests built against the inner side of the boulder, 
which is convex and corresponds with the concave face of the main 
mass. There are no nests on this latter, down which there is 
doubtless a considerable amount of drainage, and the instinct of the 
little birds is here wonderfully displayed in rejecting the wet side 
of the cavern, which would seriously impair the stability of their 
gelatinous nests. These are placed in tiers, one above the other, 
about 15 feet from the guano at the bottom of the cave ; in places 
three or four were joined together, the back part of the under 
nest being prolonged up to the bottom of the one above it. The 
little structures were by no means edible, being constructed of moss 
and fine tendrils, arranged in layers and cemented with the inspis- 
sated saliva of the bird, the back part attaching the nest to the 
rock, as well as the interior of the cup, being, however, entirely of 
this material. 1 have seen one or two nests from Pittegalla almost 
wholly made of this substance ; but even these were mixed to a 
certain extent with foreign or vegetable material. The interior of 
these Dainbeteime nests was in most cases oval, the longest 
diameter, which varied from 2 to 2k inches, being parallel to the 
rock. Jii depth the egg-cup was, on the average, about 1 inch. 
At the date of my visit, the 22nd of May, nearly all the nests 
contained young, two being the average number. A series of eggs 
procured at another time, and which I have examined, were of 
various shapes, long ovals being the predominant ; they were pure 
white, and varied from 0-81 to 0'83 inch in length by 0-51 to 0*54 
in breadth. It is noteworthy that the partially-fledged young 


which were procured for me oil this occasion, and which I kept 
for the night, scrambled out on to the exterior of the nests and 
slept in an upright position with the bill pointing straight up. 
This is evidently the normal mode of roosting resorted to by this 

" The interior of this cave, with its numbers of active tenants, 
presented a singular appearance. The bottom was filled with a 
vast deposit of liquid guano, reaching, I was informed, to a depth 
of 30 feet, and composed of droppings, old nests, and dead young 
fallen from above, the whole mingled into a loathsome mass with 
the water lodged in the crevice, and causing an awful stench, which 
would have been intolerable for a moment even, had not the 
hundreds of frightened little birds, as they screamed and whirred 
in and out of the gloomy cave with a hum like a storm in a ship's 
rigging, powerfully excited niy interest and produced a long 
examination of the colony. This guano-deposit is a source of 
considerable profit to the estate, the hospital-manager of which 
informed us that he had manured 100 acres of coffee with it 
during that season. Besides this colony there are two smaller 
otf-shoots on the adjoining estate, in one of which, Mr. Bligh tells 
me, the birds have to pass through a cloud of spray in order to 
gain access to their nests." 

The eggs that I possess of this species, all sent from the ]N"il- 
ghiris, are a dull, almost wholly glossless white ; as a rule slender 
elongated ovals, almost cylindrical, and sometimes absolutely 
cylindrical; at times slightly pyriform, and typically, I think, 
somewhat compressed just beyond the middle. They vary in 
length from - 79 to O9 inch, and in breadth from 0'53 to 0*58 
inch ; but they average 0'83 by 0'54 inch. 

Collocalia linchi, Horsf . & Moore. HorsfieUVs Swiftlet. 
Collocalia linchi, Horsf., Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. no. 103 bis. 

Hors field's Swiftlet breeds abundantly in both the Andamans 
and Xicobars. 

Normally it breeds in caves ; indeed, in a manuscript note given 
me with many others by the late lamented Colonel Tytler, I find 
the following : " I may note that I was upwards of two years in 
the Andamans, and never either saw or heard of any species of 
Collocalia building inside of houses, sheds, or the like ; these 
species always build inside caves immediately on the sea-shore." 

But since Colonel Tytler left the Andamans, a change has come 
over the spirit of their dream, and at the Settlement of Port Blair 
they breed freely inside houses, both on Boss and Chatham Islands, 
the'interior of the saw-mills being their most favourite haunt. 
There is another shed at Viper also in \vhich they breed. 

There has been some grave error in regard to the nests of this, the 
commonest of the Andaman and Xicobar Swiftlets; it does not 
make any of the edible nests. There is no mistake about this ; I have 

VOL. III. 3 


shot the birds and taken the nests out of caves, and Davison has 
clone the same out of buildings where they had never been dis- 
turbed, and the nests are in all cases similar somewhat shallow, 
flat-bottomed, half or two-thirds saucers, composed of brown moss, 
firmly agglutinated with saliva ; only along the line of junction 
with the place of attachment is there a thickish film of unmixed 
inspissated saliva, and that is brownish and not white. 

The white nests are made by C. spodiopygia^ and probably also 
by C. innomlnata. 

The nests of this species, C. linchi, vary in size, but they average 
about 2| inches across, stand out from 1| to 1| inch from the 
rock or wall, and are about an inch deep. They vary from to 
more than | inch in thickness. 

How often they breed I cannot say ; but many of the nests which 
I found in a cave at the little Jolly Boy, Macpherson's Straits, 
contained fresh eggs on the 9th of March. 

The eggs are pure white and entirely devoid of gloss ; long ovals 
very obtuse at both ends, and some of them almost cylindrical, 
while others again have a pyriform tendency. The eggs vary 
greatly in length, viz. from O64 to O75 inch, but much less so in 
breadth, i. e. only from 0'42 to 0-46 inch. The average may be 
taken at O7 by 0'45 inch. 

I must note here that Captain Beavan is altogether wrong in 
what he says (Ibis, 1867) about this species, and he must have 
written from hearsay, for his own observations are excessively 
accurate. He remarks that the nest of this species is considerably 
smaller and perhaps whiter than that of " nidifica " (? innominate, 
nobis), on which account it is more valued by the Burmese, who 
collect both kinds for the Chinese and Penang markets. He adds 
that " this species is generally abundant at Port Blair, especially 
between Aberdeen and Navy Bay, where every cave is full of their 
nests." .Now, in the first place, the nests of this species are 
brown and mainly composed of moss, and are not, so far as I 
could learn, ever collected at all. In the second place, there are 
no caves at all between Aberdeen and Navy Bay. 

Mr. Davison has watched these birds making their nests ; they 
bring a tiny piece of moss and cling on to the roof ; then for four 
or five minutes you see the little bird's head going backwards and 
forwards, and then off he flies, and you see that the piece of moss 
has been stuck on. They do not seem to be able to stick the moss 
on to white paint. One pair tried for nearly a week to make a 
nest on a painted ceiling of a house, and covered the carpet below 
with scraps of moss, but failed to get a single piece to stick : at 
last they gave it up as a bad job. 

Later, however, they succeeded iu attaching a nest to this very 
place. The nest was the usual half-saucer, about 3 inches across 
and 1| in depth, but composed entirely of fine rootlets just glued 
together here and there with the ordinary gelatine, and a pretty 
thick film of this occurring where the nest was joined on to the 


Sometimes four or five will come in together, and all cluster in 
a lump where the moss is to be stuck, and theii a great twittering 
and skirmishing ensues, till of a sudden all but one, who is left 
wagging his head over the moss, disappear with a sudden dash. 

Subsequently Gapt. Wiinberley sent me a nest with two eggs, 
and remarked: ''This was built on to the white-painted ceiling 
of my house. The little birds have been trying to get a footing 
there for two years. This is the first time that they have been 
successful." The nest is rather peculiar, a very loose basket-work 
of fine roots, rendered perfectly stiff and firm by inspissated saliva, 
which, however, has only been applied in sufficient quantities to 
stiffen the roots and attach them firmly together, so that only the 
barest film can here and there be detected, except along the line 
of junction with the ceiling, where the attachment has been 
effected with a film of pure brownish- white gelatine, if I may 
so term it. The nest is 3 inches wide, and projected 2 inches. 
The eggs are similar to those we obtained; one measured 0*71 
by 0-46. 

Collocalia spodiopygia (Peale). Peak's Swiftlet. 

Collocalia spodiopygia (Peale), Hume, Rough Draft N. Sf E, no. 103 

Peale's Swiftlet also breeds in several of the Andaman and 
Xicobar Islands. 

As yet it has only been found nesting in caves, though the time 
may come when, like other members of the family, it may resort to 

I found the eggs in a cave on Little Button Island of the An- 
daman Archipelago on the 21st March, but I do not know whether 
they have a second brood. The nest, except just at its junction 
with the rock (where it is brownish), is composed of the most ex- 
quisitely silvery white gelatine. Exteriorly the surface is com- 
pact and somewhat roughened in laminae ; interiorly it is a network 
of the finest and whitest threads, reminding one of the Euplectella. 
The true nest, which is pure white, and in shape rather more than 
half of a shallow cup, is from 2 to 2| inches broad, stands out 
from 1| to nearly '2 inches from the wall, and varies interiorly in 
depth from little more than | to a full inch. The attachment 
Minis and foundation below the~true nest, both of which are brown, 
vary excessively according to the site chosen for the nest; in some 
they are almost wanting ; in others the film extends for an inch 
on either side beyond the nest, and the foundation below the 
most projecting point of the true nest may be 1| inches in depth. 

The edge of the true nest all round is blunt, like that of an ivory 
paper-cutter, and the sides gradually increase as they approach the 
bottom to the thickness of |, or occasionally even | inch. Of 
course the nests vary in outline, as well as in size and depth, but 



the line of the upper edge is generally more that of a horseshoe 
than of a segment of an oval or circle. 

I found the nests capriciously dotted about, par preference in the 
darkest corners (nowhere out of reach of the hand, for the cave is 
low), in places a couple of feet apart, in others a dozen clustered 
together within a diameter of less than this. 

As a rule, each nest was separate and distinct, but in a few cases 
I found two and even three joined together. 

Mr. W. Theobald writes to me that " this is the species that breeds 
at Hnettoung, the Bird rocks, off the Arracau coast. I have 
taken their exquisite nests fresh in March." 

The eggs are, as usual, pure white, more or less cylindrical in 
shape, devoid of gloss, and slightly larger than those of the pre- 
ceding species. Two eggs measure 0*8 by 0*52 and O82 by 
: 53. 

Macropteryx coronatus (Tick.). The Indian Crested Swift. 

Dendrochelidon coronatus (Tick.}, Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 185 ; Hume, 
Rough Draft N. 8> E. no. 104. 

The Indian Crested Swift breeds freely, to my certain knowledge, 
in the Sub-Himalayan tract, below Kumaou and Gurhwal, in parts of 
the Mirzapur District, in the Mandla' District of the Central Pro- 
vinces (from which locality Mr. K. Thompson sent me an exquisite 
little nest), in the Xilghiris (whence also I have received its eggs), 
and Ceylon, and generally, I believe, throughout the warmer parts 
of India wherever there are extensive forests. 

The breeding-season is from April to June, the place selected is 
the bare and therefore generally dead branch of some tall forest 
tree. It is almost impossible to get the egg (for they lay only one) 
down unbroken. 

I>owe a nest of this species to Mr. E. Thompson, who took it on 
April 6th, 1869, in the district of Mandla, Central Provinces. The 
nest contained a single egg, which was destroyed by the fall. The 
nest is a most wonderful little structure. It is a very shallow half- 
saucer, composed of thin flakes of bark, gummed, probably by the 
bird's own saliva, against the side of a tiny horizontal branch. 
The nest is nowhere more than ^ inch in thickness, is at most 4- 
inch deep in the deepest part, and can be exactly covered by a 
half-crown. The parent bird, though slender, is fully 10 inches in 
length, and consequently the bird when sitting across the nest and 
the tiny branch to which it is attached completely hides the nest, 
and 110 one would suspect that there was any nest there at all. 

Mr. Thompson at the time wrote to me as follows : " Den- 
drochelidon coronata builds a wee bit of a nest with small chips of 
bark, a few feathers, and all glued together with inspissated saliva. 
The nest is placed on the side of a horizontal branch, and is en- 
tirely filled up with the solitary, rather largish, white oval egg. 
The bird looks for all the world as if she were resting on the branch, 


and no amount of looking from underneath would show you that 
there was a nest under her. The particular nest I send you was 
placed in a Boswellia tlmrifera tree at about 12 feet from the ground. 
It is very small and saucer-like, composed of the exfoliated flakes 
of bark of the tree (BoswelUa thurifera) mixed with one or two 
feathers, all cemented together by the inspissated saliva of the bird/' 
Mr. E-. Thompson has recently sent me another nest and egg of 
this species. 1 1<- siys : " This nest was found in the Ahiri forests 
of the Chanda District, Central Provinces, on the 7th of May last. 
The nest was attached to a dead branch of the Boswellia thiirifera, 
at a height of about 20 feet from the ground. 

" It is not in the high or deep forest that the bird breeds, but 
in scattered jungle, usually covering low stony hills and ridges. 
The nest in this particular case was in a tree quite by itself, with 
only a few others in the neighbourhood scattered about here and 

" My attention was directed to the male bird, who was trying 
his best to dislodge a Dove from a tree near to the one on which 
I ultimately found the nest. I knew that there must be a nest 
somewhere near, and soon caught sight of the female sitting trans- 
versely across a thin dead bough, the tiny nest, glued on to the 
side ot' this branch, being as usual scarcely perceptible from below. 
I have seen two other nests of this Swallow in this neighbourhood 
each containing a tolerably well-fledged young one. The nests in 
these instances also were placed on Bosiuellia trees. The present 
nest contained the single egg now sent, and is precisely similar to 
the one I found in Mundla in 1869. To the best of my belief 
they never lay more than one egg in the nest." 

The stem to which the nest was attached is about 0*8 inch in 
diameter, against the side of this the nest is glued, so that the upper 
margin of the nest is on a level with the upper surface of the 

The nest itself is half of a rather deep saucer 1-75 inches in 
diameter, and about 0-6 in depth internally. The nest is entirely 
composed of thin flakes of bark, cemented together by the bird's 
saliva, and is about an eighth of an inch in thickness. 

The egg is a very elongated oval, obtuse at both ends, and with 
little or no gloss. It is white with a slight greyish-blue tinge, 
and measures 0-94 in length by 0'61 in breadth. 

Captain Horace Terry was fortunate enough to secure the nest 
and egg of this Swift on the Pulney Hills. He says : " I found 
this bird fairly common on the slopes of the Pulney Hills in 1883. 
One day (7th April) I went down the slopes of the Pittur Valley to 
see what I could get in the way of birds and eggs, and noticed 
several of these Swifts about, and looking up at a large tree, 
with no branches near the ground, and with a sort of gum oozing 
out in places, I saw a bird near the top at the extremity of one of 
the branches. I looked at it through my glasses and saw it was a 
Crested Swift. With some little trouble I frightened it off the 
tree ; it took a short flight and then returned to its original position. 


and then 1 noticed what I tooked to be its nest. Under promise 
of a large reward I induced a native to go up for it. It was as 
nasty a looking tree to climb as one could well imagine. The nest 
was right at the end of a dead branch near the top. However, the 
man being once started took a sensible view of it and went right 
up, but of course he could not get quite close to the nest ; but by 
tying a bamboo under the branch, cutting it through and then draw- 
ing it in he eventually got hold of the part where the nest was. It 
was a tedious business, but at last he got it down, and I. was very 
glad when I safely got hold of the nest and egg. The nest was 
made of a few bits of bark and feathers gummed on to the branch, 
and apparently, in addition to the saliva of the bird, some of the gum 
of the tree itself had been used. 

" It was just large enough to hold the one egg, which was of a 
glossless white, an elongated oval, the same at both ends, and not 
at all like a Swift's egg. It was much incubated." 

About two years ago I found a nest of this species in the Dar- 
jeeling Terai in May placed exactly as above described, but both 
nest and egg were smashed, and the lad who went up for them 
was nearly killed by the bough breaking just before he reached the 
nest. The egg was very long and pure white, and, as far as I 
could measure the fragments, nearly 1 inch in length. 

I have as yet obtained only one single entire egg of this species, 
and this I owe to Captain Mitchell of Madras. It is in colour a 
pure dead spotless white, and in shape a very long almost cylindrical 
oval, but slightly pointed towards the lesser end. 

It measures 0'85 by 0*55 inch, and is much smaller than the one 
I saw. 


Batrachostonins moniliger, Layard. The South-Indian 

Batrachostoinus moniliger, Blyth, Jerd. E. Ind, i. p. 189 ; Hume, 
Cat. no. 105. 

Mr. Bourdillon, writing from Mynall in Travaucore, gives me 
the following interesting account of the nidification of the South- 
Indian Frog-mouth : 

" The nest was brought to me one evening by a coolie who had 
been working in the jungle. The nest was composed of vegetable 
down neatly and compactly interwoven with pieces of dead 
leaves, fragments of bark and dry wood, and one or two pieces of 
lichen. In shape it is a sort of disk about 2| inches broad and 1^ 
deep, the upper surface being slightly hollowed out. 

" The young one, partially fledged, was unmistakably a Frog- 
mouth from the colour of his plumage and bill and huge gape. On 
receiving the nest I at once went with the man, and, restoring 
it to its original position, sat down to watch. 


" The chick (I quote from my notes) was much pleased at find- 
ing himself in his old quarters, and repeatedly shook himself as if 
he could not at first settle down into a comfortable position ; this 
shaking being attended with some danger, as once or twice the 
bird seemed within an ace of rolling out of the nest. At intervals 
of about ten minutes it uttered a feeble chirruping call, not unlike 
an Tee-bird at a distance. As darkness increased its cry was more 
frequent and became a single chirp. I watched till night closed 
in and it became pitch dark without seeing anything of the old 
bird, though once something which might have been either bird or 
bat flitted past. 

" Next morning I returned some time before sunrise, and in the 
moonlight had a good view of one of the old birds seated on the 
nest. It was in a very peculiar position, more lying down than 
sitting, with its head well up in the air. The nest was not 15 
feet from the ground in a fork of a sapling, apparently without 
any attempt at concealment, so that I was able to approach very 
close to the bird, which without moving merely opened its large eyes 
to stare at me. Now comes the worst part of the story. I was 
so anxious to secure the specimen that I determined to shoot it on 
the nest ; accordingly I retired as far as possible and fired. The 
result, owiug to intervening bushes, being that to rny great dis- 
appointment the bird went off into the jungle hard hit and was 
lost. Thinking at first the bird could not possibly have escaped I 
searched about for it, and at the foot of the small tree where the 
nest was I found the remains of an egg. These I have kept and 
will send with the nest, as I at least have no doubt that they 
originally enclosed the young Frog-mouth. You will see from 
these fragments that the egg of the bird is probably pure white, 
almost round, of thin texture, and with a smooth glossless surface." 

The nest of this species taken at Mynall, Travancore, by Mr. Bour- 
dillon is very similar to that of Batracliostomus liodysoni, but is 
smaller and thicker, slightly oval in shape, 2'6 inches in length by 
2-3 in width, and a full inch in depth. Instead of moss, a few 
fragments of dead leaves are incorporated, but the material is 
chiefly a soft felt-like mass, precisely similar in texture to that 
used by B. hodgsoni, but greyish white instead of brown. It is a 
mere pad with a shallow depression on the outer surface, a broad 
groove on the lower showing where it has rested on the upper 
surface of a nearly horizontal bough. 

Batrachostomus hodgsoni (Gr. E. Gray). The Sikhim 

Otothrix hodgsoni, G. E. Gray, Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 190; Hume, 

Eoiujh Draft N. $ E. no. 106. 

Mr. Hodgson figures a young bird of the Sikhim Frog-mouth 
seated on a broad pad-like nest of moss and lichen, placed on a 
horizontal bough of a tree close to its junction with the trunk. He 


notes on the reverse of the plate that the female with young and 
nest were obtained 011 the 20th May, 1856, behind Darjeeliug, 
towards the great Runjeet, at an elevation of between 3000 and 
4000 feet, He adds, " young like adult, but duller hues ; nest 
nearly flat ; a soft mass of lichen and moss overlaid with a soft 
downy vegetable substance blended into a felt-like mass." 

To Mr. Mandelli I am indebted for two nests of this species. 
The first was found in the neighbourhood of Namtchu in Native 
Sikhim on the 1st of June, and it contained two hard-set eggs, one 
of which was broken by the shot, and the second Mr. Mandelli 
most kindly sent me. The other nest was found in the same 
neighbourhood on the 26th May, and contained a single egg 
ready to hatch off. Both nests were similarly placed, on more or 
less bare horizontal branches of medium- sized trees at heights of 
about 10 feet from the ground. Both nests are precisely similar 
to each other, and very closely resemble Mr. Hodgson's drawing. 
They are small circular pads barely 3| inches in diameter, and at 
thickest about f of an inch thick. The upper surface slightly 
hollowed into a saucer-like shape, and the lower surface hollowed 
out into a broad groove, the pad having manifestly rested on the 
upper surface of a horizontal bough 3 or 4 inches in diameter. 
The lower surface of the pad where it was in contact with the 
bough has a thin coating of moss ; the whole of the rest is a com- 
pact brown felt-like mass, very soft and downy, composed entirely 
it appears to me of excessively fine moss rootlets, but withal as 
soft as the underfur of any little mammal. 

The egg, strange as it may appear, is pure white ; a moderately 
elongated oval, and almost entirely devoid of gloss. The female 
was shot on the nest in each case, and one of the two also sent me 
by Mr. Mandelli is a typical 'BatraeJiostomus hodysoni. It will be 
seen that the egg of Batrachostomus rnoniUyer is almost white. 

The egg measured 1-04 by 0-76. 

Of two other eggs of this species in my collection, one is a very 
long narrow oval, a good deal compressed towards the small end ; 
the other egg is considerably shorter and broader ; the shell is of 
a dull, glossless white and very thin. The eggs were found on 
the 2nd May, and measure I'll by 0'63 and 1-03 by 0'65. 

Caprmmlgus indicus, Lath. The Juiu/le Nightjar. 

Caprimulgus indicus, Lath.. Jerd. B. Iml. i. p. 102 ; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. fy E. no. 107. ' 

Widely distributed as is the J ungle Nightjar, I have very few- 
notes to record regarding its uidification. 

Colonel Butler writes : " The Jungle Nightjar is tolerably 
common at Mount Aboo, and breeds upon the hill in all proba- 
bility about March, April, and May, as I observed and shot young 
birds which had quite recently left the nest in the middle of June. 

Mr. Ithodes W. Morgan, writing from South India, says : 
" This Nightjar breeds in all the forests and thick brushwood jungles 


of Southern India. Its monotonous note may be heard the livelong 
night in the breeding-season, which is in March. The eggs are 
generally two in number, and are placed in a slight depression in 
the ground under some low bush. The egg is rather a pretty one, 
being thickly blotched with faint lilac and reddish brown on a 
salmon-coloured ground. Length O98 inch, breadth O58." 

Mr. C. J. AV. Taylor writes from Manzeerabad in Mysore: 
Very common. Procured eggs on the 10th April, 1882. Eggs 
deposited on the bare ground after the grass has been burnt." 

I have as yet only authentic eggs of it taken in April in the 
Central Provinces by Mr. F. E. Blewitt, and below Mussoorie in 
May by Captain Hutton. These birds lay only two eggs and 
make no nest, but lay in a slight depression of the ground, under 
some low bush. 

The eggs sent me by the above-named gentlemen are undis- 
tinguishable from some of those of C. kelaarti sent me from the 
Xilghiris and from Eaepore. I have never taken any eggs of this 
species myself and indeed I am, for the most part, dependent, so 
far as the eggs of the Caprimalfjida? go, on correspondents. I 
have never accepted eggs unless sent me along with skins of the 
birds to which they were said to belong; yet, notwithstanding 
this, I confess that I am far from certain that no mistake has in 
any case occurred. In regard to the present species I may men- 
tion I have as yet only four eggs, all very much of the same type 
and size. The}' are long ovals, somewhat cylindrical, and one of 
them slightly pyriform. The shell is fine and has a fair amount of 
gloss. The ground-colour is a pale salmon-pink, in one egg 
slightly paler and more creamy. They are pretty thickly but 
irregularly blotched and streaked with pale brown :' in one'egg a 
purplish, in the others more of an olive-brown, and also with 
faint underlying spots and clouds of more or less pale inky purple. 

They vary from 1-15 to 1*25 inch in length, and from 0-86 to 
0-9 inch in breadth, the longest egg being the narrowest, and the 
shortest the broadest. 

Caprimulgiis kelaarti, Blyth. The Kilcjhiri Niyhtjar. 

Capriinul<rus kelaarti. Bh/tli. Jerd. S. Ind. i, p. 193 : Hume, Roiuili 
Draft N. $ E. no. 108. 

This supposed species, the so-called Xilghiri Xightjar, breeds 
throughout Southern India and the more wooded portions of the 
Central Provinces from the latter end of February to August. In 
the Xilghiris March seems the favourite month, in the Ghats of 
the Central Provinces April, but Mr. Blewitt took them in 
Kaepore as late as August. Mr. Davison tells me that this species 
' ; breeds on the Xilghiris in the latter end of February and the 
earlier part of March. There is no pretence whatever of a nest, 
the eggs being merely placed on some slight natural depression 
under a bush or tuft of grass. Occasionally a rather strange 
situation is chosen for the eggs ; and they are laid in the centre of 


some small heap of asbes produced by the Burgas (Badayas) 
burning weeds in their fields. The eggs are two in number, of a 
fine, salmon-coloured ground, marbled with a purplish brown, 
which is very much toned down, appearing as if beneath the 
surface of the shell.'' 

Miss Cockburn, writing from Kotagherry, remarks : " This 
Xightjar never builds a nest, but lays her eggs (generally two 
in number) on the bare ground, and occasionally on a rock, 
where there is not the slightest appearance of anything resembling 
a bush to shade the bird from the scorching rays of the sun 
while engaged in the work of incubation. She evidently prefers 
heat, and for this purpose chooses very warm localities. This 
bird is often contented with only one egg, which it is supposed 
to have the instinct to remove to another place, if looked at fre- 
quently by man. The business of hatching is apparently left 
entirely to the female, as she alone is seen near the eggs. The 
Nightjar's eggs are found in the months of February, March, and 
April. Some of them are perfectly oval, others are thicker at one 
end than the other. I know of no bird's eggs whose colours fade 
so very much if kept after being blown. When first taken, the 
prevailing hue is a beautiful salmon colour witli large blotches of a 
darker shade ; but in a short time they loose their freshness." 

Mr. E. Thompson says : " This Nightjar is found over all the 
well-wooded Grhats of the Central Provinces. I found the eggs in 
April, two in each case, laid on the bare ground under a bush : 
the hen when flushed usually flew straight up into a tree. The eggs 
were fleshy white, blotched with purplish-pink spots. Although 
a good deal smaller, they were of the same shape as those of 
C. albinotatus" 

I am indebted to Mr. F. Bourdillon for an egg of this species, 
taken on the Assam boo Hills, which at the extreme south of India 
divide Travancore and Tinnevelly. He says : " We obtained two 
eggs, measuring respectively 1'12 and 1*17 by 0*87, on the 
18th Feb., 1872. They rested in a slight nest of dry fern-leaves, 
which was placed on the ground under a rock. The bird is a 
very common one and goes by the name of the ' Ice-bird.' It 
appears about sunset and on bright moonlight nights, and may be 
heard at all hours until dawn. I have even heard it between 9 and 
10 A.M., though what should keep it awake so late I do not know." 

Mr. Rhodes W. Morgan, writing from S. India, says : " Like 
the preceding species, this breeds in March. The eggs are lighter 
in colour, being of a pinkish buff, blotched with pale violet-brown. 
On one occasion I found the eggs laid on a heap of ashes. The 
dimensions of one in my collection are 1*11 inch in length by 0*82 
in diameter across." 

The breeding-season of this species in Ceylon appears to be in 
March and April. 

Some of the eggs of this species which have been sent me from 
the Nilghiris by Miss Cockburn, Mr. Carter, and Mr. Davison, and 
likewise from Eaepore by Mr. F. E. Blewitt, agree precisely with 


the eggs of C. indicus already described, but one has a much 
brighter salmon-pink ground, and has both the primary purplish- 
brown and the secondary paler purple markings much better 
denned and brighter ; and, again, three or four of the eggs have 
more of a creamy tinge on the ground-colour, and have both 
the brown and the pale purple markings very faint and cloudy. 
As regards size, shape, and gloss, these eggs are much the same 
all through. I do not myself believe that C. kelaarti, as obtained 
in Southern India at any rate, and C. w<licus, are really specifi- 
cally distinct : and hence I am not surprised to find that the eggs 
attributed to both races arc practically identical. 

The eggs, of which I have a large series, vary from 1-08 to 1-23 
inch in length, and from 0-8 to 0*9 inch in breadth ; but the 
average is 1*15 by 0-86 inch. 

Caprimulgus albinotatus, Tick. TJie Large Bengal Nightjar. 

Capriinulgus albonotatus, Tick., Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 194 ; Hume, 
fioiiffh Draft N. # E. no. 109. 

The Large Bengal Xightjar breeds from March to May pretty 
well all over the better-wooded portions of Continental India, but 
most plentifully in the low warm valleys of the Sub-Himalayan 

Like the rest of the family it makes no nest, and lays two eggs 
upon the bare ground, as a rule in some sheltered situation. 

Mr. K. Thompson writes : " The birds begin pairing as early as 
March, when they are very noisy and restless, flitting about from 
place to place, attracted by each new call of a rival bird of either 
sex, a call which may be either one of love or defiance. 

"The eggs, always two in number, and of a salmon-colour, 
blotched with pink and brown, are laid on the bare ground under 
shelter of a bush, stump, or stone. 

" The eggs are long, almost cylindrical, both ends being of the 
same size. About the end of May the young birds are hatched, 
covered with down, and are quite helpless and unable to shift their 
position until able to fly a power which is quickly given them, 
the rapidity of their growth being commensurate with their 
utterly helpless and exposed condition whilst nestling on the bare 

" This and C. asiaticus are common to all the lower warm valleys 
of the Sub-Himalayas. I have found sometimes three and four 
nests within a small space of jungle (often the dry bed of a water- 
course), the shelter of a high bank, or in a coppice of young trees. 
Though quarrelsome and restless when pairing, after that they 
appear to sober down and many live together in near proximity. 
They show a peculiar fondness for certain localities, where large 
numbers will be found, whilst in other places, quite as favourable 
as it would appear to us, not a bird will be met with." 

Colonel Tickell, who seems to have possessed the remarkable 
faculty not shared by ordinary mortals of discriminating the sexes 


of eggs, said long ago of this species : " Makes no nest ; eggs laid 
on the bare ground in bush-jungle ; in general two ; shape blunt, 
and both ends nearly equal; male egg 1-^ by-j-| inch, pale fleshy 
clay-colour, sprinkled with patches of darker brownish red ; female 
egg l T 3 g- by J inch, paler and redder." 

" Of this species," remarks Captain Hutton, " which is a summer 
visitant at Mussoorie, I took two eggs, at an elevation of 5000 
feet, on the 19th April, from the bare ground, beneath bushes on 
the side of a hill, the colour being a rich cream-white, with darker 
blotches of reddish brown or clay colour ; of one the diameter was 
1| by J inch, the other was somewhat smaller;'' and Captain 
Beavan tells us that "in Maunhhoom, where it is more frequently 
heard at night than seen, I have procured the eggs at the end of 
March or the beginning of April ; they are as described by Captain 

The eggs of this species are, as a rule, much paler than those of 
any other Indian species with which I am acquainted. 

Some specimens that I possess of this bird's eggs I owe to 
Captain Hutton, who vouches for their authenticity. They are 
long, slightly cylindrical ovals, apparently somewhat smaller than 
those of 0. europcrus. The ground-colour is a pale creamy or 
yellowish-stone colour, and they are streaked or blotched with very 
pale yellowish and purplish brown. Many of Captain Button's 
eggs have, he informs me, faded since they were collected, so that 
the above description may scarcely represent the colour of the 
fresh egg. Other specimens received from Captain Hutton and 
elsewhere, said to belong to this species, resemble in shape and size 
those already described, but the ground-colour is almost a china- 
white, and the markings, which resemble those of the eggs first 
described in character and shape, are mostly a pale lilac, inter- 
mingled with some brown, and altogether, though paler eggs, 
remind one very much of the European Goatsucker's egg. 

These eggs, if, as I have no reason to doubt, they really belong 
to C. allinotatus, differ in toto from all the other Indian Goat- 
suckers' eggs that I have seen in their almost purely white ground, 
with only the faintest possible lilac tinge ; they also average con- 
siderably larger than those of the foregoing species. 

But the eggs are not always of this pale type. I have seen a 
pair taken by Captain Cock at Dhurumsala which are a beautiful 
delicate salmon-pink, marbled cloudily over with pale purplish 
brown, part of the markings appearing as if below the surface of 
the eggs. 

Colonel G. F. L. Marshall tells me that he " found a nest of C. 
albinotahis at Bheem Tal, at an elevation of about 4000 feet above 
the sea. There were a good many of the birds about, keeping in 
some small tree-jungle on the north side of a small hill. I only 
found one egg (shooting the parent bird from off it, after watching 
for about half an hour), and it was laid on the bare ground in a 
little cleared spot among dead leaves at the root of a shrub and at 
the foot of a low bank, which, between them, completely shaded it. 


The egg was a pale salmon-colour, clouded with a darker shade of 
the same hue ; it was of the same cloudy type as eggs of C r . asiaticn-, 
and not boldly streaked like those of 0. unwini, Hume, or C. 

In length these eggs vary from T08 to 1-3 inch, and in breadth 
from 0'85 to O95 inch ; but the average of a large series is 1*2 by 
0-89 inch. 

Caprimulgus jotaka, Temm. & 8chleg. The Japanese Nvjhtjar. 
Caprimuljriis jotaka, T. $ 6'., Hume, Cat. no. 107 bis. 

Colonel Godwin-Austen gives the following account of the 
nesting-place and eggs of the Japanese Xightjar in the Xaga 
Hills:"! shot this bird near the Umshirpi falls on the 29th 
May. It got up off the path and immediately settled again about 
10 yards off on the open path ; on again putting it up, it did the 
same. Captain Badgley, who was walking behind me, called out 
that he had found the eggs. I then put the bird up a third time, 
and brought her down. The eggs were laid close in under the 
rock on side of the path, lying 011 the bare ground, with no signs of 
anything in the way of preparation for them or the young. The 
two eggs are of a dull white, blotched with three shades of umber 
and one shade of ashy brown : in the one they arc distributed 
pretty evenly throughout, and this is symmetrical in form, the 
minor axis being in the centre of the length ; in the other the 
markings are mostly confined to the larger end and the shape is 
rounder. They measure 1-22 by 0-88 and M9 by 0-91." 

Caprimulgus macrurus, Horsf. The Malay Xiyhtjar. 

Capriiuulgus macrourus, Horsf., Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 195; Hume, 
Cat. no. 110. 

Major C. T. Biugham, writing of the nidification of this Xight- 
jar in Tenasserim, says : 

" This is the commonest Xightjar, and, as Mr. Davison remarks 
(S. P. vol. vi. p. 58), its incessant call of tok-tok-tok is very 
annoying at night. 

<; It is common in the Thoungyeen valley even in dense ever- 
green forest. On the loth March, 1S79, while tramping back to 
my camp pitched on the bank of the Queebawchoung, a tributary 
of the Meplay, I arrived about dusk at a dense bamboo-forest just 
above my tent. There being lots of fallen bamboos, I had to 
carefully pick my steps in threading my way through, and so 
doing all but trod on a female of the above species ; she flew up, 
and I saw lying on the dry bamboo-leaves a couple of blunt oval 
eggs, pinkish stone-colour, with washed-out purple blotches, clouds, 
and spots of various shades. 

" Both these I found slightly set, and a third one half formed in 


the oviduct of the female which I shot. I mention this circum- 
stance, as I have never found more than two eggs in any Nightjars 

" Subsequently, on the 15th March, 1880, I found a second nest 
with two eggs precisely similar, which measured 1*16 by 0*85 and 
1-23 by 0-87. 

" The first two eggs measured 1-2 by 0-9 and 1-15 by 0-89. 

" On the 19th April, near the foot of the Dawna Mountains, 
Thoungyeen side, I found two fresh eggs of this species, flushing 
the bird and shooting it. There was no nest, and the eggs were 
laid on the bare ground at the foot of a bamboo-bush. They are 
stony pink, dimly clouded with obscure purple blotches, and 
measure respectively 1-18 by 0-89 and 1-19 by 0-89." 

The eggs are of the usual Nightjar shape, very regular, some- 
what cylindrical ovals, with both ends precisely, or almost precisely, 
alike. The shell is very fine and smooth, excessively close-grained, 
but very thin for the size of the egg. In some specimens it has a 
fine gloss, in others it is much less conspicuous. The ground- 
colour is a delicate creamy pink, and it is everywhere rather thinly 
spotted, streaked, clouded, and marbled with very pale, somewhat 
brownish purple, and very pale subsurface-looking inky grey. 
Sometimes the brown has no tinge of purple in it ; in some eggs 
the markings are pretty equably distributed ; in others they are 
most abundant in a zone near one end all round the middle. 

The eggs, of which I have now ten, measure from 1*15 to 1*29 
in length, by 079 to 0-91 in breadth. 

Caprimulgus andainanicus, Hume. The Andaman NiyJitjar. 
Caprunulgus andainauicus, Hume ; Hume, Cat. no. 110 bis. 

I myself only once met with the Andaman Nightjar, of which 
we shot a single specimen, a male, on Jolly Boys, an island in 
Macpherson's Straits, at the south of the South Andaman. 

Mr. Davison remarks : " I myself never saw this species in the 
vicinity of Port Blair, though I frequently heard its note of tok, 
tok, tok, during the night ; but on a small island near Stewart 
Sound, between North and Middle Andaman, I saw a pair of them ; 
they rose off the ground, flew low for a few yards, and then 
squatted, always placing a bush or stone between them and me. 
1 followed them about for some time, but although I got a couple 
of snap shots 1 failed to secure a specimen. At Port Mouat, on 
the 12th April, one of my men shot a female as she flew off her 
nest ; the eggs, two in number, were laid at the base of a stone in 
a slight natural depression among the dead leaves, some distance 
in the jungle. I did not see or even hear the note of any Capri- 
midyus on any of the islands of the Nicobar group." 

The eggs are the most beautiful Nightjars' eggs I have ever seen, 
and differ from those of any other Indian species with which I am 
acquainted. In shape they are very regular ovals ; one of them 
only slightly cylindrical. 


The ground-colour is a delicate pale salmon-pink, and they are 
mottled aud streaked, and ornamented with zigzag and hiero- 
glyphic -like lines of a darker and somewhat purplish pink. They 
measure 1'07 and 1*13 in length, and 0*85 in width. 

Caprimulgus atripennis, Jerd. The Ghat 

Caprimulgus atripeiinis, Jerd. ; Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 190. 
I'aprimulgus spilocircus, Gray, Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. 
110. 111. 

Two eggs sent me with an undoubted skin of the Ghat Xightjar, 
from the Xilghiris, by Miss Cockburn are more elongated ovals 
than those of any of the other species. They have the usual 
gloss, have a pale somewhat creamy-pink ground, and are very 
faintly streaked and mottled over almost their entire surface with 
the palest possible reddish -brown and purple. They are decidedly 
smaller than those of the preceding species, and I thiuk quite as 
small, and on the whole more elongated than those of C. asiaticus. 

They were taken on the 10th May near Kotagherry, and measure 
1*13 by 0*72 inch, and 1-01 by 0'74 inch respectively. 

" In the west of Ceylon," says Colonel Legge, " the Jungle 
Nightjar breeds during the latter part of the dry season and the 
commencement of the monsoon rains in April and May. It lays 
two eggs in a slight depression in sandy ground, beneath the 
shelter of a shrub ; they are of a buff ground-colour, and very 
sparsely spotted with very dark sepia-brown, rather roundish 
blots." " 

Mr. H. Parker remarks : " A solitary egg in my collection 
measures 1-12 inch by 0-81." 

Caprimulgus unwini, Hume. Umvin's Xiyhtjiu: 

Caprimulgus unwini, Hume ; Hume, Hough Draft JV. ^* E. uo. Ill 

I described this species, Unwin's Xightjar, in the 'Ibis' for 1871, 
p. 406. I had then only two specimens ; several have since been 
procured in the far north-west. Colonel Marshall, writing from 
Murree. says : " We found three nests of this bird on the bare 


Lieut. H. E. Barnes, writing from Afghanistan, says : '* Not 
uncommon, and breeds in May, as I obtained a young bird barelv 
able to ny about the end of that month." 

The eggs of this species are as usual elongated ovals, almost 
always a good deal compressed towards the small end. The shells 
are very fine and compact, and seem always to have a fine gloss. 
The ground-colour appears to be typically white, and in the most 
characteristic form of markings the egg is pretty thickly mottled 


all over with grey, and then above that more sparsely mottled 
with a pale sepia-brown, slightly yellowish in some specimens ; 
but in some eggs the mottlings are so tine and indistinct that unless 
very closely looked into the egg appears to be of a uniform greyish- 
cream colour, and indeed the extent, size, and comparative feeble- 
ness of the markings vary very greatly in different specimens, 
but the character of the egg never varies, always a very glossy, 
more or less pale stone-grey egg, with in about half the eggs more 
or less conspicuous pale sepia marbliugs. 

Caprimnlgus asiaticus, Lath. The Common Indi 


Capri mulg'us asiaticus, Lath., Jcrd. L\ Intl. i, p. 197 j Hume, Rough 
Draft y. $ E. no. U 

The Common Indian Nightjar, as Jerdoii calls it (though I 
should say that it was less common than either C. indkas or C. 
montu-olus), breeds pretty well throughout the plains of Continental 
India, ascending in the spring and summer the lower ranges of the 
Himalayas to the height of 5000 or 6000 feet. April and May 
are the chief breeding months, but I have taken the eggs in July, 
and so has Mr. E. R. Blewitt, both at Saugor and Raepore. 

Mr. E. Thompson writes : " Breed in May. They are less 
choice in their selection of ground for laying their eggs on. I 
have found their eggs, two in number, in a quite unsheltered spot 
in the middle of a dry pebbly nullah. At another time on a large 
open spot under a large tree, and sometimes at the base of a dead 

" The eggs are long, cylindrical, and equal at both ends. The 
colour a deep salmon, with bright pink blotches intermixed slightly 
with earthy brown. The eggs are about one-third smaller in size 
than those of C. albinotatus." 

Writing from Dhururnsala, Major Cock says : " Pound a nest 
on the ground with two eggs ; had watched the bird near the 
place for some days before, and one day saw it fly up near a bank 
in a thick dark piece of jungle. Searched about, and in a de- 
pression of the ground among some dead oak-leaves found the eggs ? 
they were both the same shape, but varied very much in size. 
The bird does not remain with us during the winter, but comes 
up about April and departs about August; may often be seen in 
the evening perched on a dead bough on the top of an oak ; in the 
daytime always found on the ground." 

And he added : " Breeds at Sitapur in March, April, May, 
aud June, among low scrub-jangle, laying its two eggs close to the 
edge of some small bush or other jungle ; no nest, not even a 
depression in the ground, is the rule in the plains. The bird 
sits very close and is hard to see ; unless you put her up by 
walking over her you will not find the eggs ; the eggs themselves, 
from their colour, would attract the eye at once were they not 
covered by the bird." 


Colonel Butler tells us : " Two fresh Nightjar's eggs were 
brought to me on the 29th July this year (1876). They were laid 
of course on the bare ground and in the neighbourhood of Deesa. 
The colour was pale pinkish cream or salmon, marked with reddish- 
brown irregular streaks and spots, underlaid with numerous faint 
blotches of dark and light inky purple or lilac. I fancy they 
belong to this species, as we only have two other Nightjars in this 
neighbourhood, C. mahrattensis and C. tnonticolus. The eggs, I 
think, are too large for the former, and the latter I do not think 
breeds here, as they are absent all the hot weather, and do not 
arrive until about the third week in July." 

He subsequently added: "Eggs obtained by me of this species 
subsequently leave no doubt whatever of the identity of those I 
got at Deesa. Mr. J. Davidson sent me two fresh eggs taken at 
Dhulia, Khandesh, 8th September, 1880." 

Mr. J. Davidson, writing on the birds of Western Khandesh, 
says : " It breeds abundantly all round Dhulia in July, August, 
and the beginning of September." 

Mr. C. J. W. Taylor informs us that he took the eggs of this 
species at Manzeerabad in Mysore on the llth April. 

" The breeding-season on the western side of the island," says 
Colonel Legge in his ' Birds of Ceylon,' " is during the first three 
or four months of the year." 

The eggs are long, somewhat cylindrical ovals, slightly pointed 
towards one end, with a ground-colour varying from a pinkish 
stone-colour to a deep salmon-pink, blotched, clouded, spotted, and 
streaked with different shades of pale reddish and purplish brown, 
with faint underlying inky-purple clouds and spots. The eggs 
vary somewhat in size, but the largest are scarcely half the dimen- 
sions of those of the European Nightjar, and they average much 
smaller than any of our Indian Goatsuckers except C. atripennis. 
The eggs have been obtained by several of my contributors in 
different parts of India, and little doubt can be entertained either 
as to their authenticity or as to the normal type of coloration in 
this species being that above described. The eggs have a faint 
gloss. The eggs of this species are perhaps, as a rule, more 
brightly salmon-coloured than those of any other of our Indian 
species with which I am acquainted. 

In length they vary from 0-98 to !! inch, and in breadth from 
0-73 to 0-83 inch ; but the average is about 1-04 by 0*77 inch. 

Caprimulgus mahrattensis, JSykep. Sykes's Nightjar. 

Caprimulgus mahrattensis, &ykes, Jerd. . Ind. i, p. 197 ; Hume, 
Cat. no. 113. 

Colonel Butler writes regarding this species: " Mr. Doig found 
two nests in the E. Narra, Sind, on the 2nd May, 1878, containing 
fresh eggs. On revisiting the place on the 22nd July, our men 
found three or four more nests containing fresh eggs. The nest 

VOL. III. 4 


simply consists of a slight depression in the ground, usually in low 
thick tamarisk-jungle on Tculher (salt) ground. The eggs, two in 
number, remind one more of the eggs of Pterodes eccustus than any 
other eggs I know, but the markings are of a more marbled 
character. The ground-colour is greyish white, blotched, or per- 
haps marbled would be a better word, with primary markings of 
greyish or greenish olive, and secondary markings of pale inky 
grey. Some eggs are much more distinctly marked than others, 
but they all fade to a certain extent after they are blown. 

" Mr. Doig had fresh eggs brought to him also on the 22nd and 
28th June." 

Mr. Scrope Doig writes from the Eastern Narra in Sind : 
" This Nightjar is the only permanent resident of the genus in 
these districts ; G. unwini appears in September, as a migrant, 
but stays for a very short period. The eggs of C. mahmttensis are 
always two in number, of a light pale stone ground-colour, with 
large blotches of neutral tint ; these latter fade considerably after 
the egg is blown. The nest, which is merely a slight hollow 
scraped in the ground, is nearly always situated on a bare piece of 
kullier ground, sometimes under a small bunch of grass, at others 
under a dry bramble, or at times right out in the open without 
any attempt at concealment. The size of the eggs varies from 1-1 
to 1'2 in length, and from O75 to 0'85 in breadth, the average of 
twelve eggs being 1-13 in length and 0'8 in width." 

He adds : " On the 20th November, 1878, one of my men 
said he found a nest containing two eggs of this Nightjar, but that 
unfortunately, while crossing a bit of salt ground, he fell and 
broke them. The same man has before got me eggs of this bird, 
so that I conclude he really got them. It seems an unusual lime 
for them to be breeding." 

The eggs of this species are moderately elongated ovals, less 
cylindrical than those of many of its congeners, and more or less 
pointed towards the small end. The shell is extremely fine and 
smooth, and has a decided gloss ; the ground-colour is greyish 
white, marbled and blotched with very pale grey or greyish lilac, 
and over this more or less spotted and blotched with pale sepia- 
brown, in some cases extremely pale and with the least possible 
olivaceous tinge. 

The extent and intensity of these primary brown markings vary 
very much in every specimen ; they are pale in all, but in some 
they are barely traceable. In some eggs the grey markings occupy 
the greater portion of the surface of the egg, in others the ground- 
colour has the faintest ivory tinge. 

Numerous eggs measure from 1*08 to 1*21 in length by 0*70 to 
0*85 in breadth. 


Caprimulgns monticolus, Franklin. Franklin's Nightjar. 

Caprimulgus monticolu?, FrankL. Jertl. B. Lid. i, p. 198 : Hume. 
Rough Draft N. $ E. no. 114. 

Franklin's Nightjar breeds from April to August, according to 
locality, throughout the lower ranges of the Himalayas, the Sub- 
Himalayan forest and jungle-tracts, and forest and hilly regions 
of the Central Provinces and otber parts of India. 

It lays normally two eggs (at times a single one, hard-set, may 
be met with) on the bare ground, as a rule, in some shaded spot, 
-where it can be concealed. 

The eggs are of the usual type of our Indian Nightjars, long 
cylindrical ovals, varying a good deal in size, but little iii shape. 
They have a fine gloss, more so I think than our Indian Nightjars. 
The ground-colour is, I think, as a rule, a delicate cream -colour, 
slightly tinged with pink, spotted and thinly blotched with very 
pale purple and pale brown. I have never taken these eggs 
myself, and cannot, therefore, in every case be as certain as I 
should wish of their authenticity. 

An egg, however, received from Mr. Blewitt from Eaepore, 
differs toto ccelo from those above described, at least so far as 
colouring is concerned. It has a rich salmon-pink ground, richer 
and deeper than that of any other Goatsucker's egg that I possess, 
and is pretty thickly clouded and streaked with only slightly 
brownish red. 

Dr. Jerdon says : " I have found the eggs of this species ; they 
are like those of C. asiaticus, but larger and with less of the 
salmon hue, more of a stone colour, and with very pale clay- 
brown blotches." 

Lieut. H. E. Barnes, writing from Rajpootana, says : " I found 
two eggs of Franklin's Nightjar on the 15th June. They were 
deposited on the bare ground, under the scant shelter afforded by 
a small tuft of grass." 

Mr. Davison says: "Close to Teaboo (where are situated 
several hot mineral springs, from which the place derives its name, 
which signifies in Burmese 'hot-water') there is some forest 
similar to that which lines the road leading from Moulmein to 
Amherst. This forest is very scanty, being composed of moderate- 
sized deciduous trees, interspersed with thorny bamboos and 
brambly shrubs, but with little or no undergrowth ; and in March, 
both at Yeaboo and along the Amherst road, this forest presented 
anything but a bright picture, most of the trees had lost their 
leaves, and these with large quantities of bamboo-leaves and dry 
and dead twigs lay scattered about ; in places a surface fire had 
passed, leaving the ground black and burnt. 

" It was in such a piece of forest that, on the 10th of March, I 
obtained a specimen of Caprimulgus monticolus, a female, which I 
shot off her eggs. 



" There was no nest, the eggs being laid in a slight depression 
in the ground, at the root of a tree." 

The eggs found by Mr. Davison are somewhat elongated but 
very perfect ovals, very obtuse at both ends. The shell is fine, and 
they have a fair amount of gloss. The ground-colour is a rich 
salmon-pink, and they are blotched, streaked, and mottled with 
dull red, which has a slight brownish tinge. Besides these primary 
markings, numerous clouds and marblings of pale inky purple or 
neutral tint are scattered about the egg ; but in each egg they are 
most numerous about one end, where also the primary markings 
are most dense. Of these two eggs taken at the same time out of 
the same nest, one is more than a tenth of an inch longer than the 
other, though in breadth they differ only in one fiftieth of an 

The few eggs I have vary from 1*1 to 1'22 inch in length, and 
from 0'8 to 0*89 inch in breadth, but I have not a sufficient series 
to make sure that these limits are not exceeded. 

Lyncornis cerviniceps, Gould. The Burmese Eared Nightjar. 
Lyncornis cerviniceps, Gould, Hiime, Cat. no. ] 14 bis. 

Mr. W. Davison, writing from Tenasserim, says : " On the 
morning of the 10th January, 1875, w 7 hile passing through some 
thin tree-jungle, almost free from brushwood, close to the village 
of Malawoon, I flushed a Lyncornis from the foot of a large 
tree. The bird sat very close, not moving till I was within 
a couple of yards of her. On looking down at the spot from 
which she rose, I found one egg lying on the bare ground, without 
any attempt at a nest, or even depression to prevent the egg from 
rolling away, which it easily might have done, as the spot where 
it was laid was slightly raised above the surrounding level. A few 
of the bird's richly-marked feathers lay about the spot on which 
the egg lay, and a few inches all round was perfectly dry, while 
all the surrounding ground was quite wet with the dew of the 
preceding night, so that the bird must have sat on the egg the 
whole or greater portion of the night. 

" The egg was quite fresh, so the bird probably lays more than 

The egg of this species is, as might be expected, quite of the 
Nightjar type. In shape it is a long, somewhat cylindrical oval : 
the shell is fine and has a fair gloss, but when looked into closely 
exhibits a vast number of minute pores. The ground-colour is a 
pale delicate pinky cream-colour, and it is pretty thickly marked 
with large irregular blotches and splashes of very pale lilac-grey, 
looking much as if they lay beneath the surface of the egg. 

This egg measures 1-65 by 1*18. 


Family CORACIID^l. 

Coracias indica (Linn.). The Indian Roller. 

Coracias indica (Linn.}, Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 214 ; Hume, Hough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 123. 

Both Layard's and Tickell's accounts of the nidification of the 
Indian Boiler are nonsense ; one says the eggs are full deep Ant- 
werp blue; the other that they are greenish, profusely speckled 
with dark brown spots : of course they are really pure, glossy 
white. They could not in the first place be anything else, and I 
have taken scores myself, and so have Messrs. Brooks, Blewitt, 
Hutton, Thompson, Adam, Cock, and a dozen others, and no one 
ever yet saw this species lay anything but a white egg. They lay 
from the end of March right into July, but in Upper India the 
great majority of the birds lay in April and June. 

They build in holes in trees, in old walls, in roofs, or under the 
eaves of bungalows ; they sometimes make a good deal of a nest, 
of feathers, grass, &c., especially where the site they choose is not 
well closed in, but where they build in a small-mouthed hole there 
is usually a very scanty lining. I have found a nest in a large niche 
in an old wall, in which the birds had contracted the entrance with 
masses of tow, vegetable fibre, and old rags, but this is quite ex- 
ceptional ; and again I have taken the eggs from a hole in a siris- 
tree, in which there was not the smallest lining beyond a few frag- 
ments of decayed wood. I have never found more than five eggs 
in any nest, and four I take to be the normal number. 

Mr. E. E. Blewitt says : " I do not know exactly how long 
they continue breeding, but I have found the eggs in May, June, 
and a part of July. The nest is built in holes of trees and old 
walls of buildings ; occasionally the Roller even breeds in the roofs 
of houses (as witnessed by me at Sultanpore). I have personally 
searched but two nests ; the one, in the hole of a tree, had a very 
peculiar grain-like substance of a deep chocolate-colour, on which 
the eggs were deposited. The other, in a hole in an old wall, had 
some coarse and fine grass with feathers of sorts for the eggs to 
rest on. 

" The regular number of eggs is four. In colour they are white, 
without any trace of spots, and their average length is 1-3 inch, 
breadth 1*1 inch. In shape they are oval." 

Mr. E. M. Adam remarks that in the neighbourhood of the 
Sambhur Lake this species is " very common. I have taken its eggs 
during March, April, and May. On the 24th April I saw a pair 
making love near the Sambhur Fort, and on the 1st May I obtained 
the eggs of the same birds from a cavity in a neem-tree ; one of 


the eggs was a little set. Breeds in Oudh during April. On the 
19th April I had five eggs brought from one nest." 

Major Bingham says : " At Allahabad the Boiler breeds in April, 
May, and July ; and at Delhi in May, June, and July. I have only 
twice had the luck to find eggs. Once in a hole in a wall, scantily 
lined with a few grass-roots and a feather or two, I took three fresh 
eggs on the 10th April. Secondly, from a hole that had evidently 
been once occupied by a Bank Mynah I took four hard-set eggs lying 
on the bare ground without a semblance of lining, on the llth July/' 

At Lucknow Mr. Gr. Beid informs us this Boiler is a permanent 
re ^ident. " Apair of them made a nest in a hole in a neem-tree about 
15 yards from the verandah of the house I live in, from which I 
obtained four white eggs on the 20th April." 

Mr. Benjamin Aitken writes : " You and your correspondents 
seem to have been very successful in getting the eggs of this bird, 
but I have little more than a series of disappointments to record 
in all my efforts to the same end. It beats the Lapwing hollow in 
concealing the whereabouts of its nest, and is far more aggravating 
from the assumed innocence of its intentions. I only once saw a 
Boiler in Bombay, and it is not particularly common in Poona or 
in Madras ; I did not see it on the occasions of my two visits 
to the hill-stations of Poorundhur and Sirgurb, and I do not 
think it is found at the stations on the top of the Bhore 
Ghat ; it is, however, common enough at Enteshwur, a small 
hill-station four miles from Sattara, though I do not remember 
noticing the bird in Sattara itself. But in Berar the Boiler 
is legion, and I am sure I could have found a mare's nest with 
half the time and trouble I spent in searching for a nest of this 
bird. There was one Roller which used to fly over our bungalow 
many times a day, with a great lump of food for its young. I felt 
certain at first of marking down this, but it was a vain confidence. 
I had only to show a corner of an ear oat at a window or from under 
the verandah, and the bird would quietly turn to one side and take 
its perch on a tree, where it would have sat till nightfall, holding 
the insect in its mouth, if I had not withdrawn. But I did succeed 
at last. There was a tope of some seventy mango-trees standing 
in the middle of the plain about two miles out from the station, and 
in this tope, in May 1870, there could be no doubt a pair of Boilers 
had a nest. But the birds gave no intimation of such a thing. 
Every time I visited the tope, a moment or two after I got under 
the shade, I was met with the usual muffled cry with which these 
birds encourage themselves in patience, and, looking up, I could 
see Mrs. Boiler sitting calmly on a bough as if she had never left her 
perch since the Flood. In vain I removed to the furthest point 
from which I could see her, and lay down as unconcerned as possible. 
The usual call every quarter of an hour was the only sign of life 
the Boiler showed. Though I call her Mrs. Boiler, I was of 
opinion at the time that the bird was the male ; the female, I made 
sure, was safely ensconced in some hole, too wise to show herself 
by coming out. One morning, creeping into the tope even more 


stealthily than usual, I heard the distinct flap of a wing just over 
my head, and the next moment there was the usual muffled call, 
and the bird was sitting on its perch. The next morning I re- 
turned in more hopeful spirits and entered the tope with my eye 
fixed on the tree under which I was standing, when the bird flapped 
its wing : in a moment out from a hole flew Mrs. Roller straight to 
the usual perch, and gave her call. The hole contained three eggs, 
and was, 1 should say, the same hole in which the year before a 
pair of Athene brama had their nest." 

Eef erring to Rajpootana in general, Lieut. H. E. Barnes writes : 
" The Indian Roller or Blue Jay breeds during April and May in 
holes in trees, old walls, or under the eaves of houses. A little 
grass and a few feathers suffice for a nest." 

Messrs. Davidson and Wenden, writing of the Deccan, say: 
" Common, but does not breed." And the former gentleman informs 
us that this Roller breeds in the Satpuras, Akrani, Pimpalnir, and 
Xan durbar jungles in March and April." 

Mr. Gr. Yidal, writing from the South Konkan, says : " Tolerably 
common inland in well-wooded country, but very much less so 
near the coast. Breeds in March." 

Mr. Rhodes "VV. Morgan, writing from South India, says : 
" The Indian Roller breeds in March in holes of trees. The tam- 
arind and banyan are generally chosen for this purpose. The eggs 
are usually two in number and of a pure and glossy white. There 
is no nest." 

Mr. C. J. "W. Taylor writes from Mysore : " After the burning 
of a jungle I noticed a single bird flying round and round a par- 
tially burnt tree. On approaching I noticed that the tree had a 
number of holes in it, so 1 got up, and at the top of an arm that 
had broken off short I found the dead body of a female resting on 
two eggs. She must have either been too frightened at the im- 
mense volumes of fire and smoke that rolled round her to escape, 
or, perhaps, ' faithful to the last,' had voluntarily perished on her 

Colonel Legge says : "In Ceylon the Roller breeds from Jan- 
uary until June, chiefly rearing its young about March." 

Mr. J. R. Cripps remarks of this Roller at Furreedpore in Eastern 
Bengal : " Common, and a permanent resident. On the 3rd March 
1878, I found four fresh pure white eggs of this species. Just at 
the corner of a ryot's house stood an old date-tree about 20 feet 
high, whose top had fallen off and the heart of the tree had rotted 
away for about a foot in depth ; in the hole thus made the birds 
had laid their eggs without forming any lining. I have frequently 
noticed this bird at the hottest time of the day descend to the 
ground and sit with outstretched wings in the sun, and remain so 
for some time." 

The eggs are a very broad oval, in some instances almost spherical 
and, like those of the Bee-eaters, they are of the purest china-white 
and highly glossy. In appearance the eggs are precisely similar 


to those of O. garrula ; but BO egg in my collection is either quite 
as large or quite as spherical as the figure of the egg of C. garrula 
given by Hewitson. 

The/ vary in length from 1'25 to 1-35 inch, and iu breadth from 
0-97 to 1-12 inch ; but I find the average of a large series of measure- 
ments to be 1*3 by 1*06 inch. 

Coracias affinis, McClell. The Burmese Roller. 

Coracias affinis, McClell. Jerd. B. 2nd. i. p. 217 ; Hume, Cat. no. 

Mr. J. Inglis writes that in Cachar this Boiler, which, however, 
is not quite typical, is u extremely common throughout the year. 
Breeds during March, April, and May in the holes of trees." 

Mr. Gates, writing from Pegu, says : " The eggs, four or five 
in number, are laid on the bare wood at the bottom of large 
natural hollows in decayed branches of large trees. The holes 
selected are generally not less than 20 feet from the ground. The 
shell is pure white and excessively glossy. My eggs were taken 
from the 26th March to the 2nd April, and were in all cases either 
fresh or only slightly incubated. In size they vary from 1*26 to 
1*45 in length, and from 1*07 to 1'13 in breadth. The average of 
12 eggs is 1-37 by 1-09." 

Writing from Tenasserim Major Bingham remarks : " In 
a deserted tounyah I found a nest of Coracias affinis on the 21st of 
March containing five eggs, very hard-set. They were laid in a 
hollow in a dead, dry, and almost rotten tree, on the bare wood. 
The hollow was about two feet deep, and the entrance-hole an 
irregular jagged aperture about 3 inches in diameter." 

Unless perhaps they seem a shade smaller, the eggs of this 
species are precisely similar to those of its Indian congener : 
broad regular ovals, at times a little cylindrical, pure white, 
spotless and with a fine gloss. Five eggs measure from l'2o to 
1*31 in length, and from 1*05 to 1*1 in breadth. 

Coracias garrula, Linn. The European Roller. 

Coracias garrula, Linn., Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 218 ; Hume, Rouijh Draft 
N. $ E. no. 125. 

The European Koller, so far as I yet know, breeds (within our 
limits) only in Cashmere and the Peshawur Valley. 

It lays from May to July, making, as a rule, a scanty nest in 
hollow trees, in sandy banks (specially of rivers and nullahs), and, 
though more rarely, occasionally in ruins. 

Six is, I believe, the largest number of eggs that it lays, but, 
according to my collectors, four or five is the common number. 

The late Captain Cock remarked : " One of the commonest 
nests in Cashmere : in holes in river-banks and in hollow trees you 
are sure to find a pair of these Hollers breeding ; they lay in May 
and June, either five or six eggs. I also found this bird breeding 


in cliffs near Nowshera ; though I did not take their eggs I could 
have done so, had I wanted them. They make no nest to speak 
of; a few dead leaves in the hole of the tree where they have laid 
their eggs being all the nest I have ever found. 

" Breeds in the Peshawur Valley. I saw it flying about cliffs 
during the months of April and May, and could have taken its 
eggs had I been so inclined, but I had such large series taken in 
Cashmere that I did not care for more. I notice the eggs are 
larger and more glossy than the eggs of C. indica" 

Colonel Biddulph informs us that this Eoller breeds in Grilgit at 
5000 feet. 

The eggs that I possess, and have seen, of this species were all 
from Cashmere, and were long, very blunt-ended ovals, a good deal 
compressed towards one end. They are larger and very much more 
elongated than those of Coracias indica. They are, as a rule, pure 
white and glossy, freshly laid ones having often a superb gloss ; 
but some of them, owing to differences in the texture of the shell, 
I fancy, appear to be slightly mottled with a greyer white. 

They vary in length from 1-48 to 1-56 inch, and in breadth from 
1'06 to 1*16 ; a dozen eggs average 1*52 by I'l inch. 

Eurystomus orientalis (Linn.). Tlie Broad-billed Roller. 

Eurytomus orientalis (Linn.), Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 219 ; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 126. 

Mr. R. Thompson, writing from the Terai below Kumaon, 
says : " In April the Broad-billed Boilers arrive, begin to breed 
in May, and finally leave the forests in July and August. They 
breed in holes in the higher branches (never less than 50 feet from 
the ground) of the loftiest sal trees. They extend from the 
Sardah to the Ganges, but particularly abound in theKotree Doon, 
where they breed in company with Eulabes intermedia in the dense 
and lofty sal forests, to which they are strictly confined." 

Mr. F. AV. Bourdillon writes from Travancore : " On March 
17th I was attracted by hearing the chattering of a pair of these 
Rollers. On going to the spot I found them engaged in ejecting 
from a hole in a vedu-pla stump ( Callenia excelsa}, about 40 feet 
from the ground, a pair of our Hill-Mynahs (E. religiosa}. One of 
the Rollers was in the mouth of the hole, and enlarging it by 
tearing away with its beak the soft rotten wood. The other 
Roller, seated on a tree close by, was doing most of the chattering, 
making an occasional swoop at the Mynahs whenever they 
ventured too close. I watched the birds for some time until the 
Mynahs went off, and there and then began building in a pinney 
tree (Calophyllum elatnm) within the distance of 100 yards. 
Ten days after I sent for some hillmen, who managed to ascend by 
tying up sticks \\itla. strips of cane, in the way that they erect 
ladders to obtain the wild honey from the tallest trees in the 
forest. It was past six o'clock in the evening before a man 
reached the hole in which the birds had bred. He found not the 

58 MEEOPID^;. 

slightest vestige of a nest, but a few chips of rotten wood, upon 
which were laid the three eggs. These I found to be slightly set. 
While the man was climbing the tree, the birds behaved in a very 
ridiculous and excited manner. Seated side by side on a bough, 
they alternately jerked head and tail, keeping up an incessant 
harsh chatter, and as the crisis approached, and the man drew 
nearer their property, they dashed repeatedly at his head. 

" After the eggs were taken the birds disappeared for about a 
fortnight, but returned, and I believe laid again in the same 
position. I did not molest them this time, wishing to get the 
young. Unfortunately I had to leave home, and on my return I 
found the birds, old and young, had disappeared." 

Mr. T. Fulton Bourdillon, also writing from Travaucore, 
says : " April 20th, 1872. A pair of these birds built in a hole in 
a dead tree, and we endeavoured to get their eggs or young on the 
above date. But the tree was so large and slippery that the coolie 
could not climb it. Soon after this the birds disappeared, so the 
young must have been nearly full-grown at this date. They come 
to us about the beginning of August and leave towards the end of 
April, after breeding. They are not very common, but, like the 
Great Hornbill, almost every estate has its pair, which generally 
are to be found at about 1000-2000 feet above sea level." 

Eggs of this species sent me from Mynall by Mr. Bourdillon 
closely resemble those of the Indian Holler, but are somewhat 
larger, though not quite so large as those of the European Eoller. 
They are very broad ovals, pure white and faintly glossy. 

The specimens I have vary in length from 1*34 to 1*42, and in 
breadth from 1-14 to 1-16. 

Family MEROPID^E. 

Nyctiornis athertoni (Jard. & Selby). The Blue-bearded 

Nyctiornis athertoni (7. < &), Jerd. J5. 2nd. i, p. 211 j Hume, Rouqh 
Draft N. 8? E. no. 122. 

Mr. R. Thompson informs me that the Blue-bearded Bee- 
eater breeds in holes in trees in April and May in the Sub- 
Himalayan forests of the Kumaon Terai. I have never obtained 
or seen the eggs. 

Major Bingham writes from Tenasserim : " On the 7th March, 
while going up to the Sinzaway Reserve, I had to encamp at a 
place called Minzee for an hour, to enable my men to cook their 
food, and wandering about, gun in hand, I happened to light on a 
Blue-ruffled Bee-eater, flying out of a hole in a tree, which my 
Burmese peons called Ma-u. Concluding rather hastily that the 
bird was certain to have eggs in the hole, I shot it, but on cutting 


open the hollow I found only a few chips and a feather or two. 
The bird had its tail in a very abraded state, and proved on 
dissection to be a male. Several others were shot on neighbouring 
trees, and as by the state of the organs of the one shot the birds 
were evidently breeding, it is probable I might have succeeded in 
finding more nests and getting their eggs had I been able to stop 
there a week or so." 

He subsequently sent me the following note : " I cannot 
positively vouch for the four eggs said to belong to this species 
which I have procured. The case stands thus : On the 23rd 
April a Karen, named Myat-jo, in my employ, brought me four 
roundish, white, very glossy eggs, and the dead body of a bird of 
this species, which on dissection proved to be a female, evidently 
breeding. His story was that he watched the bird go into a hole 
in the sandy bank of the Meplay stream, and dug it out, catching 
it alive seated on the four eggs he had brought me. As the place 
was not more than a mile or so from where I had pitched my 
camp, I went off at once with him to inspect the spot. Examina- 
tion of the ruined nest and further questioning of Myat-jo 
elicited the following : A tunnel had been dug by the birds into 
the soft bank to the depth of seven or eight feet, ending in a 
rounded chamber. The eggs reposed on the bare ground, there 
being no attempt at a nest. The bird pecked vigorously at 
Myat-jo's hand, when from time to time he put it in to ascertain how 
much further he had to dig. The eggs were very hard-set, and I 
had much difficulty in cleaning them out. They measure 1*13 bv 
1-05, 1-16 by 1-02, 1-12 by 1-04, and 1-17 by 1-02." 

On the whole I also am inclined to accept the eggs. There is 
no doubt that they are undistinguishable from the eggs of Halcyon 
sini/rnensis, but there are nevertheless several reasons for believing 
that they may really belong to N. atliertoni. In the first place, I 
have never known Halcyon smyrnensis bore anything like so deep 
a tunnel. In the second place, the female specimen of N. athertoni, 
said to have been caught on the eggs, proved to be a female that 
had been recently laying. It had been caught and not shot, and 
if he did not catch it in the hole, it is difficult to understand how 
the Karen could have got hold of it. In the third place, the eggs 
are precisely what the bird might have been expected to lay. 

At the same time it must be admitted that we have hitherto had 
reason to suppose that this bird bred in holes of trees, and Captain 
Bidgham himself shot a breeding bird issuing from such a hole, 
and very few species of birds lay both in holes of trees and in 
holes in sandy banks. 

The eggs of this species sent by Major Bingham are nearly 
round, pure white, a good deal soiled by incubation, and highly 
glossy. They appear to be undistinguishable from eggs of 
Halcyon smyrnensis. 


Merops viridis, Linn. The Green Bee-eater. 

Merops viridis, Linn., Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 205 ; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 117. 

The Green Bee-eater breeds pretty well all over India and 
Burma, though less commonly in damp low-lying localities, such 
as Orissa and Eastern Bengal. It lays from three to five eggs 
during the latter half of March, in April, May, and even the first 
week of June. It breeds par preference in sandy banks or cliffs, 
but I have found its nest in an old mud wall, and again once 
close to Ahmedabad in GKizerat in a perfectly level nearly barren 
plain. Mr. Adam, whose experience had then lain chiefly in the 
North-Western Provinces and Oudh, formerly remarked : " This 
species breeds about the end of March, April, and May ; they 
build in holes in the ground, generally preferring the perpendicular 
face of a nullah, cutting or embankment, although I have some- 
times found them making use of a knoll which kept the opening 
of the nest above the surface water which might collect on the 
surrounding ground. I have often watched them digging out the 
earth with their bills, when they commenced their nests, and 
scraping it away with their claws. I have always seen them 
commence a fresh excavation and never known them to make use 
of an old hole. The opening of the nest is circular, about 1| 
inch diameter and cleanly cut. The length of the passage varies 
from 1| foot to 5 feet, and it increases in width from the entrance 
to the egg-cavity, which is about 3| inches in width. From the 
entrance, to the nest, the passage usually declines at an angle of 
about 30. The excavation is carried on very quickly, and when a 
piece of stone or kunkur impedes the straight line a detour is 
made, and the excavation carried on until a sufficient depth is 
reached. The eggs are laid on the bare ground. Five is the 
greatest number found in one nest, but three or four are common 
numbers. In one or two instances the eggs taken from the same 
nest have presented very different degrees of incubation." 

Later, writing from Sambhur after some years' residence in 
Bajpootana, he tells us : " This bird commences to build here 
towards the end of March. Although, as a rule, it prefers to 
build in a bank, I have taken its nest on level ground. The nest 
is generally about 3 feet deep. I have seen them nearly 6 feet, 
and the egg-cavity is a long oval with the major axis about 5 or 6 
inches ; it is without any lining ; the angle of the decline from the 
opening to the nest is about 30. In some nests which I have dug 
out, a piece of kunkur or stone has caused the bird to diverge at 
right angles from the straight line, and then follow the same angle 
until a sufficient depth has been reached. I have found as many 
as seven eggs in one nest, although four or five is the normal 
number, and I have repeatedly found the young birds in the most 
various stages of plumage, i. e., one all but fledged, and the youngest 
covered with down. On several occasions I have found frogs 
occupying the egg-cavity of these nests." 


Major C. T. Binghain writes : " Breeds both at Allahabad and 
at Delhi in April and May, choosing sometimes extraordinary sites 
for its nest-holes. In 1873, when the musketry instruction of my 
regiment was being carried on during the hot weather, I observed 
several nest-holes of this bird in the front face of the butts of the 
N.I. range at Allahabad; and they (the birds) seemed utterly 
regardless of the bullets that every now and then came and buried 
themselves with a loud thud in the earth close beside them." 

Colonel Butler says : " 1 found a nest of this Bee-eater at 
Deesa on the 29th March, containing five eggs. An artificial 
mud-bank, about a foot high, had been made to mark the limits of 
the Badminton Court in the Artillery Mess compound, and it was 
in the bank that the eggs were deposited. The hole which the 
birds had excavated commenced near the bottom of the bank, and 
inclined gradually downwards for about four feet. In diameter 
for about the first 3| feet it was not more than two inches, but 
from that point it grew wider and wider, and ended in a small 
round chamber about six inches in diameter, and in the centre of 
this chamber the eggs were laid upon the bare ground and without 
any vestige of a nest. The cock bird invariably sat upon the 
Badminton net when people were not playing (and on a tree close 
by when the court was used), whilst the hen was sitting. I fancy 
this was one of the first nests of the season." 

Mr. Benjamin Aitken sends me the following remarks : " I 
have no notes of the ni din cation of this species, but I have been 
much struck with the way they totally disappear during the hot 
season, in common with the King-Crow and some Shrikes. In 
Poona, weeks after the last of them has been seen in cantonments, 
an occasional pair may be met with in some sheltered spot a few 
miles out. 

" But with regard to the island of Bombay I have no doubt 
whatever that the Common Bee-eater migrates as verily as the 
Common Swallow or the Grey Wagtail. I have been twelve years 
in Bombay, and never saw so much as a feather of them from April 
to September. Some day in the first week of June their pleasant 
call is heard in all directions, and awakens associations like the 
call of the Cuckoo. Now they are always to be seen in the 
cantonments of Poona as early as the second half of May. 

" In my notes I have the 6th October, 1865, and the 9th October, 
1866, recorded as the days of the first appearance of the Bee-eater 
in Bombay in those years. The date of their disappearance in 
1867 was the 14th March. 

" I never saw any Bee-eater but M. viridis in Bombay, but my 
brother, Mr. E. Aitken, once saw a solitary individual of one of 
the larger species. He was quite positive about it, so it must have 
been a stray visitor/' 

Mr. Davison remarks : " Dr. Jerdon, writing of this species 
(B. I. i, page 205) says that it does not ascend mountains, to any 
height at least ; but the bird is very common at Kulhutty on the 
Nilghiris, about 5500 feet above the sea; in fact I have taken the 


eggs from the roadside just above the dak bungalow at the above- 
mentioned place, and I have shot the bird in the Neddivuttura 
Chinchona Plantations, about 6000 feet above the sea. My 
experience is that it ascends the hills somewhat higher than 
M. quinticolor, and certainly breeds at a higher elevation than the 
last-named species. With us on the Nilghiris it breeds at the 
same time as M. quinticolor that is to say, in March and April 
and in the same situations ; often the nests of both species may be 
found side by side. I have noticed that this bird appears to lay 
its eggs with intervals of several days between each, for I have 
taken out of the nest a perfectly fresh egg, and one a good deal 
incubated, and I have found in another nest four young ones, the 
youngest apparently only a couple or three days old, and the 
oldest more than half-fledged. I have not found this the case 
with M. quinticolor. I, on one occasion, took six eggs from a nest 
of this species, but generally the number appears to be four or 
five. In digging out these nests, instead of finding eggs, the 
chamber often turns out to be occupied by mole-crickets, spiders 
or toads, and occasionally by snakes. In this species the tunnel 
varies from about 18 inches to 4 feet in depth, and the chamber is 
about 4 inches in diameter. The eggs are laid on the bare 
ground ; there is no attempt at any nest." 

Colonel Legge says in his ' Birds of Ceylon ' : " This Bee-eater 
breeds in the sand-hills at Hambantota and other similar localities 
in Ceylon. I found the young fledged on the south-east coast in 
June, but did not succeed in finding any nests. The nesting-time 
is in April and May." 

Mr. Gates writing from Pegu tells us that the breeding-season 
of this Bee-eater is April and May. 

And from Tenasserim Major Bingharn writes: "Except in 
heavy forest-land this little bird is as common in Tenasserim 
almost as in the North-west Provinces of India. It crosses the 
Dawna range into the Thoungyeen valley, and is found in suitable 
spots all along the river. It is a permanent resident and breeds 

The eggs little polished alabaster balls are alone sufficient to 
show how close are the affinities, despite external differences of 
form, between the Meropidce, Alcedinidcr, and Coraciidce. In size 
the eggs of the various species of these families differ no doubt, 
but in every other respect they seem to me identical. The eggs of 
M. viridis, like those of all its affines, are nearly spherical in shape, 
milky-white in hue and brilliantly glossy. They are small, I think, 
for the size of the bird, being considerably less than those of 
Alcedo ispida, which they closely resemble. Occasionally, a some- 
what oval or pyriform egg is met with, but, as a rule, they are the 
most truly spherical eggs I know of. 

They vary in length from 0-68 to 0-82 inch, and in breadth from 
0-64 to 0'73 inch ; but the average of a very large series is 0'78 by 
0'7 inch. 


Merops pMlippinns, Linn. TJie Blue- tailed Bee-eater. 

Merops philippensis, Linn., Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 207. 

Merops philippinus, Linn., Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. 110. 118. 

The Blue-tailed Bee-eater breeds from March to June, pretty 
well all over Continental India, in well cultivated and open 
country. Like all the rest of the family, it breeds in holes in 
banks, and lays usually four or five eggs. The holes are rarely less 
than 4 feet deep, and 1 have known them to extend to 7 feet. 
In diameter they vary from 2 to 21 inches. At the far extremity, 
a rounded chamber, as a rule not less than 6 inches in diameter, 
is hollowed out for the eggs, and at times this chamber has a thin 
lining of grass and feathers, which I have never yet met with in 
the nests of the other species. 

Mr. E. C. Xuiin, writing from Hoshungabad, says : " I found 
nests of this species in the banks of the Xerbudda on the 1st 
April. They consisted of fine grass-roots and feathers loosely 
placed at the end of a long hole, some 2 or 3 inches in diameter 
and perhaps 4 feet deep, which the birds had excavated in a high 
earthen bank. A month later I found the nest of M. viridis in a 
very similar situation." 

Colonel C. H. T. Marshall remarks : " The nests were in large 
numbers, about 30 or 40 in the sides of mounds, that were old 
brick-kilns in the station (Lahore). They were holes dug in the 
earth at heights varying from 4 to 9 feet, and ran about 6 inches 
further in than a man's arm could reach. There was no lining to 
the egg-chamber, only a few feathers, nothing else. The eggs 
were four in number in each nest, nearly round, clear, shining, 
pinky-white. I found three sets of these nests. The birds lay in 
June and the young come out in July ; the old birds were very 
pertinacious, hovering round my head when I was digging out the 
nests. There are large numbers of these birds all the hot weather 
about Lahore ; they go away, apparently, in the cold weather, or 
at most very few remain." 

Mr. F. E. Blewitt from Eaipoor writes : " The eggs were 
secured in the high sandy banks of the Mahanuddee. The holes 
burrowed by the birds in the somewhat loose sand of the bank 
were from 5 to 7 feet deep, and largely rounded out at the far end 
into a chamber the size of a large saucer. The eggs were laid on 
the bare sand. This was in May, and all were quite fresh. Five 
was the maximum number found in any hole. J/. viridis here, 
at any rate, breeds a month earlier, since all the nests of this 
latter species that I examined at the same time contained young 

From Kumaon Mr. E. Thompson tells us that " this, too, is a 
common breeder in certain localities. At Nujjeebabad around and 
about the Pethoragurh Fort numbers breed. I have seen them 
breed in the hot valleys of the Himalayas far in the interior. But 


it is not a forest bird, keeping well out in the cultivated and open 

Mr. Adam says : " Breeds in March and April. The structure 
of the nest is similar to that of M. viridis. I found them building 
on the bank of a small stream near Baraich, and I have also seen 
their nests a good distance from the stream. Tour is the greatest 
number of eggs I have found in one nest; on two occasions I 
found three. On one occasion a bird-catcher brought me an egg 
of this bird and asked me if I quite believed in its authenticity, 
because if I did not he would convince me. He then produced a 
bird, and with a jerk of his thumb forced an egg from the bird 
exactly like the one he had given me." 

Mr. Brooks tells me that " this bird breeds near Digheea on the 
Ganges, between Allahabad and Mirzapore, and about 10 miles 
below the junction of the Ganges and Tonse Rivers. Also in the 
cliffs below the Government Gardens at Mirzapore close to the 
Dak Bungalow. I failed to get the eggs, the holes were so 
deep, 6 and 7 feet I think. These birds breed in company with 
Acridoilieres yinginianus." 

One year I found a colony of these Bee-eaters established in a 
small sandy cutting at the Agra Eailway Station, where the 
engines passed twenty times a day within 2 feet of the mouths of 
the holes. 

Major C. T. Bingham says : " 1 have found nests of this bird 
both at Allahabad and at Delhi. At the former place I was too 
late for the eggs ; every nest-hole I dug out containing full-fledged 
youngsters, some quite able to fly this was in the end of June. 
At Delhi I got their eggs in the beginning of May." 

Mr. Oates, writing from Pegu, says : " Breeds in the Irrawaddy 
and Sittang rivers in large colonies at the end of April. On the 
25th of April last I proceeded with six men to dig out as many 
nests as I could in three hours. I soon found that it was not so 
easy as it looked. The banks of the Sittang at this place were 
very steep, and the entrances to the nests were situated about a 
foot below the top of the bank, and some distance above high 
water. We found that very few of the galleries were less than 
o feet long, most of them being fully 7. The gallery usually 
takes a couple of slight turns and is also much inclined to the 
horizon, so that altogether the entrance may be only one foot 
below the surface of the ground, the egg-chamber is as much as 
three or four feet. The gallery itself is 1J inches in diameter, 
very regular in section up to the egg-chamber, which is a roomy 
place about five inches wide, eight long, and four high. We 
worked hard, but dug out only 30 nests. Most of the nests 
contained five eggs, a few only four, and one or two only three. 
The majority of them were fresh, but a few, even at this early 
date, were nearly hatched. In no case did the female bird leave 
the eggs till the egg-chamber and she were exposed to view. In 
fact we caught several birds. The eggs are laid on the bare 
ground, and in no case did I find a vestige of grass or feathers." 


Major Bingham writes from Tenasserim : " This bird beiug 
partially migratory is often overlooked ; but it is common nearly 
all the year round at Kaukarit on the Houndraw river, where it 
breeds in April and May in the sandy banks of the Kaukarit 

The eggs are white, highly glossed, and very spherical ovals. 
They average considerably smaller than those of the European 
Bee-eater, but otherwise they are perfectly identical with these, 
and I fancy that it would be impossible to separate small specimens 
of M. apiaster from large ones of M. philippinus. 

In length they vary from 0-82 to O97 inch, and in breadth from 
0-67 to 0-85 inch ; but the average of more than fifty 
measured was 0-88 by 0-76 inch. 

Merops persicus, Pall. The Blue-cheeked Bee-eater. 

Merops aegyptius, Forsk., Jerd. B. 2nd. i,'p. 209; Hume, Hough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 120. 

Mr. Adam writes : " The Blue-cheeked Bee-eater occurs close 
to Sambhur, and in the Marot hills the natives showed me the 
holes in which it breeds about the beginning of the rains. I have 
uot yet obtained the eggs." 

Major Bingham remarks : "This large and handsome Bee- 
eater makes its appearance at Delhi, and in the districts to the 
south and west, in the end of April ; at first in small numbers, 
but about May in immense flocks. About Delhi itself they bred 
sparingly, chiefly in high sandy banks near the Jumna ; but at 
Sooltanpoor, near Gurhi Hursaroo, on the Rajpootana State 
Hallway Line in great numbers. The breeding-season lasts from 
the middle of May to the middle of July, the last eggs I took 
being on the 9th of the latter month; but most nests contain 
young by the end of June. Five is the greatest number of eggs I 
have found in any one nest, and this only on two occasions ; the 
usual number laid I think is three or four. 

" The depth of the nest-holes varies from 3 to 7 feet ; in 
diameter they vary from 2 to 3| inches, and the tunnel almost 
invariably has a slight inclination upwards, with an occasional 
divergence to the right or left, and ends in a chamber about 9 
inches in length, 4 in breadth, and 4 in height. This is never 
lined, the eggs being laid on the bare ground. In such nests as 
I have been unlucky enough to dig out and found tenanted by 
young ones, I found the remains of grasshoppers, locusts, and 
other insects, strewing the floor of the chamber. I was glad to 
find that these latter nests, though ruiued, were not deserted by 
the old birds ; but the young fed and taken care of till able to 

The eggs are of the usual Bee-eater type, in shape normally 
very broad ovals, pure white and very glossy. The shape, however, 
varies a good deal; a good many eggs are almost spherical, 

YOL. III. 5 


and again t\vo or three I have are much elongated, one cylindrical 
like a Sandgrouse's egg, another like a huge Swift's. 

In size they are intermediate between those of M. philigpinut 
and M. apiaster. In length the twenty specimens I have vary 
from 0-87 to 1-00, and from 075 to 0-83 in width, but the average 
of this lot is 0-95 by 0-81. 

Merops apiaster, Linn. The European Bee-eater. 

Merops apiaster, Linn., Jerd. ]3. Ind. i, p. 210 ; Hume, Rouyh Draft 
N. $E. no. li>l. 

The European Bee-eater, so far as 1 am aware, breeds nowhere 
within our limits, save only in Cashmere. There it nests abun- 
dantly during May and June, laying from 4 to even 7 eggs ; the 
nests are similar and similarly situated to those of the species 
already noticed, but they are usually in close proximity to water. 
The chamber is comparatively large, and at times (to judge from the 
sample sent me) has a good deal of feather and grass lining. 

The late Captain Cock wrote : " I did not succeed in taking 
this bird's eggs until a few days before leaving the valley of 
Cashmere. I found them breeding on the hill-side near Gunderbul 
in June; they were not in colonies as J/. philippinus, but two or 
three nests would occur within a short distance of each other. 
Advantage was always taken of a steep bank or declivity in the 
hill-side and the nest was from three to four feet from the surface, 
a chamber at the end of the gallery without any liniug, and 
containing 5 or 6 white eggs considerably larger than those of 
j\I. pldlippinus. I frequently caught the bird on the eggs, they 
sat so close." 

Lieut. H. E. Barnes, writing from Afghanistan, says : " The 
European Bee-eater is very common, especially on the hills about 
the end of April. I have not been able to find a nest, but I feel 
certain they breed somewhere about the hills. On dissecting 
several females at the end of May, I found the ovaries well 
developed, and containing eggs larger than peas. This, coupled 
with the fact that they are still common (July), convinces me that 
the birds breed here ; but up to the present time not a single nest 
has been found, nor are any holes seen anywhere in the vicinity 
where the birds appear most numerous." 

The eggs vary very much both in size and shape ; some are not 
bigger than many eggs of M. pliilippinus, others are very consider- 
ably larger. Some are nearly spherical, others long, broad, obtuse- 
ended ovals ; all are of course pure white, and most of them have 
a very fine gloss. 

In size they vary from 0-95 to 1-13 inch in length, and from 
0-87 to 0-94 inch in breadth, but they average 1-08 by 0-9 inch. 


Melittophagus quinticolor (Vieill.)- The Chestnut-headed 

Merops quinticolor, Vieill., Jei'd. B. 2nd. i, p. 208. 

Merops swinhoei, Hume ; Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 119. 

Mr. Davison gives me the following note on the nidification of 
the Chestnut-headed Bee-eater : " This bird breeds on the slopes 
of the Xilghiris during March and April. They bore holes in the 
sandy parts of banks varying in depth from 3 to 6 feet ; some are 
quite straight, others after a depth of a foot or 18 inches turn off 
at almost a right aDgle, and others again take a somewhat circular 
direction. The tunnel always terminates in a circular chamber, 
about 6 inches in diameter, which is never lined ; the eggs, four to 
six in number, being deposited on the bare and generally somewhat 
damp floor of the chamber. One favourite breeding locality is the 
sandy portion of the banks on the Seegore Eoad, leading from the 
Xilghiris to Mysore ; along 5 or 6 miles of this road the banks are 
drilled with innumerable holes of this species and Merops viridis, 
sometimes eight or ten together, at others scattered singly along 
the sandy portions of the bank. The bird sits very close, and 
invariably allows itself to be dug out without attempting to escape. 
The diameter of the tunnel of this species is somewhat larger than 
that of M. viridis ; in fact, by looking at the holes (when made in 
a comparatively stiff soil) it is easy to tell which of them pertain 
to which species. 

" 1 found these birds only commencing to make their holes about 
the middle of April at the Andamans, although the birds had been 
seen in pairs since the latter end of March." 

Layard has described the breeding of this species in Ceylon, 
Ann. Mag. X. H. 1853, xii, p. 174. 

Mr. W. Theobald has the following remarks on its nidification 
in Mergui : " Lays in the third week of March. Eggs 5 or 6 in 
number, pointed oval. Size O84 inch by 0*79 inch, colour pure 
white. Grallery from 1 to 7 feet in length, in soft sandy soil near 
water : it enters the ground at a small angle and then runs 

I found this bird breeding at the close of April in a nullah near 
the Granges in the Eastern Dooii, which in those days was one vast 
forest. There was a colony of about a dozen pairs, and the only 
nest I opened was about 4 feet deep, and contained four eggs. 

Mr. J. Darling, Junior, says : " 1 found four nests of this bird 
on April loth, 1873, at Vythery, about 2300 feet, in the soft 
bank of a road, containing respectively 6 hard-set eggs ; 5 hard- 
set eggs ; 3 young birds, and 3 eggs ready to hatch ; 5 young 
birds, and one egg ready to hatch off. The hole leading in to the 
nest was 2 to 3 inches in diameter, and from 2 to 5 feet deep." 

Colonel Legge says in the ' Birds of Ceylon ' : " I found the 
nest of this bird on the banks of the Gindurah in the month of 



Mr. H. Parker writes : " April to June. In Ceylon this Bee- 
eater usually breeds in small colonies, numbering from three to ten 
pairs, and prefers secluded river-banks, but will nest in road- 
cuttings, or even under roads, or in almost level ground." 

"Writing from Tenasserim, Major Bingham says : " On the 2nd 
April, halting for a day high up on the Oukreen choung, a feeder 
of the Thoungyeen river, I went roaming about in the vicinity of 
the camp, searching for eggs. I was unlucky, however, and found 
but one nest, that of this species. 

" A tunnel, sloping upwards, had been dug by the bird into 
the sandy bank of the choung. It was about 3| feet deep 
and 2 inches in diameter, terminating in a chamber rounded like 
the bulb of a retort, and rather more in depth and width than the 
tunnel ; it was unlined, and resting on the bare ground were four 
hard-set, rather glossy, white eggs ; these measure 0-9 by 075, 
0-9 by 0-74, O9 by O74, and 0-9 by 076." 

Mr. W. Davison, also referring to Tenasserim, says : " I found 
them breeding in Tenasserim, and on the 26th March, 1874, I 
took five eggs out of a hole running about two and a half feet in 
to the bank of a stream, at a place some thirty miles north of 

These eggs are of the usual Bee-eater type, pure white, very 
glossy, almost spherical. They are smaller than those of M. 
pliilippinus and a fortiori than those of M. apiaster, but they are 
considerably larger than those of M. viridis. 

They vary in length from 0'82 to 0-92 inch, and in breadth from 
0-72 to 0-81 inch, but the average of a large series is 0*87 by 0'76 


Dichoceros bicornis (Linn.). The Great Pied Hornbill 

Homraius bicornis (Linn.), Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 242. 

Dichoceros homrai (Hodys.}, Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. no. 140. 

Dichoceros bicornis (Linn.}, Hume, t. c. no. 140 'bis. 

Col. Tickell gives us the following account of the nidification of 
the Great Pied Hornbill : 

"Kyik, on the Houngthrau Eiver, February 16th, 1855. On 
my way back to Moulmein from Mooleyit (a celebrated peak in the 
Tenasserim Range), when halting at Kyik, I heard by the merest 
chance from the Karen villagers that a large Hornbill was sitting 
on its nest in a tree close to the village, and that for several years 


past the same pair of birds had resorted to that spot for breeding. 
I lost no time accordingly in going to the place next morning, and 
was shown a hole high up in the trunk of a moderately large straight 
tree, branchless for about 50 feet from the ground, in which the 
female I was told lay concealed. The hole was covered with a 
thick layer of mud, all but a small space, through which she could 
thrust the end of her bill, and so receive food from the male. 

" One of the villagers at length ascended with great labour by 
means of bamboo pegs driven into the trunk, and commenced 
digging out the clay from the hole. While so employed, the 
female kept uttering her rattling sonorous cries, and the male 
remained perched on a neighbouring tree, sometimes flying to and 
fro and coming close to us. Of him the natives appeared to enter- 
tain great dread, saying he was sure to assault them ; and it was 
with some difficulty I prevented them from shooting him before 
they continued their attack on the nest. When the hole was 
enlarged sufficiently the man who had ascended thrust in his arm, 
but was so soundly bitten by the female, whose cries had become 
perfectly desperate, that he quickly withdrew it, narrowly escaping 
a tumble from his frail footing. After wrapping his hands in some 
folds of cloth, he succeeded with some trouble in extracting the 
bird, a miserable-looking object enough, wasted and dirty. She 
was handed down and let loose on the ground, where she hopped 
about, unable to fly, and menacing the bystanders with her bill, 
and at length ascended a small tree, where she remained, being 
too stiff to use her wings. At the bottom of the hole, nearly 3 feet 
from the orifice, was a solitary egg, resting upon mud, fragments 
of bark, and feathers. It was of a dirty yellowish brownish-white, 
spindle-shaped or pointed at either end, and of a coarse surface 
indented with numerous pores ; longitudinal and transverse axes 
2-LJ" and 1-J" respectively. In the hole were numerous berries, 
resembling the wild ' Jamoon,' in all stages of decomposition. 
The female, I should remark, was deeply stained with a yellow 
exudation from the uropygial gland, frequently observed on the 
feathers of this species, B. (Uydrocissa) pica, and B. albirostris." 

Mr. W. Theobald makes the following remarks on the breeding 
of this bird in Tenasserim : " Lays in the third week of February. 
Eggs, one only, ovato-pyriform. Size, 2-68 inches by 1'88 inch ; 
colour, pure white ; for the measurement of an egg I am indebted 
to Captain Tickell, who was fortunate enough to observe the female 
on the nest." 

The Eeverend Mr. Mason says, however, that they lay from 
three to five eggs. 

Mr. E. Thompson tells me that " the Great Indian Hornbill 
begins to breed in April : the young birds are flown by the end of 
June. They lay in holes of lofty yet hollow trees, sometimes in 
the valleys, at others on the sides and slopes of well-wooded low 
hills. I have seen lots of nests of these birds, but never got down 
their eggs. That the female is a very close sitter I have repeatedly 
verified. I have watched nest after nest, and have seen the cock 


bird with his throat full of berries coming to the hen and feeding 
her. I do not know about the male plastering the female in with 
his ordure as is stated by Jerdon. Meer Khan, my chuprassi, who 
went up to a nest, saw nothing of it beyond what the female her- 
self had ejected, and which covered the sides of the orifice in which 
the nest was placed. He pulled three young ones, funny-looking 
wretches, out of the hole. They were covered with fine white down, 
and their red uncouth-looking bills made them hideous. 

" Shy birds, usually, but when breeding they become bolder. 
When a fledged young one is shot, the old birds remain a consider- 
able time near, uttering their loud and frightful cry at various 
intervals as if it were to call the missing one. During the coupling 
season these cries are truly horrible. One knows what the camel 
is capable of at that season. Here we have the Homrai, which is 
even worse. 

"The old birds are very faithful. If one is shot the other will 
remain a long time, going from tree to tree uttering its loud yet 
mournful cries. They are sometimes gregarious to some extent. 
Last December I counted 15 in one flock. In fact during the 
whole of last winter I noticed a very large number of flocks com- 
posed of individuals ranging from 5 to 15 in number. They are 
fruit-eaters, but eat flowers' and buds readily." 

Mr. F. Bourdillon obtained an egg of this species on the As- 
samboo Hills towards the end of February, and favours me with 
the following note in regard to it : " I received this egg 011 the 
28th February, 1873, after it had probably been taken two days, as 
I saw the skin of the "hen bird, pulled off the nest, quite fresh. 
The egg was very hard-set, and contained so large a young bird 
that it was with difficulty extracted piecemeal. 

" I was told that there was no nest beyond a little rotten wood 
which had been scraped into a hollow to receive the egg ; also that 
there was no attempt at plastering up the mouth of the hole, which 
was in a large tree forty or fifty feet from the ground. The hen, 
however, was in such bad condition that possibly she could not 
have flown 10 yards from the nest, until the young feathers, which 
were just appearing, had matured. The old birds pair in January, 
and the young ones first show themselves in May, shortly before 
the rains of the S.~W. monsoon commence.'' 

Turning again to Burma, Mr. Gates, writing from Pegu, says : 
" The mode of nidification of this and other Hornbills is now so 
well known that, being unable to visit the forest where these birds 
breed in great numbers, 1 felt no hesitation in sending a Burman 
to take the eggs for me instead of going myself. He brought me 
four eggs and the eggs of two females, with the following account : 
He found many nests, but could induce the Karens to climb only 
two trees. Both were wood-oil trees. The nests in both cases 
were placed in a decayed hole at the spring of the first branches, 
in one case at about 60 feet from the ground, and in the other 
somewhat higher. Pieces of the materials with which the holes 
were closed appear to be composed of dung and earth, with which 


are incorporated seeds of the peepul-fig and bits of leaves and 

" The t\vo sitting birds were captured, and the heads are easy to 
identify with those of females of this species, the bills of the males 
being different. Each nest contained two eggs, one set quite fresh, 
the other on the point of hatching. They measure 2'84, 2'6, 2'4, 
and 2-75 in length by 1/85, 1*9, 1-8, and 1/8 in breadth, respectively. 
The shell is rough and without gloss. One egg is pure white ; two 
others, one fresh and one incubated, are of a uniform pale yellow ; 
and the fourth egg is white, with numerous small yellowish dots 
where the outer shell is disintegrated. The eggs were taken on 
the *2'2nd March." 

Major Bingham records the following from Teuasserim : " The 
following is a detailed account of the nests of this Hornbill visited 
and the eggs taken : Of the eight nests visited and eggs obtained 
four contained two eggs each, and four one each. These were laid 
in natural hollows in various trees, and two in immense Ficus- 
eucircled old teak-trees. The height of the nest-holes from the 
ground varied from 25 to 70 feet, and the trees selected were 
invariably close to some Ficus in fruit. 

" To five of the nests I ascended myself, and found the opening 
much narrowed in every one with a plastering of earth, leaf -mould, 
and the bird's own droppings : the stench of decaying vegetable 
matter from one or two of the nests was quite unbearable ; and 
altogether the insides of the nests and the old hens themselves pre- 
sented a filthy sight, but these latter were all able to fly when released 
and did not seem a bit cramped. The way though they hissed, and 
([Hacked, and fought for their eggs was a caution my arms were 
blac-k and blue from their ferocious digs and bites. In a few cases 
the males came and looked on but took no part in the fight, not 
even to the uttering of a croak in encouragement to their mates. 

" The colour of the egg varies, but depends, I think, more on the 
nature of the wood of the tree chosen for the nest and the material 
n-M-d in plastering which, by the way, is well laid on inside as well 
as round the opening to the hollow than upon the length of time 
tlu> eggs have been laid ; for two eggs out of the lot I procured 
had the chicks almost ready to break through, and are yet only of 
a dull white, but slightly stained ; while again two other eggs are 
of the colour of iron-rust all over, and these, though undoubtedly 
hard-set, were still easily cleaned, but they were taken out of a 
hollow in a thingau tree, the wood of which gives off a rusty stain. 

" All the eggs have a perceptible gloss, except one. The excep- 
tional non-glossy egg is rough, almost like sand-paper, to the touch. 
All are very finely pitted over their whole surface, and some have 
little raised tubercles or bumps chiefly in a zone round the centre. 
In shape some are long and narrow and much pointed at one end, 
some short and globular. The largest eggs were those found singly, 
and of these one measures 2-75 x 1-98 ; the smallest taken measur- 
ing 2-40 x 1-93 ; but the average of twelve is 2-62 by 1-88. It is 
remarkable that even the chick in the egg has a well-marked pro- 


tuberance above the upper mandible, the rudiment it would seem 
of the future casque." 

A large series of these eggs obtained by Major Bingham show 
that they vary in shape from very broad ovals, obtuse at both ends, 
to moderately elongated ones, distinctly pointed at the small end. 
Quite clearly when first laid they are pure white and have a certain 
amount of gloss ; as incubation proceeds they lose this gloss, and 
become more and more stained, until some eggs are a nearly uniform 
dusky chocolate-brown. The shell is tolerably hard and compact, 
but it is very commonly thickly set with tiny pimples and rugosities, 
and in most specimens the entire surface is somewhat conspicuously 
pitted with pores. Some tolerably fresh eggs, before they have lost 
their gloss and whilst they have only acquired a creamy tinge, might 
really be mistaken for pale eggs of Peafowl. 

Anthracoceros albirostris (Shaw). The Small Pled Hornbill. 

Hydrocissa albirostris (Shaiv'), Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 247 ; Hume, Cat. 
no. 142. 

Mr. Gates, writing from Pegu, says : " My man on the 20th 
March procured one egg of this species. The egg was hatched a few 
moments before it reached me. It measured 1'8 x 1'3, and was a 
deep reddish brown. Its natural colour was originally white I 
should think. On the 22nd March my man again took a nest, 
killing the female and bringing me the head. The eggs were three 
in number, pure white and rather glossy. They were well incu- 
bated and difficult to blow. The nest was also in a wood-oil tree 
about 90 feet from the ground in a cavity among the lower 
branches. These three eggs measure 1-81, 1-76, and 1-75, by 1'35, 
1*3, and 1*25 respectively." 

Major C. T. Bingham found the nest of this Hornbill in Tenas- 
serim. He says : " About a mile and a half from my camp, 
crowning the top of a low hill and towering high above the rest of 
the trees, stood a giant pymma (Layerstrcemia flos regince). On 
the 23rd March I found a nest of the above-mentioned Hornbill in 
a hole in a huge decayed branch of this tree, fully 50 feet above 
the ground. To ascend the tree I had to get a ladder prepared, 
which a couple of Karens accomplished in about an hour and a 
half. It was constructed of bamboo, the rungs consisting of 
tough short pieces driven into the tree and tied at their other ends 
to a couple of long bamboos, which formed the outer side piece of 
the ladder. So firm and strong did the affair look, that I went up 
myself and was able to examine the nest closely. This was, 
as I have said, in the stump of a decayed branch ; but the entrance 
to the hole was greatly contracted by a substance that looked like 
the bird's own dung ; on one side, however, an opening had been 
left, a mere slit, about 10 inches long by 2| inches in breadth, 
through which evidently the female received food. After carefully 
inspecting the outside of the nest, I proceeded to break it open with 
a dah or Burmese knife I had taken up ; and soon made a hole 


large enough for me to introduce my hand and arm. No sooner 
had I done so, however, than the female who was, as I feel sure, 
seated on eggs, seized my wrist, with a grasp like that of a 
vice, uttering the most horrible cries and fluttering and struggling 
the while in the most determined manner. However, with some 
difficulty I dragged her out, and having ascertained with my disen- 
gaged hand that there were eggs in the hollow, I managed to 
despatch her by pressing her with my knee against the tree ; I was 
sorry to do this, but then her skin was necessary for the sake of 
the eggs. Having dropped her I proceeded to take the latter out ; 
these were two in number, of a dirty yellowish-stained white colour, 
and were resting on a few fragments of bark, a feather or two, and 
several berries in all stages of decay. They were, I regret to say, 
both cracked, evidently done in the struggle of taking the bird out, 
who by the way was as fat as butter and in first-rate feather, 
not looking at all ragged or dirty as I expected. The hollow was 
about 2 feet long by 10 inches in height, the entrance being an 
irregular oval in shape, and measuring 10 inches by 7| inches, 
after the plastered dung was alLremoved. I forgot to mention that 
my attention was attracted to the nest by seeing the cock bird 
feeding its mate ; this he did by putting single berries one after 
another into the tip of her bill which was shoved out of the slit, 
after receipt of each berry she withdrew her beak apparently to 
swallow the food. I watched him for a good ten minutes with my 
binoculars before he saw me and took the alarm and flew off." 

Subsequently he writes : " I was rather too early for the eggs 
of this species ; out of many nests examined only two contained 
eggs, and these two only one each. What the full complement may 
be I am ignorant. Myat-jo says four, possibly, but once before I 
took the eggs of this species and that was later on in March, and 
then there were only two, but that was up in the Northern jungles 
near Hpapoon, where possibly they breed later. I have described 
the nest and eggs before, so have nothing to add except that the 
present eggs were found in hollows in kanyin trees (Dipterocarpus 
alatus) standing dead and partially burnt in an old cultivation 
clearing. One nest must have been fully at the height of 100 
feet above the ground, the other not half that. The eggs measure 
2-04 by 1-37 and 1-84 by 1-39 respectively." 

And again he adds the following note : " A very common bird 
in the Thoungyeen valley. Subsequently to the taking of the two 
nests, as described above, I had marked down for me and procured 
three more nests on the 5th March, 1880, of which one contained 
a single egg, and two, two eggs each." 

The eggs are typically much the shape of hen's eggs, and like 
these are sometimes a little broader, sometimes a little more elon- 
gated, and sometimes more pointed at the small end than the normal 
type. The shell is rather close and compact, the pores very in- 
conspicuous ; white and with a slight gloss when quite fresh, but 
rapidly losing this and becoming discoloured as incubation pro- 


ceeds. I have seen none of these eggs as deeply stained as those 
of D. bicornis and A. tickelli sometimes are. 

Ten eggs measure from 1-81 to 2-02 in length and from T32 to 1-4 
in breadth, but the average is 1-9 by 1*35. 

Ocyceros birostris (Shaw). The Northern Grey ffornbilL 

Meniceros bicornis (Sc&p.), Jerd. . Ind. i, p. 248. 

Ocyceros giuginianus (Shaw}, Hume, Rough Draft N. Sf E. no. 144. 

The Northern Grey Hornbill breeds from April to June, in holes 
and hollows of large soft-wooded trees, such as the aroo (Adanthe* 
ecccelsa), the semul (Bomba.r, several species), and the peepul 
(Fieus religiosa). The egg-chamber is usually very large, at least 
one foot in diameter, and the aperture is always more or less closed 
with the droppings of the bird, whether so placed by purpose 
aforethought, in view to increasing the internal temperature of 
the cavity, or accidentally collected about the aperture, in the re- 
moval daily by the female of her droppings, I cannot myself say from 
personal observation. The eggs are from three to five in number ; 
but though I have opened many nests, I have only once obtained 
the eggs ; in all other cases I have found from one to four unfledged 
young ones. As far as I can judge, the female never leaves the 
iiest-hole from the day she lays her first egg until her young are at 
least one week old. My friend, the late Mr. C. Home, gives a 
good account of the nidification of this species : 

" In April 1868 I received intelligence of two nests, and found 
that both bad been made in the trunk of semul or cotton-trees 
(Bombay heptaphyllum), the bird having dug out and enlarged with 
his bill holes in this soft wood which had been previously used by 

" In each case I obtained three eggs ; and the hole, at a great 
height from the ground, appeared to have been plastered up with 
cowdung, or something resembling it. I could not, however, de- 
termine this positively, as in each case I had to go some 6 or 8 
miles, and so had no opportunity of observing the process. The 
bird which I took from one nest had lost many of her loosely 
put-on feathers and appeared to be in bad condition. As, however, 
the natives wanted her flesh for medicinal purposes, I allowed them 
to take her. 

" I was, however, more fortunate at the close of the same month 
(April 1868). On my lawn, surrounded by other trees, stood a 
noble sisso tree (Dcdbei'gia sissoo} ; and where the first great fork 
diverged was a hole, for the possession of which, for purposes of 
incubation, the Boilers and Parrots were always noisily contending. 
I had often wished the Horn bills to use this ; and I was much 
pleased to see that, after great consultation and inspection, despite 
much vociferation by the Rollers and screeching by the Parrots, 
they on April 28, 1868, made up their minds to use it. The hole 
was nearly a foot in depth and roomy inside. On the 29th of April 
the female went into the hole and did not a^aiu come out. 


" There was sufficient room in it for the female to draw in her head 
altogether when she wished to conceal herself or to bring up the 
ordure from below. 

" The hole being about 10 feet from the ground and opposite 
my verandah, I could watch everything perfectly through a glass. 
The tree was also very near to the house. 

" From the time the female went in, the male was most assiduous 
in feeding her, bringing generally the small peepul-fig. 

** On April 30th 1 observed the female working hard at closing the 
orifice with her own ordure. This she must have brought up from 
the bottom of the hole ; and she plastered it, right and left, with 
the flat sides of her beak, as with a trowel. 

' I never saw the male bring anything but food ; and I never 
found any fruit which had been rejected under the tree, and but 
very little ordure, which latter had apparently been thrown out by 
the female when the closing work was finished. 

"The male bird would alight near, then fly to the hole (holding 
on to the bark by his claws) and knock with its beak. On this, 
the points of that of the female appeared and received the fruit, 
when the male flew off. 

" I herewith beg to submit some of the substance with which 
the hole was closed up, which is manifestly what I suppose it to be, 
and when fresh possesses great viscidity. It contains the remains 
of insects, which probably the female had eaten before she entered 
the hole, thus confirming Dr. Jerdon's statement as to their various 

" The hole was at first perhaps 6 inches in height, and 3 or 4 
wide. When closed up, the opening at the widest part was a 
little larger than would admit the finger. It should, however, be 
borne in mind that the bill opened upwards, and thus had 3 or 4 
inches play. The plastering-operation took two or three days, 
after which the ordure was thrown out. 

" The third Hornbill used to hover about, watch proceedings, 
and sometimes quarrel with the accepted lord, but he never brought 
food to the female. 

" On May 7th, thinking that I had given time enough for the' 
female to lay her three eggs, which I wanted, I got a ladder, opened 
out the nest, and with some difficulty got out the bird, who was fat 
and in good condition, with the desired eggs (three). At first she 
could scarcely fly, but did so after a little time. 

"The natives, who know the habits of these birds well, told me 
that the female digs herself out directly her newly hatched young 
need food ; and this is most probably correct." 

Colonel Butler remarks : " Mr. J. Davidson sent me an egg he 
took at Samoda, Khandesh, in April 1880, and two more at Pim- 
plnir, Khandesh, in April 1881." 

The eggs that I have are a uniform dull white, slightly soiled 
and discoloured here and there, and are broad, rather perfect, ovals, 
devoid of ^loss, and recalling the eggs of Tun'm-mi. .v/V/w ;m<( TV/?- 


trococcyx rufipennis. Indeed but for being a trifle larger, they might 
be mistaken for the eggs of this latter species. 

Sometimes the eggs of this species are markedly pointed towards 
the small end. The shell is perhaps finer and smoother than that 
of any of our other Hornbills ; like these they have when quite 
fresh a slight gloss, but even then they are never, I think, quite 
white, but always have a slight creamy or ivory tinge. 

They vary from 1 s 62 to 1/82 inch in length, and from 1/16 to 
1*29 inch in breadth, but eleven eggs average 1/7 by 1*22 inch. 

Anorrhinus tickelli (Blyth). Tickell's Hornbill. 
Anorrhinus tickelli (BlytK), Hume, Cat. no. 144 bis. 

Major Bingham is the only naturalist who has found the nest of 
this rare Hornbill. He writes from Tenasserim : " On the way 
back, as we were crossing a small, almost dry choung, a bird got 
up, and flying a little way alighted on the branch of a middling- 
sized pynkado-tree (Xylia dolabriformis}. Looking at it, I was 
astonished to see it was Ocyceros tickelli, a bird usually so wary 
and hard to get at. I raised my gun, and was on the point of 
firing, when I noticed that its beak seemed covered with mud, and 
instantly afterwards, with a great thump in my heart, I saw a 
small hole in the very tree it was seated on, the sides of which 
also appeared to have mud on them. Of course all idea of shooting 
the bird was abandoned, and in five minutes Myat-jo had a small 
tree cut down and placed slantingly as a ladder, and ascended to 
interview the * missis.' Lord ! how she did hiss aud cackle, while 
her mate outside, with loud harsh quacks, flew from tree to tree 

" After peering and stirring the female about with a stick, for 
what appeared to my impatience an unconscionable time, Myat-jo 
announced the disappointing fact of * no eggs as yet.' " 

He adds : " I have already detailed above the finding of the 
nest of this species. Visiting it later on, I was able to secure the 
female, and no less than five eggs, all fresh. This, I fancy, must 
be the full complement, and is more than any Hornbill of my 
acquaintance lays. On my second visit the male was nowhere 
about, and the female only hissed, and bit a little, poor thing. 
The hollow, as I have said before, was in a pynkado-tree, and not 
above twelve feet from the ground. This is surprising, especially 
as the other two nests examined were also at heights of less than 
20 feet, and all in small trees. Considering how wary and wild 
the bird usually is, this is inexplicable. The material used for 
partially blocking up the entrance seems, in this bird's, as well as 
in the case of R. undulatus, R. subruficollis, and A. albirostris, 
similar to that employed by D. cavatus. 

" The eggs are faintly glossy white, finely pitted like those of 
the large Hornbill, but none have the raised little tubercles appa- 


rent in some eggs of the latter. In shape the five eggs as yet 
taken are all alike, long ovals. They measure respectively 1*75 x 
1-33, 1-75 x 1-30, 1-88 x 1-40, 1-82 x 1-35, and 1-83 x 1-38." 

He continues : " It is strange how tame this Hornbill is during 
the breeding-season ; ordinarily (and I have come across flocks of 
it on the high hills, between the Zammee choung and the Houndraw 
river, on the ranges near the Salween, and in various places on the 
Dawna and its spurs, from the head-waters of the Thoungyeen to 
its mouth, i. e. from Mooleyit to the Salween) it is the wariest of 
the wary, keeping well to the tops of the highest trees. I 
described in a former article a nest and eggs ; subsequent to that 
I managed to procure three nests more on the 5th March ; out of 
these one contained four eggs, one three, and one two respec- 

" I found another nest on the 23rd February, on the Meknay 
choung. It contained three fresh eggs, two of which, however, 
were unfortunately broken in getting them down ; the remaining 
one measures 1/71 x 1'28." 

The eggs are hardly to be separated from those of A. albirostris ; 
they vary a good deal in size and in shape, precisely as hens' eggs 
do. When first laid they appear to be pure white, and have a 
slight gloss ; but as incubation proceeds they entirely lose this, and 
become creamy brownish, creamy dingy reddish brown, and finally 
mud colour. The shell is compact, the pores perhaps a shade 
more perceptible than in A. albirostris, from the eggs of which it 
would often be difficult to separate them. 

Fifteen eggs measure from 1-69 to 1*9 in length, and from 1*28 
to 1-4 in breadth, and average 1-82 by 1-34. 

Acer os nepalensis (Hodgs.). The Rufous-necked Hornbill. 

Aceros nipalensis, Hodgs., Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 250; Hume, Cat. 
no. 146. 

Mr. J. Grammie, writing from Sikhim, says : ** On the 20th of 
May, Mr. Munro, of Poomong, sent word that he had discovered 
a breeding-hole of Aceros nipalensis, so next morning Dr. King 
and I went to see what could be done in the way of robbing the 

" Mr. Munro met us on the road, and conducted us to the tree, 
in a hollow of which the female was sitting. 

" The tree was a species of Dysoxylon, 80 or 90 feet in height, 
uubranched for 50 feet up, and situated close to a stream at an 
elevation of about 2000 feet above the sea. A few feet under the 
lowest branch, and just above a bulge in the stem, there was a 
vertical slit which proved to be the entrance to the Hornbill's 
house. Long bamboos were cut and formed into a very primitive 
sort of ladder, and a Nepalee ascended. 

" We stationed ourselves some distance up a steep bank, about 


20 yards from the tree, whence we could watch the struggle be- 
tween the Nepalee and bird. The male had been looking on from 
a respectable distance at the house-breaking preparations, and 
uttering hoarse croaks in hopes of intimidating us ; but, as soon 
as he saw the man ascending, he evidently thought discretion the 
better part of valour, for he took to flight, and was neither seen nor 
heard any more that day, but, like the bold fellow he was, left his 
better half to do the best she could under the circumstances. 

" The opening appeared ridiculously small for the admission of 
such a huge bird, and we could see quite distinctly the plaster on 
each side of the slit. The plastering had evidently been done by 
the female from inside, and did not meet in any part. At the top 
of the slit there was a round hole left, and fom this hole to 
the bottom there was a narrow slit of about 2 inches broad down 
the middle. When the man neared the nest the old lady poked 
out the tip of her beak and commenced a loud cackling noise, 
which she kept up for a considerable time. The man stood on the 
bulge in front of the nest, and held on by a small forked bamboo 
which he had hooked on to the branch above, and then commenced 
the struggle between the Xepalee and the mother Hornbill. 

" The old lady cackled and protested as well as she could against 
the unwarranted interference with her domestic aifairs. She 
opened her beak to the full extent of the opening in the tree, and 
bit manfully at the stick and kulwee (Nepal knife) which the man 
pushed in her mouth to try to make her cease from reviling, and 
move upstairs the tree, I should say, was hollow for a good w r ay up. 

" The bulge was less than a foot in width, so that the man had 
a very ticklish place to stand on with nothing but a small bamboo 
to hold on by, and though none of us doubted the pluck of the bold 
Pahari, yet, what between the frightful noise, the awful-looking 
cavern of a mouth, and the plucky way in which the bird fought, 
we were all inclined to back the old lady and give long odds. As 
it turned out, our bets would have been quite safe ; for after a 
quarter of an hour's conflict, the Pahari descended in despair. 

" A big Lepcha then went up to try his fortune, and, strange to 
say, he only gave her a single poke when up she went aloft. I 
suppose she thought, like school boys, one and one fair play, 
but one down and another at her immediately after, was too much 
of a good thing, and, no doubt, seeing other eight or ten people 
down below, had the idea that she would have to fight the lot one 
after the other, and as they were more than she could reasonably 
hope to master, it would be better to give in at once, so up she 
went, and we saw her no more. 

" She was still upstairs when we left the foot of the tree some 
time afterwards ; certainly she deserved credit for her pluck, which 
after all was misplaced, for the solitary egg was addled. The 
bottom of the hollow on which the bird sat was level with the 
lower end of the opening. In the hole there were merely a few 
of her own feathers, which I send you. I also send the egg and 


a sample of the plastering* material, which looks to me uncom- 
monly like the bird's owii ordure. 

M The entrance, after the plaster was picked away, measured 17 
inches in length by 4| inches in breadth, and the hollow of the 
tree 17 inches in diameter. The height of the hollow could not 
be measured, but it must have been considerable. I am told that 
t \vo young ones were taken out of the same hollow last year, and 
that it has been robbed every season for many years past. The 
natives also inform me that the Aceros never fays more than two 
eggs, and occasionally one only, as in the present instance, but that 
two is the more usual number. The female is said not to leave 
the nest from the time of her entrance till she comes out with her 
young ready for flight, a period of about three months. 

" The male was seen to feed his mate, through the narrow opening, 
v, 1th DysoA'ylon fruit the evening before we robbed the nest. At 
this season of the year Dysoxylon fruit seems to be their principal 
food. The nest tree was laden with fruit, and was probably chosen, 
on this account, by the lazy husband, in order to reduce the labour 
of feeding his wife and children to a minimum. The Lepchas and 
Nepalese eat both the old and the young of the Acems, and pro- 
nounce them to be rather good eating/' 

The egg is a broad oval, compressed somewhat towards one 
end, so as to be slightly pyriform. The shell is strong and thick, 
but coarse and entirely glossless, everywhere pitted with minute 
pores. In colour it is a Aery dirty white, with a pale dirty yellow- 
ish tinge, and everywhere obscurely stippled, when closely exa- 
mined, with minute purer white specks, owing to the dirt not 
having got down into the bottoms of the pores. 

It measures 2'2o by 1'75. 

Another egg taken from the same nest on the 28th of April, 

* " The plaster appears under the microscope to be almost entirely composed 
of vegetable tissue, cells, fibres, oil-globules, &c., and con tains no evidence of the 
presence of any clay or mineral matter of any kind. The vegetable tissue looks 
as though it had been semi-digested, very many of the cells being wholly or 
partially emptied of tlleir contents, and free granules and globules of a bright 
yellow oily-looking matter abounding. 

"The most abundant and characteristic forms of cells present are 1st, 
small, totally empty thick-walled cells, scattered or still holding together in 
small patches; 2nd. very large, rounded cells, full of the yellow oily matter so 
abundant in the free state, and when full of a deep brown colour. Their 
contents may be rather of a gummy than oily nature, perhaps, as boiling with 
liquor ijotas&e reduces the material to a glutinous mass of deep brown colour. 
There are naturally al=o some fragments of feathers, spores of fungi, &c. present 
in small numbers." 

This is our eminent pathologist Dr. D. D. Cuninghaiu's report, and it makes 
it quite clear, I think, that the plaster is nothing but the bird's own ordure, 
with -,vhich she closes the aperture, leaving a hole large enough to admit of her 
protruding the whole closed bill, and a slit below sufficient for the play of the 
terminal two-thirds of the lower mandible when she opens her mouth to be 
fed. The heap, at the foot of the tree, of rejected droppings daily cast out 
by the bird, was of the same composition as the plaster, but contained less of 
the gummy globules, and a larger proportion of feathers, scraps of wood, &c. 


1876, was an excessively regular oval. The shell rather finer than 
in the case of the egg first taken, but as before entirely glossless. 
The ground-colour of the egg is white, with a very faint brownish 
pinkish tinge, and it is closely stippled all over with purer white 
specks. This egg measures only 2-12 by T57. 

Rhytidoceros undulatus (Shaw). The Malayan Wreathed 

Rhyticeros obscurus (Gin.), Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 140 
ter (Cat. no. 145 bis). 

The only egg of the Malayan Wreathed Hornbill that I have 
seen was taken near Sandoway on the 12th March by Mr. Theo- 
bald. It is a moderately broad oval, slightly compressed towards 
the smaller end ; a dull, glossless, chalky white egg with a rough 
surface and tinged brownish towards the larger end. Held up 
against the light, the shell is a pale buffy yellow. It is very like 
the egg of Ocyceros birostris, but larger, coarser, and rougher. 
It measures 1-95 by 1-5 inch. 

Mr. Theobald writes : "The plicatus eggs were taken at my 
order on March 12th in Sandoway. I had for some little time 
noticed numbers of this species flying about in pairs, and latterly 
the males, with their craws ludicrously distended with fruits, return- 
ing at night alone. I accordingly enquired of some villagers if 
they could get the eggs, and the result was just two eggs taken in 
one tree. There is no doubt of the species, as it was the only one 
there, and one that is well known to the natives." 

Major Bingham writes from Tenasserim : " 1 was unfortunate 
with this bird, only one of three nests examined contained eggs ; 
and again when I secured these latter the female managed to elude 
us by getting up well into the hollow above, which w T as in a huge 
dead thingan (Hopea odoratd). I took the eggs and foolishly left 
two Karens to cut down the tree, and bring me the female. Bad 
scran to them, they did so, but spoilt her for a specimen, pulling 
out the whole tail in dragging her out. However, I have kept the 
head, the beak of which straight from gape to point measures 6'43 
inches, so there is no mistake. The two eggs taken are miniatures 
of some of D. cavatus, but they seem to be broader in proportion 
to their length than the majority of eggs of the latter species. 
They measure respectively 2*28 by 1'65 and 2'22 by 1*64." 

He adds : " Subsequent to the taking of the nest above 
described, I got two others on the 5th March, each containing two 
eggs, and a fourth on the 17th of the same month, also with two 
eggs, hard set. It is pretty clear therefore that the bird lays no 
more than two. 

" I also procured two nests respectively on the 3rd and 15th 
March, both in thingan trees (Hopea odorata). The first con- 
tained one egg, measuring 2-54 by 1-67 ; the second two, measuring 
2-61 by 1-67 and 2-50 by 1'67." 

The eggs of this species hardly differ from those of D. bicornis, 


except in size. They average much smaller, but a large egg of the 
present species is quite as large as a small one of D. bicomis. 
They are precisely the same shape, size, and vary in the same way 
in regard to gloss and colour, though 1 have seen none so dark as 
some of those of A. tickelli, but the shell is finer, and in no speci- 
men have I noticed the uniformly pimpled appearance so common 
in the eggs of D. bicornis. 

Eleven eggs measure from 2-3 to 2-65 in length by 1-62 to 1-87 
in breadth. 

Rhytidoceros snbrnficollis (Blyth). ElyfKs Wreathed Hombill. 

Rhyticeros subruficollis (Blyth}, Hume, Eovgh Draft N. fy E. no. 146 
bis (Cat. no. 146 ter). 

Mr. W. Theobald makes the following remarks on the breeding of 
this species, Blyth's Wreathed Hornbill, in Tenasserim : " Lays in 
the third week of February. Eggs, three in number ; ovato-pyri- 
forin. Size 2*20 inches by 1*55 inches. Colour, pure white. 
Mode of incubation said to be similar to that of the Homrai." 

Major Bingham, writing from Tenasserim, remarks : " I have 
as yet taken no eggs of this species, though I found several nests, 
which were precisely like those of R. undulatus, but in immense 
high trees, and far more secure than the nests of any other species 
from the height and inaccessibility of the localities chosen. The 
entrance holes were closed up exactly in the same way as in the 
case of the others, with a plastering of mud, &c." 

He subsequently wrote: "It is not very abundant in the 
Thoungyeen, and I only got two nests, one on the 5th March with 
two eggs, and the other on the 7th, with only one egg. The three 
eggs measure respectively 2-22 x 1'63, 2-28 x 1-68, and 2-49 x 1-78. 

"In the next year I got one nest on the 1st March at Meea- 
vvuddy containing one egg, 2'3xl'55. Nest in the hollow of 
myoukchaw tree (Homalium tomentosum) at a height fully of 60 
feet from the ground." 

Mr. Gates found the nest in Pegu. He says : " A man on the 
22nd March found a nest of this species. It was placed in a 
wood-oil tree about 70 feet from the ground. It contained only 
one egg, w hich was nearly hatched. In colour it is a dull white 
without any gloss, and the shell is rather rough to the touch. It 
measures 2-25 by 1*5. These dimensions agree well with Mr. 

The eggs of this species appear to me to be absolutely undistin- 
guishable from those of R. undulatus, and therefore no separate 
description is necessary. 





Palaeornis eupatrius (Linn.) *. The Rose-band Paroquet. 

Palreornis alexandri (Linn.), Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 256. 

Palaeornis sivalensis, Ilutton, Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 147. 

The Hose-band Paroquet breeds in the Kangra Valley in April, 
laying four eggs in large holes in trees, excavated by the birds 
themselves. Though I have found plenty of nests with young, I 
have never taken the egg myself, and owe this information to 
Major Cock. 

An egg of this species, taken by him, was a very long oval, very 
much pointed towards one end, white, a good deal soiled, and with 
little or no gloss. It measured 1*52 by O95 inch. 

Of this species Captain Hutton remarks: "Towards the end 
of January and beginning of February, it begins to cut a circular 
hole in some tree wherein to lay its eggs, which are usually two in 
number and pure white. The tree generally in request for this 
purpose is the semul or cotton-tree (Bombax heptaphyllum and 
malabaricum), although, sometimes, even the hard-wooded sal 
(Shorea robusta) is chosen ; the entrance-hole is a neatly-cut circle, 
either in the trunk or in some thick upright branch. The trees 
selected by these birds are not situated in the depths of the forests, 
but are detached on the outskirts, and, what is curious in such a 
quarrelsome bird, there are often three or four nests in the same 
tree. The eggs are hatched in about twenty-one days, and in the 
middle of March the young birds are about half-fledged and are 
then removed for sale." 

Mr. F. Field, writing from Goojrat, in the Punjab, on the 29th 
March, says: "I do not know if there is any record of this 
Paroquet breeding in these parts ; so I write to let you know that 
this morning I found a nest of a pair that had built in a hole in 
an old bakhaiu tree. 

" There were four well-grown young birds, quite unmistakable 
Alexandrines, about two weeks old. I saw the old male sitting out- 
side the hole, aud the old female came out as the boy was swarming 
up the tree. I regret I did not find the nest in time to procure the 
eggs, but I hope to be more fortunate next year." 

Mr. Gr. Reid, writing from Lucknow, tells us : "I have had 
the young brought to me in February and March. On one occa- 

* Forthe purpose of this work it is convenient to unite all the races of tins 
large Paroquet under one name. E. 

PAL.E011NIS. 83 

sion I took a nest containing three young on the 3rd April, so I 
think I might safely say that they breed in February and March." 
Mr. J. Davidson, referring to Western Khandesh, remarks : 
"This species breeds earlier than either of the Paroquets, the 
young being able to fly frequently by Christinas time, though I 
found one nest containing small young ones as late as the middle 
of March." 

Mr. H. James Kainey writes : " Of the nidification and breed- 
ing habits of this exceedingly pretty species of Paroquet, the 
local name of which is Chandana, I made some notes several 
years ago, when residing in the Eastern Sundurbun, and those 
notes form the basis of this paper. 

" From the last half of the month of March up to the first half 
of the month of May, these birds are to be seen flocking to the 
interior of the forests of the Eastern Sundurbun, especially that 
portion of it situated between the Haringhata and Bhola rivers on 
the extreme eastern side of the Jessore district. They at once 
select suitable trees with convenient hollows in them, some 25 to 
30 cubits above the surface of the ground, rather far apart from 
one another, and away from the banks of rivers and TcJials. The 
tree most preferred is, evidently, the Keurd (Sonneratia apetala, 
Buchanan), a large tree, the wood of which is light, and the next 
in demand is, apparently, the Sundri (Heritiera minor, Roxburgh). 
" They build their nests in the hollows, first scooping them down 
perpendicularly some two to two and a half fee*-, so that it requires 
a long arm to be able to remove the nestlings in them ; and many 
go out on this quest annually at the proper season, as a pair of 
these birds readily fetch about a rupee or two shillings in the 
neighbouring Jiats or fairs, being in great demand by the natives on 
account of their beauty, and the facility with which they can be 
taught to imitate the human voice. 

11 The eggs are, usually, two or three, and sometimes four in 
number, slightly smaller in size than pigeon's eggs, and in colour 
like those of the domesticated fowl, only slightly more whitish. 
They are deposited in the end of the hollows, the scrapings of the 
wood being gathered below to form a soft bed for them and the 
young, when hatched. Both the parent birds perform, alternately, 
the duty of incubation. The eggs take, I have been told, about 
four weeks to hatch, but on this point I have no exact knowledge 

" Duriug the month of June men go out bird-nesting into the 
interior of the forests of the Sundurbun, generally three or four 
of them together, and then the young birds are not quite fledged, 
and therefore unable to quit their nests. Great numbers of them 
are hauled out of their nests by the several parties who go out for 
them, and they find, as before stated, a ready sale for the 

" The young are able to leave their nests and fly away in the 
following month, July, and they then go to the cultivated tracts, 
roosting on rhe reed-jungle, known in the vernacular as JXal 



(Arundo Jcarha, Linnaeus), along the banks of streams ; and as vast 
flocks of them congregate in the same place every night, where 
they remain for about a month, if undisturbed, before dispersing 
themselves all over the surrounding country, they are easily caught 
in large numbers with bird-lime in the following manner. Slender 
sticks of split bamboo with their upper ends well smeared with 
bird-lime are placed in those parts of the Ned jungle where the 
birds are likely to settle for the night, and the next morning the 
flocks fly away, leaving those of their companions that have been 
caught, with the bird-lime, to captivity for life. Many are secured 
in this way, which is evidently profitable, for one patch of such 
jungle as they frequent (another may be miles away) is leased for 
this purpose for 20 rupees and upwards. 

" Jerdon, I find, in * The Birds of India,' says the Alexandrine 
Paroquet breeds elsewhere during the winter, in the months of 
December and January ; and if this information is correct, as I 
presume it is, it is noteworthy that they should breed in the !3un- 
durbun in the summer." 

Mr. J. Inglis remarks of this species in Cachar : " Very 
common. Breeds throughout the summer in the holes of trees." 

Mr. Gates, writing from Lower Pegu, says : " I procured three 
hard-set eggs on the 25th February out of a hole of a large cotton- 
tree about 25 feet from the ground; colour pure white, much 
soiled with incubation and with very little gloss. Dimensions of 
these three eggs : 1-4, 1'35, 1-37, by 1-03, 1-01, and 1'03 respec- 

Mr. J. Darling, junior, found the nest of this Paroquet in 
Tenasserim. He says : "Dec. 10th. Took four eggs of this bird 
at Weppitau, a small village at the mouth of the Moulmein River, 
on the opposite bank to Amherst, some two miles from the sea- 
shore. The nest was in the hole of a tree in light jungle, border- 
ing the side of one of the numerous creeks, and which is always 
flooded at high water. It was 32 feet from the ground ; the 
entrance was four inches in diameter, and seemed to have been 
made by the bird in order to get to the hollow in the stump. The 
eggs were about 2 feet 3 inches below the entrance ; there was 
no lining of any sort, only a few chips on which the eggs were 

" One egg was fresh, and the others were slightly incubated." 

The eggs are regular ovals, generally slightly pointed towards the 
small end, rather broader, though in other respects much the shape 
of a hen's egg. The shell is stout, rather coarse in its texture, 
showing many tiny rugations, especially towards the large end, 
but has withal a slight amount of gloss. The colour is abso- 
lutely pure and spotless white. The eggs of all this subgroup are 
so precisely alike, that although those of one race may average a 
little larger than those of another, it would be almost quite 
impossible to separate small eggs of the one form from large eggs 
of the other. 

The four eggs of the present species procured by Mr. Darling 
measured from 1-31 to 1-35 in length by 0-99 to 1-05 in breadth. 


Palaeornis torquatns (Bodd.). The Rose-ringed Paroquet. 

Palaeornis torquatus (Bodd.\ Jerd. B. Ind. \, p. 257 ; Hume. Rough 
Draft N. fy E. no. 148. 

So far as my experience goes, March is the month in which the 
majority of our common Hose-ringed Paroquets lay ; but I have 
taken the eggs as early as the 5th of February, and as late as the 
3rd of May, though this latter date is, I believe, quite exceptional. 

Mr. Adam remarks : " On the 22nd January I observed a pair 
of Parrots scooping out a bole in a neem-tree on the Agra and 
Muttra Road, and on the 30th January I observed a pair with a 
nest in a mud wall." 

Captain Hutton correctly notices that " at the pairing-season 
the female of this species becomes the most affected creature 
possible, twisting herself into all sorts of ridiculous postures, in 
order, apparently, to attract the notice of her sweetheart, and 
uttering a low twittering note the while in the most approved 
style of flirtation, while her wings are half-spread and her head 
kept rolling from side to side in demigyrations ; the male, sitting 
quielly by her side, looking on with wonder as if fairly taken 
aback, and wondering to see her make such a guy of herself. 
I have watched them during these courtships until I have felt 
humiliated at seeing how closely the follies of mankind resembled 
those of the brute creation. The only return the male made 
to these antics was scratching the top of her head with the point 
of his beak, and joining his bill to hers in a loving kiss." 

They lay in holes in trees, chiefly, in Upper India, in mango 
and siris trees, I think, but I have met with them in fifty kinds. 
The mouth of the hole, which is circular and very neatly cut and, 
say, 2 inches on the average in diameter, is sometimes in the trunk, 
sometimes in some large bough, and not unfrequently iu the lower 
surface of the latter. It generally goes straight in for 2 to 4 
inches, and then turns downwards for from 6 inches to 3 feet. 
The lower or chamber portion of the hole is never less than 4 or 
5 iuches in diameter, and is often a large natural hollow, three or 
four times these dimensions, into which the bird has cut its usual 
neat passage. The hole has no lining, only a few chips of wood 
on which the eggs rest. 

The normal number of the eggs is four, but I have found as 
many as six, and have taken six nearly fledged young ones out of one 
hole ; in another nest I once found two fresh eggs, one addled egg, 
and one young bird, at least eight days old. On another occasion 
I found in a small hole ten eggs and two females, though there 
was only room for one female to sit on the eggs. 

Major C. T. Biugham remarks of this bird : " Breeds both at 
Allahabad and at Delhi in February and March, in holes in old 
walls and in trees ; no lining : eggs four in number." 

Writing of Eajpootana in general, Lieut. H. E. Barnes says of 
this species: "Breeds from the end of February to early in 


Colonel Butler writes : " The Bose-ringed Paroquet breeds in 
the neighbourhood of Deesa in February and March. I took a 
nest in Deesa on the 14th of February, 1875, containing four 
fresh eggs, which is somewhat early for this species to lay, as at 
that time of the year they are still to be seen in immense flocks. 
This pair 1 look upon, however, as an exceptional couple, as I had 
noticed them at work clearing out the hole, in which the eggs were 
subsequently deposited, for at least three months before the eggs 
were laid, during which period they never joined any of the 
numerous large flocks which abound in that neighbourhood during 
the rains and in the cold weather. I had to push the hen bird off 
the nest with my hand, and even then she would not leave the 
hole, although there were no less than three entrances by which 
she might have escaped. Eventually, after taking the eggs, I left 
her to mourn the loss of her ' penates,' sulking in one of the 
passages leading from the nest. Another nest near the same 
place and in a similar situation, containing four fresh eggs on the 
26th February, 1876. Two of the eggs were more in shape like 
miniature eggs of Athene brama, being less round and more com- 
pressed at the small end than the ordinary type. Several more 
nests all through March." 

" Belgaum District ; nests taken on the following dates : 
28th Dec., a nest containing four eggs hard-set; 31st Dec., four 
fresh eggs ; 3rd Feb., three fresh eggs ; 23rd Feb., four fresh eggs." 

Mr. J. Davidson, writing of this species in Western Khandesh, 
says : " It breeds in January and February.*' 

*Mr. C. J. W. Taylor tells us that in Manzeerabad, Mysore, this 
species breeds in February, March, and April. 

Mr. H. Parker, writing of Ceylon, says: "There is a large 
colony of these birds along the coast adjoining Mannar island. 
How far they extend is uncertain, but for a length of four miles 
and a width of a quarter of a mile I found them breeding in 
great numbers in January, some nest-holes being only three or four 
feet from the ground." 

Mr. J. R. Cripps informs us that in the Dibrugarh district of 
Assam this species breeds at such a late period as June. He 
says : " They lay in June in holes in trees." 

Mr. Gates writes: "Breeds commonly throughout Pegu. I 
have procured eggs from 28th January to 25th February. On 
the latter date, however, the eggs were nearly hatched." 

The eggs are pure white and glossless, though here and there 
an egg with some faint glaze may be met with. The normal shape 
is a moderately broad oval, very perceptibly pointed towards one 
end, but long and spherical varieties occur. Although devoid of 
gloss, the texture of the shell is very firm and compact, and there 
is none of the chalkiness about them observable in the eggs of the 
Hornbills and Coucals. 

In length the eggs vary from 1-05 to 1'37 inch, and in breadth 
from 0*87 to 1*02 inch ; but the average of fifty eggs measured was 
1-2 by 0-95. 


Palaeornis purpureus (P. L. S. Miill.). The Western Hose- 
headed Paroquet. 

Pakeornis rosa (Bodd.), Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 259. 

Palaeornia purpureus (Miill.), Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. no. 149. 

The Western Eose-headed Paroquet breeds throughout the 
plains of Continental India, high up on Mount Aboo, throughout 
the Salt Range and the lower ranges of the Himalayas up to 
heights of 4000 or 5000 feet, from Murree to the Ganges. April 
is the month in which, according to my experience, they commonly 
lay, but I have found eggs both in March and May. 

As a rule, they excavate holes for themselves, with small neat 
circular apertures, in large trees or huge branches of trees, but I 
have also seen eggs in natural cavities of decaying trees. Four I 
take to be the normal number, but I have known five and even six 
eggs to occur. Mr. R. Thompson writes that this speciea " breeds 
from April to June, and selects usually a tree of moderate height 
and one somewhat decayed. They scoop out a fresh hole every 
year ; at least, those nests I have found have ahvay proved to be 
new ones. The aperture is perfectly circular and large enough to 
admit of one bird entering in at a time. The decayed excrescence 
of a branch is invariably chosen, the birds scooping out the decayed 
wood, and in the form of the nest following the course of the 
branch in its growth from the centre of the trunk. The egg- 
cavity is scooped out larger than the entrance and passage, and 
usually contains four pure white eggs, much rounded, of about 1 
inch in length and y 8 ^ inch in the broadest part. The eggs are 
laid without any further preparation of a nest or lining of soft 
material beyond what the decayed wood furnishes as a foundation. 
The female usually loses her long uropygial feathers, thereby 
acquiring greater facilities for movements of her body in the nest. 
She is a close sitter, and will allow herself to be taken rather than 
desert the nest for a while. The young are easily tamed and soon 
learn to repeat a short air whistled to them. Many breed together 
in the same tree, and they evince, in many of their habits, a social 
and gregarious disposition." 

Colonel Gr. L. Marshall remarks : "P. purpureus is common in 
the Saharunpore District, and breeds in March in hollow decayed 
trees, not cutting out a hole for itself, but selecting a natural 
hollow, generally in a toon or bakain (Melia sempervirens) tree; it 
lays four round white eggs on the decayed matter at the bottom of 
the hole, which is without artificial lining ; some of the eggs are 
faintly spotted all over with yellowish brown, but these marks 
almost entirely disappear with washing, and are probably only 

Mr. Benjamin Aitken remarks : " My observations have con- 
vinced me that the great majority of the Rose-beaded Paroquets 
retire to the hills to breed. At Mahableshwar and Khandalla 
their numbers are innumerable in the hot season, and just then 


they are conspicuous by their absence in the plains. In Berar, 
about the middle of June 1870, I observed flocks of these birds 
arriving after an almost total absence of several months." 

Messrs. Davidson and Wenden, writing of the Deccan, say : 
"Abundant in the Satara Districts, where it is a permanent resident. 
It breeds in the plains there in December and on the ghats in 
March. During the rains it is very common throughout the 
Sholapoor Districts." 

And Mr. J. Davidson, speaking of Western Khandesh, says : 
" It is in February the commonest bird in the low Satpuras, and I 
have found as many as a dozen nests in a day's walk through the 

In the western parts of Ceylon, according to Colonel Legge, 
this species breeds from February to May. 

As a rule, the eggs of this species are proportionally broader 
ovals than those of the common Rose-ring Paroquet, and they are 
more distinctly pointed towards the small end. The eggs are 
much smaller than those of P. torquatus; far more so than the 
relative sizes of the birds would have led one to suspect. The 
quite fresh egg is of course pure white, but they are almost invari- 
ably somewhat discoloured, and at least half my specimens are a 
dingy cream-colour. They are quite devoid of gloss. 

They vary in length from 0'9 to 1-05 inch, and in breadth from 
0*75 to O86 inch ; but the average of some twenty eggs measured 
was 1-0 by 0-81 inch. 

Palaeornis cyanocephalus (Linn.). The Eastern Rose-headed 

Palseornis cyanocephalus (Linn.), Hume, Cat. no. 149 bis. 

Writing of the Eastern Eose-headed Paroquet in Pegu, Mr. 
Gates remarks : " Nest with four eggs well incubated in a hole of 
a tree about six feet from the ground. The hole was a foot deep, 
very roomy, but the entrance, which had been enlarged by the 
bird, was only large enough to admit its body. The eggs were 
laid on the bare wood. Although the sitting bird was poked at with 
a stick, and it took fully half an hour to enlarge the hole in order 
to take the eggs, yet the bird could not be induced to quit the 
nest, and eventually had to be dragged out. When disturbed with 
the stick the female made a noise like the hissing of a snake. 
These eggs were taken on the 22nd February. 

" On the 2nd March two fresh eggs were taken from another 
hole ; and on the 16th March another nest was found also with 
two eggs well incubated. 

" The eggs are of course pure white, rather glossy when fresh, 
but becoming dull with incubation. The eggs measure from -97 to 
95 in length, and from *85 to *8 in breadth." 


Palseornis schisticeps, Hodgs. The Slaty -headed Paroquet. 

Palaeornis schisticeps, Hodgs.. Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 261 ; Hume. Roucih 
Draft N. $ JE. no. 150. 

The Slaty-headed Paroquet breeds throughout the Himalayas, 
south of the first Snowy Kange, at heights of from 4000 to 7000 
feet. During the winter they keep much lower down, but about 
March they begin to come upwards to breed, and the majority lay 
during the latter half of March and April, though I took one nest 
of fresh eggs on the 5th of May. 

They nest at times in natural hollows of trees ; in fact, this I 
think is more usual, but not uufrequently in holes cut by them- 
selves. The tree in which I have most commonly found them is 
the hill-oak. The eggs are often very deep down and difficult to 
secure, especially when, as is often the case, the tree is a sound 
one. The egg-chamber is at times very large, but is never less 
than 4 or 5 inches in diameter. They lay from four to five eggs, 
which are commonly placed on chips of wood ; the nest has no 
other lining. The female sits very close and will not leave her 
eggs, though you may be ten minutes hacking away with an axe 
to get down to the nest. 

Colonel C. H. T. Marshall, writing from Murree, says : " These 
nests were invariably very high up in tall trees, most of them in 
newly-made holes. All that we found this year contained young 
birds. We got the egg last year. It is 1*15 long by 0*95 inch 
broad. This species breeds at the latter end of April. Elevation 
6000 to 7000 feet." 

Captain Hutton remarks : " Although a true mountaineer, it 
descends in the winter season to the gardens and groves around 
Dehra, and is often mixed up with the flocks of P. purpureus and 
P. torquatus ; but in the early spring they return to the hills, which 
they never at any season entirely quit, and breed in April and 
May. The tree most usually selected is a large species of gum- 
yielding BauJiinia, each tree harbouring but one pair of birds." 

The eggs are rather broad ovals, pure white when fresh, and 
glossless. In size they are intermediate between those of P. pur- 
pureus and P. torquatus. They appear to be often much soiled and 
stained during incubation, as is not uncommon with those of 
P. purpureus, but which is less common with those of P. torquatus. 

In length these eggs vary from 1*08 to 1*17 inch, and in breadth 
from 0-89 to 0-94 inch ; but the average is about 1-12 by 0-92 

Palaeornis columboides, Vigors. The Blue-winged Paroquet. 

Palaeornis columboides, Viy., Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 261 ; Hume, Cat. 
no. 151. 

Mr. F. Bourdillon informs me that he has taken several nests 
of this species in the Assamboo Hills in Travancore. He says : 


" The first nest we found contained a single fresh egg ; this was on 
the 6th of January. The second (taken on the 20th of January) 
contained two fresh eggs, while the third, which we found on the 
16th of February, yielded four hard-set ones. Probably four is the 
full complement. The nest is invariably in a hole in a tree, at a 
considerable height from the ground, and consists merely of a few 
rotten leaves and a little decayed wood. I have never observed 
this species either cutting a hole for itself or carrying any material 
for a nest. The breeding-season seems to last from the 1st January 
to the close of March. During April, old and young birds are 
very noisy; the latter learning to ny, the former showing them 
the way to set about it. The eggs are roundish, white and slightly 
polished, and the average dimensions of seven were 1*07 inch by 

One egg, which Mr. Bourdillon kindly sent me, is pure white, 
has a faint gloss, and though broad and roundish is a good deal 
compressed and more or less pointed at the small end. Two others 
are dead white, entirely devoid of gloss and more regularly oval. 
They vary in length from 1*09 to 1*14 inch, and in breadth from 
0-9 to 0-93. 

Mr. Benjamin Aitken says: "I have seen this bird shot at 
Khandalla in the hot season, and I suppose it is to be found on 
other parts of the Western Ghats. Nestlings were brought to me 
for sale at Poona on the 24th May, 1871 ; they were said to have 
been taken on the hills." 

Messrs. Davidson and Wenden, writing of the Deccan, say of 
this species : " Moderately common along the very top of the 
ghats, and breeds there. 

"An old bird shot, whilst feeding a young one, in March." 

Palseornis calthropse, Layard. Layard's Paroquet. 
Palaeornis calthropae, Layard, Hume, Cat. no. 151 bis. 

Speaking of Ceylon, Colonel Legge tells us that " the breeding- 
season " of this species " commences in January. It nests in holes 
of large trees ; but I have never been able to procure the eggs, 
although I have more than once discovered the nest. I have seen 
one situated in a bora-tree (Dipterocarpus zeylanicus) ; the old 
birds, on flying to it, clung to the bark outside the opening, and 
then pulled themselves into the hole, using the beak to assist 
them in entering." 

Palaeornis fasciatus (P. L. S. Mull.). The Red-breasted Paroquet. 

Palaeornis javanicus (Osbeck), Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 2G2. 

Palgeornis fasciatus (MiilL), 'Hume, Rouyh Draft N. $ E. no. 152. 

I have never myself found the eggs of this, the lled-breasted Paro- 
quet. Mr. E-. Thompson writes to me as follows : " Palceornis 
iavanicns. If this be the bird' described under the above name by 


Dr. Jerclon, his description is erroneous in so far that the wing-patch 
is not red but yellow, paling to grass-green on the edges. 

" The Madhun Gour Tota breed in the lofty sal forests of the 
Sub-Himalayan Range, and are peculiarly restricted to this locality 
when breeding. Any hole in a tree serves for a nest provided it is 
near the top of the tree, and the eggs are four in number, pure 
white, and about the size and shape of those of P. torquatus. The 
breeding-season commences in March, and is carried on till the 
middle of May, when the young birds leave the nest. Large 
numbers of them are taken every season when they are yet too 
young to be able to fly, and carried to the plains, where they are 
much prized by the natives, learning easily to repeat words and 
phrases taught them. This Paroquet is generally distributed 
through the dense and lofty forests, but nowhere is it very 

Major Bingham sends the following : " Maoo Reserve, Zammee 
River, 18th February, 1878. On the march this morning saw a 
female of Palceornis fasciatus slip out of a hole in a decayed branch 
of a zirabun tree, about 20 fet-t up. As she sat on a twig close by 
and seemed loth to leave, I shot her, suspecting there were eggs 
in the hole J had first seen her quit. And sure enough, on sending 
up a Karen who cut it open with his dak (knife), he brought me 
down a single fresh egg, which he found at the bottom of a tunnel 
some foot or so from the entrance-hole, and which he said lay on 
the bare wood. The egg is pure white, rather coarse-grained and 
devoid of gloss. It measures 1-25 by O98." 

I have seen but few specimens of this bird's eggs ; these were 
broad ovals, somewhat smaller than the average of the eggs of 
P. torquatus, and, like them, of a dull, glossless white colour. 

Six eggs vary from 1-12 to 1-18 inch in length, and from 0-94 
to I'O inch in breadth. 

Palaeornis nicobaricus, Gould. The Nicobar Paroquet. 
Pahrorniu nicobaricus, Gould, Hume, Cat. no. 152 bis. 

Mr. Davison remarks : " On the 17th of February I found on 
the island of Trinkut, Nicobars, a nest of the Xicobar Paroquet in 
a hole in a branch of a screw-pine (Pandanus) about 12 feet from 
the ground ; the nest contained two young birds, one well covered 
with feathers, the other a tiny little thing, with its eyes closed and 
without the trace of a feather. There was no lining to the hole, 
only a little powder from the decayed wood. Again, on the 2nd 
March, I found a nest also on the island of Triukut, situated about 
30 feet above the ground, in a hole in a branch of a large forest 
tree ; this nest contained two very young birds. On the 17th of 
April, at Port Mouat, Andamans, I saw a female (P. tytleri) feeding 
two young ones that were sitting on the edge of a hole in an old 
dry mangrove stump about 12 feet high. As I did not require the 
birds, I did not climb up to the nest, and so cannot say whether 


the hole was lined or not. It is curious that the bills of all the 
young of these species that I examined were quite red, both upper 
and lower mandibles ; the adult females always have the bills 
black. Can it be that the bills turn from red in the young females 
to black in the adult females ? In P. fasciatus the young males 
have the upper mandible black, turning to red as they become 
adult. The young of P. nicobaricus and P. tytleri that I examined 
may have been all males ; but this I think was not likely. I must 
have seen during my stay at the Andamans and Nicobars at least 
thirty young birds of these species, of all sexes, either with con- 
victs or in the Nicobarese huts, and yet I never saw a young one 
that could not fly that had a black upper or lower mandible. The 
only very young one that I actually dissected was a male." 

Loriculus vernalis (Sparrm.). The Indian Loriquet. 

Loriculus vernalis (Sparrm.\ Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 265 ; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 153. 

The Indian Loriquet breeds in the Terai below Darjeeling, the 
Bhootan Dooars, Assam, Eastern Bengal, Burma, and the Anda- 
mans. It lays from three to five eggs, from March to May, in 
holes and hollows of trees without any nest. 

Mr. Davisonsays: "On the 19th April, while returning to 
B,oss from Port Mouat, a Burman convict, who was with me, saw 
a bird of this species fly into a hole in the branch of a forest tree 
growing by the road-side. He called my attention to this, and I 
sent him up the tree. On his climbing up, he found the bird (which 
he caught and brought down with him) sitting on three round 
white eggs. The hole was about 20 feet from the ground, and 
contained no lining or attempt at a nest, the eggs being laid on 
some soft black earthy -looking powder that lay at the bottom of 
the hole, and which had evidently fallen from the top and sides of 
the hole. The hole, which w 7 as a natural one, not excavated by the 
bird, was moderately large, but not quite large enough to admit 
the convict's hand without a little cutting away at its lower edge." 

The eggs above referred to are very broad and obtuse-ended 
ovals, in colour dirty-white, and entirely glossless. They vary 
from O7 to O75 iuch in length, and from O58 to 0-6 inch in 

Mr. T. W. Bourdillon writes from Travancore : " Last Monday 
(15th March), while watching the nest of our common Woodpecker, 
which unfortunately was not discovered until it contained young 
birds, I saw a Loriquet (L. vernalis} fly out of a hole in a stump. 
The stump was about 15 feet high, and was hollowed out for about 
the depth of a foot ; this hollow was protected by a thick jungle 
creeper, under which the bird found room to pass in and out. 
Investigation showed that the nest was composed of a very few 
dry leaves at the bottom of the cavity, and that it contained three 
very hard-set, glossy, white eggs. This nest was at an elevation 

STRIX. 93 

of about 2000 feet above sea-level, in a new clearing near the edge 
of some heavy jungle." 

The eggs taken by Mr. Bourdillon, though much discoloured 
when they reached ine, were in most other respects precisely similar 
to those taken in the Andamans, although a shade larger. They 
varied from 0*76 toO'78 in length and from 0*6 to 0'63 in breadth. 

Mr. J. Inglis, writing of this species in Cachar, says : " The 
Indian Loriquet is rather common ; it breeds on the hills about 
April. It is often found sucking honey from a large red flower in 
March, when as many as four or five can sometimes be killed at a 
shot. It flies at a great pace, but is not in the least shy." 

Major C. T. Bingham found the nest of this species in Tenas- 
serim. He writes : " This bird is very common in the Thoungyeen 

" On the 24th February, 1880, a nest-hole of this pretty little 
Loriquet was pointed out to me by a Karen, in the branch of a 
large silk-cotton tree (Bombax) on the bank of the Meplay choung 
below Gratai village. It was on the side of the branch at a height 
of about 40 feet from the ground, so that it was with a good deal 
of difficulty I managed to get the three eggs it contained down by 
the help of a rope ladder I had constructed, which, however, did 
not work well. 

" The hole was about 1| inch in diameter, and about 6 or 7 
inches deep, going in obliquely inwards towards the base of the 
branch. It was imlined, except for a few fragments of chipped 
wood. The eggs were dull dead white, glossless and rather 
roundish ; they measure respectivelv 0*68 by 0-59, 0*69 by 0*60, 
0-68 by 0-61 inch." 

Family STEIGID^E. 

Strix javanica, Gmel. The Indian Barn-Owl. 

Strix javanica, De Wurmb., Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 117. 

Strix javanica, Gmel., Hume, Rough Draft iV. 8f E. no. 60. 

The Indian Barn-Owl, the representative in India of the 
European Barn-Owl, Jays (apparently) in Upper India from the 
middle of February to the middle of June; Mr. R. M. Adam 
obtained the eggs on the 10th June near Agra ; Mr. Brooks ob- 
tained them near Eta wah on the 17th of February; and I have 
obtained them on three occasions in March in Allygurh, near 
Jeypoor, and near Lucknow. In the Central Provinces they lay 
from November to Jauuarv. 


As far as my personal experience goes, they breed either in holes 
of old buildings or in wells, the latter being the favourite locality ; 
but at Ajmere some native fowlers showed me a pair in a small 
and easily accessible cave, in which they asserted that these birds 
had bred for years, and Mr. F. E. Blewitt found their nests in 
holes of trees. 

In some instances the eggs appear to be laid on the bare ground 
with but a few grass-stems or feathers about them ; in others there 
is a small stick-nest, much like that of a Pigeon. 

According to my own experience they lay three eggs, but 
according to native trappers sometimes as many as six, and usually 
four, while on two occasions Mr. Blewitt found that they had laid 

He remarks : " It was on the 7th December, 1870, in the 
forest near Toomgaon, Eaepore District, that my men brought me 
seven half-grown young of this species. They were secured in a 
large hole about 12 feet from the ground in the trunk of a large 
mowah (Russia latifolia) tree ; an adult Painted Partridge (Fran- 
colinus pictus) had formed part of their night's repast. Again, on 
the 9th of the same month, in the Sumbulpore District in the 
Singhora beat, in a clump of half a dozen mowah trees, I found in 
the hollow of a large lateral branch of one (some 9 feet from the 
ground) six eggs and a young bird just hatched. The eggs were 
simply deposited on the wood. Seven would therefore appear to 
be the normal number of the eggs. 

" In neither case was there a nest of any kind. The bird is 
common in these parts (Eaepore, Sumbulpore), and breeds always 
in holes of trees, simply I suppose because it can find no old 
pukha wells or buildings to breed in. The young birds I reared, 
and I mention a noteworthy fact. The birds were fond of standing 
in the water given them in a broad open vessel and bathing 
themselves. It was amusing, too, to notice their dexterity in 
grasping with their claws the pieces of meat thrown into the 
water, which they would devour piece by piece, holding them in 
one claw like a parrot. When young, the birds were very tame, 
but as they grew up they became rather wild. They were voracious 
eaters, and at times it was difficult to procure a sufficiency of food 
to satisfy their insatiable appetites. It is a singular fact, that when 
it was given them they would invariably at once disgorge the 
flesh of owls, kites, or hawks. However disguised the result 
was the same ; small birds, their favourite food, were swallowed 

Mr. G. Vidal, referring to the South Konkan, says : " I found 
a nest with four young ones in a hole high up in the wall of a 
house at Khed. I kept two of the young ones, who were very 
wild and vicious. One, who was shut up in a cage with a young 
Bulaca ocellata, quite as large and nearly as old as itself, killed and 
ate a large portion of its cage-fellow one night. After this exploit 
I packed it off with other young Owls to the Victoria Gardens at 

STRIX. 95 

Messrs. Davidson and Wenden remark: " Commonish at all 
seasons, and although we know them to breed about Sholapoor, we 
were not fortunate enough to secure their eggs. D. got a nest 
with seven young birds in the Satara Districts in February." 

"In Jafna," says Colonel Legge, writing from Ceylon, "I 
understand this 6\vl breeds in June and July, nesting in the 
drains in the escarpment of the Fort ditch, without fear at that 
time of their nests being washed away." 

Mr. Gates records the following note from Pegu: "January 
18th. Six young birds, varying much in age, were brought to me. 
They were found in a hole in the ground. 

"\\ih January. Five eggs in a large hole in a peepul-tree. I 
took a sixth, perfect egg from the oviduct of the female/' 

The eggs, like those of all Owls, are unspotted white, but most 
of the specimens that I have seen had, like many of our larger 
Owls' eggs, a very faint creamy tinge. In shape the eggs appear 
to be more oval and less round than those of the European Strix 
Jlammea, to which they closely approximate. Of all our Indian 
O wls, too, so far as my experience goes, this species lays the least 
spherical egg. The texture is compact and fine, but there is less 
gloss than in most species of this family. 

The eggs vary from 1-55 to 1*79 inch in length, and from 1*2 to 
1*35 inch in breadth ; but the average of thirteen eggs measured 
was 1-69 by 1'28 inch. 

Strix Candida, Tickell. The Grass-Owl. 

Strix Candida, Tick., Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 118. 

Glaux Candida (Tick.), Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. no. 61. 

Mr. C. H. Parker, to whom I owe the only egg of the Grass- 
Owl contained in my museum, has favoured me with the following 
note: "AVhen I was in Tirhoot, I found whilst out partridge- 
shooting near Shapur, on the 26th of October, 1866, a nest of the 
Grass-Owl in long grass ; both the old birds rose from the nest, 
and one was shot as a specimen. There were five eggs much in- 
cubated and two young ones just hatched in the nest. The 
following day another nest was found in a similar locality con- 
taining five eggs ; these were fresh, and measured about 1'fi inch 
long by 1-25 inch broad. The eggs from the first nest appeared 
broader than those from the last, but I did not measure them." 

Colonel Tickell, in his paper on the nidification of certain species 
in the plains of India, remarks in regard to the present bird : 
" Little or no nest, at most a little grass scattered and smoothed 
down in the midst of heavy grass-jungle ; always on the ground. 
Eggs usually four in number, round, pure white ; size 1'75 by 1'37 
inch ; November or December." 

The eggs of this species with which I have been favoured by 
Mr. Parker are pure white, with very little gloss, and of more 


elongated oval than those of S. flammea. The two eggs sent 
by Mr. Parker measured 1-65 by 1'27 inch and 1'66 by 1*28 

Other eggs which I have received from the Khasia Hills and 
Cachar are quite similar, dull white glossless eggs, rather elongated 
ovals, varying but little in size or shape ; the shell is quite yellow 
when held up against the light. 

They measure from 1-53 to 1*61 in length, and from 1/21 to 
1/25 in breadth. 

Family BUBONID^. 

Ketupa ceylonensis (Gmel.). The Brown Fish-Owl. 

Ketupa ceylonensis (Gm.) } Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 133; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 72. 

The Brown Fish-Owl breeds from December to March, but the 
majority lay, I think, in February. They always nest in the 
vicinity of water, sometimes choosing a cleft in rocks overhanging 
a mountain-stream, sometimes a broad shelf in the clay cliffs of 
some river, sometimes a huge cavity in some old banyan-tree, and 
at times appropriating an old nest of Haliaetus leucoryphus. 

Where they make their own nest, on a ledge or recess of a cliff, 
it consists of little but a few sticks, mingled with a few feathers, 
or, when in holes of trees, of a few feathers and dead leaves ; but 
when they annex an old nest of the Fishing-Eagle (and I have 
several records of this), they seem to line it more carefully with 
finer twigs, grass, and feathers. I have never found green leaves 
under the eggs of this species. 

Normally they lay two eggs ; I have altogether records of nine 
nests, and in none of them were there more than two eggs or 
young ones. 

Colonel Gr. Marshall writes : " This bird is pretty common in 
the Saharunpore District ; it lays two round white eggs, and 
returns year after year to the same nest. I found one nest in a 
hollow in the fork of a banyan-tree about 25 feet from the ground, 
the hollow being so deep that the parent bird, sitting, could not be 
seen from the ground on any side. I found it accidentally, as I 
was climbing the tree for another nest. I watched it for three 
years : in 1866, on the 10th April, I found it with two young ones ; 
in 1867, I visited it on the 17th March, and again found young 
ones ; in 1868, on the 24th February, I found two eggs, the first 
of which was hatched on 14th March, the other egg I took. The 
tree in which the nest was was a very large one, in a small grove 
of jauiun-trees (Euyenium jambolanum), on the bank of an extensive 
jheel near Sirsawar." 


Mr. Brooks mentions that he " shot a female on the 25th of 
February, sitting on two addled eggs. What little nest there was 
consisted of sticks, and was placed on a shelf of the clay cliffs of 
the Jumna in the Etawah District. The shelf was slightly over- 
hung, and on it, within twenty yards of the Fish-Owl, a Neophron 
had her nest." 

Towards the end of July, I found a pair of these Owls with two 
fully-grown young ones in a tiny cave in the rocky and precipitous 
banks of the Kosila, near Kakuree Ghat. The cave, the mouth of 
which was veiled by a large down-trailing andromeda bush, had 
obviously been their nesting-place, and though well-concealed was 
eu> y of access. There were a few sticks covered over with castings 
and remains of numerous birds and bones of small mammals. I 
turned the whole family out of their quarters, but did not other- 
wise molest them, an act of forbearance which I later had cause 
to regret, as they ceased not, the livelong night through, to give 
forth the most vociferous protests (from the cliff face, immediately 
above my tent) against, as I suppose, my neglect to honour them 
with a place in my museum. 

On January llth, 1867, I visited a large nest in a peepul-tree 
overhanging the Jumna below Sheregurh, Zillah Etawah, in which, 
both in 1865 and 1866, to my personal knowledge, a pair of H. 
leucortjphus had reared their young. To my surprise, it was 
tenanted by a pair of Ketupa ceylonensis, which had carefully 
relined the nest, and had at that time a solitary young one in it, 
some seven days old, a ball of whitish down. On the nest we 
found two quails, a pigeon, doves, and a mynah, all with the 
heads, necks, and breasts eaten away, but with the wings, back, 
feet, and tail remaining almost intact. Two or three of them were 
quite dry, and one, which I still have, is quite as good a specimen 
as most of those that I owe to an eminent naturalist, who appears 
to preserve his birds by first pulling out half the feathers and then 
having what remains carefully run over, on very dirty ground, by a 
heavy cart-wheel ! 

On the banks of the Sutlej and again near Bhurtpore, I found 
nests which I had been led to as those of H. leucoryphus occupied 
by K. ctylonensis. 

" On the 10th February," says Mr. Blewitt, writing from E-ae- 
pore, " a single egg of this Owl was secured ; it was found on a 
little earth in the hollow of a large inohwa-tree where two branches 
had forked off ; the tree was growing on the ridge of a rice-field 
near some low jungle." 

Mr. J. C. Parker writes from the neighbourhood of Calcutta : 
" Took two fresh eggs from a nest on the top of a lofty peepul- 
tree, 7th December. The nest appeared to have belonged to a 
Vulture, as several of these birds' nests in adjoining trees were of 
precisely the same construction. This was at Bagoolah, a station 
on the E. B. Railway, some 60 miles from Calcutta. Found a 
nearly full-grown young bird in a hole in a mango-tre3 on the 
18th January."' 

VOL. III. 7 


The late Captain Cock wrote to me : " In February 1875 at 
Sitapur I found a nest of K. ceylonensis in a hollow in the trunk 
of a huge mango about 9 feet from the ground. A native informed 
me of the nest, and on climbing the tree the bird flew off its eggs. 
I just satisfied myself that there were eggs, and I jumped down 
and knocked the old bird over as she sat on an adjacent tree. The 
pair of eggs, which were hard-set, were placed on a little dry mud 
and leaves in this hollow about a foot down." 

Mr. G-. Yidal tells us that in the South Konkan this Owl is 
" common both on the coast and inland, wherever there are shady 
groves and large trees near water. Nine nests found from January 
to March, all in hollows or depressions of mango-trees, one or two 
eggs or young birds in each. One abnormally long egg I have 
measures 2-55 by 1-87." 

Messrs. Davidson and "Wenden write: " On 14th February, in 
the Satara Districts, D. shot a hen from a nest which contained 
an addled egg. We have not obtained this species in the Shola- 
poor Districts." 

Colonel W. V. Legge, writing to me of the nesting of this Owl 
in Ceylon, says: " The Ketupa breeds with us in June, July, and 
August, and chooses either a hole in a large tree or a ledge of rock. 
The eggs are laid on the bare wood without any nest being con- 

Mr. J. R. Cripps, writing from Furreedpore in Eastern Bengal, 
says : " I shot an Owl in a clump of mango-trees on the out- 
skirts of a village. The report of the gun flushed a second bird 
from a large hollow in the stump of a mango -tree, and about 9 
feet off the ground : found two eggs, one just hatching off, which I 
left ; no lining of any kind to the hole. The villagers told me 
that every year a pair of this Fish-Owl lays in that hole." 

Finally Mr. Oates records this note from Pegu : " Nest in a 
fork of a large tree 10 feet from the ground. Two young birds 
about one month old. March 31st." 

The eggs are very perfect, broad ovals, white, with, in most 
specimens, the faintest possible creamy tinge. The shell close- 
grained and compact, freely pitted all over its surface, but, never- 
theless, more or less glossy. They seem to me undistinguishable 
from many of those of Bubo coroma.ndus. 

In size the eggs vary from 2-29 to 2-56 inches in length and 
from 1*81 to 1*94 inch in breadth ; but the average of twelve eggs 
measured was 2'38 by 1'88 inches. 

Ketupa javanensis, Less. The Malayan Fish-Owl. 
Ketupa javanensis, Less. ; Hume, Cat. no. 73 bis. 

Major C. T. Bingham found the nest of this Owl in Tenasserim. 
He says : " On the 27th February, while wandering about in the 
neighbourhood of Meeawuddy on the Thoungyeen Eiver, I started 
a couple of these Owls, of which I shot one, from among the 

BUBO. 99 

branches of a large nyoungbin (Ficus, sp.?), hanging over the 
bank of a small choung or stream. Thinking there might be eggs, 
I sent a peon up, and soon heard from him that at the place where 
a large branch forked off, a natural depression existed, where a 
single large round white egg lay on a few withered twigs and 
feathers. The egg was quite fresh, dull chalky white in colour, 
and measures 2"2l inches by 1'87." 

The egg is very similar to that of K. ceylonensis, but is some- 
what smaller. The ground white, becoming during incubation 
soiled and smeared with brownish stains. The shell is fairly 
compact and hard, showing, however, here and there a great 
number of pit-like pores. It has little or no gloss. 

In shape the egg is, of course, an excessively broad or round 
oval, much the same at both ends. 

Bubo bengalensis (Frankl.). The Rock Horned Owl. 

Urrua bengalensis (Frankl. ), Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 128. 
Ascalaphia bengalensis (Frankl.), Hume, Rough Draft N. 8f E. 
no. 69. 

The Eock Horned Owl breeds, as a rule, in February, March, 
and April, but eggs are occasionally met with both in December 
and January, and in the lower valleys of Grurhwal, according to 
Mr. R. Thompson, may be met with as late as the end of May. 

The birds make no nest, but merely scoop a small hollow in the 
earth, in which to deposit the eggs. Occasionally they will lay 
on tha level ground under some overhanging bush or tuft of grass, 
but almost without exception they choose some little cave or recess 
in, or projecting ledge or shelf of, some rocky or earthy cliff in 
the neighbourhood of water. The precipitous banks of canals and 
rivers are perhaps their favourite breeding-places, and, as my 
friend Colonel Gr. F. L. Marshall first pointed out to me, they (in 
Xorthern India) almost invariably select a cliff-face looking 

The normal number of the eggs is perhaps four ; but I have 
often found three and, more than once, only two eggs much 

This species is very common in the Saharunpore District, 
especially towards the north, and from thence Colonel Gr. Marshall 
sent me the following account of its nidification : 

" The Rock Horned Owl breeds from December to April, the 
middle of March being the best time for searching for its eggs. 
On one occasion only I found the eggs on the level ground, on a 
plain, at the foot of a tuft of grass ; on every other occasion I 
have found them on a ledge, in the perpendicular bank of a ravine, 
generally by the canal, and, without exception, on the left bank, 
facing the west. It lays four very round, pure white eggs, slightly 
hollowing the ground to receive them, but making no attempt at 
a nest or even a lining to the hole. I have always found the nest 
close to water. 



" I found two fresh eggs on 16th December. 

two fresh eggs 21st March. 

four half-fledged young 26th 
two fresh eggs 28th 

two young birds 3rd April. 

four set eggs 3rd 

four fresh eggs 16th 

" The birds keep close to water as a rule, and the male bird 
seldom wanders far when the female is sitting ; they seldom perch 
on trees, and, during the breeding-season, the male bird may be 
seen sitting on the top of the bank, somewhere near the nest, at 
all hours of the day. They are rather shy birds, and leave the 
nest at once if approached." 

Captain Hutton remarks that this species is " common along 
the foot of the hills in the Doon ; I have had the young ones in 
March from a hole in a steep bank of a ravine at Eajpur ; in April, 
also, a man brought word that he had found a nest, with nothing 
in it, but it was only just completed ; waited for a fortnight, and 
sent a man to bring the eggs, but it again proved blank. The 
bird ascends sometimes in the summer to 5500 feet." 

Captain Cock wrote long ago : " Coming home on the 17th 
March, at Dhurumsala, I took a nest of Bubo bengalensis with eggs. 
I shot the old bird. The nest was in a little cave in the face of a 
steep precipice, full of little bones of rats and mice, one or two 
feathers, and only a slight depression in the sandy floor. Eggs 

Dr. Jerdon says : "I have found its nest on a well-shaded 
ledge on the south side of a ravine, where the light of the sun 
could not penetrate at that season, viz., March. It lays two or 
three white eggs." 

Major Bingham. remarks : " I once found a nest of this common 
Owl on the 5th January in a small cave in the high bank of a 
nullah the other side of the Jumna from Delhi. Nest there was 
none ; the eggs, two in number, rested on the bare ground. The 
cave was about a foot deep, and overhung by a caper bush.'* 

Mr. Benjamin Aitken writes : " A pair of these birds had a 
nest on the bank of the river at Akola, Berar, in February, 1870 
and 1871." 

Messrs. Davidson and Weiiden, writing of the Deccan, say: 
" Common along all the brooks and rivers. Found numerous 
nests (facing all points of the compass) in Kovember and December. 
Six was the greatest number of young or eggs observed in one 
nest. All the eggs, with the exception of one, which lay on a bare 
ledge of rock, were found in naturally formed holes in clay 

Mr. Gr. Vidal, referring to the South Konkan, writes : "Eather 
common on the rocky hill-sides overhanging the tidal creeks. Two 
nests were found in January, both in fissures between steep 
boulders on the sides of hills. In one nest there were five, and 
in one only two young birds. One of the nests faced due east, a 

BUBO. ' tft. 

fact worth mentioning, as Colonel G-. F. L. Marshall has pointed 
out that (in Northern India) these birds almost invariably select a 
cliff facing westward." 

Writing of Eajpootana in general, Lieut. H. E. Barnes says : 
" The Bock Horned Owl breeds during March and April." 

Captain Horace Terry communicates the following note : 
" About four miles from Bangalore, near the rifle-range at Hebbal 
are some very peculiar nullahs. They are very deep, and instead 
of forming a watercourse in any particular direction, wind about 
to such an extent as to form a perfect maze. This is a grand 
place for Owls, and any afternoon, wandering about there, one 
would be certain of seeing one or two B. benyalensis, and towards 
dusk of hearing what appeared to be an unlimited number. Al- 
though I spent a good deal of time looking for them, I found but 
one nest there, if nest it can be called, in December 1883. There 
were two eggs much incubated, and much discoloured by the red 

The eggs of this species appear, comparatively speaking, very 
uniform in size and shape. Very perfect broad ovals, white, with 
a faint creamy tinge ; they are, but for a slight superior glossiness, 
scarcely distinguishable from those of Syrnium ocellatum. In 
texture they are finer than the eggs of B. coromandus, and for the 
size of the bird seem to me decidedly small. 

The eggs vary from 1-98 to 2*20 inches in length, and from 1-65 
to 1'S inch in breadth ; but the average of ten eggs measured is 
2-10 by 1-73 inch. 

Bubo coromandus (Lath.). TJie Dusky Horned Owl. 

T'rrua coromanda (Lath.}, Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 130; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. # E. no. 70. 

The vast majority of these Dusky Horned Owls lay (in Upper 
India at any'rate) in December and January, but I have found the 
eggs on several occasions in February and once early in March. 

Asa rule, they construct stick-nests (which from the same pair 
resorting to them for many successive seasons, and adding to them 
yearly, are at times enormous) in the fork of some large tree. At 
times they appropriate some old nest of the Tawny Eagle placed in 
some thick and thorny, but comparatively low, acacia tree. In 
most "cases, the nest contains some lining of more or less green 
leaves, and a few feathers or a little grass. Occasionally I have 
found the eggs laid in the hollow of some huge stump, or in the 
depression at the fork of three or more large branches, with no 
stick-nest, and only a few dry leaves as a bed ; but out of more than 
thirty nests that I found one December in trees along the banks 
of the canal near Hansee and Hissar, all but one were regular stick 
structures. One nest contained no lining but a little dry earth. 
The great majority of the nests that I have examined contained 
two eggs, often much incubated, but I once found three, and have 


heard of four being met with. In two instances, I see by my 
notes that single fully incubated eggs were found. 

In this species I have invariably found the female sitting, but 
the male is always near at hand, and very commonly sitting on 
some branch immediately above the nest. I once shot a female 
sitting on a partly incubated egg, and on skinning her found a 
second egg in the oviduct ready for expulsion. I have repeatedly 
taken one perfectly fresh and one partially incubated egg out of the 
same nest, and it seems clear that these birds, like the Harriers 
and many Owls, begin to sit directly the first egg is laid. 

Colonel Butler writes : " Sukkur, 24th January, 1879, a nest in 
the fork of a kundee-tree about 30 feet from the ground. It 
consisted of ordinary sticks like an old Kite's nest, and the tree 
upon which it was built was bare and leafless, recalling to mind the 
figure of the nest of Ketupa ceylonensis in Colonel Marshall's book 
on ' Bird's-nesting in India.' The tree upon which the nest was 
built was growing in the middle of a thick group of bare thorny trees, 
with a clump of date-palms close by, in which the cock bird concealed 
himself. The hen bird sat close, allowing the boy who ascended 
the tree to approach within a yard of her before she left the nest. 
From below she was not visible when sitting, but at a distance of 
40 or 50 yards from the tree her cat-like head could be seen 
occasionally raised above the top of the nest. The nest contained 
a solitary fresh egg, and strange to say, after it was taken, the hen 
bird sat closely for at least a fortnight without laying again, allowing 
me to visit the nest frequently during that period without forsaking 

Mr. Scrope Doig writes from Sincl :" Found nests on 15th 
and 21st February, that contained young ones, two in each." 

Mr. J. Davidson, writing of this species in Khaudesh, says : 
" Probably a permanent resident, but scarce. I only came across 
it twice, in both cases in December, breeding." 

Lieut. H. E. Barnes, writing of Eajpoolana in general, says : 
" The Dusky Horned Owl breeds during December and January." 

Mr. C. J. W. Taylor, writing from Manzeerabad in Mysore, re- 
marks : "I shot a female off her nest, a mass of sticks, laid be- 
tween two immense arms of a mango- tree ; the nest contained one 
hard-set egg. This was in April 1882." 

Mr. J. E. Cripps writes : " On the deserted ryot's holding, 
where I found a nest of Aquila hastata, and on a tamarind-tree 
within 50 yards of the latter nest, was one of this Owl containing 
a young bird, whose quill- feathers were a couple of inches long. 
This tamarind-tree stood about 100 yards off the public road, and 
the nest was placed about 40 feet off the ground in the centre of 
the tree. It was a huge structure of sticks and twigs, more in fact 
than a man could carry ; no lining, but the nest contained the 
remains of a young Urrua and the heads of 15 young Corvus levail- 
lantii, which had evidently supplied many a meal to the young 
monster. There were also the shells of ever so many Crows' eggs in 
the nest ; the smell from all this was very offensive. The female 

SCOPS. 103 

flew off the nest when my man went up, but I bagged the male, 
which was sitting on one of the side branches. In this clump of 
trees the natives said these birds built every year. I took the 
young one home, and he lived for over a month, feeding on raw 
flesh. I had to come away from the factory for a few days, and 
the foolish servant left the room-door open, when an Imperial Eagle 
I had got in and tore the unfortunate Owl to pieces." 

The late Mr. A. Anderson furnished me with the following note : 
a I have acquired a pair of really well-marked eggs of the Dusky 
Horned Owl, which I took on the 28th of November last from an 
old nest of Mycteria australis, shooting one of the parent birds off 
the nest. 

" The markings consist of indistinct lilac blotches, showingthrough 
the shell, as it were, on of course a pure white ground ; and they 
are both profusely though minutely spotted, especially at the extreme 
end, with brown and lilac spots (or rather specks) of various shades." 

These eggs measured 2-33 by 1-89 and 2-89 by 1-9. 

The eggs of this bird vary surprisingly in size and shape. Ty- 
pically they are a broad ovai, comparatively very large for the size 
of the bird, but long, oval, pyriform, and nearly spherical varieties 
occur. I have taken a very great number of these eggs myself, and 
have extreme sizes of which the cubic contents of the one are fully 
double those of the other. In colour they are a decidedly creamy 
white, in texture often somewhat coarse, but withal more or less 
glossy. I have many specimens greatly exceeding in size the egg 
of Bubo ma.rimus figured by Hewitson, while I have one specimen 
scarcely exceeding the egg of S. stridula which he figures. 

The eggs vary from 2'2 to 2'55 inches in length, and from 1*75 
to 2 inches in breadth ; but the average of fifty-six eggs measured 
was 2-33 by 1'89 inch. 

Scops pennatus, Hodgs. The Indian Scops-Owl. 

Ephialtes pennatus (Hodgs.}, Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 136. 

Scops pennata, Hodgs., Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 74. 

Of the present species, the Indian Scops- Owl (S. pennatus) I have 
never yet taken the eggs, but Mr. R. Thompson informs me that 
" they breed from March till August, in holes of trees, usually at 
no great height from the ground." He adds, " This is a common 
bird in our forests (G-urhwal), but I never yet took the trouble to 
take their eggs. Several pairs used to breed in the Botanical 
Gardens at Saharunpore. A pair has been breeding for three 
seasons in a small tree in front of the forest Bungalow at Koted- 
wara. Four years ago, a young one, in the rufous phase, was 
brought to me in the month of July." 

This species, at any rate the grey form of it, occurs throughout 
the well-wooded portions of India and Burma (except perhaps in 
the Punjab, west of the Beas, from whence I have seen no speci- 
mens whether from hills or plains), so that there should be no 
difficulty in obtaining full particulars as to its nidification. 


Scops spilocephalus (Blyth). The Bare-foot Scops- Owl. 

Scops spilocephala (Blyth\ Hume, E&ugh Draft N. $ E. no. 74 bis : 
Cat, 74 ter. 

So far as I know this species only breeds, indeed only occurs, in 
the Himalayas, in well-wooded valleys, at elevations of from ,3000 
to 6000 feet, 

It lays from about the middle of March to the middle of June, 
in holes of trees ; no nest appears to be made ; the eggs, from three 
to five in number, are laid upon the bare wood. 

A nest of this species found near Kotegurh on the 30th April, 
in a hole in an ash -tree some 30 feet from the ground, contained 
five eggs ; so very large for the size of the bird that, but for both 
parents being captured in the hole with them, one might have 
doubted their pertaining to this species. 

Captain Hutton gives the following account of the nidification 
of this species (he calls itpennatus, it is true ; but he has sent me 
beautiful specimens of the birds, which leave no doubt that the 
species referred to is the present one) : 

" This Owl occurs on the Himalayas, in the neighbourhood of 
Mussoorie, at an elevation of 5000 feet, and nidificates in hollow 
trees, laying three pure white eggs, of a rounded form, on the rotten 
wood, without any preparation of a nest. Dimensions of egg, 1'19 
by 1 inch. The nest was found on the 19th of March/" 

On a subsequent occasion he took a nest in April, and sent me 
the eggs, which were considerably larger than those he first de- 

From Murree, Colonel C. H. T. Marshall writes : " We found 
a nest containing two eggs, in a dead tree, about 15 feet from the 
ground, on the 1st of June, low down the hill-side ; the elevation 
at which the nest was found was about 6000 feet. The eggs are 
white, and 1-3 in length by I'l in breadth." 

He subsequently sent me the old birds, which proved to have been 
correctly discriminated. 

The eggs are very round and perfect ovals, pure white, and not 
very glossy, some of them fully as large as those of S. bakkamuna 
(griseus, Jerd.), which is a far larger bird. 

The eggs vary in length from 1-19 to 1-33 inch, and in breadth 
from 1-0 to 1-13 inch ; but the average of a dozen eggs is 1-26 by 
1-09 inch. 

Scops lettia, Hodgs. The Nepal Scops-Owl. 

Ephialtes lempi 
Scops lettia, H( 

>igi (Horsf.), apud Jerd. B. Ltd. i, p. 138. 
r odgs., Hume, Rough Draft N. # E. no. 75. 

The only eggs that I have seen, unmistakably pertaining to the 
Nepal Scops-Owl, were taken the 22nd May, 1869, out of a narrow 
cleft (completely hidden by 'a small drooping shrub) in an over- 
hanging precipice, in the valley of the Surjoo, between Petoragurh 

SCOPS. 105 

and Almora, in Kumaon. They were described as laid on a few 
small sticks, or twigs, amongst which a few feathers were inter- 
spersed. In all other instances in which I have myself found, or 
have known of the finding of, the eggs of any species of Scops- 
Owl in India, they have been in hollows of trees ; but both parent 
birds were sent me in this instance with the eggs, and I had no 
reason for doubting my collector's good faith, who, although a native, 
is a tolerable ornithologist, and, so far as my experience goes, very 
careful and reliable. The eggs, three in number, were very spherical 
in shape, pure white and very glossy, and varied from 1*33 to 1*38 
inch in length, and from 1*18 to 1*2 inch in breadth. 

Two other eggs, purporting to belong to this species, were sent 
me from near Darjeeling. I cannot vouch for their authenticity. 
They measured 1'28 and 1*3 inch respectively in length, and 1/14 
and 1-15 inch in breadth. 

This species extends to Burma. Mr. Gates writes from Pegu : 
" March 24th. This bird selects a small hole in medium- sized 
trees. Two nests, each with three young birds/varying in age from 
a fortnight to three weeks." 

Scops plumipes, Hume. The Plume-foot Scops-Owl. 
Scops plumipes, Hwne ; Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 75 bis. 

Tour eggs of this species, the Plume-foot Scops-Owl, together 
with the female bird, were sent me from Kotegurh, where the latter 
had been captured on the eggs, in a hole in a tree. The eggs were 
taken on the 13th of May and were partly incubated. They are 
intermediate in size between those of Carine brctma and Glaucidium 
cuculoideS) but they are more spherical than either. They are of 
course pure white and slightly glossy. They do not appear to be 
quite as large as some of those of S. baJckamitna that I possess. 

In size they vary from 1-26 to 1-28 inch in length, and from 1-1 
to 1'5 inch in breadth. 

Scops bakkamuna (Forst.). Forster's Scops-Owl. 
Scops bakhamuna (Forst.), Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. no. 75 ter. 

Forster's Scops-Owl ($. griseus, Jerd.), by far the commonest 
species of this genus in India, is widely distributed through the 
Punjaub, the Xorth- Western Provinces, Eajpootana, the Central 
Provinces, Oudh, and Ceylon. Throughout these provinces it 
breeds ; as a rule, being confined to the plains and the lower 
ranges that intersect these, but occurring occasionally in the Hima- 
layas also to an elevation of say 6000 feet. I have received speci- 
mens (in many cases with the eggs also) from Dera Grhazee Khan, 
Hansee, the Doon, Almora, Bareilly, Etawah, Jhansee, Saugor, 
Mount Aboo, Eaepore, Sumbulpore, and intermediate localities, 
and lately from Ceylon. This species lays from the middle of 
January to the beginning of April, invariably, as I believe, in holes 


in trees, which it commonly lines, more or less, with leaves and 
grass. Tour is the normal number of the eggs, but five are 
occasionally met with, and three fully incubated eggs or newly 
hatched young ones are often found. 

Although I have taken the eggs of this species several times, I 
have, I regret to say, only one note on the subject : " Pulipoondli 
(Zillah Etawah), March 10th, 1867. I caught a female Scops 
griseus to-day on her nest, at least on one egg in a hole in a mango- 
tree, which also contained about a dozen dry leaves and a few 
feathers, whether blown in by accident or placed there by the bird 
I cannot say. The little animal bit and scratched so vigorously that 
1 had to use a cloth to get her out ; she fought so valiantly for her 
penates that I was sorry to sacrifice her, but it was important to 
preserve her skin to prevent future doubts as to the species to which 
the egg really belongs. She contained another fully developed egg, 
which my staffer stupidly broke in skinning her. The egg was quite 
fresh ; it looked a large egg as compared with those of Carine 
bmma (though it is shorter than some of these latter), owing to 
its great width. It is pure white, without any tinge, either of 
blue or cream-colour, fine in texture, and almost as glossy as a 
Dove's egg. It measures 1'25 by 1*15 inch." 

Mr. W. Blewitt found two nests, both in sheeshum-trees on the 
canal-bank near Hansi. Both nests were in holes, the one con- 
tained one, the other two fresh eggs, a bed of leaves and straw 
being placed under the eggs. The nests were found on the 25th 
March and 2nd April. 

The next year he procured at least a dozen more nests between 
the 18th January and the 2nd April, in the trees that fringe the 
Hansi and Hissar subdivisions of the canal. 

Colonel Butler writes : " At Hydrabad, Sind, on the 10th 
April, 1878, I found a nest of this Scops-Owl in a hole of a large 
tree about 40 feet from the ground. A young bird, about 10 or 
12 days old, was lying at the foot of the tree alive, but with its 
head much bruised by the fall. How it got there I don't know, 
but I fancy it must have been taken out of the nest by Crows and 
dropped there, as there were several Crows in the tree when I found 
the nest, and one of the parent birds (the female), which flew out of 
the tree when I threw up a stone, seemed much excited. I sent a 
boy up the tree to examine the nest, but it was empty, so I shot the 
two old birds. I found the cock bird with some difficulty, as he 
was sitting asleep on another tree about 50 yards off, looking for 
all the world like an old decayed stump, and it was not until after 
a long search that I discovered him. Prom the size of the nestling 
the eggs had evidently been laid early in March." 

Colonel Legge, writing from Ceylon, says : " In the southern 
parts of the island this Scops-Owl breeds in February and March. 
It nestles in hollow trees or in holes made by Woodpeckers in 
palms. A nest found at Oodogamma during my stay at G-alle was 
placed in the hollow between the frond and the trunk of a Kitool 

SCOPS. 107 

palm (Caryota urens). A few leaves or grass-stalks usually line 
the hole in which the eggs are deposited." 

The eggs are pure white, glossy, and very spherical as a rule, 
though they vary a good deal in shape, some being slightly elon- 
gated and some slightly pyriform. In size they vary greatly; 
in length from 1-13 to 1-38 'inch, and in breadth from O95 to 1-18 : 
but the average of forty-eight eggs is 1/25 by 1*05 inch, or precisely 
the same as the average of Carine brama. 

Scops malabaricus, Jerd. Jerdon's Scops-Oivl. 
Scops malabaricus, Jerd., Hume, Cat. no. 75 quat. 

Mr. G-. Tidal remarks : " The Malabar Scops is common in the 
north of the Ratnagiri district, but less so, as far as my present 
experience goes, in the south. It is entirely nocturnal, but its 
low, subdued call after nightfall easily betrays its haunts. I 
have found it in holes of trees, in houses, and in nooks in dry 

" All the nests, six in number, I have found were got in January 
and February, in holes of mango- and jack-trees. Three appears 
to be the maximum number of eggs. In two instances two hard- 
set eggs were found. Xone of the nests contained any lining but 
rotten touchwood. One nest within ten feet of the ground con- 
tained three hard-set eggs, on which the female was sitting. The 
male, who was caught in a similar hole in an adjoining tree, made 
no attempt whatever to claw or bite, but submitted to his fate with 
great meekness. The eggs are in shape and size almost exactly 
similar to those of Carine brama, but they are decidedly more 
glossy and have a more creamy tinge. The average dimensions of 
seven eggs measured were 1*34 by 1'13." 

The eggs of all these Scops-Owls are undistinguishable. With a 
large series, one finds that in one species they average a little 
larger, and in another a little smaller, but single eggs of few of 
them are recognizably distinct. Those of the present species are 
the usual pure white, fairly glossy, very broad ovals. 

Scops lempiji (Horsf.). Horsfield's Scops-Owl. 
Scops lempiji (Horsf. ), Hume, Cat. no. 75 quint. 

Major C. T. Bingham thus writes of this Owl in Tenasserim : 
" Common in the Thoungyeen valley. I have myself neither 
seen nor heard it anywhere else. 

" The call of this bird is peculiar for a Scops, it is a long rolling 
hur-r-r-r, continued for minutes together. On the llth March a 
Karen, who had been marking down nests for me in the Meplay 
valley, took me to a tree on the bank of the choung, and showed 
me a hole in the branch of a large pyma-tree (Lay erst roemia flos- 
reyincK), in which he said a small Owl had its nest with three eggs. 


On his ascending the tree a female of the above species flew out, 
which I shot. In ten minutes he brought me down three round 
white glossless eggs perfectly fresh, which he said were laid on the 
bare wood in a natural hollow in the branch. The hole was about 
three feet from the base of the branch on the underside, and about 
fifteen to twenty feet above the ground. 

" I found a second nest in the hollow of a dead thingan-tree 
(Hopea odorata) near the bank of the Mekhnay stream, a feeder of 
the Meplay, on the 30th of the same month. The eggs, four in 
number, were similar, and like the others laid on the wood with 
no pretence to a nest. The seven eggs taken vary from 1'15 to 
1-29 in length, and 1-07 to 1-12 in breadth." 

The eggs of all these Scops-Owls are alike. Major Bingham 
has sent me a sqries of the eggs of this species. They are very 
broad ovals, some almost spherical, pure white, the shell very smooth 
and soft to the touch, but, though some of the eggs were quite 
fresh, with in no case more than a very faint gloss. 

Carine brama (Temm.). The Spotted Owlet. 

Athene brama ( Temm.}, Jerd. JB. Ind. i, p. 141 ; Hume, Rouc/h Draft 
N. fy E. no. 76. 

The Spotted Owlet breeds in February, March, and April ; but 
the great majority of the birds lay in March. 

Holes in old trees (scantily lined with a few dry leaves and 
feathers, decayed wood, or a little grass) are their favourite laying 
places ; but holes in old buildings and clefts in rocks are some- 
times resorted to. I remember Mr. Brooks telling me that in his 
office at Etawah two Rollers (C. indica) had chosen a hole, or 
rather spot, to build in, on the top of the central wall of a gable 
roof, just under the main longitudinal beam. Two of these Owlets 
came and determined to breed there, and after a couple of days' 
fighting and screeching, &c., the Owls took possession of the 
Rollers' comfortable nest and there laid. The Rollers went round 
the corner of the same house, chose a new hole, built a new nest, 
and bred there. Generally, when met with out of holes in trees, 
their nests are more substantial than when in the latter ; and in 
such cases I suspect the nests are more often theirs by right of con- 
quest than by construction. 

Mr. "W. Blewitt writes : " I took four nests of this bird be- 
tween the 16th and 21st March. Two contained three, and two 
four eggs, one set of the latter only being at all incubated. The 
nests were in decayed hollows of sheeshun, jamun (Eugenium jam- 
holanum), and neem trees ; the eggs were in each case more or less 
bedded in dry leaves, or feathers, or both." On another occasion 
he wrote : " I found several nests of this species near Hansie in 
the latter half of April. They were in holes of peepul and siris 
trees, and each contained three eggs laid upon a few blades of straw 
with a few dry leaves or feathers." 

CAHHTE. 109 

Writing from Sanibhur, Mr. 11. M. Adain remarks : " This bird 
is very common. A pair have their nest in the thatch of my 

" On one or two occasions I have shot one of the pair, and 
found a mate occupying its place within the next two or three 

They lay four or five eggs, most commonly the former. 

Mr. Gr. Eeid obtained eggs of this species at Lucknow on the 
21th March. 

Major Bingharn writes : " This Owlet breeds at Allahabad in 
February, March, and April, and at Delhi in March and April. 1 
have taken eggs from the thatch of houses, from holes in trees, and 
from holes in ruins. Nest there is none, but the holes are lined with 
feathers, grass, and leaves. I have taken as many as five eggs out of 
one hole, but I think three is the ordinary number laid." 

Writing of Eajpootana in general, Lieut. H. E. Barnes says : 
" The Spotted Owlet breeds from the middle of February to the com- 
mencement of April." 

Mr. Scrope Doig writes from Sind : " Got nests between 25th 
March and 6th April, greatest number of eggs in one nest was four. 
Xests situated in holes in old decayed trees." 

Colonel Butler sends the following note : "The Spotted Owlet 
breeds in the neighbourhood of Deesa in February and March. I 
found a nest on the 21st February, 1876, contaiuing three fresh 
eggs. It was placed at the top of a pillar supporting the veran- 
dah of a bungalow. I found another nest in the hole of a tree 
about ten feet from the ground on the 25th February, containing 
also three fresh eggs ; another nest in the hole of a tree on the 26th 
February, containing four slightly incubated eggs. Two old birds 
flew out of the hole, and when I looked in I saw the hen bird sit- 
ting, and had to poke her with a stick before she would leave her 
eggs. The man who pointed the nest out to me, told me that when 
he tapped the tree the day before three old birds flew out (in what 
capacity was Xo. 3 acting ?). In each case the nest consisted of an 
accumulation of dry sticks, felt, feathers, and other materials, 
formed into a thick pad with a broad depression in the centre for 
the eggs. Both of the parent birds seem to co-operate in nidifi- 
catioii, evincing great anxiety if the nest is approached. The cock 
bird is usually in the same hole as the nest, or close at hand keep- 
ing guard whilst the hen is setting. I have eggs from the Deccan 
taken on the 7th and 22nd February. 

" I examined a hole under the eaves of a house in Belgauni, 
frequented by a pair of these birds, on the 7th March 1880, and 
found a single fresh egg. I caught the old bird on the nest, and 
after holding her for a few seconds put her back on the nest. On 
the llth inst. I revisited the nest, and as before found the old 
female sulking up in a corner of the hole close to the eggs, which 
had increased to two. There was no sign of a nest, the eggs rest- 
ing simply in a shallow saucer-like depression, scratched out of the 
mortar by the old birds. Had she been disposed to do so, the bird 


I caught could have easily escaped on both occasions, but I suppose 
the attachment for her eggs induced her to remain by them. A 
friend of mine this year found a nest in the hole of a tree occupied 
by a pair of these birds, containing two eggs of the Owlet and one 
of a Paroquet, P. torquatus, and as a portion of the remains of a 
paroquet were also found in the hole, it is assumed that the 
Owlets attacked the paroquet and killed her on the nest, and 
after the dark deed took possession of the nest for themselves. 
All three eggs were fresh, as also the remains of the Paroquet." 

Writing from the Deccan, Messrs. Davidson and Wenden 
remark : " Very common. Breeds January to middle of March. 
Generally lays four to five eggs, but D. noticed three birds sitting 
on two eggs in one hole !" 

Mr. Gr. Vidal says : " Bare to the north of the tract, but com- 
paratively common to the south about Vengorla. 

" Two nests found in January and February, one in an ain tree 
(Terminalia ylabra), and one in a cocoanut tree ; in one four hard- 
set eggs, and in the other two fresh eggs. Two other nests in 
February, with in each three fresh eggs." 

Mr. Benjamin Aitken writes : " In the first week of March 
1869, four eggs were taken from a nest in a mango- tree ; a month 
after there were three more eggs in the hole. This was in Akola, 
Berar. In November 1871, at Poona, a pair of Canine bra ma 
held tenacious possession of a hole under the roof of an old house, 
but it was impossible, from the position of the hole, to ascertain if 
there was a nest." 

Writing of Manzeerabad in Mysore, Mr. 0. J. W. Taylor 
remarks that this Owlet is " very common. Breeding in April. 
Eggs taken on the 1st and 27th April, 1883." 

Typically the eggs of Carine brama are oval. In some cases, 
broad and approaching the normal Owl shape, but more commonly 
only a moderately broal oval, differing little in colour, size, and 
texture from those of some of our Green Pigeons, and some of the 
smaller specimens positively undistinguishable from large eggs of 
Turtur risoria. 

The eggs are when blown a beautifully pure white ; but until 
blown have, when quite fresh, a beautiful pink tinge ; and when a 
good deal incubated, are an opaque marble-white. Most of them 
are of a close, uniform, satiny texture, but a good many are thickly 
covered in part or whole with minute pimples, if I may use the 
word, white, but, owing to the shell there being thicker, of a rather 
deader white than the ground. 

The eggs vary from T15 to 1'45 inch in length, and from 0-93 
to 1-1 inch in breadth ; but the average of fifty-four eggs measured 
was 1*25 by 1-04 inch. 


Ninox scutulata (Eaffl.). The Brown Hawk-Owl. 
Ninox scutellatus (Raffl.\ Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 147. 

Mr. Hart, who kindly sent me an egg of this species from CeyloiJ, 
writes : " This egg was on an irregular bed of dried leaves in a 
hollow of a dead cocoanut-tree, at a height of about 25 feet from 
the soil. This spot seemed to be an old abandoned garden." 

The egg is of the usual type, pure white, with a fine compact but 
scarcely glossy shell, and in shape nearly spherical. It measures 
1-45 by 1-27 inch. 

Colonel Legge remarks in his ' Birds of Ceylon ' : " A nest, 
containing one nestling, was found by Mr. MacVicar in April 1873 
near Bope. It was situated in a hole in a mango-tree, about 15 
feet from the ground ; at the bottom of the cavity there were no 
materials, the chick reposing simply on the dead wood of the tree." 

Glaucidium brodiei (Burton). The Collared Pigmy Owlet. 

Glaucidium brodiei (Burt.), Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 146. 

Taenioptynx brodiei (Burt.), Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. no. 80. 

The Collared Pigmy Owlet breeds, so far as we yet know, only 
in the Himalayas, the Khasia Hills, and the long range that runs 
down from these towards the Malay Peninsula. 

It lays in May and June, in hollows of trees. It makes little 
or no nest, though a hole I examined in July, containing four young 
ones, seemed to have been sparsely lined with feathers. 

The eggs are doubtless four in number, nearly round and pure 
white, but I have never yet myself obtained any. 

The following is Captain Hutton's account of its nidification : 
" It lays its eggs in hollow trees without any preparation of a nest. 
On the llth May, 1848, 1 found three young ones and an egg just 
ready to hatch in a hole of a wild cherry tree. The egg was nearly 
round and pure white ; but being broken, I could take no measure- 
ment of it. The young ones were clothed in a soft and pure white 
down. The old female remained in the hole while we cut into the 
tree, and allowed herself to be captured." 

Mr. E. Thompson writes : " This species breeds from May to 
July, generally in holes in oak trees. I have usually met this bird 
with three young ones. In September the young are quite fledged." 

Writing from Murree, Colonel Marshall says : " We were 
unable to find the eggs of this species, but on the 22nd of June 
we secured three full-fledged young ones in a hole in a dead tree. 
We managed to rear these until about the middle of October, when 
they died suddenly, I fear, from too high feeding. The nest was 
at an elevation of between 5000 and 6000 feet." 


G-laucidium castaneonotum (Blyth). 
The Chestnut-baclced Owlet. 

Glaucidium castaneonotum (SI.), Hume, Cat. no. 78 bis. 

Colonel W. V. Legge, writing to me from Ceylon on the nesting 
of this Owl, says : 

" I have lately had the eggs of an Owl sent me from the Colombo 
Museum for examination. They were taken from a hole in a 
cocoanut-tree in the Western Province by the taxidermist, who is 
well acquainted with our Chestnut-backed Owl. He identified the 
bird, and therefore I think I may describe the eggs as bond fide 
those of our handsome little Owl. They were taken in July. In 
shape they are ovals, equally rounded at both ends. They differ 
much in size, one having an axis of 1*41 and a diameter of 1*15, 
the other measuring 1'34 by 1*08 only." 

Glaucidium radiatum (Tick.). The Jungle Owlet. 

Athene radiata ( Tick.), Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 143 ; Hume, Rouyli Draft 
N. 8? E. no. 77. 

The Jungle Owlet is confined to the more jungly and forest-clad 
tracts of both the plains and the lower hills. 

It breeds in the early part of the hot weather, laying in April 
and May, in holes in trees. Though I have twice found nests 
containing young ones, I have never myself taken the eggs. 

Mr. E/. Thompson, writing from Gurhwal, says: "This species 
breeds in May and June in holes in small trees. It is very common 
in all the warmer valleys. Young birds are quite fledged in June ; 
from three to four young ones at a time." 

Mr. J. Cockburn writes from Allahabad : " A clutch of three 
eggs of this Owl were taken by me on the 21st March out of a 
hole in a horseradish tree in my garden, into which I had frequently 
seen the bird enter. The eggs are thinner, smaller, and more 
transparent (with, when fresh, a pinky look) than those of Carine 
brama. The bird is common in this, the old side of the Canton- 
ments ; it has a rather pleasing cry, not unlike the distant call of 
the Sarus Crane, which it occasionally utters in the daytime." 

Colonel Butler remarks : " Mr. J. Davidson sent me two eggs 
taken atAkrani, Khandesh, 17th and 19th April, 1881, respectively." 

Mr. J. Darling, junior, says : " I found a nest of this bird on 
the 12th March, 1870, at Coonoor ; it was about 20 feet from the 
ground, in a hole in the trunk of a tree, in a rather open jungle. 
The hole was about 6 inches in diameter and 28 deep ; there was 
no nest, and the eggs, two in number, were laid on some soft 

Mr. Iver Macpherson, writing from Mysore, says : " 19th March, 
1880. In a hole of a decayed and dry tree, some 12 feet from the 


ground, found three hard-set eggs of this'small Owlet. Shot the 
bird as it tiew out. 

" 20th March. Observed one of these Owlets fly out of a hole 
in a largo tree some 20 feet up. Sent up a Cooroobor to inspect, 
who reported only one egg, which I left. 

" Returned agaiu on the 22nd, the bird was at home, but had 
laid no more eggs, so I took the one, which proved to be very 

The eggs are pure white, smooth and satiny to the touch, but 
with scarcely any gloss. They are very broad ovals as a rule, 
though some slightly more elongated varieties are met with, and 
they vary from 1*2 to 1*31 in length and from 1/0 to I'll in \udth. 

Glaucidium malabaricum (Blyth). The Malabar Owlet, 

Athene malabarica, Blyth, Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 144. 
Glaucidium malabaricum (#/.), Hume, Cat. no. 78. 

All I know of the nidification of the Malabar Owlet is contained 
in the following note by Mr. Gr. Tidal. 

He writes from the South Konkan : " Rather common through- 
out the district in well-wooded parts. Calls loudly by day as well 
as night. I have seen one, in the full blaze of the sun, make a 
sudden clash out of a tree at a Pliylloscopus I had shot, and which 
was fluttering slowly to the ground. 

" My shikaree brought me two fresh eggs with the parent birds 
on the 14th April. 

" Dr. Armstrong also got a nest in March with three eggs, 
scarcely distinguishable, as far as I could judge, from those of 
Carine brama, in size, shape, tone, or texture/' 

Glancidium cuculoides (Vigors). The Barred Owlet. 

Athene cuculoides ( Vig.}, Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 145 ; Hume, Rouyh 
Draft N. $ E. no. 79. 

The Barred Owlet lays from March to May ; its eggs, four in 
number, are always deposited in some hollow or hole in a tree, 
without any nest or at most a mere apology for one in the shape 
of a few dead leaves or a little touchwood. 

Captain Hutton says : " I have found the nest of this species 
*in the neighbourhood of Mussoorie, at elevations of between 5000 
and 6000 feet. The eggs, three (or four) in number, round and 
pure white, are deposited in holes in trees, without nest." 

Major Cock, writing from Dhurumsala, says : " I found their 
nests on three occasions, always in hollow trees. On two occasions 
there were four eggs in each nest, and the other time four young 
ones. Xests in hollow hill-oaks some 20 to 30 feet from the ground. 
There was no lining to the nest, just a few dead leaves that might 
have been in the hollow accidentally. Eggs on each occasion varied 

TOL. in. 8 


in shape; but each nest of eggs retained its own characteristics : 
thus in one the eggs were all more spherical, in the other more 

Mr. E. Thompson, writing from Gurhwal, says that this species 
"breeds in May and June, in holes in large trees. It is quite as 
common as G. radiatutn in these forests, but has nob the active 
sanguinary habits of the other. Many breed in the oak and fir 
woods above Khoorpatal. I had the young brought me once in 
June some three years ago." 

From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes: "On the 9th May 1 took 
three fresh eggs out of the hole of a dead tree, some twenty feet 
up, at the elevation of 2000 feet above the sea. It stood in the 
middle of a thick patch of living trees. The only nesting-material 
was a few of the soft rotten chips which may have been accidentally 
left inside." 

Major C. T. Bingham, writing from Tenasserirn, remarks : 
" The first nest I found of this species was at Meeawuddy on the 
12th April ; it was placed in the hollow of a small pynkado tree 
(Xylia dolabrifortnis\ and contained three fresh eggs lying on a few 
chips of decayed wood, leaves, and feathers. I did not clearly see 
the bird as it left the nest nor was I able to secure it. 

" Subsequently, on the 23rd of the same mouth, a Karen led me 
to a nest-hole of this bird, placed in the hollow of the stump of a 
teak that had been felled years ago ; this was on the Meplaj choung. 
In this case I secured the female alive and two fresh eggs out of 
four, two breaking in the scuffle with the hen ; lining of the nest- 
hole similar to the first. 

" Again, on the 2nd May at Pynekyoon on the Hlinebooey, I 
found two eggs and two young ones in the hollow of a dead cocoa- 
nut tree. No semblance of lining or nest was there, but balls of 
the bird's dejecta lay with the eggs and young ones. One egg was 
quite fresh, the other slightly sat upon. 

" The six eggs from the three nests measure respectively : 
1-38x1-19, 1-30x1-18, 1-33x1-17, 1-30x1-15, 1-33x1-16, and 
1-30 x 1-18." 

The eggs which, as might be expected, are pure white and glossy, 
are rather large for the size of the bird. In shape they vary from 
almost perfect spheres to broad ovals. 

The eggs that I have measured varied from 1-38 to 1*48 inch in 
length, and from 1-17 to 1-24 in breadth ; the average of twelve 
eggs being 1*41 by 1*19 inch. 

Syrnium sinense (Lath.). The Malayan Wood-Owl. 
Syrmum seloputo (Horsf.), Hume, Cat. no. 65 his. 

Mr. Oates w T rites of this species from Pegu : " I have not been 
fortunate enough to get the eggs of this species, but I have twice 
found the young birds. The eggs appear to be laid on the bare 
wood in the fork of a large peepul-tree at no great distance from 

SYB2TLUM. 115 

the ground. A young bird, about one month old, and just able to 
fly, was taken on the 20th April, and another one rather younger 
on the 24th .March. Kggs should, therefore, be looked for at the 
end of February and the commencement of March." 

Syrnium ocellatmn, Less. The Mottled Wood-Owl. 

Syruium sinense (Lath.}, Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 123. 

Bulaca ocellata (Less.), Hume, Rough Draft N. E. no. 65. 

The Mottled AVood-Owl lays in the plains of the North- Western 
Provinces and the Punjab, in February and March, but I have a 
note of the eggs having been taken in the Doon early in April. 
Jn the Central Provinces it lays from November to January. 

Its eggs are deposited at heights of from 8 to 25 feet from the 
ground, in some large cavity, or in the depression at the fork of 
two or more huge branches, of some old peepul or mango tree. 
There is no nest, so to speak, but a little dry touch-wood, a few 
dead leaves, or a little earth covering the floor, if I may so call it, 
of the nesting-place, forms a scanty bed for the eggs. 

I have more than once shot the male sitting on the eggs. 
Mr. W. Blewitt writes : " I found a nest near Hansie in a hollow 
of a peepul-tree about 19 feet from the ground, on the 16th of 
March. The nest-hole, which was lined with leaves, contained two 
partially incubated eggs." 

Mr. Brooks says that on the 3rd of March 1867 he "took a 
pair of eggs out of a nest in a mango-tree. The nest was in the 
fork of two huge branches about 20 feet from the ground. There 
was a little earth and a few dry mango -leaves. The eggs were 
pure white and very round." 

Writing from Eaepore (Central Provinces), Mr. F. E. Blewitt 
remarks : " This Owl certainly breeds from November to January. 
On the 5th December, 1870, I secured for the first and last time 
the eggs of this species in the Toomgaon (Eaepore Districts) open 
forest. At a height of some 12 feet from the ground, the trunk 
of a kaiin tree (JXauclea parviflora) had divided into two branches, 
and in the open cavity between these two, which was nearly 2 feet 
deep, were deposited three fresh eggs, on some loose dry touch- 
wood and earth. I have occasionally met with this Owl, but only 
in the Eaepore, and not in the Sumbulpore, District. Mango topes 
are its favourite haunts, though an occasional pair may be met with 
in open forest." 

Two is the ordinary number of eggs laid ; indeed there were two 
eggs (in three instances more or less incubated) in every one of 
the seven nests of which I have notes. 

The late Major Cock wrote to me : " I took this bird's eggs 
upon the 2()th March, 1875, at Sitapur in Oudh. I had been look- 
ing about for Ketiqia ceylonevsis, some pairs of which were always 
found there, when I saw in the fork of a mango about 15 feet up 
what I took to be the wing of some dead bird. Looking closer I 
could not make it out exactly, so I pitched a stone up ; but as it 



did not move I sent a man up to throw it down, when a bird flew 
off the tree, and I saw it was Syrnium ocellatum. The man said there 
were eggs, so up I went, and saw two lovely fresh eggs lying in a 
hollow between the forks of some boughs, upon some dead leaves ; 
leaving the eggs I sent my men away, and sat down some 20 yards 
off behind a tree : the old bird soon returned, and as she flew into 
her nest I shot her. These are the first and only eggs I have ever 
taken of this bird. The eggs are white, a blunt pyriform oval, and 
of delicate texture ; the two eggs are similar in size and shape." 

Messrs. Davidson and Wenden remark of this Owl in the 
Deccan : " Observed and shot at Barsee, in May. D. has also 
seen it at Akulkote. It is very common in Satara, where a nest 
with one fresh egg was taken on 8th February, and another nearly 
perfect egg was taken out of the female." 

And Mr. 3. Davidson, writing of Western Khandesh, says of 
this species : 4t It breeds in December as a rule, but I obtained 
eggs at Bhadgaum as late as February." 

Mr. Gr. Vidal, writing from the South Konkan, says : " Three 
nests were found in January with two young birds or eggs in each, 
all in hollows of mango-trees." 

The eggs of this species are generally a very round oval, white, 
with, in many instances, a very delicate creamy tinge. From the 
eggs of Bubo bengalensis it is scarcely possible to separate them ; 
although B. bengalensis is a considerably larger bird, its eggs, as 
regards size, shape, and texture, seem almost identical with those 
of the present species. All that I can say, with an ample series 
of both before me, is that, as a body, the eggs of B. betiyalenyis are 
a mere trifle larger, and have more gloss than those of Syrnium 
ocellatum. For the size of the bird, the eggs of the present species 
are somewhat large. 

In length they vary from 1-86 to 2'1 inches, and in breadth 
from 1*6 to 1*75 inch ; but the average of thirteen eggs measured 
was 1-U9 by 1-67 inch. 

Syrnium newarense (Hodgs.). The Brown Wood-Owl. 

Syrnium newarense (Hodgs.}, Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 122 ; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 64. 

The Brown Wood-Owl of the Himalayas, so far as I yet know, 
lays in May. I have only seen one nest, which was in a deep, 
wooded, precipitous little Valley or khud, at the back of Mahasoo 
(near Simla). Contrary to what might have been expected, it was 
placed on a shelf projecting from the face of a low precipice ; 
immediately above it projected a large point of rock, from which 
depended a perfect curtain of bushes, which reached the tops of the 
trees growing at the foot of the precipice. The nest, the Paharees 
said (I could not get up to it myself), was composed of sticks, with 
a few feathers intermingled ; it was completely hidden from sight 
by the bushes and rocks above and below, and contained, on the 
6th of June, three very young birds. 

CIRCUS. 117 

The female was fired at, but not obtained at the time ; weeks 
afterwards, her remains were found, hanging in the moss and ferns 
of a tree, some distance down the valley, utterly rotten and 

The male brought the young ones up, and, on the 10th of 
October, I shot him and one of the young ones, then as nearly full- 
grown as might be. 

I am indebted to the late Mr. Mandelli for an egg of this species 
which was accompanied by the following note : " On the 5th of 
March one of my shikarees brought in a Brown Wood-Owl, which 
he had shot in Native Sikhim the previous day. On examining the 
poor bird it proved to be still living, and on his placing his foot on 
the breast to give its coup de grace, this egg was expelled." 

The egg is pure white, of a very broad oval, almost subspherical 
in shape, and has a very fine, but only faintly glossy, shell. It 
measures 2'07 by 1*76 inches. 


Subfamily ACCIPITRIN.E. 

Circus aeruginosus (Linn.). The Marsh-Harrier. 

Circus aeruginosus (Linn.). Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 99; Hume. Rouqh 
Draft N. $ E. no. 54. ' 

Two eggs, said to beloug to the Marsh-Harrier, were brought 
me from Southern India by Mr. Davison ; they were given him by 
Mr. Rhodes Morgan of the Forest Department, who vouched for 
their authenticity. They were a rather broad, very regular oval, 
quite devoid of any gloss. The ground-colour is white, and both 
have a good number of markings in the one minute specks and 
spots chiefly at one end, the other with numerous pretty large 
blotches and irregular smears ; in both cases very pale brown. This 
second egg is very much more prof usely marked than any European 
specimen I have yet seen, and the ground-colour lacks the faint 
greenish or bluish-green tint that one is accustomed to. They are 
said to have been found in the Kurnool District on the banks 
of the Kistna. They measure 1-82 by 1-49 inch, and 1'89 by 
1-58 inch. 


It seems probable that this species breeds in the plains of India 
in suitable localities. In the jheel-studded tract of country lying 
partly in the Mynpooree and partly in the Etawah District, I, 
many years ago, shot a largo adult and saw several others quite at 
the close of May. An unusually heavy rainfall had filled all the 
lakes, or, as we should call them in Norfolk, broads, to overflowing, 
and the unsettled state of the country had, in a great measure, 
prevented the customary agricultural drain on them, and many of 
them, commonly dry at this season, were still extensive sheets of 
water. I can scarcely doubt that these birds bred there that 

In Oudh, native fowlers informed me that they bred in swampy 
grounds, Trans-G-ogra. Mr. E. H. Blewifct, writing from Jhansie, 
in the neighbourhood of which there are several considerable lakes, 
says that he has procured the Marsh-Harrier there throughout the 
hot weather and rains. 

Astur palumtarius (Linn.). The Goshawk. 

Astur palumbarius (Linn.*), Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 45 ; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 21. 

The G-oshawk breeds in India, so far as I have been able to 
ascertain, only in the higher regions of the Himalayas, in the 
immediate neighbourhood of the snows. 

Two eggs of this species which I possess were found in a nest 
about 40 feet from the ground, in a deodar-tree in Bussahir, on the 
15th of April, at an elevation of about 9000 feet. They are short, 
broad ovals, slightly compressed towards one end, glossless, of a 
greyish-white colour. They were much incubated, and one of 
them is a great deal mottled and spotted with faint brown stains, 
whether natural or the result of dirt during incubation, I do not 
know. Held up against the light, the shells are a bright sea- 
green. These eggs were taken by a native, whom I have always 
found reliable in the matter of eggs, and brought to me along with 
one of the parent birds, the female. I have myself no doubts as 
to their authenticity. 

They measure 2-2 by 1-78 inch and 2'1 by 1/7 inch. 

A pair of very young birds \vere brought late in July, while I 
was at Simla, for the Rajah of Putialla, from near the Chor, and 
the shikaree asserted that he had taken them out of a nest placed 
near the top of some kind of fir or pine tree. 

Mr. R. Thompson, an enthusiastic falconer by the way, tells me 
that "they breed from March to June, building on trees a large 
circular nest of coarse twigs, in which they lay three or four 
nearly pure white eggs. They confine themselves peculiarly to the 
interior of the deep, precipitous, woody valleys, lying close to the 
snowy peaks. They usually, I am told, select a birch-tree, Alnus 
loojputtia, or Cupressus tomentosa, to build their nests on. 

" During this period the birds are very daring, and will readily 


attack a man attempting to climb up to the nest. In these woods 
the Moonal Pheasant is very abundant, and no doubt affords 
capital quarry for these Hawks." 

Astnr trivirgatos (Temm.). The Crested Goshawk. 

Astur trivirgatus (Temm.), Jerd. B. 2nd. \, p. 47; Hume, Cat. 
no. 22. 

Mr. Mandelli's people found a nest of this species below Man- 
tchu in Native Sikhim, on the 2nd of May, 1876. The nest was a 
large mass of small sticks placed about 40 feet from the ground on 
a high tree. It contained two fresh eggs. The eggs were perfect 
and regular ovals. The shell full of pores and glossless like a 
Goshawk's. Held up against the light, it was the usual green. 
The ground-colour of the egg is a pale greenish white, but the 
greater part of the egg has been very much soiled and discoloured 
either in the nest or owing to the eggs not having been blown till 
they were rotten. 

The eggs measure 2-0 in length by 1-54 in breadth. 

Mr. T. Fulton Bourdillon, writing from Mynall in S. Travan- 
core, says : " A nest with two nearly-fledged birds, taken 14th 
April. The nest was placed in a tree at a distance of 30 or 40 
feet from the ground. It was loosely constructed and lined with 
leaves which must have been fresh when the eggs were laid." 

Astur badius (Grmel.). The SJiikra. 

Micronisus badius (Gm.), Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 48 : Hume, Rough Draft 
N. 8f E. no. 23. 

The Shikra breeds pretty well all over the plains of India, and 
in the Himalayas up to a height of 5000 feet, or possibly more. I 
found a nest with young ones many years ago at the back of 
Laudour at fully this elevation; and writing from Murree, Colonel 
C. H. T. Marshall remarks : " On May Ibth I took a nest belong- 
ing to this species, containing two bluish-white eggs, from the 
top of a high pine-tree." 

The Shikra lays in April and May, and in the Central Provinces 
in June also, building for itself a moderately-sized nest on tree?, 
large and lofty ones being, as far as my experience in the plains 
goes, always selected. 

Writing from Gurhwal, Mr. Thompson says : " This is a 
regular breeder in our forests, and always chooses trees standing 
on the edges of streams or stagnant pools. The birds are very 
fond of frogs, which they are constantly stooping at. They are 
noisy and quarrelsome, if any large bird approaches their nest." 

The nest is usually placed in a fork high up, and near the top 
of the tree. It is but loosely built of twigs and smaller sticks, 
lined with fine grass-roots ; is much smaller and less compact than 


those of the Toorumtee (Falco chicquera) often are, and may average 
about 10 inches in diameter. 

These little Hawks take, I should say, a full month in preparing 
their nest, only putting on two or three twigs a day, which they 
place and replace, as if they were very particular and had a great 
eye for a handsome nest ; whereas, after all their fuss and bother, 
the nest is a loose ragged-looking affair, that no respectable Crow 
even would condescend to lay in. 

The greatest number of eggs I have taken in a nest was four ; 
but I am inclined to think that the generality only lay three. 

In Sind, Mr. Scrope Doig tells us, he " found nests of this bird 
on the 22nd and 29th of April, each containing three eggs. Nests 
situated high up in kundy trees growing in the middle of dense 
thick tamarisk jungle." 

Colonel Butler writes : " I found a Sbikra's nest at Deesa on 
the 24th May, 1876, containing three young birds almost ready to 
fly. I should say they were about six weeks old, in which case 
the eggs were laid probably about the last week in March. The 
nest looked much like an old Crow's nest, and was built upon a 
tree growing in one of the compounds in the camp, about 30 feet 
from the ground. 

" Mr. J. Davidson sent me some eggs taken at Akrani, Khan- 
desh, 16th April." 

The late Mr. A. Anderson had the following note in the P. Z. 8. : 
" In modification of my former experience, I have now to record the 
occurrence of a slightly marked egg from a clutch of three. Five 
out of six nests which were taken in my presence this last 
summer were built on the parasitical shrub (Loranthus globosust) 
which grows to such perfection on mango-trees. The branches of 
this so-called mistletoe radiate sidewards and upwards to a con- 
siderable height above the parent tree, from a large excrescence or 
knob, thus forming, as it were, the outer structure of a ready-made 
nest. Viewed from belo\v the nest looks about the size of what 
the common Crow would build ; but on examining one I had cut 
down (the parasitical plant was four feet above the tree), it was 
clear that the nest itself was particularly small, and so clumsily 
made as to fall to pieces on being removed from the knob which 
supported it. A better situation for a nest than the centre of a 
clump of this parasite could hardly be conceived." 

He subsequently wrote : " By the eggs of this Shikra being 
' slightly marked,' of course it must be understood that the 
colouring-matter consists of very minute specks of reddish brown, 
and that it in no way approaches to the richly-marked eggs of 
the European species, Accipiter nisus; Astur badius, oologically 
considered, having its affinities with the Goshawk and not with 
the true Sparrow-Hawks. 

" Admitting my weakness for oological discoveries, I must not 
omit to mention that on April 12th last (1876) I took a clutch of 
Jive eggs of M. badius, which is in excess of the number that has 
hitherto been recorded. Another sitting of four, taken three days 

ASTtTB. 121 

later, are all freely marked with minute specks of a reddish-brown 
colour. I venture to say Mr. H urae is in error in assigning only 
t/ti-rt- eggs to this Hawk as a general rule (see first ed. ' Nests and 
.' pt. 1, p. 25); for, according to my experience, four is the 
normal number if the bird is allowed time to lay the full com- 

Mr. G-. Tidal says of this Hawk in the S. Konkan : " Common 
everywhere about villages and groves of trees. Breeds in March 
and April.*' 

And Messrs. Davidson and Wenden, writing of the Deccan, 
remark: "Common at all seasons. Nest with two fresh eggs 
found in a mango-tree on 31st March, 1875." 

Mr. Benjamin Aitken has favoured me with the following note : 
Early in May 1870, at Akola (Berar), a pair of Shikras had 
four white eggs in an old Crow's nest up a large tamarind-tree. 
Two of the eggs were taken, and after the other two had been 
hatched, the young birds were taken. The parent birds laid again 
at once, and on the 9th June three hard-set eggs were taken from 
the same nest. 

" At the end of the same month of May, a nest with four young 
birds was found in a mango-tope also at Akola. 

" In June the previous year (1869) four young birds escaped from 
a nest in a large tamarind-tree, about 200 yards from the site of 
the first-mentioned nest. In this case the nest was placed in one 
of the outermost branches and was only half way up the tree." 

The eggs do not vary much in shape. They are a little shorter 
and stouter than those of Falco chicquera. They are oval or some- 
what pyriform, a rather longer egg in proportion to its breadth 
than one expects to find in this class of bird. They belong to the 
Goshawk and not to the Sparrow-Hawk type. Smooth, fine, 
glossless shells, of a pure, delicate, pale bluish white, as a rule 
absolutely devoid of markings ; at most, thinly sprinkled all over 
with very faint greyish specks and spots, thus differing widely 
from, the apparently closely allied A. nisus, whose eggs are often 
richly, and always, I believe, more or less marked. 

In size the eggs vary from 1'41 to 1-05 inch in length, and 
from 1-12 to 1*32 in breadth ; but the average is 1*55 by 1*22. 

Astnr poliopsis (Hume). Humes ShiTcra. 
Astur poliopsis, Hume ; Hume, Cat. no. 23 bis. 

Writing from Cachar, Mr. J. Inglis remarks : "This Hawk is 
perhaps more generally met with than any other ; it breeds during 
March and April." 

Mr. J. E. Cripps remarks of this Hawk in Eastern Bengal: 
" On the 18th April, 1878, I found a nest of one of these birds 
which contained one very slightly-incubated egg ; it was built in a 
fork high up near the top of a peepul-tree, and was a ragged 
affair of twigs with an attempt at a lining of fine grass-roots, 


principally of doob. The egg was devoid of markings but was 
soiled, evidently by the bird's droppings, in a few places. Another 
nest, which I found on the 15th of April, 1878, contained three 
partly-fledged young, and was situate on a mango-tree, near the 
top of the tree and about 25 feet from the ground ; neither of 
these nests were in the vicinity of water." 

Major Bingham writes from Tenasserim : "Passing through a 
toungijah or cultivation, belonging to a Karen of a village near my 
camp, I noticed a hawk fly off a nest placed on a large branch of a 
pymma tree (Layerstrcemia flos regince) which gre\v horizontally 
out at a height of fully 40 feet above the ground ; it (the nest) 
was rather difficult of detection, as it was placed above a large 
bunch of orchids which prevented it from being seen from below, 
and it was only by retiring to some rising ground two or three 
hundred yards off and using my binoculars that I made it out. 
After waiting for some time, and finding the bird did not return, 
1 retraced my steps to my camp. This was on the 1 Lth April. 

" Next day I returned and secured the three eggs, very hard- 
set they were, which the nest contained, and shot the female as 
she sat on a neighbouring tree after flying off the nest. This 
latter was very like that of A. badius, a poor affair of sticks very 
loosely put together. The eggs, too, very much resemble those of 
its near relative." 

To judge from these specimens, the eggs are rather longer 
than those of A. badius. They measure T69 by 1-24, 1'7 by 1-27, 
and 1'63 by 1'13; the average of a large series of A. badius is 
l*5o by 1*22, and the longest I have measured was only 1'65 in 

These eggs are the usual pale greyish-bluish white, devoid of 
real markings, though stained and dirted here and there. The 
shells very fine and compact, but with very little appreciable 

Accipiter nisus (Linn.). The Sparrow- Hawk. 

Accipiter nisus (Linn.}, Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. .51 ; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 24. 

Sparrow-Hawks, belonging probably to both the present and the 
next species, breed not uncommonly in wooded valleys in the 
interior of the Himalayas. I have repeatedly seen their nests, 
and once (in May) took one about two marches on the Mussoorie 
side of G-ungootrie, containing four bluish-white red-blotched eggs, 
exactly like, it seemed to me, the Sparrow-Hawks' eggs I had so 
often taken as a boy at home. 

I cannot now be sure whether these eggs belonged to the true 
A. nisus or to A. melanoscliistus. 

Captain Thompson of Simla assured me that one or two pairs of 
the true Sparrow-Hawk breed yearly in Annandale, just below 
Simla, laying in May and June. 


I verified the fact o one pair breeding there last year, though I 
failed to secure the eggs. 

At the same time the great majority of the present species do, un- 
questionably I think, go further north to breed. Dr. Stoliczka 
remarks : " Botn the Kestrel and Sparrow-Hawk were common in 
the upper Lachen and Lachung valleys after the middle of Septem- 
ber, evidently migrating southwards. None were seen on the Chola 
range at the end of August. The Kestrel was seen a few days 
sooner than the Sparrow-Hawk." 

This is quite my own experience ; a few pairs remain to breed 
all over the Himalayas in well- wooded localities, at elevations of 
from 5000 to perhaps 8000 feet ; but the vast majority go further 
north, and, with numberless young birds, begin to reappear in 

The late Major Cock took three eggs of this species on the 
2nd of June out of a nest in a tree near Soonainurg, in the valley 
of Cashmere. " While watching birds in a pine wood on a hill- 
side near Soonamurg, Cashmere, I noticed some Hawk that now 
and again flew past the tops of the trees under which I was sitting; 
whenever this occurred I heard the shrill cry of another bird, so I 
concluded a female was sitting somewhere near. After a diligent 
search I found the nest three-fourths up a high pine. My man 
got up to the nest, which was a ragged stick-nest with nothing 
characteristic about it, and announced three eggs, which I secured. 
I then waited and fired at the female as she came back, and to my 
great regret only wounded her. I waited for the other bird ; 
this I bagged, and it proved to be a male Accipiter nisiis.'' 

The parent bird, which I examined, is unquestionably an adult 
male A. nisus. One of these eggs is a very perfect rather broad 
oval. The shell is fine and compact, but there is no gloss. The 
ground-colour is a very delicate pale green, or greenish white, very 
boldly and profusely smeared, blotched, and spotted with a very 
rich reddish brown, and with a very few small faint purple clouds 
here and there underlying the primary markings. The larger end 
of the egg is nearly spotless, while of the remaining three-fourths 
of the surface fully half is occupied by the markings. I have seen 
richly-coloured Kite's eggs which, except as regards size, closely 
resembled the egg above described, which measured 1'73 by 1'33 

The other two eggs of the same clutch, now in Colonel 
Marshall's collection, are considerably larger, measuring 1-82 and 
1-83 inch bv 1'35. 

Accipiter melanoschistus, Hume. The Dove-Hawk. 

Accipiter melaschistus, Hume Hume, Bouyh Draft N. # E. no. 

24 bis. 

This species, or race, as some will doubtless consider it, appears 
to be confined to the Himalayas. My own specimens are all from 


within a circle of about 80 miles round Simla ; but it is not a 
purely local race, as I have seen a typical specimen in Mr. Man- 
delli's collection in Darjeeling. 

The Dove-Hawk is distinguished from the European A. nisus 
by its somewhat larger size (the males especially being noticeably 
larger than those of A. nisus), longer wings, and conspicuously 
more powerful tarsi, toes, and claws, and specially by the extremely 
black tint of the head and nape, which extends more or less on to 
the back. 

The first eggs that I obtained of this species were taken out of 
a nest near Kotegurh, on the 28th of April, by Captain Blair. The 
nest was a very slight one of sticks, placed on a ledge of a high 
cliff. It contained two eggs very similar to, but perhaps a trine 
larger and more elongated than, those of the common Sparrow- 
Hawk (A. nisus) generally are. In shape the eggs were somewhat 
elongated, nearly perfect ovals, only just perceptibly compressed to- 
wards one end. The ground-colour is a faintly bluish white. In 
both eggs one half of the egg is almost entirely spotless, whilst the 
greater part of the other half of the egg is occupied by a broad, irre- 
gular, mottled and blotched zone of a burnt sienna-brown, in spots 
becoming almost black. In neither egg does this extend quite to the 
end, and in one it is very much more strongly marked than in the 
other. In both a few faint pinkish-purple clouds or spots under- 
lie or are intermingled with the brown marking of the zone. The 
texture of the egg is fine, but it has little or no gloss. 

On the 29th of May I obtained a second nest near the same 
place, and very similarly situated as in the former case, only 
securing the female. The nest contained three eggs ; one of 
these was of much the same type as the preceding ; in one the 
primary markings were more generally distributed over the whole 
surface, were more broken up into specks and spots, freckles, and 
exhibited a number of large secondary pale purplish clouds. The 
third had the whole surface thickly speckled and spotted with a 
somewhat more reddish brown, and the whole smaller end blotched 
and smeared almost confluently with brownish red. 

These five eggs varied in length from 1-65 to 1*75 inch, and 
in breadth from 1*27 to 1'B inch. 

Accipiter virgatus (Eeinw.). The Besra Sparrow- Hawk. 

Accipiter virgatus (Temm.), Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 52; Hume, Cat. 
no. 25. 

From Sikhim Mr. Gammie writes : "On the 17th of May I 
wounded a Hawk which rose off its nest, but unfortunately it fell 
among dense jungle and could not be found. The nest was a 
rather large platform of sticks, about as thick as a man's finger, 
fixed in the top of a leafy tree in a wooded valley at 2500 feet 
elevation. Not having procured the bird, I cannot speak with 

BUTEO. 125 

absolute confidence to its identity, but do not think lam mistaken. 
1 had two good views of it before firing. In rising out of the 
nest it dropped down to within a few feet of the ground, close to 
where I stood, whicfr enabled me to see its back quite distinctly, 
and a few minutes after it returned overhead, when I wounded it. 
" The nest contained four partially-incubated eggs/' 
The eggs sent by Mr. Gammie were of the usual Accipitrine 
type, moderately broad regular oval eggs, with a fine compact, but 
entirely glossless shell. The ground was a dead white, but very 
much soiled and stained by the droppings of the birds. One egg 
was covered about the large end with several huge blotches and a 
number of good-sized spots of a dark umber-brown, with only a 
few specks and spots of the same colour about the rest of the 

e gg- 

A second egg was similar, except that in this all the markings 

were about the small end. 

A third egg had only one moderate-sized blotch and a few spots 
of the dark colour about the large end, but the greater portion of 
the larger end was clouded with dull, pale, subsurface-looking 
purplish brown, and there were splashes and streaks of the same 
colour in other parts of the eggs. 

The -fourth egg had no dark-coloured markings at all, only 
numerous specks and spots and little blotches of a very pale 
greyish purple. 

The eggs varied from 1'53 to 1'56 in length, and from 1*18 to 
1-2 in breadth. 

Colonel Legge says : " In Ceylon this Hawk breeds about the 
mouth of May, during which I once procured a female containing 
an egg almost ready for expulsion/' 

Mr. H. Parker also writes from Ceylon : " One nest of this 
Sparrow-Hawk, found in June, was situated on a small tamarind- 
tree overhanging the main road. It w r as about 35 feet from the 
ground in a vertical fork among the small twigs on the top of the 
tree, and in appearance resembled the ruins of a Crow's nest. It 
was constructed of small sticks and twigs, without any lining, and 
was a very thin, ragged structure ; all but the centre could be seen 
through. It was about 18 inches wide exteriorly, and the saucer- 
shaped egg-cavity was 9 inches across. It contained one 

Subfamily BUTEONIN^E. 

Buteo ferox (S. G. Gmel.). The Long-legged Buzzard. 

Buteo canescens, Hodffs., Jerd. S. Ind. i, p. 88. 

Buteo ferox (Gm.), Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. no. 45. 

The Long-legged Buzzard is said to breed in the North-West 
Punjab, and certainly breeds in the interior of the Himalavas 
west of the Ganges, as in Bussahir, Kooloo, aud Kashmere. 


Mr. W. Theobald makes the following note of tins bird's 
breeding in the neighbourhood of Find Daclan Khan and Katas in 
the Salt Eange: " Lays in the first and fourth weeks of March. 
Eggs two or three ; shape ovato-pvritorm ; size varies fyxmi 2 to 
2'19 inches in length, and 1'66 inch in breadth; colour greenish 
white, or white blotched with red or claret-brown, vary greatly. 
Nest large, in trees; sticks, lined with cotton, rags, &c., and 
daubed with mud." 

Of their breeding in the valley of Kashmere, he says : " Lays 
in the fourth week of April ; eggs two in number, ovato-pyriform, 
measuring from 2-1 to 2-4 inches in length, and from 1*77 to 1*8 
inch in breadth. Nest and eggs as in plains." 

I have been unable to verify the fact of this species breeding in 
the Salt Eange. I have had men at work there for two years in 
the very locality noticed by Theobald, and yet they failed to see a 
single nest. The late Major Cock, beyond question the best 
bird-nester in India, equally failed to obtain either eggs or nest in 
the Salt Eange, but he succeeded in finding the nest at Nowshera. 
He writes : 

"I sent a full account of my taking the nest of this bird to the 
' Pioneer ' at the time, but whether the account ever appeared I do 
not know, and I have since regretted that ,at the time I did not 
send the account to ' Nests and Eggs of Indian Birds ' instead, 
as I have now only my memory and the egg to aid me in this 
present note. In April 1872, while out after eggs at Nowshera, 
I observed a pair of Buteo ferox about a high cliff that overlooked 
a dry ravine about three miles from the station ; three days after 
this a Pathan told me that a large bird had a nest on this cliff. I 
went with him, and looking over the cliff could see the sticks of 
which the nest was composed, but not the interior of the nest, 
because of the overhanging ledge. Throwing down some pebbles, 
the old bird flew off the nest, and I saw it was a Buteo ferov, she 
flew across the ravine and settled on the edge of a cliff opposite. 
By means of a rift in the face of the precipice the Pathan got down 
to the ledge on which the nest was placed, and with the aid of the 
rope got to the nest, in which were two eggs. I told him to leave 
the eggs, and I went down below under the cliff and sat down. The 
old bird soon returned and seated herself on the eggs. Calling out 
to the Pathan to fling down pebbles, I prepared to shoot her, which 
I did as she flew off the nest. I now went up and took the nest, 
which was a moderately large structure of sticks placed under an 
overhanging ledge, about 80 feet up ; the nest was lined with dry- 
twigs and contained two fresh eggs, much like Kite's eggs, only 
larger. I look on these eggs as one of the greatest prizes I have 
ever taken, and had I not seen the bird twice on the nest and shot 
it, and taken the eggs myself, I should never have believed in the 
breeding of Buteo feroso in the plains of India. I may here men- 
tion that for many days after this I carefully searched all the 
cliffs and precipices within a radius of 15 miles, and 1 did not 
even observe the birds, much less find another nest. I found the 


nests of the Kestrel, the Lugger, and the Neophron, and saw the 
old nests of the Lammergier. but no more nests of B.firox" 

Major Wardlaw Ramsay says, writing of Afghanistan : "The 
only specimen I obtained was a nestling, still partly in down, 
brought to me by an Afghan in July at Byan Kheyl, in the Hariab 

One egg, said to belong to this species, was brought in (along 
with one of the parent birds) from Kooloo, where it was found in 
a large loose nest in a tree on the 10th January. Two other pre- 
cisely-similar eggs, found in a similar situation on the 1st of 
March, were obtained (again with one of the old birds) in Bussahir. 
They ought to be genuine, but I cannot separate them from large 
boldly-blotched Kites' eggs. They are broad, regular ovals, quite 
devoid of gloss ; strong compact shells, dark green when held up 
against the light. The ground-colour is dull, slightly greenish or 
bluish white. Two of the eggs are very boldly and densely 
blotched, the one about the larger, the other about the lesser end, 
with deep brownish red, which in places is almost black ; the rest 
of the egg exhibits only a very few small spots. The third egg 
has a few of the deeply-coloured blok-hes and spots at the small 
end, and a number of paler reddish-brown spots, specks, and 
blotches, scattered chiefly about the large end. 

The three eggs vary in length from 2-25 to 2'32 inches, and 
from 1'78 to 1'8 inch. 

Subfamily AQUILINE. 

Gypaetus barbatus (Linn.) *. The Lammeryeyer. 

Gypaetus barbatus (Linn.), Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 13 ; Hume, Rough 
'Draft N. $ E. no. 7. 

The Lammergeyer lays from about the 15th November to the 
15th of March, the majority, I think, in January and February. 
It breeds throughout the Himalayas, and the vast range of hills 
which under various names divides the Punjab and Sindh from 
Afghanistan and Khelat. 

The nest is commonly placed in almost inaccessible situations, 
in the face of some bold cliff ; a ledge of rock, above which some 
other ledge projects, is generally chosen. 

The only eyries I have been able to inspect were shapeless heaps 
of sticks, nearly a cartload I should say, strewed on ledges of rock 
(over a space of some 3 to 5 feet long by 2 or 3 broad), inter- 
mingled with rags, huge feathers, and large bones, and plentifully 
besprinkled with the droppings of the birds. 

* I follow Mr. Skarpe in placing this bird among the Eagles. ED. 


The late Major Cock found more than one nest of this species 
in the neighbourhood of Dhurumsala, on almost inaccessible ledges 
of precipices between 150 and 200 feet high. Of one that he 
visited on the 6th December before any egg had been laid, he 
remarks : " The nest had a quantity of old rags and bits of cord 
about it, and was well lined \\ith flocks of wool quite fresh." 

Later, this gentleman sent me the following note : " I should 
give this bird from November to the end of March for its breeding- 
season, as I have observed them pairing in the air in the beginning 
of March. Another observation I have made is, that all the nests, 
old ones and new ones, that I am acquainted with, to the number of 
15, are placed on precipices facing east and south ; not one faces 
north or west. Vultures and Falcons do not seem to be so par- 
ticular, as I find their nests placed indiscriminately on cliffs facing 
north or west. This year 1 have taken the following eyries : On 
the 2nd of January, at Deveenah, near Rilloo, in the Dhurumsala 
district, a nest containing three eggs ; a peculiarity here was that 
there were two nests, placed some 4 feet from each other on the 
same ledge, both quite new, but only one of them (the nest in which 
the eggs were) lined with wool. I have frequently visited this place 
since, as I thought there might be two couples, but there were not. 

" On the 29th January, a nest with two eggs. On the 10th 
February, a nest with one egg. I left this latter nest for ten days 
after this egg was laid, and then (I was afraid it would be hard-set) 
took it, the old bird being evidently incapable of laying another egg. 
This egg was a particularly large one, measuring 3-65 by 2*9 inches. 
After 1 had taken the egg, the birds came and destroyed their nest, 
pulling out all the wool it was lined with, and scattering it about. 
A fourth nest is now (March 7th) ready for eggs, and it was the 
owners of this nest that I observed pairing, as before mentioned, in 
March. I will also add my testimony as to this being a most 
cowardly bird, suffering itself to be driven off by Gyps liimalayensis, 
and I have even seen little Falco atriceps put it to flight." 

On a former occasion he thus described another nest : " On 
the 4th December, 1868, I found the nest of Gypaetus barbatus in 
a hollow on the face of a steep precipice, situated in a range of hills 
some 6 miles off the Grand Trunk Koad, two marches from Bawul- 
pindee on the Peshawur side. It was a large structure of sticks, 
and completely filled up the hollow or cave in which it was placed. 
It was lined with locks of the hair of hill-goats, on which the eggs 
were placed ; there was also one piece of cloth in the nest, some blue 
cotton stuff, by which I was reminded of this bird's relationship to 
Neophron. The eggs were set, I should think, from fifteen to 
eighteen days." 

Mr. B. Thompson writes, that in Kumaon " this species breeds 
from November to February, late in which latter month the young 
may sometimes be seen ; it selects ledges of precipices at elevations 
of 5000 feet and upwards. The nest a huge platform, some 4 or 5 
feet in diameter, is constructed of small sticks and thick twi#s, 
placed so as to form a footing for the young, and is lined with 


pieces of cloth, rags, &c. I have frequently noticed parent birds 
with only a single young one following them, and I am inclined to 
think that they seldom rear more." 

Captain Huttoii teTTs us : " These birds are common in the hills, 
from the Doon to the Snowy Range ; it breeds for several seasons 
together in the same nest, sometimes giving the old nest a few 
repairs. The spots selected at Mussoorie are of the most dangerous 
description, and often perfectly inaccessible ; while even in the 
least dangerous spots a man must be lowered down over the rock 
by a stout rope to ascertain if there are either eggs or young ones 
in the nest ; since the latter being generally placed in a wide fissure 
in the perpendicular face of the cliff, it is not visible from above. 

" One nest was found on the 30th March, and a boy was lowered 
down over the rock, but he found that the cleft and nest of two 
years previously had been abandoned, and a new nest had been 
made in another cleft lower down, in which was a young bird partially 
fledged. Not being prepared to rob the nest at that time, the 
nestling was left, especially as the old birds were near, and their 
movements somewhat threatening. On the following morning, 
the lad was again persuaded to descend, and as the old birds were 
absent he secured his prize. The nest was built on a ledge of rock 
within a cleft, and was composed of a thick bed of sticks, lined 
with grass, old rags, bones, and what appeared to have been a por- 
tion of a sheet. There was nothing in the shape of food, except 
part of the wing of some large bird. 

" During the present year (1869) a nest was prepared in the 
very same spot, and was finished on the 24th February ; on the 
10th March it was visited, the old birds being at hand, but no eggs 
were found. It was visited again once after this, and found to be 
deserted. Towards the end of March another nest was visited, 
but it had been blown off the rock in a gale of wind." 

It seems probable that two is the number of eggs most commonly 
laid, and that three may, not very unfrequently, be found. 

Lieut. H. E. Barnes tells us that this Vulture is common on the 
Khoja Amran Range in Afghanistan, where it breeds. 

The eggs, of which I have now seen more than a dozen, vary 
much in shape, colour, and size ; but typically they are rather broad 
ovals, somewhat pointed towards one end. As regards colour, I 
have now seen every variety of Neophron's eggs reproduced in 
those of this species. 

The texture of all the eggs I have is rather coarse, but the shells 
are more compact and less chalky than those of the Neophron. 

The colour of the shell, when held up against the light, is pale 
dingy yellow, as in Neophron, hereby further exhibiting the close 
affinities of these two species, and separating them from the true 
Vultures, all of whose shells, when seen against the light, are, to 
the best of my belief, a more or less dark sea-green. 

None of the eggs had the slightest glcse . Of the first two 
I examined, both had a nearly uniform pale salmon-buff ground, 
here and there mottled paler. One was devoid of all markings : 

VOL. in. 9 


the other was somewhat thinly blotched, clouded, and spotted in 
all parts with pale reddish brown, not much darker than the ground- 

One, a magnificent specimen from Kumaon, was like a full- 
coloured Falcon's egg. Some were a deep orange-brown ; another 
was dull white, thickly spotted, blotched, and streaked with pale, 
washed-out reddish brown and purple, the markings quite confluent 
on the large end, where they form a pale irregular mottled cap. 

The two eggs from the second nest taken by Major Cock (now 
in Mr. Brooks's collection) are, says the latter gentleman, " exactly 
of the colour you describe (Hough Notes, p. 37) : one pale yellow- 
brown, almost uniform, the spots are so small ; the other with a 
few larger and darker spots now and then. They are what I call 
poor-looking eggs, and not nearly so fine as the European ones in 
Hancock's collection." 

The huge solitary egg from Major Cock's third nest was a deep 
red-brown, streaked in places with lighter brown. 

We may now say that the eggs of this species vary from 2' 96 to 
3-65 inches in length, and from 2'5 to 2-9 inches in breadth ; and 
that the average of thirteen eggs measured is 3'24 by 2 -66 inches. 

Aquila chrysaetus (Linn.). The Golden Eagle. 

Aquila clirysaetos (Linn.)) Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 55 j Hume, Rouyh 
Draft N. $ E. no. 26. 

The Golden Eagle occurs and breeds sparingly in the Himalayas? 
from Sikhim to Afghanistan ; in the eastern and central portion 
of this tract it is confined to the immediate neighbourhood of the 
Snowy Range, but in the extreme north-west it comes nearer down 
towards the plains. Mr. Frederic Wilson, well known as ' Moun- 
taineer,' writing of the country about Gungootreeand Jumnootree, 
tells me that it "inhabits the hills jutting out from the snowy ranges, 
and often soars over the latter and up their remote valleys. It is 
never seen on the lower ranges. It does not go into the dense 
forests, but may be seen sailing above them and along hill-sides 
that are entirely bare or only studded with a few trees here and 
there. A pair are generally seen together. They feed on Pigeons, 
Moonals, and more especially on the Snow Pheasants, on the young 
of Tahr and Burhel, and will kill adult Musk-Deer. I have several 
times seen them do this. The nest I have not seen, except on a 
precipice, which was quite inaccessible." 

On the other hand, at Thundiana, a hill some 9000 feet high, 
overlooking the Agrore valley, on the borders of Hazara, Captain 
TJnwin found a nest and secured a young one thence, along with 
the female bird, which he sent me. He says : " The nest was 
placed on a deodar tree, overhanging a steep precipice. It was 
about 25 feet from the ground, and was composed of a vast number 
of dried sticks and branches, collected from the neighbouring pine 
trees. These were piled up against the trunk of the tree to a 
height of about 6 feet, and formed a platform of almost 3 feet in 

AQUILA. 131 

width ; it wus lined or littered with dry grass and roots. Some 
Goojurs, who live near the steep ravine where we found the nest, 
stated that this pair of Eagles had bred in this same nest for the 
past three years, and that they occasionally carried off small lambs 
and kids from their huts." 

The eggs of the Golden Eagle are, we know from European 
examples, very variable bo th in shape and in colouring, but typically 
they are very broad oval eggs, only slightly more obtuse at one end 
than the other. 

In colour they vary from dull greenish white or white, absolutely 
unspotted, to a richly blotched surface, on which but little of the 
white ground-colour is visible amidst the massive red and brownish- 
red or reddish-pink blotches, smears, streaks, and spots. 

The only two eggs that I possess, taken in India, which I o\ve to 
Mr. Frederic Wilson, are the one of the Brahminy Kite's egg type, 
dirtv white, very sparsely scratched and speckled with dirty slightly 
reddish brown ; and the other of the Spilornis cheela type, white, 
pretty thickly spotted and smeared all over with umber-brown, 
which may have been redder when the egg was first taken. Both 
are entirely devoid of gloss, but while in one the shell is compara- 
tively smooth and close-textured, in the other it is singularly coarse 
and rough. They measure 3'1 by 2-4 inches and 3 by 2-35. 

Aquila bifasciata, J. E. Gray. The Steppe-Eagle. 

Aquila imperialis (Bechst.}, Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 57. 

Aquila mogihrik, Gin., Hume, Rouyh Draft N. Sf E. no. 27. 

The Steppe-Eagle breeds but sparingly in the Himalayas, from 
Nepal westwards, and still more exceptionally in the plains of the 
North-west. The vast majority of the multitudes of this species 
that during the cold season throng the well-wooded and cultivated 
portions of the plains of continental India, go further north and 
we*t to breed. 

I have myself only found them breeding in the Upper Punjab, 
and there only on three occasions. They lay (in the plains) in 
February and March, and possibly April ; building a large stick 
platform on or near the tops of trees peepul-trees in all the in- 
stances in which I found the nest ; but also at times, like the 
Tawny Eagle, on babool and other thorny trees. The nests that 
1 saw were from 2 to 2-5 feet in diameter, some 6 to 8 inches thick, 
composed of rather small sticks and lined with a few green leaves. 
One nest contained two hard-set, another three fresh eggs, and the 
third only one ; but from accounts received from Mr. W. Blewitt 
and others, two appears the normal number. 

Mr. Blewitt took a nest of this species near Hansie, in the Dhana 
Beer (a sort of preserved wilderness), on the 22nd February, 1868. 
The female, shot on the nest, was sent tome an old, unmistakable, 
black Eagle, with conspicuous white scapular patches, and yellowish 
head and nape. Mr. Blewitt describes the nest as very dense and 



compact, 7 inches thick, by 18 only in diameter; composed entirely 
of keekur (Acacia arabica) twigs and without lining. The nest 
was placed, like that of A. vindhiana, on the top of a keekur-tree, 
some 18 feet from the ground, and contained two fresh eggs. 

The eggs of this Eagle vary much in size and shape. I have one 
nearly as large as any one of the Golden Eagle's figured by Hewit- 
son, but most of them are little, if anything, above the size of an 
average A. vindhiana. 

They have the usual pale greyish-white ground, unspotted in 
most ; faintly spotted and streaked with very pale brown in others ; 
and in one richly blotched with purplish brown. They seem normally 
of a somewhat broad oval, but one or two are a good deal lengthened ; 
and one, which 1 took early in February (a solitary egg in a huge 
nest), is absolutely pyriform. Placing together specimens of the 
eggs of the various Eagles, I am unable, as far as texture goes, to 
point out any certain difference. There is scarcely any gloss on 
any of the eggs of these various species ; but on a few of those 
of A. vindhiana there is a slight trace of this. 

In size the eggs vary from 2'6 to 3 inches in length, and from 
1*95 to 2'15 inches in breadth; but the average of nine eggs 
measured was 2'7 by 2*09 inches. 

Aquila vindhiana, Franklin. The Indian Tawny Eayle. 

Aquila fulvescens, Gray, Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 60. 

Aquila vindhiana, Frankl, Hume, Rouyh Draft N. fy E. no. 29. 

The Indian Tawny Eagle breeds throughout the drier portions 
of Continental India. Here and there this species and the Spotted 
Eagle may be found breeding in close proximity ; but this is only 
on the borders of their respective territories, and as a rule it is just 
in those well-drained, open, dry districts, where A. clanga never 
breeds, that the Tawny Eagle most delights to rear its young. 

In different parts of Upper India it lays from the middle of 
November to the middle of June ; but the great majority, I think, 
lay in January. Out of one hundred and fifty- nine eggs, of which 
I have a record, eighty-three were taken in January, thirty-eight 
in December, twenty-eight in February, the rest in November, 
March, April, and June. Only one in this latter month, and none 
at all in May. The very hot dry weather puts a stop to the laying 
of most species belonging to the raptorial and insessorial groups. 
The nest is always, as far as my experience goes, placed on trees. 
I have never met with one placed on rocky ledges, although I have 
found them on trees at the foot of, or near to, precipices, which 
contained apparently most " eligible sites." 

They build a large flat nest of sticks, between 2 and 3| feet in 
diameter, and from 4 inches to 1 foot in thickness, according to 
situation. The nests are generally lined with green leaves, some- 
times with straw or grass intermingled with a few feathers, and 


sometimes have no lining at all. They are generally placed at the 
very top of the tree, and though I have found them occasionally on 
peepul and tamarind trees, the great majority were on moderate- 
sized, but dense bsbool-trees, standing apart in the midst of fields 
or low jungles. 

Mr. William Blewitt remarks that he found great numbers of 
the nests of this bird in the neighbourhood of Hansie during 
January, February, March, and April, 1868. None contained more 
than t\vo eggs, and many of these latter were considerably incu- 
bated. The nests were without exception in dense keekur-trees 
(Acacia arabica), at heights of from 16 to 24 feet from the ground. 
The nests, sometimes loosely and at others densely constructed, 
\vere composed of twigs and small branches of keekur, her (Z.jujuba), 
and similar thorny trees ; more than one had a thin lining of grass 
or leaves, bnt the majority had no lining. In diameter (excluding 
straggling ends) the nests varied from 16 inches to nearly 2 feet, 
and in depth from barely 4 to nearly 9 inches. 

During the latter part of 1868 great scarcity prevailed in Hansie 
and the whole neighbouring country, owing to the failure of the 
rains. Fodder, especially, was unprocurable, and throughout vast 
tracts all the babool, her, and peepul trees were entirely denuded 
of their foliage, in order to feed the cattle. The result was that 
A. vindhiana entirely deserted the neighbourhood, and where in 1868 
with but little trouble Mr. Blewitt met with scores of nests, he 
during 1869 only succeeded in finding two. 

My friend, Colonel G. F. L. Marshall, writing of this species, 
says : " Very common in the Saharunpoor district. Is said to 
catch fish by all the natives ; but I do not believe it. The native 
name is Machopa or Machoka. It builds on trees a nest of sticks, 
and lays two white eggs, sometimes pure, sometimes blotched with 
dusky and brownish. It commences building in the end of March, 
but the eggs are not laid till the end of May ; and I have taken 
fresh eggs up to the middle of June, and at IShamlee, in the Mozuf- 
fernugger district, I took five nests early in June, all with fresh 

" In the Central Provinces," writes Mr. E-. Thompson, " this is a 
common bird in the upland forests. It lays here in November and 

Most birds, when they have eggs, even before they begin to sit, 
watch their nests closely. I have, however, repeatedly found nests 
of this Eagle, containing one or more eggs, with no parent bird 
anywhere near. I have several notes of this. I quote one : 

" On the Western Jumna Canal, near Hissar, on the 15th Decem- 
ber, I found a large nest on the top of a babool-tree. The nest 
seemed rather fresh, and therefore, though there was no bird near, 
I sent up a man to examine it. It proved to contain two large eggs. 
Whilst the man was near the nest, no bird made its appearance ; 
only after we had waited about a quarter of an hour, a large 
A. vindhiana in dark plumage soared slowly past, at a great height 
overhead. This was about 2 o'clock in the afternoon. We did not 

134 FALCONID^). 

touch the eggs, called the man down, and withdrew to watch the 
nest ; hiding ourselves carefully some little distance off. It was not 
till tie sun was setting that this same A. vindliiami suddenly made 
its appearance, and descended to the nest, where it was shot. It was 
a female, and from first to last we saw nothing of the male." 

Colonel E. A. Butler writes : " The Tawny Eagle breeds in the 
neighbourhood of Deesa, principally in the months of January and 

" I also found it breeding in Sind and have the following note 
on the subject : Sukkur, 3rd February, 1879, two slightly incubated 
eggs. The nest, which was of the usual stick type, but not very 
large, was placed at the very top of a low rundee-tree in a grass 
1 Beerh ' resting on the low outside twigs about 20 feet from the 
ground and commanding a good view of the surrounding country. 
The old birds hung about the spot for several days after the eggs 
were taken, and I saw the hen bird sitting on the nest constantly 
during that time, but she did not lay again." 

Messrs. Davidson and Wenden, writing from the Deccan, say : 
" Extremely abundant. Eggs taken from 28th October to 12th 
February. % Some single eggs were set. One nest had three, but 
the majority only two eggs. An Eagle's egg, almost certain to be 
that of this species, was brought to D. on the 30th September." 

The late Mr. A. Anderson contributed the following account of 
this Eagle to the P. Z. S. : " I examined several nests during the 
season, and invariably found only two eggs (I have since taken three 
eggs, but this is an unusual number). They vary considerably in 
size, shape, and coloration ; but on the whole they are poorly 
marked. January and February is the most general time for this 
Eagle to lay ; but I came across some nests early in November. 
These birds had evidently built too soon, and used to sit mopingly 
close to their nest or on a neighbouring tree, as if watching their 
homestead, patiently waiting their appointed time. 

" The Wokab is partial to certain trees for the site of its nest ; 
but I have found its predilection in this respect to be regulated by 
the abundance or scarcity of the trees in question. In the Cawn- 
pore district they almost invariably build on solitary peepul-trees 
(Ficus religiosa). In the Futtehgurb and Mynpoory districts, 
where the seesoo (Dalbergia seesoo} grows to so gigantic a size, the 
preference is apparently given to them. Higher up the Doab, 
where the country assumes somewhat of a desert character, I found 
them building on thorny acacias. On one occasion I found a nest 
on a babool, which was certainly not more than fifteen feet high 
a mere apology for a tree. 

" In November, 1867, I got a pair of abnormally small eggs, 
without the faintest indication of any colouring-matter (the con- 
tents of an unusually small nest, which was situated at the very top 
of a perpendicular branch of a mango), shooting one of the parent 
birds. This tree was one of a straggling group, close to the Mar- 
tiniere College at Lucknow ; and, in proof of the boldness of this 
Eagle, I may mention that an enormous camp was formed under 

AQUILA. 135 

these very trees, awaiting the triumphal entry of the Viceroy into 
the capital of Ouclh. I have since thought that this nest belonged 
rightfully either to Milvus govinda or Haliastur indus, both of 
which species were very abundant there. When encamped at the 
pretty little station of Mynpoory in January last, a pair of Wokabs 
became excessively troublesome, carrying off everything they could 
find and robbing the more legitimate camp-scavengers, Kites and 
Crows, of every morsel they picked up. I was not long in finding 
their nest, an enormous structure, on the topmost branches of a 
seesoo, which was visible nearly a mile off, as at this season of the 
year the tree was devoid of every green leaf. 

" The nest contained two half-grown Eaglets, which were most 
tenderly nurtured by their parents, judging from the frequency of 
their visits and the pugnacious way in which they attacked every 
bird that unconsciously approached within sight, no matter how 
far off. 

" During one of my visits to the tree, I saw both the birds in hot 
pursuit of a Jugger Falcon that was flying away with u pigeon. 
Another day I wounded a Poliornis teesa, which flew away dangling 
both legs. Simultaneously with my shot out flew one of these 
Wokabs, and pursued the wounded Buzzard, in the vain hope of 
becoming possessed of its prey ! The Eagle very soon overtook 
the unfortunate bird, flying round it several times by way of in- 
spection, and when satisfied that no booty was forthcoming, it 
returned to the nest after two or three rapid gyrations.'' 

Mr. Benjamin Aitken sends me the following notes : " These 
notes were all made at Akola in Berar. 1st January, 1871. Xest 
on the very top of a small tamarind-tree in a garden : contained 
one half-fledged bird and a dead cat. 19th January. The same pair 
of birds began a nest in a tree, not a tamarind, in the same garden. 
3rd February. To-day I sent a man up ; he frightened off the old 
bird out of the nest (now complete) and slightly disarranged the 
nest, but found nothing. 10th February. Sent up a man again, 
and got one egg." 

The normal number of eggs seems to be two, but it is by no 
means uncommon to tind three. The eggs of this species appear 
to me to vary prodigiously in size and shape ; but it is not im- 
probable that this excessive apparent variation is due to the enor- 
mous series I have before me. I have taken more than a hundred 
of this bird's eggs myself, and from first to last have had more than 
double this number sent me hy other observers. Normally this 
bird's egg is a somewhat broad oval, slightly pointed towards one end, 
some are very long and pointed. A pair which I took in the 
Goorgaon district are long and narrow ; the cubic contents of these 
must be fully twice that of some of the smaller specimens ; they 
each contained a fully developed chick, ready to hatch off. A few 
of the eggs are nearly spherical, but the broad oval greatly pre- 
dominates. The ground-colour of the eggs is the usual greyish 
white, unspotted in about half the specimens, and exhibiting more 
or less conspicuous markings in others. Of the markings, the 


most common are a few large blotches and splashes of yellowish 
brown, accompanied by pretty numerous specks or spots of the 
same colour, distributed pretty evenly over the whole egg. In some, 
the blotches are more extensive and numerous, and exhibit a ten- 
dency to cluster towards one end more than the other, and the 
colour becomes a reddish brown, or in some a purplish brown, while 
in others all three colours are mingled. In no egg that I possess 
is more than one-third of the surface covered with markings, and, 
as a rule, even the richest coloured eggs (and these are comparatively 
ran^) have not above a seventh or eighth of the surface of the egg 
covered with markings. 

Elsewhere I have remarked : " The eggs vary extraordinarily 
both in size and shape from a very long oval, much pointed at one 
end, to almost a sphere ; but the ordinary type is a rather broad 
oval, slightly narrower at one end. In colour, they are most com- 
monly white, with a very faint tinge of bluish green ; but many of 
them are more or less streaked, spotted, or blotched with different 
shades of brown or reddish brown, and occasionally purple of varying 
intensity, and here and there one may be found richly marked with 
sharply denned spots and blotchesof bright, though slightly brownish, 
red. Many of the eggs, when taken from the nest, have a faint 
gloss on them ; but they lose this by washing, and the eggs become 
so soiled during incubation that it usually is necessary to wash them. 
The texture is generally close and compact ; the egg-lining is a 
pure sea-green." 

In size the eggs vary from 2-35 to 3'25 inches in length, and from 
1*8 to 2'25 inches in breadth ; but the average of one hundred and 
fifty-nine eggs measured was 2'63 by 2'11 inches. 

Aquila hastata (Less.). The Long-legged Eagle. 

Aquila hastata (Less.), Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 62 ; Hume, Rough Draft 
N. $ E. no. 30. 

The Long-legged Eagle appears to breed in many parts of con- 
tinental India. I know of its breeding in the Eaipoor and Sumbul- 
poor districts, in the neighbourhood of Calcutta, in Dacca, and 
again in the extreme north-west, in the Agrore Valley. Here it 
was, not far from Abbotabad, that Captain Unwin, of the 25th 
Goorkhas, found two nests on the 29th of April and the 6th of May, 
the one containing two, the other a single egg ; all of which, to- 
gether with three of the parent birds, he kindly sent me. Of one of 
the nests he writes as follows : 

u The nest was found on the 6th of May, placed on a cheer or 
fir tree, in a fork about 30 feet from the ground, and the old bird 
was shot as she sat alongside the nest. The tree was situated on 
a sloping hill- side, rather detached from the forests. The nest was 
constructed of sticks, large towards the exterior and smaller to- 
wards the interior of the nest. It was about 18 or 20 inches thick, 
and 2| feet broad, with a depression of about 3 inches deep in the 


centre. It contained a single, fresh, large, dead white egg, spotted 
here and there with deep reddish brown, and with a few very pale 
pinkish spots sparsely scattered over the shell. The Groorkhas' 
name for this bird is Kaka-Kool ; they declare it to be a snake-eater, 
but the female above alluded to had nothing in the stomach but a 
couple of rats, which appeared to have been recently swallowed." 

Major C. T. Bingham writes: " On the 14th May I found a 
nest of this Eagle placed on an immense babool-tree on the banks 
of the Nezzufgurh Escape canal, where it passes through a number 
of gardens under the ridge at Delhi. As I got underneath the 
tree the bird glided off, so after examining the nest, which was a 
large rough platform of sticks containing two eggs, I hid myself 
close by and watched for the return of the bird, which happened in 
about three-quarters of an hour, and as soon as she was seated I 
moved out and shot her as she went off. The eggs were perfectly 
fresh, dirty white in colour, with a few scattered lilac spots faint 
and washed out. They measure respectively 2-41 inches and 2'22 
inches by 1'95 inch and 1*82 inch." 

Mr. J. C. Parker sends me the following note : " I had the good 
fortune to secure another egg of this species on the 9th May, 1877, 
and from the top of the same mahogany tree in the Botanical 
Gardens as that from which I took an egg on the 2nd May, 1875, 
but the nest was not on the same branch, being near the summit 
of the second great limb of the tree, a good 80 feet from the ground. 
I experienced the same difficulty in securing this egg as on the last 
occasion, the tree being a very dangerous one to climb. As both 
birds were shot in 1875, it is a singular fact that another pair of 
this rather rare species should have selected the same tree to build 
on ; perhaps the birds of 1875 were the young of the present pair, 
as they were very light coloured, whereas the only one seen this 
year was very nearly black on the back." 

Mr. J. E. Cripps, writing from Furreedpore in Eastern Bengal, 
says : " On the 1st of April I saw a bird fly up into a tamarind- 
tree with a twig in its mouth, and on the 16th May I took the 
only egg there was. This tamarind-tree formed one of a clump 
growing on a deserted * ryot's bheeta.' The trees were all very 
large, and the undergrowth of cane, &c., was very dense. The nest 
was a large structure of sticks and twigs, with a lining of the latter, 
and contained only one egg. The chick's bill protruded while 
carrying it home. The nest was about 50 feet from the ground 
and right on the top of the tree. The parent bird sat very close, 
taking ever so many stones to drive her off the nest when I shot 
her. On two adjoining trees I found the nests of B. coromandus 
and S. rutJierfonli. These Eagles are very tame, allowing of an 
easy approach at all times. On no occasion did I see them catch 
birds for food. They perch on the trees that are studded about 
the expanse of paddy-fields during the day, and retire for the night 
to the tree-jungle." 

Three eggs sent by Captain Unwin seem scarcely distinguishable 
from those of -1. itndAiana, though possibly they may on the whole 


be somewhat broader and more frequently spotted and blotched. 
One is absolutely devoid of markings, the second is very thinly 
spotted all over with yellowish brown and very pale purple, and 
towards the large end there are two or three large reddish-brown 
smears ; the third egg is profusely blotched about the large end 
with reddish brown, and has two or three large blotches of the same 
colour on another part of the egg. The ground-colour in all is a 
kind of greyish white, and the shell is entirely devoid of gloss. 
In length these eggs vary from 2*4 to 2'55 inches, and in breadth 
from 1-95 to 2'1 inches. 

As in the case of all Eagles, the eggs vary a great deal in size 
and in the amount of markings. 

An egg taken on the 14th of May near Delhi by Major Bingham, 
of which the parents were satisfactorily identified., has no markings, 
except a number of very dull pale brownish subsurface-looking 
clouds and spots, and a couple of great pale dirty brown smears. 
Another egg, taken from a nest in the Botanical Gardens, Calcutta, 
measures 2-5 inches in length by 1*97 in breadth, and is profusely 
streaked and smeared and smudgily blotched with pale dingy 
brownish red, the markings being almost confluent in a large cap 
near the broader end. 

An egg of Aquila hastata, taken by Mr. Cripps, seems to have 
been pure white and devoid of all natural markings, but in process 
of incubation it has been everywhere so stained and soiled that 
faint markings might escape attention. It measured 2*6 inches 
by 1*96 . 

Aquila clanga, Pall. The Spotted Eagle. 

Aquila naevia (Gm.), Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 59; Hume, Rouyh Draft 
N. 8j E. no. 28. 

The Spotted Eagle breeds from April to June in suitable situ- 
ations throughout Central and Northern India. Occasionally a 
nest may be met with, like one I found near Jodhpoor, in com- 
paratively arid districts, but almost without exception their 
breeding-haunts are well-watered tracts, where perennial canals, 
rivers, lakes, or swamps furnish an abundant supply of frogs, the 
favourite food of the young. Generally these tracts are well 
wooded, as well as well watered ; but this species breeds plenti- 
fully, I am assured, in Sind, which can nowhere, even in the 
neighbourhood of the large broads, which the Spotted Eagle so 
affects, be termed well wooded. 

In the Sub- Himalayan tract, from Sikhim to the Jumna, numbers 
of the Spotted Eagle breed, as they do also in Eaipoor and the 
Tributary Mehals along the banks of the Mahanuddy and its 

* An interesting account of the nesting of this Eagle by the late Mr. A. 
Anderson will be found in the ' Ibis ' for 1875, p. 199. It is too long to be 
inserted here. ED. 


affluents, and along the larger streams which drain the jungly 
portions of the Mundlah and Balaghat districts ; on one of these 
hitter streams Mr. R. Thompson found a nest in May, built on the 
top of a large sal tree, and took thence a young bird, which he long 
kept in confinement. 

On the 17th May I found a nest containing two eggs, just on 
the point of hatching, on a huge Terminalia tree, in the Sikhini 
Terai, a fe\v miles from Silligoree. The nest was a mere circular 
pad of sticks, some 2 feet by 18 inches, and fully 6 inches in depth, 
with a slight depression towards the centre, strewed over with 
withered leaves. 

My friend Colonel Gr. F. L. Marshall furnishes me with the 
following note on the nidification of this species : " Builds in 
the Saharunpoor district in the end of May and beginning of June. 
The nest is commenced about the end of April, and the young are 
hatched by the middle of June. 

" The nest is placed in a fork near the top of a large tree, about 
35 or 40 feet from the ground. All that 1 have found have been 
in the line of trees along the bank of the Eastern Jumna Canal, 
on the outside one farthest from the water, and always in sheesum 
trees. I found four nests, one with young (on the 10th June), 
and three with eggs on the ^2nd of May and 3rd and llth of 
June. All the eggs were hard-set. The nest is a large circular 
platform-like structure of sticks, with a few dead leaves in the 
egg-receptacle, but no other lining. I noticed no remains of food 
in any of them. The diameter of the whole nest was about 20 
inches, and the interior depth about 2 inches. I have never found 
more than one egg in any nest. The egg now before me is a per- 
fect, but very blunt oval ? of a slightly yellowish-white ground, 
somewhat profusely spotted and blotched with rather faint yel- 
lowish brown, and a pale washed-out purplish brown, which latter 
colour greatly predominates ; the egg is absolutely glossless." 

An egg which I owe to Colonel Marshall's kindness is a broad 
oval in shape, and has a greyish-white ground, richly blotched and 
spotted with pale purple. This egg has no gloss, and when held 
up against the light, the shell, as in all those of these Eagles, is a 
bright sea-green. 

Other eggs which J have obtained or seen have been less richly 
marked, but -varied little in si/e or shape. As a rule, they seem 
to be more richly marked than those of A. vindhiana. 

The five eggs that I have measured have varied from 2*5 to 2-8 
inches in length, and from 1'94 to 2-2 inches in breadth. 

Nisaetus fasciatus (Yieill.). Bonelli's Eagle. 

Nisaetus bonelli (Temm.), Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 67. 

Pseudaetus bonellii (Tcmm.}, Hume, Eovgh Draft N. $ E. no. 33. 

Bonelli's Eagle lays in the plains in the latter half of December 
and in January ; but in the Himalayas it sometimes lays, I believe, 


as late as April. The nest is usually placed on ledges of pre- 
cipitous earthen or rocky cliffs, and in the plains I think 
preferentially in the immediate neighbourhood of some large river 
or jheel. I have repeatedly seen their nests in the high clay cliffs 
of the Jumna or Chumbal in the Etawah District, and I found a 
pair breeding in the ruined and cyclopean walls of the ancient 
Togluckabad, south of Delhi. Many pairs were breeding in the 
precipices of the Salt Range near the Mayo Mines when I last 
visited these, and I found several of their riests in the rocky cliffs 
overlooking the gorges of the Gaj and the Nurree Nai in the hills 
dividing Sindh from Kelat. 

Occasionally, however, they build on trees ; and I found a nest 
containing a single egg in a large peep ul- tree near Bhurtpore. 

The nest (as 1 said before, commonly placed on some convenient 
ledge or suitable recess in the cliff's face) is very large, from 4 to 
6 feet in diameter, and is composed of thickish and moderate-sized 
sticks, varying from 1*5 to 0*5 inch in diameter. The nest itself 
varies in thickness from a few inches to a couple of feet, and being 
always finished off to a level, when placed, as often happens, on a 
more or less shelving declivity, is much thicker exteriorly than 
interiorly. In the nests that I have examined branches and twigs 
of various kinds of thorny acacias were the chief materials used. 
In no nest that I have seen, not even in that one mentioned as 
found on a peepul-tree, was there any very perceptible depression in 
the interior of the nest. In the centre of the platform a circular 
space, of some 18 inches in diameter, is commonly smoothed over 
with a thin layer of green twigs ; and in the centre of this again 
a smaller space of perhaps 1 foot in diameter is carefully carpeted 
with green leaves, those of the neem, peepul, peeloo (Salvadora 
persica}, and other trees being apparently indifferently made 
use of. 

Normally, they lay two eggs, but I have once found three in a 
nest, and on two occasions have known of a single, much-incubated 
egg being met with. 

Elsewhere (in the ' Ibis ') I have thus described the taking of a 
nest of this species : "About a mile above the confluence of the 
clear blue waters of the Chumbal and the muddy stream of the 
Jumna, in a range of bold perpendicular clay cliffs that rise more 
than 100 feet above the dry-weather level of the former river, I 
took my first nest of Bonelli's Eagle. In the rainy season water 
trickling from above had, in a way trickling water often does, worn 
a deep recess into the face of the cliff, about one third of the way 
down. Above and below, it had merely broadly grooved the 
surface, but here, finding a softer bed, I suppose, it had worn in 
a recess some 5 feet high and 3 feet deep and broad. The bottom 
of this recess sloped downwards, but the birds, by using branches 
with large twic/yy extremities, had built up a level platform that 
projected some 2 feet beyond the face of the cliff. It was a great 
mass of sticks, fully half a ton in weight, and on this platform 
(with only her head visible from where we stood at the water's 


edge) an old female Eagle sat in state. This was on Christmas 
Day ! It is not many holidays a working official gets in India, OP 
at least can afford to give himself, and part of mine are generally 
spent in the open air, gun in hand. 

" At the foot of the cliffs is a talus of rough blocks of clay that 
it will take many a flood yet to amalgamate, and up this I crept 
until I was only about 60 feet below the nest. Here, however, I 
could see nothing of the bird. I shouted and kicked the cliff, the 
men below screamed, threw fragments of kuaker (one of which 
nearly blinded me), and by various signs attempted to indicate to 
Mrs. Bonelli that a change of locality was desirable. Serenely 
sublime in the discharge of her maternal duties, that lady took no 
notice whatsoever of the uproar below ; accustomed to the passage 
of noisy boat-crews, and, like some other sovereigns who sit calmly 
aloft, unable to realize that it is really against their sacred selves that 
the mob beneath is howling, the Eagle never moved. Beaten at 
our first move, we changed our plan. I crept down the talus, and 
sent up a man to throw down dust and small pieces of earth (we 
were afraid of breaking the eggs), in the hopes of driving her off 
the nest. Luckily the very first piece of earth hit her, then came a 
shower of sand, and concluding I suppose that the cliff was (as it 
often does) about to fall, she flew off the nest with a rapid swoop. 
Bang, bang, both barrels, 12-bore, No. 3 green cartridge, full in 
the chest (as the body showed when we skinned it), and yet with a 
half fall, like a tumbler pigeon, through some 15 or 20 feet, she 
recovered herself and swooped away as if unhurt, close along the 
face of the cliff ; 100 yards further I saw a tremor, then in a 
moment it was clear that she was in the death struggle ; she began 
to sink, and an instant after fell over and over on to a flat block 
of clay with almost incredible violence. The dust flew up from 
where she fell, as if a shell had dropt there, but as a specimen the 
bird was scarcely injured. 

' ; We had hardly secured the female, after the manner of bird- 
stuffers, plugging nostrils and shot-holes, stuffing throat and 
smoothing feathers, when we heard a shrill creaking cry, and saw 
the male coming straight for the nest with a bird (which turned 
out to be a Turtur cctmbayensis) in his talons. Coming to the 
nest, the bird seemed surprised to find it empty ; it took no notice 
whatsoever of us, nor did it apparently catch sight of its mate, 
stretched out with her white breast uppermost on the deck-like 
platform of our barge, but it straightway settled itself down in 
the centre of the nest and became entirely invisible. Again tiny 
stones were thrown down, and after standing up, staring proudly 
round and stalking to the edge of the platform, where he was 
hailed with shouts, the male bird flew off slowly, swooping down to 
within 20 yards of where I sat, and the next moment dropped stone 
dead with only a loose charge of Xo. 6 through him. 

" He was a much smaller bird than the female. She measured 29 
inches in length, nearly 70 in expanse, and weighed close on 6 Ibs. 
He was only 26 in length, 62 in expanse, and about 4 Ibs. in weight. 


" We had now to get the eggs, if eggs there were, because as 
vet we could only guess and surmise in regard to these. Just 
above the recess, the cliff bosomed out with a full swell for some 
2 or 3 feet, effectually preventing any one's looking down into the 
nest from above, or, except by an accidental cannon in the broad 
groove, such as my boatman had made by a fluke at the very first 
shot, from even throwing anything down into it. Above the swell 
the cliff was as nearly perpendicular as might be, and it really did 
seem as if getting into that nest would be no easy matter. How- 
ever, some 6 feet east of the nest, passed a sort of fault or crack 
which traversed the cliff at an angle of about 45 degrees, and 
down this, a stout rope round the waist, with infinite trouble and 
no little danger, a way was found after all to the nest. Once 
there, it was a firm platform of sticks at least 5 feet by 3|. In 
the centre of this a circle of about 20 inches in diameter was 
smoothed over with fine green twigs of the peeloo, and on this, 
again, a circle of about a foot in diameter was smoothly spread 
with the green leathery leaves of the same tree, and on these re- 
posed the coveted treasures, two fresh eggs. One of these eggs 
was bluish white, blotched and speckled very feebly, but thickly 
towards the larger end, \v\t\\pale reddish brown. It measured 3 
inches in length by 2'19 in breadth. The other was almost pure 
bluish white, with scarcely any traces of markings anywhere, and 
measured 2*81 inches in length by 2*13 inches in breadth. 

" A few days later, in similar cliffs a few miles higher up, I 
found another nest. This time, however, the platform was much 
larger, and was only about 6 feet below the top of the cliff. One 
could look into it without the slightest difficulty, and a jackal 
could assuredly have made his way there with ease, as even I got 
down to it without help and without a rope. The platform of 
sticks was fully 5 feet in diameter ; there was the same smooth 
patch of twigs and smaller smooth circle of green leaves, this time 
of the peepul (Ficus reliyiostf), and, as in the former case, on the 
leaves, about 5 inches apart, lay two fresh eggs. These had a 
bluish-white ground, blotched all over, but thinly and very feebly, 
with pale dingy reddish brown ; and they measured, the one 2-02 
by 2 inches, and the other 2'51 by 2 inches. The eggs were there- 
fore considerably smaller thfin those above described, while the 
female, which 1 shot as she left the nest, was a much younger and 
smaller one than the magnificent bird first killed." 

Captain Hutton, writing from Mussoorie, says : " Eutolmaetvs 
bondlii remains here all the year, breeding in places similar to 
those selected by G. barbatus, but although we have several times 
found the nest, we never could get at them. It stoops to fowls 
and is destructive to the larger game-birds." 

Mr. E. Thompson has the following note in regard to this 
species in Kumaon and Gurhwal : " I have never been up to 
examine the nests of these birds, because they are always placed 
on the most inaccessible precipices, but I can vouch for the time 
of iheir breeding, viz., from April to June. I had a nest for 


several years in view, but never could get at it ; it was on a steep 
precipice and none would volunteer to assist me. That the birds 
had their m-st there was more than established, because during 
other periods of the year the pair used to carry off my poultry and 
eat them wherever they found a place suitable, but in the breeding- 
>.-ason they always carried their plunder to the nest. 

*' One year I caught the young birds, two in number, the first 
in July, and the second in August. 

" 1 have subsequently caught young nestling birds at ]S"ynee 
T;il, along with the old ones, thus taking the whole family. This 
was in the month of August. 

" In February last I saw a pair apparently courting, which new 
to and out of a large nest placed in a tree in the forest, at a place 
called Bunderjewrah, 8 miles east of Ramnuggur/' 

The late Major Cock sent me the following accouut of a nest 
of this species which he obtained near Dhurumsala (in the Hima- 
layas): "'Found a nest on the 25th January, 1870; it was 
placed in the middle of a cheel-tree (Pinus longifolia) on the place 
where three large branches forked out. This was such an unusual 
situation that 1 shot the old bird to be quite sure that it was 
Eutolniactus bonellii. The cheel-tree stood at the edge of a very 
lofty precipice, about 40 feet from the bottom of which was a nest 
of Qypaetut barbatus, and there were plenty of likely precipices 
all about, so I could not understand their building in this tree. 
The natives informed me that they had done so for years. The 
nest was a large platform, and the eggs, two in number, were laid 
on a lining of fresh green cheel-leaves. The eggs were both 
white, one the usual shape, the other a very long blunt oval. 
Both eggs were quite fresh, for 1 watched the nest daily till they 
were laid." 

Colonel E. A. Butler writes: " Belgaum, Dec. 25, 1879. A 
nest of Bouelli's Eagle, containing two fresh eggs. The nest was 
built upon one of the large outer limbs of a tall tree (Bomlax 
malabaricum), about 35 feet from the ground, and consisted of a 
huge mass of sticks lined with the green leaves of the tree it was 
built upon." 

Messrs. Davidson and AVenden, writing from the Deccau, re- 
mark : " A nest with a single young bird just hatched out, was 
found on 10th February. The hen was shot, and within two days 
the male appeared with another female and the young one dis- 
appeared. The pair went to another old nest of enormous size on 
an adjacent tree. Although several people were sent to the 
village officials with instructions to have the eggs taken, nothing 
was sent to us but two eggs of N. percnopterus, which had. of 
course, been taken from some other nest. Eggs were taken at 
Kassigaum on 13th January, 1876, slightly set. Other eyries 
with young birds were seen at Dhotri and Sub jar." 

Writing trom Kotaghery in the Nilghiris, Miss Cockburn says : 
" I have been successful in obtaining the eggs of this fine bird, 
and was present when they were taken. The nest, placed on a 


ledge in the face of a precipitous cliff, consisted entirely of a large 
quantity of small branches of trees which had been the accumu- 
lation of years, as the birds invariably return to the same place to 
build ; as a lining to this uncouth nest were added innumerable 
green leaves. In this same nest I had often had the eggs de- 
stroyed by throwing stones into it from the top, and (they played 
such havoc in my poultry-yard !) several times the young ones had 
been pushed over the cliff with a long bamboo, in hopes of the 
parent birds leaving the neighbourhood, which, however, they still 
continue to frequent. 

" The eggs are very large and thick-shelled, of a whitish colour, 
with a few indistinct light-brown marks, almost entirely confined 
to the largest end. Notwithstanding every care one egg was 
knocked against the rock while halfway up, and of course broken. 
This was unfortunate, as there were only two, this bird novel- 
laying more, and sometimes only one. When I reached the cliff 
the Eagle instantly covered the eggs with leaves, and darted from 
the nest in a straight line, and after having flown to some dis- 
tance made two or three wide circles in the air and disappeared. 
In about half an hour it returned and soared above and beneath 
me, but never attempted to prevent my depriving it of its eggs. 
These eggs were taken in the month of December. These Eagles 
only breed once a year, unless deprived of their eggs or young, in 
which case they will lay again." 

I have now seen a good many eggs of this species. All I have 
seen were moderately broad ovals, varying slightly in size and in 
the comparative length of the minor axis. Some are unspotted, 
some are more or less faintly blotched, streaked, or spotted with 
pale yellowish or reddish brown, while others, as Mr. Brooks cor- 
rectly remarks, " are sparingly blotched and spotted with bright 
reddish brown, sometimes intermixed with blotches of light 
reddish grey." 

I have never seen a richly-coloured egg of this species. The 
ground-colour is that of all Eagles of this type a pale greyish or 
bluish white, often becoming, during the course of incubation, 
much soiled and discoloured. 

In size they vary from 2'56 to 3 inches in length, and from 1-93 
to 2'22 inches in breadth ; but the average of twenty eggs was 
278 by 2-1. 

Nisaetus pennatus (G-mel.). The Booted Eagle. 

Aquila pennata (Gm.), Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 63. 

Hieraetus pennatus (Gm.), Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 31. 

I have never myself found or seen a nest of the Booted Eagle. 

My collector, Mr. Theobald, found a nest of N. pennatus on the 
21st February, 1869, at Hurroor, in the district of Salem, and 
from it shot a couple of old brown birds. "The nest," he says, 
"was on the branch of a high banyan tree (Ficus indica), about 40 


or 50 feet from the ground. It consisted of dry twigs, and was 
in shape a circular platform, with a slight depression in the centre, 
devoid of lining." The eggs were two in number, only one of 
which reached me in safety. This one is a very broad oval, almost 
exactly the same size as the one figured by Mr. Bree. The ground 
is a dead white, devoid of gloss, and pretty thickly blotched and 
streaked throughout with reddish brown. The egg reminds one 
much of some of the richer-coloured eggs of Milvus govinda, but 
the markings are smaller, and the shell, when held up against the 
light, is a very pale sea-green, much lighter than in any of the 
numerous specimens of M. govinda that I have yet examined. It 
measures 2-13 by 178 inch. 

Neopus malayensis (Eeinw.). The Black Eagle. 

Neopus malaiensis (Reinw.), Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 65. 

Heteropus malayensis (Reimv.), Hume, Rough Draft N. 8f E. no 32. 

The eggs that I possess of the Black Eagle were sent me along 
with the parent birds one nest containing three eggs, from 
Bussahir, taken on the 4th of January ; the other, from Kooloo, 
containing a single egg and taken on the 7th of the same month. 
Both nests were on ledges on the face of cliffs. Independent of 
other evidence, there is no other bird I believe in these districts 
that could have laid these eggs. In shape they are broad and 
nearly perfect ovals, very slightly, if at all, compressed towards one 
end. The shell is rather coarse and rough, quite devoid of gloss, 
and when looked into against the light the egg appears of a 
peculiar light, slightly yellowish green. The eggs of the one nest 
are greyish white, with only a very few brownish specks and spots 
towards one or other end ; the single egg is richly blotched and 
mottled all over (most densely towards the small end) with some- 
what brownish red, and is one of the handsomest Eagle's eggs I 
ever saw. Although so different in colouring, the texture of the 
shell and its peculiar tint when held up against the light is the 
same in all the four eggs ; and coming as they did from different 
localities and collectors, accompanied in each case by one of the 
alleged parents, I entertain little doubt of their authenticity. In 
length they vary from 2-5 to 2'68 inches, and in breadth from 
1-88 to 2-02 inches. 

Spizaetus nepalensis (Hodgs.). Hodgson's Hawk-Eagle. 

Limnaetus nipalensis (Hodgs.\ Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 73. 

Spizaetus nipalensis (Hodgs.}, Hume, Rough Draft N. 8f E. no. 36. 

This species breeds, as far as I yet know, only in the Himalayas, 
laying from January to the early part of May. 

Its nest, a large coarse stick structure, is placed upon some large 
tree, either hidden in a dense forest, or projecting from the face of 
sme inaccessible cliff. 

VOL. III. 10 


It lays two eggs, I think, as a rule, but single eggs are often 
found much incubated. 

My friend, Captain Hutton, favoured ine with the following 
notes : " This species is common at Mussoorie, and occurs also 
during winter in the Doon ; at Mussoorie it is a permanent 
resident, and most destructive to pigeons, fowls, and game ; its loud 
shrill musical whistle may often be heard far up in the heavens 
even when the bird itself is lost to sight. It breeds at about 5500 
feet of elevation, constructing a thick basket-like nest of twigs and 
small branches, placed on a lofty tree, often growing out of the 
fissure of a rock overhanging a precipice, which is apt to turn the 
head of any but a mountaineer, and to look into which reminds one 
of the bottomless pit ! Nevertheless, we have on more than one 
occasion contrived to rob the nest. One of these was found on the 
5th of March and contained one egg, which was left for the 
purpose of ascertaining whether the bird would lay another. A 
few days afterwards, on finding no addition, a man ascended the 
tree, which was of tolerably easy access, and the old bird making no 
warlike demonstration, the prize was secured. On attempting to 
clean it, however, it was found to contain a fully formed young 
bird. On another occasion, we did not rob a nest so easily. It 
was found on the 18th March, and contained two eggs, which were 
left to hatch. On the 1st of April, the nest was again visited and 
found to contain two young ones covered with a rufous-coloured 
down ; on the 16th April, finding that one young one had fallen 
from the nest, preparations were made for lowering a man down 
the precipice to the root of the tree, which leaned ominously out of 
a cleft in the rock overhanging an awful chasm. On reaching the 
tree, the man began to ascend, but before he had reached the nest 
one of the old birds made a dash at him and struck him sharply on 
the shoulder, causing the blood to flow. Nothing daunted, the 
man proceeded on his perilous course, under cover of one or two 
shots from above to scare the old birds away, but without the 
desired effect, for on the man's arrival at the nest another charge 
was made by the female, who struck the poor fellow on the bead 
and again caused blood to flow, but luckily the man's greasy linen 
skull-cap became firmly fixed upon the talons of the bird, which 
scared her to such a degree that, uttering a loud scream of alarm, 
she sailed away, rapidly followed by her mate, and the young one 
was then brought in safety from the nest. It was nearly half 
fledged, with small slaty-coloured feathers, and grew to maturity 
in a large roomy cage, when it was set at liberty, and after hanging 
about the place to be fed for several days, finally took unto itself 
the wings of the morning and disappeared. These birds some- 
times breed in the same nest for two or three years, and apparently 
only abandon it when it becomes old and rotten, when they select 
another tree whereon to construct a new habitation at no great 
distance from the other." 

Captain Unwin found two nests of this species in the Agrore 
Valley : one, placed in a comparatively small cheer tree, was made 


of dry sticks lined with a little grass, was about 2 feet wide and 
was built up with sticks from the fork where its base rested to a 
height of about 2| feet. It contained a single young bird covered 
with white down, except the back and wings, which were thickly 
set with short black-brown feathers. The other nest was also 
placed in a cheer tree, but in a very large one, about 60 feet from 
the ground. This was on the 6th May. This nest was placed on 
a fork formed by several branches, was built up of sticks for nearly 
3 feet, and was about 3 feet broad. It was lined with fine dried 
grass, and hollowed out for about 5 or 6 inches in the centre. It 
contained a single young bird about three or four days old, covered 
with soft white down. 

Although I have, in former years, seen several of its nests, the 
only specimens that I now possess of the eggs of this species are, 
first, one taken near Mussoorie on the 8th March, which I owe to 
Captain Hutton. In shape this is a broad regular oval, almost 
symmetrical at both ends. The shell is coarse, dull and glossless ; 
the ground-colour a slightly greenish white, spotted thinly with 
reddish brown, and with numerous large blotches and streaks of 
very pale inky purple. It measures 2-78 by 2-23 inches. 

Secondly, an egg procured in Bussahir on the 5th January. 
This is a somewhat smaller egg than the preceding, measuring only 
2-6 by 1/9 inch. It is a very perfect oval, has a greenish-white 
ground, is very sparingly spotted and blotched, almost exclusively 
towards the smaller end, with somewhat reddish brown, and 
exhibits traces of two or three large, but very faint, purplish 
clouds. When held up against the light, the shell is of a peculiarly 
blackish-green tint. 

Spizaetus cirrhatus (Gm.). The Crested Hawk-Eagle. 

Limnaetus cristatellus (Temm.), Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 71. 
Spizaetus cirrhatus (Gm ), Hume, Rough Di'aft N. 8f E. no. 35. 

Of this species Mr. R. Thompson remarks : " The habitat of 
the Crested Hawk-Eagle is in the uplands of Central India, 
extending east along the Yindhian Eange as far as the southern 
portion of the Mirzapoor District. How far south of Nagpoor and 
west of the Puchmurrees it extends I cannot positively say ; but 
here where I write from, the furthest southern corner of the 
Satpoorahs, it is abundant. 

" Its uidification is similar to that of S. limnaetus ; it selects a 
tall tree in some good game locality, builds a huge nest of coarse 
twigs, and rears, as far as I have yet observed, only a single young 
one, which is extremely noisy when being fed." 

Mr. G-. Vidal thus writes of the nidification of this Hawk-Eagle 
in the South Konkan : " The Crested Hawk-Eagle breeds in this 
district from December to April, January being the favourite 
month. The nests are large and comparatively deep structures, 
]>oscly put together with the twigs hanging down untidily. They 



are always profusely lined with green mango-leaves. They are 
built very high up, as a rule, in forks of trees ; any large tree 
serves the purpose. I have found nests in banyan, tamarind, wild 
fig (Ficus ylomerata),and bel trees (JEyle marmelos} ; but the great 
majority were in mango-trees. The old birds make no attempt to 
defend their nests. Out of 32 nests examined, none contained 
more than one egg or one young bird. The average of 25 eggs 
measured gives a length of 2'63 with a breadth of 2' 04. The 
largest egg measured 3 by 2*1, and the smallest 2-25 by 1-85. In 
shape they vary greatly, but the usual type is a moderate oval, 
pointed at the smaller end. The colour is a dull greenish white, 
sometimes unspotted, and sometimes faintly streaked at the larger 
end with reddish brown. The texture is comparatively smooth, 
but devoid of all gloss. The lining is, of course, pale green." 

Mr. J. Davidson writes : " I found many nests of Spizaetus 
cirrhatus, nearly all with one young one. Vidal says if the nest is 
looked at it is forsaken. This is not my experience. I found an 
old nest, round which the birds were flying, in December. I had 
it examined then and in February without result. I took an egg 
on the 9th March, hard-set. In the beginning of April the birds 
were still there, and on the 23rd of April I took a second egg 
slightly-set from the nest, and left the birds on the 29th still 
clinging to the tree." 

Of the smaller race of this Hawk-Eagle which inhabits Ceylon 
Colonel W. V. Legge writes : " This Hawk-Eagle breeds in 
February and March in the forests of the Southern Province of 
Ceylon, building in the former and hatching its single young one 
about the middle of the latter month. It selects a tall forest-tree, 
generally a hora (Dipterocarpus zeylonicci), and constructs a 
massive fabric of large sticks in a fork near the top. I have never 
heard of more than one young bird being reared. I had a fine 
example brought to me, taken from a nest near Galle, on the 10th 
of April, 1872, and I reared it without any difficulty." 

For a noble series of the eggs of this species I am indebted to 
Mr. Yidal, who took them in the Southern Konkan, where the 
species is very common. 

In size the eggs vary a good deal, as do those of all these large 
Raptores. In shape, too, they vary from very round blunt ovals 
to considerably elongated and decidedly pointed forms, but the 
majority are rather broad and regular ovals appreciably pointed at 
the small end. The shell is very strong and glossless, but yet by 
no means coarse ; held up against the light, it is a pale green. 
They are never perhaps quite unmarked, but they appear to be 
always poorly marked eggs. The markings vary from an almost 
imperceptible stippling to a couple of dozen moderate-sized spots 
and lines, these latter occasionally running into queer-shaped 
figures like Persian or Arabic writing, but even then they are thin 
and far from conspicuous. The markings seem always confined to 
the large end, and are never apparently very bright coloured, but 
vary from reddish brown to brownish yellow. In length the eggs 
vary from 2-4 to 2-95 inch, and in breadth from 1-88 to 2-19. 


Spizaetus limnaetus (Horsf.). The Changeable Hawk-Eagle. 

Limnaetus niveus ( Temm.}, Jerd. E. Ind. i, p. 70. 

Spizaetus caligatus (Raffl.}, Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 34. 

I have never yet found a nest of the Changeable Hawk-Eagle. 

My friend, Mr. E. Thompson, furnishes me with the following 
notes : " The breeding-season commences in March, and lasts 
until the end of June, but they mostly lay in April and May. The 
nest is placed, at a height of from 40 to 50 feet from the ground, 
on large trees in dense woods, usually in a good game locality. 
The nest is a large round structure from 2'5 to 3 feet in diameter, 
much resembling that of the common Aquila clanga, a thick clumsy 
platform, composed of thick dry twigs and roots, with a central 
depression from 4 to 5 inches deep, b'ned with fine roots and 
stems. The eggs are usually two, but I have preserved no record 
of their appearance, and I have no specimens by me to measure or 

Mr. J. C. Parker writes : " On the 15th February, 1874, 
discovered a nest of this species on a mango-tree, one of a rather 
scattered group growing in the old mud-forts at Samnuggar on the 
E. B. Railway, about a mile from the station and close to a cart- 
track through the forest. Both birds were on the nest, one in the 
black and the other the spotted state of plumage ; the latter was 
shot and proved to be a male ; one egg, quite fresh, was in the nest. 
The nest itself was small and ragged, and might very well have 
passed for an old last season's Kite's nest." 

Captain Feilden, writing from Thayetmyo, says : " I have 
taken a young bird from the nest in the middle of May, and seen 
several young birds about the end of that month. These birds 
build the usual Hawk-Eagle's nest in the fork of the largest and 
most inaccessible tree that they can find, invariably, as far as I 
know, overhanging the bed of a stream. Either numbers of these 
birds build and do not lay, or else they desert their nests on the 
slightest suspicion of their having been discovered. Of half a 
dozen nests that I saw building in March, on one of which I saw 
an old female engaged in arranging the sticks, not one ever 
contained either egg or young bird ; though I found a large egg 
dropped at a short distance from one of the nests, as if the bird 
had deserted the nest and not built another. Several pairs of 
birds belonging to nests in more remote parts of the jungle seemed 
all to have succeeded in rearing one young bird each. The 
Burmese state that the birds only lay one egg, which is pure white. 
Fragments of two eggs, one on the ground and another in the nest 
from which I got the bird, were white." 

The egg sent by Mr. Parker, the only one I have seen, is an 
elongated oval, a good deal compressed towards one end. The 
shell, though firm and compact, is strongly pitted all over with very 
conspicuous pores, and hence is rough and entirely glossless. The 
ground is white with a dull greyish tinge, very faint, and in some 

150 FALCON! DyF. 

lights rather bluer, in some greener. Within a space of about 
the size of a rupee or a florin, at the broad end, are numerous 
excessively minute reddish-brown specks. A very few similar 
specks are scattered about the rest of the egg, but they are so 
small and so few and far between that these are not noticed until 
the egg is closely looked into. It measures 2*9 inches by 1*97. 

Mr. J. E. Cripps, writing of the closely allied race which has 
been named S. horsfieldi, says (he writes from Furreedpore in 
Eastern Bengal) : " 23rd May, 1878. Near the factory is a small 
market-place, in the centre of which a huge burgot-tree rears its 
head. About 40 feet off the ground, and in the fork of one of the 
primary branches, this bird's nest was placed. "When first I 
noticed the parent bird, half her body was visible above the nest, 
but when she became aware that I was noticing her, she crouched 
down, and not even her head was visible. I pelted some half a 
dozen stones, when she flew and settled on a branch close by, and 
on my knocking her over she uttered a few shrill screams like 
S. limnaetus. 1 sent a man up and found a callow young which 
could not have been more than a week old. 

" By the 21st June feathers commenced sprouting on the wings, 
scapulars and tail, all of a jet-black ; and a week later the feathers 
of the tarsus appeared ; these were jet-black too. I weighed him 
on the 10th June, when he scaled 1 Ib. 2^ oz. He used to eat the 
flesh of every kind of bird except that of Hierococcyx, which he 
would always throw up. "Why was this ? He would not do this 
with Owl's and Hawk's flesh. On the morning of the 30th June I 
found him dead. The lazy rascal of a servant, to save himself the 
trouble of feeding it several times, had stuffed its maw so much 
that the bird must have died of suffocation. I forgot to mention 
that, in the nest under the chick, were four twigs with green 
leaves of the jamoon-tree, which had evidently been broken the 
very morning I found them. The young one was then covered 
with down of a pale dove-grey." 

Cir cactus gallicus (Gmel.). Tlie Short-toed Eagle. 

Circaetus gallicus (Gm.}, Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 76 ; Hume, Rough Draft 
N. fy E. no. 38. 

The Short-toed Eagle lays in the plains of Upper India in Jan- 
uary, February, and March, and, according to Mr. E. Thompson, in 
April and May in the Gurhwal forests. 

As a rule its nest is placed on trees, but on two occasions in 
the Etawah District we have found this species breeding on small 
platforms, in the face of the high clay cliffs of the Jumna. 

In different localities it varies in its choice of trees ; where trees 
are plentiful, it will build on the topmost boughs of a very tall one, 
while in bare country, like Htirriana or Western Eajpootana, you 
will find the nest not halfway up some stunted neem-tree, or 
scraggy thorny acacia, a mere apology for a tree. 

CIBCAfcTUS. 151 

The nest is a large circular stick structure, some 2 or 3 feet in 
diameter and from 6 inches to a foot in depth, externally very 
loose and straggling, but composed of rather slighter materials than 
A. vindhiana generally uses, and with a rather deeper internal 

Some nests are entirely devoid of lining, rather finer twigs com- 
pose the floor of the internal depression and on these the egg 
reposes. Some nests again have the egg bedded in straw and grass, 
positively as if packed to travel ; under some I have found a few 
green leaves spread, after the fashion of Bonelli's Eagle, and under 
many a little grass. There appears to be no rule in this matter, 
season does not affect the question, nor, as far as I can see, locality ; 
in the early part of January and late in March, in the Agra and 
Sirsa Districts, and in the far west beyond Jodhpoor, I have observed 
the same diversities in the internal arrangements of the nests. 

1 have taken a great number of the nests of this species and 
many of my friends have found them also ; but in no instance out 
of between forty and fifty recorded cases did any of us meet with 
more than a single egg in the same nest. 

When deprived of their egg, the Short-toed Eagles will hang for 
weeks about their desolated homestead, but apparently they never 
lay a second time, as many other species do. 

Mr. W. Blewitt informs me that he took nine nests of this bird 
in the neighbourhood of Hansie between the 1 8th January and the 
26th February, and four between the 6th and 26th of March. 
Some of the eggs were fresh ; some more or less incubated ; but 
no nest contained more than a single egg. Eleven of the nests 
were on keekur (Acacia arabica) trees, one on a jhand (Prosopis 
spicigem} tree, and one on a seeshum (Dalbergia sissoo). The nests 
were placed at heights varying from 14 to 22 feet from the 

They were composed of twigs of the keekur, kheyr (Acacia 
catechii), and native plum (Zizyphus jujuba). They varied in dia- 
meter from. 14 to 24 inches, excluding straggling ends, and in 
thickness from 4 to 8 inches. Some were slightly and loosely put 
together ; others were very densely and closely constructed. Most 
of them appeared to have no lining ; but three were thinly lined 
with straw, two with leaves, and one with fine grass. 

Colonel Gr. E. L. Marshall writes to me : " Of this bird I have 
found but one nest. I found it on the 13th of March with one egg, 
and left it till the 6th April, in hopes that more would be laid, 
and when I took it at last, it was rather hard-set, so that probably 
the bird lays but one egg. The nest was in a seeshum-tree, so 
high up among the smaller branches that I reached it with difficulty ; 
it was made of twigs and so loose in structure that I could see 
that there was only one egg from below, before I had reached the 
nest. The egg was well-shaped and pure dull white." 

Mr. E. Thompson, writing from G-urhwal, says that the situation 
of the nest is " usually on the highest branches of a tall tree, in a 
moderately wooded country, and mostly in one standing by itself." 


He adds : " Breeds in the Patla Doon, and all along the lower open 
forests. During the pairing-season, utters a loud and plaintive cry, 
usually when the pair are mounted high in the air, when they may 
be pbserved tumbling about and darting at each other in a most 
remarkable manner." 

The late Mr. A. Anderson wrote the following note : " The 
eggs of the Short-toed Eagle are seldom procured, owing to their 
being late breeders February to April, by which time the camping 
season is generally over ; and I need hardly observe that eggs of 
this bird that are collected by the natives are of no value. I have 
only taken two nests myself during a residence of several years in 
this part of the country ; and, strange to say, my friend Mr. Bryson 
was present on both occasions. The first nest above referred to 
was taken in the Euttehgurh district, and has been described in 
Mr. Dresser's magnificent work (' Birds of Europe,' pt. xxix. p. 9) 
as follows : ' On the 10th March last (1873), I was one of a 
party engaged in doing a little miscellaneous shooting in a belt of 
Dhak jungle, when my friend Mr. Bryson drew my attention to an 
Eagle that had just flown off her nest. The tree selected, if such 
it can be called, though the tallest in the jungle we were shooting 
in, was only an overgrown thin sapling, and scarcely strong enough 
to bear the weight of my climber. The nest contained one egg, 
and although there was no doubt as to the ownership of it, I was 
anxious to secure one of the parent birds. We accordingly withdrew 
the beaters for half an hour to allow her to return, which she did, 
but again sailed off the nest before we got within a hundred yards. 
A second and third attempt proved equally unsuccessful, notwith- 
standing we all (three of us) approached the tree under cover of 
the brushwood from different directions. Our movements, more- 
over, were not heard, as owing to a fall of rain that very morning, 
we could walk about the jungle without making the slightest noise. 
On my eventually sending up a man to bring down the egg, the 
Eagle hovered overhead sufficiently close to decide identification, 
though keeping well out of shooting-range. The nest was small, 
and in shape, size, and position very similar to that of the Wokab 
(Aquila vindhiana, Franklin) ; but I have never before experienced 
such wariness on the part of any bird while incubating. Only the 
other day a pair of Wokabs attacked my climber in the most 
desperate manner while he was examining their nest, which con- 
tained only a pair of tolerably well incubated eggs ; and as to 
Bonelli's Eagle, Lithofalco chiquera, Micronisus badius, &c., &c., 
they rarely move till the hand is on the nest. The whole jungle 
was in full blossom, and the nest itself was actually surrounded 
with clusters of red and black flowers. The egg has an insignifi- 
cant mean appearance, quite characteristic of the bird itself; it 
measures 2*7 by 2*1, and has of course no indication of any colour- 
ing matter, but it is a good deal soiled from the green leaves which 
formed the inner lining of the nest ; the inside membrane of the 
egg is sap green/ 

" My second nest was also taken in the same kind of scrub, from 


the top of a leafless peepul-tree, on the ferd March last (1875). 
As is usual at this time of the year, the Dhak was abundantly in 
flower, resembling a sheet of flame, the bright orange-red petals 
contrasting brilliantly against the jet-black velvety calyx. 

" There were several old-looking nests on this tree, and from one 
of them, not much larger than what a Heron would build, pro- 
truded what looked like a dry stick, but what Mr. Bryson declared 
was the tail of some bird that had died while incubating ! 

** After repeated attempts to induce the supposed bird to fly 
some of our missiles actually alighting on the nest we sent up a 
man, when off flapped a huge Eagle, displaying her white breast 
and Owl-like head. The nest was composed of slight babool- 
twigs, which look very black when dry, and hence our taking it for 
an old one. It was small, certainly not more than two feet in dia- 
meter, with a deep internal depression, so that the bird while incu- 
bating could effect perfect concealment. 

" The egg, rather a well-shaped one, was a good deal incubated, 
which naturally accounts for her sitting so close ; but it is strange 
that she never again put in an appearance during the time, some 
three hours, we remained in the jungle." 

The eggs of this bird are typically broad ovals with a slightly 
pyrif orm tendency. They are of a pale, bluish-white colour ; bluer 
than those of any other of our Indian species of Eagle, and are, to 
judge from a very large series, invariably spotless ; moreover, they 
seldom appear to be discoloured during the process of incubation 
in the way most other Eagles' eggs are. In my whole collection 
only one egg is in any way as small as that figured by Dr. Bree, 
and more than one are all but as large as the egg of the Bald Eagle 
figured on the same page. The colour of the shell in this species 
when held up to the light is a peculiarly bright sap-green, very dif- 
ferent from the deep green of Haliaetus madi, or the sea-green of 
A. vindhiana. In size they vary from 2-65 to 3'15 inches in 
length, and from 2-05 to 2-45 inches in breadth, but of twenty- 
seven eggs measured, the average was 2-9 by 2-3. 

Spilornis cheela (Lath.). The Crested Serpent- Eagle. 

Spilornis cheela (Daud.}, Jerd. E. Ind. i, p. 77 ; Hume, Rough 2>raft 
N. 8f E. no. 39. 

The Crested Serpent-Eagle, or, as it should perhaps more properly 
be called, the Indian Harrier-Eagle, breeds throughout the Sub- 
Himalayan ranges and regions, as far west at any rate as Kangra, 
at heights of from 1500 to 5500 feet above the sea-level, laying in 
March, April, and May. 

^ The nest is, I believe, always placed on trees in the immediate 
vicinity of water, not at the top of the tree, but in some fork, as 
Major Cock says, " like that of the common Kite." 


It is circular, loosely toiade of thicker or thinner sticks and twigs, 
and lined with fresh leaves or fine twigs and roots of grass ; it 
varies in size from 1-5 to 2 feet in diameter, and from 4 to 8 inches 
in thickness. 

They lay, I should say, usually only one egg, but in the Doon, 
where they are plentiful, natives assert that they not unfrequeritly 
have two young ones, and must therefore, if this be true, occasion- 
ally at least lay two eggs. 

The late Major Cock sent me the following note in regard to the 
nidification of this species : " I have taken, or rather found, four 
nests of this species in the neighbourhood of Dhururnsala, at 
heights of from 4000 to 4200 feet above the sea. The first, which 
I found on the 3rd of April, contained one semi-incubated egg, and 
was placed on a mango-tree, one of a clump of four, situated on 
the banks of a stream in tolerably well-wooded country. The 
second, found April 8th, contained one hard-set egg, and was also 
in a mango-tree, one belonging to a small grove, overhanging a 
tiny stream, in a dark well -shaded situation. 

" The third, found April llth, contained a perfectly fresh egg ; 
it was in a thick grove beside which a stream runs, and in which 
two old nests of this same species were also found. 

" The fourth contained no egg, but on the 19th of April was 
complete and ready to lay in ; this, too, was in a grove overhanging 
a stream. 

" The nest is about halfway up the tree, not on the top, but 
placed, more like the nest of the common Kite, on some fork. 

" It builds a peculiar and not very large nest. The nests are 
always made of the twigs of the tree on which it is placed, fresh 
twigs broken off by the bird, and the liniug of the nest is of leaves 
of the same tree. No feathers, mad, or other material are used in 
the construction of the nest, which is about 1*5 foot across ; the 
hollow in which the eggs are laid is rather deeper than is usual 
with birds of this class." 

Captain Hutton sent me the following note : 

" Spilornis cheela. The nest was found on the 10th of March at 
5500 feet of elevation ; it was composed of dry sticks and small 
branches interlaced on a tall tree ; on visiting it again, we found 
tha,t some mischievous urchin had pulled it to pieces, which they are 
constantly in the habit of doing. This bird is common both in the 
Doon and hills, and where a pair take up their quarters, no fowl 
or pigeon can escape ; I have had a dove-cot cleaned out over and 
over again by them. They are cunning hunters, one sweeping over 
the hill-side at no great elevation, while the other takes a higher 
line, so that let the pigeon ascend or descend, he always finds 
himself between two fires, and unless he can find shelter in a tree 
he is sure to be caught, as the pursuers decrease the distance 
between their lines and meet the victim at the point." 

Mr. Thompson says : " This species breeds from April to June, 
building a coarse circular nest some 2 feet in diameter, composed 
of thick roots and stems, and lined with finer twigs and grass- 


roots. The nest is usually placed on lofty trees, in well-wooded, 
shady and watered ravines, or in the low Himalayan rice-lands 
and warmer valleys. I have found the nests of these birds in the 
lower valleys. They contained one young usually. I have never 
got the eggs." 

Mr. J. C. Parker sends me the following note from Bengal ; 
" One egg from a nest in a peepul-tree, Magra lake, Nuddea. As 
regards colour this egg so nearly resembles the description given 
by yourself of a common variety of this species in ' Nests and Eggs/ 
that I need say no more, and as to the position of the nest in the tree, 
it exactly corresponded with that given by Major Cock in the same 
work. The nest as viewed from below seemed a small poor affair, 
composed of large sticks, and was found to be lined with the fresh 
leaves of the tree ; and when first discovered on 23rd February, I 
took it to be unfinished, but there did not appear to be anything 
added to the structure when I secured the egg, which was quite 
fresh, on the 18th March, shooting the female from the nest." 

The first two eggs that I obtained of this species, both of which 
were taken by Major Cock near Dhurumsala, differed much in 
appearance. The one, though considerably larger than average 
specimens, and with a closer and less chalky texture, greatly re- 
minded one of a common type of the eggs of Neophron ginginianus ; 
while the other, though of course smaller, in shape and richness 
of colouring resembled some of the more brilliantly coloured eggs 
of the Golden Eagle. The first egg had a dingy reddish-white 
ground, with at the large end a ragged cap of dingy brick-red, 
mottled with deep blackish blood-red. Beyond the cap, which 
was of the size of a rupee, streaks, specks and splashes, all having 
a longitudinal direction and looking much like a dense reddish- 
brown shower falling from the cap, thickly covered the whole of 
the rest of the egg, growing less and less dense towards the small 

The other had a pure white ground, and was thickly blotched, 
mottled, and clouded with the richest blood- and brick-red. The 
big end, for the space of about a rupee, exhibits no markings but a 
few specks and spots, and though the rest of the egg is everywhere 
pretty thickly covered, the markings are most dense at the small 
end. In shape, the one egg is a nearly perfect ellipse slightly 
pointed towards the small end, but the other egg is a very broad 
oval, very obtuse at the large end and scarcely less so at the smaller 

Subsequently I have seen many of these eggs, and I may say 
generally that they are broad ovals, in some specimens somewhat 
pyriform, and in many a good deal pointed towards the small end. 
The texture of the shell is much that of the egg of the common Kite, 
rather rough and glossless. The ground is bluish or greenish, 
more rarely reddish white in some thinly and scantily speckled 
and spotted with reddish brown and red; in some sparingly 
clouded and dingily blotched with pale purple or purplish brown ; 
in others with the markings denser and richer, forming at times a 


confluent brick-dust red cap at the larger end, mottled with deep 
red, and the whole of the rest of the surface thickly streaked and 
speckled and spotted with brownish red and purple. 

In length they vary from 2-62 to 2-88 inches, and in breadth 
from 2*12 to 2*25 ; but the average of a dozen eggs is 2*78 by 2*2 
inches nearly. 

Spilornis melanotis (Jerd.). Jerdon's Serpent-Eagle. 

Spilornis minor, Hume ; Hume, Rough Draft N. Sf E. no. 39 bis. 
Spilornis melanotis (Jerd.), Hume, Cat. no. 39 bis. 

Jerdon's Serpent-Eagle breeds in the neighbourhood of E/aipoor, 
where in May Mr. E. E-. Blewitt obtained a nest containing two 
eggs. He says : " When the nest was robbed, the female was 
sitting on the eggs, and the male was perched on a branch near to 
the nest. The nest was near to the top of a large peepul-tree, 
between the forks of a branch, overhanging a small stream. The 
nest was composed of prickly and other twigs, some 20 inches in 
diameter and 4 or 5 inches in thickness. It was densely lined with 
green leaves, peepul and mango. These were formed into a pad, 
some 12 inches in diameter and fully 2 inches thick." 

These two eggs are of somewhat the same type, but decidedly 
smaller and feebler coloured than those of S. cheela. They are very 
regular ovals ; the ground a dull white and totally glossless, and 
the texture of the shell, as in the last species, rather coarse and 
chalky. The one is rather thinly speckled and spotted all over with 
very dull dingy brownish red ; the other has about half a dozen 
tiny spots of this colour and a number of very pale washed-out 
brownish-purple clouds, almost confined to the two ends, large at 
the large and small at the small end. They both measure 2' 68 
inches in length and 2-05 and 2 inches in breadth respectively. 

Mr. Gr. Vidal writes from the Southern Konkan : " The only 
eggs of this species I have were taken from two nests on the 18th 
and 20th March. They measure, respectively, 2'75 by 2-25 and 
2-65 by 2-22, and are broad white ovals, slightly pointed at the 
small end, streaked all over with reddish brown, and with a con- 
fluent cap of the same shade at the large end." 

Spilornis rutherfordi, Swinh. Rutherford's Serpent-Eagle. 
Spilornis rutherfordi, Swinh., Hume, Cat. no. 39 ter. 

Of the nidification of this Serpent-Eagle in Tenasserim, Major 
Bingham writes : " Wherever there is a quin (i. e. marsh) or large 
patches of wet paddy cultivation, a pair of these Harrier-Eagles 
are almost certain to be found. 

"It is very common in the Thoungyeen valley, where, on the 
14th March this year, I revisited a nest I had had marked down 
for me in February, and took from it a solitary egg, measuring 
2'57 by 2 - 08 in fact rather a broad oval of a dull white ground, 


blotched, clouded, and dashed with pale purple and rusty red, the 
purple forming a dull cap of irregular shape over nearly half the 
egg" at the larger end. The nest, which was placed some 70 feet 
up a kanyin tree (Dipterocarptis alatus\ was composed of large 
branches, laid across in a fork, with a superstructure of small sticks 
intertwined in a circular form, and the hollow in which the egg 
reposed lined with very fine twigs ; the whole mass may have been 
some three and a half feet in diameter and one and a half foot thick." 

Mr. J. E. Cripps found the nest of this bird at Furreedpore in 
Eastern Bengal. He says : " The bird shot on the 1 st April was 
incubating. The nest was on a bael (^Egle marmelos) tree, and 
within 4 feet of the outer end of one of the primary branches 
which grew out perfectly horizontally, and about 15 feet off the 
ground. She flew off the nest and settled on a bombax tree close 
by, when I knocked her over ; nest of twigs of sizes with a lining 
of fresh bael-leaves ; one very hard-set egg. Found a frog in the 
gullet of this bird. Their principal food, however, is snakes. One 
day I watched a bird finishing a snake, two feet long, in five minutes. 
They commence at the head and go on tearing and swallowing until 
all is done. They are very fearless birds, allowing me to pass 
within twenty feet of them when sitting on the ground with snakes 
in their claws. On one occasion, when out Snipe-shooting, one of 
these birds stooped at a wounded Snipe but missed it. They are 
permanent residents. Their cry has a mournful sound, and, 
although not very loud, can be heard when the bird is flying high 

The egg taken by Major Bingham is a very regular and broad 
oval, with a rather smooth shell and a white ground with an immense 
confluent cap of dingy rufous brown, extended as a shower of 
blotches, smears, and clouds over the whole of the rest of the egg. 
Here and there the markings have a dull purplish tinge. I have 
seen Neophron eggs not very different in appearance from this one. 
The egg taken by Mr. Cripps is a regular moderately broad oval, 
just appreciably pointed towards one end ; the shell is dull, coarse, 
and full of pores and entirely glossless. The ground is greyish 
white, and it is pretty thickly sprinkled over the upper half of the 
egg, and more thickly elsewhere, with small irregular patches and 
blotches of a dull pale yellowish brown. Doubtless very much 
brighter coloured examples occur. It measures 2-51 by 2. 

Spilornis spilogaster (Blyth). The Ceylon Serpent-Eagle. 
Spilornis spilogaster (BL), Hume, Cat. no. 39 bis A. 

Of this somewhat doubtful species, Colonel Legge writes in his 
* Birds of Ceylon ' : " The nest of this Eagle has very seldom been 
found ; and the eggs I have never been able to procure. It breeds 
in the Western Province in March and April, Mr. Mac Vicar, of the 
Ceylon Public Works Department, having received a young bird 
taken from a nest in the Hewagam Korale in the latter month. 

1 58 

The nest was described to me as being a large structure of sticks 
placed in the fork of a tree. 

" Layard, who was very fortunate in finding the nests of rare 
birds, remarks that ' it builds in the recesses of the forest on lofty 
trees. The structure is a mass of sticks piled together and added 
to year by year. The eggs, generally two in number, are 3 inches 
in length by 2 in diameter, of a dirty chalk- white, minutely freckled 
at the obtuse end with black dots.' " 

Butastur teesa (Frankl.). The White-eyed Buzzard-Eaylc. 

Poliornis teesa (Frankl.), Jeril. B. Ind. i, p. 92 ; Hume, Rough Draft 
N. $ E. no. 48. 

The White-eyed Buzzard-Eagle lays usually in Upper India 
during April. A few nests may be found during the latter half 
of March and the early part of May ; but these are exceptions. 

They prepare their nests, as a rule, some considerable time before 
they lay; a nest examined, and ultimately taken, in Etawah, was 
completed twenty-four days before the first egg was laid. 

They make their own nests (a new one, as far as my experience 
goes) each season never, I believe, appropriating those of other 
species ; but they will, at times, pull these to pieces for materials. 
The nest is usually placed in a fork pretty high up in some thickish 
foliaged tree mangos, in some localities at any rate, being decidedly 
their favourites. I have found a nest in a solitary tree ; but more 
commonly they choose one of the outer trees of some small clump 
or grove. 

The nest is a loose structure of twigs and sticks, very much like 
a Crow's, and without any lining. Normally they lay three eggs ; 
but I have once found four, and on several occasions have taken 
nests containing only two, both fully incubated. 

These birds are much attached to their nests, and hang about 
them for many days after they have been robbed, and at times will 
lay in them a second time. On the llth April, 1867, I took a 
single perfectly fresh egg out of a nest, which a few days before 
had been cleared by Mr. Brooks. 

Mr. W. Theobald makes the following note of this bird's breeding 
in the neighbourhood of Find Dadan Khan and Katas in the Salt 
Range : "Lays in the second week of April. Eggs, four only ; 
shape varies from ovate pyriforni to blunt ovato-pyriform ; size, 
from 1*80 to 1*93 inch in length and l'50in breadth ; colour, pure 
greyish or plumbeous white. Nest, small, of twigs, in trees near 

Colonel Gr. F. L. Marshall writes from Saharunpoor : " This 
bird breeds in May, making a small rudely-constructed nest of 
twigs and sticks in the fork of a tree about 25 feet from the ground, 
and without lining of any sort; the eggs are hatched in the 
beginning of June ; they are generally three in number, but I 
have never seen more than two young ones in a nest. 


" In one nest I found a half-fledged young one, another dead 
with its stomach eaten away, and two live lizards, one of them 
partially eaten. On March 27th, I noticed one of these birds 
commencing its nest, and another on the 7th April ; the latter 
nest I took on the 10th May, and it then had three hard-set eggs." 
On another occasion, he says : " This species is very common in 
these parts ; it builds in the forks of trees, generally sheeshum or 
khirna, a very rude and small nest of twigs. I have noticed this 
bird pulling to pieces a nest of a Pied Starling, but I imagine it 
was only to get the materials, as the nest was empty at the time." 

Writing from Sambhur, Mr. R. M. Adam says : " The White- 
eyed Buzzard is pretty common here. I took a nest with two eggs 
on the 29th April, 1870 ; but they must lay much earlier than this, 
as I saw a pair making love on the top of one of the salt heaps on 
the 26th September, 1870. In Oudh I obtained a nest on the 
30th April, which contained three fresh eggs." 

Major Biugham writes : " The White-eyed Buzzard breeds at 
Allahabad from the end of February to the middle of May. The 
nest is very loose and straggling, made of thin branches and un- 
lined. Two, I think, is the usual number of eggs laid, but I have 
taken three. 

" The birds nest I think invariably in trees ; and it is not a hard 
nest to find, for when there are eggs in it the female keeps uttering 
a curious mewing cry, beginning at daybreak and lasting with in- 
tervals of rest through the day ; at least, such was the custom of 
one that built in my compound." 

Writing from Deesa, Colonel Butler says : " I found a White- 
eyed Buzzard sitting on a small stick-nest near Deesa on the 29th 
March, 1876. The nest was very small for the size of the bird, and 
built near the top of a neem-tree growing in a hedge surrounding 
a yard near the Cavalry Lines. Both parents sat on a tree close 
by, squealing all the time the nest was being robbed. Another 
nest in a wood near Deesa, 16th April, 1876, contained one fresh 
egg. The nest was similar to the one described above, but in the 
fork of a tree and only about 12 feet from the ground." 

Mr. Scrope Doig, referring to Sind, writes : " Found nests on 
8th and 27th April. My man found the nest on the 8th April, 
and shot the bird (male) before he took the eggs. The nest of 27th 
I found myself, and owing to the pugnacity of the birds, who con- 
tinually stooped at the man who was climbing the tree, I was 
obliged to shoot one of the old birds. The nest was situated on 
the bank of the Narra, in a babool tree about 20 feet from the 
ground. Eggs in both nests three in number." 

The late Mr. A. Anderson sent me the following interesting 
notes : 

" The nidification and eggs of the White-eyed Buzzard are 
so well known that I shall confine my remarks on this subject 
to describing three clutches of marked eggs which I have recently 
acquired, as these abnormally coloured varieties are, I believe, unique 
in the collection of ornithologists. 

160 FALCON1D.E. 

" Elsewhere I have thus described the first set above alluded 
to : ' This Buzzard, as is well known, lays absolutely colourless 
eggs of the Goshawk type ; the occurrence, therefore, of a clutch 
of coloured eggs will doubtless prove interesting to oologists. One 
of these eggs is very well marked with reddish-brown blotches 
at tlie obtuse end, covering nearly half the surface of the egg ; the 
second is faintly marked with light greyish-brown spots at the 
small end, somewhat in the form of a zone ; and the third has still 
fainter indications of colouring-matter at the same end.' 

" During the past spring I have been so fortunate as to obtain 
two pairs of even better coloured eggs than those above alluded to. 
These I will endeavour to describe as follows : 

" (i.) Nest of two eggs, Euttehgurh, 5th April, 1875. These 
are somewhat undersized ; in shape of a broad oval, and freely 
marked with reddish-brown specks at the obtuse end. In one 
specimen the markings extend, more or less, all over the surface of 
the egg. 

"(ii.) Nest of two eggs, Futtehgurh, 27th April, 1875. A full- 
sized pair ; one is a broad oval, the other somewhat pyriforin. The 
former has a few russet-brown blotches at one end only, one of the 
marks being about the size of a large pea. The colouring-matter 
in the companion egg is confined to the compressed end, covering 
about a fifth of the surface, and consists of delicate russet-brown 
veined or map-like markings which are so characteristic of the 
Bunting group. 

" In the coloured eggs of this species we have a very good illus- 
tration of the importance of oology as an element in the classification 
of birds, clearly showing that Poliornis forms as it were the con- 
necting-link between the genera Buteo and Circus. 

" If I were to arrange the above series of coloured eggs in my 
collection, according to their appearance, 1 should assign to them a 
place between the eggs of Haliastur indus and Elanm melanopterus." 

Mr. Benjamin Aitken remarks : " In either April or May 
1 870 I obtained three eggs from a nest in a tree in the middle of 
a mango-tope at Akola, Berar. The parent birds at once took 
possession of an old nest, either a Crow's or a Hawk's, perhaps 
their own of a former year, and laid three more eggs, one of which 
was taken. The former two were hatched in due time, and the 
young birds left the nest in the end of June. 

" The young of this bird, and also of the Shikra, keep up an 
incessant screaming for days before and after they leave the nest ; 
so that you cannot pass within two hundred yards of a brood of 
nearly fledged or newly fledged birds without being made painfully 
aware of their existence and good spirits." 

The affinities of this bird, to judge by its eggs only, are rather 
with the Goshawk and the Harriers, than with the Buzzards or the 
Kites. All the eggs that I have seen are pure greyish or pale 
bluish white, absolutely without speck or spot ; but occasionally 
eggs may be found marked as described by Mr. Anderson. In 
shape they are a broad oval ; but some are slightly pyriform. 


Held up against the light, the shell is a sea-green, much of the 
same hue as that of the eggs of A. vindhiana. 

The eggs vary from 1*75 to 2'0 inches iu length, and from 1'4 to 
l'Q2 in breadth ; but the average of thirty-six eggs measured was 
1-83 by 1-53 inch. 

Butastur liventer (Temm.). The Grey-breasted Buzzard-Eagle. 
Butastur liventer (Temm.), Hume, Cat. no. 48 ter. 

The Grey-breasted Buzzard-Eagle breeds throughout Pegu. 

Captain Feilden wrote from Thayetrnyo : " I only found it in 
a long line of paddy-fields, extending many miles inland from 
Thayetmyo, but much broken by patches of jungle and dotted with 
large trees standing singly or two or three together in the middle 
of fields. It breeds in March." 

The only nest he took was built on a thin branch of a single 
high tree surrounded by dry rice-fields. The eggs are very like 
those of Butastur teem a pale skim-milk blue, and comparatively 
glossless, but with a very few tiny, pale brown, and purplish-brown 
specks. One egg measured 1*85 inch in length by 1*3 in breadth ; 
so that, to judge from this specimen, the eggs of this species are 
somewhat narrower than those of B. teesa. 

Subsequently Mr. Gates found two nests of this species further 
south in Pegu, near the town of Pegu itself. He writes : 

" March Ilth. Nest with two eggs; more would probably have 
been laid. The nest was in a mango-orchard, in a small tree about 
20 feet from the ground. It was composed of small sticks and 
had no denned shape. Egg-lining green ; shell pale greenish 
white, without gloss. Size of eggs 1'81 by 1*45 and 1*86 by 

" March 3lst. Nest with two fresh eggs in a medium-sized 
tree. The eggs are rather smaller than those I took before, mea- 
suring 1*73 and 1*75 by 1/45 in breadth. Colour as before." 

An egg sent by Mr. Gates is a very broad regular oval, the shell 
very smooth and compact, but with scarcely any appreciable gloss ; 
when held up against the light a clear dark green. The colour is 
white, with an extremely faint greenish -grey tinge. A few tiny 
greenish spots are dotted about the large end of the egg, and as 
usual the surface of the egg exhibits here and there a few pale 
vello wish-brown stains. 

Haliaetus leucogaster (G-mel.). The White-bellied Sea-Eagle. 

Halisetus leucogaster (Gm.), Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 84. 

Cuncuma leucogaster (Gm.), Hume, Rouyh Draft N. $ E. no. 43. 

Mr. H. C. Parker procured an egg of the White-bellied Sea- 
Eagle on the 28th January, 1861, from a nest in a lofty tree near 
YOL. in. 11 


the Roopnarin, in the neighbourhood of Diamond Harbour. Both 
birds were shot, one from the nest. The egg, which was fresh, 
was nearly pure white, a very regular oval, slightly pointed towards 
one end, and measured 2*87 by 2-17 inches. 

Dr. Jerdon states that " in Pigeon Island, 30 miles or so south 
of Honore, which is well wooded with large forest trees, a whole 
colony of these birds have their nests, at least thirty or forty of 
them, and the ground below their nests is strewed and whitened 
with bones of sea-snakes chiefly, and also of fish. They breed in 
December, January, and February." 

My friend Mr. H. 11. P. Carter has verified this observation 
through a correspondent, and, I believe, procured eggs thence ; but 
I never received these. 

Mr. Davison remarks : "I found the nest of this bird on the 
8th of March on Nancowry (Mcobars). It was a huge mass of 
sticks placed between two great branches of a large tree, at a 
height of about 80 feet from the ground. The tree grew on the 
edge of a small landslip, about 200 feet from the shore. It must 
have had eggs, as the bird was sitting; but I failed to obtain them. 
I could not climb the tree myself, and I could get no assistance 
from the JSficobarese." 

The late Mr. De Roepstorff sent me an egg from Nancowry with 
the following note : " The egg was got out of a nest at a little 
village opposite the Settlement. The nest was in the top of a very 
high straight tree, and was more than 9 feet across. I shot an 
Eagle in it which turned out to be a male ; the female was so shy 
that she would not get within shot. Egg taken 24th January, 

Mr. G. Vidal writes from the Southern Konkan : " When once 
paired these Eagles make the tree on which they have built their 
nest their permanent head-quarters ah 1 the year round, returning to 
the tree after each foraging trip with great regularity, and using the 
nest as a larder and a refuse-pit for fish and snake bones and other 
waste food. 'Once^Hvhen the young birds of the season had long 
since left the nest, I found a half-eaten fowl in it freshly killed. 
At night they roost, whether breeding or not, close to the nest. 
The young are very soon driven off after they are able to shift for 

" They breed in October, November, and December. The 
earliest egg 1 have was taken on the 21st October, and the latest, 
hard-set and just ready to hatch out, on the 16th December. All 
the nests I have seen, about twelve, have been in trees. They are 
gigantic platforms, built of strong thick sticks, fully 5 feet in 
diameter, with a comparatively slight depression in the centre. 
The same nests are used year after year, a few sticks being added 
each year by way of repairs. There is a well-known nest on the 
fork of two horizontal branches of an old banyan tree, overhanging 
the massive walls of the ruined island-fort of Suvamdurg. I first 
saw this eyrie in 1869. How ancient it was then I don't know, 
but ten years later, in October 1879, it had two fresh eggs in it. 


At this particular place the old birds are very wild and wary, but 
where, as frequently happens, they build in large trees in the 
midst of houses and cocoanut-gardens, they become very familiar 
and are not easily disturbed. Their loud, clanging note, when 
close overhead, is almost deafening, and is audible a mile or more 

" In all the nests I have taken, containing single eggs, the eggs 
have been fresh, and wherever the eggs were hard- set, or there 
were young birds, the number was two. The eggs are greenish 
white, unspotted, and rather smooth, but with no gloss, with a 
pale green or eau de nil lining. The average of six eggs measured 
gives a length of 2-81 and a breadth of 2*07, the largest egg 
measuring 3 by 2-06, and the smallest 2-71 by 2-04." 

Captain E. E. Shopland, I.M., took an egg of this Eagle from a 
nest built in a high tree in the compound of the Public Hospital, 
Akyab, on the llth December ; it was of a chalky-white colour 
and very rough in texture. 

Colonel Legge remarks that this species breeds in Ceylon during 
the months of December, January, and February. 

The egg received from Nancowry was a very broad regular oval, 
scarcely larger at one end than the other. The shell is rather 
rough, entirely glossless, and densely pitted with large conspicuous 
pores. The ground is dull white, but this is smudged and stained 
with a dirty brown, probably from the droppings of the parent 
bird. Held up against the light the shell was a very dark green. 
The egg measured 2-5 by I'Ol. 

Another egg from Suvaindurg on the Malabar coast is rather 
more elongated in shape, but otherwise very similar. In all the 
eggs of this species which I have yet seen (and they are very 
variable in size and shape) the shell, when held up against the 
light, has been of the same intense blackish green as in H. leuco- 
ryplius, but it is rather rougher than in that species. 

Haliaetus leucoryphus (Pall.). Pallas s Sea- Eagle. 

Halisetus fulvi venter (Vieill^)^ Jerd. B. 2nd. i ; p. 82. 
Haliseetus macei (Cuv.), Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. no. 42. 

Pallas's Sea-Eagle lays from the beginning of November to the 
early part of February. The greater number of these birds, how- 
ever, lay in December, and most of the nests that I have examined 
later than the 15th of January have contained young ones. 

They build on large trees, on the peepul by preference, I think, 
but also on many other kinds, sheeshum, banyan, &c. The trees 
that they select are almost invariably solitary ones, situated either 
on the banks of some river, or beside some considerable jheel. In 
Upper India I do not know a single large jheel which retains 
water in it as late as February, where a pair of this species does 
not breed ; and all down the Jumna, Ganges, Chambul, Indus, 
t'ht-nab, Jhelum, and Sutledge, wherever I have been, I have in- 



variably met with at least one pair every 3 or 4 miles, and in par- 
ticular localities every half mile ! 

The nest is a huge platform of sticks, some of which are often 
as thick as a man's arm, with a superstructure of thinner sticks 
and twigs, and with only a slight depression towards the interior, 
which is lined with fine twigs and green leaves, occasionally inter- 
mingled with rushes and straw. 

The nest is usually placed in a broad fork, near the very top of 
the tree, on branches that seem scarcely strong* enough to support 
the huge mass, and is sometimes occupied by the same pair for 
many successive seasons. 

I do not think that this species ever takes possession of other 
birds' nests. It either builds a new one for itself, or repairs one 
formerly belonging to it, even though this may in the interim have 
been usurped by Otogyps calvus or Kettipa ceylonensis, both much 
addicted to annexing the poor Fishing Eagle's laboriously-con- 
structed nest. I say laboriously constructed, because I once 
watched a young pair constantly occupied for a full mouth building 
a nest, which they were still at work finishing off when I left. 
Nothing can seem rougher or more rugged than their nest when 
finished, and yet out of every four sticks and branches that they 
brought they rejected and threw down at least three. Both birds 
brought materials, and side b}' side the pair would work away, 
throwing down almost as many sticks as they had brought; then 
apparently they would quarrel over the matter there would be a 
great squealing and one would fly away and sit sulky on some 
cliff-point near at hand ; after a time the one left on the nest 
would go off in quest of materials. Immediately, the other would 
drop softly on to the nest and be very busy (though what they 
did, except lift a stick and put it down in the same place, it was 
impossible, even with a good glass, to make out) till the absent 
bird returned, not unfrequently, with a fish instead of a stick. 

One curious point about these birds is that, unlike most Eagles, 
they do not always desert a plundered nest. I have twice taken 
single eggs out of nests, and ten or twelve days later, on re-exa- 
mining the same nests, in consequence of observing the birds still 
hanging about the place, I found that a couple more eggs had been 
laid since my last visit. 

It does not do to dogmatize about the habits of birds. I have 
examined fully fifty nests of this species, some containing eggs and 
some young ones, and were I to trust to my own personal ex- 
perience alone, I should certainly assert that the old birds never 
show the least fight in defence of their homes and progeny. 
Nevertheless, one of our most accurate observers certifies to their 
excessive pugnacity when they have young. Captain Hutton, in 
the ' Journal of the Asiatic Society,' remarks : 

" I notice this species because Captain Tick ell states that it 
never makes the slightest attempt at defending its nest a striking 
contrast to the marvellous tales we read of concerning the Golden 
Eagle in the Highlands of Scotland, &c. This remark is correct 


only so long as there are eggs in the nest, for no sooner are these 
hatched than the temper of the bird becomes wholly changed, and 
it will then defend its young with fierceness and determination. 
The nests I have repeatedly found and robbed, both on the banks 
of the Ganges and of the Sutledge, and in all cases where they 
contained only eggs, not the least show of resistance was made, 
the old birds either sailing off with a loud querulous cry, or sul- 
lenly remaining on an adjacent tree, watching the robbery that \vas 
going on. On one occasion, however, I met with a very different 
reception, when my servant was attacked with an unexpected 
ferocity from which nothing but my gun could have saved him. 
The circumstance occurred in January 1832, when on my way up 
the country. The nest was placed near the summit of a tree, 
growing on one of the Colgoug rocks, in the middle of the Ganges, 
and contained two half-fledged young ones. The old birds offered 
a most determined resistance, and without the aid of fire-arms we 
should decidedly have been defeated, as they dashed fiercely and 
fearlessly at the man in the tree, who prayed hard to be allowed 
to descend, and was only kept at his post by the promise of reward 
and fear of the cudgel. At first we had to contend with the 
female only, but after one or two rapid swoops and dashes at the 
robber's head, which he avoided by bobbing under the nest, finding 
she could make no impression, she suddenly uttered a shrill cry, 
which was responded to in the distance, and in an instant after 
her mate was seen swiftly gliding to her aid from the opposite 
bank of the river. The two then charged together towards the 
nest with the rage and fierceness of despair, and so terrified the 
man in the tree, hampered as he was with the young ones, that, 
had I not fired at and wounded the Eagles as they advanced, they 
would assuredly have hurled him into the river. In this manner, 
however, after repeated attempts to come to the rescue, we man- 
aged at last to drive off the old birds and secure the booty. At 
the end of five weeks the young ones exhibited as nearly as pos- 
sible the plumage of the bird figured by Hardwicke and Gray as 
H. lineatus" 

More recently Captain Hutton sent me the following further 
remarks in regard to this species : " In the Dehra Doon this bird 
is extremely common, but it merely skirts the outer hills, about 
5500 feet, without entering them. I have seen six to eight to- 
gether passing along the side of the hills below Mussoorie for 
some distance, and then returning again together in like manner ; 
but what the object can be, I cannot make out. There is no 
fishing-ground along that route. They build in lofty trees on the 
banks of the larger Doon streams, laying one or two large white 
eggs. The nest I have described in the Journal of the Asiatic 
Society of Bengal." 

The usual number of eggs laid by this species is three ; but 1 
have myself twice found four, and it is not at all uncommon to 
meet with only two eggs, fully incubated, or two young ones, in a 


Major Bingham writes: "On the eastern and more wooded 
bank of the Ganges at Allahabad, a pair of these Eagles can be 
seen at almost every half-mile or so. Between the 3rd and 12th 
November, I found no less than five nests between Jhoosi and 
Mhow Serai Ghats. Three was the greatest number of eggs 1 
found in any one nest, and I think that is the usual number laid. 
All the eggs I have are of one type, roundish, and it strikes me 
rather small eggs for the size of the bird, of a pure greyish-white 
colour, without spot, blotch, or marking of any kind. 

"The nests were large, round, neat structures of twigs and 
branches, lined thickly in only two cases with straw, and in the 
others containing a mere apology for a lining in the shape of a 
few leaves. Four nests were placed on the very summit of large 
peepul-trees, one on a banyan." 

Writing from Sind, Mr. Scrope Doig says : " Found several 
nests between the 10th of November and 7th December. Nests 
were built on trees in the middle of swamps, the trees were usually 
decayed and totally devoid of foliage. In only one instance did 
the parent birds try to prevent their nest being robbed, and in that 
case there w r ere young birds in the nest. Out of one nest I found 
on the 10th of November I took two eggs ; again on the 20th 
November I got another egg out of the same nest; and again on 
the 7th December I got two eggs from the same nest, both of 
which were incubated. The nests were from 12 to 30 feet above 

Mr. J. R. Cripps writes from Eastern Bengal: "Much more 
common than the last species. It breeds in the district, and is a 
permanent resident. I put off securing a specimen, and eventually 
left the district without getting one. 1 noticed three or four of 
their nests, but during the time they were breeding (November 
and December) I was confined to my bed, so lost their eggs. 
Tamarind, bombax, and peepul trees are generally chosen. A Hin-. 
doo, in whose compound grew a large tamarind -tree on which there 
was a nest of one of those birds,, begged me not to shoot them, as 
they judged the hour by them. They say the birds call every three 
hours by night or day. They often carry off wounded game, and 
on one occasion I saw a wounded 0. rutila taken away by one of 
them. Fish, however, are their principal food. I once rescued a 
large fish (13 Ibs. in weight) from one of these birds. It had after 
a great difficulty brought the fish to the shore, and on my running 
up to the spot flew away without the fish." 

Mr. Oates, referring to this Eagle in Pegu, says : " Eggs may 
be procured here from the 28th November to 29th December. 
When the eggs are taken, the female lays again in the same nest. 
Eggs always three. I have robbed one nest for four consecutive 
years (in one year twice), and nothing will induce the birds to 
desert the nest. Abundant in Lower Pegu." 

Typically the eggs of this species are a rather broad oval, but a 
good deal of variation both in size and shape occurs. I have one 
or two very long and one very broad pyriform egg ; but these are 


exceptions. The colour is greyish white ; and every specimen that 
I have yet seen (and some fifty have passed through my hands) 
has been absolutely unspotted. No doubt, as incubation proceeds, 
like most other Eagles' eggs, they become much soiled and stained 
with dingy yellow ; but none have exhibited any trace of the 
markings shown in Dr. Bree's figures. 

The eggs of this species can, I think, generally be separated 
from those of most of our other Indian Eagles, except those of 
Polioaetus iclithyaetus and Spizaetiis nepalensis, by the intensely dark 
green of the shell when held against the light. If it is possible to 
separate any of our Eagles' eggs by the texture, I should say that, 
as a rule, there is generally a certain smoothness in the feel of 
these eggs which distinguishes them from those of other species ; 
but this is by no means an invariable test. 

The eggs vary from 2-55 to 3 inches in length, and from 2*02 to 
2-27 in breadth ; but the average of thirty eggs measured was 2-77 
by 2-17 inches. 

Polioaetus ichthyaetus (Horsf.). The Bar-tailed Fishing- 

Polioa3tus ichthysetus (Hodys.\ Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 81 ; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 41. 

I have myself never yet seen an Indian specimen of the Bar- 
tailed Fishing-Eagle from any locality westward of Nepal, though 
I have it from Sikhim, Bengal, and Burma. It is the next, and 
not the present, species which is so common along the bases of 
the Himalayas, from Kumaon to Afghanistan. Dr. Jerdon had 
never clearly discriminated the next species, but he noticed its 
distinctness from the present one directly I showed him a specimen ; 
so that, I think, we may accept his remarks as to the breeding of this 
species as really referring to the present and not the next species. 

He says : " I found its nest on several occasions : once near 
the Nerbudda in a large tree ; again, near Saugor, on a tree on the 
top of a height overlooking a large tank ; and in a tree on the 
skirts of a village near the Granges, opposite Kajmahal, I found a 
whole colony of nests of this Eagle. The nest is a very large 
structure of sticks. In one nest there were unfledged young ; the 
others were empty." 

Mr. J. E. Cripps writes: "On the 12th March I saw one of 
these birds sitting near a couple of nests which were high up on a 
kuddum-tree in a ryot y s holding, and overlooking a large ' bee!.' 
The ryot told me the young had flown by the beginning of 
February, and that the eggs are laid in the latter end of November. 
On my asking if the two nests belonged to two pairs, he said no ; 
but that while one bird sat ou the egg in one nest, the other bird 
occupied the empty nest. It is a permanent resident and rather 

Major C. T. Bingham, writing of this bird in Tenasserim, 


says : " A bird much of tener seen than shot. It is quite common 
along the course of the Attaran with its two branches, the Zammee 
and Wimgeo choungs, on the Yoonzaleen and along the whole 
length of the Thoungyeen from its sources to its mouth. In my 
many trips up the Salween, the largest river of the lot, to which 
the others are but tributaries, I have not, strange to sa} r , noticed a 
single one. 

" On the 3rd March, being encamped near the mouth of the 
Hteekleethoo choung, a small stream falling from the east side of 
the Meplay East Watershed range, and flowing to the Thoun- 
gyeen river, my attention was attracted, as I sat outside my tent 
in the evening, by the persistent passing of one of these Eagles 
backwards and forwards between two large kanyin trees (Diptero- 
carpus alatus). The trees not being more than a few hundred yards 
off, I made my way to them, and found that a large stick nest had 
been built in the first fork of the largest of them, at a height of 
at least a hundred feet. 

" Next morning I sent up a couple of Karens, who managed to 
climb the tree in the usual way by means of bamboo pegs, and 
brought me down the solitary egg the nest contained. The nest 
they, or rather the one man who went up the whole way, described 
as a large mass of sticks and twigs without any depression in the 
centre scarcely, and unlined. 

" The egg was chalky white, rather a broad oval, without mark- 
ings of any kind, and perfectly fresh. It measures 2'58 by 2'03 
inches. During the robbery the birds flew about uneasily round 
and round the tree, but out of shot, and it was not till after an 
hour's watching and stalking I managed to bag one of them, 
which, on dissection, proved to be the female with another perfect 
but shelless egg inside her." 

Colonel W. V. Legge, writing from Ceylon of this Eagle, says : 
" The Fish-Eagle breeds with us in December, nesting in large 
trees, both along the coast and by the side of the fine old tanks 
in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. I find from my rough 
notes that a nest, from which, on the 4th of January, 1873, I 
took a young bird six weeks old, was made in the fork of an upper 
limb of a large tree on the sea-coast to the north of Trincomalie ; 
it was constructed of sticks, some of them an inch in diameter, 
and measured 3 or 4 feet across in one direction, and about 
2| feet in another, and contained enough material to have half 
filled an ordinary bullock cart. The interior was very flat and 
constructed of small twigs." 

The egg is of the usual type, a broad but pretty regular oval 
slightly pointed towards one end. The ground greyish white, 
often a good deal soiled in the course of incubation, but in the 
case of all the few specimens I have seen devoid of markings. 
Held up against the light the shell is very pure, rather bright, sea- 
green. There is less pitting, I think, on the surface of the eggs of 
this species than those of many other allied species, but I have 
seen too few of the eggs to speak positively on this head. 

Two eggs measured 2'7 by 2-1 and 2-63 by 2-08. 


Polioaetus plumbeus (Hodgs.). The Himalayan Fishing-Eagle. 

Polioaetus plumbeus (Hodgs.}, Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. 
no. 41 bis. 

The Himalayan Fishing-Eagle, generally, I believe, lays in 
January ; but in the valleys of Kutnaon and Gurhwal, where it is, 
I know, far from uncommon, it is said to lay as late as April. 

It builds invariably, as far as I have yet observed, enlarge trees 
situated on the bank of some river, or in the immediate proximity 
of some considerable piece of water. It constructs its own nest, 
returning, like the Golden Eagle, year after year to the same spot, 
and each year adding fresh materials, so that the nest, a very large 
one to begin with, grows in time to an enormous size, reminding 
one of Wilson's description of those of the Osprey. Stout sticks and 
small branches, mingled with twigs and grass-roots, are the principal 
materials ; but weeds and coarse grass help to fill up the interior, 
in which, as in the case of Bonelli's Eagle and others, a thin layer 
of green * leaves is commonly spread for the eggs to rest on. The 
eggs are normally three in number ; but I have twice seen only 
two eggs in a nest, in both cases fully incubated. 

The late Major Cock sent me the following note from Hassen 
Abdul in the extreme North-west : " The nest of this species is 
a very large structure of sticks-, in fact the biggest nest that I have 
known of. I found one on the top of a high thorn-tree on the 
banks of a river. When I first visited the nest it was empty, but 
the bird was sitting on the tree near it. I again visited the nest 
about a fortnight later, and found three eggs in it. The nest was 
about 5| feet in height, about 4| in diameter, and but slightly 
hollow. There were lots of leaves in the nest quite fresh. The 
leaves belonged to some small shrub (the leaf itself was a very 
small one), and were evidently placed there to make a softer bed 
for the eggs. The birds had built in the same tree for an immense 
time, but at length the tree was blown down, and they built on 
the next biggest tree to it, and have continued for the last few 
years to nidificate there. The eggs are dirty white, similar in 
shape and size to the one sent to you. The birds did not exhibit 
any anger when their eggs were taken, but the female flew round 
and round a few times." 

Captain Unwin remarks : " I found a nest of our Himalayan 
Fishing-Eagle in the neighbourhood of Hazara on the 27th Feb- 

* It is probable that the object of laying the eggs on green leaves is to 
secure a certain amount of moisture for the shells. 

Eggs artificially hatched have, we know, to be daily sponged with a moist 
cloth. Great numbers of birds leave their eggs for a short time about sunrise to 
feed in grass and jungle, and return all "dewy-breasted" to their nests, so 
that I have taken Pea-fowl's eggs quite wet from this cause. But how is 
sufficient moisture secured for eggs laid, like those of the Sand-Grouse, on the 
bare, absolutely dry sand, whose parents feed in the driest ground (never even 
when they drink wetting their feathers in the slightest), and return dry -breasted 
to their eggs ? 


ruary, 1869. The nest was situated in a large tulip-tree, about 
35 feet from the ground. It was built of sticks, stubble, weeds, 
and coarse grasses, and was about 2| to 3 feet in diameter. It 
contained two young birds. The villagers stated tbat the old 
birds arrived every year about November. The probable age of 
the young was four or five weeks ; they were unable to fly, though 
one was pushed outside the nest. I subjoin the dimensions and a 
brief description of one of these young birds which I took from 
the nest. Later, while watching the tree through a glass from a 
distance of some 150 yards, I saw one of the old birds arrive with 
a fish, I should think nearly 2 Ibs. in weight, in its claws." 

My friend, Mr. Thompson, writes to me from Grurhwal that 
these birds " breed from March to May. The nest, which is a 
large structure of small sticks and twigs loosely put together, is 
usually placed in a tree at a convenient distance from the water, 
and at no great height from the ground. I have found their nests 
on the Kossilla Eiver, at Oomta Dabee, in the Patlee Doon, on the 
Eamgunga Eiver ; Kotree Doon on the Sunnai Eiver ; and lastly 
above Hurdwar on the Eiver Ganges. They lay from two to 
three large white eggs, smaller than those of Haliaetus leucoryphus. 
Three appears to be the normal number of their eggs. During 
the breeding-season the birds utter at intervals a loud, yet 
plaintive cry, especially whenever one of them approaches the nest 
whilst the other is sitting on it. The male during this time is 
assiduous in his attentions, and the meeting of the pair on his 
return from fishing- excursions always appears to call forth fresh 
cries. About the middle of April the eggs are laid, and are 
hatched during the following month. These birds are generally 
distributed over the rivers and larger streams of the Sub-Hima- 
layas, remaining on them throughout the year." 

The only egg I now possess (which I owe to Major Cock) is a 
broad and very perfect oval in shape. In texture it is rough and 
pitted, but it nevertheless has a slight gloss. It is a perfectly 
unspotted egg, and though in places somewhat soiled a ad dis- 
coloured, must, when fresh, have been a nearly pure milk-white. 
Held up against the light, the shell is even a darker green than 
that of H. leucoryphus ; in fact, it is almost black. Whether this 
character is general, or peculiar to the single specimen I now 
possess, I cannot of course decide. I have had many of these 
eggs in former years ; but I did not then, unfortunately, collect 

Five eggs, of which I have recorded measurements, varied from 
2'72 to 2-8 inches in length, and from 2-1 to 2-15 in breadth. 

Haliastur Indus (Bodd.). The Braliminy Kite. 

Ilaliastur indus (Bodd.\ Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 101 ; Hume, Rough 
Di-aft N. $ E. no. 55. 

The Brahininy Kite lays from January to the early part of 


April, according to. season and locality. Like many other species, 
it breeds earlier in Lower Bengal than up-country. In Upper 
India, where it is comparatively rare, it almost invariably makes 
its nest in the neighbourhood of water, building a rather large, 
loose, stick structure, scarcely, if at all, distinguishable from those 
of the Common Kite (M. yovinda), high up on some large mango, 
tamarind, or peepul tree. The nest, which is from 18 inches to 
2 feet in diameter, and from 3 to 5 inches in depth, with a rather 
considerable depression internally, is sometimes perfectly unlined, 
at other times has a few green leaves laid under the eggs, as in an 
Eagle's nest, but most commonly is more or less lined, or has the 
materials of the inner part of the nest intermingled with pieces of 
rag, wool, human hair, and the like. 

Most commonly only two eggs are laid, but three are by no 
means uncommon, and one of my correspondents notes finding four 
in one nest, a very unusual number. 

Mr. F. E. Blewitt says : "This Kite was found breeding in 
the Simibulpore District in the latter part of January ; in the 
Kaepore District in February, March, and April. The tallest tree 
of a group, in the neighbourhood of a large tank or sometimes 
near to a stream, is almost invariably selected for its nest. This 
nest, most frequently made on one of the upper higher branches, 
is loosely constructed of coarse twigs, having the depression in it 
often lined with grass, leaves, or odd pieces of rags. Three is the 
maximum number of eggs." 

Colonel Gr. F. L. Marshall says of this species : " Breeds in 
the Saharunpoor District. I saw a female on her nest in a huge 
dry tree in the early part of March, but as the tree was inaccessible, 
I was obliged to leave it ; the nest was of sticks about 50 feet 
from the ground." 

Mr. E. Thompson remarks : " At Shahgunj, Pergunnah Bhur- 
rur, District Mirzapore, I saw on the 6th March, 1869, a pair of 
these birds building their nest, which was placed in a mango-tope, 
on a tall tree. There were no eggs, as the birds had not then 
laid, but the nest was as complete as it could be. 

" The nest was like that of M. govinda and placed on a very 
high branch." 

Dr. Jerdon tells us that " the Brahminy Kite breeds on trees in 
February and March, making a not very large nest of sticks, 
sometimes lined with mud, and laying generally only two eggs, 
which are sometimes dirty white, at other times white with a few 
rusty-brown spots. In the Carnatic it usually selects a palm-tree 
to build in. Layard says that it makes several false nests, and 
that whilst the female is incubating, the male generally occupies 
one of the nests first made." 

Mr. G. Yidal records the following note from the South Kon- 
kan : " Breeds from the middle of January to end of March. 
Prefers cocoanut-trees on the coast, and mango-trees inland. 
Deserts its nest on the slightest provocation." 

Messrs. Davidson and Wenden, writing from the Deccan, 


say : " Rather rare : but on 16th January D. shot a female from 
a nest (no eggs) on a small bush growing out of a rocky bank, 30 
or 40 feet high, on the Bhima River. On dissecting her he found 
that the eggs would probably have been laid a week later. A nest 
with one egg and a young bird was taken on an island in the 
River Bhima, on 24th April. Observed nestling on the Dew 
River, 14 miles from Poona, on 14th February.'' 

And Mr. Davidson further writes: "The Brahminy Kite is 
exceeding common among the tanks in Mysore, and its habits 
differ there from its habits in the Deccan. In the Dec-can, where 
it is rare, it is a shy bird, clinging to and breeding along the 
large rivers. In Mysore it haunts the rice-land, and seems to 
have no favourite breeding-place. I have found nests high up on 
tall trees far away from a village, and others not 15 feet from the 
ground in the middle of a village, though I think the majority are 
on lowish trees among the rice-fields. The nest resembles that of 
the Common Kite externally, but has less lining. The eggs vary 
much in size, and are not so round as the Common Kite's. About 
one half are quite white, and all the others I have taken (about 
twenty in all) had a few dark purple scratches or ticks all over 
them, and there was not a boldly-marked egg amongst them." 

Colonel Legge remarks : " This species breeds in Ceylon in 
February and March." 

Mr. j. C. Parker says : " On the same day (February 1) and 
on a peepul-tree adjoining the one on which was the Vulture's 
nest, I secured two fresh eggs of this species. No two eggs could 
be more different as to colour the one being perfectly clear bluish 
white with but one or two minute claret-coloured spots; the 
other richly coloured, this I discovered after removing the thick 
coating of mud with which it was completely covered." 

Mr. J. R. Cripps, writing from Furreedpore in Lower Bengal, 
says : " On the 27th February, 1878, I took two partly-incu- 
bated eggs from a nest built in amongst the leafy branches and 
near the top of a Ficus relu/iosa tree, some 35 feet off the ground. 
The nest was of the Common Kite type, of twigs with a lining of 
cow's hair and a few grasses. On the 20th November, 1877, I 
noticed one of the above pair carrying twigs up to this peepul- 
tree, which was in my factory compound. I sent a man up ever 
so often to see if there were any eggs, but it was the 27th 
February before they were secured. Mr. Oates (S. F. vol v. 
p. 142) also alludes to the length of time taken by this species to 

Mr. J. Inglis remarks of this Kite in Cachar : " The Brahminy 
Kite is very common throughout the year; it breeds in March and 
April ; it generally fixes on a mango or peepul tree, close to a 

Mr. Oates notes that this species in Pegu " takes a long time to 
build its nest. My first eggs were taken on the 18th February." 

Major C. T. Bingham writes from Teuasserirn : " In the 
Thoungyeen this is the commonest of the Raptores. 


" I noticed a pair breeding near Kaukarit on the Houndraw 
river, but the nest, when examined on the 4th April, was still 

The eggs vary in shape of course, but typically are very perfect, 
moderately broad, ovals, only slightly compressed towards one end ; 
as a rule, they are smaller, and, as far as my experience goes, far 
less richly coloured than those of M. govinda. The ground-colour 
is greyish white, sometimes unspotted, but dingy, sometimes 
feebly speckled and spotted, at times, towards one eud only, with 
pale dingy brown, and sometimes scantily blotched and spotted 
with reddish brown. In size the eggs vary from 1-85 to 2-2 
inches in length, and from 1*5 to 1'79 inch in breadth; but 
the average of eighteen eggs measured was 2-02 by 1'65 inch. 

Milvus govinda, Sykes. The Larger House-Kite. 

Milvus govinda, Sykcs, Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 104 ; Hume, Rough Draft 
N. $ E. no. 56. 

The House-Kite lays at very different seasons in different localities. 
In the plains of Upper ludia and the Punjab the great majority 
lay in February, a few only breeding in the previous and suc- 
ceeding months. Lower down country, they are, I believe, earlier, 
and 1 myself have taken eggs as early as Christmas Day. In the 
districts bordering on the bases of the Himalayas, March is the 
more general time ; while in the Himalayas, where our bird is 
common up to a height of 6000 or 7000 feet, they mostly lay in 
April and May. Everywhere stragglers breed earlier and later, by 
nearly six weeks, than the great body of the birds do ; so that, even 
in the neighbourhood of Agra, we have eggs recorded as early as the 
29th December and as late as the 13th April. In Bareilly, I took 
a nest of fresh eggs on the 9th May, and at Simla found three 
much incubated ones as late as the first week in June. They build 
almost without exception on trees ; but I have found two nests 
(out of many hundreds that I have examined) placed, Neophron- 
like, on the cornices of ruins. 

The nest, mostly placed in a fork, but not uncommonly laid on 
a flat bough, is a large clumsy mass of sticks and twigs, the various 
thorny acacias appearing to be the favourite material, lined or 
intermingled with rags, leaves, tow, &c. The birds are perfectly 
fearless, breeding as freely on single stunted trees, situated in the 
densest populated bazaars, or most crowded grain-markets, as on the 
noblest tree in the open fields. The great majority breed in the 
suburbs of the towns and villages, the offal of which supplies their 
daily food ; but single nests may be found far away from human 
habitations in almost virgin jungle. 

Two appears to be the normal number of eggs, but they often 
lay three. Twice I have obtained four, and on several occasions 
I have met with a single hard-set egg, or young one, in a nest. 

When robbed of their eggs, the old birds, as a ruls, mope about 
the place without laying more eggs, or attempting to build a fresh 


nest ; but I have known several instances in which more eggs were 
laid in the same nest, and one in which an entirely new nest was 
constructed by the old birds in an adjoining tree, in which a single 
egg was laid and hatched. 

Colonel Gr. F. L. Marshall, writing from Saharunpoor, remarks 
that this species " generally breeds in February and March ; but 
I have taken eggs as late as the end of April. It usually lays 
three eggs, but will lay more if some of the eggs are taken. I 
took two out of three eggs from one nest, leaving one to prevent 
the bird forsaking the place. A short time after, I sent a shikaree 
to shoot and bring me the bird ; he mistook my orders and brought 
the eggs ; there were three then, two more had been laid ; after this 
one other egg was laid, and then the nest was forsaken. The nest 
was in my own compound, so that I had ample opportunities for 
watching it."' 

Mr. E. M. Adam says : " This bird breeds at Sambhur during 
March and April. I haA^e generally found the nest on large peepul- 
trees. The nests which I have taken contained sometimes two, 
sometimes three eggs." 

Mr. W. E. Brooks remarks that this species is " tolerably com- 
mon both at Nynee Tal and Almorah, at both of which places it 
breeds about two months later than it does in the plains." 

Major C. T. Bingham remarks : " Breeds both at Allahabad 
and at Delhi in March and April." 

Colonel Butler contributes the following notes : 

" In Kurrachee, as there are no trees, the Kites generally build 
their nests on the tops of the houses, often on a sloping roof, 
parapet of a wall, chimney, &c. One nest I saw built halfway 
up the flagstaff outside the Brigade Office, on a wooden platform 
intended for the man to stand on when lowering or raising the 
signal flags. 

" The Common Kite breeds in the neighbourhood of Deesa, 
principally in the month of February. I have found as many as 
four eggs in one nest, but two is certainly the normal number. 
They often begin to build their nests as early as November, and I 
took one nest this year on the 27th November containing two eggs 
slightly incubated, and another on the 17th November containing 
two fresh eggs. 

" Belgaum, 17th November, 1879. Found a Kite's nest con- 
taining a single fresh egg. On the 20th inst. revisited the nest 
and took three more fresh eggs/' 

Mr. Scrope Doig writes from Sind : " Took several nests be- 
tween the 9th of February and beginning of April. Their nests 
were, as a rule, built on pollarded kundy and tamarisk trees in the 
vicinity of villages. In some instances the parent birds showed a 
very determined objection to having their nests robbed." 

Messrs. Davidson and Wenden, writing of the Deccan, say : 
" The only Kite identified by D. was M.yovinda. It breeds freely 
from middle of September to middle of March. Greatest number 
of eggs found in a nest was three." 

MILVI-S. 175 

Mr. Benjamin Aitkeu remarks : " Eegarding the seasons of 
breeding of this species, I have the following notes recorded of 
observations extending over several years : 

'* 5th January. Breeding at Akola, Berar. 

" lstr-8th Feb. Breeding at Akola, Berar. 

" '22nd Feb. Breeding in Bombay. 

" 26th Feb. . My brother wrote to me : ' Kites are sitting all over 

' 27th April. Birds sitting all over Pooua. 

" 13th July. Breeding in Kurrachee. 

" 24th Sept. Madras ; saw a Kite carry away a long shred of 
cloth for its nest. 

" 29th Xov. Saw a Kite carrying a twig or straw a yard long 
to its nest." 

" 6th December. "Watched a Kite carrying sticks to its nest. 

" In Ceylon," says Colonel Legge, " the Pariah-Kite breeds, as 
I am informed, in the north about May." 

Mr. Davison tells me that "the Common Kite breeds on the 
Nilghiris, but not very abundantly, during the months of December, 
January, and February, and I have taken the nest at Madras in 
the latter end of December ; on the Nilghiris the nest is usually 
placed high up in some solitary tree. This Kite is very common 
on the Nilghiris, ascending quite to their summits ; they usually 
roost in company at night in some large tree, often in company 
with Haliastvr Indus. 7 ' 

As regards the eggs themselves, the countless variety of types 
of coloration which they exhibit defy description. I have before 
me now specimens absolutely devoid of any trace of colour which 
might well stand for gigantic specimens of Butastur teesa, but these 
of course are very exceptional ; I have only two such in a series 
of several hundreds. The ground-colour is almost invariably a 
pale greenish or greyish white, more or less blotched, clouded, 
mottled, streaked, pen-lined, spotted, or speckled \\ith various 
shades of brown and red from a pale buffy brown to purple, and 
from blood-red to earth-brown. Many of the eggs are excessively 
handsome, having the boldest hieroglyphics, blotched in blood-red, 
on a clear white or pale green ground. Others again are covered 
with delicate markings, as if etched on them with a crow-quill, but 
no doubt the markings in the majority are more or less smudgy, 
and but dingily coloured. In some few the ground-colour is a dull 
mottled purple, clouded over with deeper shades of purplish brown. 
Compared with many other species, the eggs do not vary so very 
much in size or shape ; they are normally a very perfect oval, 
scarcely more compressed at one end than at the other, but elon- 
gated, pointed, spherical, and pyriform varieties occur. The colour 
of the shells, when held up to the light, varies a good deal ; in some 
it is as light a green as Circaetus yallicus^ in others as deep as in 
Haliaetus leucoryphus. 

Although, as a rule, the eggs are glossless, a good many, when 
freshly laid, bear more or less of a natural glaze, which vastly 
brightens their colouring. 


In size the eggs vary from 1-9 to 2-35 inches in length, and from 
1-55 to 1-85 inch in breadth ; but the average of 273 eggs measured 
was 2-19 by 1'77 inch. 

Milvus affinis, Gould. The Smaller House-Kite. 
Milvus affinis, Gould, Hume, Cat. no. 56 ter. . 

Of the Smaller House-Kite, Mr. Gates writes : " Nests com- 
monly throughout all Pegu. Usually three eggs. From 3rd week 
in January to end of March. The nest answers well to Mr. Hume's 
description of that of M. govinda. Average of 12 eggs 2'09 by 1*63 ; 
in length they vary from 2-2 to 2-0, and in breadth from 1'75 to 
1*55 ; the egg-lining is bright green ; the shell tolerably smooth 
and glossless ; ground-colour dull white, and all the eggs I have 
are marked and blotched with rust-colour, bright in the majority, 
but pale in a few. The marks are reduced to mere specks in one 
or two eggs." 

Mr. W. Davison tells us : " I obtained two eggs of this Kite 
at Moulmein on the 5th of January. In appearance they are 
quite similar to many of those of M. govinda, and, as is not un- 
frequently the case with Kites' eggs, though both were taken from 
the same nest they are very dissimilar in appearance one being 
blotched and spotted, but only at the large end, with a dark umber- 
brown, some of the spots and blotches being almost black ; the rest 
of the egg is sparsely spotted and blotched (but the blotches are 
small) with a paler brown. The markings on the egg, which are 
also at the large end, consist of a medley of streaks and scratches 
and irregular spots of a rusty brown, the whole of the remainder 
of the surface being covered with numerous scratches of a very 
pale inky purple and a few very faint spots of a paler rusty brown. 
These two eggs measure 2-11 by 171 and 2-08 by 1-7. 

" The nest, the usual shallow saucer of dry twigs, &c., was placed 
in a moderately high tree about 30 feet from the ground." 

Except that they are rather smaller and, as a rule, rather more 
poorly marked, the eggs of this race or species are so precisely 
similar to those of M. govinda that any separate description is 

Milvus melanotis, Temm. & Schleg. The Junyle-Kite. 

Milvus major, Hume ; Hume, Rough Draft N. 8f E. no. 56 bis. 
Milvus melanotis, T. fy S., Hume, Cat. no. 56 bis. 

The Jungle-Kite lays in the Himalayas from January to the 
beginning of May. 

They build large stick-nests, similar in every respect apparently 
to those of the House-Kite and placed like theirs on trees. I have 
obtained the eggs from Kooloo, Busahir, Koomarsain, and other 
portions of the hills, north, north-east, and north-west of Simla. 
Mr. Brooks obtained the eggs in Kashmere in May. 

ELANUS. 177 

The eggs appear to differ in no very perceptible degree from those 
of the Common House- Kite except in size. Even this difference is 
not- very marked in all specimens. Out of 273 Common Kites' eggs, 
the average dimensions are 2'19 by 1*77, the longest egg measured 
2- 35, and the broadest 1*85. About one in ten of these eggs ex- 
ceeded 2*29 in length. Of the 13 eggs of Milvus melanotis now 
before me, only one falls short of 2-3 in length or 1-8 in width, 
and the largest egg measures 2-43 by 1'85. Taken as a body they 
are conspicuously larger than those of the ordinary Milvus govinda. 
As before remarked, in general appearance and colour they resemble 
the eggs of this latter, but some of them are perhaps more richly 
marked than any that I have met with amongst these. 

They vary in length from 2*23 to 2*43 inches, and in breadth 
from 1*75 to 1'88 inch ; but the average of thirteen eggs is 2'31 by 
1'S inch. 

Elanus caeruleus (Desf.). The Black-winged Kite. 

Elanus inelanopterus (Daud.), Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 112; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 59. 

The Black- winged Kite varies much in its time of breeding. 
Possibly these birds breed twice in the year, but this is not likely, 
and the difference in season in the several localities is probably due 
to the great differences in the climate and rainfall of the latter. 

Mr. Blewitt remarks : " This Kite evidently breeds from, I 
should say, the middle of Kovember to January. 1 first secured 
its eggs in the Sumbulpoor District on the 20th December, while 
I obtained a pair of quite young half-fledged birds on the 21st 
January. The nests, including a newly-made one found empty, 
were placed on the forks of the upper branches of low forest trees 
about 18 to 20 feet from the ground. In form they were circular 
and composed of small sticks and twigs somewhat compactly .put 
together, with the egg-cavity about an inch deep, neatly lined with 
fine grass. There is no doubt that this Kite breeds in all those 
tracts in the Sumbulpoor District that are sparsely wooded and 
extensively cultivated with rice ; and probably, as it is somewhat 
common there, this may also be the case in the Eaepoor District. 
I take three to be the normal number of the eggs." 

Mr. Adam says : " At the village of Kuchrodda, about 6 miles 
south of the town of Sambhur, there is a large jheel with a tope 
of khajur palms (Phoenix sylvestris) on one side, and stragglino- 
trees of this species all round. 

" On the 19th July, 1872, near one of the solitary khajur-trees, 
I observed a Black-winged Kite, and as this bird is rather rare about 
the Sambhur Lake, I went in its direction, intending to kill it ; 
but just as it rose from the ground, I saw it was carrying a twig 
in its bill, and this it carried to the top of the khajur, where I found 
it had a nest nearly finished. Both birds were employed taking 
twigs to the nest. 

TOL. III. 12 


" Ou the 7th August I sent a man to see if the nest contained 
eggs, but he found it had been abandoned, aud a new nest com- 
menced on one of a group of six lasora-trees (Cordia myxd) which 
stood near to the khajur. He also informed me he had seen the 
birds together. 

" I inspected the nest on the 10th August, and found one of the 
bii'ds sitting on it. The nest was so loosely constructed that with 
iny binoculars I could see that it contained no eggs. 

" I again inspected the nest on the 14th August, and found that 
it contained two eggs. One of the birds sat close on the nest, and 
would not be frightened off by a man beating on the trunk of the 
tree with a stick, and this same bird made a swoop at my servant 
as he was climbing the tree. 

" The nest was situated on the very top of the lasora-tree, and was 
from 25 to 30 feet from the ground. In shape it was circular, and 
with the exception of two or three pieces of sarpat grass, there was 
no attempt at lining. It was about 10 inches in diameter, and the 
egg-cavity had a depression of about 2 inches. The twigs of which 
the nest was composed were of a uniform size throughout, and 
were very loosely and openly laced together." 

Mr. K. Thompson informed me that in Lower Grurhwal and the 
Dehra Doon, " they breed from April to June, choosing low trees, 
usually one standing by itself, in (for those localities) sparsely 
wooded spots to build on. The nest is circular, not unlike that of 
Corvus macrorhynchus, composed of small sticks and twigs and lined 
with fine grass and fibres. This species is sparingly found along 
the foot of the Himalayas. It does not enter valleys unless, as in 
the case of the Patlee and Dehra Boons, they happen to be pretty 
open." "Writing later from the Central Provinces, he says : " In 
the Central Provinces, the breeding-season is from December to 
January ; the nest was placed upon small trees from 15 to 20 feet 
from the ground. It is circular like a Crow's nest, of about the same 
size and composed of the same materials. I have now found two 
unfinished nests of this bird. The first was in the Saugor District, 
on the banks of a small nullah, in a pretty open bit of country, yet 
sufficiently wooded to keep the place moist and damp. This nest 
was found on the 17th November, 1869. The second one, found 
in the Seoni Plateau on the 6th January, 1871, was placed on a 
small Boswellia thurifera tree, on the edge of a deep ravine. The 
male bird was observed rising from the ground carrying a twig in 
his bill and going directly into the tree. This fact led to the finding 
of the nest, which was nearly complete. In the valleys of the 
Meikle Eange, in the winter of 1869-70, 1 frequently met with this 
Kite and broods of young ones, and even saw their nests, but have 
not been fortunate enough to find the eggs." 

Colonel Butler writes : " I found several nests of the Black- 
winged Kite this year, 1876, dates of which are given below. The 
nests were all built by the parent birds themselves, and consisted 
of a quantity of dead sticks open at the top, and more or less 
densely constructed towards the centre. The whole of the nests 

EL AN US. 179 

were built near the top of low thorny trees growing in grass-berrlis, 
at heights varving from 9 feet to 15 feet from the ground. The 
nests are not difficult to discover if the birds are watched in the 
breeding-season (although I never saw a pair in the act of building), 
as either one or both of the old birds are invariably to be found ou 
guard, sitting on some low tree near the nest ; and alter observing 
them in the same place once or twice you may be pretty sure that 
there is a nest at no great distance, and if you examine every 
conspicuous thorny tree within a radius of 150 yards from the tree 
the birds frequent you are almost certain to discover the nest. 
The old bird sits very closely, and will often allow several stones 
to be thrown up and the tree to be shaken violently before leaving 
the nest. The eggs vary in number from three to four. One or 
two of my specimens show a great deal of white. 
" August 5th. A nest containing 4 fresh eggs. 
14th. 3 

3 young birds about 10 days old. 

18th. 3 fresh eggs. 

30th. 4 

" The nest taken on the 30th was built by the same pair of birds 
whose nest was robbed on the 5th inst., and it was built on a tree 
only about 350 yards from the first nest. In one or two nests 
there was a scanty lining of dry grass." 

Captain J. H. Yule has favoured me with the following interesting 
note on this species : " About Poona they are very common, and 
I give you the dates of the nests I have taken this year, since I 
began collecting : 

" February 2nd. 4 young. 
June 16th. 4 eggs. 
21st. 4 eggs. 
July 1st. 1 egg. 

,, 3rd. Xest, but did not get up to it, bird sitting. 

14th. legg. 

19th. 4 eggs out of nest. I took one on the 1st. 
29th. Young. 
August 17th. 2 nests, 4 eggs each. 

;>t. 4th. 3 eggs. 

Oct. 10th. 5 eggs. 

" The nests were rather loosely made, lined with dry grass, and 
placed generally on a thin branch, from 12 to 20 feet from the 

" They were nearly all on babool-trees, two or three on another 
thorny tree in thin jungle, and one on a small mango-tree. In 
most cases the eggs could be seen through the nest from below." 

Mr. J. Davidson writes from the Sbolapoor District : " It may 
perhaps interest you or some of your readers to know that E. c//-/-//- 
leus bred here twice this season. The bird used to be a rare one 
in the district, but since the famine a very great deal of laud has 
returned to its pristine condition, and this little Kite is now the 
commonest bird of prey. In April, when I came back here, I found 


pairs all over the district, several accompanied with young. I also 
found several nests then with nearly full-fledged young. 

" In June the birds again commenced to build, and the eggs 
appear to have been laid as a rule during the last week of that 
month. I was unluckily detained in a place where there are no 
Kites for the fortnight from June 28th to July 10th, but I have 
seen at least 25 nests, mostly with young, almost all along the sides 
of a nullah on small babool-trees, 15 feet or so from the ground. 
The eggs or young were almost invariably four, and the former 
varied much. One nest contained three highly-coloured ones and 
a nearly pure white one which might have passed for a miniature 
egg of H. indus. Another nest contained two fresh eggs which 
were exactly like small ones of A. nisus." 

Arid he subsequently added : " I wrote to ' Stray Feathers ' 
about the way E. cceruleus has invaded the district, and its breeding 
in the hot weather, and again in the rains (June and July); but now 
I got a nest yesterday (September 2 1st) with a fresh egg, evidently 
the produce of a pair whose nest 1 knew, and whose young were 
sitting on an adjoining tree barely able to take care of themselves." 

And again he wrote with Mr. Wenden from the Deccan : 
" Moderately common. A nest with three eggs taken on 10th July, 
1875. It breeds abundantly in Caladgi District, some 50 miles 
from Sholapoor, in December." 

In Ceylon, according to Colonel Legge, this Kite breeds from 
December to March. 

Taking a large series of these eggs, they vary very much as those 
of Neophron ginginianus do. Typically the ground-colour is a sort 
of yellowish or brownish white, and the whole egg is so thickly 
streaked, smeared, and clouded with brownish red of a duller or 
brighter shade that but little of the ground-colour is visible, and 
generally at one end or the other, usually the large end, the markings 
are denser, confluent, and redder than elsewhere. In a certain 
number of specimens the ground-colour is whiter, and on one half 
of the egg the mottled blotches are thinner set, and show a good 
deal of the ground through. I have one egg with one half, the 
small end, densely blotched with blood-red, only here and there 
brown, the other half pure spotless white. Again, I have one egg 
entirely white, with only a zone of sparsely-set markings round 
the middle. The shell is rather fine and smooth, the surface-pittings 
are scarcely visible to the naked eye, but the eggs are quite gloss- 
less. Held up against the light the shell, where free from blotches, 
is a very pale yellowish-green. 

In shape the eggs are very uniform moderately broad ovals, often, 
but not always, slightly pointed towards the small end. 

All the eggs are nearly the same size ; they vary from 1*42 to 
1-68 inch in length, and from 1-14 to 1-27 inch in breadth ; but 
the average of a large number is 1'53 by 1-21 inch. 

PERNIS. 181 

Pernis ptilorhynchus (Temm.). The Crested Honey-Buzzard. 

Pernis cristata, Cuu., Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 103. 

Pernis ptilorhynchus ( Temm.), Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 57. 

The Crested Honey-Buzzard breeds throughout the plains in 
well-wooded and watered districts, but except in the Sub-Himalayan 
tracts, such as the northern portions of Bijnour, Bareilly, Saharun- 
poor, the Doon, &c., its nests are few and far between. 

It lays in May and June, and in the latter and former halves, 
respectively, of April and July. It builds in trees, placing its 
moderately-sized stick-and-twig nest in a fork, usually some con- 
siderable height from the ground. In texture the nests differ much 
some are compactly and neatly, others loosely and carelessly, put 
together, but all are more or less thickly lined with leaves or 
occasionally grass. As a rule, they lay two eggs, but it is not un- 
common to find a single, fully incubated, egg. 

I owe to Colonel Gr. F. L. Marshall the following interesting 
note on the nidification of this species in the Saharunpoor District, 
which renders further remarks of my own on the subject unneces- 
sary : " The Crested Honey-Buzzard builds in May, the young 
being usually hatched in the beginning of June. The season for 
building is, however, spread over a long period, as in one case I 
noticed a bird building on the 23rd March; the nest was completed 
by the end of April, but the first egg was not laid till the 12th May, 
and the second egg on the 14th ; I took the nest on the 1 5th. 

" The nest is situated in the stout fork of a tree, generally about 
two-thirds of the way up ; of the ten nests I have taken, one was 
in a toon-tree (Cedrela toona) and all the rest in sheeshum-trees 
(Dalbenjia sissoo). The nest is cup-shaped in the first instance, 
but so filled up with the lining as to appear more like a flat plat- 
form. It is a compact structure, composed entirely of twigs, neatly 
put together and lined with a thick layer of dead leaves, chiefly 
sheeshum-leaves, almost filling up the hollow space ; in one instance 
I found the nest lined with perfectly fresh green leaves, and as 
there were two eggs in it, the lining must have been partially re- 
newed after the eggs were laid. The outer diameter of the nest 
is about 16 to 18 inches, and of the egg-receptacle about 10 inches ; 
the depth of the structure, including lining, is about 9 inches. 

" The eggs, two in number, are deposited in the middle of the 
platform ; the colour varies greatly, from a white ground, more or 
less blotched with every shade of reddish brown, to a reddish-brown 
ground, clouded and blotched with a darker shade. Some are ex- 
actly like gigantic Falcon's eggs, while others again closely resemble 
richly blotched Kite's eggs ; in shape they are mostly very round. 
The shell is thin and rather brittle, and smoother than is usual 
among the Eaptores. 

" The bird is rather familiar in its habits, and by no means shy ; 
I took three of its nests, from compounds in the station of Saha- 
runpoor, and three more from the compounds of the canal chokies. 
It seldom flies far and is easily approached. AVhen the eggs are 


near the hatching point, the bird sits excessively close ; I have 
found it impossible to drive it off: by throwing stones, and on one 
occasion the female only flew when my hand was actually on the 
nest, though she had been struck pretty sharply by several of the 
stones. The male bird assists in building, and is more wary than 
the female. 

" On one occasion I noticed a male bird with a stick in its claws 
fly into a tree and return without it. I went up to the place, and 
noticed the commencement of the nest ; while I was standing there 
the male bird returned with another twig, but catching sight of me 
from the distance, he turned off and went into another tree some 
distance off, and nothing would induce him to como near the place 
till T was well away, though the female kept going and coming all 
the time." 

Mr. W. Blewitt says : " We found one nest of this species near 
Hansie on the 16th June, which contained a single fresh egg. The 
nest was placed on a neein-tree, at the height of about 16 feet 
from, the ground, and was slightly built of keekur and zizyphus 
twigs and scantily lined with reed-grass. It measured 10 inches 
in diameter and 4 in depth." 

In another letter, also from Hansie, he remarks : " We got 
two nests of the Honey-Buzzard on the 5th and 10th July out of 
sheeshum-trees on the canal-banks. One contained a single, fresh, 
the other a solitary fully incubated, egg. The nests were respec- 
tively about 15 and 20 feet from the ground, were constructed of 
keekur and sheeshum twigs, and were lined with leaves." 

Mr. R. Thompson, writing from Gurhwal, remarks that " the 
Honey-Buzzard breeds from April to June, building its circular 
pan-shaped nest (which no little resembles that of Spizaetus lim- 
naetus) in large trees, in open forest country." 

Messrs. Davidson and Weuden write from the Deccan : "Rarish 
about Sholapoor. Saw a pair breeding on the 6th February. They 
were very noisy." 

Normally, the shape of the eggs of this species is nearly spherical, 
and even the most aberrant are very broad ovals. Typically, they 
are very highly coloured eggs, and remind one much of the eggs 
of the European Honey-Buzzard. The ground-colour varies from 
white or pinkish-white to huffy-yellow, and the markings from 
reddish brown to intense blood-red. In one, the markings are 
a dingy, though deep, purple. . In another, the whole egg is buff- 
brown, faintly but thickly mottled and clouded with yello\vi,sh 
brown. Another egg, with a reddish-brown ground, is entirely 
capped and thickly mottled over the whole of the rest of the sur- 
face with a very dull but deep cinnamon-red, reminding one forcibly 
of some of the richest-coloured eggs of the Neophron. As a rule, 
these eggs are glossless, but one or two have a trace of gloss about 
them. The lining, or rather the colour of the egg-shell, when held 
up against the light, varies from greenish white to dingy yellowish 

In size the eggs vary from 1*82 to 2-22 inches in length, and 
from 1-55 to T85 inch in breadth; but the average of ten eggs 
measured was 2-03 by 1*72 inch. 


Subfamily FALCONING. 

MicroMerax caerulescens (Linn.). The Red-leyged Falconet. 

Ilierax eutolmos, Hodys., Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 42. 
Microhierax caerulescens (Linn.}, Hume, Cat. no. 20. 

Major C. T. Bingham found a nest of this small Falcon in 
Tenasserim. He writes : " On the 14th April I found a nest of 
this little Falconet in a hole on the underside of a decayed bough 
of a mighty pymma-tree (Lagerstrcemia flos regince). 

" I had noticed the bird about the neighbouring trees for t\vo 
or three days successively, and on the date above mentioned saw 
her entering the hole in question. 

" On my sending up a servant who was with me, she flew out 
and perched on a low tree some thirty yards off ; keeping my eye on 
her, I desired the man to enlarge the entrance of the hole and 
ascertain whether there were any eggs. In about ten minutes he 
announced that there were four. I then shot the bird, which 
proved to be a female. The eggs are broad ovals, dirty whitish 
yellow, and stained by resting on the broken leaves, wings of 
dragon-flies, and bits of wood which composed the nest. I don't 
think the hole was made by the little Falcon, but was probably an 
old nest belonging to a Barbet. The branch in which it was ex- 
cavated was about 30 feet from the ground/' 

The eggs are regular, moderately elongated ovals. The shell is 
very thin and fairly close in texture, but has no appreciable 
gloss. The original colour, as I ascertained by carefully washing 
a part of one egg, is a dead white, but the eggs as found were all 
suffused with a dirty yellow tint, such as is often the case with 
the very similar eggs of Centrococcyx and Taccocua. Held up 
against the light, the shell appears a very slightly yellowish 

The eggs vary from I'l to 1'3 in length, and from 0'85 to 0'88 
in breadth. They are equally unlike eggs of Falco, Asfur, and 
Circus. I know no Eaptorial bird that lays at all similar eggs. 
As to size and shape, I can match them exactly with large eggs of 
Ct/anops franJclini, or small ones of J/. marshallorum, but the 
texture is different ; as regards texture and tint of discoloration, 
I can match them exactly with some eggs of Taccocua affinis. 

Microhierax fringillarius (Drap.). The Black-legged Falconet. 
Microhierax fringillarius (Drap.), Hume, Cat. no. 20 ter. 

In regard to this Falconet I quote a note of Mr. Davison'g : 
" On the 10th or llth of March, while passing through an old 
tounyah (clearing) I saw a Falconet of the above species fly into 


a hole in a dry tree ; on sending a man up he reported the hole to 
be empty. 

" On the 25th of March, happening to pass this tree, I saw the 
Falconet fly out and settle on an adjoining tree, where I shot it. 
I then sent a man up, and while he was examining the hole the 
other Falconet, which proved to be the female, flew out and set- 
tled close by, and I also shot her. On enlarging the hole suf- 
ficiently to admit a man's hand, it was found that there were no 
eggs, but at the bottom of the hole, which was about 18 inches 
deep, was a soft pad composed of flies and butterflies' wings, 
mixed with small pieces of rotten wood. On dissecting the feirale 
] found in her a fully-formed hard-shelled egg, but unfortunately 
broken by the shot. This egg was pure white, without spot or 
streak of any kind, the texture was fine and close, and when held 
up against the light it exhibited a very faint yellowish or greenish 

This, I may mention, was near Bankasoon at the extreme south 
of Tenasserim. It will be noticed that both this species and M. 
ccentlescens breed in holes in trees, line the bottom with a pad of 
the wings of Lepidoptera, Neuroptera, and the like, and lay white 

Falco peregrinator, Sundev. The Shdheen Falcon. 

Falco peregrinator, Sundev., Jerd. S. Ind. i ; p. 25 ; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 9. 

The only egg of this species the true Shaheen that I possess, 
or indeed have seen, was procured by Mr. Eobert Blewitt on the 
25th January in the Raipoor district. It measured exactly 2 
inches in length by 1'43 inch in width. It was therefore com- 
paratively (for the genus) a very narrow oval egg. It was like a 
very pale Jugger or Peregrine egg. A pale pink ground, with 
here and there very faint traces of pale purple clouds, very finely 
speckled and spotted with deep reddish brown, the specks being 
comparatively few and very minute over the small end, and some- 
what larger and much more numerous over the large end, where 
they are somewhat blurred and more or less connected with each 
other by irregular smears of a somewhat paler brownish red. 

Dr. Jerdon mentions that the present species breeds on steep 
and inaccessible cliffs, and that he has seen three eyries one on 
the Nilghiris, another at the celebrated hill-fort of Antoor, and 
the third at the great waterfall at Mhow, It lays its eggs, he 
remarks, in March and April, and the young fly in May and June, 
when they are caught by falconers *. 

* The Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) is said to have been found breeding in 
Ceylon by Layard ; and Colonel Biddulph assures us that it breeds in the 
neighbourhood of Gilgit at about 6000 feet on the face of precipices. En. 

FALCO. 185 

Palco atriceps, Hume. The Black-cap Falcon. 
Falco atriceps, Hume ; Hutne, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 9 bis. 

To my late friend Major Cock, then of Dhurmsala, I owed the 
first eggs of the Black-cap Falcon that I obtained. He sent them 
to me, together with the female bird. He gives a most interesting 
account of his operations. He found the nest on a ledge of rock, 
on the face of a most dangerous precipice. The nest had for many 
years been occupied by the Black-cap, but in 1868 a Roc, O. liima- 
layensis, laid there, and had to surrender its eggs to Major Cock. 
In 1869 the Falcons again took possession, and on the lOfch of 
March this gentleman visited it. " I went," he says, " to the 
Falcon's nest, and found the female sitting close ; with great 
difficulty I got her off, by throwing stones down from above; but 
even then she did not fly, but only shifted her position on the 
ledge so as to show me two eggs in the nest. I got men and 
ropes, and a friend, Captain Duff, to try and shoot her as she left 
the nest; but though I, with great difficulty, induced a man to 
descend and take the eggs (after I had all but gone over the preci- 
pice myself, a tuft of grass having given way under my foot at the 
very verge), the female got off scathless, or but slightly wounded, 
owing to the height of the precipice. Captain Duff, who has a 
house hard by, tells me that the birds are always killing the Blue 
Eock-Pigeons under his very nose. Both birds showed themselves, 
but neither came sufficiently within shot to enable us to bag them, 
though we fired at the female." On the 17th March he returned 
to the nest, where the female was again sitting ; on driving her 
off, he saw that another egg had been laid, and he again fired at 
the old bird, but, owing to the hazardous position in which he was 
standing at the time, again missed her. On the 20th he re-visited 
the eyrie. " I was sitting under the cliff when a Lammergeyer 
came sailing by, and the male Falcon dashed at him, and then 
returned to the nest, the female flying out in pursuit. As she 
returned, I shot her; the male then sat on the egg (there was 
still only one) for some time, when, by sending a man up above 
to throw down stones, he (the Falcon, not the man) flew off, and I 
got a shot at and wounded him. He managed to get on to a tree 
overhanging the precipice, and though I got as near to him as I 
could, and took a pot shot, he was too far off and sailed away 
down the Jchud (valley)." Subsequently Major Cock took the third 

e gg- 

The extraordinary boldness exhibited by the female bird is very 


The nest, as may be guessed from its age, and from having once 
at least served our large Himalayan Vulture as a laying-place, was 
a large irregular mass of sticks. Two eggs were taken the first, 
and one the second time ; but probably the normal number is four. 
Two of these eggs, which I saw, were very beautiful; broad, very 
perfect ovals, slightly larger than the eggs of F.jugyer, and with 


shells of a somewhat finer and closer texture than those of these 
latter. The ground-colour in both was a rich brick-red, here and 
there faintly blotched and spotted with a darker shade, and with a 
few bold blotches and splashes, specks and spots of the deepest 
liver-colour ; strange to say, there were one or two pure white 
spots on the ground-colour, and a white spot or blotch in the 
middle of almost every one of the larger liver-coloured blotches. 
In my whole series of the eggs of F. jwjyer, I have none at all like 
these, although the eggs of both species are emphatically of the 
true Falcon type. The eggs appear to me fully as big as the 
average run of eggs of Peregrines. 

They measure 2*1 inches in length, by 1-66 and 1-68 inch in 

Three more eggs of this species, obtained, the one on the 6th 
February from a nest in a precipice near Belt in Kooloo, and the 
two others on the 3rd of the same month from a similarly situated 
nest near Nitta, also in Kooloo, differed from the eggs already 
described, as the eggs of all Falcons will differ inter se. The single 
egg had a dingy brownish-yellow ground, speckled, smeared, and 
freckled over large portions of its surface with dingy, burnt- 
umber markings ; a dirty washed-out-looking egg, such as is not 
uncommon amongst Neophrons, but is less seldom seen in Falcons. 
The other two were richly coloured : the one had a bright, brick- 
dust-red ground, moderately thinly streaked, mottled, and blotched 
with blood- red everywhere except at the large end ; the other had 
a dull pink ground, thinly speckled, spotted, and blotched all over 
with dark reddish brown ; just towards the small end the blotches 
are very thick and numerous, forming a small moltled cap. 

These eggs measured, respectively, 1*98 by 1*63 inch, 1'95 by 
1-60 inch, arid ]-94 by 1-62 inch. 

Colonel Radcliffe says that " both this species and F. Ixibylonicus 
breed in the rocks in the hills surrounding our hut encampment, 
near Kalabagh, chiefly towards the north and west. Many, I am 
told, breed in and about the Khyber Pass and the mountains of 
Afghanistan. Certain breeding-places are well known to the 
Native Chiefs, from which they obtain the young hawks for 
training every year." 

Falco jugger, J. E. Gray. The Luygar Falcon. 

Falco jugger, Gray, Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 30 ; Hume, Hough Draft N. 
#Jno. 11. 

The Luggar Falcon lays during January, February, and March, 
but the majority appear to lay in the early part of February. I 
have never obtained an egg earlier than the 6th of January, or 
later than the 30th March. The situation of the nest varies ; it 
is sometimes on large trees, the peepul being perhaps the favourite 
in the Duab, and sometimes on ledges or in recesses of rocky or 
earthen cliffs, and sometimes in the face of ancient ramparts where 

FALCO. 187 

one or two stones have disappeared, or on more or less inaccessible 
cornices of ruined buildings. I found a nest in the exterior walls 
of Togluck Shah's grand Egyptian-looking mausoleum, another in 
one of the lateral walls of the high gate of Futtehpoor Sikri. I 
have taken them times without number on ledges of the clay cliffs 
of the Jumna and Churnbul in the Etawah District, and I met 
with one containing three full-fledged young ones on the rocks of 
the Mata Pahar, overlooking the Sambhur Lake ; still in those 
parts of the country with which I am best acquainted, the North- 
Western Provinces, Oudh, and the Punjab, I believe the majority 
breed upon trees. When built on trees, the nest is usually a large 
and massive one, some 2 feet in diameter, if circular, or if, as is 
more common, oblong in shape, some 2%5 feet in length by 1*5 
feet in breadth, and fully 6 inches in thickness *. It is composed 
of twigs and small sticks, at times without any lining, and at 
times lined with a little grass, or straw, or even leaves. Occasion- 
ally, the nest is very much larger than I have described, but it 
will then generally be found that the bird, instead of building a 
nest of its own, has taken possession of and repaired one of some 
other bird. Near Bhureh on the Chumbul, a pair took possession 
of a nest that for the two previous years had, to my knowledge, 
been always occupied by a pair of Pallas's Sea-Eagle (H. leucory- 
pJius} ; and Mr. W. Blewitt, who took five nests of this species in 
January and February, in the neighbourhood of Hansie, remarks 
that in every case the Palcon had taken possession of, and more or 
less repaired, a deserted nest of the common Tawny Eagle (A. 
viiuUtiana). The repaired nests were all on keekur-trees (the 
favourite par excellence of A. vindhiana), at heights of from 17 to 
24 feet from the ground. Three of these nests contained five 
eggs, a very unusual number. There was no mistaking either eggs 
or birds, all of which Mr. Blewitt kindly sent me. 

"Where the bird selects a recess or ledge in a cliff's face for 
nesting, a large nest is rarely made, a few handfuls of sticks, just 
enough to prevent the eggs rolling about, with a few feathers, 
accidentally or purposely intermingled, is all that is usually met 
with in such situations ; and I have twice taken the eggs laid on 
the bare earth in a slight depression, without one particle of stick, 
grass, or feather near them. 

Mr. R. Thompson remarks : " This Palcon breeds on lofty 
trees ; usually on one. with others standing near it, in open culti- 
vated country ; even when it is a forest bird, it chooses such parts 
as are tolerably open, with widely-spreading glades ; but habitually 
it prefers open localities. 

" A nest found in open forest-country, south of Lall-dang, in 
the provinces of Kumaon, on the 5th February, 1808, was up to 
that date unfinished, though both the Palcons were present. The 

* It appears to be a general rule with birds that build sometimes on trees 
nud sometimes on rocky ledges that their nests in the former situation are 
always deeper, mure cup-like, and more massive than when iu the latter. 


male I observed carrying small twigs and roots to the female, who 
seemed the architect. This nest was begun in a large semel-tree 
(Bortibax heptaphyllum), on the forked branch of one of the prin- 
cipal lateral arms, and might have been 40 feet from the ground. 
The nest was about 2| feet in diameter, with the egg-cavity about 
10 inches. The inside was lined with small fine roots and bruised 
dry leaves, evidently such as had been attached to the twigs which 
composed the body and foundation of the nest. On the 27th 
March succeeding, the nest was again visited. The Falcons w 7 ere 
out at the time, it being about the middle of the day. On a man 
ascending the tree, both birds quickly appeared, and the male, 
which appeared an old adult, made the first swoop at the man 
climbing, passing within a few inches of his head. The female 
(which appeared not to have cast her nestling-plumage) then fol- 
lowed, making her attacks with more vigour and determination. 
We found three eggs, one addled, and two a good deal in- 

The late Mr. A. Anderson wrote that " the Jugger breeds in 
high trees, in the absence of cliffs, during January and February, 
laying usually four eggs. In size they are intermediate between 
those of F. pereyrinus and F. islandicus, and not unlike Hewitson's 
plate of that bird's egg. I have never seen this Falcon build its 
own nest on trees, but have invariably found it take possession of 
the old nests of Gyps bengalensis, or of Milvus govinda. Generally 
speaking, it is not even re-lined ; but it is worth mentioning that 
one nest examined in my presence, in which the eggs were tole- 
rably well incubated, was comfortably and warmly lined with 
several handfuls of small feathers." 

He subsequently wrote : "In allusion to my former notes re- 
garding this Falcon taking possession of old nests of Gyps benga- 
lensis, Milvus govinda, &c., 1 may mention that my friend Mr. 
Spry, on the 15th January, took an egg of F.jugger from the nest 
of 0. calvus, flushing the Vulture off her nest. I have only once 
taken five eggs of this Falcon, and on this occasion the bird had 
selected a ledge in a high mud-cliff which overlooked the Ganges. 
Within 2 or 3 feet of the head of the sitting bird was suspended 
the nest of Arachnechthra asiatica, which contained two eggs." 

I once noticed a curious trait in this bird. On the 2nd of 
March, 1866, near Soj, in the Mynpoorie district, I found a nest 
of these birds on what had been a large peepul-tree, but which, 
owing to the continual cutting of its branches for the elephants of 
the Chohan Rajahs of the neighbourhood, had become a gaunt, 
white, spectre-like thing with two or three huge nearly bare arms, 
each with a dense cluster of leafy twigs near the extremity, and 
smaller similar clusters at odd angles of the branches. The tree 
stood solitary in the midst of a wide tract of land overflowed 
during the rains, but at the time I speak of waste and parched, 
with no other vegetation for a good mile in any direction but 
patches of down-trodden, withered rush. The nest was in one of 
the highest clusters. The male was sitting on the broad bare 

FALCO. 189 

bough, about 6 feet below it, tearing a Roller (Coracias indica) to 
pieces ; and I may mention that, when examined, this bird proved 
to have had the whole head, neck, and upper part of the body 
eat on ; the wings, tail, and lower portion of the body were alto- 
gether uninjured. J shot the male, and he fell flat on the bough. 
A man was sent up, who threw the male down; still there were 
no signs of the female, and I called to the man to search the nest 
for eggs. As he placed his hand at the side of the nest, which he 
could only just reach, the female suddenly appeared from the hol- 
low of the nest, and stood upon its margin. The man drew back 
rather startled, the female turned towards the inside of the nest, 
gave a vicious drive at it with her bill, and flew off. Oh taking 
the eggs, it appeared that she had driven her powerful bill into 
one of them, making a triangular hole, each side of which measured 
about | inch. The female must have seen her mate shot, and 
have felt, perhaps from the man still coming to the nest after 
securing the male, that he intended to rob it. Did she break the 
egg herself in anger ? The eggs were nearly ready to hatch off. 
Had she, perchance, some glimmering idea that she might let the 
chick out and thus save it ? It is impossible to say ; but a whole 
party of us witnessed the fact, and it seems worthy of record. 
"What struck me fully as much in this case was that, though the 
male was in the act of tearing the Roller to pieces, and though 
the whole ground for many yards round the tree was strewed 
with feathers of Pigeons, Doves, and Hollers, a pair of Doves (T. 
risoriti) had a nest with young ones in another leafy cluster of this 
same tree, and another pair were sitting calmly on two bare sprays, 
not 15 feet from where the male, whom they could not help seeing, 
was devouring his prey. Had the Roller always been his prey, 
one might have understood their fearlessness ; but around the 
tree lay the feathers of, I should say, at least fifty individuals of 
their own species. That the Falcons must designedly have spared 
their fellow-tenants is clear ; the two birds, however wary and 
watchful, could never have built their nest, hatched their young, 
and partly reared these latter in safety, within 30 feet of the 
Falcon's nest, unless these latter had allowed them to do so abso- 
lutely without molestation; for, had one of the pair only once been 
set upon or pursued, they would assuredly have deserted the 
nest. The natives declared that this pair of Doves were left by 
the Falcon as decoys, and that the other pair were strangers, who 
would probably soon have fallen victims to the confidence en- 
gendered by seeing the resident birds rearing their young in 

Colonel Delrne Radcliffe, however, tells me that "it is always 
the case with the larger Falcons that their fellow -tenants of a rock 
or a tree are safe from molestation, and in the breeding-season 
actually look to them for protection. As an exemplification of 
this I may mention the following: At the two longitudinally 
separated ends of the Isle of "Wight are two Falcons' nests (F. 
, one at the Culvers, the other at Freshwater. In the 


neighbourhood of the nest, in each case, innumerable Sea- fowl, 
Kestrels, Jackdaws, &c., breed peacefully, while the Falcon's nest 
contains evidence that these same species form their young ones' 
food. But the going out and coming in of the Falcons causes no 
alarm among the tenants of the face of the cliff for 6 miles or 
more. I have seen them skimming about under a Falcon, in a 
position to stoop, apparently in the most tempting and enticing 
manner. But let a Falcon from the other end of the Island 
appear, and a scream of alarm from thousands of tenements brings 
out Falcon and Tiercel, and the clamour subsides as they swoop 
away over the sea to thrash the stranger, sometimes for miles, and 
on their return no ornithologist, not on the look-out, would be 
aware that a Falcon was approaching. The same is the case with 
all Hawks that have taken up their abode at a place. I kept a 
Shaheen at hack here for some time, but I never knew, while 
sitting in my house, by any commotion among my neighbours' 
Pigeons and the Crows, &c., which inhabit the neighbourhood, 
when my own Falcon was going out or coming home, at least 
after she had been at liberty for a week, while I always had 
instant notice of the approach of a wild Peregrine or Shaheen." 

Mr. Scrope Doig writes from Sind : " Found over a dozen 
nests of this species between the 10th and 26th February. They 
were all, with one exception, built on tombs situated out on the 
bare plains. The one exception was when the nest was built in 
the fork of a pollarded kundy tree." 

Colonel E. A. Butler remarks : " I took a nest of the Luggar 
Falcon near Deesa on the 24th March, containing three fully- 
fledged young birds. It was placed on the top of a tree about 
30 feet from the ground, and as usual consisted of a good-sized 
structure of dead sticks. One of the old birds invariably sat on 
the tree close to the nest, keeping guard whilst the other was 
away hunting for food, dashing at any bird of any size that ven- 
tured within a radius of about 200 yards. Most of these birds 
breed with us in January and February." 

He continues : "Feb. 7th, 1878, visited a nest on the church- 
steeple, Karachi, and took two fresh eggs. The nest was built 
on one of the ledges of the tower, about 40 feet from the summit, 
with the lightning-conductor running through the centre of it to 
prevent its being blown away by the high winds, and having been 
used for many years, and annually renewed, was an immense 
stick-structure as large as a Kite's nest. 

" On the 23rd idem I revisited it, and took another fresh egg. 
The birds then took possession of a Kite's nest on the station 
flagstaff, about 200 yards off, and laid two more eggs, which I also 
secured. On the 24th idem I took three slightly-incubated eggs 
from another nest in the same neighbourhood, built on a ledge on 
the side of a low cliff about 30 feet from the ground, and within 
arm's reach of the top of the cliff. I found one or two othei 
nests during the same month, one on the church at Hydrabad, 
and another on a tree in the same neighbourhood." 

FALCO. 191 

Messrs. Davidson and AVeuden, writing of the Deccan, say : 
" Found first nest, with one fresh egg, on 4th January, and last, 
with three almost fresh eggs, on 14th March. 

" On the last nest, built in a neem-tree, about 12 feet high, the 
male bird was sitting, while the female was perched on another 
tree 100 yards away." 

Mr. J. C. Parker notes : " Three fresh eggs were taken from 
what appeared to be a Vulture's nest in a peepul-tree close to 
Calcutta on the 18th January, 1874. Another nest was found on 
the 23rd idem high up on a Casuarina-tree in the Magistrate's 
compound, Dum Dum, containing three fresh eggs. The man 
who was sent up had a regular battle with the female, striking her 
repeatedly on the head with a stick before he could induce her to 
quit the nest." 

The normal number of eggs is four ; but while five are occa- 
sionally found, the bird often sits on only three ; and once I took 
two eggs, ready to hatch off, out of a very old pair's nest, that in 
former seasons had always contained the full number. In colour 
the eggs vary much, as indeed do those of all true Falcons. The 
usual type is a reddish, brownish, or yellowish-brown ground, very 
thickly speckled and spotted all over with a darker and richer 
shade of the ground-colour. The spots are often more crowded 
at one end than the other, producing occasionally the effect of a 
clouded cap ; some, in addition to the multitudinous specks, ex- 
hibit bold red blotches, or dark streaky clouds, and some again are 
very feebly coloured, a nearly uniform pale dingy buff, with scarcely 
a trace of blotches or even specks of a darker hue. In shape, the 
eggs are commonly a broad oval, slightly more pointed at one end, 
of a dull, glossless, and slightly chalky, but still compact texture. 
The egg-lining is white or slightly reddish white. 

Elsewhere 1 have thus described the eggs : " No very great 
variation in shape is observable in the eggs of the species. They 
are all a somewhat broad, but generally very perfect oval. In 
texture they are rather fine, but at the same time (if I may so 
express it) chalky, and they are perfectly devoid of gloss. The 
eggs, as a rule, are a longer oval than those of Falco peregrinus, 
and are scarcely ever so richly coloured as the latter often are. 
The coloration is, of course, of the true Falcon type. Some eggs 
are of a nearly uniform pale dingy yellowish brown, blanching 
towards one extremity or the other, indistinctly clouded, blotched, 
or mottled with a somewhat deeper and redder brown. Others 
are a nearly uniform red-brown, with scarcely any traces of dis- 
tinct markings ; others have a nearly pure white, reddish-white, 
pale dingy yellow, brownish-yellow, or reddish-brown ground, 
more or less boldly, extensively, and thickly blotched and clouded, 
or even freckled, mottled, and streaked with more or less bright or 
deep, brick- or blood-red. As a rule, the markings are not very 
bold or sharply defined ; in but few is there any decided tendency 
towards capping at either end, and all have a more or less freckled 
and dotted appearance. These eggs fade much as time passes, 


but when first found many of them are, to an oologist's eye, 
perfect pictures." 

In size they vary from 1*85 to 2*15 inches in length, and from 
1'48 to 1-65 inch in breadth; but of ninety-eight eggs measured 
the average size was 2*01 by 1'57 inch. 

Falco chicquera, Baud. The Red-headed Merlin. 

Hypotriorchis chicquera (Daud.), Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 36. 
Chiquera typus, Bp., Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 16. 

The Toorumtee or Red-headed Merlin breeds from January to 
May, the majority, I think, laying in March. I have myself 
as yet obtained no egg earlier than the 15th February, or later than 
the 15th of May ; and all those obtained in May were from the 
Punjab, where many birds breed later than in more southern parts 
of the country. 

They nest, I believe, exclusively on trees. I have seen no record 
of their building on rocks, as so many of the Falcons often do ; 
and I once took a nest in the Sewaliks in a peepul-tree, at the foot 
of a cliff, full of ledges and boulder-holes, which, had the bird any 
sort of inclination for such localities, would have been sure to 
have attracted it. 

Where such occur, they prefer large trees peepul, mango, and 
tamarind (more commonly the two latter), usually selecting one 
of a small group standing by itself. In the Punjab and E-aj poo- 
tana, where large trees are scarce, their nests may be found on 
mere bushes, not above 10 feet from the ground. 

The nest is generally firmly fixed in a fork near the top of the 
tree, and is typically a very neat, compact, and characteristic 
structure ; it is usually circular, some 12 inches in diameter, and 
from 6 to 9 inches in thickness, with a deep egg-cavity, from 5 to 
6 inches in diameter, and from 3 to 3*5 in depth ; but I have seen 
some nests, comparatively thin platforms, with only a depression 
of 1'5 to 2 inches in depth towards the centre. The lower portion 
of the nest is constructed of pretty stout twigs, of various kinds of 
wood, closely put together ; the upper portion of finer twigs still 
more closely interwoven. The egg-cavity or depressien is lined 
with fine roots or vegetable fibre, the roots of the khus grass 
(Andropogon muricatum) being commonly chosen for this purpose, 
along with straw, a few feathers, and occasionally a shred or two 
of cloth, the lining being firmly intertwined with the twigs forming 
the walls of the cavity. 

These birds make, I think, their own nests fresh and fresh every 
year. I have repeatedly seen them building new nests in trees 
containing very nice last year's nests of Crows and other birds, and 
though I have very often looked them up again, I have not as yet 
ever found a nest tenanted by the Toorumtee during two successive 
seasons. Both sexes assist in building, and they make no little 
fuss about the placing of each twig that is brought up. The 

FALCO. 193 

normal number of the eggs is four ; but I have found the female 
sitting on only three. Two nests, each containing five eggs, have 
been reported to me ; but these are very exceptional. 

Mr. William Blewitt mentions taking several nests of this bird, 
which at Jlansie is known as the Koohee (a name elsewhere applied 
to the Shaheen), in March, April, and May. The nests were 
placed on peepul and jhand trees, at heights of from 10 to 24 feet 
from the ground ; most of them were scantily and loosely, but one 
or two densely and compactly, constructed of fine babool and other 
twigs, lined with fine straw, feathers, and a few rags, and 
measured from 8 to 10 inches in diameter, with a cavity from 2 to 
3 inches deep. None contained more than four, and one had only 
three, much incubated, eggs. 

The late Mr. Anderson remarked that it " breeds generally in 
February and March. The few nests discovered by me, I attribute 
solely to the fuss made by these little Falcons, as they are most 
pugnacious and noisy during the breeding-season, actually attacking 
Kites and Crows at a considerable distance from the tree they 
have monopolized. On two occasions my tent happened to be 
pitched in a mango-tope, where a pair of Toorumtees were busy 
building, and I found them a perfect nuisance, as they were 
incessantly darting out and driving away all manner of imaginary 
enemies. The nest is generally placed in a leafy clump near 
the top of a tree (by preference the mango), and it is by no means 
easy of detection. Four is the usual complement of eggs they lay ; 
and in size and appearance some in my collection would easily do 
duty for those of Falco subbuteo as figured by Hewitson. On 
the whole, there appears to be the same relation between the eggs 
of this bird and of the Jugger Falcon, as there is between the eggs 
of the Peregrine and the Kestrel. 

" Mr. Hume states that he has as yet obtained no egg earlier 
than the 15th of February. It is, indeed, strange that the only 
three nests taken by me were all before that date, one of them 
actually as early as the 9th of January last. One of these 
deserves special notice. I was returning home late on the evening 
of the 4th of February last, when my a f tention was attracted by 
the familiar cry of one of these birds, which I found was attacking 
a common Kite in the most furious manner, at a considerable 
height in the air. The only tree for a mile round was a gigantic 
solitary mango ; and no sooner had I sent my man up the tree, 
than the little Falcon flew straight to her nest, quite prepared to 
hold her ground. The nest contained two fresh eggs ; but one of 
them had a largish hole on one side, exactly like what would be 
made by the beak of a bird ; and through this aperture I blew the 
specimen. I imagine the Toorumtee had done this from anger, 
when it saw that the nest was about to be robbed." 

Colonel E. A. Butler writes : " I found a nest of the Eed- 
headed Merlin near Deesa on the 23rd March, containing four 
young birds about three weeks old, so that the eggs must have 
been laid about the end of the first week in February. The nest 

TOL. III. 13 


from which I took the young ones above mentioned was of con- 
siderable size, made of dead sticks and placed at the top and near 
the centre of a tall tree about 50 feet from the ground. The 
parent birds evinced great anxiety whilst the nest was being 
robbed, flying round and round the tree uttering their shrill 
Kestrel-like note. Another nest, similar in structure and in an 
exactly similar situation, near Deesa, 16th April, containing four 
young birds almost ready to fly. 

" Belgaum District, March 1880, three fresh eggs." 
Major C. T. Bingham, writing from Delhi, says : " On the 
27th March I found a nest of this bird, placed on a tall slender 
babool-tree close to a pathway leading from one of the gates of 

Mr. Benjamin Aitken sends the following note : " This note 
should be an important addition to your * Eough Draft,' for I 
have to record an instance of a pair of Toorumtees building in an 
old nest, though whether their own or a Crow's, I am unable 
to say. The nest was in the topmost twigs on one side of a very 
large tamarind-tree at Akola, Berar. The birds took possession of 
the nest early in September 1869, and guarded it jealously for five 
months, often getting into the nest and allowing neither Crow nor 
Kite to approach the tree. In February 1870, the female bird 
seemed to be oftener in the nest than usual, though 1 had almost 
given up watching them. On the 18th of the month a man went 
up and found four young birds in the nest covered with down. 
They were not disturbed, and left the nest when fully feathered. 

" I may say that this nest was in our own compound, and that 
I saw the birds every day from September to February. They 
were rarely away from the nest, always perching on the twigs 
within a foot or two of it, and brought all their prey and ate it 

Mr. J. Aitken, writing from Akola, says : " I see that you say 
that in Upper India the Toorumtee usually builds its own nest. 
In this neighbourhood, however, they more commonly select the 
old nest of a Crow." 

And Messrs. Davidson and Wenden write from the Deccan : 
" Very common, breeding abundantly all over the districts. First 
nest observed on 28th February, and the last 28th March. Four 
nests, each contained three fresh eggs. Some birds certainly breed 
prior to the first date." 

The eggs vary somewhat in shape, but are generally, I think, 
much like those of a common hen, though perhaps slightly 
narrower and of course much smaller. In colour, they vary from 
very pale yellowish brown, with just a few reddish-brown specks, 
to a nearly uniform dark brownish red, obscurely mottled arid 
blotched with a somewhat purer and darker red ; typically they 
may be said to have a reddish-white ground, so thickly freckled 
and speckled with dull brownish red as to leave but little of the 
ground-colour visible. Often they have a sort of ring of more or 
less feeble blotches near the large end, and at times a zone of 


rather higher colour than the rest of the egg near the middle. 
The eggs are normally a long oval, and, with the exception of 
shape, which is invariably less round than those of that species, 
the eggs of the Toorumtee are perfect miniatures of the Luggar's. 
As far as colouring goes, every egg of the former, in my collection, 
can be matched by some one of the latter 's that I possess. In 
size and colouring they remind us not a little of the eggs of 
the Merlin; but, as a rule, they are somewhat narrower than 
thr>e, and a greater number of them belong to the dingy, yellowish 
brown, Falcon type, and fewer to the deep red type. 

In length they vary from 1-6 to 1'75 inch, and in breadth from 
1'2<> to 1*33 inch; but the average of forty-four eggs measured 
was 1'66 by 1*27 inch. 

Tinnunculus alaudarius (Linn.). The Kestrel. 

Tinnunculus alaudarius (Linn.\ Jerd. E. Ind. i, p. 38; Hume, 
Draft N. $ E. no. 17. 

The Kestrel, I have now ascertained, breeds throughout the 
Himalayas from Afghanistan to Sikhim, in the Sulliman range, 
and the hills that divide Sindh from Khelat, and in the Nilghiris. 
In the Himalayas it lays in April, May, and June ; in the Nil- 
ghiris it lajs as early as the last week in February, in March, and 

The nest is almost invariably placed on rocky ledges or small 
holes in cliffs ; but I have well-authenticated accounts of its nest 
having been taken in ruined buildings both in Cashmere and 
Kumaon, and even in a tree in Murree. In the Himalayas its 
nest is seldom found (so far as my experience extends) below 
7000 feet ; but in the Nilghiris it breeds at a somewhat lower 
elevation, as at Kotagherry and Xeddivatam. In the Himalayas 
some nests may be found up to nearly 10,000 feet ; in the Nilghiris 
they are to be found in suitable places as high as these occur, say 
7500 feet. 

The full number of eggs varies from three to six ; but five is, I 
think, the usual number. 

The nest is round, oblong, or semicircular, according to the 
shape of the site chosen, and is a thicker or thinner platform from 
12 to 20 inches in diameter, and 2 to 6 in thickness, made of 
small twigs, in which grass, roots, rags, and, as Mr. E. Thompson 
informs me, at times strips of cloth, | yard in length, are incor- 
porated, and serve as lining. 

In one case (a nest I myself found close to Simla) there was 
very little nest at all only a few sticks with a little grass, two or 
three pieces of rags, and a few feathers. 

Captain Huttoii remarks : " The Kestrel is very common, both 
in the outer hills and the Doon ; at Mussoorie I have known it to 
breed upon a lofty ledge of rocks above the Superintendent's 
offices.'* 5 



Mr. W. Theobald manes the following remark on the breeding 
of this bird in the valley of Cashmere : " Lays in the third week 
of April ; eggs, six in number, blunt ovato-pyriform ; measuring 
from 1-51 to 1'68 inch in length, and from 1'22 to T27 inch in 
breadth ; colour, pale reddish brown, freckled and blotched with 
brownish red. Nest, hole in serai wall of Thanna, south of 
Blramgaala, Shahabad, and valley generally." 

The late Dr. F. Stoliczka remarked that " Tinnunculug alau,- 
darius is common all through the North-western Himalayas, on the 
southern side as well as in West Tibet. I found this common 
European Hawk breeding near Chini in narrow crevices of rocks. 
The eggs are dirty white, mottled and irregularly spotted with reddisli 
brown. The young birds vary extremely in colour of their 
plumage ; but the old ones are in every way identical with those 
from Europe." 

Prom Dhurumsala the late Major Cock wrote : " This bird 
remains with us all the year round, although it retires higher up the 
mountain during the month of May. 1 noticed a pair of birds about 
a precipice some two or three times, and concluded that they 
built there. On the 27th of May I went with a rope, and found 
that there were three young ones, only a few days old, in a niche 
in the precipice that was overhung with grass, rendering the 
entrance to the nest difficult to be seen. This nest was on the 
mountains, at a height of 7000 feet above the sea-level, and L 
doubt their breeding lower down, though an officer assured me he 
saw a Kestrel breeding on a cliff on the banks of the Beas in 
February. I found another nest, at about 8000 feet elevation, on 
the ^7tri of May, with one egg in it. I had watched the birds 
pairing some days before, and with the help of a rope managed to 
secure the solitary egg. On the 5th of June I sent up a party, 
who got three more eggs out of this same nest. Two of the eggs, 
the largest and smallest, measured 1-55 by 1-16 inch and 1-35 by 
1-1 4 inch." 

Mr. E. Thompson sends me the following : " The Kestrel 
breeds in this country, preferring the shelving of a rock to any 
other situation. I have seen the nest and young on the precipices 
of the Sewaliks. A dozen nests might be pointed out on the 
precipices overhanging the Kossilla river between Kbyrna and the 
Lat Bridge. In the valley here noted, it may be seen breeding in 
company with the Neophron. 

" At Pooree, in the interior of Gurhwal, a Kestrel carried off a 
large piece of apugree belonging to one of my shikarees and took 
it off to its nest, whence it was recovered by the fellow letting 
himself down by a rope. I was witness to the whole transaction. 
At Nynee Tal, two pairs breed yearly ; one on the western preci- 
pices, the other on the south-eastern, not far from where I live." 

Mr. Thompson remarks that this species is " common during 
the cold weather in all parts of the Central Provinces. I doubt if 
these birds leave the mountainous parts of these provinces for 
breeding purposes, as I have seen couples hanging about near 


precipices from April to June, after which I returned to head- 
quarters, and have never found the nests." 

-Mr. Thompson here refers to the Satpooras, the Meikle 
Range, &c. 

Writing from Murree, Colonel C. H. T. Marshall remarks : 
" The Kestrel usually builds in rocks, but we have found a nest 
about 60 feet up a pine-tree, with five hard-set eggs in it, of a 
much duller, dirtier brown than usual. This was on the 14th June. 
The nest was apparently one originally belonging to Corvus macro- 

Major Wardlaw-Ramsay says, writing of Afghanistan, " Breed- 
ing in May ;'' and Lieut. H. E. Barnes informs us that he procured 
the eggs in that country. 

Mr. Benjamin Aitken writes: "You say of the Kestrel in 
your ' Nests and Eggs/ 'I am also informed (but do not vouch 
for the fact) that it breeds near Mahableshwur.' 

" I beg, with all deference, to assert that the fact of the Kestrel 
breedingat Siugurh (twelve miles south of Poona,elevation'4 162 feet) 
is as certain as any fact of the kind could be, until you have taken 
the eggs. I went to Singurh for one day on the 26th May, and at 
the back of the fort, where there is a sheer descent of cliff of 
fearful depth, a pair of Kestrels had taken up their station, and 
were making the air ring with their screams as they pursued Kites, 
Hawks, and Vultures that appeared in sight. They repeatedly 
sailed just within a few yards of where I was standing, so that 
there could be no mistake about the birds, which always returned 
to the same spot on the face of the cliff about 50 feet below. I 
had neither men nor ropes, but could the fact of the pair having 
a nest have been better established by my procuring the eggs or 
youug ones ? 

" 1 saw a pair of Kestrels about the cliffs at Khandalla, on the 
Bhore Ghat, in June 1871, and my brother, E. H. Aitken, 
observed a pair hanging about the same cliffs last month. I have 
not personally the slightest doubt that Kestrels in the Deccan and 
Konkan retire to that part of the Western Ghats and to all the 
outlying hills every hot season ; and I hope some day to have the 
time and enterprise to send you eggs taken within a hundred 
miles of Bombay." 

Writing of the Deccan, Messrs. Davidson and Wenden say : 
" Common throughout the district in the cold weather, and D. 
thinks it breeds at Mahableshwur." 

Mr. J. Darling, Junior, informs me that he has " twice taken a 
nest in the neighbourhood of Xeddivatam (Xilghiris), at an eleva- 
tion of about 6500 feet first, on the 21st February, 1869 ; secon'U,^ 
on the 1st March, 1870. The nest, for it was the same that 
I robbed in two successive seasons, was placed in a natural hollow 
on the top of a dead stump, about 14 feet from the ground. It 
was circular, and composed of a few pieces of sticks, some dry 
grasses and fibres, and was about 8 inches in diameter, and had a 
depression about 4 inches deep, which contained four eggs, having 


a dirty white ground, speckled and blotched all over with brownish 

Prom Kotagherry Miss Cockburn says : " I have noticed that 
a pair of these birds appropriate a certain cliff or precipice, and 
breed there year after year. One pair have thus built on a nearly 
perpendicular cliff, some hundred feet in height, placing their 
nest in a small cleft about -halfway up. One of the two birds 
always keeps watch over the nest even before any eggs are laid in 
it ; the nest is inaccessible to ordinary mortals, but last year I 
sent for a couple of Kurumbas, and they very soon secured both 
nest and eggs. 

" The nest was composed of straws, a very few feathers, and 
some small pieces of dirty rags, rudely collected together. Its 
foundation was on a rock, so it needed no other. It was taken on 
the last day of February. It contained four eggs. Three of the 
eggs were very much alike, having a dark reddish ground and 
darker spots ; but one was considerably lighter, with large blotches 
at the smaller end instead of at the larger, as is usually the case." 

Mr. Davison tells me that the pertinacity with which these 
birds return year after year to the same nest is remarkable. At 
Neddivatam there was a nest that had been robbed for four 
successive years by Mr. Morgan, in which he again found the 
. Kestrels laying in' the fifth year. He says, too, that though this 
is not always the case, he thinks that after the first set of eggs 
have been taken, this species, unlike other Falcons, often lays a 
second time. 

Mr. A. Gr. Cardew adds the following note : " Breeds on the 
Nilghiri Hills, January to March.'' 

Major Wardlaw-Bamsay says: "The Kestrel is very abun- 
dant in Karen-nee, where the rocky precipices afford it good 
nesting-places.' It is by no means common in the plains." 

The eggs resemble those of Falco chicquera, but are smaller, 
slightly broader, and less uniform in their colour. In shape they 
are broad ovals, more or less pointed or compressed towards one 
end. The ground-colour is a darker or lighter brick- or blood-red, 
blotched, or mottled and freckled with a deeper shade of the same 
colour, the blotches being in some eggs strongly defined and well 
marked, and the whole tint of the egg being in some specimens 
browner and yellower than I have above described. The eggs are 
glossless, and the shell, though fine and compact, has the sort of 
chalky texture noticed in the eggs of F.juc/yer and F. chicquera. 

The eggs vary from 1/46 to 1/65 inch in length, and from 1-13 to 
1*30 inch in breadth ; the average of nineteen eggs measured being 
1-57 by 1-21 inch. 

GYPS. ] 99 


Gyps fulvescsns, Hume. The Bay Vulture. 
Gyps f ulvescens, Hume ; Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 3 bis. 

The Bay Vulture breeds, doubtless, all over the drier and more 
desert portions of Sindh, Rajpootana, the Punjab, the Xorth-west 
and Central Provinces. 

Of its nidification I can say little. Mr. E-. Thompson informs 
me that on the Satpoora range of the Central Provinces it breeds 
in January and February, building a large platform stick-nest on 
the lofty sal trees that there abound. 80 far as my own experience 
goes, it breeds in February and the first half of March. Its nest, 
a huge platform of sticks, was placed, in the only three instances 
which I know of, near the top of a very large peepul (Ficus religiosa) 
tree. Both uests that I found were solitary, as was that found 
by Colonel C. H. T. Marshall. The nests are between 2'5 and 3 
feet in diameter, some 6 to 10 inches in depth, constructed of 
sticks and twigs, and without any lining. The nests that I found 
on the 12th and 21st March contained a single young bird each. 
It is to Colonel Marshall that I owe the only egg I possess. He 
says : " The nest was found on the 14th March on the top of a 
large peepul-tree (some 40 feet from the ground), in the Shah- 
baloul gardens near Lahore. It contained a single egg nearly 
ready to hatch off, the bill of the young one being actually pro- 

The egg is a very perfect oval, a good deal larger than that of 
Otoyyps calvus or Pseudoyyps benyalensis, and the texture appears 
to be finer than that of the eggs of any of our other Indian 
Vultures. jSTo positive conclusion, however, can be arrived at 
from the examination of a single egg. 

The egg is of the usual Vult urine type, pale bluish white, but 
with a faint gloss ; it is altogether unspotted, but was extensively 
soiled and discoloured from the droppings of the parent bird. It 
measures 3'5 by 2-8 inches. 

Major Bingham more recently found a nest of this Vulture. 
He says : " On the 18th March I found a nest of this Vulture 
placed on a solitary peepul, standing in the middle of a plain not 
far from the left bank of the Jumna, opposite the village of 
Wuzeerabad. The nest was a large rough unlined structure of 
boughs and branches, larger than, but very like that of, P. ben- 
galensis. It contained a single hard-set dirty-white egg, which 
measured 3'78 inches by 2-68 inches. I shot the old female as 
she moved off the nest." 


Gyps himalayensis, Hume. The Large Himalayan Vulture. 

Gyps himalayensis, Hume ; Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 3 ; Cat . 
"no. 3 ter. 

The Roc, as I have called our largest Himalayan Vulture (long 
confounded with G. fulvm, Q-mel., of Europe and Africa, the 
well-known Griffon), lays during the last week in December, the 
whole of January and February, and the first week in March. As 
a rule, however, by the end of February the nests contain young, 
huge, gosling-looking creatures, thickly clad in long dingy yello\v 

The nest, where there is one, is ordinarily a huge platform of 
sticks (at times the property, in past years, of some Eagle or 
Falcon, which the early nesting Vultures have seized upon long 
before the rightful owners have even begun to think of their 
annual matrimonial duties), placed, I believe invariably, on a rocky 
ledge of some bold precipice in the Himalayas, at least 3000 feet 
above the sea. At times the whole nest consists of a few twigs or 
roots, or a little grass, and occasionally the egg reposes on the bare 
ground. I have never yet heard of their nesting on trees. 
Though generally gregarious in their breeding-habits, large num- 
bers rarely appear to breed together. Six is the greatest number 
of nests I have yet known of in one single locality. In this 
respect they differ from G. indicus, of which usually from 10 to 
30 pairs breed close alongside each other. 

West of Nepal they breed in suitable localities ah 1 over the 
Himalayas ; Mr. E. Thompson mentions having seen their nests in 
the neighbourood of Nynee Tal. From near Chakrata, an egg has 
recently been sent to me. My dear friend, Colonel G. F. L. Mar- 
shall, nearly lost his life examining a breeding-haunt near Kus- 
sowlee. I have seen their nests in many places in the interior, in 
Gurhwal, Teree, Bussahir, and Kooloo, and I have had the eggs 
taken behind Mahasoo and near Narkunda. Long ago, the late 
Major Cock, who probably took more eggs of this species than 
any one else, wrote to me as follows : 

"In April 1867 I was at a pic-nic in the Kumara slate-quarries 
(near Dhurumsala), and there noticed a nest of Gyps fulvus ; the 
old bird was sitting at the time ; the nest was a mass of sticks and 
dirt, placed on a shelf of rock under an overhanging precipice. 
Some idea of the magnitude of the precipice I can give you. 
When standing at the foot I could not nearly fling a stone up to 
where the nest was, and yet it was more than halfway down from 
the top. I got long ropes and hill-men, and a venturous plains- 
man (hill-men would not look at it) went over. After dangling 
in mid-air for some time, he contrived to get hold of a creeper 
with his toes, and by means of that pulled himself onto the ledge ; 
then creeping along the ledge, he got to the nest, and went quite 
close to it ; the Vulture at last flew off, leaving a young one covered 
with dingy yellow down, and looking like a huge gosling. I left 
the young one, and took measures for securing the eggs in 1868. 

GYPS. 201 

On the 25th February, I went out and saw that this year there 
were two nests on the ledge. I then, on the 28th February, got 
long ropes reaching from the top of the precipice to the bottom, and 
with the aid of a long bamboo, with a bag at the end, we fished the 
>ut of the nests ; a man having been pulled up from below for 
that purpose. There was only one egg in each nest." Major 
Cock found the birds breeding earlier in 1869 than in the previous 
year. On the 20th February he found four nests ; one had an egg, 
in the other three the old birds were sitting close. Next day, 
taking ropes and men, he visited the nests. In No. 1, the egg 
had hatched off ; No. 2 contained a young one of some live or six 
days old ; and No. 4, one fully a week old. No. 3 alone contained 
an egg, and that even would have hatched off probably in another 
clay, and contained a live fully-formed chick. 

Later, Major Cock sent me the following further note on the 
niditication of this species: " I find that the nests of this bird 
vary much in their character, some being large masses of sticks, 
others only a few roots and grass ; and, again, the egg is some- 
times laid on the dust of some dry, well-sheltered ledge. In all 
- there is a shelter for the young by some overhanging ledge. 
The nests are occasionally close to each other, but very seldom ; 
yet many pairs will be found breeding in one nullah on the steep 
precipices on either side. The old bird sits very close indeed ; on 
one occasion it was not till I put out my foot towards the old 
bird that she got off her egg, and then she did not take wing, but 
only moved some three yards further up, and on my turning round 
to go back, she immediately returned and sat on the spot where her 
egg had been placed. I fancy that this bird is the most powerful 
of all the Vultures. A nest that I was watching, belonging to 
(ft/paetus barlatus, was taken possession of by a pair of G. hima- 
layensis ; they commenced throwing out the wool that had been 
placed in the nest, and for some days one Vulture at least might 
always be seen on the nest, and occasionally both. I often saw 
the Lammergeyers try and effect a lodgment on the nest, but the 
Vulture on sentry had only to come to the front to drive the 
Lanimergeyer off. This pair of birds were both young birds. I 
have observed the old and young birds pairing together. In one 
case, the female was quite a young bird with the stripey brown 
breast, while the male was the palest of his tribe. The variation 
in the colour of this bird is considerable, and I do not think they 
attain their natural pale colour till they are four or five years old. 
I have not noticed that the coloration of their eggs is influenced 
in anywise by the age of the parent, as a particularly large grey 
pair laid a very small egg with the faintest of rusty spots at the 
larger eud. The old and young birds just mentioned laid a large 
white egg." 

The bird lays a single egg ; as indeed all true Vultures here 
invariably seem to do. 

The eggs of this species are larger than those of any of our 
other Indian Vultures. 


In shape they vary a great deal, as indeed do those of all 
the Vultures, but they seem to be normally rather long and 
pointed ovals. 

The texture of the shell appears coarser than that of the eggs 
of either G. indie us, G. fulvescens, P. benyalensis, or 0. calvus. 
The ground-colour is the usual greenish or greyish white of all the 
true Vultures. 

8ome are entirely devoid of markings, but fully two-thirds are 
more or less blotched or streaked with brighter or duller shades of 
red-brown, or with pale brown or olive-brown. Perhaps one in 
ten are blotched all over, and two in ten have a considerable 
amount of markings, confluent at one or other end. 

In size they vary from 3'58 to 4-08 inches in length, and from 
2-38 to 3'1 inches in breadth. The average of twenty-five eggs 
measured is 3-70 by 2*75 inches. 

Gyps indicus (Scop.). The Long-billed Vulture. 
Gyps indicus (Scop.\ Jerd. B. Ind. i, p. 9 ; Hume, Cat. no. 4. 

Common as this Vulture is, I have only one note on its iiidifica- 
tion. Mr. J. C. Parker writes : " On the banks of the beautiful 
lake at Mogra, situated in the extreme N.E. corner of the 24 
Pergunnahs, I discovered these birds breeding on the 20th January 
of this year. The nests were all built on cotton-trees with one 
exception, and this was on a peepul ; the latter was so large and 
the foliage so dense, that I did not discover it until my second visit 
to the lake on the llth February, when it had a young one just 
hatched in it. In no instance did I observe more than one nest on 
a tree, and the nests themselves were all of the same construction, 
made up of boughs broken off fresh, the leaves still adhering but 
of course quite withered. This circumstance gave the nests a very 
snug and compact appearance, unlike those of Pseudogyps benyal- 
ensis, which always have, as far as my experience goes, a consider- 
able quantity of sticks worked into them. I only secured two eggs 
on this occasion, dirty white in colour and measuring 3'60 by 2*90 
and 3'20 by 2-60 ; the large egg hard-set, the other fresh. I shot 
both the birds sitting on the nests. One proved to be a male, weighing 
lb| Ibs. ; the other, of which the sex could not be satisfactorily 
identified, weighed 14| Ibs. As the time left is but short after 
marching some ten miles as the crow flies from the station at 
Muddapore, E. B. By., to the lake, I was unable to beat up the 
quarters of a colony of these birds, plainly visible across the lake 
about two miles off, so had to defer that pleasure until my next 
visit (llth February). The nests, six in number, were all on cotton- 
trees, which at this season were naked and bare of leaves. Each 
nest had a single young one in it a few days old. Doubtless 
there were many more nests in the neighbourhood, but the trees are 
all of very large size, so that unless separately examined the nests, 
in spite of their size, are not easily seen." 

GYPS. 203 

The eggs are broad ovals, usually very symmetrical, sometimes 
slightly pointed towards one end. The shell is very hard and 
strong, but, compared with that of the eggs of Gyps pallescens, 
rather coarse-grained. They ran rather smaller also, I think, than 
these. The colour is nearly pure white, with just a faint greyish 
tinge, and very few eggs seem to show markings. 

Eight eggs vary from 3'39 to 3*62 in length, and from 2-68 to 
2-78 in breadth. 

Gyps pallescens, Hume. The Pallid Vulture. 

Gyps indicus (Scop.), apud Hume, Rough Draft N. 4" E. no. 4. 
Gyps pallescens, Hume ; Hume, Cat. no. 4 bis. 

Our present species breeds in the latter part of December, 
January, and possibly the early part of February ; by the end of 
March every egg has been hatched off. It always selects, as far as 
my experience goes, nearly inaccessible and precipitous cliffs to 
breed on ; but as I have only yet found it breeding in two places, 
viz., at the Taragurh Hill near Ajmere, and the Gaimookh cliffs on 
Mount Aboo, I cannot speak positively. Jerdou, however, mentions 
that the present species breeds on " some of the cliffs bounding 
the valley, in which are situated the celebrated caves of Ajuuta; " 
and Mr. E. Thompson found their nests on the cliffs of the Puch- 

The breeding-places of this species (they appear always to breed 
in society) are often very picturesquely situated. The Taragurh 
Hill, which overlooks and almost overhangs the city of Ajmere and 
the beautiful Ana Sagur Lake, may be about 2900 feet above the 
level of the sea. On precipitous faces of this hill, especially where 
succeeding overlapping ledges make the place as nearly inaccessible 
as may be, colonies of this A^ulture breed. One of these breeding- 
haunts, which I minutely examined, was a cliff-face some 100 feet 
high by 300 wide, all broken up into irregular ledges, of which 
the highest overhung all the rest. In amongst the ledges were a 
few dwarf banyan-trees, whose long bare roots and rootlets hung 
down, here and there, in dense, grey, giant skeins ; all the ledges 
but the uppermost, when looked at from below, seemed garnished 
with heavy white fringes, the white droppings of the birds having 
run down in close parallel lines in a wonderfully symmetrical fashion 
over the weather-smoothed edges of the terraces. Seen from a 
distance, the whole cliff-face seemed mottled with huge patches of 
whitewash. Bleached bones and dusky quills strewed every little 
plateau, and nestled in every cranny. It was on the 30th of March, 
1867, that I laid siege to this natural fortress. AVith the assistance 
of two sporting Mahoicedan faqeers two of the best cragsman 
I ever saw I crept, having duly removed my boots, to the lowest 
ledge, a work of extreme difficulty, owing to the excessive slipperi- 
ness of the white-crusted rocks. To my intense disgust, a little 
apart from the nest, on the bare stone, sat a huge unwieldy mass 


of yellow fluffy down, opening a vast mouth and cackling and 
hissing at me in the most hostile manner. The unfortunate little 
wretch was too fat and heavy to stand firmly on its stumpy legs, 
and could only stand up for a second, stagger a few inches, and 
then plump down exhausted. It was about 10 A.M., and all the 
old ones were away procuring food, and during the two hours we 
remained about the rocks, only one of them at all closely approached 
the place, although before we left the whole community I should 
say nearlv sixty in number had collected in the valley (in one side 
of which the cliff was situated), and kept wheeling and circling 
round above their homes, but at a distance of fully | mile. Wo 
left the dingy little tenant of the first nest in peace, and slowly 
and painfully made our way to one after another of the nest-filled 
ledges. Everywhere we found the nests empty ; but in the case 
of about half the number, a more or less advanced young one of 
from a week to more than a month old was squatting on the bare 
rock a few feet from the nest. Those nests near which no young 
was seen had obviously not been tenanted. At the time I fancied 
that these belonged to birds that had not yet laid, but I had the 
place closely watched for nearly a month without any one of them 
being used, so that I presume that the birds often find their first 
nest unsuitable in some way and construct a second, in which to 
incubate their egg. 

The nest, placed on some ledge of the cliff's face, consists only of 
coarse sticks and twigs. "When the eggs are first laid, there may 
be some lining of leaves, as in those of many other kinds of 
Vultures and Eagles ; but when I visited the place the young were 
all hatched and the nest so coated with their droppings that it was 
impossible to trace any lining. The nest is nothing more than a 
thin, flat, irregularly circular pad of sticks, from 2 to 3 feet in 
diameter, and from 3 to 6 inches in depth. 

As a rule, they only lay a single egg. Of all the fifty odd nests 
to which I made my way, not one contained more than a single 
young one. 

Captain E-epton, Deputy Commissioner of Ajmere, very kindly 
secured for me a noble series of eggs from these very nests, ten 
months after I had visited them. 

Messrs. Davidson and Wenden write : " At all seasons mode- 
rately common in the Sholapoor Districts. It breeds on some of 
the Satara cliffs in Tadli, and also in the valley of the Sina at 

And Mr. H. Wenden records the following note : " On 6th 
December I noticed this species breeding on the splendid over- 
hanging cliffs of the northern face of the Perseek Hills, through 
which the Gr. I. P. Eailway passes by two tunnels, some 24 miles 
from Bombay. There were several nests ; all on (to me) inacces- 
sible ledges. One, into which I could see and on which sat or 
rather lay a bird, with its wings spread out and its neck stretched 
close to the rock, as though it were endeavouring to hide, contained 
one egg." 


The egg's normal type is a very long oval. More or less elon- 
gated varieties are not uncommon ; and in an enormous series that 
i took during the last fortnight in December 1877 at Ajmere, when, 
by the \vas% many were very hard-set and most of them more or 
L-ss incubated, I found that one in five were more or less marked with 
pale reddish-brown blotches, spots, and niottlings at one or other 
end ; and about one in twelve were most handsomely blotched and 
spotted, sometimes over the entire egg, sometimes exclusively at 
one end, where even when they extend over the whole egg they 
are always densest, with rich burnt sienna to blood-red. In. these 
richly-coloured eggs there are usually also some pale purple secon- 
dary* markings. Taking a large body, the eggs of this species 
are of a somewhat finer texture, more elongated, and more richly 
coloured than those of Gyps indicus. They vary in length from 
3-48 to 3'9 inches, and in breadth from 2-62 to 2*85 inches. The 
average dimensions of twenty-one eggs were 3-61 by 2-72 inches. 

Pseudogyps bengalensis (G-mel.). The Lulian White-backed 

Gyps bengalensis (Gm.), Jerd. B. 2nd. i, p. 10; Hume, Rough Draft 
X. 4" -E- no - o- 

The Indian White-backed Vulture breeds from the latter end of 
October to the early part of March, but the majority, I think, lay 
during the month of January. The nest, as far as my personal 
experience goes (and I have seen many hundreds), is always placed 
upon trees, even where convenient cliffs and precipices are close at 
hand. Banyan and peepul are their favourite trees, I think ; but 
1 have found them breeding on the neem, tamarind, arjun (Termi- 
nalia arjuna\ and others ; in every case, however, on large trees. 
As a rule, they prefer to nest near each other, in the outskirts of 
some populous town, like Binderabund for instance, where ancient 
groves with suitable trees abound. I have seen as many as fifteen 
nests on one single peepul-tree, and as many as a hundred on 
a group of trees lying within a circle of 200 or 300 yards in 
diameter. It is not, however, uncommon to find a solitary nest, 
high up on some huge peepul-tree standing isolated in the mid-t 
of cultivated land or scanty jungle ; but I have an idea th;it 
these are always the nests of young birds, and that while the 
clustered nests are tenanted by the same species year after year 
(in one case that I know of, for certainly the last fifty years), these 
solitary nests are rarely, if ever, re-occupied by this Vulture, who, 
after the first year, abandons them to other tenants. On two 
occasions I have found nes^s of this bird that I had robbed one 
year, occupied the next by the Dusky Horned Owl (Bubo coroman- 
dus), and once I found a lordly King- Vulture in possession of its 
plebeian brother's. residence. 

The nest is a large irregular platform of sticks, sometimes quite 
at the top of the tree, often wedged in a fork, averaging probablv 
nearly 3 feet in diameter and 6 inches in thickness, but often far 

206 TULTU1UD.E. 

exceeding this latter dimension, especially where a deep fork has 
to be filled in. Not far from Puhpoondh, I made a man measure 
one in my presence, \vhich was an irregular cone (the apex down- 
wards), by pushing an iron ramrod through it, and found the depth 
to be 22 inches ! The materials of the nest appear to be heaped 
on at random, but in reality they are so carefully overlaid, that it 
is very difficult to pull out one of the sticks that compose the nest 
without pulling the whole fabric to pieces. The shape of the nest 
depends upon the locality, and is more generally oblong or oval than, 
truly circular. There is only a slight depression, as a rule, towards 
the centre of the nest ; but I found one nest near Hodul, which 
was a regular deep cup, in which I really think a moderately-sized 
sheep might have been stowed away. They always line the centre 
of the nest more or less with leaves, and the peepul seems their 
favourite. These leaves are green and fresh when the egg is first 
laid, and before you blow it you can pretty well guess how long 
the egg has lain in the nest by the condition of the lining leaves. 

The late Mr. A. Anderson remarked that it " builds exclusively 
on trees, and seems to have a decided partiality for the burgot and 
peepul (Ficus indica and F. reliyiosa). It is the earliest breeder 
amongst our Indian Eaptores. Several eggs were collected near 
Futtegurh as early as the 15th of October last year; and though 
I added considerably to the numbers in the following month, they 
were all, with one exception, without any spots. Later in the 
season, I got an egg almost completely capped at the small end 
with rich purple-red, but unfortunately it contained a live chick. 
A curious trait in the habits of this species, viz., that of breaking 
off green twigs with its benk for a nest-lining, does not appear to 
have been recorded before." 

And he added these remarks subsequently : " Last cold season 
1 found a small colony of these Vultures breeding on a clump of 
high toddy-palms, whence I obtained four eggs. I have also lately 
taken three eggs from one nest and two from another, but of course 
not the produce of the same bird." 

Mr. W. Theobald makes the following note on this bird's breeding 
in the neighbourhood of Find Dadan Khan and Katas in the Salt 
Eange : " Lay in the first and second weeks of March; eggs, one 
only ; shape, ovato-pyriform ; size, 3-30 by 2*62 inches ; colour, 
dull white ; nest, of sticks and twigs, in large trees." 

I shot a fine male off a nest on the 8th March, thus proving that 
the males participate in the labour of incubation. The female in 
this case did not return for some hours ; and when she did, she 
was apparently so enraged at finding her egg (which was much 
incubated) gone, and her husband missing, that she tore the upper 
part of the nest to pieces, scattering the sticks and leaf-lining here 
and there, and making a wonderful snorting and hissing all the 
while. This is not the only instance I have witnessed of birds tearing 
their own nests to pieces in auger at the loss of their eggs. 

Dr. Scully writes from Nepal : " On the 18th November, while 
walking through the Pashpati wood, I was startled by hearing a 


loud and prolonged hoarse roar. On going on a little further the 
sound was found to proceed from a pair of P. benyalemis in copula 
on a large horizontal branch of a tree, some thirty feet above the 
ground. The cry was very remarkable, and more like what some 
large carnivorous mammal might be expected to utter than any 

Mr. Scrope Doig sends me the following note from the Eastern 
Xarra in Sind : " I found a colony of these birds breeding in the 
middle of a large swamp on an island on which there were a lot of 
large babool-trees ; there were about forty pairs of birds, in many 
instances two and three nests were on the same tree. The date was 
the 20th November, and the eggs were all more or less incubated." 
Mnjor Bingham remarks : " The White-backed Vulture breeds 
at Allahabad across the Ganges, opposite Mhow Serai near the 
village of Chupree, and more abundantly a little further on. Near 
Chupree I found on the 8th Novembar two nests, large platforms 
of sticks and twigs placed high up in trees. Although the eggs 
were quite fresh, it was very difficult to get the old hen on one 
nest to move, no amount of blank firing at her under the nest 
had the slightest effect, and the native whom I had sent up 
seemed afraid to venture near; at length, however, he managed to 
hustle her off, when she sat on a neighbouring branch hissing like 
a whole colony of geese. At Delhi these Vultures have several 
breeding-places on both the Eastern and Western Jumna Canals." 
Mr. Gr. Eeid informs us that this Vulture breeds at Lucknow 
from November to the end of March. 

Colonel E. A. Butler tells us that " the White-backed Vulture 
begins to lay in the middle of October, but the nests are often 
completed as early as the beginning of September, from which 
time until the egg is laid the hen bird is constantly on the nest, 
whilst the cock bird either sits on the edge of the nest or 011 a 
bough close by. I found three nests, apparently finished, in the 
early part of September this year (1876), and although the hen 
birds were sitting upon each occasion that I visited the nests, 
allowing the man who ascended the tree to approach within a 
few yards before flying off, when I left the district to return to 
Deesa (18 miles) on the 30th of the month, not one of them con- 
tained an egg. The nests in most instances are huge stick struc- 
tures, sometimes well padded inside with peepul or banian leaves, 
sometimes without any lining. One or two nests seemed to be 
built almost entirely of huge leaves, teak, banian, &c. ; but in 
most instances the formation and body of the nests were composed 
of dead sticks. 1 only found one egg in each riest. I took eggs 
this year (1876) on the 13th, 14th, and 15th October. All these 
nests were taken on the road between Deesa and Ahmedabad. 
Some on tamarind-trees, two or three nest on one tree, others 
single nests on banian and other tall trees. On the 20th October 
1 found six more nests, four of which contained a single fresh egg 
each, and the other two each contained a single egg ready to hatch 
(chipped). On revisiting these last six nests on the 8th November, 


I found that in four instances the hen birds had laid again, and in 
the other two the hen birds were on the nests evidently with the 
intention of laying again." 

Messrs. Davidson and Wenden remark of this Vulture : 
" Commonest at all seasons. D. got its nest with a young bird, 
just able to fly, in the Satara Districts, early in January." 

Mr. Gr. Vidal says : " The common Vulture of the South 
Konkan breeds from October to January. Nests are usually 
found in mango or silk cotton (Bombacc malabaricum) trees. As a 
rule not more than one nest is seen on each tree, but I once 
found within a few feet of each other on the same tree a nest of 
this species and of Neophron ginginianwx" 

Writing from Lower Bengal, Mr. J. C. Parker remarks : " On 
the 30th November and 7th December, I robbed several nests of 
this species and found all the eggs quite fresh. On the 3rd January 
visited another colony of these birds. Every nest had a chick in 
it. I had taken some eggs a fortnight before ; these were hard- 

Lastly, Mr. Oates notes : " December 5th. All nests searched 
on this date contained one young bird each. Nests placed in high 
peepul-trees near the top. Breeds abundantly in Lower Pegn." 

They lay normally a single egg. That two eggs may have been 
found in one nest, I will not take upon myself to deny ; but I 
have before me now notes of eighty odd nests, and, besides these, 
I have had many others examined, of which I took no note at the 
time, and yet I never met with more than a single egg or a single 
young one in any nest. In colour, the eggs when fresh are dull 
white, with an excessively pale bluish-green tinge. As a rule, they 
are unmarked ; but at times they are a good deal tinged and 
speckled, or even blotched, with darker or lighter shades of reddish 
brown, most usually, I think, chiefly towards the large end. The 
eggs of this species vary to an amazing extent. Whether, in 
reality, these eggs vary more than those of the other Vultures, or 
whether it is that the large series of over a hundred eggs, which I 
have myself collected, makes the variations more conspicuous, I 
cannot say ; but the fact remains that I have the eggs of my own 
taking, of almost (for such a bird) every conceivable size and shape. 
The cubic contents of one egg (the largest) is certainly two and a 
half times that of the smallest. One is a perfect pear, another so 
long an oval as to be almost cylindrical, and one or two are almost- 
spherical ; the normal type, however, appears to be a somewhat 
broad oval, slightly compressed or pointed towards one end. As 
a body, they are more oval and less round than those of Otoyyps 
calvus, while they are rounder and less oval than those of Gyps 
indiais. As above remarked, the majority, though often much 
soiled and discoloured as incubation proceeds, are of the usual pale 
greyish or greenish- white colour, and unspotted ; but a certain 
number, perhaps about 1 in 5, are more or less speckled, spotted 
and blotched, always chiefly towards one end, with pale reddish 
brown. One egg only, out of more than a hundred that I have, is 


richly and extensively blotched and clouded, in fact almost capped 
at the large end, with reddish and purplish brown. So discoloured 
do the eggs sometimes become before they are hatched, that I 
have one egg, an addled one, stained throughout an almost uniform 
earth-brown. The texture varies a good deal, but is generally 
moderately fine; a few exhibit a slight gloss, but mostly they are 

The shell is very thick and strong, and, like that of most other 
birds' eggs (especially those of Cranes and Game Birds), 
often has pimply lumps and crease-like folds at the small end. 
Held up against the light, the shell appears to be a rich i^reen. 
The e<^s measure from 3'05 to 3'85 inches in length, and from 
2-25 to '2'S inches in breadth ; but of sixty-eight eggs measured, 
3-26 by 2-42 inches are the average dimensions. 

Otogyps calvus (Scop.). The Black Vulture. 

Otoirvps calvus (Scop.), Jerd. B. Inil. i, p. 7 ; Hutne, Rough Draft 
E. no. 2. 

The Black or Indian King- Vulture breeds from the latter end 
of January to the middle of April ; but, so far as my experience 
goes, by far the majority lay in March. In fact, as a rule, this bird 
hardly begins to lay until every P. benyalensis has hatched off. 

I once found a nest wirh a fresh egg in November ; but this was 
a most exceptional case. The nest I have invariably found on trees. 
Lt is said, Dr. Jerdon remarks, to breed on inaccessible cliffs ; but 
at Ajmere, where, on the Taragurh hill, there are numerous suitable 
precipices, many of which are occupied by Gyps pallescens, I found 
a pair the only ones I met with breeding on a large peepul-tree 
at the foot of the hill. 

Mr. R. Thompson says : " This species is very common in the 
wilds of Central India ; 1 have not yet known it to breed in cliffs, 
but have always found its nests placed on trees." 

Captain Feilden says : " At Bellary, in the Dekhan, where there 
were no trees except in and about villages, the King- Vulture 
used to build on bushes from 6 to 10 feet high, a species of cactus 
or euphorbia, the only plant common on the dry rocks in that part 
of the country. It appears to me that if these birds ever built on 
rocks, it would be in so rocky and treeless a place as Bellary. I 
remember finding a fresh egg of one of these Vultures on New 
Year's eve." 

As far as my own personal experience goes, the nests are always 
on large trees, commonly on the very top of peepul and banyan trees, 
at least 30 or 40 feet from the ground. Mr. W. Blewitt, however,, 
informs me that he obtained an egg of this bird on the 20th Feb- 
ruary, from a large nest (constructed of acacia-twigs and lined with 
leaves and straw), placed on the top of a keekur bush (A. ara^lca) 
iu the Dhoona Beer, near Hansie, at a height of about 13 or 14 feet 
only from the ground. 

VOL. III. 14 


Mr. W. Blewitt tells me that, besides the nest already alluded to, 
he found no less than seven nests o this Vulture, in the neigh- 
bourhood of Hansie, between the 6th and 24th March ; each con- 
tained a single egg. Four of the eggs were quite fresh, two partly 
incubated, and one ready to hatch off ; those taken on the 22nd 
and 24th March being quite fresh. Two nests were not above 
14 feet from the ground, and no nest (this is not a part of the 
country where trees run high) was above 25 feet from the ground. 
Two were on keekur-trees, two (the two low ones) on old heens 
bushes (Capparis aphyUa), and three on peepul, burgot, and shee- 
shuni trees. The nests varied from 19 to 25 inches in diameter, 
and from 5 to 8 inches in thickness, and were all dense masses of 
thorny twigs of the her (Zizyphus jvjuba], khyr (Acacia catec7iu\ 
and keekur. They were lined, some thickly,' some thinly, with 
leaves or straw, and in one the egg was regularly bedded in leaves 
and straw. This is not altogether in accordance with my own 
experience ; but in this, as in other cases, Mr. Blewitt sent me all 
the eggs and more than one of the parent birds, and there can be 
no doubt as to the accuracy of his observations. The same gentle- 
man took a fresh egg of this species as late as April 13th, 1868. 
The nest was placed upon a peepul-tree, at a height of about 30 
feet from the ground, measured about 16 inches in diameter by 
6 inches in depth, and was composed of keekur-twigs, lined with 
tine straw and a few leaves. This was also in the Hausie district, 

I have never found two pairs breeding near each other. The 
tree they commonly select is one standing altogether apart, in the 
middle of some dhak (Butea frondosa) jungle or waste place ; but 
I have taken their eggs from trees belonging to groups situated in 
cultivated land, aud on the 1st March, 1867, 1 found a nest (from 
which I shot the female and took the egg) on a peepul-tree situated 
right in the centre of the village of Deopoora, Zillah Mynpooree. 

The nest is a huge flat platform, more often oval or oblong than 
circular, chiefly composed of sticks varying from 1 inch to | inch 
in diameter, loosely put together, but still, from their aggregate 
weight and the manner in which they interlace, forming a very 
solid structure. They always have a lining towards the centre, 
often of numerous strips, from 6 to 10 inches long and from 1 to 3 
broad, of the fan-leaves of the toddy-palm, but not uncommonly of 
peepul, banyan, or neem leaves, or of slender twigs of these trees 
to which the leaves are attached. 

The nest varies from 2| to 4 feet in length and breadth, and is 
often more than a foot in thickness. Though I have no positive 
proof of it, native hunters assure me that, when not molested, 
they breed year after year during long periods in the same nest ; 
jind the materials of one nest that I demolished weighed over 8 
Indian maunds (over 6 cwt.), and proved to have at least three 
distinct layers and to have been used many times. As, how- 
ever, 1 know that this bird sometimes, like Ketupa ceylonensis, 
takes possession of old nests of Haliaetus leuconjphus, of which 
bird there were several pairs in the neighbourhood, I cannot be cer- 


tain that these Vultures had really, as the nest seemed to indicate 
and the villagers declared, bred in this same nest during many 
successive seasons. 

They lay a single egg. I have heard it asserted that they some- 
times lay two, and this is quite possible ; but of the numbers of 
nests that I have personally examined, I never found one that 
contained more than a single egg or a single young one ; and, in 
Upper India, 1 feel sure that one is the normal number. 

Long ago, the late Mr. A. Anderson wrote in the P. Z. S. : 
" The Black or Turkey Vulture is by no means an abundant species. 
It is a permanent resident, breeding on high trees, by preference 
on the peepul (Ficus reliyiosa}, and laying a single white egg, which, 
a< far as my experience goes, is invariably unspotted. Mr. Hume 
states that he ; rather suspects that these birds pair in the air' 
(* Hough Notes,' pt. i, p. 10). Such may be the case ; but a pair 
of these Vultures in the cold season of 1867 built their nest on 
the very top of a giganl ic tamarind-tree, opposite my house at 
1'Yzabad, and I witnessed them ' in copula ' in their nest at day- 
break every morning. 

" In allusion to my having found Gyps bengalensis nesting on 
palm-trees, I have now to mention that on the 28th January la?t 
(1875), I saw a pair of King-Vultures building on a solitary tar- 
tree (Borassus flabelliformis). One bird invariably remained in the 
nest, sorting the materials as they were brought by its mate/' 

He subsequently sent me the following note : " As the first 
edition of * Xests and Eggs ' does not contain any information 
relative to this species breeding in the Himalayas, it may be as well 
to mention that on the 13th May last I found a pair building in 
Kumaon at an elevation of some 5000 feet, on the march between 
Takula and Bagesur. Although the country round about contained 
numerous eligible sites for a nest in a rocky situation, these Vultures 
seemed to prefer a tree on the hill-side. The birds were still 
carrying sticks, so I did not think it necessary to examine the nest." 
Major Bingham remarks : " 1 have found this Vulture breeding 
both at Allahabad and at Delhi. At Allahabad I took three nests. 
The first at Bey a, some 10 miles from Allahabad, on the 24th 
October. The nest was a mighty structure of branches and twigs 
and lined with a little straw. The egg it contained is pure white, 
densely speckled with rusty at the large end. The second and third 
nests were similar, but the eggs they contained were pure w 7 hite, a 
little stained by the feet of the birds. One nest I found at Delhi on 
the 28th February was placed on an exceedingly tali, slender, and, ti.l 
near the top, branchless neem-tree. This was of the usual form, 
a solid structure of sticks, but had a deep hollow and the egg was 
almost buried in dry peepul-leaves." 

Mr. J. Davidson writes from Gotekindee, in the Satara District : 
44 I was informed yesterday of a Vulture's nest a few miles from 
here, so rode there this morning. The nest was placed on a low 
prickly bush, about three feet from the ground. The bush was 
growing on the side of a steep hill, the slope being at an angle of 



45 degrees. The nest was rather a large one, neatly lined with 
straw, and the egg was slightly set. Both birds were present, one 
on the nest, and the other on a rock about 20 yards off. They 
were unmistakably Otoyyps calvus. I did not shoot them, though 
within 15 yards of them, as there could be no doubt what they were. 
The choice of situation for the nest seems strange, as within half 
a mile there were plenty of large trees, banyan, peepul, and tama- 
rind. On the 22nd of this month I saw another nest of this 
Vulture on the very top of the highest tree of a small group, a 
banyan. The egg was not laid, but both birds were constantly 
flying about the nest. "Within 100 yards of this nest, on a very 
high peepul -tree, there was a nest on which the villagers said the 
While-backed Vulture had bred a month or so ago. The birds 
were still flying about, but the nest was empty." 

And from the Western Khandesh he writes : "Asa rule, appears 
to resort to the Satpuras to breed, numerous nests being found by 
me in March there, and without exception on high trees in thick 

Again, Mr. Davidson and Mr. Wenden, writing from the Deccan, 
say: "Nest \uth one egg, found by D. in Sholapoor District, 
26th December, 1874, and another with a single egg on 28th Feb- 
ruary, 1875. We saw numbers in the interval. Some nests near 
villages were in high trees, and others, far away from habitation, 
were in much smaller trees." 

Mr. Scrope Doig, referring to the nidincation of this Vulture in 
the Eastern Narra, Sind, says : " The first nest of this species J 
took on the 13th February, and it contained a single fresh egg. 
I discovered eleven other nests within a radius of 6 or 7 miles. 
The nests were all placed on the top of low bushes. The nature 
of the country was low sandhills, covered with stunted jungle. 
Several of the nests w 7 ere on the top of the wild caper bush, which 
was growing to the height of 8 or 10 feet. None of the other 
nests contained eggs, but both the birds were sitting close to the 
nests. I left a man to watch the nests and he took eggs from 
them between the 15th March and the 21st April. Some of the 
birds apparently never laid, or at any rate had not done so up to 
end of April. One nest, which was in another part of the district, 
I watched myself from 22nd of March to 5th of May, but without 
getting any eggs ; during all this time the old birds were sitting 
either on the nest or close to it. Whether they eventually laid or 
not I cannot say. In no instance was there more than one egg, 
and all were of a pure white colour." 

Colonel Gr. F. L. Marshall writes : " One fresh egg taken at 
Agra on the 10th February. The nest was on the top of a very 
high peepul-tree, close to a village. The old birds were very wary. 
I saw a pair of them utterly routed by a pair of Fagles and driven 
off the offal they were feeding on." 

Mr. J. C. Parker says : " At the entrance of the Eoopuckrani 
river, and close to the ruins of Fort Mornington, I found a nest of 
this bird on the 1st February, 1874, in a peepul-tree, the identical 


one from which I took an egg of ffaliaetas leucoyaster some years 
ago. The Vulture's egg was quite fresh." 

The eggs, when first laid, are usually a nearly unsullied, pale, 
greenish white ; but as incubation proceeds they become greatly 
stained and discoloured by the droppings of the parent bird. I have 
tukon only one egg at all marked, and this showed numerous very 
faint dingy purplish streaks and spots, but possibly higher-coloured 
examples may occur. 

In shape, the eggs vary from rather long ovals to nearly spheres ; 
but the normal type I consider to be a round oval. 

The texture is moderately tine; the shell very strong, and, as a 
rule, glossless ; but I have found eggs with a faint gloss. 

The egg-lining is green. 

The eggs vary in size from 3*2 to 3-5 inches in length, and from 
2-45 to 2-8 inches in breadth. Of twenty-four eggs measured, the 
dimensions were 3'34 by 2-6 inches. 

Neophron ginginianus (Lath.). The White Scavenger- Vulture. 

Neophron percnopterus (Linn}, Jenl. B. 2nd. i, p. 12. 

Neophron ginginianus (Dciud.), Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 6. 

The White Scavenger- Vulture breeds from the latter end of 
February to the end of April ; but the majority, I think, lay 
towards the end of March. They nest indifferently, it appears to 
me, on rocky precipices, earthen cliffs, parapets or cornices of 
buildings, and large trees. I have often found the nests on ledges 
of the clay cliffs of the Jumna, close to nests containing the young 
of Bonelli's Eagle or the Jugger Falcon. At Etawah, a pair yearly 
build on the church-tower, at the base of the steeple. One pair 
always breed on the portico of the Metcalfe Hall at Agra. On 
the rocky headland, known as the Mata Pahar, which juts out from 
the southern shore of the Sambhur Lake, whose blue waters it 
overlooks, I found a nest in a cleft of the rock, from which I was 
able to take the eggs without leaving the pathway ; and within 2 
feet of the head of the sitting bird was a nest containing three eggs 
of Ptyonoprogne concolor. They are far from seeking retirement. 
They build commonly in trees in the suburbs of towns neem, 
tamarind, peepul, and burgot alike furnishing them with home- 
steads ; and for several years I noticed a pair building on a 
comparatively small tree, in the centre of the busy grain-market 
at Etawah. 

The nests are clumsy, ragged, stick structures ; platforms slightly 
depressed towards the centre, loosely put together and lined with 
any soft substance they can most readily meet with. Old rags are 
a great stand-by. In many parts of the country, wayfarers, as 
they pass particular trees, have a semi-religious custom of tearing 
a strip off their clothes to hang thereon. Who puts the first strip, 
and why they do it, I have never clearly been able to ascertain ; 
but once a beginning is made, " one fool makes many," and the tree 


(usually a balool) soon becomes loaded with rags and tatters. These 
are a perfect godsend to the Neophrons of the neighbourhood, 
whom 1 have more than once watched robbing these rural ' shrines " 
of their trophies by the score. Sometimes the rags of various 
colours are laid out neatly in the nest, as if an attempt had been 
made to please the eye ; sometimes they are irregularly jumbled up 
with the materials of the nest. Cotton wool, old and dirty, stolen, 
I suspect, from the old'rizais' or padded coverlids thrown with half- 
burnt dead bodies into the river, occurs occasionally in great lumps 
in the nest ; and I have several times found nests lined entirely 
with masses of human hair, which, in a country where near relatives 
shave their heads as a part of the funeral ceremonies, often lies thick 
in the environs of villages and towns. Sometimes the birds line 
their nests with green leaves, much as many Eagles do. In size, 
the nests vary from 2 to 3 feet in diameter, and from 4 to 10 inches 
in depth. 

Mr. W. Theobald makes the following note of this bird's breeding 
in the neighbourhood of Find Dadan Khan and Katas in the Salt 
Range : " Lay in the third week of March : eggs, two only ; shape, 
long oval; size, 2'53to 275 inches in length and from 1-85 to T90 
inch in breadth ; colour, pale brownish red, thickly blotched with 
dark brownish red : nest, a few twigs placed in holes of cliffs and 
difficult to approach." 

Mr. W. Blewitt records taking some twenty nests of this 
species in the neighbourhood of Hansie between the 20th of 
March and the end of April 1868. The nests were all on trees, 
peepul, sheeshum, burgot, neem, and keekur. None were more 
than 21 feet from the ground, and one was at a height of only 12 
feet. They varied from 12 to 18 inches in diameter, and from 
3 to 7 inches in thickness ; some were slightly, some densely, put 
together, and were composed in almost every instance of small 
branches and twigs of the ber and keekur, both thorny trees. One 
nest had no lining, the others were more or less lined with straw, 
feathers, leaves, and rags, one or all ; while in many instances rags 
were plentifully incorporated in the body of the structure. Two 
was the number of eggs in each nest ; some of those taken at the 
end of April were still quite fresh. 

In Northern India also this species is not confined to the plain : 
I have seen the birds fully 8500 feet high in the Himalayas, and 
have taken their nests below Simla at an elevation of fully 6000 
feet. Mr. H. Ihompson says : " The Neophrons are to be found 
breeding in numbers along the precipices which crown the river 
Kossilla, from Khyrna upwards. On the sandstone precipices of 
the Sewaliks, and those of the Kumaon and Gurhwal outer ranges, 
numberless nests may be found. One pair breeds yearly on a 
precipice south-east of Nynee Tal." 

Writing from Murree, Colonel C. H. T. Marshall tells us that he 
" found a nest in a cliff in May, with two fresh eggs, at an elevation 
of about 4000 feet." 

Normally they lay two eggs ; but I have repeatedly found birds 


incubating a single egg: twice I have found three eggs in the 
same nest, but, in eacli of these latter cases, one of the three eggs 
was much smaller and feebler-coloured than the other two. 

Major Biugham writes:- "I have not taken the trouble to 
collect many eggs of this Vulture, though it breeds commonly both 
at Allahabad and at Delhi in the end of February and in March." 

Mr. Scrope Doig, writing from the Eastern Narra, says : 
" Collected eggs of this species from the loth of March up to the 
2nd of May, but got most in April. Nests situated in pollarded 
kundy trees. Eggs varied much in colour, some being nearly 
white, while others, one or two in particular, were all of a deep, 
warm brick-colour, with two or three blotches of a very dark 

Colonel Butler says : " This Vulture breeds in the neighbour- 
hood of Deesa in April. The nest is usually placed in the fork of 
some large tree about 20 or 30 feet from the ground or on the face 
of a cliff. 

" Numerous nests on trees in the vicinity of Belgaum in 
February 1880; dates as follows : 7th, llth, 16th, 23rd, 24th, 
27th, and 28th. One egg of a somewhat remarkable type, being 
white covered with pale lilac markings, a remarkably handsome 

Mr. Benjamin Aitken sends me the following note : " A pair of: 
these birds began to build in a tree in a compound in the station 
of Akola, Berar, near the end of June, 1869. The spot selected 
was between 15 and 20 feet from the ground. The birds con- 
tinued till the close of the monsoon to carry sticks and rags to the 
tree and arrange them in the form of a nest ; but they worked 
irregularly, stopping for a week at a time, and letting the rain 
destroy what they had put together, so that the nest was at no 
time more than half finished. In the following February 
(1870) the birds recommenced operations, but after working for a 
few more weeks gave up altogether, without ever laying an egg. 

" In April, 1870, one egg was found on the outer ledge of the 
College tower at Poona. There were rags and sticks lying all 
along the ledge, but there was no approach to a nest, and the egg 
was lying on the bare chunam. A pair of White Vultures were 
habitually to be seen on the ledge." 

M< -ssrs. Davidson and Wenden write from the Deccan : " Very 
common. They lay from the beginning of February to the end of 
March, the majority laying only one egg ; but we have found them 
with two." 

Mr. G. Vidal tells us that in South Konkan this Vulture is 
" rather scarce, both on the coast and inland. I have seldom 
seen more than one pair in any one place below the Grhats. Above 
the Ghats in Sattara it is, I think, the commonest of all the Vultures. 
The only two nests I have found in this district contained two young 
ones each in January, and were both built in forks of mango- 

Miss Cockburn says : " On the Nilghiris, White Vultures are 


almost as numerous as sparrows, particularly near Kotah vil- 
lages. They fly, walk, or sit about them all day long. These birds 
roost on large trees. They sit on the top of the extreme branches 
perfectly exposed to the weather. The White Vulture here gene- 
rally, 1 think, nests on rocks, sometimes nearly inaccessible. They 
accumulate a large quantity of warm soft materials. One nest I 
had brought down to me, and found it to consist of a most curious 
mixture of things cotton, pieces of cloth, goat's hair, sheep's 
wool, large pieces of native blanket, and coir rope. Another pair 
of these birds had carried an entire sheep's skin with the wool to 
their nest. 

" One of these nests had some dead frogs lying at the edge ; 
these were most likely intended for the young* They lay their 
eggs in the months of March and April, after the first thunder- 

Mr. J. Darling, Junior, says that " this species lays in April. 
One nest was found at Katy, 2 miles south-east of Ootacamund, 
about 6800 feet above the sea. Another at Kartary, 6 miles south- 
east of Ooty, at 5000 feet. The first nest was a niche in a precipice, 
under the overhanging ledge of rock, in a very inaccessible place ; 
the second nest could not be got at. The nest I reached was built 
upwards into a mound in a corner of the niche. The hollow in 
which the eggs were was very perfect arid round. The nest, or 
mound, was composed of sticks and t\ugs, some the size of a man's 
wrist. The cavity was lined with cotton , coir, sheep's wool, and moss, 
a great accumulation of rotten bones and other decaying matter 
scattered about. The bird was off and on engaged in the process of 
building the nest from June to February, when it stopped, and, 
shortly before it commenced to lay, began to fill in the lining. The 
nest was 4 to 5 feet high, about 4 feet broad at the top ; the hollow 
in which the eggs were was 18 inches in diameter and 6 inches deep. 
The eggs were four in number, taken in four successive weeks, one 
a week." 

In shape, size, and colour these eggs vary much. I have one 
egg, an excessively long pear, another for all the world like a goose's 
egg, while others again are as round as an egg of the Honey- 
Buzzard; but the normal shape is certainly a rather broad oval, 
somewhat compressed towards one end. The texture varies a good 
deal : in some it is coarser than that of any Vulture's egg, and in 
some there is almost a gloss ; but as a rule the eggs are dull, and 
of a rather coarse, somew^hat chalky, texture, less compact and 
indurated than in any of the true Vultures. They never have any 
real gloss, but some exhibit a sort of surface glaze which they 
lose by washing, as indeed they are apt to do much of their richest 

In colour the eggs vary from pure greyish or rufous white, wdth 
only a few minute reddish-brown specks at one end, to a uniform 
deep but dingy blood-red, recalling some of the deeper-coloured 
Falcon eggs. Between these two extremes every variation in shade, 
extent, and intensity of markings is found. Every possible shade 


of brownish red and reddish brown is met with, and every degree 
of markings, from a few distinct scattered specks, to streaks and 
blotches nearly confluent over the greater portion of the egg's sur- 
face or forming a conspicuous cap at one (more commonly the 
larger) extremity. 

There is a common type, with a pinkish-white ground, minutely 
freckled and speckled all over with dull brownish red, and then 
richly blotched and clouded towards one end (at which the 
markings are often almost or quite confluent) with a deep brownish 
red. Other eggs are uniform pale brownish pink, almost salmon- 
colour, without any deeper- coloured markings ; while others of the 
same type have the colour deepening towards one end, or are richly 
and boldly, or in others feebly and faintly blotched, streaked, or 
clouded with a deeper shade. Some eggs when fresh are exces- 
sively handsome, and are coloured quite like a Honey- Buzzard's 


They measure from 2-28 to 2-82 inches in length, and from 1-8 
to 2-1 inches in breadth ; but the average of forty-five eggs measured 
was 2-6 by 1'98 inches. 



Platalea leucorodia, Linn. The Spoonbill. 

Platalea leucorodia, Linn., JercL B. 2nd. ii, p. 763 ; Hume. Rough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 939. 

The Spoonbill breeds, I believe, throughout India, and is common 
in Sind and other parts of the North-West. 

There is no difficulty about the breeding- places of this species : 
I know fifty at least. 

The Spoonbill is a very sociable bird. It always breeds in 
companies, at times small, at times enormous, almost always close 
to where other more or less nearly related species (notably Shell- 
Ibises) have their nests, and very often in the immediate neighbour- 
hood of houses. They always build on trees near to, or on the 
bank of, some broad lake or swamp ; and though I have found many 
parties breeding far away from human haunts, I have found many 
more nesting on trees actually in, or in the outskirts of, villages. 
In Busrehur, a large village a few miles from Etavvah, three or four 
pairs of this species used to build, quite inside the place, on a few 
tamarind-trees standing inside a little courtyard. At Beenan some 
thirty pairs bred regularly on some half a dozen peepul-trees that 


fringe the margin of the large jheel on the banks of which the 
village stands. But the grandest breeding-place 1 ever saw was 
about a dozen miles north of this in the south of the Mynpooree 
District, where the zeminders allowed no prowling sportsmen, 
and indeed soundly thrashed some egg-collectors of mine ; and 
when a few days later I went myself only allowed me to take such 
eggs as I wanted, because they remembered me as a former Joint 
Magistrate of the district who had done them a good turn in more 
than one instance. When I visited this place in August there 
was a large oval sheet of water 1 1 mile in length, and half this 
in width, clear, bright, and cairn, but dotted over here and there 
with rushes and lotus-leaves. The village stands on a pretty high 
mound immediately overlooking the lake and towards one end. In 
front of it, at the water's edge, and on both sides of it, are numerous 
large peepul and tamarind trees ; a little further on a group of 
neem ; then a huge grove of ancient mango-trees runs down to the 
water's edge ; beyond again are groups of date-palms, then more 
groves, &c., so that in fact the whole lake is almost entirely shut 
in by trees all round. This lake, when I had last visited it in 
March many years previously, to measure up and estimate loss of 
crops consequent on a terrible hail-storm, was, I should note, one 
huge wheat-Held, except towards one end, just under the village, 
where a small pond remains in most years all through the hot 

All the trees on the right of the village were occupied by Spoon- 
bills, certainly at least two hundred pairs were breeding there, but 
a still larger number of Shell-Ibises had nests in the trees to the 
left of the village. The neem-trees and the mangos were occupied 
by myriads of Paddy-birds, Egrets, and White Herons, and a 
clump of acacias was tenanted by the Little Cormorants and 
Darters. In a kudum tree were several nests of the Whistling 
Teal. In a huge hollow of an old mango-tree we got a Nukhtah 
on eight eggs, and the entire lake was alive with these various 

The zeminders sent boys up to report upon the nests. At 
least a hundred of those of the Spoonbills were looked at, and 
only three or four contained live eggs, or young ones and eggs ; 
in the great majority there were four. The nests were all of the 
normal type, large platforms of sticks, from 2 to 3 feet in diameter 
and from 3 inches to nearly a foot in depth. 

These birds had bred here from a time anterior to the traditions 
of the village. Once or twice during the previous fifty years there 
had been droughts, and the lake had remained dry and no birds 
had bred there, but next year they had reappeared and bred as 
usual. One thing was notable though the birds were strictly pre- 
served, if I may use the phrase, it was unanimously declared by all 
the people that during their lifetimes no perceptible increase in 
the numbers of any of the species had taken place, nor had they 
ever altered their respective quarters. 


Many of the nests were blown down every year, many were 
pulled down by the boys, as they furnished excellent dry fuel, such 
as the lower classes here like for cooking, but where nests remained 
intact, all the pair that re-occupied them did was to add a few 
sticks and perhaps throw down a few of the old ones. 

By the end of December, when I next visited the village, very 
few of the Spoonbills, Paddy-birds, and Herons, and none of the 
Shell-Ibises, were to be seen, but the lake, already somewhat 
shrunken, was alive with Pintail, Gadwall, Common and Summer 
Teal, with a few Wigeon, Mallard, Red-headed and Crested 
Pochards, and Grey Duck. A large party of the Great White 
Crane were enjoying the cool clear water and browsing on the 
water weeds, while a pair of Crested Grebe, of which I succeeded 
in securing one and which are very rare in these parts, were 
" steaming" about, like a set of monitors, with no part of their 
hulks above water. It seems to be the rule that both Spoonbills 
and Shell-Ibises remain only during the breeding-season at the 
spots where they breed ; at other times they are spread far and 
wide over the whole country. 

Major C. T. Bingham writes : " I found a few nests of this 
bird not far from Mohar, the second station from Cawnpore on the 
East Indian Eailway. The trees were at the edge of a little jheel 
and the nests high upon them, constructed rather massively of 
sticks and twigs aud almost flat. The eggs, of which there were 
four in each nest, were quite fresh at the end of August. 

Colonel E. A. Butler remarks : " In the Eastern Narra, Sind, 
Mr. Doig found a colony with incubated eggs, breeding on trees 
in company with Tantalus leucoceplialus, on the llth November, but 
the two colonies were separate." 

Messrs. Davidson and Wenden, writing of the Deccan, say : 
" Common, and breeds in April and May.*' 

Colonel Legge, writing from Ceylon, says : " In the south-east 
of Ceylon this species breeds in March. Six or eight pairs were 
nesting at Uduwila in 1872, the nests being placed on the same 
trees with those of the Pelican-Ibis ; they were situated low down, 
and in some cases small branches were bent down to form a 
foundation for the structures, which were made of tolerably large 
sticks and were rather massive/' 

The eggs vary much in size and in shape, but they are typically 
elongated ovals, much pointed towards one end. Excessively 
elongated varieties are common, and some\vhat broadly oval 
specimens occur occasionally ; but out of the numbers of eggs of 
this species that I have seen, I have never yet met with a speci- 
men so little pointed towards the small end as the one figured by 
Mr. Hewitson in the 3rd edition of his ' Eggs of British Birds.' 
The texture of the egg is somewhat coarse, slightly chalky in its 
nature, and entirely devoid of gloss. The ground-colour is usually, 
when the eggs are freshly laid, pure white, but occasionally faintly 
tinged with *pink or yellow ; but, as incubation proceeds, thev 


become much sullied and soiled. Spotless eggs occur, but ninety- 
nine out of every hundred eggs are more or less marked. The 
markings vary much in extent and character, but they are often 
almost exclusively confined to the larger end, and they are always 
largest and most numerous there. The markings consist of more 
or less smudgy and ill-defined blotches and spots, with here and 
there a hazy spot, streak, or cloud intermingled. In colour and in 
intensity they differ much ; in some eggs they are a clear bright 
brown, reddish brown, and even almost black, and in others they 
are feeble, dingy, yellowish brown or pale sepia, as it' half-washed 
out. Occasionally both class of markings are found on the same 
egg, but this is the exception. 

In length the eggs vary from 2'4 to 2*95, and in breadth from 
1-65 to 1*95 ; but the average of twenty-nine eggs is 2'7 by 1'81. 


Tantalus leucocephalus, Forst. The Pelican-Iltis. 

Tantalus leucocephalus, Gm., Jerd. B. Intl. ii, p. 761 ; Hume, Rouyh 
Draft N. $ E. no. 938. 

The Pelican-Ibis is widely distributed throughout the Indian 

It breeds, immediately at the close of the monsoon, in October 
in Upper India, in February in parts of Southern India. 

Though by no means a rare bird, its breeding-places are not, in 
Upper India at any rate, very numerous, and I myself only know 
of one. I will quote the notes I made when I visited it on two 
occasions : 

" January 24t7i, Gobhurdhum, Zillcih Muttra. We found here a 
breeding-place, the first I have yet seen of the Pelican-Ibis. There 
were perhaps seventy nests on four trees, three tamarinds and one 
peepul, in the immediate neighbourhood of this village. The nests 
were loose ragged platforms, composed of thin sticks and twigs, 
and small for the size of the bird. At the time we visited them 
one or two full-grown dingy-coloured young were standing on each 
nest. They were able to fly, for every now and then a young one 
would rise from the nest and take a short wheeling flight, but they 
still had to be fed by the parents, one of which from time to time 
arrived to feed them. Whenever an old bird approached within 
thirty or forty yards of the tree, one could easily guess w r hich its 
nest was by the state of excitement into which the young of that 
nest immediately got. As soon as the old bird alighted on the 
nest, the young, which up to that moment had been standing bolt 
upright at the full stretch of their long legs, squatted down open- 
mouthed in front of it to be fed, which the old one accomplished 
by apparently thrusting its large bill half-down the. young one's 


" From the size of the youug birds, I should fancy that the 
eggs were laid from 12th September to loth October. 

" September 22nd. Revisiting the G-obhurdhum pelicanry I was 
sorry to find that we were rather too early. The trees on which 
the nests have been placed all stand overlooking a pond, which at 
this season is a good-sized piece of water. At least one hundred 
pairs of birds must have been about the place, mostly, when we 
arrived about sunset, standing on or beside their nests, but a few 
still occupied in fishing or catching frogs in the pond beneath. 
We sent a boy up who examined all the accessible nests, probably 
some fifty, but in only three did we find eggs, and only one in each 
of these." 

Some years later Mr. Henry Blewitt kindly visited the spot in 
October, and procured a fine series of the eggs, which he sent me. 

Mr. Henry Blewitt says : " The eggs that I send you were 
taken on the 26th October from the nests that you yourself visited 
one year when on tour. They are placed, as you will remember, 
on tlie branches of large tamarind and semul trees which grow at 
the edge of the Grobhurdhum Tank. The largest number of eggs 
that I have found in any nest was four, and the smallest two. 

" In some nests there were two eggs and one fledgling ; in 
others two eggs and two fledglings ; in some t\vo, three, or four 
__~. and no young birds. The great majority of the eggs were a 
good deal incubated, and there were many young birds in the nests, 
and I should fancy that some eggs must have been laid as early 
as the 1st October at any rate." 

Mr. R. H. Whitten has this year (1874) visited this spot, and 
reports as follows : 

" On the west edge of the sacred tank at Gobhurdum, a town 
in the Muttra District, thirteen miles from Muttra on the road 
between that city and Deeg, are some forty or fifty tamarind and 
papree trees, chiefly tamarind, which are annually frequented as a 
nesting-place by numbers of Pelican-Ibis. These birds make their 
appearance there early in September, and soon after their arrival 
pair off and commence breeding. Some eggs taken in the middle 
of October were found to be partly incubated. The birds appear 
to leave with their young brood towards April. The reason why 
they frequent this place is probably that they are seldom molested 
and never shot at, the tank being a sacred place, and that frogs 
and small fish, with which they feed their young, are easily pro- 
curable in the tank. 

" The place was visited twice this year, once in the middle of 
October, and a second time on the 5th of November. On the 
first occasion many of the nests contained no eggs. Altogether, 
on both occasions, more than one hundred eggs were taken from 
the nests. 

;i When the place was visited, there were about two hundred 
pairs of birds there. They breed in pairs, each pair having a 
separate nest. The male bird assists the female to incubate the 
eggs. The nests were some sixty or seventy feet from the grouud, 


and were composed of dry twigs of kurreel, chownker, plum, 
tamarind, &c.; as many as twenty nests were found on one tree. 
Preference seemed to be given to particular trees. The smallest 
number of nests in any of the trees chosen to build on was five. 
The nests are large, measuring as much as 2 feet in diameter, and 
weighing from 5 to 6 Ibs. 

" From two to eight eggs were found in each nest. In some of 
the nests eggs quite fresh were found, in others they were partly 
incubated. Incubation seemed to have commenced only in the 
nests where there were more than four eggs. Eggs may be obtained 
from the middle of October to the middle of November. There are 
no eggs now there at the middle of December, but the majority of 
the young birds are not yet fully fledged, though some are able to 
fly about the nest." 

Mr. Doig writing from the E. Narra, Sind, says : " I found a 
large colony of these birds breeding in the end of Eebruary. The 
nests, which seemed very small for the size of the bird, were rude 
stick platforms built on decayed trees about 6 or 8 feet over water- 
level. The nests all contained young birds very many nearly able to 


And Colonel Butler remarks : " Mr. Doig sent me twenty- 
three fresh eggs which he took in the Eastern Narra, Siud, on the 
9th Nov. The birds were breeding in company with Plataka 
leucorodia, but the two colonies were separate." 

Writing of Rajputana in general, Lieut. H. E. Barnes remarks : 
"The Pelican-Ibis breeds in colonies during March and April." 

In Upper India, therefore, we may, I think, say that the majority 
of the birds lay, earlier or later according to season, from the last 
week of September to nearly the middle of November, that four is 
the usual complement of eggs, though they sometimes lay as many 
as eight, and that the young birds are mostly able to fly, though 
they have not as yet left the nest, by the latter part of Eebruary. 

The following is Burgess's well-known account of their breeding 
in the Dekhan. He says : " In another village, about ten miles 
from the Godavery River, where there are a great number of large 
banian trees both outside and inside the walls, I found a community 
of these birds, which had built their nests on them, probably to the 
number of fifty. 

" The trees inside the walls were as thickly covered with nests 
as those outside, and the birds, which appeared docile and tame, 
did not mind the noise of the people passing beneath them. When 
I visited the village, the young birds were all well fledged and 
most of them able to fly. The villagers informed me that the old 
birds move off to the river in the very early dawn, and having 
caught a sufficient supply for their young return about 8 or 9 
o'clock ; a second expedition is made during the afternoon. Some 
idea of the quantity of fish caught by these birds may be gathered 
from what the people told me, that quantities of fine fish were 
dropped by the old birds when feeding their young and were eaten 
by them. A young bird of this species, which I shot in Sind, 


disgorged a large quantity of small eels. This Ibis breeds during 
the month of February. The nest is composed of small sticks, and 
is placed at the top of the trees ; if there are many on the same 
tree, they are placed pretty close together. They lay three or four 
eggs of a dull opaque white, nearly 2'6 inches in length by rather 
more than 1*8 inch in width. The young birds are able to fly by 
the month of May." 

Dr. Jerdon states that " it breeds on high trees, making a large 
nest of sticks, and laying four white eggs, sometimes faintly 
blotched with pale brown. Burgess found fifty nests together in 
some large banian trees in a village in the Dekhan in February. 
Further north it is later, breeding in May and June." 

This latter requires verification. I have not been able to ascertain 
that they breed anywhere in India in May or June. 

Mr. J. R. Cripps, writing from Furreedpore in Eastern Bengal, 
remarks : " By no means common. A rainy-season visitant. The 
south-eastern corner of the Mymensingh district is one huge 
8 wamp covered with scrub and long grass, and on the large trees 
about these birds lay in the cold weather ; the half -fledged birds 
have been brought to me in the second week of December." 

Colonel Legge writes in his ' Birds of Ceylon ' : " The only 
breeding-place of this Ibis which I visited in Ceylon was the 
colony at Uduwila tank. There, among the numerous species 
nesting at the time of my visit, were about a dozen pairs of the 

The eggs, which vary much in size and somewhat in shape, are 
typically elongated ovals, a good deal compressed towards one end. 
At times they are somewhat pyriform, at others very perfect ovals. 
The shell is rather tine and compact, of a dull white colour, much 
stained and soiled as incubation proceeds, and occasionally with a 
few dingy brown spots and streaks. They are entirely devoid of 
gloss. In some cases they have a very faint greenish tinge, which 
fades soon after the egg has been blown. In size they average, 1 
think, somewhat larger than those of the Spoonbill, but in general 
appearance and texture of shell they most nearly resemble the eggs 
of Ibis melanocepJiala, which latter, however, average very much 
smaller. Held up to the light and looking into the egg through 
the aperture, the shells of the present species are a pale bluish 
green or pale dingy green, while those of Ibis melanocephdla are a 
very dark dusky green ; on the other hand, the shells of the Spoon- 
bill are a dusky yellowish brown, in this respect assimilating to 
those of Anastomus oscitans ; while those of Xenorhynchus asiaticus 
are a green so dark as to be almost black, and those of Disvura 
episcopus a green of nearly the same shade as those of Jbis mdano- 
cepliala, or at times a trifle darker. 

In length the eggs vary from 2*58 to 2'95 (though I have one 
abnormally large egg that measures 3*2), and in breadth from 1'75 
to 1-98 ; but the average of twenty-seven eggs is 2'77 by T88. 



Anastomus oscitans (Bodd.). The Shell-Ibis. 

Anastomus oscitans (Bodd.), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 765 ; Hume, Rouyh 
Draft N. $ E. no. 940. 

The Shell-Ibis appears to breed throughout the greater part of 

I have seen hundreds of their nests, but all in one part of the 
country the Central Granges Doab. There they certainly lay in 
July and August, and there each pair have their own nest a large 
stick platform built upon high trees with from three to thirty nests 
on the same tree. Five is, I think, the maximum, and four the 
usual number of eggs. 

In Ceylon, according to Mr. Layard's native informants, it de- 
fends its nest pertinaciously ; in the north it is less valorous. I 
have robbed or seen its nest robbed a score of times, and never yet 
saw it make the feeblest attempt e\ r er to defend its pennies. 

Writing of his experience in Oudh, Colonel L. H. Irby tells us 
that the Shell-Ibis is " common throughout the year. At a place 
named Kupser on the lliver Kutna, a branch of the Goomtee, this 
bird breeds in a large colony on two or three tall trees growing on 
the banks of the river. The nests are immense stacks or rather 
platforms of sticks one above the other, several pairs nesting on 
each platform without any apparent separation of the eggs, which 
on 26th June were hard-set on and of a chalky white colour, smaller 
than, but about the same shape as, the egg of Ardea cinerea" 

I do not question the correctness of this account : Layard tells 
us much the same about the White Ibises in Ceylon ; but still I 
must note that I personally have never seen any of these joint-stock 
nests, though I must have visited at one time or another more than 
a score of breeding-places. 

I have never seen the nests of this species intermixed with those 
of others. Very commonly they breed quite away by themselves, 
and I have only once (on the occasion referred to under Platalca 
leucorodia) myself seen their nests in clo e proximity to houses ; 
but I know that they often do choose trees in the very midst of 

Major C. T. Bingham writes : " On the 9th July last, I found the 
Shell-Ibis breeding in large numbers in the centre of the village of 
Umraha, 1 \ mile from Jusra, the second station from Allahabad, 
on the Jubbulpore line. 

" The nests were placed on the topmost branches of large trees, 
pcepul and neeni being invariably chosen, although there were 
some fine mango and other trees in the neighbourhood. The nests 
were circular platforms, some 4 inches thick and 20 inches in 


diameter, of sticks, among which I recognized twigs of peepul, neein, 
her, and babool. There was a slight depression in the centre, 
scantily lined with leaves of the peepul and neem, and grass ; this 
lining in the sixty odd nests I examined had been wetted (most 
likely by the birds returning wet from the neighbouring paddy- 
fields and tanks, which furnished their food), and added by its decay 
and fermentation to the warmth of the nests. 

" The number of eggs varied from two to five in each nest. In 
one I found two hard-set ones, and in a second six, one (evidently 
from its colour the last laid) very small. 

" Their colour, normally, is pure white, but as incubation proceeds 
they get much soiled by the feet and droppings of the bird. The 
average length and breadth of forty eggs measured (leaving out 
the abnormally small one above mentioned) is length 2-20 inches, 
breadth 1-49 inch. 

" As far as I know, they have only one brood in the year, and 
use the same nests, repairing them year by year. There could not 
have been less than from 150 to 200 pairs of the birds breeding 
here. In one peepul-tree I counted no less than sixty-two nests, 
and not only the nests themselves, but the branches of the tree and 
the ground underneath were covered with the droppings of the 

" One or two of the Ibises made a feint of defending their nests, 
opening and clattering their bills threateningly, but flying off when 
my servant, whom 1 had sent up, got close to them. In one case, 
however, ray man had to push the bird with a stick, and as it flew 
away I shot it. It proved to be a male." 

Mr. Scrope Doig, writing from the E. Narra, Sind, says : 
"Found this bird breeding in company with Herons, Egrets, &c., 
in August." 

In Ceylon, according to Colonel Legge, this species breeds in 
January, February, and March. 

The eggs are typically oval, of much the size and shape as an 
English hen's egg, but narrow, elongated, and pointed, as weh 1 as 
pyriform, varieties occur. In texture the shell is generally close 
and satiny, being perceptibly smoother to the touch than those of 
Graptocephalus papiHonu, Ibis melanocepliala, the Spoonbill, or the 
Heron ; and in this respect, as well as in colour, closely approx- 
imating to the larger and differently-shaped eggs of Dissura epis- 
copus. The eggs, when freshly laid, are a sort of creamy white, 
entirely free from markings of any kind, but as incubation proceeds 
they become the same dirty earth or yellowish brown that the 
eggs of the White-necked Stork, the Little Grebe, and other species 

In length the eggs vary from 2-0 to 2-52, and in breadth from 
1-48 to 1-82 : but the average of fifty-seven is 2-24 by 1-6. 

VOL. III. 15 


Family IBIDID.E. 

Ibis melanocephala (Lath.). The White Ibis. 

Threskiornis melanocephalus (Linn.), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 7C8 ; Hume, 
Hough Draft N. fy E. no. 941. 

The White Ibis breeds, I believe, pretty well throughout India ; 
but 1 myself have only taken the nest in the central portion of 
the Doab. About Etavvah, Cavvnpoor, and Mynpooree this species 
begins to lay as soon as the rains commence, and I have found 
eggs as early as the 20th June and as late as the 28th August. 
They breed generally in small companies, often by themselves, and 
well away from human haunts, but at times in the society of other 
species and in the outskirts of villages. 

I never found, I think, more than a dozen pairs of this species 
breeding together, and I have more than once found solitary pairs. 

Large banian /peepul, and tamarind trees are what they prefer 
to build on, and they construct a moderate-sized stick-nest, 
perhaps 20 inches to 2 feet in diameter, with a more or less well- 
marked central depression. 

They lay two, three, and very rarely four eggs. Layard says 
five or six, but I rather doubt this ; anyhow I have never found 
more than four eggs, and very seldom this number even, while I 
have dozens of times found two or three eggs ready to hatch off, 
or two or three young ones in a nest. 

From JhansiMr. F. E. Blewitt wrote : " On the 1st July 1868, 
on a large peepul tree, at its very summit, between four forks of a 
branch I found a nest of the White Ibis containing two eggs. 

" The nest was about 2 feet in diameter, with a hollow in its 
centre for the eggs. The exterior of the structure was of coarse 
twigs of the tree itself; the inner part of finer twigs of sorts. 
Altogether, it was not so neatly made a nest as that of Geronticus 

" The two eggs are of a dirty chalky white, but, as far as I can 
observe, without the rusty blotches alluded to by Layard. The 
eggs, when I secured them, were within a day of hatching. 

" In length they measured 2-6, and in breadth 1'8." 

Major C. T. Bingham writes : " I found this Ibis breeding in 
large numbers on the 19th August on a mighty tamarind-tree, on 
the north bank of a large tank in the centre of the village of 
Mohar. There must have been some twenty to thirty pairs 
breeding on this tree, and beside this there were over forty odd 
nests of the Shell-Ibis. The nests of the latter I counted, as they 
were easily distinguishable by their larger size ; and on examination 
I found that whereas the Shell-Ibis had all young more or less 
fledged, the White Ibises had not yet hatched off. Of the eggs of 

IBIS. 227 

the latter I procured four, which were all I was allowed to take, as 
the villagers objected to the birds being disturbed." 

Colonel Butler sends me the following note : " Mr. Doig and I 
found a colony of about a dozen pairs breeding in the E. Narra, Siud, 
on the 24th July, 1878. The whole of the nests, which were about 
1 foot apart and about 8 or 10 feet from the surface of the water, 
were small stick structures similar to Egrets' nests, and were closely 
packed on a tree that had been partly blown down, in the centre 
of a dense tamarisk-thicket growing in the middle of a large dhund. 

** Large colonies of Herons, Egrets, Cormorants, and Snake-birds 
were breeding all round in the same clump of trees, but their nests 
wriv not built in clusters like those of the Ibises. On approaching 
the spot, the Ibises rose off their nests and commenced flying round 
and round and backwards and forwards overhead ; and on sending 
a man up the tree, the nests, with the exception of one with young 
ones, were all found to contain fresh eggs, most of which were plain 
but in a few instances spotted with yellowish brown. We found 
out afterwards that the men with us had robbed these nests the 
week before, so that this was a second batch of eggs. Mr. Doig 
drew my attention to the peculiar booming call of the bird, which 
he described as a most remarkable note, but 1 did not hear it my- 
self. There was another colony a little further on, but as the 
jungle was thick and the water deep we did not visit it." 

Messrs. Davidson and Wenden, writing of the Deccan, say : 
" Not rare. D., having observed them this year on the Bhiina from 
October until about the middle of July, concludes that they pro- 
bably breed in the district." 

Colonel Legge writes from Ceylon : " Several pairs of these 
Ibises were frequenting the breeding-place already noticed at Udu- 
\\ila tank near Tissa Maha Rama; but their nests were on trees 
growing in the water and inaccessible, and consequently I was un- 
able to procure their eggs or young. The time of my visit was the 
2oth March, and as most birds then bad young, I conclude the same 
was the case with the present species." 

1 know no species of which the eggs vary more in size than those 
of our present bird. 

The cubic contents of some specimens that I possess are of fully 
three times those of some others. In shape too the variation is 
great; typically they are long ovals, much. pointed towards one 
end, but some are nearly perfect ovals. Some are pointed at both 
ends, like a Cormorant's egg, and some are pyriform. When 
freshly laid, they are of a delicate bluish or greenish white, but 
little, if at all, darker than the eggs of Bululeus coromandv*; but 
during incubation the blue or green tint fades and disappears, and 
the white gets soiled or stained till some eggs are all brown and 
dirty, like a hard-set egg of Anastomus oscitans. 

The majority of eggs are free from spots or markings, but I have 
met with a few examples delicately spotted with yellowish brown. 
1 he texture of the eggs, though slightly coarser, is quite that of the 
HtroD, and I have no doubt that these Ibises are correctly placed 


228 IEID1DJE. 

by Jerdon in juxtaposition with the Herons, while Anastomus 
oscitans would seem, to judge from its eggs, to need a place amongst 
the Storks. 

In length the eggs vary from 2-1 to 2-82, and in breadth from 
1-5 to 1*82; but out of one hundred and twelve eggs only four are 
less than 2-3 ; and again only four exceed 272 in length, and only 
one is less than 1*6 in breadth, so that for practical purposes we 
might say that the eggs vary from 2-3 to 2- 72 in length and from 
1-6 to 1-82 in breadth. I may add that the average of the one 
hundred and twelve eggs is 2'54 by 1*7. 

Inocotis papillosus (Temm.). The Black Ibis. 

Geronticus papillosus (Temm.\ Jerd. B. 2nd. ii, p. 769; Hume, 
Rough Draft N. 8f JE. no. 942. 

The Black Ibis breeds everywhere throughout the plains of India. 
In Upper India it seems to have two breeding-seasons, viz., 
March, April, and August ; but I have also known eggs to be ob- 
tained in June, July, and September. I cannot say whether the 
same pairs breed twice in the same year, or whether different birds 
breed at different times. Perhaps the old birds lay in March and 
April, and the yearlings not till August. These are points in regard 
to which further observation is necessary. 

In parts of Southern India, as in Sholapoor, this species lays in 
November and December. 

I have never found these birds breeding in society with other 
species. Twice or thrice I have found two or three nests together, 
but as a rule they are solitary. They build high up upon large 
trees, often at the very top of these, and make a large nest of finer 
and coarser twigs often unlined, but more often thinly lined with 
straw, grass, or (Mr. W. Blewitt says) old rags. 

They occasionally to my knowledge and possibly often take 
possession of nests previously occupied by the Indian King-Vulture, 
the Indian Fishing-Eagle, and the Dusky Horned Owl. Who first 
made the nests, and whether the Ibises were the intruders, or only 
reoccupied their own old nests that the Raptors had taken the 
liberty of using in the interim, I cannot sav ; but certain it is that 
from nests from which in March, December, and January I had 
taken the eggs of the latter, I again in August took those of the 
Black Ibis. 

According to my experience three is the usual, and four the 
maximum number of eggs. 

Mr. W. Blewitt, writing from Hausie, remarked : " I took three 
nests of the Black Ibis this year on the 12th and 18th June. Two 
nests contained 2, and the third 3 eggs : all were quite fresh. 
The nests were two of them on sheesh urn-trees on the canal-bank, 
at heights of fifteen to seventeen feet from the ground ; the third, 
which was on a peepul-tree, was somewhat higher. All were very 



similar loose platforms from 18 inches to 2 feet in diameter, com- 
posed of stout twigs of the keekur and plum, and lined with straw 
and rags." 

Next year he wrote : " On the 3rd and 4th April I found two 
nests of this bird near Hansie, the one on a peepul, the other on 
u burgot tree. The nests vAere high up, from twenty-five to thirty 
feet from the ground, some 14 inches in diameter and 4 or 5 inches 
in thickness, constructed of keekur and her twigs and sticks, and 
with u few rags and feathers, by way of lining, immediately under 
the eggs, of which there were two fresh ones in the one nest and a 
single one in the other." 

Writing from Jhansi, Mr. F. E. Blewitt remarks : " The first 
nest I got of this bird was at Delhi in the latter end of March 
with, I think, three eggs. Here the nest and four eggs were 
secured on the 27th August. The peepul-tree is by preference 
selected by the Black Ibis for its nest, which is placed between 
two or three forks of a topmost branch. 

" The nest is composed of thick twigs of the peepul and some 
thorny acacia-like tree on the outside, with an intermediate layer, 
nearly two inches thick at the sides and base, of finer twigs, all 
compactly put together. The lining was of grass slightly laid on 
in the cavity. The outer diameter may fairly be stated at about 
1 b inches ; inner, less by some 4 inches. Egg-cavity, about 3 
inches deep." 

Writing from Etawah, under date August 1868, Mr. Brooks 
said : " 1 have just had a nest taken of Inocotis papillosus, which 
I saw the birds building some little time ago. 1 had previously 
no well-authenticated egg of this species." 

Colonel G. F. L. Marshall states that in the Alligurh District 
this species lavs in July, August, and September. He says : " 1 
noticed a bird 011 its nest on the 23rd August ; on the llth Sep- 
tember I visited it again and found that the young had flown. It 
was built of sticks and situated in a very large fork of a peepul- 
tree about halfway up, and hardly visible from below. Another 
nest, with four partly incubated eggs, was found on the 17th 
September : it was rather loosely made of sticks and grass in a 
small fork at the very top of a large peepul-tree and was reached 
with great difficulty. The tree was close to a village in the Alli- 
gurh District ; both parent birds kept circling round over the 

Major Bingham says : " I have found only one nest of this, and 
that was placed in a large peepul-tree in the village of Okla, a few 
miles from Delhi. On the 7th May the nest, which was a large 
firm platform of sticks having a shallow depression lined very thinly 
with grass, contained two fresh eggs.''* 

Colonel Butler serds the following notes : " One or two nests 
were reported to me at the Tanda, 20 miles from Hydrabad, Sind, 
at the end of July 1878. 

" 1 found a nest of the Black Ibis near Deesa on the 6th August, 
1876, containing two fresh eggs. It was made of dead sticks, very 



like a Crow's nest, but lined with a substantial layer of grass. On 
the 12th September, I found another nest, about 18 miles from 
Deesa, containing three incubated eggs. The first nest was nearly 
at the top of a tall banian-tree, and the second on a tree (apparently 

" A nest I found on the 7th August was built on a tree growing 
in the centre of a tank, and the old bird sat closely for several days 
before laying. Sometimes four or five nests are built on one tree, 
and most of the nests I have examined were lined with grass. I 
believe that the majority of birds in this part of the country lay 
at the commencement of the hot season, as out of the numbers I 
saw in August, September, and October this year, I only found a 
few pairs breeding." 

Mr. J. Davidson remarks : " Here, on the western Sholapoor 
District, a pair or so of the Black Ibis are to be met with in every 
village. I have this year already the following nests : 

" November 22nd. On a small tree, three young, about a fortnight 
old (apparently). 

" November 28th. On a very tall tamarind, two young about the 
same age as the last. 

" December 1st. Birds building on a small tamarind. 

" December 4th. Nest, three eggs, fresh, on a middle-sized neem- 
tree among the small branches. 

" December 6th. Two small young ones, on a neem-tree in the 

" December 9th. One containing one young about a day old, and 
another prepared for eggs ; the birds busy making love on the side 
of the nest ; a third nest with two eggs, the bills of the chicks 
protruding, very pale blue, no markings, slightly larger than those 
taken on December 4th." 

Dr. Jerdon says that this species lays from two to four white 
eggs, but this is certainly a mistake. 

Messrs. Davidson and Wenden, writing of the Deccan, say : 
" Common, breeding in May and again during the last three months 
of the year. We do not think the same pairs breed twice." 

The eggs are normally moderately long ovals, more or less pointed 
or compressed to wards one end. They are very Heron-like in their 
appearance, of a beautiful sea-green, as bright as those of Ardeola 
yrayi. As a rule, like the Herons' eggs, they are unspotted, but 
occasionally, as is the case with those of Ibis melanocephala, speckled 
varieties, thinly spotted and streaked with brown or yellowish brown, 
occur. I have even obtained one or two with numerous dingy brown 
specks, spots, and streaks. In texture the eggs are considerably 
coarser than those of the true Herons, even more so than those of 
the preceding species. 

In length the eggs vary from 2'24 to 2*77, and in breadth from 
1*6 to I f 86 ; but the average of twenty-eight eggs is 2-43 by 1-7. 


Graptocephalus davisoni (Hume). Damson's Black Ibis. 
Graptocephalus davisoni (Hujne), Hume, Cat. no. 942 bis. 

Davison's Black Ibis is found throughout Pegu and Tenasserim. 
Mr. Gates found the nest in the former. He says : " The nest 
was placed on the branch of a tree about 15 feet from the ground 
on the banks of a creek. It was a small shapeless mass of sticks and 
contained two eggs so near hatching that I could preserve only one. 
It measures 2-55 by 1*8 ; it is smooth, without gloss and of a pale 
blue, much stained by the bird's feet. The nest was found on the 
l:ith February." 

Plegadis falcinellus (Linn.). The Glossy Ibis. 

Falemellus igneus (S. G. GmeL), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 770; Hume, 
Rough Draft N. < E. no. 943. 

I have never succeeded in discovering a breeding-haunt of the 
Glossy Ibis. It breeds about some of the Dhunds in Sind, but, so 
far as the mainland of India is concerned, I have never been able 
to ascertain any particulars of its nidification. 

Colonel W. V. Legge, however, writing from Ceylon, remarks : 
" I found the Glossy Ibis nesting at the end of March 1872, in 
thorny trees growing round a small tank in a wild part of the south- 
east of the island ; there were, I should say, about half a dozen 
pairs of the birds present at the heronry and they were nesting 
partly in company with Pelecamis philippensis and Tantalus leuco- 
cephalus and partly with Platalea leucorodia and Graculus javanicus. 
The nests were placed on the lateral, lower branches of the trees 
and were of the same size as those of the Little Cormorant, con- 
structed of medium-sized sticks, and flat in shape. 

" I regret to say that at the date, the 25th of March, that I dis- 
covered this large heronry, the young of F. iyneus were all hatched 
and well-grown, so that I failed to procure any eggs of the species. 
The young perched on branches contiguous to, or stood on, their 
nests, and when I attempted to catch them, scrambled out of the 
way with considerable agility. I however caught one or two, but 
1 was less fortunate with them than with the young of other 
species that I brought away, for I found them dead on the following 

Mr. Scrope Doig writes from the E. Narra, Sind : " In May 
1878 I observed these birds in pairs, and sent men after them to 
try and find out their breeding-grounds, but in vain ; and so being 
unable to go myself, in consequence of work, I was obliged to give 
up the search. This year, however, in June I was able to search 
myself, and found them breeding in great numbers on trees along 
the banks of the large lakes inside the sandhills, along the bank of 
the Xarra, The nests were placed on the tops of kundy-trees, and 
were constructed of sticks, about the size of those of Plotus melano- 
aaster ; on the same trees I found Geronticus papillosus and Tan- 


talus melanocephalus breeding, while close by were numbers of nests 
of Herons, Egrets, and Cormorants. The eggs are of a beautiful 
green colour, roughly pitted over with slight indentations giving 
the shell a rough appearance ; they are in shape ovals pointed at 
both ends. The normal number of eggs is three, aud they vary 
i'roni 1-8 to 2'15 in length, and from 1*3 to 1*66 in width, the 
average of 35 eggs being 2-01 in length and 1'40 in width/' 

The eggs of this species are perhaps the most beautiful of any of 
this family. They are elongated ovals as a rule, regularly pointed 
towards the small end, and they are of a beautiful uniform blue, 
a little darker in some specimens, a little paler in others, but with 
scarcely any green tinge in any of them. The shell is very tine 
and compact (the pores being very inconspicuous) and has a slight 
gloss. It is the elegance of the shape of the egg and the extreme 
uniformity of the tint, coupled with its great purity, that makes 
these eggs so beautiful as they are. 



Ardea goliat, Temm. The Giant Heron. 

Ardea goliath, Temm., Je.rd. B. 2nd. ii ; p. 739 ; Hume, Rough Draft 
N. fy'E. no. 921. 

I know nothing of the nidification of this species the Giant 
Heron. It is so rare that I have never seen an Indian-killed speci- 
men, except those in the Calcutta Museum, obtained by Mr. Blyth, 
and I have never yet met with any one else who had. But Mr. Blyth 
tells us (Journal Asiatic Society, 1855, p. 280): "In the same 
neighbourhood," namely, in the south-east part of the ISoonderbunds, 
" Mr. .Frith was credibly assured that the huge Ardea yoliat, Eiippell 
{A. nobilis, nobis, &c.), also bred, and he expects to be able to 
procure the eggs of all three species during the next breeding- 

Ardea insignis, Hodgs. The Dusky-grey Heron. 

Ardea sumatrana, Raffl., Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 740; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. fy E. no. 922. 

Our Indian Dusky-grey Heron breeds to my knowledge in the 
Terai below Darjeeling and Nepal and in the Bhootan Dooars, and 
I have had a large stick-nest, placed high upon a huge tree in a swamp 
and utterly unapproachable, pointed out to me as belonging to this 
species ; I was also assured that it bred during July and August, 
which would fully account for no one having ever taken the eggs, 
since no European could live many days during these months in the 
localities it affects. 

ARDEA. 233 

Ardea cinerea, Linn. The Common Heron. 

Ardea cinerea, Linn., Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 741 ; Hume, Rough Draft 
N. Sf JB. no. 92:3. 

The Common Heron breeds throughout India wherever there is 
any water and suitable feeding-ground in the neighbourhood, alike 
in the plains and in the hills to an elevation of 4000 to 5000 feet. 
It breeds at very various seasons, and may very possibly have two 
broods here in the year, but too little is as yet on record about its 
uidificatioii in India to enable me to speak positively. 

In Etawah I have taken numbers of its eggs in the latter por- 
tion of July and in August, and I have had eggs sent me from 
Hansie taken in March and April, and from Saugor taken in April 
and June. 

As far as my experience goes, this species always builds on trees. 
I have never yet found its nest in reed-beds, which the Purple 
Heron preferentially affects for modification. 

The nest is a large loose irregular platform of moderately thick 
sticks and twigs, with a tolerably deep central depression, which, 
though often quite unlined, is more often I think thinly lined with 

Sometimes, \\ hen laying in March and April, they build in a 
small party by themselves ; but more generally, I think, they lay in 
India during the rainy season, and then their nests will be found 
as a rule on trees, in amongst scores of nests of the Pond-Heron, 
large White Egrets and White Ibises. 

At home I have more often, I think, found four than three eggs 
in Herons' nests, but in this country out of certainly fifty that I 
have examined I never chanced to meet with more than three. 

Mr. W. Blewitt sent me a number of eggs of this bird and 
remarked: "I have found five nests in the neighbourhood of 
Hansie this year between the 26th and 29th March, each containing 
two or three fresh eggs. The nests were all on peepul and burgot 
trees from twenty to twenty-five feet from the ground, and were 
shallow platforms some 12 to 15 inches in diameter, and 3 or 4 
inches in depth, constructed rather loosely of keekur twigs and 
lined with a little straw." 

Next year he wrote : ** I have only found two of the Common 
Herons' nests this year, and both on the 14th April ; each con- 
tained three fresh eggs. 

" The nests, which measured about 14 inches in diameter and 
about 5 inches in depth, were loosely built of keekur and sheeshum 
twigs and scantily lined with straw and leaves. The one was placed 
on a peepul, the other on a burgot tree, and both were at a height 
of about twenty-five feet from the ground." 

Major C. T. Bingham writes : " I found this bird breeding near 
Delhi at the end of JV1 arch. There were some twenty nests on large 
trees in and about the village of Burari on the Jumna. I only 
managed to procure two eggs and these hard-set ; the rest of the 
nests contained young. The nests were mere platforms of sticks/' 

234 ARDEID^E. 

Colonel Butler, writing from Sind, remarks : " Mr. Doig and I 
found large numbers of Common Herons breeding in theE. Narra, 
Sind, at the end of July 1878. The breeding-ground consisted of 
a dense thicket of tamarisk-trees, extending over several acres of 
ground in the middle of a large dhund, and in it Herons, Egrets, 
Cormorants, Snake-birds, &c., innumerable, had collected to breed. 
At first we experienced some difficulty in collecting the eggs we 
wanted, as the instant the birds left their nests, flocks of Crows 
descended and carried the eggs off ; but at last a happy thought 
struck us, to arm ourselves with a good supply of the commoner 
kind of eggs we did not care about and use them as missiles, tind 
in this way we soon drove all of the Crows away. The nests of all 
of the species I have mentioned were of the usual stick type, vary- 
ing in size according to the species they belonged to, and extremely 
numerous, being built at heights varying from 3 to 15 feet from 
the surface of the water. The Herons and Egrets seemed to breed 
together promiscuously, but the Snake-birds, Cormorants, White 
Ibises, and Shell- Ibises built in separate colonies. The eggs, which 
vary immensely in size, were mostly fresh and three seemed to be 
the usual number. Mr. Doig informed me that in another part 
of the Narra, where the water had risen earlier, he found eggs of 
this and some of the other species at the end of June. 

" I noticed a quantity of Common Herons breeding in a dense 
bed of tall bulrushes on the side of a tank at Milana, 18 miles east 
of Deesa, in August 1876. They appeared to have young ones, 
but the rushes \vere so dense and growing in such deep mud, that 
we could not enter the bed to examine the nests. I mention this 
fact as I see Mr. Hume's experience (Nests and Eggs, p. 611) is 
that they always build on trees." 

And from Sind Mr. Scrope Doig adds the following note : 
" This Heron and the Purple Heron I found breeding in July and 
August in company with hundreds of Egrets, Snake-birds, Cormor- 
ants, &c. The nests of this Heron were made of sticks, and were 
situated in dense tamarisk-jungle growing in the middle of the 
swamp. The normal number of eggs laid by the Common Heron 
was found by me to be four, but several nests had as many as 

In Ceylon, according to Colonel Legge, this Heron breeds 
between November and March. 

The eggs of this species are too well known to require much 
description. They vary much in shape and in size, but are 
typically nearly perfect, moderately broad, ovals; very spherical 
and very elongated varieties are common, and pyriform and very 
pointed eggs are met with. The shell is firm, rather coarse, and 
entirely glossless. In colour they are a delicate sea-green or bluish 
green, very thickly set all over with excessively minute pores, which 
are generally either white or filled with a white substance, the 
desiccated droppings of the birds I believe. During incubation 
and after being kept for some time, especially if exposed to the 
light, the colour fades much. 

ABDEA. 235 

The pores are more or less conspicuous in different specimens. 
In some they are so numerous and closely set as to produce the 
appearance of' a faint white mottling over the whole of the egg, 
while in others they are scarcely noticeable. 

In length the eggs vary from 2-08 to 2-48, and in breadth from 
1-48 to 1-79 ; but the average of seventy eggs is 2-27 by 1-66. 

Ardea purpurea, Linn. The Purple Heron. 

Ardea purpurea, Linn., Jerd. H. Ind. ii, p. 743 ; Hume, Rough Draft 
N. E. no. 924. 

The Purple Heron breeds all over the country wherever swamps 
and rushy jheels are to be found. 

According to my personal experience it lays in July and August, 
but in the neighbourhood of Saugor Mr. F. B,. Blewitt obtained the 
eggs in April, May, June, and July. 

I have seen now some hundreds of nests of this species, and 
have invariably found them in thick beds of reeds and bulrushes. 

Generally from ten to thirty pairs build in the same spot, but 
occasionally smaller parties are met with. I have never found 
them nesting in company with other Herons, and in a large jheel 
where I found both this species and the Night-Heron breeding in 
similar situations, the Night-Herons had their clump to themselves 
and the Purple Herons theirs. 

Four is the regular number of eggs, but I have repeatedly taken 

The account given in the following old note that I extract from 
my diary is pretty well equally applicable to all the many heronries 
of this species that I have seen : " On August 16th, 1867, when 
Mr. Brooks and I were out egg-hunting in the Etawah District, 
we came across a large heronry of this species near the Lohya 
Bridge of the Ganges Canal. 

" In the midst of a large jheel or swamp, in many places grown 
up with rushes and wild rice, in others with deep and comparatively 
clear water thickly paved with leaves of the lotus and water-lily, 
stood two large dense clumps of bulrushes. As we passed within 
about a hundred yards of these, firing once or tw r ice at Ducks, 
M Likhtahs, Grey Ducks, and the lesser Whistling Teals, we saw 
some thirty or forty long necks make their appearance among the 
waving tops of the bulrushes. It was quite clear that the owners 
of the necks must be standing on something well above the level of 
the water, and so we at once sent men to search the clumps, no 
easy matter as it proved. It turned out that these Herons, by 
bending do\vn thirty or forty of the rushes crossing each other in 
all directions, had made small platforms from eighteen inches to 
two feet above the water, and on them had built their nests. 

" The nests were large, from two to two and a half feet in diam- 
eter, loose flat structures, composed of sticks and twigs of the 
babool and sheeshum (which composed the bulk of the neighbour- 


ing trees), with a very slight central depression, in which without 
any lining the eggs were laid. 

" It was clear that they built from choice in this situation, as 
many large trees were standing round them on which most of the 
other species of Heron would certainly have built. The eggs were 
nearly without exception fresh. Two nests contained five, others 
four, and the rest a lesser number. There were about twenty 
couple, and we took forty-six eggs. The note of this bird is less 
harsh than that of the Common Heron ; still, the uproar was great 
whilst the men were robbing the nests, and the extraordinary 
chattering that they made, condoling with each other when on re- 
occupying their nests they found them empty, was most comical." 

Mr. Scrope Doig writes from Sind : " Their nests, made of 
sticks, were on tamarisk-trees in dense jungle in the water ; the 
usual number of eggs in a nest was four, but in some cases there 
were five." 

And Colonel Butler, renting his own and Mr. Doig's experiences, 
says : " On visiting the E. Narra, Sind, with Mr. Doig on the 
22nd July, 1878, we found one or two tamarisk-thickets, stand- 
ing out in the water of a large dhund like islands, swarming with 
Purple Herons and numerous other species of the same family that 
had just begun to lay. In other parts of the Narra that had 
become inundated earlier, Mr. Doig found nests at the end of June ; 
but some of the colonies we observed were only building when we 
left the district at the end of July. In one or two instances when 
the nests were examined before the birds had laid, they deserted 
the breeding-ground, carrying every stick of their nests off with 

And he adds : " I found two colonies of Purple Herons num- 
bering 20 or 30 pairs each at Milana, 18 miles E. of Deesa, on the 
21st August, 1876. The nests were good-sized stick structures, 
and built in a large bed of high bulrushes on the top of the 
rushes. Unfortunately every nest contained young birds, some 
three, some four. On the following day, 22nd August, I found a 
single nest in an isolated clump of bulrushes growing in another 
tank, containing four incubated eggs, which with considerable diffi- 
culty I managed to blow." 

Colonel Legge remarks of the breeding of this species in Ceylon : 
" I have found this Heron nesting on the shores of Bolgodde Lake, 
in the Western Province, in December, and on the tanks in the 
south-east of the island in February and March. It breeds in other 
similar localities throughout the island. The nests in the first- 
named place were made on huge screw-pines (Pandanus), the 
leaves being beaten down at the origin of a branch, so as to form, 
a platform on which the eggs were laid ; in the latter district the 
nests were buil of sticks on bushy, thorny trees growing in a 
partlv-dried tank near the celebrated temple of Tissa Maha Kama. 

"Around this tank and in similar trees growing in its muddy 
bottom, hundreds of Herons, Ibises, Cormorants, Darters, Egrets, 
Spoonbills, and Pelicans were nesting, and the din of the thousand 


cries and screams of these huge birds, as they circled in the air and 
re-circled and dashed round our heads, combined with the splendid 
sight they themselves presented, filling the air and lining the trees 
in long rows on the topmost branches, united to form such a scene 
as can only be witnessed at these great breeding colonies, scattered 
about, few and far between, in the wildest parts of our island." 

Mr. Gates writes from Pegu : " The Sittang river at a place 
near Myitkyo takes a sudden turn to the west for five miles and 
then turns again to the east for the same distance, thus forming a 
peninsula about 5 miles long and "2 miles broad. The whole of 
this area is ojie vast dismal swamp, the chief feature of which is a 
gigantic reed called Kyu by the Burmese. This swamp in the 
rains becomes the resort of myriads of birds. It is possible to enter 
the swamp only during the highest floods, for otherwise the reeds 
offer too great a resistance to a canoe, and at the best the progress 
by poling is not more than 200 or 300 yards an hour. What 
wonders the interior of the swamp could reveal I cannot say, for I 
have never been able to penetrate it more than half a mile. 

" The numbers of nests of all sorts met with is marvellous. In 
pushing along the young fall, and eggs roll, into the canoe, and in 
some parts there must be a nest either of a Heron, Bittern, or Cor- 
morant on every square yard of reeds. Three nests frequently 
touch each other. 

" The most numerous species is perhaps the Purple Heron. It 
constructs a nest of sticks and the broken branches of the reeds 
about a foot in diameter and eight inches deep, nearly flat at top, 
and lays four or five eggs. The nest is placed about four feet 
above the uater, resting on three or four reed-stems which they or 
the wind have bent towards one point. I took eggs on the 
7th July and 1st August, but cannot state the extreme limits of 
the breeding-season." 

The eggs of this species closely resemble those of the Common 
Heron, but taken as a body they are considerably smaller, more 
pointed, and paler-coloured than those of that species. With 
these exceptions every description of the latter applies equally to 
the eggs of A. purjjurea, and individual eggs of each species may 
be selected that are altogether undistinguishable. 

The eggs vary in length from T95 to 2-46, and in breadth from 
l'4'2 to 1'75 ; but the average of twenty-one is 2'17 by 1'56. 

Herodias alba (Linn.). The Large White Egret. 

Herodias alba (Linn.}, Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 744. 

Ardea egretta, Gm., Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 925. 

The Large White Egret breeds pretty well all over the countrv, 
but is in most places numerically scarce as compared with the two 
other White Egrets. 

I have only found its eggs in Upper India in July and August, 
but I believe that in Southern India, like -many other species, it 
breeds in December. 


They build loose flat ragged structures of sticks and coarse twigs 
(with no lining and with a very slight central depression) on large 
trees, mostly (in Upper India) on tamarinds, neem, and mangoes. 

They always breed in company with others of the tribe. 

Three is the ordinary number of eggs I think, though I have 
once or twice found four. 

The following account by an anonymous writer, sent me I do not 
know by whom, in regard to the nidification of this and many 
other of the following species, at one of their large breeding haunts 
in Southern India, gives a good idea of how these birds con- 
gregate : 

" About fifty miles from Madras and twelve miles from Chin- 
gleput in a south-easterly direction is a small village, called Vaden 
Thaugul, which means literally * Hunter's Kest,' from vaden 
' hunter ' and tliaugul ' rest.' To the south of the village lies 
one of those small tanks called ' Thaugul '" by the Tamil ryots, 
implying a water-rest or temporary reservoir, from which the village 
derives its name. 

" The Vadeu Thaugul tank is situated north north-west of the 
Carangooly Fort, and is three and a half miles distant in a direct 
line from the Great Southern Trunk Boad. 

" The bund, whose greatest height is twelve feet, commences 
from a piece of high ground near the village, runs for a distance of 
about six hundred yards in a south-easterly direction, then takes a 
sharp turn almost at a right angle, and terminates in high ground 
about two hundred yards further on. The waterspread is limited 
on the north-east by slightly rising ground overgrown with low 
jungle, and on the east south-east by high gravelly and rocky 
ground. The area comprised in the tank is about thirty-five 

" From the north-east to the centre of the bed of the tank there 
are some five or six hundred trees of the Barrinytonia racemos, 
from about ten to fifteen feet in height, with circular, regular, 
moderate-sized crowns, and when the tank fills, which it does 
during the monsoons, the tops only of the trees are just visible 
above the level of the water. 

" This place forms the breeding resort of an immense number of 
Water-fowl, Herons, Shell-Ibises, Ibises, AVater-Crows or Cor- 
morants, Darters and Paddy-birds, &c., make it their rendezvous 
on these occasions. 

"From about the middle of October to the nr'ddle of November 
small flocks of twenty or thirty of some of these birds are to be 
seen coming from the north to settle here during the breeding- 
season. By the beginning of December they have all settled down ; 
each tribe knows its appointed time, and arrives year after year 
with the utmost regularity within a fortnight later or earlier, 
depending partly on the seasons. They commence immediately by 
building their nests or repairing the old ones preparatory to de- 
positing their eggs. ^Vhen they have fully settled down, the scene 
becomes one of great interest and animation. 


"During the day the majority are out feeding, and towards 
evening the various birds begin to arrive in parties of ten, fifteen, 
or more, and in a short time the trees are literally covered with 
bird-life : every part of the crown is hidden by its noisy occupants, 
who fight and struggle with each other for perches. Each tree 
appears like a moving mass of black, white, and grey, the snowy 
white plumage of the Egrets and Ibises contrasting with, and 
relieved by, the glossy black of the Water-Crows and Darters and 
by the grey and black plumage of the Shell-Ibises. 

" The nests lie side by side touching each other, those of the 
different species arranged in groups of five or six, or even as many 
as ten or twenty, on each tree. 

" The nests are shallow, and vary in inside diameter from 6 to 8 
inches, according to the size of the bird. 

" The Ibises do not build separate nests, but raise a large mound 
of twigs and sticks shelved into terraces as it were, and each terrace 
forms a separate nest ; thus eight or ten run into each other. The 
Shell-Ibises sometimes adopt a similar plan. 

"The whole of the nests are built of sticks and twigs, inter- 
woven to the height of 8 or 10 inches, with an outside diameter of 
18 to 24 inches ; the inside is slightly hollowed out, in some more 
and in others less, and lined with grass ; reeds and quantities of 
leaves are laid on the nests. In January the callow young are to be 
seen in the nests. During this time the parent birds are con- 
stantly moving on the wing, backwards and forwards, in search for 
food, now returning to their young loaded with the spoil, and 
again, as soon as they have satisfied their cravings, going off in 
search of a further supply. About the end of January or early in 
February the young are able to leave their nests and scramble into 
those of others. They begin to perch about the trees, and by the 
end of February or the beginning of March those that were hatched 
first are able to take wing and accompany their parents on 
foraging expeditions ; and a week or two later, in consequence of 
the drying-up of the tanks in the vicinity, they begin to emigrate 
towards the north with their parents and friends, except perhaps a 
few whose young are not as yet fledged, and who stay behind 
some time longer. Thus in succession the different birds leave the 
place, so that it is completely deserted by the middle of April, by 
which time the tank also becomes dry ; and the village cattle graze 
in its bed or shelter themselves under the trees from the scorching 
heat of the mid-day sun, while the cow-boys find amusement in 
pulling down the deserted nests." 

I have seen scores of similar breeding-places in Upper India, 
but these are always occupied with us in July and August. Can 
it be that any of the birds that breed in the south in December 
and January breed again with us in July ? Certainly, during the 
cold season one does not see a tithe of the birds about Etawah, 
say, that are to be seen during our rainy season. 

Major Biugham remarks : " I found two or three nests of this 
large Egret in July near ' Reya-ka-tal,' eight miles from Alla- 


Colonel Butler writes : " Mr. Doig arid I found large numbers 
of this Egret breeding in the E. Narra, Sind, at the end of July 
1878. The nests were scattered about promiscuously amongst 
the nests of numerous other species and not built in separate 

Colonel Legge says : " In Ceylon it breeds in company with 
other Egrets and Herons near tanks and inland waters throughout 
the wildest parts of the low country. I found it nesting, thus, at 
Uduwila tank, near Tissa Maha Eama in the south-east. The 
nests were made of sticks and quite flat and placed on the lateral 
branches of low thorny trees. The number of eggs was three or 
four ; colour, uniform pale greenish blue ; axis 2 inches, diameter 
1-39." And he adds that the breeding-season is December, January, 
and February. 

Mr. Gates writes from Pegu : " Almost every tope of mango- 
trees forms a breeding-place for these birds, which commence to 
build nests about the middle of June. 

" They also breed in large quantities in the swamp at Myitkyo, 
making a similar nest to that of A. purpurea, and frequently 
the two nests are in contact with a small Cormorant's next door.'' 

The eggs are of the true Heron type, exactly similar in texture 
of shell and colour to those of Ardea cinerea and A. purpurea ; 
but, as a body, slightly smaller than those of either of these species, 
and on the whole perhaps more elongated in shape. 

In length they vary from 1'88 to 2*38, and in breadth 
from 1*4 to 1*6 ; but the average of a dozen, which is all I have by 
me, is 2-11 by 1-55. 

Herodias intermedia, van Hass. The Lesser Egret. 

Herodias egrettoides (Temm.), Jerd. B. 2nd. ii, p. 745. 

Ardea intemedia, van Hass., Hume, Rough Draft N. fyE. no. 926. 

The Lesser Egret is generally distributed throughout India, and 
breeds in the northern portions of the continent in July and part 
of August, arid apparently in the southern portion of the Peninsula 
which receives the north-east monsoon in December. 

It invariably breeds in colonies, generally in company with many 
other kinds of Herons, Ibises, &c. 

This species, B. coromandus, and A. yrayi commonly breed in 
towns. The way they pack in their breeding-places at times is 
astonishing. In the ne\v city of Etawah there was a small 
Mahomedan graveyard in which stood a few old tamarind-trees, 
and on these in my time, that is to say from 1856 to 1866 (most 
probably they do the same to this day), hundreds of each of the 
three species above-mentioned used every year to breed. On one 
tree we counted one hundred and ninety-eight nests (and a precious 
job we had to count them), the greater number of which were 
occupied. On one nearly horizontal bough we counted in a length 
of 21 feet eighteen nests, all side by side 011 the flat surface of the 


bough, with barely room in most cases for one bird to stand be- 
tween two nests, and with no room at all in some. We computed 
that on these few trees not less than seven hundred pairs of birds 
had nests. The three species did not appear to have quarters of 
their own in this heronry, as I have often noticed in others, but 
\vriv all jumbled up together indiscriminately. Year after year I 
watched them ; they began to repair or build their nests after the 
first good downpour of the rainy-season, that is, some time between 
the 1st June and the 1st July ; the first eggs were laid within 
a fortnight, and in another three weeks almost every nest had 
its full complement of four eggs. 

The nests are precisely of the same type as those of the pre- 
ceding species, but are smaller (on the average I should say a little 
less than a foot in diameter and 3 inches in thickness) and are 
composed of more slender twigs. Generally they are unlined; 
sometimes they have a thin lining of sedge and coarse grass. 

Major C. T. Bingham remarks : " I have found the nests of 
this bird both at Allahabad and at Delhi in July and August. They 
sometimes breed in company, sometimes alone on a tree by 
themselves. Nests on loose platforms of sticks with a thin lining 
of grass on which the eggs, usually four in number, lie." 

Colonel Butler, referring to Sind, says : " Mr. Doig and I 
found an enormous colony of this species breeding in company 
with many other kinds of Herons, Egrets, Cormorants, &c., on the 
24th July, 1878, in the E. Narra, Sind. 

" The nests were built in a dense tamarisk-thicket growing out 
in the water at heights varying from 3 to 10 feet above the level 
of the water." 

And writing from Deesa, he remarks : " I found several large 
colonies of the smaller Egret breeding in high bulrushes in company 
with Ardea purpurea, on the 21 st August, 1876, at Milaua, 18 miles 
east of Deesa. The nests, like those of the Purple Heron, were 
composed of dead sticks and built on the top of the rushes. 
Several pairs of N.nycticorax rose out of the rushes also when my 
men entered to take the nests, but the coolies declared that they 
had no nests. The nests of the other two species, A. purpurca and 
H. intermedia, were mixed indiscriminately, not built in separate 

In Ceylon, according to Colonel Legge, this Egret breeds from 
December to April, and even to May. 

The eggs of this species are typically very perfect and rather 
broad ovals, but many eggs are perceptibly compressed or pointed 
towards one end, and elongated and pyriform varieties occur. 

They are of course of the true Heron type already described, 
but the shells are, I think, somewhat finer than those of either of 
the three preceding species, and taken as a body they are of a 
decidedly paler sea or bluish green than those of any of these 
latter. In size they are intermediate between the eggs of //. alba 
and H. yarzetta. 

In length they vary from 1*68 to 2'08 inch, and in breadth from 
1-32 to 1-52 ; but the average of thirty-seven eggs is 1-9 by 1-44. 

TOL. in. 16 

242 AEDEID.T. 

Herodias garzetta (Linn.). The Little Egret. 

Herodias garzetta (Linn.), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 746. 

Ardea garzetta, Linn., Hume, Rough Draft N. # E. no. 927. 

Of the nidification of the Little Egret there is little to be said. 
They breed in company with the two preceding and other species, 
make precisely similar but smaller nests, and lay very similar eggs, 
but rather more of them, as I have repeatedly found five and even 
six in a nest of this species. 

With us on the north the breeding-season is July and August, 
but in the south of the peninsula it would seem to be December, 
while in Ceylon it would appear to be April. 

Layard gives the following account of one of the breeding- 
places of this and other kindred species in that island. He 
says : " Halfway between Tangalle and Matura is a large lake, 
which an official attendance on the Supreme Court of Judicature 
fortunately enabled me to visit. While the court officers halted 
for the heat of the day, I set off on horseback from the rest-house 
and galloped to the village, having sent forward mjjldus Achates, 
Muttu, overnight with orders to prepare me a boat. This was in 
waiting when I arrived a canoe so narrow that I could not sit in 
it, or rather on it, with my knees together. To remedy this defect 
Muttu had fastened a bottomless chair over it, and had woven 
some coir-rope across the chasm. 

" The canoe, the only one to be had, was about twelve feet long, 
worm-eaten throughout, and one end gone entirely, its place being 
supplied with a piece of fresh turf to keep out the water ! Into 
this I and Muttu and a steersman got, the villagers pushed us off, 
and when fairly afloat I found the top of the gunwale about three 
inches from the water, and that my frail vessel leaked in fifty 

" From my elevated position I counted one, two, three, a dozen 
alligators, and I anxiously enquired of my black and all-but-nude 
crew if they were of the harmless kind. A shake of the head and 
the word ' Alliekimboola ' by no means reassured me ; it meant 
they were all man-eaters ! 

" I looked at my boat, then at the loathsome reptiles floating 
around me, then at my boat again : it would not do. I must give 
it up, the risk was too great ; the least sudden thoughtless move 
might overset us. I tried the outrigger with my foot that was 
firm ; the nigger knew his safety lay there. ' Crack ' went the 
collecting- gun close to my ear, and down came a specimen of 
Nycticoraoc griseus, a bird until then new to me ; this turned the 
scale, and I ordered the boat forward ; thousands of water-birds 
rose at the report, and soon the guns were busily employed. It 
was full breeding-season. Herons, Spoonbills, Ibises, Pelicans, 
&c., swarmed in the air and on the trees, while their nests were 
so crowded as to touch each other. 


" I could only get a few of those Dearest the lake; up to them 
the men climbed from the boat, not daring to venture into the 
water, which was alive with alligators watching for the young birds 
which fell from the nests ; several times they snapped up the birds 
which I shot before I could get them, though they only fell fifteen 
or twenty yards away. The branches of the trees were white with 
droppings, and the water below thick and putrid ; the stench was 
intolerable. It was with difficulty 1 could distinguish one nest 
from another, so as to be certain of the parentage of the eggs ; but 
by remaining quiet I marked a bird to its nest, and then rowed up 
to it, robbed it, and then lay-to again. The nests seemed to be 
used year after year, if one may judge from the masses of sticks of 
different ages of which they were composed. My guide also con- 
firmed this idea, and said the birds were not particular as to 
the nest one species occupying it one year, another the next 

Unfortunately most of my eggs were hard-set. 1 was there 
at the beginning of May. In shape they are equal at both ends 
and very rounded; they are also all of the pure pale-blue colour." 
Colonel Butler writes from Siud : " Mr. Doig and I found this 
species breeding in hundreds with other Egrets and Herons on the 
24th July, 1878, in the E. Karra, Sind. The eggs, varying from 
4 to 5 in number, were mostly fresh. The breeding-place con- 
sisted of a dense tamarisk-thicket, several acres in extent, that had 
become partly submerged by the rise of the Indtis, looking like a 
large island in the middle of an immense dhund ; and in the upper 
branches of these trees, sometimes only four or five feet from the 
surface of the water, the nests were built in countless numbers. 
I fancy that the birds of this family in this part of the country 
never leave their nests when once they have laid until the eggs 
are hatched, as we always found them on their nests, and the 
moment they rose on our approach flocks of Crows descended and 
carried off every egg they could find, and it was only by arming 
ourselves with eggs of some of the commoner species that we did 
not want and using them freely as missiles that we were able to 
secure the few eggs we wanted for ourselves." 

Mr. Davidson informs us that in Western Khandesh the breeding- 
season of this Heron is April. 

Mr. Gates notes from Pegu : " In most parts of Burma this 
bird makes its nest in trees ; but near Myitkyo, in the swamp 
already mentioned under A. purpurea, it builds among the reeds, 
making a nest of small sticks about one foot in diameter. It 
breeds in July and August." 

The eggs of this species are precisely similar in most respects io 
those of the last-described species, but they are decidedly smaller, 
and very pale bluish-white varieties, approaching the coloration of 
those of Bubulcvs coromandus, are much commoner amongst them. 
In length they vary from 1'6 to 1-85, and in breadth from 1-25 
to 1*38; but the average of twenty-eight eggs is 1'73 by 1-32. 


244 ABDEID.E. 

Demiegretta gularis (Bosc). The Western Reef-Heron. 

Demiegretta asha (St/kes), Jerd. B. 2nd. ii, p. 747. 
Ardea gularis, Bosc, Hume, Hough Draft N. fy E. no. 928. 

The Western Beef-Heron is found as a permanent resident 
along, and in the neighbourhood of, the whole western coast of 
India from Soomeanee Bay to Cape Comorin, and up the eastern 
coast as far as Paumben (further up I have not yet certainly traced 
it), and in Ceylon. 

Mr. Layard has recorded that this bird occurs in the Jaffna estuary 
and a lake near Chilaw ; and he says : " The eggs are of a pale 
blue colour ; in shape a rounded oval. Axis 1*83 ; diameter 1/42. 
The nest is a huge structure of sticks placed in trees by the water- 
side. Incubation goes on in May and June in the Chilaw Lake. 
Eggs said to be from four to six in number." 

Nests said to belong to this species, pointed out to me on the 
mangrove trees in Karachi Harbour, were very moderate-sized 
stick nests in the tops of the mangrove bushes, perhaps at most 5 
or 6 feet above high-water level. 

Colonel Butler has sent me the following interesting note on 
the breeding of this species : " About the 9th May, 1878, my 
friend Mr. Nash, Telegraph Dept., kindly, at my request, sent a 
boat to Kalmat, a creek about 20 or 25 miles N.W. of Ormarra on 
the Hekrau coast, overgrown with mangrove bushes and running 
several miles inland, where small colonies of the present species 
and a white Egret about the same size, which I believe to be 
merely the white variety of this species, were breeding in company 
with a few Pond-Herons (A. grayi}. The nests were described as 
being of the usual Egret tvpe, composed of twigs of mangrove 
bushes and lined with green leaves of the same tree, the whole 
being about a foot in diameter. 

" The eggs, varying in number from 3 to 5, have a peculiarity 
in some instances which I have never observed in the eggs of any 
other Egret, and that is, if examined very closely, they exhibit two 
different shades of colouring, which is produced by the pale bluish- 
green colour of the lower surface showing through the paler blue 
upper surface in small patches, and looking as if the outer blue 
covering had been rubbed off in places. In many eggs it does not 
exist, and where it does exist it requires very close scrutiny and 
a good light to observe it ; but, as I said before, I believe it to be 
a peculiarity confined to the eggs of this species. 

" Knowing of a clump of mangrove bushes, in the Karachi 
Harbour, where these birds bred last year, I wrote and asked my 
friend Capt. Bishop to visit the place at the beginning of May 
this year (1878), and the result was he procured a nice series of 
fresh eggs, all of which were taken between the 8th and 21st of 
the month, after which date all of the nests contained either young 
birds, or eggs too far gone to blow. Four was the greatest number 
of eggs in one nest. 


" In this instance, as in the one above, the white and blue birds 
were breeding together, in company with a few Pond-Herons (A. 
r/rat/i). The nests were similar to those already described, except 
that many of them looked like old nests repaired for the occasion. 
" On the 3rd May, 1878, a few more eggs were taken on Waarba 
Island, Khore Abdulla, at the head of the Persian Gulf, and the 
man who took them for me described the nests as platforms of 
twigs, about 1| ft. high, neatly built on the ground. This unusual 
site would be explained by the total absence of any kind of trees 
or vegetation on tbe island for the birds to build upon, and on 
account of its being in a place where human beings are almost 
unknown. The nests contained three fresh eggs each. In this 
instance there were no white birds, only the blue variety. 

" My reasons now for arriving at the conclusion that the white 
and blue birds are the same bird in different varieties of plumage 
are as follows : First, they breed together in the same localities, 
viz. mangrove swamps, and at the same season; second, that Hero- 
dias intermedia, the only other species that the white bird could 
well be mistaken for, does not breed in this part of the country I 
believe before July ; third, that the eggs of the two varieties are 
inseparable, and both exhibit the peculiarity of colouring I have 
pointed out above. Then, again, A. intermedia resorts to the large 
dhunds inland to breed, and breeds in immense colonies, in com- 
pany with other Herons and Egrets, and it is hardly likely that a 
few odd pairs would breed along the coast about two months 
before the proper time for tbe sake of the company of Demieyretta 

" There is one circumstance, however, that I must mention that 
rather argues in favour of the white and blue birds being separate 
species, and that is, in Mr. hash's letter he says : ' Out of the 
numerous incubated eggs brought in, many of which were too far 
gone to blow, and all of which were carefully marked, we found 
that all of those marked Blue Egret contained dark chicks, and all 
of those that were marked White Egret contained white chicks 
without a single exception.' The men who took the eggs say that 
incubation only lasts for seven days, which is probably explained 
by the extreme heat and the moist climate. This they proved by 
visiting the place twice ; the first time the nests all contained fresh 
eggs, and the second time, seven days later, many of them contained 
young birds, and most of the remaining eggs were too much incu- 
bated to blo\v. It will be observed that these Herons lay about 
the same time all along the coast, viz., about the first week in May, 
and so punctual are they that unless the nests are visited within 
about the first half of the month there is very little chance of 
procuring fresh eggs." 

In shape the eggs vary but little ; they are all very regular 
moderately elongated ovals, but whereas the majority have the two 
ends obtuse and almost precisely similar, in a few there is a slight 
tendency to point at both ends. The shell is hard and compact, 


but not fine, and has no gloss whatsoever ; in colour it is a uniform 
delicate sea-green, very much like that of A. grayi. 

In length the eggs vary from 1-72 to 2'01 and in breadth from 
1-28 to 1-41. 

Demiegretta sacra (Grin.). The Eastern Reef-Heron. 
Ardea sacra, Gm., Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 928 bis. 

Within our limits we only as yet know of this Reef-Heron's 
breeding in the Andamaus and Nicobars, the Tenasserim and 
Arracan coasts. 

In the Andamans it lays from the middle of April to the middle 
of June, a little earlier or later according to the time the monsoon 
sets in. 

Mr. Davison remarks : " At the Andamans, at least in Port 
Blair and its immediate vicinity, it is not nearly so abundant as it 
is at the Nicobars. At the Andamans it breeds on a small islet of 
Corbyn's Cove, South Andaman. This islet is low and rocky, and 
is partially covered at high tide. About the centre it rises into a 
rugged crag, about fifteen or twenty feet high, full of crevices. 
It is partially covered with coarse grass, and out of one side grows 
a stunted ragged tree. In the crevices and in some of the larger 
branches of the tree these birds build their nests, which are simply 
platforms of sticks with only a slight depression for the eggs. In 
the early part of May there were six nests on the island, but 1 
only obtained one egg ; the birds had not laid in the others, though 
they had apparently ceased building. The vicinity of these nests 
had a very disagreeable fishy smell. All the Herons I saw on this 
island were the dark ashy ones, and one that was caught on her 
nest was also of the dark variety. At Trinkut Island the natives 
told me that they built their nests on the cocoanut palms." 

Capt. E.E. Shopland writes that on the 19th May he had occasion 
to visit Oyster Island, off the Arrakan coast, and that he found eight 
or nine nests of this Reef- Heron in a patch of thorny jungle near 
the centre of the island. The nests were from one to three feet 
from the ground, and were composed of dead sticks and leaf-stalks. 
No nest contained more than three eggs. The colour of the eggs 
was light green, and they measured on the average T76 by 1*28 

To judge from those taken by Mr. Davison and others sent me 
by Captain Wimberley, which were taken somewhat later in the 
year, the eggs are of the ordinary Heron type, moderately elon- 
gated ovals in shape, the shell rather coarse, much pitted with 
minute pores, and entirely glossless. The colour is a uniform 
very pale sea-green. They have of course no markings or spots of 
any kind, though as incubation proceeds they get more or less 
stained and tinged with brownish soils. They vary from 1*59 to 
1-85 in length, arid from 1/25 to 1'33 in breadth. The average of 
seven eggs is 1-7 by 1-3. 


Bubulcns coromandus (Bodd.). The Cattle-Egret. 

Buphus coromandus (Bodd.), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 749. 

Ardea coromanda (Bodd.), Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. no. 929. 

The Cattle-Egret breeds throughout the Empire, except in 
absolutely waterless and almost rainless tracts. In Upper India it 
breeds from June to August in the rainy-season, which there is 
brought by the south-west monsoon, but in those parts of Southern 
India, which mostly get their rains in the north-east or winter 
monsoon, it breeds in November and December. In Cevlon it 
breeds in April and May, and probably in the case of all these 
Herons some birds may be found in one part or other of the 
country breeding in every month of the year. 

A- a rule, the Cattle-Egret breeds in company with the White 
Egrets and the Pond-Heron. Sometimes, however, a colony of 
them may be found breeding alone. 

They always, so far as my experience goes, breed upon trees, 
tamarinds being, I think, their favourites in Upper India, and very 
commonly on trees about village ponds, and they make the usual 
stick nests and lay four or five eggs. 

Mr. Adam says, writing from the Sambhur Lake : " The Cattle- 
Egret is very common about this. It breeds in June and July. 
In a village close to Sambhur I found a breeding-place in which 
some hundreds of birds had their nests." 

Colonel Butler remarks : " The Cattle-Egret breeds in the 
neighbourhood of Deesa in July and August. They are later in 
breeding than Ardeola grayi. I found a colony in the middle of 
the Suddur bazaar at the end of the camp, on the 18th July, 1876. 
There were in all about twenty or thirty pairs, and the nests were 
about a yard apart, sometimes even closer, placed on the same low 
trees upon which the nests of A. grayi were built that I robbed 
earlier in the season (May 26th). The eggs were mostly fresh. 
The nests are exactly the same as those of A. grayi. 

' Mr. Doig and I found large colonies breeding in the E. Narra, 
Sind, during the last week in July, 1878, in company with other 
Herons and Egrets. The eggs, distinguishable at a glance from 
all other Egrets that breed with us by their very pale colour 
(almost white), varied in number from three to five, and were 
nearly all fresh." 

Major Bingham, writing both of this species and of Ardeola 
grayi, says : " Two birds whose nests I have seen in greater 
numbers than those of any other Indian bird. They breed very 
commonly both at Allahabad and at Delhi in July, August, and 

And Mr. George Reid informs us that near Lucknow he found 
numerous nests in August, mostly occupied by young birds. 

Writing from the Deccan, Messrs. Davidson and Wenden say : 
" Numerous during rainy and cold seasons. D. knows two places 
in the Sholapoor collectorate where it breeds in the hot weather." 

The eggs of this species are, as a body, distinguished from 

248 AKDEIDvE. 

those of all our other Indian Herons with which I am acquainted 
by their very pale colour. In other species, and specially in 
//. yarzetta, pale varieties occur, but in this species the eggs are 
always pale, and I have never yet myself taken a deeply coloured 
one. 1 have seen eggs of a rich sea-green attributed to this 
species, but in my opinion erroneously so. These birds breed in 
company with various other species, and, unless the nests are very 
carefully watched, mistakes as to the parentage of the eggs are 
sure to occur. I have taken certainly two hundred of the eggs of 
this species with my own hands, and they were one and all white 
with a faint blue or green tinge, recalling in tint the eggs of 
Astur badius or Butastur teesa. The eggs vary much in size and 
shape, but are typically rather broad ovals, somewhat pointed 
towards one end. Some eggs are, however, a good deal elongated, 
some are pointed at both ends like those of a Grebe, and some eggs 
are obtuse and symmetrical at both ends. The texture of the 
shell is compact and fine, differing in no appreciable respects from 
that of the other small Herons' eggs. 

In length the eggs vary from 1*6 to 1'85 inch, and in breadth 
from 1*22 to 1*4 ; but the average of thirty-two eggs, now in 
my collection, is 1*71 by T32. 

Ardeola grayi (Sykes). The Pond-Heron. 

Ardeola leucoptera (Bodd.), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 751. 
Ardeola grayi (Sykes), Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 930. 

The Pond-Heron, perhaps one of the very commonest and most 
familiar birds in India, breeds everywhere throughout the empire. 

Dr. Jerdon says : " It breeds on trees, sometimes alone, some- 
times several on the same tree, making a rough nest of sticks and 
laying four or five pale greenish- blue eggs ; " and if we add that 
it often also breeds in company with many of the preceding species, 
that it not unfrequently lays six eggs', and that these are not 
typically pale, but pretty deep greenish blue, there is little, I think, 
left to be said." 

With us in Upper India they lay chiefly in July and August, 
and in Southern India within the range of the north-east monsoon 
in December apparently. 

Colonel Butler writes : " The Pond-Heron breeds in the neigh- 
bourhood of Deesa in the months of May, June, July, August, and 
September. I found a large colony breeding on neem trees in the 
Deesa bazaar on the 26th of May, 1876. The nests were usually 
built upon the small branches of the trees, and consequently some- 
what difficult to get at. They were small and built of dead sticks 
loosely put together, looking like old Crows' nests, generally three 
or four on one tree, sometimes more, sometimes less. I found 
many more nests later on in June, July, August, and September, 
but in the latter month they nearly all contained young birds. 
Most of the nests I examined contained three eggs, but in a few 
instances there were four." 


In Western Khandesh, says Mr. Davidson, this Heron " breeds 
from May to July along the Panjra and probably elsewhere." 

Colonel Legge, writing from Ceylon, says that " the Pond-Heron 
breeds in the south of the island in May and June, commencing to 
la\ r about the end of the former month ; it chooses a lonely spot, 
such as an island in a lake, to form its colony. In such a place 
on a large sheet of water between G-alle and Matara, on the loth 
of June, 1871, 1 discovered a Heronry. The nests were built on 
a low bushy tree called in Singalese ' Cadool,' a species of Rhizo- 
phora, and the only kind of tree on the islet. In some trees there 
were five or six nests ; they were constructed of twigs or small 
sticks, and placed in the forks of branches ; there was but little 
hollow in them for the reception of the eggs, and no lining ; in 
fact, they resembled massive Pigeons' nests. In most there were 
three, in others two, and in a few four eggs. Colour, pale bluish 
green; average dimensions of a number of specimens axis, 1-57; 
diameter, 1'18. At this time a few young were hatched, and a 
fortnight later I found numbers out; they were to be seen stand- 
ing up in the nests and, when molested, scrambled along the thin 
branches, perching on these twigs with the greatest care. In the 
very young nestling the bill is fleshy red, and legs and feet bright 

Mr. Gates writes from Pegu : " I have taken eggs of this 
species as early as the 31st May, and some at this date were well 
advanced towards hatching. Most birds frequent trees, but a few 
apparently nest in the reeds at Myitkyo, though I did not see the 

The eggs of this species are slightly elongated ovals, generally 
perceptibly pointed at one end and not unfrequently at both ends. 
Pale varieties are uncommon in this species. As a rule, they are 
a pretty deep sea-green or greenish blue, and when fresh darker 
and greener as a body, I think, than those of any of the other 
small Herons. In most collections that I have seen, the eggs of 
these various Herons are much intermingled, owing to the habit 
of numerous species breeding together, not only on the same trees, 
but even on the same branches, nest touching nest ; but where a 
large series of eggs of each species have been carefully taken, each 
will be found to possess a certain character of its own, and in 
some, as in the present and preceding species, this is well marked. 

In length the eggs vary from T35 to 1'62 inch, and in breadth 
from 1-1 to 1-25; but the average of fifty-five eggs is T48 by 

Butorides javanica (Horsf.). The Little Green Bittern. 

Butorides javanica (Horsf. \ Jerd. JR. Ind. ii, p. 752 Hume, Rough 
Draft X. Sf E. no. 931. 

The Little Green Bittern is generally, though sparingly, distri- 
buted over the whole country, and is, so far as I have observed, a 
permanent resident where it occurs. It therefore probably also 

250 ARDEID^E. 

breeds all over the country in its favourite haunts, the more or less 
tree-overshadowed banks of canals and streams (rarely jheels), 
where it lurks during the heat of the day in low bushes, clumps of 
rush or brushwood, or pendent leafy branches overhanging the 
water, only as a rule making its appearance in the mornings and 
evenings, stealthily skulking along the water's edge. 

A nest I once found was in a clump of reed and rush outside 
the Western Jumna Canal, a few miles from Paneeput, on the 21st 
July. It was partly supported on the twigs of a dead sunken 
babool branch, and partly on rushes bent down over this, forming 
a little platform about 2 feet above the water's edge. It was a 
small stick nest, perhaps 8 inches in diameter, with a perceptible 
depression in the centre, and contained three perfectly fresh eggs. 
The bird rose from the nest within twenty feet of me, but not 
knowing there was a nest there I did not lire at it, but my man 
who was searching the rushes found it a few minutes later before 
I had moved from the spot, and then came and pulled and pushed 
the rushes aside so that I could see it plainly. 

Colonel Gr. F. L. Marshall remarks: ;t I found this species 
breeding in the Muttra District in August ; on the 30th I found 
a nest in a keekur tree at the edge of a jheel near the canal, on a 
horizontal branch, about twenty feet from the ground. It was a 
very slight structure of sticks. There were three young ones 
nearly Hedged, which had left the nest and were creeping about 
among the thorny branches, but quite unable to fly." 

Mr. Doig writes from iSind : " The Grreen Bittern is very 
common in certain portions of the Narra. In one clump of young 
babool trees about three hundred yards square I found fifteen nests, 
the number of eggs varying up to five. The birds make a very 
peculiar noise, between a hiss and a squeak, when on their nest, 
and in several instances the noise has betrayed to me the vicinity 
of the nest. I got their eggs from the 29th June up to the middle 
of August. The nest was very much in size the same as a Pond- 
Heron's, and as a rule in dense tamarisk or babool jungle in 

And Colonel Butler, referring to the same part of the country, 
says : " Mr. Doig and I found nests in the E. Narra on the fol- 
lowing dates : 30th ^June a nest containing one fresh egg, 27th 
July a nest containing five slightly incubated eggs, 28th July a 
nest containing five chicks and another containing three incubated 
eggs. All of these nests were found in dense thickets of tamarisk- 
trees growing out in a dhund." 

Mr. Gr. Vidal, writing of the South Konkan, remarks : " Com- 
mon and widely distributed both inland and on the coast. On the 
15th April, 1878, I have found a nest in a thorny bush, a few feet 
from the ground, on the banks of a small creeklet running into the 
Savitri river. The nest was a small stick platform, very shallow, 
with only a slight depression. Two fresh eggs of the usual eau de 
nil colour were secured. In shape they were almost pure ovals, 


measuring about 1'62 x 1-18. On the 20th April following, another 
nest, with one fresh egg, was found in a similar situation." 

The eggs are very uniform in shape and size, moderately broad, 
often slightly cylindrical ovals, normally quite symmetrical and 
obtuse at both ends, occasionally a specimen is met with showing 
a tendency to point at one or both ends. The shell is extremely 
line and compact ; it has no gloss, and is of a uniform pale sea- 
green ; held up against the light, the shell is an extremely bright 

A large series of eggs vary in length from 1*4 to 1-64, and in 
breadth from 1-08 to 1-23. 

Ardeiralla flavicollis (Lath.). The Blue Bittern. 

Ardetta flavicollis (Lath.), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 753. 

Ardea flavicollis, Lath., Hume, Rough Ih'aft N. $ E. no. 932. 

The Blue Bittern probably breeds over the whole Empire in 
suitable localities. 

\\~riting of the nidification of this Bittern in Sind, Mr. Scrope 
Doig says : " In January last, Captain Butler in Upper Sind, and 
I in these districts, both about the same time, thought we saw this 
bird. On the 4th May, however, I shot a pair and saw some 
dozen more, since then I have found them in three different places 
very numerous. Once the sun is well up, they are seldom seen 
unless actually beaten out of the dense tamarisk and reed jungle 
in which they lie hid. My plan was to go out some time before 
daybreak and paddle up in my canoe into the middle of the swamp, 
and hide in some bunch of rushes and wait till daylight. As day 
began to dawn birds of various kinds began to appear returning 
from the scenes of their night's dissipation ; some came along in 
flocks making a great noise, apparently quite satisfied with their 
night's work ; others came flitting silently along the top of the 
reeds, as if they were very much ashamed of themselves for being 
out so late. Among the latter were A. sinensis, A. minuta, and 
A. flavicollis. 

" By remaining hid I could mark down the different thickets 
into which the birds disappeared, and when I thought the birds 
had all returned I began searching one thicket after another. In 
this \vas r I got numerous nests, in each case taking the eggs 
myself and flushing the birds off the nest. The nests are formed 
of" tamarisk-twigs, with sometimes a few aquatic weeds on which 
the eggs are laid ; they are generally placed about 5 feet over the 
water, either in a dense tamarisk-bush or thick clump of weeds, 
and are about 9 inches in diameter, 3 inches thick, and have a 
vt-rv slight depression in which the eggs, always four in number, 
are laid. The eggs are for the most part very broad ovals, sharp 
at both ends, and very nearly white in colour, but with a faint 
suspicion of a delicate pale sea-green colour. The eggs vary in 
length from 1-5 to 1*85, and in width from 1'15 to 1'30, the 
average length of fifty-three eggs being T66, and width 1-26." 

252 ARDEID^E. 

Mr. Gates remarks : " Breeds commonly in Lower Pegu. On 
25th July found a nest near the top of a bamboo bush where 
several branches met and formed a strong platform. Composed 
merely of dry stalks and leaves of coarse grass and of indefinite 
shape ; four eggs nearly hatched ; colour pale green, with no gloss 
when fresh, but becoming shiny as incubation proceeds, when the 
ground-colour is barely visible owing to the dirt on the egg. On 
July 26th another nest on a mass of thorny bushes in a paddy- 
field ; three eggs, quite fresh. Dimensions of five: 1-61,1-56, 
1-68, 1-66, 1-61, by 1'2, 1-22, 1-25, 1-24, 1-25, respectively." 

The eggs of this species, received from Mr. Gates, are broad 
ovals of the usual Heron type. The ground-colour is white, with 
very faint green tinge. "Where incubation has been continued for 
any length of time, the eggs have become soiled and overlaid with 
a dingy yellowish-brown tinge. 

Ardetta cinnamomea (Gmel.). The Chestnut Bittern. 

Ardetta cinnamomea (Gm.}, Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 755. 

Ardea cinnamomea, Gm. } Hume, Hough Draft N. 8f E. no. 933. 

The only nest of the Chestnut Bittern I have myself seen, I 
found on the 27th July, in the Botanical Gardens, Calcutta, where 
I was at the time living. The garden coolies had brought my 
friend, Mr. J. C. Parker, five or six eggs of this species, of which 
there are numerous pairs about the gardens, and which (the 
Herons, not the gardens) the people call Lall-bag, and this led me 
to search for some for myself. After repeated hunts I found a 
nest on the bank of one of the tanks in the midst of dense rushes 
containing three fresh eggs. The nest was propped up on the 
roots of the rushes, about 2 inches off the ground, was about 7 
inches in diameter and 2 in thickness, with only a slight central 
depression, and was composed of rush and grass, and lined with 
rather finer grass. 

From Tipperah my friend the late Mr. Valentine Irwin sent me 
seven eggs and noted as follows : " I have now taken two nests 
of the Chestnut Bittern. The one which I took on the 30th May 
contained four fresh eggs. The nest was made of the leaves of 
reeds in short pieces. It was nearly flat, an inch in thickness, 
and placed in a cane-bush near the water's edge in a tank. The 
other, which I took on the 5th June, contained three fresh eggs 
and was composed of short pieces of grass and reed laid on the 
ground, at the roots of some water-plants in an old tank. In both 
cases I myself saw the female bird sitting on the eggs before I took 
them, and in the case of the first nest I shot her as she flew off, 
and now send the skin with all the eggs." 

Mr. Brooks, writing from Etawah, says : " On the 24th August, 
1869, five eggs were brought tome and described as those of a red- 
coloured Gallinula or Water-hen. These eggs strongly resembled 
those of the Little Bittern, Ardea minuta, which bird I endeav- 
oured to describe to Ungun, the boy who had taken the eggs, but 

AR1XETTA. 253 

he said it was quite another bird which flew from the nest, being 
entirely of a light reddish colour. 

" The next day I went to the place, which was a pond of about 
an acre in extent, covered with tall reeds, and with a patch of 
open water about twenty yards square. After beating the reeds 
in the vicinity of the nest one of these red birds came out, but out 
of shot from the place where I stood. 

" This I at once saw was no Gallinula, for it flew to a tall 
castor-oil plant growing at the side of a sugar-cane field and 
perched on the top of it. I endeavoured to get within shot, but 
it was too wary and flew away to a distance. The other bird caine 
out on the opposite side of the pond and flew away a hundred 
yards or so and returned to the pond. I again had the reeds 
beaten after I had gone to the other side of the pond, and this 
time the bird came out past me, a long 45-yards shot for No. 8 
shot, but I managed to secure it. It was, as I expected from the 
egg, a Little Heron or Bittern, Ardca cinnamomea. 

" I observed that the nest of this bird was built about 2 feet 
above the water-level on some reeds which had been bent down 
for the purpose. The nest was composed of water-grass and 
lined with coarse grass. The eggs were pure white with, when 
fresh taken, a very faint tinge of blue. In shape they were a 
perfect oval. 

" On the 4th September among some patches of reed on 
Jheenjuck Jheel, I again put up an Ardea cinnamomea, which I 
unfortunately shot. The nest was close by and contained only one 
fresh egg. The bird was the male, and the female flew off. The 
nest was, as before described, a platform of grass among the reeds, 
and placed on a few which were bent down. It was about 2 feet 
from the water surface and about 9 inches in diameter. It was 
quite flat without any central depression. The egg in colour and 
form resembled those formerly taken, but it is rather larger." 

Mr. Scrope Doig, writing from the Eastern Karra in Sind, 
informs us that he " found a nest of this species on the 3rd August 
in a thick clump of reeds in the middle of a swamp ; it contained 
four fresh eggs. The nest was a platform of coarse grass and 

Colonel Butler notes from Belgaum : " 20th July. Found a 
Chestnut Bittern's nest containing four slightly incubated eggs. 
The nest, which consisted of a tolerably substantial pad of short 
pieces of coarse, damp sedge lined with small pieces of dry grass, 
was built upon a small plot of rising ground in the middle of an 
inundated corn-field. The island was overgrown with grass, 2 or 
3 feet high, and weeds, and the nest was built in the grass about a 
foot from the ground, and some 9 or 10 feet from the water's edge. 
I visited the spot upon two different occasions and both times the 
hen bird was sitting and the cock bird was skulking in the grass 
close by. The eggs were very dirty, being covered all over with 
mud from the bird's feet and stains from the damp materials of 
which the nest was composed, and it took a considerable amount 


of washing and scrubbing to restore them to their normal colour, 
which seems to be almost pure white. 

" 24th July. Pound a nest containing two fresh eggs in a bed of 
dense bulrushes growing in the middle of a small tank. The nest 
was composed of a pad of coarse pieces of damp sedge and placed 
in dense rushes about 2 feet above the water-level, the rushes 
being beaten down for it to rest upon. The female bird rose 
straight off the nest as the beaters approached it. On re-visiting 
the tank on the 8th August a fortnight later I found another nest 
precisely similar about 10 yards from the one taken on the 24th 
July, containing three slightly incubated eggs. There were two 
pairs of birds in the rushes, but in all probability, as there were 
only three eggs in the second nest (four or five being the usual 
complement), both nests belonged to the same pair of birds." 

And he found more nests up to the 6th Sept., on which date a 
nest contained four slightly incubated eggs. 

Captain E. R. Shopland, I.M., records the following note from 
Calcutta: "From an overhanging bush by the long tank close to 
Bishop's College on 6th July I took the nest of a Chestnut 
Bittern containing three eggs hard-set; the nest was composed of 
grass and flat rush laid across, 8 inches in diameter and no de- 
pression in the centre; it was about 4 feet above the water. 

" I took another nest of the above species on 17th July containing 
four fresh eggs in the middle of a bed of rushes standing in 2 feet 
of water; nest 5 feet above the water and placed on a lot of 
rushes which have been bent down and interlaced. The riest was 
entirely composed of this rush split up and in lengths of 8, 9, and 
10 inches." 

In Ceylon, according to Colonel Legge, this Bittern breeds in 
June and July. 

Writing from Pegu Mr. Gates says : " Usually lays five eggs, 
but I have found six occasionally. Nest on ground in swampy 
places, a mere pad of green grass ; Lower Pegu. July 26th, six 
eggs slightly incubated. July 30th, five eggs fresh. August 10, 
four eggs fresh. August 19th. five eggs much incubated. 

" Eggs measure in length from 1'36 to 1'21 and in breadth from 
1-1 to -98. The average of 20 eggs is 1-28 by '99. The colour is 
dull white without gloss and the shell is very smooth to the touch. 
Fresh eggs, before being blown, are decidedly pink, the contents 
showing through the shell." 

The eggs of this species resemble closely those of the Little 
Bittern. They are dull white, sometimes with a very faint bluish 
tinge, often with no perceptible trace of this. The texture of the 
shell is very fine and compact, but there is no gloss. In shape the 
eggs are broad regular ovals. 

Of all our Indian Herons with whose eggs I am acquainted 
those of Bubulcus coromandus approach nearest to those of the 
present species, but pale as is the tint of the Cattle-Heron's eggs, 
it is quite pronounced, as compared with that of any of the eggs 
of the Chestnut Bittern that I have seen. 

ARDETTA.. 255 

Iii size the eggs vary a good deal, from 1-2 to 1'42 in length, 
and from 1 to 1*1 in breadth, but the average of twenty-three 
eggs is 1-31 nearly by T04. 

Ardetta sinensis (Gmel.). The Little Yellow Bittern. 
Ardetta sinensis (Gm.), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 755; Hume, Cat. no. 934. 

The late Mr. Valentine Irwin sent me an egg of this species 
from Comillah, Tipperah, and wrote : " I have got a nest of the 
Yellow Bittern. On the 28th June I was searching some rush 
and reed at the edge of a tank, about two miles distant from here, 
for Bails' and Water-cocks' eggs. I found one or two common 
nests, but got tired and came out on the bank, and I was just 
changing my boots &c., when my shikaree called out from a clump 
of rush, which I had only left a couple of minutes previously, that 
there was a Paddy-bird on her nest. I went in as I was, no 
trousers, no boots, and there, sure enough, doubled into the 
smallest imaginable space, was a Yellow Bittern on a little rush- 
and-reed nest built on the top of a small mud pillar, which 
projected about 6 inches above the water-level, and which was 
entirely surrounded by a dense growth of that round sedge Snipe 
so affect in the cold weather. I stood within two feet of her, but 
she did not fly off till I put out my hand to seize her, and then she 
flapped off, uttering a queer little chuckling, chattering note, and 
settled on the top of a net stake about twenty-five yards off. The 
nest contained five dull, dingy, white eggs : three of them were 
already cracked, the other two I took, and, as soon as we had got 
about twenty feet away from the nest, the old bird, which had 
never ceased croaking and squacketting, flopped back on to the 
nest and immediately became as still as a mouse. The eggs were 
just like those of the Chestnut Bittern, but rather smaller and 
rounder I think. I broke one egg in trying to extract the young ; 
the other, wreck as it is, 1 send." 

Colonel Butler writes : " I found two or three pairs of the 
Yellow Bittern at Milana, 18 miles south-east of Deesa, during the 
rains, breeding in a dense bed of tall bulrushes by the side of a 
small tank. They are not easily flushed, and when flushed they 
fly somewhat rapidly along the top of the rushes, dropping into 
the reeds again after a short flight. The following extract is 
taken from my nesting memoranda : ' On the 21st August, 1876, 
at Milana, I found a nest of the Yellow Bittern. It was built of 
sedge and rushes near the outside of an immense bed of tall bul- 
rushes, in one of which it was placed about two feet above the 
level of the water. It was a small nest and not unlike that of a 
small Eail, and contained three eggs, but unfortunately so near 
hatching that I only managed to extract the contents of one of 
them. The eggs are long and cylindrical, in fact, much in shape 
like Nightjar's eggs, about 1^ inch in length, and white, faintly 
tinted with pale skim-milk blue.' I think there can be no doubt 

256 AUDEID^E. 

of the ideality of the eggs, as there were two pairs of the birds in 
the clump of rushes in which I found the nest, a single bird rose 
close to the nest, and there was no other bird to be found anywhere 
near the tank that the eggs could possibly have belonged to. On 
the 24th instant I found another nest exactly similar in every 
respect, but built in a clump of bulrushes growing quite on the 
outside of the bed. The bird rose off the nest within a yard of 
me, but there were no eggs, and when I returned a few days later 
the nest was deserted. I only saw about three pairs of the birds 
altogether, one of which I shot, and a fortnight later when I 
visited the ground they had all disappeared, so that probably they 
only remain here during the rains." 

Mr. Scrope Doig, writing from the E. Narra, Sind, says: "This 
Little Bittern is very common here during the hot weather : I have 
found their nests in May and again in August. Five is the usual 
number of eggs in one nest. The nest is sometimes situated in 
the centre of a tussock of grass, or in a bunch of reeds growing in 
the centre of a tamarisk-bush in the water, and two nests I found 
in the middle of some rushes ; the tops of the rushes had been bent 
down and tied together, forming a little platform, about three feet 
over the water, and on this the eggs were laid. Several nests 
which I found containing one egg I left, returning some four clays 
after expecting to find five eggs, but in each case I found the nest 
deserted and the egg gone. One nest, which was in the middle of 
a lot of rushes and was found by my man, contained two eggs ; I 
went with him the next day to see the nest, hoping it might be 
one of A. minuta ; to my disgust on getting to the nest I found 
the eggs smashed and the parent bird (female) lying dead on the 
nest, and half eaten. What could have killed the bird I cannot 
say. The eggs of this Bittern are very nearly spherical in shape, 
and are, when first blown, of a delicate pale sea-green, but after 
a time they get almost white. They vary from 1-15 to 1*25 in 
length, and from -90 to '95 in width, the average of 21 eggs being 
1-19 in length and -95 in breadth." 

Mr. Oates has the following note on the breeding of this 
Bittern in Pegu : " Common as this bird is, its nest is one of 
the most difficult to find, and when found, to secure. It selects 
the matted leaves of immense reeds, and places its nests on the 
summit where wind and rain have entangled the leaves and worked 
them into a platform. The nest itself is a mere pad of dry grass 
and leaves. 

" I have only taken one nest, which contained four eggs. They 
are without gloss and a pale green colour. They measure 1-26, 
1-31, 1-3, and 1-28, by -95, -95, -97, and -93 respectively. They 
were found on the 20th August and were fresh." 

The eggs are small, regular, symmetrical and sometimes some- 
what cylindrical ovals. The shell is extremely fine, smooth, and 
has a slight gloss ; the colour is a very delicate greenish white. 

Numerous eggs vary from 1-2 to 1*39 in length by 0*88 to 1*0 
in breadth. 


Ardetta minuta (Linu.). Tlie Little Bittern. 

Ardetta minuta (Linn.*), Jerd. B. 2nd. ii, p. 756 ; Hume, Rowjh Draft 
N. 8f E. no. 935. 

The Little Bittern breeds in several parts of the Himalayas in 
rushy-bordered lakes and swamps, at elevations of from 3000 to 
7000 feet. It also breeds in Siud. In Cashmere at the Wullur, 
Anchar, and other lakes it breeds abundantly, and it also breeds, 
I know, having found the nest there with young, near Syree 
on the Simla Road. 

It lays in Jnne. Eour is the usual, and five the maximum, 
number of eggs. It appears always to build in amongst rushes or 
wild rice, and to place its nest sometimes on the ground, but more 
generally on a little platform a foot or so above the water's level, 
formed by bending down the rushes or reed in situ. The nest 
itself is slight and flat, composed of reed and rush loosely put 
together, 6 or 7 inches in diameter and from an inch to two inches in 
thickness. This, however, I state mainly on the evidence of the 
native collector I sent to Cashmere, as I have only myself seen one 
single nest. 

The late Major Cock sent me the following note : " Breeds in 
large numbers among the reeds and rushes that fringe the various 
Cashmere lakes during May and June. It makes a flat-shaped 
nest of dried rushes attached to four or five reeds growing out of 
the water and at a height from the water of about one foot. Two 
or three days spent in wading about among these reeds rewarded 
me with several nests. Six eggs was the usual number ; pure white 
in colour. The birds never sat close, but were always off the nest 
before I came up to it." 

Mr. Scrope Doig writes from Sind : " Last year, though Captain 
Butler and myself several times searched one of the swamps here, 
we never came across the Bittern or A. flavicollis. This year, 
in the same swamp, there are numbers of both. I took my first 
nest of this bird on the 26th May ; it contained four fresh eggs. 
They are elongated ovals, sharp at both ends, and pure white. 
The eggs vary from 1-3 to T4 in length and from 0'95 to 1'05 in 
width, the average of seven eggs being 1'34 in length and I'OO in 

The eggs of this species closely resemble those of Ardetta cinna- 
momea and A. sinensis (although perhaps they average rather smaller 
than those of the former and larger than those of the latter). They 
are moderately broad ovals, pure white, and entirely glossless. 
The shell is fine, but is closer pitted all over with minute pores, 
giving it in a bright light a somewhat rough appearance. As in- 
cubation proceeds, the eggs get much soiled and discoloured. 

The eggs I have vary in length from 1*23 to 1*41, and from 
0-97 to 1-05 in breadth. 

VOL. m. 17 


Nyctiardea nycticorax (Linn.). The Night-Heron. 

Nycticorax griseus (Linn.\ Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 758. 

Nyctiardea nycticorax (Linn.}, Hume, Rough Draft N. E. no. 937. 

I believe that the Night-Heron breeds pretty well all over the 
Empire, alike in the plains and in the North-western Himalayas 
up to an elevation of 6000 or 7000 feet. 

Common as is this species in many parts of the country, it is 
rarely seen in broad daylight unless one chances upon one of its 
hiding-places, usually some completely leaf-enshrouded bough, over- 
hanging some stream or pond ; but after sunset they may often be 
noticed, at times solitary, more usually in small parties, winging 
their way pretty high in air towards some feeding-ground, with a 
straight moderately rapid flight, uttering as they go, at short regular 
intervals, a single sharp note more like a quack, it seems to me, 
than a croak, as it is usually designated. 

In the plains they breed in July and August, but in Cashmere, 
Mr. Brooks says, in April and May. They build both on trees and 
in reed-beds ; but I have only thrice found the nests, so cannot say 
which of those situations they commonly affect. When the nests 
are on trees they are more substantial, and more and larger sticks 
are used in their construction than when they are placed in rushes 
and reeds. I could see nothing to distinguish their nests from 
those of all the other members of the family. 

They lay four or five eggs ; but we found one nest in a gooler- 
tree near Juggernathpoor on the 21st August containing six, and 
all the eggs of this nest were very round and much below the usual 
average size. 

Dr. Jerdon says that the Night-Heron " breeds on palms, tama- 
rinds, and other trees in society" and this I believe to be the usual 
rule. It is curious that each of the three nests that I have seen 
were solitary. 

Mr. Brooks writes to me : " One of the breeding-places of this 
bird is a clump of fine chenar or plane trees adjoining the Shaliroar 
Gardens, near Sirinuggur in Cashmere. 

" These gardens are on the west border of the Sirinuggur Lake, 
and, as well as I remember, are about four miles from the city. 
Their elevation is the same as Sirinuggur (5000 feet). 

" I visited this place about the 24th of May, and found a good 
number of the Common Heron (Ardea cinerea) breeding in the 
trees, and about eighteen pairs of the Night-Heron. 

" Nearly all the pairs of both species had newly-hatched young ; 
but a few pairs of each had eggs, of which the greater part were 
deeply incubated, but a few were fresh. 

" The nests of the Night-Heron were very similar to those of 
the Common Heron, but smaller ; being composed entirely of 
sticks and twigs in the form of a simple platform, frequently so 
scanty that the eggs could be seen through the nest from below. 
As well as I remember, the greatest number of eggs or young in 
any nest of either species was three. 


" The eggs of the Night-Heron were smaller and of a more elon- 
gated shape than those of the Common Heron, and were of a purer 
and lighter green. Both of these Herons breed much earlier in 
Cashmere than in the plains of India. 

" Another breeding-place of the Night-Heron which I found out 
was at Muniah Grh*at, on the bank of the Ganges, halfway between 
the Touse Eiver and Allahabad. 

" The trees in which they bred were about a dozen tamarinds 
close to the Muniah village. One side of the clump was occupied 
by a colony of Ardea alba, while the other belonged to the Night- 
Herons. There were about a dozen pairs, and they had fresh eggs 
in the beginning of August, or three months later than thfe breeding- 
time in Cashmere. 

" I have only noticed these two breeding-places of the Night- 
Heron, but without doubt it breeds generally over North-western 
India in suitable localities, i.e. in well-watered districts. I should 
observe that in every instance in which I have found the breeding- 
place of Herons or Egrets in India, the trees chosen were close to 
native houses." 

Colonel Butler writes : " Mr. Doig and I found a large colony 
of Night-Herons breeding in the E. Narra, Sind, at the end of 
July 1878, in a dense tamarisk thicket, several acres in extent, in 
the middle of a large dhund, in one part of which a few clumps of 
tall bulrushes were growing, and in these and the adjoining trees the 
nests were built. Herons, Egrets, Cormorants, and Snake-birds were 
building in hundreds all round, but the Night-Herons had formed 
a separate colony. At the time we visited the place (24th), the 
birds were mostly building, but subsequently about a week later 
our man took any number of eggs." 

Mr. Gates records the following note from Pegu: " This bird 
breeds in immense quantities in the swamps at Myitkyo. I have 
not taken the eggs because it was simply impossible, among the 
mass of birds, to authenticate the eggs properly. ThiS bird flew 
off before the nest could be seen, whereas many of the other species 
allowed the canoe to approach pretty near before going away. 
July and August may, however, be considered the months in which 
they lay. The nests do not differ from those of A. purpurea and 
H. alba ; for I saw only one type of nest all the time, and many 
must have belonged to the present species." 

The eggs vary very much in shape and size. Typically, I think, 
they are much of the shape of a hen's egg, but some again are 
considerably elongated, and here and there a specimen approaches 
the Cormorant shape. Typically, they are rather obtuse at both 
ends, but many are decidedly pointed, and some are more or less 
pyriform towards one end. The colour is a delicate pale sea-green, 
but some, when fresh, are a decidedly bright, though light green, 
and here and there an egg is to be met with so pale that it is scarcely 
more than greenish white. 

In length they vary from T68 to 2-06, and in breadth from 1-3 
to l-io ; but the average of eighteen eggs is 1'92 by 1'35. 




Leptoptilus argala (Lath.). The Adjutant. 

Leptoptilus argala (Linn.), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 730. 
Leptoptilos dubius (Gm.), Hume, Rouyh Draft N. 8f E. no. 915. 

Of the nidification of the Adjutant in India proper not much is 
known. I only know of its having been found breeding in the 
Soonderbuuds and in the north of the Groruckpoor District. They 
lay in November, making a huge stick-nest upon large trees, as a 
rule, in localities difficult of access. 

Mr. E. W. Gr. Frith, as quoted by Mr. Blyth, informs us that he 
" found both of the species of Adjutant breeding in the south-east 
part of the Soonderbunds. Their nests were placed on the tops of 
the loftiest trees, and were extremely difficult and hazardous to 
approach from the density of the undergrowth and the great num- 
ber of tigers which infest the vicinity ; in fact, the nests were only 
to be approached by means of the tracks made by rhinoceroses, 
buffaloes, &c., through the jungle. The large or pouched species 
breeds about a month earlier in the season than the other, imme- 
diately (it would seem) after its arrival from the places which it 
frequents during the rainy season. They are then in the finest 
state of plumage ash-grey, with the pale wing-band complete, and 
for the most part they have just perfected their plumage when they 
leave Calcutta at the end of the rains." 

The late Mr. Eobert Morell, I may add, informed me that the 
Adjutants bred on large trees in the midst of dense jungle in the 
immediate neighbourhood of his own fine estate of Morellgunj in 
the Soonderbuuds. 

The late Captain Beavan remarked : " The nest of this species 
has been observed in India by a near relative of my own, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Charles Drury, of the Bengal Staff Corps. It contained 
two young ones, and was found by him at Munsoor Grhat (in the 
north of the Groruckpoor District but not in the Terai) on a high 
bank, near a stream, on or about the 15th December, 1861. The 
old birds were put off the nest, which was on a semul or cotton- 
tree, and a shot fired into the tree made the young birds, which were 
fully fledged, come out and sit on one of the boughs, whence one 
was bagged by another shot." 

From Burma, however, we have much fuller information regarding 
the breeding of this Adjutant. 


Moulmein, at a place about five miles to the east of the town, and 
having occasion to ascend some eminence to obtain a good coup 
d'osil of the surrounding country, I determined to climb to the top 
of the highest peak of the Kharbng Hills, a detached mass of lime- 


stone rock which rises almost perpendicularly out of an extensile 
level plain to the height of 600 feet. The ascent was extremely 
difficult and dangerous, and had never before (so the people assured 
me) been attempted by a European. On gaining the summit 
I found that I was immediately over the top of a large tree which 
sprang from a crevice in the rock below, and on its highest branches 
was an Adjutant's nest, composed of dry sticks very rudely inter- 
laced (or merely heaped together ?), making a flat platform as it 
were, with little or no perceptible cavity towards the centre. In 
this were two young Adjutants, about the size of small Geese, 
covered with a white down and with pouches and beaks ridiculously 
disproportioned to their size, being extraordinarily large. Both of 
the young were taken by one of my Burmese servants. In another 
similar nest in an adjoining tree were one young one and one addled 
egg of a spotless dirty white, and somewhat larger than a Turkey's 


Colonel Tickell tells us that " on the Ataran Eiver a range of 
perpendicular rocks of mineral limestone rise sheer out of the water 
to 600 or 800 feet on the right bank of the river, and some extra- 
ordinary, bold, scarped, insulated rocks are scattered also along the 
opposite side. On the pinnacles of these rocks we observed numbers 
of Adjutants. These large birds breed here annually, and the 
rocks are in many places conspicuously white with their dung. 
There are two species of Adjutant Leptoptilus argala (our old 
Calcutta friend) and L. javanicus (a rarer visitor in Bengal) and 
both breed together in these inaccessible places. The argala is 
noticeably larger than the other, but eggs of the two species are 
hardly to be distinguished apart." 

Mr. Oates found an enormous colony of these birds breeding in 
Pegu in a forest west of Shwaygheen. He says : 

" Along with the Pelicans, breeding in the same trees, were in- 
numerable Adjutants. One can hardly realize the number of these 
birds that visit Pegu in October, unless, as I have, he has seen the 
vast armies which settle on the plains on their first arrival. I have 
stood on a bund where I could see about two miles round me, and 
the whole area was literally covered with them. Some fifty birds 
stand huddled together ; then there is a bare space of about 100 
feet, and then another group of birds. Their numbers are in- 
credible. They all arrive suddenly in the Pegu plain on the same 
day, and after resting for about two days, they betake themselves 
to the forest, where I had the pleasure of visiting them. Certainly 
almost all the Indian Adjutants must come to Pegu to breed. 

" On the same day that we took the Pelicans' eggs, we also paid 
attention to the Adjutants, but whereas in the case of the Pelicans 
by climbing one tree you procure almost as many eggs as you care 
to have, with the Adjutants it is different. Frequently there is 
only a solitary nest in a tree, rarely two or three, and in this case 
the tree selected is a stupendous one, with immense branches 
reaching 50 feet from the trunk and mostly horizontal. These 
nests are not to be got at even by Karens. Fortunately the nests 


are so frequent that there is no difficulty, in the course of a 
morning, in finding accessible ones in plenty. 

" November llth was a trifle too early. Many nests were still 
being built ; others had no eggs in them, and only a few had the 
full complement of three eggs. 

"The nest is made entirely of coarse sticks, and it is of such a 
size that the sitting bird cannot be seen from below, except when 
she stretches her head out. It is wedged into a fork as near the 
exterior of the tree as possible, whether at the top or side. 

"The eggs, three in number, are originally pure white and 
tolerably, in some specimens very, smooth to the touch. As in- 
cubation proceeds the shell gets much stained and becomes a dark 
earth-brown. The interior lining is very dark green. They are 
very regular ovals, much the same shape at both ends. Size from 
2-82 to 3-1 by 2-08 to 2-25. 

"These Adjutants utter only one sound, and it resembles the 
lowing of a cow when separated from her calf. It was the only 
sound heard in these gloomy forests." 

Major C. T. Bingham visited a well-known breeding haunt of 
this bird near Moulmein, and I 'quote a portion of his interesting 
account of the trip. He writes : 

" To the south-east of Moulmein, about twenty-five miles up 
the Attaran River, a low but excessively steep and scarped range 
of limestone rocks, called the Needong hills, run nearly at right 
angles to the river on the north bank, and overhanging the water 
present a strikingly bold and picturesque aspect. On the south 
bank this range is broken into four or five isolated masses rising 
abruptly from the surrounding plain. 

" In the latter end of November and in December these almost 
inaccessible cliffs afford safe nesting-sites to the two species of 
Adjutants, Leptoptilus dubius tmdjavanicus. 

" Last January twelvemonth, while going up the Attaran Eiver 
on a shooting-trip with a friend, I had seen the Adjutant in im- 
mense numbers feeding their young on the topmost pinnacles of 
these rocks ; and, concluding from this that their laying-time must 
be some time in November or December, I there and then deter- 
mined to make a raid on their nests at the end of the year. De- 
tained by my duties in the frontier forests till the first week in 
November, and having on my return to Moulmeiu a lot of w r ork to 
do, I began to fear that for this year I should be unable to carry 
out my project. However, an opportunity at last presented itself 
on the 27th of November. * * * * 

" As we passed under the hill overhanging the left bank of the 
river, I was delighted to see the Adjutants in full force, two or 
three crowning each pinnacle, and here and there through the 
green foliage showing white against the blue rock. I could see 
the large guano-soiled masses of sticks which composed their 
nests. * * * * 

" Having got clear of the paddy, we entered a gently undulating 
plain covered with dense evergreen bushes and a few small bamboo 


clumps. Closer in to the hill we got into a denser and more 
matted belt of evergreen that surrounded its base, from which the 
rocks rose abruptly, towering above and hanging over each 
other in most fantastic shapes. It was with some difficulty we 
worked round towards the north side of the hill, as besides the 
thickness and thorniness of the jungle the ground under foot was 
spongy and moist to a degree. However at last our guide stopped, 
and pointing to a sort of rough gap between two of the lower 
large rocks, said this was the spot to attempt the climb and a 
very nasty break-neck looking spot it was, and 1 didn't half like 
the look of it, all the more because I had foolishly left my ropes at 
the camp. However, there was no help for it, and my mouth was 
watering to see the number of Adjutants wheeling above the 
hills, all or most of which most probably had nests somewhere on 
the top. * * * * 

" There being no time to lose I took off my coat, tightened iny 
belt, and taking only my gun, already loaded with a cartridge of 
Xo. 1 shot in each barrel, and slung on my back to leave my arms 
free, I requested my Karen guide to lead on. And lead on he did 
straight up the face of the rock, clinging on to roots and projecting 
knobs of rock in a marvellous manner. I did my best to imitate 
and follow, but had several times to shout to him to wait for me ; 
and was soaked through with perspiration, and blowing like a 
broken-winded horse before I got to the first nest, which was 
placed on the flat surface of a block of rock nearly at the top of 
the hill. A hasty glance at it showed me four eggs resting on a 
mass of twigs and sticks with scarcely any depression in the centre, 
and unlined. Below this was a substructure of larger sticks ; the 
whole mass, and the rock on which it was, whitened by the 
droppings of the birds ; the eggs, large white ovals, chalky, stained, 
and dirtied, like as possible to eggs of the Common Vulture (Pseudo- 
riyps benyalensis}. Having secured this prize, I looked around 
and saw that there were no less than eight other nests in sight, 
and in these I saw eggs. These also I managed to secure, although 
the way over the rocks was rough and jagged in the extreme, and 
once I had to swing myself over a low cliff of about fifteen feet 
by a root. One nest out of the three contained two eggs, the 
other two one each ; in these the eggs were fresher and whiter, the 
nests themselves being similar to the first described. * * * * 

" And now as the sun was sinking rapidly, I had to think about 
getting down. So stowing three eggs in my pockets and four in 
my handkerchief, I gave the Karen my gun, which, by the way, I 
found useless, the Adjutants wheeling about but keeping out of 
killing range ; however I managed to identify them as Leptoptilus 
Julius, all of the larger kind, and began the descent. But if the 
ascent was ticklish, this was simply diabolical. Several times I 
barked my elbows and knees, and twice or thrice stopped to see 
whether the eggs were not broken. Never was way so long ; 
but down I got at last, and miraculously the eggs were safe. 


How thankful 1 was I need not say, for I was rather ex- 
hausted." # * * * 

Recounting how he went on to another place, he proceeds : " I 
had by much questioning ascertained from our guides that the 
most accessible point was on the south-west side of the hills, which 
consisted of six or seven peaks joined by a continuous knife-like 
ridge. Passing the overhanging rocks, we lauded as soon as we 
could find a suitable spot for getting on shore, as the tide was out, 
and there was a long reach of deep mud to get across. A walk of 
ten minutes across old deserted gardens overgrown with kyne grass, 
past a ruined hut, put us at the foot of the hill. # * # * 

" At the top I found three more nests of Adjutants similar to 
those of yesterday, with eggs. One bird I fired at, but after 
sailing off apparently unhurt, I saw it fall a long way out in the 

" I was much struck by a curious noise the Adjutants made 
when disturbed, a sort of loud grunting croak, not unlike the low 
of a buffalo. Slowly I worked my way along the ridge, rapidly 
filling my basket with plants ; and finding several fresh but empty 
nests of the Adjutants. One pretty brown-spotted yellow orchid 
I found hanging in a tuft overshadowing one of the nests." 

The eggs seem to vary very much in size, and a good deal in 
shape ; normally they are, I think, very perfect symmetrical ovals, 
almost precisely the same size at both ends ; but many eggs are 
decidedly compressed or pointed towards one end, and compara- 
tively quite elongated, more or less pyriform, examples are met 

The shell is very stout and hard, and although densely studded 
with minute pores, that in some specimens are rather conspicuous, 
it is, for the size of the egg, rather fine-grained, and is quite smooth, 
in fact rather satiny to the touch, like that of the eggs of 

When first laid the eggs are pure white, with perhaps a slight 
greyish-greenish tinge, but very slight. As, however, incubation 
proceeds they get stained and soiled to a degree, so that most of 
the eggs when ready to hatch off are a darkish, dingy, mottled 
yellowish brown. 

Numerous eggs vary from 2*76 to 3*26 in length, and from 2'02 
to 2*55 in breadth. 

Leptoptilus javanicus (Horsf.). The Lesser Adjutant. 

Leptoptilus javanica (Horsf.}, Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 732 ; Hume, Cat. 
no. 916. 

Mr. Oates procured some eggs of this Adjutant in Pegu. He 
says : " While taking some nests of Leptoptilus gujanteus, I sent 
some of the party to look for accessible trees. They misunder- 
stood me, and finding a tree which could be climbed, instead of 
waiting for me, a man ascended and took two eggs, which he 


brought me as the eggs of the Lesser Adjutant. I failed to see 
any of these birds myself, but they are common enough in the 
same forest, for subsequently I procured young birds which I am 
uo\v rearing. I see no reason to doubt the authenticity of the 
eggs. I was in the forest only one morning, and might easily 
have failed to notice this species. In fact the Burmans told me 
it was too early for them, as they breed later than the Pouched 

''The two eggs measure 3-16 and 2-98 by 2-25 and 2-2 respec- 
tively. These dimensions are rather larger than the largest egg of 
L. cfiganteus I procured. In colour they are precisely the same." 

Mr. H. Parker, writing from North-west Ceylon, gives the 
following account of the breeding of this bird : 

"February to April. At length I can give some trustworthy 
information regarding the breeding of the Hair-crested Stork in 
Ceylon. A nest was found by three native hunters in February 
in very dense forest, and the eggs, two in number, were brought 
to me. Both birds were on the tree, one being on the nest. 
Subsequently one was shot for me, still frequenting the tree. 
The nest was a large structure of sticks high up in the tree, and 
that is all I know of it. The men stated that as the eggs were 
being taken the birds circled overhead, making a noise like that 
caused by the vibration of telegraph-wires in a wind. 

" The shape of the eggs is a somewhat narrowed oval, slightly 
pointed at the large end. They are white and closely pitted or 
granulated, glossless, of a rough, chalky, absorbent texture, and 
would apparently be soon discoloured ; although they were newly 
laid, one is already considerably soiled by the feet of the bird. 
Their dimensions are 2-82 by 2-11, and 2-86 by 2-07." 

Xenorhynchus asiaticus (Lath.). The Black-necked Stork. 

Mycteria australis, Shaw, Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 734. 

Mycteria indica (Lath.}, Hume, Rough Draft N. # E. no. 917. 

The Black-necked Stork breeds, I believe, pretty well all over 
the Empire in well-watered tracts, where large lakes, jheels, or 
swamps are common, but it is no\vhere, that I have seen, numeri- 
cally abundant. 

It lays, the time varying a good deal according to season, from 
the beginning of September to the middle of December, and Mr. 
Home took hard-set eggs as late as the 27th of the latter month. 

They build upon large trees, very commonly on large peepul- 
trees, but I have found the nest on sheeshum, semul, and many 
other kinds. 

The nest, always a great platform of sticks, is sometimes 
enormous ; one I found near Badlee was fully 6 feet long by 
3 feet broad, and so deep that three fully-fledged young ones just 
able to fly were able to crouch in it so as to be invisible, even 
when the nest was looked at from some distance with binoculars. 


Usually the nest is from 3 to 3| feet in diameter, and with a 
considerable cavity, not so flat as a Vulture's, but with a deep 
saucer-shaped depression. It is carefully lined with rushes, grass, 
pieces of ban or grass-rope, water-weeds, &c. One nest that I 
examined had a regular parapet of mud, the kind of clay we call 
chilcnee muttee, all round the margin of the cavity, some 3 inches 
wide and 2 inches high ; and Mr. F. R. Blewitt, who watched the 
birds building this nest, told me that " the birds took more than a 
month building the nest, taking immense pains to finish it off. 
When it was nearly ready they put a sort of rim of clay all round 
the top of it ; the old birds descended alternately to the tank and 
brought up the mud in their bills, and then standing on the nest, 
they seemed to manipulate and arrange it with the greatest care 
with their long bills. These hatched off three young." 

But I have now seen scores of nests without ever seeing a second 
similar example, so that it would appear to be quite exceptional 
for them to use mud. 

Pour is certainly the regular complement of eggs, and one of the 
four is very often bad, so that they much more often rear three 
than four young ones, but I have twice found as many as five eggs 
in a nest. 

In some cases I have known of their using the same nest year 
after year, but my impression is that they very commonly build a 
fresh nest each year. 

These birds have a most remarkable method of paying delicate 
attentions,' or it may be merely of dancing. A pair will gravely 
stalk up to each other, and when about a yard or two feet apart 
will stand face to face, extend their long black and white wings, 
and while they flutter these very rapidly, so that the points of the 
wings of the one flap against the points of the other's wings, ad- 
vance their heads till they nearly meet, and both simultaneously 
clatter their bills like a couple of watchmen's rattles. This dis- 
play lasts for nearly a minute, after which one walks a little apart, 
to be followed after a moment by the other, when they repeat the 
amusement, and so on for perhaps a dozen times. When I first 
witnessed this curious play on the evening of the 26th December, 
1866, two pairs performing at the same time within 50 yards of 
each other on a sandy chur of the River Chumbul, I thought of 
course that the performers were making arrangements for a future 
generation, or at least that all this parade would end in some such 
combination; but watching them closely through the glasses from 
little more than 100 yards' distance I discovered that they never 
actually touched each other, and after a dozen or more such flut- 
terings they all rose and flew quietly away. 

Years ago Mr. Brooks wrote to me from Etawah : " On the 
20th October^ 1869, we took three nests, one with four, and two 
with two eggs each. 

" The nests were all on solitary peepul-trees in the middle of 
plains and in no case near villages, huge stick nests at the tops of 
trees, lined with grass and long withered water-plants. 


" Whether these were built by the birds themselves or were old 
nests of OtoriDps calvus or Haliaetiis leucoryplim is uncertain." And 
later he wrote to me that he had never obtained eggs earlier than 
the 20th October ; but the very next year Baboo Kalee Narayn 
lioy took, within a circle of a dozen miles round Jhujgur, four 
nests on the 9th, one on the 13th, one on the" 14th, and one on 
the 16th September, all but one of them containing four eggs. The 
rains had ceased very early, and hence the birds bred early ; while 
in other years when the rains are late, I believe Mr. Brooks is 
quite right, and that scarcely an egg is to be seen before the middle 
of October. 

Colonel Gr. E. L. Marshall remarks that this species " builds a 
large nest of sticks at the top of a tree, from 20 to 60 feet high, 
from August to October, earlier in Saharunpoor, later in Aligurh. 
In the former district I found young and hard-set eggs early in 
September. In the latter district I took five fresh eggs from a 
large nest at the top of a peepul-tree fully 50 feet high ; while on 
the 12th I noticed a bird with a stick in his huge bill, awkwardly 
arranging a habitation on another peepul-tree ; the nest was only 
half finished. They are sometimes walled round with karounda 

Major C. T. Bingham remarks : " I found two nests of this 
bird in October, one on a large peepul-tree close to the village of 
Kunkerabad near Mohar, the second station on the East-Indian 
Railway from Cawnpore. This was a shapeless mass of sticks, 
with a deep depression in the centre containing four hard-set eggs, 
on the 8th Octooer. On the 13th of the same month I found a 
second nest on a large sheeshuni tree ; this, like the last, was a 
large platform of sticks, and contained three fresh eggs. I found 
it near the village of Kundla, 11 miles from Allahabad." 

Mr. George Reid writes that at Lucknow " on the loth 
November last I came across a nest and three half -fledged young 

Colonel Butler writes : " The Black-necked Stork breeds in the 
Xarra District, Sind, in September, towards the end of which 
month Mr. Doig obtained three or four nests containing fresh 
eggs. It continues laying till the 29th of November if not later, 
as we took eggs from the 15th September up to that date." 

Mr. Oates notes from Pegu : " In the Pegu plain these birds 
select an isolated tree, and make a large nest near the summit. On 
the 1st December I took two eggs, and on the 6th January a 
clutch of four. Young birds reared from the nest are now (June) 
moulting into the adult plumage." 

The eggs of this species closely resemble those of the Common 
European Stork and of Dissura episcopus, but they are certainly 
larger than those of the latter, and probably exceed average eggs of 
the former. In shape they are typically broad ovals, compressed 
towards one end, so as to have a slightly pyriform tendency ; 
elongated ovals and almost spherical varieties are not uncommon. 
The eggs are dull and mostly glossless, but, though the texture is 


somewhat coarse, they are fairly smooth to the touch. When fresh 
they are nearly pure white, with only the faintest possible bluish- 
grey tinge ; but after being a few days in the nest they become 
soiled and stained, and assume that dingy yellowish-white or pale 
yellowish-brown tint so characteristic of Stork eggs. 

In length the eggs vary from 2-65 to 3'13, and in breadth from 
1-98 to 2-3 ; but the average of forty-five eggs is 2-91 by 2-12. 

Dissura episcopus (Bodd.). The White-necked Stork. 

Ciccmia leucocephala (GmeL), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 737. 
Melanopelargus episcopus (Bodd.}, Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. 
no. 920. 

In Upper India the White-necked Stork breeds from the latter 
end of June to the end of August, but in parts of Central and 
Southern India they sometimes lay as early as March, and in 
other parts they breed during the winter monsoon. The nests are 
placed in large trees peepul, burgot, tamarind, and sheeshum 
being, I think, their favourites. The nests are rarely above from 
20 to 30 feet from the ground, and vary from 14 to 20 inches in 
diameter, and from 4 to 8 inches in depth. They are densely 
built of twigs and small branches, and have a considerable central 
depression, sometimes thinly lined with down and feathers, and 
.sometimes almost filled with straw 7 , leaves, and feathers, in amongst 
which the eggs are sunk as if packed for travelling. The full 
number of eggs is four ; rarely three more or less incubated eggs 
are met with. 

Colonel G. F. L. Marshall writes : " This species is common in 
the Saharunpoor District. It breeds upon trees in June and July, 
making a large rude nest of sticks about 30 feet from the ground, 
deeply cup-shaped and scantily lined with down and feathers, and 
lays four eggs of a lengthened oval shape, nearly the same at both 
ends. The colour varies from pure white to brown, unspotted, 
and they are in shape very like common Ducks' eggs. I took three 
fresh eggs in the latter half of June in the Saharunpoor District, 
one fresh egg in the beginning of July in Meerut, half -fledged 
young ones on the 28th of August, and four fresh eggs in the 
Etah District on the 2nd of September. Some of the nests were 
on sheeshum and some on banyan trees, but all at the top of the 

Mr. W. Blewitt says : " I found several nests of this species in 
the neighbourhood of Hansie during the latter half of June and 
the early part of July. 

" They were all placed on peepul or burgot trees, mostly in the 
neighbourhood of the canal, and at heights of from 20 to 25 feet 
from the ground. They were densely built of keekur and ber and 
sheeshum twigs, and thickly lined with straw, leaves, and feathers. 
They varied from 14 to 17 inches in diameter and from 4^to 7 
inches in depth. 


" Four was the largest number of eggs found in any one nest, 
and, as in more than one instance when this number was found, 
the eggs were more or less incubated, this would seem to be the 
normal complement." 

Writing from Sholapoor District, Mr. J. Davidson remarks : 
" I found a nest of the White-necked Stork on the 18th of De- 
cember ; the nest was on the very highest branch of a banyan tree 
in a grove. It was a broad platform made of small light-coloured 
sticks. I saw the birds carrying the sticks the day before, so did 
not expect eggs ; but noticing one bird sitting upon the nest, I 
sent a man up, and we found one egg." 

And writing from the Deccan, Messrs. Davidson and Wenden 
say : " Common ; generally seen in pairs. D. got nests in Shola- 
poor District in December and January, and observed birds 
breeding at Satara in February .'' 

Colonel Butler remarks : " I found a White-necked Stork's 
nest about 30 miles from Deesa on the 14th October, 1876, con- 
taining three slightly incubated eggs. The nest was built near 
the top of a large tamarind-tree, and looked from below very like 
a Crow's nest, but larger. The interior was thickly lined with 
dry grass. The eggs when washed are white, of a chalky nature, 
and more or less discoloured from incubation. Before being 
washed they were all covered with dirt from the feet of the parent 
birds. In leaving the nest one of the old birds (for they were 
both present) broke one of the eggs, I fancy with its foot. There 
were two Vultures' nests (Pseudogyps benyalensis) in the same 

The eggs of this species vary much in shape, but there are three 
predominant types the one a regular, somewhat flattened ellipse 
with perfectly similar obtuse ends ; another a broad oval, pointed 
and pyriforin towards one end ; and the third a long narrow oval, 
more or less pointed towards both ends. 

The shells are dull and glossless. When perfectly fresh, of a 
faintly bluish white, but becoming stained and soiled as incubation 
proceeds, so that an egg nearly ready to hatch is very commonly 
of a yellowish earthy-brown colour throughout. They are quite 
devoid of any natural markings. Held up against the light, the 
shell of freshly-laid eggs is a delicate pale green ; while in those 
which have been long sat upon it is a dingy yellowish green. The 
eggs, as might be expected, are usually considerably smaller than 
those of the White Stork, and average somewhat less than those 
or the Black Stork. 

In size they vary from 2-3 to 2*66 in length, and from T75 to 
1-92 in breadth ; but the average of fifty eggs measured was 2-5 
by 1-83. 

270 PHALACEOCOEA.011)^:. 



Phalacrocorax carbo (Linn.). The Large Cormorant. 

Graculus carbo (Ztmt.), Jerd. B. 2nd. ii, p. 861 ; Hume, Rough Draft 
N. $ E. no. 1005. 

The Common Cormorant is abundant enough in all the larger 
rivers of Upper India, at any rate in those which run through at- 
all rocky beds. I have never 'succeeded in finding their nest or 
procuring their eggs, but I had some fragments of shells shown me 
once which, from texture, colour, and size, did probably really 
belong, as they were said to do, to this species. 

At all seasons of the year, except the height of the rains, of 
which I cannot speak, they are to be found in the Chumbul in that 
part of its course where it forms the southern boundary of the 
Etawah District. The local boatmen assured me that the Common 
Cormorant bred there in April and May on rocky islands or 
lengthened rocky promontories, generally in amongst the rocks, 
but sometimes on trees, making a large nest of sticks. It was 
in the Chumbul that the shells already alluded to were brought 
to me. A boatman pointed out a ridge of rocks where, he said, he 
had seen a great number of " jul-kowas " breeding the previous 
year ; and, in the course of poking about this, some half-a-dozen 
fragments of eggs were found in crevices which certainly looked 
very much as if they might have belonged to Cormorants, with 
whose eggs I have been familiar from childhood. I have also been 
assured that they breed about some rocks in the River Jumna in 
large numbers, at a place called Mhow-Buriaree some thirty miles 
above Allahabad. 

It breeds commonly enough, however, in many other parts of 
the Empire. 

Writing from Pegu, Mr. Gates says : " This bird breeds in vast 
numbers in the Myitkyo swamp, placing its nest in low, apparently 
dead trees, which rear their heads 15 or 20 feet above the water. 
I found it impossible to approach the trees quite closely myself, so 
I sent a Burman, who brought me a basketful of eggs in a few 
minutes. From a short distance the nests appeared to be made of 
twigs ; but I have often seen these birds dive in the canal and fly 
off with weeds fully 5 feet long. t These, no doubt, enter into the 
composition of the nest. There were either four or five eggs in 
each nest. The egg is covered with dirty white chalky matter ; 
when this is removed the shell is a very pale blue. As incubation 


proceeds the egg becomes very dirty. I took the eggs on the 4th 
October, but up to the 27th of that month I observed a great 
number of birds still carrying sticks and weeds towards their 
breeding-quarters. The eggs measure in length from 2-3 to 2*6, 
and from 1-5 to 1-7 in breadth." 

Mr. Scrope Doig found a large nesting-place of this Cormorant 
in the E. Narra, Sind. He writes : " The breeding-ground was 
in the middle of a swamp called the Samara Dhund, and the nests 
were placed on old withered tamarisk-trees standing in water about 
8 to 10 feet deep. The nests were large platforms of sticks, about 
2 feet in diameter one way, and about 2 feet 6 inches the other way, 
that is, they were more oval than circular. The eggs were laid on 
a thin bedding of rush and grass, and the greatest number I got in 
one nest was seven. Some had only three, others four, five, and 
six ; the latter seemed to be the normal number, though some nests 
had only four young ones just hatched. It evidently was an old 
breeding-ground, as 1 could count three or four old nests under the 
present ones, so that the nests were sometimes three feet thick. 
There were no other kind of Cormorants, or in fact any kind of 
aquatic bird, to be seen in the swamp except a few Pelicans. I 
was very much astonished to find so many as seven eggs in one 
nest, but there was no mistake, as I collected them all myself. 
The nests were only about 4 to 6 feet above water, so that I had 
nothing to do but stand up in the boat and gather. The total 
length of the breeding-ground was about one mile by about 80 
yards wide." 

Captain Horace Terry, referring to Southern India, says : 
" Some thirty or forty miles from Bellary there was a large tank 
near the Madras railway, where we used to go frequently in the 
cold weather to shoot Duck, and with usually the result of a very 
fair mixed bag of Duck, Teal, Snipe, Purple Coot, Bittern, &c. 
"We generally went a party of five or six, and took with us a couple 
of home-made canoes, rather cranky affairs certainly, but still they 
would float as a rule, and were of great service in keeping the 
duck on the wing. Xear the centre of the tank there were some 
rocks, and one day, the 17th January, one of the party told me, 
the Cormorants, several of which were flying about over the tank, 
were breeding there. I visited these rocks, two in number, the next 
day, and found I could only climb on to one of them, and there was 
only one nest with three eggs in it and another with young birds. 
I could see some four or five nests on the other rock, but could 
not get at them. I brought away one of the young birds, which I 
kept alive for some little time, but it died suddenly, I think from 
foul play ; the boy whose business it was to procure live frogs for 
its maintenance not liking the job." 

The eggs are extremely elongated ovals ; in some cases slightly 
pyriform, but as a rule conspicuously pointed towards the small end. 
The outer layer of the shell, which may be of the thickness of a 
sheet of paper, is soft and chalky, white when the geg is first laid, 
but becoming stained, soiled, and embrowned as incubation pro- 


ceeds, Beneath this upper chalky layer is an ordinary hard shell of 
a greenish -blue colour or bluish-green, much as in many of the 
Herons. They vary from 2-2 to 2*62 in length, and from 1*41 to 
1-7 in breadth. 

Phalacrocorax fuscicollis, Steph. The Lesser Cormorant. 

Graculus sinensis, Shaw, apud Jerd. E. Ind. ii ; p. 862 j Hume, 
Rough Draft N. # E. no. 1006. 

The Lesser Cormorant is certainly very rare in Upper India. 
Dr. Jerdou says that it is perhaps more generally spread over 
the country than the Common Cormorant, but this is an entire 
mistake. I have never yet seen a live specimen, nor have I 
ever seen a skin from any part of the North- West Provinces north 
of the Jumna, from Oudh, the Punjab, Eajpootana, or Sind. The 
only specimens I have received (except from Lower Bengal and the 
countries eastwards) were sent me from Jhansi by Mr. F. E. 
Blewitt, who found this species breeding in the environs of large 
lakes in that district during the latter half of August and the first 
half of September. 

The nests were placed on low trees standing on flooded land, and 
what at other seasons were the banks of the lakes. The birds 
were breeding in companies, ten or a dozen nests in the same tree. 
The nests were moderately large stick structures, and contained, 
some five, some four, and some a lesser number of eggs, of which 
he sent me a large supply. 

Mr. Gates, writing from Pegu, says : " This bird breeds in reeds 
in the Myitkyo swamp alongside the many other birds which are 
found there. Although the bird is very numerous I came across 
only one nest with eggs, the rest containing young ones. This 
was on the 25th July. 

" The nest is made of the smaller side-branches of reeds, is flat 
at top, converging to a point below, about 9 inches across and 6 
deep, supported on a few bent reeds. Eggs 5, 1*92 to 2-15 long, 
and 1*27 to 1*4 broad. Colour as in other Cormorants' eggs." 

Colonel Butler sends me the following note : " Mr. Doig and 
I found large numbers of this species breeding in the E. Narra, 
Sind, in company with P. pyymoeus and P. melanoyaster, at the end 
of July 1878, in a dense tamarisk thicket, that had become partly 
submerged by the overflow of the Indus. The nests were ex- 
actly like the nests of the Snake-bird and Small Cormorant, and 
the eggs also similar to the eggs of these two species but inter- 
mediate in size, though scarcely separable from those of the Snake- 

The eggs are very long ovals, much pointed towards one end, 
exteriorly a bluish chalky white, but beneath this, where this outer, 
somewhat friable, covering is removed by accident (as often happens 
naturally) or design, the real shell is of a pale greenish blue. 

The eggs vary in length from 1-98 to 2-25, and in breadth from 
1*28 to 1*6 ; but the average of thirty-three eggs is 2'1 by 1'4. 


The eggs sent me by Mr. Blewitt, though unquestionably be- 
longing to this family, strike me as large for this species. The 
majority of them are nearly, and some of them are quite, 
as large as those of the Snake-bird ; and though the bird itself is 
by no means very much larger than our Little Cormorant, the eggs 
sent me as belonging to it are fully double the -size of those of this 
latter. I cannot therefore help fearing that perhaps some mis- 
take has been made. The Cormorant and the Snake-birds breed 
together, at times in the same trees, and the wrong birds may 
possibly have been shot when the eggs were taken. Further 
observations are necessary. 

Phalacrocorax pygmseus (Pall.). The Little Cormorant. 

Graculus javanicus (Horsf.), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 863. 
Graculus inelanognathus (Brandf), Hume, Rough Draft N. 8f E. 
no. 1007. 

The Little Cormorant breeds all over the Empire, always, as far 
as my experience goes, on trees in the immediate vicinity of lakes, 
j heels, or ponds, and very commonly in trees standing well into 
the water. 

In Upper India they lay during the latter part of August and 
the first week in September. They nest in companies of from five 
or six to fifty or more pairs. The nests are moderate-sized stick 
structures, very often old ones of a previous year repaired, and not 
unfrequently they take possession of those originally built by 
Crows and Egrets. Very commonly they are found breeding in 
company on the same tree with the Snake-bird, and occasionally 
(but rarely) with some of the smaller Herons. 

I have noticed that they seem to have a decided preference for 
nesting in babool trees. 

Of the breeding of this bird in Sind, Colonel Butler writes : 
" Mr. Doig and 1 found large colonies of the Small Cormorant 
breeding in the E. Narra, Sind, in a dense tamarisk thicket in the 
middle of a large dhund on the 24th July, 1878. The nests were 
of the usual type and contained fresh eggs, and the birds were 
breeding in company with P. melanoy aster and P.fuscicollis" 

u In Ceylon," says Colonel Legge, " it breeds in February and 
March, on trees by the side of unfrequented tanks, and often 
in company with Plotits melanog aster. Numbers of nests are 
placed in one tree, and are not large for the bird, being constructed 
of small sticks, placed on horizontal branches towards their ends. 
The number of eggs laid at the colony of these birds, at Uduwila 
Tank, was usually three ; they were long and elliptical in shape, 
and of a greenish white over an inner surface of green, appearing 
when the egg was scratched." 

Mr. Gates writes from Pegu : " Incredible numbers of this bird 
breed in the reeds of the Myitkyo swamps. The water is alive 
with the young birds which tumble out of the nests. They seem 

VOL. III. 18 


quite happy in the water, and although some of the birds were 
certainly not more than a week old they dived readily on rny 
attempting to seize them. 

" The nest is made of twigs, and is similar to but smaller than 
that of P. fuscicollis. My eggs were taken on the 26th July and 
24th August, but it must commence breeding some weeks before the 
former date." 

The eggs are of the true Cormorant type long oval eggs, more 
or less pointed towards one end, with an exterior chalky coating, 
which, white or bluish white when first laid, becomes, as incubation 
proceeds, yellowish or yellowish brown, and beneath this a 
firm, hard, greenish-blue shell. As a rule, more or less of the 
chalky covering becomes detached in the nest, and it is not rare to 
find eggs which have naturally lost this coating from more than 
half their surface. 

In length the eggs vary from 1*65 to 1*92, and in breadth from. 
1-08 to 1*25 ; but the average of forty-seven eggs is 1/76 by 1/16. 

Plotus melanogaster (Pemi.). The Indian SnaJce-bird. 

Plotus melanogaster (Gm.) } Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p, 865 j Hume, Rouyli 
Draft N. $ E. no. 1008. 

The Indian Snake-bird or Darter seems to breed generally 
throughout India, the season varying in different provinces accord- 
ing to the monsoon. 

In Ceylon and the country south of Madras, where they get the 
north-eastern monsoon, they lay in January or February, while in 
Upper India, where we get the south-western monsoon, the 
majority breed in August, though a few lay as early as the end of 
June, and I have found several nests in July. They build moderate- 
sized stick-nests on trees, three or four pairs building on the same 
tree, and not unfrequently twenty pairs in the same clump of trees. 
Like the Little Cormorant, in whose company they so often nest, 
they seem to have a decided preference for thorny acacias, like the 
babool, to build on. 

They seem to occupy the same trees year after year, occasion- 
ally building a new nest, but as a rule only repairing the old 

I have seen many of their breeding-haunts, and in every case but 
one they were small clumps of babool trees, which at the nesting- 
season stood well out into the water, in some cases half a mile, 
altough in the dry season merely standing at the edge of some lake, 
swamp, or pond. 

Three or four is, I think, the full complement of eggs. I have 
on several occasions found four in a nest, but never more. 

Colonel Butler writes : " I found a colony of Snake-birds 
breeding this year (1876) in a tank about 18 miles from Deesa on 
the 21st August. The nests were large, composed of dead sticks, 
and closely packed on two low trees (about 15 feet high) growing 

PLOTUS. 275 

out of the water. I cannot say how many nests there were, but 
the man who went up the tree brought me about 70 eggs, most 
of which contained chicks about to hatch, and informed me that 
there were any number of young bfrds in the nests as well. A 
number of Little Cormorants were in company with the Snake- 
birds, but I do not think that any of the eggs brought to me belong 
to them. In number the eggs vary from 3 to 4. On the 14th 
September I discovered a single nest containing four fresh eggs in 
another tank about a mile from where I took the other nests. 
Probably it was built by one of the birds previously robbed." 

He subsequently added this note : " Mr. Doig and 1 found 
numerous colonies of Snake-birds breeding in dense tamarisk trees, 
that had become partly submerged by the inundation on a dhund 
in the E. Xarra, Sind, at the end of July 1878. Most of the eggs 
were then fresh, and many of the birds were still building." 

AVriting from Pegu Mr. Gates says : " Breeds on trees and not 
in reeds. It is very abundant in the Myitkyo swamps, where, on 
the 6th August, I saw some 200 nests on a few low trees. The 
nests, with few exceptions, contained eggs, a few contained young 
birds a few days old." 

Colonel Legge, writiug from Ceylon, says of this species : 
" Plotus melanog aster is common on the inland tanks of the north 
and north-east as well as the south-east of Ceylon. The breeding 
months in the latter region are February and March, and most 
likely January and February in the north, as the rains are over 
earlier there than in the south. Three or four pairs may be found 
nesting at the same spot. They build a flat nest of sticks on the 
branches of thorny trees growing round the tanks and freshwater 
swamps on the south-east coast, and lay from two to three eggs. 
In shape they resemble somewhat the eggs of Podiceps, being of 
less diameter for their length than those of the Little Cormorant 
(- pygmceus). They are of a uniform faint greenish white over 
a green ground, which latter is perceptible when the egg is scratched. 
They vary a good deal in dimensions." 

The eggs closely resemble (though they are perhaps slightly longer 
and narrower) those that I have already described under Phal. 
fuscicolHs. They are much elongated ovals, more or less pointed 
towards one end, with a dingy greenish-white chalky exterior coat, 
which becomes more and more sullied as incubation proceeds, and 
beneath this the real shell of a somewhat pale greenish-blue tint. 
The chalky covering, as in other eggs of this family, is easily re- 
moved by scraping, and even in nature is generally more or less 
worn off a larger or smaller portion of the surface. 

In length the eggs vary from 1-95 to 2*29, and in breadth from 
1*28 to 1-46 ; but the average of sixteen eggs is 2-13 by 1'37. 




Pelecanus manillensis, G-iuel. The Spotted-billed Pelican. 

Pelecanus philippensis, Gmel., Jerd. B. Ind. \\, p. 858; Hume, 
Rouyh Draft N. $ E. no. 1004. 

The majority of the vast numbers of Spotted-billed Pelicans 
that are found in India appear to go to Burma to breed. Mr. Gates 
gives the following account of an enormous pelicanry he visited in 
Pegu : " The only eggs I had of this species were some extracted 
from females shot in the Sittang Eiver. Last November, however, 
it was my good fortune to visit a pelicanry which, for extent, is 
possibly not surpassed by any hitherto visited. 

" On the 8th November, 1877, 1 found myself at the pretty town 
of Shwaygheen, the head-quarters of the district of the same name. 
It is situated on the left bank of the Sittang about halfway between 
Eangoon and Tounghoo. 'The country to the east of the river is 
everywhere very hilly, and the Sittang appears to have worked 
itself as far to the east as it is possible for it to get, for its further 
progress in that direction is prevented by bold projecting hills of 
laterite. The country to the west is, however, very different. It 
consists of an immense plain of indefinite length, and extending to 
the westward to the foot of the Pegu Hills. Certain small tracts 
are cultivated, but the greater part of the plain is covered with 
elephant grass or forest, and intersected by numerous creeks 
choked up with drift and running nowhere in particular. They all, 
however, ultimately discharge themselves into the Sittang. Con- 
sidering that these creeks drain the whole eastern half of the Pegu 
Hills, and have no fall to speak of after entering the plain, it is 
not to be wondered at that the whole area under notice should, 
during four or five months, viz., from July to October or November, 
be nothing but a most dismal swamp, inundated to the depth of ten 
feet in many parts. Such country is suited only for fishermen, 
and we accordingly find them very numerous. Indeed the fisheries 
in this plain yield a very large revenue and give employment to 
large bodies of men. It is not, however, my intention now to 
describe these fisheries nor the many ingenious methods employed 
to catch the fish in shoals with the minimum of labour. I merely 
wish to give some idea of the country in which Pelicans find a 
suitable home. 

"Leaving Shwaygheen with my friend, Mr. Hough, the Deputy 
Commissioner, we dropped down the Sittang for about ten miles 
till we reached the mouth of the Hsa-zay Creek on the right bank. 
We proceeded up this stream till evening, when we landed at a fishery 
to dine. We, however, found the smell so bad that we pushed out 


into the stream to sleep. .Next morning we reached Kadat, a small 
village where we expected to find the Pelicans. A well-built 
Burmese house afforded us comfortable quarters. 

" The whole stream from the Sittang to Kadat runs through beauti- 
ful forest with spare undergrowth, and in many places the stream 
narrowed so much that we had carefully to pick a way for the boat 
between the trees. Immense flocks of Pelicans and Adjutants were 
flying in circles over our heads the whole day. Monkeys were very 
common, and I saw more specimens of Polioaetus iclitliyaetus 
during this trip than I have during the whole of my residence in 

" AVe arrived too late in the day to do anything, but in the after- 
noon, strolling out, we saw a good many Adjutants' nests, but it 
was not easy to climb the trees. 

"On the morning of the llth I started early with several 
Burmans into the forest. The floods had gone down, but the ground 
was very muddy, and in many places, for long distances, the water 
came up to my knees. Every quarter of a mile there was a 
depression or nullah to be crossed, and I soon gave up any idea 
I might have had of keeping myself dry. Walking was very 
laborious, for though there was no undergrowth of jungle to 
speak of, yet the roots of trees embedded in mud and water caused 
me frequently to trip up. 

" The whole forest consisted of very large trees, but a portion, 
about one in twenty, was made up of wood-oil trees, gigantic 
fellows, 150 feet high and more, and with a smooth branchless 
trunk of 80 to 100 feet. These are the trees selected by the 

" I was out that day till 3 P.M., continually moving, and must 
have walked at least twenty miles in various directions, but 
never from first to last was 1 out of sight of either a Pelican's 
or Adjutant' nest. From what I saw, and from what the Burmans 
told me, I compute the breeding-place of these birds to extend 
over an area about twenty miles long and five broad. 

" I shall describe the Adjutants' nests presently, but with regard 
to the Pelicans' I noticed that no tree contained less than three 
nests, and seldom more than fifteen. Some birds select the upper 
branches, placing their nest in a fork, but others, the majority, 
placed their nests on the nearly horizontal branches of the tree not 
far from the trunk. In all cases, the nests on one branch touch 
each other, and when these nests were on a horizontal branch they 
looked like an enormous string of beads. 

" Judging from the size of the bird I should say the nest is about 
two feet diameter, and, when in a fork, to be about eighteen inches 
deep. Others on flat branches are shallower. They are composed 
entirely of twigs and small branches, and I could detect no lining 
in those nests which were thrown down to me. 

" The eggs are invariably three in number, and on the llth 
November all I took were either fresh or only slightly incubated. 
The female bird sits very closely, and frequently I found that the 


bird would not fly off her eggs till I fired a gun. It was a most 
ludicrous sight to see the sitting birds stretch neck and head out of 
the nest to have a look at us, as often happened. 

" The only trees which the Burmans can climb on the spur of 
the moment are those which their arms can encircle. To be 
able to climb any tree it is necessary to make bamboo spikes 
the day before. These are driven into the trunk as the man 
mounts, and the operation, even for the tallest tree, does not take 
very long. 

"Notwithstanding the millions of birds which breed in this 
forest, a most wonderful silence prevails. The Pelican seems to 
be perfectly mute, and the Adjutants only bellow at intervals. 
The only sound which is constantly heard, and after a time 
even this sound passes unnoticed, is a sort of .^Eolian harp caused 
by the movement of the wings of innumerable birds high in air. 

" The eggs of this Pelican are pure white at first. As incubation 
proceeds they change to a brown, and before hatching become 
in^ some cases almost black. In texture they are very chalky, 
and when the outer coat of chalk is scratched or removed, the 
inner shell is smooth and white. The inner lining of the egg is 
white, and consequently the eggs of the Pelican can never be mis- 
taken for those of either of the Adjutants, in which the lining is dark 
green. In shape the eggs are rather long and narrow, equally 
pointed at both ends. The largest egg I have measures 3*3 in length 
and 2-08 in breadth, and the smallest 2-65 by 2'05. Looking at a 
large number, they appear more uniform in size than most eggs of 
large birds." 

Colonel Legge, writing from Ceylon on the breeding of this 
Pelican, remaks : " It breeds in February and March, forming 
colonies in conjunction with other large Waders round lonely tanks 
in unfrequented parts of the island. Layard mentions a large 
breeding-place at one immense tank in the Northern Province 
called Padawia, but I believe this is now dried up. 

" I found this species breeding at Uduwila Tank, near Tissa Maha 
E-ama, in the south-east. The nests were large structures, made 
of good-sized sticks and lined with small twigs ; they were placed 
on the topmost branches of a description of thorny tree growing 
in the-water. The diameter of the fabric was about 2 feet 6 inches, 
large enough to contain two or three young, at an age when they 
exceeded a goose in size, with the mother standing up by them ; in 
the same trees were nests of Tantalus leucocephalus and Falcinellm 
igneus, the eggs of which I did not procure as the young were 
already fledged. The number of eggs in the Pelicans' nests was 
three; long ovals in shape, and of a smooth chalky texture, dirty 
white in colour. They were terribly soiled, as Pelicans' eggs always 
are. The two in my possession measure 3-0 and 3-09 respectively 
in length, and 2-19 and 2*15 in breadth." * 

* I am under the impression that I sent Mr. Hume a very large number 
of Pelicans' eggs, but I regret that I cannot find any description of them amongst 
his papers. En. 

ANSER. 279 

Order ANSERES*. 

Family ANATID^. 
Subfamily ANSERINE. 

Anser cinereus, Meyer. The Grey Lag Goose. 

Anser cinereus, Meyer, Jerd. B. Lid. ii, p. 779 ; Hume, Rough Draft 
N. $ E. no. 945. 

As far as I know, this species does not in its wild state lay 
anywhere within our limits. I saw thousands of the Indian Bar- 
headed Goose, young and old, at various lakes in Thibet, but I 
cannot remember seeing any Grey Goose. 

The only Indian eggs of this species that I have seen were 
laid in captivity, early in May 1869, by the female of a pair of 
pinioned wild birds in the possession of Ruttun Singh, of Jugger- 
nathpoor, Ziilah Etawah. The previous year the same bird had 
laid and hatched a single egg, and had succeeded in rearing the 
young one until it was destroyed by a snake when about three 
months old. 

The two eggs laid in 1869 are moderately long ovals, the 
broadest portion in the centre, and the two ends sloping away 
thence pretty equally. The shell is glossless, and of a compact, 
but not a very fine texture. The eggs are spotless white, with a 
faint creamy or ivory tinge, and when held up against the light 
seem pale pinkish yellow. They measured 3*4 and 3'55 by 2*25 
and 2-45. 

Anser indicus (Lath.) Tlie Barred-headed Goose. 

Anser indicus (Gm.}, Jerd. B. Ind. \\, p. 782 5 Hume, Rough Draft 
N. 8? E. no. 949. 

The Barred-headed Goose breeds within our limits only in some 
of the Thibetan lakes, like the Tso-mourari, Tso-khar, and others 
which lie in Ladak, at elevations of 12,000 to 14,000 feet, east and 
north-east of Spiti. 

* Numerous notes on the Game Birds which would, in the ordinary course, 
have found their way into this edition, were published by Mr. Hume in the 
' Game Birds of India.' I do not propose to republisk these notes, as the ' Game 
Birds' is, or ought to be, in the library of every Indian Ornithologist. I 
have, however, given a short summary of the additional matter in order to 
render the account of each species in this edition tolerably complete. ED. 


They lay, I believe, in May, and it is, I fear, almost impossible 
to get over the Passes early enough to secure their eggs. Five 
and twenty years ago, when unfortunately I cared only for sport, 
I visited several of these lakes during the latter part of June, and 
at that time they were crowded with good-sized goslings, many of 
them large enough to be delicious eating. 

Nettapus coromandelianus (Gmel.). The Cotton Teal Goose. 

Nettapus coromandelianus (Gm.), Jerd. E. Ind. ii, p. 786. 
Nettapus coromandelicus (Linn.}, Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. 
no. 951. 

The Cotton Teal Goose, or, as many people call it, the Goslet, 
seems to breed throughout the Empire, not excepting the 
Andamans, but not, so far as I know, ascending the hills to any 

I have only found the eggs in July and August, and towards 
the end of the latter month the young are to be seen about 
everywhere. I have seen many nests, all in mango-trees, in or at 
the edge of swamps or ponds, in hollows of large decayed branches, 
and with very little lining, but it would appear from the remarks 
of others quoted below that these are by no means the only 
situations they affect for nesting. I have never found more than 
twelve eggs, and from eight to ten appear to me to be the usual 
full complement. 

Mr. E. R. Blewitt, writing from Jhansi, says of this species : 
" It breeds in July and August. 

" Just above the village of Burogaoii is a large lake from which 
several eggs of this Goslet were brought. The eggs were collected 
in the two mouths on different occasions. It makes a semi-floating 
nest on the water, among the rushes or lotus-leaves, of weeds, 
grass, &c., all together, filled up several inches above the water- 

" The many boatmen of the lake stated that this Goslet breeds 
there every year, and at the Talbeehut Lake also the boatmen 
affirmed the same. 

" The eggs are of an ivory-white in colour, having an average 
length of 1'7 and breadth 1'3. I am not certain as to the maxi- 
mum number of eggs." 

Dr. Jerdon says : " It breeds generally in holes in old trees, 
often at some distance from the water, occasionally in ruined 
houses, temples, old chimneys, and the like, laying eight or ten 
(sometimes, it is stated, as many as fifteen) small white eggs." 

The late Mr. A. Anderson remarked : " This species nests in 
holes of trees and old ruins, and never, according to my experience, 
in old nests or on the ground. 

" I once had an opportunity of watching a pair in the act of 
selecting their habitation. They invariably flew into the tree 
together; and while the female used to enter the hole, to recon- 


noitre, as it were, the male sat on a bough watching for her 
exit. No sooner did she make her appearance than they both flew 
away together, giving utterance to a peculiar cackling sound, 
which has been pronounced to be like the words ' Fix bayonets.' 
Their visits used to be repeated at intervals of every fifteen or 
twenty minutes. The Drake never went into the hole; and I am 
therefore inclined to believe that he does not lend his aid in the 
performance of the duties of incubation. 

" The greatest number of eggs laid by the Groslet, of which I have 
a record, is twelve. This nest was taken by Mr. Spry at Budaon 
in August last. The hole occupied was at no great height ; but 
it was 3^ feet deep, and only large enough to admit of ingress and 
egress ; the contents had to be removed by means of an iron spoon, 
something like a soup-ladle with an extra long handle. 

" The eggs are obtusely pointed ovals, and certainly large for 
the size of the bird; they measure 1*7 by 1*3 inch, and in shape 
and colour are exactly similar to those of the Whistling Teal." 

Major C. T. Bingham says : "I found two nests of this bird 
near the Phoolpere jheel across the Gauges at Allahabad, both in 
hollows in decayed branches of old mango-trees, containing respec- 
tively 5 and 8 eggs. There was no lining except bits of the wood 
itself that had broken off. Both nests I found on the 13th July, 
and the eggs were quite fresh ; one being stained in blotches by 
the decayed wood." 

Mr. J. E. Cripps, writing from Furreedpore in Eastern Bengal, 
says: "Very common during the rains; and I have on several 
occasions noticed them during the cold season. Frequents swampy 
ground. Builds in holes in trees at no great height from the 
ground. I once found a nest in a hole in a date-tree at 7 feet 
from the ground and close alongside of a ryot's house. There 
were twigs and feathers from their own breasts made into a nest ; 
one fresh egg. Some native boys killed the female, and I never 
again found any more breeding in that hole ; they even lay their 
eggs in the factory-chimney holes. When blowing the above- 
mentioned egg, I noticed the drops appear phosphorescent as they 
fell on a pucca floor ; the floor was perfectly clean, so cannot 
make out the reason for this appearance." 

In Ceylon this Groslet is said to breed in the early part of the 

Mr. Gates records the accompanying note from Pegu : " Xest 
with ten eggs on the loth September, in the hole of a mango-tree 
about 30 feet from the ground." 

The eggs are oval, scarcely more pointed at one end than the 
other. They are miniatures of those of the next species, of 
a delicate ivory-white colour, very smooth to the touch, but 
scarcely so glossy as those of the Comb Duck, and as a rule much 
less liable to become soiled during incubation than those of this 
latter species. 

In length the eggs vary from 1/54 to 1'75, and in breadth from 
1-17 to 1*38 ; but the average of twenty-six is 1*7 by 1/29. 

282 ANATID^I. 

Subfamily ANATIN.E. 

Sarcidiornis melanonotus (Penn.). Tlie Comb Duck. 

Sarkidiornis melanonotus (Penn.}, Jerd. B. Ind. ii ; p. 785 ; Hume, 
Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 950. 

The Comb Duck or Nukhtah appears to be partly migratory, 
for you find it breeding in places where it is never seen in other 

It lays in the North-West Provinces, where alone I have taken 
its nest, in July, August, and occasionally the first half of Septem- 
ber, but in Ceylon it appears to breed in February and March. 

According to my experience, it generally nests in some mango- 
grove bordering a jheel or broad, placing its nest, which is com- 
posed of sticks, a few dead leaves, grass, and feathers, at no great 
height from the ground, either in some large hole in the trunk or 
in the depression between three or four great arms, where the 
main stem (as it so often does in mango-trees) divides at a height 
of from six to ten feet. 

I have found numerous nests thus situated. Once, and once 
only, I found a nest in a regular swamp at one end of a jheel in 
amongst a thick growth of sedge and rush, and in this case no 
sticks had been used, but the whole nest, which was a foot in 
diameter and 5 or 6 inches in depth, was composed of reeds and 
rushes, lined with a little dry grass and a few feathers ; this nest 
had a good deep cavity, I daresay fully 4 inches in depth, while 
those found in trees had central depressions barely half this depth. 
Twelve is the largest number of eggs that I have found, and I 
believe seven or eight to be the usual complement ; but on this 
head see the following interesting remarks by the late Mr. A. 
Anderson. He says : 

" The Nukta or Comb Duck (SarTcidiornis melanonotus}, the 
Whistling Teal (Dtndrocygna arcuata}, with the Cotton Teal (Netta- 
pus coromcmdelianus} are non-migrant, and breed throughout the 
plains of India during the ' rains,' viz., from July to September, 
according to locality. 

" These Ducks, according to my experience, nest almost exclu- 
sively on trees ; and they are, so far as nidification is concerned, 
essentially perching Ducks. They begin to pair early in June, and 
may be seen flying about in search of a suitable tree almost 
simultaneously with the first fall of rain, which generally occurs 
in the North- West Provinces on or about the 18th of that month. 

" SarTcidiornis melanonotus. This curious and handsomely- 
coloured Duck deposits its eggs in holes of old deciduous trees, 
and never, I should say, in grass by the sides of tanks, &c., as 
stated by Jerdon. The male bird (as in fact do all the others) 


assists the female in the selection of a site. I have frequently 
watched both birds flying into trees together, the male uttering a 
harsh grating noise, while his mate is left behind on inspection 

" Although the Nuktas nest by preference in trees, I have known 
their doing so in holes of old ruined forts ; as a general rule, they 
select localities in close proximity to water. 

" I have no actual proof of their appropriating old nests, as is 
frequently done by the Whistling Teal ; but it is worth mentioning 
that a nest of Haliaetus leucoryphiis, which I had examined last 
winter for the eggs of Ascalapliia bengalensis and which was at 
the time tenanted by this Owl, actually contained seven or eight 
rotten eggs which are, in my opinion, referable to this Duck. 

" The number of eggs seems to vary considerably ; fifteen and 
twenty have been brought to me from one nest,* the advanced 
state of incubation clearly indicating that in all cases the full 
complement had been laid. I was present, however, at the capture 
of a female Xukta on her nest, which yielded the extraordinary 
number of forty eggs ! Of course it is just possible, though 
highly improbable, that this may have been the joint produce of 
two birds ; but the emaciated condition of the one captured, 
coupled with the fact that one egg was an abnormally small one, 
and evidently her last effort, do not favour such a supposition. 

" The tree selected was an ancient banyan (Ficus indica}, which 
overlooked a large sheet of water several miles in circumference ; 
the nest-hole was at an elevation of some 20 feet, 3 feet deep, and 
2 in circumference. 

" The eggs (incubation had barely commenced) were laid 
several tiers deep, and those at the bottom were a little soiled 
from resting on the damp wood. It is highly probable that a 
large proportion of these eggs are never hatched, and that they 
all become discoloured as the process of incubation progresses. 

"The thirty-nine full-sized eggs average 2| by 1| inches : they 
are long obtusely-pointed ovals ; and in feel, polish, and texture 
they resemble a white billiard ball. 

"The boss or fleshy protuberance of the Drake gets greatly 
enlarged during the breeding-season, frequently measuring 2-2 x 
2-4 inches at the base.'' 

Colonel Gr. F. L. Marshall says : " I took one egg on the 
20th July from a mulberry-tree. I found an egg of this species 
in a nest of Dissura episcopus, with three eggs of the latter bird: 
this is, I believe, an unusual occurrence." 

Major Mclnroy told me that this Duck bred to his knowledge 
in the Bagriodkere tank in the Chittaldoog district and in some 
other districts in Mysore ; and Mr. J. Davidson writes : " In the 
Punch Mehals it was very fairly common, a pair inhabiting 
nearly every one of the small tanks which are scattered about 
everywhere. They breed in the latter part of the rains ; the only 
nest I took contained thirteen eggs and was in the hollow top of a 
dead mango-tree, but I saw the young in very many places." 


Major Wardlaw Ramsay says that it breeds in Tonghoo in July 
and August. 

The eggs are regular orals, only slightly more pointed at one 
end than the other. The texture of the shell is wonderfully close 
and compact, and, when fresh, the eggs, both in colour and appear- 
ance, seem made of polished ivory. As incubation proceeds a good 
deal of the gloss disappears, and the delicate ivory-white becomes 
stained and sullied, but even to the last they are one of the 
smoothest eggs to the touch that we have. 

The eggs vary in length from 2-22 to 2*58, and in breadth from 
1'65 to 1*78; but the average of the forty-five eggs is 2-41 by 

Dendrocygna javanica (Horsf.). The Lesser WhistUnr/ Teal. 

Dendrocygna awstiree (Si/hes), Jerd. B. Ind.u, p. 789. 
Dendrocygna arcuata (Ciiv.}, Hume, Rouyh Draft N. fy E. no. 952. 

The Lesser Whistling Teal appears to breed in most parts of 
the Empire, is very common at the Nicobars, and has recently been 
obtained at the Andamans also. 

I have found its eggs in two situations in hollows in trees or 
between the larger branches of these, either unlined or slightly 
lined with grass and feathers, or in old Crows' and Kites' nests, 
which it lines in a similar fashion. In all cases the trees in or 
on which I have found it nesting have been in the immediate 
proximity of water. This, however, as will be seen further on, is 
not at all the rule elsewhere. With us it lays in July and August, 
and a few eggs may be found even during the first half of Septem- 
ber ; but the majority have, I think, hatched off by the first of 
that month. Twelve is the maximum number of eggs that I have 
seen in any nest, and ten or eleven are, I think, the usual com- 

Dr. Jerdon tells us (whether as the result of his own observa- 
tion or on the strength of the statements of others it is impossible 
to say) that the Whistling Teal " generally, perhaps, breeds in the 
drier patches of grass on the ground, often at a considerable distance 
from water, carefully concealing its nest by intertwining some 
blades of grass over it. Occasionally, however, it builds its nest 
in hollows of trees, and not unfrequently in nests made of sticks, 
and that have, in some cases at all events, been used by Cormorants 
or Small Herons. 

Colonel Gr. F. L. Marshall remarks that " this species builds in 
trees a nest of sticks, and lays about seven to ten eggs, of a white, 
fawn, or olive-brown colour. A nest found on the 25th of July 
near Bolundshar contained only one egg, on which both the parent 
birds were sitting. It was a tolerably compact structure of twigs 
in a keekur-tree at the edge of a jheel, about eight feet from the 
road; it was at the side of a metalled road near a large town. I 
shot the male, but missed the female with the left barrel. When I 


returned next day there was a pair of birds on the uest again, so 
that the female had apparently provided herself with a fresh mate 
in that short interval. In another case the nest was swarming 
with ants and maggots." 

The late Mr. A. Anderson remarks : " Jerdon could never 
have found a full clutch of the eggs of the Whistling Teal, or he 
would not have limited the number to l six or eight '" (' Birds of 
India,' vol. iii. p. 790). Ordinarily this Duck lays fully a dozen 
eggs ; but I am indebted to my friend Mr. Fynes-Cliuton for two 
clutches of twelve and fourteen respectively, which he took from 
the same nest ; whether these were laid by one or two birds must 
of course remain an open question. 

" On the 29th June, 1872, Mr. Clinton flushed a bird from the 
top of a low date-palm (Phoenix daciylifera} and found the first- 
mentioned lot (twelve) ; on the 13th July he happened to visit the 
same locality, and to his surprise found the second clutch in exactly 
the same situation ; the Duck was on her eggs. Now the dates 
are so coincident that, supposing these twenty-six eggs to be the 
produce of two birds, the second one must have laid her first egg 
the very day after the removal of the first batch. 

44 As to situation, the choice may be mentioned in the following 
order: (1st) depression at the fork of the lower branches of 
large-limbed trees ; (2nd) old nests, particularly those belonging 
to Crows, Herons, c. ; and (3rd) thorny scrub* or grass on the 
edge of swamps. 

44 The eggs measure T9 by To inch, and when fresh are of a 
milky-white colour ; the inside membrane is a delicate salmon-pink 

In Ceylon this Teal breeds from June until August. 

Major Bingham found a nest of this Teal near Delhi in a hollow 
of a decayed branch of a tree on the 9th August. Colonel Butler 
tells us that he found a nest with ten slightly incubated eggs on 
the 24th August at Deesa. The nest was placed in a tussock of 
^TLI--. Mr. Doig took ten fresh eggs from a nest in the Eastern 
Xarra, Sind, on the 22nd June. This and other nests subsequently 
taken were placed on creeper-covered tamarisk bushes at heights 
from 3 to 8 feet above the water. Mr. Brooks took a nest of this 
species out of a broken tree-stump about 4 feet high. Mr. J. 
Davidson informs us that in the Paiich Mehals he found several 
nests in tufts of grass in September and October. At Faridpur, 
Dacca, and Sylhet this Teal, according to Mr. Cripps, breeds 
in July and August, the nest being placed both in trees and on 
the ground. In Pegu Mr. Oates took nests from the 6th July 
to the 29th August. The nests were built on thick matted cane- 
breaks in paddy-fields. Major AVardlaw Earn say records August 
and September as the months in which he found nests in Burma. 

The eggs of this species are usually very broad ovals, often 
slightly compressed towards one end. In texture they differ much 
from those of the Comb Duck and Teal Groose already described. 
They lack the exquisite smoothness and satiny feel of these latter, 

286 ANATID^E. 

and instead of the delicate ivory-white they are, when fresh, nearly 
pure white, becoming no doubt yellowish or brownish and sullied 
as incubation proceeds. Here and there one may exhibit a slight 
gloss, but as a rule this is almost entirely wanting. 

In length the eggs vary from 1'72 to 2-0, and in breadth from 
1-4 to 1-6 ; but the average of forty-four is 1-86 by 1'49. 

Dendrocygna fulva (Gmel.). The Larger Whistliwj Teal. 

Dendrocygna major, Jerd., Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 790; Hume, Rouyh 
Draft N. 8> E. no. 953. 

It is from Saugor in the Central Provinces that I have received 
the only eggs and almost the only specimens I possess of this 

One nest was found on the 15th August ; it was a large hollow 
in an old tree overhanging a large piece of water, rather liberally 
lined with a few twigs, a good deal of grass, and some feathers. 
It contained seven eggs, a good deal incubated. 

The eggs, except for size and a somewhat superior smoothness, 
are precisely like those of the Lesser Whistling Teal very broad 
regular ovals, moderately smooth to the touch, but with no per- 
ceptible gloss, and of a dull yellowish- white colour. Probably 
when first laid the eggs were pure white. 

In length they vary from 2-12 to 2'25, and in breadth from 1-65 
to 1-75. 

Tadorna casarca (Linn.). The Brahminy Duck. 

Casarca rutila (Pall.), Jerd. B, Ind. ii, p. 791 ; Hume, Rouyh 
Draft N. $ E. no. 954. 

The Ruddy Sheldrake, or Brahmiuy Duck as in India it is uni- 
versally called, breeds throughout the high central portion of the 
interior of the Himalayas. It nests always, the people say, in holes 
in cliffs overhanging, or at any rate in close proximity to, streams, 
lakes, or pools, at an elevation of not less than 12,000 and often 
as high as 16,000 feet. 

I have seen the old birds with crowds of tiny ducklings on several 
of the Thibetan lakes towards the end of June ; but this was in 
old days when I cared for none of these things, and I never 
climbed up to examine a nest-hole, of which many have been 
pointed out to me in the cliffs, conspicuous by the droppings of 
the birds. 

In the account of the first Yarkand Mission we say that this 
species was first noticed at the hot springs above Gokra, at an 
elevation of 16,000 feet. There they were seen on small lakes 
that are dotted about on the Salt Plain and all along the Karakash 
Biver. The young were at that time (July) scarcely able to fly; 
when approached, the mother made them all dive by swimming and 

ANAS. 287 

flapping 011 to each of them as soon as it showed itself above water. 
The mother also pretended to be wounded, and lay on the water 
every now and then with wings spread out as if unable to fly. All 
along the Karakash A'alley and also on the high tableland, where- 
ever there was water overhung by cliffs, there numbers of Brahminy 
Ducks with broods of young ones were seen, and holes in these 
cliffs plastered over with droppings were pointed out by the 
Kerghiz as the places in which they had bred. 

I do not know that any European has as yet taken their eggs 
within our limits. They have mostly all left the plains by the 15th 
April, and I should judge that they laid early in May, before, in 
fact, it is possible to cross the Passes to the places they breed in. 

Long ago Dr. Adams recorded that he had '* found the Anas 
rutila breeding among the rocks surrounding the fresh- and salt- 
water lakes of Ladak, and that Bernida indica and Anser albifrons 
were seen in great numbers in June and July on the Chimman- 
raree (Tso-mourari) Lake. These lakes are about as far north as 
it is safe at present for Europeans to travel." 

Mr. F. B. Mallet reinaks, in epistold : " As to the Brahminy 
Ducks (Casarca rutila), I first observed them in Thibet, north of 
the Xiti Pass, at an elevation of about 14,000 feet, on a shallow 
stagnant pond. There were the old pair and eight young ones 
unable to fly. I bagged all the latter ; but the old parties did not 
see the fun of it at ah 1 , and kept out of range. This year I first 
saw a solitary one in Spiti on a small shallow pond about 13,000 

" In neither of these cases was there much vegetation ; in fact, 
almost none. Afterwards we saw perhaps two dozen old and 
young in the streams flowing into the Indus in Ladak (part of the 
Cashmere territory). These streams are rapid, but smooth, and 
bordered by coarse grassy plains, from a mile to two miles wide, 
marshy near the middle. They contain plenty of small fish, and 
the Ducks I shot near the Kiti had a very fishy taste. 

" These streams are about 14,000 to 15,000> feet above the sea, 
and there were lots of Geese on one of them. 

" I never saw ' Brahminies ' on the rough streams and torrents, 
except north of the first high ranges of the Himalayas, at elevations 
of 13,000 to 15,000 feet. 

" They are not found in the outer high ranges of the Himalayas 
themselves, but in Thibet, Ladak, &c." 

Anas leucoptera (Blyth). The White-winged Wood-Duel-. 

Casarca leucoptera (Bl.\ JercL B. Ind. ii, p. 793. 
Casarca scutulata (S. Mull.), Hwne, Cat. no. 955. 

Nothing definite is known of the nidification of the White- 
winged AVood-Duck ; but Colonel Godwin-Austen remarks : " I 
got this bird at Dimapur on the Dunsiri Eiver ; it appears to 
prefer sluggish streams like this flowing through forest, for I once 

288 AtfATID^E. 

flushed this bird in such a haunt in the interior of the Garo Hills. 
I am informed by Mr. James, of the Police at Samaguting, that it 
breeds on the Dunsiri, and that he had shot the young birds." 

Anas boscas, Linn. The Wild Dude. 

Alias boschas (Linn.}, Jerd. B. 2nd. ii, p. 708; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 958. 

The Wild Duck, or Mallard, only breeds within our limits, so 
far as we yet know, in the marshes and lakes of Cashmere. 
There it nests abundantly, building its coarse grass nest, more or 
less lined with down or feathers, in clumps of rushes, beneath the 
overhanging grass at the edges of watercourses or even in rice- 

It lays in May and the first week in June. Twelve is the 
largest number of eggs seen in any nest by my collector (a native), 
who examined hundreds of them. There is quite a trade in the 
eggs of this species and Fuligula nyroca at iSirinugger, and my 
man went out daily almost for a month in one of the egging boats. 
The boatmen told him that they had found as many as sixteen 
eggs in one Mallard's nest ! 

Mr. Brooks says, in epistold : " The Mallard's nest I took 
was amongst rushes in a rather dry spot of one of the Cashmere 
lakes ; it was built of straw and dry rushes, and lined with the 
bird's own down." 

Mr. W. Theobald makes the following remarks on the nidifi- 
cation of this species in the Valley of Cashmere : " Lays in the 
first week of May. Eggs, long ovato-pyriform. Size 2'27 by 
1*55. Colour, dirty white with a fringe of yellowish green near 

The late Major Cock wrote to me that this species " breeds in 
large numbers on the Anchar Ball and other lakes in Cashmere 
during the months of May and June ; boat-loads of their eggs are 
brought to the Sirinugger bazaars for sale, together with the eggs 
of the Coot and White-eyed Duck. The Mallard breeds near the 
water in among reeds or high grass, lays six, eight, or more eggs, 
of a peculiar oil-green colour. The nest is formed of dried grass 
or nag with a little down from the bird's breast, and placed under 
an overhanging tuft of grass or rush. The female sits close and 
allows you to come very near before she leaves her eggs." I may 
add that she will allow herself to be captured by hand on the nest, 
if the eggs are near hatching." 

The eggs of the Mallard vary a good deal in size and colour. 
In shape they differ little, and are moderately broad regular ovals, 
not unfrequently slightly compressed towards one end. In texture 
the shell is very fine and smooth, and has a faint gloss. The egg 
is quite devoid of markings, and when freshly laid has a dull pale 
greenish tint ; but as incubation proceeds it changes to a very pale 
drab or dingy stone-colour, and every intermediate shade is observ- 
able. In size they differ little from those of the Spotted-billed Duck, 

ANAS. 289 

but the latter are always \vhiter and never exhibit the green tinge 
so conspicuous in the freshly-laid egg of the Common AVild Duck. 
The eggs vary in length from 2-1 to 2-38, and in breadth from 
1-5 to 1-72 ; but the average of thirty eggs is 2-23 by 1-6. 

Anas pcecilorhyncha (Forst.). TJie Spotted-billed Duck. 

Alias poecilorhyncha, Penn., Jerd. B. 2nd. ii, p. 799 ; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. # E. no. 959. 

The Spotted-billed or Grey Duck breeds, I believe, in suitable 
localities all over the plains of India. 

The nest appears to be generally placed upon the ground, and 
rarely in the fork of some flat branch just above the surface of the 
ground or water, in low dense cover of grass, rush, and the like, 
to be of the usual duck type, and to contain from six to twelve 


A nest which I found on the 1st August at Eahun was placed 
on a drooping branch of a tree, which hung down from a canal 
bank into a thick clump of rushes growing in a jheel that, near 
the bridge, fringes the canal. The nest was about nine inches 
above the surface of the water, was entirely concealed in the high 
rushes, and was firmly based on a horizontal trifurcation of the 
bough. It was composed of dry rush, and had a good deep hollow 
in which down, feathers, and fine grass were intermingled. The 
nest was at least a foot in diameter, perhaps more, and I suppose 
2 inches thick in the centre and four inches at the sides. It 
contained three fresh eggs. 

A second nest I found on the 29th August in a large jheel, half 
swamp, half lake, in front of Moonj (also in the Etawah District), 
on the ground in a low thick bed of sedge on an island about 

2 yards square, to reach which a man had to swim. I did not see 
the nest (though I saw the bird flushed and the eggs taken), but it 
was described to me much as I have described the nest that I 
myself examined. The nest contained six fresh eggs. 

Colonel Gr. F. L. Marshall writes : " I found a nest in the 
Muttra District on the 31st August, 1871. It was a well-made, 
cup-shaped nest of grass, fresh plucked, about 9 inches across, 

3 inches deep, and the sides fully 2 inches thick ; it was sparingly 
lined with down and feathers from the breast of the parent bird, 
and contained seven brownish-white eggs. It was placed on the 
ground in a slight hollow among thick grass, about 18 inches 
high under the trees on the outer side of the canal bank, and 
about a yard from the edge of a small excavation pit, full of water. 
The bird was on the nest, and when roused flew with difficulty.'' 

Mr. Doig found nests of this Duck in Sind on the 28th of 
April and 1st of May. They were in long grass on the ground, on 
small islands. Colonel Butler states that he found several nests 
in October, between Deesa and Ahmedabad, on the ground in 
long grass. In Mysore, according to Major Mclnroy, flappers, 

TOL. in. 19 


quite unable to fly, are to be seen in January and February, so 
that the eggs were probably hatched in December. 

The eggs are of the usual broad oval type, in texture compact and 
smooth, but without the polish and gloss which characterize the 
somewhat similar eggs o the Comb Duck. In colour too they are 
when fresh white or greyish white, and never, so far as I have 
yet seen, exhibit that creamy or ivory tinge already noticed in the 
case of the Comb Duck and Cotton Teal. 

As incubation proceeds, they become yellowish and sullied, 
and hard-set eggs are occasionally a very dingy and pale earth- 

The eggs vary in length from 2*08 to 2*3, and in breadth from 
1-65 to 1-8 ; but the average of fifteen eggs is 2-15 by T70. 

Rhodonessa caryophyllacea (Lath.). The Pink-headed Duck. 

Anas caryophyllacea, Lath., Jerd. 23. I/id, ii, p. 800 ; Hume, JRow/h 
Vraft'N. 960. 

Of the Pink-headed Duck Dr. Jerdon says : " It breeds towards 
the end of the hot season, and its eggs are said to be laid amongst 
thick grass not far from the water." 

Mr. F. A. Shillingford sent me the following note : " On the 
3rd July, Mr. T. Hill, of Jouneah Factory, succeeded in finding a 
nest of the Pink-headed Duck near the Dabeepoor Factory. 

" The nest contained nine much incubated eggs, of which I send 
you five. These, as you will observe, are of precisely the same type 
as the one I formerly sent you. 

" The nest was well hidden in tall grass (Andropoyon muricatum), 
and both male and female were started from the vicinity of the 
nest, which was about 400 yards from a nullah containing water. 
The nest was well formed, made of dry grass, interspersed with 
a few feathers, the interior portion being circular and about 9 
inches in diameter, and 4 to 5 inches deep." 

The eggs are quite unlike those of any other Duck with which I 
am acquainted. In shape they are very nearly spherical ; indeed 
one is almost a perfect sphere. 

The shell is very close and compact, but not particularly smooth 
or satiny to the touch, and is entirely devoid of gloss. 

In colour it is a dull, nearly pure white, with here and there 
traces of an extremely faint yellowish mottling, probably the 
result of dirt. Even held up against the light, the shell is white, 
with a scarcely perceptible ivory tinge. 

The five eggs sent me by Mr. Shillingford measure as follows : 
1-82 by 1-7, 1-78 by 1-68, 1-8 by 1-62, 171 bv 1-69, 1-81 by 

duerquedula gibberifrons (S. Mull.). The Oceanic Teal. 

Mareca gibberifrons (AS'. Milll), Hume, JRouyh Draft N. d 

no. 963 bis. 
Querquedula gibberifrons (S. Mull.),Httma, Cat. no. 936 ter. 


The Oceanic Teal breeds (and indeed occurs) within our 
limits only in the Andamaus. I have only one record of its 
nidification and a single egg, both of which I owe to Captain 

The nest was found in August; it was composed of grass, and 
\va> placed in a paddy-field near Port Mouat, the only locality 
with which \ve are yet acquainted in the group where this species 
is always to be met with. 

The egg is typical, a very perfect broad oval in shape, with a 
very close-grained smooth shell, devoid of gloss, and of a uniform 
delicate cream-colour. 

It measures 1'93 by 1'43. 

Querquedula circia (Linn.). The Grarganey Teal. 

Querquedula circia (Linn.), Jerd. B. Lid. ii. p. 807 ; Hume, Rouyh 
Draft N. $ E. no. 905. 

The Grarganey or Summer Teal is to most parts of India only 
an autumn and cold- weather visitant. It returns very early. I 
have shot it repeatedly during the third week of August, but it 
certainly leaves every part of Upper India during the hot season. 

There is some reason, however, to think that it may breed in 
Tenasserirn. Writing thence, the late Colonel Tickell says: 
' k Another singular occurrence is the breeding of the Grarganey in 
this part of the country (Moulmein). I have a young one now 
alive, which was brought to me just fledged from a pond or small 
lake about twelve miles off/' 

Mr. Blyth added, with reference to this statement, that " the 
Grarganey breeds sparingly no doubt in India, as well as in Burinah 
and Tenasserirn." I have failed to obtain any confirmation of this 
surmise : indeed, all the evidence from all parts of the country 
that I have been able to accumulate points the other way, and I 
may add that no one since Colonel Tickell has apparently been 
able to learn anything of its breeding in Tenasserhn. I cannot 
liad out that anyone has ever seen it during the summer at the 
Thibetan lakes ; but I have numerous specimens shot in the interior 
of the Himalayas during the spring, and again during the latter 
half of August, thus apparently showing that these birds for the 
most part go north beyond the hills to breed. 

Colonel Irby, however, tells us that when in Oudh he " caught 
some young, half-fledged, in the month of September." * 

* CIIAULELASMUS AXGUSTiRosxKis (Meuetr.). The Marbled Duck. 
Chaulelasmus angustirostris (Menetr.}, Hione, Cat. no. 961 bis. 

Colonel Butler received some eggs from the Mekran Coast which he identifies 
as those of the Marbled Duck. He says : 

" I received some small Duck's eggs from the Mekran Coast, which are in my 
opinion those of the Marbled Duck. The nest was on the ground under a 


292 ANATID^. 

Fuligula nyroca (G-iildenst.). The White-eyed Pochard. 

Aythya nyroca (Gilld.), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 813; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 969. 

The "White-eyed Pochard or Ferruginous Duck breeds, I believe, 
in some localities in the plains of India ; and in Sind, where it 
swarins during the cold weather, I was informed that it remains 
during the whole year. I have never, however, succeeded in find- 
ing a nest, or obtaining any reliable information as to one being 
found in the plains. 

In the lakes in Cashmere they breed most abundantly, so abun- 
dantly that boat-loads of their eggs are brought into the Sirinug- 
ger market during the season. 

They lay in June, and, according to my native collector, who ex- 
amined a vast number of their nests, build a moderate-sized nest 
of dry rush and sedge in amongst rushes, reeds, and water-weeds, 
sometimes on the ground and sometimes more or less floating and 
supported on masses of water-plants. The interior of the nest is 
composed of rather finer materials, and the eggs are generally 
more or less intermixed with feathers and down. 

Ten was the largest number of eggs found in any nest. 

The eggs of this species are at once distinguished from those of 
any other Duck laying within our limits with which I am ac- 
quainted, by their well-marked, though delicate, cafe-au-lait tint, 
which, however, has often a faint greenish tinge. In shape they 
are commonly very regular and perfect ovals, moderately broad as 
a rule, but occasionally considerably elongated and slightly com- 
pressed towards the large end. The shell is very smooth and fine, 
but it has very little gloss. 

In length the eggs vary from 1*9 to 2*2 in length, and from 1*4 
to 1*54 in breadth ; but the average of a large series is 2'1 by 1*49. 

solitary babool bush, growing on an extensive tract of salt marsh, some seven 
or eight miles N. of Ormarra, called Moorputty, and consisted, according to 
the account of the native who found it, of a collection of fine twigs formed 
into a solid pad with a few pieces of down as a lining, and measuring eight or 
nine inches in diameter. 

" The eggs, eight in number, and of a delicate cream-colour, were taken on 
the 19th June, 1878. I have carefully compared them with eggs of the 
Marbled Duck, and find that they agree exactly, both in size, colour, and 
texture. They are certainly not Garganey's eggs, being too large, and I know of 
no other Duck inhabiting that district they could possibly belong to except 
the present species. 

"They vary in size from 1-8 to 1'9 in length, and from 1-35 to 1/43 in 

LABUS. 293 

Order GA.VIM. 

Family LARID^E. 

Subfamily LARIN^E. 

Larus brunneicephalus, Jerd. The Brown-headed Gull. 

Xeraa brunnicephala (Jerd), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 832. 

Larus brunneicephalus, Jerd., Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. no. 980, 

The nest of the Brown-headed Gull has never yet, I believe, 
been taken, but the first Tarkand Mission found the birds very 
abundant in July, at an elevation of about 15,000 feet, in a small 
stream running down from Ckagra into the Pangong Lake, and 
there is good reason to believe (all the birds seen were in full 
breeding-plumage) that they had nests in the immediate neighbour- 
hood. The lake itself is very salt and very bare, and doubtless it 
was somewhere just at the mouth of the Chagra stream, which is 
fresh, that these Gulls were breeding. 

Lams hempricM, Bonap. Hemprich's Gull. 
Lams heinprichi, Bonap., Hume, Cat. no. 981 ter. 

Colonel Butler obtained eggs of Hemprich's Gull from the Island 
of Astolah. He writes : " On the 6th August, 1877, I sent a boat 
from Pusnee to the island of Astolah, on the Mekran coast, and 
secured about 150 eggs of this species. The eggs were fresh, and 
laid in nests built in the low salt bushes (Sahola sp.), which are 
scattered about the tableland on the top of the island. The only 
information I could gather from the boatmen is as follows : The 
nests, which are about the size of crows', are loose and ragged in 
construction, composed of the twigs of the low salt bushes in which 
they were built, and always carefully concealed from view. 

" I heard subsequently from other natives that the eggs were 
sometimes laid on rocks, but always carefully hidden, and conse- 
quently difficult to find. As there is no doubt that the eggs I 
procured w r ere laid in nests concealed in low bushes, I should be 
inclined to doubt that the birds ever laid, like Terns, on the bare 

" The eggs, which according to the report of the boatmen who 
took them vary in number from one to three, differ a good deal in 
shape and colour." 

The eggs are broad ovals, many of them quite fowl-like in shape, 
but some a little more pointed towards the small end. 


The shell is close and compact, but not very fine-grained, show- 
ing when at all closely looked into a multitude of pores, hut it has 
nevertheless a slight gloss. 

Typically, the ground is a pale, slightly buffy bro\vn stone-colour, 
but in some it is paler and more creamy, and in a few it is darker, 
a cafe au lait with not very much of the milk in it. Typically, 
again, the markings are numerous and moderate-sized, irregular 
blotches and spots, which are brown of various degrees of intensity, 
usually where thinly laid on showing a sort of olivaceous tinge, 
but occasionally in the darker eggs being more of a coffee-brown. 
Besides these there are the usual secondary markings, fairly con- 
spicuous in some eggs, barely noticeable in others, spots, moderate- 
sized blotches, and tiny clouds of pale inky purple or lilac grey. 
In some few of the eggs, almost exclusively those with the darker 
grounds, the primary markings are few and large, and again, equally 
exclusively amongst those with the paler creamer grounds, these 
markings- are all very small and more numerous than usual, the 
secondary markings showing up naturally much more distinctly in 
these eggs than in the darker ones. As amongst all species of 
this family amongst a series of some hundreds, one or two quite 
abnormal almost spotless eggs are met with. 

The eggs vary from 2-10 to 2-45 in length, and from 1-45 to 
1*72 in breadth. 

Lams gelastes, Licht. The Blender-billed Gull 
Larus gelastes, Licht., Hwne, Cat. no. 981 quat. 

Colonel Butler writes of the nidification of this species on the 
Mekran coast: "On the 28th and 29th May, 1878, my friend 
Mr. Nash, Telegraph Dept., went at my request to a swamp called 
Moorputty, about 8 miles N.N.W. of Ormarra on the Mekran 
coast, to look for Flamingos' eggs. The place consists of a creek 
running out of the sea inland, and terminating in flat marshy 
ground some 9 or 10 miles in extent, with scarcely a particle of 
vegetation except a few low bushes dotted about in one or two 
places. After the rains it looks like an immense river, but towards 
the hot weather as the water dries up, small mud islands from 50 
to 100 yards in diameter become visible from day to day as the 
water goes down, and on these islands he found a few nests of 
the present species. 

" On one island he found two nests only a few yards apart, each 
containing three eggs, and on another two or three more nests 
containing from, one to three eggs each. All of the eggs were quite 
fresh and three seemed to be the usual number. The nests consisted 
of a substantial pad of seaweed about 8 inches in diameter, raised 
a few inches above the ground, and very solidly constructed. 
There were only a few pairs of birds breeding, and the nests were 
a good deal scattered." 

STERNA. 295 

The eggs of this species are broad to moderately broad oval, not 
unfrequently somewhat markedly pointed towards the small end. 
The shell is fine and moderately compact, but has not the slightest 
gloss. The ground-colour is as a rule dull white, though in some 
eggs a slight creamy tinge is apparent ; but, taking a series, the 
white or almost white ground is the most marked feature in the 
eggs of this species. 

The primary markings in these eggs are rather of a burnt-umber 
than a sepia-brown, in some cases almost black, in others where 
paler with a reddish rather than an olive tinge ; the secondary 
markings are as usual pale greyish lilac. Taken as a body tho 
eggs are well marked ; if the markings are small, then they are 
numerous and spread well over the egg ; if few in number, then 
they are largo and bold, and in such cases very often exhibit a 
tendency to form a conspicuous zone about the large end. 

They vary from 2-1 to 2-27 in length by 1-45 to 1-6 in breadth. 

Subfamily STERNIN^). 

Sterna caspia, Pall. TJie Caspian Tern. 

Sylochelidon caspius (Lath.), Jerd. B. Incl ii, p. 835. 
Stema caspia, PalL, Hume, Cat. no. 982. 

Mr. H. Parker is the only naturalist who has found this Tern 
breeding within the limits of the Empire. Writing from North- 
west Ceylon, he says : 

" June. Considerable numbers of these birds, mostly non- 
breeders I believe, frequent the sand banks near Mannar throughout 
the year. When examining the banks at Adam's Bridge, I came 
upon a colony of six nests of these fine Terns, containing nine 
eggs. They were shallow hollows scratched in the sand, from five 
to seven inches wide and one to one and a half inch deep. Two 
had a partial lining of twigs and a few shells, but the others were 
without any. The number of eggs was one or two. The nests 
were on the highest ridge of the bank, all near together, from one 
foot to about six feet apart, and not more than a few inches above 
high-water level. The average size of the eggs is 2*43 inches by 

" The birds at first circled round for a short time, and after- 
wards joined a large party of other Terns at a small neighbouring 
bank, from which some of them made frequent sallies, flying over 
my head a few times and then returning. Their cry was a hoarse 
croak or a scream. 

" Later in the day I found a pair evidently breeding at another 
bank beyond that at which my expedition ended, but I could not 
spare time to visit it. They came out boldly to attack my men, 
and made very determined swoops, often coming within three feet 

296 LARID.E. 

of my head. They then rose vertically above me for 50 or 60 
feet, and after flying back towards the nest returned to renew the 
assaults. The more timid of the birds, which I presume was the 
female, occasionally settled on the nest for a short time, while the 
male was engaged in bullying me ; as I told him at the time, it was 
nothing else ; I had not attempted to molest him and the nest 
was certainly quite half a mile away." 

Colonel Butler records the following note regarding the nidi- 
fication of this Tern in the Persian G-ulf : " On the 3rd April, 
1878, at my request and through the kindness of Mr. Huskisson, 
Telegraph Department, a boat was sent to the island of "Warba in 
the Kore Abdullah, at the head of the Persian Gulf, and a fine 
series of the eggs of this bird obtained. 

" There were two species of Terns breeding on the island at the 
time, viz. Sterna anc/lica and the present species, the former in 
one part of the island and the latter in another. 

" In both cases the nests were very abundant and built in colonies 
with a space of about one foot between them. The nests consisted 
of small mounds of sand scraped up about 4 or 5 inches high, with 
small sticks and twigs on the top for the eggs to rest upon, and most 
of them contained three eggs more or less incubated. Skins of both 
species (S. anglica and 8. caspia} were forwarded to me with the 
eggs for identification, and as there were no other birds at all on 
the island at that time except a few Herons (A. cinerea), which 
were also breeding, I think there can be no doubt of their identity." 

The eggs of this species are, as a rule, comparatively broad ovals, 
and but few of them show any sort of tendency to being pointed 
at the small end ; here and there in a large series rather more 
elongated examples occur. 

The shell is compact and firm, but by no means fine-grained, 
and is entirely devoid of gloss. 

The ground-colour of the great majority of the eggs is greyish 
white, with the faintest possible creamy, buffy, or pinky tinge ; 
but in a few eggs it is decidedly brown or buff stone-colour. As 
usual in the Terns, the markings are of two characters, first the 
primary ones, of varying shades of brown from almost black to a 
sort of olivaceous sepia, and the secondary ones, which seem to lie 
beneath the surface of the shell, and are pale lilac or pale greyish 
purple. Rarely are the markings at all thickly set in the eggs of 
this species; indeed, the characteristic of this latter is small markings 
for the size of the egg and these thinly set. It is difficult in words 
to convey a correct idea of these differences, but I think that the 
eggs of this species are distinguishable at a glance from those of 
any other that we get in India, though some of them undoubtedly 
run very close to some of those of L. hemprichi, which, however, 
are considerably smaller as a body, and much more distinctly and 
universally buffy in their tinge. The eggs vary from 2*3 to 2-75 
in length and from 1-71 to 1-89 in breadth. 

STEENA. 297 

Sterna tergii, Licht. The Large Crested Tern. 

Thalasseus cristatus (Steph.*), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 842. 
Sterna bergii, Licht., Hume, Rouyh Draft N. $ E. no. 989. 

In regard to the present species, Sterna beryii, I note that we saw 
an enormous flock of it at Pere-Mull-Par, in the Laccadive Islands, 
a small flock at Cherbaniaui reef, and a single specimen near 
Bingaroo in the Ancuttee tala. At Pere-Mull it very probably 
breeds, but the only breeding-place of this species within our 
limits of which I yet know for certain, is the rocky island of 
Astolah, which lies off the Mekran coast opposite Jask, a short 
distance beyond the boundary of Sind. On this island this species 
breeds in vast numbers in the early part of the monsoons. A 
boat sent to this island for me by Captain Wise on the 1st June, 
brought back no less than 3000 eggs of this species, and the men 
said that they had not half robbed the rocks. 

Colonel Butler, who visited the breeding-place of this Tern on 
Astolah Island, writes : " On the 29th May, 1877, I landed at As- 
tolah, an island on the Mekran coast, which I have previously 
described, about 24 miles S.AV". of Pusnee. On reaching the 
summit, 1 found the plateau covered from one end of the island 
to the other with Lams hemprichi, which were evidently col- 
lected there for breeding-purposes ; but there were no eggs on that 
date, although what appeared to be nest-holes were scratched in 
every direction. These, however, may only have been dusting-holes 
such as hens scratch, for I noticed the birds dustiny their feathers 
as they sat and grovelled in the holes. 

" Several groups of the large Sea-Tern had just commenced to lay, 
and I succeeded in taking 93 eggs, all perfectly fresh. The birds 
make no nest, neither do they even scratch a nest-hole. The eggs 
(at that time only one in each nest, or rather to each pair of birds, 
for as I have said before there is no nest) are laid on the bare 
ground in the most open and exposed parts of the island about one 
foot apart, and when sitting the birds seem packed together as 
close as possible, without perhaps actually touching each other. 
There is no difficulty in discovering the eggs, as the birds, often as 
many as two hundred or more in a group, sit close, with quantities 
of stragglers, probably the cock birds, flying backwards and for- 
wards a few yards above them, the whole keeping up a tremendous 
clamouring, and wiien approached they rise reluctantly off their 
eggs screaming and chattering loudly. I did not see the first group 
rise myself, and as there were hundreds of Gulls (L. hemprichi) 
mixed with them when I approached the eggs, I thought it best to 
sit down a few yards off and watch the birds return to their eggs. 
Xo sooner had I done so, than both species began to descend in 
dozens on to the spot where the eggs (about 30) were lying. In a 
moment a general fight commenced, and it was at once evident that 
the eggs belonged to Sterna bergii, and that the Gulls were 
carrying them off, and swallowing their contents as fast as they 
could devour them. So I jumped up and ran forward yelling like 
mad, and on reaching the spot found that even in that short time 


the Gulls had destroyed upwards o a dozen. I took the remainder 
and proceeded in the direction of two more groups, which raised 
the number to 46. Other groups were collected on the island, but 
they had not yet laid, although they were sitting closely packed on 
their selected breeding-grounds. Having now walked all over the 
island I returned to the ' Ambenvitch ' for breakfast, after which I 
blew eggs till 3 P.M., and then returned to the island to see if any 
more birds had laid. I revisited the spots where I had taken 
eggs in the morning, but found no more eggs, although the birds 
were all sitting on the same ground in groups as closely packed as 
they were in the morning before their nests were robbed. I was 
beginning to despair of getting any more eggs, when my attention 
was attracted by a large group of birds which I had somehow 
missed in the morning. On approaching them, they rose as usual 
with a tremendous clamour, leaving 47 more beautifully fresh eggs 
for me to add to my collection. This swelled the number to 93, 
which is all I got. It seems evident that this species lays in groups 
to protect its eggs from the ravages of Gulls and other birds. 

" I received another batch of eggs from the same place on the 19th 
June, numbering about 500. The man who took them said that 
they were laid in groups as described above, and usually three in 
each nest, never more. The eggs vary so much in coloration and 
marking that I shall not attempt to describe them, but will leave 
that difficult task to Mr. Hume. 

" I may mention, however, that of the 600 eggs now before me 
scarcely two are alike, and some beautiful specimens have the 
ground-colour a sort of rich salmon-fawn, with markings exactly like 
Arabic characters. In fact, so like that some natives on board the 
' Amberwitch,' when they saw the eggs, said that they were 
covered with Arabic writing, and when we told them that these 
birds always wrote their names on their eggs in Arabic with their 
bills, so as to know their own nests when they returned from feed- 
ing, they believed us. It is necessary to be very careful in blow- 
ing the eggs of this species, as the colours run and wash out if 
they are wetted in the slightest degree." 

Colonel Butler adds : " Writing to me from Ormarra on the 
10th June this year (1878), Mr. Xash mentions that some fisher- 
men have just arrived from Astolah with about 7000 fresh eggs of 
the Large Sea-Tern, and that they are offering them for sale as 
food at the rate of 60 for a rupee." 

Captain E. R. Shopland, I.M., found a considerable colony of 
these Terns breeding on Oyster Island, near Akyab, in May. The 
nests were placed, or rather the eggs deposited, at intervals of 
about one foot, and in no instance were more than two eggs to- 
gether. The sitting birds evinced great anxiety at Captain Shop- 
land's approach, but were evidently very loth to leave their eggs; 
they shuffled about and screeched, but they would not move. The 
reason for this extraordinary conduct was soon apparent; the 
island was covered with hermit-crabs, all ready, when opportunity 
offered, to seize the eggs. Captain Shopland observed that the 

STERNA. 299 

eggs upon this island were of two types, a larger and a smaller; 
but he is certain that both belonged to S. bergii, for he shot many 
birds, and no other Tern was discovered at this spot. The largest 
egg measured 2-4 by 1*65 inch and the smallest 2 by 1*38. 

Mr. H. Parker found this Tern breeding at Adam's Bridge, 
Ceylon, in June, and Mr. Xevill took the eggs in June from a 
rocky islet about 20 miles north of Galle. 

The eggs are typically broad ovals, strongly pointed towards the 
small end, but considerably elongated varieties are not uncommon. 
The shell is strong and compact, but entirely devoid of gloss. The 
ground-colour varies from white, greenish and pinkish white, to 
pale buff, pale yellowish, and again pale pinkish stone-colour, to 
the richest and warmest salmon-pink. The markings are of two 
colours, an intensely deep burnt-sienna brown, often quite black 
in its intensity, and a pale inky purple, which has an appearance 
of lying beneath the surface of the shell. In some eggs the inky 
purple markings are almost entirely wanting : in others they are 
almost more numerous and extensive than the dark ones. In some 
eggs these dark markings, which I may mention are of every con- 
ceivable shape and size, are comparatively thinly sprinkled; in 
others they are very dense. In some eggs they are huge blotches 
and spots, and in these eggs the markings always predominate 
about the large end, where in some eggs there is a broad zone, in 
others a huge more or less mottled cap. In other eggs the mark- 
ings are almost entirely hieroglyphic-like lines, and in these eggs 
there is rarely any conspicuous cap or zone. In some few eggs 
all the markings are small and spotty, and in about 1 per cent, 
they are almost entirely wanting over the greater portion of the 
surface of the egg. 

Of 25 eggs which reached me, no two were very closely alike, 
and for variety and richness of colouring they surpass as a body the 
eggs of any species with which I am acquainted. 

In length they vary from 2-3 to 2-71, and in breadth from 1-63 
to 1*78 ; but the average of two dozen was 2-45 by 1*71 *. 

* STERNA MEDIA, Horsf. The Allied Tern. 

Colonel Butler writes of the nidi flcation of this species in the Persian Gulf : 
" I received a magnificent series of eggs of the Allied Tern from an island close 
to the Island of Arabe in the Persian Gulf in 1878, numbering about 400. 
They are in character a good deal like the eggs of Sterna bergii, but of course 
considerably smaller." 

The eggs are typical Terns' eggs, ovals sometimes moderately broad, generally 
somewhat elongated, almost invariably decidedly pointed towards the small 
end. The shell is tolerably fine, but entirely devoid of gloss ; the ground-colour 
is in most specimens nearly white, but in some has a slight pinky buffy tinge ; 
the markings are always sparse ; the primary markings are extremely dark, in 
some cases almost absolutely black, but where the colour is thinner showing a 
deep burnt-sienna brown. Some of these markings are moderate-sized blotches 
and spots, but almost every egg exhibits at least one or two, and many of them 
several, very large coarse irregular patches, almost black in the centre, but red- 

300 LARID^E. 

Sterna anaestheta, Scop. The Panayan Tern. 

Onychoprion anasthaetus (Scop.}, Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 844. 
Sterna aneetheta (Scop.), Hume, Cat. no. 992. 

When I visited the Vingorla rocks on the 4th February, 1875, I 
found all the higher parts more or less thickly clothed with coarse 
dry shaggy grass, which sprouted out of every nook and cranny, 
and had, moreover, established itself over every little plateau or 
tiny table-ground where the decay of the rock and the guano of 
the numerous sea-birds that frequent these rocks at the breeding- 
season had spread a thin sheet of mould. 

Everywhere in amongst this grass were thousands of addled 
and rotten eggs, mostly broken and weather-beaten, but a very 
few of the smaller of the two kinds retaining their original colours 
tolerably well. What species the large eggs belonged to I cannot 
guess; there were very few of them, and all were much broken. 
They clearly belonged to some Gull, and were, I think, larger than 
those of Sterna bergii which I have from Astolah. In regard to the 
smaller species there could be no doubt, scores of dried-up mum- 
mies of the young birds and several nearly perfect dried-up skins 
of old ones of our present species lay about. I dare say I saw the 
remains of more than 100 young and old ones, and all belonging 
to this same species, not a single remain did I find of any other 
species ; I have therefore not the smallest doubt that the few eggs 
which I was able to bring away also belonged to this species. 

Colonel E. A. Butler received eggs of this species from the Persian 
Gulf. He says : "A few eggs of the Panayan Tern (at least said 
to belong to this species) were taken for me by some fishermen 
about the 8th June, 1878. They were found on mud banks on the 
island of Tungistan, about 40 miles E. of Bush ire, in the Persian 
Gulf, and the nests, which contained from two to four eggs (consider- 
ably incubated) each, were simply round depressions in the ground 
scratched out by the old birds. The eggs vary much in ground- 
colour and markings, some of them reminding one of the eggs of 
Sterna saundersi. I have no doubt about these eggs, as a skin of 
S. ancestheta was forwarded with them, and a note saying that 
there were no other Terns breeding on the island at the time they 
were taken." 

He adds a couple of notes : " A quantity of eggs taken on an 
island, 16. miles S. of Bushire, on the 13th July, 1878. The nest 
consisted of a slight depression in the sand just above high water- 
mark. Seldom more than one egg in a nest, sometimes two but 
never more. 

" Lays but one single egg, very similar to the egg of S. albigena 

dish-brown towards the edges ; many of the smaller spots are surrounded by a 
reddish-brown nimbus. The secondary markings the usual pale inky grey, a 
few in number and inconspicuous. Occasionally eggs are met with exhibiting 
scarcely any markings, a single blotch 0-2 in diameter, 20 or 30 tiny specks, and 
perhaps half a dozen tiny purplish-grey subsurface-looking spots. 

The eggs vary from 1*91 to 2'35 in length, and from 1-38 to T5 in breadth. 

STEENA. 301 

but rather larger. They burrow about 1 to 1| feet under shrubs 
or tufts of grass. Sometimes they lay on the ground under shrubs 
without burrowing, but never in an exposed situation. The eggs 
are always carefully concealed and consequently difficult to find. 
The eggs I found were all in a patch of grass and shrubs about 80 
yards long, growing thickly together : no nest." 

In shape the eggs seem to be normally very much that of a hen's 
egg, though somewhat more pointed and elongated examples occur. 
The ground-colour appears to vary from nearly pure white to a 
rich pinky stone-colour. The primary markings, often small, 
never apparently very large, and never very thickly set, are a rich 
reddish or burnt-sienna brown, becoming black in some spots ; 
besides these, chiefly towards the larger end of the egg, a certain 
number of pale purplish-grey specks and spots are observable, 
occasionally they are pretty densely set about the large end, but 
in many eggs they are very sparse and small. The shell, as usual 
in these Terns, is very fine and close, but entirely devoid of gloss. 

The eggs vary from 1-61 to 1-88 in length, and from 1-16 to 1'29 
in breadth. 

Sterna dougalli, Mont. The llostate Tern. 
Sterna dougalli, Mont., Hume, Cat. no. 985 bis. 

Of the breeding of this Tern within Indian limits, Mr. H. Parker 
records the following very full note from Ceylon : "June (Adam's 
Bridye). On a small low bank there was a colony of some 200 pairs 
of this beautiful Tern, all breeding ! The birds were extremely tame, 
settling on the nests when I was only 30 yards distant. At short 
intervals the whole flock rose in a cloud, screaming loudly, and 
after flying about halfway towards me returned to the eggs. 
Many, however, came on and made persistent swoops within two 
or three feet of my head, some of- them almost alighting on it, 
uttering a loud scream at the time, with occasional hoarse notes. 
A bird noosed on the nest proved to be a male. Some twenty 
pairs of S. sinensis were breeding in this colony ; as a rule, their 
nests were not mixed up with the others and were much more 
scattered. Some nests of /S. bergii were in the midst of those of 
the Roseate Tern. 

" The nests were from a foot to six feet or a little more apart, 
extending in a broad semicircle along the highest ridge of the 
sand, which was in no part more than two feet above the water- 
mark, and generally not more than six inches above it. At high 
tide some of the nests were evidently surrounded by water. All 
were small hollows scratched in the sand, from 4 to 6 inches wide, 
and from | to 1| inch deep ; some few contained a partial lining 
of shells, and in one instance a ridge of them was raised round the 
nest. The sand taken out of the cavity was usually deposited in a 
small mound round the nest. 

" The number of eggs laid was either one or two two in the 
greater number of nests. Their ordinary shape is a regular oval, 


occasionally slightly pointed ; but many elongated and stumpy 
eggs are also met with. Every intermediate gradation is found 
between a warm umber or sepia ground and a very pale grey stone- 
colour, in the latter case with a faint permanent greenish tinge. 
The eggs are spotted and boldly blotched and clouded with dark 
umber-brown or warm sepia, in some instances so dark as to be 
almost black, the deep tone often overlying a lighter one. All 
have inferior clouds and spots of light brownish purple or faint 
inky grey. Generally the markings exhibit a tendency to gyrate, 
but many exceptions occur. In a considerable number of cases 
they are chiefly clustered in a zone round the obtuse end, in these 
eggs being sometimes confluent, particularly in the browner speci- 
mens, and a few eggs have also scattered broken patches of the 
same colour as the other upper markings. Some have no blotches, 

and spots are spread almost equally over their whole surface 

The dimensions of twenty eggs are, mean 1'58 X 1'12 ; maximum 
length 1-74, breadth 1-20 ; minimum length 1-48, breadth 1'05." 

Sterna melanauchen, Temm. The Black-na^ed Tern. 

Onychoprion melanauchen (Temm.), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 844. 
Sternula melanauchen (Temm.\ Hume, Rouyli Draft N. fy E. 
no. 991. 

The Black-uaped Tern breeds within our limits only, so far 
as is yet known, on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 

For a magnificent series of its eggs, and for such information as 
I possess in regard to its nidiiication, I am indebted to Captain 

It lays, according to the monsoon, earlier in some years, later in 
others, between the middle of May and the first week in August. 
Little rocky islets, a little detached from the main island and but 
for a little scrub entirely bare, seem to be usually chosen for 
nesting-places, if indeed this term may be used for a bird that lays 
its eggs either upon a little collection of small lumps of coral and 
stone on the bare rock, or in a little depression in the sand. 

Two seems to be the full complement of eggs. The eggs vary 
very much in shape. Some are very perfect broad ovals, scarcely 
perceptibly pointed at one end, and others are decidedly elongated 
ovals, almost Plover-like in the way they are pinched out towards 
the small end ; but the majority are intermediate between these 
two forms. The shells, though smooth and satiny in their texture, 
exhibit but little gloss. The ground-colour varies from creamy 
yellow or very pale buff to pinkish or greenish stone-colour, and is 
more or less sparingly, but usually boldly, blotched and spotted 
with a more or less sienna-brown, which in some spots is almost 
black. Besides these primary markings, as in all Terns' eggs, 
numerous clouds, spots, and blotches, in some eggs small, in some 
large and conspicuous, of pale purple or dusky lilac are scattered 
here and there about the egg, looking in some cases as if they were 
below its surface. In some spots the brown is excessively red, and 

STEENA. 303 

in others a reddish halo surrounds part of the spot as if the colour 
had run. 

lu a good many eggs there is a marked zone generally round the 
large, rarely round the small, end. In some all the markings are 
very feeble* and washed-out, in others they are very bright and 
strongly defined. In some, again, they are small and comparatively 
numerous, while iu one or two eggs they consist solely of three or 
four enormous blackish-brown and inky purple clouds. The eggs 
out of each nest are very similar, and can be picked out at once 
out of a large number ; but the eggs of different nests differ to a 
remarkable degree, and yet possess a certain family likeness which 
would, I think, prevent their being mistaken for the eggs of any 
other of the Terns that breed with us. The eggs vary in length 
from 1-41 to 1-65, and in breadth from 1-06 to 1-2 ; but the 
average of thirty-six eggs is T56 by 1-12. 

Sterna fuliginosa, G-inel. The tiooty l\,-,i. 
Sterna fuliginosa, Gm. } Hume, Cat. no. 992 bis. 

I found this species breeding in enormous numbers at the 
Cherbaniani reef, but when we visited the place, about the middle 
of February, almost all the eggs were hatched off and the reef was 
swarming with myriads of young birds ; with all our care we could 
only h'nd some thirty of their eggs, and all so hard-set that I only 
succeeded iu preserving twenty-three of them after a hard day's 
work. There was no nest or attempt at a nest in any case. The 
eggs appeared to have been laid about promiscuously in any slight 
depression, either on the bare coral blocks or on the coarse coral 
sand between them. There was no separation between this 
species and the Noddies, and each egg, or pair of eggs, had to be 
watched until the parent settled down to it in order to make sure 
to which they pertained, for the eggs laid by both are too similar 
to permit of their being otherwise certainly separated. 

The eggs of this species are very variable, both in size, colour, 
and markings. Typically they are moderately elongated, rather 
regular ovals, somewhat pointed, as a rule, towards the smaller 
end, but some are of the ordinary hen's egg shape, and a few are 
markedly elongated. 

The shell is very fine and compact, but has no gloss. The 
ground-colour varies from white to pinky white, and from this 
latter to a yellowish pinkish stone-colour. The primary markings 
consist of large blotches, spots, streaks, and specks of a very rich 
brown, which on the pinkish eggs is often decidedly red. and on 
the rest is a sienna-brown (burnt or raw). The secondary 
markings, which look more or less as if they were beneath the 
shell, consist of spots and blotches of pale purple, lilac, purplish 
brown, or grey, the shade varying in different specimens. 

The extent and character of the markings vary much. In some 
eggs all the markings are small and spotty, in others the majority 


are large and bold ; in some they are scattered evenly over the 
whole egg, in the majority they are most numerous about the 
large end ; in some the markings are pretty densely set, in others 
they are very sparse. 

In length the twenty-three eggs I was able to preserve varied 
from 1-86 to 2-03, and in breadth from 1-26 to 1-45, but the 
average of the lot is 1/96 nearly by 1*34. 

Sterna anglica, Mont. The Gull-billed Tern. 

Gelochelidou anglicus (Mont.}, Jerd. B. 2nd. ii, p. 836. 

Sterna nilotica, von Hass., Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. no. 983. 

The G-ull-billed Tern is common enough all over India in the 
cold weather, but very few indeed remain to breed with us, and 
these only in the far North- West. In Cashmere I have little 
doubt that they do breed, but no one has yet ascertained the fact. 
I have never found this species breeding in the North-West 
Provinces ; indeed, it seems to leave these latter for more northern 
districts as soon as the hot weather sets in. That occasional 
stragglers at any rate breed in the North-west Punjab I have 
certain proof. On the 28th April, 1870, when searching a sand- 
bank in the Cheuab a little below the bridge of boats between 
Wuzeerabad and G-uzerat, I found a pair of the G-ull-billed Terns 
breeding. They were by themselves. About fifty yards distant 
in one direction was a colony of Glareola lactea, and about seventy 
yards in another were a group of nests of Rhynchops albicollis. 
On the same sand-bank I found the eggs of Sterna seena, Sterna 
minuta, Sterna melanoyastra, and Esacus recurvirostris. The 
pair of this present species were very tame, and allowed me to 
approach within ten yards before rising. When I walked up to 
the spot, 1 found a single egg in a considerable depression of a 
tiny sand mound, which was crowned by a dwarf bush of jhao 
(Tamarix dioica) ; I did not touch the egg (on either side and 
within a few inches of which the birds had been sitting), but re- 
treated some twenty paces, on which both Terns immediately 
resumed their former position. As I moved, they again rose, and 
I shot the female (as it proved) as she was flying away. 

The egg, which I secured, was perfectly fresh, whereas the eggs 
of all the other species were more or less hard-set. It was a 
rather elongated very perfect oval, measuring 1'78 in length by 
1/28 in breadth, a typical Tern's egg in colouring, with a delicate 
greenish stone-coloured ground w 7 hen fresh, now faded to a creamy 
drab, with numerous streaks, spots, and blotches of deep brown 
and brownish yellow, and more or less faint clouds of pale inky 
purple appearing to underlie the surface of the egg, which was 
almost entirely devoid of gloss. 

There is to my mind no possible doubt of the authenticity of 
the egg, but it is somewhat smaller than those that Colonel Butler 
procured from the Persian Grulf . The egg closely resembles some 

STERNA. 305 

of those of S. seena, and though slightly longer than the longest 
egg of that species that I have ever seen (and I have seen some 
hundreds), it is still not quite so broad as one or two of those that 
I possess ; and so I do not think there is any mistake about it. 

Colonel Butler thus writes concerning the eggs of this Tern that 
he received from the Persian Gulf: " On the 3rd April, 1878, 
Mr. Huskisson, Telegraph Department, at my request kindly sent 
a boat to the island of Warba, in the Kore Abdulla at the head of 
the Persian Gulf, and procured a fine series of the eggs of this 

" There were two species of Terns breeding in separate colonies 
on different parts of the island, viz. Sterna caspia and the present 
species. In each case the nests, which were very abundant, were 
built about a foot apart and consisted of a small mound of sand 
scraped together by the birds, from 3 to 5 inches high, with small 
twigs and sticks laid on the top for the eggs to rest upon. Most 
of the nests contained three eggs, all more or less incubated. Skins 
of both species (S. caspia and S. awjlica) were forwarded to me 
with the eggs for identification ; and as there were no other birds 
on the island at the time, except a few Common Herons (A. cinerea) 
that had also just commenced breeding, I think there can be no 
doubt of their identity.' 7 

The eggs of this species do not vary much in size or . shape. 
They are all moderately broad ovals and not unfrequently slightly 
pointed towards the small end. 

The shell is extremely fine, hard and compact, but exhibits no 
gloss ; the ground-colour varies from a greyish white through pale 
greenish, yellowish, and brownish stone-colour to a pretty decided 
brown ; the markings are of two colours one of more or less dark 
sepia-brown, becoming olivaceous where the spots are not dark, 
but in some spots becoming almost entirely black ; the other a pale 
washed-out, subsurface-looking, inky-purple or grey-brown spots 
and clouds. 

The character of the markings varies a good deal; in some they 
are mostly small and pretty thickly and uniformly distributed over 
the whole egg, in others they are large, thinly set, and in many 
cases chiefly distributed over the large end. In some eggs the 
secondary markings are very numerous and conspicuous ; in others 
they are few in number and scarcely noticeable till the egg is looked 
at closely. 

They vary from 1-83 to 2-2 in length, and from 1-35 to 1-57 in 

Sterna hybrida (Pall.). The Whiskered Tern. 

Hydrochelidon indica (Steph.), Jerd. B. 2nd. ii, p. 837 ; Hume, Rouqh 
"Draft N. $ E. no. 984. 

The "Whiskered Tern breeds not uncommonly in the North- 
West Provinces, Oudh, and parts of the Punjab, in large lakes and 

TOL. III. 20 


broads. 1 have not yet heard of its breeding in Central or Southern 

They lay in July and August. As a rule, their nests are placed 
towards the centre of some large jheel, where the water is deepest 
and no rice or rush grows, but where the surface is paved with 
the broad leaves of the water-lily and the lotus. On these they 
construct a slight platform of rush and weed, wound round and 
round in a circular form. Four seems to be the full complement 
of eggs. 

Dr. Jerdon is mistaken in his statement that Mr. Brooks found 
this species breeding in the large churrs on the Ganges. Mr. 
Brooks disclaims having ever said anything of the kind ; the only 
species of true Terns that do thus breed are S. seena, S. melano- 
yastra, and S. sinensis. Ear in the north-west, in the rivers of the 
Punjab, a few pairs of 8. anglica remain to breed, and on the 28th 
April, 1870, as already noticed, I took an egg of this species on a 
sandbank of the Chenab two miles below Wuzeerabad. S.hybrida 
is essentially a marsh Tern, while with us S. anylica is not. The 
former lays in July and August. 

I hardly think that even a tithe of the Whiskered Terns that 
visit us during the cold season remain to breed ; the great majority, 
I believe, leave the plains and breed either in the hills, as in the 
Cashmere lakes, or else go further north. I only know of three 
or four places where they breed in the plains I mean that I have 
myself seen and these were in the Etawah, Mynpooree, and 
Meerut Districts. Messrs. Brooks and Anderson have each, I 
believe, found two or three of their breeding-haunts, but no others 
of my correspondents appear to have obtained the eggs ; and when 
we remember how very plentiful this Tern is in many localities 
during the winter, the conclusion that the great mass leave us to 
breed elsewhere is irresistible. 

This Tern is very common during the summer in Cashmere. 
The birds were breeding when the first Yarkand Mission passed in 
June, and many nests were taken in a marsh close to Sirinugger, 
about a mile from the " Visitors Beach " and on the opposite side 
of the river. The nests were made of green rushes, placed in 
amongst rushes, reed, and floating weeds, and were very scanty. 
A year or two later Mr. Brooks and Major Cock took num- 
bers of their nests on the Wuller Lake early in June, and Dr. 
Stoliczka found them laying a second time there on the 26th July. 
All the three breeding-places I have seen were precisely alike. I 
quote an old note recorded at the time about one of them : 

" August 14th, Achulda Jheel, Zillali Etawah. In the centre of 
the jheel, where the water was deepest and no rice or rush grew, 
but where the lake was paved with lotus and lily-leaves, a small 
colony of these birds had established itself. On the broad leaves 
of the lotus they had built loose slight nests of rice and rush- 
stems, and in these we found their eggs. Only two nests con- 
tained three eggs each, the others two and one. All the eggs were 
perfectly fresh. The birds had obviously only just begun to 

STEBNA. 307 

lay. There were not less than twelve or more than twenty 
couples. We shot one, a female, which we preserved. Whilst 
the nests were being robbed, the birds whirled round and round 
the men's heads, continually emitting their hoarse screaming 

The late Mr. A. Anderson wrote that when at Fyzabad (Oudh) 
in 1867, he one day early in July came across a vast assemblage 
of these Terns, flying about a swamp about a mile in circumference, 
distant only about two miles from the town and within a stone's 
throw of the main road and of a village that overlooked the water. 
The swamp was one mass of tangled weeds and aquatic creepers, 
and watching the birds he soon discovered that they were con- 
structing on these floating nests, bringing for the purpose long 
wire-like weeds, some of them two feet in length, from different 
parts of the swamp. He goes on to say : 

" On the 7th July we again visited the place, taking a small 
canoe with us, which \vas pushed through the rushes and weeds 
with the greatest difficulty, and we were soon rewarded with as 
many eggs as we could carry home. 

" Each nest contained one, two, or three eggs, though possibly 
four may be the proper number had we allowed the birds sufficient 
time to lay the full complement. 

" The circumference of some of the nests I measured ranged 
between 3| and 4 feet, and they were about 4 inches thick. They 
were composed entirely of aquatic plants, and so interwoven with 
the growing creepers that it was impossible to remove them with- 
out cutting at the foundation of the structure." 

In India, so far as we yet know, they always make their own 
nests, generally, as already mentioned, on the surface of floating 
leaves, but sometimes on tufts of water-grass. It may, however, 
be well to note that in Northern Africa Canon Tristram found a 
whole colony of them breeding in the deserted nests of the Eared 
Grebes, and possibly in some parts of India they may similarly 
appropriate the old nests of other species. 

The eggs of this species are moderately broad ovals, a good deal 
pointed towards one end. The texture is very fine and close, but 
they have little or no gloss. 

The ground-colour varies, and is sometimes a pale olive stone- 
colour, sometimes an olive-brown, sometimes a bright decided 
green, or a rich or pale blue-green, sometimes a greenish grey, but 
most commonly a pale clear olive-green. The markings, which are 
generally pretty numerous, consist of streaks, spots, and blotches 
of deep blackish brown, umber-brown, or reddish brown, and of a 
number of very pale purplish-brown clouds, streaks, and spots 
underlying the primary markings. Sometimes the markings are 
all very small and niggling, sometimes they are large and bold. 
In a considerable number of eggs the majority of the markings 
are towards the large end, and not a few exhibit there a bold 
blotchy irregular zone. Some of the eggs have a very Snipe-like 
character, with large oblique blotches ; some have only very small 



specks or spots, while others remind one much of many types of 
Plovers' eggs. 

In length they vary from 1'39 to T65, and in breadth from 
1-02 to 1-15 ; but the average of forty-eight eggs is 1-51 by T09. 

Sterna seena, Sykes. The Indian River-Tern. 

Seena aurantia (Gray\ Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 838. 

Sterna seena, Syhes, Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. no. 985. 

The Indian River-Tern breeds throughout the Empire on sand- 
banks in, or on the sandy banks of, our larger rivers. I am not 
aware that it ever breeds in lakes or swamps, or in the hills either 
of Southern or Northern India. I do not know at what season it 
lays in Southern India, but in the Ganges and Jumna and their 
various affluents, the Brahmapootra and the Irrawaddy, the 
majority seem to breed in March, while in the Indus and its 
affluents they scarcely begin to lay till the second week of April. 

The only nest they make is a small depression in the bare 

As a rule several pairs breed within hail of each other; and 
generally where you find the eggs of this species, there you will 
find not far off those of the Small Swallow-Plover (G. lactea\ of 
the Indian Skimmer, of the Black-bellied Tern, and the Great 
Stone-Plover. Three is the full complement of eggs. At the 
season at which all these Terns lay, the bare white glittering sands 
on which their eggs are deposited are often at noontide too hot to 
touch ; and accordingly during the daytime the birds seem to 
trust to the heat of the sun to hatch the eggs, and are rarely to be 
found on their nests ; they pass the time wheeling round and 
round above, or snoozing beside them. By nightfall every egg 
is covered by one or other of the parent birds, and when it is 
dark they sit so close that it is easy to catch them with a common 

I reproduce a couple of old notes on the nidification of this 
species : 

" We procured numbers of eggs of this species on the 12th and 
13th March in shallow circular depressions in low sandbank 
islands of the Jumna near Sheregurh. Three was the greatest 
number that we found in any nest. The birds did not appear to 
have long commenced laying, as all the eggs were fresh. It is not 
amongst rocks or rocky reefs, where so many of the Great Stone- 
Plovers and Lapwings are nesting, that we found its eggs, but on 
bare low spots of sand from 2 to 3 feet above the present river- 
level. On one occasion we found a solitary nest, but usually 
several pretty near together. On one bank, within a compass of 
a hundred yards, we found these, the Indian Skimmer, the Black- 
bellied Tern, and Small Swallow-Plover, all breeding, each species, 
however, keeping pretty much to its own locality. The vigorous 
manner in which these River-Terns attack and chase awav Crows, 

STERNA. 309 

Kites, and similar \vould-b3 robbers from the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of their nests is very noticeable. To me they seemed to 
show more solicitude for their eggs than any of the other species 
breeding near them. It is impossible to doubt when they have 
eggs anywhere near ; the way they flash backwards and forwards 
and wheel round and round overhead, incessantly repeating their 
shrill plaintive cry, at once reveals the existence of the treasures 
they are so anxious to preserve ; but for this the search for their 
eggs would be weary work, as it is only when quite close to them that 
they catch the quickest eye, and I have myself seen ordinarily 
observant persons (not of course specially on the look-out for, or 
thinking of, eggs) walk right across a bank on which there were 
some fifty nests of this and kindred species, almost stepping on 
some, without ever noticing a single egg. 

"April 6th. Eevisited all these sandbanks, but found very few 
eggs ; the great majority had clearly hatched off, and those we did 
find probably belonged to birds that we had robbed, since we found 
none on those banks where, having quite as many eggs as we 
wanted, we did not meddle with the nests we saw. 

" I found many nests, each containing three hard-set eggs, of 
this species on a series of sandbanks in the Chenab, near Wuzee- 
rabad, on the 28th April. On the 9th t April I had taken several 
fresh eggs (in no case more than two in any one depression) on 
sandbanks on the Jhelum, between the station of that name and 
Find Dadan Khan. As a rule, one does not find numerous pairs 
of this species breeding on the same sandbank, and though they 
always lay on banks occupied by other species also, they almost 
always keep a good many yards apart from each other and other 

Writing from Tipperah, the late Mr. Valentine Irwin remarked : 
" The large Eiver-Tern (S. seena) lays during March with us. 
The eggs I sent you were obtained on the 15th of March on sand- 
banks in the Megna, about 20 miles below the Dacca Eoad." 

From Pegu, Mr. Eugene Gates writes that this species is 
" abundant throughout the whole length of the Irrawaddy and 
Sittang rivers, where it lays on the numerous sandbanks in the 
middle of March. In the extensive plains round Pegu it is 
common in all the tidal creeks. In these localities, 1 think, it 
nests in paddy-fields and waste ground covered with short grass." 
This latter belief, however, I do not share. 

Writing of this species and Sterna melanoyastra, Major Wardlaw 
Earn say says: "Both these species breed in large numbers on 
the sandbanks of the Sittang in March, April, and May." 

Typically the eggs of this species are broad ovals, scarcely 
pointed at either end. The eggs have little or no gloss, though 
the shell is very smooth and fine. In ground-colour, extent and 
character of markings they vary excessively, and yet there is a 
certain family resemblance amongst all the eggs of this species, 
which prevents their being confounded with those of any of our 
other Indian Terns with which I am acquainted. The ground- 

310 LARIDjE. 

colour is sometimes a delicate greenish grey, sometimes pale 
greenish stone-colour, most commonly perhaps a sort of buffy 
stone, occasionally, when fresh, slightly tinged with pink, and 
sometimes suffused with olivaceous. The markings, too, vary much 
in shape, size, and character. Typically they have small blotches, 
lines, and streaks pretty thickly sprinkled over the whole surface 
of the egg, at times quite hieroglyphic-like ; but in some specimens 
the blotches are large and few in number, and occasionally they 
consist of long streaks, reminding one of the characteristic 
markings of Rhynchops albicollis. Whether large or small, streaks, 
lines, spots, or blotches, as the case may be, besides these primary 
markings, which are deep brown of one shade or another, there are 
secondary markings underlying these, clouds and streaks of pale 
inky purple, which convey an idea of being beneath the surface of 
the* egg. 

In length the eggs vary from 1-5 to 1*75, and in breadth from 
l'17to 1*32; but the average of sixty eggs is 1'65 by 1'25. 

Sterna melanogastra, Temm. The Black-bellied Tern. 
Sterna javanica, Horsf., Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 840 ; Hume, Rough 


Draft N. $ E. no. 987. 

The Black-bellied Tern, like the Indian River-Tern, breeds all 
over the Empire in the same situations as that bird, and usually 
more or less in company with it. March is the breeding-season 
in the North-West Provinces, April in the Punjab, and apparently 
in Southern India they lay in both months. 

Their nests are mere depressions in the sand of sandbanks in 
the beds of rivers and surrounded by water ; and while the usual 
number of eggs is three, I have repeatedly found four eggs in the 
nests of this species. 

I have a couple of notes in regard to the Black-bellied Tern : 
" We took many of the eggs of this species near Sheregurh on the 
Jumna on March 12th and 13th, 1867. They were in every case 
breeding in company in low, bare, water-surrounded sandbanks. 
No nest that we found contained more than three eggs, but on 
many nests (mere shallow circular depressions in the dry sand) the 
birds were sitting, and many of the eggs were ready to hatch off. 
They seem to lay earlier than the Eiver-Tern (S. seena}, which again 
I take to be somewhat earlier than the Skimmer. The birds I 
fancied were bolder than S. seena, as when, after looking at their 
eggs without touching them, we retreated thirty or forty yards, 
the sitting birds at/ once resumed their positions on or beside the 
eggs. On the same banks we found parties of the Skimmer, 
S. seena, and the Lesser Swallow-Plover breeding, each party 
keeping pretty well to its own quarters. The eggs are generally 
dull and glossless. Of quite fresh eggs the ground-colour is a 
greenish stone-colour, but as incubation proceeds they assume more 
of a cafe-au-lait hue. The markings are generally feeble, a more 

STERNA. 311 

or less warm brown and a dull faint purplish brown, rather 
sparsely distributed in spots, specks, and tiny blotches. Some 
eggs almost entirely want the dark brown, and these have a very 
dull dead appearance indeed. In shape they are a round oval, and 
do not vary very much. 

" By April 6th these had almost all hatched off. There were a few 
eggs, second layings, at places where we had robbed the nests. 

" I found quite fresh eggs of this species on sandbanks in the 
Jhelum, near Find Dadan Khan, on the 9th April, and hard-set 
ones (four in some nests) on a bank in the Chenab, near Wuzeera- 
bad, on the 23th April 1870. Like S. seena and unlike Rhynchops 
albicollis, this species rarely breeds together in considerable com- 
panies. Two or three pairs are the most that are usually found 
on one bank, and even these two or three commonly keep pretty 
well apart." 

Captain Burgess, speaking of his experiences in the Dekhan, 
remarks: ""While walking on a sandbank in the midst of the 
Kiver Bheema, I was beset by a pair of these Terns, and on looking 
about on the ground found two eggs deposited in a slight hollow 
scraped in the moist sand not far from the edge of the water. 
These birds, when flying over head, utter a cry very like the chirp 
of a Sparrow. They breed during the months of March and April, 
laying two eggs of a rich stone-colour, spotted chiefly round the 
centre, and more sparingly over the larger end, with grey and light 
brown spots, and measure an inch and rather more than two-tenths 
in length by an inch in width." 

Mr. Gates tells us that " it breeds commonly on all the sand- 
banks of the Irrawaddy. Eggs, three in number, deposited on the 
bare sand. Lays in the middle of March." 

In shape the eggs are moderately broad ovals, distinctly pointed 
towards one end. As a body, they are considerably more elongated 
than those of S. seena. In colour the eggs run through various 
shades of creamy, buflcy, and cafe-au-lait grounds (occasionally, 
when quite fresh, with a faint greenish, or again pinky tinge), but 
vary far less than those of S. seena. The markings consist usually 
of small specks, streaks, and spots, not very thickly set, and occa- 
sionally of a few large blotches, all these of reddish or purplish 
brown ; and besides these of numerous faint hazy spots, clouds, 
and streaks of pale purple, which underlie the first-mentioned 
markings and seem to be more or less beneath the surface. The 
eggs are almost perfectly glossless, far more so than those of 
S. seena. 

In length the eggs vary from 1*10 to l a o, and in breadth from 
0*83 to 1'02. I have had at one time or another at least a hundred 
of these eggs, but I seem to have only eleven by me now, and the 
average of these is 1'25 by 0*95*. 

* STERXA ALBIGKNA, Licht. Lichtensteins Tern. 

Colonel Butler received eggs of this species from the Persian Gulf. The 
gentleman who took them thus writes : " As requested I made another trip 


Sterna sinensis, Gmel. The Eastern Ternlet*. 

Sternula minuta (Linn.\ Jerd. B '. Ind. ii, p. 840; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 988. 

The Ternlet seems to be pretty generally distributed throughout 
all the larger rivers of the Empire. According to my experience it 
rarely extends quite to the sea-coast or fishes in pure sea-water. 
In the cold season it is more plentiful about the estuaries and the 
lower portions of river-courses, but for breeding-purposes ifc goes 
higher up inland. 

in India this species breeds from the middle of March to the 
beginning of May, according to locality, those in the south begin- 
ning earlier and those in the north later ; but whether they are 
early or late they always lay later than the other species, Sterna 
seena and S. melanogastra, Ithynchops albicollis and Glareola lactea, 
all of which commonly breed on identically the same sandbanks. 
It is almost needless to say that the eggs, four in number, are laid 
in a slight depression in the bare sand on some entirely water- 
surrounded bank in a considerable-sized river. Personally I have 
taken but few eggs, comparatively speaking, of this Ternlet. Such 
few notes as I have recorded I quote : 

" Etawah, March I2th. I have scarcely ever noticed this bird 
here in the cold weather, but to-day I have seen a good many near 

on the 10th June to the island of Allah, about 40 miles E. of Bushire, where 
the eggs you got last year were taken from. At low tide it is one island, but 
at high tide becomes two, from low ground in the centre becoming submerged. 
Sterna albigena was breeding on one, and Sterna ancestheta on the other. The 
former (8. albigena} lays in the open on the bare ground, no nest, but in some 
instances a few pieces of twigs were observable. Eggs in number one or two, 
not more. One egg was peculiar, being almost white without any spots. The 
bird was shot off' the nest, so there could be no mistake." 

The eggs of this species, like those of most of the Terns, vary a good deal in 
size, shape, and colour. Typically they are moderately broad ovals, somewhat 
pointed towards the small end, but some specimens are quite of the hen-shaped 
type, others are broader and slightly pyriform, while I have three or four very 
elongated ovals markedly pointed towards the small end. Typically the 
ground-colour is a moderately pale brownish-yellow stone-colour, but occa- 
sionally this brightens to a warm cafe-au-lait ; in many it is only creamy, and 
rarely it is almost pure white. Typically, again, the markings are neither very 
large nor very dense. Moderate-sized blotches, specks, and spots of a brown, 
varying from deep umber-brown, almost black, through a variety of shades to 
almost sepia-brown. In some eggs all these primary markings are very small. 
One egg in twenty exhibits a few good-sized blotches. Besides these primary 
markings, all the eggs exhibit more or less numerous grey or pale inky-purple 
subsurface-looking streaks, clouds, and spots. In one or two eggs the primary 
markings are entirely wanting, and they exhibit nothing but these secondary 
ones. One egg we got had the ground white and was absolutely devoid of all 
markings. Variations like this occur in most species ; even in highly coloured 
eggs like those of (Edicnemus scolopax similar white varieties occur. The 
texture of the shell is fine and compact, but it is entirely devoid of gloss. 

The eggs vary from T48 to T71 in length, and from 1'07 to 1'21 in breadth. 

* Owing to the difficulty of assigning the notes on the breeding of the Tern- 
let to the various races into which Mr. Hume divides the Indian birds, I have 
been obliged to include them all under one name. ED. 

STERNA. 313 

Sheregurh in the Jumna, and though as yet we have found no eggs, 
it is doubtless for breeding-purposes that they have coine up here. 

" Numerous eggs received from Mirzapoor on the Ganges, where 
it breeds like the other Terns on sandbanks. The eggs, taken on 
the last day of March, were mostly fresh. Those before me are 
rather long and pointed. The ground-colour, amount and inten- 
sity of markings, as well as the shape of the eggs, vary much ; one 
is a buffy stone-colour, with well-marked dark reddish-brown 
specks and spots and tiny blotches, and a number of dimly-seen 
very pale purplish-grey secondary markings ; another egg is a pale 
cold grey stone-colour, with numerous, feeble, faint purplish 
blotches and spots dimly seen as if below the surface, and just a 
few brown specks ; another is very similar to this latter, but with 
far more of the dark primary markings, which are a purplish 

" Between April 4th and 8th I secured a number of these eggs 
on sandbanks of the Jumna and Chumbul, specially near Bhurrey, 
all or nearly all fresh. They are therefore decidedly later 
breeders than the other Terns. These eggs vary much in ground- 
colour; in some this is pale olive-brown, in some pale reddish 
brown or cafe-au-lait colour; in some it is very pale green, in 
others almost pinkish. The general character of the markings are 
spots, small blotches, and a few specks of a rich dark brown (which 
in some is blacker, in some more purple, and in some redder), with 
blotches and spots of a sort of subsurface-looking faint purple or 
lilac. Xone of the eggs seem to have any gloss, whereas there is 
often a good deal and always some in the case of those of S. seena 
and Rkynchopt albicollis, and occasionally a little where those of 
S. melanogastra are concerned. In some the markings are thickly, 
in some sparsely, sown over the whole surface. In some they form 
a sort of zone near the larger end, while elsewhere there are few. 
In some too, in fact generally, the spots and blotches are roundish, 
but at times they are long streaks similar to those so common on 
Skimmer's eggs. They are proportionally more oval eggs as a 
rule (I mean longer and less broad) than those of S. seena and S. 

" I found three nearly fresh eggs of this species on a bank in 
the Chenab, near Wuzeerabad, on the 28th April. This species 
appears everywhere in India to lay later than the other species, in 
company with which it breeds. This is perhaps the rarest of our 
common river Terns, and its eggs are far less easy to procure than 
those of the others." 

In the case of this and other Terns I have quoted descriptions 
written with the fresh eggs before me, besides giving a full de- 
scription taken from those in my collection 1st, because the eggs 
do vary so that no one description written at one time can quite 
adequately embrace all varieties ; and 2nd, because these eggs, 
more perhaps than any others, change colour with keeping, even 
though all light be rigidly excluded. 


Colonel Butler writes *: " At Kurrachee, on the 6th May, 1877, 
I noticed several of these Terns flying backwards and forwards 
over the Maidan between the Cauip and Clifton. As they had 
only just arrived, and as they appeared much devoted to the 
spot and bent on matrimonial pursuits, I got out my trap and 
commenced a search for eggs. The soil was slightly damp from the 
effect of tidal inundations, with here and there patches of hard dry 
incrustated ground, covered with saline efflorescence, and on these 
patches the nests were situated. I also found nests on the same 
maidan, on ground cut up by Artillery gun-carriages, the eggs 
being deposited in the wheel-ruts and in the horses' footprints. 

" None of the nests I examined contained more than two eggs, 
which seems to be contrary to Mr. Hume's experience ; and I may 
also observe that the birds in this neighbourhood feed exclusively 
in salt water, being common all over the harbour and in the salt- 
marshes adjoining. In one instance the eggs were deposited in 
the centre of a small heap of stones lying out on the open maidan. 

each containing 2 fresh eggs. 
1 fresh egg. 

1 slightly incubated egg. 

2 fresh eggs. 

1 fresh egg. 

2 fresh eggs. 

1 fresh egg. 

2 slightly incubated eggs. 
2 fresh eggs. 

2 slightly incubated eggs. 
2 incubated eggs. 
1 fresh egg. 

1 chick about a week old. 
1 slightly incubated egg. 
1 chick about a week old 
[and a stale egg." 

He subsequently added : " These birds bred again plentifully 
on the same ground, at the same season, the following year." 

The eggs found by Colonel Butler are uniform in tint ; a very 
pale drab or clay-brown, or slightly yellowish or greenish stone- 
colour. The primary markings are moderately dark umber-brown 
(the exact shade, however, varies), mere specks and tiny spots as a 
rule, thinly scattered about the egg, with here and there just a 
few rather larger irregular- shaped smears and blotches, or rarely 
little lines of the same colour. The secondary markings are quite 

" The dates u] 

pon whic 

"May 6th. 

3 nests 


1 nest 


*- >? 


5 nests 


1 nest 


4 nests 


1 nest 


2 nests 


1 nest 

June 4th. 

2 nests 




1 nest 









* The birds, the eggs of which Colonel Butler found at Kurrachee, belong to 
S. saundersi, Hume. ED. 

ANors. 315 

as numerous, in some eggs more so, and average larger ; they are 
a delicate pale lilac-grey. The shape is typical, moderately broad 
ovals, decidedly pointed towards the small end. The shell is very 
fine, but quite glossless. 

Mr. H. Parker writes of this species : " June (Adam's Bridge). 
There were several nests o this Tern on various banks. They 
were barely above high- water mark ; one was below it. Two of 
the birds settled on the nests while I was near. The mean 
dimensions of 20 eggs are 1*21 inch by 0-94. I observed all the 
birds carefully, but saw no S. saundersi." 

In Ceylon this species, according to Colonel Legge, breeds from 
June to August. 

Normally the eggs of this species are long ovals, distinctly 
pointed at one end. There is a regular gradation in size and 
shape in the eggs of S. seena, S. melanogastra, and S. sinensis. The 
first are much the largest and roundest, the next are smaller and 
more oval, the last are smaller still and most elongated of all. 
The ground-colour varies much, but the two commonest shades 
are a very pale drab colour (with, when fresh, a faint greenish 
tinge) and a warm cafe-au-lait colour. All kinds of intermediate 
shades, creamy, buffy, and greyish stone-colours, occur, but the 
commonest are those first described. The markings, as usual in 
these Terns, consist of streaks, blotches, and spots of different 
shades of deep brown, with underlying clouds and spots of faint 
inky purple. As a rule, the markings in this species are, I think, 
bolder, larger, and more streaky than those of S. melanogastra, 
which are smaller and more niggling. The eggs as a rule are 
entirely destitute of gloss. 

In length the eggs vary from 1*15 to 1/3, and in breadth from 
0-88 to 1-01 ; but the average of a large series is 1-25 by 0-94. 

Anous stolidus (Linn.). The Common Noddy. 

Anous stolidus (Linn.}, Jerd. B. Ind. ii ; p. 845 ; Hume, Cat. 
no. 993. 

We found this species breeding in great numbers on the Cher- 
baniani reef, but saw it nowhere else in the group. When we 
visited the reef in the second week in February, the birds had 
only just begun to lay, and we only procured a few quite fresh 

The few eggs that I secured were barely, if at all, separable 
from those of S. fuliyinosa, except that they seem to average some- 
what larger, and to be somewhat more elongated in shape and 
more richly coloured. 

I only secured eight, and these are all more elongated and more 
decidedly pointed than the great majority of the eggs of S. fuligi- 
nosa. The markings, too, in some specimens are perhaps some- 
what more brightly coloured than in any of the eggs of this latter 

316 LARID.E. 

species, but with this exception the description already given of 
the eggs of the one will answer perfectly for those of the other. 

My specimeDS varied in length from 1*9 -to 2'25, and in breadth 
from 1-33 to 1-46 ; but the average of eight is 2-08 nearly by 

Rhynchops albicollis, Swains. The Indian Skimmer. 

Rhynchops albicollis, Sivains., Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 847 ; Hume, Hough 
Draft N. fy E. no. 995. 

The Indian Skimmer or Scissor-bill breeds throughout the 
Empire on bare sandbank islands in the larger rivers. In the 
Ganges and its affluents the majority seem to lay in March ; in the 
Indus and its tributaries in April. 

It makes no nest, only scrapes a small hollow in the bare sand, 
from a foot to three feet above the water-level, and there it lays 
its eggs, the full complement of which is four. I have nothing to 
add beyond what will be found in the two old notes that I 
reproduce : 

" These birds were breeding on the 12th and 13th March, on low 
bare, water-surrounded sandbanks in the Jumna, near Sheregurh. In 
one nest we found three eggs, and on this the old bird was sitting ; 
but in every other case (and we found something like twenty eggs) 
only one had as yet been laid. The eggs are laid in a circular 
depression, which may be 1| inch deep and 4 inches broad, in the 
bare, dry, white sand. In all cases several pairs were breeding 
close to each other, and generally the Large Biver and Black- 
bellied Terns were also breeding somewhere near. Judging from 
the eggs, this bird lays a little later than either of these species. 
Whilst we were robbing their nests, they flew about in the neigh- 
bourhood uneasily, pretty often uttering shrill cries, but not on 
the whole seeming so much put out by, or so ready to resent, our 
interference and intrusion as S. seena. Compared with those of 
these latter, their eggs are somewiiat small. Compared with those 
of both S. seena and S. melanogastra, their eggs are long and narrow. 
They vary somewhat in ground-colour, this being in some greyer, 
some greener, and some more buffy. A faint, almost pinky, tinge 
is noticeable in some. Of course in this and other similar eggs 
(I am writing with the fresh unblow r n ones before me) when 
blown and old, all the delicate shades fade and the eggs lose half 
their beauty. The character of the markings on all are very 
similar, pretty large bold chocolate-brown blotches, with a few 
smaller spots of the same colour, and a few faint purplish blotches 
and secondary markings of a quasi subsurface character. In some 
the blotches are numerous, but they are never very thickly set, 
and I have specimens with so few of them, that on one side at 
least the egg is nearly unicolorous. 

" By 6th to 8th of April all seemed to have hatched off except 
second layings, where we had robbed the nests before. 


44 On the 28th April, 1870, 1 took over one hundred eggs of this 
species off a sandbank in the Chenab, near Wuzeerabad. On the 
6th April not one egg was laid. On the 28th almost all the de- 
pressions (I cannot call them nests) contained four eggs ; many were 
ready to hatch off, and there was not one quite fresh egg amongst 
the lot. As usual, the eggs, \vhich pertained to some thirty odd 
pairs, were all placed in the same immediate neighbourhood, a 
little apart from those of the other Terns and Swallow-Plovers 
breeding on the same bank. The eggs were on perfectly bare sand. 
Others portions of the bank were thinly sprinkled with tiny jhao 
bushes, but they had chosen a perfectly bare flat, some 50 yards 
from the water's edge and some 2 feet above its level. Whilst we 
were robbing their eggs, they flapped lazily round about us, keeping, 
however, out of shot and keeping up all the while a ceaseless 
twittering cry. I may add that on the 9th April I took a few 
quite fresh eggs of this species (which had obviously only just 
commenced to lay) on sandbanks in the Elver Jhelum between 
the station of that name and Find Dadan Khan." 

The eggs of this species vary but little in size and shape. They 
are moderately broad ovals, more or less pointed towards one end, 
some having a very decided point, almost like a Grebe's eggs. The 
texture of the shell is fine and compact, and they have a slight 
gloss. The ground-colour varies much, but the markings are 
very characteristic and uniform in their character. These eggs 
fade much, as indeed do most of those of this family ; but when 
fresh the ground-colour exhibits a variety of delicate and beautiful 
tints pale pinky buff, cream, or stone-colour. Delicate greenish 
or greyish white, pale cafe-au-lait, and pale salmon-colour are 
amongst the most common. The markings consist of bold blotches 
and streaks, chiefly the latter, of rich umber, chocolate, or reddish 
brown, occasionally so intense as to be almost black, underlaid by 
similar streaks and blotches of more or less pale inky purple. In the 
majority of the eggs the markings, as a whole, have a remarkably 
streaky character, the streaks running not parallel, but at an angle 
of about 30 to the major axis, seeming to be, as it were, twisted 
round the egg. The markings appear always to turn in the same 
direction, and holding the egg with the broad end uppermost and 
calling that the north, they have a set, if I might so describe it, 
from N.N.E. to S.S.W. 

In length the eggs vary from 1-45 to 1'76, and in breadth from 
1-08 to 1*28 ; but the average of one hundred and eight is 1'6 
nearly by 1*18 I notice that the Punjab eggs are longer than those 
of the North- West Provinces. Forty- three of the latter average 
only 1'55 by 1*18, while sixty-five of the former average 1*63 
nearly by 1'18. 



Glareola pratincola (Linn.). The Collared Pratincole. 

Glareola pratincola (imw.), Hume, Cat. no. 842 bis. 

Mr. Scrope Doig found the eggs of this Pratincole in Sind. He 
says : " On the 4th May I came across a lot of birds which were 
new to me, and so I shot some to identify ; from the persistent 
way in which the others kept flying round and round I concluded 
that they must be breeding, and on searching for their nests I found 
some half dozen all empty, and so thought that they were beginning 
to lay. I accordingly left the place, and returned on the 7th, when 
I found after searching about that what I had taken for new nests 
were really old ones, the place round about being covered with the 
broken egg-shells ; however, by patient searching I collected over 
fifty eggs. The breeding-ground was about 15 acres in extent 
(the actual portion where most of the nests were was only about 
an acre), and was a salt plain with patches of course sedge here and 
there on it, the whole being surrounded by dense tamarisk and 
rush jungle, and was situated about half a mile from the bank of 
the Narra. The nests were slight hollows scraped in the ground, 
and were generally situated close to where the soil had been rooted 
up by wild pigs, or in the centre or by the side of a lump of dried 
cowdung : this latter was the favourite situation. The greatest 
number of eggs in any nest was three. This seemed to be the normal 
number, but some contained only two, and one had a single egg and 
one young one just hatched. I shot several specimens,which I have 
preserved and sent to Mr. Hume for identification along with their 
eggs. I also found Cursorius coromandelicus and L. indica breeding 
in the same place. These birds have a most peculiar habit of lying 
stretched on the ground with their wings spread out ; they not 
only did this while I was visible searching for their eggs, but when 
I had disappeared and lay hid in the dense jungle I saw them 
through my glasses going through the same antics ; as far as I could 
judge, it was done when any other birds approached the nest or 
young, and was evidently a sign of anger. Two birds which I 
shot while thus extended were both males. The ground-colour of 
the eggs is a light dirty green in some, in others a drab, covered all 
over with dark purple blotches, denser in some than in others and 
sometimes forming a zone at the broader end ; some are in shape 
broad ovals, others nearly spherical : they vary in length from 1-1 
to 1'35, and from -SO to 1/05 in width, the average of fifty-two 
eggs being 1'46 in length and *95 in width." 

The eggs of this species are really not separable from those of 
G. orientalis, and no separate description of them is therefore 
necessary. They vary in size from 1'04 to 1'29 in length, and 
from 0-82 to 0-98 in breadth. 


Glareola orientalis (Leach). The Eastern Pratincole. 

Glareola orientalis, Ltach, Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 631 ; Hume, Hough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 842. 

I have been unable to ascertain anything in regard to the nidifi- 
cation of the Eastern Pratincole or Larger Swallow-Plover in India. 
Mr. Blyth, however, tells us that " it breeds sometimes in the neigh- 
bourhood of Calcutta, where I have seen two or three brought to the 
provision bazaar too young to fly. A specimen, with the feathers 
half-grown, is mounted in the Calcutta Museum, and another which 
must have been bred at no great distance." 

Mr. Gates, however, found numerous eggs in Pegu. He 
writes : " I have found eggs of this species from the 16th April 
to the 1st May, on which latter date some eggs were fresh, but 
others much incubated. Three appears to be the maximum num- 
ber of eggs, but two only are more frequently laid. The eggs are 
deposited on the bare ground, burnt up sandy paddy-fields being 
much frequented. Xo great number of birds breed together, nor 
have I ever found two nests very close to each other. The finding of 
eggs is consequently very laborious work. When disturbed, the 
sitting bird flies round one's head for a short time and then goes 
away. But when the young are lying hid, then the birds display 
great anxiety, and it is on these occasions that the bird squats on 
the ground with wings outspread and neck stretched out. I fancy 
this action is meant to counterfeit lameness, and so draw the in- 
truder off the scent. 

" The young bird runs as soon as it is batched. Its colour is a 
mixed pepper and salt, the black preponderating." 

The eggs of this species are undistinguishable from those of 
Glareola pratincola. In shape they are broad ovals, as a rule Plover- 
like, distinctly pointed towards the smaller end ; the ground-colour 
varies from almost white through all shades of greyish, yellowish, 
and drabby stone-colour, to an almost olive stone-colour. The 
primary markings consist of blotches, streaks, specks, and spots 
pretty thickly set about the whole egg, but not un frequently more 
densely towards one end, of a brown which is almost black in most 
spots, but which when thinly laid on varies from sienna to an umber- 
brown. These markings are very Plover-like, and as in the other 
Plovers vary a great deal in size and density in different eggs. Besides 
these primary markings, there are usually a great number of pale 
sepia clouds, spots, and blotches scattered about the egg, usually 
most thickly where the primary markings are thickest. 

The eggs more resemble those of Cursorius gallicus and C. coro- 
mandelicus than any others, but the markings are more blotchy and 
less scratchy, and the eggs themselves are less broad and more 
Plover-shaped than are those of the Coursers. 

In size the eggs vary from 1-12 to 1/25 in length, and from 0'9 
to 0-96 in breadth ; but the average of a considerable series is 1-18 
by 0-93. 


G-lareola lactea, Temra. The Small Pratincole. 

Glareola lactea, Ternm., Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 632 ; Hume, Hough 
Draft N. $ E. no. 843. 

The Small Pratincole or Lesser Indian Swallow-Plover breeds on 
sandbanks throughout the Indus, Ganges, Brahmapootra, Irra- 
waddy, Nerbudda, and Mahanuddy, and their many affluents, so far 
as they continue to be broad streams, flowing peacefully when not 
in flood. To which others (if any) of our Indian river-systems 
they resort to breed, I do not yet know. Further information on 
this subject is much to be desired. 

It is always a social bird, and even in the breeding-season from 
ten to fifty pairs always keep together. 

Like the Collared Pratincole in Greece and elsewhere in Southern 
Europe, our Indian bird always breeds in company with various 
species of Terns ; with these latter it usually chooses a low flat 
sandbank in the middle of the river, if possible one never visited, 
and in some part of this, not intermingled with, but usually a little 
apart from, the Terns, it makes its nest, the whole party of Pra- 
tincoles laying within a very limited area. Sometimes, but more 
rarely, the terminal portion of some very long and unfrequented 
spit of sand is taken possession of, instead of a sandbank island. 

The nests are mere holes in the sand, three inches or so across, 
and an inch or an inch and a half deep. Where the bank is ab- 
solutely unfrequented and unvisited, there these holes are scratched 
in the open without the slightest attempt at concealment ; but 
where boatmen towing boats are passing from time to time, there 
the birds generally make their nests at the roots of, and partly 
concealed by, tufts of grass or tamarisk-bushes. 

The nests are never lined in any way. 

Four is the full number of eggs ; but three, and even two, are 
often found much incubated. So long as there are only two or 
three in the nest, and the birds have not commenced to sit regularly, 
they do not seem to care whether you rob it or not ; but directly 
they commence sitting they evince the strongest interest in the 
matter, and do all they can to entice you away from the eggs. 

In the North-West Provinces I have always taken their eggs in 
March. They are later, however, in the Punjab, and at Thayetmyo 
Mr. Gates found them beginning to lay on the 12th April. 1 shall 
now quote a couple of my old notes in regard to the nidification of 
this species : 

" We found a small party of these birds breeding on a low bare 
sandbank in the Jumna, near Sheregurh (Etawah), on the 12th 
March. Near it the Skimmer, Large E/iver and Black-bellied 
Terns also had their nests. Several of the eggs were partly 
incubated ; the nests in which we found these latter contained 
each three eggs, but the majority had as yet only one or two eggs 
each, so that I fancy they had not long been breeding. They did 
not to me appear at all anxious about their eggs, ran and flew off 


without uttering a sound wh en we got near, and only one or two 
of them, the sitting birds, returned (when we drew off apart to 
watch them) to look after their nests. Moreover, whilst we were 
actually collecting their eggs, they were flying about busily hunting 
flies and other insects, ju^t as if they had no concern with the eggs. 
Like the Terns, they lay in a little cup -like cavity which they scoop 
in dry sand. There seems never to be the least trace of any kind 
of lining, nor any decided attempt at concealment. There were 
plenty of tiny bushes of jhao (Tamarix dioica) and herbs scattered 
sparsely here and there, but they took no advantage of any of these. 
I suspect that in the case of these and other birds the warmth 
generated by the sun on the white sand has a good deal to do with 
hatching the eggs, and makes up for the irregular way in which the 
parent birds seem to sit." 
Again I have noted : 

" I found an enormous number of the eggs of this species on the 
28th April on a sandbank in the Chenab near Wuzeerabad. On 
the 6th I had examined the same bank and found only one single 
egg. On the 28th, besides eggs, I found numerous young ones. 
This species, like the Terns <fcc., which breed more or less in com- 
pany with it, lays much later in the Upper Punjab than in the 
North- West Provinces, but in both places the Swallow-Plover is 
first to lay. 

" Although many of the eggs were placed in tiny depressions in 
the bare sand, open to the view from all sides, by far the majority 
were placed at or near the roots of tiny jhao bushes {Tamarix 
dioica), a foot or two only in height and diameter, which partially 
concealed them. 

" Plover-like, four seemed the full number of eggs, but in several 
cases three, and even two, were found to be much incubated. The 
birds in no instances sat on their eggs, though one of the pair 
usually sat near them. I was searching the bank at about 2 P.M., 
and then the glittering white sands were too hot to allow the hand 
to be kept on them, while even the boatmen complained that the 
hardened horny soles of their feet were blistered by the heat. 

"The strange antics played by these little birds, at least those of 
them that had young or hard-set eggs, whenever we approached their 
treasures, were very remarkable : flying past one, they would come 
fluttering down on to the sand a few paces in front of one, and 
there gasp and flutter as if mortally wounded, hobbling on with 
draggled wings and limping legs as one approached them, and 
altogether simulating entirely helpless and completely crippled 
birds. Xo one unacquainted with the habits of this class of birds 
could have believed, to see them napping along on the sands on 
their stomachs, every now and then falling head over heels and 
lying quite still for an instant, as if altogether exhausted, that this 
was all a piece of consummate acting intended to divert our atten- 
tion from their nests. I have seen Peewits and other Plovers 
behave somewhat similarly, but these little Pratincoles seemed 
to me to be cleverer performers than any birds I had ever seen. 

TOL. III. 21 


" On the 9th April I had taken a few fresh eggs of this species 
off a bank in the Jhelum near Jellalpoor, but the birds at that 
time showed little anxiety about their eggs, of which we in no case 
found more than two in any one depression." 

Lieut. H. E. Barnes informs us that this Pratincole breeds at 
Kotri in Sind early in March. 

Major "Wardlaw Bamsay says : " The small Pratincoles breed 
in great numbers on the sandbanks of the Sittang in April and 
May, just before the rains commence. In the year 1875 the change 
of the moDsoon took place nearly a month before the usual time, 
and consequently the sandbanks, on which were lying hundreds of 
eggs of this bird, JS. seena, S. melanogastra, and RTiynclwps albicoUis, 
were covered with water, and in a few days every egg was swept 

Eeferring to the Irrawaddy river, Mr. Gates says of this bird : 
" Commences to lay about the middle of April." 

The eggs of this species appear to differ very widely from those 
of the Collared Pratincole. The eggs of this latter are more of the 
Plover type, and remind one very strongly of those of the Cream- 
coloured Courser, whereas those of the present species are, at any 
rate in the character of their markings, more closely related to 
those of the Terns in whose company they breed, than to those of 
any of the Plovers. The eggs are typically broad ovals, pointed at 
one end ; the shell is close, but somewhat chalky in its texture, and 
entirely devoid of gloss. Jn the colour of the ground, as in that 
of the markings, an extraordinary diversity exists. The two 
commonest ground-colours are pale greenish white and pale fawn- 
colour ; but buff, reddish-brown, pinkish-grey, and white grounds 
are all common. The markings are of two kinds, the one which 
we may call the primary markings are spots, specks, streaky 
blotches, and hieroglyph ic-like lines of various shades of olive and 
reddish brown ; while the secondary markings, which appear to 
underlie the former, are fainter or brighter purple streaks or clouds. 
Owing to the comparative predominance of one or other of these 
two principal forms of markings, and to the diversity in their cha- 
racters, so many different combinations result that practically it is 
scarcely possible to pick out two eggs that closely resemble each 
other, although there is a general sameness in them and an especial 
character about them which prevents their being mistaken for those 
of any other species with which I am acquainted. 

The eggs vary in length from O95 to 1*18, and in breadth 
from 0*78 to O88 ; but the average of sixty -two eggs is T05 
by 0-82. 

cuRSOiars. 323 


Cursor-ins coromandelicus (Grmel.). The Indian Courser. 

Cursorius cororaandelicua (Gm.~), Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 626; Hume, 
Eoiujh Draft N. $ E. no. 840. 

The Indian Courser breeds commonly in dry, open, more or less 
bare and moderately watered, tracts throughout Southern. Central, 
and Central Northern Indv 3 . Eastwards, in Bengal, Assam, &c., 
it does not, I believe, breer 1 , and occurs but very rarely ; while 
westward, in Continental India, it is mo -e or less entirely replaced 
by C. yallicus. The latter does not stray much into tracts where 
the rainfall exceeds 15 inches, whereas our present b 1 * 1 ^, both north 
and south, belongs to the 15-to-45 inches zones and plateaux. 

I Rave found the nest twice in June, and once in the last week 
of March. I >elieve, howevei, that the b : rd lays from March to 
July. It scrapes a slight hollow in the ground, at times in a bare 
plain ; oftener, I believe, under some tuft of grass or low bush, in 
stunted, straggling, dry upland jungle, and in it lays two or three 
eggs on the baie earth ; I have never seen any lining nor have I 
known more than three eggs being found ; but my experience has 
been limited. 

Mr. H. Wenden writes : " A few T of the Indian Courser breed 
about Sholapoor in May and June chiefly, but some later on. 

" On June 30th, I found a nest of two eggs, hard-set, one with 
a single fresh egg, and another with three fresh ones. 

" On July 4th I saw a batch of three young, and another of 

'* The eggs are deposited on the ground, without the slightest 
signs of preparation in the shape of a nest, and in the barest and 
most open plain." 

Dr. Jerdon states that " it breeds in a hollow in the ground from 
March to May, laying usually three eggs of a pale greenish-yellow 
colour, much blotched and spotted with black and with a few 
duskv olive spots." 

Colonel C. H. T. Marshall remarks : " There are few more 
difficult eggs to find than those of this Courser, and unless I had 
the advantage of going out nesting in March last with that 
cleverest of all egg-finders, my friend the late Major Cock, I should 
not, I believe, ever have had the pleasure of taking these eggs. 

" The eggs, two in number (at least that is the most we have 
evT found), are laid on the bare earth where there is no grass. 
There is no pretension whatever to a nest, not even a depression in 
the ground ; so like are they to their surroundings, that although 
Major Cock placed Mr. Bingham and myself within three yards of 
a couple of eggs, we were unable for some little time to make out 
their whereabouts. The only chance of finding them seems to be to 
look out for a single bird moving out, as this will be in all probability 



a hen that has been disturbed from her eggs (where a pair are seen 
eggs as a rule will not be found) ; when she has been spotted, the 
searcher should sit down at some distance and keep his eye on her 
through glasses, after a short time she will return and squat over her 
eggs. This spot should be carefully marked, and after making an 
alignment he should try and walk straight up to it, never taking his 
eye off it. The hen bird will always try and deceive him by running 
sneakingly straight away from the nest ; the eye almost invariably 
follows the bird and the site of the nest is lost, but even with greatest 
care many will walk up to where they think the eggs are without 
being able to see them : the only chance then is to retire again to 
some distance and await the return of the parent bird, which does 
not as a rule take long, as the bird feels so confident that she has 
skilfully concealed her eggs from the eye of man, that she comes 
back in a very short time to them. We found several nests on a 
plain near the old cantonments of Delhi, at the end of March, most 
of the eggs being hard-set." 

Mr. J. Davidson says : " This is very common on the bare open 
parts of Sholapoor, but was rare in Satara. 

" It breeds abundantly in April, May, June, July, and August, 
laying its eggs in the slighest hollow on bare ground ; I have never 
found the eggs (I can hardly say the nest) at all sheltered or near 
any bush or tuft of grass. 

" I do not think Jerdon is correct in stating it usually lays three 
eggs, as out of nearly twenty nests I have taken, or had brought to 
me, none have contained more than two eggs." 

Colonel Butler tells us : " Belgaum, 29th April, 1880. I noticed 
a chick about a week old following the two parent birds on the old 
Race-course. I galloped up to the spot, and, of course as I expected, 
saw the two old birds running away alone. However, as the ground 
was very bare I got down from my horse, and after a careful search 
discovered the little thing squatting like a stone right out in the 
open. I took it up in my hand and examined it, and then put it 
down again, when it raised itself erect just like one of the old birds 
and ran away across the maidan for at least 100 yards, after which 
I lost sight of it. It was covered with greyish-buff down much 
mottled with dark blacldsh-brown spots." 

The eggs of this species seem to average slightly broader and 
possibly somewhat more brightly coloured than those of O. gatticus, 
but they are in other respects very similar to these. The ground- 
colour varies from cream-colour to bright buff. The markings are 
complicated. There are first large clouds, or patches, spots, and 
blotches, and smears of a very pale inky grey, sometimes occupying 
nearly the whole surface oE the egg, at times only a small portion 
of this ; then above this are lines, scratches, spots, and occasionally 
streaks of blackish brown or black and a rich olive. These mark- 
ings are mostly small, niggling, and close-set, with here and there 
big, clumsy, inky-black smears or smudges intermingled. 

Elsewhere I have thus described them : " The eggs are very sphe- 


rical and perfectly glossless. The ground-colour is a yellowish stone- 
colour or fawny white, and they are closely mottled, spotted, and 
in some specimens lined, all over with dull blackish brown and pale 
inky purple. In some eggs the markings are denser and darker, 
in some they are comparatively well defined, and in others they 
are confused and cloudy. These eggs so closely resemble those of 
G. galliciis that it would be difficult to separate them." 

In length the eggs vary from 1-14 to T26, and in breadth from 
0-93 to 1-02; but the average of a dozen is 1-19 by 0-97. 

Cursorius gallicus (Gin.). The Cream-coloured Courser. 
Cursorius gallicus (Gm.}, Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 840 bis. 

I believe that the first really authentic eggs of the Cream-coloured 
Courser ever obtained were those procured for me in 1868 by Khan 
Nizam-ood-deen Khan, the well-kuown Punjab sportsman, in the 
neighbourhood of Urneewalla in the western portion of the Sirsa 
District. I quote the note I published at the time on the sub- 
ject : 

" When shooting with the Khan in the Sirsa District, I shot a 
Cursorius gallicus. He then told me that there was another species 
which he described, and of which he some days later procured a 
specimen, and which proved to be C. coromandelicus. He told me 
that the former bred in the desert portion of the Sirsa District, 
but that he had never seen the eggs of the latter, which was there 
a comparatively rare cold-weather visitant. 

" I particularly asked him to watch for the eggs of both species 
and obtain them if possible. In course of time he wrote that he 
had obtained a pair of birds with one egg, and later that he had 
obtained two more pairs with two eggs each. 

" He sent me the five eggs and the three pairs of birds, all C. 
gallicus and he certified that in each case he had himself seen one 
or other of the birds actually on the eggs before touching them, 
and had himself shot the old bird in each case, which, tame as the 
birds there are, was a matter of no difficulty. He had procured other 
similar eggs, but as they had been brought in by others, he could 
not speak to them for certain and did not send them. 

" Xow, these eggs could have been laid by no other known bird 
belonging to the Sirsa avifauna, with which I am well acquainted, 
except perhaps the C. coromandelicus, of which I was equally 
anxious to obtain eggs, and which are far rarer in Sirsa than 
C. gallicus ; and putting this aside, all who know the Khan Sahib 
will, I know, agree with me that he is absolutely reliable. 

" He found all these eggs in July. 

" They were in each case laid on the bare ground in a very tri- 
fling depression ; in one case in a perfectly bare plain, in another 
in barren ground thinly studded with tufts of coarse withered 
grass, and in the third in an undulating sandy tract, which might 


be called a desert but for numerous bushes of the lana (Anabasis 
multiflora) and the ak (Calotropis hamiltoni)." 

Since this appeared, the Khan Sahib has taken nearly one 
hundred eggs of this species, and I have myself visited his domains 
and taken more than a dozen with my own hands. 

The eggs I found placed in situations precisely similar to those 
in which, in the North- West Provinces, I had found the nests of 
C. coromandelicus. July was the month in which I found them, 
and it is in this month generally that the great bulk are found ; but 
the Khan has taken tbem/rom the middle of March to the middle 
of August, and the laying-season varies a good deal according to 
the rains. 

The following is an extract from the Khan Sahib's diary for 1870, 
showing the dates on, and situations in, which he found nests in 
that year, and the number of eggs in each nest : 

No. of eggs. Date. Nature of locality. 

2. 14-3-70. Bajra stubble. 

1. 28-4-70. Under bush close to Urneewalla perao. 

1. 8-5-70. Bajra stubble-field. 

2. 13-6-70. Lemon grass. 

3. 19-6-70. On low sandy land near the Sutlej. 

1. 20-6-70. Waste land. 

2. 23-6-70. Scrub jungle. 
2. 26-6-70. 

1. 1-7-70. Clump of grass. 

2. 1-7-70. Low jungle. 

1. 3-7-70. Amongst some oopla in jungle. 

2. 5-7-70. Jungle. 
2. 5-7-70. Jungle. 

2. 8-7-70. Amongst low grass. 

2. 8-7-70. Low jungle. 

2. 10-7-70. 

2. 13-7-70. 

2. 18-7-70. Cultivated land. 

1. 22-7-70. Open waste land. 

1. 22-7-70. Low jungle. 

The nests, he tells me, have always been small hollows, 3 to 5 
inches in diameter and at most 2 inches in depth ; generally bare, 
at times with a slight lining of dry grass, which may have been 
placed there by the bird or may have lodged there accidentally. 
Three is the greatest number he has yet found in any nest, and 
this only exceptionally. Two he considers to be the usual comple- 

Typically the eggs are very broad ovals, only very slightly com- 
pressed towards one end, but here and there somewhat more 
elongated examples occur. Except that the ground-colour is yel- 
lower and more buffy, many of the eggs, both as to shape and 

DROMAS. 327 

markings, appear perfect miniatures of some of the varieties of 
Esacus rccuri'irostris. They have, of course, no gloss. The ground- 
colour is pale buffer creamy stone-colour ; and the most character- 
istic feature in the egg is the huge, dull, half-washed-out inky clouds 
which underlie the brighter or primary markings, which latter vary 
from black to olive- brown. 

In some eggs the secondary markings cover half or more than 
half the surface of the egg and are sooty black ; in others they 
are not only smaller but much less conspicuous, being a faint inky 
purple. Typically the primary markings are very niggling in their 
character, a combination of specks and spots and fine irregular 
lines, some black or blackish brown, some olive-brown, thickly 
sown over the whole surface of the egg. Not ^infrequently, how- 
ever, some few amongst the markings are bolder and coarser, and 
stand out more or less conspicuously from the general scratchy 
mottled mass of markings. In some eggs the olive-brown is wholly 
wanting, and in one egg before me the only representatives of the 
primary markings are a number of large blotches and spots of a 
very rich olive-brown. Occasionally the secondary and primary 
markings are so dense that between them almost every particle of 
the ground-colour is concealed. Some of the eggs not a little 
resemble those of Glareola pratincola both in size and appearance, 
but the majority are larger and have smaller and more niggling 
markings than the eggs that 1 have seen of G. pratincola. 

The eggs vary very much in size, from I'l to 1'28 in length, and 
from 0*9 to 1'04 in breadth ; but the average of fifty eggs carefully 
measured is 1-2 by 0*96. 

Family DROMADID^l. 

Dromas ardeola, Payk. The Crab-Plover. 

Dromas ardeola, Payk., Jerd. B. 2nd. ii, p. 658 ; Hume, Rough 
Draft N. fy E. no. 861. 

Despite all that has been urged as to the various affinities of this 
species, I am quite sure that every ornithologist who has ever 
watched them in life will agree with me that, so far as habits and 
manners and customs go, the Crab-Plover is hardly to be separated 
from (Elicnemus and ^Esacu.^. 

Such being the case, it was natural to conclude that the Crab- 
Plover would lay two eggs with a brownish or yellowish stone- 
coloured ground, blotched, streaked, and spotted with blackish brown, 
and would lay them in some small depression on an open sand- 
bank. Accordingly, when Layard sent an egg extremely like one 
of (Ediciiemns scolopax as belonging to this species, I saw no reason 
to doubt the genuineness of the egg, save that it seemed to me 
somewhat small for the bird. 

328 DEOMADID^!. 

Nothing, however, is more certain now than that the Crab-Plover 
lays one and not two eggs ; that this egg is quite abnormally large 
for the bird, and pure white in colour ; and, lastly, that it lays this 
egg not in a small depression in the open, but at the extreme end 
of a burrow running for some four feet into the sand. 

These remarkable facts, which naturally again raise the question 
as to w r hat the real affinities of this species can be, were first set 
forth by Von Heuglin, and have now been fully confirmed by 
Colonel E. A. Butler. 

Colonel Butler writes : "I think I am at last in a position to 
prove that the large white eggs which I sent you last year belong 
to the Crab- Plover. 

" In order that you may be satisfied as to their identity, I will 
relate fully the circumstances under which they were taken. 

" About the 8th June 1878, my friend Mr. Huskisson, Super- 
intendent, Indo-European Telegraph Department, who was then at 
Bu shire, kindly sent some natives to see it' there were any sea-birds 
breeding on one of the islands off Tungistan about 40 miles east of 
Bushire, Persian Gulf, and they returned with a batch of large 
white eggs and two skins (a nestling in down and an adult) of 
Dromas ardeola, saying that they had found numbers of these birds 
breeding on the island, and that the eggs were laid in holes in the 
sand-hills. The nests they reported as being a good deal scattered, 
and the eggs as a rule much incubated, many being on the point of 

" On receiving these eggs, I must say I was most incredulous, 
and thought, as you suggested, that in all probability they be- 
longed to the Gulf Shearwater (Pvffinus persicus, Hume). How- 
ever, the skins of the adult and nestling Crab-Plover showed that 
that species bred there, so I resolved to make arrangements to 
have the island explored again about May the following year. In 
the meantime I received another letter from Mr. Huskisson, saying 
that he had re-visited the island on the 13th July himself, and dug 
out many of the nests which were in holes in the sand-hills, and 
that most of them contained a single young bird, almost ready to 
leave the nest. 

"The following year, 1879, according to arrangement, my 
friend Mr. Nash, of the Telegraph Department, visited an island 
named Montane, about 20 miles east of Bushire, at the end of 
May, and made the following report : ' I visited the island off 
Tungistan, as requested, at the end of May (I was unable to go 
earlier), with the following result. I secured about three dozen 
Crab-Plovers' eggs, but could only blow a few of them as they 
were so hard-set. The eggs are large and white, about the size of 
a duck's egg. The bird burrows into the sand-hills about 4 feet 
and in the shape of a bow, the passage being about a foot 
below the surface of the ground, and the entrance usually near 
or under tussocks of grass or low shrubs the egg, which is 
solitary, being laid on the bare soil at the end of the hole without 
any sign of a nest. 

DEOMAS. 329 

" ' There can be no possible doubt about the identity of the bird, 
as I saw several of them fly out of the nest-holes myself, and they 
are those peculiar black and white birds with a black swallow-tail 
mark on the back, a skin of which I sent you from Dernarra last 
year to identify. I have compared the eggs now taken with some 
of the eggs taken last year, and of which Mr. Huskisson forwarded 
you a batch, and they correspond exactly, so that you were mis- 
taken in supposing they were Shearwaters' eggs. I saw no 
Shearwaters anywhere near the island, and do not think they breed 
about here. 

" * I went on a donkey along the shore until I got opposite to 
the island, and then at low tide waded across to it, a distance of 
about a mile.' 

" Later on I received another letter from the same gentleman, 
in which he says : 

" ' On the 10th June I visited another island about 40 miles 
down the coast, named Allah. This is probably the one from 
which Mr. Huskisson procured you the eggs last year, and in 
addition to two species of Terns that were then breeding (Sterna 
albiyena and Sterna ancestheta), I saw a lot of Crab-Plovers and 
found numbers of their broken egg-shells.' 

" Mr. Xash further observes that the nests were usually ' all in 
a heap,' by which I conclude he means that several nests are built 
close together. 

" Xow, however incredible it may appear to ornithologists that 
the Crab-Plover (Dromas ardeola, Payk.) burrows into the ground 
and lays a single white egg, with the above facts before us re- 
sulting from observations made at my request by two utterly 
disinterested persons two years running, I cannot see how we can 
arrive at any other conclusion." 

Taken in conjunction with Von Heuglin's account, there can 
be no earthly doubt that these eggs are those of the Crab- 

It would seem that they begin to lay at the end of April or 
very early in May, and that by the middle of July the young have 
not yet permanently left the nest-holes, but are still always found 
in these during the cZa^-time at any rate. Whether they come 
out to feed during the night has yet to be discovered. Some old 
birds once passed within a few yards of me about midnight, and 
possibly they are partially nocturnal in their habits, and if so, as 
there are no jackals or other animals on the coral islets where this 
species breeds, and as there are no birds of prey about in these 
places at night, it is far from improbable that, though still haunting 
their burrows during the day-time until quite full-grown and able 
to fly as well as their parents, they may nevertheless come out to 
feed during the night, as soon as they are able to run well, and 
this they seem to be within ten days of being hatched. 

The eggs of this species are extremely like those of Shearwaters 
and are large for the size of the bird. They are rather elongated, 
slightly pyriform ovals ; the shell is compact, but very distinctly 


granulated ; in colour they are pure white, without any spot or 
markings of any kind. Held up against the light, the shell is of 
a pale greenish yellow. Some of the eggs exhibit a very slight 

In size the eggs vary from 2-42 to 2-66 in length, and from 1'73 
to 1*85 in breadth ; but the average of twenty is 2-54 by 1*77. 

These dimensions are large for the size of the bird. If we 
compare the following species : 


f species. Qf the bird Length Breadth . 

&SCLCUS recurvirostris . . . lib. 12 ozs. 215 1-6 

magnirostris ... 2 Ibs. 4 ozs. 2'55 1'75 

(Edicnemus scolopax, Ib. 12 ozs. 1*9 1*39 
small Indian race. 

Dromas ardeola lib. ozs. 2'54 T6 

Hcematopus ostralegus ... lib. 6 ozs. 2'2 V6 

we see that, though almost the smallest bird of the lot, its eggs 
are almost the biggest, quite as large as those of JE. magnirostris^ 
which weighs 2| times what it does, and very much larger than 
those of jE. recurvirostris^ which weighs nearly double what it 

And, moreover, the eggs do not bear the slightest resemblance, 
and have nothing absolutely akin, to those of any one of the above- 
mentioned species, which have usually been considered its nearest 

If I was to name any genus, I should say that the eggs and 
breeding-habits of the Crab-Plovers were closer to those of the 
Shearwaters than to those of any other with which I am ac- 

The following additional testimony is furnished by Mr. H. Par- 
ker, who, writing of North-west Ceylon, says : "June. This bird 
breeds, as Captain Legge supposed, at Adam's Bridge. I examined 
part of the sandbanks my: elf, unsuccessfully, beyond meeting 
with a few non-breeding birds and a partly-excavated nest-hole, 
and then sent on an overseer, who has had a special training in 
oology and collecting, and who is particularly observant and 
accurate, to complete the examination up to Barnes varam. He 
reported the discovery of seventeen nests, all containing young, in 
a colony on one bank ; but as the particulars noted by him on the 
spot differ in some respects from other accounts, I reserve them 
for further verification." 



(Edicnemus scolopax (S. Gr. Gmel.). The Stone-Plover. 

CEdicnemus crepitans, Tetnm., Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 654. 
(Edicnenius indicus, Salvad., Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 859. 

The Stone-Plover breeds in the plains almost throughout India, 
but only in suitable localities. The country must be dry, and 
there must be patches of scrub or low jungle, or large groves or 
dry jheels, pretty thickly studded with grass-tufts. In such 
situations or in open wastes, or even ploughed fields near to these, 
the Stone-Plover makes its nest, the site chosen depending a good 
deal on the se. "on and the period at which they lay. In this 
latter they are very irregular. The majority no doubt lay in April, 
but I have taken eggs myself in every month from February to 
August, both inclusive. Of forty-seven dated eggs before me, the 
numbers indicated below were taken in each month : 

February. March. April. May. June. July. August. 
2 5 26 5 5 2 2 

According to my experience in Upper India, the place of all 
others in which they love to breed is some huge old mango-tope 
in which the trees are not very thick, surrounded by a good high 
mud-bank, and of which the grass is thickly preserved by some 
native gentleman for the use of his cattle towards the close of the 
hot weather, when all other grass has disappeared. In such a 
grove I once found thirteen nests and saw at least fifty birds, 
many of which had not apparently yet laid. 

The nest is a mere hollow scooped out by the birds, very often 
in the midst of a layer of dead leaves, generally quite unlined, oc- 
casionally with a few blades of grass doing duty as lining. If the 
nest is out in an open place, it is generally more or less concealed 
at the base of some bush or tuft of grass ; but if a grove, it is very 
generally not far from some large root of one of the mango-trees 
in the midst of dead leaves, and these so harmonize with the 
colours of the eggs that no further concealment is necessary. A 
do/en times I have passed over, all but treading on eggs thus 
placed, and which I was eagerly looking for. 

Two is the ordinary number of eggs laid, but I have found three 
in a nest at least half a dozen times. I should guess that in about 
one in ten nests three eggs occur. 

Colonel Gr. P. L. Marshall writes from the Saharunpoor Dis- 
trict : " This bird is by no means common everywhere; it is very 
locally distributed, being plentiful at the fooc of tlie Sewaliks and 
in the belt of Dhak jungle in the Mozuft'ernugger District, whilst 


in other places scarcely a specimen is to be met with or even heard, 
for I have often heard without seeing them. 

" It breeds from April to June, laying two eggs of a light nan- 
keen colour, profusely spotted, speckled, blotched, and streaked 
with deep blackish brown, on the ground, generally on the grass 
at the foot of, and just under the shelter of, a bush. The eggs are 
large for the size of the bird, rather lengthened in shape, and more 
or less pointed at the thin end. 

" The young, unlike others of the Plover tribe, seem very help- 
less and unable to run till quite fledged. On the 23rd May I 
noticed one of these birds sneaking away from a low mola-bush 
on a sandy plain, and on going to look I found a young bird nearly 
fledged sitting in a slight hollow in the ground, evidently the nest ; 
though able to stand and to walk about, it made no attempt to 
escape, but permitted itself to be caught at once. 

" On the 13th June I found two eggs on the grass under a 
keekur bush, a little patch being slightly cleared and a few dead 
leaves collected. The hen was sitting on the eggs as I rode up, 
and the cock bird was standing pluming himself a few yards off. 
On seeing me they both bent down their heads and crept quickly 
and noiselessly off through the grass to the other side of the bush, 
but too late to save their eggs, for I had seen the female before she 
saw me." 

Captain Beavan remarks that this species is " not uncommon in 
the uplands of Manbboom, where I found them breeding in April. 
According to my experience they lay but two eggs, although they 
may possibly lay three as stated by Dr. Jerdon. I have only ob- 
served this species singly or in pairs, never in flocks as described 
by him." 

Mr. W. Blewitt writes : " I took three nests of this species 
near Hansie during the latter half of the month of April ; two of 
the nests contained two fresh eggs each ; the third contained three 
partly-incubated ones. 

" The eggs were placed in a trifling hollow in the ground scraped 
by the birds. In one case there were a few blades of dry grass 
under the eggs ; in the others the eggs were laid on the bare 
ground with a few pebbles arranged as a kind of border around the 
edge of the hollow. 

" In one case the eggs were laid in the bed of a dry jheel pretty 
thickly sprinkled with tufts of dry coarse grass ; in the others a 
bare open plain was the situation chosen." 

Major Bingham informs us that this species breeds both at 
Allahabad and at Delhi in April, May, and June ; and Mr. Gr. Reid, 
referring to Lucknow, states that he found a nest on the 6th 

Colonel Butler writes : " I found two slightly-incubated eggs 
of the Stone-Plover near Deesa on the 29th February, 1876, under 
a low tamarisk-bush in the dried-up bed of a river. I took another 
nest at Dungarwar, 30 miles N. of Ahmedabad, on the 12th March, 
1876, containing two fresh eggs ; the eggs were placed under a 


euphorbia hedge, in a small hole which had apparently been 
scratched by the parent bird. The hen was on the nest, but I saw 
no cock bird near the spot. On re-visiting the place next day, the 
hen bird was still there, but no cock. When I put the hen bird 
off the nest she flew for about 20 yards and then settled and com- 
menced running, and continued doing so for about 200 yards, 
although 1 was following close behind her. 

" Belgaum, 3rd April, 1880. Two eggs about to hatch." 
Mr. Bhodes W. Morgan, writing from South India, says : " I 
shot a female of this bird in Kurnool in May, and on dissecting it 
discovered a fully-developed egg, which I find is different from 
the eggs of (E. crepitcnis, as found in Europe. I examined a fine 
series in Mr. Dresser's collection, and find that the egg in my col- 
lection is entirely different in coloration, being of a dirty-white, 
with a very few small yellowish-brown blotches. This egg ap- 
peared to be perfectlv ready for exclusion. It measured 1*8 inch 
in length by 1-33 in breadth." 

According to Mr. H. Parker, the breeding-season of this bird in 
Xorth-west Ceylon extends from May to October. 

Those who doubt the specific identity of the Indian and English 
Stone-Plovers would, I think, find their doubts strengthened by a 
comparison of the eggs of the two species or races. The largest 
egg of (E. indicus that I have yet obtained is smaller than the 
smallest of the English specimens that I have seen. In shape the 
eggs of both races closely resemble each other normally broad 
ovals, obtuse at both ends, with the occasional occurrence of a 
more or less elongated and pointed variety. There is not, how- 
ever, in the Indian species that rich variety in the ground-colour 
noticeable in the eggs of the English species. In our bird the 
ground-colour is invariably yellowish white, buffy yellow, or pale 
buffy brown. I have never seen specimens such as I have taken 
in England, with a rich olive-green ground. The markings are, as 
usual, spots and specks, streaks and blotches, of a deep, usually 
more or less olive-brown, sometimes almost black, sometimes 
comparatively pale, thickly or thinly massed or scattered over the 
surface, and combined in an endless variety of designs. Most of 
the eggs, besides these primary markings, have a few pale inky- 
purple clouds and spots underlying them. The eggs, as a rule, 
are glossless, but I have seen one or two specimens exhibiting a 
slight gloss. I possess a single abnormal egg taken by Mr. Brooks 
the ground-colour of which is greenish white, with only a very few 
brown specks on it. 

Of a pair of somewhat similar eggs I have noted : 
" April ISth. Took two eggs w^hich, had we not seen the bird 
rise from them close at our feet, no one could possibly have be- 
lieved to belong to this species. One was pure pale greenish grey, 
with a few tiny spots, specks, and scratches of brown, so few and 
inconspicuous as to be unnoticed at the distance of a foot ; the 
other dirty brownish grey, with very numerous specks and hair- 
like scratches of dirty brown, all so individually inconspicuous as 


to make the egg at a little distance appear a nearly un^orm, dirty, 
pale brown. This extraorduiary deficiency of colour w?s not, as 
is commonly the case, accompanied by any dwarfing." 
Of another very remarkable eg I Lave noted : 
" The markings were very large and bold, two fjgantic blotches 
on the broad half, like Asia and Europe, and North America, with 
a number of contiguous islands. Colour your land black, your 
seas stone-col oar, and a terrestrial globe distovied into the shape 
of an egg will convey an admirable idea of the markings of this 
queer specimen.' 7 

In length the eggs vary from 1'65 to 2-15. and in breadth from 
1*3 to 1'5 ; but out of forty-seven eggs thirty-nine measure less 
than 2 inches in length, and the average of the whole number is 
1-9 nearly by 1'39. 

Esacus magnirostris (Geoff. St.-Hil.). The Australian 

Esacus recurvirostris (Geoff.}, Hume, Rough Draft N. $ E. no. 858 

The Australian Stone-Plover occurs within our limits, so far as 
is yet known, only in the Andamans and Cocos, where I last year 
discovered it. We shot single specimens at both the Great and 
Little Cocos ; at the latter we obtained an egg. We saw the bird, 
but failed to obtain a specimen at Escape Bay in Macpherson's 
Straits ; subsequently I have received a specimen from Port 
Cornwallis. The egg we obtained at the Cocos was taken on the 
24th March ; it was quite fresh, and was placed in a small depres- 
sion in the coral-sand, a little above high-water mark ; both parents, 
one of which we secured, were standing close to it. Mr. Wood- 
Mason the year previously obtained an egg, precisely similar to the 
one we got, and which must have belonged to this species, at 
Corbyn's Cove, a few miles south of Port Blair. Mr. Mason's egg 
was obtained on the 15th April. 

The eggs closely resemble those of E. recurvirostris, but are 
handsomer and, I think, more elongated. They are large oval eggs, 
usually I judge a good deal compressed towards one end. The shell 
is tolerably fine and smooth, but has no gloss. The ground is a 
creamy stone-colour or very pale cafe-au-lait, boldly blotched, 
streaked, and spotted with blackish brown, paling in some places 
to a yellowish or raw sienna-brown. Besides these primary 
markings, a few small pale inky-purple subsurface-looking spots 
and clouds are thinly scattered everywhere about the egg. The 
blackish-brown markings are chiefly confined to the large end. The 
eggs measure 2-6 by 1'75. The largest egg of E. recurvirostris that 
I have ever obtained, and I have taken a vast number, measured 
2-32 by 1-7 ; the average is 2-15 by 1-6. 


Esacus recurvirostris (Cuv.). The Great Stone-Plover. 

Esacus recurvirostris (Cfoy.), Jerd. B. 2nd. ii, p. 652 ; Hume. Rough 
Draft N. Sf E. no. 858. 

The Great Stone-Plover breeds throughout India in the beds of 
all our larger rivers, by preference where banks of sand and shingle, 
or outcrops of rocks mingled with patches of sand, occur. 

I have never found nests elsewhere than in the beds of rivers. 
Colonel Gr. F. L. Marshall, whose note I subjoin, has found them 
in a ploughed field far away from any river. I cannot, however, 
look upon this as other than a very abnormal' and exceptional 
occurrence. I have found the eggs in the North-West Provinces in 
March ; in the Punjab towards the close of April. Colonel Marshall 
seems to have found his in June (when (Etlic/iemus scolopaos would 
have been breeding) in the Saharunpoor District. I have certainly 
seen a hundred nests of this species, and I think I am entitled to 
conclude that, setting aside abnormal occurrences, they do always 
breed in Northern India, in the beds of rivers, from March to the 
middle of May. I quote two out of many notes that I have 
recorded about the nidification of this species : 

" We took many eggs of the Great Stone-Plover, on the 12th 
and 13th March, near Sheregurh on the Jumna. It only lays two 
eggs, and deposits them in a rather shallow circular depression in 
the sand. In one instance we found the eggs on the crest of a low 
bare sandbank on wliich no other bird was breeding and where 
there were no rocks near, but in every other case (and we took at 
least twenty pairs of eggs) they were in and about rocky reefs (here 
of a kind of compact kunker) entirely surrounded by water, and 
very often beneath overhanging ledges of rock. In one or two 
eases they were inside cavities of <he rock, but always where there 
was some little sand on which the eggs rested. Usually two or 
more pairs of these and of Hoplopterus ve.itrali? breed in pretty 
close contiguity, and one coulu usually tell there were eggs near, 
by the way in which the female stood watching our proceedings 
from a, comparatively speaking, short distance. Of the eggs taken 
one hatched off in our hands, and some were quite fresh ; but these 
were the minority. The eggs are large and somewhat oval, but 
vary much in size and somewhat in shape too, some being more 
pointed than others, but none of them nearly so much so as the 
Lapwing's. The ground-colour varies in shade : in some it is a 
cold stone-colour ; in others a pale olive-brown ; in others there 
is a \varmer, perhaps I should say more coffee-coloured, tint. The 
markings are brown, in some almost black, in others of a burnt- 
sienna hue : some eggs have a few large bold blotches and a few 
smaller subsidiary spots and a great portion of the ground 
unmarked ; others are throughout streaked and speckled, leaving 
nowhere any parts of the ground as big as a pin's head unmarked ; 
and between these extremes there is every possible variation. All 
the eggs have a few small secondary markings of a pale dull pur- 
plish brown, but these are scarcely visible, except where the primary 


markings are comparatively sparse. Both eggs in any nest have 
generally the same character of marking. 

" By 6th April all seem to have hatched off ; not one single egg 
was found between Oodee and Sheregurh. The stomachs of 
several that I dissected contained the still-undigested claws of 

" I found two pairs of eggs of this species, the one perfectly 
fresh, the other slightly incubated, on a sandbank in the Chenab, 
near Wuzeerabad, on the 28th of April, 1870. I saw a good many 
of these birds early in the month in the Jhelum, but they had not 
then laid. Usually in the North-West Provinces, wherever these 
are seen, Hoplopterus ventralis are sure to be common, and one 
finds a dozen eggs of this species to one of the Great Stone-Plover, 
but neither in the Chenab nor the Jhelum did I notice a single 
specimen of H. ventralis" 

Colonel Gr. F. L. Marshall writes : " I found -two eggs of this 
bird on the bare ground in a ploughed field about eight miles from 
the nearest river, and three-fourths of a mile from the canal, on the 
12th June ; they were quite fresh, of the ordinary nankeen colour, 
thickly covered with large blotches of brown. I had two more 
similar eggs brought me on the 7th June. The bird is by no means 
common in this (Saharunpoor) district." 

But he subsequently wrote : " The note given on my authority 
as to eggs of this bird being found in a ploughed field is erroneous. 
The eggs belonged to (Edicnemus scolopav. I have taken many eggs 
of E. recurvirostris, all were laid on the bare sand on banks of rivers 
or on islands. They lay from the middle of March to the end of 
April in the Doab." 

Major Bingham writes : " Common at Allahabad, where I once 
found two eg^s in a slight hollow on the edge of a ploughed field 
close to the Ganges, on the 3rd April, 1874." 

Colonel Swinhoe asks : " Have you any note of the nidification 
in Sind of Esacus recurvirostris ? On the Queen's birthday, when 
massir-fishing at the Hubb, near Minad Khan's place, I found one 
solitary egg lying in the sand in the river-bed ; no nest of any kind. 
The egg is now in the museum here." 

Mr. J. Davidson informs us that he obtained several eggs of this 
species at Kukurmoonda, in Western Khandesh, in March. 

Mr. Gates found a nest in Pegu. He says : " Nest on May 1st 
with two fresh eggs in fallow-land." 

Colonel Legge tells us that he found the bird breeding in the 
Jaffna peninsula, near Pootoor, and at Aripu in Ceylon in March. 

Typically the eggs are broad ovals, very slightly pointed towards 
one end. In this respect they resemble those of the Stone-Plover. 
The ground-colour varies from pale cream-colour through an earthy 
drab-colour, which is the commonest, to a somewhat pale olive- 
brown, and the markings consist of all possible combinations of 
blotches, streaks, lines, &c., in some cases thickly sown over the 
whole egg, in others sparsely distributed, of every shade of olive- 
and umber-brown, ia some becoming almost black. Besides these, 


many eggs, as in true Plovers, exhibit underlying clouds and spots 
of faint inky purple. In some eggs the markings are so closely 
freckled together that the ground-colour is almost entirely hid ; in 
others they stand out bold and clear, not covering a fourth of the 
surface of the shell. In some eggs, again, the colour is clear and 
deep, as if a coat of varnish had been put over it, while in others 
it is dull and smudgy, as if smeared over with a very thin coat of 
whitewash. One never finds two nests of eggs of this species 
closely alike. In size they little exceed those of the Stone-Plover. 
The eggs are of course devoid of gloss. 

In length they vary from 2-0 to 2-32, and in breadth from 1-5 
to 1-7 ; but the average of the twenty eggs now before me is 2-15 
by 1-6. 



JEgialitis cantiana (Lath.).* The Kentish Plover. 

^Egialitis cantianus (Lath.}, Jerd. B. Incl ii, p. 640. 

^Egialophilus cautianus (Lath.), Hume, Rough Draft N. fy E. no. 848. 

Of the nidification of the Kentish Plover in India proper I 
have no knowledge, but Colonel Vincent Legge records (P. Z. S. 
1875, p. 374) finding the eggs of this species (JEgialitis cantiana) 
near Harnbantota on the S.E. coast of Ceylon. He writes : 

" This Sand- Plover, together with JE. mongolica (for the most 
part in winter dress and not breeding), was the most abundant of 
the Charadriince met with during my explorations. But before 
remarking on its nesting, I will describe the habitat of this and 
other Waders in this part of Ceylon. 

" A chain of shallow lakes or salt-pans, from which the Govern- 
ment of Ceylon annually obtains quantities of salt, fringe the 
coast in this flat district for many miles to the north of Hamban- 
tota ; they are situated at about | of a mile from the sea-shore, 
being separated from the beach by a narrow belt of jungle through 
which there is no communication with the outer salt water. The 
salt-pans (or leways, as they are termed in Ceylon) are of great 
extent, many of them being more than ten miles in circumference ; 

* I omit from this Edition the remarks which appeared in the ' Rough 
Draft ' regarding the breeding of Charadrins fid v its, JEyialitis geoffroyi, and 
IE,, mongolica, as there is no evidence whatever that any of these species breed 
within the limits of the Empire. Jerdon's statement with regard to the first 
spocies, that it breeds at Nellore and other parts of the country, is evidently a 
mistake. ED 

VOL. III. 22 


but in the hot weather they become partly dried up (at which 
time the annual salt ' collections ' take place), leaving around them 
a wide belt of foreshore consisting of a mixture of mud and sand, 
covered in many parts by tracts of shell-fragments. In places 
these gravelly shell-wastes are worked into little mounds and 
hollows by the feet of cattle driven along the shore of the leways 
to their feeding-grounds. In these spots I invariably found JE. 
cantiana nesting. On the top of a little mound 6 inches high there 
would be a small hollow worked out and bottomed with a number 
of little shell-fragments, just large enough to contain three eggs. 
This was the general number of eggs, and was never exceeded ; 
in some I found two, and in others, where the clutch was incomplete, 
only one. The eggs I procured were not all of the same type, 
differing both as regards ground-colour and character of marking. 
As a rule the ground was olive-grey, covered in some instances 
nearly uniformly with small irregular blots of dark sepia over 
indistinct spots of bluish grey, with here and there streaks and 
pencillings of a deeper hue ; in others, of the same ground, the 
markings were