186 TIMALIIDiE. Genus STACTOCICHLA Sharpe, 1883. This genus contains a single species, a brown bird with a spotted breast extremely Thrush-like in appearance. The bill is long and slender, the tail and wing about equal in length, the latter sliort and rounded as usual. A new form of this species has recently been described from Annam * .
(179) Stactocichla merulina merulina.
The Spotted-breasted Laughing-Thrush.
- Garrulax merulinus Blyth, J. A. S. B., xx, p. 521 (1851) (Manipur).
- Stactocichla merulina. Blanford & Oates, i, p. 104.
Vernacular names. Moh mepeh (Angami Naga).
Description. A narrow white streak above the ear-coverts; forehead mottled with grey; remainder of upper plumage, exposed parts of wings and tail rut'escent olive-brown; chin, throat and breast yellowish buif, broadly streaked with oval black stripes; centre of abdomen the same colour unstriped; flanks rufescent olive-brown; under tail-coverts bright ochraceous.
Colours of soft parts. Iris pale yellowish or pinkish, brown in young birds; legs and feet pale to dark brown, the soles paler and claws darker; bill dark horny-brown, black at tip and on culmen, greyish on lower mandible.
Measurements. Length about 260 to 270 mm.; wing 93 1o 99mm.; tail about 96 mm.; tarsus about 40 mm.; culmen about 24 mm.
Distribution. Hills South of the Brahmaputra South to Manipur and Lushai, East to Lakhimpur.
Nidification. Breeds above 3,500 feet from April to July, but principally in the end of June, both in bamboo-jungle and in forest. In the former the nest is made almost entirely of bamboo leaves, mixed with grass, moss, roots, etc., and lined with roots; when placed in forest the major part of the materials is moss mixed with dead leaves, roots, tendrils, etc., and lined with moss and fern roots. In shape a hemispherical cup, it is generally placed close to the ground either in a bamboo clump or a dense bush, more seldom in a high bush or small sapling. The eggs, two or three in number, are large replicas of those of Trochalopterum virgatum, a shade darker, perhaps, but of the same shape and texture. 50 eggs average 28'7 X 21-7 mm.
Habits. Although so aberrant in appearance, this is a true Laughing-Thrush in its habits; very gregarious, it is found in flocks of ten to twenty individuals; very noisy, it possesses a wide range of very beautiful notes as well as many others less pleasing; a terrible skulker, it is one of the hardest birds to vAatch or procure.
- Eobinson & Kloss, Ibis, 1919, p. 577 (S. Annam).