Page:The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma (Birds Vol 1).djvu/290

This page needs to be proofread.

248 TIMALIIDÆ. The eggs, either three or four in number, are perfect miniatures of the dull-coloured eggs of the Dayal or Magpie-Eobin. 'Plie ground-colour is a pale greenish grey, and the markings consist of numerous freckles and small blotches of pale x-eddish brown and secondary markings of lavender and purplish grey, scattered over the whole surface. The texture is iine and close, faintly glossed and the shape is a broad, blunt oval. Two hundred eggs average 20'3x 15'7 mm. Hahits. Tickell's Babbler is a timid, skulking bird, haunting low brushwood or practically any efficient cover. As a rule all one sees is a small brown object squatting on the ground, which suddenly dives into the nearest bush. They feed much on the ground and are so loath to fly that even trapped birds, when released, flew on to the ground and then made off in long, bounding leaps. The only note I have heard is a soft, rippling " chir-chir."

(253) Pellorneum tickelli assamensis.

Afsten's Babbler.

Dnimocataphus assamensis Sharpe, Cat. B. 31., vii, p. 557 (1883) (Dikraiig); Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 147.

Vernacular names. None recorded.

Description. Diff'ers from Tickell's Babbler in being a rvfescent olive-brown above, the crown and mantle more conspicuously white-shafted.

Colours of soft parts as in the last bird.

Measurements. Much the same as in the last. Wing 64 to 67 mm.; tail 50 to 55 mm.

Distribution. Eastern Assam, North and South of the Brahma- putra. Nidification similar to that of ticl-elli, but a larger assortment of materials are to be found in the nests. The favourite building- sites are in rocky ravines with bush -covered sides, and the nests are often placed actually on the ground. One hundred eggs average 19-9 X 15'7 mm. In colour they are much like those of the last bird but are duller and a series shows a much more olive-grey tint.

Habits. Common all the year round from about 700 feet upwards, otherwise its habits, haunts and food all agree well with those of the last bird. Godwin-Austen records this little Babbler as being very fearless, but those seen by Dr. H. N. Coltart and myself were very shy. Genus CURSONIA Skinner, 1898. Oates's name Giipsophila being preoccupied, Cursonia is the next available and must be used in its place. The genus contains one species only which is in many ways one of the most aberrant