Page:The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma (Birds Vol 1).djvu/439

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395
OTOCOMPSA.

Description. Forehead, crown and lores black; hinder parts of cheeks and ear-coverts white surrounded with black; a tuft of crimson-scarlet feathers under the eye and extending over the lower ear-coverts; whole upper plumage, wings and tail ruddy-brown, the feathers of the wing margined paler and the tail having all but the central, or two central, pairs tipped with fulvous-white, purest on the outermost feathers; lower plumage white, pure on the chin and throat and suffused with fulvous-brown on the flanks and thighs; a broad band across the breast dark brown, more or less broken in the centre; under tail-coverts crimson.

Colours of soft parts. Iris hazel-brown or crimson-brown; bill, legs and feet black.

Measurements. Total length about 200 mm.; wing 88 to 95 mm.; tail 80 to 85 mm.; tarsus about 20 mm.; culmen about 14 mm.

The nestling has no red ear-tufts and the under tail-coverts are pink.

Distribution. Himalayas, Simla to East Assam, North and South of the Brahmaputra, Bengal, Oudh, North of Orissa; North Chin and Kachin Hills, North Yunnan. The birds from China are very doubtfully separable but if separated would be known as O. emeria jocosa.

Nidification. This Bulbul breeds from early March to late September but most birds build in April, May and June. They are found during the breeding season from the level of the plains up to at least 7,000 feet, perhaps up to 8,000. They make a compact, cup-shaped nest of twigs, roots, bents, leaves and grasses, lined with fine roots or grasses. Generally it is placed on low shrubs but sometimes in small trees, cactus hedges or trellises of verandahs. I once found a nest in a grass field quite on the ground amongst the roots of the grass. They are birds of civilization, selecting gardens and cultivation for their abodes and even when they breed away from human haunts they select the thinnest scrub or fringes of heavier forest. Their eggs number three or four and are like those of the genus Molpastes but rather less variable. 200 eggs average 22.2 × 16.2 mm., the extremes being 24.1 × 16.0, 23.0 × 17.1, 19.0 × 16.0 and 21.1 × 13.0 mm.

Habits. The Red-whiskered Bulbul is just as familiar and friendly a little bird as his Red-vented cousin and is even more cheerful and lively in his actions. They are less quarrelsome than the birds of the previous genus but are equally good fighters when roused, the males fighting fiercely in the breeding season if their special ground is invaded. Their notes are much the same as those of Molpastes but much more musical. They fly well, though at no great rate. Their diet is both insectivorous and vegetarian and they can do a good deal of mischief in fruit and vegetable gardens, destroying oranges, plums etc. when only just formed and raspberries, strawberries etc. when ripe.