Genus CISSA Boie, 1826.
The genus Cissa contains, among others, two Indian Magpies of very beautiful plumage. They differ from the Magpies of the genus Urocissa in having a much shorter tail and the eyelids wattled at the edges, a feature which is very distinct in life and generally visible in some degree in dry skins.
Jerdon, very properly, placed this bird between Urocissa and Dendrocitta, but wrongly called it a Jay. Oates, in view of its long tail and bright coloration, more correctly termed it a Magpie, a name which is now generally accepted.
The Magpies of this genus are forest birds of shy habits, feeding both on trees and low bushes and sometimes on the ground. In the construction of their nests they resemble Urocissa and not Pica. They have red bills.
Davison has mentioned (S. F. vi, p.385) that the habits of these birds closely accord with those of Garrulax but the resemblance is not very striking, although it is a curious fact that in structure these two genera also possess certain affinities.
Key to Species.
Head and neck green
|C. c. chinensis., p. 45.|
Head and neck chestnut
|C. ornata., p.46.|
(24) Cissa chinensis chinensis.
The Green Magpie.
- Coracias chinensis Bodd., Tabl. Pl. Enl., p. 38 (1783) (China).
- Cissa chinensis. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 28.
Vernacular names. The Green Jay, Jerdon; Sirgang (Beug.); Chap-ling-pho (Lepcha); Rab-ling-chapa (Bhutea); Pilitel (Dafla Hills); Lil Sorai (Assamese); Dao-gatang-lili (Cachari).
Description. Head and neck greenish yellow; general body plumage green; lores and a band through each eye meeting on the nape, block; cheeks, sides of neck and whole lower plumage paler green; tail green, the central feathers tipped with white, the others tipped with white and with a subterminal black band; lesser wing-coverts green, the other coverts red; quills brown on the inner webs, red on the outer; the inner secondaries tipped with pale blue and with a band of black in front of the tips.
Colours of soft parts. Iris blood-red, pale blue-brown in young birds; bill deep coral-red; legs coral-red; claws horny red; eyelids yellowish brown, the edges red.
Measurements. Total length about 370 to 380 mm.; wing about 150 mm.; tail about 200 mm.; tarsus about 40 mm.; culmen about 37 mm.
The plumage of this bird in ill-health, in captivity and after death changes greatly; the yellow pigment all evaporates, leaving