Page:The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma (Birds Vol 1).djvu/78

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the bright green a dull blue whilst the red also fades greatly, young birds occasionally have the whole lower parts almost white and in some adults the green is partially replaced by bright azure-blue.

Distribution. Himalayas from the Jamna Valley to the extreme east of Assam, North and South of the Bramaputra, Eastern Bengal, Burma, Shan States and Northern Siam.

Nidification. The breeding season in the Himalayas commences in the last few days of March and continues through April and May, a few birds laying in June and even in July but these latter may be second broods. They build cup-shaped nests of twigs, leaves, grass, roots and bamboo-leaves, lined with roots and placed on a high bush, small sapling or a clump of bamboos. The eggs number from four to six, in Burma often only three and are very- magpie-like in their general appearance, but more grey and not green in general tone. Here and there a rather reddish clutch may be found and even more rare, a clutch that is almost white. They measure on an average for 200 eggs 30·2 x 22·9 mm.

This Jay breeds at all elevations from the foot-hills to nearly 4,000 feet, but is not common above 2,500 feet.

Habits. This beautiful Magpie is an inhabitant of low-level, evergreen forests and heavy jungle, but may also be found in bamboo-jungle and the more dry, deciduous forests, such as oak, etc. in Burma they seem to be more often found in dry open parts than in the heavier evergreen cover. Their name "Hunting Jay," or "Hunting Magpie," is well applied, as they are determined hunters of big insect life and of small unfledged birds, etc., and for their quarry they will regularly quarter the country they work over. They feed alike on high trees, scrub-jungle and actually on the ground itself. Their notes are very harsh and strident and they are rather noisy birds although shy and wild.

(25) Cissa ornata.

The Ceylonese Magpie.

Pica ornata Wagler, Isis, 1829, p. 749 (India Orientali).
Cissa ornata. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 29.

Vernacular names. Kahibella (Ceylon).

Description. Whole head, neck, upper back and upper breast rich chestnut; remainder of the body plumage bright blue, suffused with cobalt next the chestnut of the neck; tail blue tipped with white and subterminally with black; wing-coverts brown, more or less margined and suffused with blue; quills chestnut on the outer webs, black on the inner, changing to blue on the inner secondaries; thighs dusky purple.

Colours of soft parts. Iris light brown to dark brown; eyelid deep red; orbital skin somewhat paler; bill, legs and feet coral-red, claws more horny and yellowish at their bases.