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Title: Birds of the Indian Hills
Author: Dewar, Douglas, 1875-1957
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_All rights reserved_

at the Ballantyne Press, Edinburgh

Considerable portions of this book have already appeared as articles
in one or other of the following newspapers or periodicals: _The
Pioneer_, _Madras Mail_, _Englishman_, _Indian Field_, _Bird Notes_.
I am indebted to the editors of the above publications for permission
to republish the portions of the book that have already appeared in


BIRDS OF THE HIMALAYAS  . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
    INTRODUCTION  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
    TITS AT WORK  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127
    THE PEKIN-ROBIN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
    BLACK BULBULS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138
    A WARBLER OF DISTINCTION  . . . . . . . . . 145
    THE SPOTTED FORKTAIL  . . . . . . . . . . . 151
    THE BLACK-AND-YELLOW GROSBEAK . . . . . . . 164
    THE GREAT HIMALAYAN BARBET  . . . . . . . . 174



APPENDICES  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 258

_Birds of the Himalayas_


The avifauna of the Himalayas is a large one. It includes birds found
throughout the range, birds confined to the eastern or western
portions, birds resident all through the year, birds that are mere
seasonal visitors, birds found only at high elevations, birds
confined to the lower hills, birds abundant everywhere, birds nowhere
common. Most ornithological books treat of all these sorts and
conditions of birds impartially, with the result that the
non-ornithological reader who dips into them finds himself
completely out of his depth.

He who plunges into the essays that follow need have no fear of getting
out of his depth. With the object of guarding against this catastrophe,
I have described as few birds as possible. I have ignored all those
that are not likely to be seen daily in summer in the Himalayas at
elevations between 5000 and 7000 feet above the sea-level. Moreover,
the birds of the Western have been separated from those of the Eastern
Himalayas. The result is that he who peruses this book will be
confronted with comparatively few birds, and should experience
little difficulty in recognising them when he meets them in the flesh.
I am fully alive to the fact that the method I have adopted has
drawbacks. Some readers are likely to come across birds at the various
hill stations which do not find place in this book. Such will doubtless
charge me with sins of omission. I meet these charges in anticipation
by adopting the defence of the Irishman, charged with the theft of
a chicken, whose crime had been witnessed by several persons: "For
every witness who saw me steal the chicken, I'll bring twenty who
didn't see me steal it!"

The reader will come across twenty birds which the essays that follow
will enable him to identify for every one he sees not described in


Himalayan birds inhabit what is perhaps the most wonderful tract of
country in the world. The Himalayas are not so much a chain of
mountains as a mountainous country, some eighty miles broad and
several hundred long--a country composed entirely of mountains and
valleys with no large plains or broad plateaux.

There is a saying of an ancient Sanskrit poet which, being translated
into English, runs: "In a hundred ages of the gods I could not tell
you of the glories of Himachal." This every writer on things Himalayan
contrives to drag into his composition. Some begin with the quotation,
while others reserve it for the last, and make it do duty for the
epigram which stylists assure us should terminate every essay.

Some there are who quote the Indian sage only to mock him. Such assert
that the beauties of the Himalayas have been greatly exaggerated--that,
as regards grandeur, their scenery compares unfavourably with that of
the Andes, while their beauty is surpassed by that of the Alps. Not
having seen the Andes, I am unable to criticise the assertion
regarding the grandeur of the Himalayas, but I find it difficult to
imagine anything finer than their scenery.

As regards beauty, the Himalayas at their best surpass the Alps,
because they exhibit far more variety, and present everything on a
grander scale.

The Himalayas are a kind of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They have two
faces--the fair and the plain. In May they are at their worst. Those
of the hillsides which are not afforested are brown, arid, and
desolate, and the valleys, in addition to being unpleasantly hot,
are dry and dusty. The foliage of the trees lacks freshness, and
everywhere there is a remarkable absence of water, save in the valleys
through which the rivers flow. On the other hand, September is the
month in which the Himalayas attain perfection or something
approaching it. The eye is refreshed by the bright emerald garment
which the hills have newly donned. The foliage is green and luxuriant.
Waterfalls, cascades, mighty torrents and rivulets abound. Himachal
has been converted into fairyland by the monsoon rains.

A remarkable feature of the Himalayas is the abruptness with which
they rise from the plains in most places. In some parts there are
low foothills; but speaking generally the mountains that rise from
the plain attain a height of 4000 or 5000 feet.

It is difficult for any person who has not passed from the plains
of India to the Himalayas to realise fully the vast difference between
the two countries and the dramatic suddenness with which the change
takes place.

The plains are as flat as the proverbial pancake--a dead monotony
of cultivated alluvium, square mile upon square mile of wheat, rice,
vetch, sugar-cane, and other crops, amidst which mango groves, bamboo
clumps, palms, and hamlets are scattered promiscuously. In some
places the hills rise sheer from this, in others they are separated
from the alluvial plains by belts of country known as the Tarai and
Bhabar. The Tarai is low-lying, marshy land covered with tall,
feathery grass, beautifully monotonous. This is succeeded by a
stretch of gently-rising ground, 10 or 20 miles in breadth, known
as the Bhabar--a strip of forest composed mainly of tall evergreen
_sal_ trees (_Shorea robusta_). These trees grow so close together
that the forest is difficult to penetrate, especially after the rains,
when the undergrowth is dense and rank. Very beautiful is the Bhabar,
and very stimulating to the imagination. One writer speaks of it as
"a jungle rhapsody, an extravagant, impossible botanical _tour de
force_, intensely modern in its Titanic, incoherent magnificence."
It is the home of the elephant, the tiger, the panther, the wild boar,
several species of deer, and of many strange and beautiful birds.

Whether from the flat plains or the gently-sloping Bhabar, the
mountains rise with startling suddenness.

The flora and fauna of the Himalayas differ from those of the
neighbouring plains as greatly as the trees and animals of England
differ from those of Africa.

Of the common trees of the plains of India--the _nim_, mango, babul,
tamarind, shesham, palm, and plantain--not one is to be found growing
on the hills. The lower slopes are covered with _sal_ trees like the
Bhabar. These cease to grow at elevations of 3000 feet above the
sea-level, and, higher up, every rise of 1000 feet means a
considerable change in the flora. Above the _sal_ belt come several
species of tropical evergreen trees, among the stems and branches
of which great creepers entangle themselves in fantastic figures.
At elevations of 4000 feet the long-leaved pine (_Pinus longifolia_)
appears. From 5000 to 10,000 feet, several species of evergreen oaks
abound. Above 6000 feet are to be seen the rhododendron, the deodar
and other hill cypresses, and the beautiful horse-chestnut. On the
lower slopes the undergrowth is composed largely of begonias and
berberry. Higher up maidenhair and other ferns abound, and the trunks
of the oaks and rhododendrons are festooned with hanging moss.

Between elevations of 10,000 and 12,000 feet the silver fir is the
commonest tree. Above 12,000 feet the firs become stunted and dwarfed,
on account of the low temperatures that prevail, and juniper and birch
are the characteristic trees.

There are spots in the Himalayas, at heights varying from 10,000 to
12,000 feet, where wild raspberries grow, and the yellow colt's-foot,
the dandelion, the blue gentian, the Michaelmas daisy, the purple
columbine, the centauria, the anemone, and the edelweiss occur in
profusion. Orchids grow in large numbers in most parts of the

Every hillside is not covered with foliage. Many are rugged and bare.
Some of these are too precipitous to sustain vegetation, others are
masses of quartz and granite. On the hillsides most exposed to the
wind, only grass and small shrubs are able to obtain a foothold.

"On the vast ridges of elevated mountain masses," writes Weber in
_The Forests of Upper India_, "which constitute the Himalayas are
found different regions of distinct character. The loftiest peaks
of the snowy range abutting on the great plateaux of Central Asia
and Tibet run like a great belt across the globe, falling towards
the south-west to the plains of India. Between the summit and the
plains, a distance of 60 to 70 miles, there are higher, middle, and
lower ranges, so cut up by deep and winding valleys and river-courses,
that no labyrinth could be found more confusing or difficult to
unravel. There is nowhere any tableland, as at the Cape or in Colorado,
with horizontal strata of rock cut down by water into valleys or cañons.
The strata seem, on the contrary, to have been shoved up and crumpled
in all directions by some powerful shrinkage of the earth's crust,
due perhaps to cooling; and the result is such a jumble of contorted
rock masses, that it looks as if some great castle had been blown
up by dynamite and its walls hurled in all directions. The great
central masses, however, consist generally of crystalline granite,
gneiss, and quartz rock, protruding from the bowels of the earth and
shoving up the stratified envelope of rocks nearly 6 miles above
sea-level.... The higher you get up ... the rougher and more difficult
becomes the climbing; the valleys are deeper and more cut into ravines,
the rocks more fantastically and rudely torn asunder, and the very
vitals of the earth exposed; while the heights above tower to the
skies. The torrents rushing from under the glaciers which flow from
the snow-clad summits roar and foam, eating their way ever into the
misty gorges."

Those who have not visited the Himalayas may perhaps best obtain an
idea of the nature of the country from a brief description of that
traversed by a path leading from the plain to the snowy range. Let
us take the path from Kathgodam, the terminus of the Rohilkhand and
Kumaun railway, to the Pindari glacier.

For the first two miles the journey is along the cart-road to Naini
Tal, on the right bank of the Gola river.

At Ranibagh the pilgrim to the Pindari glacier leaves the cart-road
and follows a bridle-path which, having crossed the Gola by a
suspension bridge, mounts the steep hill on the left bank. Skirting
this hill on its upward course, the road reaches the far side, which
slopes down to the Barakheri stream. A fairly steep ascent of 5 miles
through well-wooded country brings the traveller to Bhim Tal, a lake
4500 feet above the level of the sea. This lake, of which the area
is about 150 acres, is one of the largest of a series of lakes formed
by the flow of mountain streams into cup-like valleys. The path skirts
the lake and then ascends the Gagar range, which attains a height
of over 7000 feet. From the pass over this range a very fine view
is obtainable. To the north the snowy range stretches, and between
it and the pass lie 60 miles of mountain and valley. To the south
are to be seen Bhim Tal, Sat Tal, and other lakes, nestling in the
outer ranges, and, beyond the hills, the vast expanse of the plains.

The Gagar range is well wooded. The majority of the trees are
rhododendrons: these, when they put forth their blossoms in spring,
display a mass of crimson colouring. From the Gagar pass the road
descends for some 3 miles through forest to the valley of the Ramganga.
For about a mile the path follows the left bank of this small stream;
it then crosses it by a suspension bridge, and forthwith begins to
mount gradually the bare rocky Pathargarhi mountain. On the mountain
side, a few hundred feet above the Ramganga, is a village of three
score double-storeyed houses. These are very picturesque. Their
white walls are set off by dark brown woodwork. But alas they are
as whited sepulchres. It is only from a distance that they are
picturesque. They are typical abodes of the hill folk.

From the Pathargarhi pass the path makes a steep descent down a
well-wooded mountain-side to the Deodar stream. After crossing this
by a stone bridge, the path continues its switch-back course upwards
on a wooded hillside to the Laldana Binaik pass, whence it descends
gradually for 6 miles, through first rhododendron then pine forest
to the Sual river. This river is crossed by a suspension bridge. From
the Sual the path makes an ascent of 3 miles on a rocky hillside to
Almora, which is 36 miles from Kathgodam.

Almora used to be a Gurkha stronghold, and is now a charming little
hill station situated some 5300 feet above the sea-level.

The town and the civil and military station are built on a
saddle-backed ridge which is about 2 miles in length.

The Almora hill was almost completely denuded of trees by the Gurkhas,
but the ridge has since become well wooded. Deodar, pine, _tun_,
horse-chestnut, and alder trees are plentiful, and throughout the
cantonment grows a spiræa hedge.

The avifauna of Almora is very interesting, consisting as it does
of a strange mixture of hills and plains birds. Among the latter the
most prominent are the grey-necked crow, the koel, the myna, the
king-crow and the magpie-robin. In the spring paradise flycatchers
are very abundant.

From Almora the road to the snowy range runs over an almost treeless
rocky mountain called Kalimat, which rises to a height of 6500 feet.
From Kalimat the road descends to Takula--16 miles from Almora. Then
there is a further descent of 11 miles to Bageswar--a small town
situated on the Sarju river. The inhabitants of Bageswar lead a sleepy
existence for 360 days in the year, awakening for a short time in
January, when a big fair is held, to which flock men of Dhanpur,
Thibetans, Bhotias, Nepalese, Garwalis, and Kumaunis. These bring
wool, borax, and skins, which they exchange for the produce of the

From Bageswar the Pindari road is almost level for 22 miles, and runs
alongside the Sarju. At first the valley is wide and well cultivated.
Here and there are studded villages, of which the houses are roofed
with thatching composed of pine needles.

At a place about 16 miles above Bageswar the valley of the Sarju
suddenly contracts into a gorge with precipitous cliffs.

The scenery here is superb. The path passes through a shady glade
in the midst of which rushes the roaring, foaming river. The trunks
and larger branches of the trees are covered with ferns and hanging
moss. The landscape might well be the original for a phase of a
transformation scene at a pantomime. In the midst of this glade the
stream is crossed by a wooden bridge.

At a spot 2 miles above this the path, leaving the Sarju, takes a
sharp turn to the left, and begins a steep ascent of 5 miles up the
Dhakuri mountain. The base of this hill is well wooded. Higher up
the trees are less numerous. On the ridge the rhododendron and oak
forest alternates with large patches of grassland, on which wild
raspberries and brightly-coloured alpine flowers grow.

From the summit of the Dhakuri mountain a magnificent panorama
delights the eye. To the north is a deep valley, above which the
snow-clad mountains rise almost precipitously. Towering above the
observer are the peaks of the highest mountains in British territory.
The peaks and 14,000 feet of the slopes are covered with snow. Below
the snow is a series of glaciers: these are succeeded by rocks, grass,
and stunted vegetation until the tree-line is reached.

To the south lies the world displayed. Near at hand are 50 miles of
rugged mountainous country, and beyond the apparently limitless
plains. On a clear day it is said to be possible to distinguish the
minarets of Delhi, 300 miles away. In the early morning, when the
clouds still hover in the valleys, one seems to gaze upon a white
billowy sea studded with rocky islets.

From the Dhakuri pass the path descends about 2000 feet, and then
follows the valley of the Pindari river. The scenery here is
magnificent. Unlike that of the Sarju, this valley is narrow. It is
not much cultivated; amaranthus is almost the only crop grown. The
villages are few and the huts which constitute them are rudely
constructed. The cliffs are very high, and rise almost
perpendicularly, like giant walls, so that the numerous feeders of
the river take the form of cascades, in many of which the water falls
without interruption for a distance of over 1000 feet.

The Kuphini river joins the Pindar 8 miles from its source. Beyond
the junction the path to the glacier crosses to the left bank of the
Pindar, and then the ascent becomes steep. During the ascent the
character of the flora changes. Trees become fewer and flowers more
numerous; yellow colt's-foot, dandelions, gentians, Michaelmas
daisies, columbines, centaurias, anemones, and edelweiss grow in
profusion. Choughs, monal pheasants, and snow-pigeons are the
characteristic birds of this region.

Thus the birds of the Himalayas inhabit a country in every respect
unlike the plains of India. They dwell in a different environment,
are subjected to a different climate, and feed upon different food.
It is therefore not surprising that the two avifaunas should exhibit
great divergence. Nevertheless few people who have not actually been
in both localities are able to realise the startlingly abrupt
transformation of the bird-fauna seen by one who passes from the
plains to the hills.

The 5-mile journey from Rajpur to Mussoorie transports the traveller
from one bird-realm to another.

The caw of the house-crow is replaced by the deeper note of the corby.
Instead of the crescendo shriek of the koel, the pleasing double note
of the European cuckoo meets the ear. For the eternal _coo-coo-coo-coo_
of the little brown dove, the melodious _kokla-kokla_ of the hill
green-pigeon is substituted. The harsh cries of the rose-ringed
paroquets give place to the softer call of the slaty-headed species.
The monotonous _tonk-tonk-tonk_ of the coppersmith and the
_kutur-kutur-kutur_ of the green barbet are no more heard; in their
stead the curious calls of the great Himalayan barbet resound among
the hills. The dissonant voices of the seven sisters no longer issue
from the thicket; their place is taken by the weird but less unpleasant
calls of the Himalayan streaked laughing-thrushes. Even the sounds of
the night are different. The chuckles and cackles of the spotted owlets
no longer fill the welkin; the silence of the darkness is broken in the
mountains by the low monotonous whistle of the pigmy-collared owlet.

The eye equally with the ear testifies to the traveller that when
he has reached an altitude of 5000 feet he has entered another avian
realm. The golden-backed woodpecker, the green bee-eater, the "blue
jay" or roller, the paddy bird, the Indian and the magpie-robin, most
familiar birds of the plains, are no longer seen. Their places are
taken by the blue-magpies, the beautiful verditer flycatcher, the
Himalayan and the black-headed jays, the black bulbul, and tits of
several species.

All the birds, it is true, are not new. Some of our familiar friends
of the plains are still with us. There are the kite, the scavenger
vulture, the common myna, and a number of others, but these are the
exceptions which prove the rule.

Scientific ornithologists recognise this great difference between
the two faunas, and include the Himalayas in the Palæarctic region,
while the plains form part of the Oriental region.

The chief things which affect the distribution of birds appear to
be food-supply and temperature. Hence it is evident that in the
Himalayas the avifauna along the snow-line differs greatly from that
of the low, warm valleys. The range of temperature in all parts of
the hills varies greatly with the season. At the ordinary hill
stations the minimum temperature in the summer is sometimes as high
as 70 degrees, while in the winter it may drop to 23 degrees F. Thus
in midwinter many of the birds which normally live near the snow-line
at 12,000 feet descend to 7000 or 6000 feet, and not a few hill birds
leave the Himalayas for a time and tarry in the plains until the
severity of the winter has passed away.



This family, which is well represented in the Himalayas, includes
the true crows, with their allies, the choughs, pies, jays, and tits.

The common Indian house-crow (_Corvus splendens_), with which every
Anglo-Indian is only too familiar, loveth not great altitudes, hence
does not occur in any of the higher hill stations. Almora is the one
place in the hills where he appears to be common. There he displays
all the shameless impudence of his brethren in the plains.

The common crow of the Himalayas is the large all-black species which
is known as the Indian corby or jungle crow (_C. macrorhynchus_).
Unlike its grey-necked cousin, this bird is not a public nuisance;
nevertheless it occasionally renders itself objectionable by
carrying off a chicken or a tame pigeon. In May or June it constructs,
high up in a tree, a rough nest, which is usually well concealed by
the thick foliage. The nest is a shallow cup or platform in the midst
of which is a depression, lined with grass and hair. Horse-hair is
used in preference to other kinds of hair; if this be not available
crows will use human hair, or hair plucked from off the backs of cattle.
Those who put out skins to dry are warned that nesting crows are apt
to damage them seriously. Three or four eggs are laid. These are dull
green, speckled with brown. Crows affect great secrecy regarding
their nests. If a pair think that their nursery is being looked at
by a human being, they show their displeasure by swearing as only
crows can, and by tearing pieces of moss off the branch of some tree
and dropping these on the offender's head!

Two species of chough, the red-billed (_Graculus eremita_), which
is identical with the European form, and the yellow-billed chough
(_Pyrrhocorax alpinus_), are found in the Himalayas; but he who would
see them must either ascend nearly to the snow-line or remain on in
the hills during the winter.

Blue-magpies are truly magnificent birds, being in appearance not
unlike small pheasants. Two species grace the Himalayas: the
red-billed (_Urocissa occipitalis_) and the yellow-billed
blue-magpie (_U. flavirostris_). These are distinguishable one from
the other mainly by the colour of the beak. A blue-magpie is a bird
over 2 feet in length, of which the fine tail accounts for
three-fourths. The head, neck, and breast are black, and the remainder
of the plumage is a beautiful blue with handsome white markings. It
is quite unnecessary to describe the blue-magpie in detail. It is
impossible to mistake it. Even a blind man cannot fail to notice it
because of its loud ringing call. East of Simla the red-billed species
is by far the commoner, while to the west the yellow-billed form rules
the roost. The vernacular names for the blue-magpie are _Nilkhant_
at Mussoorie and _Dig-dall_ at Simla.

The Himalayan tree-pie (_Dendrocitta himalayensis_), although a fine
bird, looks mean in comparison with his blue cousins. This species
is like a dull edition of the tree-pie of the plains. It is dressed
like a quaker. It is easily recognised when on the wing. Its flight
is very characteristic, consisting of a few rapid flaps of the pinions
followed by a sail on outstretched wings. The median pair of tail
feathers is much longer than the others, the pair next to the middle
one is the second longest, and the outer one shortest of all. Thus
the tail, when expanded during flight, has a curious appearance.

We now come to the jays. That brilliant study in light and dark blue,
so common in the plains, which we call the blue-jay, does not occur
in the Himalayas; nor is it a jay at all: its proper name is the Indian
roller (_Coracias indica_). It is in no way connected with the jay
tribe, being not even a passerine bird. We know this because of the
arrangement of its deep plantar tendons, because its palate is
desmognathous instead of ægithognathous, because--but I think I will
not proceed further with these reasons; if I do, this article will
resemble a letter written by the conscientious undergraduate who used
to copy into each of his epistles to his mother, a page of _A Complete
Guide to the Town of Cambridge_. The fond mother doubtless found her
son's letters very instructive, but they were not exactly what she
wanted. Let it suffice that the familiar bird with wings of two shades
of blue is not a jay, nor even one of the Corviniæ, but a blood relation
of the kingfishers and bee-eaters.

Two true jays, however, are common in the Western Himalayas. These
are known to science as the Himalayan jay (_Garrulus bispecularis_)
and the black-throated jay (_G. lanceolatus_). The former is a
fawn-coloured bird, with a black moustachial streak. As birds do not
usually indulge in moustaches, this streak renders the bird an easy
one to identify. The tail is black, and the wing has the characteristic
blue band with narrow black cross-bars. This species goes about in
large noisy flocks. Once at Naini Tal I came upon a flock which cannot
have numbered fewer than forty individuals.

The handsome black-throated jay is a bird that must be familiar to
every one who visits a Himalayan hill station with his eyes open.
Nevertheless no one seems to have taken the trouble to write about
it. Those who have compiled lists of birds usually dismiss it in their
notes with such adjectives as "abundant," and "very common." It is
remarkable that many popular writers should have discoursed upon the
feathered folk of the plains, while few have devoted themselves to
the interesting birds of the hills. There seem to be two reasons for
this neglect of the latter. Firstly, it is only the favoured few to
whom it is given to spend more than ten days at a time in the cool
heights; most of us have to toil in the hot plains. Secondly, the
thick foliage of the mountain-side makes bird-watching a somewhat
difficult operation. The observer frequently catches sight of an
interesting-looking bird, only to see it disappear among the foliage
before he has had time even to identify it.

The black-throated jay is a handsome bird, more striking in appearance
even than the jay of England (_G. glandarius_). Its crested head is
black. Its back is a beautiful French grey, its wings are black and
white with a bar of the peculiar shade of blue which is characteristic
of the jay family and so rarely seen in nature or art. Across this
blue bar run thin black transverse lines. The tail is of the same
blue with similar black cross-bars, and each feather is tipped with
white. The throat is black, with short white lines on it. The legs
are pinkish slaty, and the bill is slate coloured in some individuals,
and almost white in others. The size of this jay is the same as that
of our familiar English one. Black-throated jays go about in flocks.
This is a characteristic of a great many Himalayan birds. Probably
the majority of the common birds of these mountains lead a sociable
existence, like that of the "seven sisters" of the plains. A man may
walk for half-an-hour through a Himalayan wood without seeing a bird
or hearing any bird-sound save the distant scream of a kite or the
raucous voice of the black crow; then suddenly he comes upon quite
a congregation of birds, a flock of a hundred or more noisy
laughing-thrushes, or numbers of cheeping white-eyes and tits, or
it may be a flock of rowdy black bulbuls. All the birds of the wood
seem to be collected in one place. This flocking of the birds in the
hills must, I think, be accounted for by the fact that birds are by
nature sociable creatures, and that food is particularly abundant.
In a dense wood every tree offers either insect or vegetable food,
so that a large number of birds can live in company without fear of
starving each other out. In the plains food is less abundant, hence
most birds that dwell there are able to gratify their fondness for
each other's society only at roosting time; during the day they are
obliged to separate, in order to find the wherewithal to feed upon.

Like all sociable birds, the black-throated jay is very noisy. Birds
have a language of a kind, a language composed entirely of
interjections, a language in which only the simplest emotions--fear,
joy, hunger, and maternal care--can be expressed. Now, when a
considerable flock of birds is wandering through a dense forest, it
is obvious that the individuals which compose it would be very liable
to lose touch with one another had they no means of informing one
another of their whereabouts. The result is that such a means has
been developed. Every bird, whose habit it is to go about in company,
has the habit of continually uttering some kind of call or cry. It
probably does this unconsciously, without being aware that it is
making any sound.

In Madras a white-headed babbler nestling was once brought to me.
I took charge of it and fed it, and noticed that when it was not asleep
it kept up a continuous cheeping all day long, even when it was eating,
although it had no companion. The habit of continually uttering its
note was inherited. When the flock is stationary the note is a
comparatively low one; but when an individual makes up its mind to
fly any distance, say ten or a dozen yards, it gives vent to a louder
call, so as to inform its companions that it is moving. This sound
seems to induce others to follow its lead. This is especially
noticeable in the case of the white-throated laughing-thrush. I have
seen one of these birds fly to a branch in a tree, uttering its curious
call, and then hop on to another branch in the same tree. Scarcely
has it left the first branch when a second laughing-thrush flies to
it; then a fourth, a fifth, and so on; so that the birds look as though
they might be playing "Follow the man from Cook's." The black-throated
jay is noisy even for a sociable bird. The sound which it seems to
produce more often than any other is very like the harsh anger-cry
of the common myna. Many Himalayan birds have rather discordant notes,
and in this respect these mountains do not compare favourably with
the Nilgiris, where the blithe notes of the bulbuls are very pleasing
to the ear.

Jays are by nature bold birds. They are inclined to be timid in England,
because they are so much persecuted by the game-keeper. In the
Himalayas they are as bold as the crow. It is not uncommon to see
two or three jays hopping about outside a kitchen picking up the scraps
pitched out by the cook. Sometimes two jays make a dash at the same
morsel. Then a tiff ensues, but it is mostly made up of menacing
screeches. One bird bears away the coveted morsel, swearing lustily,
and the unsuccessful claimant lets him go in peace. When a jay comes
upon a morsel of food too large to be swallowed whole, it flies with
it to a tree and holds it under one foot and tears it up with its
beak. This is a characteristically corvine habit. The black-throated
jay is an exceedingly restless bird; it is always on the move. Like
its English cousin, it is not a bird of very powerful flight. As
Gilbert White says: "Magpies and jays flutter with powerless wings,
and make no despatch." In the Himalayas there is no necessity for
it to make much despatch; it rarely has to cover any distance on the
wing. When it does fly a dozen yards or so, its passage is marked
by much noisy flapping of the pinions.

The nutcrackers can scarcely be numbered among the common birds, but
are sometimes seen in our hill stations, and, such is the "cussedness"
of birds that if I omit to notice the nutcrackers several are certain
to show themselves to many of those who read these lines. A
chocolate-brown bird, bigger than a crow, and spotted and barred with
white all over, can be nothing other than one of the Himalayan
nutcrackers. It may be the Himalayan species (_Nucifraga hemispila_),
or the larger spotted nutcracker (_N. multipunctata_).

The members of the crow family which I have attempted to describe
above are all large birds, birds bigger than a crow. It now behoves
us to consider the smaller members of the corvine clan.

The tits form a sub-family of the crows. Now at first sight the crow
and the tit seem to have but little in common. However, close
inspection, whether by the anatomist or the naturalist, reveals the
mark of the corvidæ in the tits. First, there is the habit of holding
food under the foot while it is being devoured. Then there is the
aggressiveness of the tits. This is Lloyd-Georgian or even Winstonian
in its magnitude. "Tits," writes Jerdon, "are excessively bold and
even ferocious, the larger ones occasionally destroying young and
sickly birds, both in a wild state and in confinement."

Many species of tit dwell in the Himalayas. To describe them all would
bewilder the reader; I will, therefore, content myself with brief
descriptions of four species, each of which is to be seen daily in
every hill station of the Western Himalayas.

The green-backed tit (_Parus monticola_) is a glorified edition of
our English great tit. It is a bird considerably smaller than a

The cheeks are white, the rest of the head is black, as are the breast
and a characteristic line running along the abdomen. The back is
greenish yellow, the lower parts are deep yellow. The wings are black
with two white bars, the tail is black tipped with white. This is
one of the commonest birds in most hill stations.

Like the sparrow, it is ever ready to rear up its brood in a hole
in the wall of a house. Any kind of a hole will do, provided the aperture
is too small to admit of the entrance of birds larger than itself.

The nesting operations of a pair of green-backed tits form the subject
of a separate essay.

Another tit much in evidence is the yellow-cheeked tit, _Machlolophus
xanthogenys_. I apologise for its scientific name. Take a
green-backed tit, paint its cheeks bright yellow, and give it a black
crest tipped with yellow, and you will have transformed him into a
yellow-cheeked tit.

There remain to be described two pigmy tits. The first of these is
that feathered exquisite, the red-headed tit (_Ægithaliscus
erythrocephalus_). I will not again apologise for the name; it must
suffice that the average ornithologist is never happy unless he be
either saddling a small bird with a big name or altering the
denomination of some unfortunate fowl. This fussy little mite is not
so long as a man's thumb. It is crestless; the spot where the crest
ought to be is chestnut red. The remainder of the upper plumage is
bluish grey, while the lower plumage is the colour of rust. The black
face is set off by a white eyebrow. Last, but not least, of our common
tits is the crested black tit (_Lophophanes melanopterus_). The
crested head and breast of this midget are black. The cheeks and nape
are white, while the rest of the upper plumage is iron grey.

There is yet another tit of which mention must be made, because he
is the common tit of Almora. The climate of Almora is so much milder
than that of other hill stations that its birds are intermediate
between those of the hills and the plains. The Indian grey tit (_Parus
atriceps_) is a bird of wide distribution. It is the common tit of
the Nilgiris, is found in many of the better-wooded parts of the plains,
and ascends the Himalayas up to 6000 feet. It is a grey bird with
the head, neck, breast, and abdominal line black. The cheeks are white.
It is less gregarious than the other tits. Its notes are harsh and
varied, being usually a _ti-ti-chee_ or _pretty-pretty_.

I have not noticed this species at either Mussoorie or Naini Tal,
but, as I have stated, it is common at Almora.

As has been mentioned above, tits usually go about in flocks. It is
no uncommon thing for a flock to contain all of the four species of
tit just described, a number of white-eyes, some nuthatches, warblers,
tree-creepers, a woodpecker or two, and possibly some sibias and


The Crateropodidæ form a most heterogeneous collection of birds,
including, as they do, such divers fowls as babblers,
whistling-thrushes, bulbuls, and white-eyes. Whenever a systematist
comes across an Asiatic bird of which he can make nothing, he classes
it among the Crateropodidæ. This is convenient for the systematist,
but embarrassing for the naturalist.

The most characteristic members of the family are those ugly, untidy,
noisy earth-coloured birds which occur everywhere in the plains, and
always go about in little companies, whence their popular name "seven

To men of science these birds are known as babblers. Babblers proper
are essentially birds of the plains. In the hills they are replaced
by their cousins, the laughing-thrushes. Laughing-thrushes are
merely glorified babblers. The Himalayan streaked laughing-thrush
(_Trochalopterum lineatum_) is one of the commonest of the birds of
our hill stations. It is a reddish brown fowl, about eight inches
long. Each of its feathers has a black shaft; it is these dark shafts
that give the bird its streaked appearance. Its chin, throat, and
breast are chestnut-red, and on each cheek there is a patch of similar
hue. The general appearance of the streaked laughing-thrush is that
of one of the seven sisters who is wearing her best frock. Like their
sisters of the plains, Himalayan streaked laughing-thrushes go about
in small flocks and are exceedingly noisy. Sometimes a number of them
assemble, apparently for the sole purpose of holding a speaking
competition. They are never so happy as when thus engaged.

Streaked laughing-thrushes frequent gardens, and, as they are
inordinately fond of hearing their own voices, it is certainly not
their fault if they escape observation. By way of a nest they build
a rough-and-ready cup-shaped structure in a low bush or on the ground;
but, as Hume remarked, "the bird, as a rule, conceals the nest so
well that, though a loose, and for the size of the architect, a large
structure, it is difficult to find, even when one closely examines
the bush in which it is."

Three other species of laughing-thrush must be numbered among common
birds of the Himalayas, although they, like the heroine of _A Bad
Girl's Diary_, are often heard and not seen. The white-throated
laughing-thrush (_Garrulax albigularis_) is a handsome bird larger
than a myna. Its general colour is rich olive brown. It has a black
eyebrow and shows a fine expanse of white shirt front. It goes about
in large flocks and continually utters a cry, loud and plaintive and
not in the least like laughter.

The remaining laughing-thrushes are known as the rufous-chinned
(_Ianthocincla rufigularis_) and the red-headed (_Trochalopterum
erythrocephalum_). The former may be distinguished from the
white-throated species by the fact that the lower part only of its
throat is white, the chin being red. The red-headed laughing-thrush
has no white at all in the under parts. The next member of the family
of the Crateropodidæ that demands our attention is the rusty-cheeked
scimitar-babbler (_Pomatorhinus erythrogenys_).

Scimitar-babblers are so called because of the long, slender,
compressed beak, which is curved downwards like that of a sunbird.

Several species of scimitar-babbler occur in the Himalayas. The above
mentioned is the most abundant in the Western Himalayas. This species
is known as the _Banbakra_ at Mussoorie. Its bill is 1½ inch long.
The upper plumage is olive brown. The forehead, cheeks, sides of the
neck, and thighs are chestnut-red, as is a patch under the tail. The
chin and throat and the median portion of the breast and abdomen are
white with faint grey stripes. Scimitar-babblers have habits similar
to those of laughing-thrushes. They go about in pairs, seeking for
insects among fallen leaves. The call is a loud whistle.

Very different in habits and appearance from any of the babblers
mentioned above is the famous Himalayan whistling-thrush
(_Myiophoneous temmincki_). To see this bird it is necessary to repair
to some mountain stream. It is always in evidence in the neighbourhood
of the dhobi's ghat at Naini Tal, and is particularly abundant on
the banks of the Kosi river round about Khairna. At first sight the
Himalayan whistling-thrush looks very like a cock blackbird. His
yellow bill adds to the similitude. It is only when he is seen with
the sun shining upon him that the cobalt blue patches in his plumage
are noticed. His habit is to perch on the boulders which are washed
by the foaming waters of a mountain torrent. On these he finds plenty
of insects and snails, which constitute the chief items on his menu.
He pursues the elusive insect in much the same way as a wagtail does,
calling his wings to his assistance when chasing a particularly nimble
creature. He has the habit of frequently expanding his tail. This
species utters a loud and pleasant call, also a shrill cry like that
of the spotted forktail. All torrent-haunting birds are in the habit
of uttering such a note; indeed it is no easy task to distinguish
between the alarm notes of the various species that frequent mountain

Of very different habits is the black-headed sibia (_Lioptila
capistrata_). This species is strictly arboreal. As mentioned
previously, it is often found in company with flocks of tits and other
gregarious birds. It feeds on insects, which it picks off the leaves
of trees. Its usual call is a harsh twitter. It is a reddish brown
bird, rather larger than a bulbul, with a black-crested head. There
is a white bar on the wing.

The Indian white-eye (_Zosterops palbebrosa_) is not at all like any
of the babblers hitherto described. In size, appearance, and habits,
it approximates closely to the tits, with which it often consorts.
Indeed, Jerdon calls the bird the white-eyed tit. It occurs in all
well-wooded parts of the country, both in the plains and the hills.
No bird is easier to identify. The upper parts are greenish yellow,
and the lower bright yellow, while round the eye runs a broad
conspicuous ring of white feathers, whence the popular names of the
species, white-eye and spectacle-bird. Except at the breeding season,
it goes about in flocks of considerable size. Each individual utters
unceasingly a low, plaintive, sonorous, cheeping note. As was stated
above, all arboreal gregarious birds have this habit. It is by means
of this call note that they keep each other apprised of their
whereabouts. But for such a signal it would scarcely be possible for
the flock to hold together. At the breeding season the cock white-eye
acquires an unusually sweet song. The nest is an exquisite little
cup, which hangs, like a hammock, suspended from a slender forked
branch. Two pretty pale blue eggs are laid.

A very diminutive member of the babbler clan is the fire-cap
(_Cephalopyrus flammiceps_). The upper parts of its plumage are olive
green; the lower portions are golden yellow. In the cock the chin
is suffused with red. The cock wears a further ornament in the shape
of a cap of flaming red, which renders his identification easy.

Until recently all ornithologists agreed that the curious
starling-like bird known as the spotted-wing (_Psaroglossa
spiloptera_) was a kind of aberrant starling, but systematists have
lately relegated it to the Crateropodidæ. At Mussoorie the natives
call it the _Puli_. Its upper parts are dark grey spotted with black.
The wings are glossy greenish black with white spots. The lower parts
are reddish. A flock of half-a-dozen or more birds having a
starling-like appearance, which twitter like stares and keep to the
topmost branches of trees, may be set down safely as spotted-wings.

We now come to the last of the Crateropodidæ--the bulbuls. These birds
are so different from most of their brethren that they are held to
constitute a sub-family. I presume that every reader is familiar with
the common bulbul of the plains. To every one who is not, my advice
is that he should go into the verandah in the spring and look among
the leaves of the croton plants. The chances are in favour of this
search leading to the discovery of a neat cup-shaped nest owned by
a pair of handsome crested birds, which wear a bright crimson patch
under the tail, and give forth at frequent intervals tinkling notes
that are blithe and gay.

Both the species of bulbul common in the plains ascend the lower ranges
of the Himalayas. These are the Bengal red-vented bulbul (_Molpastes
bengalensis_) and the Bengal red-whiskered bulbul (_Otocompsa

The addition of the adjective "Bengal" is important, for every
province of India has its own special species of bulbul.

The Molpastes bulbul is a bird about half as big again as the sparrow,
but with a longer tail. The black head is marked by a short crest.
The cheeks are brown. There is a conspicuous crimson patch under the
tail. The remainder of the plumage is brown, but each feather on the
body is margined with creamy white, so that the bird is marked by
a pattern that is, as "Eha" pointed out, not unlike the scales on
a fish. Both ends of the tail feathers are creamy white.

Otocompsa is a far more showy bird. The crest is long and pointed
and curves forward a little over the bill. There is the usual crimson
patch under the tail and another on each cheek. The rest of the cheek
is white, as is the lower plumage. A black necklace, interrupted in
front, marks the junction of the throat and the breast. Neither of
these bulbuls ascends the hills very high, but I have seen the former
at the Brewery below Naini Tal.

The common bulbul of the Himalayas is the white-cheeked species
(_Molpastes leucogenys_). This bird, which is very common at Almora,
has the habits of its brethren in the plains. Its crest is pointed
and its cheeks are white like those of an Otocompsa bulbul. But it
has rather a weedy appearance and lacks the red feathers on the sides
of the head. The patch of feathers under the tail is bright
sulphur-yellow instead of crimson.

The only other species of bulbul commonly seen in the hills is a very
different bird. It is known as the black bulbul (_Hypsipetes

The bulbuls that we have been considering are inoffensive little birds
which lead quiet and respectable lives. Not so the black bulbuls.
These are aggressive, disreputable-looking creatures which go about
in disorderly, rowdy gangs.

The song of most bulbuls is a medley of pleasant tinkling notes; the
cries of the black bulbuls are harsh and unlovely.

Black bulbuls look black only when seen from a distance. When closely
inspected their plumage is seen to be dark grey. The bill and legs
are red. The crest, I regret to say, usually looks the worse for wear.
Black bulbuls seem never to descend to the ground. They keep almost
exclusively to tops of lofty trees. They are very partial to the nectar
enclosed within the calyces of rhododendron flowers. A party of half
a dozen untidy black birds, with moderately long tails, which keep
to the tops of trees and make much noise, may with certainty be set
down as black bulbuls.

These curious birds form the subject of a separate essay.


The Sittidæ are a well-defined family of little birds. When not
occupied with domestic cares, they congregate in small flocks that
run up and down the trunks and branches of trees in search of insects.
The nuthatch most commonly seen in the hills is the white-tailed
species (_Sitta himalayensis_). The general hue of this bird is slaty
blue. The forehead and a broad line running down the sides of the
head and neck are black. There is a good deal of white in the tail,
which is short in this and in all species of nuthatch. The under-parts
are of a chestnut hue. The Himalayan nuthatch is very partial to the
red berries of _Arisæma jacque-montii_--a small plant of the family
to which the arums and the "lords and ladies" belong. Half a dozen
nuthatches attacking one of the red spikes of this plant present a
pretty sight. The berries ripen in July and August, and at Naini Tal
one rarely comes across a complete spike because the nuthatches pounce
upon every berry the moment it is ripe.


The famous black drongo or king-crow (_Dicrurus ater_) is the type
of this well-marked family of passerine birds. The king-crow is about
the size of a bulbul, but he has a tail 6 or 7 inches long, which
is gracefully forked. His whole plumage is glossy jet black. He loves
to sit on a telegraph wire or other exposed perch, and thence make
sallies into the air after flying insects. He is one of the commonest
birds in India. His cheery call--half-squeak, half-whistle--must be
familiar to every Anglo-Indian. As to his character, I will repeat
what I have said elsewhere: "The king-crow is the Black Prince of
the bird world--the embodiment of pluck. The thing in feathers of
which he is afraid has yet to be evolved. Like the mediæval knight,
he goes about seeking those on whom he can perform some small feat
of arms. In certain parts of India he is known as the kotwal--the
official who stands forth to the poor as the impersonation of the
might and majesty of the British raj."

The king-crow is fairly abundant in the hills. On the lower ranges,
and especially at Almora, it is nearly as common as in the plains.
On the higher slopes, however, it is largely replaced by the ashy
drongo (_Dicrurus longicaudatus_). At most hill stations both
species occur. The note of the ashy drongo differs considerably from
that of the king-crow: otherwise the habits of the two species are
very similar. Take thirty-three per cent. off the pugnacity of the
king-crow and you will arrive at a fair estimate of that of the ashy
drongo. The latter looks like a king-crow with an unusually long tail,
a king-crow of which the black plumage has worn grey like an old
broadcloth coat.

The handsome _Bhimraj_ or larger racket-tailed drongo (_Dissemurus
paradiseus_), a glorified king-crow with a tail fully 20 inches in
length, is a Himalayan bird, but he dwells far from the madding crowd,
and is not likely to be seen at any hill station except as a captive.


The only member of this family common about our hill stations is the
Himalayan tree-creeper (_Certhia himalayana_). This is a small brown
bird, striped and barred with black, which spends the day creeping
over the trunks of trees seeking its insect quarry. It is an
unobtrusive creature, and, as its plumage assimilates very closely
to the bark over which it crawls, it would escape observation more
often than it does, but for its call, which is a shrill one.


The sylviidæ comprise a large number of birds of small size and, with
a few exceptions, of plain plumage. The result is that the great
majority of them resemble one another so closely that it is as
difficult to identify them when at large as it is to see through a
brick wall. Small wonder, then, that field naturalists fight rather
shy of this family. Of the 110 species of warbler which exist in India,
I propose to deal with only one, and that favoured bird is Hodgson's
grey-headed flycatcher-warbler (_Cryptolopha xanthoschista_). My
reasons for raising this particular species from among the vulgar
herd of warblers are two. The first is that it is the commonest bird
in our hill stations. The second is that it is distinctively coloured,
and in consequence easy to identify.

It is impossible for a human being to visit any hill station between
Murree and Naini Tal in spring without remarking this warbler. I do
not exaggerate when I say that its voice issues from every second

This species may be said to be _the_ warbler of the Western Himalayas,
and, as such, it has been made the subject of a separate essay.


The butcher-birds are the best-known members of this fraternity.
Undoubtedly passerine in structure, shrikes are as indubitably
raptores by nature. They are nothing less than pocket hawks.

Their habit is to sit on an exposed perch and pounce from thence on
to some insect on the ground. The larger species attack small birds.

Four species of butcher-bird may perhaps be classed among the common
birds of the Himalayas; but they are inhabitants of the lower ranges
only. It is unusual to see a shrike at as high an elevation as 6000
feet. In consequence they are seldom observed at hill stations.

It is true that the grey-backed shrike does occur as high as 9000
feet, but this species, being confined mainly to the inner ranges,
does not occur at most hill stations.

The bay-backed shrike (_Lanius vittatus_) is a bird rather smaller
than a bulbul. Its head is grey except for a broad black band running
through the eye. The wings and tail are black and white. The back
is chestnut red and the rump white.

The rufous-backed shrike (_L. erythronotus_) is very like the last
species, but it is a larger bird. It has no white in the wings and
tail, and its rump is red instead of being white.

The grey-backed shrike (_L. tephronotus_) is very like the
rufous-backed species, but may be distinguished by the fact that the
grey of the head extends more than half-way down the back.

As its name indicates, the black-headed shrike (_L. nigriceps_) has
the whole head black; but the cheeks, chin, and throat are white.

Butcher-birds are of striking rather than beautiful appearance. They
have some very handsome relatives which are known as minivets. Every
person must have seen a company of small birds with somewhat long
tails, clothed in bright scarlet and black--birds which flit about
among the trees like sparks driven before the wind. These are cock
minivets. The hens, which are often found in company with them, are
in their way equally beautiful and conspicuous, for they are bright
yellow in those parts of the plumage where the cocks are scarlet.
It is impossible to mistake a minivet, but it is quite another matter
to say to which species any particular minivet belongs. The species
commonly seen about our hill stations are _Pericrocotus speciosus_,
the Indian scarlet minivet, and _P. brevirostris_, the short-billed
minivet. The former is 9 inches long, while the latter is but 7½.
Again, the red of the former is scarlet and that of the latter crimson
rather than scarlet. These distinctions are sufficiently apparent
when two species are seen side by side, but are scarcely sufficient
to enable the ordinary observer to determine the species of a flock
seen flitting about amid the foliage. This, however, need not disturb
us. Most people are quite satisfied to know that these exquisite
little birds are all called minivets.


The beautiful orioles are birds of the plains rather than of the hills.
One species, however, the Indian Oriole (_Oriolus kundoo_) is a summer
visitor to the Himalayas. The cock is a bright yellow bird with a
pink bill. There is some black on his cheeks and wing feathers. The
hen is less brilliantly coloured, the yellow of her plumage being
dull and mixed with green. Orioles are a little larger than bulbuls.
They rarely, if ever, descend to the ground. I do not remember having
seen the birds at Murree, Mussoorie, or Naini Tal, but they are common
at Almora in summer.


The Himalayan starling (_Sturnus humii_) is so like his European
brother in appearance that it is scarcely possible to distinguish
between the two species unless they are seen side by side. Is it
necessary to describe the starling? Does an Englishman exist who is
not well acquainted with the vivacious bird which makes itself at
home in his garden or on his housetop in England? We have all admired
its dark plumage, which displays a green or bronze sheen in the
sunlight, and which is so curiously spotted with buff.

The Himalayan species is, I think, common only in the more westerly
parts of the hills.

The common myna (_Acridotheres tristis_) is nearly as abundant in
the hills as it is in the plains. I should not have deemed it necessary
to describe this bird, had not a lady asked me a few days ago whether
a pair of mynas, which were fighting as only mynas can fight, were
seven sisters.

The myna is a bird considerably smaller than a crow. His head, neck,
and upper breast are black, while the rest of his plumage is quaker
brown, save for a broad white wing-bar, very conspicuous during flight,
and some white in the tail. The legs and bill look as though they
had been dipped in the mustard pot, and there is a bare patch of
mustard-coloured skin on either side of the head. This sprightly bird
is sociably inclined. Grasshoppers form its favourite food. These
it seeks on the grass, over which it struts with as much dignity as
a stout raja. In the spring the mynas make free with our bungalows,
seizing on any convenient holes or ledges as sites for their nests.
The nest is a conglomeration of straw, rags, paper, and any rubbish
that comes to beak. The eggs are a beautiful blue.

The only other myna commonly seen in Himalayan hill stations is the
jungle myna (_Æthiopsar fuscus_). This is so like the species just
described, that nine out of ten people fail to differentiate between
the two birds. Close inspection shows that this species has a little
tuft of feathers on the forehead, which the common myna lacks. On
the other hand, the yellow patch of skin round the eyes is wanting
in the jungle myna.


The family of the flycatchers is well represented in the hills, for
its members love trees. The great majority of them seem never to
descend to the ground at all. Flycatchers are birds that feed
exclusively on insects, which they catch on the wing. Their habit
is to make from some perch little sallies into the air after their
quarry. But, we must bear in mind that a bird that behaves thus is
not necessarily a flycatcher. Other birds, as, for example,
king-crows and bee-eaters, have discovered how excellent a way this
is of securing a good supply of food. The beautiful verditer
flycatcher (_Stoparola melanops_) must be familiar to everyone who
has visited the Himalayas. The plumage of this flycatcher is pale
blue--blue of that peculiar shade known as verditer blue. There is
a little black on the head. The plumage of the hen is distinctly duller
than that of the cock. This species loves to sit on a telegraph wire
or at the very summit of a tree and pour forth its song, which consists
of a pleasant, if somewhat harsh, trill or warble of a dozen or more
notes. The next flycatcher that demands notice is the white-browed
blue flycatcher (_Cyornis superciliaris_). In this species the hen
differs considerably from the cock in appearance. The upper plumage
of the latter is a dull blue, set off by a white eyebrow. The lower
plumage is white save for a blue collaret, which is interrupted in
the middle. The upper plumage of the hen is olive brown, washed with
blue in parts. Beneath she is pale buff. This species, like the last,
nests in a hole.

There are yet four other species of flycatcher which, although less
frequently seen than the two just mentioned, deserve place among the
common birds of the Himalayas. Two of these are homely-looking little
creatures, while two are as striking as it is possible for a fowl
of the air to be, and this is saying a great deal.

The brown flycatcher (_Alseonax latirostris_) is a bird that may pass
for a small sparrow if not carefully looked at. Of course its habits
are very different to those of the sparrow; moreover, it has a narrow
ring of white feathers round the eye. The grey-headed flycatcher
(_Culicicapa ceylonensis_) is a species of which the sexes are alike.
The head, neck, and breast are grey; the wings and tail are brown;
the back is dull yellow, and the lower plumage bright yellow.
Notwithstanding all this yellow, the bird is not conspicuous except
during flight, because the wings when closed cover up nearly all the
yellow. This bird frequents all the hill streams. At Naini Tal any
person may be tolerably certain of coming across it by going down
the Khairna road to the place where that road meets the stream. The
nest of this species is a beautiful pocket of moss attached to some
moss-covered rock or tree.

The rufous-bellied niltava (_Niltava sundara_) or fairy blue-chat,
as Jerdon calls it, is the kind of bird one would expect to find in
fairyland. The front and sides of the head, and the chin and throat
of the cock are deep velvety black. His crown, nape, and lower back,
and a spot on cheeks and wings, are glistening blue. He also sports
some light blue in his tail. His lower plumage is chestnut red. The
upper plumage of the hen is olive brown save for a brilliant blue
patch on either side of the head. Her tail is chestnut red. This
beautiful species is about the size of a sparrow.

Even more splendid is the paradise flycatcher (_Terpsiphone
paradisi_). The hen, and the cock, when he is quite young, look rather
like specimens of the bulbul family, being rich chestnut-hued birds
with the head and crest metallic bluish black. The hen is content
with a gown of this style throughout her life. Not so the cock. No
sooner does he reach the years of discretion than he assumes a
magnificent caudal appendage. His two middle tail feathers suddenly
begin to grow, and go on growing till they become three or four times
as long as he is, and so flutter behind him in the wind like streamers
when he flies. Nor does he rest content with this finery. When he
is about three years old he doffs his chestnut plumage, and in its
place dons a snowy white one. He is then a truly magnificent object.
The first time one catches sight of this white bird with his satin
streamers floating behind him, one wonders whether he is but an object
seen in a dream.

This flycatcher is a regular visitor in summer to Almora, where it
nests. Six thousand feet appear to be about the limit of its ascent,
and in consequence this beautiful creature is not common at any of
the higher hill stations. I have seen it at the brewery below Naini
Tal, but not at Naini Tal itself.


This large family is well represented in the hills, and embraces a
number of beautiful and interesting birds.

The dark grey bush-chat (_Oreicola ferrea_) is as common in the hills
as is the robin in the plains. It is about the size of a robin. The
upper plumage of the cock is grey in winter and black in summer. This
change in colour is the result of wear and tear suffered by the
feathers. Each bird is given by nature a new suit of clothes every
autumn, and in most cases the bird, like a Government _chaprassi_,
has to make it last a whole year. Both eat, drink, sleep, and do
everything in their coats. There is, however, this difference between
the bird and the _chaprassi_: the plumage of the former always looks
clean and smart, while the garment of the _chaprassi_ is usually
neither the one nor the other. The coat of the dark grey bush-chat
is made up of black feathers edged with grey. As the margins of the
feathers alone show, the bird looks grey so long as the grey margins
exist, and when these wear away it appears black. The cock has a
conspicuous white eyebrow, and displays some white in his wings and
tail. He is quite a dandy. The hen is a reddish brown bird with a
pale grey eyebrow. This species likes to pretend it is a flycatcher.
The flycatchers proper do not object in the least; in this country
of multitudinous insects there are more than enough for every kind
of bird.

Brief mention must be made here of the Indian bush-chat (_Pratincola
maura_), because this chat is common at Almora, and breeds there.
I have not seen it at other hill stations. It does not appear to ascend
the Himalayas higher than 5500 feet. In the cock the upper parts are
black (brown in winter) with a large white patch on each side of the
neck. The breast is orange-red. The lower parts are ruddy brown. The
hen is a plain reddish brown bird.

We now come to what is, in my opinion, one of the most striking birds
in the Himalayas. I refer to the bird known to men of science as
_Henicurus maculatus_, or the western spotted forktail. Those
Europeans who are not men of science call it the hill-wagtail on
account of its habits, or the _dhobi_ bird because of its
unaccountable predilection for the spot where the grunting,
perspiring washerman pursues his destructive calling. The head and
neck of this showy bird are jet black save for a conspicuous white
patch running from the centre of the crown to the base of the bill,
which gives the bird a curious appearance. The shoulders are decorated
by a cape or tippet of black, copiously spotted with white. The wings
are black and white. The tail feathers are black, but each has a broad
white band at the tip, and, as the two median feathers are the shortest,
and each succeeding pair longer, the tail has, when closed, the
appearance of being composed of alternate broad black and narrow white
V-shaped bars. The lower back and rump are white, but these are
scarcely visible except during flight or when the bird is preening
its feathers. The legs are pinkish white. This forktail is a trifle
larger than a wagtail, and its tail is over 6 inches in length. It
is never found away from streams.

I will not dilate further upon the habits of this bird because a
separate essay is devoted to it.

Two other water-birds must now be mentioned. These love not the
_dhobi_, and dwell by preference far from the madding crowd. They
are very common in the interior of the hills, and everyone who has
travelled in the inner ranges must be familiar with them, even if
he do not know what to call them. The white-capped redstart
(_Chimarrhornis leucocephalus_) is a bird that compels attention.
His black plumage looks as though it were made of rich velvet. On
his head he wears a cap as white as snow. His tail, rump, and abdomen
are bright chestnut red, so that, as he leaps into the air after the
circling gnat, he looks almost as if he were on fire.

The third common bird of Himalayan streams is the plumbeous redstart
or water-robin (_Rhyacornis fuliginosus_). This species is very
robin-like in appearance. The body is dusky indigo blue; the tail
and abdomen are ferruginous. The habits of this and the bird just
described are similar. Both species love to disport themselves on
rocks and boulders lapped by the gentle-flowing stream in the valley,
or lashed by the torrent on the hillside. Like all redstarts, these
constantly flirt the tail.

The grey-winged ouzel (_Merula boulboul_) is perhaps the finest
songster in the Himalayas. Throughout the early summer the cock makes
the wooded hillsides ring with his blackbird-like melody. The
grey-winged ouzel is a near relative of the English blackbird. Take
a cock blackbird and paint his wings dark grey, and cover his bill
with red colouring matter, and you will have to all appearances a
grey-winged ouzel. In order to effect the transformation of the brown
female, it is only necessary to redden her bill.

The nesting operations of this species are described in the essay
near the end of Part I.

Two other species allied to the grey-winged ouzel demand our attention.
The first is the blue-headed rock-thrush (_Petrophila cinclorhyncha_).
This is not like any bird found in England. The head, chin, and throat
of the cock are cobalt blue; there is also a patch of this colour on
his wing; the sides of the head and neck are black, as are the back
and wing feathers. The rump and lower parts are chestnut. The hen, as
is the case with many of her sex, is an inconspicuous olive-brown bird.
This species spends most of its time on the ground, and frequents, as
its name implies, open rocky ground.

The last of the Turdidæ which has to be considered is the small-billed
mountain-thrush (_Oreocincla dauma_). This bird is as like the thrush
of our English gardens as one pea is like another. Unfortunately it
does not visit gardens in this country, and is not a very common bird.


The vulgar sparrow and the immaculate canary are members of this large
and flourishing family of birds. The distinguishing feature of the
finches is a massive beak, admirably adapted to the husking of the
grain on which the members of the family feed largely. In some species,
as for example the grosbeaks, the bill is immensely thick. Only one
species of grosbeak appears to be common in the Himalayas. This is
_Pycnorhamphus icteroides_, the black-and-yellow grosbeak. The
colouring of the cock is so like that of the black-headed oriole that
it is doubtless frequently mistaken for the latter.

This bird forms the subject of a separate essay, where it is fully

The Himalayan greenfinch (_Hypacanthis spinoides_) is an unobtrusive
little bird that loves to sit at the summit of a tree and utter a
forlorn _peee_ fifty times a minute. It is a dull green bird with
some yellow on the head, neck, and back; the abdomen is of a brighter
hue of yellow.

The house-sparrow, like the house-crow, is a bird of the plains rather
than of the hills. The common sparrow of the Himalayas is the handsome
cinnamon tree-sparrow (_Passer cinamomeus_). The cock is easily
recognised by his bright cinnamon-coloured head and shoulders.
Imagine a house-sparrow shorn of sixty per cent. of his impudence,
and you will have arrived at a fair estimate of the character of the

The only other members of the Finch family that concern us are the
buntings. A bunting is a rather superior kind of sparrow--a Lord
Curzon among sparrows--a sparrow with a refined beak. The familiar
English yellowhammer is a bunting. Two buntings are common in the
Western Himalayas. The first of these, the eastern meadow-bunting
(_Emberiza stracheyi_), looks like a large, well-groomed sparrow.
A broad slate-coloured band runs from the base of the beak over the
top of the head to the nape of the neck. In addition to this, there
are on each side of the head blackish bars, like those on the head
of the quail. By these signs the bird may be recognised. The other
species is the white-capped bunting (_Emberiza stewarti_). This is
a chestnut-coloured bird with a pale grey cap. Buntings associate
in small flocks and affect open rather than well-wooded country. They
are not very interesting birds.


A small bird that spends hours together on the wing, dashing through
the air at great speed, frequently changing its course, now flying
high, now just skimming the ground, must be either a swallow or a
swift. Many people are totally at a loss to distinguish between a
swallow and a swift. The two birds differ anatomically. A swift is
not a passerine bird. It cannot perch. When it wants to take a rest
it has to repair to its nest. Swallows, on the other hand, are fond
of settling on telegraph wires. It is quite easy to distinguish
between the birds when they are on the wing. A flying swift may be
compared to an anchor with enormous flukes (the wings), or to an arrow
(the body) attached to a bow (the wings). As the swift dashes through
the air at a speed of fully 100 miles an hour, it never closes its
wings to the sides of its body; it merely whips the air rapidly with
the tips of them. On the other hand, the swallow, when it flies, closes
its wings to its body at every stroke. Notwithstanding its greater
effort, it does not move nearly so rapidly as the swift. The swifts
will be considered in their proper place. Three species of swallow
are likely to be seen in the Himalayas. A small ashy brown swallow
with a short tail is the crag-martin (_Ptyonoprogne rupestris_).

The common swallow of England (_Hirundo rustica_) occurs in large
numbers at all hill stations in the Himalayas. This bird should
require no description. Its glossy purple-blue plumage, the patches
of chestnut red on the forehead and throat, and the elegantly-forked
tail must be familiar to every Englishman. As in England, this bird
constructs under the eaves of roofs its nest of mud lined with

Not unlike the common swallow, but readily distinguishable from it
in that the lower back is chestnut red, is _Hirundo
nepalensis_--Hodgson's striated swallow, or the red-rumped swallow,
as Jerdon well called it. This bird also breeds under eaves. Numbers
of red-rumped swallows are to be seen daily seeking their insect
quarry over the lake at Naini Tal.


The great majority of the wagtails are merely winter visitors to India.
Thus they are likely to be seen in the hills only when resting from
their travels. That is to say, in April and May, when homeward bound,
or in September and October, when they move southwards. A few wagtails,
however, tarry in the hills till quite late in the season. The wagtail
most likely to be seen is the grey wagtail (_Motacilla melanope_).
This species, notwithstanding its name, has bright yellow lower
plumage. It nests in Kashmir.

Allied to the wagtails are the pipits. These display the elegant form
of the wagtail and the sober colouring of the lark.

They affect open country and feed on the ground. The upland pipit
(_Oreocorys sylvanus_) is the common species of the Himalayas. It
constructs a nest of grass on the ground, into which the common cuckoo,
of which more anon, frequently drops an egg.


The sunbirds are feathered exquisites. They take in the Old World
the place in the New World occupied by the humming-birds. Sunbirds,
however, are superior to humming-birds in that they possess the gift
of song. They are not particularly abundant in the Himalayas, and,
as they do not seem to occur west of Garhwal, I am perhaps not justified
in giving them a place in this essay.

I do so because one species is fairly common round about Naini Tal.
I have seen this bird--the Himalayan yellow-backed sunbird
(_Æthopyga scheriæ_)--flitting about, sucking honey from the flowers
in the verandah of the hotel at the brewery below Naini Tal.

The head and neck of the cock are glistening green. The back, shoulders,
chin, throat, breast, and sides of the head are crimson.

The lower parts are greenish yellow. The two median tail feathers
are longer than the others. The bill is long and curved. The hen is
a comparatively dull greenish-brown bird.


The fire-breasted flower-pecker (_Dicæum ignipectus_) is perhaps the
smallest bird in India. Its total length does not exceed 3 inches.
The upper parts are greenish black and the lower parts buff. The cock
has a large patch of crimson on his breast, with a black patch lower
down. As this species frequents lofty trees, it is usually seen from
below, and the crimson breast renders the cock unmistakeable.


Woodpeckers abound in the well-wooded Himalayas.

The woodpecker most commonly seen in the western hill stations is
the brown-fronted pied species (_Dendrocopus auriceps_). This is a
black bird, spotted and barred with white: some might call it a white
bird, heavily spotted and barred with black. The forehead is amber
brown. That is the distinguishing feature of this species. The cock
has a red-and-gold crest, which the hen lacks. Both sexes rejoice
in a crimson patch under the tail--a feature common to all species
of pied woodpecker. _Dendrocopus auriceps_ nests earlier in the year
than do most hill-birds, so that by the time the majority of the
European visitors arrive in the hills, the young woodpeckers have
left their nest, which is a hole excavated by the parents in a tree,
a rhododendron by preference.

Two other species of pied woodpecker are common in the hills--the
rufous-bellied (_Hypopicus hypererythrus_) and the Western
Himalayan species (_Dendrocopus himalayensis_). The former is
particularly abundant at Murree. These two species are distinguished
from the brown-fronted pied woodpecker by having no brown on the
forehead. The rufous abdomen serves to differentiate the
rufous-bellied from the Western Himalayan species. The above
woodpeckers are not much larger than mynas.

There remains yet another common species--the West Himalayan
scaly-bellied green woodpecker (_Gecinus squamatus_). The English
name of this bird is very cumbrous. There is no help for this. Numerous
adjectives and adjectival adjuncts are necessary to each species to
distinguish it from each of the host of other woodpeckers. This
particular species is larger than a crow and is recognisable by its
green colour. It might be possible to condense an accurate description
of the plumage of this bird into half a column of print. I will, however,
refrain. There is a limit to the patience of even the Anglo-Indian.


The only member of this family common in the Himalayas is that fine
bird known as the great Himalayan barbet (_Megalæma marshallorum_).
As this forms the subject of a separate essay, detailed description
is unnecessary in the present one. It will suffice that the bird is
over a foot in length and has a large yellow beak. Its prevailing
hue is grass green. It has a bright red patch under the tail. It goes
about in small flocks and constantly utters a loud plaintive
dissyllabic note.


The Himalayan pied kingfisher (_Ceryle lugubris_) is a bird as large
as a crow. Its plumage is speckled black and white, like that of a
Hamburg fowl. It feeds entirely on fish, and frequents the larger
hill streams. Its habit is to squat on a branch, or if the day be
cloudy, on a boulder in mid-stream, whence it dives into the water
after its quarry. Sometimes, kestrel-like, it hovers in the air on
rapidly-vibrating pinions until it espies a fish in the water below,
when it closes its wings and drops with a splash in the water, to
emerge with a silvery object in its bill.


The unique hoopoe (_Upupa epops_) next demands our attention. This
is a bird about the size of a myna. The wings and tail are boldly
marked with alternate bands of black and white. The remainder of the
plumage is of a fawn colour. The bill is long and slender, like that
of a snipe, but slightly curved. The crest is the feature that
distinguishes the hoopoe from all other birds. This opens and closes
like a lady's fan. Normally it remains closed, but when the bird is
startled, and at the moment when the hoopoe alights on the ground,
the crest opens to form a magnificent corona. Hoopoes seek their food
on grass-covered land, digging insects out of the earth with their
long, pick-like bills. They are very partial to a dust-bath. During
the breeding season--that is to say, in April and May in the
Himalayas--hoopoes continually utter in low tones _uk-uk-uk_. The
call is not unlike that of the coppersmith, but less metallic and
much more subdued. The flight of the hoopoe is undulating or jerky,
like that of a butterfly. Young hoopoes are reared up in a hole in
a building, or in a bank. The nest is incredibly malodoriferous.


The flight and general appearance of the swifts have already been
described. The common Indian swift (_Cypselus affinis_) is perhaps
the bird most frequently seen in the Himalayas. A small dark sooty
brown bird with a broad white bar across the back, a living monoplane
that dashes through the air at the rate of 100 miles an hour,
continually giving vent to what Jerdon has so well described as a
"shivering scream," can be none other than this species. It nests
under the eaves of houses or in verandahs. Hundreds of these swifts
nest in the Landour bazar, and there is scarcely a _dak_ bungalow
or a deserted building in the whole of Kumaun which does not afford
nesting sites for at least a dozen pairs of swifts. About sunset these
birds indulge in riotous exercise, dashing with loud screams in and
out among the pillars that support the roof of the verandah in which
their nests are placed. The nest is composed of mud and feathers and
straw. The saliva of the swift is sticky and makes excellent cement.

The other swift commonly seen in the Himalayas is the Alpine swift
(_Cypselus melba_). This is distinguishable from the Indian species
by its white abdomen and dark rump. It is perhaps the swiftest flier
among birds. Like the species already described, it utters a shrill
cry when on the wing.


It is not possible for anyone of sound hearing to be an hour in a
hill station in the early summer without being aware of the presence
of cuckoos. The Himalayas literally teem with them. From March to
June, or even July, the cheerful double note of the common cuckoo
(_Cuculus canorus_) emanates from every second tree. This species,
as all the world knows, looks like a hawk and flies like a hawk.

According to some naturalists, the cuckoo profits by its similarity
to a bird of prey. The little birds which it imposes upon are supposed
to fly away in terror when they see it, thus allowing it to work
unmolested its wicked will in their nests. My experience is that
little birds have a habit of attacking birds of prey that venture
near their nest. The presence of eggs or young ones makes the most
timid creatures as bold as the proverbial lion. I therefore do not
believe that these cuckoos which resemble birds of prey derive any
benefit therefrom.

The hen European cuckoo differs very slightly from the cock. In some
species, as, for example, the famous "brain-fever bird"
(_Hierococcyx varius_), there is no external difference between the
sexes, while in others, such as the Indian koel (_Eudynamis honorata_),
and the violet cuckoo (_Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus_), the sexes are
very dissimilar. I commend these facts to the notice of those who
profess to explain sexual dimorphism (the different appearance of
the sexes) by means of natural or sexual selection. The comfortable
theory that the hens are less showily coloured than the cocks, because
they stand in greater need of protective colouring while sitting on
the nest, cannot be applied to the parasitic cuckoos, for these build
no nests, neither do they incubate their eggs.

In the Himalayas the common cuckoo victimises chiefly pipits, larks,
and chats, but its eggs have been found in the nests of many other
birds, including the magpie-robin, white-cheeked bulbul, spotted
forktail, rufous-backed shrike, and the jungle babbler.

The eggs of _Cuculus canorus_ display considerable variation in
colour. Those who are interested in the subject are referred to Mr.
Stuart Baker's papers on the Oology of the Indian Cuckoos in Volume
XVII of the _Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society_.

It often happens that the eggs laid by the cuckoo are not unlike those
of the birds in the nests of which they are deposited. Hence, some
naturalists assert that the cuckoo, having laid an egg, flies about
with it in her bill until she comes upon a clutch which matches her
egg. Perhaps the best reply to this theory is that such refinement
on the part of the cuckoo is wholly unnecessary. Most birds, when
seized by the mania of incubation, will sit upon anything which even
remotely resembles an egg.

Mr. Stuart Baker writes that he has not found that there is any proof
of the cuckoo trying to match its eggs with those of the intended
foster-mother, or that it selects a foster-mother whose eggs shall
match its own. He adds that not one of his correspondents has advanced
this suggestion, and states that he has little doubt that convenience
of site and propinquity to the cuckoo about to lay its eggs are the
main requisitions.

Almost indistinguishable from the common cuckoo in appearance is the
Himalayan cuckoo (_Cuculus saturatus_). The call of this bird, which
continues later in the year than that of the common cuckoo, is not
unlike the _whoot-whoot-whoot_ of the crow-pheasant or coucal.
Perhaps it is even more like the _uk-uk-uk_ of the hoopoe repeated
very loudly. It may be syllabised as _cuck-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo_. Not very
much is known about the habits of this species. It is believed to
victimise chiefly willow-warblers.

The Indian cuckoo (_Cuculus micropterus_) resembles in appearance
the two species already described. Blanford speaks of its call as
a fine melodious whistle. I would not describe the note as a whistle.
To me it sounds like _wherefore_, _wherefore_, impressively and
sonorously intoned. The vernacular names _Boukotako_ and
_Kyphulpakka_ are onomatopoetic, as is Broken Pekoe Bird, by which
name the species is known to many Europeans.

Last, but not least of the common Himalayan cuckoos, are the famous
brain-fever birds, whose crescendo _brain-fever_, _BRAIN-FEVER_,
_BRAIN-FEVER_, which is shrieked at all hours of the day and the night,
has called forth untold volumes of awful profanity from jaded
Europeans living in the plains, and has earned the highest encomiums
of Indians.

There are two species of brain-fever bird that disport themselves
in the Himalayas. These are known respectively as the large and the
common hawk-cuckoo (_Hierococcyx sparverioides_ and _H. varius_).
I do not profess to distinguish with certainty between the notes of
these two birds, but am under the impression that the larger form
is the one that makes itself heard at Naini Tal and Mussoorie.

The Indian koel (_Eudynamis honorata_) is not to be numbered among
the common birds of the Himalayas. Its noisy call _kuil_, _kuil_,
_kuil_, which may be expressed by the words _you're-ill_,
_you're-ill_, _who-are-you?_ _who-are-you?_ is heard throughout the
sub-Himalayan regions in the early summer, and I have heard it as
high up as Rajpur below Mussoorie, but have not noticed the bird at
any of the hill stations except Almora. As has already been stated,
the avifauna of Almora, a little station in the inner hills nearly
forty miles from the plains, is a very curious one. I have not only
heard the koel calling there, but have seen a young koel being fed
by crows. Now, at Almora alone of the hill stations does _Corvus
splendens_, the Indian house-crow, occur, and this is the usual victim
of the koel. I would therefore attribute the presence of the koel
at Almora and its absence from other hill stations to the fact that
at Almora alone the koel's dupe occurs.


The parrots are not strongly represented in the Himalayas. Only one
species is commonly seen at the various hill stations. This is the
slaty-headed paroquet (_Palæornis schisticeps_). In appearance it
closely resembles the common green parrot of the plains (_P.
torquatus_), differing chiefly in having the head slate coloured
instead of green. The cock, moreover, has a red patch on the shoulder.
The habits of the slaty-headed paroquet are those of the common green
parrot: its cries, however, are less harsh, and it is less
aggressively bold. The pretty little western blossom-headed paroquet
(_P. cyanocephalus_) ascends the hills to a height of some 5000 feet.
It is recognisable by the fact that the head of the cock is red, tinged
with blue like the bloom on a plum.


We now come to those much-abused birds--the owls. The Himalayas, in
common with most other parts of the world, are well stocked with these
pirates of the night. The vast majority of owls, being strictly
nocturnal, escape observation. Usually the presence of any species
of owl in a locality is made known only by its voice. I may here remark
that diurnal birds know as little about nocturnal birds as the man
in the street does, hence the savage manner in which they mob any
luckless owl that happens to be abroad in the daytime. Birds are
intensely conservative; they resent strongly what they regard as an
addition to the local avifauna. This assertion may be proved by
setting free a cockatoo in the plains of India. Before the bird has
been at large for ten minutes it will be surrounded by a mob of reviling

The collared pigmy owlet (_Glaucidium brodiei_) is perhaps the
commonest owl in the Himalayas: at any rate, it is the species that
makes itself heard most often. Those who sit out of doors after dinner
cannot fail to have remarked a soft low whistle heard at regular
intervals of about thirty seconds. That is the call of the pigmy
collared owlet. The owlet itself is a tiny creature, about the size
of a sparrow. Like several other little owls, it sometimes shows
itself during the daytime. Once at Mussoorie I noticed a pigmy
collared owlet sitting as bold as brass on a conspicuous branch about
midday and making grimaces at me. The other species likely to be heard
at hill stations are the brown wood-owl (_Syrnium indrani_), the call
of which has been syllabised _to-whoo_, and the little spotted
Himalayan scops owl (_Scops spilocephalus_), of which the note is
double whistle _who-who_.


From the owls to the diurnal birds of prey it is but a short step.
Next to the warblers, the raptores are the most difficult birds to
distinguish one from the other. Nearly all of them are creatures of
mottled-brown plumage, and, as the plumage changes with the period
of life, it is impossible to differentiate them by descriptions of
their colouring.

The vultures are perhaps the ugliest of all birds. Most of them have
the head devoid of feathers, and they are thus enabled to bury this
member in their loathsome food without soiling their feathers. In
the air, owing to the magnificent ease with which they fly, they are
splendid objects. Their habit is to rise high above the earth and
hang motionless in the atmosphere on outstretched wings, or sail in
circles without any perceptible motion of the pinions. Vultures are
not the only raptorial birds that do this. Kites are almost equally
skilled. But kites are distinguished by having a fairly long tail,
that of vultures being short and wedge shaped. The sides of the wings
of the vultures are straight, and the wings stand out at right angles
to the body. In all species, except the scavenger vulture, the tips
of the wings are turned up as the birds float or sail in the air,
and the ends of the wings are much cut up, looking like fingers.

Perhaps the commonest vulture of the Himalayas is that very familiar
fowl--the small white scavenger vulture (_Neophron ginginianus_),
often called Pharaoh's chicken and other opprobrious names that I
will not mention. This bird eats everything that is filthy and unclean.
The natural consequence is that it looks untidy and disreputable.
It is, without exception, the ugliest bird in the world. It is about
the size of a kite. The plumage is a dirty white, except the edges
of the wing feathers, which are shabby black. The naked face is of
a pale mustard colour, as are the bill and legs. The feathers on the
back of the head project like the back hairs of an untidy schoolboy.
Its walk is an ungainly waddle. Nevertheless--so great is the magic
of wings--this bird, as it soars high above the earth, looks a noble
fowl; it then appears to be snow-white with black margins to the wings.

Another vulture frequently met with is the Indian white-backed
vulture (_Pseudogyps bengalensis_). The plumage of this species is
a very dark grey, almost black. The naked head is rather lighter than
the rest of the body. The lower back is white: this makes the bird
easy to identify when it is perched. It has some white in the wings,
and this, during flight, is visible as a very broad band that runs
from the body nearly to the tip of the wing. Thus the wing from below
appears to be white with broad black edges. During flight this species
may be distinguished from the last by the fingered tips of its wings,
by both edges of the wing being black and the body being dark instead
of white.

The third common vulture is the Himalayan griffon (_Gyps
himalayensis_). This is distinguishable from the two species already
described by having no white in the wings.

The lammergeyer or bearded vulture (_Gypætus barbatus_) is the king
of the vultures. Some ornithologists classify it with the eagles.
It is a connecting link between the two families. It is 4 feet in
length and is known to the hillmen as the Argul.

During flight it may be recognised by the whitish head and nape, the
pale brown lower plumage and the dark rounded tail.

Usually it keeps to rocky hills and mountains, over which it beats
with a steady, sailing, vulturine flight. Numerous stories are told
of its swooping down and carrying off young children, lambs, goats,
and other small animals. Those who will may believe these stories.
I do not. The lammergeyer is quite content to make a meal of offal,
old bones, or other refuse.


First and foremost of the Falconidæ are the eagles. Let me preface
what little I have to say about these birds with the remark that I
am unable to set forth any characteristics whereby a novice may
recognise an eagle when he sees one on the wing. The reader should
disabuse his mind of the idea he may have obtained from the writings
of the poets of the grandeur of the eagle. Eagles may be, and doubtless
often are, mistaken for kites. They are simply rather large falcons.
They are mostly coloured very like the kite.

All true eagles have the leg feathered to the toe. I give this method
of diagnosis for what it is worth, and that is, I fear, not very much,
because eagles as a rule do not willingly afford the observer an
opportunity of inspecting their tarsi.

The eagles most commonly seen in the Himalayas are the imperial eagle
(_Aquila helica_), the booted eagle (_Hieraëtus pennatus_),
Bonelli's eagle (_Hieraëtus fasciatus_), the changeable hawk-eagle
(_Spizaëtus limnaëtus_), and Hodgson's hawk-eagle (_Spizaëtus

The imperial eagle has perhaps the darkest plumage of all the eagles.
This species does not live up to its name. It feeds largely on carrion,
and probably never catches anything larger than a rat. The imperial
eagle is common about Mussoorie except in the rains. Captain Hutton
states that he has seen as many as fifty of them together in the month
of October when they reassemble after the monsoon.

The booted eagle has a very shrill call. Its lower parts are pale
in hue.

Bonelli's eagle is fairly common both at Naini Tal and Mussoorie.
It is a fine bird, and has plenty of courage. It often stoops to fowls
and is destructive to game birds. It is of slighter build than the
two eagles above described. Its lower parts are white.

The changeable hawk-eagle is also a fine bird. It is very addicted
to peafowl. The hillmen call it the _Mohrhaita_, which, being
interpreted, is the peacock-killer. It utters a loud cry, which
Thompson renders _whee-whick_, _whee-whick_. This call is uttered
by the bird both when on the wing and at rest. Another cry of this
species has been syllabised _toot_, _toot_, _toot_, _toot-twee_.

Hodgson's hawk-eagle is also destructive to game. It emits a shrill
musical whistle which can sometimes be heard when the bird is so high
as to appear a mere speck against the sky. This species has a narrow

Allied to the true eagles are the serpent-eagles. In these the leg
is not feathered to the toe, so they may be said to form a link between
the true eagles and the falcons.

One species--the crested serpent-eagle (_Spilornis cheela_)--is
common in the Himalayas up to 8000 feet.

This eagle is perhaps the most handsome of the birds of prey. The
crest is large and imposing. The upper parts are dark brown, almost
black, with a purple or green gloss. The breast and under parts are
rich deep brown profusely dotted with white ocelli. On the tail and
wings are white bars. The wing bars are very conspicuous during flight.
The crested serpent-eagle flies with the wings held very far back,
so that it looks, as "Exile" says, like a large butterfly. When flying
it constantly utters its shrill, plaintive call composed of two short
sharp cries and three prolonged notes, the latter being in a slightly
higher key.

Of the remaining birds of prey perhaps only two can fairly be numbered
among the common birds of the Himalayas, and both of these are easy
to recognise. They are the kite and the kestrel.

The common pariah kite (_Milvus govinda_) is the most familiar
raptorial bird in India. Hundreds of kites dwell at every hill-station.
They spend the greater part of the day on the wing, either sailing
gracefully in circles high overhead or gliding on outstretched
pinions over mountain and valley, with head pointing downwards,
looking for the refuse on which they feed. To mistake a kite is
impossible. Throughout the day it makes the welkin ring with its
querulous _chee-hee-hee-hee-hee_. Some kites are larger than others,
consequently ornithologists, who are never so happy as when splitting
up species, have made a separate species of the larger race. This
latter is called _Milvus melanotis_, the large Indian kite. It is
common in the hills.

The kestrel (_Tinnunculus alaudarius_) is perhaps the easiest of all
the birds of prey to identify. It is a greyish fowl with dull brick-red
wings and shoulders. Its flight is very distinctive. It flaps the
wings more rapidly than do most of its kind. While beating over the
country it checks its flight now and again and hovers on rapidly
vibrating wings. It does this when it fancies it has seen a mouse,
lizard, or other living thing moving on the ground below. If its
surmise proves correct, it drops from above and thus takes its quarry
completely by surprise. It is on account of this peculiar habit of
hovering in the air that the kestrel is often called the wind-hover
in England. Needless to say, the kestrel affects open tracts rather
than forest country. One of these birds is usually to be seen engaged
in its craft above the bare slope of the hill on which Mussoorie is
built. Other places where kestrels are always to be seen are the bare
hills round Almora. The nest of this species is usually placed on
an inaccessible crag.


The cooing community is not much in evidence in the hills. In the
Himalayas doves do not obtrude themselves upon our notice in the way
that they do in the plains.

The green-pigeon of the mountains is the kokla (_Sphenocercus
sphenurus_), so called on account of its melodious call, _kok-la_,
_kok-la_. In appearance it is very like the green-pigeon of the plains
and is equally difficult to distinguish from its leafy surroundings.
The bronze-winged dove (_Chalcophaps indica_) I have never observed
at any hill-station, but it is abundant in the lower ranges and in
the Terai. Every sportsman must be familiar with the bird. Its
magnificent bronzed metallic, green plumage renders its
identification easy. The commonest dove of the Himalayan
hill-stations is the Indian turtle-dove (_Turtur ferago_). Its
plumage is of that grey hue which is so characteristic of doves as
to be called dove-colour. The turtle-dove has a conspicuous patch
of black-and-white feathers on each side of the neck. The only other
dove seen in the hills with which it can be confounded is the little
brown dove (_T. cambayensis_). The latter is a much smaller bird,
and I have not observed it anywhere higher than 4500 feet above the

The spotted dove (_T. suratensis_) occurs in small numbers in most
parts of the Himalayas up to 7000 feet. It is distinguished by the
wing coverts being spotted with rufous and black.

The Indian ring-dove (_T. risorius_) also occurs in the Western
Himalayas. It is of a paler hue than the other doves and has no patch
of black-and-white feathers on the sides of the neck, but has a black
collar, with a narrow white border, round the back of the neck.

One other dove should perhaps be mentioned among the common birds
of the Himalayas, namely, the bar-tailed cuckoo-dove (_Macropygia
tusalia_). A dove with a long barred tail, of which the feathers are
graduated, the median ones being the longest, may be set down as this


The Himalayas are the home of many species of gallinaceous birds.
In the highest ranges the snow-cocks, the tragopans, the
blood-pheasant, and the glorious monaul or Impeyan pheasant abound.
The foothills are the happy hunting-grounds of the ancestral

As this book is written with the object of enabling persons staying
at the various hill-stations to identify the commoner birds, I do
not propose to describe the gallinaceous denizens of the higher ranges
or the foothills. In the ranges of moderate elevation, on which all
the hill-stations are situated, the kalij, the cheer, and the koklas
pheasants are common. Of these three the kalij is the only one likely
to be seen in the ordinary course of a walk. The others are not likely
to show themselves unless flushed by a dog.

The white-crested kalij-pheasant (_Gennæus albicristatus_) may
occasionally be seen in the vicinity of a village.

The bird does not come up to the Englishman's ideal of a pheasant.
The bushy tail causes it to look rather like a product of the farmyard.
The cock is over two feet in length, the hen is five inches shorter.
The plumage of the former is dark brown, tinged with blue, each feather
having a pale margin. The rump is white with broad black bars. The
hen is uniformly brown, each feather having a narrow buff margin.
Both sexes rejoice in a long backwardly-directed crest and a patch
of bare crimson skin round each eye. The tail is much shorter and
more bushy than that of the English pheasant. The crest is white in
the cock and reddish yellow in the hen. Baldwin describes the call
of this pheasant as "a sharp _twut_, _twut_, _twut_. Sometimes very
low, with a pause between each note, then suddenly increasing loudly
and excitedly."

The kalij usually affords rather poor sport.

The koklas pheasant (_Pucrasia macrolopha_) is another short-tailed
species; but it is more game-like in appearance than the kalij and
provides better sport.

It may be distinguished from the kalij by its not having the red patch
of skin round the eye. The cock of this species has a curious crest,
the middle portion of which is short and of a fawn colour; on each
side of this is a long lateral tuft coloured black with a green gloss.
The cry of this bird has been syllabised as _kok-kok-pokrass_.

In the cheer-pheasant (_Catreus wellichi_) both sexes have a long
crest, like that of the kalij, and a red patch of skin round the eye.
The tail of this species, however, is long and attenuated like that
of the English pheasant, measuring nearly two feet. Wilson says, of
the call of this bird: "Both males and females often crow at daybreak
and dusk and, in cloudy weather, sometimes during the day. The crow
is loud and singular, and, when there is nothing to interrupt, the
sound may be heard for at least a mile. It is something like the words
_chir-a-pir_, _chir-a-pir_, _chir-a-pir_, _chirwa_, _chirwa_, but
a good deal varied."

The grey quail (_Coturnix communis_) is a common bird of the Himalayas
during a few days only in the year. Large numbers of these birds rest
in the fields of ripening grain in the course of their long migratory
flight. Almost as regularly as clockwork do they appear in the Western
Himalayas early in October on their way south, and again in April
on their northward journey. By walking through the terraced fields
at those times with a gun, considerable bags of quail can be secured.
These birds migrate at night. Writing of them, Hume said: "One
moonlight night about the third week in April, standing at the top
of Benog, a few miles from Mussoorie, a dense cloud many hundred yards
in length and fifty yards, I suppose, in breadth of small birds swept
over me with the sound of a rushing wind. They were not, I believe,
twenty yards above the level of my head, and their quite unmistakable
call was uttered by several of those nearest me as they passed."

We must now consider the partridges that patronise the hills. The
species most commonly met with in the Himalayas is the chakor
(_Caccabis chucar_). In appearance this is very like the French or
red-legged partridge, to which it is related. Its prevailing hue is
pale reddish brown, the particular shade varying greatly with the
individual. The most striking features of this partridge are a black
band that runs across the forehead to the eyes and then down the sides
of the head round the throat, forming a gorget, and a number of black
bars on each flank. The favourite haunts of the chakor are bare grassy
hillsides on which a few terraced fields exist. Chakor are noisy birds.
The note most commonly heard is the double call from which their name
is taken.

The black partridge or common francolin (_Francolinus vulgaris_) is
abundant on the lower ranges of the Himalayas. At Mussoorie its
curious call is often heard. This is so high-pitched as to be inaudible
to some people. To those who can hear it, the call sounds like
_juk-juk-tee-tee-tur_. This species has the habit of feigning a
broken wing when an enemy approaches its young ones. The cock is a
very handsome bird. The prevailing hue of his plumage is black with
white spots on the flanks and narrow white bars on the back. The
feathers of the crown and wings are buff and dark brown. A chestnut
collar runs round the neck, while each side of the head is adorned
by a white patch. The whole plumage of the hen is coloured like the
wings of the cock.

The common hill-partridge (_Arboricola torqueola_) is a great
skulker. He haunts dark densely jungled water-courses and ravines,
and so is not likely to be seen about a hill-station; we will therefore
pass him over without description.


In conclusion mention must be made of the woodcock (_Scolopax
rusticola_). This species, although it breeds throughout the
Himalayas, usually remains during the summer at altitudes above those
at which hill-stations are situate. The lowest height at which its
nest has been found is, I believe, 9500 feet.


The majority of the birds which are common in the Eastern Himalayas
are also abundant in the western part of the range, and have in
consequence been described already. In order to avoid repetition this
chapter has been put into the form of a list. The list that follows
includes all the birds likely to be seen daily by those who in summer
visit Darjeeling and other hill-stations east of Nepal.

Of the birds which find place in the list only those are described
which have not been mentioned in the essay on the common birds of
the Western Himalayas.

Short accounts of all the birds that follow which are not described
in this chapter are to be found in the previous one.


1. _Corvus macrorhynchus_. The jungle-crow or Indian corby.

2. _Dendrocitta himalayensis_. The Himalayan tree-pie. Abundant.

3. _Graculus eremita_. The red-billed chough. In summer this species
is not usually found much below elevations of 11,000 feet above the

4. _Pyrrhocorax alpinus_. The yellow-billed chough. In summer this
species is not usually seen at elevations below 11,000 feet.

5. _Garrulus bispecularis_. The Himalayan jay. Not so abundant as
in the Western Himalayas.

6. _Parus monticola_. The green-backed tit. A common bird. Very
abundant round about Darjeeling.

7. _Machlolophus spilonotus_. The black-spotted yellow tit. This is
very like _M. xanthogenys_ (the yellow-cheeked tit), which it
replaces in the Eastern Himalayas. It is distinguished by having the
forehead bright yellow instead of black as in the yellow-cheeked
species. It is not very common.

8. _Ægithaliscus erythrocephalus_. The red-headed tit. Very common
at Darjeeling.

9. _Parus atriceps_. The Indian grey tit.


Since most species of babblers are notoriously birds of limited
distribution, it is not surprising that the kinds common in the
Eastern Himalayas should not be the same as those that are abundant
west of Nepal.

10. _Garrulax leucolophus_. The Himalayan white-crested
laughing-thrush. This is the Eastern counterpart of the
white-throated laughing-thrush (_Garrulax albigularis_). This
species has a large white crest. It goes about in flocks of about
a score. The members of the flock scream and chatter and make
discordant sounds which some might deem to resemble laughter.

11. _Ianthocincla ocellata_. The white-spotted laughing-thrush.
This is the Eastern counterpart of _Ianthocincla rufigularis_. It
has no white in the throat, and the upper plumage is spotted with
white. It is found only at high elevations in summer.

12. _Trochalopterum chrysopterum_. The eastern yellow-winged
laughing-thrush. This is perhaps the most common bird about
Darjeeling. Parties hop about the roads picking up unconsidered

The forehead is grey, as is much of the remaining plumage. The back
of the head is bright chestnut. The throat is chestnut-brown. The
wings are chestnut and bright yellow.

13. _Trochalopterum squamatum_. The blue-winged laughing-thrush.
This is another common bird. Like all its clan it goes about in flocks.
Its wings are chestnut and blue.

14. _Grammatophila striata_. The striated laughing-thrush. A common
bird, but as it keeps to dense foliage it is heard more often than
seen. Of its curious cries Jerdon likens one to the clucking of a
hen which has just laid an egg. The tail is chestnut. The rest of
the plumage is umber brown, but every feather has a white streak along
the middle. These white streaks give the bird the striated appearance
from which it obtains its name.

15. _Pomatorhinus erythrogenys_. The rusty-cheeked

16. _Pomatorhinus schisticeps_. The slaty-headed scimitar-babbler.
This is easily distinguished from the foregoing species by its
conspicuous white eyebrow.

17. _Alcippe nepalensis_. The Nepal babbler or quaker-thrush. This
is a bird smaller than a sparrow. As its popular name indicates, it
is clothed in homely brown; but it has a conspicuous ring of white
feathers round the eye and a black line on each side of the head,
beginning from the eye. It is very common about Darjeeling. It feeds
in trees and bushes, often descending to the ground. It utters a low
twittering call.

18. _Stachyrhis nigriceps_. The black-throated babbler or
wren-babbler. This is another small bird. Its general hue is olive
brown. The throat is black, as is the head, but the latter has white

It is common about Darjeeling and goes about in flocks that keep to

19. _Stachyrhidopsis ruficeps_. The red-headed babbler or
wren-babbler. Another small bird with habits similar to the last.

An olive-brown bird with a chestnut-red cap. The lower parts are
reddish yellow.

20. _Myiophoneus temmincki_. The Himalayan whistling-thrush. Common
at Darjeeling.

21. _Lioptila capistrata_. The black-headed sibia, one of the most
abundant birds about Darjeeling.

22. _Actinodura egertoni_. The rufous bar-wing. A bird about the size
of a bulbul. It associates in small flocks which never leave the trees.
Common about Darjeeling. A reddish brown bird, with a crest. There
is a black bar in the wing.

23. _Zosterops palpebrosa_. The Indian white-eye.

24. _Siva cyanuroptera_. The blue-winged siva or hill-tit. A pretty
little bird, about the size of a sparrow. The head is blue, deeper
on the sides than on the crown, streaked with brown. The visible
portions of the closed wing and tail are cobalt-blue.

This species goes about in flocks and has all the habits of a tit.
It utters a cheerful chirrup.

25. _Liothrix lutea_. The red-billed liothrix or hill-tit, or the
Pekin-robin. This interesting bird forms the subject of a separate

26. _Ixulus flavicollis_. The yellow-naped ixulus. A small tit-like
bird with a crest. Like tits these birds associate in small flocks,
which move about amid the foliage uttering a continual twittering.

Brown above, pale yellow below. Chin and throat white. Back of neck
rusty yellow. This colour is continued in a demi-collar round the
sides of the neck. Common about Darjeeling.

27. _Yuhina gularis_. The striped-throated yuhina. Another tiny bird
with all the habits of the tits. A flock of dull-brown birds, about
the size of sparrows, having the chin and throat streaked with black,
are likely to be striped-throated yuhinas.

28. _Minla igneitincta_. The red-tailed minla or hill-tit. This
tit-like babbler is often seen in company with the true tits, which
it resembles in habits and size. The head is black with a white eyebrow.
The wings and tail are black and crimson. The rest of the upper plumage
is yellowish olive. The throat is white, and the remainder of the
lower plumage is bright yellow.


Tits are small birds, smaller than sparrows, which usually go about
in flocks. They spend most of their lives in trees. In seeking for
insects, on which they feed largely, they often hang upside down from
a branch. All tits have these habits; but all birds of these habits
are not tits. Thus the following of the babblers described above have
all the habits of tits: the white-eye, the black-throated babbler,
the red-headed babbler, the blue-winged siva, the yellow-naped
ixulus, the striped-throated yuhina, and the red-tailed minla.

The above are all birds of distinctive colouring and may be easily

Other small birds which are neither tits nor babblers go about in
flocks, as, for example, nuthatches, but these other birds differ
in shape and habits from babblers and tits, so that no one is likely
to confound them with the smaller Corvidæ or Crateropodidæ.

29. _Molpastes leucogenys_. The white-cheeked bulbul. Common below
elevations of 5000 feet.

30. _Hypsipetes psaroides_. The Himalayan black bulbul. Not very

31. _Alcurus striatus_. The striated green bulbul. Upper plumage
olive-green with yellow streaks. Cheeks dark brown, streaked with
pale yellow. Chin and throat yellow, with dark spots on throat. Patch
under tail bright yellow.

Striated green bulbuls go about in flocks which keep to the tops of
trees. They utter a mellow warbling note. They are abundant about


32. _Sitta himalayensis_. Very abundant in the neighbourhood of


33. _Dicrurus longicaudatus_. The Indian Ashy Drongo.


34. _Certhia discolor_. The Sikhim tree-creeper. This species
displaces the Himalayan tree-creeper in the Eastern Himalayas. The
two species are similar in appearance.

35. _Pneopyga squamata_. The scaly-breasted wren. In shape and size
this is very like the wren of England, but its upper plumage is not
barred with black, as in the English species.

It is fairly common about Darjeeling, but is of retiring habits.


36. _Abrornis superciliaris_. The yellow-bellied

A tiny bird about the size of a wren. The head is grey and the remainder
of the upper plumage brownish yellow. The eyebrow is white, as are
the chin, throat, and upper breast: the remainder of the lower plumage
is bright yellow.

37. _Suya atrigularis_. The black-throated hill-warbler. The upper
plumage is olive brown, darkest on the head. The chin, throat, breast,
and upper abdomen are black.


38. _Lanius tephronotus_. The grey-backed shrike.

39. _Pericrocotus brevirostris_. The short-billed minivet. Very
common about Darjeeling.

40. _Campophaga melanoschista_. The dark-grey cuckoo-shrike.

Plumage is dark grey, wings black, tail black tipped with white.
Rather larger than a bulbul. Cuckoo-shrikes keep to trees, and rarely,
if ever, descend to the ground.


Of the common flycatchers of the Western Himalayas, the following
occur in the Eastern Himalayas:

41. _Stoparola melanops_. The verditer flycatcher. Very common at

42. _Cyornis superciliaris_. The white-browed blue-flycatcher.

43. _Alseonax latirostris_. The brown flycatcher. Not very common.

44. _Niltava sundara_. The rufous-bellied niltava. Very abundant at
Darjeeling. In addition to the rufous-bellied niltava, two other
niltavas occur in the Eastern Himalayas.

45. _Niltava grandis_. The large niltava. This may be readily
distinguished on account of its comparatively large size. It is as
large as a bulbul. It is very common about Darjeeling.

46. _Niltava macgrigoriæ_. The small niltava. This is considerably
smaller than a sparrow and does not occur above 5000 feet.

47. _Terpsiphone affinis_. The Burmese paradise flycatcher. This
replaces the Indian species in the Eastern Himalayas, but it is not
found so high up as Darjeeling, being confined to the lower ranges.

The other flycatchers commonly seen in the Eastern Himalayas are:

48. _Rhipidura allicollis_. The white-throated fantail flycatcher.
This beautiful bird is abundant in the vicinity of Darjeeling. It
is a black bird, with a white eyebrow, a whitish throat, and white
tips to the outer tail feathers. It is easily recognised by its
cheerful song and the way in which it pirouettes among the foliage
and spreads its tail into a fan.

49. _Hemichelidon sibirica_. The sooty flycatcher. This is a tiny
bird of dull brown hue which, as Jerdon says, has very much the aspect
of a swallow.

50. _Hemichelidon ferruginea_. The ferruginous flycatcher. A
rusty-brown bird (the rusty hue being most pronounced in the rump
and tail) with a white throat.

51. _Cyornis rubeculoides_. The blue-throated flycatcher. The cock
is a blue bird with a red breast. There is some black on the cheeks
and in the wings.

The hen is a brown bird tinged with red on the breast. This species,
which is smaller than a sparrow, keeps mainly to the lower branches
of trees.

52. _Anthipes moniliger_. Hodgson's white-gorgeted flycatcher. A
small reddish-brown bird with a white chin and throat surrounded by
a black band, that sits on a low branch and makes occasional sallies
into the air after insects, can be none other than this flycatcher.

53. _Siphia strophiata_. The orange-gorgeted flycatcher. A small
brown bird with an oval patch of bright chestnut on the throat, and
some white at the base of the tail. (This white is very conspicuous
when the bird is flying.) This flycatcher, which is very common about
Darjeeling, often alights on the ground.

54. _Cyornis melanoleucus_. The little pied flycatcher. A very small
bird. The upper plumage of the cock is black with a white eyebrow
and some white in the wings and tail. The lower parts are white. The
hen is an olive-brown bird with a distinct red tinge on the lower
back. This flycatcher is not very common.


55. _Oreicola ferrea_. The dark-grey bush-chat. Not so abundant in
the Eastern as in the Western Himalayas.

56. _Henicurus maculatus_. The Western spotted forktail.

57. _Microcichla scouleri_. The little forktail. This is
distinguishable from the foregoing by its very short tail. It does
not occur commonly at elevations over 5000 feet.

58. _Rhyacornis fuliginosus_. The plumbeous redstart or water-robin.
Not common above 5000 feet in the Eastern Himalayas.

59. _Merula boulboul_. The grey-winged ouzel.

60. _Petrophila cinclorhyncha_. The blue-headed rock-thrush.

61. _Oreocincla molissima_. The plain-backed mountain-thrush. This
is the thrush most likely to be seen in the Eastern Himalayas. It
is like the European thrush, except that the back is olive brown
without any dark markings.


62. _Hæmatospiza sipahi_. The scarlet finch. The cock is a scarlet
bird, nearly as large as a bulbul, with black on the thighs and in
the wings and tail.

The hen is dusky brown with a bright yellow rump. This species has
a massive beak.

63. _Passer montanus_. The tree-sparrow. This is the only sparrow
found at Darjeeling. It has the habits of the house-sparrow. The sexes
are alike in appearance. The head is chestnut and the cheeks are white.
There is a black patch under the eye, and the chin and throat are
black. The remainder of the plumage is very like that of the


64. _Hirundo rustica_. The common swallow.

65. _Hirundo nepalensis_. Hodgson's striated swallow.


66. _Oreocorys sylvanus_. The upland pipit. This is not very common
east of Nepal.


67. _Æthopyga nepalensis_. The Nepal yellow-backed sunbird. This
replaces _Æthopyga scheriæ_ in the Eastern Himalayas, and is
distinguished by having the chin and upper throat metallic green
instead of crimson. It is the common sunbird about Darjeeling.


68. _Dicæum ignipectus_. The fire-breasted flower-pecker.


69. Of the woodpeckers mentioned as common in the Western Himalayas,
the only one likely to be seen at Darjeeling is _Hypopicus
hypererythrus_--the rufous-bellied pied woodpecker, and this is by
no means common. The woodpeckers most often seen in the Eastern
Himalayas are:

70. _Dendrocopus cathpharius_. The lesser pied woodpecker. A
speckled black-and-white woodpecker about the size of a bulbul. The
top of the head and the sides of the neck are red in both sexes; the
nape also is red in the cock.

71. _Gecinus occipitalis_. The black-naped green woodpecker. This
bird, as its name implies, is green with a black nape. The head is
red in the cock and black in the hen. This species is about the size
of a crow.

72. _Gecinus chlorolophus_. The small Himalayan yellow-naped
woodpecker. This species is distinguishable from the last by its small
size, a crimson band on each side of the head, and the nape being
golden yellow.

73. _Pyrrhopicus pyrrhotis_. The red-eared bay woodpecker. The head
is brown. The rest of the upper plumage is cinnamon or chestnut-red
with blackish cross-bars. There is a crimson patch behind each ear,
which forms a semi-collar in the male. This species seeks its food
largely on the ground.

In addition to the above, two tiny little woodpeckers much smaller
than sparrows are common in the Eastern Himalayas. They feed on the
ground largely. They are:

74. _Picumnus innominatus_. The speckled piculet.

75. _Sasia ochracea_. The rufous piculet. The former has an
olive-green forehead. In the latter the cock has a golden-yellow
forehead and the hen a reddish-brown forehead.


76. _Megalæma marshallorum_. The great Himalayan barbet.

77. _Cyanops franklini_. The golden-throated barbet. About the size
of a bulbul. General hue grass green tinged with blue. The chin and
throat are golden yellow. The forehead and a patch on the crown are
crimson. The rest of the crown is golden yellow. The call has been
syllabised as _kattak-kattak-kattak_.


78. _Ceryle lugubris_. The Himalayan pied kingfisher.


Hornbills are to be numbered among the curiosities of nature. They
are characterised by the disproportionately large beak. In some
species this is nearly a foot in length. The beak has on the upper
mandible an excrescence which in some species is nearly as large as
the bill itself. The nesting habits are not less curious than the
structure of hornbills. The eggs are laid in a cavity of a tree. The
hen alone sits. When she has entered the hole she and the cock plaster
up the orifice until it is only just large enough to allow the
insertion of the hornbill's beak. The cock feeds the sitting hen
during the whole period of her voluntary incarceration.

Several species of hornbills dwell in the forests at the foot of the
Himalayas, but only one species is likely to be found at elevations
above 5000 feet. This is the rufous-necked hornbill.

79. _Aceros nepalensis_. The rufous-necked hornbill. In this species
the casque or excrescence on the upper mandible is very slight. It
is a large bird 4 feet long, with a tail of 18 inches and a beak of
8½ inches. The hen is wholly black, save for a little white in the
wings and tail. In the cock the head, neck, and lower parts are bright
reddish brown. The rest of his plumage is black and white. In both
sexes the bill is yellow with chestnut grooves. The naked skin round
the eye is blue, and that of the throat is scarlet. The call of this
species is a deep hoarse croak.


80. _Cypselus affinis_. The common Indian swift.

81. _Chætura nudipes_. The white-necked spine-tail. A black bird
glossed with green, having the chin, throat, and front and sides of
the neck white.


82. _Cuculus canorus_. The common or European cuckoo.

83. _Cuculus saturatus_. The Himalayan cuckoo.

84. _Cuculus poliocephalus_. The small cuckoo. This is very like the
common cuckoo in appearance, but it is considerably smaller. Its loud
unmusical call has been syllabised _pichu-giapo_.

85. _Cuculus micropterus_. The Indian cuckoo.

86. _Hierococcyx varius_. The common hawk-cuckoo.

87. _Hierococcyx sparverioides_. The large hawk-cuckoo.


88. _Palæornis schisticeps_. The slaty-headed paroquet. This bird
is not nearly so common in the Eastern as in the Western Himalayas.


89. _Glaucidium brodei_. The collared pigmy owlet.

90. _Syrnium indrani_. The brown wood-owl.

91. _Scops spilocephalus_. The spotted Himalayan scops owl.


92. _Gyps himalayensis_. The Himalayan griffon.

93. _Pseudogyps bengalensis_. The white-backed vulture.


94. _Aquila helica_. The imperial eagle.

95. _Hieraëtus fasciatus_. Bonelli's eagle.

96. _Ictinaëtus malayensis_. The black eagle. This is easily
recognised by its dark, almost black, plumage.

97. _Spilornis cheela_. The crested serpent eagle.

98. _Milvus govinda_. The common pariah kite.

99. _Tinnunculus alaudaris_. The kestrel.


100. _Sphenocercus sphenurus_. The kokla green-pigeon.

101. _Turtur suratensis_. The spotted dove.

102. _Macropygia tusalia_. The bar-tailed cuckoo-dove.


103. _Gennæus leucomelanus_. The Nepal kalij pheasant. This is the
only pheasant at all common about Darjeeling. It is distinguished
from the white-crested kalij pheasant by the cock having a glossy
blue-black crest. The hens of the two species resemble one another
closely in appearance.

104. _Coturnix communis_. The grey quail.

105. _Arboricola torqueola_. The common hill partridge.

106. _Francolinus vulgaris_. The black partridge. Fairly common at
elevations below 4000 feet.


107. _Scolopax rusticola_. The woodcock.

In the summer this bird is not likely to be seen below altitudes of
8000 feet above the sea-level.


The average Himalayan house is such a ramshackle affair that it is
a miracle how it holds together. The roof does not fit properly on
to the walls, and in these latter there are cracks and chinks galore.
Perhaps it is due to these defects that hill houses do not fall down
more often than they do.

Thanks to their numerous cracks they do not offer half the resistance
to a gale of wind that a well-built house would.

Be this as it may, the style of architecture that finds favour in
the hills is quite a godsend to the birds, or rather to such of the
feathered folk as nestle in holes. A house in the Himalayas is, from
an avian point of view, a maze of nesting sites, a hotel in which
unfurnished rooms are always available.

The sparrow usually monopolises these nesting sites. He is a regular
dog-in-the-manger, for he keeps other birds out of the holes he
himself cannot utilise. However, the sparrow is not quite ubiquitous.
In most large hill stations there are more houses than he is able
to monopolise.

I recently spent a couple of days in one of such, in a house situated
some distance from the bazaar, a house surrounded by trees.

Two green-backed tits (_Parus monticola_) were busy preparing a
nursery for their prospective offspring in one of the many holes
presented by the building in question. This had once been a
respectable bungalow, surrounded by a broad verandah. But the day
came when it fell into the hands of a boarding-house keeper, and it
shared the fate of all buildings to which this happens. The verandahs
were enclosed and divided up by partitions, to form, in the words
of the advertisement, "fine, large, airy rooms." There can be no doubt
as to their airiness, but captious persons might dispute their title
to the other epithets. A _kachcha_ verandah had been thrown out with
a galvanised iron roof and wooden supporting pillars. The
subsequently-added roof did not fit properly on to that of the
original verandah, and there was a considerable chink between the
beam that supported it and the wall that enclosed the old verandah,
so that the house afforded endless nesting sites. An inch-wide crack
is quite large enough to admit of the passage of a tit; when this
was negotiated the space between the old and the new roof afforded
endless possibilities. Small wonder, then, that a pair of tits had
elected to nest there.

The green-backed tit is one of the most abundant birds in the Himalayas.
It is about the size of a sparrow. The head is black with a small
perky crest. The cheeks are spotless white. The back of the head is
connected by a narrow black collar with an expansive shirtfront of
this hue. The remainder of the plumage is bright yellow. The back
is greenish yellow, the rest of the plumage is slaty with some dashes
of black and white. Thus the green-backed tit is a smart little bird.
It is as vivacious as it is smart. It constantly utters a sharp, not
unpleasant, metallic dissyllabic call, which sounds like _kiss me_,
_kiss me_, _kiss me_, _kiss me_. This is one of the most familiar
of the tunes that enliven our northern hill stations.

So much for the bird: now for its nest. A nest in a hole possesses
many advantages. Its preparation does not entail very much labour.
It has not to be built; it merely needs furnishing, and this does
not occupy long if the occupiers have Spartan tastes. The tits in
question were luxuriously inclined, if we may judge by the amount
of moss that they carried into that hole. By the time it was finished
it must have been considerably softer than the bed that was provided
for my accommodation!

Moss in plenty was to be had for the taking; the trunks and larger
branches of the trees which surrounded the "hotel" were covered with
soft green moss. The tits experienced no difficulty in ripping this
off with the beak.

The entrance to the nest hole faced downwards and was guarded on one
side by the wall of the house, and on the other by a beam, so that
it was not altogether easy of access even to a bird. Consequently
a good deal of the moss gathered by the tits did not reach its
destination; they let it fall while they were negotiating the

When a piece of moss dropped from the bird's beak, no attempt was
made to retrieve it, although it only fell some 10 feet on to the
floor of the verandah. In this respect all birds behave alike. They
never attempt to reclaim that which they have let fall. A bird will
spend the greater part of half an hour in wrenching a twig from a
tree: yet, if this is dropped while being carried to the nest, the
bird seems to lose all further interest in it.

By the end of the first day's work at the nest, the pair of tits had
left quite a respectable collection of moss on the floor. This was
swept away next morning. On the second day much less was dropped;
practice had taught the tits how best to enter the nest hole.

It will be noticed that I speak of "tits." I believe I am correct
in so doing; I think that both cock and hen work at the nest. I cannot
say for certain, for I am not able to distinguish a lady- from a
gentleman-tit. I never saw them together at the nest, but I noticed
that the bird bringing material to it sometimes flew direct from a
tree and at others alighted on the projecting end of a roof beam which
the carpenters had been too lazy to saw off. It is my belief that
the bird that used to alight on the beam was not the same as the one
that flew direct from the tree. Birds are creatures of habit. If you
observe a mother bird feeding her young, you will notice that she,
when not disturbed, almost invariably approaches the nest in a certain
fixed manner. She will perch, time after time, on one particular
branch near the nest, and thence fly to her open-mouthed brood. When
both parents bring food to the nest, each approaches in a way peculiar
to itself; the hen will perhaps always come in from the left and the
cock from the right.

The tits in question worked spasmodically at the nest throughout the
hours of daylight. For ten minutes or so they would bring in piece
after piece of moss at a great pace and then indulge in a little
relaxation. All work and no play makes a tit a dull bird.

I had to leave the hotel late on the second day, so was not able to
follow up the fortunes of the two little birds. I have, however, to
thank them for affording me some amusement and giving me pleasant
recollections of the place. It was good to lounge in a long chair,
drink in the cool air, and watch the little birds at work. I shall
soon forget the tumble-down appearance of the house, its seedy
furniture, its coarse durries, and its hard beds, but shall long
remember the great snow-capped peaks in the distance, the green
moss-clad trees near about, the birds that sang in these, the sunbeams
that played among the leaves, and, above all, the two little tits
that worked so industriously at their nest.


This is not a robin, nor does it seem to be nearly related to the
familiar redbreast; Pekin- or China-robin is merely the name the
dealers give it, because a great many specimens are imported from
China. Its classical name is _Liothrix lutea_. Oates calls it the
red-billed liothrix. It is a bird about the size of a sparrow. The
prevailing hue of the upper plumage is olive green, but the forehead
is yellow. There is also a yellow ring round the eye, and the lower
parts are of varying shades of this colour. Some of the wing feathers
are edged with yellow and some with crimson, so that the wings, when
closed, look as though lines of these colours are pencilled upon them.
Oates, I notice, states that the hen has no red in the wing, but this
does not seem to be the case in all examples. In the Pekin-robins
that hail from China the chief difference between the sexes is that
the plumage of the hen is a little duller than that of the cock. The
bill is bright red. It is thus evident that the _liothrix_ is a
handsome bird, its beauty being of the quiet type which bears close
inspection. But the very great charm of this sprightly little creature
lies, not so much in its colouring, as in its form and movements.
Its perfect proportions give it a very athletic air. In this respect
it resembles the nimble wagtails. Next to these I like the appearance
of the Pekin-robin better than that of any other little bird. Finn
bestows even greater praise upon it, for he says: "Altogether it is
the most generally attractive small bird I know of--everyone seems
to admire it."

There is no bird more full of life. When kept in a cage, Pekin-robins
hop from perch to perch with extraordinary agility, seeming scarcely
to have touched one perch with their feet before they are off to
another. I am inclined to think that the _liothrix_, like Camilla,
Queen of the Volscians, could trip across a field of corn without
causing the blades to move. This truly admirable bird is a songster
of no mean capacity. Small wonder, then, that it has long been a
favourite with fanciers. Moreover, it stands captivity remarkably
well. It is the only insectivorous bird which is largely exported
from India. So hardy is it that Finn attempted to introduce it into
England, and with this object set free a number of specimens in St.
James's Park some years ago, but they did not succeed in establishing
themselves, although some individuals survived for several months.
The English climate is to Asiatic birds much what that of the West
Coast of Africa is to white men. J. K. Jerome once suggested that
Life Insurance Companies should abolish the application form with
its long list of queries concerning the ailments of the would-be
insurer, his parents, grandparents, and other relatives, and
substitute for it the German cigar test. If, said he, the applicant
can come up smiling immediately after having smoked a German cigar,
the Company could be certain that he was "a good life," to use the
technical term. As regards birds, the survival of an English winter
is an equally efficient test. The Pekin-robin is a very intelligent
little bird. Finn found that it was not deceived by the resemblance
between an edible and an unpalatable Indian swallow-tailed butterfly,
although the sharp king-crow was deceived by the likeness.

Those Anglo-Indians who wish to make the acquaintance of the bird
must either resort to some fancier's shop, or hie themselves to the
cool heights of Mussoorie, or, better still, of Darjeeling, where
the _liothrix_ is exceptionally abundant. But even at Darjeeling the
Pekin-robin will have to be looked for carefully, for it is of shy
and retiring habits, and a small bird of such a disposition is apt
to elude observation. In one respect the plains (let us give even
the devil his due) are superior to the hills. The naturalist usually
experiences little difficulty in observing birds in the
sparsely-wooded flat country, but in the tree-covered mountains the
feathered folk often require to be stalked. If you would see the
Pekin-robin in a state of nature, go to some clearing in the Himalayan
forest, where the cool breezes blow upon you direct from the snows,
whence you can see the most beautiful sight in the world, that of
snow-capped mountains standing forth against an azure sky. Tear your
eyes away from the white peaks and direct them to the low bushes and
trees which are springing up in the clearing, for in this you are
likely to meet with a small flock of Pekin-robins. You will probably
hear them before you see them. The sound to listen for is well
described by Finn as "a peculiar five-noted call,
_tee-tee-tee-tee-tee_." As has been stated already, most, if not all,
birds that go about in flocks in wooded country continually utter
a call note, as it is by this means that the members of the flock
keep together. Jerdon states that the food of the _liothrix_ consists
of "berries, fruit, seeds, and insects." He should, I think, have
reversed the order of the bird's menu, for it comes of an insectivorous
family--the babblers--and undoubtedly is very partial to insects--so
much so that Finn suggests its introduction into St. Helena to keep
them down. At the nesting season, in the early spring, the flock breaks
up into pairs, which take upon themselves what Mr. E. D. Cuming calls
"brow-wrinkling family responsibilities," and each pair builds in
a low bush a cup-shaped nest.


All passerine birds which have hairs springing from the back of the
head, and of which the tarsus--the lower half of the leg--is shorter
than the middle toe, plus its claw, are classified by scientific men
as members of the sub-family Brachypodinæ, or Bulbuls. This
classification, although doubtless unassailable from the standpoint
of the anatomist, has the effect of bringing together some creatures
which can scarcely be described as "birds of a feather." The typical
bulbul, as exemplified by the common species of the plains--Molpastes
and Otocompsa--is a dear, meek, unsophisticated little bird, the kind
of creature held up in copy-books as an example to youth, a veritable
"Captain Desmond, V.C." Bulbuls of the nobler sort pair for life,
and the harmony of their conjugal existence is rarely marred by
quarrels; they behave after marriage as they did in the days of
courtship: they love to sit on a leafy bough, close up against one
another, and express their mutual admiration and affection by means
of a cheery, if rather feeble, lay. They build a model nest in which
prettily-coloured eggs are deposited. These they make but little
attempt to conceal, for they are birds without guile. But, alas, their
artlessness often results in a rascally lizard or squirrel eating
the eggs for his breakfast. When their eggs are put to this base use,
the bulbuls, to quote "Eha," are "sorry," but their grief is
short-lived. Within a few hours of the tragedy they are twittering
gaily to one another, and in a wonderfully short space of time a new
clutch of eggs replaces the old one. If this shares the fate of the
first set, some more are laid, so that eventually a family of bulbuls
hatches out.

Such is, in brief, the character of the great majority of bulbuls;
they present a fine example of rewarded virtue, for these amiable
little birds are very abundant; they flourish like the green bay tree.
As at least one pair is to be found in every Indian garden, they
exemplify the truth of the saying, the meek "shall inherit the earth,"
and give a new meaning to the expression, "the survival of the
fittest." There are, however, some bulbuls which are so unlike the
birds described above that the latter might reasonably deny
relationship to them as indignantly as some human beings decline to
acknowledge apes and monkeys as poor relations. As we have seen, most
bulbuls are inoffensive, respectable birds, that lead a quiet,
domesticated life. The cock and hen are so wrapped up in one another
as to pay little heed to the outer world. Not so the black bulbuls.
These are the antithesis of everything bulbuline. They are aggressive,
disreputable-looking creatures, who go about in disorderly, rowdy
gangs. The song of most bulbuls consists of many pleasant, blithe
tinkling notes; that of the black bulbul, or at any rate of the
Himalayan black bulbul, is scarcely as musical as the bray of the
ass. Most bulbuls are pretty birds and are most particular about their
personal appearance. Black bulbuls are as untidy as it is possible
for a bird to be. The two types of bulbul stand to one another in
much the same relationship as does the honest Breton peasant to the
inhabitant of the Quartier Latin in Paris.

Black bulbuls belong to the genus _Hypsipetes_. Three species occur
in India--the Himalayan (_H. psaroides_), the Burmese (_H.
concolor_), and the South Indian (_H. ganeesa_). All three species
resemble one another closely in appearance. Take a king-crow
(_Dicrurus ater_), dip his bill and legs in red ink, cut down his
tail a little, dust him all over so as to make his glossy black plumage
look grey and shabby, ruffle his feathers, apply a little _pomade
hongroise_ to the feathers on the back of his head, and make some
of them stick out to look like a dilapidated crest, and you may flatter
yourself that you have produced a very fair imitation of a black bulbul
as it appears when flitting about from one tree summit to another.
Closer inspection of the bird reveals the fact that "black" is
scarcely the right adjective to apply to it. Dark grey is the
prevailing hue of its plumage, with some black on the head and a
quantity of brown on the wings and tail.

The Himalayan species has a black cheek stripe, which the other forms
lack; but it is quite unnecessary to dilate upon these minute
differences. I trust I have said sufficient to enable any man, woman,
or suffragette to recognise a noisy black bulbul, and, as the
distribution of each species is well defined and does not overlap
that of the other species, the fact that a bird is found in any
particular place at once settles the question of its species. The
South Indian bird occurs only in Ceylon and the hills of South-west
India; hence Jerdon called this species the Nilgiri or Ghaut black
bulbul. Men of science in their wisdom have given the Himalayan bird
the sibilant name of _Hypsipetes psaroides_. The inelegance of the
appellation perhaps explains why the bird has been permitted to retain
it for quite a long while unchanged.

I have been charged with unnecessarily making fun of ornithological
nomenclature. As a matter of fact, I have dealt far too leniently
with the peccadillos of the ornithological systematist. Recently a
book was published in the United States entitled _The Birds of
Illinois and Wisconsin_. Needless to state that while the author was
writing the book, ornithological terminology underwent many changes;
but the author was able to keep pace with these and with those that
occurred while the various proofs were passing through the press.
It was after this that his real troubles began. Several changes took
place between the interval of the passing of the final proof and the
appearance of the book, so that the unfortunate author in his desire
to be up to date had to insert in each volume a slip to the effect
that the American Ornithologists' Union had in the course of the past
few days changed the name of no fewer than three genera; consequently
the genus Glaux had again become Cryptoglaux, and the genera Trochilus
and Coturniculus had become, respectively, Archilochus and
Ammodramus! But we are wandering away from our black bulbuls. The
hillmen call the Himalayan species the _Ban Bakra_, which means the
jungle goat. Why it should be so named I have not an idea, unless
it be because the bird habitually "plays the goat!"

Black bulbuls seem never to descend to the ground; they keep almost
entirely to the tops of lofty trees and so occur only in well-wooded
parts of the hills. When the rhododendrons are in flower, these birds
partake very freely of the nectar enclosed within their crimson
calyces. Now, I am fully persuaded that the nectar of flowers is an
intoxicant to birds, and of course this will account, not only in
part for the rowdiness of the black bulbuls, but for the pugnacity
of those creatures, such as sunbirds, which habitually feed upon this
stimulating diet. Black bulbuls, like sunbirds, get well dusted with
pollen while diving into flowers after nectar, and so probably act
the part of insects as regards the cross-fertilisation of large
flowers. In respect of nesting habits, black bulbuls conform more
closely to the ways of their tribe than they do in other matters.
The nesting season is early spring. The nursery, which is built in
a tree, not in a bush, is a small cup composed largely of moss, dried
grass, and leaves, held together by being well smeared with cobweb.
The eggs have a pink background, much spotted with reddish purple.
They display a great lack of uniformity as regards both shape and


So great is the number of species of warbler which either visit India
every winter or remain always in the country, so small and
insignificant in appearance are these birds, so greatly do they
resemble one another, and so similar are their habits, that even the
expert ornithologist cannot identify the majority of them unless,
having the skin in one hand and a key to the warblers in the other,
he sets himself thinking strenuously. For these reasons I pay but
little attention to the warbler clan. Usually when I meet one of them,
I am content to set him down as a warbler and let him depart in peace.
But I make a few exceptions in the case of those that I may perhaps
call warblers of distinction--warblers that stand out from among
their fellows on account of their architectural skill, their peculiar
habits, or unusual colouring. The famous tailor-bird (_Orthotomus
sartorius_) is the best known of the warblers distinguished on account
of architectural skill. As a warbler of peculiar habits, I may cite
the ashy wren-warbler (_Prinia socialis_), which, as it flits about
among the bushes, makes a curious snapping noise, the cause of which
has not yet been satisfactorily determined. As warblers of unusual
colouring, the flycatcher-warblers are pre-eminent. In appearance
these resemble tits or white-eyes rather than the typical quaker-like

_Cryptolopha xanthoschista_ and Hodgson's grey-headed
flycatcher-warbler are the names that ornithologists have given to
a very small bird. But, diminutive though he be, he is heard, if not
seen, more often than any other bird in all parts of the Western
Himalayas. It is impossible for a human being to visit any station
between Naini Tal and Murree without remarking this warbler. It is
no exaggeration to state that the bird's voice is heard in every second
tree. Oates writes of the flycatcher-warblers, "they are not known
to have any song." This is true or the reverse, according to the
interpretation placed on the word "song." If song denotes only sweet
melodies such as those of the shama and the nightingale, then indeed
flycatcher-warblers are not singers. Nevertheless they incessantly
make a joyful noise. I can vouch for the fact that their lay is heard
all day long from March to October. Before attempting to describe
the familiar sound, I deem it prudent to recall to the mind of the
reader the notice that once appeared in a third-rate music-hall:--"The
audience are respectfully requested not to throw things at the pianist.
He is doing his best." To say that this warbler emits incessantly four
or five high-pitched, not very musical notes, is to give but a poor
rendering of his vocal efforts, but it is, I fear, the best I can do
for him. He is small, so that the volume of sound he emits is not
great, but it is penetrating. Even as the cheery lay of the _Otocompsa_
bulbuls forms the dominant note of the bird chorus in our southern hill
stations, so does the less melodious but not less cheerful call of the
flycatcher-warblers run as an undercurrent through the melody of the
feathered choir of the Himalayas.

In what follows I shall speak of Hodgson's grey-headed
flycatcher-warbler as our hero, because I shrink from constant
repetition of his double double-barrelled name. I should prefer to
give him Jerdon's name, the white-browed warbler, but for the fact
that there are a score or more other warblers with white eyebrows.
Our hero is considerably smaller than a sparrow, being only a fraction
over four inches in length, and of this over one-third is composed
of tail. The head and neck are grey, the former being set off by a
cream-coloured eyebrow. Along the middle of the head runs a band of
pale grey; this "mesial coronal band," as Oates calls it, is far more
distinct in some specimens than in others. The remainder of the upper
plumage is olive green, and the lower parts are bright yellow.
Coloured plate, No. XX, in Hume and Henderson's _Lahore to Yarkand_,
contains a very good reproduction of the bird. The upper picture on
the plate represents our hero, the lower one depicting an allied
species, Brook's grey-headed flycatcher-warbler (_C. Jerdoni_). It
is necessary to state this because the book in question was written
in 1873, since when, needless to say, the scientific names of most
birds have undergone changes. The plate in question also demonstrates
the slenderness of the foundation upon which specific differences
among warblers rest.

Our hero is an exceedingly active little bird. He is ever on the move,
and so rapid are his movements that to watch him for any length of
time through field-glasses is no mean feat. He and his mate, with
perhaps a few friends, hop about from leaf to leaf looking for quarry,
large and small. The manner in which he stows away a caterpillar an
inch long is a sight for the gods!

Sometimes two or three of these warblers attach themselves,
temporarily at any rate, to one of those flocks, composed mainly of
various species of tits and nuthatches, which form so well-marked
a feature of all wooded hills in India. Hodgson's warblers are
pugnacious little creatures. Squabbles are frequent. It is
impossible to watch two or three of them for long without seeing what
looks like one tiny animated golden fluff ball pursuing another from
branch to branch and even from tree to tree.

The breeding season lasts from March to June. The nest is globular
in shape, made of moss or coarse grass, and lined with some soft
material, such as wool. The entrance is usually at one side. The nest
is placed on a sloping bank at the foot of a bush, so that it is likely
to escape observation unless one sees the bird flying to it. Three
or four glossy white eggs are laid. Many years ago Colonel Marshall
recorded the case of a nest at Naini Tal "at the side of a narrow
glen with a northern aspect and about four feet above the pathway,
close to a spring from which my _bhisti_ daily draws water, the bird
sitting fearlessly while passed and repassed by people going down
the glen within a foot or two of the nest." At the same station I
recently had a very different experience. Some weeks ago I noticed
one of these warblers fly with a straw in its beak to a place on a
steep bank under a small bush. I could not see what it was doing there,
but in a few seconds it emerged with the bill empty. Shortly afterwards
it returned with another straw. Having seen several pieces of building
material carried to the spot, I descended the bank to try to find
the nest. I could find nothing; the nest was evidently only just
commenced. I then went back to the spot from which I had been watching
the birds, but they did not return again. I had frightened them away.
Individual birds of the same species sometimes differ considerably
in their behaviour at the nesting season. Some will desert the nest
on the slightest provocation, while others will cling to it in the
most quixotic manner. It is never safe to dogmatise regarding the
behaviour of birds. No sooner does an ornithologist lay down a law
than some bird proceeds to break it.


"Striking" is, in my opinion, the correct adjective to apply to the
spotted forktail (_Henicurus maculatus_). Like the paradise
flycatcher, it is a bird which cannot fail to obtrude itself upon
the most unobservant person, and, once seen, it is never likely to
be forgotten. I well remember the first occasion on which I saw a
spotted forktail; I was walking down a Himalayan path, alongside of
which a brook was flowing, when suddenly from a rock in mid-stream
there arose a black-and-white apparition, that flitted away,
displaying a long tail fluttering behind it. The plumage of this
magnificent bird has already been described.

As was stated above, this species is often called the hill-wagtail.
The name is not a particularly good one, because wagtails proper occur
in the Himalayas.

The forktail, however, has many of the habits of the true wagtail.
I was on the point of calling it a glorified wagtail, but I refrain.
Surely it is impossible to improve upon a wagtail.

In India forktails are confined to the Himalayas and the mountainous
parts of Burma.

There are no fewer than eight Indian species, but I propose to confine
myself to the spotted forktail. This is essentially a bird of mountain
streams. It is never found far from water, but occurs at all altitudes
up to the snow-line, so that, as Jerdon says, it is one of the
characteristic adjuncts of Himalayan scenery. Indeed I know of few
things more enjoyable than to sit, when the sun is shining, on the
bank of a well-shaded burn, and, soothed by the soft melody of running
water, watch the forktails moving nimbly over the boulders and stones
with fairy tread, half-flight half-hop.

Forktails continually wag the tail, just as wagtails do, but not with
quite the same vigour, possibly because there is so much more to wag!

Like wagtails, they do not object to their feet being wet, indeed
they love to stand in running water.

Forktails often seek their quarry among the dead leaves that become
collected in the various angles in the bed of the stream; when so
doing they pick up each leaf, turn it over, and cast it aside just
as the seven sisters do. They seem to like to work upstream when
seeking for food. Jerdon states that he does not remember ever having
seen a forktail perch; nevertheless the bird frequently flies on to
a branch overhanging the brook, and rests there, slowly vibrating
its forked tail as if in deep meditation.

Spotted forktails are often seen near the places where the _dhobis_
wash clothes by banging them violently against rocks, hence the name
dhobi-birds, by which they are called by many Europeans. The little
forktail does not haunt the washerman's _ghat_ for the sake of human
companionship, for it is a bird that usually avoids man. The
explanation is probably that the shallow pool in which the _dhobi_
works and grunts is well adapted to the feeding habits of the forktail.
I may here remark that in the Himalayas the washerman usually pursues
his occupation in a pool in a mountain stream overhung with oaks and
rhododendron trees, amid scenery that would annually attract
thousands of visitors did it happen to be within a hundred miles of
London. Not that the prosaic _dhobi_ cares two straws for the
scenery--nor, I fear, does the pretty little forktail. As I have
already hinted, forktails are rather shy birds. If they think they
are being watched they become restless and stand about on boulders,
uttering a prolonged plaintive note, which is repeated at intervals
of a few seconds. When startled they fly off, emitting a loud scream.
But they are pugnacious to others of their kind, especially at the
breeding season. I once saw a pair attack and drive away from the
vicinity of their nest a Himalayan whistling-thrush (_Myiophoneus
temmincki_)--another bird that frequents hill-streams, and a near
relation of the Malabar whistling-thrush or idle schoolboy.

The nursery of the forktail, although quite a large cup-shaped
structure, is not easy to discover; it blends well with its
surroundings, and the birds certainly will not betray its presence
if they know they are being watched. The nest is, to use Hume's words,
"sometimes hidden in a rocky niche, sometimes on a bare ledge of rock
overhung by drooping ferns and sometimes on a sloping bank, at the
root of some old tree, in a very forest of club moss." I once spent
several afternoons in discovering a forktail's nest which I was
positive existed and contained young, because I had repeatedly seen
the parents carrying grubs in the bill. My difficulty was that the
stream to which the birds had attached themselves was in a deep ravine,
the sides of which were so steep that no animal save a cat could have
descended it without making a noise and being seen by the birds.
Eventually I decorated my _topi_ with bracken fronds, after the
fashion of 'Arry at Burnham Beeches on the August bank holiday. Thus
arrayed, I descended to the stream and hid myself in the hollow stump
of a tree, near the place where I knew the nest must be. By crouching
down and drawing some foliage about me, I was able to command a small
stretch of the stream. My arrival was of course the signal for loud
outcries on the part of the parent forktails. However, after I had
been squatting about ten minutes in my _cache_, to the delight of
hundreds of winged insects, the suspicions of the forktails subsided,
and the birds began collecting food, working their way upstream. They
came nearer and nearer, until one of them passed out of sight, although
it was within 10 feet of me. It was thus evident that the nest was
so situated that what remained of the tree-trunk obstructed my view
of it. This was annoying, but I had one resource left, namely, to
sit patiently until the sound of chirping told me that a parent bird
was at the nest with food.

This sound was not long in coming, and the moment I heard it, up I
jumped like a Jack-in-the-box, but without the squeak, in time to
see a forktail leave a spot on the bank about 6 feet above the water.
I was surprised, as I had the day before examined that place without
discovering the nest. However, I went straight to the spot from which
the forktail had flown, and found the nest after a little searching.
The bank was steep and of uneven surface. Here and there a slab of
stone projected from it and pointed downwards. Into a natural hollow
under one of these projecting slabs a nest consisting of a large mass
of green moss and liver-worts had been wedged. From the earth above
the slab grew some ferns, which partially overhung the nest. Across
the nest, a few inches in front of it, ran a moss-covered root. From
out of the mossy walls of the nest there emerged a growing plant.
All these things served to divert attention from the nest, bulky
though this was, its outer walls being over 2 inches thick. The inner
wall was thin--a mere lining to the earth. The nest contained four
young birds, whose eyes were barely open. The young ones were covered
with tiny parasites, which seemed quite ready for a change of diet,
for immediately after picking up one of the young forktails, I found
some thirty or forty of these parasites crawling over my hand!

There is luck in finding birds' nests, as in everything else. A few
days after I had discovered the one above mentioned, I came upon
another without looking for it. When I was walking along a hill-stream
a forktail flew out from the bank close beside me, and a search of
thirty seconds sufficed to reveal a well-concealed nest containing
three eggs. These are much longer than they are broad. They are
cream-coloured, mottled and speckled with tiny red markings.


On several occasions this year (1910) I have listened with unalloyed
pleasure to the sweet blackbird-like song of the grey-winged ouzel
(_Merula boulboul_) at Naini Tal--a station in the Himalayas,
consisting of over a hundred bungalows dotted on the well-wooded
hillsides that tower 1200 feet above a mountain lake that is itself
6000 feet above the level of the sea. On the northern slope of one
of the mountains on the north side of the Naini Tal lake, is a deep
ravine, through which runs a little stream. The sides of the ravine
are covered with trees--mainly rhododendron, oak, and holly.

On July 1st I went 1000 feet down this ravine to visit the nest of
a spotted forktail (_Henicurus maculatus_) which I had discovered
a week previously. Having duly inspected the blind, naked,
newly-hatched forktails, I went farther down the stream to try to
see something of a pair of red-billed blue magpies (_Urocissa

The magpies were not at home that afternoon, and while waiting for
them I caught sight of a bird among the foliage lower down the hill.
At first I took this for a Himalayan whistling-thrush. I followed
its movements through my field-glasses, and saw it alight on part
of the gnarled and twisted trunk of a rhododendron tree. Closer
inspection showed that the bird was a grey-winged ouzel. He had
apparently caught sight of me, for his whole attitude was that of
a suspicious bird with a nest in the vicinity. He remained motionless
for several minutes.

As I watched him a ray of sunlight penetrated the thick foliage and
fell upon the part of the tree where he was standing, and revealed
to me that he was on the edge of a cunningly-placed nest.

The trunk of the rhododendron tree bifurcated about 20 feet above
the ground; one limb grew nearly upright, the other almost
horizontally for a few feet, and then broke up into five branches,
or, rather, gave off four upwardly-directed branches, each as thick
as a man's wrist, and then continued its horizontal direction, greatly
diminished in size.

The four upwardly-directed branches took various directions, each
being considerably twisted, and one actually curling round its
neighbour. At the junction of the various branches lay the nest,
resting on the flat surface, much as a large, shallow pill-box might
rest in the half-closed palm of the hand of a man whose fingers were
rugged and twisted with years of hard toil.

The upper part of the trunk was covered by a thick growth of green
moss, and from it two or three ferns sprang.

As the exterior of the nest consisted entirely of green moss, it
blended perfectly with its surroundings. From below it could not
possibly have been seen. When I caught sight of it I was standing
above it at the top of the ravine, and even then I should probably
have missed seeing it, had not that ray of sunlight fallen on the
nest and imparted a golden tint to the fawn-coloured plumage of the
nestlings which almost completely filled the nest cup.

The situation of this nest may be said to be typical, although cases
are on record of the nursery being placed on the ground at the root
of a tree, or on the ledge of a rock. Many ouzels' nests are placed
on the stumps of pollard trees, and in such cases the shoots which
grow out of the stump often serve to hide the nest from view. The
nests built by grey-winged ouzels vary considerably in structure.
The commonest form is that of a massive cup, composed exteriorly of
moss and lined with dry grass, a layer of mud being inserted between
the moss and the grass lining. This mud layer does not invariably

The cock ouzel remained for fully five minutes with one eye on me,
and then flew off. I seized the opportunity to approach nearer the
nest, and took up a position on the hillside level with it, at a
distance of about 14 feet.

In a few minutes the hen bird appeared. Her prevailing hue is reddish
brown, while the cock is black all over, save for some large patches
of dark grey on the wings. In each sex the bill and legs are reddish
yellow, the bill being the more brightly coloured. The hen caught
sight of me and beat a hurried retreat, without approaching the nest.

The young ouzels kept very still; occasionally one of them would half
raise its head. That was almost the only movement I noticed.

Presently the cock appeared, with his beak full of caterpillars. He
alighted on a branch a few feet from the nest, where he caught sight
of me; but instead of flying off as the hen had done, he held his
ground and fixed his eye on me, no doubt swearing inwardly, but no
audible sound escaped him.

Whenever I have watched a pair of birds feeding their young, I have
almost invariably noticed that one of them is far more alarmed at
my presence than the other. The ouzels proved no exception to the
rule. In this case it was the cock who showed himself the bolder spirit.
He remained watching me for fully ten minutes, his legs and body as
immobile as those of a statue, but he occasionally turned his head
to one side in order to obtain a better view of me; and I could then
see, outlined against the sky, the wriggling forms of several
caterpillars hanging from his bill. I hoped that he would pluck up
courage to feed his youngsters before my eyes; but his heart failed
him, for presently he flew to another tree a little farther away,
whence he again contemplated me. After this he kept changing his
position, never uttering a sound, and always retaining hold of the
beakful of caterpillars. After a little the hen returned with her
bill full of caterpillars, but she did not venture within 75 feet
of the nest. I was not permitted to observe how long it would take
the parental instinct to overcome the natural timidity of the birds.
The sky suddenly became overcast, and a few minutes later I found
myself enveloped in what the Scotch call a "wet mist." At certain
seasons of the year rain storms come up as unexpectedly in the
Himalayas as they do in the Grampians.

The rain put a final end to my observations on that nest, as I had
to leave Naini Tal on the following day--an event which caused more
sorrow to me than to the ouzels!


The Indian grosbeaks are birds of limited distribution; they appear
to be confined to the forests on the higher ranges of the Himalayas.
Their most striking feature is the stout conical bill, which is an
exaggeration of that of the typical finch, and is responsible for
the bird's name. In one genus of grosbeak--_Mycerobas_--the bill is
as deep as it is long, while in the other genus--_Pycnorhamphus_--it
is nearly as massive. Three species belonging to this latter genus
occur in India, namely, _P. icteroides_, the black-and-yellow
grosbeak, found in the Western Himalayas; _P. affinis_, the allied
grosbeak, found in Nepal, Sikkim, Tibet, and Western China; and _P.
carneipes_, the white-winged grosbeak, which occurs all along the
higher Himalayas.

There is only one Indian species of the other genus; this is known
as the spotted-winged grosbeak (_Mycerobas melanoxanthus_), the
localities in which this occurs are said to be "the Himalayas from
the Hazara country to Sikkim at considerable elevations and Manipur."

The only Indian grosbeak which I have met in the flesh is the
yellow-and-black species. This bird is common in the hills round about
Murree, so that, when on ten days' leave there, I had some opportunity
of studying its habits. It is a bird of the same size as the Indian
oriole (_Oriolus kundoo_). The cock grosbeak, indeed, bears a
striking resemblance to the black-headed oriole (_Oriolus
melanocephalus_). His whole head, chin, throat, wings, shoulders,
upper-tail-coverts, and thighs are black, the remainder of the
plumage is a rich yellow, tinged with orange at the hind neck. Thus
the colour and markings are almost identical with those of the
black-headed oriole, the chief difference being that the latter has
a little yellow in the wing. So great is the resemblance that the
casual observer will, in nine cases out of ten, mistake the grosbeak
for an oriole. The resemblance extends to size and shape, as the
following table shows:

                 Length    Length    Length     Length      Length
                of Bird.  of Tail.  of Wing.  of Tarsus.  of Beak.
  Grosbeak . .  9.0 in.   3.7 in.   5.2 in.    1.0 in.    1.0 in.
  Oriole . . .  9.5  "    3.4  "    5.4  "     1.0  "     1.3  "

The hen grosbeak differs considerably in colour and marking both from
the cock of her species and from the hen black-headed oriole. She
is a dull ashy-grey bird, tinged faintly with yellowish red on the
back and abdomen. Her wings and tail are black. The only young grosbeak
that I have seen resembled the female in appearance, except that it
had a yellow rump. It was being fed by a cock bird.

Grosbeaks live in forests, and go about either in couples or in small
companies. They seem to feed largely on the ground, picking up insects.
The beak of the finch tribe is adapted to a diet of seeds; nevertheless,
many finches vary this food with insects. I saw a grosbeak seize,
shake, and devour a caterpillar about two inches in length. Grosbeaks
also eat berries and stone fruit. When disturbed they at once betake
themselves to a tree, among the branches of which they are able to
make their way with great agility. Grosbeaks are restless birds,
always on the move, here to-day and gone to-morrow. The cock emits
a call at frequent intervals. This is not easy to describe. It sounds
something like _kiu kree_.

The nest is a cup-shaped structure, composed exteriorly of twigs,
grass, and moss, and lined with stalks of maiden-hair fern and fine
roots. It is usually placed high up in a fir tree. Colonel Rattray
believes that the birds bring up two broods in the year. They lay
first in May, and, as soon as the young are able to shift for themselves,
a second nest is made. Thus in July both young birds at large and
nests with eggs are likely to be seen. The eggs are not unlike those
of the English hawfinch; the ground colour is pale greenish grey,
blotched and spotted with blackish brown. Sometimes the markings
occur chiefly at the broad end of the eggs.

The most striking feature of the black-and-yellow grosbeak, and that
on which I wish particularly to dwell, is the extraordinary
resemblance that the cock bird bears to the cock black-headed oriole.
If this extended to the hen, and if the grosbeak were parasitic on
the oriole, it would be held up as an example of mimicry. We should
be told that owing to its resemblance to its dupe it was able to
approach the nest without raising any suspicion and deposit its egg.
But the grosbeak is not parasitic on the oriole, and it is the cock
and not the hen that bears the resemblance; moreover, the black-headed
oriole does not occur in the Himalayas, so that neither the grosbeak
nor the oriole can possibly derive any benefit from this resemblance.

Now, cabinet zoologists are never tired of writing about mimicry.
They assert that when organisms belonging to different families bear
a close external resemblance, this resemblance has been brought about
by natural selection. Having made this assertion, they expend reams
of paper in demonstrating how one or both of the species benefits
by the resemblance.

However, scientific books make no mention of the resemblance between
the oriole and the grosbeak. The reason for this is, of course, that
the resemblance in this instance cannot be a case of mimicry. Now,
I regret to have to say that men of science take up the same attitude
towards their theories as lawyers do regarding the cases they argue
in Courts of Justice. There would be no harm in taking up this attitude
if men of science were to explain that they are acting the part of
advocates, that they are fighting for a theory, and trying to persuade
the world to accept this theory. It is because they masquerade as
judges, and put forward a one-sided case as a matured judicial finding,
that I take exception to their methods.

The trouble is that scientific men to-day form a brotherhood, a
hierarchy, which lays claim to infallibility, or rather tacitly
assumes infallibility.

They form a league into which none are admitted except those who take
the oath of allegiance; and, of course, to expose the weakness of
the scientific doctrines of the time is equivalent to violating the
oath of allegiance. Now, the man of science who has to earn his living
by his science, has either to join the league or run the risk of
starving. This explains how a small coterie of men has things very
much its own way; how it can lay down the law without fear of
contradiction. If a man does arise and declines to accept the fiats
of this league, it is not difficult for the members to combine and
tell the general public that that man is a foolish crank, who does
not know what he is talking about; and the public naturally accepts
this dictum.

The only scientific men who, as a class, are characterised by humility
are the meteorologists. I always feel sorry for the meteorologist.
He has to predict the weather, and every man is able to test the value
of these predictions. The zoologist, on the other hand, does not
predict anything. He merely lays down the law to people who know
nothing of law. He assures the world that he can explain all organic
phenomena, and the world believes him.

As a matter of fact, zoology is quite as backward as meteorology.
Those who do not wish to be deceived will do well to receive with
caution all the zoological theories which at present hold the field.
Before many years have passed all of them will have been modified
beyond recognition. Most of them are already out of date.

There are doubtless good reasons for the colouring of both the
grosbeak and the oriole; what these reasons are we know not. But as
neither derives any benefit from the resemblance to the other, this
_resemblance_ cannot have been effected by natural selection. Now,
if the unknown forces, which cause the various organisms to take their
varied colours and forms, sometimes produce two organisms of
different families which closely resemble one another, and the
organisms in question are so distributed that neither can derive the
slightest advantage in the struggle for existence from the
resemblance, there is no reason why similar resemblances should not
be produced in the case of organisms which occupy the same areas of
the earth. Thus it is quite possible that many so-called cases of
mimicry are nothing of the kind.

The mere fact that one of the organisms in question may profit by
the likeness is not sufficient to demonstrate that natural selection
is responsible for the resemblance.

In this connection we must bear in mind that, according to the orthodox
Darwinian theory, the resemblance must have come about gradually,
and in its beginnings it cannot have profited the mimic _as a

So plastic are organisms, and so great is the number of living things
in the earth, that it is not surprising that very similar forms should
sometimes arise independently and in different parts of the globe.
Several instances of this fortuitous resemblance are cited in
Beddard's _Animal Colouration_; others are cited in _The Making of
Species_ by Finn, and myself.

Perhaps the most striking case is that of a cuckoo found in New Zealand,
known as _Eudynamis taitensis_. This is a near relative of the Indian
koel, which bears remarkable resemblance to an American hawk
(_Accipiter cooperi_). Writing of this cuckoo, Sir Walter Buller
says: "Not only has our cuckoo the general contour of Cooper's
sparrow-hawk, but the tear-shaped markings on the underparts, and
the arrow-head bars on the femoral plumes are exactly similar in both.
The resemblance is carried still further, in the beautifully-banded
tail and marginal wing coverts, and likewise in the distribution of
colours and markings on the sides of the neck. On turning to Mr.
Sharpe's description of the young male of this species in his
catalogue of the Accipitres in the British Museum, it will be seen
how many of the terms employed apply equally to our Eudynamis, even
to the general words, 'deep brown above with a chocolate gloss, all
the feathers of the upper surface broadly edged with rufous.' ...
Beyond the general grouping of the colours there is nothing to remind
us of our own Bush-hawk; and that there is no great protective
resemblance is sufficiently manifested, from the fact that our cuckoo
is persecuted on every possible occasion by the tits, which are
timorous enough in the presence of a hawk."

These cases of chance resemblance should make us unwilling to talk
about "mimicry," unless there is actual proof that one or other of
the similar species benefits by the resemblance.

These cases, further, throw light on the origin of protective mimicry
where it does exist.

Protective mimicry is usually said to have been brought about by the
action of natural selection. This is not strictly accurate. Natural
selection cannot cause two showy, dissimilar species to resemble one
another; all it can do is to seize upon and perfect a resemblance
that has been caused by the numerous factors that have co-operated
to bring about all the diversity of organic life upon this earth.


Barbets may be described as woodpeckers that are trying to become
toucans. The most toucan-like of them all is the great Himalayan
barbet (_Megalæma marshallorum_). Barbets are heavily-built birds
of medium size, armed with formidable beaks, which they do not
hesitate to use for aggressive purposes. As regards the nests they
excavate, the eggs they lay, the pad that grows on the hocks of young
birds, and their flight, they resemble their cousins the woodpeckers.
But they are fruit-eating birds, and not insectivorous; it is this
that constitutes the chief difference between them and the
woodpeckers. Barbets are found throughout the tropical world. A
number of species occur in India. The best known of these is the
coppersmith, or crimson-breasted barbet (_Xantholæma hæmatocephala_),
the little green fiend, gaudily painted about the head, which makes
the hot weather in India seem worse than it really is by filling the
welkin with the eternal monotone that resembles the sound of a hammer
on a brazen vessel. Nearly as widely distributed are the various
species of green barbet (_Thereiceryx_), whose call is scarcely less
exasperating than that of the coppersmith, and may be described as
the word _kutur_ shouted many times and usually preceded by a harsh
laugh or cackle.

The finest of all the barbets are the _Megalæmas_. The great Himalayan
barbet attains a length of 13 inches. There is no lack of colour in
its plumage. The head and neck are a rich violet blue. The upper back
is brownish olive with pale green longitudinal streaks. The lower
back and the tail are bright green. The wings are green washed with
blue, brown, and yellow. The upper breast is brown, and the remainder
of the lower plumage, with the exception of a scarlet patch of feathers
under the tail, is yellow with a blue band running along the middle
line. This bright red patch under the tail is not uncommon in the
bird world, and, curiously enough, it occurs in birds in no way related
to one another and having little or nothing in common as regards habits.
It is seen in many bulbuls, robins, and woodpeckers, and in the pitta.
The existence of these red under tail-coverts in such diverse species
can, I think, be explained only on the hypothesis that there is an
inherent tendency to variation in this direction in many species.

A striking feature of the great Himalayan barbet is its massive yellow
bill, which is as large as that of some species of toucan. Although
the bird displays a number of brilliant colours, it is not at all
easy to distinguish from its leafy surroundings. It is one of those
birds which are heard more often than seen.

Barbets are never so happy as when listening to their own voices.
Most birds sing and make a joyful noise only at the nesting season.
Not so the barbets; they call all the year round; even unfledged
nestlings raise up the voices of infantile squeakiness.

The call of the great Himalayan barbet is very distinctive and easy
to recognise, but is far from easy to portray in words. Jerdon
described the call as a plaintive _pi-o_, _pi-o_. Hutton speaks of
it as _hoo-hoo-hoo_. Scully syllabises it as _till-low_, _till-low_,
_till-low_. Perhaps the best description of the note is that it is
a mournful wailing, _pee-yu_, _pee-yu_, _pee-yu_. Some like the note,
and consider it both striking and pleasant. Others would leave out
the second adjective. Not a few regard the cry as the reverse of
pleasant, and consider the bird a nuisance. As the bird is always
on the move--its call at one moment ascends from the depths of a leafy
valley and at the next emanates from a tree on the summit of some
hill--the note does not get on one's nerves as that of the coppersmith
does. Whether men like its note or not, they all agree that it is
plaintive and wailing. This, too, is the opinion of hillmen, some
of whom declare that the souls of men who have suffered injuries in
the Law Courts, and who have in consequence died of broken hearts,
transmigrate into the great Himalayan barbets, and that is why these
birds wail unceasingly _un-nee-ow_, _un-nee-ow_, which means
"injustice, injustice." Obviously, the hillmen have not a high
opinion of our Law Courts!

Himalayan barbets go about in small flocks, the members of which call
out in chorus. They keep to the top of high trees, where, as has been
said, they are not easily distinguished from the foliage. When perched
they have a curious habit of wagging the tail from side to side, as
a dog does, but with a jerky, mechanical movement. Their flight is
noisy and undulating, like that of a woodpecker. They are said to
subsist exclusively on fruit. This is an assertion which I feel
inclined to challenge. In the first place, the species remains in
the Himalayas all the year round, and fruit must be very scarce there
in winter. Moreover, Mr. S. M. Townsend records that a barbet kept
by him in captivity on one occasion devoured with gusto a dead mouse
that had been placed in its cage. Barbets nest in cavities in the
trunks of trees, which they themselves excavate with their powerful
beaks, after the manner of woodpeckers. The entrance to the nest
cavity is a neat circular hole in a tree at heights varying from 15
to 50 feet. Most birds which rear their broods in holes enter and
leave the nest cavity fearlessly, even when they know they are being
watched by human beings, evidently feeling that their eggs or young
birds are securely hidden away in the heart of the tree. Not so the
_Megalæma_. It is as nervous about the site of its nest as a lapwing
is. Nevertheless, on one occasion, when the nest of a pair of the
great Himalayan barbets was opened out and found to contain an egg
and a young bird, which latter was left unmolested, the parent birds
continued to feed the young one, notwithstanding the fact that the
nest had been so greatly damaged. The eggs are white, like those of
all species which habitually nest in holes.

_The Common Birds of the Nilgiris_


The avifauna of the Nilgiris is considerably smaller than that of
the Himalayas. This phenomenon is easily explained. The Nilgiris
occupy a far less extensive area; they display less diversity of
climate and scenery; the lofty peaks, covered with eternal snow, which
form the most conspicuous feature of the Himalayan landscape, are
wanting in the Nilgiris.

The birds found in and about a Nilgiri hill station differ in character
from those of the plains distant but a score of miles.

Of the common birds of the plains of Madras, the only ones that are
really abundant on the Nilgiris are the black crow, the sparrow, the
white-eye, the Madras bulbul, the myna, the purple sunbird, the
tailor-bird, the ashy wren-warbler, the rufous-backed shrike, the
white-browed fantail flycatcher, the Indian pipit, the Indian
skylark, the common kingfisher, the pied crested cuckoo, the
scavenger vulture, the Pondicherry vulture, the white-backed vulture,
the shikra, the spotted dove, and the little brown dove.

The distribution of the avifauna of mountainous countries is largely
a matter of elevation. At the base of the Nilgiris all the plains
birds of the neighbourhood occur, and most of them extend some way
up the hillsides. The majority, however, do not ascend as high as
1000 feet.

At elevations of 3000 feet the avifauna of the hills is already
markedly different from that of the plains; nevertheless many of the
hill species do not descend to this level, at any rate in the summer.

It is, therefore, necessary, when speaking of a plains bird as
occurring or not occurring on the hills, to define precisely what
is intended by this expression.

That which follows is written for people who visit the Nilgiri hill
stations in the hot weather, and therefore the birds described are
those which occur at elevations of 5500 feet and upwards in the summer.
Those which visit the hills only in winter are either altogether
ignored or given but the briefest mention.

This article does not deal exhaustively with the birds of the
Nilgiris; it is merely a short account of the birds commonly seen
in the higher regions of those hills during the summer months. To
compile an exhaustive list would be easy. I refrain from doing so
because a reader unacquainted with Indian ornithology would, if
confronted by such a list, find it difficult to identify the common

With this by way of introduction, I will proceed to describe the birds
in question, dealing with them according to the classification
adopted in the standard book on Indian ornithology--the bird volumes
of the "Fauna of British India" series.


This family is not nearly so well represented on the Nilgiris as it
is in the Himalayas. The only crow found on the Nilgiris is the Indian
corby (_Corvus macrorhynchus_)--the large black crow familiar to
persons living in the plains. He, alas, is plentiful in the various
hill stations; but it is some consolation that the grey-necked
_Corvus_ ceases from troubling those who seek the cool heights.

Like the grey-necked crow, the Indian tree-pie is not found at the
Nilgiri hill stations--5000 feet appears to be the highest elevation
to which he attains.

Of the tits only one species can be said to be common on the higher
Nilgiris: this is the Indian grey tit (_Parus atriceps_)--a striking
little bird, smaller than a sparrow. The head, throat, and neck are
black, and a strip of this hue runs down the middle of the abdomen.
The wings and tail are grey. The cheeks, the sides of the abdomen,
and a patch on the back of the head are white. There is also a narrow
white bar in the wing, and the grey tail is edged with white. The
bird is found all over India, but is far more abundant on the hills
than in the plains.

Another tit which, I believe, does not ascend so high as Ootacamund,
but which is not uncommon in the vicinity of Coonoor is the southern
yellow tit (_Machlolophus haplonotus_). This bird is not, as its name
would seem to imply, clothed from head to foot in yellow. Its
prevailing hues are green and brown. The head, breast, and upper
abdomen are bright yellow, except the crown, crest, a broad streak
behind the eye, and a band running from the chin to the abdomen, which
are black. It is impossible to mistake this sprightly little bird,
which is like the English tom-tit in shape. Tits are arboreal in
habits; they seldom descend to the ground. Sometimes they go about
in small flocks. They are supposed to live chiefly on insects, but
most of them feed on fruit and seeds also, and the grey tit, alas,
eats peas, among which it works sad havoc. The inhabitants of the
Nilgiris call this last _Puttani kurivi_, which, I understand, means
the pea-bird.


This heterogeneous family is well represented in the Nilgiris.

The Madras seven sisters (_Crateropus griseus_) do not ascend the
hills to any considerable height. But, of course there are seven
sisters in the hills. Every part of India has its flocks of babblers.
The Nilgiri babbler is a shy bird; it seems to dislike being watched.
One might think it is aware that it is not so beautiful as it might
be. But this cannot be the reason, because it has no objection to
any person hearing its voice, which may be likened to the squeak of
a rusty axle. This Nilgiri babbler does not enter gardens unless they
are somewhat unkempt and contain plenty of thick bushes.

_Mirabile dictu_, this shy and retiring bird is none other than the
jungle babbler (_Crateropus canorus_)--the common seven sisters or
_sath bhai_--which in northern India is as bold and almost as
confiding as the robin. No one has attempted to explain why the habits
of this species on the Nilgiris should differ so much from those it
displays in other places.

The southern scimitar-babbler (_Pomatorhinus horsfieldi_), like the
jungle babbler on the Nilgiris, is a bird heard more often than seen.

Every person who has spent any time at Coonoor must be well acquainted
with the notes of this species. A common call is a loud
_ko-ko-ko-e-e-e_. Sometimes one bird calls _ko-ko-ko_, and another
answers _ko-ee_. When the birds are feeding in company, they keep
up a continual chatter, which is not unpleasing to the ear. When
alarmed they give vent to a harsh cry of a kind characteristic of
the babbler tribe. The scimitar-babbler is a bird nearly as big as
a myna. It is of brownish hue and has a tail of moderate length. The
breast and chin are pure white, and there is a white line running
along each side of the head from front to back. The yellow beak is
long and curved, hence the adjectival "scimitar." It is impossible
to mistake the bird. The difficulty is to obtain anything more than
a fleeting glimpse of it. It is so shy that it takes cover the instant
it knows that it is being watched. It hops about in thick bushes with
considerable address, much as a crow-pheasant does. It feeds on
insects, which it picks off the ground or from leaves and trunks of
trees. It uses the long bill as a probe, by means of which it secures
insects lurking in the crevices of bark.

The Nilgiri laughing-thrush (_Trochalopterum cachinnans_) is a very
common bird on the hills. Like the two species of babbler already
described, it is a shy creature, living amid thick shrubs, from which
it seldom ventures far. The head is slightly crested, the upper
plumage, including the wings and tail, is olive brown. The head is
set off by a white eyebrow. The under parts are chestnut. The beak
and legs are black. Laughing-thrushes congregate in small flocks.
They subsist chiefly on fruit. Their cry is loud and characteristic;
it may be described as a bird's imitation of human laughter. Their
cheerful calls are among the sounds heard most often at Ootacamund
and Coonoor.

The Indian white-eye (_Zosterops palpebrosa_) is a bird that has
puzzled systematists. Jerdon classed it among the tits, and its habits
certainly justify the measure; but later ornithologists have not
accepted the dictum "Manners makyth bird," and have placed the
white-eye among the babblers.

The white-eye is a plump little bird, considerably smaller than a
sparrow. The head and back are yellowish green, becoming almost golden
in the sunlight. The wings and tail are brown. The chin, breast, and
feathers under the tail are bright yellow, the abdomen is white. Round
the eye is a ring of white feathers, interrupted in front by a black

From this ring--its most striking feature--the bird has derived its
name. The ring is very regular, and causes the bird to look as though
it had been decorating its eye with Aspinall's best enamel.

White-eyes invariably go about in flocks; each member of the company
utters unceasingly a cheeping note in order to keep his fellows
apprized of his movements. These birds feed largely on insects, which
they pick off leaves in truly tit-like manner, sometimes even hanging
head downwards in order to secure a morsel.

The beautiful southern green-bulbul (_Chloropsis malabarica_) is
numbered among the Crateropodidæ. It is not a true bulbul. It is common
on the lower slopes of the Nilgiris, but does not often venture as
high as Coonoor. A rich green bulbul-like bird with a golden forehead,
a black chin and throat, and a patch of blue on the wing can be none
other than this species.

The true bulbuls are also classified among the Crateropodidæ.

My experience is that the common bulbul of the plains--_Molpastes
hæmorrhous_, or the Madras red-vented bulbul--is very rarely seen
at the Nilgiri hill stations. Jerdon, likewise, states that it ascends
the Nilgiris only up to about 6000 feet. Davison, however, declares
that the bird begins to get common 4 miles from Ootacamund and is
very numerous about Coonoor and all down the ghats. Be this as it
may, the Madras red-vented bulbul is not the common bulbul of the
Nilgiris. Its sweet notes are very largely, if not entirely, replaced
by the yet sweeter and more cheery calls of the hill-bulbul. It will
be labour lost to look up this name in Oates's ornithology, because
it does not occur in that work. The smart, lively little bird, whose
unceasing twittering melody gives our southern hill stations half
their charm, has been saddled by men of science with the pompous
appellation _Otocompsa fuscicaudata_. Even more objectionable is the
English name for the pretty, perky bird. What shall I say of the good
taste of those who call it the red-whiskered bulbul, as though it
were a seedy Mohammedan who dips his grizzly beard in a pot of red
dye by way of beautifying it? I prefer to call this bird the southern
hill-bulbul. This name, I admit, leaves something to be desired,
because the species is not confined to the hills. It is to be found
in most places along the west coast. Nor is it the only bulbul living
on the hills. The justification for the name is that if a census were
taken of the bird-folk who dwell in our hill stations, it would show
that _Otocompsa fuscicaudata_ outnumbered all the crows, mynas,
sparrows, flycatchers, and sunbirds put together. It is _the_ bird
of the southern hills. Every thicket, every tree--nay, every bush
on the hills--has its pair of bulbuls. This species has distinctive
plumage. Its most striking feature is a perky crest, which arises
from the crown of the head and terminates in a forwardly-directed
point, like Mr. Punch's cap. The crest is black and gives the bird
a very saucy air. The wings and tail are dark brown, but each feather
has a pale edge, which makes a pattern like scales on a fish. Below
the eye is a brilliant patch of crimson. A similarly-coloured but
larger patch is displayed at the base of the tail. The lower part
of the cheek is white; this is divided off from the snowy breast by
a narrow black band. The breast is, in its turn, separated from the
greyish abdomen by a broad black band, which ornithologists term a
collaret. Sometimes the collaret is interrupted in the middle. The
hill-bulbul is a most vivacious bird. From dawn to sunset it is an
example of perpetual motion. Its vocal cords are as active as its
wings. The tinkling sounds of this bulbul form the dominant notes
of the bird chorus. Husband and wife almost always move about in
company. They flit from tree to tree, from bush to bush, plucking
raspberries and other hill fruit as they pass. Bulbuls eat insects,
but not when fruit is available. Like all birds bulbuls have large
appetites. Recently I saw an Otocompsa devour three wild raspberries
within as many minutes, each berry was swallowed at one gulp--a
surprising feat, considering the small size of the bird's bill.

A bulbul's nest is a beautifully-shaped cup, usually placed in a bush
at about 3 feet from the ground. As a rule, the bulbul selects an
exposed site for its nest; in consequence many of the eggs are devoured
by lizards. Crows in particular are addicted to young bulbuls, and
take full advantage of the simplicity of the parent birds. Probably,
three out of four broods never reach maturity. But the bulbul is a
philosophic little bird. It never cries over broken eggs. If one
clutch is destroyed it lays another.

The yellow-browed bulbul (_Iole icteria_) demands notice in passing,
because it is common on the minor ranges. Its upper plumage is greenish
yellow, the wings being darker than the back. The lower parts are
canary yellow; the bird has also a yellow ring round the eye. Its
note has been described as a soft, mellow whistle.

A very different bird is the southern or Nilgiri black bulbul
(_Hypsipetes ganeesa_). This is an untidy-looking creature. Its
crest is ragged. Its general hue is shabby black or brown, tinged
with grey in places. The bill and feet are bright coral red. Black
bulbuls utter a variety of notes, most of which are pleasing to the
human ear, although they incline to harshness. The birds go about
in flocks.


Nuthatches are little climbing birds characterised by short tails.
Like woodpeckers, they feed on insects, which they pick off the trunks
and branches of trees. Unlike woodpeckers, however, they move about
the trunks of trees with the head pointing indifferently downwards
or upwards. The common nuthatch of the Nilgiris is the velvet-fronted
blue nuthatch (_Sitta frontalis_). The upper plumage is dark blue,
the cock having a velvety-black forehead and a black streak through
the eye. The lower parts are creamy white. The bill is coral red.
The note is a loud _tee-tee-tee_.


Several species of drongo or king-crow occur on the Nilgiris, but
not one of them is sufficiently abundant to be numbered among the
common birds of the hill stations.


Of the warblers it may be said "their name is legion." So many species
exist, and the various species are so difficult to differentiate,
that the family drives most field ornithologists to the verge of
despair. Many of the Indian warblers are only winter visitors to India.
Eliminating these, only two warblers are entitled to a place among
the common birds of the Nilgiris. These are the tailor-bird and the
ashy wren-warbler.

At Coonoor the tailor-bird (_Orthotomus sartorius_) is nearly as
abundant as it is in the plains. Oates, be it noted, states that this
species does not ascend the hills higher than 4000 feet. As a matter
of fact, the tailor-bird does not venture quite up to the plateau,
but it is perfectly at home at all elevations below 6000 feet. This
species may be likened to a wren that has grown a respectable tail.
The forehead is ruddy brown, the back of the head is grey, the back
is brown tinged with green. The lower plumage is a pale cream colour.
There is a black patch or bar on each side of the neck, visible only
when the bird stretches its neck to utter its loud _to-wee_, _to-wee_,
_to-wee_. In the breeding season the shafts of the middle pair of
tail feathers of the cock grow out beyond the rest. These projecting,
bristle-like feathers render the cock easy of identification.

The ashy wren-warbler (_Prinia socialis_) is another "tiny brownie
bird." The wings and tail are brown, the remainder of the upper plumage
is the colour of ashes, the under parts are cream coloured. This
warbler is a slight, loosely-built bird, and is easily distinguished
from others of its kind by the curious snapping noise it makes as
it flits from bush to bush. It occurs in pairs or singly. Davison
remarks that it is "very fond of working its way up to some conspicuous
post--to the top of one of the long flower-stalks of _Lobelia excelsa_,
for instance--where it will halt for a minute or two, and then, after
making a feeble attempt at a song, will dive suddenly in the brushwood
and disappear."


Shrikes or butcher-birds are hawks in miniature, as regards habits
if not in structure. With the exception of the brown shrike (_Lanius
cristatus_), which is merely a winter visitor to India, the
rufous-backed shrike (_L. erythronotus_) is the only butcher-bird
common on the Nilgiris. The head of this species is pale grey, the
back is of ruddy hue. The lower parts are white. The forehead and
a broad band running through the eye are black. A bird having a broad
black band through the eye is probably a shrike, and if the bird in
question habitually sits on an exposed branch or other point of
vantage, and from thence swoops on to the ground to secure some insect,
the probability of its being a butcher-bird becomes a certainty.

Closely related to the shrikes are the minivets. Minivets are birds
of tit-like habits which wander about in small flocks from place to
place picking insects from the leaves of trees. They are essentially
arboreal birds. I have never seen a minivet on the ground.

The common minivet of the Nilgiris is the orange minivet
(_Pericrocotus flammeus_). The head and back of the cock are black.
His wings are black and flame-colour, the red being so arranged as
to form a band running lengthwise and not across the wing. The tail
feathers are red, save the median pair, which are black. During flight
the flashing red obliterates the black, so that the moving birds
resemble tongues of flame and present a beautiful and striking
spectacle. The hen is marked like the cock, but in her the red is
replaced by bright yellow. This beautiful bird ceases to be abundant
at elevations higher than Coonoor.


Both the Indian oriole (_Oriolus kundoo_) and the black-headed oriole
(_O. melanocephalus_) occur on the Nilgiris, but on the higher ranges
they are nowhere numerous. They therefore merit only passing notice.


The common myna of the Nilgiris is not _Acridotheres tristis_ but
_Æthiopsar fuscus_--the jungle myna. The casual observer usually
fails to notice any difference between the two species, so closely
do they resemble one another. Careful inspection, however, shows that
the jungle myna has a little patch of feathers in front of the head
over the beak. _Æthiopsar fuscus_ has all the habits of the common
myna. Like the latter, it struts about sedately in company with cattle
in order to snatch up the grasshoppers disturbed by the moving
quadrupeds. It feeds largely on the insects that infest the capsules
of _Lobelia excelsa_, and is often to be seen clinging, like a tit,
to the stem in order to secure the insects. Davidson gives these mynas
a very bad character, he declares that they do immense damage to the
fruit gardens on the Nilgiris, so that without the aid of nets, it
is next to impossible to preserve pears from their depredations.

No other species of myna is common on the Nilgiris.


As in the Himalayas so on the Nilgiris the family of flycatchers is
well represented. In one small Nilgiri wood I have come across no
fewer than six species of flycatcher.

The beautiful little black-and-orange flycatcher (_Ochromela
nigrirufa_) is a bird peculiar to the hills of Southern India.

The head and wings of the cock are black, the rest of the body is
orange, of deeper hue on the back and breast than on the other parts.
The portions of the plumage that are black in the cock are slaty brown
in the hen. This flycatcher feeds on insects. But unlike most of its
kind, it picks them off the ground more often than it secures them
in the air.

It never takes a long flight, and almost invariably perches on a branch
not more than two feet above the ground. It emits a low cheeping
note--a _chur-r-r_, which is not unlike the sound made by some

The Nilgiri blue-flycatcher (_Stoparola albicaudata_) is
stoutly-built and a little larger than a sparrow. The male is clothed
from head to tail in dark blue; his wife is more dingy, having a
plentiful admixture of brownish grey in her plumage.
Blue-flycatchers often occur in little flocks. They have the usual
habits of their family, except that they seem sometimes to eat fruit.

A pretty little bird, of which the head, back, tail, and wings are
deep blue, and the breast is orange fading into pale yellow towards
the abdomen, is Tickell's blue-flycatcher (_Cyornis tickelli_). It
has the characteristic habits of its tribe, and continually makes,
from a perch, little sallies into the air after flying insects. But,
more often than not it starts from one branch, and, having secured
its quarry, alights on another. It sings a joyous lay, not unlike
that of the fantail-flycatcher, but less sweet and powerful. It nests
in a hole in a tree or bank, laying in May two or three eggs very
thickly speckled with red spots.

The grey-headed flycatcher (_Culicicapa ceylonensis_) is a bird of
somewhat sombre plumage. Its total length is only five inches, and
of this half is composed of tail. The head is ashy grey, the back
and wings are greenish; the lower plumage is bright yellow, but this
is not conspicuous except when the bird is on the wing. This flycatcher
has a loud song, which may be syllabised: _Think of me.... Never to

The white-browed fantail-flycatcher (_Rhipidura albifrontata_),
which delights the inhabitants of Madras with its cheerful whistle
of five or six notes, occurs on the Nilgiris, but is there largely
replaced by an allied species--the white-spotted fantail-flycatcher
(_R. pectoralis_). The latter has all the habits of the former. Both
make the same melody, and each has the habit of spreading out and
erecting the tail whenever it settles on a perch after a flight. The
white-spotted is distinguishable from the white-browed species by
the white eyebrow being much narrower and less conspicuous. It is
a black bird with a white abdomen, some white in the wings and tail,
a few white spots on the chin, and the white eyebrow mentioned above.

The most beautiful of all the flycatchers is _Terpsiphone
paradisi_--the paradise-flycatcher, or ribbon-bird, as it is often
called. This is fairly abundant on the Nilgiris. The cock in the full
glory of his adult plumage is a truly magnificent object. His crested
head is metallic blue-black. This stands out in sharp contrast to
the remainder of the plumage, which is as white as snow. Two of his
tail feathers, being 12 inches longer than the others, hang down like
satin streamers. Young cocks are chestnut instead of white. Birds
in both phases of plumage breed. The hen has the metallic blue-black
crested head, but she lacks the elongated tail feathers. Her plumage
is chestnut, like that of the young cock. In both the hen and the
young cock the breast is white. As "Eha" remarks, the hen looks very
like a bulbul.


This heterogeneous family includes thrushes, chats, robins,
accentors, and dippers.

The southern pied bush-chat (_Pratincola atrata_) is one of the
commonest and most familiar birds of the Nilgiris. It frequents
gardens and is often found near houses: hence it is known as the
hill-robin. The cock is clothed in black except the lower part of
the back, the under parts, and a bar on the wing, which are white.
Those parts that are black in the cock are brown in the hen, while
her back and under parts are russet instead of white, but the white
bar on the wing persists. This species lives on insects. It dwells
in low shrubs and captures its quarry on the ground. It nests in a
hole in a bank or well, lining the same with grass or hair. But summer
visitors to the hills are not likely to come across the eggs, because
these are usually hatched before May.

The Nilgiri blackbird (_Merula simillima_) is very like the blackbird
of England. The plumage of the cock, however, is not so black, and
the legs, instead of being brown, are reddish. Its charming song,
with which all who have visited Ootacamund are familiar, is almost
indistinguishable from that of its European cousin.

The Nilgiri thrush (_Oreocincla nilgirensis_) resembles the European
thrush in appearance. Its upper plumage is pale brown, spotted with
black and buff; its throat and abdomen are white with black drops.
This bird has a fine powerful song, but he who wishes to hear it has
usually to resort to one of the forests on the plateau of the Nilgiris.


This family includes the weaver-birds, famous for their wonderful
hanging retort-shaped nests, and the munias, of which the amadavat
or _lal_ is familiar to every resident of India as a cage bird.

The weaver-birds do not ascend the hills, but several species of munia
are found on the Nilgiris. Spotted munias (_Uroloncha punctulata_)
are abundant in the vicinity of both Coonoor and Ootacamund. They
occur in flocks on closely-cropped grassland. They feed on the ground.
They are tiny birds, not much larger than white-eyes. The upper
plumage is chocolate brown, becoming a rich chestnut about the head
and neck, while the breast and abdomen are mottled black and white,
hence the popular name. The black spots on the breast and abdomen
cause these to look like the surface of a nutmeg grater; for that
reason this munia is sometimes spoken of as the nutmeg-bird. The
rufous-bellied munia (_Uroloncha pectoralis_) occurs abundantly a
little below Coonoor, but does not appear to ascend so high as
Ootacamund. Its upper parts are chocolate brown, save the feathers
above the tail, which Oates describes as "glistening fulvous." The
wings and tail are black, as are the cheeks, chin, and throat. The
lower parts are pinkish brown. The stout bill is slaty blue. Like
the spotted munia, this species is considerably smaller than a

The Indian red-munia or red waxbill or _lal_ (_Sporæginthus
amandava_) is another very small bird. Its bill and eyes are bright
red. Over its brown plumage are dotted many tiny white spots. There
are also some large patches of red or crimson, notably one on the
rump. The amount of crimson varies considerably; in the breeding
season nearly the whole of the upper plumage of the cock is crimson.
Amadavats go about in flocks and utter a cheeping note during flight.
Their happy hunting grounds are tangles of long grass. Amadavats occur
all over the Nilgiris.


Finches are seed-eating birds characterised by a stout bill, which
is used for husking grain.

The common sparrow (_Passer domesticus_) is the best known member
of the finch family. Most of us see too much of him. He is to be observed
in every garden on the Nilgiris, looking as though the particular
garden in which he happens to be belongs to him. As a rule, sparrows
nest about houses, but numbers of them breed in the steep cuttings
on the road between Coonoor and Ootacamund.

The only other finch common on the Nilgiris is the rose-finch
(_Carpodacus erythrinus_). This, however, is only a winter visitor:
it departs from the Nilgiris in April and does not return until the
summer season is over.


This family includes the swallows and the martins.

The swallows commonly found on the Nilgiris in summer are the Nilgiri
house-swallow (_Hirundo javanica_) and the red-rumped or mosque
swallow (_H. erythropygia_). I regret to have to state that Oates
has saddled the latter with the name "Sykes's striated swallow"; he
was apparently seduced by the sibilant alliteration!

Those two swallows are easily distinguished. The latter is the larger
bird; its upper parts are glossy steel-blue, except the rump, which
is of chestnut hue. The house-swallow has the rump glossy black, but
it displays a good deal of red about the head and neck.

In the cold weather the European swallow and two species of martin
visit the Nilgiris.


In the winter several kinds of wagtail visit the Nilgiris, but only
one species remains all the year round. This is the beautiful pied
wagtail (_Motacilla maderaspatensis_), of which the charming song
must be familiar to all residents of Madras. On the Nilgiris the bird
is not sufficiently common to require more than passing notice.

The pipits are members of the wagtail family. They have not the lively
colouring of the wagtails, being clothed, like skylarks, in homely
brown, spotted or streaked with dark brown or black. They have the
wagtail trick of wagging the tail, but they perform the action in
a half-hearted manner.

The two pipits most often seen on the Nilgiris in summer are the
Nilgiri pipit (_Anthus nilgirensis_) and the Indian pipit (_A.
rufulus_). I know of no certain method of distinguishing these two
species without catching them and examining the hind toe. This is
much shorter in the former than in the latter species. The Nilgiri
pipit goes about singly or in pairs, and, although it frequents grassy
land, it usually keeps to cover and flies into a tree or bush when
alarmed. It is confined to the highest parts of the Nilgiris. The
Indian pipit affects open country and seems never to perch in trees.


The Indian skylark (_Alauda gulgula_) is common on the Nilgiris.
Wherever there is a grassy plain this species is found. Like the
English skylark, it rises to a great height in the air, and there
pours forth its fine song.

To the ordinary observer the Indian skylark is indistinguishable from
its European congener.

The other common lark of the Nilgiris is the Malabar crested lark
(_Galerita cristata_). This is in shape and colouring very like the
Indian skylark, but is easily distinguished by the pointed crest that
projects upwards and backwards from the hind part of the head. The
crested lark has a pretty song, which is often poured forth when the
bird is in the air. This species does not soar so high as the skylark.
Like the latter, it frequents open spaces.


A bird of the plains which is to be seen in every Nilgiri garden is
the beautiful little purple sunbird (_Arachnecthra asiatica_). He
flits about in the sunbeams, passing from flower to flower, extracting
with his long tubular tongue the nectar hidden away in their calyces.
He is especially addicted to gladioli. His head gets well dusted with
yellow pollen, which he carries like a bee from one bloom to another.
In the case of flowers with very deep calyces, he sometimes makes
short cut to the honey by piercing with his sharp curved bill a hole
in the side through which to insert the tongue. The cock purple sunbird
needs no description. His glistening metallic plumage compels
attention. He is usually accompanied by his spouse, who is earthy
brown above and pale yellow below.

The other sunbird commonly seen in hill-gardens is one appropriately
named the tiny sun bird or honeysucker (_Arachnecthra minima_), being
less than two-thirds the size of a sparrow. As is usual with sunbirds,
the cock is attired more gaily than the hen. He is a veritable
feathered exquisite. Dame Nature has lavished on his diminutive body
most of the hues to be found in her well-stocked paint-box. His
forehead and crown are metallic green. His back is red, crimson on
the shoulders. His lower plumage might be a model for the colouring
of a Neapolitan ice-cream; from the chin downwards it displays the
following order of colours: lilac, crimson, black, yellow. The hen
is brown above, with a dull red rump, and yellow below.

The purple-rumped sunbird (_Arachnecthra zeylonica_), which is very
abundant in and about Madras, does not ascend the Nilgiris above 3000
feet. Loten's sunbird (_A. lotenia_) ventures some 2500 feet higher,
and has been seen in the vicinity of Coonoor. This species is in
colouring almost indistinguishable from the purple sunbird, but its
long beak renders it unmistakable.


Flower-peckers, like sunbirds, are feathered exquisites. The habits
of the two families are very similar, save that flower-peckers dwell
among the foliage of trees, while sunbirds, after the manner of
butterflies, sip the nectar from flowers that grow near the ground.

Every hill-garden can boast of one or two flower-peckers. These are
among the smallest birds in existence. They are as restless as they
are diminutive. So restless are they that it is very difficult to
follow their movements through field-glasses, and they are so tiny
that without the aid of field-glasses it is difficult to see them
among the foliage in which they live, move, and have their being.
These elusive mites continually utter a sharp _chick-chick-chick_.
Two species are common on the Nilgiris.

They are known as the Nilgiri flower-pecker (_Dicæum concolor_) and
Tickell's flower-pecker (_D. erythrorhynchus_). The latter is the
more numerous. Both are olive-green birds, paler below than above.
Tickell's species has the bill yellow: in the other the beak is
lavender blue.


Woodpeckers are birds that feed exclusively on insects, which they
pick off the trunks of trees. They move about over the bark with great
address. Whether progressing upwards, downwards, or sideways, the
head is always pointed upwards.

For some reason or other there is a paucity of woodpeckers on the
Nilgiris. The Indian Empire can boast of no fewer than fifty-four
species; of these only six patronise the Nilgiris, and but two appear
to ascend higher than 5000 feet. The only woodpecker that I have
noticed in the vicinity of Coonoor is Tickell's golden-backed
woodpecker (_Chrysocolaptes gutticristatus_). I apologise for the
name; fortunately the bird never has to sign it in full. This
woodpecker is a magnificent bird, over a foot in length, being 1½
inch longer than the golden-backed species found in Madras itself.
The cock has a crimson crest, the sides of the head and neck and the
under parts are white, relieved by black streaks that run
longitudinally. The back and wings appear golden olive in the shade,
and when the sun shines on them they become a beautiful coppery red.
The lower part of the back is crimson. The tail is black. The hen
differs from the cock in having the crest black. When these birds
fly, their wings make much noise. The species utters a high-pitched
but somewhat faint screaming note.


Barbets are tree-haunting birds characterised by massive bills. They
have loud calls of two or three notes, which they repeat with much
persistence. They nestle in trees, themselves excavating the nest
cavity. The entrance to the nest is invariably marked by a neat round
hole, a little larger than a rupee, in the trunk or a branch of a
tree. The coppersmith is the most familiar member of the clan. It
does not occur on the Nilgiris, but a near relative is to be numbered
among the commonest birds of those hills, being found in every wood
and in almost every garden. This bird is fully as vociferous as the
coppersmith, but instead of crying, _tonk-tonk-tonk_, it suddenly
bursts into a kind of hoarse laugh, and then settles down to a steady
_kutur-kutur-kutur_, which resounds throughout the hillside. This
call is perhaps the most familiar sound heard in the hills. This
species is called the lesser green barbet (_Thereiceryx viridis_)
to distinguish it from the larger green barbet of the plains (_T.
zeylonicus_). It is a vivid green bird with a dull yellow patch, devoid
of feathers, round the eye. There are some brown streaks on the breast.


The only kingfisher that occurs abundantly throughout the Nilgiris
is the common kingfisher (_Alcedo ispida_). This bird is not much
larger than a sparrow. The head and nape are blue with faint black
cross-bars. The back is glistening pale blue and the tail blue of
darker hue. The wings are greenish blue. The sides of the head are
gaily tinted with red, blue, black, and white. The lower parts are
rusty red. The bill is black and the feet coral red. The beautiful
white-breasted kingfisher (_Halcyon smyrnensis_)--the large blue
species with the chocolate-coloured head and white breast--occurs
on the Nilgiris at all elevations, but is not nearly so abundant as
its smaller relative.


Four species of swift are to be seen on the Nilgiris; two of them
are the fleetest birds in existence; these are the alpine swift
(_Cypselus melba_) and the brown-necked spine-tail (_Chætura
indica_). The former progresses with ease at the rate of 100 miles
an hour: the latter can cover 125 miles, while the former is flying
100. If we poor human beings were possessed of the motive power of
swifts we should think nothing of flying to England on ten days' casual
leave. This may be possible a few years hence, thanks to the aeroplane;
but even then the swifts will have the advantage as regards cheapness
of transit. The lower parts of the alpine swift are white, while those
of the spine-tail are rich brown. Hence the two species may be
differentiated at a glance.

The edible-nest swiftlet (_Collocalia fuciphaga_) is the commonest
swift on the Nilgiris. It is only about half the size of the species
mentioned above, being less than 5 inches in length. In my opinion,
this bird is misnamed the edible-nest swiftlet, because a
considerable quantity of grass and feathers is worked into the nest,
and I, for my part, find neither grass nor feathers edible. But _chacun
à son gout_.

There is, however, an allied species--the little grey-rumped
swiftlet (_C. francicia_)--found in the Andaman Islands--of which
the nests are really good to eat. This species constructs its tiny
saucer-shaped nursery entirely of its own saliva.

April and May are the months in which to seek for the nests of the
Nilgiri swiftlet, and the insides of caves the places where a search
should be made.

The fourth swift of the Nilgiris, the crested swift (_Macropteryx
coronata_), is not sufficiently abundant to merit description in this


Nightjars, or goatsuckers, to give them their ancient and
time-honoured name, are birds that lie up during the day in shady
woods and issue forth at dusk on silent wing in order to hawk insects.
The most characteristic feature of a nightjar is its enormous
frog-like mouth; but it is not easy to make this out in the twilight
or darkness, so that the observer has to rely on other features in
order to recognise goatsuckers when he sees them on the wing, such
as their long tail and wings, their curious silent fluttering flight,
their dark plumage with white or buff in the wings and tail, their
crepuscular and nocturnal habits, and their large size. Nightjars
are as large as pigeons.

The common species of the Nilgiris is the jungle nightjar
(_Caprimulgus indicus_). For a couple of hours after nightfall, and
the same period before dawn in the spring, this bird utters its curious
call--a rapidly-repeated _cuck-chug-chuck-chuck_.

Horsfield's nightjar (_C. macrurus_) is perhaps not sufficiently
abundant on the Nilgiris to deserve mention in this essay. A bird
which after dark makes a noise like that produced by striking a plank
with a hammer can be none other than this species.


The koel (_Eudynamis honorata_) occurs on the Nilgiris and has been
shot at Ootacamund. It betrays its presence by its loud _ku-il_,
_ku-il_, _ku-il_. The common cuckoo of the hills is the hawk-cuckoo
(_Hierococcyx varius_) or brain-fever bird. Its crescendo
_brain-fever_, BRAIN-FEVER, BRAIN-FEVER prevents any person from
failing to notice it. It victimises laughing-thrushes and babblers.
It has a large cousin (_H. sparverioides_), which also occurs on the
Nilgiris, and which likewise screams _brain-fever_ at the top of its
voice. Both species are like sparrow-hawks in appearance. The
handsome pied crested cuckoo (_Coccystes jacobinus_), which cuckolds
the seven sisters, is a bird easy to identify. It has a conspicuous
crest. The upper plumage is glossy black, save for a white wing bar
and white tips to the tail feathers. The lower parts are white.

The common coucal or crow-pheasant (_Centropus sinensis_) is a cuckoo
that builds a nest and incubates its eggs. It is as big as a pheasant,
and is known as the Griff's pheasant because new arrivals in India
sometimes shoot it as a game bird. If naturalists could show that
this cuckoo derived any benefit from its resemblance to a pheasant,
I doubt not that they would hold it up as an example of protective
mimicry. It is a black bird with rich chestnut wings. The black tail
is nearly a foot long. The coucal is fairly abundant on the Nilgiris.


The green parrots of the plains do not venture far up the slopes of
the hills. The only species likely to be seen on the Nilgiris at
elevations of 4000 feet and upwards is the blue-winged paroquet
(_Palæornis columboides_). This is distinguishable from the green
parrots of the plains by having the head, neck, breast, and upper
back dove-coloured. It has none of the aggressive habits of its
brethren of the plains. It keeps mainly to dense forests. Jerdon
describes its cry as "mellow, subdued, and agreeable." It is the prima
donna of the Psittaci.

Another member of the parrot family found on the Nilgiris is the Indian
loriquet, or love-bird or pigmy parrot (_Loriculus vernalis_). This
is a short-tailed bird about the size of a sparrow. It is grass green
in colour, save for the red beak, a large crimson patch on the rump,
and a small blue patch on the throat. This species does not obtrude
itself on the observer. It is seen in cages more often than in a state
of nature. It sleeps with the head hanging down after the manner of
bats, hence Finn calls this pretty little bird the bat-parrot.


Owls, like woodpeckers, do not patronise the Nilgiris very largely.
The only owl that commonly makes itself heard on those mountains is
the brown wood-owl (_Syrnium indrani_). This is the bird which perches
on the roof of the house at night and calls _to-whoo_.

Occasionally, especially round about Ootacamund, the grunting
_ur-ur-ur-ur_ of the brown fish-owl (_Ketupa zeylonensis_) disturbs
the silence of the night on the Nilgiris.


Only four species of vulture occur on the hills of South India. One
of these is the smaller white scavenger vulture (_Neophron
ginginianus_), which is probably the ugliest bird in the world. Its
plumage is dirty white, except the tips of the wings, which are black.
The head is not bald, as is the case with most vultures; it is covered
with projecting feathers that form an exceedingly bedraggled crest.
The bill, the naked face, and the legs are yellow. This vulture is
popularly known as the shawk or Pharaoh's chicken. Young scavenger
vultures are sooty brown.

The other three vultures common on the Nilgiris are the Pondicherry
vulture (_Otogyps calvus_), the long-billed vulture (_Gyps indicus_),
and the white-backed vulture (_Pseudogyps bengalensis_). The first
is easily identified by means of its white waistcoat, a patch of white
on the thighs, and large red wattles that hang down like the ears
of a blood-hound. With the above exceptions the plumage is black.

The long-billed vulture is of a uniform brown-grey colour.

The white-backed vulture is a dark brown, almost black, bird, with
a white back and a broad white band on the under surface of each wing,
which is very noticeable when the bird is soaring high in the air
on the watch for carrion.

The two commonest vultures of the Nilgiris are the scavenger and the
white-backed species.


The raptores are not very strongly represented on the Nilgiris. The
only two eagles likely to be seen are Bonelli's eagle (_Hieraëtus
fasciatus_) and the black eagle (_Ictinaëtus malayensis_). The
plumage of the latter is of much darker hue than that of the former.

Bonelli's eagle is a bold bird that works great havoc among tame
pigeons. It sometimes carries off a barnyard fowl.

The black eagle is content with smaller quarry: young birds, rats,
and snakes, seem to constitute the chief articles of its diet.

Needless to state, the common pariah kite (_Milvus govinda_) is found
on the Nilgiris. This useful bird usually sails in graceful circles
high overhead, looking for food. Its cry is not heard so frequently
on those hills as in the Himalayas, the reason being the different
configuration of the two ranges. The Nilgiris are undulating and
downlike, hence the kites are able, while hovering higher than the
summits of the hills, to see what is happening in the valleys. In
the Himalayas they cannot do this, because the valleys are usually
deep. The kites, therefore, sail there at a lower level than the
hill-tops, and their plaintive _chee-hee-hee-hee-hee_ is heard
throughout the day. It is not a very cheerful sound, so that in this
respect the Nilgiris have an advantage over the Himalayas.

The majority of the kites appear to migrate from the Nilgiris during
the south-west monsoon.

The Brahmany kite (_Haliastur indus_)--the handsome kite with white
head and breast and rich chestnut-red wings--is sometimes seen on
the Nilgiris, but scarcely sufficiently often to merit a place among
the common birds.

The three remaining raptores that are of frequent occurrence on the
hills of South India are the shikra (_Astur badius_), the crested
goshawk (_Lophospizias trivirgatus_), and the kestrel (_Tinnunculus
alaudarius_). The shikra is very like the brain-fever bird in
appearance. It is a little smaller than the common house-crow. The
upper plumage is ashy grey. The tail is of the same hue, but with
broad dark brown cross-bars. In young birds the breast is white with
dark drops; in older birds the drops become replaced by wavy
rust-coloured cross-bars. The eye is bright yellow, as is the cere
or base of the beak. The crested goshawk may be described in brief
as a large shikra with a crest.

The kestrel is the bird known in England as the windhover, on account
of its habit of hovering in mid-air on rapidly-vibrating wings before
pouncing on the lizard or other small fry, for which it is ever on
the watch. This species is about the same size as the shikra. The
head, neck, and tail are grey; the back and wings are dull red. The
lower parts are cream-coloured, spotted with brown.


Jerdon's imperial pigeon (_Ducula cuprea_) is a beautiful bird 17
inches long, of which the tail accounts for 7 inches. The prevailing
hue of this pigeon is grey. The head, breast, abdomen, and neck are
suffused with lilac. The back and wings are olive brown. The legs
are dull lake red, as is the bill, except the tip, which is blue.
This fine bird is confined to dense forest; it is said to be fond
of the wild nutmeg.

The Nilgiri wood-pigeon (_Alsocomus elphistonii_) is another
forest-haunting bird. Its prevailing hue is dove grey, with a
beautiful gloss on the back, which appears lilac in some lights and
green in others. The only other ornament in its plumage is a
black-and-white shepherd's plaid tippet. The wood-pigeon is as large
as the imperial pigeon. Of the doves, that which is most often seen
on the Nilgiris is the spotted dove (_Turtur suratensis_). This is
easily distinguished from the other members of the family by its
reddish wings spotted with dark brown and pale buff. The only other
dove likely to be seen at the Nilgiri hill stations is the little
brown dove (_T. cambayensis_), which utters a five-or-six-syllabled


This important family includes the pea- and the jungle-fowl and the
various pheasants.

The peacock is not found at altitudes above 4000 feet.

Jungle-fowl are abundant on the Nilgiris. He who keeps his eyes open
may occasionally see one of these birds running across a road in the
hills. This must not lead the observer to think that jungle-fowl spend
most of their time in sprinting across roads. The fact of the matter
is that the fowl tribe do not appreciate their food unless they have
to scratch for it. Paths and roads are highly scratchable objects,
hence they are largely resorted to for food; further, they are used
for the purpose of the daily dust-bath in which every self-respecting
fowl indulges. If these birds are disturbed when feeding or bathing,
they do not make for the nearest cover as most other birds do: they
insist on running across the road, thereby giving the grateful
sportsman a clear shot. The domestic rooster has the same habit. So
has the Indian child. To test the truth of these assertions, it is
only necessary to drive briskly along a street at the side of which
children or fowls are playing in perfect safety. At the sight of the
horse, the child or hen, as the case may be, makes a dash for the
far side of the road, and passes almost under the horse's nose. The
fowl always gets across safely. The child is not so fortunate.

Two species of jungle-fowl have partitioned the Indian peninsula
between them. The red species (_Gallus ferrugineus_) has
appropriated the part of India which lies between Kashmir and the
Godavery; while the grey jungle-fowl (_G. sonnerati_) has possessed
itself of the territory south of the Godavery. The third jungle-fowl
(_G. lafayetti_) has to be content with Ceylon, but the size of its
name very nearly makes up for its deficiency in acres!

Davison is my authority for stating that the _Strobilanthes whitiani_,
which constitutes the main undergrowth of many of the forests of the
Nilgiris, seeds only once in about seven years, and that when this
plant is seeding the grey jungle-fowl assemble in vast numbers to
feed on the seed. They collect in the same way for the sake of bamboo
seeds. The crow of the cock, which is heard chiefly in the morning
and the evening, is not like that of the red jungle-fowl. It has been
syllabised _kuk-kah-kah-kaha-kuk_. The call of the hen may be
expressed by the syllables _kukkun-kukkun_.

The red spur-fowl (_Galloperdix spadicea_) is perhaps the most
abundant game bird of the Nilgiris. It is quite partridge-like in
shape. Both sexes have red legs and a patch of red skin round the
eye. The feathers of the cock are dull red with blue edges, while
those of the hen are black with broad buff margins. The cock may be
described as a dull red bird with a grey head and some buff scale-like
markings, and the hen as a grey bird, heavily barred with black.

The only quail commonly seen on the Nilgiris is the painted bush-quail
(_Microperdix erythrorhynchus_). A bird in shape like a partridge,
but not much larger than a sparrow, is probably this species. The
prevailing hue is umber brown with coarse black blotches. The cock
has the breast white and the head black with a white eyebrow. The
head of the hen is dull red. The bill, legs, and feet of both sexes
are red.


This very large family includes the plovers, sandpipers, and snipes.
It is not very well represented on the Nilgiris. In winter snipe and
woodcock visit those mountains and afford good sport to the human
residents, but all have gone northward long before the summer visitors

Several species of sandpiper likewise visit the Nilgiris in winter;
one of these--the wood sandpiper (_Totanus glareola_)--tarries on
until after the beginning of summer. This is a bird as large as a
dove; its plumage is speckled brown and white. It looks somewhat like
a snipe with a short bill. It lives on the margins of ponds and
constantly wags its apology for a tail.


The rails are not well represented on the Nilgiris.

The water-hen (_Gallinula chloropus_) is common on the lake at
Ootacamund. This is an olive-green bird about the size of a pigeon.
Its bill and forehead are red; there is a patch of white under the
tail. This species swims like a duck.

Another rail which may be seen sometimes in the Botanical Gardens
at Ootacamund is the white-breasted water-hen (_Amaurornis
phoenicurus_). This is a black bird with the face, throat, and breast
white. There is a chestnut-hued patch under the tail.


Almost the only member of the heron family that visits the Nilgiri
hill stations is the pond-heron or paddy-bird (_Ardeola grayii_).

A colony of these birds pursues its avocations on the margin of the
lake at Ootacamund, but I believe that I am right in saying that the
paddy-birds of Ootacamund go to the plains for nesting purposes.

_The Common Birds of the Palni Hills_


For the benefit of those who visit Kodikanal I have compiled a list
of the birds most commonly seen at altitudes of over 5000 feet in
the Palni hills. I must here state that I have no first-hand knowledge
of the avifauna of those hills, and the list that follows is based
on the observations of Dr. Fairbank, made nearly 40 years ago.

The avifauna of the Palni is a comparatively restricted one: which
is in part doubtless explained by the comparatively small area of
the higher ranges that is covered by forest.

The great majority of the birds that follow have been described in
the chapter on the birds of the Nilgiris, and I have contented myself
with merely naming such.


1. _Corvus macrorhynchus_. The Indian corby. This is not very abundant
above 5500 feet.

2. _Dendrocitta rufa_. The tree-pie. This does not appear to occur
above 5000 feet.

3. _Machlolophus haplonotus_. The southern yellow tit. Occurs at
Kodikanal, but is not very common there.


4. _Crateropus canorus_. The jungle babbler. This rarely ascends
higher than 5000 feet.

5. _Trochalopterum fairbanki_. The Palni laughing-thrush. This
species is peculiar to the Palnis and the Anamallis. The head is very
dark brown, almost black, with a broad white eyebrow. The cheeks are
grey, as are the chin, throat, and breast. The back, wings, and tail
are olive brown tinged with rusty red. The abdomen is bright rufous.
The noisy cries of this bird are among the most familiar sounds of
Kodikanal. It is destructive to peaches and raspberries.

6. _Pomatorhinus horsfieldi_. The southern scimitar-babbler. This
is not nearly so abundant on the Palnis as on the Nilgiris.

7. _Zosterops palpebrosa_. The Indian white-eye. A common bird.

8. _Iole icteria_. The yellow-browed bulbul. _Otocompsa
fuscicaudata_. The southern red-whiskered bulbul or hill-bulbul. As
in the Nilgiris so in the Palnis, this is the most abundant bird on
the higher hills.

9. _Molpastes hæmorrhous_. The Madras red-vented bulbul. The higher
one ascends, the rarer this bird becomes.

10. _Hypsipetes ganeesa_. The southern black bulbul.

11. _Myiophoneus horsfieldi_. The Malabar whistling-thrush or idle
schoolboy. This fine but shy bird is found on the streams up to 6000
feet. It is a bird as large as a crow, with glossy black plumage,
in which are patches of bright cobalt blue.

It is better known to the ear than to the eye. It emits a number of
cheerful whistling notes.


12. _Sitta frontalis_. The velvet-fronted blue nuthatch. This bird
is found in every part of the Palnis where there are trees.


13. _Chaptia ænea_. The bronzed drongo. This species is not often
seen at altitudes of more than 5000 feet above sea-level.

It is like the common king-crow in appearance, but the plumage is
glossed with a bronze sheen, and the tail is less markedly forked.


14. _Orthotomus sartorius_. The tailor bird. This has been seen as
high as 5500 feet above the sea-level.

15. _Prinia socialis_. The ashy wren-warbler.

16. _Prinia inorata_. The Indian wren-warbler. This is very like the
ashy wren-warbler in appearance. Its upper plumage is earthy-brown,
and not reddish brown, and it does not make during flight the curious
snapping noise so characteristic of _P. socialis_.


17. _Lanius erythronotus_. The rufous-backed shrike.

18. _Pericrocotus flammeus_. The orange minivet. This beautiful bird
occurs from the bottom to the top of the Palnis.

19. _Pericrocotus peregrinus_. The little minivet. This is a bird
of the plains rather than of the hills. But as Fairbank observed it
in the Palnis as high as 5000 feet, it is given a place in this list.
_Cock_: Head and shoulders slaty grey, lower back deep scarlet, wings
black with red bar, tail black with red at tip, chin and throat
blackish, breast scarlet; lower plumage orange yellow. _Hen_: upper
parts grey, lower parts creamy white, wing brown with yellow or orange
bar, tail black with red tip.

This species is smaller than a sparrow, but the tail is 3 inches long.


20. _Oriolus melanocephalus_. The black-headed oriole. This species
has been seen as high as 5000 feet above the sea-level. The cock is
bright yellow, with a black head and some black in the wings and tail.
The hen is of a much duller yellow and has the back tinged with green.


Fairbank does not mention the jungle myna (_Æthiopsar fuscus_) in
his list of the birds of the Palnis (_Stray Feathers_, vol. v, 1877).
Yet this is precisely the myna one would expect to find on the Palnis,
and it should be looked for.

21. On the other hand, the Brahmany myna (_Temenuchus pagodarum_),
which is essentially a bird of the plains, is said by Fairbank to
occur "well up the hillsides."

Of the common myna (_Acridotheres tristis_), he writes: "This is
common around villages at 4000 feet."

22. _Temenuchus pagodarum_. The Brahmany myna. Head and recumbent
crest black. Wings black and grey. Tail brown with a white tip.
Remainder of plumage rich buff. Beak blue with yellow tip. Legs bright


23. _Eulabes religiosa_. The southern grackle or hill-myna. This bird
occurs in the forests of the Palnis between elevations of 4000 and
5000 feet. It is familiar to every one as a cage bird. A glossy black
bird with a white wing bar. The wattles, legs, and bill are yellow.


24. _Ochromela nigrirufa_. The black-and-orange flycatcher.

25. _Stoparola albicaudata_. The Nilgiri blue-flycatcher.

26. _Cyornis tickelli_. Tickell's blue-flycatcher. Less common than
on the Nilgiris.

27. _Culicicapa ceylonensis_. The grey-headed flycatcher.

28. _Rhipidura albifrontata_. The white-browed fantail flycatcher.
Fairbank did not find this bird at altitudes over 4000 feet.


29. _Pratincola atrata_. The southern pied bush-chat or hill-robin.
Not nearly so abundant on the Palnis as on the Nilgiris.

30. _Merula simillima_. The Nilgiri blackbird. In spring its
delightful song gladdens the groves of the higher Palnis.

31. _Copschychus saularis_. The magpie-robin. Has been observed as
high as 5000 feet. The cock is black, and the hen grey, with a white
breast and white in the wings and tail. The distribution of the black
and white is like that in the common magpie.


32. _Passer domesticus_. The common sparrow. Does not occur much above
5000 feet.


33. _Hirunda javanica_. The Nilgiri house-swallow.


34. _Anthus nilgirensis_. The Nilgiri pipit. Common on the grassy
fields at the summit of the Palnis.


35. _Arachnecthra minima_. The tiny sunbird or honeysucker. Common
from 4000 feet upwards.


36. _Dicæum concolor_. The Nilgiri flower-pecker. This frequents the
flowers of the parasitic _Loranthus_.

37. _Dicæum erythrorhynchus_. Tickell's flower-pecker. This species
does not appear to ascend the Palnis to any great height. It is
abundant at the foot of the hills.


38. _Chrysocolaptes gutticristatus_. Tickell's golden-backed
woodpecker. As in the Nilgiris so in the Palnis, this is the common

39. _Brachypternus aurantius_. The golden-backed woodpecker. This
is the common woodpecker of the plains: it ascends the Palnis to
elevations of 5000 feet. This is distinguishable from the foregoing
species by its smaller size, and in having the rump velvety black
instead of crimson.

40. _Liopicus mahrattensis_. The yellow-fronted pied woodpecker.
This plains species ascends the Palnis to elevations of 5000 feet.
It is much smaller than either of the two foregoing species. The
plumage is spotted black and white, with a patch of red on the abdomen.
There is a yellow patch on the forehead. The cock has a short red


41. _Thereiceryx viridis_. The small green barbet. (The coppersmith
does not ascend higher than 4000 feet.)


42. The only kingfisher found in the Palnis seems to be the
white-breasted kingfisher (_Halcyon smyrnensis_), but this species
is confined to the lower hills.


43. The Indian hoopoe (_Upupa indica_) occurs on the lower ranges,
but does not appear to ascend the hills as far as Kodikanal.


44. Swifts are not abundant in the Palnis. The only one observed by
Fairbank was the common Indian swift (_Cypselus affinis_), seen at
an elevation of 3000 feet. This is easily distinguished by the white
band across the rump.


45. _Hierococcyx varius_. The hawk-cuckoo.

46. _Eudynamis honorata_. The Indian koel. This species is not common
on the Palnis.

47. _Centropus sinensis_. The common coucal or crow-pheasant. This
is not very common.


48. _Palæornis columboides_. The blue-winged paroquet.

49. _Loriculus vernalis_. The Indian loriquet or love-bird.


50. _Ketupa zeylonensis_. The brown fish-owl. A large bird with
aigrettes. The eyes are bright yellow. The legs are devoid of feathers.
The call is a series of grunts.


51. _Neophron ginginianus_. The smaller white scavenger vulture.
This occurs up to at least 5000 feet. Fairbank did not observe any
other vultures on the higher hills, but it is unlikely that
_Pseudogyps bengalensis_ (the white-backed vulture), _Gyps indicus_
(the long-billed vulture), and _Otogyps calvus_ (the black or
Pondicherry vulture) do not visit the higher hills. These three birds
should be looked for, especially the first.


52. _Ictinaëtus malayensis_. The black eagle. Not very common.

53. _Milvus govinda_. The common pariah kite. Fairbank did not see
this above 3000 feet.

54. _Haliastur indus_. The Brahmany kite. Occurs up to at least 4000

55. _Tinnunculus alaudarius_. The kestrel.


56. _Alsocomus elphistonii_. The Nilgiri wood-pigeon.

The spotted and the little brown doves (_Turtur suratensis_ and _T.
cambayensis_) are found only on the lower hills.


57. _Gallus sonnerati_. The grey jungle fowl. Not so common as on
the Nilgiris.

58. _Galloperdix spadicea_. The red spur-fowl. Not common.

59. _Microperdix erythrorhynchus_. The painted bush-quail.


A few snipe and woodcock visit the Palnis in winter.


60. _Podicipes albipennis_. The little grebe or dabchick. This bird
never leaves the water. It is smaller than a dove. It has no tail.
It is dark glossy brown in colour with chestnut on the sides of the

_I. Vernacular Names of Himalayan Birds_
_II. Vernacular Names of Nilgiri Birds_


Ababil . . . . . . . swallow

Akku . . . . . . . . common cuckoo

Argul  . . . . . . . lammergeyer

Ban-bakra  . . . . . black bulbul, rusty-cheeked scimitar-babbler

Ban-sarrah . . . . . black-throated jay

Ban-titar  . . . . . hill partridge

Bara bharao  . . . . large hawk-cuckoo

Batasi . . . . . . . Indian swift

Bater  . . . . . . . quail

Bhimraj  . . . . . . racquet-tailed drongo

Boukotako  . . . . . Indian cuckoo

Bulaka . . . . . . . brown wood-owl

Bulbul . . . . . . . bulbul

Bunchil  . . . . . . cheer pheasant

Chakru . . . . . . . chakor partridge

Chaman . . . . . . . cheer pheasant

Chanjarol  . . . . . woodcock

Chil . . . . . . . . kite

Chir . . . . . . . . cheer pheasant

Chitla . . . . . . . spotted dove

Chitroka fakhta  . . spotted dove

Chota fakhta . . . . little brown dove

Chukar . . . . . . . chakor partridge

Digg-dall  . . . . . blue magpie

Dhal kowa  . . . . . corby

Dhor fakhta  . . . . ring-dove

Dogra chil . . . . . crested serpent eagle

Durkal . . . . . . . black bulbul

Gagi . . . . . . . . slaty-headed paroquet

Gidh . . . . . . . . vulture

Gir-chaondia . . . . white-capped redstart

Gonriya  . . . . . . house-sparrow

Gugi . . . . . . . . ring-dove

Herril . . . . . . . cheer pheasant

Hud-hud  . . . . . . hoopoe

Il . . . . . . . . . kite

Jel butara . . . . . Himalayan pied kingfisher

Jumiz  . . . . . . . imperial eagle

Kabk . . . . . . . . chakor partridge

Kaindal  . . . . . . hill partridge

Kalesur  . . . . . . kalij pheasant

Kalij  . . . . . . . kalij pheasant

Kali-pholia  . . . . white-capped redstart

Kaljit . . . . . . . Himalayan whistling-thrush

Kangskiri  . . . . . spotted dove

Kastura  . . . . . . Himalayan whistling-thrush, grey-winged ouzel

Kasturi  . . . . . . grey-winged ouzel

Koak . . . . . . . . koklas pheasant

Koin . . . . . . . . Indian turtle-dove

Kokia-kak  . . . . . Himalayan tree-pie

Kokla  . . . . . . . kokla green-pigeon, koklas pheasant

Koklas . . . . . . . koklas pheasant

Kolsa  . . . . . . . kalij pheasant

Krishen-patti  . . . blue-headed rock-thrush

Kuil . . . . . . . . koel

Kukera . . . . . . . kalij pheasant

Kukku  . . . . . . . cuckoo

Kukrola  . . . . . . koklas pheasant

Kupak  . . . . . . . common hawk-cuckoo

Kupwah . . . . . . . cuckoo

Kyphulpakka  . . . . Indian cuckoo

Kyphulpakki  . . . . Indian cuckoo

Machi bagh . . . . . Himalayan pied kingfisher

Madana suga  . . . . slaty-headed paroquet

Maina  . . . . . . . myna

Miouli . . . . . . . great Himalayan barbet

Mohrhaita  . . . . . changeable hawk-eagle

Moraugi  . . . . . . Bonelli's eagle

Neoul  . . . . . . . great Himalayan barbet

Nilkant  . . . . . . blue magpie

Niltau . . . . . . . rufous-bellied niltava

Okhab  . . . . . . . lammergeyer

Pahari maina . . . . jungle myna

Pahari tuiya . . . . slaty-headed paroquet

Painju . . . . . . . white-cheeked bulbul

Panduk . . . . . . . dove

Patariya masaicha  . grey-winged ouzel

Perki  . . . . . . . dove

Peunra . . . . . . . hill partridge

Phupu  . . . . . . . cuckoo

Pilak  . . . . . . . oriole

Plas . . . . . . . . koklas pheasant

Pokras . . . . . . . koklas pheasant

Popiya . . . . . . . common hawk-cuckoo

Puli . . . . . . . . spotted wing

Ram chakru . . . . . hill partridge

Roli . . . . . . . . hill partridge

Sadal  . . . . . . . changeable hawk-eagle

Safed gidh . . . . . scavenger vulture

Sahili . . . . . . . scarlet minivet

Sahim  . . . . . . . ashy drongo

Sakdudu  . . . . . . hoopoe

Satangal . . . . . . imperial eagle

Shah bulbul  . . . . paradise flycatcher

Sibia  . . . . . . . sibia

Sim kukra  . . . . . woodcock

Sim tital  . . . . . woodcock

Takpo  . . . . . . . Indian cuckoo

Toitru fakhta  . . . little brown dove

Traiho . . . . . . . great Himalayan barbet

Tuktola  . . . . . . Western-Himalayan scaly-bellied green woodpecker

Turkan . . . . . . . Western-Himalayan pied woodpecker

Tusal  . . . . . . . bar-tailed cuckoo-dove

Tutitar  . . . . . . woodcock

Ulak . . . . . . . . corby

Zakki  . . . . . . . brown flycatcher

Zird phutki  . . . . grey-headed flycatcher


Adavikodi  . . . . . grey jungle-fowl

Adavi nalla gedda  . black eagle

Adiki lam kuravi . . sparrow

Boli kadi  . . . . . white-breasted water-hen

Boli kodi  . . . . . moorhen

Buchi gadu . . . . . white-breasted kingfisher

Buruta pitta . . . . Indian skylark

Chandul  . . . . . . crested lark

Chilluka . . . . . . paroquet

Chinna ulanka  . . . wood sandpiper

Chinna wallur  . . . shikra

Chitlu jitta . . . . Nilgiri flower-pecker

Chitti bella guwa  . little brown dove

Dasari pitta . . . . scimitar-babbler, fantail flycatcher

Garud alawa  . . . . Brahmany kite

Garuda mantaru . . . Brahmany kite

Gola kokila  . . . . pied crested cuckoo

Goranka  . . . . . . common myna

Gudi konga . . . . . paddy bird

Guli gadu  . . . . . white-backed vulture

Gurapa madi jitta  . Indian pipit

Jali dega  . . . . . shikra

Jambri kodi  . . . . moorhen

Jitta kodi . . . . . red spear-fowl

Jutu pitta . . . . . crested lark

Kadai  . . . . . . . painted bush quail

Kakka  . . . . . . . black crow

Kakki  . . . . . . . black crow

Kakkara jinuwayi . . spotted munia

Kalli kaka . . . . . crow-pheasant

Kalu prandu  . . . . kite

Kaltu koli . . . . . grey jungle-fowl

Killi  . . . . . . . paroquet

Kokku  . . . . . . . paddy bird

Konda lati . . . . . red-vented bulbul

Kumpa nalanchi . . . pied bush-chat

Kundeli salawa . . . Bonelli's eagle

Kutti pitta  . . . . hawk-cuckoo

Lak muka . . . . . . white-breasted kingfisher

Likku jitta  . . . . tailor-bird

Machayarya . . . . . fantail flycatcher

Malla gedda  . . . . kite

Manam badi . . . . . Indian skylark

Manati . . . . . . . fantail flycatcher

Manju tiridi . . . . scavenger vulture

Meta kali  . . . . . Indian pipit

Namala pitta . . . . scimitar-babbler

Nella borawa . . . . Pondicherry vulture

Niala pichiki  . . . Indian skylark

Nila buchi gadu  . . common kingfisher

Papa . . . . . . . . scavenger vulture

Papa parundu . . . . scavenger vulture

Paria prandu . . . . kite

Pedda sida . . . . . jungle babbler

Pigli pitta  . . . . red-vented bulbul

Pit pitta  . . . . . ashy wren-warbler

Pittri gedda . . . . scavenger vulture

Poda bella guwa  . . spotted dove

Puli pora  . . . . . spotted dove

Rajali . . . . . . . Bonelli's eagle

Sarrava koli . . . . red spur-fowl

Sowata guwa  . . . . little brown dove

Tangada goranka  . . pied crested cuckoo

Tella borawa . . . . scavenger vulture

Than kudi  . . . . . sunbird

Tinna kuruvi . . . . spotted munia

Tondala doshi gadu . kestrel

Tondala muchi gedda  kestrel

Tonka pigli pitta  . paradise flycatcher

Torra jinuwayi . . . red munia

Touta pora . . . . . little brown dove

Turaka pigli pitta . hill or red-whiskered bulbul

Uri pichiki  . . . . sparrow

Vichuli  . . . . . . white-breasted kingfisher

Wal konda lati . . . paradise flycatcher

Yerra belinchi . . . rufous-backed shrike

Yerra kodi . . . . . red spur-fowl


Abrornis superciliaris, 113

Accipiter cooperi, 171

Aceros nepalensis, 122

Acridotheres tristis, 60, 199, 240

Actinodura egertoni, 110

Ægithaliscus erythrocephalus, 41, 106

Æthiopsar fuscus, 61, 199, 239

Æthopyga nepalensis, 119

-- scheriæ, 76

Alauda gulgula, 210


ALCEDINIDÆ, 79, 121, 215, 243

Alcedo ispida, 215

Alcippe nepalensis, 109

Alcurus striatus, 112

Alder, 22

Almora, 22, 29, 41 _seq._, 51, 54, 59, 65, 67, 87, 97

Alseonax latirostris, 63, 115

Alsocomus elphistonii, 226, 246

Amadavat, 205

Amaranthus, 25

Amaurornis phoenicurus, 230

Anamallis, 236

Andaman Islands, 217

Anemone, 18, 25

"Animal colouration," 171

Anthipes moniliger, 116

Anthus nilgirensis, 209

-- rufulus, 209

Aquila helica, 125

Arachnecthra asiatica, 210

-- lotenia, 212

-- minima, 211, 242

-- zeylonica, 212

Arboricola torqueola, 104, 126


Ardeola grayii, 231

Argul, 92

Arisæma jacque-montii, 53

Astur badius, 224

Babblers, 42 _seq._, 48, 107, 109, 111, 187, 236

Babul, 16

Bageswar, 23

Baker, Stuart, 84

Baldwin, 100

Banbakra, 45, 143

Barakheri stream, 20

Barbets, 26, 79, 121, 174 _seq._, 214, 243

Bar-wing, rufous, 110

Bee-eater, 27

Begonia, 17

Benog, 102

Berberry, 17

Bhabar, 15

Bhimraj, 55

Bhim Tal, 20

Bhotias, 23

Birch, 17

"Birds of Illinois and Wisconsin," 142

Birds of prey, 125

Blanford, 85

Blood-pheasant, 99

Blue jay, 27

Borax, 23

Boukotako, 85

Brachypodinæ, 138

Brachypternus aurantius, 243

Brain-fever bird, 83, 86, 219

British Museum, 172

Broken Pekoe Bird, 85


Bulbul, 27, 35, 42, 49, 50 _seq._, 112, 138

Buller, Sir Walter, 171

Buntings, 72

Burma, 152

Bush-chat, 66 _seq._

Butcher-birds, 56

Caccabis chucar, 103

Calls of birds, 36

Campophaga melanoschista, 114

Cape, the, 18

CAPITONIDÆ, 79, 121, 214, 243


Carpodacus erythrinus, 207

Catreus wellichi, 101

Centauria, 18, 25

Centropus sinensis, 219, 244

Cephalopyrus flammiceps, 48

Certhia discolor, 113

-- himalayana, 55

CERTHIIDÆ, 55, 113

Ceryle lugubris, 79, 121

Chætura indica, 216

-- nudipes, 123

Chakor, 103

Chalcophaps indica, 98

Chaptia ænea, 237

CHARADRIIDÆ, 104, 126, 229, 246

Cheer, 100

Chimarrhornis leucocephalus, 69

Chloropsis malabarica, 191

Choughs, 25, 29, 30, 106

Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus, 83

Chrysocolaptes gutticristatus, 214, 242

Coccystes jacobinus, 219

Collocalia francicia, 217

-- fuciphaga, 217

Colorado, 18

Colt's-foot, 17, 25

COLUMBIDÆ, 97, 125, 225, 246

Columbines, 17, 25

Coonoor, 186, 196, 199, 206 _seq._, 212, 214

Coppersmith, 26, 215

Copschychus saularis, 241

Coracias indica, 32

Corby, 26, 29

CORVIDÆ, 29, 105, 185, 235

Corvus macrorhyncus, 29, 105, 185, 235

-- splendens, 29, 87

Coturnix communis, 102, 126

Coucal, 219

CRATEROPODIDÆ, 42, 49, 107, 187, 236

Crateropus canorus, 188

Crow, 105, 235

-- black, 35

-- grey-necked, 22

-- jungle, 29

Cryptolopha Jerdoni, 148

-- xanthoschista, 56, 146

Cuckoo-dove, 99, 125

Cuckoo, European, 26

Cuckoos, 82 _seq._, 123, 219, 244

Cuckoo-shrike, 114

CUCULIDÆ, 82, 123, 219, 244

Cuculus canorus, 82, 84, 123

-- micropterus, 85, 124

-- poliocephalus, 123

-- saturatus, 85, 123

Culicicapa ceylonensis, 63, 202, 241

Cuming, E. D., 137

Cyanops franklini, 121

Cyornis melanoleucus, 117

-- rubeculoides, 116

-- superciliaris, 63, 115

-- tickelli, 202, 241

Cypress, 17

CYPSELIDÆ, 81, 123, 216, 244

Cypselus affinis, 81, 244

-- melba, 82

Dabchick, 247

Daisies, 17, 25

Dandelion, 17, 25

Darjeeling, 105 _seq._, 107, 109 _seq._, 113 _seq._, 115, 117 _seq._,
  125, 136

Darwinian theory, 171

Davison, 191, 228

Delhi, 24

Dendrocitta himalayensis, 31, 106

-- rufa, 236

Dendrocopus auriceps, 77 _seq._

-- cathpharius, 120

-- himalayensis, 78

Deodar, 17, 22

Dhakuri, 24 _seq._

Dhanpur, 23

Dhobi bird, 67, 153

DICÆIDÆ, 77, 119, 212, 242

Dicæum concolor, 213, 242

-- erythrorhyncus, 213, 242

-- ignipectus, 77, 119

DICRURIDÆ, 53, 113, 196, 237

Dicrurus ater, 53, 141

-- longicaudatus, 54, 113

Dig-dall, 31

Dimorphism, 83

Dissemurus paradiseus, 55

Dove, 26, 97, 125, 225, 246

Drongo, 53, 113, 196, 237

Ducula cuprea, 225

Eagles, 93, 125, 245

Eastern Himalayas, 105

Edelweiss, 18, 25

"Eha," 50, 139, 204

Emberiza stewarti, 73

-- stracheyi, 72

Eudynamis honorata, 83, 86, 219, 244

-- taitensis, 171

Eulabes religiosa, 240


Evergreen oaks, 17

"Exile," 95

Fairbank, Dr., 235, 239 _seq._, 244, 246

Fairy blue-chat, 64

FALCONIDÆ, 93, 125, 223, 245

Finches, 71, 118, 207, 241

Finn, 136, 221

Fir, silver, 17

Flower-peckers, 77, 119, 212, 242

Flycatchers, 22, 27, 56, 62 _seq._, 114 _seq._, 200, 240

"Forests of Upper India," 18

Forktail, 117, 151 _seq._

Francolinus vulgaris, 103, 126

FRINGILLIDÆ, 71, 118, 207, 241

Gagar, 20 _seq._

Galerita cristata, 210

Gallinula chloropus, 230

Galloperdix spadicea, 228, 246

Gallus ferrugineus, 228

-- lafayetti, 228

-- sonnerati, 228, 246

Game birds, 99

Garhwal, 76

Garrulax albigularis, 44, 107

-- leucolophus, 107

Garrulus bispecularis, 33, 106

-- glandarius, 34

-- lanceolatus, 33

Garwalis, 23

Gecinus chlorolophus, 120

-- occipitalis, 120

-- squamatus, 78

Gennæus albicristatus, 100

-- leucomelanus, 125

Gentians, 17, 25

Glaucidium brodiei, 89, 124

Gneiss, 19

Godavery, 228

Gola river, 20

Grackles, 240

Graculus eremita, 30, 106

Grammatophila striata, 108

Granite, 18 _seq._

Grebes, 247

Green-pigeon, 26

Grey-backed shrike, 58

Grey-headed flycatcher, 63, 146

Grey-winged ouzel, 158

Griffon, 92

Griff's pheasant, 220

Grosbeaks, 71, 164

Gypætus barbatus, 92

Gyps himalayensis, 92, 124

-- indicus, 222, 245

Gurkhas, 22

Hæmatospiza sipahi, 118

Halcyon smyrnensis, 216

Haliastur indus, 224, 246

Hawk-cuckoo, 86

Hemichelidon ferruginea, 116

-- sibirica, 116

Henicurus maculatus, 67, 117, 151, 158

Herons, 230

Hieraëtus fasciatus, 125, 223

-- pennatus, 93

Hierococcyx sparverioides, 86, 124, 219

-- varius, 83, 86, 124, 219, 244

Himalayas, 13 _seq._

HIRUNDINIDÆ, 73, 119, 208, 242

Hirundo erythropygia, 208

-- javanica, 208

-- nepalensis, 74, 119

-- rustica, 74, 119

Hodgson's hawk-eagle, 95

Hoopoes, 80, 244

Hornbills, 122

Horse-chestnut, 17, 22

House-crow, 26, 29

Houses of the hill folk, 21

Hume, 44, 102, 154

Hutton, 94, 176

Hypacanthis spinoides, 71

Hypopicus hypererythrus, 78, 120

Hypsipetes, 140

-- ganeesa, 195, 237

-- psaroides, 51, 112, 140, 142

Ianthocincla ocellata, 107

-- rufigularis, 45, 107

Ictinaëtus malayensis, 125, 223, 245

Idle schoolboy, 154

Impeyan pheasant, 99

Iole icteria, 194, 237

Ixulus flavicollis, 110

Jays, 27, 29, 32 _seq._, 36 _seq._, 106

Jerdon, 39, 47, 64, 74, 81, 108, 116, 137, 142, 152, 176, 190, 191,

Jungle-fowl, 226

Jungle myna, 60

Juniper, 17

Kalij, 100

Kalimat mountain, 22

Kashmir, 75, 228

Kathgodam, 19, 21

Kestrel, 96, 125, 246

Ketupa zeylonensis, 221, 245

Khairna, 46

King-crow, 22, 53

Kingfishers, 79, 121, 215, 243

Kite, 27, 35, 96, 125, 246

Kodikanal, 235 _seq._

Koel, 22, 26, 83, 86, 219

Kokla green-pigeon, 125

Koklas pheasant, 100 _seq._

Kosi river, 46

Kumaun, 81

Kumaunis, 23

Kuphini river, 25

Kyphulpakka, 85

"Lahore to Yarkand," 148

Lal, 205 _seq._

Laldana Binaik pass, 21

Lammergeyer, 92

Landour, 81

LANIIDÆ, 56, 114, 198, 238

Lanius cristatus, 198

-- erythronotus, 57, 198, 238

-- nigriceps, 58

-- tephronotus, 58, 114

-- vittatus, 57

Larks, 210

Laughing-thrushes, 27, 42 _seq._, 107

Liopicus mahrattensis, 243

Lioptila capistrata, 47, 109

Liothrix lutea, 110, 133

Lobelia excelsa, 197, 200

Lophophanes melanopterus, 41

Lophospizias trivirgatus, 224

Loriculus vernalis, 221, 245

Love-bird, 245

Machlolophus haplonotus, 186, 236

-- spilonotus, 106

-- xanthogenys, 40

Macropteryx coronata, 217

Macropygia tusalia, 99, 125

Madras, 212

Magpie, blue, 27, 30 _seq._

Magpie-robin, 22, 27

Maidenhair, 17

"Making of Species," 171

Malabar whistling-thrush, 154, 237

Mango, 16

Marshall, Colonel, 149

Megalæma marshallorum, 79, 121, 174

Megalæmas, 175, 178

Merula boulboul, 69, 118, 158

-- simillima, 204, 241

Microcichla scouleri, 117

Microperdix erythrorhynchus, 229, 246

Milvus govinda, 96, 125, 223, 245

-- melanotis, 96

Minla igneitincta, 111

Minivets, 58, 114, 198

Mohrhaita, 94

Molpastes, 138

-- bengalensis, 50

-- hæmorrhous, 191, 237

-- leucogenys, 51, 112

Monal pheasant, 25

Monaul, 99

Moss, hanging, 17

Motacilla maderaspatensis, 208

-- melanope, 75

MOTACILLIDÆ, 75, 119, 208, 242

Mountain-thrush, 118

Munia, 205

Murree, 56, 59, 78, 146

MUSCICAPIDÆ, 62, 114, 200, 240

Mussoorie, 26, 42, 45, 49, 59, 86, 89, 94, 97, 103, 136

Mycerobas, 164

-- melanoxanthus, 164

Myna, 22, 27, 37, 44, 60, 199, 240

Myiophoneus horsfieldi, 237

-- temmincki, 46, 109, 154

Naini Tal, 20, 33, 42, 46, 51, 53, 56, 59, 64 _seq._, 75 _seq._, 86,
  94, 146, 149, 158, 163

NECTARINIDÆ, 76, 119, 210, 242

Neophron ginginianus, 90, 222, 245

Nepalese, 23

New Zealand, 171

Nightjars, 218

Nilgiris, 37, 42

-- common birds of the, 183

Nilkhant, 31

Niltava grandis, 115

-- macgrigoriæ, 115

-- sundara, 64, 115

Nim, 16

Nucifraga hemispila, 39

-- multipunctata, 39

Nutcrackers, 38

Nuthatch, 42, 52, 113, 195

Oak, 17

-- forest, 24

Oates, 133, 146, 148, 206, 208

Ochromela nigrirufa, 201, 240

Oology of cuckoos, 84

Ootacamund 186, 206 _seq._, 219, 221, 230 _seq._

Orchid, 18

Oreicola ferrea, 66

Oreocincla dauma, 70

-- molissima, 118

-- nilgirensis, 205

Oreocorys sylvanus, 75, 119

Oriental region, 28

Orioles, 59, 199

ORIOLIDÆ, 59, 199, 239

Oriolus kundoo, 59, 165, 199

-- melanocephalus, 165, 199, 239

Orthotomus sartorius, 145, 196, 238

Otocompsa, 138, 147

-- emeria, 50

-- fuscicaudata, 192, 237

Otogyps calvus, 222, 245

Ouzel, 118

-- grey-winged, 69, 158 _seq._

Owlets, spotted, 27

Owls, 88, 124, 221, 245

Paddy bird, 27

Palæarctic region, 28

Palæornis columboides, 220, 244

-- cyanocephalus, 88

-- schisticeps, 87, 124

-- torquatus, 87

Palm, 16

Palni Hills, common birds of the, 235 _seq._

Paradise flycatcher, 64

Paroquets, 26

Parrots, 87, 124, 244

Partridges, 102

Partridge, hill, 126

Parus atriceps, 42, 106, 186

-- monticola, 40, 106, 128

Passer cinamomeus, 72

-- domesticus, 207, 241

-- montanus, 118

Pathargarhi muta, 21

Pea-fowl, 220

Pekin-robin, 110, 133

Pericrocotus brevirostris, 58, 114

-- flammeus, 199, 238

-- peregrinus, 238

-- speciosus, 58

Petrophila cinclorhynca, 70, 118

Pharaoh's chicken, 91

PHASIANIDÆ, 99, 125, 226, 246

Pheasants, 125, 246

PICIDÆ, 77, 119, 213, 242

Piculets, 121

Picumnus innominatus, 121

Pies, 29

Pigeon, green, 97

Pindari glacier, 19 _seq._

-- river, 25

-- road, 23

Pine, 22

Pinus longifolia, 17

Pipits, 75, 119, 209

Plantain, 16


Plovers, 104, 126, 229, 246

Plumbeous redstart, 69

Pneopyga squamata, 113


Podicipes albipennis, 247

Pomatorhinus erythrogenys, 45, 108

-- horsfieldi, 188, 236

-- schisticeps, 108

Pratincola atrata, 204, 241

-- maura, 67

Prinia inorata, 238

-- socialis, 146, 197, 238

Psaroglossa spiloptera, 49

Pseudogyps bengalensis, 91, 124, 222, 245

PSITTACIDÆ, 87, 124, 220, 244

Ptyonoprogne rupestris, 74

Pucrasia macrolopha, 101

Puli, 49

Puttani kurivi, 187

Pycnorhamphus, 164

-- icteroides, 71, 164

Pyrrhocorax alpinus, 30, 106

Pyrrhopicus pyrrhotis, 120

Quail, 102, 126

Quartz, 18 _seq._

Rails, 230

Rajpur, 26, 86


Ramganga stream, 21

Ranibagh, 20

Raspberries, 17

Rattray, Colonel, 167

Redstart, 118

Red waxbill, 206

Red-whiskered bulbul, 50

Rhipidura albifrontata, 202, 241

-- allicollis, 115

-- pectoralis, 202

Rhododendron, 17, 21, 24

Rhyacornis fuliginosus, 69, 118

Ring-dove, 98

Robin, Indian, 27

Rock-thrush, 70, 118

Rohilkhand, 19

-- and Kumaun Railway, 19

Roller, Indian, 32

Rose-finch, 207

Rufous-backed shrike, 57

-- chinned laughing-thrush, 45

Sal, 16

Sarju river, 23 _seq._

Sasia ochracea, 121

Sath bhai, 188

Sat Tal, 20

Scavenger vulture, 27

Scimitar-babblers, 45, 108

Scolopax rusticola, 104, 126

Scops spilocephalus, 89, 124

Scully, 176

Seven sisters, 27, 35, 43

Sharpe, 172

Shesham, 16

Shikra, 224

Shorea robusta, 16

Shrikes, 56 _seq._, 114, 198

Sibia, 42, 47

Simla, 31

Siphia strophiata, 117

Sitta frontalis, 195, 237

-- himalayensis, 52, 113

SITTIDÆ, 52, 113, 195, 237

Siva, 110

Small-billed mountain-thrush, 70

Snow-cocks, 99

-- pigeons, 25

Sparrow, 72

Sphenocercus sphenurus, 97, 125

Spilornis cheela, 95, 125

Spiræa, 22

Spizaëtus limnaëtus, 93

-- nepalensis, 93

Sporæginthus amandava, 206

Spotted forktail, 67, 151

-- wing, 49

Stachyrhidopsis ruficeps, 109

Stachyrhis nigriceps, 109

Starlings, 60, 199, 239

Stoparola albicaudata, 201, 241

-- melanops, 62, 115

"Stray feathers," 239

Streaked laughing-thrush, 43

STRIGIDÆ, 88, 124, 221, 245

Strobilanthes whitiani, 228

STURNIDÆ, 60, 199, 239

Sturnus humii, 60

Sual river, 21

Sunbirds, 76, 119, 210, 242

Suya atrigularis, 114

Swallows, 73, 119, 208, 242

Swifts, 73, 81 _seq._, 123, 216, 244

SYLVIIDÆ, 55, 113, 196, 238

Syrnium indrani, 89, 124, 221

Takula, 22

Tamarind, 16

Tarai, 15

Temenuchus pagodarum, 240

Temperature, 28

Terpsiphone affinis, 115

-- paradisi, 64, 203

Thereiceryx, 175

-- viridis, 215, 243

-- zeylonicus, 215

Thrushes, 35, 37, 46, 66, 117, 204, 241

Tibet, 18

Tibetans, 23

Tinnunculus alaudarius, 96, 125, 224, 246

Tits, 27, 29, 35, 39 _seq._, 106, 111, 129

Totanus glareola, 230

Townsend, 178

Tragopans, 99

Tree-creepers, 42, 113

-- pie, 31, 106

-- sparrow, 118

Trochalopterum cachinnans, 189

-- chrysopterum, 107

-- erythrocephalum, 45

-- fairbanki, 236

-- lineatum, 43

-- squamatum, 108

Tun, 22

TURDIDÆ, 66, 117, 204, 241

Turtur cambayensis, 98, 226, 246

-- ferago, 98

-- risorius, 98

-- suratensis, 98, 125, 226, 246

Upupa epops, 80

-- indica, 244

UPUPIDÆ, 80, 244

Urocissa flavirostris, 31

-- occipitalis, 31, 159

Uroloncha pectoralis, 206

-- punctulata, 205

Violet cuckoo, 83

VULTURIDÆ, 89, 124, 221, 245

Wagtails, 75, 119, 208, 242

Warblers, 42, 55, 113, 196, 238

Warbler of distinction, 145

Water-robin, 69, 118

Weaver-birds, 205

Weber (_Forests of Upper India_), 18

Western Himalayas, 29

Whistling-thrushes, 42, 46, 237

White-capped redstart, 69

White-cheeked bulbul, 51

White-eyes, 35, 42, 47

White, Gilbert, 38

White-throated laughing-thrush, 44

Wilson, 101

Woodcock, 126

Woodpecker, 27, 42, 77 _seq._, 119, 213, 242

Wren, 55, 113

Xantholæma hæmatocephala, 174

Yuhina gularis, 111

Zosterops palpebrosa, 47, 110, 190, 236





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