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قراءة كتاب The Nests and Eggs of Indian Birds, Volume 1

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The Nests and Eggs of Indian Birds, Volume 1

The Nests and Eggs of Indian Birds, Volume 1

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 6

Kotegurh, from Cashmere, from Etawah, Bareilly, Futtehgurh, from Kotagherry, and Conoor; all that one can possibly say is that perhaps the Plains birds do on the average lay a shade larger eggs than the Himalayan or Nilghiri ones.

Taking the eggs as a whole, I think that in size and shape they are about intermediate between the eggs of the European Carrion-Crow and Rook. But they vary, as I said, astonishingly in size, from 1·5 to 1·95 in length, and in breadth from 1·12 to 1·22, and I have one perfectly spherical egg, a deformity of course, which measures 1·25 by 1·2.

The average of thirty Himalayan eggs is 1·73 by 1·18, of twenty Plains eggs 1·74 by 1·2, and of fifteen Nilghiri eggs 1·7 by 1·18. I would venture to predict that with fifty of each, there would not be a hundredth of an inch between their averages.

7. Corvus splendens, Vieill. The Indian House-Crow.

Corvus splendens, Vieill. Jerd. B. Ind. ii, p. 298.
Corvus impudicus, Hodgs., Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 663.

Throughout India and Upper Burma the Common Crow resides and breeds, not ascending the hills either in Southern or Northern India to any great elevation, but breeding up to 4000 feet in the Himalayas.

The breeding-season par excellence is June and July, but occasional nests will be found earlier even in Upper India, and in Southern and Eastern India a great number lay in May. The nests are commonly placed in trees without much regard to size or kind, though densely foliaged ones are preferred, and I have just as often found several in the same tree as single ones. At times they will build in nooks of ruins or large deserted buildings, where these are in well inhabited localities, but out of many thousands I have only seen three or four nests in such abnormal positions.

The nest is placed in some fork, and is usually a ragged stick platform, with a central depression lined with grass-roots; but they are not particular as to material; I have found wool, rags, grass, and all kinds of vegetable fibre, and Mr. Blyth mentions that he has "seen several nests composed more or less, and two almost exclusively, of the wires taken from soda-water bottles, which had been purloined from the heaps of these wires commonly set aside by the native servants until they amount to a saleable quantity." Four is the normal number of eggs laid, but I often have found five, and on two occasions six. It is in this bird's nest that the Koel chiefly lays.

Writing of Nepal, Dr. Scully remarks:—"In the valley it lays in May and June; some twenty nests were once examined on the 23rd June, and half the number then contained young birds."

Major Bingham says:—"Very common, of course, both at Allahabad and at Delhi, and breeds in June, July, and beginning of August. At Allahabad it is much persecuted by the Koel (Eudynamys orientalis), every fourth or fifth nest that I found in some topes of mango-trees having one or two of the Koel's eggs."

Colonel Butler informs me that in Karachi it "begins to lay in the mangrove bushes in the harbour as early as the end of May;" and that it "breeds in the neighbourhood of Deesa in June, July, and August, commencing to build in the last week of May."

Later, he writes:—"Belgaum, 15th May, 1879. Found numerous nests in the native infantry lines in low trees, containing fresh and incubated eggs and young birds of all sizes. In the same locality, on the 30th March, 1880, I found a nest containing four young birds able to fly; the eggs must therefore have been laid quite as early as the middle of February, if not earlier."

Mr. G.W. Vidal writes:—"The Common Crow appears to have two broods in the year in our district (Ratnagiri), the first in April and May, and the second in November and December. In these four months I have found nests, eggs, and young birds in several different places in the district, and as yet at no other times. It is extremely improbable that there should be one breeding-season lasting from April to December, and I think I may State with certainty that the Crows do not breed at Ratnagiri during the months of heaviest rainfall, viz. July, August, and September. As their breeding in November and December appears to be exceptional, I subjoin a record of the few nests I examined.

  "Nov. 22, 1878. Ratnagiri:
   One nest with 3 young birds.
    " " 1 fresh egg.

  "Nov. 23, 1878. Ratnagiri:
   One nest with 1 fresh egg.
    " " 1 fresh egg.

"Dec. 4, 1878. Saugmeshwar.—One nest with 3 eggs hard-set; another nest probably containing young birds, but the Crows pecked so viciously at the man who was climbing the tree, that he got frightened and came down again without reaching the nest. Crows with sticks and feathers in their mouths are flying about all day.

"Dec. 5, 1878. Aroli.—Found a nest with a Crow sitting in it; no one to climb the tree."

Mr. Benjamin Aitken has favoured me with the following interesting note:—"I send you an account of a nest of the Common Crow, found in October, 1874, in the town of Madras. My attention was first directed to the remarkable pair of Crows to which the nest belonged, in the end of July, when they were determinedly and industriously attempting to fix a nest on the top ledge of a pillar in the verandah of the 'Madras Mail' office. The ledge was so narrow that one would have thought the Sparrow alone of all known birds would have selected it for a site; and even the Sparrow only under the condition of a writing or toilet-table being underneath to catch the lime, sticks, straws, rags, feathers, and other innumerable materials that commonly strew the ground below a Sparrow's nest. I was told that the Crows had been at their task for two months before I saw them, and I then watched them till nearly the end of October. The celebrated spider that taught King Bruce a lesson in patience was eager and fitful compared with this pair of Crows. I kept no account of the number of times their structure was blown down, only to be immediately begun again; but as there was a good deal of rain and wind at that season, in addition to the regular sea-breeze, it was a common thing for the sticks to be cleared off day after day. But perseverance will often achieve seeming impossibilities, and, moreover, the Crows worked more indefatigably as the season went on, and used to run up their nest with great rapidity (no doubt, also, they improved by their practice); so that several times the structure was completed, or nearly completed, before being swept to the ground, though how it remained in its place for a moment seems a mystery; and twice I saw a broken egg among the scattered débris. At length, about the middle of September, the Crows determined to try the pillar at the other end of the verandah. By this time, of course, all the Crows in Madras had long brought up their broods and sent them adrift; and what they thought to see an eccentric pair of their own species forsaking society, and building in September, may be imagined. The new site selected differed in no respect from the old one, and was no less exposed to the wind; but the birds had grown expert at building 'castles in the air,' and now met with fewer mishaps. In the first week of October the hen bird was sitting regularly, so on the 8th of the month I sent a man up by a ladder, and he held up four eggs for me to look at. It fairly seemed after this that patience was to have its reward, but on the night of the 20th there came a storm of wind and rain, and when I went to the office in the morning, the nest was lying on the ground, with two young Crows in it, with the feathers just beginning to appear. The other two, I suppose,