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The Corvidæ or Crow Family

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.