Small Niltava   Niltava macgrigoriae


  • Niltava : Nepalese name Niltau for the Rufous-bellied Niltava
  • Macgrigoriae : Named after Jane G. McGrigor (fl. 1835) daughter  of Maj.-Gen. Sir James McGrigor

 Vernacular  Names : Lepcha: Phak-tagrak-pho

Distribution in India: Resident of Himalayas in India

Description: Size of 11–14 cm; wt. of 11–13 g. The male of nominate race has bright pale blue forehead reaching to eye, deep purplish-blue forecrown to upper­parts; shining blue neck-side patch; rump to side of tail is pale blue or violet-blue. The upperwing is black, narrow deep blue edges of wing-coverts and inner flight-feathers, tail similar but more broadly edged deep blue. The frontal band to lores and behind eye, cheek and chin are black. Rest of face and throat are dark blue, duller dark blue breast and flanks, whitish belly and undertail-coverts, tips of latter often darker grey-blue. The iris is dark brown; bill and legs are black. The female has buffish forehead, lores to around eye, chin and throat. The small neck-side patch is brilliant azure-blue, crown, wing-coverts and upperparts are dark olive-brown. It has bright rufous-brown tips to greater coverts and edges of flight-feathers and tail, side of neck, lower throat and breast are dull olive-brown, becoming whitish on belly and lower flanks and rich buff on upper flanks and undertail-coverts. The juvenile is mostly brown above, heavily flecked or streaked with orange-buff on head and face, larger buffish spots on mantle and scapulars; wings and tail as adult, but with pale buff spots at tips of greater upperwing-coverts. Race signata (Assam and Arunachal Pradesh S to Mizoram), is very similar to nominate, but male has greyer belly to undertail-coverts

Habitat:  It is found in edges and clearings in humid submontane and montane broadleaf evergreen forest, also shrubberies and bushes along paths and tracks. It is found from 900 m and 2560 m in breeding season. In non-breeding season found in similar habitat, and also in dense reed and grassy stands with scattered trees, at lower levels; down to 270 m –1400 m.

Food habits: It eats small invertebrates, including flies, and some fruit.  It is found as solitary or in pairs. It is partly crepuscular. It actively forages in shady undergrowth and bushes, sallying out in pursuit of insects from low perch.

Breeding habits: They breed in Mar–Aug. The nest is built by female, the male assists in bringing material. The nest is a cup made of moss, placed in hollow in stream bank or between boulders and well hidden by vegetation, or sometimes up from ground in thin sapling. They lay a clutch of 3–5 eggs. The incubation is done by both sexes for a period of 12 days .The nest is parasitized by Lesser Cuckoo, Large Hawk-cuckoo and Whistling Hawk-cuckoo.