Gould, B. Eur. pl. 259 ; Jerd., B. Ind. iii. p. 558, No. 818; Hume, Nests and Eggs Ind. B. p. 537 ; id., Str. F. iv. p. 5 ; id. and Marsh., Game Birds ii. p. 9, pl.; Murray, Hbdk., Zool., Sind, p. 202 ; id., Vert. Zool., Sind, p. 213. -
The Black Partridge.
Male. - Top of head black, the feathers behind edged with rufescent brown ; lores, chin, throat and neck in front black ; nape and hind neck black, each feather with four white spots, two on each side of the shaft, the lower of which near the tip showing through ; a streak under the eye to the ear coverts white ; a chestnut red collar round the neck ; upper part of the back black, also the scapulars, the smaller feathers with four roundish spots, two on each side of the shaft, and the longer ones with six rufescent marks, two transverse and a longitudinal streak on each side of the shaft, the longitudinal ones only showing from under the feathers ; middle and lower back, rump and upper tail coverts barred with black and white ; wing coverts black, edged with rufescent; quills barred with rufous and black ; tail black, the middle feathers barred like the back with black and white, the rest barred at the bases only; breast, abdomen and flanks deep black, the feathers of the flanks. with 3 - 4 white spots, the hinder ones near the vent with broad white tips; thigh and under tail coverts and feathers round the vent chestnut; bill black ; irides brown; legs reddish.
Length. - 13 to 14 inches; wing 5.5 to 5.75 ; tail 3.5.
The female wants the black head and neck of the male and the rufous collar. It is generally much browner in colour.
Hab. - The whole of Northern India from the Himalayas to the valley of the Ganges ; also the Punjab. Southwards, through Rajpootana to Sind. Eastwards, through Dacca to Assam, Sylhet and Tipperah. Breeds in suitable localities, wherever it occurs, during July and August, laying from six to ten eggs, unspotted fawn brown in colour, varying in size from 1.42 to 1.8 in length and 1.22 to 1.38 in breadth. It frequents, by preference, grass meadows near water; also cultivated fields of corn, mustard or pulse, and any patch of moderately high green herbage. In Sind it affects low tamarisk jungle and wheat fields. Its call in the early mornings is unmistakable, and is always made from some little eminence, as an ant hill or the stump of a tree. It affords good sport with a pointer, and is tolerably good eating, but, like all the Tetraonidae, is best cold, and after at least 36 hours.