THE HEMIPODES OR THREE-TOED QUAILS
The Hemipodes, which are familiarly known in India as Bustard- and Button-Quails, have the external appearance of the True Quails, but differ from them and from all the Gallinaceous birds by the absence (as far as the Indian species are concerned) of a hind toe. They are therefore easily recognised by this character, and their small size.
It is a remarkable fact in the history of these birds that the females are larger and more handsomely coloured than the males. These latter moreover perform all the duties of incubating the eggs and rearing the young, while the females remain idle, or fight amongst themselves for the possession of the males.
The eggs of the Hemipodes are pyriform in shape and very richly coloured. The young can run as soon as they are hatched.
In the Hemipodes the wing is fairly pointed, but nevertheless these birds do not fly well. The tail is extremely feeble, short and pointed, and is quite concealed by the coverts. There is no spur on the leg.
Of the five species of three-toed Quails found within Indian limits, the first two on my list are very distinct from each other and from the last three. These latter resemble each other very closely. In determining these species we must first of all be guided by locality. If the locality be not known, then we must be guided by size and colour. Blanford's Button-Quail is conspicuously larger than the other two, so much so that I think it may be separated by this one character of size alone. The remaining two species are of much the same size, and they can be separated only by colour. In the Indian Button-Quail the plumage is dull with very little rufous in it, whereas in the Nicobar Button Quail the plumage has a considerable amount of bright rufous in it.