The Spur-Fowl, of which there are three species all peculiar to India and Ceylon, appear to have affinities with the Partridges on the one hand and with the Blood-Pheasants on the other. They are remarkable in having several spurs on each leg, the male sometimes having as many as three, and the female one or two, and very rarely none.
In the Spur-Fowl, the tail is composed of 14 feathers. Of the way in which the tail is carried by a Spur-Fowl in life I am not able to speak from personal observation. Dr. Jerdon, however, states that the tail of these birds is folded as in fowls. Colonel Legge also informs us that the tail of the Ceylon Spur-Fowl is divaricated, but he figures the bird with quite an ordinary tail, differing in no respect from that of a Partridge. Other authors are silent on the subject, and unfortunately no reliance can be placed on the published figures of these birds. Messrs. Hume and Marshall, for instance, figure all three species of Spur-Fowl, but two appear to me depicted with an ordinary tail, while only the third has a tail at all resembling that of the domestic hen.
Not one of the numerous skins of the Spur-Fowl in the British Museum exhibits even a trace of a folded tail, and I am therefore led to believe that Dr. Jerdon wrote from memory and may have been mistaken. Sportsmen can, however, very easily settle the question for us.
In the Spur-Fowl, the feathers of the crown are slightly lengthened and form a bushy crest about half an inch in length. The first quill of the wing is shorter than the tenth, and this character separates the Spur-Fowl from all the Partridges, except the Bamboo-Partridge. In the Painted Spur-Fowl a space behind the eye only is bare of feathers ; in the other two species, not only this but also a space in front of the eye is bare. The sexes differ much in colour and the male exceeds the female in size.