(2024) Amaurornis akool akool (Sykes).
THE DECCAN BROWN CRAKE.
Amaurornis akool akool, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. vi, p. 25.
This handsome little Crake occurs from Kashmir in the West to Kamroop in West Assam in the East. South it ranges as far as Mysore, Rajputana, the South Deccan and Central Provinces, while it is, also fairly common in Bengal and Bihar.
It has been said to occur in the Khasia Hilla hut I never saw it during the five or six years I was in that district, though bicolor was common. Once only I saw it in Barpeta North of the Brahma¬pootra in the Kamroop District, and there is also a specimen thence in the British Museum Collection. This is the farthest East satisfactorily recorded.
Blewitt gives a good description of this Crake's habits and breeding (Hume’s ‘Nests and Eggs,’ vol. iii, p. 397):—“Its favourite resorts are swamps, the reeds and bushes on the edges of streams and in the tangled amphibious coverts on the borders of water¬, courses, A favourite place of abode too is the marshy ground occupied by kewrah plants, the branches and broad leaves of which, it ascends, like Erythra phoenicura, with wonderful agility.
“It begins to pair in April and lays from May to August. A neat I obtained at Jhansie was placed just above a bank of a small nullah, on a low-growing wild carounda bush. It was simply a collection of thin twigs and grass, put together just like the nest of a Dove, only in size a little larger. The nest was placed about the centre of the bush, about six feet from the ground, between and upheld by numerous slender branches,” Of other nests taken at Saugar in June he writes :—“They were one and all rough con¬structions, exclusively made of the surrounding grass and rushes on the high ground of the islets, piled up loosely to the height of about six inches with a shght depression in the centre for the eggs.” Lindsey Smith found it common near Mhow, in the Central Provinces. Here the birds made nests very much the same as the types described by Blewitt but better made. Lindsey Smith describes one nest as “a rather compact platform of grass and rush-blades on a good foundation of sticks. The hollow for the eggs deep and well lined with soft grass. Built on a bush standing in a swamp, some of the living grass, growing with the bush, made into an archway over the nest.” Other nests were said to be much the same in construction but built on “clusters of reeds and bul¬rushes by the edge of the swamp and raised a few inches above the mud and water or in among weeds and other cover some yards away from the edge of the swamp.”
To Blewitt’s and Lindsey Smith’s accounts little need be added, but it should be noted many birds nest in deep cover at a considerable distance from any water. In Poona Betham took nests in damp fields concealed in hunches of reeds on, or practically on, the ground.
The breeding season is a long one and some birds may have two broods. Around Poona Betham took eggs in March and in October ; Blewitt took eggs in May, June and July ; Butler took numerous nests around Deesa between the 22nd August and 28th September, and Gammie had them brought to him from the Sikkim Terai in the latter mouth.
The number of eggs laid seems to be five or six very constantly, sometimes only four.
The eggs are very like richly coloured eggs of the Water-Rail. In shape they are very broad ovals, usually hardly compressed at all at the smaller end; occasionally they are not quite so broad and are more compressed at the smaller end.
The ground-colour varies from a pale clear cream to a rather bright pale salmon-pink. The markings are of two main types. In the one the blotches of deep red-brown, rather purplish-brown or brick-red are large and bold, fairly numerous at the larger end and scanty elsewhere. Secondary markings of grey and lavender are dispersed in the same way. These eggs are often very handsome.
The second type has the markings much paler, quite small, rather longitudinal in character and numerous or very numerous everywhere and only slightly more so at the larger end. Generally speaking these latter eggs ore of the A maurornis phoenicura type and are rather poorly marked and feeble in comparison with the others.
Fifty eggs average 34.9 x 26.5 mm. : maxima 38.8 x 27.2 and 37.7 x 28.0 mm. ; minima 31.8 x 26.7 and 34.9 x 25.2 mm.
I can find nothing recorded about incubation or nest-building, but these will probably be the same as in the next bird, bicolor.
2024. Amaurornis akool akool
(2024) Amaurornis akool akool (Sykes).