(1963) Arborophila rufogularis intermedia.
THE ARRAKAN HILL-PARTRIDGE.
Arbor kola intermedia Blyth, J. A. S. B., xxiv, p. 227 (1856) (Arrakan) ; Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 127.
Vernacular names. Toung-Kha (Burm.); Wogam or Gam-toung (Kachin) ; Dao-hui or Daobui-yegashi (Cachari) ; Inrui-whip (Kacha-Naga); Du-boi (Assam).
Description. Similar to the preceding bird but the spots on the chin and throat are so close together that these parts appear almost black, whilst the black band below the rufous throat is wanting; the abdomen is generally a paler slate and the spots on the crown are larger and a deeper black.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown ; orbital skin, gular skin and gape red; bill black; legs red, claws paler and horny. In the breeding-season the colours of all the soft parts become much brighter, the facial skin becomes a brilliant red, whilst the legs become vivid coral-red rather than brick-red as in the Autumn and Winter.
Measurements. Wing 138 to 148 mm.; tail 52 to 60 mm.; tarsus 37.5 to 42.0 mm.; culmen about 18 to 19 mm.
Female. Like that of A. r. rufogularis but with no black band below the chestnut throat and the chin and throat rather more spotted with black, though never anything like that of the male. Wing 134 to 143 mm.
Young in first plumage. Throat dull pale rufous-brown with only faint signs of spotting ; above like the adult but duller ; the crown is vermiculated rather than spotted with black; the sides are vermiculated with brown and black; the centre of the breast and abdomen are paler and whitish.
Young in semi-adult plumage are profusely spotted with white all over the breast, abdomen and flanks ; otherwise like the adult but with rather rufous chin and throat and the legs, orbital and gular skin dull yellowish.
Chick in down. Rather bright chestnut-brown above, dingy white below ; supercilium and cheeks pale buffy-brown ; a line of dark brown from the eye dividing the two.
Distribution. Assam East and South of the Brahmapootra and the Dibong, through Manipur, Looshai Hills, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Arrakan, Chin and Kachin Hills ; it is also common in the Yunnan Hills, whence it has been recorded as A. r. euroa on account of the finer shaft-lines of white on the flanks. This character is individual only, though old birds generally show much finer white lines than young ones. It almost certainly occurs in the Northern Shan States but is replaced in the Southern Shan States by the next race.
Nidification. This Hill-Partridge breeds from April to June between 2,000 and 6,000 feet, rarely ever lower than this. The nest varies greatly ; sometimes it is placed in grass two or three feet high, a depression among the roots being selected where the grass is fairly dense, which is well lined with a good thick pad of soft green blades. Bound this the living grass is so arranged that it forms sides and roof, completely enclosing the nest, whilst at the front it is beaten down and a little tunnel a few inches long worked through it, by which the birds leave or enter the nest. Occasionally nests are just masses of bamboo-leaves under the shelter of bamboo-clumps, the eggs shining up very conspicuously when the bird leaves them exposed. Intermediate nests are hollows well lined with leaves etc. and placed under the shelter of a rock or bush or well hidden in among the undergrowth of evergreen-forest. The number of eggs laid is undoubtedly most often four, occasionally three, five or six and possibly, though I have never seen such, clutches of seven or eight may be laid. One hundred and fifty eggs average 39.2 x 29.8 mm.: maxima 44.0 x 31.0 and 43.1 x 33.0 ; minima 33.4 x 26.6 mm.
Habits. This fascinating little bird lives in almost any kind of cover; evergreen-forest with dense undergrowth, pine-forest with none at all, scrub-jungle or long grass but it undoubtedly prefers stunted evergreen-forest, much broken up with rocks and ravines and with plenty of small spaces more or less clear of all undergrowth, where it can wander about hunting for its food of seed, berries and insects. They are monogamous and the small coveys probably always consist of the old birds and their last brood. They are active and quick, yet very quiet and sedate in their movements ; as a rule, the members of the party keep close together and then they only utter a soft whistle from time to time or croon a few chuckling notes but, if they get far apart, they call loudly to one another in a note very similar to their breeding challenge-note, a startling but musical " "Wheea-whip " which can be beard at an immense distance. They fly well and fast and twist in and out of trees in heavy forests with remarkable speed, affording very sporting and difficult shots, though they are not numerous enough to make the special pursuit of them worth while. They are very good-eating, though rather dry.