RUFOUS-THROATED OR BLYTH'S HILL-PARTRIDGE.
Pokhu, Daphla Hills.
The rufous-throated hill-partridge, which in Kumaun shares the name of peura with the last species, is not unlike the hen of that bird, having the throat also chestnut variegated with black ; but the brown back is scantily spotted with black, not profusely barred as in both sexes of the true peura, and the legs are red, whereas those of the common hill-partridge are grey, with only a tinge of red. In having the breast clear grey, not drab, this partridge resembles the male rather than the female of the common hill-partridge.
The rufous-throated hill-partridge, generally speaking, has the same range in longitude as the common species, though occurring in the Daphla Hills and those of Karennee and Tenasserim, where that is not found; but it ranges through a different zone in altitude, being a bird of the lower hills, and descending even to their foot. Above 6,000 feet it is not to be looked for, even in summer-time. In Tenasserim birds the feet are not so bright a red, the size is altogether larger, and they are generally without a black stripe, which in the Himalayan race is found at the termination of the reddish brown on the neck.
Besides keeping lower down, the red-throated hill-partridge is more sociable than the ordinary species, or, at any rate, forms larger coveys, according to Hume, but in other respects its ways are precisely similar. In the Daphla Hills it was noticed by Godwen- Austen to come down at night into the warm gullies, and feed upwards along the ridges, so that the natives were able to snare numbers by erecting little fences across their path, with openings set with bamboo-peel nooses, a method of capturing ground-game widely practised in eastern hills, and one that should be prohibited for its destructive results, in all districts where the natives do not really need wild creatures as food.
In Tenasserim Davison found these birds curiously tame ; they would perch within a few feet of him, and sit there gazing and whistling, a proceeding strangely at variance with the usual retiring habits of this group. He says, by the way, that the calf is " a series of double whistles, commencing very soft and slow, but gradually becoming more and more rapid, and rising higher and higher, till at last the bird has to stop." This sounds as if the note were quite unlike the single whistle of the common hill-partridge, so that Hume was probably wrong in describing the calls as identical; in the call being some sort of a whistle all these hill-partridges agree, but differences in detail are just what might be expected. Blyth, by the way, found these birds rising solitarily in Tenasserim, and in winter at that, so the social habit is also liable to variation. The food of this species is seeds, small snails, and berries, and like the last, they are great scratchers among dead leaves. A heap of these has been found to form the nest, and the eggs are white, of a dirty shade, and very scantily and minutely speckled with grey. Four fresh ones were taken below Darjeeling, on July 4th, by Mandelli; but the full clutch may be larger, and no doubt earlier ones are to be found.