(1959) Arborophila torqueola torqueola.
THE COMMON HILL-PARTRIDGE.
Perdix torqueola Valenc, Diet. Sci. Nat., xxxviii, p. 435 (1828) (Bengal). Aboricola torqueola. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 125 (part.).
Vernacular names. Peunra, Ban-titur (Hind., Kuman, Nepal etc.) ; Kohumbut (Lepcha) - Sipung-Lulu (Tibet) ; Pao-er (Chuli-katta, Mishmi) ; Peora (Nep.) ; Daobui (Cachari): Inrui-whip (Naga),
Description.— Adult male. Crown to nape bright chestnut, the latter more or less spotted with black; narrow line across forehead, lower cheeks and broad supercilia black, the last mixed with white next the crown and nape; ear-coverts golden-rufous; a line under the supercilia chestnut, spotted with black; upper parts golden olive-brown, each feather margined with black and with two or three crescentic black bars ; rump and upper tail-coverts with bold black centres and very narrow black edges ; central tail-feathers olive-brown, mottled with black; outer feathers brown with chestnut-buff: edges; scapulars, wing-coverts and innermost secondaries light golden-brown with black spots and narrow margins and broad splashes of deep chestnut; primaries and outer secondaries dark brown, the former with narrow rufous margins and the latter with mottled margins of rufous and brown; chin, throat, fore-neck and sides of neck black, the neck with white streaks ; a moustachial white streak, sometimes marked with black; a white band between fore-neck and breast; breast grey; centre of abdomen white; flanks and sides of abdomen grey with a few white drops or streaks in the centre of the feathers and the greater parts of the inner webs deep chestnut; vent rufous-white with black bars ; under tail-coverts black and white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown to crimson-brown; bill black; legs dull fleshy or livid grey, but always with some fleshy tint which is more pronounced in the breeding-season; orbital skin crimson-red, brighter when breeding.
Measurements. Wing 148 to 161 mm.; tail 76 to 83 mm.; tarsus about 44 to 45 mm.: culmen about 19 to 21 mm. Weight " 8 oz. in a small female to 13.6 in a large fat male."
Female. Iris brown; orbital skin livid red or purplish-pink; bill black, commissure and gape horny-brown; legs duller than in the male, sometimes olive-brown.
Measurements. Wing 140 to 151 mm.
Young male like the adult but with the supercilia absent or obsolete; there is no chestnut on the flanks and but little on the wing-coverts, whole lower plumage spotted with white from breast to vent.
Distribution. Garhwal and Kuman to the extreme East of Assam, North of the Brahmapootra and to Tibet etc. South of this river it is found rarely in the higher ranges of the Naga Hills and the Barail Bange and other high ranges North of Cachar and Manipur. Rothschild attributes to this race three specimens obtained by Forrest in Yunnan.
Nidification. The Common Hill-Partridge breeds throughout its range from 5,000 to 10,000feet, possibly up to 14,000feet. The nest is merely a hollow, either natural, or made by the birds themselves, in forest, Ringal or scrub-jungle, generally well concealed but sometimes in very thin undergrowth and easily seen. The eggs, like those of all species of Arborophila, are a pure glossy white, with a fine close texture. In shape they are pointed ovals running to pyriform in extreme cases, rarely blunt or broad ovals. Sixty * eggs average 40.6 x 31.9 mm.: maxima 44.2 x 33.6 and 43.8 x 34.0 mm.; minima 35.6 x 28.7 and 35.8 x 27.4 mm. The breeding-season is from the end of April to late June. The hen bird is a very close sitter and the cock-bird, which is monogamous, assists her in incubation to some extent and also in looking after the young.
Habits. The Common Hill-Partridge haunts considerable extremes of elevation. In Sikkim Stevens says that 7,000 to 10,000 feet is its normal habitat but that it may come down to 5,000 feet and up to 14,000 feet but that it is rare over 12,000 feet. In Assam it occurs as low as 4000 feet in Winter, though this is rare. It is a bird of heavy forest, broken up by ravines, rocks, etc. but with plenty of undergrowth whilst it is also found in Ringal-bamboo jungle and lighter forest, especially if on the banks of hill-streams. They go about in small coveys of six to ten birds, almost certainly pairs of old birds with their last brood, feeding on insects and seeds varied with leaves, roots, berries, etc. They are quiet little birds, very quick in their movements, occasionally uttering a soft little chuckle or subdued whistle to one another and seldom separating for any distance. Their call is a very beautiful loud ringing whistle, audible at a great distance and generally uttered in the evenings, often very late. They roost on trees or bamboos, the whole family tucking themselves away in as close a row as possible on the same branch.
* Since writing about this species in the Bombay Nat. Hist. Journal I have received information that a series of eggs sent me as of this species were really those of A. r. rufogularis.