Genus ARBORICOLA

The Hill-Partridges of the Himalayas and Burma form a well-marked generic group, easily distinguished by their long and straight claws on the anterior toes, by want of spurs on the tarsus, which is about equal in length to the middle toe and claw, by their short, rather soft and slightly rounded tail of 14 feathers, less than half as long as the wing, and by their rounded wings, the 3rd, 4th, and 5th primaries being generally longest, and the 1st about equal to the 8th, 9th, or 10th. The sexes are similar as a rule, but differ in A. torqueola.

A remarkable peculiarity of this genus, first noticed by Mr. J. Wood-Mason (J. A. S. B. xliii, pt. 2, p. 254, pl. ii), is the presence of a row of superorbital bones, extending from the lachrymal to the postorbital process. No similar bones are known in other true Gallinae, but they were described by Kitchen Parker in the Tinamous and in Psophia. These bones were, found by Mr. Wood-Mason in Arboricola torqueola, A. atrigularis, A. rufigularis, and A. intermedia, and from MS. notes in his handwriting on the labels of two specimens of A. brunneipectus collected by Mr. Limborg in Tenasserim,formerly in the Tweeddale Collection, and now in the British Museum, I find that he ascertained the presence of the superorbital ossicles in that species and their absence in the Malayan A.. charltoni. The latter, with its ally A. chloropus, should consequently be placed, in a distinct genus.

About 15 species are known, ranging from the Himalayas to Borneo and Java, and probably to the Philippines. None are found in the Indian Peninsula or Ceylon, but six occur in the Himalayas, Assam Ranges, and Burma.

Key to the Species.

a. Feathers of flanks with chestnut borders.
a1. Breast grey.
a2. Crown chestnut…………………….A. torqueola , p. 125.
a2. Crown olive-brown with black spots.
a3. Chin and throat rufous with black spots…………………….A. rufigularis, p. 126.
b3. Chin and throat black, fore neck rufous…………………….A. intermedia, p. 127.
b1. Breast brownish; crown olive-brown with black spots…………………….A. torqueola , p. 125.
c1. Breast chestnut; throat paler; a white gorget…………………….A. mandellii, p. 128.
b. No chestnut on flanks.
d1. Breast grey…………………….A. atrigularis, p. 127.
e1. Breast pale brown…………………….A. brunneipectus, p. 128.

The habits of all the species are similar. They inhabit hill forests, are usually solitary or in pairs, but are met with in coveys at times; probably, as with other partridges, the old and young associate for a time, after the latter are full grown. They keep much to thick undergrowth, especially near bill-streams, and are rarely flushed or even seen ; they feed on seeds and insects and drink daily. When flushed their flight is rapid but short; they occasionally perch. Their call is a low soft whistle, single or double. But little is known of their nidification and eggs, except that the latter are generally white and 6 to 8 in number, placed in slight depressions on the ground under trees.

BookTitle: 
The Fauna Of British India, Including Ceylon And Burma-birds
Reference: 
Blanford, William Thomas, ed. The Fauna of British India: Including Ceylon and Burma. Vol. 4. 1898.
Title in Book: 
Genus ARBORICOLA
Book Author: 
William Thomas Blanford
Year: 
1898
Page No: 
123
M_ID: 
1390
M_SN: 
Arborophila
Volume: 
Vol. 4
Term name: 
id: 
1935

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