1414. Eupodotis edwardsi.
The Great Indian Bustard.
Otis edwardsii, Gray in Hardw. Ill. Ind. Zool. i, pl. 59 (1830-32); Hume, S. F. i, p. 227 ; Adam, S. F. i, p. 393: ii, p. 339. Otis nigriceps, Vigors, P. Z. S. 1831, p. 35; Sykes, P. Z. S. 1832, p. 155. Eupodotis edwardii, Blyth, Cat. p. 258. Eupodotis edwardsii, Jerdon. B. I. iii, p. 607; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xli, pt. 2, p. 250; Hayes Lloyd, Ibis, 1873, p. 415 ; Hume, N. & E. p. 557 ; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 9; ix, p. 424; Hume & Marsh. Game B. i, p. 7, pl.; iii, p. 423, pl. i (eggs) ; Davids. & Wend. S. F. vii, p. 87 ; Ball, ibid. p. 226; Hume, Cat. no. 836 ; Wilson, S. F. viii, p. 490; F. W. Butler, ibid.; id. S. F. x, p. 161 ; W. Elliott, P. Z. S. 1880, p. 486; Tostems, S. F. x, p. 167 : Davidson, ibid,. p. 318; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 320; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. i, p. 57; vi, p. 11 ; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 375; Sharpe. Cat. B. M. xxiii, p. 325 ; Rayment, Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. ix, p. 107.
Tugdar, Punjab ; Gurayin, Hariana ; Sohun, Gughunbher, Hukna. H.; Serailu, H. (Nerbudda); Bherar, Sangor; Hum, Mahr.; Mardhonk, Maldhonk, Karadhonk, Karlunk, Deccan ; Tokdar of Mahomedan Falconers; Gurahna, Sind; Bat-meka, Bat-myaka, Tel.; Batta mekha, Yanadi: Gunad, Pardi; Kanal-Myle, Tam.; Heri-hukki, Ari-kvjina-hukki, Yere-laddu, Can.
Coloration. Male. Forehead, crown, and occipital crest black, rest of head and whole neck white in old birds, minutely barred with black in younger individuals ; back, scapulars, smaller coverts, tertiaries, and rump minutely and beautifully vermiculated with black and buff ; median wing-coverts blackish brown, more or less tipped with white : greater wing-coverts dark grey, black on outer edge and tipped white ; outer primaries dark brown, passing into dark grey on inner primaries and secondaries, the inner secondaries becoming vermiculated and passing into the Coloration of the tertiaries, inner primaries and all secondaries tipped with white, basal portion of inner webs on the later primaries with white bands; tail greyer than back, but similarly vermiculated, all feathers except the middle pair with a blackish-brown end and the outermost tipped with white beyond the brown ; lower parts white except a black band across the breast, corresponding to the limit between the white neck and brown back, a few black feathers intervening round the hind neck; feathers around vent, lower tail-coverts, and generally some of the thigh-coverts, blackish brown with white tips.
The female is much smaller and has narrow blackish vermiculations on the neck, the black pectoral gorget is imperfect. Young birds have buff tips to the feathers of the crown and mantle, forming pale spots.
The nestling is covered with down, buff above with black markings on the head and mantle, whitish below.
Bill dusky above, yellowish beneath ; irides pale yellow with some brownish specks ; legs and feet dingy pale yellow (Jerdon).
Length of male about 48; tail 12.5; wing 27: tarsus 7.8; bill from gape 4.5: length of female 37; tail 9.5; wing 21 ; tarsus 6.25. Hens weigh 10 to 20 lb., cocks 25 to 35, and even 40 is recorded. The male possesses a large gular pouch opening under the tongue (Elliot, 1. a), as in Otis tarda.
Distribution. The plains of the Punjab between the Indus and Jumna, also Eastern Sind, Cutch, Kattywar, Rajputana, Guzerat, the Bombay Deccan, the greater part of the Central Provinces, extending as far east as Sambalpur, the Hyderabad territories, and parts of the Madras Presidency, and the Mysore State as far south as Southern Mysore, and perhaps farther south. Stragglers may be found outside the area specified, as in Western Sind, Meerut, and Oudh ; but this Bustard is unknown in Behar, Chutia Nagpur, Orissa, and Bengal, on the Malabar coast, and in Ceylon.
Habits, &c. The Great Indian Bustard is usually found singly or in twos or threes, more rarely in flocks, and it keeps chiefly to open dry country, especially wastes covered with low grass and scattered cultivation, or sandy ground with small bushes ; it is never found in forests nor on hills, but it sometimes enters high grass or fields of millet (jowari), mustard, pulse, &c. It feeds on insects, especially grasshoppers, on small reptiles, on fruit, grain, shoots of grass, &c. Its flight is heavy but strong. It has a peculiar deep booming note, imitated in its Mahratta name, and also a call-note, described by some observers as a bark or a bellow, by others as a trumpet sound. These birds, when in open ground, are very difficult to approach, except on a cart or camel or on horseback, or by the aid of a bullock or buffalo, but they squat and rest at times, and are then much less wary. The males are magnificent birds, often standing four feet in height, and they have a peculiar method, in the breeding-season especially, of inflating their white throats, doubtless by the aid of the gular pouch, and strutting about to attract the hens. They are polygamous ; the hen between March and September, chiefly in July or August, lays in a hollow on the ground, unlined or thinly lined with grass, a single drab or olive egg, faintly marked as a rule with brownish clouds, streaks, and mottlings, and measuring about 3.11 by 2.24. According to some writers 2 or even 3 eggs are laid.