(1946) Bambusicola fytchii hopkinsoni.
THE ASSAM BAMBOO-PARTRIDGE.
Bambusicola hopkinsoni Godw.-Anst., P. Z, S., 1874, p. 44 (Khasia Hills, Assam). Bambusicola fytchii. Blanf. & Oates, iv. p. 110 (part.).
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Differs from the preceding race in being more rufous, less brown, on the crown and nape and in having the black central markings on the rump and upper tail-coverts much more developed and often extending on to the back; the white specks and spots on the back and wing-coverts are also more numerous and sometimes larger.
Colours of soft parts. Iris hazel or yellow-hazel; bill dark horny-brown, paler at the tip and on the lower mandible; legs and feet greenish-brown.
Measurements. Wing 141 to 156 mm.; tail 85 to 112 mm,; tarsus about 44 to 47 mm.; culmen about 18 to 20 mm.
Distribution. Hills South of the Brahmapootra from Cachar and: Sylhet, the whole of the Patkoi range to Lakhimpur; Manipur,. Lushai Hills, Chin Hills and Northern Arrakan Yomas.
Nidification. The Assam Bamboo-Partridge breeds at all levels from 1,500 to 5,000 feet very commonly throughout its range. A few birds breed here and there down to the level of the plains, whilst in the Naga Hills and Patkoi range they may be found up to 7,000 feet. They commence to lay in April and continue until the end of July, whilst I have seen eggs as late as September and as early as March. No real nest is made but the birds usually collect a good deal of rubbish, leaves, grass etc. to fill the hollows they select or scratch out for their eggs. The place selected is generally in grass-land, sometimes in bamboo-jungle and but rarely in scrub or forest. When in grass-laud they are difficult to detect,, for the grass is anything from three to five feet high, but when in bamboo-jungle they are sometimes quite exposed yet equally difficult to find, for the eggs are exactly the colour of the bamboo"-leaves on which they lie. The full clutch is four or five, sometimes three to seven, the latter exceptional. The colour is a pale to warm buff and the eggs are distinguishable from all other Game-birds' eggs by the extraordinarily thick hard shell. Two hundred eggs average 40.2 x 29.6 mm.: maxima 41.8 X 29.9 and 40.0 x 31.9 mm.; minima 26.4 x 27.9 and 38.6 x 27.0 mm.
The cock-bird is monogamous and keeps with the hen whilst incubating and looking after the chicks. The hen is a very close-sitter, and many nests which would otherwise never be noticed are found by her flustering off them at the last moment.
Habits. This Partridge is extremely common in all patches of grass-land, especially such as have bamboo-jungle or other cover close at hand. They frequently choose steep hill-sides, covered with grass two or three feet high, a stream near the bottom and pine-forest near the top. Here all through the breeding-season their loud, cheerful call," chi-chirree; chi-chirree; chiree, chiree,. chiree," may be heard morning, noon and night. The cock-bird utters his challenge seated on a stump or mound and, at the beginning of the breeding-season the females also attempt to crow. They roost at night on low boughs of pines or in bamboo-clumps, but nearly always at the edge of the jungle and not inside it. They feed on insects, worms, coleoptera etc and on all kinds of berries, seeds and grain. Their flesh is dry but white and tender, and as they are fairly easy to flush one can often get a morning's sport with them worth having, even if no big bags are attainable.