(2047) Burhinus oedicnemus indicus.
THE INDIAN STONE-PLOVER.
Oedicnemus indicus Salvadori, Atti Soc. Ital. Sci. Nat. viii, p. .381 (1S66) (India), Oedicnemus scolopax. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 204 (part.).
Vernacular names. Karwanak, Barsiri (Hin.); Lambi of Falconers ; Kharma (Beng.); Kaledu (Tel.); Kana mosul (Tam.).
Description. Forehead, lores, a ring round the eye and a broad supercilium to the nape white; upper plumage ashy-brown, the feathers edged with buff or ashy-buff and with black central streaks ; these are broad on the head, narrower on the nape and much broader again on the scapulars ; lesser wing-coverts brown edged rufous and with black subterminal bars ; median wing-coverts white with brown or blackish terminal bars just edged with rufous or rufescent white, the basal white forming a distinct diagonal wing-bar ; greater coverts dull white, with broad subterminal black bars ; primaries black with a broad white patch on the middle of the two outermost, the other primaries with concealed white bases and the innermost with white tips also; innermost secondaries like the back; tail ashy-brown, tipped paler and with two irregular dark bars on the pale tips; outermost feathers white, with broad black tips and a faint dark band across the white of inner webs, other feathers grading from this to the central ones ; sides of head white; the ear-coverts streaked with black; a black and rufous streaked line from the gape to the ear-coverts ; chin and throat white; fore-neck and upper breast pale buff, streaked with blackish-brown; under tail-coverts pale buff; remainder of lower plumage white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris bright yellow; bill black with a yellow base; legs and feet yellow or greenish-yellow.
Measurements . Total length about 400 mm.; wing 203 to 222 mm.; tarsus 72 to 77 mm.; culmen 41 to 47 mm.
Young birds are paler, more marked with buff and have the streaks on the lower part narrower; the white wing-bar is not so distinct.
Nestling. Sandy-grey, the crown marked with black lines; two broad lines on each side of the centre of the back and two lateral bars to the tail tuft; underparts buffy-white, darker buff on the breast.
Distribution. India, Burma, Ceylon, S.W. and Central Siam.
Nidification. The Indian Stone-Plover breeds principally in April to June and casually from January to August but the great majority of eggs are laid in April, For breeding purposes the birds frequent both open desert, ploughed land and other cultivation, grass-field or scrub-jungle, whilst their favourite resort is a large mango-orchard with a fairly thick undergrowth of rank grass. No nest is made and, as a rule, no depression, the eggs being deposited on the bare ground. When there is no grass they are generally laid under shelter of a bush or hedge but I have seen them quite in the open, unconcealed or protected by any cover. Hume and Blewitt both took clutches of three eggs but I have never seen more than two. They are handsome eggs, the ground varying from almost white to a deep buff with large, bold blotches and patches of brown and blackish-brown with a few secondary and smaller markings of grey. In shape they are broad, blunt ovals whilst sixty eggs average 47.6 x 34.7 : maxima 52.0 X 34.2 and 48.1X36.2 mm.; minima 44.0 X 34.0 and 50.3 x 32.0 mm.
Habits. The Indian Stone-Plover frequents wide open spaces in dry country and is found alike in deserts, sandy beds of rivers, arid undulatory country and dry cultivated fields. Except that it often resorts to orchards to breed, it avoids trees and is never found in forests. It follows the course of the larger rivers up to some elevation and Primrose found it breeding on the banks of the Teesta at 3,000 feet. It feeds entirely on insects, worms, snails, frogs etc. and it swallows large numbers of tiny flints and similar stones. Its flesh is said to be excellent. The piping call is rather like the wailing note of the Curlew, being uttered principally in the mornings and evenings. It is very sluggish during the great heat of mid-day and is rather crepuscular in its habits.
* The measurements are taken from Mrs. A. Meinertzhagen's review of the genus Burhinus (Ibis, 1924, p. 330).