Houbara macqueeni, J. E. Gr.
837. :- Jerdon's Birds of India, Vol. II, p. 612; Butler, Guzerat; Stray Feathers, Vol. IV, p. 9 ; Murray's Vertebrate Zoology of Sind, p. 218; Game Birds of India, Vol. I, p. 17.
THE HOUBARA BUSTARD.
Oobarra, Hin. Tiloor, Sindi.
Length, 28 to 30.25 ; expanse, 51.5 to 57.75 ; wing, 15 to 16; tail, 8.5 to 10.25 ; tarsus, 3.5 to 4 ; bill from gape, 2.3 to 2.6 ; weight, 4 to 5 1/4 lbs.
Length, 25 to 27.5; expanse, 47 to 51; wing, 14.25 to 15.25 ; tail, 7.75 to 9.25 ; tarsus, 3.15 to 3.6; bill from gape, 2 to 2.5 ;: weight, 2 10/16 to 3 3/4 lbs.
Bill blackish, paler beneath ; irides pale to bright yellow; legs and feet pale dingy-yellow.
Head beautifully crested ; the crest consisting of a series of lengthened slender feathers in the centre of the crown, white, with a black tip in front, wholly white behind ; upper plumage, including the neck, pale buff, somewhat albescent on the wing-coverts and deeper on the back; upper tail-coverts and tail all delicately and minutely pencilled with black, and each feather with a subterminal black band visible externally, and another at the base of the feathers; upper tail-coverts with the black bands narrower, distant, and more or less ashy; tail banded with bluish-ashy, and all the lateral feathers broadly tipped with creamy-white ; greater wing-coverts tipped with white; primaries white at their base, black for the terminal half, and most so on the outer web; lesser wing-coverts and scapulars more or less spotted with black, not barred ; the shorter quills and the winglet black, the former tipped with white; the cheeks are white, with black shafts and tips; the throat white; neck fulvous-ashy; belly and lower parts, including the lower surface of the wings, white ; under tail-coverts slightly barred ; the neck ruff in its full integrity during the breeding season begins from the ear-coverts; the feathers are moderately long, about two inches, and entirely black and silky ; on the sides of the neck they are at least six inches long, white at the base and with black tips; and where they terminate are still longer, wholly white, varying in texture, and with more or less disunited webs, very fine and curving downwards below.
The sexes, except as regards length of ruff and crest, are nearly alike in plumage, but the female is lighter in color, and is always considerably smaller.
During the cold weather the Houbara is very common in Sind. It occurs at the same season, but much more rarely in Guzerat and Rajputana.
It does not breed in India, but is supposed to do so in Afghanistan.