(1952) Coturnix coromandelica (Gmelin).
THE BLACK-BREASTED or RAIN-QUAIL.
Coturnix coromandelica, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. v, p. 375.
The Rain-Quail occurs in Ceylon, though Wait says it is rare, and practically over the whole of India and Burma as far East as the Shan States, It ascends the mountains to some height, as Dodsworth obtained a specimen near Simla at about 7,000 feet, and it has been seen as high as this in the Nilgiris. It is generally believed to be locally migratory, occurring in the wetter parts of the country in the dry season and moving to the drier areas when the rains commence. It is, however, doubtful to what extent these local migrations are not merely a change of the hirda haunts during the two seasons rather than an actual movement from one district to another.
In the Punjab during the dry season only casual birds have been observed, and the same is said to be the case in Cutch, Sind, Khatiawar, the United Provinces and Rajputana.
In Bihar and Bengal they are certainly to be found all the year round but, in the very hot months, they keep much under cover such as reeds, long grass, bush and even tree-jungle and shady Mango-orchards.
Davidson says of the Deccan :—“The Rain-Quail is very common and is a permanent resident, though it wanders about a good deal in search of water, food and shelter. Thus while in November and December this Quail will be found scattered about singly or in pairs everywhere, in the hot weather hundreds will be found collected in a few nullahs and gardens.”
They breed in much the same kind of ground as the Common Grey Quail but in much greater numbers in certain favoured localities, such as the Deccan (Davidson and Wenden) and Sholapur (Davidson). Like that bird they often nest in stall ding crops of grain, such as millet, bagra, jowari sometimes when it is very thick and high and, even when they breed quite in the open or in fallow land, they seem nearly always to nest under the shelter of a bush or some other kind of protection. The nest is the same kind of scrape as that used by Coturnix coturnix and sometimes has a good lining and sometimes none at all.
In Sind and in the Rann of Cutch this Quail seems to breed early in April and May, Betham received a clutch of nine eggs from Knowsley taken in Jacobabad in April, and Gordon also took eggs in this district, while Bell took several nests in the Kelishar forest in pease-fields in the end of March and in April, while Bulkley told me he had taken several nests “from the desert in Cutch where there was a growth of grass,” Eates has also taken nests in several places in Sind, all in March, April and May.
Elsewhere August and September are the two normal breeding months. In Sholapur Davidson and Wenden took eggs from the 4th August to the 25th September. They also took eggs at Sholapur in October, and the former says :—“I have found them breeding in the Deccan from the first week in August till late in November." In Belgaum Butler took eggs in August and at Deesa in August and September ; in Bihar and Bengal many people have taken eggs from July to September ; while, finally, Williams, T. R. O’Donnell and Betham have taken hig series in August and September.
In Cachar I once found eggs just hatching on the 15th April, but normally, in this district, they do not breed until after the rains break.
The number of eggs laid is generally six to eight, but four only are often incubated and larger clutches, up to ten and eleven, are not rare. Butler took a nest with eleven eggs at Belgaum and Davidson found one of eleven and one of eighteen at Sholapur, the latter probably the produce of two hens.
The eggs go through all the variations shown by those of the Common Grey Quail, but I have one curious clutch the ground of Which is practically white speckled lightly with tiny pin-point dots of black and light red all over the surface but rather more numerously at the larger end.
One hundred and fifty eggs average 27.4 x 20.8 mm, ; maxima 30.8 x 21.7 and 30.7 x 22.2 mm. ; minima 25.5 x 20.8 and 20.9 x 19.2 mm.
In their domestic arrangements the Rain-Quails differ little from the Common Quail. The male is monogamous and, though he does not incubate, he stays close to the female when she is sitting and, if he wanders away a short distance, calls constantly to her to let her know where be is.
The hen sits very close and will not move until almost touched ; when the chicks are hatched both parents look after them, and within a very few days the young can fly almost as fast as the old birds.
1952. Coturnix coromandelica
(1952) Coturnix coromandelica (Gmelin).