1355. Coturnix communis,
The Common or Grey Quail.
Tetrao coturnix. Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 278. Coturnix communis, Bonn. Tabl. Fncycl. Meth. i, p. 217, pl. 96 (1790) ; Blyth, Cat. p. 254 ; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 586; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. 2, p. 69; xii, pt. 2, p. 250; Godwin-Austen, ibid. p. 142; Hume, N. & E. p. 549; id. S. F. i, p. 227 ; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 151; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 7; ix, p. 423; Fairbank, S. F. iv, p. 262; Davidson & Wend. S. F. vii, p. 87; Ball, ibid. p. 226; Cripps, ibid. p. 298 ; Hume & Marsh. Game B. ii, p. 133, pl.; Hume, Cat. no. 829; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 350; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 76; Davison, S. F. x, p. 411; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 331 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 315; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 309; St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 175; Oates in Hume's N.& E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 443. Coturnix coturnix, Ogilvie Grant, Cat. B. M. xxii, p. 231.
The Large Greg Quail, Jerdon; Bater, Bara Bater. Gagus bater, H., Upper India; Batairo, Sind; Batri, Beng.; Gundri, Uriya; Soipol, Manipur; Botah Surrai, Assam; Ngon, Burm.; Bur-ganja, Gur-ganj, Poona, &c.; Burli, Belgaum; Gogari-yellachi, Tel.; Peria-ka-deh, Tam.; Sipale haki, Can. (Mysore).
Coloration. Male. Feathers of crown black with broad brown, edges; median coronal streak and broad supercilia pale buff; a dark brown stripe from the gape; ear-coverts brown, rest of sides of head white speckled with dark brown; back, rump, and upper tail-coverts light brown, with fusiform buffy-white shaft-stripes and black blotches, the latter crossed by rufous bars; scapulars and wing-Coverts also brown, with narrow pale shaft-lines and buff transverse bars; quills brown, the first primary with a whitish outer border, the other primaries and secondaries barred on the outer web with rufous ; the bars on the secondaries dark-edged ; tail blackish brown, with pale buff shaft-stripes and transverse bars; throat and fore neck whitish, with a blackish anchor-shaped mark consisting of a broad median band and a narrower cross stripe curving upwards on each side to the ear-coverts ; the median band varies greatly in breadth, and sometimes covers the throat; breast rufous-buff, paler or darker, with pale shaft-stripes, the anterior border with a broken gorget of blackish-brown spots; the rufous passes on the lower breast into the whitish buff of the abdomen and lower tail-coverts; flanks brown, with broad whitish shaft-stripes and blackish spots.
The female, wants the black marks on the throat, and the breast is more or less spotted with black, except in a few individuals, probably very old birds. In young birds of both sexes the breast is thickly spotted with black or blackish brown.
Bill horny brown ; irides yellow-brown; legs pale fleshy (Jerdon).
Length about 8; tail 1.75; wing 4.25; tarsus 1.1; bill from gape .6.
Distribution. A migratory bird, visiting the greater part of our area, except Ceylon and Tenasserim, in winter. It is more abundant in Northern than in Southern India, and is of rare occurrence in Burma. Beyond Indian limits, the Common Quail is found almost throughout Europe and Africa, and in Asia except in the south-eastern parts.
Habits, &c. The Grey Quail arrive in Northern India from Central Asia in September, but are not usually seen in the Deccan or Bengal before October. Occasionally some, even large parties, arrive in Sind, Cutch, and Guzerat from the latter end of August till December, coming from the seaward, probably from Arabia. The majority, as a rule, leave the north of India in December and January for the south, returning and at times abounding in the ripening wheat- and barley-fields of the North-west Provinces, Sind, and the Punjab in March and April, and finally migrating northward in the latter month or May. A few, however, remain and breed in India, and nests have been taken not only in Northern India but at Purneah in Bengal, Hoshangabad in the Central Provinces, and even Satara in the Bombay. Deccan. They lay from 6 or 7 to 10 buff eggs speckled with brown, in a hollow on the ground amongst grass. The eggs measure about 1.18 by .89.
The call of the male Quail, often heard, and especially in spring, is a long whistling note followed by two shorter notes; hence the name dactylisonans, applied to the species by several writers. Except just after the breeding-season these birds are found singly or in twos or threes, not in bevies or coveys. Their food consists chiefly of grain and seeds. Their flight is rapid, close to the ground, aud very straight. Quails are often found in large numbers in Northern India, and afford excellent sport for the gun. They are caught by natives in nets, and are kept alive, the males for fighting, and both sexes for food. They are, as is well known, delicious eating.
C. japonica is an Eastern race of C. communis, inhabiting Japan and China. The adult male has the sides of the head, chin, and throat dull vinous-red without black marks ; the female and young male have the feathers of the throat and chin elongate and lanceo¬late, especially those on the sides of the throat. In the British Museum Catalogue this form is, apparently with justice, classed as a separate species, and two skins of females—one from Bhutan, the other from Karennee, are referred to it. Neither, however, is a characteristic specimen, and as intermediate forms are not uncommon, it may be well to await the discovery of males before including C. japonica in the Indian fauna.