15. THE JAPANESE QUAIL.
Coturnix japonica, Temminck and Schlegel.
Sides of the body streaked. Outer web of the quills of the wing marked with rufous.
MALE:—The whole throat and the sides of the head rufous or brick-red, without any black bands.
FEMALE:—Throat pale buff with the feathers on the sides of the chin and upper throat lengthened and pointed.
Vernacular Name :— ? Ngon, Burmese.
The Japanese Quail is very distinct from the Grey Quail, and in the British Museum there are two skins of the former which were obtained within the limits of the Empire. One was procured by Pemberton in Bhutan many years ago, and the other by Major Wardlaw Ramsay in Karennee in March 1874. This Quail will no doubt be found along the whole of our northern frontier tracts, east of Sikhim, and along our eastern frontier down to Northern Tenasserim.
Colonel Prjevalsky remarks of this Quail:—" This bird is easily distinguished from the European one by its voice. We found it in South- East Mongolia, Ordos, Kansu, and about Koko-nor, breeding, sometimes numerously, and at others abundantly; and from the end of March to the middle of summer the call-note of the males can be heard daily, consisting of some deep, hollow sounds, several times repeated in quick succession. In the Yellow River valley they winter in great numbers, and sometimes stop for the cold season also in South- East Mongolia. In Kansu they occur in the steppes, but avoid the narrow mountain-valleys. We found it common in Ussuri-country, where it principally keeps to the plains and steppes. It arrives there in spring, about the end of March or early in April, and leaves again about September or October; a few, however, remain here to winter. The spring call-note of the males is to be heard until the middle of August; and the first young were found by us on the 29th of May."
This species has a wide distribution, being found in Japan, Eastern Asia and China. It will probably be found to occur commonly in parts of the Shan States in winter.
The male bird resembles the male Grey Quail except about the head. The chin, throat and sides of the head are rufous or brick-red, without a trace of any of the black bands to be found on the head of the male Grey Quail. The sides of the body are more richly coloured.
The female bird resembles the female Grey Quail, but has the lower plumage more richly coloured, with more black spots on the breast. The feathers on the sides of the chin and upper throat are much lengthened and sharply pointed, and this character will always suffice to separate the female Japanese Quail from the female Grey Quail.
Size : same as the Grey Quail.