(2052) Cursorius coromandelicus.
THE INDIAN COURSER.
Charadrius coromandelicus Gmelin, Syst. Nat., i, p. 692 (1788) (Coramandel coast). Cursorius coromandelicus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 210.
Vernacular names. Nukri (Hind.); Terra Chitawa, Durawayi (Tel.).
Description. Crown rich rufous with a small black nuchal spot; a broad white supercilium meeting behind this black spot; lores and a black band through the eye, down the neck and surrounding the white; hind-neck rufous; upper tail-coverts white ; remainder of upper plumage light brown, slightly sandy; primaries black; outer secondaries black with white tips and brown towards their ends ; inner secondaries, lesser and median coverts like the back; greater coverts black; lateral tail-feathers with broad white tips and black sub-tips; breast and flanks chestnut, deepening on the abdomen and succeeded by a black patch; lower abdomen and posterior flanks grey, changing to white on the vent and lower tail-coverts; chin and throat white; fore-neck pale rufous; under wing-coverts black.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown or hazel; bill black; eggs and feet ivory-white or creamy-white.
Measurements. Wing, 136 to 147 mm., 141 to 156 mm.; tail 50 to 57 mm. tarsus 50 to 58 mm.; culmen 19 to 21 mm.
Young birds are dull buff above, irregularly barred with blackish brown; there is a small pale supercilium but no black on the crown; the breast is dull rufous, more or less barred with blackish; chin and abdomen white.
Distribution. The drier, more open and desert portions of India from North Ceylon to North-West India and Western Bengal. It is common in the deforested parts of Travancore but is rare on the Malabar coast and, again, is absent from the pure desert country of Cutch, Sind and the North-West Province.
Nidification, The Indian Courser breeds in Central India from April to June, in Western India from March to July and in Travancore principally in May and June. No nest is made, the eggs being laid on the bare ground either among pebbles and rubbish on the coast, as in Malabar, or on ploughed fields, fallow fields or waste lands. Occasionally they may be found on rocky hill-sides in thin scrub but never on sandy deserts. The eggs are almost invariably two only in number and in colour exactly match the black soil and yellow debris on which they are hud. The ground-colour varies from a pale stone to a rich yellow-buff, whilst the markings consist of blotches and smears or endless lines and scriggles of black covering most of the ground-colour. In a few eggs the marks are more brown than black. Forty eggs average 30.7 x 24.0 mm.; maxima 34.1 X 23.9 and 31.5 x 26.1 mm.; minima 28.2 x 23.1 and 30.2 x 22.4 mm.
Habits. This Courser does not affect the driest areas with hardly any rainfall but, on the other hand, is seldom found in areas of heavy rainfall. It keeps to open country, cultivated and waste, or to such as is covered by thin scrub and tufty, scattered grass. It is a shy, wary bird except when incubating and runs away at great speed when disturbed. Its food is almost entirely insectivorous and its own flesh is said to be good to eat, though dry. As a rule it is found singly or in pairs but sometimes consorts in small flocks.