1354. Excalfactoria chinensis.
The Blue-breasted Quail.
Tetrao chinensis, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 277 (1766). Coturnix chinensis, Blyth, Cat. p. 255 ; Legge, Birds Ceylon, p. 755. Excalfactoria chinensis, Bonap. C. B. xlii, p. 881 ; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 591 ; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xxxix, pt. 2, p. 273 ; xiv, pt. 2, p. 84; Blyth, Birds Burm. p. 151; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 226; id. Cat. no. 831; Oates, S. F. viii, p. 167 ; Hume & Marsh. Game B. ii, p. 161; Laird Sf Bidie, S. F. ix, p. 208; Hume & Inglis, ibid. p. 258 ; Butler, ibid. p. 423 ; Beid, S. F. x, p. 63 ; Wenden, ibid. p. 165 ; Davison, ibid. p. 412 ; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 334 ; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 310 ; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 448 ; Ogilvie Grant, Cat. B. M. xxii, p. 250. Excalfactoria sinensis, Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 447; Bingham, S. F. ix, p. 196.
Khair-butai, Kaneli, Nepal; Gobal-butai, Oudh ; Ngon, Burma; Pan-dura-watuwa, Wenella-wutuwa, Cing.
Coloration. Male. Upper parts brown, with vermiculations and blotches of black; except in very old birds, there is a narrow whitish median streak on the crown and nape, and the feathers of the back and rump have conspicuous buff shaft-lines, broader on the latter, but all these pale markings disappear gradually with age, and the brown becomes tinged with dark bluish grey on the forehead, sides of the crown, wing-coverts, and upper tail-coverts ; some of the median and larger secondary coverts are broadly edged externally with chestnut, but this character appears sometimes wanting ; quills brown ; tail-feathers slaty blue, more or less broadly edged with chestnut, entirely chestnut in old birds; sides of head slaty grey, browner in young birds ; lower cheeks, chin, and throat black, enclosing on each side a white cheek-stripe, broader behind, from the base of the lower mandible ; fore neck white, edged behind with black running up on each side, growing narrow and terminating close to the ear-coverts; upper breast, sides of breast, and flanks slaty bluish grey, remainder of lower parts chestnut. In old birds the chestnut area is larger and occupies the greater part of the breast and flanks.
Females resemble young males above, but the scapulars and wing-coverts are more distinctly barred with black, and the whitish median crown-stripe and the shaft-stripes on the back are con¬spicuous at all ages ; forehead, supercilia, and sides of head rufous buff ; ear-coverts browner ; chin and throat whitish ; rest of lower parts buff, rufous on the fore neck and barred with black on the breast and flanks, the bars growing fainter with age; tail brown, with black and buff markings.
Bill black, plumbeous beneath; irides crimson in the male, brown in females and young ; legs bright yellow, claws brownish (Hume).
Length about 5.5; tail 1 ; wing 2.75: tarsus .85 ; bill from gape .5.
Distribution. In India this Quail is common in Bengal and ranges throughout the plains near the base of the Himalayas and in the lower ranges as far west as the neighbourhood of Simla. It also occurs sporadically throughout Orissa, Chutia Nagpur, and the Central Provinces east of about 80° E. long., and it has been met with occasionally in Bombay and Southern India (by Jerdon in the Carnatic, by Capt. Bidie in Chingleput, and by Mr. H. Wenden near Poona and Bombay), but it appears not to have been observed on the Malabar coast south of Bombay, and it is unknown in the
dry regions of North-western India. It is pretty common in Western and Southern Ceylon, and in Eastern Bengal, Assam, Sylhet, Cachar, Manipur, and in parts of Burma, especially in the plains of Pegu, and it is found throughout Southern China and
South-eastern Asia generally; whilst a closely allied race inhabits the Malay Archipelago and Australia. In the Sub-Himalayan tracts and in Pegu this species is said to occur chiefly in the rainy season, whilst in Lower Bengal it is found principally in
the cold weather.
Habits, &c. This, like other Quails, is generally found in grass, singly or in pairs. It keeps to open, rather swampy ground, and is often to be met with around paddy fields. Its note is a low double whistle. Its food consists chiefly of grass-seeds. This species breeds in Northern India, Bengal, and Pegu from the latter end of June to the middle of August, and lavs from 4 to 6 olivaceous drab eggs, generally minutely speckled, and measuring about .98 by .76, in a small hollow on the ground amidst short grass.