1372. Francolinus vulgaris.
The Black Partridge or Common Francolin.
Tetrao francolinus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 275 (1766). Francolinus vulgaris, Steph. in Shaw's Gen. Zool. xi, p. 319 (1819) ; Blyth, Cat. p. 251; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 558; Blanford, J. A. S. B. xxxvi, pt. 2, p. 200; xxxviii, pt. 2, p. 190; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxx vii, pt. 2, p. 68; xli, pt. 2, p. 249; Hume, S. F. i, p. 226 ; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xiv, pt. 2, p. 83 ; Butler Sf Hume, S. F. iv, p. 5; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 225; Hume, Cat. no. 818; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 348; Hume & Marsh. Game B. ii, p. 9, pl.; Reid, S. F. x, p. 62; Murdoch, ibid. p. 168 : Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 307 ; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 304; St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 175; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 428. Francolinus melanonotus, Hume, S. F. xi, p. 305. Francolinus francolinus, Ogilvie Grant, Ibis, 1892, p. 38; id. Cat. B. M. xxii, p. 132.
Kala-titar, H.; Kais-titar, , Nepal; Tetra, Garhwal ; Vrembi, Manipur.
Coloration. Male. Crown blackish brown, the feathers broadly edged with pale brown and on the nape with white; sides of head, with the chin and throat, black, except an elongate white patch running back from beneath each eye and including the ear-coverts; a broad chestnut collar all round the neck; behind this the upper back and the sides of the breast are black, the feathers with a large white spot on each web; scapulars, interscapulars, tertiaries, and wing-coverts brown; each feather with a submarginal tawny or buff band, nearly or quite continuous, and pale edges ; primaries and secondaries dark brown, with tawny-buff transverse spots on both webs, forming imperfect bars; lower back, rump, upper tail-coverts, and tail-feathers black with narrow white bars, terminal third of outer tail-feathers unbarred black; breast and upper abdomen pure black in old birds; flanks spotted white like sides of the breast, but the two-white spots on each feather coalesce posteriorly; lower abdomen and thigh-coverts light chestnut tipped with white; vent and under tail-coverts pure dark chestnut.
Female like the male above, but paler and duller; the chestnut on the neck is confined to a patch at the back; the rump and tail are brown, with dark-edged buff bars that are wider apart than the white bars of the male; sides of head and supercilia buff, the ear-coverts dark brown; lower parts buff, chin and throat whitish, the remainder irregularly barred with brown, the bars on the feathers waved or arrowhead-shaped and broadest on the flanks. In old female birds the bars on the lower surface are narrower, and they tend to disappear on the abdomen.
In young males the black feathers»of the breast have a pair of subterminal white spots like those of the sides, and the chin and throat are mixed with white. Young females have the breast similarly spotted, not barred.
Bill black in the male, dusky brown in the female; irides brown; legs and feet brownish red to orange.
Length of male about 13.5; tail 4 ; wing 6.25 ; tarsus 1.9 ; bill from gape 1.15. Females are rather smaller, but there is much variation in size in both sexes. The male has a spur on each tarsus.
Distribution. The Black Partridge is found in suitable localities throughout Northern India from the Punjab and Sind to Assam, Sylhet, Cachar, and Manipur, the southern boundary in India running south of Cutch and north of Kattywar, thence approximately through Deesa, Gwalior, and Sambalpur to the Chilka Lake in Orissa, whilst to the northward this bird ascends the outer ranges of the Himalayas, and is found along the river-valleys to about 5000 feet or occasionally higher. This Francolin is not known to range east or south beyond Manipur, but west of India it occurs throughout Persia to Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and Cyprus, and was formerly found in Greece, Italy, Sicily, and Spain, though it is now extinct in those countries.
Habits, &c. The Black Partridge is most commonly found in the Indo-Gangetic plain and neighbouring parts of India, where high grass and tamarisk scrub occur in the neighbourhood of water on the borders of cultivation. It is found in cultivation away from jungle and in bush, but less abundantly, and it is always met with singly or in pairs, never in coveys, except immediately after the breeding-season. It feeds, like other partridges, on seeds and insects. The call of the male, especially uttered in the morning and evening, from an ant-hill or some similar slight elevation, is harsh, and resembles the crow of a pheasant or jungle-fowl more than the recapitulated double whistle of most partridges; it has been imitated in Hindustani by the pious "Subhan, teri kudrat" (Omnipotent, thy power), and by the vulgar " lahsan, piaj, adrak" (garlic, onion, ginger), but " juk-juk, tee-tee-tur," or the English imitation " be quick,pay your debts," come nearer to the five notes of the cry. The breeding-season is from May to August, chiefly in June, and from 6 to 10 eggs of a drab or stone colour, measuring about 1.56 by 1.23, are laid on the ground in a more or less loosely-constructed nest of straw, grass, roofs, or leaves.
Where abundant the Black Partridge affords excellent shooting, especially from elephants, and the flesh is gamey and well-flavoured.