37. THE SWAMP-PARTRIDGE.
Ortygornis gularis, (Temminck).
Lower plumage streaked and presenting a scaly appearance, each feather being white, margined with a double border of black and brown.
Vernacular Names -.—Kyah, Kair, Kaijah, Bengal; Bun-teetur, Jungli-teetur, Hind.; Koi, Koera, Assam ; Bhil-titar, Cachar.
The Swamp-Partridge or Kyah is found in suitable localities throughout the tract of country lying between the Ganges and the base of the Himalayas, from the eastern portion of Rohilkund to the northern portion of the Sandarbans. Thence through Eastern Bengal and Assam up to Sadiya and southwards to Cachar and Tipperah. This bird is said to be occasionally found south of the Ganges.
I turn to Dr. Jerdon for some account of the habits of this Partridge. He says :—
" The favourite grounds for this Partridge are thick beds of reeds and long grass along the banks of rivers, jheels and watercourses; and especially in those swampy patches of reeds where the creeping Rose-bushes form thickets impenetrable to aught but an Elephant. If cultivated land be near, so much the better, for this Partridge loves to feed on open patches of Mustard, Dhal and other pulses, and indeed during the cold weather may frequently be found in the fields at all hours of the day. Occasionally it resorts to dry grassy plains with scattered bushes, but much more generally grassy churs near water. During the rains and when some of its usual haunts are flooded, it betakes itself to the fields, hedgerows and bush jungle, and at this time affords good sport even to the sportsman on foot; and in some localities when flooded, the Kyah may be seen flying from tree to tree.
"This Partridge is generally, except when breeding, met with in somewhat scattered coveys, which rise three or four at a time with a cackling scream; they fly strong and straight with outstretched neck, seldom going to any distance, but dropping into some thick covert, and thence often dislodged with difficulty; for it runs much even among thick reeds. It very generally, however, especially in swampy thickets, perches on the high reeds and generally roosts there.
" The call of the Kyah is quite similar in character to that of the Grey Partridge, though in a somewhat different tone, and not uttered so hurriedly, and the preliminary chuck is exactly that of its congener. It is one of the earliest birds astir, crowing at daylight, as well as frequently during the day."
The nest of the Swamp-Partridge has not often been found. Dr. Jerdon states that this bird breeds from March to May. Mr. H. J. Rainey found a nest of this species in April in Lower Bengal. This nest appears to have been neatly made of grass in a depression in the ground, and contained five eggs. Mr. Hume describes these eggs as being of a pale cafe-au-lait colour with some pale speckles about the larger end, and in one or two of the eggs some additional speckles on other portions of the shell. They measured from 1.44 to 1.5 in length and from 1.16 to 1.23 in breadth.
This Partridge has the crown brown; a broad band over the eye, another below the eye and the space in front of the eye pale buff. The chin, throat, cheeks and the sides of the neck are chestnut. The whole upper plumage, the closed wings and the middle tail-feathers are brown, closely and rather regularly cross-barred with pale buff. The remaining tail-feathers are chestnut, tipped paler. The first ten quills of the wing are rufous terminated with brown. The lower plumage from the throat downwards is white, each feather with a double margin, the inner portion black and the outer brown. The feathers under the tail are pale rufous.
The male is larger than the female. Length of the former about 14; wing about 7; tail about 4; length of the latter about 13 ; wing 6 1/2; tail about 31/2; legs red; irides brown; bill black or dark brown. Weight about 18 oz.