Francolinus gularis


Francolinus gularis.

Bhil-titar, Cachari.

The khyah, as this fine partridge is called by the Bengalis, is, unlike most game-birds, essentially a bird of swampy and alluvial soil, overgrown by high grass and cane; but even where it is commonly found along with other partridges, as it is in some places, it is a very distinctive bird. It is as big as a jungle hen, looks all its size on account of its long legs, and has a very smart appearance; its upper plumage is much like that of the common grey partridge, but the under-parts, with their well-marked broad longitudinal white streaking on a brown ground, contrasting with the rich rust-red of the throat, are most characteristic, and make one wonder how people could ever have mixed this bird up with the chukor, with which it has nothing in common except being of good size for a partridge and having red legs, though these are not bright in tint. The male has sharp spurs, but this is the only sex distinction except his slightly larger size.

The swamps of the Tarai, and the low-lying lands along the courses of the Ganges, Megna, and Brahmaputra, and the lower reaches of their tributaries, are the habitat of this bird; Cachar is its eastern limit, and it is found as far west as Pilibhit. Considering its tastes in locality, it is curious that it does not occur in the Sundarbans, "and that it sometimes is found on land of as much as 4,000 feet elevation.' Some of its haunts are so low that it is driven by floods to take to the trees in the rains, or to leave its home altogether and resort to cultivation or bush-jungle. It is rare to find it in grass low enough to go after it on foot, and when on cultivated land the birds have a sentry posted on some bush. They are found in pairs, threes or coveys, and are more noisy and quarrelsome, if anything, than their smaller relative the grey partridge, whose call their own resembles, but with the last syllable cut off; evidences of their desperate battles are found in the honourable scars which adorn the breast of so many specimens, but these veterans are but dry eating, as may well be supposed. Their asserted enmity to the black partridge has been doubted, on the ground that the two species may in some places be flushed out of the same grass cover, but it is probable that in the breeding-season this large and fierce bird is a serious enemy to other partridges of smaller size, though there may be a truce at other times. At any rate, those who value the fine black partridge should have an eye on the "grass chukor " till he has been proved innocent ; though as a rule his preferences in the matter of habitat must make him harmless in most cases.

If worked for from elephants, the kyah gives very good sport, but its flustering, cackling rise is rather trying at first to the nerves of behemoth if not to his rider. From the high cover it affects the breeding of this species is naturally not much under observation; the eggs seem to be five in number, and are slightly darker than those of the grey partridge, and likewise differ in being sparingly marked with pale brown or lilac at the large end, having in this, it must be admitted, a slight resemblance to the real chukor's eggs. The nest is on the ground among high grass, and has been found in April.

Besides Bhil-titur, this bird is called Bun and Jungli-titur in Hindustani; Kaijah is another Bengali name, and the Assamese is Koera; Koi is also used in Assam.

Indian Sporting Birds
Finn, Frank. Indian Sporting Birds. Edwards, 1915.
Title in Book: 
Francolinus gularis
Book Author: 
Frank Finn
Page No: 
Common name: 
Swamp Partridge
Swamp Francolin
Francolinus gularis

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