(1982) Francolinus gularis (Temm.).
THE KYAH or SWAMP PARTRIDGE.
Franoolinus gularis, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. v, p. 417.
The range of this Partridge extends from the Sub-Himalayan Terai in the North-West, Punjab and United Provinces to Eastern Assam, In fact it is found over the whole of the alluvial country watered by the Ganges, Brahmapootra and Megna Rivers, together with their great and small tributaries. It is rare in Chittagong and does not extend to Arakan but is very common in the Sunder¬bands and in Cachar, Sylhet, Tippera and Noakhali. It does not normally ascend the hills above the regions of swamps but Godwin- Austen obtained it in the Khasia Hills plateau land over 5,000 feet, where there is some rice cultivation and some swamps formed lay irrigation and damming.
These Partridges keep entirely to the huge shallow swamps surrounded by a great extent of ekra- and reed-beds standing in mud or in actual water and they are never found outside these except when feeding or forced out by abnormal, floods. Then they take to the long grass which, more often than not, adjoins the reed-bed. In Bihar it is said to breed occasionally in long thatching grass on the banks of rivers and nullahs. Rainey also took a nest with five eggs, obviously correctly identified, in Jessore which was placed in thatching grass “close to the margin of a dry tank covered with dense jungle.”
Hole, Primrose, Inglis and I took many nests in Cachar and Sylhet while Coltart and I took others in Lakhimpur but all these were placed in the long reeds and ekra in swamps or at their edges, or in among the dense tangle of mixed reed and scrub grouping on small muddy or half-submerged islands in their midst.
Generally the nest is built in among the growing and broken- down reeds etc, actually in the water, sometimes just mud and water a few inches deep but, sometimes, in water 18 inches or more in depth. The nest itself is a well-made thick pad of rushes, weeds and leaves of “nal,” anything from 8 to 12 inches across, while the actual pad is 2 to 4 inches thick, the sides being raised another 2 to 4 inches to form a cup to receive the eggs. The base of the nest is sometimes wet, but inside it always seems to be dry and warm. When built on dry ground in among the reeds the nest is neither so deep nor so well built as when it rests directly on the ground but, when resting on a tangle of broken-down reeds etc., it is so well put together that one can sometimes carry it away as a whole without it coming to pieces.
The nests are very difficult to locate, even after the male has been heard calling, as they are invariably built in the densest parts of the cover, whatever that may be, selected to breed in. Fortu¬nately the hens are very close sitters and, with a line of beaters, it is generally possible to get within a few feet of the bird before she flounders off her nest in a great flurry and with many loud protests.
They are early breeders, most eggs being laid in March and April, but Hole obtained eggs in Sylhet in February. Occasionally they lay in May, in which month Inglis in Cachar, Coltart in Bihar and Primrose in Goalpara all obtained fresh eggs. In the United Provinces Whymper found nests and eggs in early April.
The normal clutch is four or five eggs, but sometimes six are laid and sometimes only three.
The eggs bear a close resemblance to those of the other Francolins but a few look as if they could not belong to any bird of the genus Francolinus. These latter vary from almost white to a warm buff and are blotched or mottled with pale dirty brown or reddish- brown, sometimes quite heavily, generally rather sparsely. I have taken this type of egg myself, shooting the female off the nest, and some captive birds in Inglis’s aviaries also laid these spotted eggs.
Other eggs are just like those of most Francolins but, as a series, are a rather bright pale buff. I have seen no olive eggs of this species.
Forty-eight eggs average 39.4 x 30.0 mm. : maxima 42.0 x 29.9 and 36.6 x 31.3 mm. ; minima 36.1 x 29.3 and 38.2 x 29.0 mm.
The Kyah is monogamous and is just as good a father to the chicks when once they are hatched but, unlike most Francolins, who bluster and do little more, he is very pugnacious and constant fights take place between the males, not for the possession of the females so much as by way of recreation when the females are sitting. Of course young unmated males, may sometimes arouse a husband’s jealous fury but, once mated, they are settled for good and all, and domestic troubles are not common.
1982. Francolinus gularis
(1982) Francolinus gularis (Temm.).