(1979) Francolinus pictus pictus.
THE SOUTHERN PAINTED PARTRIDGE.
Perdix picta Jard. & Selby, Ill Orn., pl. 50 (1828) (Bangalore). Francolinus pictus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 137 (part.).
Vernacular names. Kakera Kodi (Tam.).
Description.— Adult male. Crown black, the feathers with narrow rufous-buff margins ; forehead, supercilia and sides of the head ferruginous-red ; nape and neck like the crown but with the buff mora conspicuous; upper back blackish with oval white spots; wing-coverts blackish-brown with buff spots; scapulars the same but with rufous-buff edges ; wing-quills and greater coverts brown with rufous-buff bars, broken on the primaries, complete on the secondaries, of which the colour is almost as dark a brown as the scapulars ; lower back, rump, upper tail-coverts and central rectrices black with narrow bars of white, the latter sometimes tinged with buff; outer tail-feathers more or less black on the terminal third ; chin white or rufous with tiny black specks at the sides, sometimes forming a line from the corner of the lower mandible ; fore-neck darker rufous, more boldly streaked with black; breast and flanks black with large white drops increasing in size on the lower breast and posterior flanks; centre of abdomen and vent dull pale rufous-brown, the feathers more or less tipped with dirty whitish, under tail-coverts chestnut.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill dark brown to black, the tip always blackish, the base and gape paler or horny-white ; legs reddish- or yellowish-brown.
Measurements. Total length about 300 mm.; wing 132 to 148 mm.; tail 66 to 89 mm.; tarsus about 40 mm.; culmen about 24 to 27 mm. The spurs are rudimentary or absent. " Weight 8.5 to 12.7 oz." (Hume). Apparently this refers to both sexes.
Female. Like the mate but with the lower back, rump, upper tail-coverts and tail dull pale brown with narrow bars of white edged with darker brown; the throat is generally white, whilst the markings on the flanks and lower breast form black, arrow-shaped, central bars on a pale buffy ground.
Colours of soft parts as in the male but all duller and paler. Measurements. Wing as in the male.
Distribution. Ceylon and Southern India. On the West it is found as far North as Khandesh and thence in a line to Raipur, from which again it extends to Chanda and into Behar. In Ceylon Wait says that it is confined to the Uva Basin and the Eastern and South-Eastern slopes of the hills.
Nidification. The Painted Partridge commences to breed as soon as the Bains break, about the middle of June to the middle of September, most eggs being laid during August. The favourite site for a nest is a narrow strip of grass or scrub-jungle in between patches of cultivation or open country and the eggs seem nearly always to be deposited in hollows under the shelter of a bush. Of nest there is little or none beyond the fallen rubbish on the ground. The eggs number four to seven or eight and though it is said they sometimes number twelve or fourteen, there is no satisfactory proof of more than nine. They are in appearance like very pale eggs of the Black Partridge; generally a pale stone-grey or olive-grey, never the chocolate-olive so common in the eggs of that species. Fifteen eggs average 35.9 X 30.9 mm.: maxima 37.8 x 31.9 and 36.5 x 32.0 mm.; minima 33.6 x 28.4 mm.
Habits. Very similar to those of the Black Partridges but the Painted Partridges prefer drier areas and keep closer to cultivation. It is said also always to roost at night on boughs of trees, on bushes or on the tops of ant-hills and boulders. The call is very similar to that of the Black Partridge and has been syllabified by Jerdon as " Chee-kee-kerray." It is said to be a better flier than the Black Partridge, to give better sport and to be a more delicate bird for the table but many sportsmen say there is but little to choose between them in these respects.
Where the ranges of the Black and the Painted Partridges overlap, hybrids are nor uncommon and these seem to be genuine hybrids and not an intermediate race or form linking the various geographical races of the two into one species.