34. THE PAINTED FRANCOLIN.
Francolinus pictus, (Jardine and Selby).
No chestnut on the hindneck. Sides of the head of one uniform colour without bands or spots.
MALE: —Throat spotted; white bars on the rump very distinct and straight.
FEMALE :—Throat unspotted ; white bars on the rump indistinct and wavy.
Vernacular Names : — Kala titur, Marathi; Titar, Poona, Satara, etc.; Kakera Kodi, Telugu.
The Painted Francolin, or Painted Partridge, occupies that portion of the peninsula of India in which the preceding species is absent. Its northern limit is therefore very much the same line that defines the southern limit of the Black Francolin, and south of this line it is found in suitable localities down to Ceylon The Painted Francolin appears to be absent or rare in certain tracts such as Mysore and portions of the Malabar coast. Messrs. Hume and Marshall give the distribution of this Francolin in considerable detail, but I do not quote their remarks, for since they wrote this bird has been observed in Ceylon, and it may occur in other localities from which they excluded it.
The habits of this Francolin do not appear to differ in any important respect from those of the Black Francolin, but it seems to affect dry localities in preference to damp ones. I shall quote what Dr. Jerdon says about this bird:— " Like its northern congener, it delights in grassy plains and fields, but more affects open, dry and raised plains, with scattered bushes, than the low-lying, damper meadows that the Black delights in. It is always when the grain is ripe, as well as at other times not unfrequently, to be found in wheat fields and other cultivated lands, and occasionally in open and grassy glades in the midst of thin forest jungle. It chiefly occurs in pairs, now and then several, not far from each other. Early in the morning, the cock-bird may be heard uttering his peculiar guttural call or broken crow, Chee-kee-kerray— Chee-kee-kerray, which can be heard a long way off, though by no means loud, and is answered on all sides. On approaching the spot whence the sound proceeds, if carefully looked for he may be seen seated on a stump of a tree, or a thick bush, or an ant-hill or other elevated spot; but when he finds himself discovered, he slinks down and runs off in a way that puzzles dogs much."
The nesting season of the Painted Francolin is from July to September. The eggs are very similar in colour to those of the Black Partridge, and vary in size from 1.3 to1.48 in length, and from 1.1 to 1.25 in breadth.
The male has the forehead and the sides of the head chestnut and the crown of the head black with narrow chestnut margins to the feathers. The mantle is black with white spots. The back, the rump and the tail-coverts are black distinctly cross-barred with white. The tail is black with some narrow white crossbars at the base. The visible portions of the closed wings are black, the smaller coverts with large round buff spots, the larger with broad buff margins. The quills of the wing are black with large coarse rufous bars on both webs. The chin and throat are pale buff with a few small black spots. The foreneck is pale buff streaked with black, and the remainder of the lower plumage is buffish white, rather darker on the sides of the body, each feather with a black shaft streak and two or three black cross-bars, the general. effect of which is to make the lower plumage appear to be covered with large roundish white or buffy white spots. The feathers under the tail are rich chestnut.
The female differs from the male chiefly in having the white spots and bars on the upper plumage smaller and less distinct, and in having no black spots on the throat.
Length about 13 ; wing rather less than 6 ; tail about 3 ; legs pale reddish ; irides brown; bill brown or black. Weight up to nearly 13 oz.