Kakhera hodi, Telugu.
From the usual use of the word " painted " in characterizing birds, one would expect this species to be at least as handsome as the black, its near ally, which indeed is also called Kala titar by the Mahrattas; but as a matter of fact it is not nearly so showy a bird, wanting the white cheeks and chestnut collar, though the face and throat are chestnut, and having the white spotting below so developed at the expense of the black background that the general effect is light below variegated with dark, and the bird on the whole is rather more like the hen black partridge than the cock, though much purer in its colours.
The hen of the present species is much like her mate—who has no spurs—but may be distinguished by the throat being white, not chestnut like the cheeks, and by the light barring on the lower back being coarse and buff, as in the similar marking in the hen black partridge ; in the cocks the rump-pencilling is narrow and pure white in both kinds. That the birds are closely related they themselves recognize, for cross-pairing takes place now and then on their borders, resulting in hybrids. It would be interesting to know which way these are bred ; theoretically, the handsomer and better-armed male of the black partridge ought to be able to elope with the ladies of the present species, which is moreover a decidedly smaller bird, but questions like these can never be settled theoretically, and observation often results in a surprise.
The mention above of the frontier of these two birds coinciding illustrates the fact that the painted partridge is a southern Indian bird, which ranges even to Ceylon, though curiously enough it is not found in Mysore, or south of Coimbatore or of Bombay on the Malabar Coast. In Ceylon it is confined to some hills in the Newera Eliya district, and is not found anywhere outside it. The name "southern francolin" well expresses its position, though "painted" quite well describes it in comparison with the ordinary grey partridge, if not with its handsome dark northern cousin.
Although so nearly related to this bird its ways differ considerably in detail. For instance, though the relationship is recognizable even in the notes, the calls of the two birds are not identical, that of the present one being rendered as Chee-kee-kerray; it also calls even earlier in the morning, and generally from a tree, in which the singer and his mate have probably passed the night, for this bird is far more of a percher than the last species or than most of our partridges, and is commonly to be found in trees in the morning and evening. The cocks, by the way, call very late as well as very early.
The sort of •localities which the black partridge affects are not so much favoured by the southern francolin, which is more partial to dry soil, and less fond of jungle; in fact, cultivated fields, if well supplied with trees, are a pretty sure resort for these birds, as is also scrub jungle on rocky ground; but they also haunt sugar-cane fields, and are in fact pretty easily suited, though in many districts very local.
Although more given to running than the northern francolin, they are nearly as good both for shooting and eating, and can claim the only place near these birds in point of all-round excellence among our lowland small game. They feed on the same sort of food as black partridges, and, like them, are not beyond suspicion if shot near villages ; they also go in pairs—the coveys in this case too not keeping together long—and are not quarrelsome. The eggs of this bird are most often laid in August, and are deposited in similar places to those of the northern bird, and about as hard to find; but they are smaller in size, duller in surface and fewer in number. In colour they are some shade of cream or drab, without spots. The young have a "peculiar cricket-like chirrup" which they begin as soon as they are hatched. This species is pretty uniform in size, and only weighs from about eight and a half to twelve and a half ounces, never approaching some blacks.