1375. Francolinus pondicerianus.
The Grey Partridge.
Tetrao pondicerianus, Gm. Syst. Nat. i, 2, p. 760 (1788). Francolinus pondicerianus, Steph. in Shaw's Gen. Zool. xi, p. 321 ; Ogilvie Grant, Ibis, 1892, p. 40 ; id. Cat. B. M. xxii, p. 141. Perdix orientalis, Gray in Hardw. Ill. Ind. Zool. i, pl. 56, fig. 2 (1830-32). Perdix ponticeriana, Blyth, Cat. p. 252. Ortygornis ponticeriana, Jerdon, B. 1. iii, p. 569; Hume, S. F. i, p. 227; Ball, S. P. vii, p. 225. Ortygornis pondicerianus, Hume, N. & E. p. 542 ; Hume & Marsh.Game B. ii, p. 51, pl.; iii, p. 434; Hume, Cat. no. 822; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 748 : Butler, S. F. ix, p. 422 ; Beid, S. F. x, p. 62 ; Davison, ibid. p. 410; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 311; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 435.
Titar, Ram-titar, Gora-titar, Safed-titar, H. ; Jirufti, P.; Khyr, Peng., Uriya; Gowjal-huki, Can.; Kondari, Tam.; Kawunzu, Tel.; Oussa-watuwa, Cing.
Coloration. Crown and nape brown, forehead rufous, superciliary band and sides of head pale rufous, speckled with black on the lores and below the eye; ear-coverts darker and browner; back, scapulars, and wing-coverts light greyish brown, mixed with chestnut, banded transversely, rather distantly, with buffy white, the borders of the white bands dark brown, shafts of the feathers whitish, especially on the scapulars and coverts; quills brown, outer webs frequently with whitish spots, secondaries banded with whitish; upper tail-coverts and middle tail-feathers brown, finely vermiculated with buff, and with buffy-white cross-bars having blackish borders ; outer tail-coverts chestnut, shading towards the ends into dark brown, pale-tipped ; chin and throat whitish to rufous buff, surrounded by a broken blackish-brown band; remainder of lower parts buff with narrow, rather irregular, transverse bars, that are partly or wholly wanting on the middle of the abdomen, vent, and lower tail-coverts. Sexes alike in colour.
Bill dusky plumbeous; irides hazel-brown; legs dull red (Jerdon).
Length of a male about 12.5; tail 3.5; wing 5.5; tarsus 1.6 ; bill from gape .9. Females are rather smaller. The male has a sharp, well-developed spur on the tarsus.
Distribution. Common throughout India, except in thick forests, and ranging westward through Southern Afghanistan, Baluchistan, and Southern Persia to the Persian Gulf. The eastern limit of this Partridge's range is approximately the eastern border of the hilly country from Midnapur to Rajmehal and a line thence northwards to the Himalayas. The species is wanting in Lower Bengal and in all countries to the eastward, and is also unknown in the Malabar coastlands south of Bombay. It is found near the coast in Northern Ceylon, but not in the interior and southern parts of the island. It is seldom found, either in the peninsula or on the Himalayas, much more than 1500 feet above the sea.
Habits, &c. The common Grey Partridge of India is most abun¬dant in tracts where the country is half cultivated, and patches of bush jungle are interspersed amongst fields and villages. It avoids forests and swampy grounds. It is often found in coveys at the commencement of the cold season, but pairs early. Its call, uttered in the mornings and evenings, is one of the familiar Indian bird-sounds, beginning with two or three single harsh notes, and continuing with a succession of trisyllabic, shrill, ringing cries. It feeds on seeds and insects, and is probably at times a foul feeder, though, as Jerdon correctly says, it is often unjustly accused. On account of its running habits, it is held in poor account by sportsmen, though its flight is very strong and steady. As a bird for the table, it is dry, but if killed early in the cold season, before pairing, it is by no means so deficient in flavour as it has by some writers been represented to be. The principal breeding-season is from February to May or June, but many pairs lay a second time between September and November; the eggs, six to nine in number, are spotless white, tinged with pale brownish, measure about 1.3 by 1.03, and are laid in a hollow in the ground, generally situated beside a bush or tuft of grass, and as a rule more or less lined with grass.
This bird is often kept in cages by natives of India, either on account of its call, or, by Mahommedans especially, for fighting purposes. The cocks are very pugnacious, and the methods of capturing them are due to this circumstance, a tame cock being placed out as a decoy, often in a cage, and the wild birds captured in nooses or a net when they approach to fight it.