36. THE GREY PARTRIDGE.
Ortygornis pondicerianus, (Gmelin).
Lower plumage cross-barred.
Vernacular Names ;~Titur, Ram-titur, Gora-titur, Safed-titur, Hind., general; Khyr, Bengali; Gowjul-huki, Canarese ; Kondari, Tamil; Kuwunzu, Telugu.
The range of the Grey Partridge extends over the whole of India as far east as the longitude of Calcutta; and it is also found in Ceylon. It does not, however, appear to be common north of the Ganges and Gogra rivers. This Partridge does not ascend the Himalayas to above a level of 1500 feet, but occurs sparingly in the Nilgiris up to an altitude of 5000 feet.
According to Messrs. Hume and Mar¬shall, the Grey Partridge does not occur in the South Konkan nor on the Malabar Coast, and it is absent from the forest regions of the Central Provinces and their Feudatory States, and of the Tributary Mahals.
Westwards of India, this bird extends as far as Persia.
Dr. Jerdon has the following note on the habits of the Grey Partridge :—
"It frequents alike bush-jungle and cultivated lands, being often found in gardens and compounds, and very generally near villages, concealing itself in hedgerows and thickets. It associates in coveys of varied numbers, from five to fifteen, is often very difficult to flush, running for a great distance and with amazing speed, and taking refuge in thick bushes and hedges, whence it is driven with difficulty. When flushed it rises with a loud whirr, flies very strongly, but does not take long flights. It frequently perches on low trees and shrubs and on the branches of thick Euphorbia hedges. Its call is a peculiar loud shrill cry, and has, not inaptly, been compared to the word Pateela-pateela-pateela quickly repeated, but preceded by a single note uttered two or three times, each time with a higher intonation, till it gets, as it were, the keynote of its call."
The Grey Partridge appears to nest twice in the year, once from February to June, and again from September to November. The eggs are usually laid in a shallow depression, well concealed under a bush, or in a large tuft of high grass, and more or less neatly and thickly lined with grass. The eggs vary in number from six to nine, and are spotless, pale buff. They are oval, a good deal pointed towards one end, and glossy. They vary in length from 1.2 to 1.42 in length and from 95 to 1.12 in breadth.
In this bird the forehead is chestnut and the crown umber-brown with darker shaft-streaks. A band over the eye and the cheeks is pale rufous. The chin and throat are buff surrounded by an interrupted black band or series of spots. The sides of the neck are delicately barred with black and white. The whole upper plumage, the visible parts of the closed wings, the tail-coverts and the middle tail-feathers are umber-brown, dashed with chestnut, especially on the back and wings, and everywhere barred with pale buff. The first ten quills of the wing are brown with a little grey mottling towards the base of the outer webs. The tail-feathers, except the middle pair, are chestnut, becoming black towards the extremity and tipped with buff. The whole lower plumage, from the throat downwards, is pale buff, shaded with rufous, closely and delicately but irregularly barred with black.
The male is larger than the female. Length of the former about 13; wing nearly 6 ; tail about 3 1/2; length of the latter nearly 12; wing about 5 1/2; tail about 3 1/4; legs bright red; irides dark brown; bill blackish. Weight up to 12 oz.