Francolinus pondicerianus


Francolinus pondicerianus.

Titar, Hindustani.

The grey partridge, which is one of the sub-group of partridges known as francolins, is the partridge of India, and to it the name titar especially applies, though it is sometimes called gora or safed titar, to distinguish it, no doubt, from another very well-known francolin, the black partridge. It is not really grey any more than the so-called grey partridge which takes its place in Europe, but brown with pale cross-pencillings, not very unlike that bird, above ; but below it is decidedly different, showing none of the grey on the breast which the European common partridge (Perdix perdix) has, nor the " horseshoe " on the lower chest; the under-parts in our Indian bird are barred with fine rather sparse dark cross-lines on a pale buff ground. The throat is unmarked, and outlined by a rather imperfect black necklace. In the common partridge of India there is not even the small sex difference that occurs in the European bird's plumage, the cock being only distinguished by his spurs, which are well developed. The legs are red, but not bright as in the chukor or the " red-leg " at home.

All these points are easily to be studied by any newcomer to India before he goes out to shoot, for this partridge, being the favourite fighting bird among sporting natives, is constantly to be seen in cages everywhere, and its characteristic call, ka, ka, kateetur, kateetur, as it is well rendered by Hume, is the first game-bird's note one is likely to hear other than the degenerate utterances of the domesticated descendants of the mallard and jungle-fowl and the cooing of the blue pigeons.

Almost wherever one goes in India one is likely to find this bird, and it is also found in the north of Ceylon, where it is called Oussa-watuwa, but is not an inhabitant of Burma, though in the opposite direction it is found outside our limits to the Gulf. It is absent in swampy districts and heavy jungle, and does not occur south of Bombay on the Malabar coast-line, nor is it found in Lower Bengal, being a bird of dry, warm soils, low cover and cultivation. But, although it is to some extent a percher, taking readily to trees when alarmed, and often roosting in them, it can do without such cover as well as without cultivation, and exist, if the ground be broken, in practically desert localities, as in the Sind hills. It does not go high in the hills anywhere, a couple of thousand feet being its limit.

It is a bold bird, not only feeding on ploughed and stubble fields, but on roads, and visiting threshing-floors in the early mornings ; in fact, it hangs about villages so much that it shares the unsavoury reputation of the hare and the village fowl. Grain of all sorts it gladly eats, and also takes grass and seeds, young leaves and insects, especially white ants, breaking up a nest of these being an excellent way to attract partridges. Even when it has been living on irreproachable diet, however, this partridge is poor and dry compared with his savoury relative in Britain, and although he flies more smartly and strongly, has a great objection to doing so, and will run so persistently that to follow him is only missing chances at quail and hares, which are more certain shots; though in some places, as in heavy grain crops on cloddy soil, the little skulkers can be made to rise willy-nilly, and then furnish good enough sport. They can also be treed by any dog which will hunt, and shot in this way, but in the ordinary way are only subjects for chance shots and not a regular object of pursuit.

They are found both in pairs and in coveys, the latter presumably being family parties, the cocks being far too quarrelsome to live together; and they are prolific birds, for though nine is more than the usual number of the creamy-white eggs, they breed twice a year, at any rate in many cases, the spring nesting beginning in February, and the later about August. The nesting habits vary curiously ; the nest may be practically non-existent, the eggs being laid on the ground, or it may be a hollow in a tussock or under a bush, more or less lined with grass, or even, a most remarkable site, made in the branches of a thick shrub a yard off the ground. The Bengali name of this bird is Khyr, the Tamil Kondari; Kawunzu is the Telugu appellation.

Indian Sporting Birds
Finn, Frank. Indian Sporting Birds. Edwards, 1915.
Title in Book: 
Francolinus pondicerianus
Book Author: 
Frank Finn
Page No: 
Common name: 
Grey Partridge
Grey Francolin
Francolinus pondicerianus

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