1403. Gallicrex cinerea.
The Kora or Water-Cock
Fulica cinerea, Gm. Syst. Nat. i, p. 702 (1788). Gallinula cristata, Lath. Ind. Orn. ii, p. 773 (1790). Rallus rufescens, Jerdon, Mad. Jour. L. S. xii, p. 205 (1840). Gallicrex cristata, Blyth, Cat. p. 283; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 716; Blyth, Ibis, 1867, p. 171 ; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xli, pt. 2, p. 142; Adam, S. F. i, p. 397 ; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 161; Blanford, S. F. v, p. 247; Butler, S. F. vii, p. 187; Simson, Ibis, 1832, p. 94 ; Littledale, Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. v, p. 416; Lester, op. cit. xi, p. 321. Gallicrex cinerea, Walden, Ibis, 1873, p. 317 ; Hume, N. & E. p. 596; Hume, S. F. ii, p. 300; Cripps, ibid. p. 531; Hume & Oates, S. F. iii, p. 187; Oates, S. F. v, p. 165; Wardl. Bams. Ibis 1877, p. 471; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 466; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 229; Cripps, ibid. p. 305; Hume, Cat. no. 904; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 791; Barnes, S. F. x, p. 167 ; id. Birds Bom. p. 367 ; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. vi, p. 137, fig. 904 (egg); Oates, B. B. ii, p. 349; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 387; Hume & Cripps, S. F. xi, p. 327 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxiii, p. 183.
Kora, Kongra, H. &c.; Kettala, Cing. in North Ceylon; Willi-kukulu in South ; Tannir-koli, Tam. (Ceylon) ; Boun-dote, Burm.
Coloration. Males in summer plumage have the head, neck, and lower parts black, more or less tinged with grey, and generally with some white mixed on the abdomen; back, rump, scapulars, and upper surface of wings blackish brown with ashy-grey borders to the back-feathers, scapulars, and some of the coverts, and light brown borders elsewhere; quills and tail-feathers blackish brown; white on the edge of the wing and on the outer web of the 1st primary; under tail-coverts buffy white with dark brown bars. In autumn the male moults into the female garb, which it wears in winter, the breeding-plumage, being reassumed in spring, by change of colour in the feathers according to Blyth.
Females are dark brown above, with pale brown edges to the feathers except on the crown ; sides of head and neck lighter brown; lower parts light brown to pale buff, with rather wavy dark brown cross-bars; the chin, throat, and middle of the abdomen generally unbarred ; wing- and tail-feathers as in male.
Young birds resemble the female, but the bars on the lower plumage are often indistinct and sometimes wanting.
In males the bill and shield are red, anterior portion of bill duller; irides red; eyelids plumbeous; legs and toes red (Oates). In females the bill is yellowish horny; irides yellowish brown ; legs and feet dusky green.
Length of male 17 ; tail 3 ; wing 8.5 ; tarsus 3 ; bill from gape T7. Length of female 14 ; tail 2.0 ; wing 7 ; tarsus 2.6.
Distribution. Common in the damp warm swampy plains of India, Ceylon, and Burma, especially in Bengal, Cachar, Assam, and Pegu, also in the Andamans, parts of Ceylon and of the Malabar coast; rare in drier tracts* though specimens have been obtained in Sind, Cutch, Guzerat, and Rajputana; wanting in general in hilly regions. Outside of Indian limits this bird is found throughout the Malay countries to China, Japan, the Philippines, and Java.
Habits, &c. The Water-cock hides in the thick vegetation of swamps, in grass or rice cultivation, and in brushwood, and is more often heard than seen, being crepuscular or nocturnal in habits. It has a loud booming cry, uttered especially during the breeding-season. It is often kept tame in Dacca, Sylhet, and Assam ; tame males, according to Mr. Cripps, being employed to capture wild birds of the fame sex. The Water-ccck is said by all to be excellent eating ; its food is mainly vegetable. The breeding-season is in July and August, the nest being a mass, varying in size, of rushes, grass, &c, amongst reeds or on floating leaves of lotus and singhara (Trapa), and the eggs are stone-coloured with spots of brownish red and pale purple, and measure about 1.7 by 1.27.