(2008) Hypotaenidia striata gularis.
THE INDIAN BLUE-BREASTED BANDED RAIL.
Rallus gularis Horsf., Trans. Linn. Sac, xiii, p. 196 (1821) (Java).
Vernacular names. Kana Koli (Tam.); Wadi-koli (Tel.); Yaygyet (Burm.).
Description. - Male. Crown to hind-neck rufous ; upper parts dark-brown marked with wavy white bars, broken into spots on the lower back and primaries each feather edged with olive-brown, much abraded in worn plumage; chin and throat white ; sides of the head, fore-neck and breast ashy-grey; abdomen, flanks, under wing-coverts, axillaries and under tail-coverts dark brown barred with white.
Colours of soft parts. Irides light brown in younger birds to Indian red in old adult breeding birds; upper and tip of lower mandible horny-brown to dark brown, lower mandible and commissure dull yellowish-red to bright red ; legs and feet olive-grey, olive or fleshy-grey.
Measurements. Wing 108 to 131 mm.; tail 38 to 41 mm.; tarsus 34 to 37 mm.; culmen 31 to 34 mm.
Females are a trifle duller, the chestnut of the head more inclined to he streaked with blackish and the abdomen paler, more whitish.
Young birds have the feathers of the back streaked with dark brown and the white bars and spots obsolete or absent; the crown and neck are rufous-brown freely streaked with dark brown.
Distribution. The Indian form is found practically throughout Ceylon, India and Burma in suitable localities where there are sufficient marshes and swamps, whilst it extends, as already noted, to South China and Formosa in the East and to Java in the South.
Nidification. The breeding-season commences as soon as the Rains have well set in and the lakes and swamps begin to fill up. The nest is a well-made, rather massive affair of weeds and rushes often wet and muddy in the lower half but warm and dry in the upper half, in which is a well-marked depression for the eggs. It is most often placed in rank vegetation or reeds in the shallower portions of some swamp but occasionally at some little distance from water. The eggs vary from five to eight in number and are decidedly handsome. The ground-colour varies from creamy-white to a warm salmon-buff. The markings are of two characters: in the one they consist of sparsely-scattered blotches and spots of rich reddish-brown with underlying marks of neutral tint; in the other longitudinal specks and small blotches of pale reddish are numerously distributed over the whole surface. Two hundred eggs average 33.7 x 25.8 mm.: maxima 36.6 x 28.6 and 36.3 x 28.8 mm.; minima 30.6 x 25.0 and 33.9 x 23.9 mm.
Habits. This is one of the most familiar Indian Water-birds and may be found in almost every village pond as well as in the remoter lakes. They are very tame and confiding, walking about over the weeds with slow deliberate steps, the tail jerked with each step, taking but little notice of observers. They swim well and very high in the water and can dive without much effort but their flight is poor and laboured. They feed on water-snails, insects and the seeds, buds and shoots of water-plants and young crops. The males fight often during the breeding-season but without much energy or viciousness.