(1944) Galloperdix bicalcarata,
THE CEYLON SPUR-FOWL.
Perdix bicalcaratus Forst, Ind. Zool., p. 25, pi. 14 (1781) (Ceylon). Galloperdix bicalcarata. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 109.
Vernacular names. Haban or Saban-kukula (Cing.).
Description.— Adult male. Upper plumage black with narrow white streaks, narrowest on the head, pear-shaped on the wing-coverts ; the bases of the feathers of back and wing-coverts are chestnut-brown,vermiculated with black; feathers of the lower back and greater wing-coverts have broad chestnut edges vermiculated with black, grading into the chestnut rump and shorter upper tail-coverts; rump-feathers with a terminal black spot or narrow bars of buff and black, sometimes also with a little black vermiculation; longer tail-coverts and tail black, the central tail-feathers sometimes and the bases of the lateral feathers always vermiculated with chestnut; primaries and secondaries brown, the latter vermiculated with chestnut on the outer webs and the innermost on both webs ; greater coverts brown with white, pear-shaped ocelli, edged with black at the tips; feathers of sides of head white edged with black; chin and throat pure white; neck, breast and abdomen white, each feather edged with black, very broad on the flanks; centre of the abdomen almost white; vent, posterior abdomen and flanks dull earthy-brown with white spots; under tail-coverts blackish-brown with grey tips.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brownish-yellow or brownish-red ; orbital skin red; bill, legs and feet red ; spurs dusky-reddish (Legge).
Measurements. Wing 157 to 174 mm.; tail 121 to 130 mm.; tarsus 54 to 57 mm.; culmen about 22 mm.; spurs up to 20 mm., generally 12 to 15 mm.
Female. Grown blackish-brown, the feathers of the forehead and sides with paler centres; sides of the head dull chestnut, the feathers black-edged; whole upper plumage and wing-coverts dull chestnut vermiculated with black, most profusely so on the upper tail-coverts; tail black, the central feathers slightly vermiculated with chestnut; quills like those of the male; below chestnut, immaculate on the breast, more and more vermiculated with dark brown towards the vent; vent, posterior abdomen and flanks earthy-chestnut; under tail-coverts darker chestnut, densely vermiculated with black.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brownish-yellow; bill, legs and feet lighter red than in the male (Legge).
Measurements. Wing 143 to 150 mm. Most females have one or two spurs on both legs ; in some they are missing on one leg.
Distribution. Ceylon only.
Nidification. The Ceylon Spur-Fowl breeds almost throughout the year, the principal seasons being November to April and again in July and August. The site selected is always in thick cover and the birds seem to prefer evergreen-forest to any other kind of jungle. No nest is made, the eggs being laid in some hollow in the ground, well screened from view. The normal clutch is two eggs only, sometimes three and four quite exceptionally. There is no authentic record of their laying more than this number. They are like other Spur-Fowls' eggs, pale fawn to a warm buff. Eighteen eggs average 40.6 x 29.7 mm.: maxima 42.1 x 30.4 mm.; minima 38.0 x 28.4 and 39.4 x 28.3 mm.
Habits. The Ceylon Spur-Fowl is found at all heights from the foot-hills and broken ground adjacent to them, up to 5,000 feet or higher. Wait says it is also found in "the dry, flat country between the hills and the sea " on the East. It keeps closely to dense cover and is such a skulker that even where common is seldom seen, though its cackling cries may often be heard. Once it can be forced to fly it is said to be strong and fairly swift on the wing, apparently excelling its Indian relations in this respect. Although monogamous, the cocks are great fighters, a failing which renders them easy to decoy and snare.