47. THE CEYLON SPUR-FOWL.
Galloperdix bicalcarata, (Pennant).
Tail entirely black.
Space in front of the eye nude.-
MALE :—Lower plumage white, each feather margined black.
FEMALE: — Lower plumage chestnut stippled with black.
Vernacular Names :—Haban-kukula, Saban-kukula, Ceylon.
The Ceylon Spur-Fowl is restricted to the island of Ceylon, in many parts of which it appears to be a common bird. It is found up to an altitude of more than 5000 feet.
Colonel Legge remarks of this bird: " The ' Haban-Kukula,' so well known in Ceylon on account of its remarkable cackling note, is one of the shiest birds in the island, affecting the most entire concealment, and only emerging from the jungles in the early morning. It is so wary that, although it may occasionally be surprised or heard close to a path in the forest, it immediately becomes aware of the presence of the enemy, and runs off with great speed, instantly disappearing in the thick jungle. It does not, however, confine itself entirely to forests, as I have sometimes found it in Lantana-scrub and detached copses in the southwest of the island ; and I have more than once, by rushing into a small thicket with shouts, endeavoured to get it on the wing, but have always failed, as it invariably escaped by darting through the grass and underwood on foot, and thus gained the main portion of the jungle in safety."
The Ceylon Spur-Fowl appears to breed throughout the year, laying its eggs, which are from four to six in number, in a hollow in the ground under some shelter, such as a rock or root of a tree. The eggs are oval in shape, fairly glossy and pale buff in colour. They measure from 1.44 to 1.55 in length and from1.09, to 1.18 in breadth.
The male has the crown of the head black with minute white streaks. The feathers above and below the nude skin on the side of the head, and those on the sides and back of the neck, are black, each feather with a small oval white drop. The mantle and shoulders are black, margined with chestnut, each feather with a narrow white shaft-streak. Most of the small coverts of the wing are similar, but with a white drop on each; the back, rump and the shorter tail-coverts chestnut. The longer tail-coverts and the tail itself are black. The first ten quills of the wing are plain brown, the others more or less rufous. The lower plumage is white, each feather margined with black, and the whole presenting a scaly appearance. The feathers under the tail are blackish tipped with rufous.
In the female the crown is blackish-brown with rufous streaks. The chin is grey, the throat and sides of the head are smoky-brown mottled with rufous, and the first ten quills of the wing are brown. The tail is black. The whole remaining plumage is dark chestnut very finely vermiculated or stippled with black, and the feather of the breast with brown margins.
Length of male about 14; wing about 6 ; tail about 4. Length of female about. 11 ; wing 5 1/2 ; tail 3 1/2. Legs red; irides brown; bill and bare skin of the head red. Weight up to 13 oz.