1349. Galloperdix spadicea.
The Red Spur-fowl.
Tetrao spadiceus, Gmel. Syst. Nat. i, pt. 2, p. 759 (1788). Galloperdix spadiceus, Blyth, Cat. p. 241 ; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 541 ; McMaster, J. A. S. B. xl, pt. 2, p. 215; Hume N. & E. p. 532; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 5; v, p. 222 ; ix, p. 422; Fairbank, S. F. iv, p. 262; v, p. 409; Davids. & Wend. S. F. vii, p. 87 ; Ball, ibid. p. 225 ; Hume & Marsh. Game B. i, p. 247 ; Hume, Cat. no. 814 ; Vidal, S. F. ix p. 76 ; Davison, S. F. x, p. 410 : Taylor, ibid. p. 464 : Terry, ibid. p. 479 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 305; Oates in Humes N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 423; Davidson, Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. vi, p. 340. Galloperdix spadicea, Blyth, Ibis, 1867, p. 157 ; Blanf. J. A. S. B. xxxviii, pt. 2, p. 189 ; Ogilvie Grant, Cat. B. M. xxii, p. 261.
Choti jangli Murghi, H. Central Prov., Belgaum, &c.; Chakotri, Kokatri, Mahr. (Syhadri Range); Kustoor, Mahr. (Deccan); Sarrava Koli, Tam.; Yerra-Kodi, Jitta-Kodi, Tel.
Coloration. Male. Crown dark brown, paler and greyer on the forehead and sides of head and all round the neck ; chin whitish ; feathers of the upper back and sometimes of the whole back and rump light chestnut with grey edges, but generally all the upper parts except the upper back are closely vermiculated with black and rufous buff, varying occasionally to pale buff and even whitish in parts; middle tail-feathers and outer margins of the next two or three pairs and of the secondary quills the same ; quills dark brown ; tail-feathers blackish brown ; breast and upper abdomen like the upper back; lower abdomen and thighs brown; under tail-coverts rufous brown, vermiculated like the lower back. There is frequently a patch of feathers in the middle of the breast with greyish-brown centres.
The female differs in having the feathers of the upper parts black, edged and rather irregularly barred with buff, the buff some¬times predominating; the feathers of the fore neck are black with buff tips; the rest of the lower parts as in the male, but with broken and irregular black tips on the breast.
The race from Abu and the neighbourhood is much paler, there is less vermiculation on the upper parts of the male, and the female has no distinct black bars on the feathers of the back, wing-coverts, &c.; these are all rufous or even greyish buff, with black vermicu¬lation and broken intramarginal streaks to the feathers. Skins of females from Matheran and Mahableshwar, in the Hume Collection, though richly rufous, not pale and greyish like Abu specimens, have the same markings, whilst Belgaum and Goa skins are like those from the Nilgiris. It is evident that the Bombay Presidency bird is a well-marked and peculiar race, and might be called G. spadicea var. caurina.
Bill dusky red at base, horny towards the tips ; iris dull yellow to brown ; orbits and legs red, varying in tint.
Length of male about 14.5 ; tail 6; wing 6.5; tarsus 1.75; bill from gape 1. Females are rather less.
Distribution. Here and there throughout the peninsula of India south of the great Indo-Gangetic alluvial plain, almost wherever there is fairly thick forest on hilly or broken ground, but not in open or cultivated country nor in alluvial flats. This species also occurs at the foot of the Himalayas in Oudh throughout a considerable area. It is unknown except in India.
Habits, &c. A shy bird, often solitary, keeping much to wooded ravines near water and to bamboo-jungle. It is rarely seen flying, except into a tree when disturbed on the ground, and it is said always to perch at night; it runs very fast. Its food consists of small fruit, seeds, and insects ; it runs when disturbed or flies up with a harsh cackle ; the call of the male is described by Davison as partridge-like, whilst Jerdon says it is a sort of crowing-cry imitated by the Mahratta name Kokatri, and he adds that the call of the female is quite fowl-like. It breeds between the end of February and June according to locality, and perhaps again in October and November, and lays from 4 to 7 eggs (according to Davidson always 3 in Kanara and Nasik), buff or greyish in colour and measuring about 1.67 by 1.28, in a slight nest of grass and leaves on the ground. At the proper season, the cold weather, Spur-fowl are excellent eating if they can be kept a few days before being cooked.