79. THE GREY JUNGLE-FOWL.
Gallus sonnerati, Temminck.
MALE :—All the quills of the wing brown or black; lower plumage black, each feather with an ashy margin and an ashy shaft-streak.
FEMALE:— Lower plumage white, each feather margined with grey; the inner quills of the wing and the greater coverts not barred, but mottled with black.
Vernacular Names :— Jangli-murghi, Hind.; Komri, Mt. Abu ; Pardah komri, Chanda Dist. ; Kombadi, Deccan ; Adavikode, Telugu; Katukoli, Tamil; Koli, Kadkoli, Canarese.
The Grey Jungle-Fowl occurs over a great portion of Southern India, from the extreme south up to a line which is thus indicated by Mr. Hume :—" From the sea to its junction with the Indravati, the valley of the Godaveri indicates approximately its north-eastern limits. Thence a line drawn through Pachmarhi to the Nerbudda completes roughly its northeastern boundary. Westwards the Nerbudda defines, I believe, its northern limits to within from 120 to 150 miles ofthe sea, where, crossing this river into the westernmost portions of the Vindyas, it runs up through Rewa Kantha and Mahi Kantha to Abu, and thence along the Arvalis to beyond the well-known Dasuri Pass, stragglers having even been obtained half way between this and Beawur."
Throughout the hill-ranges of Southern India, this species occurs commonly up to 5000 feet and occasionally up to 7000 feet.
The habits of this Jungle-Fowl appear to differ in few respects from those of the Red Jungle-Fowl. The following note by the late Mr. Davison is interesting. He wrote:—" This species occurs all through the Wynaad in the Mysore country, ascending quite to the summit of the Nilghiris, and is pretty abundant. The undergrowth of many of the forests on the Nilghiris is almost entirely composed of Strobilanthes whitiani, and when this seeds, as it does once in about seven years, the Jungle-Fowl assemble in vast numbers to feed on the seed. They do this too when the bamboo seeds. In places where, as in the vicinity of Ootacamund and Coonoor, they are much disturbed they become exceedingly shy and wary, but where they are not much disturbed they are easily approachable. The crow of the cock is peculiar, and might be syllablized Kuk-kah-kaha-kuk, and is quite unlike that of the Red Jungle-Fowl. The call of the female is something like Kukkun-kuk kun. The cock crows chiefly in the mornings and evenings and sometimes also during the day in cloudy weather. The cock goes through a partial moult, losing his hackles and central tail-feathers during the rains."
The Grey Jungle-Fowl has probably two, if not more, broods in the year, for the eggs have been found in various parts of India in almost every month.
The nest is a small collection of leaves and sticks placed on the ground in thick cover. The eggs, which number from seven to thirteen, are oval in shape, and vary from creamy white to buff in colour. They measure from 1.68 to 2.05 in length and from to 1.5 in breadth.
In the male, the hackles on the mantle are black, each feather with a grey margin, a white spot, and a somewhat yellow patch at the tip resembling sealing-wax. The feathers of the back and rump are black with white shafts and narrow grey margins. The upper tail-coverts are glossy purple. The tail is glossy black. The wingcoverts are black, the middle series with long, oval, terminal chestnut tips, resembling sealing-wax, The first ten quills of the wing are brown, the others black. The lower plumage is black, each feather with a grey shaft-streak and margin, and sharply pointed. The sides of the body are dashed with chestnut.
In the female the head is brown, streaked with rather bright buff. The feathers of the mantle are dark brown, each feather with a bright buff shaft-streak and a paler buff margin. The remaining upper plumage and the wing-coverts are yellowish brown, thickly speckled with black, the feathers of the back and coverts with narrow white shaft-streaks. The first ten quills are dark brown, the others yellowish brown, thickly speckled and mottled with black. The tail is blackish, mottled with rufous. The throat is pale grey and the lower plumage white, each feather margined with deep grey.
Length of male about 28 ; wing 9 ; tail up to 16. Length of female about 16; wing 8; tail 5 1/2 . Legs yellowish; irides red; bill horny brown or black; comb, wattles and bare skin crimson. Weight up to 2 lb 8 oz.