1417. Sypheotis bengalensis.
The Bengal Florican.
Otis bengalensis, Gm. Syst. Nat. i, p. 724 (1788) ; Hodgson, J. A. S. B. xvi, p. 883, pls. 37, 38. Sypheotides bengalensis, Blyth, Cat. p. 258 ; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 616 ; Blyth, Ibis, 1867, p. 162 ; Godic.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xiv, pt. 2, p. 84 ; xlvii, pt. 2, p. 21; Simson, Ibis, 1882, p. 94. Sypheotis bengalensis, Bonap. C. R. xliii, p. 416 (1856): Hume, N. & E. p. 559; Hume Marsh: (Same B. i, p. 23; iii, p. 424; Hume, Cat. no. 838; id. S. F. ix, p. 199; Markham, ibid.; Butler, S. F. x, p. 162 ; Hume & Cripps, S. F. xi, p. 312; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 378. Houbaropsis bengalensis, Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxiii, p. 315.
Charas, Charj, Charat, H.; Dahar, Ablak , Bor , Terai; Ulie Mora, Assamese.
Coloration. Female (and, according to some, male in winter plumage).—Upper parts sandy buff, mottled and blotched with blackish brown or black ; crown mostly black with a pale mesial streak ; hind neck finely speckled with black and with pale shaft-stripes ; back, scapulars, and tertiaries black, with buff V-shaped markings and mottling ; rump and upper tail-coverts more uniform, mixed buff and dark brown ; wing-coverts paler, pale buff predominating ; primary coverts and quills brownish black with white mottling, forming more or less- distinct bars confined to inner webs of first primaries and to outer webs and tips of later secondaries, on which the mottling is buff; tail rufous-buff, with black mottling and cross-bars ; chin and throat white; lores and sides of head and neck and lower parts from throat pale sandy buff, with a few black markings on sides of head, neck, and breast, on fore neck and upper breast; under wing-coverts much blotched with black ; auxiliaries black.
The male in breeding-plumage has a long median erectile crest on the head and nape, and the feathers of the chin, throat, and fore neck are conspicuously elongated. Head, neck, and lower parts black ; back and scapulars black, with mottlings and a few narrow V-shaped markings of buff; outer scapulars entirely black ; wing-coverts white; primaries and secondaries white', except a progressively diminishing portion of the outer web on the first 2 or 3 primaries and the tips of the first 6 or 7, which are black, as also an increasing portion, chiefly on the inner web. of the later secondaries; tertiaries mottled black and buff like the back, and with black cross-bars; rump and upper tail-coverts black speckled with buff; tail-feathers black, the middle two or three pairs with mottled buff bars, gradually disappearing on the outer feathers, which are all tipped white.
The black plumage of the male is acquired by a moult, and is retained partly or wholly by some birds in the winter; but in others, probably younger, it appears to be. replaced by the ordinary garb of the female. Blyth noticed the latter change repeatedly in birds kept in confinement.
Bill dusky above, yellowish beneath ; irides brown in males, dull yellow in females ; legs dingy pale yellowish (Jerdon). Irides pale yellow to golden in both sexes (Hume).
Length of male about 26 ; tail 6.5 ; wing 13.5; tarsus 5.6 ; bill from gape 2.5. Females are larger in general: wing 14 to 14.75.
Distribution. The country between the base of the Himalayas and the Ganges River, together with the plain of Assam. Bare stragglers have occurred west of the Ganges as far as the Jumna, but not farther west. This Bustard is most common in the grass of the Terai.
Habits, &c. Very similar to those of S. aurita, but the larger Florican is resident in the high grass of the Gangetic plain (not, however, in thick cover), and does not migrate; it has also a slower and heavier flight. The cocks have the same habit of jumping up above the grass in the breeding-season, June and July. According to Hodgson, these birds do not pair, and the female lays two eggs beside a tuft of grass in deep cover, without any nest. The only egg of which the measurements are recorded was 2.6 by 1.76, dull pale green stone-colour, sparingly streaked and blotched with dull brown. This Florican is one of the most delicious game-birds of India.