41. THE SNOW-PARTRIDGE.
Lerwa lerwa, (Hodgson).
Tarsus feathered half-way down to the toes.
Eyelid completely feathered.
Vernacular Names -.—Larwa, Nepal; Jungooria, Kumaon; Quoir-moonal, Koor-moonal, Garhwal; Golabi, Bhair, Ter-tetur, Busahir and other Hill-States; Barf-ka-tetur, Kulu ; Biju, Chamba.
The Snow-Partridge occurs on the higher ranges of the Himalayas from Sikhim to Kashmir. It is probable that this species occurs also in Bhutan, but we have no certain knowledge of this. It likewise extends to Moupin and Western China.
The following remarks by Mr. Hume give us a good idea of the habits of this Partridge :—" Although in severe winters, and after heavy falls of snow, crowds of Snow-Partridges may be met with at from
7000 to 9000 feet elevation, Indian sportsmen, as a rule, never meet with them, except in their summer haunts, at elevations of from 10,000 to even 14,000 feet; and they are so invariably seen in grounds frequented by Tahr and Burrel, that, though one of the very best of Indian birds for the table, they are but rarely shot.
" It is generally close up under the snow amidst grey crags and hoary precipices, or on tiny plots of stunted herbage, girt round by huge boulders and rugged blocks of rock, amidst which the snow still lies thickly, and at an average elevation of 11,000 feet (at any rate from May to September) that this Ptarmigan-like Partridge is to be found.
" It is very locally distributed; you may march for a couple of days, continually passing through or near the most likely spots, and never see or hear a bird; and again you may see a hundred in a day's march, or one party, or at most two parties, daily for a week. . . .
" In the spring they are usually in pairs, but it is not uncommon to find a dozen such in a couple of hours' walk. Later they are in coveys of from seven to thirty, old and young, and by the end of September many of the latter are almost full grown.
" Their flight is rapid and strong, much like that of a Grouse; and if met with in comparatively unfrequented spots, they often afford superb sport."
The cry of this Partridge is described by several observers as a loud whistle uttered both when at rest and on the wing.
The nest of the Snow-Partridge does not appear ever to have been found. Mr. Frederic Wilson informs us that " it breeds on the high ridges jutting from the snow at elevations of from 12,000 to 15,000 feet, where the ground is tolerably broken and roughish, neither very rocky nor on what we call 'slopes.' . . . The chicks have been first observed about the 20th of June." Mr. Wilson was, however, unsuccessful in finding the eggs.
The sexes are quite alike. The throat, sides of the head, and the whole upper plumage, with the visible portions of the closed wings and tail, are cross-barred with black and buffy white; and the plumage is washed in places, especially on the wings, with chestnut. The first ten quills of the 'wing are black; and the others next to them are broadly tipped with white. The whole lower plumage from the throat downwards is rich chestnut, splashed with white. The lower part of the belly and the thighs are cross-barred with brown and white. The feathers under the tail are chestnut tipped with white.
Length about 15; wing about 7 1/2; tail about 4 1/2; legs and bill red; irides brown. Weight up to 22 oz