1348. Ophrysia superciliosa.
The Mountain Quail.
Rollulus superciliosus, Gray, Knowsl. Menag., Aves, pl. xvi (1846). Ophrysia superciliosa, Bonap. C. R. xliii, p. 414: Hume, S. F. vii, p. 434; id. Cat. no. 827 bis ; Hume & Marsh. Game B. ii, p. 105, pl.; Ogilvie Grant, Cat. B. M. xxii, p. 266. Malacortyx superciliaris, Blyth, Ibis, 1867, p. 313.
Coloration. Male. Forehead and broad superciliary stripe white; sides of head, chin and throat, and a band above each white supercilium black, with a silky-white spot in front of the eye and another behind it, and a whitish band, more or less broken and sometimes indistinct, running back from beneath the eye; crown pale brownish grey with black shaft-stripes; nearly the whole upper and lower plumage dark brownish grey with black lateral margins to the feathers; lower tail-coverts black, tipped and spotted on both webs with white; quills and tail-feathers uniform brown.
Younger males have buff mottling on the wings.
Females are cinnamon-brown throughout, the sides of the head with a greyish tinge, a small white speck before and a larger one behind the eye ; chin and throat whitish ; some of the crown- and all the nape-feathers with black shaft-stripes that pass into trian¬gular black spots bordered with buff on the back, scapulars, rump, and upper tail-coverts : wing-coverts, lower back, rump, and upper tail-coverts much mottled with buff; quills brown mottled with buff, especially on the outer webs; tail-feathers black, mottled with buff towards the edges, and with buff cross-bars near the shafts ; breast, abdomen, and lower tail-coverts paler than the upper parts, with lanceolate black spots.
Bill coral-red in the male, dusky red in the female : legs dull red (Hutton).
Length about 10; tail 3; wing 3.5; tarsus 1; bill from gape .6.
Distribution & Habits. All that is known of this bird is that a few specimens were shot in 1865, 1867, and 1868 close to Mussooree, between 5000 and 6000 feet above the sea, and in 1876 a single specimen was shot, and another seen, close to Naini Tal. The bird is extremely rare, and appears to be an occasional visitor to the North-west Himalayas. Whence it comes is unknown. The long soft plumage may indicate an inhabitant of a cold climate. Nothing was known as to the origin of the type in the Knowsley Menagerie, except that it was believed to be from India.
The birds near Mussooree as observed by Hutton and others occurred in small coveys of six to ten, that kept to high grass and scrub, fed on seeds of grass, were difficult to flush, and had a shrill whistling note when flushed. They appeared to arrive about November, but in one case stayed as late as June, after which they disappeared.