22. THE ROCK BUSH-QUAIL.
Perdicula argoondah, (Sykes).
Lower plumage below the throat either cross-barred or perfectly plain, without marks of any kind.
Inner web of the first ten quills of the wing marked with rufous like the outer.
MALE :— Lower plumage cross-barred.
FEMALE :— Lower plumage entirely plain, without marks of any kind ; throat whitish.
Vernacular Names -.— Lowa, Hind, and Marathi; Lawunka, Telugu ; Sinkadeh, Tamil; Kemp-lowga, Canarese.
The Rock Bush-Quail has a somewhat less wide distribution than the Jungle Bush-Quail. It does not occur so far north, having only been found in the southern and eastern parts of the Punjab. It was observed in Sind by the late Lieut. H. E. Barnes. Thence this bird extends eastwards to as far at least as Allahabad, but it does not appear to cross the Ganges river at any point. Southwards this species extends down to Madras and Coimbatore, and in fact, according to Messrs. Hume and Marshall, to the extreme south of the peninsula.
The Rock Bush-Quail selects those localities which are avoided by the Jungle Bush-Quail, and according to the testimony of many observers, the two species are not found together.
Messrs. Hume and Marshall observe regarding this species :—" It avoids mountains, which it never ascends, forests and thick jungle, and eschews well-watered and richly wooded or cultivated tracts; It loves dry, open, sandy or even rocky plains or low hillocks, sparsely studded with thin, thorny bushes ; elevation is not of so much consequence to it as the open ness and semi-waste character of the place."
This Bush-Quail and the Jungle Bush-Quail do not appear to differ in general habits.
The Rock Bush-Quail breeds during many months of the year, and the eggs have been taken in all months except May, June, and July; but March and September appear to be the two months in which most nests are to be found. The nest is a loose pad of grass in a hollow on the ground, often under a bush. The eggs are usually six or seven. They are, as a rule, spotless white, but some few have a very faint tinge of buff or clay-colour. They are oval in shape and fairly glossy. They measure from 95 to 1.12 in length, and from 78 to 91 in breadth.
The male has the forehead, the anterior part of the crown, the sides of the head and the chin and throat rufous. The space in front of the eye, and a short stripe running from the eye over the ear, are dull white. The remaining upper plumage, closed wings and tail, are greyish brown, closely and coarsely cross-barred with pale rufous buff. Both webs of all the quills of the wing are mottled and barred with rufous. Occasionally there are a few very small black blotches on the quills next the body. The whole lower plumage from the throat downwards is barred with black and very pale rufous buff, or yellowish white, the black bars disappearing on the lower part of the belly. Some of the feathers of the upper plumage have pale shafts, but there are no streaks, as in the Jungle Bush-Quail.
The female has nearly the whole plumage a warm pinkish brown, the wings, rump and tail freckled with rufous buff, and the throat whitish. The space in front of the eye, and an indistinct streak from the eye backwards, are whitish.
Length up to about 7 ; wing 3 1/4 ; tail about 1 1/2 ; legs red; irides reddish brown ; bill dusky. Weight up to 3 oz.