Perdicula argoondah, Sykes.
827. :- P. asiatica, Lath. :- Jerdon's Birds of India, Vol. II, p. 588; Butler, Guzerat; Stray Feathers, Vol. IV, p. 7; Deccan, Stray Feathers, Vol. IX, p. 423 ; Game Birds of India, Vol. II, p. 117 ; Swinhoe and Barnes, Central India; Ibis, 1885, p. 131.
THE ROCK BUSH QUAIL.
Length, 6.7 to 7.25 ; expanse, 10 to 11.2 ; wing, 3.1 to 3.5 ; tail, 1.5 to 1.9 ; tarsus, 0.75 to 1; bill from gape, 0.5 to 0.67 ; weight, 2 1/4 to 3 oz.
Bill black, beneath paler ; irides vary from brown to light red; feet also vary from dull-red to bright-orange.
Male, upper plumage brownish-rufous, the feathers minutely freckled and lineolated with black and tawny; the feathers of the head and neck tipped with black, and some of the scapulars and wing-coverts with irregular black blotches ; primaries dark-brown, with tawny bars on the outer webs ; tail with the lateral feathers also barred; a narrow white line passes over the eye from the base of the bill, bordered by dusky and another short line below this from the gape; the rest of the face, chin and throat bright rufous; the whole lower parts, including the sides of the neck, being white with numerous cross-bars of black and tinged with rufous on the flanks, lower belly and thigh-coverts.
The female differs in having the upper surface more uniform rufous-brown, and the whole of the lesser parts pale rufous, albescent on the vent; supercilia barely perceptible. Some specimens of males are more uniformly rufous than in the above description, and want the black markings; these are probably young birds.
The Rock Bush Quail is, with the exception of Sind, generally distributed throughout our limits, never ascending the hills to any great height. It frequents rocky and open ground, whether cultivated or not, more especially if it is studded with low bushes, wherein it can take refuge if disturbed. It is a permanent resident and breeds from August to November, making a loose nest, generally in a slight depression on the ground sheltered by a low bush or tuft of coarse grass. The eggs, six or seven in number, are moderately broad ovals in shape, pointed towards one end; they are white, tinged with excessively pale cafe-au-lait color. They measure 1.02 inches in length by about 0.84 inches in breadth.
The following remarks by Mr. Hume will aid in discriminating this species from the preceding: :-
The adults of both sexes (and, I believe, most of the young also) may be distinguished at a glance by two characters.
The bright chesnut hue of the chin and throat of the Jungle Bush Quail, which contrasts equally strongly with the white, black-barred, lower surface of the male, and the dull rufous of the same parts in the female. In the Bock Bush Quail, the chin and throat are dull rufous, the chin often being, especially in the females, whitish, and in these latter the throat is unicolorous with the breast.
" The long well marked yellowish-white superciliary stripe which, in the Jungle Bush Quail, begins in males at the nostrils, and in females a little further back, and in both runs over the eyes and ear-coverts right down to the nape, averaging in males 1.15, and in females 0.9 in length. In the Rock Bush Quail the supercilium is by no means well marked, very narrow, and just extends to the ear-coverts ; in many specimens it is scarcely traceable. Moreover, the supercilium, such as it is, in the Rock Bush Quail, is immediately above the eye and ear-coverts; whereas in the Jungle Bush Quail, the long supercilium is separated from both eyes and ear-coverts by a narrow band of the same rich chesnut as the throat."