(1953) Perdicula asiatica asiatica.
THE JUNGLE BUSH-QUAIL.
Perdix asiatica Lath., Ind. Orn., ii, p. 649 (1790) (Mahratta-region). Perdicula asiatica. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 118.
Vernacular names. Lowa (Hind.) - Juhar (Manbhum); Auri-connai (Santhal): Girza-Pitta (Tel.); Kari-Lowya (Can.); Chota Buttir (Saugur).
Description.— Adult male. Forehead, supercilia, chin, cheeks, anterior ear-coverts and throat rufous-chestnut; posterior ear-coverts brown; a broken white line above the supercilium ; crown brown, bordered with black and more or less barred with the same; sides of neck, back, rump and upper tail-coverts fulvous-brown, with narrow wavy black bars and the back with narrow whitish shaft-lines also; scapulars, inner wing-coverts and inner secondaries brown with bold black bars, some rufous barring and creamy central streaks; bastard-wing, outer coverts and remaining quills brown with rufous bars on the outer webs; tail brown with black-edged buff bars; below from the throat barred black and white; vent, thighs and under tail-coverts rufous, vinous-rufous or rufous-buff.
The breast is pure black and white in old birds only, whilst in younger ones the whole lower surface is more or less suffused with vinaceous and the crown also is more or less rufous.
Colours of soft parts. Iris light to dark brown; bill horny- or slaty-black, often more reddish at the base or, sometimes, the basal two-thirds ; legs and feet dull yellowish ; yellowish-orange to light reddish-brown.
Measurements. Total length about 165 to 175 mm.; wing 77 to 92 mm.; tail 35 to 40 mm.; tarsus 28 to 29 mm.; culmen about 10 mm. Weight " 2 to 2.85 oz." (Hume).
Female. Above like the male but without the pale central streaks and less boldly marked on the scapulars and inner secondaries; lower parts dull vinaceous or lilac-rufous, rather darker and more rufous on the breast.
Measurements. Wing 78 to 86 mm.
Young males are like the female but have little or no rufous on the head or throat; the crown and back have very narrow pale central streaks; the lower parts are paler, more lilac-rufous, whilst the chin, throat and sides of the head are profusely streaked with creamy-white; the breast is similarly marked and in some cases the posterior flanks also.
Chick in down. Head rufous-brown with broad white supercilia: lores and a line under the eye dark brown; chin, cheeks and sides of the head and neck rich rufous mottled with brown; lower parts dull fulvous streaked with white on throat and breast.
Distribution. In well-wooded localities from the Himalayas to Ceylon. In the Outer Himalayas and Kashmir it occurs up to 4,000 feet and in the hills of Southern India up to 3,500 feet. It has not been found in Sind but is common in parts of Jodhpur and Rajputana, extending thence through the Western coasts to Ceylon ; it is common in the Deccan to the South and East of the North-West Provinces and extends East to Behar, Western Bengal and Orissa.
Nidification. The Jungle Bush-Quail breeds from September to the end of February, a few birds laying in August. The nest is a mere scratching in the soil beneath a bush, tuft of grass or other cover, but it is always well lined with grass by the birds. The site selected is in long grass, thin scrub or bush-jungle, or in standing crops of some kind such as millet; it never creeds in very open desert places where there is hardly any vegetation as the next bird so often does. The number of eggs laid varies from four to eight, six being perhaps the most common number. They vary in colour from a creamy white to a pale buff or cafe-au-lait, never very deep. One hundred eggs average 25.4 x 19.5 mm.: maxima 27.6 X 21.0 and 26.8 X 22.0 mm.; minima 24.1 x 19.3 and 25.0 x 18.4 mm.
This species is monogamous and the cock assists the hen in looking after the young but not in incubation, which takes sixteen days. The hen is a very close-sitter.
Habits. This Quail is resident from the plains up to some 5,000 feet, frequenting thin dry jungle of almost any kind from grass and scrub round about villages to fairly thick deciduous forest. They feed morning and evening in the cultivated fields and grass-lands, chiefly on grass-seeds but also on many other kinds of seeds, small grain and insects. They are very sociable and, as soon as the eggs hatch, two or three families join forces, the cocks being perfectly friendly although most determined little fighters in the early part of the breeding-season. Their ordinary call has been syllabified by Butler as a whistled " tiri-tiri-tiri " but an angry or challenging cock-bird has a large variety of notes and cackles.