19. BLEWITT'S BUSH-QUAIL.
Microperdix blewitti, Hume.
Lower plumage with numerous round or oval black spots.
MALE:— With a white band across the crown, broader than the black band on the forehead.
FEMALE :—With no white band across the crown or black band on the forehead ; lower plumage greyish-rufous, the spots on the breast generally extending across the breast.'
Vernacular Name :—Sir see-lowa, Mandla, Balaghat, Chanda.
The distribution of Blewitt's Bush-Quail is not known with any great accuracy, but this bird may be said to be found over the western half of Chutia Nagpur and the eastern parts of the Central Provinces.
So far as our present knowledge enables us to judge, this Bush-Quail may be said to inhabit the hilly portions of a huge triangle, one corner of which is Sirguja of Chutia Nagpur, another the Bastar State, and the third a point below the Pachmarhi hills. These are roughly the limits as at present known, but there is no doubt that its range will be found to be much wider than above indicated.
Mr. F. R. Blewitt, who was the first to bring this bird to the notice of Mr. Hume, says :—" This Quail is invariably found associated in coveys of from four to a dozen and even more. A bevy will, when suddenly alarmed, rise altogether, but, owing to their softer plumage, with a less noisy whirr than the other Bush-Quails. Indeed, in its habits, this species is identical with the others ; if there is a difference, it is in the call note, which in M. blewitti is more soft and melodious."
Mr. R. Thompson informs us that this Bush-Quail affects lands covered with tall grass on the banks of nallas and rivers.
The nest and eggs of this bird have not yet been described.
The male resembles the male Painted Bush-Quail very closely, but differs in having the white band across the crown much broader than the black band on the forehead. The lower plumage is a paler chestnut, and the feathers of the. breast are so broadly fringed with pinkish grey that the whole breast presents a greyish appearance. The spots on this part are more numerous. The size is also smaller.
The female differs from the male in the same manner as the female Painted Bush-Quail differs from the male of that species. She resembles the female Painted Bush-Quail very closely indeed, and the two are hardly separable except by actual comparison with each other. The female Blewitt's Bush-Quail has, however, the lower plumage a pale greyish rufous, and not a clear rufous as in the female of the other species, and there are more spots on the breast, these, in most cases, extending across the breast. The size is also smaller.
Length up to 6 1/2 ; wing 3 1/4 ; tail 1 1/2 legs red; irides brown; bill red. Weight about 2 1/4 oz.