(1957) Cryptoplectron manipurensis manipurensis.
THE MANIPUR BUSH-QUAIL.
Perdicula manipurensis Hume, Str. Feath., ix, p. 467 (1889) (bases of Eastern Manipur Hills). Microperdix manipurensis. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 122.
Vernacular names. Lang-Soibol (Manipur).
Description.— Adult male. Forehead, round the eye, cheeks, chin and throat deep rufous-chestnut; lores, a line through the eye and a spot behind the ear-coverts white; ear-coverts brown ; the whole upper plumage dark slaty-grey barred throughout with velvety-Hack, the bars becoming bold patches on the scapulars and inner secondaries; quills dark brown, the outer primaries edged with buff, the inner primaries and outer secondaries barred with the same; neck and upper breast ashy-grey with black centres to the feathers ; lower breast and abdomen rufous-buff, more grey on the flanks, each feather with a black cross formed by the black shaft-line and a broader cross-bar; under tail-coverts black, tipped and spotted with white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown or hazel; bill dark grey, yellowish at the base ; legs and feet orange-red to deep vermilion-red, probably darker and more red in the breeding-season; claws light brown.
Measurements. Wing 80 to 86 mm.; tail 45 to 52 mm.; tarsus about 25 to 26 mm.: culmen 14 to 15 mm. Weight 2 1/3 to 2 3/4oz.
Female differs from the male in being duller and paler, in having no chestnut on the head and in having the rufous of the lower parts replaced by pale greyish-buff, whilst the centre of the chin and throat is very pale grey.
Distribution. Manipur, Cachar, Naga Hils and Khasia Hills.
Nidification. On the 13th May I found a nest containing four eggs in some thin grass, not more than a couple of feet high on a grass-covered hill in North Cachar, shooting the hen bird off it. The nest was merely a hollow among the roots of the grass, lined with a little grass. The eggs are indistinguishable from those of other Cryptoplectron but are purer white than most; they measure 30.4 x 24.1, 31.2 x 23.5, 31.2 x 24.0 and 29.3 x 24.9 mm.
Habits. This little Quail is not uncommon in Manipur and Eastern Cachar from the foot-hills up to some 3,000 feet but it keeps so closely to dense grass, reeds etc. that unless one knows exactly where to look it is never seen. Quite possibly it is equally common in the similar immense grass areas in Western Cachar and Sylhet, stretching all along the foot-hills. They associate in small coveys, possibly family-parties, and keep close together, running when disturbed and very averse to flight but, when once on the wing, flying well and straight and then tumbling into the grass again after flying some fifty yards or so. Their call is a sweet low whistle, uttered principally in the evenings. They feed on grass-seeds, berries, roots etc. and all small insects but grass-seeds and ants form their staple food. They are excellent little birds for the table and invariably very fat and tender.