1393. Porzana pusilla.
The Eastern Bullion's Crake.
Rallus pusillus, Pallas, Reis. Buss. Reichs, iii, p. 700 (1776). Porzana pygmaea, apud Blyth, Cat. p. 284 ; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 723 ; Hume & Henders. Lah. to Yark. p. 293; Blanf. S. F. v, p. 247 ; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xlvii, pt. 2, p. 21 ; Biddulph, Ibis, 1831, p. 98 (nec Brehm, nec Naum.). Zapornia pygmaea, Hume, N. & E. p. 603; Butler, S. F. v, p. 215. Ortygometra pygmaea, Hume, S. F. ii, p. 301. Porzana bailloni, apud Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 467; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 229; Hume, Cat. no. 910 ; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 358 ; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 766; Hume & Marsh. Game B. ii, p. 203, pl.; iii, p. 435, pl. ii (egg); Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 87 ; Butler, ibid. p. 432; Scully, Ibis, 1881, p. 590; Reid, S. F. x, p. 73; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 344; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 370; Hume, S. F. x, p. 415 ; xi, p. 328 ; St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 178 (nec Vieill). Porzana pusilla, Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 395 ; Sharpe,Yark. Miss., Aves, p. 147; id. Cat. B. M. xxiii, p. 106.
Coloration. Upper parts rufescent olive-brown, all the feathers except the wing-coverts with broad black median stripes; feathers of back and rump, with the scapulars and some of the wing-coverts, streaked with white in a peculiar way as if smeared with white paint; edge of wing white ; quills dark brown; first primary with a white outer border; tail-feathers blackish brown ; an ochreous-brown streak from the lores, including orbit and ear-coverts, to side of neck, which is uniformly brown; superciliary stripes, cheeks, and lower parts to abdomen ashy grey; abdomen brown with white cross-bars; lower tail-coverts barred black and white. Sexes alike.
Young birds have the lower parts whitish or white, not grey, but more or less tinged with brown.
Bill green, dusky on culmen and at tip ; irides red in adults, reddish brown in young birds; legs and feet green with a yellowish tinge; claws pale brown (Hume).
Length 7.5 ; tail 1.75 ; wing 3.5 ; tarsus 1.1; bill from gape .7.
Distribution. Eastern Asia generally, including all India, Ceylon, and Burma, in suitable localities, and as far west as Afghanistan and Baluchistan. This Crake has been obtained at the Andaman Islands. Throughout Western Asia and Europe it is replaced by the closely allied Baillon's Crake, P. intermedia (Herm.), distinguished by having the sides of the head grey, without any brown stripe through the eye and ear-coverts. A specimen from Deesa is intermediate in character.
Habits, &c. Though a large proportion of the birds found in India are probably migratory, some breed throughout the country and even in Tavoy. A large number breed in the Lower Himalayas, but many appear to go farther north. Like the last species, this Crake is sometimes found running on floating water-plants and it swims well, but it is more often met with in reeds or swampy grassy thickets or wet cultivation. The call is loud— a single note repeated slowly at first, then more rapidly, ending with a sharper note. The breeding-season is July, August, and September in the plains of India, June and July in the Himalayas. The nest is of rush or similar material amidst water and grass or reeds, and the eggs, 6 to 8 in number and measuring about 1T6 by -87, are pale olive, thickly freckled and indistinctly mottled with faint dusky clouds and streaks.