6. THE CORONETTED SAND-GROUSE.
Pterocles coronatus, Lichtenstein.
Leg feathered; toes bare. Middle tail-feathers not elongated. Belly barred or of a uniformly pale colour. Shaft of the first quill of the wing white. Feathers under the tail unbarred.
MALE :—Portion of the throat black.
FEMALE :—Entire throat pale yellow.
Vernacular Name -.—Katinga, Sind.
The Coronetted Sand-Grouse is a comparatively rare visitor to the north-west of India, and has been observed only in Sind, west of the Indus river, and along the Punjab frontier at Dera Ghazi Khan, and at Fort Jamrud near the mouth of the Khyber Pass, where two birds of this species were shot by Dr. Julian Smith in October, as recorded in " Stray Feathers," by Lieut. W. W. Lean.
This species is found in Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Kashgar and Persia, extending through Arabia to Africa.
I can find very little regarding the habits of this Sand-Grouse. The late Sir O. B. St. John remarked of this species :—" This is the only small Sand-Grouse of Southern Afghanistan, and is very generally diffused though nowhere numerous. It is commonly seen in small parties of half a dozen or so, and is more active on the ground than other Sand-Grouse, running about and picking up seeds like a Partridge, whereas P. alchata and P. arenarius are leisurely and staid in their gait. It breeds in the Helmund Desert, for I found it common between Kandahar and the river in July."
Mr. Hume has the following note:— " Sir William Merewether tells me that the flight and cry of P. coronatus are both quite different from those of all the other species. They have a curious fluttering flight and appear often to hover in the air, especially before settling, and their cry is a twittering one."
Lieut.- Col. J. M. Anderson informs us that he shot several Pterocles coronatus in October in the western desert near the hills of Karachi: they were in flocks of from six to twenty and very tame: very different, he adds, to the P. arenarius, which he found one of the most difficult of birds to approach.
In the Hume Collection there is a single egg of this species which was taken at Chaman in South Afghanistan by the late Lieut. H. E. Barnes on the 27th May, 1880. It is perfectly elliptical and very glossy. The ground-colour is a pale ashy, and it is covered, pretty equally all over, with pale purple shell-marks and brown surface-spots and marks. It measures1.6 by 1 .05.
The male bird has a portion of the throat and the sides of the forehead black ; the middle of the forehead white ; the crown rather bright fulvous brown or cinnamon-colour completely surrounded by a broad coronet of grey; the lower portion of the throat, the sides of the head and a collar round the neck saffron-yellow. The upper plumage and the visible portions of the closed wings are various shades of fulvous brown mixed with brown and fulvous, this last forming broad oval tips to the feathers. The quills of the wing are dark brown, all but the first three or four tipped with fulvous. The middle tail-feathers are fulvous, the others fulvous with white tips, preceded by a black bar. The lower plumage is pale fulvous or buff, the breast generally tinged with grey. The feathers under the tail are white.
The female has every portion of the upper plumage, together with the visible portions of the closed wings, fulvous streaked or barred with dark slaty. The quills of the wing are dark brown, all but the first three or four tipped with whitish. The tail-feathers are fulvous barred with black and tipped with white. The sides of the head are grey; the throat, ex¬tending to the sides of the neck and forming a collar, very pale saffron-yellow. The lower plumage is pale fulvous irregu¬larly barred with dark slaty, the bars being strong and frequent on the breast, but interrupted and few on the belly. The feathers under the tail are white.
Length about 11; wing about 7 ; tail up to 3 1/2 . The weight of the bird shot at Fort Jamrud, as mentioned above, was 8 1/2 oz.