1321. Pteroclurus exustus.
The Common Sand-Grouse.
Pterocles exustus, Temm. Pl. Col. nos. 354, 360 (1825); Blyth, Cat. p. 249; Jerdon, B. 1. iii, p. 502; Blanford, J. A. S.B. xxxviii, pt. 2, p. 189; McMaster, J. A. S. B. xl, pt. 2, p. 214; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xli, pt. 2, p. 249 ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 225; id. N. & E. p. 513 ; Adam, S. F. i, p. 392; King S. F. ii, p. 458; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 4; ix, p. 421 ; Hume & Marsh. Game B. i, p. 69, pl.; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 161; Ball, ibid. p. 225; Hume, Cat. no. 802; Reid, S. F. x, p. 61; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 300 ; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. i, p. 55; v, p. 336; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 361. Pteroclurus exustus, Ball, S. F. ii, p. 426; Ogilvie Grant, Cat. B. M. xxii, p. 12.
Bhat-titar, Bakht-titar, Kumartit, Kahar, H.; Butabur, Batibun, Sind ; Popandi, Bhil; Pakorade, Mabr.; Jam polanka, Tel.; Kal gowjal haki, Can. (Mysore) ; Kal kondari, Tam.
Coloration. Male. Upper parts brownish buff to isabelline; forehead, lores, and sides of head, chin, and throat dull ochreous-buff; ends of the scapulars and tertiaries and all the secondary-coverts pale buff, the scapulars and some of the median coverts tipped with reddish brown, a few of the coverts thus tipped with a white streak inside the tip ; primary-coverts, primaries, and most of the secondaries blackish brown, the later primaries obliquely tipped with white; middle tail-feathers brown with long black tips, the other rectrices darker brown with white tips ; breast buff with a slight rufous tinge, crossed by a black gorget narrowly edged with white in front; the buff passes into the dark brown of the abdomen and flanks, blackish in the middle of the abdomen; tarsal feathers, vent, and under tail-coverts very pale buff; wing-lining dark brown.
Female buff; crown and neck all round spotted with black shaft-stripes, broader at the end; rest of upper parts, except greater secondary-coverts, barred with black ; scapulars and some of the coverts with larger yellowish-buff ends tipped with brown ; quills as in male; tail-feathers barred, the middle pair with black, the others with white tips; chin, throat, and sides of head, includingsupercilia,yellowish buff unspotted; upper breast spotted with dark brown down to a rather broken blackish gorget, behind this a broad band of plain buff; abdomen barred dark brown and rufous, darkest in the middle; tarsi and lower tail-coverts buff; wing-lining brown.
Young birds are at first rufous with black markings, then barred rather irregularly and much like the adult female, but without a gorget; the abdomen is dark from an early age.
Bill and feet pale slaty grey to plumbeous or lavender-blue: irides dark brown; orbital skin pale yellow to pale yellowish green.
Length of male about 12.5: tail 4.4-5.8; wing 7; tarsus .85; bill from gape -65. Length of female about 11.5; tail 4 to 4.8; wing 6.75. The middle tail-feathers are 1.5 to 2.5 longer than the others in males, about an inch or less in females.
Distribution. Resident throughout a large portion of Africa, South-western and Central Asia, and the Indian Peninsula, with the exception of the Bombay and Malabar coastland, the forest regions east of 80° E. long., and Bengal, in which only stragglers are occasionally found. I have seen this Sand-Grouse near Baneegunje, and Dr. G. King once saw one in the Botanical Gardens, Calcutta. To the south I have seen many, and shot some a little north of the Cauvery near Trichinopoly. This bird is common in North-western India and the Deccan.
Habits, &c- The Common Sand-Grouse keeps to open country ; it is never found in forest, and but rarely amongst bush. It flies to water and drinks between 8 and 10 o'clock in the morning, earlier in summer than in winter, and from 4 to 6 in the evening. The birds feed before and after drinking, and keep in open sandy ground during the day. Hume, in the admirable account in ' Game Birds,' says they feed in different ground after drinking. They rest about midday, each in a nook beside a clod of earth or tuft of grass, but they sleep at night in flocks huddled together, and but rarely fall a prey to foxes or jackals. They have a double clucking note, uttered on the wing when they are alarmed or when they are flying to or from water. The principal breeding-season in the North-west is from April to June, but earlier in the Deccan, and eggs have been found at all seasons. The eggs are grey or pinkish or pale olive-brown, double-spotted, and measure about 1.45 by 1.03.