7. THE INDIAN PAINTED SAND-GROUSE.
Pterocles fasciatus, (Scopoli).
Leg feathered; toes bare. Middle tail-feathers not elongated. Belly barred. Shaft of the first quill of the wing brown. Feathers under the tail barred. Feathers of the tarsus barred. Throat unspotted.
MALE:—With a black band across the forehead.
FEMALE:—With no black band across the forehead.
Vernacular Names -.—Pahari bhut-titur, Bhut-bun, N. W. Provs. ; Palki, Belgaum; Handeri, S. India; Kal Gowjal haki, Canarese; Sunda polanka, Telugu.
The Indian Painted Sand-Grouse is the only bird of this section the range of which is restricted to India. The limits of this species as given by Mr. Hume are the 12th degree of north latitude on the south and the 85th degree of east longi¬tude on the east. It extends north and west of these two lines to the extreme northern limits of the Punjab and to the eastern borders of Sind. Mr. Hodgson sent it from Nepal.
Throughout this large area it is a permanent resident, but appears to be very local, affecting chiefly the neighbourhood of dry hills. Mr. Hume has the following remarks on the distribution of this bird:— " It is very local in its distribution, and is chiefly found, so far as my experience goes, on or about the bases and in the neighbourhood of dry, low, rocky, bush-clad or sparingly-wooded hills. In parts of the country, however, I have found it affecting the high Kheyras or mounds of deserted villages, met with in many jungles, and there are forest tracts in which the ground is stony and a good deal broken up by ravines in which it is particularly abundant. It is of course entirely unknown in low, rich, unbroken alluvial plains."
Dr. Jerdon makes the following observations :—" It affects chiefly bushy and rocky hills, and, unlike any others of its genus, is often found in tolerably thick cover. It is found generally in pairs, occasionally towards the end of the rams in parties of eight to ten; when flushed rises with a low chuckling call, takes a short flight at no great elevation and drops into cover again. I have very rarely seen it among rocks where there was little or no jungle."
It may be added to the above remarks that this bird seems to fly about and to go to drink at a very much later hour in the evening than the other species of Sand-Grouse.
These Sand-Grouse appear to nest at all times of the year, but April and May seem to be the months in which most nests are to be found. The nest is generally a mere hollow scraped in the ground, and is often under the shelter of a bush or a tuft of grass. As a rule three eggs are laid, but sometimes only two. The eggs are very beautiful; they are elliptical in shape and very glossy. The ground-colour is salmon-pink, and the whole egg is covered, generally more thickly at one end than the other, with pale purple shell-marks and reddish brown surface-spots and blotches. A large number measure from 1.3 to 1.6 in length and from 0.93 to 1.05 in breadth.
The male has a black band on the forehead with some white in front and behind it; there is a black spot over the eye, and the crown is buff mottled with black. The throat, the sides of the head and the whole neck are yellowish buff, bounded below by a broad chestnut band succeeded by a wider yellowish band. The upper plumage is black barred with buff on the back, rump and tail, and with white on the wings ; a large patch on the wing being plain buff. The quills of the wing are dark brown. The belly and sides of the body are barred with black and white, the black bars being everywhere about as broad as the white ones. The feathers under the tail are buff barred with black, and the small feathers on the tarsus are pale buff barred with brown.
The female has the forehead and crown fulvous mottled with black. The whole upper plumage, the tail and the visible portions of the closed wings are fulvous closely barred with black; a large patch on the wing plain fulvous. The quills of the wing are dark brown. The throat and the sides of the head are yellowish buff. The lower plumage is barred with black and pale fulvous, the black bars being much narrower than the fulvous interspaces on the breast, but of about the same width on the belly. The feathers under the tail are buff barred with black and the small feathers of the tarsus are buff barred with brown.
Length about 1o 1/2; wing 6 1/2; tail about 3 1/2 ; legs yellowish ; irides brown ; bill reddish brown. Weight up to about 7 1/2 oz