1316. Pterocles arenarius.
The Large or Black-bellied Sand-Grouse.
Tetrao arenaria, Pallas, Nov. Com. Petrop. xix, p. 418, pl. viii (1775). Pterocles arenarius, Temm. Man. d'Orn. p. 299 ; Blyth, Cat. p. 249; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 496; Beavan, Ibis, 1868, p. 377 ; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xli, pt. 2, p. 249 ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 219 ; Adam, ibid. p. 391; James, S. F. iii, p. 418 ; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 4; v, pp. 222, 231 ; Wise, S. F. iv, p. 230 ; Hume & Marsh. Game B. i,p. 47, pi.; Hume, S. F. vii,p. 161; Butler, ibid. p. 186 ; Hume, Cat. no. 799; Tufnell, S. F. ix, p. 200; Barnes, ibid. pp. 219, 458; Reid, S. F. x, p. 61; Swinhoe, Ibis, 1882, p. 118 ; Biddulph, ibid. p. 287; Swinhoe & Barnes, Ibis, 1885, p. 131; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 294 ; id. Journ. Bom. N. H. Soc. v, p. 333; St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 174 ; Ogilvie Grant, Cat. B. M. xxii, p. 18.
Bhat-titar, Bakht, Bakht-titar, H.; Banchur, Peshawar; Burra Bhatta, Banana; Siya-sinah, Pers.
Coloration. Male. Throat ferruginous chestnut, extending round sides of neck and disappearing behind nape, paler also on chin ; a triangular black patch on the throat, crown, and sides of the head ; nape, lower neck all round, and upper breast pale earthy brown ; back, rump, and upper tail-coverts, scapulars, tertiaries, and inner secondary-coverts blackish grey, each feather tipped with ochreous yellow and pale fawn-coloured towards the base; greater secondary and primary coverts and edge of wing fawn-coloured, shaded darker; quills slaty grey externally, the shafts, the outer web of the 1st quill, and the inner surface black ; tail-feathers buff barred with black, middle pair tipped with greyish black, the others tipped with white; a black gorget across the breast, which is buff not greyish brown behind the gorget; abdomen and flanks black ; wing-lining white ; thighs, tarsi, and lower tail-coverts buffy white.
Female pale fawn, the head, neck, and upper breast spotted with black shaft-streaks ; chin and throat yellowish, bounded behind by a black line, beyond which the fore neck is ashy; back and upper parts, including the middle tail-feathers, with curved black cross-bands irregular in direction; the other rectrices, the quills, and lower parts from the black pectoral gorget as in the male.
Bill bluish grey ; irides brown ; feet grey (Hume).
Length about 14; tail 4; wing 9.5; tarsus 1.1 ; bill from gape .7.
Distribution. From the Canary Islands and Spain on the west, through North Africa and South-western Asia to Turkestan and to North-western India, where this species is a cold-weather migrant, arriving about the end of September and leaving in March. It has been found as far east as Lucknow and, it is said, Allahabad; it has also been recorded from Neemuch and even Khandesh, and it is found in Northern Guzerat, all round the Runn of Cutch, and in Sind; but it is most common in the Punjab and the neighbouring tracts on the borders of the desert.
Habits, &c In N. W. India this Sand-Grouse haunts great sandy plains, within access of water, in large flocks. It lives on small seeds, and drinks morning and evening. It does not breed, so far as is known, in India ; but Barnes found its eggs in S. Afghanistan in May.