Pterocles senegalus, Lin.
801bis. :- Murray's Vertebrate Zoology of Sind, p. 207; Butler, Guzerat ; Stray Feathers, Vol. IV, p. 4 ; Game Birds of India, Vol. I, p. 53.
THE SPOTTED SAND GROUSE.
Length, 12.4 to 14.7 ; expanse, 22 to 24 ; wing, 7.3 to 8 ; tail, 5.3 to 6, 4 to 4.6; tarsus, 1 ; bill at front, 0.4 to 0.47 ; weight, 8 to 12 oz.
Bill pale plumbeous or bluish-white; irides brown ; feet pale plumbeous or bluish-white.
The male has the whole chin and throat with a patch extending upwards from the throat, towards, but not quite, meeting on the back of the neck, bright buffy-yellow or orange-buff; lores, forehead, a broad stripe over the eye continued round the nape and the back of the neck, pale blue-grey, dull and tinged fawny in some specimens; crown, occiput, and nape, a sort of dove-color or pale, slightly rufous-fawn ; back and rump a somewhat similar, but more sandy color, in many specimens more tinged with fawn; the upper tail-coverts buffy-yellow, all but the longest obscurely tipped with a somewhat pinkish-mouse color. They are more or less pale dove-color at their bases, which color however is not seen till the feathers are lifted. The central tail-feathers have the pointed tips black, in many specimens more or less tinged horny-buffy, and the rest of the visible portion yellowish-buff, but the bases, as may be seen on lifting the feathers, are greyish; the lateral tail-feathers are a greyish-brown at base," dark shafted, with conspicuous white tips, and broad blackish-brown subterminal bands; the primaries are pale Isabelline, the shafts conspicuous and black; they have broad ill-defined subterminal brown bands, beyond which there is a narrow paler tipping, and they are pretty conspicuously margined on their inner webs towards the tips with still paler isabelline; the first primary has the outer web browner, the others have the outer webs, especially towards the bases, a brighter isabelline. The whole visible portions of the lesser-coverts and of the primary greater-coverts are yellowish-fawn, or isabelline, varying much in shade in different specimens; these greater-coverts are dark shafted, and with a brownish tinge next the shafts on the inner webs ; the scapulars bluish-grey at the bases, tipped broadly, but chiefly on the outer webs, with buffy-yellow, and the lesser ones tinged immediately above the yellow with a somewhat brownish-purple, or dull greyish-vinaceous; the secondary, median, and greater-coverts like the lesser scapulars, but showing more of the vinaceous hue. The secondaries are brown, lighter towards their bases, the lower part of the neck in front and breast are nearly the same blue-grey or greyish-fawn as the back of the neck; the lower breast, abdomen, sides, flanks, axillaries, and wing-lining isabelline or desert color, the upper abdomen often with a faint orange-buffy tinge ; a broad deep irregular brown patch runs down the centre of the abdomen to the vent; the lower tail-coverts are greyish-brown at their bases, but are broadly tipped with white often tinged buffy or isabelline) which is the only color visible until the feathers are lifted; the lower surfaces of the quill shafts are white.
The female has the yellow chin and throat patch like the male, but paler; the lores and feathers immediately encircling the eye pale isabelline white; the whole upper parts and the neck all round pure isabelline, tinged slightly rufous on the occiput, nape, and back, and conspicuously spotted with dull, somewhat greyish-black; the spots on the forehead and front part of the head are small and irregular ; on the nape and occiput they are more or less arranged in rows (so as to produce more of a striated appearance) and in a band running from behind the eye round the nape, they are very much more densely set; on the upper tail-coverts they are much larger, while on the scapulars they take the form of double spots or irregular bars; the primaries and their greater coverts are much as in the male, but paler; the central tail-feathers are isabelline dark shafted; the points greyish black, and the rest of the feathers with narrow, transverse, irregular bars of the same color on both webs; the lateral tail-feathers are much as in the male, but have the basal portions more tinged with isabelline, and more or less imperfectly barred; the breast, abdomen, and wing lining are as in the male, but somewhat purer and paler; the abdominal patch is narrower and perhaps also somewhat paler.
Within our limits, the Spotted Sand Grouse is only common in Sind, but stragglers occasionally find their way into portions of Guzerat and even Rajputana.
A few apparently remain to breed in Sind, but most of them are mere cold weather visitants.