To call this bird a wood-quail, as Hume does, is distinctly misleading, for there is nothing specially quail-like about it, since it closely resembles the hill-partridges in size and shape, being round and dumpy, with very short tucked-in tail, and, nevertheless, high on the legs. It has not, however, the long claws of the wood-partridges, and the cock would look among them like a rajah among coolies, with his bushy crimson aigrette and suit of deep-blue velvet. Before the crest springs a bunch of bristles, and this and the red eye-ring and legs are common to both sexes ; otherwise the cock and hen could hardly be imagined to belong to the same species, since the lady, though devoid of a crest, is almost as brilliant as her mate, being clad in leaf-green, a most extraordinary colour for any partridge, or for the hen of any game-bird for that matter. Her wings are chestnut, whereas the male's are only brown.
The chicks are of a brown colour both in the down and in the first plumage, as has been ascertained from specimens bred in England.
The red-crested partridge is a bird of the Malay region, extending from South Tenasserim down through the Peninsula and the islands to Java ; in Sumatra it is called Banisel. In spite of its very aristocratic appearance—there is something about it that always reminds one of a pigmy peafowl, in spite of the short tail—it has much the same habits as the common-looking hill-partridges, associating in small parties which frequent heavy forest, and having a whistling note, described as mellow and pleasant. The red-crests differ, however, in the detail of not being nearly such inveterate scratchers as the hill-partridges, and in quickness and alertness are compared to quails, like which they freely run about.
Both cocks and hens are found in the coveys, which number up to a dozen. The cocks have no spurs, and nothing seems to be recorded about their ways in nature when breeding, though it is probable they break up into pairs at this time, and some fighting may take place. In captivity they are not at all shy.
The cock is, at any rate, devoted to his hen, and, as I have seen myself in captive specimens, will feed her with titbits after the manner of the common farmyard fowl. The egg is known to be buff in colour.
The food consists of seeds, berries, tender leaves, &c, and insects; as to the quality of the birds themselves for table nothing seems recorded.