1488. Rostratula capensis.
The Painted Snipe.
Scolopax capensis, Linn. Syst, Nat. i, p. 246 (1760). Rallus benghalensis, Linn. t. e. p. 263 (1766). Rostratula capensis, Vieill. Nouv. Lict. d'Hist. Nat. vii, p. 1 (1817); Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxiv, p. 683. Rhynchaea capensis, Cuv. Regne An. i. p. 488 (1817); Walden, tr. 2. S. ix, p. 285 ; Wood-Mason, P. Z. S. 1878, p. 745; Wardl. Rams. Ibis, 1880, p. 71; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 800; Hume & Marsh. Game B. iii, p. 881, pl., also pl. ii, fig. (egg); Butler, S. P. ix, p. 428; Reid, S. F. x, p. 69; Hawkins, ibid. p. 172; Davidson, ibid: p. 320; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 386; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 322; Seebohm, Charadr. p. 456; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 350. Rhynchaea bengalensis, Button, J. A. S. B. xvi, p. 790; Blyth, Cat. p. 273; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 677; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. 2, p. 70 ; King, ibid. p. 217; Hume, S. F. i, p. 235; Adam, ibid. p. 396; Oates, S. F. iii, p. 346; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 15 ; v, p. 223 ; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 459; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xlvii, pt. 2, p. 21; Butler, S. F. vii, p. 187 ; Ball & Hume, ibid. p. 228; Cripps, ibid. p. 302; Hume, ibid. p. 484; id. Cat. no. 873; Doig, S. F. viii, p. 371; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 84 ; Bingham, ibid. p. 197 ; Davidson, ibid. p. 236; Davison, S. F x p. 414; Barnes Birds Bom. p. 347; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. i, p. 59; vi, p. 130, fig. 873 (egg).
Ohari, Nepal. ; Kone, Konchatta, Kol. (Singhbhoom) ; Tibud, Pan-lawa, Mahr. (Ratnagiri)'; Mail ulan, Tam.; Baggarji, Beng.; Raja-kaeswatuwa, Cing.
Coloration. Male. Crown blackish olivaceous, with a broad median buff band, narrow ring round the eye and a short stripe running back from it also buff ; lores brown, sides of head white with brown streaks ; hind neck ashy brown, more or less tinged with olive and indistinctly barred with blackish ; mantle similar but more olive, with rather distant narrow white bars and broad patches of dark green fringing them; outer borders of scapulars buff, forming a band down each side of the back ; on the tertiaries and wing-coverts broad buff black-edged bands come in and pass externally into spots; quills bluish grey, with fine wavy black lines and with oval buff spots on the outer webs, which are black towards the base; rump, upper tail-coverts, and tail-feathers bluish grey with black bars ; some buff spots on the coverts and tail; chin whitish; sides of neck, fore neck and upper breast brown, streaked with white on the neck, and ending posteriorly in a blackish gorget; lower breast and abdomen, flanks and, lower tail-coverts white, a white band passing up on each shoulder behind the gorget to join the buff scapular baud; sides of breast behind the white band olive-brown and black.
In the adult female the lores and cheeks are rufous, passing, on the throat, into dull chestnut that extends around the neck and is bounded posteriorly by the broad blackish pectoral gorget; mantle grey washed with olive, with narrow blackish bars, but without any buff or white bars or spots (buff spots on the quills, as in males); a tuft of pure white lanceolate leathers beneath the scapulars : otherwise the plumage resembles that of the male.
Young of both sexes resemble adult males. It is supposed by some observers that the female after breeding resumes the male plumage, but this has never been clearly ascertained.
Bill and legs olive-brown; irides olive-brown (Oates). The trachea is convoluted in the female only (see Wood-Mason, l. c), but much less so than in the Australian species R. australis.
Length of males 10; tail 1.6 ; wing 5 ; tarsus 1.75 ; bill at front 1.75. Females are larger : wing about 5.4, bill nearly 2.
Distribution. Throughout the greater part of Africa, Madagascar, and Southern Asia. This bird is common in the Nile valley in Egypt, and has been reported from Asia Minor, but has not been observed in Arabia, Persia, or Baluchistan. It is, however, said by Hutton to occur at Kandahar, and it was obtained by Captain Cook in the Kuram valley, and by Stoliczka on the Wular Lake, Kashmir. As a rule it seldom occurs in the Himalayas, but is found all over India, Ceylon, and Burma, and, though it is rare in Tenasserim and the Malay Peninsula, it ranges east to Sumatra, Java, Borneo and the Philippines, the southern and eastern parts of China, and Southern Japan.
Habits, &c. The Painted Snipe is resident, though it moves about the country as its haunts dry or are inundated, and in some parts of India it is only found in the monsoon. It keeps to moist, not flooded, ground and thick rushes or grass, often mixed with bushes. It has much the skulking running habits and somewhat the flight of Bails, and is usually difficult to flush. It swims well. The female has a guttural croaking note, that of the male is shriller, the difference being due to the construction of the trachea. Painted Snipes feed mainly on insect grubs and mollusca, but also eat grain, seeds of grass, &c. They afford no sport in shooting and are very inferior eating, coarse and muddy in taste. They breed probably twice in the year or even oftener, and nests have been found at all seasons. The nest is the usual hollow, often with a pad of grass or rushes, and the eggs are four in number, yellowish stone-colour as a rule, with very large irregular blackish-brown blotches, and measure about 1.39 by 1.