Sypheotides aurita, Latham.
839. :- Jerdon's Birds of India, Vol. II, p. 619; Butler, Guzerat; Stray Feathers, Vol. IV, p. 10; Deccan, Stray Feathers, Vol. IX, p. 424; Murray's Vertebrate Zoology of Sind, p. 220; Game Birds of India, Vol. I, p. 33; Swinhoe and Barnes, Central India; Ibis, 1885, p. 132.
THE LESSER FLORICAN.
Likh, Hin. Kermoor, Hin.
Length, 17.25 to 19 ; expanse, 27.5 to 32 ; wing, 7.3 to 7.9 ; tail, 4.1 to 4.5 ; tarsus, 3.65 to 3.9 from gape, 2 to 2.1; weight, 14 oz. to 1 lb.
Length, 18 to 21.3 ; expanse, 29 to 36 ; wing, 9 to 9.75 ; tail, 4.7 to 5; tarsus, 3.9 to 4.4; bill from gape, 2.28 to 2.3 ; weight, 1 2/16 to 1 10/16 lbs.
Bill pale yellow, fleshy towards gape; irides dull yellow to brownish ; legs pale fleshy-yellow.
Male, in full breeding plumage, with the head, neck, ear-tufts, medial wing-coverts, and the whole lower plumage, deep black, the chin alone being white ; lower part of the hind-neck and a large patch on the wing, white, the rest of the plumage fulvous, beautifully and closely mottled with dark-brown ; the first three primaries plain dusky-brown, the remainder both barred and mottled with brown. The down at the base of all the feathers is a beautiful pale dull rose-color, and the quills, when freshly moulted, have a beautiful bloom, mingled pink and green, which however soon fades. The ear-tufts are about four inches long, and have usually three feathers on each side ; with the shaft bare, and a small oval web at the tip, curving upwards. The primaries are much acuminated, sometimes ending in a point almost as fine as a needle.
The female has the prevalent tone of her plumage pale fulvous-yellow ; the feathers of the head, back, wings, and tail, clouded and barred with deep brown, those on the head mostly brown, the foreneck with two irregular interrupted streaks increasing on the lower neck and breast, the lower plumage thence being unspotted and albescent; the hind-neck is finely speckled with brown ; the chin and throat white ; the first three primaries, as in the male, unspotted brown ; wing-coverts with only a few bars ; axillaries brown.
In both sexes, but it is more marked in the male, the earlier primaries are very sharply pointed, and have the terminal one-third greatly narrowed by a sudden emargination.
The Lesser Florican is generally distributed throughout our limits, but with the exception perhaps of the Deccan only as a seasonal visitant. It appears to be getting scarcer every succeeding year, owing to the merciless manner in which it is shot by sportsmen and others during the breeding season, which lasts from the end of August to the commencement of November, most of the eggs being laid towards the end of September. The eggs, four in number, are placed in a depression sheltered by a tussock of grass or stunted bush (there is no nest to speak of); they are broadish oval in shape, pointed somewhat at one end, of a dark olive-green color, spotted and clouded with light brown. Dark olive-brown, clear, almost sap-green, drab, and stone-colored varieties occur, and the markings vary from brown to reddish or olive-brown ; they measure 1.87 inches by 1.6.