1323. Syrrhaptes tibetanus.
The Tibetan Sand-Grouse.
Syrrhaptes tibetanus, Gould, P. Z. S. 1850, p. 92 ; id. B. Asia, vi, p. 61; Blanford, J. A. S. B. xli, pt. 2, p. 71 ; Hume & Henders. Lah. to Yark. p. 279: Hume, S. F. vii, pp. 162, 425 ; id. Cat. no. 802 bis ; Hume & Marsh, Game B. i, p. 43 ; Sharpe, Yarkand Miss., Aves, p. 119; Ogilvie Grant, Cat. B. M. xxii, p. 5.
Kuk, Kaling, Ladak.
Coloration. Forehead, lores, cheeks, and chin white, or whitish, sometimes speckled; crown rather irregularly barred across, black and white; sides of head, throat, and a band extending nearly or sometimes quite round the neck, deep ochreous yellow; lower neck all round narrowly barred with whitish and black; this passes into the pale fawn with fine dusky vermiculation of the back, scapulars, tertiaries, and wing-coverts; inner webs of scapulars partly black, forming large black spots ; primary-coverts light brown, greater coverts and quills black, later primaries with oblique pale tips, later secondaries and tertiaries passing gradually into the colour of the back; rump and upper tail-coverts whitish, rather more coarsely vermiculated with black ; middle tail-feathers the same but tinged with rufous, the long tips black, outer tail-feathers light chestnut with a few distant black cross-bars and white tips ; upper breast finely barred; lower breast uniform pale greyish brown, passing into white on abdomen ; wing-lining brown, whitish near edge.
In the females the markings on the upper parts, especially on the back and scapulars, are coarser, being irregular bars, not mere vermiculation; and the whole breast is barred.
Bill and nails bluish, soles whitish (Hume).
Length of male 19; tail 7.5 to 9.5; wing 10.25: tarsus 1.1; bill from gape .6. In females the length is about 17 ; tail 7-8.4; wing 9.75.
Distribution. Resident in Tibet and on the Pamir at elevations above 12,000 feet, perhaps lower in winter, extending to the country north of Sikhim and to Koko-nor. Common in Ladak and the Upper Sutlej valley.
Habits, &c. The Tibetan Sand-Grouse is found on barren sandy plains near water, fresh or brackish. It is a very noisy bird, often repeating its clanging double note when on thawing. Some caged birds that were given to me On the N. frontier of Sikhim constantly uttered this call. The flight is swift. This species drinks before sunrise and at dusk in the evening. The eggs have not been taken.