(1991) Tetraogallus tibetanus centralis.
THE CENTRAL TIBETAN SNOW-COCK.
Tetraogallus tibetanus centralis Sushkin, Bull. B. O. C., lxvii, pp. 37, 182 (1926) (Tangla Range, Central Tibet). Tetraogallus tibetanus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 144 (part.).
Vernacular names. Hailik (Mongols) ; Ganmo (Tanguts) ; Lapcha Kengmo or Kongmo (S. Tibet); Pi-mo-chi (S. Chinese).
Description. Differs from the typical form in being much darker above and below and in being much more fulvous-olivaceous in its general tint.
Colours of soft parts as in the other races.
Measurements. "Wing 260 to 265 mm.; wing, 270 to 280 mm., 260 to 270 mm. (Sushkin).
Distribution. South Tibet, Mishmi and Abor Hills. North it extends to the Tengla Range, North of which again its place is taken by Sushkin's tschemonensis and by przewalskii on the North-East.
Nidification. This Snow-Cock breeds in great numbers in Southern Tibet at all elevations between 12,000 and 17,500 feet or even higher. It is especially numerous on the Gyantse plateau, where many nests have been found by Steen, Kennedy, Macgreger and others between 12,500 and 14,000 feet. It is said to select the bleakest and barest of hill-sides and plateaux for nesting-purposes, avoiding the grass-covered or bush-covered portions. The nest is like that of all Snow-Cocks, just a hollow under a rock or scanty patch of grass and always on the leeward side of the hill.
They commence breeding in the last week in May and continue up to the middle of July but eggs have been taken up to the 25th August, probably a second laying. One hundred and forty eggs average 62.6 x 43.2 mm.: maxima 68.0 x 44.0 and 66.1 x 45.0 mm.; minima 57.7 x 40.6 and 60.2 x 40.3 mm. They are quite indistinguishable from those of the Himalayan Snow-Cock except by size.
Habits. Those of the genus. This species, however, appears to be entirely vegetarian in its diet, no insect-remains having been found in their stomachs. They are said to be very easy to rear and keep in captivity and the Tibetans often keep them.
In Summer it may be found anywhere between 12,000 feet and the snow-line, often crossing even this and actually scatching about in the snow itself for food. In Winter it comes lower down and wherever the grass-covered plains and ridges descend between the forests these birds also are to be found; they never, however, enter forest or even heavy scrub. They collect in flocks of some size, two or three broods joining forces, feeding and moving about together. They are naturally tame bold birds and it takes a good deal of shooting and hunting to make them really wild. When feeding they post no sentries but during the mid-day siesta one or more of the old birds mount high boulders and keep a sharp watch, warning the flocks on the approach of danger with loud prolonged whistles. After feeding on crops and plentiful food they are said to be fat and tender and quite good for the table, though some sportsman say they are dry and insipid. They are strong on the wing and fly at an immense pace downhill but they are averse to flying if they can escape by running and will mot under any circumstances fly uphill.