1413. Otis tetrax.
The Little Bustard.
Otis tetrax, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 264 (1760); Jerdon, B. I. m, p. 625; Blyth, Ibis, 1867, p. 163; Beavan, Ibis, 1868, p. 388 ; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 435; Hume & Marsh. Game B. i, p. 3, pl.; Hume, Cat. no. 836 ter; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 94; Scully, ibid. p. 586; Swinhoe, Ibis, 1882, p. 119; St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 175 ; Sharpe, Yark. Miss., Aves, p. 145. Tetrax campestris, Leach, Syst. Cat. B. M. p. 28 (1816). Tetrax tetrax, Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxiii, p. 287.
Chota tilur, Punjab.
Coloration. Male in winter plumage. Whole upper surface huff, vermiculated with black and with some larger black blotches ; crown much blotched with black ; hind neck brownish, with fine black specks and pale mesial streaks to the feathers; greater primary-coverts blackish brown with white tips; primaries dark brown, all tipped white except the first two or three, and all white at the base, the white increasing on the inner feathers; secondaries with their greater and some of their median coverts white, often a few black spots on the quills ; tertiaries like back ; middle tail-feathers mottled black and buff, with narrow black cross-bars, outer feathers similar, but with white instead of buff and with white tips and bases, the white increasing on the outermost feathers; chin and throat whitish; sides of head and neck and fore neck streaked and mixed with black and buff; breast and remainder of lower parts white.
Females are more coarsely vermiculated as a rule on the back and more blotched with black; the feathers of the upper breast are buff with subterminal, more or less crescentic black bars.
Males in breeding-plumage have not been noticed in India. They have the cheeks, chin, and throat dark bluish grey, neck all round black, except a U-shaped white band on the fore neck, and another white pectoral band followed by an equally broad black one on the upper breast. The feathers of the hind neck are elongate.
Bill dusky, yellowish at base; irides light brown; legs dirty yellow. (Scully).
Length 18 ; tail 4.75 ; wing 10 ; tarsus 2.5 ; bill from gape 1.5.
Distribution. Southern Europe, Northern Africa, and Central Asia, including Afghanistan and Yarkand. A few birds occur in Gilgit, and this species is a regular winter visitant to the extreme North-western Punjab near Peshawar. A few stragglers are found occasionally east of the Indus, and the species has been recorded from Gurdaspur and even from Saharanpur.
Habits, &c. In the Punjab the Little Bustard keeps much to fields of mustard. This species has a different flight from other Bustards ; it rises to a great height in the air, and flutters and twists about in a peculiar way. It is sometimes shot but more frequently hawked, the Saker Falcon being trained to capture it.