9. THE BUSTARD-QUAIL.
Turnix pugnax, (Temminck).
Breast with numerous and well-defined black cross-bars.
Vernacular Names -.—Gulu, Gundlu, Salui-gundru, Hind.; Pured (female), Koladu (male), Telugu; Kurung -Kadeh (female), An-Kadeh (male), Tamil; Durwa, Ratnagiri; Karehaki, Canarese ; Timokpho, Lepcha; Tiniok, Bhutia ; Ngon, Burmese.
The Bustard-Quail is found in Ceylon and throughout Continental India except Sind and the country north of the Sutlej river, where it does not appear to have been met with. It occurs in the Himalayas from Nepal eastwards, up to a level of about 7000 feet. It is met with throughout the eastern part of the Empire quite down to the extreme south of Tenasserim, eastwards through the Shan States to China and Siam, and southwards down the Malay peninsula to Singapore. Mr. Hume states that this species moves to a small extent, ascending the hills in summer, and temporarily quitting flooded districts.
A race of this Quail is found in the south-west of Ceylon. The female of this race has a rufous nuchal collar.
The Bustard-Quail frequents open country and the outskirts of forests, and is generally found in scrub-jungle, waste lands, gardens and orchards. It occurs singly or in pairs. It rises almost at one's feet, takes a short flight and quickly descends into cover, where it is quite useless to attempt to flush it a second time. The female has a low note which appears to be uttered only at the nesting season. The mate is silent so far as is known. As usual with these birds, the cock bird incubates the eggs and looks after the chickens when hatched.
The nesting season is generally from June to September, even extending into October, but in Ceylon this bird nests from February to May. The nest is a hollow scratched in or near a tuft of grass, sometimes lined with grass and occasionally further improved by the addition of a canopy or hood. The number of eggs is often three, more commonly four, and occasionally five. The egg is pyriform in shape, very rounded at one end and abruptly and sharply pointed at the other, and it is generally very glossy. The groundcolour is a greyish white, and the whole egg is thickly covered with dots, specks and blotches of yellowish, reddish brown and dark brown or black. The average size of a considerable number of eggs is 94 by 78.
The male has the upper plumage a mixture of rufous, black and buff, the proportion of each colour varying greatly in individuals. The chin and throat are whitish, and the lower plumage buff, the foreneck and the whole breast being strongly barred with black.
The female resembles the male, but has the whole chin, throat and foreneck black.
Length up to 6 1/2 ; wing up to 31/2 ; tail a little more than 1 ; legs bluish; irides whitish; bill plumbeous. Weight up to 21/4 oz.