10 THE LITTLE BUTTON-QUAIL
Turnix dussumieri, (Temminck).
No bars across the breast. Tail-feathers margined with buff, and the middle pair lengthened and pointed.
Vernacular Names : — Ghinwa-Lowa, Chota-lowa, Dabki, Tura, Hind.; Chimnaj, Muttra; Libbia, Purneah; Tatu-butera, Sind; Durwi, Marathi; Chinna (or Tella);dabba gundlu, Telugu; San gundlu, Orissa ; Ngon, Burmese.
The Little Button-Quail has a very wide distribution, but its exact limits are not known with much certainty. It occurs in the Punjab and Sind, and thence eastwards to Bengal and southwards to Mysore. It is found in the Himalayas (up to an elevation of about 6000 feet) from Simla to Sikhim and probably on to Assam. It has been procured in the Khasi hills, and I obtained a couple of birds near the town of Pegu, so that it is perhaps a resident in all the tract of country east of the Bay of Bengal as far south at least as Pegu.
It has been found in the islands of Hainan and Formosa, and it probably occurs in China and Siam.
This small Quail frequents open tracts of country covered with grass and scrub jungle, neglected and weedy gardens, and the outskirts of cultivated land. It occurs singly or in couples, rises only when hard pressed, and then flies a very short distance, and it is almost impossible to flush it a second time. It is said by Jerdon to have a low plaintive moan of a single note.
It is probable, as suggested by Mr. Hume, that this Quail is only a seasonal visitor to the dry countries of the North-west, and it appears to be only a summer visitor to the Himalayas. In suitable localities, however, in the greater part of India, it is no doubt a constant resident.
This little Quail nests according to locality from April to November. The nest appears to be only a pad of grass placed in a hollow or a hoof-mark, but is occasionally more elaborate, for the late Lieutenant H. E. Barnes described one he found as being " small, cup-shaped, composed of grass stems and roots, lined with a few hairs." The eggs are either four or five in number, and resemble those of the Bustard-Quail, but are smaller. They measure from 81 to 89 in length, and from 63 to 68 in breadth.
The male and female resemble each other in the colour of the plumage, but the latter is the larger bird. The upper plumage and the visible portions of the closed wings are rufous or pale chestnut, finely barred with black, and each feather margined with creamy yellow, these margins being broadest on the wings and very conspicuous, causing the upper plumage to appear streaked. Many of the coverts of the wing have a spot of chestnut and black combined. There is a pale stripe down the middle of the crown. The tail-feathers are margined with buff. The throat is whitish, and the foreneck and middle of the breast rufous. The sides of the neck and of the breast are covered with round brown or blackish spots. The belly is plain buff.
Length nearly 6; wing 3 ; tail nearly 1 1/2; legs pale plumbeous; irides yellow; bill varying from whitish to plumbeous. Weight up to 1 1/2 oz.