Birds – Floricans

In the Indian peninsula there are two small Bustards known by the Anglo-Indian name of Floricans, the etymology of which is unknown, but surmised by Newton to be possibly from a mispronunciation of Francolin. They are referred to separate genera, the larger being called the Bengal Florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis) and the other the Lesser Florican (Sypheotis aurita). Among other things they may be known by the males being decidedly smaller than the females, and by their undergoing a second spring moult. The first is further distinguished by the presence of a crest on the crown, nape, and hind back, and by the tarsus being nearly half the length of the wing. The plumage is largely mottled black above, relieved on the lower back and rump with brown, while the greater part of the wings is white and the lower parts black. The plumage of the female is remarkably different. This species is almost confined to eastern Bengal, where it is a resident the year round, living entirely on the uncultivated plains. Hudson has given a very entertaining account, unfortunately too long to quote entire, of the habits and nidification, derived mainly from native hunters. It appears that the sexes live apart for most of the year, going about in parties of three or four. “In the season of love the troops of males and females come into the same neighborhood, but without mixing. A male steps forth, and, by a variety of very singular proceedings quite analogous to human singing and dancing, recommends himself to the neighboring bevy of females. He rises perpendicularly in the air, humming in a deep peculiar tone, and, flapping his wings, he lets himself sink after he has risen some fifteen or twenty yards; and again he rises and again falls in the same manner, and with the same strange utterance, and thus perhaps five or six times, when one of the females steps forward, and with her he commences a courtship in the manner of a Turkey cock by trailing his wings and rising and spreading his tail, humming all the time as before.” The nest is concealed in deep grass cover, at the foot of a thick tuft of grass and in a slight depression in. the ground. The eggs, always two in number, are noticeably different in size and coloration, the larger and more richly colored producing, Mr. Hudson says, a male bird, while from the smaller and plainer colored one a female bird is hatched. The habits of the Lesser Florican are described as being quite similar to those of the Bengal species.