Birds – The Pheasants, Fowls, And Peacocks

The Pheasants, Fowls, And Peacocks

The Pheasants as here restricted comprise over twenty genera and upwards of one hundred species of for the most part large and elegantly plumaged birds. As already pointed out, the present group is not at all sharply differentiated from the last; indeed, many authorities unite the so-called Perdicince directly with the Phasianince, but it seems as well to keep them separate. As offering in some respects a transition between the two groups, mention may be made of the little Pheasant-Quail (Ophrysia superciliosa), a rare species of the northwestern portions of India. In size it agrees closely with the Common Quail (Coturnix), being among the smallest of the group, but has the long, soft plumage of the Blood Pheasants, and is doubtless most nearly related to them. In addition it has a relatively long, wedge-shaped tail of only ten feathers and a different plumage in the two sexes, the male being largely gray with the feathers edged with black, while the sides of the head, throat, and chin are black with white bands; the female is mostly brown with black shaft-stripes, and has a black band on either side of the crown and a whitish throat. This is still one of the rarest Indian birds, being generally met with in small coveys of from six to ten birds, and clinging persistently to the long grass cover, where their presence might be unsuspected but for their soft Quail-like notes; they feed entirely upon seeds of grasses. Their nests and eggs appear unknown.