The Chinese Bamboo Partridge (Bambusicola thoracicus) is a small partridge native to eastern mainland China and Taiwan, and introduced successfully to Japan. It is one of two species in the genus Bambusicola, along with the Mountain Bamboo Partridge of the Himalayas.
The Chinese Bamboo Partridge is smaller than most partridges, reaching a size of cm, with males being larger than the females. The breast and back are mottled in black, chestnut, and cream colors, with black spots on the flanks and above. The partridge's face and throat are rufous, with a gray above the eye and down to the neck.
This species is found in warm forested areas and grasslands, but is not entirely dependent on bamboo, despite its name. Like other partridges, it prefers hiding to flight, but will readily flush if approached, startling pursuers with loud wingbeats. Its loud call, often rendered as ki-ko-kuai or kojukkei (the latter rendition being adopted as its Japanese name) is repeated several times before slowing to a stop. This call is heard far more than the bird is actually seen, and though this species is common throughout its limited range, it is considered somewhat elusive and secretive.
Despite this, it has been kept in captivity in China for centuries, and has been intentionally introduced first to Japan in 1919 1, then with varying success to Hawaii, where it is listed as an introduced bird not protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act 2. An introduced population also exists on remote Iwo Jima 3. Despite its success elsewhere, Chinese Bamboo Partridge has been extirpated from Hong Kong, and a reintroduction program in 1961 failed to produce a viable breeding population 4.
Chinese Bamboo Partridge chick 2 days old.
There are two subspecies, B. t. thoracicus in mainland China and B. t. sonorivox in Taiwan, the latter of which is sometimes treated as a separate species known as Taiwan Bamboo Partridge.