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Full text of "The game-birds of India, Burma and Ceylon"

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THE CIAME-BIIID8 OF INDIA, 
BURMA AND CEYLON 




TffEIfl .ULIES . 

E.C.^TUJ\I\T 3J\t{Ef\. 

REPRINTED FROM THE BOMBAY NATURAL HISTORY 
SOCIETY'S JOURNAL; WITH CORRECTIONS & 
ADDITIONS. 

1921. 







iva-W";, 



THE GAME-BIRDS OF INDIA, 

v.l 

t>ir^ BURMA AND CEYLON 

DUCKS AND THEIE ALLIES 

(SWANS. GEESE AND DUCKS) 

VOL. I. 



.//^ .#- 



E^C. STUAET BAKER. O.B.E., F.L.K.. F.Z.S., M.B.O.U., 

H.F.A.O.U. 



WITH 30 COLOURED PLATES 
By H. Gionvold, G. E. Lodge and J. G. Keulemans. 

SECOND EDITION. 



PUBLISHED BY 

THE BOMBAY NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY. 



LONDON: JOHN BALE, SONS & DANIELSSON, LTD., OXFORD HOU.SI' 
83-91. GEEAT TITCHFIELD STREET, W. L 

1921. 



LONDON : 

JOHN BALE, SONS A.ND DANIELSSON, LTD. 

OXFORD HOUSE 

83-91, GREAT TITCHKIELD STREET, OXFORD STREET. LONDON, W.l. 



P '-L 1-1944 '"J^ 



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LIST OF CONTENTS. 





PAGE 


Title Page ... 


iii 


Contents 


V 


List of Plates 


vii 


Introduction 


ix 


Bibliography 


xi 


Imdian Ducks 


.. 1-333 


Index 


... 335 



LIST OF PLATES. 



PLiTE 
I. 

II. 
III. 

IV. 

V. 

VI. 

VII. 

VIlA. 



To Face 
Page 



1. Ctgnus BEWICKI. Bewick's Swan .•• 

2. Cygnds MINOR. Alpheraky's Swan ... 

3. CygnuS CTGNUS. The Whooper 

4. Cygnus olok. The Mute Swan 

Sarcidiornis MELANOTA. The Nukhta or Comb-Duck 

ASARCORNIS SCUTULATA. The White-winged Wood-Duck 

Ehodonessa CARYOPHYLLACEA. Tlie Pink-headed Duck 

Nettopus coromandelianus. The Cotton Teal 

Anser a. ALBIFRONS. The White-fronted Goose 

Anser INDICUS. The Bar-headed Goose 

Ehamtso Lake with Nests of Bar-headed Goose and Black 
necked Crane 



VIIb. Nesting Ground of Bar-headed Goose, Ehamtso Lake, Tibet, 



VIIc. 

VIII. 

IX. 

X. 

XL 

XII. 



14,000 ft. 

J Nest of Bar-headed Goose •■• 

I Tibetans collecting Eggs of Bar-headed Geese ••• 

DendrocYCNA FULVA. The Greater WhistHng Teal ... 

Dendrocycna javanica. The Lesser Whistling Teal 

Tadorna TADORNA. The Sheldrake ... 

Casarca FERRUGINEA. The Euddy Sheldrake or Brahmiuy 
Duck 139 

Anas platyrhyncha. The Common Wild-Duck or Mallard ... 150 



15 

30 
41 
50 
57 
84 
101 

104 

107 

■103 

115 
122 
133 



Vlll LIST OF PLATES 

To Face 
Plate Page 

XIII. Anas p. pcecilobhyncha. -The Spot-Bill or Grey Duck ••• 160 

XIV. EUNETTA falcata. The Bronze-capped Teal ■• ... 172 
XV. Chaulelasmus streperus. The Gad wall 179 

XVI. Mareca PENELOPE. The Widgeon 187 

XVII. Nettion CRECCA crecca. The Common Teal 201 

XVIII. Nettion albigulare. The Andaman Teal 210 

XIX. Dafila acuta. The Pintail 216 

XX. Querquedula QUERQUEDULA. The Garganey or Blue-wing 

Teal 225 

XXI. Spatula clypeata. The Shoveller 234 

XXII. Marmaronetta ANGUSTIrostris. The Marliled Duck ... 211 

XXIII. Netta RUFINA. The Eed-crested Pochard 249 

XXIV. Nyroca PERINA. The Pochard or Dun-bird 259 

XXV. Nyeoca N. nyroca. The "White-eyed Pochard or White-eye 266 

XXVI. Nyroca N. BAERL Baer's Pochard or Eastern White-eye... 273 

XXVII. Nyroca FULIGULA. The Crested Pochard or Tufted 

Pochard 284 

XXVIII. OXYURA LEUCOCEPHALA. The White-headed or Stiff-tail 

Duck 302 

XXIX. Mergus albellus. The Smew 309 

XXX. Merc^ANSER SERRATOR. The Red-breasted Merganser ... 317 



Note. — Tlie coloured plates in iliis Volume ivere printed by Messrs. 
Bale, Sons and Danielssoti^ Ltd., London. 



INTRODUCTION. 



IN 1896 and the following years I wrote a series of articles- 
on " Indian Ducks and their Allies " in the Journal of 
the Bombay Natural History Society. In 1908 these articles 
were brought up to date, corrected and added to and appeared 
in book form, and so well was this volume received by the 
public, especially by sportsmen in India, that the edition was 
soon exhausted. 

The first edition appeared principally to meet a want 
which had long been felt by Small-Game shooters in India. 
that is to say a volume, reference to which would not only 
show how each duck could be identified, but would also give 
some idea of its habits and its scarcity or the reverse. Hume 
and Marshall's " Game Birds of India," which was published 
in 1879-80, grand book as it was and is, was felt to be behind 
the times, and much had since been recorded in various 
magazines and journals. But these records were scattered 
here, there and everywhere, and could not be consulted without 
the greatest difficulty, and it was, indeed, quite impossible for 
anyone who had not access to a very complete library to say 
what had, and what had not, been recorded. 

The first edition may be said not only to have served its 
purpose for the time being, but it served yet another and 
perhaps even more important one, for since its appearance a 
very large amount of information has been published to add to 
and correct its contents. 

This second edition incorporates these additions and 
corrections, and adds a considerable amount of matter not 
obtainable by me when writing in India. Several species 
have been added to the Indian list, and the geographical 
distribution of certain others has been more correctly given. 

Sub-species have been recognised, but, on the other hand, 
certain geographical races previously given the status of 
species have been relegated to that of sub-species. Possibly, 
even probably, there may be adverse comment on the 
recognition of sub-species or geographical races and the 
consequent application of trinominalism. But we cannot get 
over the fact that geographical races do exist, and to refuse to 
recognise them or to give them names to denote that we do 
so, will certainly not help forward the science of Ornithology. 
Nor does its acceptance add to the difficulty of the field 
naturalist and sportsman, for these are quite as anxious as 
the cabinet naturalist to account for the variations they find 
in the same species in different areas. 



X INDIAN DUCKS 

A further complaint which is equaUy sure to be raised will 
refer to tlie change in the names of many ducliS which we 
have all known and accepted for so long. To this I have but 
the same answer as that which I have already repeatedly 
given. The names we have hitherto used are not correct, and 
therefore cannot be retained, and in justice to the man who 
first named any species that name must be used. It may 
inconvenience some of us of the older generation, but the 
newer will learn to know the bird by its correct name, and 
will suffer injury neither to his sentiments nor to his 
convenience. 

The classification adopted is practically that of Blanford 
in the fourth volume of the Avifauna of British India. Since 
that book was written, some ornithologists have lumped genera 
together, whilst others have placed almost every duck in a 
separate genus. Convenience and facilities to the student 
seem to advise a medium course between these two, and so 
this has been the course adopted. 

Some of the plates in the first edition have been replaced 
by new and better ones, and others have been improved ; a 
fuller index has been given, and a complete list of the authors 
and their works referred to in the synonymy. 

To facilitate reference each species has been dealt with in 
the same manner: (1) Sj'nonymy, (2) Descriptions of male, 
female and young, (3) Distribution, (4) Nidifieation, and 
(5) General habits. 

It will be noticed that in this edition the title has been 
altered to " The Game-Birds of India, Burma and Ceylon — 
Ducks and their allies (Swans, Geese and Ducks)," as this 
edition now forms the first volume of the series of " The 
Game-Birds." The second volume will be the Snipe, Bustards 
and Sandgrouse, just published; the third volume will be the 
Pheasants and the fourth the Partridges. 

I have to record my very cordial thanks to the Authorities 
of the British Museum for the kindness with which they have 
allowed me to work in their galleries, for the constant 
assistance given to me in my work, and for placing at niy 
disposal so vast an amount of material and so excellent a 
library. In this connection I would especially wish to thank 
Messrs. R. Ogilvie Grant and W. L. Sclater, who were in 
charge of the Ornithological Department during the time I 
was employed in revising the first edition. 

London, E. C. StuaRT Baker. 

July, 1921. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY. 

Alpheraky, Geese .... Alpheraky. ' Geese of Europe and 

Asia.' London, 1905. 

A. M. N. H ' Annals and Magazine of Natural 

History.' London, 1838-192U. 

Anders, Yunnan Ex. Aves. . ' Anatomical and Zoological Re- 
searches. Results of Two Expe- 
ditions to Western Yunnan in 1868 
and l,s7o." London, 1878. 

As. Res ' Asiatic Researches. Transactions 

of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.' 
Calcutta, 1829-39. 

Av[. Mag ' Avicultural Magazine.' Brighton, 

1894-1920. 

Barnes, B. of Bom ' Handbook to the Buds of the 

Bombay Presidency.' Calcutta, 
1885. 

Bakr. Orn ' Barrere Ornithologise. Specimen 

novum sive series Avium in Rus- 
cinoue, etc' Perpiniani, 1745. 

Bechst. Gem. Nat. Vog. . . ' Bechstein, Gemeinniitzige Natur- 

geschichteDeutschlands.' Leipzig, 
1801-09. 

Blanf. Avifauna of B. I. . . ' Avifauna of British India.' Gates 

and Blanford. London, 1889-98. 

Blanf. E. Persia Blanford, W. T. " Eastern Persia, 

Zoology and Geology.' London, 
1876. 



Xll 



INDIAN DUCKS 



Blanf. CtEol. & Faun. Abyss. 



Blvth, Cat. 



Blanford, \V. T. 'Observations on 
the Geology and Zoology of Abys- 
sinia made in 1^07-08.' London, 
187U. 

Blyth. 'Catalogue of Birds in the 
Museum Asiatic Society.' Cal- 
cutta, 1849. 

Blyth, E. Catalogue of Mammals 
and Birds of Burma.' Hertford, 
1875. 

Blyth & Wald. Birds op B. Blyth, E. ' Catalogue of Mammals 

and Birds of Burma' (reprint from 
the ' Journal of the Asiatic Society 
of Bengal'). Hertford, 1875. 



Blyth, Birds op B. 



Bonap. Consp. Av. 



Bull. P.. 0. C. 



Bull. Soc. Philom. 



Butler, Cat. B. of S. 



Bonaparte, C. L. ' Conspectus 
Generum Avium.' Lugduni Bata- 
vorum, 1850. 

' Bulletin of the British Ornitliolo- 
gists" Club.' London, 1892-1920. 

' Bulletin Societe Philomatique.' 
Paris, 1791-19-20. 

Butler, E. A. ' Catalogue of the 
Birds of Sind, Cutch, Kathiawar, 
North Guzerat and Mt. Aboo, etc' 
Bombay, 1879. 

Butler, E. A. ' Catalogue of the 
Birds of the Southern Portion of 
the Bombay Presidency.' Bom- 
bay, 1880. 

Cat. B. M ' Catalogue of lairds in the British 

Museum,' i-xsvii. London, 
1874-98. 



Butler, Cat. B. op S. B. Pres. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY XIH 

Dbesseb, Pal. Birds . . . Dresser, H. E. ' Manual of Palae- 

arctic Birds.' London, 1902-03. 

Dresser, Eggs of E. B. . . Dresser, H. E, ' Eggs of the Birds 

of Europe.' London, 1905-10. 

Emu Official organ of the Australian 

Ornithologists' Union — a quar- 
terly magazine to popularize the 
study and protection of native 
birds. Melbourne, 1901-20. 

Georgi Georgi,J. G. ' Bemerkungen einer 

Eeise im Russischen Eeich im 
Jahre, 1772.' St. Petersburg, 
1775. 

GLEAi^iNGS IN Science . . . ' Gleanings in Science.' Edited by 

Capt. J. D. Herbert and J. Prinsep, 
vols, i-iii. Calcutta, 1829-31. 

Gmelin, Syst. Nat Caroli, A. Linn^. ' Systema 

Naturae.' Leipzig, 1788. 

Gmelin, Reis Gmelin, J. G. ' Reise durch 

Sibirien, 1733-43.' Gottingen 
1751-52. 

Gould, B. of Asia . . . . ' The Birds of Asia.' London, 

1850-83. 

Gray, Cat Gray. ' List of Specimens of Birds 

in the British Museum.' London, 
1848-68. 

Gray, Cat. M. i'^- B. Nep. Pres. Gray. ' Catalogue of Specimens 

of Mammals and Birds of Nepal 
and Tibet.' Presented by B. H. 
Hodgson to the British Museum. 
London, 1846. 



XIV 



INDIAN DUCKS 



Gray, List of B. 



Gunner 



Hartert, Vog. Pal. 



Htime & Marsh. Game-B. 



Hume, Nest and Eggs 



.Terdon, B. or I. 



Gray. ' Hand-List of Genera and 
Species of Birds in the British 
Museum.' London, 1869-71. 

' Gunnerus in Leem Beskr.' Finin 
Lapp, 1767. 

' Die Vogel der palaarktischen 
Fauna.' BerHu, iy03-20. 

' The Game Birds of India, Burma 
and Ceylon.' Vol. i-iii, 1879-80. 

' Nest and Eggs of Indian Birds.' 
Calcutta, 1873. 

' Jerdon, Birds of India.' Vol. i- 
iii. Calcutta, 1862-64. 



.7. B. N. H. S ' Journal Bombay Natural Historx 

Society.' Bombay, 1886-1920. 

J. F. O ' Journal fiir Ornithologie.' Cassell, 

1853-1920. 



Keyserling tl- Blasius, Wer- 
belthiere 

Latham, Ind. Orn 



Keyserling, A. F. M. L. A. & Blasius, 
J. H. ' Die Werbelthiere Europas." 
Braunschweig, 1840. 

' Index Ornithologicus.' Londun, 
1790. 



Latham Syn ' General Synopsis of Birds, 

London, 1781-1886. 

Legge, B. OF C Legge. ' A History of the Birds of 

Ceylon.' London, 1880. 

Linn. S. N ' Liunspus, SystemaNatura:'.' 10th 

edit. Leipzig, 1758. 

Linn. Faun. Svec " Linnaeus, Fauna Suecica.' Lugduni 

Batavorum, 1746. 



BIBLIOGKAPHY 



XV 



Mad. Jour. 



Men^itries, Cat. Reise 



Mt'LLER, Land en Volk. 



Naum. Vog. Deutsch. . 



Gates, B. of B. B. 



Dates, Cat. Eggs B.M. 



Gates, Man. Game B. 



' Madias Journal of Literature and 
Science.' Madias, 1833-82. 

Men^tri^s. ' Catalogue raisonne 
des Objects de Zoologie dans un 
voyage au Caucase et Perse.' St. 
Petersberg, 1832. 

' Miiller. Land en Volkenkunde.' 
1839-45. 

'Naturgeschichte derVogel Deutsch- 
lands.' Leipzig, 1820-44. 

' Handbook to the Birds of British 
Burma.' London, 1883. 

' Catalogue of Eggs in the British 
Museum.' London, 1901-12. 

' A Manual of the Game Birds of 
India.' Parts I and II. Bombay, 
1899. 



Pallas, Reise ' Reise durch verschiedene Provm- 

zen des Russischen Reichs.' St. 
Petersberg, 1773. 

Pennant, Ind. Zool . . . . ' Pennant, Indian Zoology.' 1st 

edit., London, 1769 ; 2nd edit., 
London, 1790. 

P. A. S. B ' Proceedings of the Asiatic Society 

of Bengal.' Calcutta, 1866-80. 

P. Z. S ' Proceedings of the Zoological 

Society of London.' London, 
1830-1920. 

Scop. Ann ' Annus Historico Naturalis.' 

Lipsia, 1769-1772. 



XVI 



INDIAN DUCKS 



Severtz Tubkes Jevotn 



' Vertikal'noe i ghorizontal'noe ras- 
- predyclenic Turkestanskikh Zhi- 
votnuikh.' Moscow, 1873. 



Sharpe, Hand-L ' Sharpe. Hand-List of the Genera 

and Species of Birds,' vols. i-v. 
London, 1899-1909. 

' Spoilia Zeylanica.' Colombo, 
1903-1920. 

' Stephens. General Zoology.' 
'Birds,' vols., ix-xiv. London, 
1809-26. 



Spoilia Zeylanica 



Stephens, Gen. Zool 



S(tray) F(eathers) ' A .Tournal of Ornithology for India 

and its Dependencies.' 



Stuart Baker 



Sbmm. Man. 



Tb.ans. L. S. 



Stuart Baker. ' Indian Ducks and 
their Allies.' London, 1908. 

' Manual d'Ornithologie.' Am- 
sterdam, 1815. 

' Transactions of the Linneaen 
Society of London.' London, 
1791. 



Vieill. Nouv. Dict. d'Hist. ' Vieillot Nouveau Dictionnaire 



Nat. 



d'Histoire Naturelle.' 
1816-19. 



Paris, 



Order CHENOMORPH^. 

The characteristics of this order, as defined by Huxley, are : 
palate desmognathous ; young covered with down and able to run 
or swim in a few hours after hatching. 

The order is divided into three suborders, but with the first 
of these— the " Palamedese, or Screamers " — we have nothing to do, 
as they are confined to the Neotropical Eegion and do not visit our 
part of the world. 

The two remaining suborders are the Phcenicopteri, or Flamingoes, 
and the Anseres, or true Swans, Geese, and Ducks. There can be no 
chance of these two being confounded by anyone, as the two forms 
are so widely different. 



Key to Suborders. 

A. Tarsus three times the length of femur : bill strongly 

bent downwards in the centre Pltanicopteri. 

B. Tarsus about tlie same length as the femur ; bill not 

bent, but straight Anscrcs. 

The suborder Phcenicopteri contains but one family — the 
Phoenicopteridas — and that family (so far as we are concerned) 
but two genera, both of which contain but a single species. 



Key to Genera. 

A. Upper mandible overlapping lower ; throat naked . . Phanicopterus. 

B. Upper mandible not overlapping ; throat feathered . . Phceniconaias. 



INDIAN DUCKS 



Suborder P H CE N T C O P T E R I. 
Family PHCENICOPTERID^. 

(1) PHfflNICOPTERUS ANTIQUORUM. 

THE FLAMINGO. 

PhoenicopteruB antiquorum, Tcmm. Mann. 2nd Edit, ii, p. 587 (1820) ; 
Holdsiv. P. Z. S. 1872, p. 479 (Ceylon) ; Llotjcl, Ibis, 1873, p. 419 
(Kathiawar) ; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 491 (1879) ; viii, pp. 114, 949 
(1879) ; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 392 (1885) ; id. J. B. N. H. S. vi, 
p. 285 (1885) ; Lister, J. B. N. H. S. viii, p. 553 (1893). 

PhcBnicopterus roseus {Barr. Orn. Class. 1, p. 21 (1745)) ; Bhjth, Cat. 
p. 299 (1849) ; Layard, A. M. N. H. xiv, p. 268 (Ceylon) ; 
Ada7ns, P. Z. S. 1858, p. 50 (Punjab) ; Jerdon, B. of I. iii, p. 775 
(1864) ; Hume, Ibis, 1870, p. 142 (Sambhur Lake) ; Hume, S. F. i, 
p. 257 (1873) (Sindh) ; Legge, Ibis, 1875, p. 407 (Ceylon) ; Butler, 
S. F. iv, p. 25 (1876) (N. Guzerat) ; Fairbank, ibid. p. 264 (Dukhan) ; 
Buthr, ibid. V, p. 234 (N. Guzerat), p. 287 (Gulf of Oman) (1877) ; 
Davids. £ Wend. S. F. vii, p. 92 (1878) (Deccan) ; Murray, ibid. 
p. 112 (Sindh); Vidal, ibid, ix, p. 91 (1880) (S. Konkan) ; Butler, 
ibid. p. 436 (Deccan) ; Lecjge, B. of C. p. 1092 (1880) ; Parker, Ibis, 
1886, p. 188 (Ceylon) ; Beid, S. F. x, p. 78 (1887) (Lucknow) ; 
Davids, ibid. p. 325 (1887) (W. Khandeish) ; Hume, ibid. p. 513 
(not breeding in India) ; Salvad. Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 12 (1895) ; 
Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xi, p. 2 (1897) (full syn. and descrip. 
&c.) ; Fleming, J. B. N. H. S. xii, p. 216 (1898) (Tinnevelly dist.) ; 
Blanford, Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 408 (1898) ; Oates, Cat. Eggs, B. M. 
ii, p. 136 (1902) ; Bao Khengarji, J. B. N. E. S. xv, p. 706 (1904) 
(Photo) ; higlis, J. B. N. H. S. xviii, p. 683 (1908) (Darbhanga 
Dist., Tirhoot) ; Stuart Baker, Indian Ducks, ix 2 (1908); Tenison. 
J. B. N. H. S. xix, p. 525 (1909) (Mardan, N.W. Frontier) ; WMte- 
head, J. B. N. H. S. xxi, p. 170 (1911) (Sehore, C. India) ; Radcliffe, 
J. B. N. H. S. xxiv, p. 167 (1915) (Baluchistan) ; Whistler, Ibis, 
1916, p. 115 (Jhelum Dist.). 

Phcenicopterus ruber, Sykes {nee Linn.) P. Z. S. 1832, p. 159 
(Dukhun) ; Hartl. J.f.o. 1854, p. 160 (Ceylon). 

Phoenicopterus europaeus, .Terdon, Mad. Jouru. xii, p. 217, No. 373 
(1840). 

Phoenicopterus antiquus, Blyth, Cat. S. B. p. 299 (1849). 



PHCENICOPTEEUS ANTIQrOKril O 

Phoenicopterus andersoni, Brooks, P. A. S. B. 1875, pp. 17-48 (Futteh- 
gurh) ; Hume, S. F. iii, p. 414. 

Le Flammant Eose, Magand dWubusson in ' Le Naturaliste ' (2), xx, 
pp. 191-192. 206-20S (1906). 

Description. Adult Male.— Whole plumage, with the exceptions noted, 
a beautiful rosy-white, the rose-colour much more developed on the tail and 
rather more on the head and neck ; primary-coverts nearly or quite white, 
other wing-coverts and innermost secondaries light rose-red : primaries and 
outer secondaries black ; uzider wing-coverts and axillaries scarlet ; under 
median and primary-coverts black. 

Colours of soft parts.— Orbital skin flesh -pink to bright red ; irides 
lemon-yellow, pale yellow, or pale golden-yellow {Jerdon) ; bill bright flesh- 
coloured, edge of mandible and terminal portion of bill black ; legs and feet 
pinkish-red, claws black. 

Measurements.— Length varies from 44 to 53 inches, wing 15' 15 to 17'5, 
tail 6 to 7'5, tarsus about 13, bare part of the tibia 9, culmen 5'5 to 6"4, 
depth (of bill) at centre I'o. {Legge, B. of Ceylon) 

remale. — Similar to the male, the rose-colour on head, neck and back 
often less pronounced, but not always so. Length from 38 to 48 inches, 
wing 14'3 to 15'8, tail 5'5 to 6'8, tarsus about 10'5 to 11'5, bare tibia 
about 7, culmen 4'75 to 5'6. 

Young^. — Head, neck and lower plumage white, more or less tinged w-ith 
rosy-buff ; back and wing-coverts ashy-buff, with dark shaft-stripes ; the 
greater coverts more brown, but with pale tips soon wearing off ; under 
wing-coverts and axillaries pale-pink ; bill more dull than in adults ; legs 
dark-plumbeous. 

Nestling. — White down, more or less tinged with grey, especially on the 
upper parts ; down in texture like that on a young swan (Dresser). In the 
nestling the bill is perfectly straight, but soon assumes the normal shape. 

Distribution. — Southern Europe (practically confined to the coast- 
line), Asia on the east and south-east, and the whole of Africa. 

In India the Flamingo is found more or less throughout the 
continent, but I can find no record of its ever extending to Burma, 
and in Hume's collection there are none from the east of Bengal or 
Assam, though from the latter place there is in the British Museum 
collection one skin marked "x. Juv. sk. Assam," obtained by 
McClelland. It is very common on the major part of the west coast, 
and extends quite down to Ceylon, where Legge states that it is seen 
in large numbers, both on the west and east coast. Thence it extends 
northwards, and is common in certain parts of Madras, but in Eastern 



4 INDIAN DUCKS 

Bengal is a decidedly rare bird. I -have once seen it during the 
cold weather in the Sundarbands, and there are a few other recorded 
instances. In the widely-known and shot-over Chilka Lake, in Orissa, 
it is fairly frequently met with, though I hear less frequently and in 
smaller numbers than formerly, probably owing to the lake being 
more accessible to sportsmen now-a-days than it used to be. Else- 
where in Bengal it is only a casual Hock that is seen in the cold 
weather. 

Nidification. — Legge seems to have thought that the Flamingo 
bred in Ceylon ; but his ideas on this subject have never been con- 
firmed, though it is more than possible that he was correct, as Mr. 
W. N. Fleming reports from Tuticoriu that the Flamingo is fairly 
common throughout the district, and that a large flock, numbering 
some 300 birds, was still in the neigbourhood of that place in 
July, 1898. 

His Highness the Eao of Cutch is the only observer who has 
actually found a regular nesting-place of the Flamingo within Indian 
limits. In a letter to Mr. Lester he recorded that he had obtained 
some twenty eggs and two young from some place in the Eunn of 
Cutch. 

Later he writes : — 

" It appears that they breed fairly regularly on the Eann, except 
in seasons of scanty rainfall, when there is very little or no water 
lying on that tract, as has been during the recent years of scarcity 
and famine, or when the rains do not arrive until very late in the 
year. Their nests, which are built of mud, whilst the earth is wet, 
are not made on any particular island ; but the birds seem to select 
ground slightly higher than the surrounding country, and covered 
with shallow water on all sides to a considerable distance from the 
spot selected, evidently to be free from danger from jackals, wolves, 
etc. It would be worth knowing if the Flamingoes in seasons which 
they find unfavourable for nesting on the Rann seek other safer 
breeding-grounds, and, if so, whether they breed then on the Mokran 
coast or elsewhere, or whether in such years they do not breed at all. 
A few of the birds are always to be seen in these parts. This year a 
large number of eggs and three young birds not fully fledged have 
been brought to me. The place on the Rann where the nests were 
found is about eight miles to the north-east of the Pachham, and 
here the nests were to be seen in hundreds. 

" A photograph was taken on the Gth November, 1903, but the 
birds breed earlier than that. The eggs found on the nests were all 
bad ones." 



PHCENICOPTERUS ANTIQUOEUM 5 

Its principal breeding-places lie in Africa, and in Arabia and 
Persia, where it collects during the breeding season in countless 
numbers. It also breeds in Spain, and is said to do so in the Rhone 
Delta. Hume, and after him, Barnes (J.B.N.H.S. vi.. No. 3, p. 285) 
have commented on the curious and untidy habit these birds possess 
of dropping eggs about in a casual sort of manner, and in this way a 
good many have been found in India. 

Other ornithologists have noted this habit, and it seems to be one 
common to the whole genus, as Barnes notes having obtained eggs 
thus which he considered belonged to the Lesser Flamingo. 

Again, my friend Dr. E. Hartert, when visiting Bonaire, came 
across a colony of Flamingoes breeding ; and, though he could not 
approach near enough to obtain specimens and satisfy himself as to 
the species, he managed to visit the nesting-places, and he mentions 
that he obtained two fresh eggs which were lying in the water. 
Here the birds do not seem to have commenced breeding in earnest, 
and these eggs appear to have been casually dropped by them into 
the water, either before the nest had been made to receive them, 
or, more likely, before the birds felt inclined to commence incubation. 

All kinds of flamingoes, of which the nidification is known, 
breed in large communities, and seem to select much the same kind 
of country — sheets of water, wide in extent, but very shallow — as the 
sites in which to make their nests. These are inverted cones of mud, 
some twelve or eighteen inches high, with the ends flattened off and a 
shallow cavity made in their summits. The nests are made close 
together, in many cases several in a group, almost touching one 
another ; but of course their proximity to each other depends greatly 
on the depth of the water in which they are placed. Where this is 
variable the nests will be found in close clusters in the shallower 
parts, sometimes even on mud- or sand-banks above water-level. 
Where the water is all shallow — such as is found in the Ehone 
Delta, Spain, and elsewhere — the nests are scattered casually over 
a considerable extent of land. In Bonaire the land on which the 
birds had made their nests was not of mud or sand covered by water, 
but of coral. Hartert's own words describe the place vividly for us ; 
he says : — 



6 INDIAN DUCKS 

" Tlie water was deep in places and the bottom very rough, 
consisting of very sharp corals and often of a deceitful crust of salt 
or saltpetre, under which the water was black and very deep. It 
required much care to avoid these places, and it took us over an 
hour to reach the nests. The nests themselves were flat plateaus 
standing out of the water from tlu-ee to six inches, the water round 
them being apparently very shallow ; but it was often the fatal 
crust that caused this appearance, not the proper bottom. Many 
of the nests were close together, and some of them connected by dry 
ground. They were quite hard, so that one could stand on them, 
and almost the only way of getting along was to jump from one nest 
to another. The nest consisted of clay, hardened by the sun and 
penetrated and encrusted with salt and pieces of coral, with a 
distinct concavity in the centre." 

The eggs, nearly invariably two iu number, are long ovals, 
generally a good deal pointed at the ends. The colour of the true 
shell is a pale skim-milk blue ; but they are so encrusted with 
a dense chalky covering that they appear, excej)t where stained, to 
be pure white. They vary in size very considerably, but average 
about 3'(j X '23 inches. 

General Habits. — Although so common in many parts of India, 
Flamingoes are nowhere easy to get shots at, as they are extremely 
wary and cute birds. All over their habitat shyness seems to be 
their most prominent characteristic, and a close approach means the 
result of a stalk as carefully made as if the stalker were after the 
wildest kind of deer or antelope. A mistake made in attempting to 
conceal one's-self, and the whole flock rise gracefully into the air and 
remove themselves into safety. Typically their formation in flight is 
distinctly anserine, not perhaps exactly V-shape, but more in the form 
of a curved ribbon, the ends fluttering backwards and forwards as the 
birds, more especially those at the two extremes, alter their position. 
As a matter of fact, different writers have declared the bird's flight 
to vary very much. Some have said that in no respect does the 
flight of these birds resemble that of ducks or geese, but that, rising 
in one indiscriminate mass, they continue their flight as they rise ; 
others, on the other hand, say that the formation they assume is 
nearly as regularly V-shaped as that adopted by geese. Both 
accounts are doubtless right, and it seems probable that when 
flying for a short distance only they adopt no special mode of 



PHCENICOPTERUS ANTIQDORUM 7 

flight, whereas on migration, or when moving to any distance, 
their formation is much as ah'eady described. 

Flying or wading they are a lovely sight, and, often as they have 
been described, no one has yet been able to do justice to their beauty. 
In December, 1881, when passing through the Suez Canal, I observed 
more of these birds congregated together than I had ever considered 
possible, the banks in some places looking as if they were covered 
with a rosy snow, so densely were the birds packed. As the steamer 
gradually approached nearer and nearer, the snow melted on its 
outskirts into a crimson flame as the birds lifted their wings on 
taking flight, and in so doing exposed their scarlet coverts and 
axillaries. They made but little noise, the few calls that were heard 
being very similar to those of a wild goose, but not perhaps quite so 
discordant. 

Writing of these birds. Dr. Eagle Clarke ('Ibis,' 1895, p. 200), 
says : — 

" To ^Yitness the simultaneous unfolding of a thousand lovely 
crimson and black pinions under brilliant sunlight is a sight, the 
recollection of which will not readily be effaced from our memories. 
The flock did not run forward to rise on the wing, but we noticed 
that they deliberately turned and faced a gentle breeze that was 
blowing and rose with perfect ease. We several times noticed 
the whole herd on the wing, but in no instance was any particular 
formation maintained." 

They do not, however, at least in this country, always rise in 
the same manner, but both before rising and after alighting run 
forward some steps in a most ungainly manner. 

They generally leave Northern India in May or June, though 
they have been seen in July, and the first few birds return in the 
end of September. From Southern as well as from Eastern India 
they migrate a good deal earlier as a rule, but they have been 
recorded in Ceylon in May, and, as mentioned above, from Tuticorin 
in July. 

As might be expected from the very curious formation of the 
bill, their mode of feeding is rather remarkable. Bending down 
their long necks between their legs, and looking very much like 
bird acrobats preparing to stand on their heads, they invert their 
bills entirely, and use them as shovels in which to catch or collect 



8 INDIAN DUCKS 

their food. This they obtain by moving their heads backwards and 
forwards, or from side to side, an"d gently stirring up the mud. 
What they actually feed on is not at all well-known, and is one of 
the easy points still left for sportsmen to clear up, as it only means 
the examination of the internal economy of a few birds shot whilst 
they are in the act of feeding. We know that a considerable part 
of their diet is vegetable, but they are also in all probability far 
more given to animal food than has generally been believed to be the 
case. Dr. Eagle Clarke, in his interesting article already referred 
to, came to the conclusion that the Flamingoes inhabiting the Rhone 
Delta existed almost entirely, if not quite, on a tiny Phyllopod, the 
brine-shrimp (Artemia saliiia), which he states is found there in 
marvellous abundance. 

The value of the Flamingo when divested of its feathers and 
placed on the table has been variously estimated. Some have said 
that skinned and well-cooked it is equal to almost any duck in 
flavour, whilst, though few abuse it as fishy or nasty in any way, 
many have said and written that the flesh is black, flavourless, and 
stringy. Probably, as with so many true ducks, it depends greatly 
on the bird's diet and the length of time it has had to recover from 
its migratory flight. Doubtless birds just arrived, wanting food, 
and not very particular as to what they eat, are tough, and may 
acquire almost any taste. On the other hand, those that have had 
a good time to rest and gain flesh at the expense of muscle are 
tender, and those that have lived on a good diet are also well- 
flavoured. 



PHOENICONAIAS MINOR 



(2) PHCENICONAIAS MINOR. 
THE LESSER FLAMINGO. 

Phoenicopterus minor, Gcoffr. Bull. Soc. Philom. i, ii, p. 98, figs. 1-3 
(1798) ; Jcnl. Mad. Jour, xii, p. 217 (1840) : Bhjth. Cat. p. 299 (1819) ; 
ul. Ibis, 1867, p. 174; Jerd. Ibi.s, 1869, p. 231 (Delhi); Hume, ibid. 
p. 355; Hume, S. F. i, pp. 31, 258 (1872); Adavis, ibid. p. 400 
(1873) (Sambhur Lake) ; ib. ibid, ii, p. 339 (1874), (Sambhur) ; 
Hume, ibid, iv, p. 25 (1875) (N. Guzerat) ; Butler, ibid, v, p. 234 
(1872) (N. Guzerat) ; Hume, ibid, viii, p. 114 (1879) ; Butler, ibid. 
ix, p. 436 (1880) (Deccan) ; Legge, B. of C. p. 1093 (1880) (N.W. India) ; 
Hume, S. F. x, p. §13 (1887) (not breeding in India) ; Barnes, B. Bom. 
p. 393 (1885) ; Bethani, J. B. N. H. S. xii, p. 222 (1898) ; Blanford, 
Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 410 (1898) ; Rao Khcngarji, J. B. N. H. S. 
xix, p. 262 (1909) (Cutch). 

Phoenicopterus blythi, Bonap. Consp. Av. ii, p. 146 (1857). 

PhoBnicopterus roseus, Jerd. B. I. ill, p. 775 (1864) (part). 

PhcBnicopterus rubidus, Feildcn, Ibis, 1868, p. 496 ; Gray, Ibis, 1869, 
p. 442. 

Phoeniconaias minor, Salvad. Cat. Birds B. M. xxvii, p. 18 (1895) ; 
Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xi, p. 8 (1897) (full syn. descrip. &c.) ; 
Dates, Cat. Eggs B. M. ii, p. 137 (1902) ; Stuart Baker, Indian Ducks, 
p. 7 (1908) ; Fenton, J. B. N. H. S. xx, p. 221 (1910) (Kathiawar) ; 
Mosse, ibid. p. 518 (1910) (Kathiawar). 

Description. Adult Male. — General colour a bright pale-pink ; feathers 
at the base of the bill crimson ; the longest scapularies and median wing- 
coverts crimson, the latter edged paler ; other wing-coverts and the edges of 
the under wing-coverts rosy, the greater under wing-coverts and quills black ; 
axillaries crimson ; rectrices darker and with the outer webs tinged with 
crimson ; under tail-coverts subtipped with a tinge of crimson. Some old 
males, perhaps during the breeding-season only, have the feathers of the 
back with crimson shaft-stripes. 

Colours of soft parts. — Iris red minium ; bill dark lake-red, with the tip 
black; feet red (Antinori). 

Measurements. — Length 34 to 38 inches, wing 13 to 14, tail about 5, 
culmen 4 to 4"25, tarsus 7'5 to 8'25. 

Female. — Similar to the male, but smaller and paler, without the crimson 
scapularies, and with no crimson on the back or breast. 



10 INDIAN DUCKS 

Measurements.— Length about 32 to 34 inches, wing 12'2 to 13, tail about 
5 or less, culnien about 4, tarsus about 7-25. 

The Young appear to be very like that of I'lianicoplerus roseas, but with 
a more rosy and less brown or buB' tinge ; altogether brighter, paler birds. 

Distribution. — This bird is not spread over nearly so large an area 
as is the Common Flamingo. It appears to extend through South 
Africa on both coasts, but the extent of its range northwards on the 
West Coast is still doubtful. In the British Museum Catalogue, 
Salvador! marks its habitat Senegal with a " '?." In the east it is 
found on many parts of the coast as far north as Abyssinia, and also 
in Madagascar. From N.E. Africa it extends to N.W. India, where, 
however, it is not found far south or far into the interior, nor is it 
found anywhere towards the east. 

Nidification. — It has been recorded from various parts of India 
from the end of September up to the beginning of July, and cannot 
breed very far from our shores. In all probability most of the birds 
which visit us breed on the west coast of the Eed Sea, and if such 
is the case there would be nothing very remarkable in the shortness 
of the time elapsing between the departure of the last birds and the 
arrival of the earliest ones in the following September and October. 

It is, however, also just possible that the Lesser Flamingo may 
actually breed with us, as General Betham in 1899 obtained in 
Baroda eggs which I think were certainly those of a flamingo, and 
probably those of the smaller species. Captain Cox, who took the 
eggs, wrote : " Found at Badalpur, on the north bank of the Mahi at 
its mouth. No nest. Eggs deposited on a mound or small island in 
brackish water. Anothor clutch of six existed, but were taken 
by Muggurs." 

These eggs were, if I remember rightly, sent to me to look at, 
and differed from other flamingoes' eggs in having practically none 
of the chalky covering such as is usually found on these. 

The only note besides Betham's I can find regarding the nidifica- 
tion of this flamingo is that made in the ' Journal of the B.N.H.S.' 
by the late E. Barnes, who says that he obtained an egg from a 
fisherman, who found it on a sand-bank in the Indus. This egg, 
from its very small size, he believed to have belonged to the present 



PHCENICONAIAS MINOR 11 

species, and he adds that he examined the huge series of flamingo 
eggs in the Frere Hall Museum, Karachi, but failed to detect any 
so small. There is no reason why the egg should not belong to P. 
minor, and Barnes was so careful in the statements he made, that 
this egg is more likely to belong to that bird than to P. roseus. 

General Habits. — It seems likely that none of the various species 
of flamingoes migrate to any great distance, and some, as we know, 
are practically permanent residents in the countries they inhabit. 
In Vol. vi. of ' Stray Feathers ' Hume has the following note on 
this beautiful bird : — 

" We know but little yet of this species. I ascertained that it 
occurred in Scind in the early part of the hot weather. Captain 
Feilden shot it in July in Secunderabad. It has been seen on the 
great Majuffgarh Jheel, twenty miles north of Delhi, during the cold 
season ; and Mr. Adams has given us full accounts of its occurrence 
in great numbers, but irregularly, at the Sambhar Lake. We have 
no record of its occurrence in any other part of Jodhpore, or in 
Kutch, or in Kathiawar." 

In habits, the Lesser Flamingo seems to differ in no way from 
its larger cousin, and is just as wary a bird as the latter. It is on 
the Sambhar Lake alone, perhaps, that it has, as a species by itself, 
been observed in any number in India. There it was found to be 
an extremely wide-awake bird. Even in the middle of the day it 
rested well away from all cover, and was most difficult of approach. 
It feeds in the manner usual to the genus — that is to say, in groups, 
the formation of which is generally a long line. This line slowly 
advances through the shallow water, the long necks of the birds 
covering a radius of some two feet or so, as heads downwards they 
shovel and rake about in all directions in search of food. 



12 INDIAN DUCKS 



Suborder ANSEKES. 
Family ANATID.E. 

Key to SuhfaDillles. 

A. Hind-toe not lobed. 

a. Neck as long as, or longer than, the body . . 1. Cygnin.E. 

h. Nook not as long as body. 

a . Hind-toe rather long, tail-feathers rather long. 

Upper parts glossy 2. Plectkoptkrin.!;. 

b' . Hind-toe moderate, tail-feathers rather short. 

Upper parts not glossy. No cere ... 3. Anserin^e. 

B. Hind-toe very narrowly lobed. 

c. Bill short and goose-like 4. Chenonettin^E. 

(/. Bill rather flat and broad 5. ANATIN.E. 

C. Hind-toe broadly lobed. 

c. Bill more or less depressed. 

c . Tail-feathers normal 6. FULIGULIN^. 

(V . Tail-feathers narrow and very stiff ... 7. OxYURlNvE. 

/. Bill more or less compressed, never depressed . 8. Merging. 



CYGNIN^ 13 



Subfamily CYGNINiE. 

This subfamily contains but one genus {Cijgnus) which is repre- 
sented in India, the other two genera, Chenopis and Coscoroha, being 
confined to Australia and South America respectively. 

The swans are so easily identified by the veriest beginner, that 
it is not necessary to add anything to the above key, though there 
are a good many other distinctions they possess, besides the one 
named, interesting only from a scientific point of view. 

In 1897, when I was writing a series of articles on 'Indian Ducks 
and their Allies,' it was very doubtful what species of swans had been 
obtained in India; but I then accepted records of Cijgnus musictis 
[Cijgnus cijgnus), C. hewickl and C. olor. Of these, however, the 
second had to be eliminated, as Blanford showed that the head and 
feet, hitherto supposed to have belonged to this species, were really 
those of C. cijgnus. Ten years later, in 1908, when these articles to 
which I refer appeared in book-form, there were, therefore, only two 
species of swans, i.e., cijgnus and olor, the Whooper and the Mute 
Swan, which had been authenticated as having occurred in India. 
Since then a great deal more information has been obtained on the 
occurrence of swans in that country and, in addition to this, 
Alpheraky has described a new eastern form under the name 
jankowskii ; it seems, therefore, desirable to again examine the 
question of what swans have occurred in India, and at the same 
time it may be useful to summarise all information up to date and 
give a key to the species. The correct name for Cggmis inusicus is 
Cijgnus cijgnus, and will be used hereafter in this article. 

Oberholser, in a synopsis of the genera and species of Cijgninse 
which appeared in the 'Emu,' divided the swans into different genera, 
and if we follow him our Indian swan visitors would have to be 
divided into two, Cijgnus representing those swans possessing a knob 
on the bill and Olor those without. As such a division helps neither 
the student nor the sportsman to distinguish the swans from one 
another, it appears unnecessary to follow him, and I therefore retain 
but the one genus, Cijgnus. 



14 INDIAN DUCKS 



Key to the Species. 

A. Lores and triangular patch between forehead and gape 

yellow or orange-yellow, never black. No knob at base 
of bill. 

a. Yellow on bill extending right up to the nostril and 

sometimes still further towards tip of bill cygmis. 

b. Yellow never reaching to nostril and generally confined 

to somewhat circular patch on base. 

a . Bill longer, broader but less high at the base in com- 
parison. Sen-ations hardly visible on bill when 
closed minor. 

h' . Bill shorter, not so broad but comparatively high at 
base. Serrations visible along nearly whole length 
of bill when closed hetvicki. 

B. Lores and triangular patch black. A knob at base of l.)ill 

in adults olor. 



Plate 1. 







I BEWICK'S SWAN. C. bewicki. 

2. ALPHERAKYS SWAN. C. minor. 

3. THE WHOOPER. C. cygnus. 

C. olor. 



4 THE MUTE SWAN. 



nat srzp. 



CYGNUS CYGNUS 15 



(3) CYGNUS CYGNUS. 
THE WHOOPEE. 

Anas cygnus, Linn. S. N. ed. 10, i, p. 122 (1758) (Sweden) ; ibid i, 

p. 191 (1766) ; Lath. Inch Orn. ii, p. 893 (1790). 
Cygnus ferus, Briss. Orn. vi, p. 292, pi. 28 (1760). 
Cygnus musicus, Bechst. Gem. Naturg. Vog. Dcutsch. iii, (?) iv, p. 830, 

pi. 35 (1809) (Thuringia) ; G. E. Gray, Cat. M. £ B. Nep. Pres. 

1846, p. 144; Brooks, P. A. S. B. 1872, p. 63; Hume, S. F. vii, 

pp. 106, 107, 464; viii, p. 114; id. Cat. No. 944, quat. ; Hume & 

Marsh. Game-B. Lid. iii, p. 47, pi. (1880); Salvador), Cat. B. M. 

xxvii, p. 27 (1895) ; Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xl, p. 2 (1897) ; 

Blanford, ibid. p. 306 (1898) ; id. Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 414 (1898) ; 

Aitken, J. B. N. H. S. xiii, p. 362 ; Dates, Man. Game-B. ii, p. 35 

(1899) ; Crerar, J. B. N. H. S. xv, p. 716 (1903) ; Cummmg, ibid. 

xvi, p. 697; Makin, Ibis, 1906, p. 398; .innandale, ibid. p. 612; 

BiUurlin, ibid. p. 737 ; Thomson, ibid. 1907, p. 511 (Seisfcan) ; 

Buturlin, ibid. p. 651 : Stuart Baker, Lidian Ducks, p. 12, pi. 1, 

fig. 1 (1908) ; id. J. B. N. H. S. xviii, p. 754 (1908) ; Osborn, ibid. 

xix, p. 263 (1909) (Hoshiarpur Dist.) ; Millard, ibid, xx, p. 1181 

(1911) (Soham E., Punjab) ; Kinnear, id. ibid. p. 1184 (Nowshera) ; 

Stuart Baker, ibid, xxi, p. 274 (1911) (Kabul E.) ; Meinertzhagen, 

Ibis, 1920, p. 181 (Quetta). 
Cygnus bewicki, Hume d- Marsh. Game-B. Lid. iii, p. 51 (in err.) (1880) ; 

Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xi, p. 14 (in err.) 1897; Salvadori, 

Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 29 (1895), part, specimen " m." 

Cygnus cygnus, Sharpe, Hand-L. i, p. 207 (1899) ; Stuart Baker, 

J. B. N. H. S. xxiii, p. 455, pi. fig. 3 (1915). 
Olor cygnus, Oberholser, Emu, viii, p. 6 (1908). 

Description. — Cygnus cygnus can be discriminated from the other swans 
which have yellow lores, by its much greater size when adult, the wing 
being never under 22'5 inches ( = 570 mm.) and generally a good deal more. 
The bill is not only actually, but also comparatively longer in adult birds, 
being very seldom as little as 3"9 ( = 100 mm.) and generally well over 4 
( = 102 mm.) In shape also it differs greatly, the upper outline running 
almost straight from the tip to the base at forehead, where it is, compara- 
tively, not nearly so deep as in bewicki. In colouration the yellow on the 
base of the bill in the " Whooper " extends right down to the upper corner 
of the nostril and often beyond this ; the outline between the yellow and 



16 INDIAN DUCKS 

black is generally very ragged, the colours running into one another, though 
not fusing into an intermediate tint. _ 

The serrations in the upper mandible in the closed bill are not visible 
when looked at from the side. 

Adult Male and Female. — Pure white, rarely showing a slight rufous- 
grey wash on the feathers of the head ; this is probably due to immaturity. 

Young. — Wholly a light brownish-grey. 

Nestling'. — White down. 

Measurements. Adult Male. — Length GO inches, expanse 95, wing 2575, 
tail 7'5, bill along culmen (including bare sjiace on forehead) 4;'5, from tip to 
eye 5'IG, tarsus I'lG. Weight 19 lbs. {Hume). Total length about 5 feet, 
wing 25'5 inches, tail 8"5, culmen 4'2, tarsus 4'2. {Salvadori). 

Female. — Length 52 inches, expanse 85, wing 23"5, tail 7'5, bill as above 
4'5, to eye 4'84, tarsus 4. Weight IG'5 lbs. (Iliimc). 

A young bird killed in Marcli (in India'.') measured 44 inches in lengtli 
and weighed 8'25 lbs. (Hume). 

The young have the bill a dull flesh-colour, with the tip and margins 
black, which extends with advancing age until it leaves only an orange band 
across the nostrils, and the bases of both mandibles very pale yellowish- 
green or greenish-white. In the adult bird the bill has the terminal half 
black, the base and margins of the maxilla yellow. 

Legs, toes and webs black ; irides deep hazel. 

Distribution. — The whole of northern Europe and Africa, extending 
to Japan and Greenland. Burturlin gives its most northern breeding- 
place as Verkhore-Kolymsk, 65° 4 J N.; south, it extends in winter to 
southern Europe, Asia Minor, Persia, India and China. 

Occurrences in India. — (1) Head and feet now in the British 
Museum, obtained in Nepal by Hodgson, 1829. (2) Head and feet 
in the Bombay Natural History Society's Museum, shot by General 
Osborn on the Beas river, Punjab, 6th January, 1900. (3) A skin 
in the same museum presented by Mr. J. Crerar, and shot by him in 
Larkhana district, Sind, on the 31st January, 1904. (4 & 5) Two 
heads in the Bombay Museum presented by Colonel Magrath and 
shot by Mr. M. Donlea out of a herd of seven, on the 10th December, 
1910, near Dera Momin, on the Kabul river. 

In reference to General Osborn's specimen he writes : — 

" While duck-shooting with a friend on the Eiver Beas on the 
6th January last, at a point just opposite Tulwara in the Hushiapur 
district, we saw four wild Swans on the opposite side of the river. 
As there was no means of crossing, and the Swans were too far and 



CTGNTJS CYGNUS 17 

too wary to be reached even by my four-bore duck-gun, we sent back 
to camp for our '303 rifies, and with these weapons we managed to 
secure one of the four. When we recovered the bird we found it to 
be undoubtedly a ' Whooper ' {Cijgnus musicus), and its weight and 
measurements were as follows : Weight 21 lbs., length from tip of 
bill to end of tail 4 feet SJ inches, spread of wing 7 feet 5 inches. 

" The bird was only winged and swam about in the river for a 
considerable time before I could get a man to secure it, and as long 
as its companions remained in sight it continued to utter its long, 
loud, musical trumpet-call." 

Nidification.- — In Iceland this was the only species of swan 
observed by Messrs. H. J. and C. E. Pearson, and in the ' Ibis ' 
(1895, p. 243) they have the following note : — 

" Eggs were taken on .June 20th and 28th, but the weather 
among the hills had been so bad this spring that several pairs were 
only commencing to prepare their nests about the latter date. We 
afterwards saw a clutch of seven eggs, which had been recently 
taken. Although these birds sometimes breed on islands in the 
inhabited districts, it is little use to look for their eggs before you 
pass the ' last farm,' as they are generally taken either to eat or 
sell." 

They also breed, but not, I believe, in great numbers, in South 
Greenland and in the north of Europe, and in Asia as far south 
as they are allowed by humanity — which is, of course, equivalent to 
slaughter. 

All swans seem to have the same breeding-habits. They make 
huge nests of rushes, grass, and any other vegetable material which 
is soft enough and easily moved ; the preference naturally being 
given to such as is most handy. These are placed on the borders of 
marshes and swamps, often on islands situated in such places, some- 
times actually in shallow water. More rarely they are placed by 
rivers, either up on the banks removed from the river itself, or in 
amongst the rank herbage bordering its course. When the nests are 
placed actually in water, the swans are said to raise them when it 
happens to rise and threatens to swamp them ; and as tame swans 
do this, it is in all probability true that the wild ones do also. They 
lay from four to eight eggs, but in captivity often lay a larger number 
still. I have known a tame duck-swan lay fourteen eggs in a sitting. 
According to Morris, the smaller number of eggs laid are generally 
2 



18 INDIAN DUCKS 

those of young birds, whilst the greater number of eggs are laid by 
those fully adult. I should think, however, judging by analogy, that 
though birds of the first season may lay fewer eggs than is normal, 
it is, on the other hand, almost certain that very old birds lay but 
small clutches. 

Their breeding-season naturally varies very much according to 
the country they breed in. In the warmer — less cold, would, per- 
haps, be a more correct expression — countries they commence 
breeding in May, but in Iceland, Greenland, etc., they are normally 
at least a month later, and August even may still find some of the 
latest birds laying. 

Incubation lasts from thirty-five to forty days, thirty-seven being 
the most usual number of days for a swan to sit, though eggs of the 
same clutch may vary considerably in this respect. 

Swans are very good parents, and look after their young with the 
greatest care, the duck-bird often carrying her young ones about on 
her back whenever they want a rest. 

General Habits. — In the ' Asian ' of the 5th March, the following 
curious note was published ; and from the habitat of the swans 
mentioned, concerning which the note was written, it probably 
relates to C. musicns : — 

" A Scandinavian writer, cited Ijy the ' Zoologist,' has recently 
described a curious method of capturing swans much employed for 
centuries past in the North-west of Iceland. ' The swans, after 
moulting in autumn, leave the interior in order to reach the coast. 
The inhabitants of the coast and their dogs are prepared, and, when 
the birds approach, begin to make as much noise as they can by 
shouting, striking boards with stones, and making as much of a 
racket as possible. This noise has a powerful effect on the young 
swans, whicli, terrified and distracted, and not knowing which way 
to turn their heads, allow themselves to fall to the ground, when 
they are captured without any difliculty.' Fear is likewise exploited 
in South America for the capturing of another species of swan by 
the Guachos, ' who, when they perceive a flock, run towards it, 
keeping themselves leeward to the wind, and concealing themselves. 
When they get close enough to the flock they spur up their horses 
and rush upon the birds with loud shouts. The swans, seized with 
fear, are unable to take flight, and allow themselves to be seized 
and slaughtered upon the spot.' " 



CYGNUS CTGNUS 19 

In spite of the beautiful novelty of this way of catching swans, 
Indian sportsmen had better keep to that dear old-fashioned weapon, 
the " D.B." breechloader, and leave the attempt to put salt on the 
ducks' tails to Guachos, who can " run towards " a flock on horse- 
back by " keeping leeward to the wind " and then " spurring up their 
horses," or to Icelanders, who are sufficiently distracting in their 
ways to confuse even the wily swan. 

The Whooper has not nearly as stately or as graceful a carriage 
as the Common Swan, holding its neck in a much stiffer and more 
erect position than does that bird, which, of course, gives it a more 
jerky carriage when swimming. This trait may prove of use to the 
future sportsman or ornithologist, who sees swans at too great a 
distance to examine their bills, and thus ascertain to which particular 
species they belong. 



INDIAN nUCKS 



(4) CYGNUS BEWICKI. 
BE^YICK■S SWAN. 

Cyg'iius bewicki, Yarrcll, Trans. L. S. xvl, p. 453 (1830) (Yarmouth, 
England) ; Hume, S. F. vii, pp. 107 and 464 (1878) ; Hnme & Marsh. 
Game-B. iii, p. 51 (part), plate (1880) ; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, 
p. 291 (1895) ; Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xi, p. 14 (1897) ; 
Blanford, ibid. p. 306 ; Shariie, Hand-L. 1, p. 207 (1899) ; Oates, 
Man. Game-B. ii, p. 36 (1899) ; Buturlin, Ibis, 1907, p. 651 ; Stnart 
Baker. Indian Ducks, p. 12, 1908, ul. J. B. N. H. S. xviii, pp. 754-8 
(1908) ; id. ibid, xxi, p. 273 ; Meincrtzhagen, ibid, xxiv, p. 167 ; 
Stuart Baker, ibid, x.xiii, p. 456 (1915). 

Cygnus minor, Eetjscrling d- Blasivs, WirbeUhiere, pp. 6, xxxii, and 
" 222 (1840) ; Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xi, pi. 1 (1897). 

Description. — Of the Swans with the yellow lores, Bewick's Swan is 
the smallest, seldom having a wing exceeding 21 inches ; indeed, Buturlin 
gives the greatest measurement ot any bird measured by him as 20 inches 
(520 mm.) The bill is strikingly shorter than that of cijgnus, being seldom, 
if ever, over 3'75 inches (94'2 mm.), whilst it is, on the other hand, com- 
paratively much deeper at the base, measuring up to 172 inches (43'6 mm.), 
the diminution in depth, from forehead to tip, is also much more abrupt, 
so that the upper outline presents a concave appearance. The serrations 
of the upper mandible in the closed bill are visible over about two-thirds 
of the total length of the bill. In colouration the yellow is restricted to a 
portion of the base above, never touching the nostril, and is nearly always 
well defined from the black in a clean, curved line enclosing the higher 
extremity of the hollow in which the nostril is placed, and thence extending 
back along the margin of the upper bill to the gape. The feet also are 
much smaller, the tarsus generally being less than 3'80 inches (96'5 mm.) 
whereas in musicus it is generally over 4'2 inches (106'7 mm.), and 
Buturlin gives the smallest of his series of the latter bird as 4'4 inches 
(115 mm.). 

Distribution. — Over Northern Europe and Asia as far east as the 
Lena Delta, extending in some numbers as far west as Great Britain, 
in winter it extends south into Central Europe and South Russia 
as far as the Caspian, and in Asia as far south as Persia, northern 



CYGNUS BEWICKI '21 

India and central West China. The records of its appearance in 
South-east China and Japan probably generally refer to the next bird, 
minor (janhoivshii) . 

Occurrences in India. — (1) Skin now in Bombay Natural History 
Society's Museum obtained by Mr. B. L. McCulloch of the Indian 
police at Jacobabad in Sind, on the '2nd December 1907. (2) A 
skin of a female in the same museum shot by Major P. C. Elliot- 
Lockhart near Mardan, on the North-west Frontier, on the 30th 
December, 1910. 



22 INDIAN DUCKS 



(5) CYGNUS MINOR. 
ALPHBEAKY'S SWAN. 

Cyguus minor, Eci/serUmi (f Bias. Wirbclthieir, pp. Ixxxii, 222 (1840) 

(Selenga River, Transbaikalia). 
Cygnus bewicki jankowskii, Alphemhy, Priodai Okhata {Nalui-e and 

SiJort), Russia, September 10, 1904 (Ussuri-land) ; Jourdain, Bull. 

B.O.C. xxvii, p. 55. 
Cygnus jankowskii, Buturlin. Ibis, 1907, p. G51 ; Stuart Baker, 

J. B. N. H. S. xxiiii, p. 457 (1915). 
Olor bewicki minor, Ohcrlioher, Emu, viii, p. 5 (1908). 

Description.— Buturlin (in loc. cit.) writes :— 

" It is altogether larger than C. bcjricki, while the yellow of the 
bill is somewhat more developed, but the best diagnostic character 
is its much broader bill. Fully adult examples of C. bewicki have 
the maximum breadth of the bill 28 to 30'5 mm., exceptionally 
reaching to 31 mm., but then this specimen has the bill from the 
eye 122 mm. long." 

The breadth of the bill is a good character generally, but as a maitfcer of 
fact, the type of bewicki in the British Museum has the bill at its broadest 
part no less than 32 mm. wide, and another bird obtained by Yarrell at the 
same time has it 31'7 mm. As will be seen, however, from Gronvold's 
excellent plate, the shape of the bill is different from that of beu:icki, although 
the distribution of colour is the same. The upper margin of the bill in 
minor is almost as straight as it is in Cijonus cygnus, and does not show a 
concave line as in bcivicki ; the bill is also much longer in proportion to the 
depth and the serrations in the closed bill show for three or four of their 
number. The yellow also appears to be considerably darker and more 
orange in tint than it is in either cygnus or bcivicki. In the only specimens 
I have seen it is also noticeable that the black runs as a narrow lino round 
the forehead. 

Alph6raky treats this Swan as a subspecies of Bewick's Swan, but I 
see no reason why we should not give it full rank as a species. Buturlin 
obtained a large series and in the Lena Delta the two birds were actually 
breeding in the same area, yet here they acquire not an intermediate form 
as we should expect, but are all individually referable to either Alpheraky's 
or Bewick's Swans. Nor does Buturlin say anything to show that he 
found individuals of the two forms pairing together. 



CYGNUS MINOR 23 

Undoubtedly some lai-ge hewlcki are as l)ig as small minor, but even 
these appear to i)0 distinctly refcralile in other respects to one or the 
other form. 

Distribution. — " Breeds in the tundras of eastern Siberia from the 
Lena Delta eastward." "During migration it is met with as far 
west as Dzungaria '■ (Buturlin). It extends south during winter 
into Central Asia, and, as above, into India and China, whence I 
have seen a skin collected by La Touche. Probably the majority of 
reported occurrences of hcwicJa in China and Japan should refer to 
this species. A swan seen by Major Harington near Maymyo, in 
the Shan States, may have been of this species. 

Occurrences in India. — (1) A skin in the Bombay Natural History 
Society's Museum shot by Mr. Hornsby, on the 2nd January, 1911, 
at Tubi, Campbellpur. The orange tint in the bill of this bird was 
very distinct when it was first seen by me in August, 1911. 



24 INDIAN DUCKS 



(6) CYGNUS OLOR. 

THE MUTE SWAN. 

Alias olor, a-mel. Si/st. Nat. i, pfc. 2, p. 502 (1788) ; Latham, Ind. Urn. 
ii, p. 834 (1790). 

Cyg-nus olor, VieiU. Notiv. Diet. d'Uist. Nat. ix, p. 37 (1817) ; Scullij' 
S. F. iv, p. 197 (1876) ; Blanforcl, S. F. vii, pp. 99, 100, 101 (1878) ; 
Hiiinr, S. F. vii, pp. 101, 106 (1878) ; /</. P. A. S. B. (1878), p. 138; 
Hume <C Marsh. Game-B. In/], iii, p. 41, pi. (1880) ; Salvador!, 
Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 35 (1895) ; Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xi, 
p. 16, plate (1897): Sliarpe, Hand-L. i, p. 209 (1899); Cummimi, 
J. B. N. II. S. xvi, p. 697 ; Oatcs, Man. Garne-B. ii, p. 26 (1899) ; 
Sleenhoff, J. B. N. II. .S. xx, p. 1155 (1911) (Mekran) ; Eadclife, ibid. 
xxiv, p. 167 (1915) ; Stuart Baker, iliid. xxiii, p. 458 (1915) 
(Beluchistan) ; Mayrath, ibid. p. 601 (1916) (Kohat). 

Cygnus unwini, Hime, Ibi% 1871, p. 413 ; Blanford, S. F. vii, p. 100 
(1878) ; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 104 (1878). 

Cygnus sibilus, Hume, S. F. vii, p. 105 (1878). 

Cygnus altumi, Homeyer, Hume, S. F. \ii, p. 105 (1878). 

Cygnus sp. Blanford, S. F. vii, p. 100 (1878) ; Hume, ibid, vii, p. 104 
(1878). 

Description. Adult Male. — The whole plumage white, with the exception 
of the loves, which are black. Bill, the tubercle, base of maxilla, nostrils, 
margins, and nails black, remainder of maxilla reddish-horny, mandible 
wholly black, legs and feet dull black, irides rich brown. 

Measurements.— Total length from 4 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 2 inches, 
wing 23 to 27 inches, tail about 10, culmen 4'2, tarsus about 4'5, but 
varying very much. 

Weight about 15 to 20 lbs., in a wild state rarely running up to 24 or 25 
lbs., in a tame state birds of 30 lbs. may be met with, and heavier birds 
even than this have been recorded. 

Female. — Smaller than the male, and with the tubercle at the base of 
the bill less developed. The neck is also more developed and the bird 
" swims deeper in the water " (Hume). In the majority of the birds of 
this order the duck swims deeper than the drake, the reason of this being 
the different anatomical structure of the sexes. 

' " I am not certain that I have identified the species. No spccuuen was 
pi'eserved." — J. S. 



CYGNUS OLOR 25 

Measurements — Length 4 feet 2 inches to 4 feet 8 inches, wing 18 to 
22 inches, tail under 10, culmen about 4, tarsus about 4'3. 

Young. — " Phimage almost a sooty-grey, neck and under surface of the 
body lighter in colour, beak lead-colour, nostrils and the basal marginal line 
black." (Salvadori.) 

Cygnet. — "Covered with soft brownish or dull ashy-grey down, which 
on the lower throat and breast becomea much paler, almost white, bill and 
legs lead-grey." (Salvadori.) 

In India the specimens of the Mute Swan obtained are nearly all young 
ones, and these have the tubercle on the liill very slightly or not at all 
developed, but the feathers of the forehead at the base of the bill are 
prolonged to a point " slightly truncated." {Hume.) 

When adult this swan can always be distinguished at a glance by 
the knob at the base of tlie bill, but at all ages it can be determined by 
the black lores. 

Distribution. — The range of this bird does not seem to be nearly 
as extensive as that of the Whooper and Cijgnus bewicki, that is 
to say in a truly feral state. As a domestic bird it is, of course, 
almost cosmopolitan. In the summer, in its wild state, it is said to 
be found throughout the central and south-eastern parts of Europe ; 
but it is more rare in the north, and is practically absent from the 
extreme north and the west. It has only twice been recorded from 
Heligoland, once in 1881, and once many years previous to that, both 
times in the winter. It extends throughout Prussia and Eussia. 
Writing of Eastern Prussia, Hartert says : " C. olor breeds in small 
numbers in some of the greater lakes." Breeding-places are recorded 
in West Turkestan and Siberia, and also in Denmark, Norway and 
Sweden, and I believe in Greece and parts of the valley of the 
Danube. In Asia it is found in West Siberia and adjoining countries. 
In winter it extends its range to Northern Africa, but does not 
seem to work far to the west, through Egypt, Arabia, Asia Minor, 
and frequently into Afghanistan. North-west India is, however, the 
extreme south-east point to which it has penetrated, not being on 
record as yet as having been obtained in China and further east. 

Occurrences in India. — (1) Skin in British Museum, shot by W. 
Mahomed Umar, January, 1857, in the Shah Alum Eiver, Punjab. 

(2) Two young birds shot by Captain Unwin on the Jubee 
Stream, North-west Provinces, January, 1871. Skins in the British 
Museum. 



26 INDIAN DUCKS 

(H) Three birds, the skin of one of which is in the British 
Museum, shot by Mr. E. H. WatsQn in the Hewan district of Hind, 
on tlie 12th February, 1H78. The same year many more were seen, 
and in five cases a pair was shot, but no skins preserved. In June 
of the same year, out of a herd of these birds, one was shot by Major 
Waterfield and one by Mr. D. B. Sinclair, and on the 7th July the 
latter gentleman saw another Swan in the Julabad Jheel, near 
Peshawar. 

(4) In 1900 Mr. Jones of the Indo-European Telegraph 
Company shot two Swans out of a herd of nine on January 10th. 

(5) In the Karachi Museum there is the skin of a bird which 
was captured by Mr. Gumming, plate-layer, after it had injured 
itself against a telegraph-wire. This was on the 18th January, 
1900, and the bird formed one of a herd of eight. 

(6) Two Swans were captured in nets by natives on the 6th 
February, 1900, at Sita Road Station. 

(7) At Boston on the Beluchistan Frontier four Swans were shot 
by Mr. Matthews, plate-layer, early in February, 1900. 

(8) In the same year Mr. J. Crerar, I.C.S., shot one about the 
middle of March on the Manchur Lake, Sind. 

(9) At the end of March the same year ten Swans were seen and 
repeatedly fired at by Mr. Vivien on the Laki Lake. 

(10) On the '27th April, 1900, a Swan was shot by Mr. Wragge, 
plate-layer, at Metong, about 12 miles from the Indus. 

(11) In the same year Major-Geueral Egerton saw a herd of 
Swans at Kandian on the Indus. 

(12) In the end of March, 1910, Captain H. O'Brien obtained one 
at Nowshera. 

(13) Mr. P. Lord shot one on the River Sohan, Punjab, on the 
2()th January, 1911. 

(14) In 1911, on 6th February, Mr. L. C. Glascock shot one near 
Lahore. 

Nidification. — This Swan is said to breed gregariously, so it is to 
be presumed that it is not so pugnacious a bird in its feral as in its 
domestic state. Certain birds which belonged to Shakespeare's birth- 
place used to breed every year on the River Avon ; but these showed 
the keenest jealousy of one another, and no approach of any strange 



CYGNUS OLOR 27 

Swan was allowed within 200 yards of the nest by the owners 
thereof. It must be added that their ire was roused as much by the 
advent of humanity as by that of tlieir own kind. Boats were always 
greeted by the most warlike demonstrations and canoes not unfre- 
quently upset, their occupants being more or less damaged by the 
furious birds, which made for them in the water, attempting to beat 
them under with their wings. These Swans, like most others of the 
species, generally chose small islands well covered with bushes and 
rushes as sites for their nests — most often selecting a mass of rushes 
close to the river's edge in which to place them. Now and then, but 
not often, one might be found well inland amongst the bushes. The 
site taken up by the birds was not always above flood-level, and 
whenever the river rose they were forced to add largely both to the 
height and bulk of the nest, in order that the water should not wash 
away the eggs. They appeared to have no difficulty in working the 
materials under their eggs, nor have I ever heard of their upset- 
ting them when so employed. Occasionally, however, when much 
frightened, or when rushing to repel an enemy, they sweep an egg 
or two into the water. They sometimes make use of an immense 
amount of material in constructing their nests, and one such — in the 
Avon above-mentioned — must have contained a couple of cart-loads 
of weeds. What it was like originally I do not know, but when 
I first saw it, after a small flood, the diameter of the base must have 
been ten or twelve feet, and it was close on six feet high. 



28 INDIAN DUCKS 



Subfamily PLECTKOPTERINzE. 

Kcji f(i Gcnirii. 

A. A large tleshy comb at the liase of the culmen in 

the male 1. Saicidiomis. 

B. No comb at the base of the culmen. 

(('. Bill in length at least equal to double the breadth 
at base. 

((". Outline ot loreal feathering at the base of the 

bill with the convexity anteriorly .... 2. Asarconiis. 

h" . Outline of loreal feathering straight and inclined 

backwards 3. EJiodoncssa. 

b'. Bill not so long as double the breadth at base : 

head not crested 4. Nettoims. 

a". Head crested 5. ^x. 

Another key is as follows, and this may prove simpler to 
sportsmen : — 

A. Wing over 10 inches. 

a' . Head principally black and white. 

(/'. Comb at base of bill 1. Sarcidiornis S . 

h" . No comb at base of bill. 

ft'". Upper back black ; lower plumage nearly 

white Sarcidiornis S" . 

b'" . Upper back olive-brown ; lower plumage 

chestnut-brown 2. Asarcorms. 

h' . Head pink ; In-ight in J , dull in + 3. Bhodonessa. 

B. Wing under 9 inches. 

(■' . Primaries not edged with silver-grey 4. Netlopiis. 

d'. Primaries edged with silver-grey 5. j3Sx. 

As already enumerated, the distinguishing features of this sub- 
family are : Rather long hind-toe, not lobed ; a neck shorter than the 



PLECTROPTERIN.E 29 

body ; and especially in the male, more or less glossy upper plumage 
combined with comparatively long tail-feathers. 

In India five genera are represented, although each by a single 
species only. Indeed two of the five genera possess but one species, 
and are peculiar to India and adjacent countries, these two being 
Asarcorni.'^ and Bhodoiicssa. 



30 INDIAN DUCKS 



Genns SAECIDIOENIS. 

This genus is separated from the other Indian genera by the 
presence of a spur on the shoulders of the wing. This feature was 
formerly considered of sufficient importance to constitute as a sub- 
family by themselves such birds as possessed it, and the Plectrop- 
terinae, are designated by Jerdon " Spurred Geese." Later systemat- 
ists have added others to this subfamily, which now contains eight 
genera, many of which are not spurred. 



(7) SARCIDIORNIS MELANOTA. 

THE NLIKHTA OR COMB-DUCK. 

Anser melanotus, Pcnn. Iml. Zool. p. 12, pi. 12 (1769). 

Sarkidiornis melanotus, Jcidoii, B. of I. iii, p. 785 ; Hume, Nests and 

Eggs, p. 636 ; Butler (('■ Hume, S. F. iv, p. 27 ; Hume (f Davis, ibid. 

V, p. 486 ; Hume, ibid, vii, p. 507. 
Sarcidiornis melanotus, Hume, S. F. vii, p. 491 ; id. ibid, viii, p. 114 ; 

/(/. Cat. No. 950 ; Huvic d- Marsh. Game-B. iii, p. 92 ; Parker, S. F. 

ix, p. 486 ; Leggc, B. of C. p. 1063 ; Oates, S. F. x, p. 245 ; Hume, 

Nests ct Eggs (Gates' Edit.), iii, p. 282 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. v. 396; 

Young, J. B. N. H. S. xi, p. 572 ; Sewell, ibid. p. 547 ; Aithen, ibid. 

p. 552 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 102 ; Blanford, Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 423. 
Sarcidiornis melanonota, Oates, B. of B. B. ii, p. 275; Salvadori, Cat. 

B. M., xxvii, p. 54 ; Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xi, p. 172 (1897) ; 

/,/. Indian Ducks, p. 23 (1908) ; Hopwood, J. B. N. H. S. xviii, p. 433 

(1908) (Chindwin) ; Harington, ibid, xix, p. 312 (1909) ; id. ibid. 

p. 366 ; King, ibid, xxi, p. 103 (1911) ; miHchead, ibid. p. 163 ; 

Webb, ibid. p. 685 (1912) ; Harington, ibid. p. 1088 ; Hopicood, ibid. 

p. 1220 ; Higgins, ibid, xxii, p. 399 (1913) ; Osmaston, ibid. p. 548 ; 

Stevens, ibid. p. 733 (1915) ; Gibson, ibid, xxv, p. 747 ; Dhar, ibid. 

xxvi, p. 842 (1919). 



1^ 




o 

Q 
I 

m 
S 
o 
o 

o 



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P .2 

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I- 



SARCIDIORNIS MELANOTA 



31 



Description. Adult Male. — Hecad and neck white, spotted witli metallic 
black feathers, coalescing more or less upon the crown, nape, and hind-neck; 
lower neck and whole lower plumage white, tinged sometimes with rufous- 
grey ; rest of upper plumage and wings black, glossed with green and blue, 
except on the secondaries, which are glossed with brown, and the scapularies, 
on which the gloss is purple ; tail brown ; sides of the body tinged with 
grey ; a black mark (almost a demi-coUar) on the sides of the neck, and 
another black band in front of the under tail-coverts descending from the 
rump. Lower back grey. 

Female. — Like the male, Imt smaller and duller ; head and neck more 
spotted with black, but the black less glossy in character, and the gloss on 
the upper parts also much less developed. Lower back, rump, and upper 
tail-coverts all grey. 

Young. — Like the female, but still more spotted about the head with a 
dull blackish-brown ; the black of the back and wings also is replaced by 
brown and they are without gloss. 

Nestling. — " Upper parts greyish-brown ; under parts greyish-white ; 
upper part of the head brown ; a whitish frontal band runs on each side of 
the head over the eyes : a white crescentic band bounds behind the brown 
colour of the upper part of the head ; a narrow brown band starts from the 
ear-coverts and reaches a brown band on the hind neck ; two white patches 
on the side of the back, at the base of the wings, and two others on the 
sides of the rump ; posterior edge of the wing whitish." (Salvadori .) 

" The young are dull earthy brown above and dirty white below." 
illume.) 

Colours of soft parts. — Iris dark-brown, that of the young is said to be 
even darker ; bill and comb black, legs and feet plumbeous. 

The female and young have no comb. 

Measurements. Male. — Length 28"5 (Huvic) to 34 inches (Jerdon) ; wing 
13'37 {Hume) to 16 {Jerdon) ; tail 5'25 to 6 ; bill from gape 2'5 to 275, at 
front 2'5 (Jerdon) ; comb 2 to 2"5 in the breeding season only ; tarsus 2'62 
(Hume) to 3 (Salvadori.) 

Female.— Length about 25 to 27 inches, wing 11 to 11'5 (Salvadori), 
12 to U (Jerdon.) 

Distribution. — The Nukhta is found throughout the Indian Con- 
tinent, though absent here and there where the country is unsuitable, 
but is certainly more abundant towards the west than in the east. 

Hume says : — 

" I do not know of its "occurrence in the Puujaub, Trans-Sutlej, 
or in Scind, except as a mere straggler to the eastern-most portions, 
I have no record of its appearance in Sylhet, Cachar, Tipperah, 
Cbittagong, or Arakan." 



82 INDIAN' DUCKS 

Again, in another place, he adds, when enumerating the places 
where it is to be found, " excluding, perhaps the Sunderbuns, Jessore, 
and one or two other of the deltaic districts." Of these places, 
several have now to be erased from the list of localities not inhabited 
by this bird. In the Punjab, as far as I can ascertain, it is un- 
doubtedly a rare visitor ; still it is found there, and is not so rare as 
Hume deemed it to be. Of its occurrence in the Trans-Sutlej, the 
following notes occur in ' Stray Feathers' (vol. x, No. .5, p. 430) : — 

" Although it (the Comb-Duck) certainlj' is nowhere common in 
this region, I know of its having been shot on more than one occasion 
in the Lahoi'e District, and, again, further south in the Baree Doab, 
but only in the rainy season, and always in the immediate vicinity 
of the canals. 

" I heard of a nest Iseing taken as far south as the Chauga Manga 
Plantation, but I am not sure of the fact. I have never heard or seen 
the bird AVest of Baree, but throughout the canal-irrigated portion 
of the Baree Doab, the whole tract Ijetween the Beas and the Sutlej, 
and the Baree, it certainly does occur, though very sparingly, during 
the rainy season." 

After this note, which is by G. Trevor, Hume goes on to quote 
the ' Asian ' on the subject to the following effect : — 

" I am happy to state that it not only occurs, but that it breeds 
in the Punjaub, Trans-Sutlej. A friend of mine, an engineer on the 
Baree Doab Canal, sent me a female Sarcidiornis for identification 
from Bhamlie, in the Lahore District. On opening the bird I found 
a perfectly formed egg ready to lie laid, and from other investigation 
it seemed clear (hat there was a nest in the vicinity. During the 
rains the neighbourhood of Bhamlie in one direction is fairly under 
water, and Canna brakes are very common, with patches of water 
between, and dotted here and there with large trees, just the place 
for the Nukhta. It was at one such place that my friend saw the 
pair often, and on the day he shot the female, had fired one or two 
shots unsuccessfully at her or the male ; but was rather surprised at 
the way in which both returned, wheeling round and round without 
going away any distance. As soon as the female was shot, the male 
went further off, and did not afford another shot : but the whole 
circumstances go far to prove that there must have been a nest at 
hand." 

It has also been recorded from Sind by Webb, McCulloch and 
Gibson, the two former obtaining specimens, as also did another 
gentleman shooting with Mr. Webb. 



SARCIPTORNIS MELANOTA 33 

In Cachar it is very rare, but 1 have seen it there, and in Sylhet, 
and again have had notice of its occurrence sent me from the North 
Looshai Hills. As regards the Sunderbands, Jessore was the district 
in which I first made the acquaintance of this species — a distant 
acquaintance only, it is true ; but in the next district (Khoolna) we 
came into closer contact with one another. Here a pair of Xukhtas 
formed a part of a bag of 140 couple of Duck and Teal got by my 
father, Mr. T. Wilcox, and myself, in the Moolna bhil, a vast extent 
of swamp and water, covering fully twenty square miles of the 
country. This was in the cold weather, the end of January, 1883. 
In Cachar, Sylhet. and Looshai, the birds remain all the year round 
and breed, as they do in most other parts of their habitat; but in 
the Sunderbands I should think they are very probably migrants, 
though I have no evidence on this point. 

In Burma, Oates reports them as common in Pegu, Hopwood 
records them as common in Aracan, and Harington also met with 
them in several districts. It is almost certain that they have been, 
or will be, recorded throughout that province, extending through the 
Indo-Burmese countries. 

Out of India their habitat may be described roughly as Africa 
south of the Sahara, and they are also found in Madagascar, though 
they do not seem particularly common there. Hume says that they 
do not ascend the hills, but in North Cachar and in Looshai they are, 
at all events, found up to about 2,000 feet, if not considerably higher. 
Mr. C. G. Scott, an engineer on the Assam-Bengal railway, told me 
that once late in April one of these birds flew quite close to him 
as he was walking down one of the cuttings at an elevation close 
on 2,000 feet, and the bird, a drake, was then flying steadily up the 
valley. I have seen Nukhtas myself, a pair of them, in the Mahor 
Valley at heights ranging between 1,500 and 2,000 feet, and I once 
heard their hoarse cry in the Jiri Valley at least as high as the latter 
elevation. I know for a certainty that they breed up to at least 
2,000 feet, and I am almost sure that a pair had their nest in the 
Mahor Valley even higher up than this. I was out after Sambhur 
at the time they were first seen, and in the centre of some heavy 
tree-forest I came across a collection of small grassy swamps, 
varying from some one to two hundred yards in diameter. All round 
3 



34 INDIAN DUCKS 

these were very lofty trees, and wherever there was sufficient dry 
land, others were dotted about between the pools. 

On my approaching the open, two Nukhtas flew from one of the 
trees, uttering their loud calls repeatedly. Instead, however, of 
flying straight away, they continued to fly round in great excitement, 
and refused to leave the place, even after I had fired at and missed 
a deer. 

Nidification. — The Comb-Duck is one of those which almost 
invariably resort to trees for nesting purposes, as a rule making a 
rough nest of grass and a few sticks in some large natural hollow of 
a big tree, generally at no great height from the ground. Sometimes, 
however, they build their nests in the forks of the larger limbs, 
especially when three or four such branch out together from the 
trunk itself. Occasionally, they seem, like the whistling-teal and 
the mallard, to make use of other birds' nests, for Mr. A. Anderson 
found some eggs in the nest of a Haliaetiis leucorijplius which he 
believes to have been laid by a Nukhta. Captain G. T. L. Marshall 
also found an egg of Sarcidioniis in the nest of Dissura episcopa. 

The only nest I have taken myself in North Cachar was placed 
in a large tree standing by the edge of a small swamp, the latter 
completely covered with dense ekra and grass, except for a few feet 
all round the edge, and, even there, short weeds and water-plants 
almost hid the water from sight. The nest, which was rather a 
large one, of sticks roughly lined with grass, was placed in a hollow 
between where the first large boughs sprang from the bole of the 
tree. It was not ten feet from the ground, but the boughs were so 
massive, and so well enclosed the nest that I visited the pool, stood 
under the trees, and saw the parent bird several times before I 
noticed where it was. It contained three large eggs, just like those 
described by Hume, with a beautiful texture, reminding one, when 
touched with the finger, of the eggs of the barbets and frogmouths, 
possessing the same satiny feeling which is so uncommon outside 
the families mentioned. In colour the eggs are nearly white, and 
have a fine gloss when freshly laid, but they soil very quickly, and 
are then difficult to clean again. 

A most interesting exception to the general nesting-habits of 
this bird is given by E. H. Aitken in the ' Bombay Journal ' (in 
loc. cit.) ; he writes : — 



SARCIDIORNIS MELANOTA 35 

" On the 30t]i August eighteen years ago I was wandering about 
with my gun on the banks of a small brackish stream, near 
Kharaghora, wlien a female Coml^-Duck got up and went off. I 
fired and missed her. She flew on for some distance, and then 
turned and came straight for me, and I killed her. She was handed 
over to the cook in the course of the day, who came to say that he 
had found an egg in her. It was ready to he laid, and there was no 
appearance of any more in her, so I came to the conclusion that the 
bird had made its nest, and laid all the eggs but one, when it had the 
misfortune to fall in my way. Next day, I took two men with me, 
and began to make a systematic search for its nest. There were 
scarcely any trees in the neighbourhood, but many patches of rank 
rushes, and among them I hunted long without success. At last 
one of my men, who was on the other side of the stream, signalled 
to me and pointed to a hole in the bank, which at that part was 
quite perpendicular. I crossed, and, looking into the hole, found 
sixteen eggs which exactly matched the one taken from the body of 
the bird. They were lying on a bed of twigs and quill feathers of 
some large bird, with a little lining of down and some fragments of 
snake skin. The hole was about five feet from the ground, and 
about two feet deep, the entrance being about nine inches wide by 
about six deep. The hole went into the bank quite horizontally, and 
there was nothing in the way of a ledge to alight on at the entrance, 
so that the bird must have popped in as a pigeon does. Such 
a feat fully justifies the opinion, that the Comb-Duck is not a 
clumsy bird." 

The number of eggs laid seems to vary very much, but probably 
a dozen or less is about the normal number, though Anderson 
seems to have had from fifteen to twenty brought to him not 
infrequently, and on one occasion found the enormous number of 
forty eggs, of which thirty-nine were normal and one undersized. 
He captured a female on this nest, and says that she was in an 
emaciated condition, and therefore, he believed, authoress of the 
whole forty eggs. 

Even this huge "clutch " of eggs has recently been beaten by one 
found by Mr. T. E. Livesey, who obtained a nest with forty-seven eggs 
in a large hole in a hollow tree about twenty-five feet from the 
ground. This was at Kotah, Rajputana, and Mr. Livesey thinks 
the eggs must have been the product of two or more ducks. A dozen 
of the eggs were quite fresh, whereas all the rest appeared to have 
been inculcated some ten to thirteen days. 



36 INDIAN DUCKS 

Probably a wild bird, with no extraneous aid in the way of 
artificial food, &c., would be a gr«at deal exhausted after such an 
effort, but a domestic hen would not think it anything out of the 
way, nor would she be any the worse for it. 

Hume's forty-five eggs varied from 'I'-l'I to 2'58 inches in length, 
and in breadth between 1'65 and 1'78, averaging •2'41 X 1'7'2. The 
little clutch found by Mr. Anderson, excluding the abnormally small 
one, averaged 2^ X If inches, giving an average for the whole 
84 of 2-45 X 1-74 almost. 

Jerdon says that the Nukhtas breed in Jnly or August " in grass 
by the side of tanks, laying six to eight whitish eggs." Jerdon did 
not, however, know, nor did he care, much about the oological part 
of ornithology ; and I do not think much weight need be attached, as 
a rule, to what he says about nidification. 

The breeding-time, nearly all over India, varies from the end of 
June to the beginning of September, and probably much depends 
on when the rains commence. In Assam, where the rains, like 
the poor, are always with us. I think the birds begin to breed in the 
end, or even in the beginning of June. In Bengal they commence 
to breed in early July ; in the North-west in late July or August, 
sometimes as late as September. In Burma they seem to breed in 
the two first-mentioned months, and in Ceylon alone they alter their 
habits and are said to breed in February and March. This last 
.statement, however, is not very well authenticated, and may be a 
mistake, for Legge says: "In Ceylon this Goose breeds, / nncler- 
fttrnid — (the italics are mine) — in February and March." 

General Habits. — The sort of ground they prefer has been variously 
described by different writers. In Assam they keep much to water m 
thin forests, and more especially to such water as is well covered 
with weeds and grasses, and not of the clearest and cleanest. One 
or two birds were always to be met with near Diyangmukh, on a 
nullah which runs through alternately heavy forests and open grass 
land, but in the cold weather is reduced to shallow pools. 

Hume says : — 

" It much prefers well-wooded tracts, not dense forests like the 
White-winged Wood-Duck, but well-wooded level, well-cultivated 
country. It is a lake bird too, one that chiefly affects rush and 



SAROIDIOBNIS MELANOTA 37 

reed-margined broads, not bare-edged pieces of water like the 
Sambhur Lake, and is comparatively rarely met with on our large 
rivers. I have shot them alike on the Ganges and the Jumna in the 
cold season, but it is far more common to find them in jhils and 
bhils. I have never found it in hilly ground, and very rarely in small 
ponds." (The italics are mine.) "Just when the rain sets in they 
seem to be on the wing at all hours of the day, and almost wherever 
you go in the North-west Provinces you see them moving about, 
always in pairs, the male as a rule in front. They never, as far as 
I have observed, associate in flocks. There may be half-a-dozen 
pairs about a broad in the rains, or half-a-dozen families, each 
consisting of two old and four to ten young birds, during the early 
part of the cold season ; but I have never seen them congregate in 
flocks as most geese and so many of the ducks do." 

Gates {vide 'Birds of British Burma') seems to have found them 
in much the same kind of places, and also in paddy-fields ; but he 
says that in Burma they are found " singly, in pairs, or in small flocks 
of twenty or thirty individuals." Jerdon, on the other hand, says that, 
although they are generally found only in small parties of four to ten 
individuals, yet they are sometimes found in flocks numbering over 
100. This I should imagine is most unusual, and we may take it for 
granted that, as a rule, they go in pairs only, except when they have 
a family, and that occasionally two or more families join forces ; and 
again, when the breeding- season is over, the young are often to be 
found singly, the old birds alone continuing to keep in pairs. Mr. 
Young found them in flocks in both the N.W.P. and in the Panch 
Mahals, but adds, " they seem to keep their pairs even in the flock, 
for when one has been shot, and the flock has flown away, I have 
observed one remain behind and flying round, searching for its mate." 

The general consensus of opinion appears to be that they are not 
very wary birds, and in consequence are not hard to bring to bag. 
Of course, as Hume says, you cannot walk up to them and pot them 
as they swim about unconcernedly on the water ; but with compara- 
tively little trouble and care one ought always to succeed in getting 
near enough for a shot, unless the country surrounding them is 
utterly bare and destitute of cover for the sportsman. Once 
disturbed, their flight, etc., is variously described. Hume says : 
" Their flight is powerful and fairly rapid, and they are all round 
quicker, more active birds than geese, both on the wing and in the 



38 INDIAN DUCKS 

water." Jerdon, however, did not think much of the bird as a 
"progressionist," and Legge descri-bes their flight as heavy, and leads 
one generally to the belief that he deemed the species rather an 
awkward, clumsy bird — which it certainly is not. Tickell's remarks 
in general on this bird vary so much from those recorded by other 
people that they must be quoted nearly in full : — 

" I have met with these birds chiefly about West Burdwan, 
Bankoora, Singbhoom, and Chota Nagpur, in open, uncultivated, 
bushy country, or on a gravelly soil scattered over with small, clear 
ponds or tanks, where they may be found in parties of four or five, 
resting during the heat of the day on the clean pelibly or sandy 
margins, and flying off, if disturbed, to the next piece of water. 
Wherever found, they appear to prefer clear water, with a gravelly or 
stony bottom, and are never found in shallow, muddy jliils or marshes, 
wiiich attract such liosts of other kinds of wildfowl. They are wary, 
and as they take to wing generally at a long-shot distance, and have 
both skin and plumage exceedingly thick, it is difficult to kill them 
with an ordinary fowling-piece ; and if winged on the water, they dive 
so incessantly as to require the help of several people to catch them. 

" I have placed their eggs under domestic hens and ducks, and 
hatched and reared the young birds easily, but they never became 
thoroughly tame, and escaped on the first opportunity, though they 
had, up to the time of their flight, fed readily with the poultry in the 
yard. They ran and walked freely, and could perch on anything that 
did not require to be grasped. It is an exceedingly silent bird — 
indeed, I have never heard it utter any sound. They repose chiefl\' 
on gravel beaches by the side of clear water. Their flight is high and 
well sustained. At night they roam over the paddy stubble, and t 
have found their stomachs full of rice during the harvest." 

Other people seem to have been more successful than Tickell in 
domesticating this fine duck (or goose), and there are numerous 
instances on record in which the bird has been readily and thoroughly 
tamed. How a cross between this and any of the breeds of domestic 
duck would answer is very problematical. Of course, the product 
would be a bird of size and weight, but how about the flavour ? The 
Nukhta is not a bird that finds favour with most people as an article 
of food, though it makes very good soup and not bad curry ; and the 
ducklings, when killed just after they have taken to the wing, are 
quite delicate and good. 

Though Hume never found any grain except wild rice in the 



SARCIDIORNIS MELANOTA 39 

stomachs of the birds he examined, others, besides Tickell, have 
found that cultivated rice forms one of the articles of their diet. 
They eat all sorts of shoots, roots, seeds, etc., of water-plants, 
varying this vegetarian food with a little animal stuff now and then, 
such as worms, spawn, larvse, and perhaps an occasional fish. 

The voice of the Nukhta is, according to Legge, " a low, guttural, 
quack-like sound, between the voice of a duck and a goose." The 
few I have heard uttered loud cries, which seemed to me far more 
like the notes of a goose than of a duck. A pair, whose nest I after- 
wards found, used to herald my approach to their particular piece of 
water with loud trumpet-calls, uttered by them, when they first saw 
me, from their perches high up in the tree. They roost, I believe, 
always in trees, and not in the water or on the ground, and they are 
not nocturnal, or even crepuscular, birds in their habits, as are most 
of their order. 

The African form alluded to by Hume as S. africanus is not 
specifically distinct from our Indian S. melanota, though it averages 
a little smaller — the wing being about thirteen or fourteen inches 
in the male. 

Hume also refers to Sclater's plate of Sarcidiornis, and, referring 
to the under tail-coverts therein depicted, says that in all the Indian 
specimens he has seen the tail-coverts are always white. As a matter 
of fact, although the under tail-coverts in the plate should have been 
white and not yellow, the bird shown in the plate is not our Nukhta 
at all, but S. cariuwulata, a much smaller species, found in Brazil, 
Paraguay, and North Argentina. 

This and other ducks belonging to this subfamily are amongst 
those requiring a close-time, as all of them are residents or mere 
local migrants. This close-time might extend from the 1st June to 
the 1st December. Tickell says that by October most of the young 
are on the wing, but in some parts of India this is at least a month 
too early ; and I do not think that the 1st December is too late a 
date for commencing their slaughter. 



40 INDIAN DUCKS 



Genus AyAECOKNIS. 

This genus is one specially created by Salvador! for the White- 
winged Wood-Duck, which previously had been placed either with 
Sarcidiornis, Casarca. Anas, or Tadorna. It seems to be allied 
most nearly to the tirst-iuentioned of these genera, differing in 
possessing no comb or spur, and in having a flatter and larger bill. 
There is no other member of the genus. 

Hume, in a foot-note to 'Game-Birds,' p. 147, gives his reason 
for rejecting the name A. scutulata, which is, that Blyth considered 
Miiller's birds to be of a different species from the wild ones found in 
India and Burma. Salvadori, however, who had more material 
to work on than was available to Hume at the time he wrote, con- 
sidered that A. scutulata does apply to our bird, and that the 
domesticated or confined bird is inclined to albinism. Under the 
circumstances, I think it is better to follow Salvadori and accept 
Miiller's name. 



ASABCORNIS SCUTULATA 41 



(8) ASARCORNIS SCUTULATA. 
THE WHITE-WINGED WOOD-DUCK. 

Anas scutulata, MiiUer, Verh. Land en Volk. p. 159 (1839-41) (Java) ; 

Hume, S. F. viii, p. 158. 
Casarca leucoptera, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xviii, p. 820 (1849) (Burma) ; 

Jerdon, B. of I. lii, p. 793: Hume ct Davis, S. F. vi, p. 489; Hume, 

ibid. p. 170. 
Casarca scutulata, Hume, S. F. viii, p. 115; Hume, Cat. No. 955. 
Anas leucoptera, Hume <f Marsh. Game-B. iii, pp. 147 & 172 ; Oates, 

B. of B. B. ii, p. 281 ; Hume, Nests and Eggs (Oates' ed.), iii, p. 287. 
Asarcornis scutulata, Salvadori, Cat. B. M. ssvii. p. 60 ; Young, 

J. B.N. H. S. xi. p. 572 ; Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. si, p. 181 ; id. 

Indian Ducks, p. 32 (1908) ; Hopwood, J. B. N. H. S. xviii, p. 433 

(1908) ; Macdonald, ibid, xix, p. 263 (1909) ; Harington, ibid. p. 213 ; 

Huggins, ibid, xxii, p. 632 (1912) ; Stevens, Ibid, xxiii, p. 733 (1915). 
Asarcornis leucoptera, Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 139 ; Hopwood, J.B.N.H.S. 

xxi, p. 1220 (1912). 
Asarcornis scutulatus, Blanford, Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 424. 

Description. Adult Male. — Head aud upper part of neck white, thickly 
spotted with black, the black spots usually more numerous on the upper 
part of the head and neck ; lower part of the neck and mantle glossy black, 
the whole of the lower parts rich chestnut-brown, more or less mottled, 
when freshly moulted, with glossy black on the breast and abdomen ; back, 
rump, and upper tail-coverts olive-brown, glossed with metallic blue and 
green ; scapularies olive-brown ; smaller upper wing-coverts white, the 
median ones a soft blue-grey, broadly tipped with black, which is highly 
glossed in old males ; quills olive-brown, the secondaries with the outer weba 
bluish-gi-ey, forming a speculum ; the first inner secondary or tertiary white 
on the outer web, and the quill next it with a large white patch on the same 
web ; under wing-coverts and axillaries white, the former with a few brown 
feathers mixed ; tail blackish, glossed with green in old males. 

Colours of soft parts. — The bill varies from lemon-yellow to deep orange 
the base and tip black, and with black mottlings everywhere, generally least 
numerous about the centre of the bill. Gonys paler, as a rule, than the 
rest of the bill. During the breeding-season the base of the maxilla becomes 
considerably swollen, though never becoming an actual comb, and the orange 



42 INDIAN DUCKS 

colour deepens to deep orange-ved or light-red. The legs and feet vary like 
the hill from lemon-yellow to a dull_oi'ange. The joints, toes, and webs 
are almost invariably mottled with dull-greenish, and patches of the same 
colour are to be found on the tarsus itself. The toes are always dark. 
Irides brown and blood-red in old birds. 

Weight 74 lbs. to 9j 11:)S. when in good condition. An old male in 
captivity, and very fat, weiglied 9; lbs. ; but wild birds seldom weigh more 
than 8i lbs. 

In old males all the spots and the black of tlie upper parts are glossed 
with green, and the bird in life looks a brilliant metallic green when in the 
sun. The gloss is green at the tip of each feather with a subtip of purple. 
The colour of the lower parts varies very much, both in depth of colouring 
and in the extent of the black mottling. In birds when freshly moulted 
the colour is usually a rich red-ochrebrown, and the black mottlings — con- 
fined more or less to the tips of tlie feathers — rather extensive. In faded 
plumage, the lower parts are a pale dull earth-brown, with but little tinge 
of red, and practically no black at all. 

In the same way, liy about July or August, the whole of the upper 
plumage becomes bleached, and tlie gloss almost or quite disappears. 

I think very old males become more white about the head and neck, 
more especially round the eye. A very fine male which was in my posses- 
sion for some years became quite white for a space all round the eye and 
down the front of the neck. 

Measurements.— Length 26 to 30 inches, wing 14'3 to ir/.S, tail 5 to 7 
(according to condition), culmen 2'3 to 2'6, tarsus 2"2 to 2'4. 

The Female does not differ conspicuously from the male, and birds in 
their first plumage are hardly distinguishable ; on the whole, it is not 
so highly coloured or quite so highly glossed, and perhaps has less black 
on the lower parts. The difference is, however, one only of comparison, 
and a duck in good plumage is far more highly glossed and coloured than a 
male whose colours have begun to fade. 

Colours of soft parts.— The colours of the soft parts are siaiilar to 
those of the male, but paler and duller ; the bill is usually of a pale dull 
lemon, very rarely with an orange tinge, and never with this tinge at all 
strongly developed ; the black mottlings resemble those on the bill of 
the drake, and vary to the same extent. In both sexes I have seen 
Ijills the ground-colour of which was almost obliterated by the spots, 
and others again in which there were only a few small spots near the 
tip and base. 

The base of the upper mandible is never swollen or red in colour. 
Irides arc brown, never, I lliink, red-brown, and certainly never lilood-red. 

Measurements.— Wing, 12 to 14 inches, tail 5 to 7, culmen 2'2 to 2'4, 
tarsus 2'1 to 2'24. Weight 4f to 6t lbs. 

It does not seem necessary here to quote other authors in reference 
to coloration, size, weight, etc., as a very large number of these birds 



ASARCORNIS SCUTULATA 43 

have passed through iii\- hands or have been kept by nie in captivity, 
and my own notes include all the information given by others. 

Distribution. — This is one of our least known ducks, and records 
of its distribution are still very limited. It is very common in 
Eastern Assam, and extends throughout Burma, being common in 
Aracan and less so as one proceeds southwards, though it has been 
met with in some numbers in Tennasserim. 

As regards Jerdon's letter to Hume, in which he mentions this 
bird as congregating in large flocks, it is a pity we have not the date 
of it. In 1864, when he finished his third volume of ' Birds of 
India,' he evidently looked on the bird as rare in the extreme. He 
talks of it occurri)ig in Dacca and other parts of Eastern Bengal, but 
does not lead one to infer that it was anything but uncommon even 
there. If his letter was written prior to 1864, it may be taken for 
granted that in the meanwhile Jerdon had discovered his mistake, 
whilst if written after 1864, it shows that Jerdon made a mistake, 
which, as far as anyone knows, has never been rectified. 

He says : — " I have seen several flocks of Casarca Jeucoptera in 
the lower parts of the Brahmapootra, where it joins the Ganges, 
not far from Dacca, where, indeed, Simson has seen it." 

Thirty years more added to the years v^hen Hume and his 
collectors worked the country above referred to has shown that it 
could not possibly have been the Wood-Duck which Jerdon saw or 
referred to. That Simson saw it in Dacca certainly does not prove 
that it inhabits the Megna, Brahmapootra, and Ganges in numbers, 
and to my own knowledge there has been no record of a single 
specimen having been seen there for over twenty years. The only 
other notice of its occurrence that I know of in Eastern Bengal is 
of four birds, said to have been seen in Singijhoom by Mr. W. 
Moylan, when out shooting with two other guns ; of which four birds, 
one ia drake) was shot. 

Colonel Graham seems to have found it common m the 
Lakhimpur district of Assam, where, however, it appears that he 
only got one bird from Sadiya, and he notes it as rare in Darrang. 
Godwin Austen procured one on the river Dunsiri, saw one in the 
Garo Hills, and knew of one killed in Tezpur. Two were seen by 



44 INDIAN DUCKS 

myself in 1886, when partridge-shooting in the Barpeta part of the 
Kamroop district, and were missed' by me with both barrels at long 
ranges. The bird is known and well described by the Cacharies, but 
though I once heard a pair on the borders of the Cachar and 
Naogang districts, I failed to get a sight of them. Outside these 
limits it extends to the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Java. It 
thus seems probable that it will be found to inhabit suitaljle localities 
in Eastern Bengal, where, however, it is of extreme rarity ; but it 
becomes less rare as we enter the Assam Valley, and is found in some 
numbers throughout the Namba forest, south of Brahmapootra, and 
the foot-hills and forest to the north of the same. In Eastern Assam 
it l)ecomes comparatively common, and extends through Cachar and 
the Indo-Burmese countries and Burma to the Malay Peninsula. 
Mr. E. H. Young {in. Joe. cit.) says that he once shot a duck, which 
he believes to have been of this species, in a tank in the Central 
Provinces a few miles from forest-covered hills. The record is not, 
of course, a certain one, and the locality is such an extremely 
unlikely one that the identification was probably incorrect. 

Nidification. — There is nothing on record as regards this bird's 
breeding in a wild state and I quite failed to induce my captive birds 
to breed, though one duck which died — the only one I lost thus — 
contained eggs larger than a hen's eggs. This was in the month of 
June. The birds paired regularly every May, and the bases of the 
drakes' bills became swollen and red, but the ducks never laid any 
eggs during the five years they were kept. 

The only egg I have of this species is one which was taken in the 
Cachar Hills by one of my trackers at the place where, as I record 
further on, an attempt was made to have a pair of these birds driven 
up for a shot. The nest was taken from a deep hollow, caused by 
decay, in the first bifurcation in the trunk of a large tree standing 
on the banks of the stream already described. The tree was a very 
small thick one, and the hollow in which the egg was found was 
said to be some twenty feet from the ground. The nest was 
described as a mass of grass and other rubbish with a lining of 
feathers and down, probably of the bird itself; though, as none 
was shown me, I cannot be certain of this. 

In Radiya, whence I obtained a great number of birds and skins. 



ASARCORNIS SCUTULATA 45 

the Mikirs assured me that the birds sometimes made their nests in 
holes in trees, sometimes made a rough nest on masses of branches, 
and at other times made a grass and feather-lined nest in scrub- 
jungle or grass at the edge of pieces of water lying in jungle. 

The live birds were all obtained by setting innumerable nooses 
about the edges of the waters frequented by them, and I was told 
that they were easy to set, as these ducks habitually resort to the 
same few feet of ground when entering or leaving the water. 

General Habits. — In 1900 I was stationed at Dibrugarh, the head- 
quarters of the Lakhimpur district, and soon became well acquainted 
with this duck. Indeed I had only been a few days in the station 
when a pair flew over the tennis-courts while we were playing 
tennis, and during the five years I was in the district I must have 
kept some thirty or forty of them in a tealery and seen others 
kept by planters and other people in the district. 

A Mr. W. T. Burness, for many years a planter in the Lakhimpur 
district, was singularly successful in obtaining specimens of this fine 
duck, although, before being told, he did not appreciate the value of 
the beautiful birds, and shot and ate them. 

All along the foot-hills of the Himalayas there stretches a vast 
strip of virgin forest, devoid of all cultivation of any sort whatever, 
but a good deal broken up by swamps and lakes, some so tiny that 
the trees almost meet over their black stillness, others so wide and 
big that there may be miles between their opposite banks. 

In such places as these, especially where pieces of water of the 
smaller description are numerous, the Wood-Duck may be sought 
almost with a certainty of success, and on lucky days Mr. Burness 
would return with three, four, or even five birds, having seen 
possibly twice as many, although the getting of them might have 
entailed a walk of twenty miles or more. The birds were but 
seldom seen by him in flocks, generally in pairs, often singly, and 
never more than five or six birds together. Even in the deepest, 
darkest woods they were most wary and difficult to appx-oach, and 
took to flight at the sound of anyone coming within shot. When 
wounded, they never dived, but at once swam to the nearest shore, 
and scrambling into the woods concealed themselves in the dense 
undergrowth. 



46 INDIAN DUCKS 

These ducks, however, are not entirely confined to such heavih- 
forested country, but are frequently met with in smaller patches of 
jungle in which there are pools and swamps, and I have received 
numerous specimens shot in such places. They also frequent sluggish 
streams and back-waters, but never, as far as my experience or 
information goes, clear waters or swift-running streams. 

Very little information has been forthcoming about their call, 
and very few sportsmen seem to have heard them. Colonel Graham 
has recorded : " They roost on trees, and frequent solitary pools in 
deep tree-jungle. They are always in pairs, and may be heard 
calling to one another at great distances." This agrees well with 
what I have known of them. My first experience of them was in 
North Cachar ; when out shooting one rainy day in June I heard two 
birds calling to one another in loud goose-like calls. The forest was 
very dense and consisted almost entirely of trees with practically no 
undergrowth, but through it there wandered a sluggish dirty steam 
which here and there disappeared into small morasses, dotted with 
tiny pools of clear water. Thinking the safest way to get a shot 
would be to drive them, I sent my Cachari tracker to beat down 
the stream towards me from a point some '200 yards or so above 
where we heard them calling. The drive proved a total failure, as, 
though the birds fiew within thirty or forty yards of me, they kept 
inside the forest on the same side of the stream as that on which 
I was seated, and I hardl\ caught a glimpse of them, much less 
obtained a shot. The Cachari told me that when he came on the 
first one it was in a tree, from which it did not fly until he was 
underneath, and that then it made off to its mate, which was some 
200 yards higher up the stream. They then both settled in a small 
pool and did not again take wing until he had sneaked to within 
twenty yards, when they got up and flew straight away, passing, as 
I have already said, just out of sight of me. We heard them calling 
in the sauie place for two or three days after this, but when attempts 
were made to stalk them, they made off long before a sight was 
obtained of them or a shot possible. 

The pair met with at Barpeta were seen when I was out shooting 
Kya partridge in some ekra-covered patches of swamp surrounded 
by forest. On this occasion a pair got up out of some swamp, some 



ASAECORNIS SCUTULATA 47 

forty or fifty yards from me, just as I emerged from the forest. 
Two barrels of No. 7 pattered on their backs at once, but seemed 
not to have the smallest effect on them. These two birds flew like 
geese, one bird (the male, I suppose, for he looked much the heavier) 
about two yards in front of the other, their necks fully outstretched 
and squawking loudly as they flew for the first few hundred yards. 
Whilst in the open they flew within a few feet of the ground, but on 
regaining the forest mounted higher, until they disappeared altogether 
in the distance. 

Whilst beating for tiger in scrub and tree-jungle on the banks of 
the Dibru stream, at that time only a succession of muddy pools, we 
once put up a flock of seven of these grand birds, which flew round 
and round us, at a considerable distance, for a long time before they 
eventually cleared off. These seven — the largest number met with 
in a flock that I have any certain record of — flew in line as geese 
do, and in the distance would probably have been mistaken for such. 

Mr. Moylan, in narrating to me how he met with this Duck in 
Sini, in Singbhoom, said that at the time they were shooting in 
grass-covered swamps at the edge of heavy forest. They were 
standing thus, when they saw four birds, which he took to be geese, 
coming down towards him and his companions. They were at a 
great height, but a charge of S.K.G. took efl'ect on the foremost, and 
he came crash to the ground, turning out to be a fine drake. It is 
possible that Mr. Moylan may have been wrong in his identification, 
but I failed to discover any reason to make me think so, though I 
questioned him closely on the matter. This was the only occasion 
on which he ever saw the duck. 

In addition to the ringing trumpet-call of this bird, both drake 
and duck indulge in a very low quacking note, sounding very much 
as if a mallard were trying to quack under its breath. Whilst uttering 
this note, the head is always held low, and the bill wide open. When 
angry, they also make a hissing noise at one another. 

They are charming birds in captivity, and are tamed without the 
slightest difficulty. When the breeding-season approaches, they, 
if not confined or pinioned, fly away; but throughout the cold 
weather months they may be allowed to wander about at their own 
discretion, and will always keep near home if regularly fed. When 



48 INDIAN DUCKS 

thus domesticated it is a curious fact that they seem never to use 
their wings as a means of ioeomotion, but will walk very long 
distances to and from water. A duck belonging to a planter whose 
house was nearly half a mile from water invariably loalked there 
and back every evening, returning to the house for the hot hours of 
the day and for the night. This particular Duck was the object of 
a wild infatuation on the part of a small domestic drake, who 
followed her about wherever she went, and as the Wood-Duck 
could walk at, at least, thrice the rate the drake could, he eventually 
succumbed to sheer exhaustion and want of time to feed in. She, 
however, totally ignored all his advances, and in April flew away to 
find a wild mate. 

They are very impatient of heat, and the birds in my aviary 
always retired indoors as soon as the sun was up, and even in the 
cold weather they always kept under cover from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
Those I sent down to the Calcutta Zoo died very quickly, except one 
fine drake, who lived about eighteen months before dying of the 
same disease that carried off all the rest — an affection of the stomach. 

My birds were practically omnivorous, but would touch no dead 
animal food. Every other day a pail-full of small fishes was emptied 
into their tank, and by nightfall these were generally all accounted 
for ; but any that died during this period were never eaten. In the 
same way, worms that ceased to struggle were discarded, and grai5S- 
hoppers, frogs, and snails would only be taken if alive. 

They ate paddy and husked rice freely, and I have kept birds for 
some weeks on this alone, and they kept fat and well upon it, but, at 
the same time, when they were offered animal food they preferred it 
to the grain. Green food of all sorts they refused unless very hungry, 
and I could never induce them to eat any sort of water weed, though 
one would expect them to eat such in a wild state. 

They were extremely expert in catching fish ; as a rule, they 
skimmed along the top of the water with the head and neck immersed, 
but when necessary would dive and chase the fish under water. Of 
course, their speed when doing so was not comparable to that of cor- 
morants, or the diving ducks under the same circumstances, but it 
was sufficient to ensure the capture of almost any fish. They are 
very mild, well-behaved birds, and not, as a class, at all quarrelsome. 



ASARCORNIS SCUTULATA 49 

Some tiny whistling-teal shared theiu captivity, and were always 
treated with consideration and allowed their share of food, etc. As 
already said, they very soon become tame, and within a few weeks 
they were all tame enough to accept food from the hands of those 
they knew well ; but generally when strangers appeared they retired 
to their inner room. When not feeding, they almost invariably sat 
on the perches and not on the ground, and they showed considerable 
activity in turning about on them ; at the same time they kept their 
position almost entirely by balance and not grasp, as anything 
touching them at once upset them. 

Their trumpet-call was very seldom heard when caged, but about 
April and May they were sometimes heard calling at early dawn, and 
even more rarely at sunset. 

This duck commences its moult in September or early October, 
and this once commenced is extremely rapid ; the quills — both 
rectrices and fiight-quills — come away altogether, and the bird is 
incapable of rising more than a foot or so from the ground for about 
a fortnight, by which time the wing-quills are sufficiently advanced 
to enable them to flutter from one perch to another, or, in exceptional 
cases, to take short flights. The soft feathers come after the quills, 
though a few new breast and back feathers may sometimes show even 
before the quills fall. 

The contrast between the glossy new and the dull blackish old 
feathers is very great, and one can hardly believe that it is the same 
bird. The natives say that, prior to the moulting, these ducks all 
retire to morasses lying in absolutely impenetrable forest and cane- 
brake, and there remain until they are once more able to fly. 



50 INDIAN DUCKS 



Genus EHODONESSA. 

The genns Rhodonessa, like the preceding, consists of but one 
species, which is confined to Indian hmits. In adult or semi-adult 
birds the colour of the head is sufficient to define it at a glance ; 
should, however, the bird be in its first plumage, reference must be 
made to its loreal feathering, as mentioned in the key above. 



(9) RHODONESSA CARYOPHYLLACEA. 
THE PINK-riEADED DUCK. 

Anas caryophyllacea, Jcrclon, B. of I. iii. p. 800; Hume, Nests and 
Eriijs, \). 614 ; Falrhank, S. F. iv, p. 264 ; Davidson, ibid, vii, p. 95 ; 
Ball, ibid. p. 232; Hiinif, ibid. p. 492, id. ibid, viii, p. 801; 
H/uiie d Marsli. Ganic-B. iii, pp.- 174, 435; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 404. 

Rhodonessa caryophyllacea, Ball, S. F. ii, p. 438 ; Hume, ibid, viii, 
p. 115; id. Cat. No. 960; Butler, S. F. i.\, p. 437; Beid, ibid, x 
p. 81 ; Hume (f Marsh. Game-B. iii, p. 173, 435 ; Oates, B. of B. B. 
ii, p. 284; A. Taylor, S. F. x, p. 531; Hume, ibid, xi, p. 344; Hume, 
Nests and Eggs (Gates' ed.), iii, p. 200; .S7«(7;-^ Baker, J. B. N. H. S. 
xi, p. 185 ; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 61 ; Inglis, J. B. N. H. S. 
XV, p. 338; id. ibid, xvi, p. 75; Stuart Baker, Indian Ducks, p. 41 
(1908) ; Inglis, J. B. N. II. S. xvi, p. 75 (1904) ; Jardine, ibid, xix, 
p. 264 (1909) ; Iliggins, ibid, xxii, p. 399 (1913) ; Whistler, ibid. 
xxiv, p. 599 (1916) ; Marslmll, ibid, xxv, p. 502 (1918). 

Description. Adult Male.—" Head, sides, of neck, and hind-neck a 
beautiful pale rosy-pink, with, in the breeding-season, a small tuft of still 
Ijrighter rosy on the top of the head ; throat dark brown ; rest of the 
plumage line glossy dark chocolate-brown, paler and less glossed beneath, 
but imder tail-coverts very dark ; mantle, scapulars, breast, and sides with 
very fine rosy whitish vermiculations or points ; edge of tlie wing whitisli, 
speculum reddish-fawn or dull salmon colour, with a white band at the tip 
of the secondaries ; outer web and tip of the outer primaries lirown ; the 



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RHODONESSA CARYOPHYLLACEA 51 

inner web and inner primaries Ijuff; tertials glossy chocolate-brown, 
narrowly edged with black on tlic outer web ; under wing-coverts and quills 
beneath pale pink colour, with a satin lustre; tail chocolate-brown." 
(Siilraflori.) 

In Jerdon and Barnes (Appendix, Jerdon), in loc. cit. we find tho 
additions " edge of the wing whitish, uppermost tertiaries rich glossy 
green." 

This is right, and is shown in Hume and Marshall's plate, but the 
average bird has not so bright or liglit a green and has it even more glossy. 

The depth of the brown varies a good deal, and I am inclined to think 
that it is owing to age, very old birds being the darkest, nearly black. 
Condition of plumage in this, as in every other species of l)rown or black 
bird, has a good deal to do with the colour, and Ijrown in old plumage is 
always much duller and paler than in the fresh. I have certain spine-tail 
swifts which show a mixture of quite light brown feathers with new black 
ones glossed with blue, the former being merely old ones from which the 
colouring matter has become exhausted. 

Colours of soft parts.—" Bill reddish-white, rosy at tlie base and bluish 
at the tip, irides fine orange-red, legs and feet blackish, with a tinge of 
red." {Jerdon.) 

"Bill dirty red, cere flesh-coloured, irides deep orange-red, legs and 
feet reddish-slate." {ShilUngfoid.) 

Of another he notes : — 

"Bill light-pink, assuming a purplish-tint towards gonys, cere flesh- 
coloured, irides deep orange, tarsus, web and nails dark slate, inclining to 
purple, lower mandible more deeply coloured than upper." 

The following note of my own may explain Shillingford's " cere." 
" Bill dull reddish-pink, deeper on mandible and darker still on gonys, the 
base of both mandibles, more especially the maxilla near the forehead, pure 
and brighter pink." Tltis note teas taken fvovi an adult nude. Inglis 
describes the soft parts from a live bird in his possession : — 

" Bill light pink, pinker at tip on nail, base of maxilla and whole lower 
mandible flesh-coloured, the colour being on some skins half an inch broad 
(the cere) at the base of the maxilla, edge of nostrils black, iris light-red, 
legs and feet reddish-black, rim round eyelids flesh-coloured." 

Measurements.—" Length about 2i inches, wing 10'5, tail 4"25, culmen 
2"1, tarsus 1'6." (Salvadori.) 

Female. — " Similar to the male, but duller and paler, and more of a 
smoky -brown ; the pink of the head is dingier and paler, and tliere is a 
broad brown medial band from forehead over crown and occiput, and 
(diminishing rapidly in width) on the back of the upper neck ; but the most 
conspicuous difference is that the dull pink of the face runs on, unbroken, 
over the entire chin and throat, so that there is no trace of the dark band 
along chin and throat so conspicuous in the male." (Salvadori.) 

The colours of the soft parts in the female seem to differ in being all of 



52 INDIAN DUCKS 

a duller hue. There is only one sexed skin in the British Museum (which 
possesses only six adult skins altogether), and this a temale. The only 
colours given, however, in the catalogue are those quoted as from Shilling- 
ford, Imt I do not know the authority from which these are taken, and 
Rhillingford himself does not seem to have sexed his specimens. 

Gates says that of the birds lie has examined he has found the females 
to 1)0 about equal to the males in size. He gives the wing as 11 inches. 
The only other record of female measurements is in the Appendix to ' Game- 
Birds,' where a female is said to he 23 inches long with a wing of lO'S, 
and an expanse of 37 inches ; strange to say, also, she weighed more than 
three out of the four males that are mentioned in the same place. 

Young. — " Head and neck pale rose-whitish colour, witli the top of 
the head, nape, and hind-neck brown ; the whole plumage lighter brown ; 
the undorparts pale dull brown, with the edges of the feathers whitish." 
{Sfi] radon. ) 

I do not understand the young bird depicted in the plate in ' Game- 
Birds,' and have never heard of any like it in plumage, the "rose-whitish " 
colour being always a distinct feature. 

Distribution. — The headquarters of this duck are, as Hume says, 
Bengal, north of the Ganges and west of the Brahmapootra rivers ; 
above all, it is most common in jNIaldah, Purneah, Purulia, and 
adjoining districts, the two first-named places being especially 
favoured. It has also been obtained in Arrah, Mozufferpore, Chota- 
Nagpur, and Eanchi, where it is only a rare bird, and Singhboom, 
where it is rather more common. It is also found sparingly through 
Orrissa, and as far south as Madras, and all through Eastern Bengal 
and Assam up to Manipur, where Hume obtained it, and later 
Colonel Tytler and Mr. Higgins. Hume says in Vol. xi of ' Stray 
Feathers ' about Blwdonessa : — 

" This species is very scarce in Manipur. 1 only saw it at the 
Lagtak Lake, and there I only saw one party that kept up in a 
weedy lagoon at the north-east corner of the lake, where it was 
impossible to get them. I did get a single bird, jjut that was only 
by lying upon several occasions in a thick reed-bed and getting them 
driven. Three times they went in the wrong direction, but having 
at last made out their line, I laid u]) in the right place the foiu'lh 
time and knocked down a brace, of which, however, I only recovered 
one ; I had no dog. This species occurs in Sylhet, and has been 
procured in various parts of the Assam Valley right up to Sadiya, 
but alike in Assam and 8> Ihet (there seems to have been no record 
of its occurrence in Cachar) it appears to be excessively rare, little 
more than an occasional straggler.'' 



RHODONESSA CARYOPHYLLACEA 58 

In Burma it is extremely rare ; Blyth obtained it in Arakan, 
and says that it occurs in Independent Burma (where'.'), but Gates 
did not come across it in Pegu, and I can find no other record of it. 

Hodgson obtained it more than once in Nepal, and Pemberton 
in Tibet. " A member of the Society " in Vol. ii of the ' Bombay 
Journal ' writes : — 

"Id Seine! .... I have one report of the Bengali pink- 
headed duck occuiriug as a straggler, Init it cannot yet be called a 
recorded species." 

I suppose by this he means that he does not place much faith 
in the report. 

I see Murray does not record it as a Sind bird, although he is 
very generous in the number of birds he assigns to that part of India. 

Mr. Moylan told me that once out shooting in Sini, in Singbhoom, 
with three other guns, they accounted for no fewer than six of these 
lovely ducks. They were found in the muddy, weedy, reed-covered 
tanks, lying just outside the heavy forest. Here they were in 
company with vast numbers of other kinds of ducks and teal, a 
big bag of which was made on this occasion. He seems frequently 
to have met with them in various parts of Singbhoom, but, as far as 
I could ascertain, had not seen any others shot. 

In the Punjab its occurrences are limited to seven actually 
recorded. Two were shot by Colonel Kinloch, and another is 
mentioned by him as having been shot by a friend (a brother 
officer), whilst another is noticed by Hume. All four birds were 
obtained near Delhi. Two other birds were seen by Mr. Hugh 
Whistler and Mr. Whitehead on the Sutlej near Eupar in the 
Ambala district, and finally another bird was shot by ^Ir. Marshall 
at Gurdaspur. In the North-west it is equally rare, and as the 
authorities who would attempt to prove otherwise are anonymous, it 
is not worth while quoting them. In Oudh it is perhaps less rare, 
and a few birds are seen and either shot or netted nearly every vear. 
Latham says that it " is common in Oudh, where it lives generally in 
pairs, is often kept tame, and becomes very familiar " (!). 

Nidification. — What a pity Shillingford has not given us some 
more details concerning all the nests he seems to have found, and 



54 INDIAN DUCKS 

iilao of the uumeruus eggs he obtained ; whethei- they were hke those 
he sent to Hume, or whether they "were like most other ducks' eggs. 
He did send five eggs to Hume, one of which was, I beheve, taken by 
himself and the others by INIr. T. Hill, of Jernneah factory, in 
i'urneah. 

Of these five eggs Hume remarks : — 

" The eggs are quite unlike those of any other duck with whicli I 
am acquainted. In shape they are very nearly spherical, indeed, one 
is almost a perfect sphere. 

" The shell is very close and compact, but not particularly smooth 
or satiny to the touch, and is entirely devoid of gloss. 

" In colour it is nearly pure white, with here and there traces of 
an exceedingly faint yellowish mottling, probalily the result of dirt. 
Even when held up against the liyht, the shell is white, with scarcely 
a perceptible ivory tinge. 

" The live eggs sent me by Mr. ShiUingford measure as follows : 
fS2 X 17 inches, 1'7« x l'G8, 1'8 X 1'62, 171 x I'Gi), I'bl x 
I'Ul. 

" There is no possible doubt now^ that these eggs, taken at tw-o 
different times by two different persons, are really the eggs of the 
Pink-Headed Duck, but at the same time it must be admitted that 
they are eggs which no one versed in oology could, without positive 
proof, have accepted as pertaining to this species." 

An egg in my own collection also taken by ShiUingford in Malda 
agrees exactly with the five described above, but I should call it very 
smooth and satiny to the toucli. 

General Habits. — Shillingford's note on the Pink-Headed Duck 
which appeared in the ' Asian,' gives so much information — and so 
little is to be obtained elsewhere — that I reproduce it ui extenso : — 

" During the cold weather, November to March, the Pink-Headers 
remain in flocks vai'ying from eight to thirty, or even forty birds, in 
the lagoons adjoining the large rivers, and have been observed by 
myself in considerable numbers in the southern and western portions 
of the district, that portion of Eastern Bhagalpur which lies immedi- 
ately to the north of the Eiver Ganges and south-western parts of 
Maldali. They come up to the central or higher parts of the 
Purneah district in pairs during the month of April, begin to build 
in May, and their eggs may be found in June and July. The nests 
are well-formed (made of dry grass interspersed with a few feathers), 
perfectly circular in shape, about 'J inches in diameter, and 4 or 5 
inches deep, 3 or i-inch walls, and have no special lining. The nests 



RHODONESSA CARYOPHVLLACEA 55 

are placed in the centre of tufts of tall grass, well hidden and difficult 
to find, generally not more than 500 yards from water. They lay 
from five to ten eggs in a nest. Both the male and female have heen 
started simultaneously from the vicinity of the nest, but whether the 
former assists in incubation is uncertain, though, judging from the 
loss of weight during the breeding season, the male must be in 
constant attendance at the nest. The weight of five males shot 
between tlie 13th February and ^8th June, 1880, in consecutive 
order, being : (1) 2 lbs. 3 ozs. (13th February) ; ('2) 1 lb. 14 ozs., 
(3) 2 lbs., (i) 1 lb. 13 ozs., and (o) 1 lb. 12 ozs. (28th June). 

" When the young are fledged in September-October, the Pink- 
Headers retire to their usual haunts in the jungly lagoons. 

" The following account, as indicating their strong attachment to 
their young, may prove of interest. On the 17th July, 1880, whilst 
searching for Pink-Headers' nests with F.H. at the northern extremity 
of Patraha Patal, where nests were reported, we flushed a female 
Pink-Header in the grass-jungle on the banks of the Patraha jhil. 
F.H. fired with liis miniature express at a distance of about 300 
yards at the bird, which had settled at the other end of the jhil. 
The ball was seen to strike tiie water some distance above, and a 
little to the left of the bird, which did not rise. Upon going up to 
the spot, to our surprise she fluttered about and dragged herself along 
with loud quackings. Being closely pursued, she flew along at an 
elevation of about six feet from the ground in a manner that led us 
to believe that she was badly wounded, and one of her wings 
damaged, and she fell rather than settled in a patch of grass on dry 
land. Upon approaching this a similar manceuvre was gone tiirough, 
and she deposited herself some hundred yards further on. Having 
decoyed us thus far, she flew up into the air with such a facility that 
our old Mahout could not help exclaiming, ' pfair jeegya ' (it's come 
to life again), and directed her flight in a direction away from the 
piece of water. After describing a considerable circuit, she came 
back to the jhil on the banks of which we were standing. Two more 
bullets were fired at her from the same gun, which only made her 
rise after each shot and settle down again some ten yards further on. 
Seeing that lier tactics had failed in drawing us away from tlie 
vicinity of her young, she again took to tlie grass-jungle, and all 
endeavours to flush her again proved futile, though she was observed 
in the same piece of water subsequently." 

All observers who have recorded their observations other\\ise thau 
anonymously concur in stating this Duck to be one of enclosed 
waters, and it seems to prefer such as are well covered with jungle 
and weeds of sorts and surrounded by high grass, forest, etc. It is 



5() INDIAN DUCKS 

probably found soiuetimes on the open river, but this only in the 
cold weather and very rarely even then. As a rule, it collects in but 
small parties, and I should think, very probably, that they are 
composed only of the members of one family, though two or three of 
these may now and then join together. Its fiight has been described 
as fast and powerful, and its voice as a musical edition of the 
mallards. 

As regards its food, there seems to Ije nothing on record bexond 
Mr. Sliillingford's note on the gizzard of a bird he examined and 
found to contain '" half-digested water weeds and various kinds of 
small shells." This is, however, important, as it shows that it is 
both an animal and a vegetarian feeder. 

jNIost writers call this a shy and wild liird, but my father (E. B. 
Baker), who knew the bird well, did not consider it to be either a 
particularly wary or wild bird, though of a very shy retiring dis- 
position. I remember when I first came out to India, some forty 
years ago, he had several of these birds' skins amongst his collection 
of Maldah bird-skins ; but all these have been either lost or destroyed, 
and it is now so long since I last saw them that I cannot speak with 
certainty of the variations they showed in their plumage. 

Most of these ducks had been shot by him when shooting with 
the late W. Eeily and some of the Shillingfords in Maldah and 
Purneah. At the end of a day's shoot, when promiscuous firing had 
become the order, one or two of these ducks would often be added to 
the bag, getting up in front of the line of elephants as they worked 
through country in which there were any small pools and jhils. 



Note to r. 53. 

Distribution.— 0"! Jauuai-y 27, 1921, a Pink-Headed Duck was shot in the nortli of 
the Kheri district, United Provinces, by Mr. T. B. Hearsoy. 



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NKTTOPUS 57 



Genus NETTOPUS. 

Unlike the two last genera, the present one contains four species, 
though of these only one is found in Indian limits. The type of 
genus is Ncttopus auritus, which is found throughout a great part 
of South Africa and also in Madagascar. The other two forms, N. 
pulchellus and N. alhipcnnis, are both Australian, the former 
being obtained in New Guinea and some other islands. 

Nettopus can be distinguished from all other genera by the 
following characteristics being combined in it : — 

Rather long hind-toe, not lobed ; feet palmated ; neck short ; 
wing under 7 inches. 



(10) NETTOPUS COROMANDELIANUS. 
THE COTTON-TEAL. 

Nettapus coromandelianus, Jertlyn, B. of I. iii, p. 786; Butler, S. F. iv, 
p. 27 ; Hume, ibid. ; Hume cC Dav. ibid, vi, p. 486 ; Oates, ibid, vii, 
p. 52; Cripps, ibid. p. 311; Leiige, B. of Cey. p. 1066; Binyhaiu, 
S. F. ix, p. 198 ; Oales, B. of B. B. ii, p. 272 ; Hume, Nests and Eggs 
(Gates' ed., iii, p. 280; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 397; Stuart Baker. 
J. B. N. H. S. xi, p. 191. 

Nettapus coromandelicus, Hume, Nests and Eggs, p. 638 ; Hume it 
^larsli. Game-B. iii, pi. 14. 

Nettapus coromandus, Hume, S. F. iii, p. 192. 

Nettopus coromandelianus, Hujiie, S. F. vi, p. 491 ; id. viii, p. 114; td. 
Cat. No. 951 ; Hume d' JIarsh. Game-B. iii, p. 101 ; Oates, S. F. x, 
p. 245 ; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 68 ; Young, J. B. N. H. S. xii, 
p. 573 ; Butler, itiid. xiii, p. 154 ; Mono, iJiid. xv, p. 515 ; rarriiujton, 
ibid. XV, p. 143 ; Blanford, Avifauna of B. I. iv, p. 433 ; Oates, 
Game-B. ii, p. 127 ; Stuart Baker, Indian Ducks, p. 47 (1908) ; 
Mitchell, J. B. N. H. S. xxiii, p. 584 (1915) ; Kinloch, ibid, xxvi, 
p. 674 (1919). 



5S INDIAN DUCKS 

Description. Adult Male.— Extreme point of forehead white, remainder 
and crown brown, the lateral edjjes nuich darker, almost black ; a complete 
broad collar round the l^ase of the neck black, a little glossed with j^reen ; 
remainder of liead, neck, lower plumage, and a collar behinil the ijlack 
collar white ; flanks most minutely stippled, and more or less barred, with 
light-brown, sometimes almost absent ; under tail-coverts broadly barred 
and tipped or subtipped brown: scapulars and back dark-ljrowD, completely 
overlaid witli dark-green gloss slightly mi.xed with purple ; upjier tail-coverts 
dirty white, freckled with brown. Innermost secondaries brown glossed 
with purple, remaining secondaries glossed green and tipped with white; 
primaries glossy-green tipped brown, and witli a broad white band con- 
tinuing tiie bar made by the white tips of the secondaries ; tail brown. 

Colours of soft parts.— Bill, legs, and feet black, the two latter more or 
less tinged with slaty-yellow ; irides bright crimson-red. 

" Sides of tarsus and toes dusky yellow ; claw s horny-brown." 

(Gales.) 

Measurements.— Length VI5 to 13'5 inches, wing 6 to 7 (rareh' over 
6'6 or under (i'3), tail about 3, culmen aijout '9 to '95, tarsus 1. Weight 
between 9 and 12 ozs. 

Female. — Cap as in the male, but uniform Ijrown ; forehead more 
broadly speckled with Ijrown ; a deep brown line running tlu'ough eye: 
remainder of iiead and low^er plumage white, the breast and lower neck 
with narrow liars of dark-brown, taking the place of the collar in the male ; 
face and neck much vermiculatod with brown, and the flanks both barred 
and speckled with the same. In old females the abdomen and centre of the 
breast are pure white, in younger birds more or less marked with brown ; 
outer secondaries broadly and inner primaries ^•ery narrowly tipped with 
white; remainder of the wings, upper plumage, and tail brown, the scapulars 
and back being occasionally faintly glossed, upper tail-coverts finely 
stippled with white. 

Colours of soft parts.— Bill brown or dark-olive, paler and \ellowish on 
mandible, commissure, and gape. Iris red-brown ; legs and feet dull 
slate-yellow, more or less smudged with blackish-green ; claws light yellow- 
brown. 

Measurements.— Length about 12 inches, wing G or a trifle over, tail 
about 2'75, culmen about '9, tarsus nearly 1. 

Male in Winter.—" Similar to the female, liut always retains the con- 
spicuous white patch on the itrimaries." [Salcuilori.) 

Does this little duck always assume a winter plumage when fully 
adult ':' I doubt it, for I have males shot in early winter just as glossy and 
fuUy-plumaged as any to be obtained during the breeding-season and hot 
weather. 

Young'. — Like the female, but even more striped about the bead with 
brown, and also more banded with light-brown on the flanks. 

Young in Down.—" Upper parts, flanks, and under tail-coverts blackish- 



NETTOPUS COROMANDELIANUS 59 

brown ; a broad superciliary stripe, cheeks, throat, front of neck, and breast 
white ; a brown Hne through the eyes ; two broad white spots on eacli side 
of the back, one near the base of the wings, and the other, much longer, on 
the sides of the rump; feathers of the tail blackish, very long and stifl'." 
(Salvadoii.) 

Distribution. — The Cotton-Teal is found almost throughout India, 
Burma and Ceylon, and extends also to China and the Philippines, 
Sunda Islands, and the Celebes. 

In India proper it may be said to have its stronghold in Eastern 
Bengal, is still very common in Western Bengal and Assam, less so 
in the Eastern Punjab and Kajputana, especially so in cold weather, 
and actually rare towards the west of the Empire. Barnes says 
that it is not found either in Lluzerat or Sind, but it has been 
recorded from both places since his book was written. 

Mr. J. W. Parrington records having shot it near Sujawal in 
Sind, and Mr. E. L. Barton records the following from Guzerat : — 

1897. On 17th .January, at Pardi, Surat ... 5 Cotton-Teal. 

„ 21th „ ' „ „ ... 1 

,, ,, 13th February ,, ,, ... 9 ,, 

1898. ,, 18th December, at Loliderea, Ahmedabad 1 ,, 
,, ,, 23rd ,, at Ahdura ... ... 1 ,, 

E. H. Young reports it as occurring in fair numbers in the 
Panch Mahals, and it is also reported from Guzual by A. H. Mene. 

In Orissa it is common enough, and in parts of Madras 
fairly so ; from Malabar it has been reported by Mr. A. M. Kinloch. 
In Ceylon it appears to be more or less confined to the north and 
east of the island. 

Legge writes (' Birds of Ceylon,' p. 10(37) : — 

"This pretty little bird is common in the tanks of the northern 
and eastern parts of the island, breeding in many secluded spots, 
and moving about considerably during the rainy weather. To the 
Western Province and south-w^est of the island it is apparently 
chiefly a N.E. monsoon migrant, as about Christmas-time it is met 
with on the Kotte and Kaesbawa lakes and other simihir sheets 
of water." 

In Burma it appears to be found everywhere as far south as 
Tennasserim and Tavoy. 



(50 INDIAN DUCKS 

Butler reports it in his list of Andaiuao birds as having been 
obtained by G. Wardlaw-Kamsay Tind Captain Winiberley. 

Mr. V. J. Mitchell shot a specimen of this little Teal at Holdra 
jheel in Kashmir in October, 1914. 

Nidification. — The only district in which 1 have personally found 
and taken their nests in any number is Eungpore. I was there in 
1885 for three or four months in the rains, and I am sure that at 
that time a short walk of two or three miles in any direction, along 
any road, would have been productive of three or four nests of 
Cotton-Teal, as well, perhaps, of one or two of whistling-teal. 
The district and station roads are well off for fine large trees, 
forming complete avenues on many of them, and most of them have 
also large drains on either side, or else a succession of borrow-pits 
take their place. These, long disused, have naturally become well 
covered with weeds and grasses, and form grand hunting-grounds 
for this little duck, whilst the numerous hollows in the old trees 
which overhang them afford sites for building in. I think they 
generally select hollows of some size in the trunk of the tree itself, 
and at about (J to 12 feet from the ground, and this hollow they 
line well and abundantly with twigs, grass, and feathers. 1 have 
twice known as many as '22 eggs laid, once 18, and once 10, but, 
normally, I should say they lay any number from 8 to 14, 10 being, 
perhaps, the number more often laid than any other. I have never 
known them make any other sort of nest than this already described, 
but others have recorded quite different stories regarding their 
nidification. Blewitt, writing from Jhausi, says: — 

" It breeds in July and August. Just above the village of 
Borogaon is a large lake, from which several eggs of this goslet \\ ere 
brought. The eggs were collected iti two months on different 
occasions, ft makes a semi-lioating nest on the water among the 
rushes or lotus weeds, of weeds, grass, etc., all together, filled up 
several inches above the water-level. 

The many boatmen of this lake stated that this goslet breeds 
there every year, and at the Salbuhat Lake also the boatmen 
affirmed the same." 

I have found nests quite low down, in holes in trees only just 
above water-level in fact, but have never taken them from a hole at 
any height from the ground, and cannot now recall to mind any 



NETTOPUS COROMANPELIANUS 61 

which were over 15 or 16 feet from it. They do, however, some- 
times select very lofty situations, for Gates took one nest containing 
ten eggs from a mango-tree about yO feet above the ground. They 
are said also to breed sometimes in old ruins, broken-down walls, 
etc. Cripps says : " They even lay their eggs in the factory 
chimney holes." They do not always make use of places quite close 
to water, as a pair of these birds laid their eggs in a gigantic tree 
standing in the magistrate's compound in Eungpore. At the back 
of the house there was a good-sized tank, frequented by a pair of 
these birds, and as they were so constantly present, I hunted all 
round the tank, in every tree, for the nest. However, it was not 
to be found, though holes and hollows which looked suitable for 
nesting-purposes were common enough. Eventually I found the 
nest by accident in a tree in front of the house and full '200 yards 
from the tank. This was one of the nests already mentioned, which 
contained twenty-two eggs. I watched this nest very carefully, and 
on the sixteenth day after it was found the chicks were hatched, 
and I then waited anxiously to see how they would get to the water. 
They remained in the nest that day, but the following morning, 
though I was out very soon after daybreak, they were all in the tank, 
15 out of the 22, 7 eggs being addled, which I took. 

It was a great disappointment not seeing the goslings taken 
from the nest to the water, and I have never yet seen it done. A 
very intelligent native once told me that early one morning, before 
it was light, he was fishing in a tank, or rather looking to his nets 
which had been put down overnight, when he saw something flutter 
heavily into the water from a tree in front of him and some twenty 
paces distant. The bird returned to the tree, and again with much 
beating of the wings fluttered down to the surface of the tank, and 
this performance was repeated again and again at intervals of some 
minutes. At first he could only make out that the cause of the 
commotion was a bird of some kind, but after a few minutes, he, 
remaining crouched among the reeds and bushes, saw distinctly that 
it was a Cotton-Teal, and that each time it flopped into the water 
and rose again it left a gosling behind it. These, he said, he could 
see were carried somehow in the feet, but the parent bird seemed to 
find the carriage of its young no easy matter, and flew with some 



G'2 INDIAN DUCKS 

difficulty, and fell into the water with some force. I do not vouch 
for this man's story being true, but give it for what it is worth, and 
believe it myself. 

They breed in Bengal in late June, July, and August, the end of 
July principally. In Ceylon they are said to breed much earlier, but 
there, of course, the weather arrangements are different, and birds 
of all kinds have to make their nesting-time suit accordingly. 

The eggs are true duck eggs, though more spherical than most, 
much like those of Dciidroctjgna in shape, texture, and polish. Gates 
calls them minatures of those of the Comb-Duck, but says they are 
less glossy. 

They vary in length between 1'5 and 1'8 inches, and in breadth 
between 1'17 and 1'41. The average of eighty eggs, including the 
twenty-six mentioned in Hume"s ' Nests and Eggs,' is exactly I'T 
by 1'3 inches. 

Cripps, in blowing an egg of this bird, noticed that the drops as 
they fell on to a pucca floor appeared phosphorescent. He could 
give no reason for this, but the fact that they did so certainly deserves 
mention in any article on the Cotton-Teal. 

General Habits. — In certain of the drier portions of its habitat, 
this bird is semi-migratory in its habits, only visiting them in the 
rains, and leaving again for some more suitable place as the haunts 
in the former begin to dry up. 

Hume, referring to the vast numbers seen every day during the 
cold weather in the Calcutta market, says it is a mystery to him 
where they come from. Having myself shot over some of the vast 
bhils and backwaters of the Ganges and Brahmapootra, I think it 
would take a very large number indeed to surprise me. In the places 
mentioned they simply swarm in thousands and are only out-numbered 
by the whistling-teals. 

Probably every one knows how the fishermen of the Sunderbands 
and other parts of Eastern India net the vast numbers of duck that 
are daily sent into the Calcutta market, l)ut in case there are some 
who do not, the following may explain. Over a great stretch of 
shallow bhil they erect nets some fifteen to twenty feet high, usually 
selecting the end of a large patch of water where it narrows off 
either into dry land or forms a neck into yet another bhil. Then 



NETTOPUS COROMANDELIANUS 63 

by night they pole silently up the lake towards the nets, driving the 
flocks of duck and teal silently before them, nor is any noise raised 
until an approach has been made to within some 100 yards or even 
less of the nets. Thus when the shouts are started many of the 
flocks have not had time to rise high enough to evade the nets, into 
which they fly and are entangled. Cotton-Teal, of course, fly low 
along the surface of the water, and hence fall victims to the nets 
more easily than such ducks as get quickly into the air and fly high. 
On the Moolna bhil I am sure forty or fifty couple might be shot 
in a day by a single gun without any very great trouble or luck ; 
but in Bengal very few sportsmen, except such as shoot for quantity 
alone, consider them game, and Cotton-Teal are left alone, unless 
required as food for servants, boatmen, or coolies, who like their 
flesh and eat it greedily, preferring them to more delicately-flavoured 
ducks. They breed in great numbers in these vast sheets of water 
on the little islands which are dotted about in all directions, and 
which contain from three to four up to 100 trees or so. Nor are 
they much molested when breeding, though now and then the 
miserable fishermen, who are the only inhabitants of these watery, 
fever-stricken parts, may take a clutch or two of eggs as food. 

In different parts of India their habits also vary very much. 
Hume writes : — 

" Tame and familiar little birds, village ponds, at any rate where 
singhara are grown, seem to be just as much affected as more 
secluded pieces of water. You may often see half-a-dozen dabbling 
about in the water and weeds within ten yards of the spot where 
the village washerman is noisily thrashing the clothes of the 
community, more stio, on large stones or ribbed pieces of wood, as 
it his one object in life was to knock everything into rags at the 
earliest possible moment. Even the loud half grunt, half groan, 
with which he relieves his feelings after each mighty thwack has no 
terror for these little birds." 

The habitat of these remarkably domesticated Cotton-Teal is not 
mentioned by Hume ; but in Rungpore, though not quite so tame 
as the above description shows them to be in some places, they take 
little notice of passers-by unless very closely approached. They 
squat in the roadside ditches and tanks, and, when finally leaving 
them, scuttle away, chattering and clucking for all they are worth, 



64 INDIAN DL'CKS 

as if trying \N'hethuL- they could vociferate harder than liy, or vice 
vcrxd, often only to return to som_e spot within fifty or sixty yards of 
that just left. Their flight is decidedly quick as well as fast, and 
they dodge round corners and avoid stumps and other obstructions 
which come in their way as they fly down the wayside drains and 
ditches with an activity quite wonderful. In addition to their speed 
of flight they are very densely pluniaged and tough, and carry off a 
wonderful lot of shot for so small a bird. In the Sunderbands they 
are found alike in the very Iiiggest and broadest stretches of water 
as in the smallest ; only in the former they keep much to weedy 
places with thick cover adjacent. In Rungpore, I^'urreedpore, 
Barisal, and adjoining districts they keep more to small tanks, 
ditches, and enclosed bhils than to the larger, more open pieces of 
water; and this is said to I>e their practice in most other parts of 
their hal)itat. Legge says that they frequent sometimes the flooded 
lands close to the seashore. 

I have generally observed them in rather small flocks, seldom 
more than about twenty, and more often under than over a dozen — 
that is to say, in family-parties only ; other observers, however, 
speak of finding them in larger flocks, so I suppose that often the 
families collect together, and on one occasion in Dibrugarh I saw a 
flock of fully 100 birds. 

The Cotton-Teal has often been unjustly accused of being unable 
to progress on land. I do not know how this idea was started, liut 
it is quite without reason. Mr. Finn, then of the Indian Museum, 
Calcutta, states that his birds, which he had in captivity, walked 
perfectly well, and suggests that the idea arose from people seeing 
wounded birds shuffling along. I think there may be, however, 
another explanation. I had once a pair of tame Cotton-Teal which 
were allowed to wander about where they liked, though I had to 
keep one wing clipped, or they might have wandered too far and 
got shot. Now, under ordinary circumstances, the two little birds 
waddled about in complete comfort though without any undue speed. 
When under the effects of excitement, however, whether pleasui'able 
or frightened, they attempted to hurry themselves, they at once 
flopped about in the most ludicrous fashion, tumbling over every little 
obstruction they met with, and appearing as if their hind-quarters 
were going too fast for their heads and breasls to keep in front. 



^x 



Genus .EX. 

According to the British Museum Catalogue the Mandarin Duck 
is incUided in the Plectropterinsc, and the key is as follows; — 

No coinli on base of bill. 

Head crested .B.r. 

Both Ogilvie-Grant and E. Gates, however, pointed out to lue 
that a far better generic character is provided in the silver-grey 
edging to the primaries, a character by which it may be at once 
distinguished from any other Indian duck. 



(11) ^X GALERICULATA. 
THE MANDARIN DUCK. 

Anas galericulata, Lath. Lid. Orn. ii, p. 871. 

Aix galericulata, Gouhl, B. of Asm, vii, p. 89 ; Oat,>s, Game-B. ii, 

p. i3G ; Finn, Fancjj Water-Fowl, p. 26; Bennett, Wandeiino.'^ in Xew 

Soutli Wales, ii, p. 62; L^afhani, Sipi. iii, p. 548. 
Mx galericulata, Salcadon, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 7G ; Stnaii Baker, 

J. B. N. H. S. xiv, p. 626 (1903) ; id. Indian LJiick^, p. 54 (1908) ; 

Stevens, J. B. N. H. S. xxiii, p. 734 (1915). 

Description. Adult Male.— Supercilium from the base of the bill to the 
end of the crest pure white ; forehead to nape glossy-green, thence the long 
thick crest is metallic-purple, more or less mixed with green on the basal 
half and entirely green on the terminal third, which is sometimes shot with 
deep-blue ; face and sides of the head buff, shading into white round the eye 
and into ciunamon-red on the posterior cheeks, chin and throat ; the neck- 
hackles are bright-chestnut, tipped with purple and with white stria> on the 
anterior portion ; remainder of upper plumage and lesser wing-coverts dull- 
brown glossed with bronzed-green, especially on the mantle and upper tail- 
coverts ; tail grey-brown glossed green. Lower neck and sides of breast 
5 



6G INDIAN DUCKS 

bvilliant purple-copper ; sides of lower breast with three bauds of black and 
two of white ; remainder of lower jiails white ; flanks vermiculated black 
and brown, but with copper bars opposite the vent and with black and 
white bars at the end of the flank-feathers. Scapulars grey-brown, the 
innermost completely glossed with deep-blue and the median with green, 
the change being graded and not clearly defined ; the outermost are white 
with broad black edges. The innermost secondary, which is enormously 
laroadened into a fan-shape, is chestnut on the inner web, tipped paler on 
the outer half and with blue on the inner, on the outer web of the secondary 
the tip is chestnut, the remainder deep glossy-blue ; other secondaries 
brown, with the outer web glossed green and tipped white, except the one 
next the innermost which is all of this colour ; primaries In'own, glossed 
greon, and with broad edges of silver-grey on the outer webs. Axillaries 
brown ; under wing-coverts mixed brown and grey. 

In one specimen in the British Museum the whole chin, and in another 
the border of the angle of the chin, is white. 

Colours of soft parts.— " Iris dark-brown with a yellowish-white outer 
ring; bill reddish-brown, with the nail bluish flesh-coloured; tarsus and 
toes reddish-yellow, membranes blackish." {ScJiiTuk.) 

Measurements.— Wing 8'8 to [Yi inches, tail 4''2 to 4'G, bill, culmen I'l 
to 1'25, from gape l't5 to 1'45, tarsus I'S to I'i, length about 16 to 18. 

Adult Female. — Head and full crest grey, a narrow line starting above 
the e>e and passing round the front to the back and bordering the crown 
white ; sides of the head pale-grey, grading into the white of the chin, throat 
and upper neck ; the face is sometimes broadly white and sometimes wholly 
grey, and at other times there is a broad or narrow band of white next the 
bill ; whole remaining upper parts and wing-coverts brown, more or less 
tinged with grey or olive-green ; lower neck, breast, sides, and flanks the 
same colour as the liack, each feather with a pale spot near the tip, these 
being very large on the flanks ; remainder of lower parts white ; primaries 
brown, slightly glossed green and Ijroadly tipped white, two of the inner 
secondaries forming a deep blue-green speculum, submargined black and 
margined white ; innermost secondaries the same colour as the back. 

As with other Ducks with wdiite under parts, these are often more or 
less tinged with rusty. 

Colours of soft parts. — As in male. 

Measurements.— Wing about 8 inches, tail about 1, bill, culmen 105 to 
r20, from gape 1'2 to 1'32, tarsus 1'2 to 1'3. 

The male in post-nuptial plumage resembles the female, but this sex, as 
Oates points out : — 

may be separated from males .... by the oblique white 
stripe which may always be found on the outer web of the first 
purple feather of the speculum. This stripe is just below the tips of 
the wing-coverts and is always absent in the male." 

The young male in first plumage also resembles the female with the 



.EX GALERICULATA G7 

exception just noted; it is, liowcver, fjcnerally rather bigger and often more 
clearly coloured. 

Amongst the first indications of sex-plumage assumed by the young 
male is the deepening of the plumage of the breast and upper neck. A 
specimen (b) in the British Museum collection shows this beautifully, and 
looks much as if the change here undergone was one of colouration in the 
feathers themselves. 

Tiie same bird has the broad secondary partially developed, but has no 
white edging to the outer web, so presumably this is not assumed until tlie 
second year ; this feather is also not so much falcated as in the adult bird. 
Tlie adult colouration of the scapulars is only indicated by a few blue tints, 
but the lilack and white bars on the sides of the breast are well advanced. 

Nestling'. — ,\hove hair-brown, the edge of the wing pale-buff and two 
indefinite bars of the same colour on tlie sides, one in front and one behind 
the thigh. Under parts wholly pale-butt' ; a dark-brown streak running from 
behind the eye to the neck and another from behind the ear-coverts. 

Distribution. — The Mandarin is a purely Eastern Asiatic Duck, 
being distributed, according to Salvadori, throughout " Central and 
Southern China, Formosa and Japan ; Amoorland only during the 
breeding season." It has also been obtained in Corea, and once in 
India, in Lakhimpur, Assam. 

It is not long since Gates wrote : " This beautiful duck is not 
unlikely to be met with on the borders of the Shan States " ; but it 
has now been obtained far more west. 

Nidification. — As regards its nidification, very little is known; it 
seems to breed everywhere through the north of its range, perhaps 
also wherever it is found. It appears, however, to visit the Amoov 
and the more northern extremes of its habitat only during the 
breeding-season, so that it is probably locally migratory. It is one 
of the species of ducks which build in trees, and in captivity breeds 
very freely. 

W. Evans in the ' Ibis ' (1891, p. 73), giving the period of incuba- 
tion for various birds, gives that of this duck as thirty days, whilst 
Finn gives it as twenty-six. In the Zoological Gardens up to 1874, 
the Mandarin had hatched eggs no less than twenty-six times, the 
earliest date for the young to appear being the 31st May, 1858, and 
the latest July lOth, 1874. As the normal climate in which the duck 
breeds is not unlike the English climate, except in the extreme north, 
these dates will probably coincide with its breeding-season when in its 



68 INDIAN DUCKS 

natural state. The British Museum possesses five eggs of ^l^.r gnleri- 
culata, which measure •2"2 X 1'6 inches, 'IV) X l'-'J4, I'V) X I'B, 
'2'08 X l'5(j, and 2'16 X 1'52. In shape these eggs are very regular 
ellipses, and slightly compressed at one end. The texture is smooth 
and close and distinctly glossy, and the colour is a very pale fawn 
or yellowish-white. One egg was originally, perhaps, rather darker 
in colour than the rest, hut is so soiled that it is difficult to say with 
any certainty. All these eggs were laid by birds in captivity. The 
eggs in my own collection agree well with these, but are rather more 
clearly coloured, perhaps because fresher when blown. Their 
dimensions agree with those given above. 

General Habits. — Mr. A. Stevens, who shot the only Indian speci- 
men ever obtained which is now in the Tring Museum, tells me, 
in cpistold, how he managed to get it. He writes : — 

" Early one dull morning I went in a dug-out down the Diln'u river 
on a collecting trip. The Dibru, then very low, is a small stream 
varying between twenty and fifty yards wide, here and there dotted 
with sandy banks and islands, and for the most part densely covered 
with jungle down to the water's edge. Twice single specimens of 
Asarcornis scutuhita (the White-winged Wood-Duck) passed down 
tlie river on the way to their favourite haunt and held fortli hopes of 
something good to be had later on, I had gone some two miles do\Yn 
the river, and had come to a place where it widened out and then 
divided into two branches. Here there was a small sandy chur 
(bank), and on this I saw six ducks, but what they were I was still 
too far off to determine. Four of the ducks were close together, two 
a little apart, but all six appeared to me to be exactly identical in 
size and colouration. Selecting the two birds which were the nearer 
to me, I fired both barrels at them, upon which all six birds rose and 
flew ahead. I was certain, however, that my shot had told, nor was 
I wrong, for one bird, after flying some forty yards, dropped into the 
water. Picking the bird up I at once recognized that it was some- 
thing new to me, but at the same time had no idea of the value of 
what I had got. Consequently, although I repeatedly flushed the 
pair to this bird, I made no attempt to shoot it, even though it got 
up well within range and gave me easy shots. 

" The birds, when first flushed, flew away strong and low, but 
the single bird which I afterwards put up reminded me of the stupid 
performance of the Little Green Bittern {Bittorides javanica) in the 
way it flew from the bank and across and down stream, only instead 
of selecting a small tree to perch on, ho always managed to drop into 



.EX GALERICULATA 69 

the long elephant-grass, which, with other jungle, bordered the 
stream. 

" We found the flesh of this bird very coarse, a fact which saved 
the pair on several occasions afterwards when I saw it. Eventually, 
when I learnt the value of my acquisition, I, of course, never again 
saw it." 

This is the only occasion on which the Mandarin has actually 
been obtained in India beyond all doubt. 

I was, however, once told by a sportsman that he had shot a 
Marbled Teal in Assam, and when asked to describe it he gave a 
very minute and accurate description of a female Mandarin. This 
bird had been shot by him near Margherita, in the Dibrugarh district 
of Assam, the same district as that in which Mr. Stevens shot his 
bird. 

Again, Mr. Gruning, I.C.S., and myself saw six birds on the 
river Ranganadi, which I am sure were of this species. We were 
going along in a small launch, and the birds flew across us so close 
that we could see their silver-grey heads and the clear white speculum ; 
unfortunately we had no guns ready, and the birds flew straight 
away. Their flight was very strong and quick, much like that of 
Ncttion crccca (the Common Teal), but less swift than that of that 
bird. 

This splendid little duck is one far better known in a captive 
than in a wild state. Long ago Latham wrote : — 

"' We do not find it nearly so common in China as many other 
birds .... and the common price is from six to ten dollars a 
pair .... nor can they be bred in this country." 

Elakiston and Pryer, in the ' Ibis " (1678, p. '213), state : — 

" Very common on small streams. It formerly built in the trees 
in Uyino Park, Tokio. Breeds in Yezo." 

It seems to be a duck which keeps much to small streams, more 
especially such as run through forest, but at the same time to prefer 
such streams as are clear rather than slow sluggish backwaters and 
weedy pools. It is usually to be found in small flocks, seldom 
exceeding a dozen, and very often less, even in the countries where 
it is most common, so that very small flocks are all we can expect 
to meet with in India or Burma. 



70 INDIAN DUCKS 

It is a stout, sturdy little bird, equally good on water, and land, 
and in the air ; its flight is direct and strong, similar, though inferior 
in speed to that of the Common Teal ; it walks well and quickly, and 
swims with a jaunty carriage, getting over the water at a great pace. 
I can find nothing on record about its powers of diving, but, judging 
from its shape and plumage these are not likely to be of the best. 

Schrenk says that when in Amoor, about May to August, they 
are very wild and shy, not allowing an approach within gunshot ; he 
also states that they perch freely on trees. This is confirmed by all 
other observers ; indeed, Finn (' Fancy Water-Fowl ') says that the 
Mandarin perches as readily as a pigeon. 

This same naturalist, one of our best observers and a specialist 
on Water-Fowl, remarks : — 

" Another attractive point about tliis lovely Duck is that he, 
more than any other duck, is a bird of position, and much given to 
showing himself off hy raising his crest and slightly expanding his 
wings vertically, so as to bring the wing-fans perpendicular and to 
display the beautifully striped flights, while when standing he often 
curves his neck back and throws out his breast like a Fantail 
Pigeon. He certainly looks at such times as if he were conscious 
of his beauty, and his little brown mate, as she caresses his orange 
hackles, must surely admire him. 

" He is a great fighter, and will even kill ducks of his own kind 
should he not approve of them." 

In spite of their pugnacity, however, they have a reputation in 
China for being wonderfully faithful little birds to each other. 
Indeed, Canel says (p. 155) that : — 

" A pair of these birds are frequently placed in a gaily decorated 
cage, and carried in their marriage processions, and are afterwards 
presented to the bride and bridegroom as worthy objects of their 
emulation." 

The same author, in describing their flight, writes : — 

" Whilst on the wing these parties cro^vd closely together in 
front, whilst the birds in the rear occupy a comparatively free 
space." 



ANSERINE 71 



Subfamily AXSEEIN.E. 

This subfamily contains, according to Salvador!, six genera, but 
other sj-stematists have further considerably divided these again. 

Thus the Bar-Headed Goose has been placed in a genus, Eulaheia 
(Reichenbach), by itself, and the Bean-Geese have been separated 
from other geese and called generically Mclanonijj: (Buturlin). The 
only other genus which interests Indian sportsmen and ornithologists 
is Branta, of which one species, ruficolUs, undoubtedly visits our 
limits. 

The only genera we need recognize for the purpose of this work 
are Anscr and Branta. and I propose to deal with Alpheraky's Anser, 
Mclanouij.v, and Eulabeia, all under the former title. The generic 
differences, if they do amount to such, are very slight, and there 
appears to be no need to confuse readers more than can be helped. 

The distinctive features of the subfamily are : the hind-toe is not 
lobed, and moderate in length, as is the neck, the feet are palmated, 
and there is no cere. 

As regards India the following key to the genera will suffice : — 

Neck and breast with no bright rufous colouration . Anser. 

Neck and breast extensively coloured with bright 

rufous Branta. 

Since the article dealing with the true geese appeared in the 
Bombay N. H. S. Journal, certain specimens of geese have been 
obtained, of which two species, Anser hrachijrhynchus and Anser 
arvensis sibiricus, have been satisfactorily identified, and others of 
which the identity has not been absolutely made out, but which I 
have dealt with under the headings to which I believe they belong : 
also Branta ruficolUs, although not actually obtained, has been 
sufficiently well identified to allow us to include it in the Indian 
avifauna. 

The Bean-Geese have been dealt with at great length by 
Alpheraky in his magnificent monograph of ' The Geese of Eussia 
and Asia,' and, because of the mass of material he has had at his 



72 INDIAN DUCKS 

disposal, and the length of time and study he has devoted to the 
subject, tlie results he arrives at will probably be eventually found 
to more closely approach correctness than the attempts of other 
ornithologists, who have not had the same advantages. At the same 
time, it is more than possible that even Alpheraky would now modify 
much that he has written, and other species and subspecies may be 
created, and some of those now accepted done away with. 

Tn India we may meet with specimens of man>- of the Bean- 
Geese, and for this reason I have, in my key to the Anseres, included 
several forms of which we have, as yet, no record. 

Further investigation, more especially that of Dr. Hartert, has 
led to the change of several names, the suppression finally of certain 
subspecies, and to the reversion in one or two cases to better-known 
names. 



ANSER 73 



Genus ANSEK. 

The only Indian Goose which has a red breast belongs to the 
genus Brauta, and cannot be confused with any of the birds of 
this genus, which arc all coloured with black and white and the 
intermediate shades. 



Key to Species. 

A. Head with two black bands 1. indicus. 

B. Head with no black bauds. 

a. Nail of maxilla white or nearly so. 

(/. No white or very little white on forehead. 

Eump grey 4. anscr. 

1/, A good deal of white on forehead, round 
base of bill. Kiinip dark greyish-brown. 

ft". Wing over b5 inches A. nlhifrons. 

li'. Wing under b5 inches A. cnjihropus. 

b. Nail of maxilla black or nearly so. 

c'. Margin of wing ashy blue-grey, upper wing- 
coverts light slaty-grey A. braclujihunchas. 

d'. Margin of 'wing and wing-coverts dark 
brown or blackish-brown. 

ft^. Pale-coloured parts of bill rose-pink . . A. imjlcctus. 

b^. Pale-coloured parts of bill yellow. 

a'. Nail less than quarter length of 
culmen. 

a*. Culmen 1'88 to 2'40 inches . . A. fabalis fabalis. 

b\ Culmen 2'44 to 2'83 inches . . . A. fabalis scrrirostris. 

b". Nail more than quarter length of 
culmen. 

c*. Culmen 2' 16 to 2'83 inches . . . A. arvcnsis arvensis. 
d\ Culmen 2'91 to 3'26 inches . . . A. arvcnsis sibiricus. 



74 INDIAN DUCKS 

The above is admittedly only a very rough key, but should suffice 
to enable sportsmen to discriminate between their specimens, should 
they be so fortunate as to obtain any of the rarer species. 

Considerable discussion has lieen carried on in the pages of the 
' Bombay Journal ' in regard to the Bean-Geese, between Alpheraky, 
Buturlin, and Gates, and those who wish to study the question should 
consult pp. 3S, .59s, and 950 of vol. xvii of that journal. 

Anser fabalis fabalis and Anser arvensls arvciisis if accepted are 
probably western forms, hardly likely to be found within Indian 
limits ; but as it is within the bounds of possibility that they will be 
so found, I have included them in the key. 

A bracJii/rJu/iuJins may be at once distinguished from all other 
Bean-Geese by its grey coverts, and although the first Pink-footed 
Goose obtained by me was undoubtedly of this species, there is no 
chance of its occurrence being anything but extremely rare in India, 
and we should expect it in the N.W. rather than in the N.E. On the 
other hand, there is not the slightest reason why serrhv.'^fris, ncglectus, 
and sibiricus should not be frequently reported within our borders. 

Any sportsman who may obtain a iJean-C^oose, i.e., a goose with a 
black nail to its 1)111, should at once forward the \vhole skin, if possible 
— if not, the head and neck, — to the Bombay Natural History Society 
for identification. He should note in detail the colouration of the bill 
and feet immediately he gets it ; and if the colours of the former 
change after death should note this also. The length of the wing 
should also be added. 



ANSEll ANSKK ( 



(12) ANSER ANSER. 
THE GEEY LAG GOOSE. 

Anas anser, Linn, S. N. Ed. x, p. 123 (1758), (Sweden). 

Anser cinereus, Jcnhn, B. of I. iii, p. 779 ; Hinite, S. F. i, p. 258; ul. 
Nests d- Ei.igs, p. 635 ; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 26 ; Sculh/, ibid. p. 199 ; 
Hume, S. F. vii, p. 491 ; viii, p. 114 ; Hiuiie, Cat. No. 945 ; Hume d 
Marsh. Gamc-B. iii, p. 50 ; Hume, Nest.'i & Eggs (Gates' ed.) iii, p. 279 ; 
Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 945. 

Anser rubrirostris, .Salradori, Cat. B. M. sxvii, p. 91 ; Stuart Baker, 
J. B. N. H. S. xi, p. 348 ; id. Indian Ducks, p. 63 (1908) ; Hanngton, 
J. B. N. H. S. xxi, p. 1088, (1912) ; Bell, ibid, xxii, p. 400 (1913) ; 
Cotton, ibid. p. 803 (1914) ; luglis, ihid. xxiv, p. 600 (1916). 

Anser ferus, Stephen, Gen. Zuol. xii, pi. 12, p. 28 (1824) ; Blanford, 
Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 410 : Hopnwod, J. B. N. H. S. xviii, p. 433 (1908) 
Hanngton. ibid, xix, p. 312 (1909) ; Whitehead, ibid, xx, p. 977 (1911) 
id. ibid, xxi, p. 158 (1911) ; Baddiffe, ibid, xxiv, p. 167 (1915) 
LudlotL', ibid. XXV. p. 305 (1917); Thornhill, ibid. p. 488 (1918) 
J\'hi.stlcr, ibid, xxvi, p. 190 (1918) ; Jones, ibid. p. 620 (1919). 

Anser anser, Gates, Game-B. ii, p. 42 ; AlpJierakij, Geese, p. 24 ; Stevens, 
J. B. N. H. S. xxiii, p. 733 (1915). 

Description. Adult Male.— Lower bacli and rump french-grey ; upper 
tail-coverts white ; remainder of upper plumage, head, and neck ash-brown, 
the scapularies edged lighter ; a very narrow white rim of feathers at the 
base of the bill ; lower neck in front, breast, and abdomen pale greyish- 
brown ; the abdomen with more or less broad blackish spots, sometimes 
almost confluent, at others almost absent ; remainder of lower plumage 
white ; flanks brown, tipped pale french-grey, more grey at the bases of the 
feathers ; shoulder of wing and smaller coverts nest it, winglet, primaries at 
the base, and primary-coverts french-grey ; remainder of wings brown, the 
secondary coverts edged whitish ; under wing-coverts and axillaries french- 
grey ; two outer pairs of tail-feathers white, the central ones brown, tipped 
white, and the others brownish at the base changing to white at the tip. 

Colours of soft parts.—" The irides are always brown ; the nail of the 
bill sullied white, generally yellowish or pinkish-white'; the bill, legs and 
feet vary from creamy-white, with only, in places, a faint tinge of pink, 
through pale somewhat livid fleshy-pink to a dingy livid purplish-red, and 
very often the bill is of one shade, tiie legs and feet of another. Never, in 



76 INDIAN DUCKS 

any of the innumerable specimens tliafc I have examined in India, iiave the 
bills had any orange or yellow tint alrant them." (Hume) 

Measurements.—" Length about 33 inches, wing 1«, tail GTj, cnlmen 2'7, 
tarsus 3''2." iSalvadirn.) 

Female.—Only differs in being smaller. Scully, ' Stray Feathers ' (loc. 
(it.), gives the measurements of the female as follows : " Length 31 inches, 
tail 6, tarsus 3, bill from gape 2'7." 

The Young are far less marked underneath, and the majority of Jjirds 
sliot in India will be found nearly white underneath. In the same place as 
that in which he gives the alwve dimensions for a female, Scully gives 
others of a young bird : " Lengtli 30'5 inches, expanse 60'25, wing 16'5, tail 
6'3, tarsus 3, bill from gape 2'65. Weight 5 lbs. 10 ozs." 

The Indian bird is said to differ from AnsiT ansci' (the Common Wild 
Goose) in being rather larger and with proportionately larger bill and feet, 
and the adult bird is also said to be more marked with black on the under- 
parts, though this last distinction does not hold good with most Indian 
specimens. 

Alpheraky, in his lieautiful book on European and Asiatic Geese, shows 
that our Indian form of Grey Lag is not entitled to a separate specific name, 
nor does he even consider it worthy of subspecific rank. He writes that he 
is unable to find any points differing sufficiently constantly to enable him to 
divide the two forms. 

Weight and size he shows to be of no value, for whereas the normal 
Indian bird — this must be nibriroslrif;, if there is such a bird — weighs only 
some 6 to Hi lbs., Naumann gives the weight of a western European 
specimen as being I63 lbs. 

Eichness of plumage may be admitted as individual, not specific at all. 

This- leaves only the comparative size of the liill and colouration of the 
soft parts as a means of differentiation considered hitherto by naturalists. 

The Ijill is said to be proportionately longer in the eastern than in tlie 
western form, and the feet and bill more deeply tinged with pink. Person- 
ally I cannot discriminate Ijetween the two forms. 

Hume, in Game-Birds,' goes into the question as to whether this Ijird 
is the same as the one known in Europe as Anscr cincrcns, and he there 
notes the difference between the two species in his usual accurate manner, 
and a few ornithologists agree with him that the two are distinct races. 
If so, Hodgson's name of rtibriro.itris stands good for our Indian form. 
Hume's distribution given in ' Game-Birds ' applies, of course, to both, and 
would have to be greatly curtailed in its limits outside India, if the birds 
were separated. 

Distribution. — In the British Museum Catalogue, the distribution 
of this goose is given as " Siberia in winter, Northern India and 
Southern China " ; this, of course, includes all the intervening 
countries, at all events whilst the birds are on migration. 



ANSER ANSER 77 

Tt is found throughout Northern Indica, but it is far more 
numerous to the west than to the east, and it extends right away 
throughout China. It occurs in some numbers throughout Assam, 
but certainly is not a very common bird anywhere in that province, 
as far as I can ascertain, except on the Brahmapootra, when 
migrating north or south. Mr. Eden, however, says that it occurs 
in great numbers in Sylhet, in a favourable year. Probably it is 
in great numbers only when compared to the few found of other 
species. 

]\Ir. Damant reports it to be common in ^Nlanipur, next door to 
Burma ; and as regards Burma itself, Gates writes : — 

It occurs on tlie Chindwin and IrrawadJy rivers, and in the latter 
river it is abundant down to Myingyan, at least." 

A friend, in epistolu, writing from Burma, remarks: — 

" I cannot think how it is that the Grey Lag has not yet been 
recorded from Burmah. I found it in thousands on the Irrawaddy, 
and also on some large bheels, a considerable distance from the 
banks of the river." 

Harington and Bell also record the shooting of large numbers 
at Toungyi, etc. I have shot one or two pairs in the Sunderbands, 
but have seen very few birds indeed in that part of the country, and, 
I think, east of Calcutta it is decidedly rare ; indeed it is not 
common even in the Calcutta markets, which are a veritable bird- 
mine for the ornithologist in the right season, when the rarer edible 
birds sometimes put in an appearance. 

Nidification. — The Grey Lag has never yet been actually found 
breeding within Indian limits, although its breeding-haunts are in 
part not very far distant. It breeds from Iceland in the west, 
Scotland in the more northern counties, Norway, Sweden and a 
great part of Eussia, Spain and the northern countries of the 
Mediterranean, through Trans-Caucasia into Persia and Turkestan. 
It is a numerous breeder in Trans-Caspia through to Lake Baikal 
and the Amur. It breeds in Seistan and quite possibly in parts of 
the Himalayas and in Northern Afghanistan. It has not yet been 
proved to breed either in Asia Mmor or in the Chinese mountains, 
but almost certainly does so. 



78 INDIAN DUCKS 

There is a small colony of these geese in Algeria, and during 
the recent campaign in Mesopotamia several observers have recorded 
seeing goslings in that conntr_y, but, as far as I know, no nest was 
ever seen by anyone. 

The l)reeding-season appears to commence very early in the 
southern portions of its nesting range. Przewalski records its 
arrival on its breeding-grounds in Southern Mongolia in the middle 
of March and that in the valley of the Yellow River young birds 
were nearly ready to fly in the end of -Tuly. In its more northern 
haunts it will not be found breeding until April, whilst eggs may 
be taken as late as the first two weeks in ^lay. 

As a rule the Grey Lag breeds in company, and many nests 
may be found in a very small area where the birds are numerous. 
They are most often placed on small grass- and reed-covered islands 
in lakes and swamps, or on the shores of the same, either close to 
or some distance from the water itself. The nest itself is some- 
times built amongst, and well screened by, surrounding vegetation, 
but sometimes, more especially where the birds are not so much 
persecuted by men, it is placed quite in the open on short grass or 
even moss, and is then quite visible for a great distance. It is a 
bulky affair, being as much as, or move than, a foot in height and 
nearly three times that in diameter at the base. The lining is 
composed as usual of down from the bird's own breast. At first 
this is very scanty but as incubation advances more and more, 
down is added until at last it forms a very thick dense bed, almost 
covering the eggs as they lie on it. The down is said to be used 
by the birds for covering over the eggs when the goose leaves 
them. 

The gander is credited with assisting in the piling up of the 
nest-material and is said to be attentive enough to his wife during 
the time she is sitting, but he takes no part in incubation and he 
troubles himself little or not at all about the young after they 
have hatched, either in regard to their feeding or safety. 

The goose is, on the contrary a most excellent mother, and 
will go through all sorts of contortions and simulation of being 
wounded in order to decoy intruders away from her young. 

Occasionally the Grey Lag builds on the grass-covered banks or 



ANSKK ANSER 



79 



reedy edges of small streams, and in such cases the nest is often 
all alone. Alpheraky records having found nests of this description 
on the small streams of the Tian Schan. 

The number of eggs laid is anything from four to twelve, and 
in very rare cases as many as fourteen. The usual clutch is 
probably six to eight. Incubation lasts twenty-eight days. 

Gobel gives the dimensions of fifty-one eggs as follows : — 

Average 3'47 x 2'37 inches (= 88'2 X 60:3 mm.) 
Greatest length 3'75- inches (~ 95'5 mm.) 
Greatest In'eadth 2'57 inches {- 65'5 mm.) 
Minimum length 3'12 inches (= 79'5 mm.) 
Minimum breadth 2'10 inches (= 53'5 mm.) 

Taczanowsky gives the measurements of Grey Lags' eggs from 
Dauria as from 79'6 to 89'0 mm. in length and from 58 to 59 mm. 
in breadth. 

The eggs are just like those of the domestic goose. The shell 
is fairly smooth and satiny to the touch and the texture fine and 
close and decidedly strong. The colour is a pale cream or buffy- 
white, occasionally with a very faint greenish tinge in it. The 
shape is a fairly regular elliptical oval. 

The goslings leave their nests very shortly after they are hatched 
and within twenty-four hours are generally led by their parents to 
the nearest water. 

General Habits. — In Assam, except in the Brahmapootra and the 
larger rivers, such as the Surma, etc., it goes about in only small 
parties of some ten or a dozen, but Cripps met with it in Dacca 
on the Megna in a flock numbering about '200. This was the only 
time he noticed the Grey Lag in Dacca. As one wanders farther 
west, the flocks become more and more numerous, until in the 
western Provinces sportsmen speak of flocks numbering their 
hundreds which run into thousands. 

It is a bird of all elevations and is very common in Cashmere 
in winter, and in other suitable places up to 6,000 feet or more. 

" A Member of the Society " states that no geese are found in 
the Konkan, Deccan, or Khandeish, but he records an A user, by 
which he must refer to the present species, from Gujerat ; here 
he says that it is not common, but others have obtained them in 



80 INDIAN DUCKS 

great numbers. Hume mentions having found flocks numbering 
fully 1,200, and, I believe, refers to-the flocks he saw in Sind. 

They generally arrive in India in October, and do not get far 
south or east until the end of November ; about Calcutta and further 
east, they appear to arrive in early and middle December. Of 
course everywhere they sometimes come in much earlier, and they 
have been recorded in the north-west in September. In the same 
way, though they all have left India, as a rule, by the end of 
March, yet sometimes they stay far later ; for instance, only lately, 
in the Bombay N. H. S. Journal, Colonel Unwin has reported re- 
ceiving four "Grey Lag Geese" {A. anscr) as late as the 2nd of 
May in Cashmere. It will be interesting, as he says, to see if they 
do stay and breed ; but I am afraid that there is little chance of 
it, as their breeding-haunts are not far off, and they are sure to 
return there. Adams did state that they bred in Ladakh, but his 
remarks have never been confirmed, and it seems he must have 
been mistaken. 

After Hume's long notes on shooting Geese given in ' Game- 
Birds ' it is very difticult to say anything more of any interest. 
As every sportsman knows, they are shy, wild birds, and difticult 
to bring to bag ; but their degree of wildness varies greatly, accord- 
ing to how much the localities in which they reside are shot over. 
Where many of the natives have guns, and there are also many 
European sportsmen, the Grey Lag, and every other kind of goose, 
is an object as worthy of a stalk as any black-buck. In such 
places, it is little use going out to collect a bag of geese unless 
one has really made up his mind to work the business out properly. 
If there are any young crops of wheat, etc., in the district the 
sportsman should be out before daybreak, and he then may, by a 
careful crawl through grass and wheat, wet with dew and very 
cold — it can be cold even in India — get within easy shot of the 
birds as they feed on the young growth. If wise, he will blaze 
one barrel into the brown as they feed and get what he can with 
his second barrel as they rise ; if, however, he is very near indeed, 
it is better to wait and have both barrels into them on the wing. 
They take some time getting way on after rising, and give lots of 
time to put in two shots, and more birds will be dropped in this 



ANSER ANSER 81 

way than if the unspread shot had taken them on the ground. 
Hume also mentions stalking them under a blanket, and beguiling 
the geese into a belief that you are an inoiiensive native just out 
for a prowl ; where, however, the natives have a gun, the geese will 
undoubtedly " wink the other eye," and, blanket or no blanket, 
leave long before that article is brought within shooting distance. 
A bullock is more useful than a blanket under such circumstances, 
and from behind the shelter of one, much slaughter may be done 
if the animal is properly worked. 

Hume says that they are easily killed daring the daytime on all 
the large rivers. I have not found this to be the case myself, but 
as his experience is fully ten times what mine is the sportsman had 
better follow his advice and not mine. He says : — 

" During the hotter parts of the day they are, as already men- 
tioned, generally found in larger or smaller parties dozing in the sun 
on some sandbank at the water's edge. Directly such a party is 
sighted you take a small boat, and, with the aid of a couple of 
experienced men, row or punt noiselessly down to within two or 
three hundred yards of the birds, when, if the water is shallow enough 
to allow it (and the boatmen seem to know this by instinct), one man 
gets quietly out of the boat behind, and, while you and your com- 
panion in the boat lie down out of sight, he, stooping so as to be 
entirely concealed by the boat, pushes it down gently and noiselessly, 
aided by the stream, towards the Hock. In this way you may approach , 
if all is well managed, to within twenty yards of even cranes. You 
make some arrangement at the bows (I had a false gunwale with 
suitable holes pierced in it) so as to admit of peeping and shooting 
without raising your head into view, and, when you get to what you 
consider the right distance, knock over as many as you can sitting, 
with the first shot, and as many more as you have time for, before 
they get out of shot, after they rise. Everything depends on judging 
rightly the distance for the first shot, with reference to your bore 
and charge. A little too far you would perhaps hit a score without 
bagging one ; a little too near and you kill one or two outright, and 
though you perhaps get one or two more as they rise, that is all ; 
but if you have a good heavy duck-gun, say No. 8 bore, with two 
ounces of A. A., and fire at about 50 yards, you will rarely get less 
than eight out of a good large flock of geese (and I have got as many 
as sixteen) with the first shot, besides a brace or so more, with green 
cartridge, as they rise." 

On the Brahmapootra, the only river on which I have made 
6 



8'2 INDIAN DUCKS 

regular attempts to shoot them, I have ioimd them just as wary in 
the middle of the day as at any oiher time, and no amount of care 
or precautions has enabled me to approach within shot, except in 
exceptional cases. We did, however, sometimes get within shot of 
them in the early morning, when the mist was still heavy on the 
water, and the conversational " gag, gag, gag, gag "' of the geese was 
our only guide to their whereabouts, until we got well within shooting 
distance. Even then it was always necessary to shoot directly the 
mist rose, or we were near enough to make out their shadowy forms. 
Earely, good bags were made by enthusiastic sportsmen who dug 
holes in the sand, on some sandbank in the line of flight, and having 
got into these, waited for them an hour or so before dawn. 

They are not much of a hand at diving, and give more trouble 
when wounded by struggling along out of shot. Of course they do 
dive, and pretty quickly, when hard-pressed, but they cannot stay 
under water for any length of time, nor do they ever hold on to 
weeds below the surface of the water, as do many ducks, and so 
avoid the sportsman. They soon rise after diving, and seldom far 
from where they entered the water, so that they can be easily shot 
on appearing. Hume says that he has seen one goose taken off by a 
crocodile ; but if he had shot more on the tidal waters on the Bengal 
side, where the snub-nosed man-eating brute has his abode, I am 
sure he would have seen many a fat goose and delicate duck disappear 
down their wide maws. Any big bird not recovered almost as soon 
as shot is just as likely to form a mugger's dinner as it is to form that 
of the person shooting it. x\lthough bad or rather indifferent divers, 
they are very good swimmers, and a broken-winged bird gets along 
the surface of the water with great rapidity. On the wing they are 
very swift when once started, and are active and graceful as well. 
They fly, as everyone knows, in the form of a "V ", generally one 
with a very obtuse point, and often with one wing of tlie "V " more 
drawn out than the other. They are noisy birds, and their cacklings 
and cries and trumpets are, on ordinary occasions, far from soul- 
stirring, but, when on the wing, high up, the loud trumpeting calls 
are very sonorous and musical. Especially is this the case when, 
late in the evening, or in the very early dawn, the spoitsman, crouched 
low in some ambush, waits eagerly for the welcome sound that tells 



ANSER ANSER 83 

of the approach of his game. To me this form of sport is very 
fascinating for a few hours, though I admit that it requires great 
patience, as it is often a long wait between the flocks as they come 
within reach, and often the temper is tried b> the persistent way in 
which birds continue, one tlock after the other, to fly past, either to 
the right or left, low down, but much too far off to get a shot. 
When, however, the birds fly kindly, it is very pleasant to hear the 
constant loud calls, the swish-swish of the wings as they pass, 
answered by the crack of your 1'2-bore, and the thud of the fat birds 
as they kiss mother earth for the last time. Of course, in this way, 
your bag of geese at all events, won't take many men to carry it, but 
there is no end to the variety, both of the game killed and the way of 
killing it. First, perhaps, comes a flight of whistlers in no formation 
of any sort, and you cover them with your gun, and let them go after 
you have made sure that you could have dropped a dozen, or if you 
want food for your men, you do fire and drop a couple. Then a few 
noisy little cotton-teal fly past in follow-my-leader fashion, each bird 
anxious to get in front of the others, and each determined that no 
other shall pass him. Next a flight of mallard, pintail, or gadwall 
may pass, and the loud, dull smacks on the ground that follow the 
report of the gun means so many good-eating ducks. As a rule, you 
will know what you have got by their appearance and flight, but a 
shoveller will sometimes imitate the gadwall very closely, and the 
result is disappointing. A flock or two of blue-wing or grey teal 
may now vary the sport, flying lower but even quicker than the 
ducks; and, last of all, in the distance, the geese will trumpet forth 
their approach, and after their arrival flocks of all sorts will pass in 
increasing numbers until it is too dark to see, and the bag collected, 
there is nothing left but to go home. In the early morning the routine 
is reversed, and the geese are the first to be got, and the whistlers 
and cotton-teal the last. 

Geese are almost invariably vegetarians, and get their food by 
grazing, in which way large flocks will do immense damage to young 
crops in a single night. They are destructive birds also, owing to the 
fact that they pull so much of what they feed on up b\- the roots, and 
thus destroy what they do not eat. 



84 INDIAN DUOKS 



(13) ANSER ALBIFRONS ALBIFRONS. 
THE WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE. 

Branta albifrons, Scop. Ann. I. His. Nat. p. 69 (1769) (North Italy). 

Anser albifrons, Jcrdon, B. of I. iii, p. 780; Hume, S. F. viii, p. Ill ; 
Huiiie, Cat. No. 947; Hiivie d- Marsli. Game-B. iii, p. 73, pi. 10; 
Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 92 ; Blanfonl, Avifauna B. I. iv, 
p. 417 ; Gates, Game-B. ii, p. 91 ; Alpttcrakij, Geese, p. 42 ; Stitait 
Baker, J. B. N. H. S. x, p. 355 ; id. Indian Dueks, p. 70 (1908) ; 
Forbes, J. B. N. H. S. xviii, p. 683 (1908). 

Anser erythropus, Hume, S. F. i, p. 259. 

Description. Adult Male. — " Forehead and feathers at the Ijase of the 
upper mandible white ; head, neck, back, rump, and wings brownish ash- 
colour ; upper tail-coverts white; breast and belly pale brownish- white, with 
patches and broad bars of black ; sides and flanks ash-brown, with paler 
edgings, and with a white band on tlie upper margin ; vent and under tail- 
coverts white ; upper wing-coverts greyish-brown with paler edgings, the 
greater ones edged with white, forming a conspicuous band ; wing-primaries 
liluish-black ; secondaries black ; tail-feathers dark-grey, tipped with white ; 
bill orange-yellow, the nail white ; irides dark-brown ; legs, toes, and mem- 
branes orange ; claws whitish horn-colour. Total length 27 inches, wing KJ, 
tail n, culmen r9, tarsus 2'5." {Salvadori.) 

Measurements. — Jerdon gives the wing as 17 inches; on the other hand, 
Hume gives it as 15 to 1575. 

" Wing 14'75 to 17 inches, culmen 1*57 to 2'20, tarsus 2'25 to 2'30." 
{Alpherakij.) 

Colours of the soft parts. — Hume gives these as follows : Legs and feet 
bright orange ; nails pinky or greyish-white ; bill pale livid fleshy ; nail 
Avhitish or pale yellowish-white : irides pale-brown. 

" Bill dull flesh-colour, to a more or less rosy-red. often a very beautiful 
rosy tint ; after death it rapidly turns into orange." {Xaumann.) 

" Weight: maximum 6 lbs., minimuir. 4 lbs., average 5'1 lbs." (Popliam.) 

Female only differs from the male in being rather smaller ; I can find no 
measurements of this goose sexed as females, but Alpheraky remarks ; — 

" I therefore quote the dimensions of the White-fronted Goose without 
stating the sex, this being the less to be regretted, seeing that it did not seem 
possible to give the limits for the maximum measurements of the female, on 
account of the inadequate material." 

Young. — " Bird of the \o;u- is more unifcim in colour and ratlier darker; 



Plate VI. 




%i 




m^f 



..cf 



..Muss^^r-'"'^^'''-'" 



Jt 




THE WHITE-FROINTED GOOSE. 
Anser a. albifrons. 
y^ nat. size 



ANSER ALBIFRONS ALBIFROXR 85 

the feathers at the hase ol the upper maudible are rather deeper brown than 
those of the rest of the head ; the nail and point of the beak light-brown ; the 
pale-brown feathers of the breast are uniform in colour without any dark 
patches or bars." {Salvadori.) 

As the bird grows older, the white band on the iOrehead appears and 
grows wider and wider, and, from what can be gathered from present records, 
seems to get wider eventually in the adult male than in the female, though 
Salvadori notes no difference in this respect. As regards the colouration 
of the under-parts, it varies \'ery greatly, this not according to age 
apparently. Some birds are so mucli marked with black underneath that 
the white is practically absent, only showing through in small patches here 
and there : in many the black predominates, whilst in others, the majority, 
the light colour is much in excess of the dark, in some few there being very 
little black anywhere. The white on the chin, too, increases with age, and, 
]ierhaps to a greater extent, also, on the gander than on the goose. 

Young' birds iu first plumage.— White feathering on head entirely absent, 
and both on head and along base of upper mandible replaced by brown or 
brown-black. On light grey belly (where black patches are always wanting) 
fairly regularly dispersed grey speckles, resulting from the fact that the 
feathers have grey centres. 

Distribution. — Anser gainheU is now generally accepted as a dis- 
tinct species (not by Alph^raky), so that the area inhabited by the 
Indian bird is considerally curtailed and it does not extend to Japan, 
though it does to the greater part of China. 

Salvadori, however, says that it is true A. (tlhifrons which 
inhabits Greenland, from which place he excludes A. gamheJi, so 
that this must now be accepted as one of its breeding-places. 

It is also found through the Palaearctic region from Iceland to 
Siberia, and in the winter from the Mediterranean shores, Egypt, 
away west through Asia Minor, Persia, and Northern India. Within 
our limits, comparing it with the way in which the grey lag and 
the bar-headed goose occur, the White-fronted Goose is a rarity, 
but a few do come every year to Sind and parts of the Punjab. The 
Indian specimens in the British Museum come from Lucknow, and 
the river Jhelum below Shahpur. 

Hume says that during the thirty years he had shot in India, 
prior to writing 'Game-Birds,' he only once shot this goose; whether 
he shot others afterwards I do not know. He records in ' Stray 
Feathers,' i, p. 2-59, shooting three geese in Sind, only he then 



86 INDIAN DUCKS 

called them A/iser erythropus, but gave their dimensions as those of 
small A. alhlfrons, viz., with wings irom 15 to 15'75 inches. It is 
probable, in fact almost certain, however, that many occur which 
are not distinguished by sportsmen from other geese, and are thus 
never recorded. 

Lieutenant C. D. Lester records shooting three White-Fronted 
Geese on the 14th February, lf->90, at a place called Deviria near 
Anjar in Cutch. 

Hume, writing of these birds in ' Stray Feathers,' said he twice 
.srt/r them, once on the Jhelum and once on the Indus; on the first 
occasion there were three birds, and on the second only two, and 
they were quite by themselves, not associating with other geese as 
one would have expected to see. 

Captain E. E. Forbes shot one out of a gaggle of five, three or 
four miles from Cawnpore, on the Ganges, on the 'Joth January. 190s. 

Colonel Graham says that this goose is found in Assam. Oates 
had the photograph of one sent him which had been shot on the 
Chindwiu river by Captam Williams on the 'iTth November, IHUO, 
and was also informed by Major lUppon that it had been shot on 
the lake at Fort Stedman in the Southern Shan States. 

It is not a rare bird in Great Jjritain, but has only twice been 
recorded from Heligoland in the last century. 

Prior to the recent records by Oates, nothing was known of this 
goose being obtained anywhere to the east of the Indian Empire, 
though there seems to be no reason why it should not fairly often 
enter both Assam and Northern Burma. Probably, however, it 
remains for the western sportsmen to say whether it is comparatively 
common or not, and it is to be hoped that sportsmen will go in more 
regularly for making notes of the varieties they shoot and recording 
them for the benefit of others. 

Nidiflcation. — Mr. Pearson ('Ibis,' 1S9G, p. '221) shot an Anscr 
albifrona on July 24th in Novaya Zemblya, and reports that the birds 
were moulting, so, presumably, they were also breeding there ; and 
according to Alpheraky "they had bred here in large numbers," and 
" in limited numbers in Finmark." The former author and his 
brother obtained this goose in the Philippine Islands. 

Mr. L. Popham found it breeding on the Yenisei river, but says 



ANSEE ALBIFRONS ALBIFROXS 87 

that it was not half so common as the bean-goose. He obtained 
three eggs and also a gosling in down, but gives no details of how 
he obtained them. 

According to Middendorff, who took the nest and eggs of this 
species in the Taimyr Peninsula on the 10th July, the former was 
placed in a cone-shaped tussock of grass, plentifully furnished with 
down from the parent's breast. Again, on August '2nd, he obtained 
eggs, so that it would appear that it is a late breeder. The 
Eastern form f/ambeli might possibly straggle into Burma. 

Alpheraky, who does not separate A. ganihcU and A. albifroiis. 
describes the eggs as being between 3"48 X 2'2'2 in length and 
2'99 X 1'94 inches in breadth. A clutch is usually stated as 
5, 6 or 7, but there is no doubt that the numlier is sometimes 
greater, and I have one of <"-> in my own collection. 

The eggs do not differ from the eggs of the grey lag, except 
in being smaller, and, in each case, a decidedly longer, narrower 
oval. In size they average 3'1'.) X I'l'I inches, exactly the same 
as twenty-four eggs of Gobcl's. 

Hartert gives the measurements of eighty-one eggs as follows : — ■ 

Average ... 78'34 X 53'39 mm. 

Maxima ... §£2 ^ oB'o ,, and 85'0 X .;.9'0 mm. 

Minima ... 7£S X 51'0 „ and 75'G X 4!)_d „ 

General Habits. — In parts of its range the White-fronted Goose 
occurs in immense numbers and in the Kharkov Governments it is 
said to swarm in tens of thousands. 

Alpheraky says that : — 

" White-fronted Geese during their migrations fly, like other 
geese, in a chain, key, or cone, while sometimes from one side of 
the angle extends a chain forming a second angle, and in such 
cases these geese usually fly high. In short flights, they go in a 
disorderly crowd. Flocks of several thousand, as observed by 
Mr. A. Brauner on the Dneister, I have never seen, but I often 
observed 200 or 300 birds in a pack, but more often in gaggles of 
70 to 150 or in smaller ones of 40 to 50. 

" In the Don steppes I have flushed swarms of these geese 
amounting to tens of thousands, but having once risen, these hosts 
immediately broke up into comparatively small flocks, and flew off, 
one after another, either to another part of the steppe or to water, 
uttering all the time tlioir loud, laughing cackle. 



88 INDIAN DUCKS 

Usually the first flight to the steppe took place at dawn, before 
sunrise ; at eight in the morning they -would return to the Muis 
estuary, whence at eleven to twelve they again flew to the steppe 
for an hour or two, and about two or three in the afternoon re- 
turned to drink and by four o'clock were again on the pasture, 
where they remained till almost complete darkness. This was the 
mode of life of the birds if unmolested ; but the flocks, when 
alarmed, often changed this disposition of their time, and the 
regularity of their visits to the field were broken. Some authors 
consider the White-fronted Goose less wary than other geese, while 
others deny this. Personally, I, after pursuing them with great 
perseverance, have become convinced that their caution nowise 
falls short of other geese." 

Like all other geese these, at the end of July, moult all their 
wing quills, and are then flightless, and the Samoyeds take advan- 
tage of their comparative helplessness and net them in large 
numbers, and store them for food during the winter months. 

Goslings of the White-fronted Goose are, like all others, expert 
divers, but adults will not dive unless very hard-driven and then 
without much skill or endurance. 



ANSER EBYTHROPFS 89 



(14) ANSER ERYTHROPUS. 
THE DWARF GOOSE. 

Anas erythropus, Linn. S. X. 10th ed. p. 123 (1758) (North Sweden). 

Anser minutus, Xaiim. Yog. Dciitsch. xi, p. 304 (1842) ; Hume, S. F. 
viii, p. 114 : Hume, Cat. No. 948. 

Anser erythropus, Jerdon, B. of I. iii, p. 781 ; Hume d: Marsh. Game-B. 
iii, p. 78, p\. 77 : Salvadori, Cat. B. 31. xxvii, p. 97 ; Blanford, Avi- 
fauna B. I. iv, p. 418; Stuart Baker, .7. B. X. H. S. xi, p. 357; id. 
ibid. XV, p. 524 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 53 ; Stuart Baker, Indian 
Ducks, p. 73 (1908) ; WignaU, J. B. X. H. S. xx, p. 855 (1911) • 
Plinstov, ibid. p. 1156 ; Thornhill, ibid, xxv, p. 488 (1918). 

Anser flnmarchicus, Gunner, in Knud Lecms. Bestrivclse, p. 264 (1767) ; 
Alphcraki/, Geese, p. 59. 

Adult Male. — Differs from the last bird, Anser albifrons, in being a good 
deal smaller, and having the white on the forehead far broader, reaching a 
line drawn across the head between the eyes ; also in having a decidedly 
darker rump and generally darker tint to the plumage, especially on the 
head and neck. 

Measurements.—" Total length about 21 inches, wing 15, tail 4'5. culmen 
1'27, tarsus 2'4." {Salvadori.) 

"Length 19'5 to 21 inches, wing 13 to 14'1, tail 2'85 to 3'25, tarsus 2'3 
to 2'4." {Hume.) 

" The Female is yet smaller than the male ; wing about 13'3 inches." 
{Salvadori.) 

Colours of the soft parts.—" The colour of the bill is in the young, before 
the first autumn moult, a reddish-grey, the nail blackish ; later this latter 
becomes a greyish-white, and the bill pale orange-yellow ; in old birds the 
bill is lively reddish-yellow or orange, the nail yellowish-reddish-white. 
There is never any trace of black upon the bill. 

" The naked edges of the eyelids are dirty yellow in the young, orange in 
tlie old ; the iride? are dark-brown. The feet are in the young a pale dirty 
yellow tending towards orange ; in the old a lively orange-yellow or almost 
orange-red. The claws are pale brown-colour, darker brown towards the 
tips." {Nauman7i.) 

In the bird sent to me by Mr. Johnston, and recorded later on in this 
article, the feet were bright chrome-yellow, and the bill livid-green with the 
nail paler. These colours were recorded after the bird had been dead about 



90 INDIAN DUCKS 

eight hours. Mr. Finn records from three live liirds l)efore hiui, that of the 
soft parts " tiio hill is of a Ijeautiful •i'ose-i)ink, not orange .... the 
eyelids arc lemon-yellow. In its dark eyes and orange feet, &c." All 
three of these birds had the soft parts similarly coloured. According to 
Alpheraky : — 

In the Lesser Whito-frontod Goose the yellow colouring and slightly 
swollen state of the ceroma are extremely characteristic. These swollen 
eyelids appearing so early (in the first plumage) are of a lemon-yellow 
colour, forming a complete ring round the eye, which, as we have already 
seen, is never tlie case w-ith the White-fronted Goose." 

Young'. — Are less marked with black on the lower parts, often not at all 
and tlie white on the forehead is absent. This seems to appear first in the 
spring of the first year, and increases gradually with age, probaljly not 
reaching its full width until about the third \ear. 

Distribution. — This little goose is found over the greater part of 
Northern Europe, to the west as far as Great Britain (l)ut only on 
rare occasions), in Lapland and eastwards, through Hiberia and 
Northern China. In the cold weather, it is found in Western 
Europe, Turkey, Asia Minor, North Egypt, Persia, Afghanistan, 
Northern India, China and Japan. 

In India it has been but rarely recorded, and I can find few notes 
of its occurrence since the publication of ' Game-Birds.' Blanford, in 
' Eastern Persia,' ii., p. 30H, records Aitscr cyiithropiis from Persia, 
and in a footnote he says : — 

"One goose at least is very common in Persia. Many couple 
remain to breed in the reeds round the lake Dashtiarjan and the 
marshes near Sliiraz, whence goslings are often In'ought into the 
town. I have never seen them in mature plumage, nor lieen able to 
shoot an old bird, so cannot say to what species they belong." 

I was told Ijy a correspondent in Cashmere that he had shot four 
geese there in 1901 which were of this species. Mr. H. E. -Tames, in 
the lecture, part of which was given in No. 2, Vol. viii, Bombay 
N.H.S. Journal, says: "A friend, of Sukkur, last year shot the very 
rare Aiiscr eri/tliropus, the White-fronted Goose, and ate it." I 
conclude that Anser crijtJiropus is correctly given, and that it is only 
the trivial name which is not the one by which we generally know 
the Dwarf Goose. 

I am afraid a very large number of birds which should be 
skinned and preserved, are plucked and eaten. Some dozen years 



ANSER ERTTHROPUS 91 

ago, a friend of mine, who knew how very keen I was on ornith- 
ology, informed me with great glee that he had been having a feed 
on some " hill ptarmigan." He described a bird of that family 
most nainutely, and I thought he must have got hold of something 
really good, and offered fabulous prices to any Naga who would 
produce some of these birds for my inspection. Of course they 
never came, but eventually my friend, seeing me handling some 
imperial pigeons, suddenly exclaimed : " Why, there are the hill 
ptarmigan ! " I regret to say that his description, as given me, 
contained only two points which referred to the pigeon, i.e., their 
colour and their feathered toes, the rest was the result of a fertile 
imagination, a desire to please, and the knowledge, he being a good 
sportsman, of what a hill ptarmigan sliould look like. 

The same man ate with relish some fine specimens of the 
Naga hill-partridge (Arboricola rufigularis), and left me the wings 
and a few feathers to weep over. However, jiartridges and ptar- 
migan are not geese, and I must stray no further. 

The other recorded Indian specimens are: two shot and one 
other seen by Captain Irby in Oudh ; others seen. Some, Hume 
does not say how many, were obtained by Mr. A. Anderson near 
Hardai in Oadh, and at Futtepur in the North-west Provinces. One 
procured by Dr. Bonavia near Lucknow ; and three shot by Mr. 
Chili, some thirty miles south of Delhi. Three were obtained by 
Mr. Frank Finn (a male and two females), from a bird-dealer in 
the provision-bazaar in Calcutta, said to have come from some- 
where near Rawal-Pindi. One was shot by Mr. E. Johnston, at 
Sookerating, Lakhimpur, Assam, in October, 1903. One recorded 
from near Nowshera by Mr. J. Wignall, shot on the Kabul river 
on the •2.Hrd October, 1910. Finally, Mr. Plinston records seeing 
four and shooting one on the Gogra, near Fyzabad, on the -Idi-d 
February, 1911. 

Nidification. — This little goose breeds in Lapland and ividr 
Alpheraky) " it breeds in the Kaninzk Peninsula, and probably 
throughout the whole tundra of the northern coast-line of Siberia." 
Its breeding-grounds in Lapland are close to the perpetual ice, 
yet, in spite of this, it is a comparatively early breeder, as 
Middendorff took the young in down as early as the 23rd .June, 



92 INDIAN DUCKS 

and OD the '29th July a young bird in which the quill-feathers had 
started growing. 

It lays five to eight eggs, in the usual goose's nest, which are 
generally described as of a dull creamy-white in colour, of a broad 
regular oval shape, glossless texture, and measuring about 2'9 X '2 
inches. Eggs in my own possession are dull-grey, one with the 
creamy tint very slightly developed. They are very long ovals, 
measuring 2'.sr) x 184 inches, and are perhaps rather abnormal 
in shape. 

The eggs in the British Museum vary between H'27 and 2'70 
inches in length, and between 1'93 and I'HO in breadth. 



ANSEK BKACHYHHVNCHUS 9^^ 



(15) ANSER BRACHYRHYNCHUS. 
THE PINK-FOOTED GOOSE. 

Anser brachyrhynchus, Badlon, 2Icm. Soc. Alb. p. 74 (1833) (Abbevillel ; 

[Lime, S. I', viii, p. 114; Hionc, Cat. No. 9-46; Hume tf Marsh. 

Gaine-B. iii, p. 71 ; McLeod, S. F. x, p. 168: Sa/radori. Cut. B. ^f. 

xxvii, p. 103; Blan/ord, Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 418; Oates. Gaine-B. ii, 

p. 65: Stuart Baker. J. B. N. H. S- xi, p. 399: id. iljid, Indian 

Ducks, p. 76 (1908). 
Melanonyx brachyrhynchus, Alpherakij, Geese, p. 87. 

Adult Male. — " Whole head aud neck brown with chocolate or coffee 
tinge, and often with a small number of white plumules at the base of 
the bill. Upper part of the back, between scapuhe, brown with rufous 
tinge. Lower part of back and scapulars light-brown, the feathers lie- 
coming rufous towards tips and edged with light-rufous or light-grey. 
Rump slate-brown ; upper and lower tail-coverts pure white. Tail 
blackish-brown, with white edgings and tips to the feathers. Upper wing- 
coverts slaty ashen-grey, and edged (more or less widely) with light 
rufous. Tips of median and greater wing-coverts very i^ale grey-rufous. 
Outer primaries grey, with black tips ; inner primaries and secondaries 
uniformly brown-black, latter with narrow whitish margins ; tertiaries 
dark-brown with wider whitish edgings. Whole breast rufous-brown, 
with pale edgings to feathers, producing a barred wavy effect. Flanks 
rufous-browD, each feather at tip passing gradually into rufous and 
fringed with lighter, sometimes greyish margins. 

" Eemaining part of under surface of body dingy-white, upper part 
of belly with darker grey transverse striping." (Alphcraky.) 

Colours of soft parts. — Legs and feet deep rosy-red, claws black, 
irides brown. Bill a beautiful carmine-pink, nail black, the base of the 
bill is also black to a greater or less extent ; in young birds the pink 
exists only as a narrow band behind the nail, in old birds it extends 
back to the nostrils, along the culmen only as far as the upper edge of 
the nares, and on the lower edge, sometimes, as far back as the extreme 
base of the bill. 

Measurements. — The measurements of a very line male in my posses- 
sion were : length 27 inches, wing 16'8, tarsus 2'44, tail 4'8, bill at front 
1'6, and from gape 1'66. Wing 15'7 inches, culmen 1'73 to 1'88, depth 
of bill at base 22, tarsus 2'20, weight 63 to 7* lbs." {Alpherakij.) 



94 INDIAN DUCKS 

Distribution. — Salvadoi'i says regardiDg the distribution of this 

goose : — 

Spitzl^ergen, where it nests, and probably also Franz Joseph 
Land : during the migration and in winter in North-west Europe ; 
occasionally it stra> s to Germany, Belgium and France ; its alleged 
occurrence in India reciuires further evidence." 

In spite of Salvadori's doubt on the subject, this beautiful 
goose has now been ascertained beyond question to visit India. 
As long ago as 184y Blyth recorded it from the Punjab, and 
mentioned it in the ' Catalogue of Birds of the Asiatic Museum.' 
Thirty years then elapsed before there occurred any further notice 
of this goose in Indian publications, and then Hume again noted 
its occurrence (in ' Stray Feathers,' viii). In 1864 he had, how 
ever, shot two birds of this species in the Jumna, and Colonel 
Irby also had recorded having seen a specimen killed near Lucknow 
in January, 1858. Colonel Graham assured Mr. Hume that the 
species is not uncommon in Assam on the Brahmapootra. 

Again, Major-General McLeod says of this goose: — 

" 1 shot one of these out of a flock of about twenty on the 
Kunawan bheel, near Gurdaspur, Punjab, in 1853." 

All these records man, however, have referred to other species of 
bean-geese, most probably to ncgJccius, a goose far more likely to 
favour us with visits than is hrachijrlijinclius, whose range does not 
nurmalhj, extend nearly as far as India. 

The Goose in my collection, above referred to, was shot by one of 
my collectors on a large bheel in the south of Cachar. He said that 
it was one of a flock of about a dozen, and that they were extremely 
wary and wild. He went after them several times without obtaining 
a shot, and at last got it by a tluke. He was stalking some ducks 
when these Geese, which had been put up by someone else, flew close 
over his head, and a lucky shot aimed at the front bird knocked over 
one of the last ones. 

This is the bird referred to by Gates in his article on the bean- 
geese which appeared in the Bomliay N.H. Society's Journal, and 
which he also mentions in his manual of ' Game-Birds.' Since these 
were written I have, in consequence, hunted up, and luckily found 
my original notes on the Goose, which leave absolutely no doubt as 



ANSER BHACHYBHYNCHUS 95 

to my identification having been correct, the notes on the wing- 
colouration and the bill having been very full. 

Seebohm, ' Birds of the Japanese Empire,' pp. '236-'2o7, says ; — 

The Pink-Footed Goose was admitted to the Japanese fauna on 
the authority of a female obtained in October at Hakodadi by 
Captain Blakiston (Swinhoe, 'Ibis,' 1875, p. 456). Unfortunately 
this example cannot be found, and some doubt attaches to the 
correctness of the identification." 

He goes on to say : — 

It is possible that this may be an examj)le of a Pink-Fooled 
Goose, but in the absence of the black base to the bill I am inclined 
to regard it as the young in first plumage of the White-Fronted 
Goose." 

I may note that the bill of the specimen in my collection, 
which has had very rough usage from neglect, rats, and, finally, 
earthquakes and heavy rain, is now of a uniform dirty grey-white, 
the whole of the outer portions having been pounded off by the 
heavy stones of a wall falling on it during the earthquake of 1897. 
It would seem, therefore, that very little reliance can be placed on 
the colouring of the bill in old specimens as a means to identification. 

Nidification. — As regards the breeding-habits, there seems to be 
little on record beyond Dresser's notes ; he says : — ■ 

" Of its breeding-habits but little, comparatively speaking, is 
known, and it is only known to breed with certainty in Iceland and 
Spitzbergen. Professor Malmgren, who obtained its eggs in the 
latter island, says that it is exceedingly wary and shy. In the early 
summer it is to be seen in small flocks on moss-covered low lands 
near the sea, or on rocky precipices, where there is vegetation here 
and there ; but in the breeding-season it is seen in pairs. When 
moulting, it frequents fresh-water swamps, and later on, when 
collected in flocks, it is to be met with near the cost. 

" Its nest is placed in prominent situations on high rocks, or 
platforms on steep cliffs, often close to a river, or in some grass- 
covered place, and sometimes on high cliffs close to the sea on the 
inner fjords. The nest is so situated that the birds can have unin- 
terrupted views from it of the country round, and can readily see if 
an intruder approaches or danger threatens. Hence it is diflicult to 
shoot this shy bird, even at its nest, for the gander is cxtremelv' 
watchful, and directly anyone approaches warns his mate by uttering 
a clear whistling cry. In June the female lays four or five eggs 



96 INDIAN DUCKS 

which are hatclied altoul the 10th or 15th July, aud both parents 
assist in taking care of the young. I possess a single egg of this 
goose, obtained on the Swedish expedition to Spitzbergeu, which is 
pure white, resembles the egg of Ansey iDiser, but is rather smaller, 
and the grain of the shell is somewhat smoother." 

Morris, ' Nests and Eggs of British Birds,' says : — 

" These birds unite about the middle of May ; Mr. G. Macgillivray 
has remarked that he saw them in pairs about the middle of the 
month, and that they had the young fully fledged and strong upon 
the wing about the end of July. They had again collected into 
flocks by the beginning of August. The eggs are of a pure white 
colour. Eight were laid by one of these geese kept in the water in 
St. James' Park by the Ornithological Society of London." 

I have received several chitches of this fine goose's eggs from Ice- 
land, two of five each, and two of four each, and from Spitzbergen I 
have received a single egg. Thev are in no way different from the 
eggs of the grey lag goose, but average considerably smaller, the nine- 
teen being, on an average, only 30 by I'OS inches, and the largest 
only 3'15 bv '2-Ofi. 



AXSER NEGLECTUS 97 



(16) ANSER NEGLECTUS. 
SUSHKIN'S GOOSE. 

Anser neglectus, Sushkui, Bull. B. O. C. v, p. C (1895) (East Eussia) ; 
Oatcs, Game-B. ii, p. 75 ; iJ. J. B. X. H. S. xvii, p. 44 : Stuart Baker, 
/hid. p. 637; AlpMrakij, ilml. p. 599; Biiturlin, ihnl. p. 604; Oates, 
ibid. p. 900; Stuart Baker, Indian Ducks:, p. SO (1908). 

Melanonyx neglectus, AlpJiiraky, Geese, p. 78. 

Description. — " The species is distinguished from A. hrachiirhijachnn by 
greater size, larger and more robust bill, and by the fact that the secondary 
coverts are black-brown, and thus of another colour to the main coverts. 
From A. segetum it is distinguished by the dark flesli-colour of the legs 
and median part of the bill. 

" As concerns the colour-differences of the plumage of the new goose 
from A. segetum, the colouring of the head and neck is darker than in 
the latter, and the margins of the feathers of the upper side and of the 
dark feathers of the sides of the body are browner. In some specimens, 
just as in .1. segetum, is observable a slight admixture of white feathers 
at the very root of the upper mandible." [Sushkin) 

To this description Alpheraky adds : — 

" The bill of Sushkin's Goose is comparatively weak and narrow ; 
from the bill of M. segetum it is distinguished by its far less depth at 
the base, and in particular by the feebler lower mandible. . . A still more 
mai'ked difference is presented by the shape and comparative size of 
the nail on the upper mandible." 

The last sentence refers to the difference as shown in my key. The 
differences between neglectus and segetum are the same, emphasized, 
between neglectus and .^errircstris. 

Total length about 30 inches, wing 177 to 19, culmen 2'16 to 2'48, 
tarsus 2'95 to 3'11. 

Bill : nail black, base of hill black as far as the exterior edge of the 
nostrils, but with the edge uneven and receding slightly in the centre ; 
band of bill a lovely carmine-pink ; feet vivid fleshy-red. (Notes by 
Mr. Mundy). 

Bill with black nail and base and bright pink centre ; feet same as 
the light portion of the bill. (Notes by Dr. Moore), 

Young in first plumage. — " These differ from the adults first of all 
by the narrower feathers of the body, as is generally the case with all 
young geese compared with old. Tips of the feathers on neck light whitish- 
7 



98 INDIAN DUCKS 

grey. Underparts light dingy-grey, with tinge of ochreous and darkei- 
rounded grey centres to feathers ; ven_t and tail-coverts (upper and lower) 
dingy-white, perhaps due to dustiness of skin. Head and neck brown, 
with strong coffee tint." {Alphiraky.) 

Distribution. — The extent of the range of this goose has not yet 
been definitely settled : it prohahhj occurs in Great Britain ; it 
certainhj occurs in Hungary, Kussia, and much of Central Europe, 
Asia Minor, and the extreme west of Asia througli to Persia. 
Seebohm obtained it on the Yenesei, and three birds obtained b\ 
Dr. Moore and my men in Dibrugarh were of this species. 

In vol. xvii of the Bombay N.H.S. Journal, when writing of this 
species (p. 537), I most unfortunately twice wrote middoidorfjli 
instead of ner/Iecfus, the former of these two, of course, not being 
a pink-billed species. In consequence of the discussion on bean- 
geese which arose in the Journal, I hunted up my old notes on 
this subject, and was lucky enough to find letters from Messrs. 
Moore and Mundy, and also my own notes. These, I think, quite 
definitely fix the identification of the geese obtained. 

Nidiflcation. — Sushkin's Goose breeds in Xovaya Zemlya, and 
almost certainly in Koiguev, perhaps also in the Surgai district 
near Urkach. 



ANSER FABALIS SIBIRICUS 99 



(17) ANSER FABALIS SIBIRICUS. 
MIDDENDOEFF'S GOOSE. 

Melanonyx arvensis sibiricus, Alphcraki/, Geesr, p. 104 (1905) (Taimyr). 

Anser middendorffl, Sec-itz. Turkes. Jn-otn. p. 70 (1873) ; Oate^, 
J. B. N. H. S. xvii. p. 45 ; Alpheraky, ibid. p. 599 ; Buturlin, ibid. 
p. 604; id Field, Nov. 17, 1906; Oatcs. Gaiiw-B. ii, p. 76; Stuart 
Bakei; Indian Ducks, p. 82 (1908). 

Anser serrirostris middendorflS, Sah-adoh, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 102. 

Anser fabalis sibiricus, Hartert. Vuij. Pal. p. 1286 (1920). 

Description. Adult Male.—" Head and ueck grey-brown for tlie most 
part, with a strong rufous, coffee, or grey-bay tint. A male from Amurland 
has even a golden-buff colour on the head and neck, and apparently such 
examples are far from being of rare occurrence locally in East Siberia, as 
indicated by the name, ' Yellow-Headed Goose,' met with among native 
appellations in Transbaikalia. All these various tints are evidently of 
accidental origin, and are just as often present in different individuals as 
absent. They are doubtless caused by the same factors as the rusty 
or yellow tinges on the heads of swans, ducks, and other species of geese. 

" In the rest of the plumage, except for a more uniform dark-brown 
colouring on the upper surface of the body, tlie eastern form does not differ 
from the typical. Even in dimensions, with the exception, of course, of the 
bill and feet, M. arvensis sibiricus almost agrees with large examples of 
M. arvensis." (Alphiraky.) 

Bill black, with a ring of yellow-orange round the apical portion of both 
mandibles behind the nail. In most cases this is quite narrow, though it 
may be found to extend as far back as the anterior edge of the nostril 
in a few specimens, but never, as in A. fabalis fabalis, back to the edge of 
the forehead. 

Alpheraky gives the length of the culmen as never being less than 
2'91 inches in adults, and extending to as much as 3'26 ; and Buturlin 
gives the smallest measurement he has found in this bird as 2'87, and 
in the same place says that he has found specimens of fabalis with culmen 
exceeding 2'75 inches. 

Middendorff's Goose is the Eastern form of fabalis, the Bean-Goose 
and only differs from that bird, except as noted above, in having a larger 
bill and in having less yellow on it. 



100 INDIAN DUCKS 

Distribution. — As regards its distribution, Alpheraky gives it as 
follows : — 

" Everywhere in East Siberia from the Taimyr Peninsula East- 
wards to Kamchatka, Chukchiland, and the Komandor Islands. . . . 
It nests on the Boganida, on the lower reaches of the Yana, on 
the Vilyui in the Yakut Government, and almost everywhere 
throughout Siberia between Lake Baikal and the Sea of Japan, near 
great rivers and lakes southwards to 50 degrees N. lat. and possibly 
still farther South. 

" It migrates to pass the winter in China and .Tapan, but how 
far it descends southwards for this purpose we have no idea." 

Nidificatiou. — In reference to its breeding, he writes: — 

" Tliis Goose breeds alike in the lowlands and on the hills ; " 
and quotes Maak to the effect : — 

"It builds its nest near the Vilyui and its tributaries, on lakes 
far removed from habitations, and young in down were found as 
early as June 8th." 

The eggs are described as being almost white or yellowisb, but 
as soon becoming much soiled with incubation. In length they vary 
between '2'89 and 3'68 inches, and in breadth between 2'09 and 3'44; 
the smallest measurements are probably abnormal, the next smallest 
measuring 307 to 2'1I inches. 

General Habits. — According to Eadde this goose arrives on the 
Tarei-Nor at the same time as the grey lag, at the end of March ; 
on the Irkut it did not arrive until May. 

Its voice is said to be similar to that of A user f. fahalis, but 
hoarser. It moults at the same time of the year as the latter, and 
like that goose is taken in great numbers by the fowlers for food. 
It is said by these fowlers to be an excellent diver, a talent that adds 
greatly to the difticulty of catching it. 



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ANSER INDICUS 101 



(18) ANSER INDICUS. 

THE BAE-HEADED GOOSE. 

Anas indica, LaUi. lad. Oni. ii, p. 839 (1790). 

Anser indicus, Jcnlon, B. of I. iii, p. 782 ; Hume, Xe.sts and Eyj-s. 

p. 636; Butler, S. F. iv, pp. 27, 40 and 99; id. ibid, vi, p. 2G0 ; 

Adams, iliid. p. 401; Hume, ibid, vii, p. 491; Hume (('■ Marsh. 

Game-B. iii, p. 81 ; Hume, Nests and Efjijs (Gates' ed.), iii, p. 27'.l ; 

Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 57 ; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 105 ; Stiiarl 

Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xi, p. 362 ; id. ibid., Indian Ducks, p. 84 (1908) ; 

Hopwood, J. B. N. H. S. xviii. p. 433 (1908) ; Harimjton, ibid, xix, 

p. 312 (1909) ; Bailey, ibid. p. 367 (1902) ; Perreaii, ibid. p. 901 

(1910) ; Whitehead, ibid, xx, p. 980 (1911) ; id. ibid, xxi, p. 158 

(1911) ; Bailey, ibid. p. 181 ; Hariiiijton, ibid. p. 1088 (1912) ; 
Osmaston, ibid, xxii, p. 548 (1913) ; Ciirrie, ibid, xxiv, p. 576 (1916) ; 
Inglis. ibid. p. 600; Whistler, ibid, xxvi, p. 190 (1918). 

Eulabeia indicus, Ball, S. F. iii, p. 436. 

Eulabeia indica, Alpheraky, Geese, p. 133. 

Adult. — " Head wliite, witli two horse-shoe blackish bars on tlie occiput 
and nape ; hind neck brown-black ; a longitudinal white band on the sides of 
the neck ; upper plumage very pale-ashy, the feathers edged with whitish 
and tinged with brown on the mantle and scapulars ; sides of the rump and 
upper tail-coverts whitish ; throat white, fore-neck brownish-ashy, passing 
gradually into cinereous on the breast, whitish on the abdomen ; vent and 
under tail-coverts white ; feathers of the flanks brown, rufous towards the 
tips with pale edgings ; quills grey, dusky towards the tips, and gradualh- 
becoming darker towards the secondaries ; tertials brownish-grey ; tail grey, 
white-tipped. 

" Total length 27 inches, wing 17, tail 6, bill 2, tarsus 2'75." 
(Salvadori.) 

"Length 27'25 to 33'5 inches, expanse 50 to 60, wing 16'0 to 19'0, tail 
from vent 5'0 to 7'0, tarsus 2'5 to 3'3, bill fi-om gape 1'8 to 2'3. Weight 
4 lbs. to 6 lbs. 14 ozs." (Hume.) 

" The legs and feet are light orange, sometimes paler, occasionally onh' 
yellow ; claws horny-black ; the irides deep-brown ; the bill orange-yellow to 
orange, rarely only pale lemon-yellow, often paler or greenish towards the 
nostril ; the nail black or blackish." {Hmnc.) 

Young " Forehead brownish-white, a little tinged with rusty ; a dusky 



102 INDIAN DUCKS 

line through the lores to the eye ; whole crown, occiput, and nape sooty or 
dusky-black; no trace either of the" two distinct black head-bars or of the 
conspicuous white neck-streaks; back of neck wood-brown, sides and front 
of the lower part of the neck pale dusky-greyish, mottled with whitish ; 
most of feathers of the breast and abdomen have a pale rusty tinge towards 
the tips ; the conspicuous dark banding of the flanks of the adults is almost 
entirely wanting; tail somewhat browner than in the adult." (Salvador/.) 
Young in Down. — " Pale yellowish, top of the head and upper parts 
pale-brown." (Salvadori.) 

Distribution. — Eonghl\- speaking, the habitat of this goose is India 
and Northern Burma and the Shan States during winter, and in 
summer Central Asia due north of these countries, up to latitude 
55° N. 

The most southern record which I can find is that by Jerdon in 
his ' Birds of India.' He writes : — 

" I once saw a couple of these geese in the extreme south of 
India in August, in a small sequestered tank. This pair may have 
been breeding there, but perhaps they were wounded or sickly birds." 

It is quite possible that they were breeding, but it is almost 
certain that one at least of the pair must have been damaged in some 
way sufficiently to incapacitate it from migrating. They are very 
devoted to one another, and probably if either of a pair of geese were 
injured, the other would remain with it. On the other hand, they 
might both have been geese, or both ganders, in which case, also, of 
course, both must have been injured. In Southern India it is 
nowhere a common bird. Major Mclnroy reported it as common in 
the Chitaldroog district of Mysore, and Mr. Theobald as not common 
in Coimbatore. In the south of the Central Provinces it is still far 
from plentiful. In Bengal it is met with in considerable numbers on 
all the larger rivers quite down to their mouths. I have seen great 
flocks of them, both in Jessore and Khulna, in January. It is also 
found on the rivers running through Behar, Chota-Nagpur, etc., but 
is not common. In Assam it is comparatively rare, but has been met 
with in Sylhet, Cachar, and Manipur, and I have also seen it in 
Kamrup, and it extends all up the Brahmapootra. It is to the west 
of Bengal, however, that it is found in such vast numbers, and in 
most parts there outnumbers all the other geese by more than five to 



Plate VII C. 




NEST OF BAR-HEADED GOOSE. 




TIBETANS COLLECTING EGGS OF BAR-HEADED GEESE. 



ANSEB INDIOUS 103 

one. In Sind, however, the grey lag is the more common, and it 
has not been obtained in Gujarat. 

Nidification. — Its headquarters for breeding seems to be the 
numerous lakes in Ladakh, and it also breeds throughout Tibet 
in suitable localities, and probably also north of the Himalayas in 
many other parts. 

Drew, writing of one of the many islands in the Tsomourari 
lake in Ladakhi, says : — 

The island is about half a mile from the shore, nearly midway 
in the length of the western side — it may be 100 yards corner to 
corner in one direction and 60 yards in another; it is of gneiss rock, 
rising only 9 or 10 feet above the water ; the soundings before given 
show that there is about 100 feet of water between the island and 
the near shore. This little place, being ordinarily undisturbed b\' 
man, is a great resort of tlie gull, which in Ladakhi is called Chag- 
haratse ; the surface was nearly all covered with its droppings, and 
there were hundreds of the young about ; most of these must have 
been hatched near the beginning of July. Having heard that it was 
a matter of interest with some ornithologists to learn about the 
nidification of the wild (barred-headed) goose, I was on the look-out 
for information concerning it, and I found that this island is one of 
the places where it lays its eggs. I was told by the Cbampas that 
they find the eggs there just before the ice breaks up — say, the 
beginning of May ; after that they have no means of reaching the 
island. I myself found there a broken egg, but at the time I was on 
the island (the last week in July) the young had all been hatched. 
A few days later I followed the same enquiry in the Valley of the 
Salt Lake, and on an earthy island in the fresh-water lake called 
Panbuk I found a nest where the mother was sitting with some 
goslings and two eggs, one just breaking with the chick ; the other 
egg I measured, and found it to be 3} X 2* inches, and very nearly 
elliptical in form. The nest was a slight hollow, lined with first a 
few bits of soft herb, then with feathers. I was told that these 
goose-eggs are found also at the edge of the Salt Lake itself." 

Two beautiful photos of these geese in their breeding-haunts and 
a most interesting account of their nesting is given by Major F. M. 
Bailey in the Bombay Natural History Society's Journal. These 
plates, with two others kindly sent me by Major Bailey, are here 
reproduced, and show very well both the nature of the ground on 
which the birds breed and the nests themselves. 

His description is as follows : — 



104 INDIAN DUCKS 

" On the 2nd June, 1908, on my way down IVom Gyantse to 
Pluiri, I left the main road, whfeh skirts the Northern sliore of the 
Hramtso — a lake 14,700 feet above sea level, and some eight miles 
long by four broad — and travelled round tiie southern side, halting 
for two days at the village of Hram. The southern shore of this 
lake is bordered by a belt of marsh about two miles broad in its 
widest parts. On this marsh thousands of Bar-Headed Geese breed, 
and it was the hope of being able to visit their nests that brought me 
here. The villagers of Hram annually collect hundreds of these eggs, 
and sell them at the rate of thirty for a rupee to men who carry 
them to different parts of Tibet for sale. This year, however, for 
religious reasons, the killing of all game and the taking of the eggs 
of wild birds has been prohibited by the Lhasa Government, and so 
I was fortunate in finding the birds more or less undisturbed. On 
arriving at the village I sent for some men who could show me where 
the nests were, and we walked the mile between tlie village and the 
edge of the lake, carrying with us a flat-bottomed Tibetan skin-boat. 
This we launched at the edge of the lake, and I was pushed across 
a few hundred yards of clear water which was only about two feet 
deep. Here we were on the marsh and could see dry islands ahead 
of us, white w'ith thousands of geese. The nearest of these islands 
was about a quarter of a mile avfay, but we were at least a quarter 
of an hour covering this distance. Every step one sank in up to the 
thighs in mud, and at that elevation frequent rests were necessary. 
I was told that we were having luck in crossing the marsh, as, if the 
wind had been blowing from the north, that is, from the deeper part 
of the lake towards the marsh, the water would have been banked 
up on the marsh and it would have been too deep to be passable. 
As we neared the first island, my guides pointed out the tracks of 
men over the marsh, who, they told me, must have come by night, 
disobeying the orders from Lhasa regarding the taking of eggs this 
year ; but I suspect that my guides themselves had taken a few eggs 
for their own consumption, as a stranger would be sure to get lost, 
the marsh being imi:)assable in many places. At last we reached 
the first nests. They were situated on a grassy island about two 
feet higher than the marsh. This island was circular and about 
twenty yards in diameter and contained fifteen nests. The nest 
consists of a slight hollow in the grass plentifully lined with down 
which is banked up round it. The nests contain from two to eight 
eggs, the commonest number being four, and the number of birds 
in the broods that are seen all along the roadside on the Northern 
shore of the lake is almost invariably four. I am inclined to think 
that when there are more than four eggs in a nest, some are bad 
ones wliich were laid possibly by another bird, as some of the eggs 
in a nest containing more than four eggs are always very discoloured 









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and evidenth much older than others and might perhaps have heeu 
laid the previous year. I noticed this in one case in which birds 
were just being hatched from the fresher looking eggs. These birds 
seem to lay their eggs in a very promiscuous manner, for I saw 
many single eggs laid on the grass outside the nests. The Tibetan 
collectors only take quite fresh eggs, which can at once be known 
by their clean appearance, as the eggs become soiled with mud from 
the sitting parent very soon after they are laid. As soon as the 
eggs are hatched, the birds leave the marsh, and move across to the 
open water, and are seen in great numbers on the Northern shore 
of the lake ; and except tlio very freshly hatched birds, I saw uo 
young ones on the marsh. This lake is frozen over in winter, but 
at the beginning of March, as soon as some clear pools are melted, 
a few geese and duck may be seen, and birds remain there until the 
lake freezes in November. A young bird shot in the beginning of 
winter has no bars on the liead. The broad black line which in an 
old bird runs down the back of the neck below the bars is continued 
on to the forehead, but is not quite so dark on tiie young bird as it 
is on the old one. Apparently, the only protection which the birds 
have, is the impassability of the ground between their nests and the 
shore, as no attempt at concealment of the nests is made. I saw 
a number of eagles on the marsh, but I tliink most of them were 
fish eagles. 

" The Tibetan name for the bar-headed goose is ' Angba Karpo ' 
or more briefly ' Ang Kar ' which means ' white goose.' The 
Brahminy Duck, which nests in ruined houses and rocks near the 
lake, is called the ' yellow goose.' I made careful enquiries from 
the egg collectors as to the presence of any other kind of goose on 
the lake, and they assured me that the bar-headed goose was the 
only kind, and I have never seen any other species at any time of 
the year. 

"After taking as many eggs as I wanted I returned, but sent 
some men on to see if they could get the eggs of Grus nigricolUs, 
of which many were feeding on the marsh, and in the evening they 
brought me one egg and a clutch of tern's eggs. The brown-headed 
gull {Lams bninneicephalus) was also seen in large numbers, and one 
egg was brought to me subsequently. 

"The photographs show the individual nests, which appear as 
white patches, and also the down scattered all over the nesting 
ground. They also show how the nests are crowded together, the 
distance between them being frequently less than a yard." 

Captain Stein, I. M.S., Captain Kennedy and Mr. Macdonald took 
a considerable number of the eggs of this species from the Rhamtso 
lake, the majority of which have come into my possession or passed 



106 INDIAN DUCKS 

through my hands. These are just like the eggs of Aiiser cuiscr, but 
average smaller, and the measurements of the sixty I have seen were 
as follows : — 

The maxima ... 6;££ x .55'4 and 87'8 x ,3.97 mm. 

The minima ... 80|0 X ,5r6 and 81"3 X 50' 5 mm. 

Average of 50 eggs .. . 84'2 x 55'1 ^ 3'32 x 2'2.5 inches. 

The colour was pure white when they were unsoiled, and the texture 
exactly like that of the eggs of A. aiiscr. Four or five appear to be 
the normal full number in a clutch. Most eggs are decidedly long 
ovals. 

General Habits. — Speaking broadly, this goose is far more of a 
river than a lake or tank bird, though it is, of course, also found on 
the larger lakes and bheels. In Jessore and Khulna we only saw 
one flock on the Moolna bheel, and that not a large one, but on the 
rivers we saw several big flocks. Here I tried Hume's plan of iloating 
down on them in boats, but a good many circumstances combined to 
prevent my having any success. In the first place, the water was 
almost everywhere too deep to enable a man to wade and push 
behind the boats: then, also, the fear of "muggers'" was much too 
strongly felt by the men for them to remain in the water long 
enough to get near the birds; and, finally, these last were exceed- 
ingly wide-awake, and would not allow us to get within distance of 
anything but the longest shots. I did get one pair, eventually, but 
it was only by an adaptation of Hume's plan. The geese, of which 
there was a flock of about forty, were on a sand chur about fifty 
yards from the bank of the river, which was about 200 yards wide. 
I dropped down the river along the bank furthest from the geese, 
and then, when below them, worked across the river and got out on 
the same side as they were. Hiding at once in the rank grass on the 
bank, I sent the boat back to within a couple of hundred yards of 
the geese, and when I saw that their attention was fully taken up 
with it, managed to stalk to the edge of the water nearest where 
they were. Armed with wire cartridges (No. 2 shot), I thought I 
could do some execution on the flock as they sat on the bank, but 
after I fired at them only two remained and the rest flew off. The 
fiock, however, seemed to consider that the boat was the aggressor, 
and sweeping round flew within twenty yards of me, and I knocked 



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ANSER INDICCS 107 

over thi'ee with my second barrel. Of these three, one was snapped 
up as soon as it touched the water by a crocodile, and the same fate 
happened to the second before we got to it, whilst the third flew 
away again without offering another chance. 

In the daytime, according to Hume, Tickeli, and nearly all other 
observers, as well as my own observations, geese, of all kinds nearly, 
rest during the day on land near the edge of the water ; they seem 
to prefer bare sandy churs, especially when these are surrounded 
by water, but failing such they rest on the banks. A few birds 
always seem to be posted as sentries, and they keep a wonderfully 
keen look-out, and are very hard to approach within reasonable 
distance. Mr. Theobald says that in Coimbatore, during the day- 
time, " they keep floating idly in the centre of some tank or river." 

In Bengal, at all events, where the rivers are deep and 
" muggers " plentiful, I fancy that flighting at night offers the 
best chances of a bag. "Where they are to be found in weedy 
lagoons, they can often be approached by dug-outs, with a small 
screen in the front of the boat composed of green branches or 
reeds, but when the water is open, and there is no natural cover, 
the birds are much too wily to be imposed on by the screen. On 
the other hand, if one goes in for shooting them as they fly over- 
head to and from their feeding-grounds, one cannot expect to 
obtain large bags, except with unusual luck. Mr. Eeid, in ' Game- 
Birds,' narrates how he has got as many as thirty birds between 
sunset and 7.30 p.m., but, as a rule, less than half of this would be 
considered a good bag. Of course, the charm of variety is added 
to the enjoyment of the shoot, for in flighting almost any kind of 
duck may turn up and join the game-bag. 

Hume's appeal to Indian sportsmen to try Prjevalski's plan of 
lying on the ground, and waving his hat at the geese in order to 
induce them to approach, seems to have met with no response ; at 
all events, I can find no bags, heavy or otherwise, recorded as having 
been made thus. 

They are, almost entirely vegetable feeders, and it is wonderful 
to see what damage a flock can do to young crops even in a single 
night ; and where they are numerous, as they are in Upper India, and 
visit the same feeding-ground night after night, they take no small 



lOy INDIAN DUCKS 

percentage of the wretched villagers' winter crops. They will eat 
ahuose any young, tender, green stuff, but probably prefer the 
late rice crops to any other. They feed, as a rule, during the 
night-time, but, where they are not interfered with, commence 
to graze aljout four p.m., and continue on the ground until an 
hour or so after sunrise. 

Their flight is typically goose-like, and in the usual V formation. 
Mr. Damant notes a very peculiar action of these birds : — 

"Tliey then appear flying in the fornj of a wedge, each bird 
keeping his place with perfect regularity. When they reach the 
lake, they circle round once or twice, and finally, before settling, 
each bird tumbles over in the air two or three times, precisely 
like a tumbler pigeon ; after they have once settled, they preserve 
no regular formation." 

As a matter of fact, each bird does not, as a rule, if ever, keep 
in its exact place in the V, but all observers have noticed that geese 
and other birds which adopt a V-shaped or line formation in flying 
constantly alter their position, each leader retiring after a few 
minutes to the rear, and the second bird taking its place, and then 
giving it up again in a short time to the bird immediately behind. 
This has been much remarked on in observations on migrating 
birds passing Heligoland. 

I have never seen any geese of this species tame, but Hume 
says he has seen many, though they do not ever appear to assume 
the confidential lap-dog familiarity of the grey lag. Their call 
is rather harsher and more shrill than is that of the grey lag, 
and very easily distinguishable from it. 

They arrive in India in the end of October, but in Bengal 
and youthern India few put in an appearance before the end of 
November. In the same way they leave these parts earlier than 
they do elsewhere, and there is little chance of any being found 
after the end of February. 



BBANTA RTIFICOLLIS 109 



(19) BRANTA RUFICOLLIS. 

THE EED-BREASTED GOOSE. 

Anser ruficollis, Pulhis, Spicil. Znol. vi, p. 21 (1769) (South Russia). 
Branta ruficollis, Bengal Hportiiuj Mckj. 1836, vii, p. 247 : Bluth, Ihis, 

1^'^70, p. 176; Gates, Game-B. ii, p. 78; Salcadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, 

p. 124 ; Stuart Baker, J. B. X //. 8. xvi ; Hartcrt, Yog. Pal. p. 1299 

(1020). 
Rufibrenta ruficollis, Alpheraki/, Geese, p. 140; Stuart Baker, Indian 

Ducks, p. 89 (1908). 

Description. Adult Male.— " Entire crown and liiud-neck black; the 
black of the crown extends through the eye to the chin and throat, leaving 
a large round white patch between the eye and the bill ; on the ear-coverts 
a chestnut angular patch, surrounded with white, ending in a white band 
down the sides of the neck ; neck and upper breast rich chestnut, surrounded 
below by a white narrow band ; back, rump, lower breast, and upper 
abdomen black; upper tail-coverts, lower abdomen, and under tail-coverts 
wliite ; flanks white, with black bands at the tip of the feathers ; wings 
brown-black, tlie upper coverts with pale edgings, which on the middle and 
greater wing-coverts form two greyish bands ; tail black; ' bill almost black ; 
irides hazel ; legs and feet dark-brown, almost black.' {Saiaiders)." 
(Salradori.) 

The Female only differs from the male in being somewhat smaller, the 
colours are equally bright. 

Youn^ birds in second year. — " Sliiny-black of plumage replaced by 
brown : instead of a rufous patch in the aural region, a similar grey- 
l)ro\vn one, with more or less admixture of rufous plumules, the whole 
patch being of indefinite outline, mingling with the surrounding whitish (not 
white) streak. As regards the rufous colouring of the anterior part of neck 
and upper breast, it can only be said that it is a lighter (rufous-buff) than 
in adult birds. White transverse bar, bordering interiorly the rufous of 
upper breast, less definite, and no black margin between this and the rufous, 
or only in the shape of a fe\v black-brown plumules. 

" Tail-feathers with very narrow white or whitish tips. Under side of 
wings and axillaries grey-brown. 

" Feathering on chin with a large admixture of white featherlets, giving 
it a finely mottled appearance. 

" Tips of greater wing-coverts light buff ; consequently both transverse 
bars across the wing are of this colour and not white." (Alpheraki/.) 



110 INDIAN DUCKS 

Measurements. — " Wing 13'7 to 14'1 inches, tail 5'90 to CO, culmen I'O 
to ri, tarsus 2 to 2'04." {Alphcrahi.)_ 

Hartert gives the wing as 345 to 3G5 mm., hill 23 to 26 mm. 

Distribution. — The Red-breasted Goose has been found to occur 
practically throughout Europe, though there is as yet nothing on 
record as to its appearance in Spain. To the extreme west it is 
rare, and in the west generally less common than in the east ; it 
occurs in Persia and Turkestan, so that its occasional occurrence in 
India is by no means surprising. 

Its first probable appearance in India was recorded in the old 
' Oriental Sporting Magazine,' and from that time (1836) until, in 
the pages of the Bombay Nat. Hist. Society's Journal, I noted Mr. 
Mundy's having seen it in Dibrngarh, no one had ever come across it 
again. Mr. Mundy saw the bird on the Brahmapootra, and, though 
he failed to obtain a specimen, he took very careful notes of its 
colouration, which, on being repeated to me, were ample enough to 
enable me to identify the bird as the Pied-breasted Goose. Finally, 
in March, 1907, I myself was fortunate enough to see five specimens 
on a chur in the Brahmapootra, just below Gowhatty ; they arose a 
long way off as the steamer drove upstream towards them, but turned 
and flew past us within 60 to 100 yards, and there could have been 
no possible chance of mistaking them. 

Nidification. — It breeds throughout the tundras of Western 
Siberia, and is also said by Pearson to breed in Lapland (' Ibis,' 
1896, p. 210). 

Middendorff got its eggs on the Boganida, slightly incubated, on 
the 25th June, Seebohm took its nest on the Yenesei in late June, 
1877, and Popham on the same river in 1895. In the latter case the 
four nests found were taken at the foot of a cliff, also tenanted 
by a peregrine falcon. The eggs are described as creamy-white, 
and much like those of the bean-goose, but with a very fragile shell, 
through which the green tint of the lining membrane shows. 

The eggs vary from 2'71 to 2'83 inches in length, and from 1'73 
to 1"77 in breadth, and there were seven, eight, or nine eggs in the 
full clutch. 

Zhitnikov, as quoted by Alpheraky, gives a most interesting 
account of this most beautiful goose. He writes : — 



BRANTA RUFICOLLIS 111 

■' Thick clouds of geese (of both species) got up from the shores 
of the lake, cackling incessantly, and flew off to the steppe ; and the 
abandoned lake now contained only sheldrakes and avocets. A 
belated gaggle of geese had alighted near my place of concealment, 
but a white-tailed eagle at once dispersed them, giving me no chance 
of shooting. 

" We sat in our pits to no purpose until 8 o'clock, and then went 
to the river, to drink tea, on our way putting up Brahmini Ducks 
feeding in the steppe grass. Having finished our tea — a nasty, 
muddy infusion from the river, l)ut not brackish — we again took up 
our posts in the pits, after carefully screening them with grass. 

" At ten in the morning the call of the geese resounded from the 
Atrek ; a series of black streaks showed from beyond the river : 
nearer and nearer they flew, and the whole steppe round was filled 
with clouds of birds. To gain any idea of the vast masses that 
collect to migrate, one must actually see this host of geese, and hear 
their cackle, which drowns the human voice. Without any exagger- 
ration, it may be said that there were tens of thousands of birds, some 
of the flocks containing from at least 300 to 500 birds. Flock after 
flock arrived on the lake ; the first parties were followed by others, 
and from beyond the river appeared the ever-approaching squadrons. 
They flew for the most part in masses, and only small flocks of ten 
to twenty geese disposed themselves in transverse lines. 

" It may here be added that in winter the hazarkas generally flew 
to the water and back in crowds, or more rarely in a transverse 
drawn-out line, but very seldom in a single line or in a ' key,' that is, 
in a longitudinal line or wedge, like swans, most geese and cranes. 

" The flocks on arrival settled above the lake, and seeing nothing 
suspicious, settled, although far from the shore ; they flew very high 
and dropped vertically on to the water. The majority of the flocks 
consisted of Anser crythropus ; but there were also many of A. 
ruficollis, easily distinguished by the deep black of the belly, the 
bright white streak on the wings, and their squeaky, shriller-toned 
note compared with the white-fronted species, as well as their 
notably inferior size. The last flocks, seeing their fellows already 
sitting on the water, descended much lower as they approached the 
lake." 

Dr. Eadde says that their flesh is dry and tough, but this refers to 
birds on migration ; and Lepekhin says that its flesh " is not disagree- 
able, and is excessively fat." It is said to be easily tamed, and to 
become as familiar and confiding when in a domestic state as it is 
wild and cautious when in a state of nature. 



112 INDIAN DUCKS 



Subfamily ANATIN^. 

Key to Genera. 

A. Lower portion of tarsus in front with small 

reticulate scales Deiidrocuciui, p. 93. 

B. Lower portion of tarsus in front with a row of 

transverse scutellm. 

a. Speculum wanting Mannanmctia, p. 202. 

h. Speculum always present. 

f/'. Outer web of inner secondaries chestnut, 
rt". Colouration pied, chestnut, black and 

white Tadonia, p. 109. 

/'^. Colouration all rufous-chestnut of dif- 
ferent shades, except on quills . . Casarca, p. 114. 

6'. Outer webs of inner secondaries not 

chestnut. 

cl Bill spatulate Spalida, p. 196. 

fi'^ Bill not spatulate. 

a'. Uppei- wing-coverts blue or grey-blue Qncrqucdula, p. 188. 

I?. Upper wing-coverts not grey-blue. 

a\ Tail long, with the central tail- 
feathers acuminated and extend- 
ing well beyond lateral tail- 
feathers Dafila, p. 181. 

h\ Central tail-feathers not elongated, 
and tail moderate in length. 

ft'. Bill broad, about the length of 

the head yl»a.s, p. 123. 

/)'. Bill not very broad and shorter 
than the head. 

rt". Upper and lower tail-coverts 
extending beyond end of 
rectrices Emu'ttii, p. 143. 



ANATIN.E 113 

b^. Upper and lower tail-coverts 
not extending beyond end 
of rectrices. 

«'. Central feathers not acu- 
minate and not extending 
beyond lateral ones . . t"7/rt)/?(?/rts»n(s, p. 148. 

//. Central tail-feathers more 
or less acuminated and 
extending slightly beyond 
lateral ones. 

a'. Bill small and about 
equal in breadth 
throughout .... Mareca, p. 155. 

/)'. Bill moderate and taper- 
ing towards tip . . Xettioii, p. 162. 

Hartert has recently eliminated a very large number of genera 
amongst the ducks. Thus under Aims he includes Qucrquedula, 
Cliaulelasmus, Marcca, Euiietta, Dafila and Marmaronetta . Un- 
doubtedly many of these genera are very closely allied, and the 
characters given by Blanford as reasons for separating them are in 
some cases more specific than generic. Especially is this so as 
regards Anas, Querquedula and Chctulelasmus. For the present, 
however, I retain Blanford's genera, as they are both convenient and 
well-known. 



IH INDIAN DUCKS 



Genus DENDKOCYCNA. 

The genus Deiidroci/cna — or Dendroci/f/na, as most of us would 
probably still prefer to call it- — contains our two widely-known species 
of Whistling-Teal as well as seven others, some of which are found 
in every continent except Europe, 

Whistling-Teal are amongst the few Anatidnc that perch con- 
stantly on trees, and also breed on them. The sexes are similar in 
plumage, though the female is often slightly smaller than the male. 
Many systematists used to consider that they were more closely 
allied to the Anf^crinse than to the AnatincC, and in many ways they 
do clearly approach the former, more especially, perhaps, in the 
formation of the legs and bills. 

They are non-migratory ducks, or only migratory in a very local 
way. 



Key to Species. 

A. Upper tail-coverts whitish, sometimes marked with black . D. fiilra. 

B. Upper tail-coverts uniform chestnut D. jacunica. 



Plate Vm. 




THE GREATER WHISTLING TEAL. 

Dendrocycna fulva. 

'/s nat. size. 



DENDROCYCNA FULVA 116 



(20) DENDROCYCNA FULVA. 
THE GEEATER WHISTLING-TEAL. 

Dendrocygna major, Jerdon, B. of I. iii, p. 790: Hume, Xcnts mid Ego^, 

p. 640 : /(/. S. F. iii, p. 193. 
Dendrocygna fulva, Hume d- Davis, S. F. vi, p. 488; Humi', ibid, vii, 

p. 463; viii, p. 115; Legqo, B. of C. p. 1069; Hume if Marsh. 

Game-B. iii, p. 119; Hume, Cat. No. 953 ; Parker, S. F. ix, p. 487 ; 

Oates, ibid, x, p. 245 ; id. B. of B. B. ii, p. 274 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. 

p. 399 ; Hume, Nests and Eggs (Gates' ed.), iii, p. 286. 
Dendrocycna fulva, Salradori, Cat. B. M. .xxvii, p. 149 ; Blanford, Avi- 
fauna B. I. iv, p. 432; Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xi, p. 556; (V?. 

Indian Ducks, p, 93 (1908). 

Description. Adult. — " Head, neck, and lower parts deep reddish-ochra- 
ceous, passing into cinnamon on the flanks, where the longer feathers have 
a hroad mesial stripe of pale ochraceous, bordered by dusky ; crown fer- 
ruginous, nape with a distinct brown-black stripe, commencing at the 
occiput; middle of the neck whitish, minutely streaked with dusky on the 
edges of the feathers ; prevailing colour above brownish-black, the dorsal 
and scapular feathers broadly edged v/ith cinnamon colour, giving a barred 
appearance ; lesser wing-coverts chestnut ; upper and under tail-coverts bufl'y 
white ; quills and tail dark brown." {Salvadori.) 

Colours of soft parts. — The bill varies from dusky-black, black on the 
terminal third and slaty at the base, to dusky throughout, merely tipped 
black, and much shaded with bluish lead-colour at base and basal half. In 
the same way the legs and feet vary from quite pale dusky plumbeous, more or 
less of a blue tint, to almost black. According to Merrill, the legs are bright 
slaty-blue, but personally I have seen no Indian birds with brightly-tinged 
legs. Claws black ; irides are light to dark brown. 

Measurements. — "Length 18 to 20 inches, wing 8'10 to 8'90, tail 2'2, 
culmen 1'66 to 1'95, tarsus 2"10 to 2"4, middle toe 2'30 to2'8." {Salvadori.) 

Jerdon gives the length as 21 inches and wing 94. The largest I have 
seen had the wing 9'20 inches, which is practically the same. 

The Female only differs from the male in being slightly smaller ; length 
17 to 19 inches, wing 7"85 to 8'25. The female obtained by Captain Shelley 
from Nyasaland measured, wing 9'1 inches, tarsus 2'1, and culmen 2'2. 
This gives a larger bird, with proportionately even larger bill, than any 
Indian bird which I have seen or of which I can find the measurements. 
Three other birds have been obtained in Nyasaland. 



11 It INDIAN DUCKS 

Birds of the first year are duller and paler, the upper tail-coverts are 
narrowly edged with brown, and the wing-coverts are a dull chestnut- 
brown. 

Young in Down. — " Upper parts greyish-brown, lower parts whitish, a 
white band across the occiput, interrupted by the brown band which runs 
along the hind-neck, a brown band from the ears to the hind-neck, no white 
patches on the sides of the back, a whitish band across the wing." 
{Salvadori.) 

Hume gives the weight of an adult male as 1 lb. 12 ozs., and that of a 
female as 1 lb. 10 ozs. I have shot one male which weighed 2 lbs. exactly, 
and which was a very fine heavy bird. I have never weighed a female or, 
at least, recorded any weights of such. 

Distribution. — The Greater Whistling-Teal has its headquarters 
within Indian limits in Eastern Bengal, where in parts it is exceed- 
ingly numerous ; thence it extends into Assam, where, however, it 
is not common, and seems gradually to become less common towards 
the west and north of the Empire, and to extend a very short way 
to the south. Mr. C. B. Sherman said that he found it very common 
in Travancore, but it is most probable that he mistook the Common 
Whistling-Teal for this bird. Jerdon also found it fau'ly common 
in some parts of the Deccan. 

As regards Burma, Gates, in 'Birds of British Burma,' writes; — 

' The larger Whistling-Teal is comparatively a rare bird in 
Burma, except in the Northern portions of Pegu, where I found 
it very abundant in the Engmah swamp, 25 miles South of 
Prome. Captain Wardlaw Eamsay procured it at Tonghoo ; and I 
observed it several times in the paddy-fields near Kyeikpadeiu in 
Southern Pegu during the rains. I can find no record of its occur- 
rence in Tennasserim or Arrakan." 

He then goes on to say that it is found in Ceylon, but he does not 
mention his authority for this statement, and I cannot but think it 
is a mistake, for I can find no record of its occurrence anywhere in 
that island. In ' Stray Feathers ' {loc. cit.) he says that the Larger 
Whistling-Teal is found all over the Province of Pegu, but is less 
common than the smaller species. 

Outside India its distribution is very remarkable. Salvadori thus 
describes its habitat : — 

" America (from Southern border of the United States to Mexico), 
and then from Venezuela and Peru to the Argentine Eepublic ; Africa 
South of the Sahara, and Madagascar." 



DENDROCYCNA FULVA 117 

Captain Shelley reports ('Ibis,' 1894, p. 28), four birds from 
Lake Shirwa in Nyasaland, mentioning that it is the first case he 
knew of in which the birds had been found so far south. 

The distribution of this duck is the more remarkable when we 
consider that it is not a mifjratory bird, or, at all events, only so in 
a partial manner, as influenced by the want of water, See. Thus it 
is a resident inhabitant of various tracts of country, large in them- 
selves, but very widely separated from one another, yet never, as 
far as is known, occurring in the intervening parts. 

Nidifioation. — I took a few nests of this teal in Eungpur, where, 
however, the bird is not common, one in Nadia, and a few in the 
Sundurbands. My first nests were taken in the latter place, and 
were nearly all placed on small trees, often babool or similar ones, 
standing on tiny islands in the centre of large bheels. With one 
exception, I think the birds had made the nests themselves. They 
were very roughly put together of twigs, sticks, and grass, and in a 
few cases covered — one can hardly say lined — with dirty masses of 
weeds. The}' averaged some eighteen inches across, and were placed 
not so often in forks as on tangles of branches, sometimes, of course, 
in forks, and at other times where the first few big branches run from 
the bole of a large tree. One nest was placed in the crown of a 
date-palm, one of a small clump that stood on a little hillock where 
there had been built the dirty and desolate little hut of some fisher- 
family. This had been deserted, probably the preceding year, and 
the Whistling-Teal reigned over the knoll and its contents. 

One nest, from its size and construction, must have been made 
by a fishing-eagle, numbers of which breed in these same haunts, 
and doubtless also vary their usual diet with a duckling every now 
and then. 

In Nadia I took one nest of this species only, and I do not 
remember seeing any more of these birds in that district. 
Krishnaghar, the headquarters town of Nadia, evidently once boasted 
a sporting community, as there is a racecourse — and a good one too 
— about a mile and a half from the station. Dotted here and there 
about the centre, and on the outskirts of this racecourse, there are 
a number of small tanks, all densely covered with weeds and sur- 
rounded by a thick fringe of bushes and trees, which afforded good 



118 INDIAN DUCKS 

cover to hares, jackals, and now and then a leopard. Overhanging 
one of these tanks and encroaching into the water itself, was a fine 
banyan tree, and over the water, and resting on a number of 
branches which crossed and recrossed one another, a pair of 
Whistling-Teal had made their nest. It was quite an ideal place 
for a nest ; the branches projected well over a deep tank, and, though 
supported by the numerous roots which had grown down from them, 
were yet not strong enough to bear the weight of a man. In 
addition to this, the brambles were so fearfully dense round the 
tree that it was an awful business to get to it. Eventually, after 
two visits had been made, we cut a narrow pathway through the 
jungle and sent an adventurous small boy up into the tree, who 
succeeded in clambering out to the nest and letting the eggs down in 
his puggree, or head-cloth. 

In Rungpur I found them selecting big trees and generally making 
their nests high up in them, some thirty feet or so from the ground. 
One nest I took from a large hollow in a dead tree. All the nests I 
saw in the district were made in trees growing beside the ditches 
which I have referred to in describing the cotton-teal's nesting. 

I have never seen their nests on the ground, but any one hunting 
for them should not overlook the fact that they may be found to 
sometimes place their nests thus. 

Barnes, vide his article on ' Nesting in Western India,' found 
this bird breeding at Hyderabad in Sind, and saw one nest which 
was placed in a babool tree, in the very centre of a large and deep 
jhil. Barnes doubted the authenticity of the eggs in his collection 
on account of their small size, and says that they measured I'S) by 
I'G inches. This is smaller than usual, but not remarkably so, and 
the difference in the size of their eggs is not half so great as is that 
between the two species of birds themselves. 

The only note in Oates' edition of Hume's ' Nests and Eggs ' is 
of a nest found at Saugor, C.P., and taken from a large hollow in an 
old tree ; the hollow was well lined with twigs, grass, and a few 
feathers. The eggs, seven in number, varied between 2'1'2 and 
2'25 inches, and between 1"()5 and 1'75 in breadth. They breed in 
most places in July and August ; in Nadia I took the nest at the end 
of June — I forget the date ; and in Hungpur they breed principally 
in August, a few in September. 



DENDROCYCNA FULVA 119 

I have never taken more than ten eggs from any nest, and think 
six to eight is the number most often laid, and I have taken four 
quite hard-set. 

I have noticed that there is a very general tendency to over- 
estimate the number of eggs laid by all game-birds, whether land or 
water ; why this should be so, I cannot tell, but that it is so cannot 
be doubted. Thus the majority of quails lay four eggs, few more than 
six ; jungle-fowl lay five or six, often only two or three, sometimes 
eight or more, but this is the exception ; bush and bamboo-partridges 
almost invariably four or five. Of nearly all these birds, writers — 
general!)' anonymous, at other times good sportsmen but bad 
observers-^have noticed their laying double the number, and put 
that down as the normal number in a clutch. 

After this digression, to return to this Whistling-Teal's eggs, 
they vary in no way from those of the smaller bird, though Gates 
says that they are, perhaps, of superior smoothness. This has not 
struck me, and I certainly could not discriminate between a small 
egg of D. fulva and a large one of I), javanica. "When first laid, 
they are a pure pearly white, often showing a slight gloss ; this gloss 
goes off very quickly, and soon the eggs take a very faint greyish or 
yellowish tint, the shade depending, I think, on the water the pair of 
birds frequent and the material of which the nest is made. I have 
a clutch of eggs taken from a nest made principally of, and lined 
entirely with, rank weeds, and these eggs are faint, but distinct, 
yellowish underneath and pale greyish above. The normal shape of 
the egg is a very broad regular oval, but little smaller at one end than 
the other. Abnormal eggs are generally longer in shape, but I have 
seen none at all pointed. They are fine and smooth in texture, but 
inclined to be chalky, and not very close-grained. 

Fifty of my eggs average 219 X 1'69 inches. The smallest I 
have ever taken was 1'84 X 1'56, and the largest '240 X 201 ; but 
neither of these is now in my collection. 

General Habits. — Unlike D, javanica, this bird is usually found in 
rather small flocks ; even in Jessore and Khulna, where it is perhaps 
more abundant than in any other portion of its range, I seldom 
noticed it in flocks of much over twenty, and never, I think, over forty. 
Generally there were some dozen or fifteen members to each flock. 



120 INDIAN DUCKS 

Of course, in some bheels and lakes where they are especially 
numerous, several small Hocks may be seen feeding together, forming 
a total of 100 birds or more, but, on being disturbed, it will be found 
that, as a rule, though rising en masse, they soon divide again into 
parties. 

They are wilder birds than their smaller cousins, and also 
stronger and quicker on the wing ; indeed, when once well started, 
they are no mean fliers, and require a straight gun to knock them 
over. One cannot well describe the difference in the voice of the 
two Whistling-Teals ; but it is recognizable, and I think it consists 
in the bigger bird having a shriller whistle than the other, though 
it is not such a noisy bird. I doubt if they perch as" much as 
I), javanica does ; the latter bird often takes to trees in the day- 
time without any apparent purpose, except to rest, but D. fulva 
does not seem to do this. Of course, both birds, when perching, 
choose large boughs and branches, as they have no great grasping 
power, and could not retain their hold on small ones, especially if 
there was any wind to sway them about. As Hume remarks, this 
whistling-teal is far more often seen on land than is the smaller 
species, and he also notes their goose-like gait. Their legs are^ 
as we all know, set forward much as are those of geese, and in 
consequence they naturally walk freely and well as do those birds. 
I have noticed them resting during the heat of the day on the 
spits of grass-covered land which run far out into the larger bheels. 
One or two observers have said that they are more river and clear 
water frequenters than are others of the genus, but this I have 
not myself confirmed. Every large bheel and expanse of water 
which had cover on it, contained more or fewer of these birds, and 
many a tiny tank or rush-and-weed-covered backwater held its 
Hock ; but I have never yet met with them on the open waters 
of the Ganges and Brahmapootra, though I have visited them 
often, and though these run through their favourite haunts. 

These duck or teal, are practically as omnivorous as is the 
domesticated duck, and will eat almost anything they can get 
hold of, preferring, perhaps, a vegetarian to a meat diet. 

I can give no thrilling accounts of shooting these teal, as they 
are not considered game in Bengal, and when we do shoot them 



DENDROCYCNA FULVA 1'21 

we do not talk of it. Of course a good many are shot for the 
servants, boat-men, etc., who enjoy them immensely, and the 
fishier they are, the more tasty they consider them. I have noticed 
no difference in the flavour of the two species of whistler, and 
cannot say I think much of either ; they do not make bad curry 
or mulligatawny soup when one can get nothing else, and I have 
eaten them in preference to the domestic moorghi : but at this 
point my praise of them, as an edible quantity, must end. 



122 INDIAN DUCKS 



(-21) DENDROCYCNA JAVANICA. 
THE LESSER OE COMMON WHISTLING-TEAL. 

Dendrocygna arcuata, llinnc, S. F. i, p. 260 ; nJ. Ncsls d' Eijas, p. 639 ; 

I'}. S. /•'. ii, p. 315; Ball, ihid. p. 483; 0<itc><, ilu'd. v, p. 169. 
Dendrocyg-na awsuree, Jcnlon, Jl. uf I. iii, p. 786. 
Dendrocyg'na javanica, Hninc ,(' Davis, S. F. vi, pp. 486, 488; Cnpps, 

ibiil. vii, p. 811 ; Hiiiiic, i/nd. viii, p. 71 ; Hiniic, Cat. No. 952 ; Legge, 

B. of C. p. 1069 ; Hume d.' Marsh. Game-B. iii, p. 109 ; BimjJiam, S. F. 

ix, p. 198 ; Parl<, ibid. p. 486 ; Oates, ibid, x, p. 245 ; id. B. of B. B. 

ii, p. 273 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 398 ; Hume, Nests it Eggs (Oafces' ed.) 

iii, p. 284. 

Dendrocycna javanica, Salvadon, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 156; Blanford, 
Arifanna B. 1. iv, p. 430 : Stuart Baler, J. B. N. H. S. xi, p. 562 ; 
id. Indian Lucks, p. 99 (1908) ; Ireland, J. B. N. II. S. xxv, p. 499 
(1918J. 

Description. Adult Male.— Forehead and crown brown, paler and 
reddish on the forehead, and darkest on the occiput ; remainder of head 
and neck pale fulvous-grey, paler on tlie cheeks, and almost white on the 
chin and upper throat ; this colour gradually changes into yellowish -grey 
or yellowish-fulvous on the breast, which again changes into the chest- 
nut of the lower part, and this again, in its turn, fades into the dirty 
creamy-white of the lower tail-coverts. Above, the colour of the neck 
changes into brown on the scapulars and back, where the feathers are 
broadly margined with golden-rufous ; rump black ; upper tail-coverts 
chestnut ; tail brown, very narrowly margined with paler dingy-rufous ; 
lesser and median wiug-coverfcs chestnut, the latter sometimes mixed 
with ashy ; greater coverts dark-ashy, rarely splashed with chestnut next 
the primaries; quills black, the inner secondaries more brown and edged 
with dingy ash-colour ; flanks chestnut, the feathers sometimes centred 
paler ; axillaries brown. 

Colours of soft parts. — Irides dark-brown ; bill almost black to slaty- 
grey, with the nail darker ; feet slaty-brown to dull black. " Eyelids 
bright yellow." {Salvadori.) 

■' The irides are deep brown ; the eyelids bright yellow to pale golden ; 
the legs and feet generally dark, at times somewhat pale plumbeous-blue, 
often dusky in patches, and on the webs and claws blackish ; bill 
plumbeous to pale dull lilue at the base, shading to black at the tip, the 



PlatpIX. 





THE LESSER WHISTLING TEAL. 

Dendrocycna javanica. 

Vz nat. size 



DENDROCYCNA JAVANICA 123 

bill in some having a greater extent of plumbeous, in others black ; the 
membrane between the rami of the lower mandible is generally pinkish." 
{Humr.) 

Measurements.— Length IG to 17'5 inches, wing G'92 to H'Oi, tail aliout 
2'5 to 3, tarsus 1"6 to 1'92, bill from gape 17 to 2"0(;. 

"Length about 18 inches, wing 8, tail 2, bill at front 1;, tarsus li, 
midtoe 2f." (Jerdon.) 

Weight about 1 lb. to 1 lb. 6 oz., the latter weight unusual. 

Female. — Like the male, but perhaps averaging smaller. 

The Young. — " When just able to &y, do not differ very much from the 
adult, but are everywhere duller coloured. The margins to tlie feathers of 
the interscapulary region are inconspicuous and dingy fulvous, and the 
entire lower surface a rather pale, dull, fulvous-brown." {Hume.) 

Young in Down: — " The colour nearly jet black, a white eyebrow and a 
very conspicuous white patch on the back of the head ; a white patch at 
the wings and two other white patches on either side of the lower back 
and rump." {Liccsci/.) 

Distribution. — There are few places in India where this very 
common bird ma>' not be found, but outside our limits it does not 
extend very far. It is obtained throughout the Indo-Chinese 
countries and Siam, and in the Loochoo Islands, the Malay Penin- 
sula, Sumatra, Borneo, and Java. Mr. C. B. Eickett obtained a 
specimen near Sharp Peak, close to Foochow, and it has been 
obtained on one or two other occasions in China. The bird shot 
by Mr. Rickett was killed in November. 

The specimen said to have been brought home from Lake Tchad, 
in Central Africa, seems to have been recorded as the result of some 
mistake. 

Nidification. — Normally and typically both our Indian Dendrocijaise 
build nests on trees, or lay their eggs in their hollows ; often they 
make use of the deserted nests of other birds, and sometimes they 
build nests on or near the ground, in reeds, grass, or other bushes. 
The recorded and authenticated instances of the Common Whistling- 
Teal laying its eggs in nests placed on the ground are, however, 
fairly numerous. 

Barnes, in vol. i of the B.N.H.S. Journal, recorded the fact that 
in Neemuch he never found their nests on trees, but always amongst 
rushes growing on the edges of l)anks. 

Gates, in 'Birds of British Burmah,' says that he has "frequently 



124 INDIAN DUCKS 

found its uest in Pegu in July and August — a mass of dead leaves 
and grass placed on a low thick cane brake in paddy-land, and con- 
taining six very smooth white eggs .... Those nests I myself 
found were invariably situated, as above described, on cane brakes." 
Jerdon also says that : — 

" It generalh', perhaps, breeds in the dryer patches of grass on 
the ground, often at a considerable distance from water, carefully 
concealing its nest by intertwining some blades of grass over it." 

Lastly, Legge notes in ' Birds of Ceylon " : — 

" It sometimes builds on the ground among the rushes or tussocks, 
and even in reeds, the nest half floating in water." 

In ' Game-Birds " Hume's notes on the nidification of this species 
are very full and interesting, containing practically every known 
situation for the nest. Thus Captam Butler took the nest from a 
tussock of grass growing out of a dried stick fence ; Mr. Doig and he 
took them frequently from creeper-covered tamarisk jungle growing 
in water, and the former also found them placed on the tops of 
clumps of bull-rushes. 

Mr. J. Davidson also found the nests on the ground in Mysore, 
where they were placed in tufts of grass which formed islands in 
the middle of weedy tanks. 

Cripps found that in Dacca, Furreedpur, and Silhet they breed 
both on trees and on the ground. 

In the Dibrugarh district of Assam I found that these Whistling- 
Teal almost invariably placed their nests on high pieces of land 
standing in swamps. In the north of the district I noticed that 
they were locally migratory. In June, in certain places, not a 
single bird was to be seen, perhaps, in a long morning's walk, 
but in July, by the time the water had collected in the low-lying 
land, forming wide though shallow stretches of water, the birds had 
gathered in hundreds, and were busy over their domestic arrange- 
ments. Often across these pieces of water the villagers had made 
raised banks from one side to the other, either to cut off their special 
patch of cultivation or as a path. The centre of these banks were, 
as a rule, trodden bare, but the sides were, more or less, covered 
with dense grass, some two or three feet high, and in such places the 
Whistlers placed their nests. 



DENDROCYCNA TAVANICA 125 

They also made use of the high ground surrounding the deeper 
pieces of water, which formed small banks in the cold weather, luit 
in the rains formed tiny circular islands. The nests here were 
massive structures of grass and water-weeds, and were always very 
well concealed, the covering grass in every case forming a dome 
completely covering them and hiding them from sight, even when 
one stood actually over them. 

Except in this district, I have never seen a nest actually on the 
ground, but have taken one or two from situations very close to it. 
In Cachar, at the foot of the hills, there is much broken ground, often 
intersected by nullahs which widen out here and there into swamps 
and bheels. Here the Whistling-Teal is in its element, and has an 
enormous variety of sites to choose from. The one I found most 
often selected was some clump of trees, generally babool or a stunted 
species of large-leaved, densely-foliaged tree which often grows 
actually in the water. When the rains are on, these small clumps 
form oases in the centre of a watery desert, and when the floods are 
at their height show merely a few feet of their crests above water, 
on one of which these ducks build their nests, rough-and-ready con- 
structions of weeds, sun-grass, and rushes, rarely lined with a few 
feathers. Sometimes a good many twigs are used, more especially 
when the nests are placed in babool trees, where, owing to the support 
being less compact, the nest itself is bound to be stronger and better 
put together. The situation next most often chosen as a site for the 
nest is up one of the arms of these same bheels or swamps, which 
seldom, if ever, have deep water in them, but at the same time, from 
collecting moisture drained off surrounding hills, are always wet and 
moist. In these places the canes, reeds, and other vegetation grow 
to a great height, often twelve feet or more, and are so rank and 
tangled that their tops will bear no inconsiderable weight. When 
building the nest in one of these tangles, the birds place it some two 
or three feet from the top, the density of which protects it greatly 
from rain, &c. The nest itself is one of the roughest description ; a 
mere thick, coarse pad of grass, reeds, and perhaps, a few creepers, 
measuring some eighteen to twenty-four inches in diameter, and 
with no more depression in the centre than is caused by the birds 
constantly sitting in it. 



1'26 INDIAN UUCKS 

Now and then the nest is found on trees close by villages and 
near some tank or piece of water.. When on this kind of tree the 
nests may be placed either on one of the bigger forks or in a large 
hollow, and when in the former place are quite well-built nests of 
twigs lined with grass and a few feathers. If, on the contrary, they 
are in the hollows, the nest is scanty, and sometimes merely consists 
of the fragments naturally contained in the hole. 

In Rungpur I found nearly all my nests on trees, though very 
often they were not built by the birds themselves, but they used 
old crows' nests sometimes, old kites' nests frequently. I should 
mention that the crows' nests the birds used were always those of 
C. fiplcndcus, and it seems to me very remarkable that this duck 
should find room to lay and hatch some six to a dozen eggs in a nest 
as small as that usually built by C. macrorJn/)ichiis, as this crow- 
generally makes such a compact, neat nest, with very little waste 
room about it. I should imagine the jungle-crow in Hume's 
anecdote, given below, must have been an extravagant, wasteful 
bird, or else have taken house-rent from the teal and charged per 
square yard of room. 

Most nests are not placed at any great height from the gi'ound, 
seldom over twenty feet or so, but I have taken one or two from far 
greater heights. 

As regards the number of eggs laid, there is a good deal of 
difference in the maximum normal number as estimated by various 
observers. 

Jerdon, Butler, Doig, Davidson, Cripps, and I, myself, consider 
about eight to ten to be the normal number laid, though in t'achar 
the former number is the largest I remember taking. Oates gives 
SIX or seven, whilst Anderson says that ordinarily this bird lays a 
dozen. 

In Dibrugarh, where I found very many nests, indeed sometimes 
seven or eight in a morning, I found six to eight to be the normal 
number, though I once found eleven. On the other hand, I several 
times saw hard-set clutches numbering only four or five. 

Probably eight to ten is the number most often laid, and whilst 
in some districts, probably to the east, they may average fewer, yet, 
on the other hand, in some more to the west, the average clutch 
may be somewhat larger. 



DENDROCYCNA JAVANICA 127 

The eggs are like those ah-eady described as belonging to 
D. fulva, that is to say, they are very spherical ovals, but little 
compressed at the smaller end, and in texture are very smooth and 
fine, but neither very close-grained nor glossy, and somewhat chalky 
on the surface. They are nearly pure white, sometimes inclined to 
ivory-white when first laid, but stain quickly, and soon lose the faint 
gloss they sometimes show at first. 

Hume, in a footnote to 'Game-Birds,' says that the lining- 
membrane of this teal's egg is a delicate salmon-pink, and gives a 
faint rosy tinge to perfectly fresh unblown eggs. I have now 
examined a huge series of these eggs, but have failed to find any 
with the lining-membrane so coloured. When fresh, all the eggs 
blown by me have had this membrane a very dull dead lemon-yellow, 
and when dry it is of a dead grey-white; I should have said that the 
tint of eggs in the condition he describes was more of a very faint 
and very dull creamy yellow rather than rosy, but, as a matter of 
fact, the shells are thick and have very little transparency, and as a 
rule the yolk gives no tint at all to the shell. 

All my eggs come within the average given by Gates in Hume's 
' Nests and Eggs,' viz., length from 1'7'2 to '2'0 inches, and breadth 
from 1'4 to 1'6. The average of over 150 eggs taken by me is, 
however, larger, and measures 1'89 X 1'5'2 inches. 

The duck is a very close sitter, and will not move from her eggs 
until very closely approached ; indeed, she may sometimes be caught 
by hand. Mr. Brooks thus caught a duck on her nest, which was 
placed at the bottom of a hollow in a dead stump. 

The drake keeps much to the tree where the nest is, and spends 
much of his time alongside his mate on the nearest comfortable 
perch, but I have never been able to ascertain whether he assists in 
the incubation. 

In different parts of the country they breed from late June up to 
September ; in Eastern Bengal principally in July, in Western Bengal 
in late July and early August, in Western India later still. Barnes 
says that in Eajputana they breed in August and September. 

In Ceylon it is one of the birds that does not alter its habits of 
breeding much, and there they lay in June and July. 

General Habits. — This W^histling-Teal is, in many parts of India, 



128 INDIAN DUCKS 

a local migrant, visiting them only during the rains ; and this we 
can well understand, knowing how many places in Northern and 
North-western India change their character with the advent of the 
rains from utterly dry, burnt-up tracts to well- watered, wet ones. 

Cripps says that they are not found in Dacca during the cold 
weather ; but this I know is not now the case, as I have seen them 
there at that season, only they keep to the wetter portions of the 
district, and doubtless many do move to Silhet, where there is never 
any want of swamps and bheels. In the same way many birds 
leave Cachar as the water subsides and go into Silhet. In Bengal 
I think the question is entirely one of water-supply, and Vv'here the 
water is sufficient there these teal will remain independent of the 
season. When, on the other hand, the water fails them, they go off 
elsewhere. In Sind they are rainy-weather visitors only, and they 
also leave the Deccan in great numbers as the waters dry up at the 
end of the cold weather. They are found throughout the Terai, but 
do not ascend very high, and most probably Hodgson's specimen was 
not really obtained in Nepal. 

In Cachar they are extremely common all the year round in the 
plains, but never ascend the hills at all. 

Hume, writing of this bird, says : — 

" It is essentially a tree Duck ; it must have trees as well as 
water, and hence its entire absence from some pieces of water, in 
treeless parts of Eajputana, for instance, where other species of 
Duck abound during the cold season. Yet it prefers level, or fairly 
level, tracts to very broken hilly country, and again, though in 
some places, e.g., at Tavoy, it may be met with in rivers in 
enormous flocks, it, as a rule, prefers moderate-sized lakes and ponds 
to rivers. 

Owing to these preferences there are many tracts, as, for 
instance, portions of the Deccan, where it is extremely rare." 

This is quite true, but in Eastern India, more especially 
Bengal, nearly all the country is more or less well supplied with 
trees and also water, so that local migrations are not necessary, and 
therefore not indulged in except in the very narrowest sense of the 
word. 

The same applies to Ceylon, where Legge describes them as 
permanent residents, but moving to and from certain places with the 
season. 



BENDROCYCNA JAVANR'A 129 

Hume says that it seems to be a permanent resident only in 
districts which are iveU-d rained as well as possessing other attributes 
This is certainly not the case in many or most parts of Bengal, 
where the birds are resident, however ill-drained the district may 
be. 

It is quite the exception for them to be seen in any number on 
rivers and open clean pieces of water ; the\ prefer tanks, back- 
waters, swamps, and lakes, the latter especialh' when they are well 
covered with weeds or vegetation. 

My first duck-shooting in India was obtained in Jessore, and 
until then I had no idea of the vast numbers in which duck of 
different kmds assemble. Teal of sorts were connuon, and gadwall, 
pintail, and many ducks also, but the Whistling-Teal must have 
numbered at least one hundred to each one of all the other kinds 
included. It was almost incredible, the enormous flocks in which 
they assembled : thousands and thousands flew on every side of us 
as we shot, and the dull rumblings of their wings were heard a 
mile away or more, even before they were disturbed. We did not, 
of course, shoot them, but we found them a horrible nuisance, for 
they were quite as wild as the other ducks, and whenever a careful 
stalk had enabled us to get almost within shot of a lot of fat gad- 
wall, or nice flock of blue-winged teal, or other much-to-be- desired 
game, some wretched Whistling-Teal was sure to pop out of an 
unnoticed piece of cover and make off with loud whistlings and 
whirring wings, followed by every other duck within two or three 
hundred yards. A few, perhaps, of the Whistling-Teal might pass 
us within shot, but it was almost certain that the duck we wanted 
would not. 

It is very difficult to estimate how many birds there were on 
the Moolna Bheel when I first visited that grand shooting-ground, 
but there must certainly have been sometimes hundreds of thousands 
on the wing at once. 

Often when we approached some piece of water, where the reeds 
and rushes grew so rank that we got right in before we fired, the 
Whistlers would rise at the shot in masses before us, almost bearing 
out that old figure of speech " darkening the air." I was greatly 
struck on these occasions by the attitudes of the birds, which 

9 



130 INDIAN DUCKS 

reminded me much of ancient prints on duck-shooting, the birds 
with their long necks outstretched rising straight up for some 
height until they got fairly started, when they flew ofi' parallel with 
the water, generally about thirty or forty feet up, and not very fast 
in spite of their noisy flight. Hume, Legge, and many others 
have mentioned the rapidity with which they beat their wings, 
and have also noted the smallness of the result when compared with 
the amount of exertion used. When found in small flocks, that is 
to say, up to about fifty or so, on tanks, ponds, and small pieces of 
water, they often fly round and round the place before leaving it, 
and more particularly is this the case when, there being no other 
water very close by, they are loath to quit the piece from which 
they have been roused. In the vast pieces of water in the delta 
of the Ganges I did not notice this habit so much. When first 
disturbed, and the birds get up all at once, it would seem that they 
form a flock numbering some thousands ; but they soon divide into 
smaller ones, seldom numbering over two or three hundred, and 
then with a preliminary wheel or two fly off to some other part 
of the swamp. Why they should be so wild in the Sunderbands 
and yet so tame in most parts of their habitat, I cannot explain. 
They are not much shot at, as the inhabitants are nearly all fisher- 
people who possess but few guns, and who get their duck by 
driving them into nets and not by shooting them. 

I have never, in any part of Bengal, known them to be so tame 
as to require stoning to induce them to leave a tree, as Hume says 
is necessary in many parts ; yet in Kungpur, Furreedpur, and some 
other districts they are so confiding that to get a sitting shot would 
be a very easy feat were it desirable, and the birds do not fly until 
the last moment. They perch very freely on trees, even during 
the non-breeding season, but I think that, as a rule, they rest, 
when in flocks, on the water and not on trees, though sometimes, 
of course, they do rest during the heat of the day on trees. Hume, 
indeed, says they generally rest thus, and this habit again may be 
one of locality, varying in the different parts they affect. 

At night I think they roost almost invariably on trees, and even 
where they are shy and wild, and feed in the evening and early 
morning, the middle of the night is probably passed roosting on trees. 



DENDKOCYCNA JAVANICA 181 

They very rarely rest on land, as do their laiger brethien, D./uha. 
and I have never personally seen them thus actually on land. The 
only time 1 have seen a tiock of any size on a tree was once when, 
passing under a huge banyan tree, a large tiock flew out just over- 
head. I was riding when they started, but 1 remember that as they 
departed out of sight I viewed the last of them from the ground on 
which I was reclining in a semi-sitting posture. I forget now which 
got out of sight first, the Teal or my pony — the latter a skittish T. 
B. WaJer. 

Banyan trees are very favourite resorts of these birds, because, 
doubtless, of the large horizontal branches which are so numerous, 
and which give them good foothold without calling on the poweis of 
grasping to too great an extent. They are quick, strong swimmers, 
and very good divers also, but I have not known them dive and 
remain under water, holding on to reeds, etc., as some ducks do. As 
a rule, a wounded bird dives and scurries under water at a great pace 
for about ten to twenty yards, and then reappears, once more to dive 
as the would-be catcher thinks that at last he has got it. 

They feed on anything and everything, but bring up their young 
principally on animal food, and they themselves, in an adult state, 
probably prefer vegetable food. They graze often in the rice-fields, 
but only when the plant is very young, and I have seen them grazing 
on the coarse dhub-grass which often grows on sandy spots at the 
edges of tanks and jhils in the cold weather. 

I have found that they eat large quantities of a very small fresh- 
water snail ; this has a very brittle shell, and so is probably easily 
crushed and digested. These snails might account for the flavour of 
which the bird is unfortunately so often the possessor. Anyway, it is 
most rare to find a Whistling-Teal fit to eat, though it is not an 
impossibility to get such, a young bird just at the commencement of 
the cold weather being the most likely to furnish an edible dish. At 
the same time I have occasionally found them to be really excellent 
eating. 

Their note is described by their name, and is a regular whistle, 
not very clear, rather sibilant, and by no means harsh or shrill. It 
is uttered constantly whilst on the wing, especially when first rising 
and during the first few wheels. I have also heard them, during the 



132 INDIAN UUCKS 

breeding-season, give vent to a low chuckling, not imlike the garnilous 
notes of the cotton-teal, but more "nearly approaching the quack of a 
true duck. 

They are most charming little ducks in captivity, and most easy 
to tame ; indeed, so confiding do the\ become that it is often possible 
to keep them in complete freedom without their making any attempt 
to leave the piece of water on which they reside. They soon learn to 
come when called and be fed out of the hand, and even strangers 
seem to in no way distract them. 

In captivity they whistle freely as they walk and swim about, and 
when called soon get into the habit of whistling in reply. They 
have a curious propensity for walking very great distances, when 
tame, in search of food, returning home in the evenings, etc., and 
will thus often walk several hundred yards rather than fly. When 
there are several birds kept all together, they nearly always walk 
along in a line just as geese so often do. 

No article on ducks could possibly be complete without Hume's 
story of the Whistling-Teal, crows, cat and dogs, so it must be 
here quoted in full • — 

" I once saw a good, large, half-wild village cat spring down upon 
a duck, which was sitting on her nest in a broad four-pronged fork of 
a mango tree. The duck did not whistle in the usual manner, she 
positively screamed ; in a second the drake dashed at the cat, and to 
my surprise down came a black crow (C viocrorhiiJiclius), not, as any- 
one would have thought, to steal the eggs in the confusion, l)ut to 
assail the cat with his claws and beak as it his own homestead had 
been attacked. In less time than it takes to describe, the cat was 
squalling in her turn, and fled up one of tiie branches, pursued 
closely In' the drake and the crow, who were immediateh joined I)y 
another crow, and the three made it so hot for pussy that she sprang 
to the ground, where my dogs, aroused by the uproar above (the 
noise those two crows made was astounding), were awaiting her, and 
before I could interfere, and before she quite recovered the jump of 
some 35 or 40 feet, killed her outright. But the strangest part of 
the business was that the villagers assured me that this nest was the 
crows' own nest, and that thci/ lent it crrrij year, after their youn^; 
had flown, to the Whistling-Teal. I should liave verified this the 
next spring, but left the Mynpooree district, and never again had a 
chance of visiting the spot." 



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TADORNA 138 



Genus TADOENA. 

This genus consists of two species, one of which has a wide 
range throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, the other being confined 
to Austraha, the Moluccas, and i'apuan Islands. The male bird 
possesses a deshy knob at the base of the upper ruandible, which is 
highly developed during the breeding-season. 



(•22) TADORNA TADORNA. 
THE SHELDRAKE. 

Anas tadorna, Lnin. S. N. x. ed. i, p. 122 (1758) (Sweden). 

Tadorna cornuta, Hume;S. F. i, p. 260 ; vii, p. 492 ; viii, p. 115 ; id. Cat. 
No. 956 ; Hwm & Marsh. Game-B. iii, p. 136 ; Barnes, B. Bom. p. 400 ; 
Salvadori, Gat. B. M. xxvii, p. 171 : Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xi, 
p. 571 ; Young, ibid, xii, p. 57-3 ; Betham, ibid, xiii, p. 187 ; Inglis, 
ibid, xiv, p. 393 ; Blanford, Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 427 : Stuart Baker, 
Indian Ducks, p. 109 (1908) ; Kinnear, J. B. N. H. S. xx, 519 (1910) ; 
Hopwood, ibid, xxi, p. 1220 (1912) ; Higgins, ibid, xxii, p. 399 (1913) ; 
Inglis, ibid, xxiii, p. 367 (1915) : id. ibid, xxiv, p. 824 (1916). 

Tadorna vulpanser, .Icrdon, B. of I. iii, p. 794. 

Description. Adult Male. — " Head and upper part of the neck dark 
glossy green ; round the lower neck a broad white collar ; a band of rich 
chestnut covers the upper part of the back, the space before the bend of the 
the wing, and the upper part of the breast : remainder of back, rump, and 
upper tail-coverts white ; scapulars black, except the inner ones, which are 
white ; a band along the middle of the breast and belly dark brown ; sides 
and flanks white ; under tail-coverts rufous ; wing-coverts white, primaries 
very dark brown ; speculum on the secondaries green ; long inner secondaries 
with rich chestnut outer webs ; tail feathers white, tipped with black ; bill 
and knob at the base bright red ; irides brown ; legs, toes, and their mem- 
branes flesh -pink." 



134 INDIAN DtrCKS 

Measurements.—" Total length 24 to 26 inches, wins 13. tail 5'2. 
culmen 2'4, tarsus 2."' {Salradon.) 

Colours of soft parts.— In adults the bills are deep-red, the nail dusky, 
the irides Ijrown. and the legs and feet tiesh-pink to flesln -red, often more 
or less creamy on the front of the toes and tarsi. 

" fjength 23'5 to 25'2o inciies, expanse 41 to 46, wing 12'"j to i3'6, tail 
from vent 475 to 5'5, tarsus 2'1 to 2'3, bill from gape 2'2 to 2'4. Weight 
2 lbs. to 2 ll)s. 14 ozs." (Hiiiiie.) 

Female. — Differs from the male in being less brightly coloured, having 
no knob at the base of tiie bill, and in being smaller. 

Measurements.—" Length 20'S to 22 inches, expanse 3!) to 42, wing 
1175 to 124, tail from vent 4'2 to 4'J, tarsus 1'95 to 2'07, bill from gape 
2'1 to 2'2. Weight 2 lbs. to 2 lbs. 2 ozs." (Hume.) 

Young birds at the age when they arrive in India are duller-coloured than 
the adults, have the bills a dull brick-red, and the feet livid-fleshy. 

Young birds of the year "in August have the bill flesh-coloured, the 
liead and neck Ijrown, chin and front of the neck white, interscapulars 
brown, wing-coverts white, inner secondaries white, edged with chestnut ; 
primaries black, speculum becoming green, all tlie under-surface white, legs 
flesh-colour." {Yarrell.) 

Nestlings in down " are dark brown above and white below, the white 
on the underparts extending to tiie forehead, sides of the head and neck, 
wings, scapulary region, and sides of the rump." (Seebohtii.) 

Distribution. — During the summer the habitat of this bird extends 
from the British Isles throughout the whole of Northern Europe as 
far south as Central Germany and the south of the Caspian Sea in 
Eussia, to South Siberia, Turkestan, Northern China, and Japan. 
In the winter it ranges south to Northern Africa, South Asia as far 
as Northern India, South China, Japan and Formosa. 

In India it is confined entirely to the northern portion, and even 
there it is by no means a common visitant, though it is common in 
Afghanistan and not rare m Baluchistan. Hume gives its southern 
linjit as the twenty-second parallel, and it extends as a rare visitant 
through Sind, the Punjab and the North-west Provinces, and Oudh. 
Whitehead, Magrath, Logan and Hume all record it from Kohat. 

Prom Central India it has been recorded by Young, who saw 
three specimens on a tank about forty miles south of Neemuch in 
1891-9'2. Betham records it from Poona. In Bengal its occurrence 
is rare: it has been ol)tained once or twice near Calcutta, and 
Mr. Pinn writes to me : — 



TADORNA TADORNA 135 

As to the occurrence of the Sheldrake in the Calcutta bazaar, 
I have seen or got it several times since I came out here in 1894, and 
only to-Jay two deid immature birds were lirought me. 1 have seen 
at least one more this winter from up country." 

Hopvvood obtained it iu Auacan, and recently Kashmir has been 
added to its habitat, a pair having been twice met with in that 
locality. 

Nidification. — It does not breed with us, but does not go far for the 
purpose. It breeds extensively in Turkestan, and thence through 
Russia to our own British coasts, where it is common enough. It 
has been found breeding as far north as Iceland and Greenland, 
though not extensively iu either country. As a rule, it selects as a 
site for its nest some deserted burrow — it matters little to what it 
belongs, or did belong^and places its nest at the bottom. It has 
been said to live iu amity with rabbits, and even badgers, and to 
have taken to burrows ex-tenanted by foxes, the smell alone of which 
would have made most ducks require sal volatile in the nest. 

Where there are no burrows available, it will place its nest at the 
bottom of some natural hole or crevice in the shore or amongst the 
rocks. 

They make a good substantial foundation for their nest of grass^ 
reeds, sticks, or any other similar material, and then make a luxurious 
bed out of their own down, in which their eggs are deposited. In 
Holland, this down and the eggs form articles of no little commercial 
value, and special arrangements are made to accommodate the bii'ds 
and induce them to give their patronage to certain spots. The 
Sheldrake is fortunately fond of company when undergoing the worries 
of a family, or the preparations for it. The Dutch therefore select a 
suitable spot, for choice the natural breeding-place of the duck, and 
construct neat burrows, slanting at the right angle and wide and 
deep enough to please the bird, yet not deep enough to baulk their 
own desires. Left to itself, the bird would as soon build in a fourteen- 
foot as in a four-foot burrow, but it would be impossible to tackle many 
of the former, and yet make money out of the collecting of the eggs 
and down, so the artificial burrows are made of the latter depth. 
As soon as the eggs are laid the nests are rifled, and the down and 
eggs takiu away, whereupon the ducks once more re-line their nests, 



136 INDtAN DUCKS 

not so well or thoLouj^hly, of coiu'se, as they did their first, and lay a 
second clutch of eggs, which they ate allowed to hatch and rear in 
peace. 

I have often been astonished at the pace these heavy birds will 
tl\- at when entering their nests if these are placed in a steep sand- 
bank facing the sea. The ducks plunge headlong in without any 
hesitation, and never seem to make a mistake; as a rule, however, 
the>- select rabbit-burrows on sloping hills facing away from the sea. 
They are very particular in their choice, and their prints may be 
seen in and about many burrows besides the one finally selected. 

Normally they lay from eight to sixteen eggs, generally ten to 
twelve, but should the first clutch be taken, they lay another, and 
in this way the number may reach as nmch as or more than thirty. 

The eggs are a ver\- beautiful pearly-white, extremely smooth 
and very highly glossed. In shape they are typical ducks' eggs, 
rather broad as a rule, sometimes lengthened, but never, as far as I 
have seen, pointed at the small end. Hume says that they are some- 
times a pale cream, but such I have never seen. Hartert gives the 
following measurements for their eggs : — 

.Vvera^c of 100 ... Go'77 X 47'3 mm. 

Maxima }JJJI x 47'3 and 69'0 X 5U'0 mm. 

Minima (jlj_ x IH'O and 0:J'8 x jH'S mm. 

In northern Europe the breeding-season is from the beginning 
of ]May to the middle of June, most eggs being laid between the 
15th May and .5th of June. 

Morris C British Birds and their Eggs,' iii, p I'M writes : — 

" The eggs are ten or twelve or even more, it is said thirteen or 
fourteen, or even sixteen in number ; but these in such cases may 
have been the produce of two birds. They are nearly perfectly white, 
having only a very faint tinge of green, and are smooth and shining. 
They are equally round at l)oth ends. 

" The hen bird sits, as is believed, I'rom about twenty-six to thirty 
days, her mate keeping watch hard by and taking her place in the 
morning and evening while she picks up some food. 

" The young, when hatched, are either carried by their parents 
in their bills to the water, or soon make their way thither themselves. 
They hide themselves away at the approach of danger, the okl ones, 
conscious no doubt that they are able thus best to tind securit\, flying 
off themselves." 



TADORNA TADOBNA 137 

General Habits. — This extremely handsome and conspicuous bird 
although, one would think, so little likely to be overlooked, and having 
a wide possible range through Northern India, is yet but seldom met 
with, and is never, or hardly ever, seen for any length of time in one 
locality. This, as Hume explains, is probably due to the fact that 
its natural habitat is not fresh water, but the sea-shore, and the 
sea-shore where it is clean. Most of our shore is not clean, and 
very little of it is visited and well-known, so that even the few birds 
which do haunt it may well escape observation. The rest which make 
up their minds on India for a winter habitat are compelled to resort 
to the largest pieces of water they can find which have suitable 
sandy shores and churs on which they may walk about. They are 
essentially land and not water ducks, and may be found nine times 
out of ten strutting about or resting quietly on some sandy bank or 
shore. When disturbed they do not take to the water and thence 
to wing, but at once rise into the air, uttering their loud call as they 
first take the alarm, and once in flight they soon put a long distance 
between themselves and the cause of their disturbance. They are 
strong both on the leg and the wing ; on the former their actions 
are decidedly more goose- than duck-like, and they walk well, quickly, 
and in a very erect attitude. When flying, on the other hand, they 
approach more nearly the ducks, making less commotion with their 
wings than do the geese. Their note has been variously described, 
and is a very similar cry to that of the brahminy duck in the 
breeding season, but more shrill and high-pitched at other times. 
Hume calls it a harsh quack, which, he says, might perhaps be called 
a whistle. 

They dive well and swim well, but are loath to take to either 
expedient, and it is only when severely wounded that they resort 
to it. As they feed principally in shallow water, their diving is 
not called into action, though they often retain their heads under 
water for long periods. 

Hume on two occasions noticed birds " washing and sluicing 
themselves with an energy and persistence that I have rarely 
seen equalled in any other species." He then, also, noticed that 
the birds remained with their heads under water quite as long at a 
stretch as any of the true diving-ducks would have done. 



l3A INDIAN DUCKS 

Their food appears to be mainly animal, and consists of shell- 
fish, water-insects, prawns, and shrimps, and practically all or any 
of the small animal life found on the shores at low tide or in 
shallow water. A small amount of vegetable matter is doubtless 
eaten now and then, but merely as one takes vegetables with a 
meat diet. 

Of course, they are not good to eat ; which of the animal-feeding 
ducks are? And Hume says even skinning has no effect. It is 
certainly not to be expected it would have much, as flavour, unlike 
beauty, is more than skin-deep, though skinning has with many 
birds a certain amount of good effect. 







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CASARCA 139 



Genus CASARCA. 

The genus Casarca consists of four species, of which four the 
widest-spread is the well-known Indian Brahminy. Of the others, 
C. cana is confined to South Africa, C. variegafa to New Zealand, 
and C. tadornoides to Australia and Tasmania. Of the four, also, 
the Indian is the only migratory one, the others being local 
residents or only locally migratory. The bill differs from that 
of Tadorna in being no broader or narrower at the tip than at 
the base. The lamella also are more prominent at the base of the 
upper mandible, whereas in Tadorna they are more developed 
towards the tip. 

Both sexes have a rudimentary spur on the shoulder (carpal 
joint). 



(23) CASARCA FERRUQINEA. 
THE RUDDY SHELDRAKE OR BRAHMINY DUCK. 

Anas ferruginea, Pallas, Vroeg's Cat. Adiun. p. 5 (176-1), (Tartarei). 

Casarca rutila, Jerdon, B. of I. iii, p. 791 ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 260 ; Adams, 
Ibid. p. 401 ; Hume, Nests d Egrjs, p. 641 ; Ball, S. F. ii, p. 4.37 ; Hume, 
ibid, iii, p. 193 ; Butler, ibid, iv, p. 28 : Scully, ibid. p. 198 ; Fairbank, 
ibid. p. 264 , Butler, ibid, v, p. 234 ; Hume d Davis, ibid, vi, p. 489 ; 
Hume, ibid, viii, p. 115; Scullij, ibid. p. 362 ; Hume dMuisli. Game-B. 
iii, p. 123 ; Oates, S. F. x, p. 245 ; Salcadorl, Cat. B. M. .\xvii, p. 177 ; 
Blanford, Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 428; Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xi, 
p. 676 ; id. Indian Ducks, p. 114 (1908) ; Betham, J. B. N. H. S. .\ix, 
p. 751 (1909) ; Thornliill, ibid, xxv, p. 439 (1918). 



140 INDIAN DUCKS 

Tadorna casarca, Legur, B. of C. pp. 1070, 1'22'2 (appendix) ; Oatcs. B. 
of B. B. ii, p. 277 : Hiinie, Ncsl.'i ,C- E(j(/-i (Gates' cd.) iii, p. 2S0 : 
Hartert, Voij. Pnl. p. 1303 (1920). 

Description. Adult Male.— Whole head and upper part of the neck 
buff,* changing gradually into Ijriglit orange-brown at the base of the 
latter. Scapularies and liack, flanks, and whole lower plumage rather 
brif^ht orange-brown, lower back finely vermiculated black and rufous : 
upper tail-coverts and tail black ; wing-coverts white, quills lilack : 
secondaries glossed rich-green on the outer webs, forming a well- 
defined speculum. Hume says that the speculum may be either bronze 
or green, but I have pei'sonally seen none of the former colour. 

Inner secondaries light-buff, more or less tinged wtth rufous on the 
outer web, and principally grey on the inner ; axillaries and under wing- 
coverts white. 

In the breeding-season there is a black collar at the base of the neck, 
usually very indistinct in Indian birds, and often absent. 

Colours of soft parts.— Bill and feet black, irides rich-brown. 

Measurements.—" Length 24'5 to 27'0 inches, expanse 48'0 to r,2'5, 
wing 14'25 to 15'5, tail from vent Tj'd to 6'3, tarsus 2'3 to 27 ; bill from 
gape 2'2 to 2'24. Weight 3 lb. to 4 lb. 4 ozs." (Humi>.) 

In the cold weather the majorit> of the drakes have tlieir wliite wing- 
coverts much suffused with rufous. Hume had specimens practically 
having their wing-coverts and lower plumage concolorous. 

Adult Female. — Differs in being smaller, and in having the head paler 
and " ill having (at any rate, during the cold season) the whole anterior 
portion of the head white." {Hume.) The lilack collar is never assumed. 

Measurements. — " Length 2175 to 24'0 inches, expanse 42'5 to 4775, 
wing 12'3(; to 14'0, tail from vent 5'06 to 6'0, tarsus 2'12 to 2'4, l.ill from 
gape 2'0 to 23. Weight 2 lb. 1 oz, to 3 lb. 5 ozs." {Hume.) 

Young' of the First Season.— Generally like the female but rather duller, 
the scapulars and upper part vermiculated brown and pale-rufous ; the 
inner secondaries brown, more or less vermiculated with reddish-butt', more 
especially on the inner web ; tail with narrow obsolete bars of rufous and 
distinctly tipped with the same. 

In India many birds are met with in their transition stage between this 
and the fully adult plumage. I have now a fine young male Ijefore me with 
adult scapulars, but the back shows fine vermiculations of l)rown, the tail 
and inner secondaries are those of the young bird, and the whole lower 
plumage has the feathers very faintly and indistinctly tipped paler. 

In this bird the feet ard> purplish-black, irides bright-brown, and bill 
slaty-ldack. 

Nestling. — "A nestling lirought from Tso-mourari is mostly white, 
marked on the upper surface with blackish brown, and with here and there 
a fulvous tinge." {Hume.) 



CASARCA FERRUGINKA 141 

Distribution. — The Brahminy is not a bird of very northern lati- 
tudes, even during the Ijreeding-season. In summer it is found in 
Spain, though in small numbers only, throughout Southern Europe 
and Northern Africa, and thence through Asia Minor, Turkestan, 
Afghanistan, and extreme Northern India at altitudes over 10,000 feet, 
through China in the north, and Japan. It has been recorded from 
nearly all North European countries, including Great Britain, but 
nowhere as anything but rare. In 1S92, Messrs. Pearson recorded it 
from Iceland in the ' Ibis ' for 1895, p. '247, and in the same year it 
was recorded as having been seen in 1892 even further north than 
this, viz., in the Upernivik district of Western Greenland, by Dr. Van 
Hoffen, who was naturalist to the Drygalski Expedition in 1892-93. 

In winter it resorts to the plains of India, Northern Burma, 
South China and Japan, and Formosa. In India the only places from 
which it has not been recorded are such as do not afford suffi- 
cient water, and it is practically unknown in the waterless tracts of 
portions of Sind and Rajputana. From as far south as Ceylon it 
is noted as not uncommon. Legge, in the appendix to the ' Birds 
of Ceylon," says : — 

"This Sheldrake can no longer be relegated to the doubtful or 
nnprocirred species in the Ceylon lists. Mr. G. Simpson, of the 
Indian Telegraph Department, has lately sent a portion of the skin 
of a male shot by him in the Jaffna district to Mr. Parker for 
identification. He likewise furnishes a description of the bird, which 
has been forwarded to me, and there is no doubt about the matter. 
The wing of the example in question measures 14'75 inches. Mr. 
Simpson says they are not uncommon in the cool season on the 
Jaffna Lake near Pooneryn, and on the Delft, Palverainkadoo and 
Mullaittivu lagoons. They are, he finds, very wary, flying high 
wlien disturbed, and uttering a note like couk, conic." 

To Southern Burma it is a very rare straggler, and I can find 
none but anonymous records of its occurrence there, but in Aracan, 
Hopwood says, it is found in enormous numbers. 

Gates observes (,in he. cit.) : — 

'■ The Brahminy Duck is a visitor to the Province from October 
to March. It is very abundant in the large rivers of Pegu ; but 
Mr. Davidson did not observe it in Tennasserim." 

Like Mr. Inglis, I have found the Ruddy Sheldrake a rare bird 



142 INDIAN DUCKS 

in Cachar, and not common in East Sylhet, where the rivers are too 
muddy, and are wanting in suitable sandy banks and chiirs. In 
South and West Sylhet it is much more common, for there the 
rivers begin to widen out into fine clear streams. 

In Orissa it is not uncommon to find this bird on the salt liack- 
waters and pools, and even on the shore itself, Jt is very common 
on the C'hilka Lake, and 1 have seen it on the brackish tidal waters 
of the Sunderbands. 

Except in mid-winter, it is to be met with in considerable 
numbers in the lofty valleys of the Himalayan rivers, in Kashmir, 
and at other equally lofty elevations, and from thence down to the 
level of the plains. In Kashmir it appears to be met with more 
or less throughout the cold season, but, probably, deserts the higher 
valleys of the Himalayas during the coldest period. 

Nidification. — The Ruddy Sheldrake, though a migrant to the 
plains of India, is yet amongst the few ducks which breed within 
our limits, as it frequents many of the lofty valleys of the Hima- 
layas for this purpose. It has not been found to breed there below 
10,000 feet, and Hume sa,ys its nest has been taken as high as 
16,000 feet. 

In Mesopotamia, Tomlinson and Thornhill record its breeding 
in burrows in banks of the Tigris and in low sand-hills. The 
latter records one taken from a deserted jackal's burrow twenty 
feet in. 

In Southern Russia, Asia Minor, and Central Asia, the normal 
site chosen by this duck is either the deserted liurrow of some 
animal, or a natural crevice or hole in a mountain side or bank, 
sometimes on level ground. In the Himalayas, the Brahminy 
breeds, more or less, in company, though the nests may be some 
distance apart. They are here generally placed in holes or crevices 
in the high cliffs overhanging streams or lakes, generally close to. 
but at other times some distance from, them. The nest-holes are 
often at very great heights from the ground, and as the nestlings 
have been seen on the water when very young indeed, it follows 
of necessity that they are taken there by their parents. 

The Ladakhis say that they are carried in the feet ; and this, I 
think, must be the case, though Hume, on the contrary, considers 



CASAKCA FERRUGINKA 14.i 

it more likely that they are carried on the backs of tlie old birds, 
his argument is that the t'eet are not adapted to grasping ; but if 
a strong adult bird could not grasp with sufficient strength to 
hold up a nestling, how could the same nestling have sufficient 
grasping-power to maintain its position on the old bird's back 
during flight? 

Occasionally it breeds in very remarkal^le situations. Hume 
says that they " lay in holes in trees and even fallen logs, and in 
deserted nests of birds of prey." Tristram found it breeding in 
a cliff in Northern Galilee amongst griffon vultures in May, and 
in the Eastern Atlas associating with tlie raven, the black kite, 
and the Egyptian vulture. 

'■ So too, in Ladakh, its nests have been found associated with 
one of the Thibetan raven." 

He also quotes Prjevalsky as follows : — ■ 

' They build in holes and clefts in the ground, and sometimes 
even in the fire-places of the villages deserted by the Moguls, in the 
latter places the females, while hatching, get almost black with soot." 

Betham gives a most interesting account of two nests taken 
by Captain Shuttleworth in Chinese Turkestan in April, 1909, both 
placed in holes in big trees. Two curious points about the second 
find were that on the same tree was a merlin's nest, and secondly 
that the tree itself was eight miles from the nearest water. This 
latter fact would seem to make the carriage of the young by their 
parents an absolute necessity. 

Then again, Messrs. Elwes and Buckley say that in the 
Dobrudscha the bird sometimes lays its eggs in a hole in the centre 
of the cornfield, where naturally they are not easy to find. 

The nest itself seems to be much like that of the common 
sheldrake, a mass of twigs, etc., lined with down ; sometimes, 
however, it is found to consist almost entirely of down and 
feathers, and altogether it appears to be less bulky and to have 
few materials other than those just mentioned. Strange to say, 
I can find no record anywhere of the depth of hole most often 
resorted to for nesting purposes, but, from what has been written, 
it would seem to matter little to the bird how deep or shallow 
it was, provided the situation proved convenient. 



144 INDIAN DUCKS 

Within oiu- limits, aud probably everywhere else also, the birds 
commence to lay in jNIay, and -nestlings just hatched have been 
seen and procured well on into July in India, Tibet, Ladakh, 
and even in Southern Russia. 

Different writers give the number of eggs laid as varying between 
six and ten, but eight appears to be the number most frequently laid. 
Eggs sent to Hume from South Russia are described by him as being 
moderately broad ovals, slightly pointed at one end. The colour is 
said to be a creamy- or ivory-white, with the shells very smooth and 
comparatively thin. 

They vary in length between -J. 4 and -I'l inches, and in breadth 
from 1'7 to I'd. bat, as he says, a larger series would probably show 
a wider range of difference. 

My eggs agree with the above in every respect, including those I 
have had sent me from Tibet. 

General Habits. — Hume says : — 

" They arrive in liocks. and before leaving in April gather again 
into these, but during the winter they are almost invariably seen in 
pairs. Often several pairs may be seen congregating in the same 
place, but even then each pair separates on any alarm and acts on its 
own behalf, and without reference to the others." 

In Bengal, and further south probably, few people see them in 
iiocks, even when the> arrive or when about to depart, as the flocks 
seem to break up soon after their arrival in Northern India, and the 
pairs then make their way to their final destination, free from the 
influence of the birds they started with. In Northern India the first 
few birds arrive as early as — perhaps even earlier than — the end of 
September, and then work slowly south, arriving in Central India and 
the adjoining provinces at least a month later; nor are they common in 
Bengal until early November. In Southern India they are rare before 
the end of that month. The latter part of the country they leave 
again in the end of February and early in March ; by the middle of 
that month nearly all have left Lower Bengal, the Central Provinces, 
and Central Bombay, and by the beginning of April they are just 
thinning m Northern India, and most have gone before May sets in. 
They have been, of course, recorded throughout that month, and even 
in Bengal I once saw a pair in the end of April, but these cases are, 
I think, but examples of the exceptions that prove the rule. 



CASARCA FERRrGINEA 14;") 

The Brahminy is not an object of sport with Europeans, save for 
those whose motto is "kill what, when, and where you can" ; this 
principally because, even when divested of its tough and greasy skin, 
he is not worth eating, unless with an extra dose of the hunger-sauce. 
He is, however, well worth while to shoot, or try to shoot, if you are 
not an old hand at duck-shooting, for by the time you have learnt to 
circumvent and bring to bag " Chakwa and Chakwi " you may rest 
satisfied that you have learnt most of the arts necessary to render 
stalking ducks and geese a successful pastime. They are, as is almost 
universally admitted, the most cute and difficult of approach of all 
their tribe. Possibly the crow alone exceeds them in their aptness 
for learning the range of a gun : they will nearly always allow of an 
approach of within two hundred yards, often within one hundred and 
fifty yards, and this with such a devil-may-care unconcerned look aliout 
them that one would imagine a closer approach to be an act of very 
little difficulty. Anyone who attempts to work on this presumption 
will soon find out their error. Should the stalk be made with some, 
yet insufficient, care, the Brahminy will allow you to come a few 
yards further, and then leave for another and better land (or water). 
On the other hand, should the stalker be so careful as to keep well 
enough hidden to entirely evade the M'atchful eye, he is not allowed 
to approach any nearer at all, but is given the benefit of the doubt, 
and all he will find of the bird when he arrives will be the impression 
of his feet in the sand. 

Practice may sometimes be had on the larger rivers, where they 
are plentiful, with one of the modern small-bore rifles, with which 
one ought to be able to kill at two hundred yards ; very soon, 
however, they learn to fix the range even of these weapons, and new 
ground will have to be sought for, for future shooting. Hume, 
writing of this form of shooting the Brahminy, says : — 

" After being at this game for a few days, and killing five or six, 
not a Brahminy in the neighbourhood will let you approach within 
a quarter of a mile, and thenceforth they give you so wide a berth 
that they interfere very little with fowling." 

It is decidedly a bird of clean, clear water predilections, and may 
generally be found in the larger rivers on the wide sand-churs which 
form each cold weather as the water sinks. They like such as are 
10 



146 INDIAN DUCKS 

clean stretches of sand, devoid, or almost devoid, of vegetation, and 
they keep much to the land, though not so exclusively to it as the 
common sheldrake. Of course, where there are no rivers, the 
Brahminy does not disdain any ordinary lake or large piece of water, 
but he eschews such as have much jungle about them and have their 
shores all more or less clothed with the same, or with growing crops, 
unless the latter are very young and short. Small dirty ponds and 
weedy tanks he will have nothing to do with, except when in the 
direst distress, nor will he willingly frequent small nullahs and rivers 
with muddy banks. Even when there are fine open pieces of water 
he will always leave these and resort in preference to sandy tanks 
and churs, should such be in the vicinity, though he may visit the 
former now and then to feed. 

The bird has been frequently tamed, and becomes very domesti- 
cated. Some writers, Hume amongst them, speak well of its 
character under such circumstances, and say that it is gentle and 
forbearing to other ducks which may be sharing its captivity. 
Mr. Finn, however, says that, from what he knows of it, " it is by 
no means the gentle and inoffensive bird in captivity that Hume 
makes it out to be, but is decidedly ill-conditioned and given to 
persecuting other water-fowl." 

Everyone knows the legend about the Brahminy which is held 
by the natives to account for only two Ijirds being found together. 
They are supposed to be inhabited by the souls of lovers who have 
sinned. Once, two lovers, who were prevented from marriage by 
their parents, determined to take the matter into their own hands, 
and risk the displeasure of the gods. Eventually, the lady escaped 
from supervision, and went straight to her lover, who was awaiting 
her; but they enjoyed their liberty only for twenty-four hours, for 
the next night they were changed into Brahminy Ducks, and were 
condemned ever to keep on opposite sides of the stream, and though 
they were allowed to speak to one another, and to ask if they might 
come, the other was forced ever to reply in the negative. Hume 
ridicules the legend, and says he has never met a native who had 
heard of it ; all I can say is that I have, repeatedly. 

At night, when feeding, the l)irds will often wander far apart, 
and may be heard calling to one another in their short dissyllabic 



CASARCA FERRUGINEA 147 

notes, which are rendered by the natives into " Chakwi, shall I 
come?" "No, Chakwa ! " and then '" Chakwa, shall 1 come?" 
with the reply, " No. Chakwi 1 " 

The Hindustani words for these questions and answers are not 
at all unlike their notes, which are loud and resonant, far more goose- 
than duck-like in their character. Elliott, Pallas, Jerdon, &c., 
syllabise it as •■'i-oung, others as conk, conk ; perhaps a combination 
of these two into a-onk, gives as good an idea of the note as any 
other accumulation of letters. 

They are good swimmers as well as quick and agile divers, but do 
not seem to be able to keep under water long, nor do they appear to 
ever attempt to conceal themselves under water. On the wing they 
are decidedl\ strong, but are noisy risers, though not slow ones. The 
movements of their wings are less rapid than in the majority of the 
A)iatirlfp,a.nd give one the im|n'ession that their progress is far slower 
than it really is. They are good walkers, and though generally their 
movements are marked more by dignity and deliberation than haste, 
they are capable of very good performances as pedestrians. Their 
attitudes on land are more those of geese than of ducks. 

They are not at all shy birds, nor are they at all wild in the 
ordinary acceptation of the word. They object to anyone coming 
within shot, but when outside that distance seem to have nothing to 
say against being watched and remarked upon. I was introduced 
to Chakwa and Chakwi in the Santhal Parganas a very short time 
after I came to India. At the time I was engaged in camping across 
the district, and, generally riding ahead of my belongings, would 
arrive at the next camping-ground some hours before they came uj). 
One of these grounds was on, or close to, the sandy bank of a river, 
and of course the interval between arrival and breakfast was filled 
up by strolling about. 

Two P>rahminy Ducks soon attracted my attention, and though 
I was within about one hundred and fifty yards they took no notice 
of me, but stood on one leg basking in the sun, and now and then 
uttering a single low conk, not a note of alarm, but one which 
seemed to me, at the time, to be of overweening pride and misplaced 
confidence. Later on, I found out where these qualities should have 
been looked for, I strolled back to camp, the birds still ejecting 



148 INHTAN DUCKS 

their cries at me as I went my way. A gun obtained, I strolled 
back and was greeted by the birds with the same ejaculation. Then 
I prepared to stalk, and waiting until the birds were not looking, 
sank out of sight into some stubble ; the Brahminies got up and 
flew off. 

The next pair I came across spotted me just as I got through 
the first half of a stalk, and the third must have seen me all the 
time, getting on the wing when I was still twenty or thirty yards 
too far to shoot. 

Hume gives a most excellent example of their fearlessness under 
what they consider proper circumstances : — 

"At Allahabad, at the sacred juncture of the Jumna and the 
Ganges, I noticed during a great fair, which is held on a spit of sand 
at whose apex the rivers meet, two pairs of these ducks, placidly 
performing their own ablutions, just opposite where some 200,000 
people, densely packed, were bathing. The hum, the roar, I sbould 
say, of the mighty multitude sounded a mile off like the surge of 
wind and waves in stormy weather on a rock-bound coast. Scores 
of boats conveying the richest pilgrims to a shallow of special 
sanctity, a hundred yards below the point, were ceaselessly plying 
backwards and forwards, crowded and crammed with human beings. 
Hundreds of gaudy flags were fluttering from the topmost points of 
gigantic bamboos, planted near the water's edge, yet, totally regard- 
less of sounds and sights that might have startled the boldest bird, 
the old Brahminies dawdled about the opposing bank of the Ganges, 
distant barely 500 yards from the clamorous struggling rainbow- 
coloured mass, as though the vagaries were no concern of theirs, 
and signified no more than a convocation of ants." 

They are very omnivorous, and will take almost anything they 
can get, including fish, flesh, and all sorts of grain, water-weeds, 
seed, and growing crops, in which they are sometimes found grazing 
like geese. There can be little doubt also that they sometimes fall 
so low as to take to offal. 

Their flesh is distinctly bad, on a par with that of the whistler 
and the cotton-teal at their worst, and little better than that of the 
white-eye or shoveller. 



ANAS 149 



Genus ANAS. 

This genus contains seventeen species, some of which are 
practically cosmopolitan, and others confined to comparatively 
small areas. India possesses but two species — Anas pJatijihijiicha 
and A. poecilorhijncha, which is divided into three subspecies, 
.4. p. pcecihrhijncha, A. p. zonorlujncha, and A. p. Jtaringtoni ; the 
first species is cosmopolitan, whereas the other belongs to the 
Eastern and South-eastern Asiatic avifauna. 

The genus may be recognised by its broad but not spatulate 
bill, which is about the length of the head ; moderate tail, of which 
the central feathers are not lengthened ; its non-chestnut inner 
secondaries and dark grey coverts. 



Kei/ to Species and Subspecies. 

A. No white on outer webs of inner secondaries . . A. platijrhyncha. 

B. Outer webs of inner secondaries more or less white .1. pa'cilorlujnclia. 

a. A broad white band posterior to the speculum. 

a . A red spot at base of ImU on either side . . A. p. pcrcilorhi/iiclia. 
b' . No red spot at base of bill I. p. haiini/loni. 

b. No white band posterior to the speculum ... .1. p. irmorhi/nrha. 



150- INDIAN DUCKS 



(21) ANAS PLATYRHYNCHA. 

THE COMMON WILD DUCK OR MALLARD. 

Anas platyhynchos, l,nm. S. N. x. ed., 1, \>. 125 (1758) (Sweden). 
Anas boschas, Jcnhn, H. oj I. iii, p. 398 ; lluinc, Xc-^ts and Eijijs, p. 612 ; 

/(/. ,S'. F. i, p. 261 ; Sctillji, ibid, iv, p. 199 ; Huinc, ibid, viii, p. 119; 

/(/. Cul. No. 158; Bunir.s, B. of Bom. p. 402. 
Anas boscas, Hanir il' Muisli. Gaiiie-B. iii, p. 151 ; Hitiiic, Nests and 

l'i<lij>> (Gates' ed.), iii, ]i. 288; Salvadon, Cat. B. 21. xxvii, p. 189; 

Blanfoid, Avifuuna B. I. iv, p. 435; (hites, Gainc-B. ii, p. 257; 

Stuart Baker, J. B. N. II. S. xii, p. 1 ; Ilariiujtoii, ibid, xix, p. 313 

(1909); Mosse, ibid, xx, p. 856 (1911); Higijins, ibid, xxii, p. 399 

(1913) ; Colvni, ibid, xxvi, p. 291 (1918). 
Anas platyrhyncha platyrhyncha, Harlcit, \'o<i. Pal. p. 1308 (1920). 

Description. Adult Male.— Head and upper nock bi-it^ht and very glossy 
dark-f;;reen : a ring round neck, interrupted on the nape, pure white ; upper 
back and scapulars brownish-grey, changing into dark-l)rown on tlie back 
and lower neck ; upper back vermiculated with dark-brown ; rump and 
upper tail-coverts and lour central rectrices deep-ljlack ; outer rectrices 
light-grey, edged white. Wing-coverts dark-grey or grey-brown, the 
greater coverts tipped black and subtipi)eil white, forming two distinct 
wing-l)ars ; speculum glossy bluish-purple or violet; alter this two bars 
formed b>' the black subtijjs and white tips of the outer secondaries ; 
exposed inner secondaries and remaining (luills dark-brown ; upper breast 
cliestnut ; lower breast, flanks, and abdomen greyish-white, very finely 
barred with dark-l)rown ; under tail-coverts rich black. 

Colours of soft parts.— "The colours of the soft parts vary. 1 have 
found the legs and feet most connnonK reddish-orange, but also coral 
and ^■ermilion red, and again pure orange ; the claws are black or dusky ; 
the irides are brown, sometimes deep, sometimes comparatively light ; the 
nail of the bill is black : the rest of the bill is normally rather dingy 
olive, more > ellow at base, greener at tip; the lower mandible is generally 
more or less orange at the base; and I have killed birds (females) with 
the bills black on the cidmen and a considerable portion of the upper 
manilible and orange-yellow elsewheie ; others witli brown replacing the 
black, and brownish-yellow replacing the orange; and 1 killed one male 
with I he bill a, distinct orange-green — a colour such as I never saw in 
an>' other bird." (llunie.) 

" iJill yellowish-green, black at the tip. under mandible reddish-\ellow 
at tlie base ; irides hrown ; legs and feet re.idish-orange." (Sidcudon.) 







Q 
< 



(0 

o 



X' 



Z 

o 



o 
o 

UJ 



ANAS PLATYRHYXCHA 161 

Measurements.—" Length 223 to 245 inches, wing lOio to US, tail 
from vent i'2 to 4'8, tarsus 1"6 to 1'85, bill from gape 2'o to 2'7.5. ^Yeight 
if in fair condition 2 lbs. 8 ozs. to 3 lbs., but T have shot them up to 
i lbs." {Hume.) 

"Total length about 24 inches, wing lO'oO to H'oO, tail 44, culmen 2'2, 
tarsus 1'85." (Salvadori.) 

Female. — Chin and throat pale-hutf ; remainder of upper and lower 
parts dark-brown with buff edges; on the lower parts the brown centres 
are reduced to streaks only; rectrices brown, edged with pale-butf ; wings 
as in the male. 

The depth of the brown and its tint vary very much, as does the 
boldness of the edging. In some birds the centres and edges blend into 
one another, whilst in others they contrast very distinctly. 

Measurements.— Length 20'0 to 2175 inches, wing 9'2 to lO'B, tail, 
from vent 41 to 4'7, tarsus 1'5 to 17, bill from gape 2'47 to 2'63. 
Weight 1 lb. 10 ozs. to 2 lbs. 10 ozs. 

Adult Male in non-breeding Plumage.— Similar to the female, but 
usually a good deal blacker. 

Young in first Plumage.—" Closely resembles adult female, but the 
male is somewhat darker in colour." (Salvadoil.) 

Young in Down " has the upper parts dark-brown, with nearly white 
spots on the wing, scapulars, and sides of the rump ; the underparts 
are pale brown, palest on the belly, and shading into bufi' on the throat ; 
it has a buff stripe over the eye, a dark-brown stripe through the eye, 
and a dark spot at the end of the ear-coverts." (Seebohm.) 

Waterton, as quoted by Hume, describing the change of plumage in 
the drake into its post-nuptial plumage, says : — 

" At the close of the breeding-season the drake undergoes a very re- 
markable change of plumage. About the 24th May the breast and back 
of the drake exhibit the first appearance of a change of colour. In a 
few days after this the curled feathers above the tail drop out, and grey 
feathers begin to appear amongst the lovely green plumage which sur- 
rounds the eyes. Every succeeding day now brings marks of rapid 
change. By the 23rd June scarce one single green feather is to l^e seen 
on the head and neck of the bird. By the (ith of July, every feather 
of the former In-illiant plumage has disappeared, and the male has 
received a garb like that of the female, though of a somewhat darker 
tint. In the early part of August this new plumage begins to drop off 
gradually ; and by the 10th Octol:)er, the drake will appear again in all 
its rich magnificence of dress." 

Distribution. — Harterfc gives the range of the Mallard as Europe, 
the Azores, North Africa, North and Central Asia to Japan and North 
America, migrating in winter to the Canaries, Abyssinia, Aden, India 



152 INDIAN DUCKS 

and South China, and in America to Mexico and Panama. Sub- 
species are found in Greenland aild Iceland. 

Narrowing ourselves to our Indian limits, we find that A . platy- 
rhyncha is very common only in the extreme North and North-west ; 
it is a constant but less numerous visitor to the whole of the 
North-west Provinces, Punjab, and Oudh ; and south of this is 
decidedly rare, though in 1910-11 Mosse reports its having occurred 
in some numbers in Western Kathiawar. It has been shot occasion- 
ally in Rajputana, and also in the Central Provinces and in Bombay.' 
It is met with at odd times and places throughout Bengal and Assam, 
and I myself have shot a pair in Jessore which were in company 
with a few Gadwall. They vv-ere extremely wild, as were all the 
ducks, and it was only with considerable difficulty that they were 
approached and shot. It is not rare in Cachar, and is occasionally to 
be seen in Sylhet. I shot one out of a small flock in Gowhatty in 
December, 1880, and many were shot in the same district by Mr. C. 
Holder and others ; and 1 have had notices of it from Dibrugarh 
(frecjuently), Sadya, Tezpur, and Naogaon. From Manipur Surgeon- 
Captain Woods writes : — 

"The Mallard is extremely rare in Manipur; ni fact, during the 
last seven years I have only seen a pair, and that was this year 
about the 10th .January. These two birds were along with a large 
flock of teal in a small jheel lying about 8 miles due north of 
Imphal. I tried to secure then], but they were very wild, and flew 
away at the first shot. I returned to the jheel the next day, but 
could find no signs of them. I also saw a pair on a small jheel in 
the Namha Forest (.\ssam)." 

Higgins, however, reports the shooting of three more Mallard in 
the cold weather of iyi'2-13. Lately two records of its appearance 
in Burma have been made in the ' Asian.' The notices, though 
initialled and not signed in full, appear to be authentic. One Mallard 
is reported as being part of a huge bag of duck and teal obtained 
near Mandalay. Harington records it as having been shot in the 
Bhamo district. 

Nidification. — Within Indian limits, the Mallard breeds in vast 

' Colonel A. S. Capper informs me that on Cliristmas l>ay. 1920. a Mallard was 
shot near Guna by Mr. AVausbrough-.Joues. This appears to be its second recorded 
occui-rence in the Central India agency. 



ANAS PLATYRHTNCHA 153 

numbers on the Kashmir hikes, and in small numbers on those in 
Tibet, probably also throughout the Himalayas in suitable places. 
Hume suggests that it may also be found to breed on s\samps about 
the foot of these mountains ; biit I can find no record of its ever 
having done so. 

As far as we know, Kashmir is the breeding-place par excellence 
of our Indian Mallards ; here they are found in such great numbers 
that their eggs form a veritable article of commerce, boat-loads at 
a time being collected on the shores of those lakes which they 
principally affect for breeding purposes. 

The nest is a massive affair, composed of all and any materials, 
but principally of grasses, rushes, reeds and similar articles. 

The lining of feathers and down varies very much. I have seen a 
nest into which one could plunge a hand to the wrist into down 
and feathers ; and, again, Thave seen others which had not a handful 
of these in the whole nest. 

The normal position of the nest is on the ground in thick cover ; 
often it is placed in amongst the dense sedges, reeds, and bushes 
growing at the edge of the water ; l>ut at other times it is placed 
at some distance from the water, and at other times, again, absolutely 
in the water itself, amongst some thick cluster of reeds or other 
aquatic plants. 

The nest is not always, however, placed on the ground. In 
India the natives say that they sometimes find the eggs in nests 
on trees ; but there seems to Ije no authentic record of one ever 
having been so found. In England, there are numerous records of 
such nests, and two have come within my own personal experience. 
One of these was a huge construction of grass and reeds placed in 
the head of a pollard willow. There was a deep indentation where 
the nest was placed, and the masses of twigs, then in thick foliage, 
quite concealed the nest from anyone on the ground. The duck was, 
however, seen going in, and the nest spotted in consequence. It con- 
tained eight eggs, which were, I believe, all hatched and the ducklings 
reared in safety. 

The second nest was quite different. A huge tree (I forget now 
what it was), which divided into three quite close to the ground, 
threw out great horizontal limbs over a piece of water which lay 



154 INDIAN DUCKR 

still and dark and vevy deep beneath the shade of this and many 
other trees equally big and densely-foliaged. At the end of one of 
these boughs, and in a most ))erilous position, on a few small twigs 
and branches, was the deserted nest of a magpie. Although knocked 
out of shape, it still formed a strong platform of sticks and twigs, 
on which the duck placed a little down and a few feathei-s, and 
laid her eggs. My brothers and I were small boys at the time, and, 
of course, with the usual curiosity of small boys, paid constant visits 
to the nest, not in the least resented — as far as we could tell — by 
the duck, which never quitted it or showed any signs of fear at 
our presence. The drake was far wilder, and seldom let us get a view 
of him. As a rule, he was swimming quietly about in the pond 
below, whilst his mate was employed in incubation ; but more than 
once we frightened him from the tree itself, where he must have 
been perched on one of the big boughs. 

The duck, we noticed, always got on one of the big boughs, and 
then fluttered and scrambled awkw ardly into the nest. We got one 
egg out of the water, into which she must have knocked it ; but 
she hatched some of the eggs, and we once or twice got a glimpse of 
the ducklings on the water. 

Another curious nest I took was in Warwickshire, and was 
originally that of a coot, of whose eggs two still remained in the 
nest. It was placed in amongst the roots of a large tree standing 
at th'; edge of a large piece of water, and partly in it. It consisted of 
a huge mass of weeds and grass and the usual lining of down, but 
in spite of its size was quite invisible from anywhere. 

The previous year the coot had been seen swimming to it, and 
the year the duck took possession, she must have again laid two of 
her eggs, and then been driven away by the Mallards ; these latter 
had eight eggs, hard-set, but not so much so as the two coot's eggs, 
which were on the point of hatching; they were under the duck's 
eggs, and had evidently been laid first. 

There are many other instances of Mallards taking other birds' 
nests, amongst them one in which they seized the lofty abode of a 
rook. 

In Kashmir they are said sometimes to breed in the rice-fields. 

On leaving her nest, the duck is said to frequently cover her eggs 



ANAS PLATtRHTNCHA 155 

with weeds and grasses to screen them fruui observation. This is, 
however, probably the exception, and not the rule. I have seen eggs 
so covered, but far more often I have found them without any 
additional covering at all. If hurried, the bird has not the time, of 
course, to collect the necessary material, but even when leaving the 
nest deliberately, and not disturbed in anyway, I think she generally 
leaves her eggs as they lie. 

They lay from six to twelve eggs, the natives say sixteen. I 
have never seen more than eleven, and Hume, who through his 
collectors must have had records of many hundreds of nests, never 
knew of more than eleven, so that anything above this number would 
appear to be abnormal. 

In colour, the eggs when first laid are of various tints, ranging 
from a very pale greyish-green to olive-grey and cafe-au-lait. As 
incubation proceeds, the colour continues to deepen, and the green 
tinge, which is the most prevalent colour in the fresh egg, is nearly 
always lost. I had one egg in my collection which was a deep l)uti'- 
colour ; it was found in East Prussia, and I cannot say how far 
advanced incubation was when the egg was taken, but, judging from 
the size of the blow-hole, the chick could not have been very large. 

The texture is very fine, smooth, close, and satiny to the touch, 
like that of most ducks' eggs. There is a faint gloss, sometimes latlier 
pronounced in the fresh egg, often absent in those near hatching. 

They are normally shaped ducks' eggs, i.e., rather broad regular 
ovals, sometimes slightly compressed towards the smaller end, some- 
times equal at both ends. 

My eggs, and those I have records of, all come within Hume's 
measurements, in length varying between '21 and '288 inches, and 
in breadth i'5 and 1"2. 

Hartert gives the average of 270 eggs as 5G'8 X 40'J mm. 
(— 2"'22 X TOO inches). 

In Kashmir Mallard are extremely common, as may be seen 
from the following well-written cutting from the ' Asian ' of the 
8th February, by the pen of A. E. W. : — 

" Oh Januai-y 18th, 1 was shooting at a marsh near the big 
reserve, having in front of me about five or six acres of open water, 
and a smaller amount, about 500 yards, behind. The reserve was 



156 INDIAN DUCKS 

also being shot by four guns, so that the clucks were being con- 
tinually driven towards me. I knew if I could once get my punt 
through the ice I should be iu for a good thing. For an hour and a 
half we laboured to get through. By dint of using two heavy poles 
■\ve reached the place, and then broke up sufficient of the ice to 
picket out four decoy ducks, two mallards, and live tame ducks, 
which were accustomed to be shot over. The punt was hidden by 
some grass, and in it I lay on my back with my shoulders propped 
up by a large sack of grass ; there was not sufficient cover to enable 
me to hide if I had sat up, in fact I had to supplement the little 
there was by some reeds which a fisherman took off his roof and 
sold to me. 

" I could see thousands of ducks in front, on the water, looking 
like a black mass, whilst the edge of the ice was lined with many 
more. By the aid of glasses I could make them out to be chiefly 
Mallards and Red-Crested Pochards ; of course those birds which 
had l^een behind and tolerably close had cleared off. The second 
punt was sent back by the way we came, and was then carried 
round by land to where the open water touched the edge of the 
marsh. In the middle of the pond in front, was a small island ; on 
to this a hardy duck shikari managed to get, and then lay hid : his 
orders were to liide, and when the ducks had settled to put them up. 
In addition to the advantage of my post, I was immediately in the 
line of flight between the Hokasai and Anchar Lake. 

" I had started early ; the Hokasai party were to begin at noon, 
but I had not lieen long in position before the fun began. Thousands 
streamed over, and many pitched on my marsh, but as they came 
to the right I could not do much when reclining on my back ; soon 
they began to i\\ i)ackwards and forwards over my head, and this 
they continued to do for hours. I counted over eighty birds down 
before I sat up to eat my lunch. They were on the ice in every 
direction ; two or tln-ee fell so close that I could gather them from 
the boat. One fell into my cartridge-box. Whilst eating and having 
a smoke the birds were flying around, Init were left to their own 
ways ; and then I lay down again, the ice liad thawed in places, and 
the wounded birds had wandered away. I stopped all I could reach, 
but that was not many. In the afternoon tlie Teal began to fly 
round and looked for open water, but none of the big flights would 
come near me. Single birds came at short intervals ; my cartridges 
were nearly finished, so I whistled for the men, but they could not 
hear me ; the shooting on Hokasai ceased, and nearly all the ducks 
left, now and again a Mallard or Gadwall came flying round the 
decoys, and tell an easy prey to the .... powder. 

" My men did not remember liow long it would take to reach me ; 
consequently it was nearly dark before I could begin to move, and 



ANAS PLATYRHYNC'HA 157 

then the birds had to be gathered. We collected in all ninety-six, 
but had to leave many, for they waddled over the ice and got into 
pools separated from us by thick ice and weeds frozen hard together. 
Curiously enough not a single Red-Crested Pocluird came to the gun; 
but fifty-three Mallard were amongst the slain, and very grand they 
looked when put in a line on the deck of the house-boat." 

In Sind, in the cold weather of course, the Mallard is found in 
as great numbers as in Kashmir. Here it is said to collect in flocks 
of some hundreds ; but this is not usual, and all over its vast range 
it will be found more often in snmll than in large flocks. About a 
dozen to some twenty or so is perhaps the number most often seen 
together in one flock, and over forty or fifty is well above the 
average, whilst flights numbering 100 will seldom be seen. 

They often, too, are found in pairs, whether in the hot plains of 
India or in our own cool island. Many, if not most, of us must 
have, while wandering about some half-frozen brook or wholly-frozen 
broad, put up a pair of Wild Duck from some sheltered place beneath 
a tree or thick cluster of reeds. Generally, even in the depth of 
winter, they keep to open water, be it a pool ever so small ; but 
they may also be seen disconsolately sitting at the edge of a com- 
pletely ice-l)ound pond. 

As regards their habits generally, it is impossible to do better 
than follow Hume and quote what MacgilHvray says : — 

" Marshy places, the margins of lakes, pools, and rivers, as well 
as brooks, rills, and ditches, are its principal places of resort at all 
seasons. 

"It walks with ease, even runs with considerable speed, swims, 
and on occasion dives, although not in search of food. Seeds of 
Gramineae and other plants, fleshy and fibrous roots, worms, 
mollusca, insects, small reptiles and fishes, are the principal objects 
of its search. In shallow water it reaches the bottom with its bill, 
keeping the hind part of the body erect by a continual motion of 
the feet. On the water it sits rather lightly, with the tail con- 
siderably inclined upwards; when searching under the surface it 
keeps the tail flat on the water, and when paddling at the bottom, 
with its hind part up, it directs the tail backwards. The male emits 
a low and rather soft cry between a croak and a murmur, and tlie 
female a louder and clearer jabber. Both, on being alarmed, and 
especially in flying off, quack ; but the quack of the female is much 
the louder. When feeding they are silent, but when satiated they 



158 IMIllAN DUCKS 

often amuse tliemselves witli various jaljliorings, swim about, 
approach eacii other, move tlieir heads liackwards and forwards, 
' duck ' in tlie water, throwing il up over their backs, shoot along its 
surface, half flying, half running, and in short are quite playful when 
in good humour. On being sui'prised or alarmed when on shore, or 
on water, they spring up at once with a bound, and rise obliquely 
to a consideralile height, and fly off with speed, their hard-(juilled 
wings whistling against tiie air. ^^'llen in full flight, their velocity 
is great, being probalily 100 miles an hour. Like other ducks, they 
imjiel themselves by quickly repeated flaps without sailings or 
undulations." 

Probab]\' some of us will not af,'ree with what Hume says 
regarding the comparative merits of a punt-gun when he declares 
that " there is more skill, knowledge, and endurance brought into 
plaj', and therefore more sport, in one day's big shooting, than in a 
week of even such .... small-bore shooting as Captain Butler 
describes." I have had a little experience of both, and must most 
emphatically dissent, of course, a punt-gun, especially one of the 
latest swivel-action, breech-loading, non-recoil guns, will enable a 
sportsman to bring birds to bag that he conld not otherwise get ; 
but it is not that he uses more skill in approaching, but that 
there is not the need to get so close. He does not require a more 
careful aim, for he nearly always takes his shot into the brown as 
the birds lie on the water. Nor does he require more endurance. 
To this most people will agree who have stood behind some '200 
shots fired from a r2-bore carrying a really heavy charge. Certainly 
getting some one to push you along in a punt cannot be said to 
require more work than does the tramping after your birds on foot. 

Mallard especially are strong flyers, and I would personally 
always feel more satisfaction on hearing the thud, thud, of a brace 
of birds on the ground in answer to the two barrels of my 1'2-bore 
than I would in seeing five, or even ten times that number, left on 
the water as the result of a lucky shot from a punt-gun. 

In shooting Wild Duck as they rise before one, it is as well 
to loose off one's piece as soon as possible, for, as Macgillivray 
says : — 

" They rise straight up in the air whether flushed from land or 
water, and whilst thus rising offer wiiat is perhaps the easiest shot, 
and at the same time they are not increasing their distance." 



ANAS PLATVRHYNCHA 159 

Mallard have queer fancies, and often resort to places where one 
would least expect them. I well remember a drake which used to 
come year after year to a tiny pond in a large private garden, where 
there were few or no weeds on the water; but it was entirely enclosed 
by trees and in a very deep shade. As soon as the breeding- season 
was on he used to go off, presumably to carry on his natural di;ties 
as a husband and a father, but he never brought back with him either 
wife or family. There were sometimes tame ducks about the place, 
but he never seemed to care to associate with them, and kept them 
always at a respectal)le distance. What rendered it more curious 
that he should have chosen such a place was the fact that the garden 
was in the county of Norfolk, and was surrounded by the famous 
broads and fens, where he might have obtained the society of any 
number of his own kind. 

Yet another pair used to resort every winter to a small pond 
joined to a moat which ran round an old monastery. These were 
never seen on the moat itself, nor on any of the numerous ponds 
close to it, but when disturbed — they seldom were — used to fly 
straight away, not to return for some days. 

C'olvin records a curious habit of this duck. Writing from Bandar 
Al)l)as, he say.s that during February and early JMarch, 1918, he con- 
stantly noticed them settling on the sea close in-shore, the flocks 
remaining there from morning to evening. The birds seemed to take 
little notice of the work of loading and unloading ships close by, but 
they were very wary, and would not alkiw of an approach within 
"un-shot. 



160 INDIAN DUCKS 



(25) ANAS PffiCILORHYNCHA PCECILORHYNCHA. 

THE SPOT-BILL OR GREY DUCK. 

Anas pcecilorhyncha, Jcrdon, B. of I. iii, p. 799 ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 201 ; 
Adaw, ibid. p. 402: Hume (f Davis, ihid. iv, p. 489; Hume, ibid, vii, 
p. 507 ; id. ibid, viii, p. 115 ; Cat. No. 959 ; Hwne c(- Marsh. Game-B. 
iii, p. 1(58; Leow, B. of C. p. 1073; Dates, B. of B. B. ii, p. 283; 
Barncfi, B. of Bom. \). 403; Hume, A>,s/s and Eggs (Gates' ed.), iii, 
p. 289 ; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 209 ; Blauford, Avifauna B. I. 
iv, p. 436 ; Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xii, p. 11 ; id. Indian Ducks, 
p. 133 (1908) ; Wlutehead, J. B. N. H. S. xxi, p. 169 (1912) ; Oliver, 
ibid, xxvi, p. 675 (1919). 

Polionetta pcecilorhyncha, Gates, (iame-B. ii, p. 150. 

Description. Adult Male.— Crown from forehead to nape dark-brown, a 
streak of tlie same colour covering the lores and running through the eye 
to the hack of the ear-coverts ; remainder of head and neck huff- white, 
more or less centred dusky, with the exception of the cliin and tliroat ; 
upper parts lirown to brownish-hlack : the scapulars paler and edged 
with pale hrown, as are some of the feathers of tiie hack ; rump and 
upper tail-coverts deeper lirowu still ; tail the same, but darker and more 
glossy, the feathers edged pale ; lesser and median wing-coverts grey, the 
greater ones dark-grey, sul)tipped with white and tipped black ; speculum 
glossy-green, Ijordered on cither side with black ; secondaries tipped white 
and inner secondaries with the outer webs more or less broadly white, 
remainder of wings brown : upper breast fulvous-white, the feathers spotted 
with hrown ; alidomen yet darker and browner, and the under tail-coverts 
almost black. " Speculum .... a rich emerald-green in most lights, 
a lovely rich blue or pur|)le in others." {Hume.) The amount of white on 
the inner secondaries varies a good deal, like tiie depth of colouration on tlie 
lower surface, which is sometimes nearly white on the breast, whilst at 
other times the whole of the lower parts are nearh unicoloured. The spots 
seem to increase in size with age. 

Colours of soft parts.— Legs and feet deep coral-red, claws black ; irides 
light- to dark-brown ; bill black, terminal third or less of the bill varying 
from yellow to reddish-yellow or orange ; a spot at the base of the bill 
on either side next the forehead orange-red to dee]) coral -red ; lower mandible 
black-tipped, the same as the maxilla. 

Measurements.—" Length 23'8 to 25'9 inches, wing 10'6 to 11'2, tail 
'rom vent 4'7 to 5'8, tarsus 1'84 to 1'93, bill from gape 2'4 to 2'75. Weight 
2 lbs. 4 ozs. to 3 lbs. 5 ozs." (Hume.) 






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ANAS PCECir.ORHYNCHA PCECILORU VNCHA 161 

Female Adult.— Similar to the male, Init smaller and jjerhaps rather 
jialer in colouration. 

Colour of soft parts.— Legs and feet duller red than in the male, as also 
are the spots on the bill. " Wing about 10 inches." {Salcadori .) 

Measurements.— ■' Length 22-0 to 24'0 inches, wing S'O to 107, tail 
from vent 4''J to 5"3, tarsus 17 to 1'9, bill from gape 2'3 to 2'o. 
Weight 1 11). 14 ozs. to 2 lbs. 12 ozs." (Ilumc.) 

The average length of the wing for botli sexes is 10'60 inches and of 
the l)ill 214. 

Young. — Resemble the adults, but have no red spots at the base of the 
bill and have the feet coloured orange to brick-red. The general plumage 
is ligliter, the spots fewer in number and less in size, the breast being spotted 
witli white. 

Tliere appears to be no record of any post-nuptial change in the plumage 
of tlie drake of this species, and enquiries made on this subject elicit no 
evidence to siiow that there is such a change. 

Blanford (in Joe. cit.) shows that the male has twenty rectrices, whereas 
the female has but eighteen. This is very remarkable, and it is to be hoped 
that other observers will note the number of rectrices in both male and 
female, so as to ascertain whether the difference is constant. 

Distribution. — The Spotted-billed Duck is found practically 
throughout India. It does not seem to have been recorded from 
South Konkan ; but as it occurs in Ceylon, it would naturally be 
almost sure to appear more or less frequently in the South Konkan 
also. It is also found in western and South Assam, Cachar, Sylhet 
and possibly Aracan. It has once been shot in Kashmir. 

Nidification. — Hume says : — 

" The breeding-season varies a gi'eat deal with the locality. In 
the North-west Provinces, Oudh, and the Eastern portions of 
Eajputana and the Punjab, it only breeds, so far as I yet know, once a 
year, laying during the latter half of July, August and the first half of 
September. In Bind it lays in April and May, and again in September 
and October. In Guzerat it certainly lays in October and in Mysore 
in November and December, though whether in these two last-named 
provinces it has also a second brood, I have not yet ascertained." 

In Sehore Whitehead saw tiny ducklings in November. 

In Bengal I think it lays principally in July and August ; but a 

few birds are earlier, and these may have a second brood, for nests 

have been taken as late as October. On the huge bheels extendmg 

over the whole of the north of Mymensingh and Sylhet these birds 

11 



162 INDIAN DITC'KS 

have been seen accoujpanied by their young in April, and again their 
eggs have been taken in August, and I have had one nest with eggs 
reported from the former district in January. 

As a rule, the nest is a compact, well-made structure, of a broad, 
rather irregular cup-shape, made principally of grasses, rushes, and 
weeds, and lined — in almost all cases — with down taken from the 
breasts of the ducks themselves. Sometimes there is no down at all, 
as in the nests taken by Captain Butler at Langraij between Deesa 
and Ahmedabad, and in no case does the down seem to be nearly as 
plentiful as it is in the nests of the more northern-breeding ducks. 

Captain G. F. L. Marshall gives the dimensions of a nest taken 
by him as follows : " About 9 inches across, 3 deep, and the sides 
fully 2 thick." This is perhaps a trifle smaller than the average 
nest, as the size depends so much on the compactness with which it 
is built. 

Major Woods, I. M.S., sends me very interesting notes from 
Manipur on the breeding of this duck. He writes: — 

Here the birds generally pair about the beginning of April ; but 
I have found a nest in a Hooded dlian kbet as late as October. The 
nests are composed of grass and feathers, the latter of which the 
parent birds pluck from their own breasts. 

" I have found as many as fourteen eggs in a nest, though the 
usual number is ten. Tlie parent bird sits very close when 
incubating, and when alarmed feigns injury to a wing, as do others 
of the family. 

" Towards tbe end of tbe rains lioth old and young Ijirds frequent 
more open water and tbe flooded rice-fields. A place called the 
Kurram Paili, about eighteen miles from Impbal, is a favourite 
breeding-ground, and towards tbe end of the rains tbe ducks may 
there be seen .in bundreds with Hapjiers in every stage of dovelu])- 
ment." 

Ill another letter he remarks on the curious fact that though the 
normal number of eggs laid is about ten, yet one never sees a family- 
party containing more than six or seven young ones, so that the 
percentage of addled eggs or of accidents to the young after birth 
must be very great. 

Mr. Doig found on one occasion that otters had been responsible 
for the destruction of a nest of eggs. He found a nest at Narra in 



ANAS PCECILORHYNC'HA PcECILORHYNCHA 103 

Sind, on the 1st May, which had contained ten incubated eggs, but 
these, with the exception of one, were all scattered aljout and broken. 
Before reaching the island on which the nest was placed he had 
noticed a family of otters playing about, which all bolted at his 
approach, and which were doubtless the culprits concerned in the 
pillage of the nest. 

The greater number of nests are placed on the ground, well 
concealed in rushes and grass, often at the edge of some piece of 
water or stream, frequently on islands, and not seldom in patches of 
grass well away from water. The ridges lietween rice-fields seem to 
be favourite places for them to make their nests upon, the proximity 
of the food supply doubtless being the incentive to the birds to make 
use of such spots. 

Hume thus describes the first nest taken by him : — • 

' It was placed on a drooping braucli of a tree which hung down 
from the canal bank into a thick clump of rushes growing in a jheel 
that near the bridge fringes the canal. The nest was about nine 
inches above the surface of the water, and was firmly based on a 
horizontal bifurcation of the bough. It was composed of dry rushes 
and had a good deep hollow in which down, feathers, and fine grass 
were intermingled. The nest was at least a foot in diameter, perhaps 
more, and I suppose two inches thick in the centre and four at the 
sides ; it contained three fresh eggs." 

The number of eggs laid seems to vary considerably ; but from 
about eight to ten may be considered as the normal number laid, 
often less, but not often more, though they may occasionally number 
fourteen. They are much like the eggs of the mallard in appearance, 
though rather broader on an average, as well as a little shorter. 
Hume's dimensions for the eggs of this duck are : length from 2'OH 
to 2'3 inches, breadth 1'65 to 1'18, and the average of fifteen, 2"15 
X 1-70. 

The eggs in my collection are of two rather distinct types — the 
one a broad regular oval, the other a narrower egg with one end very 
much smaller than the other, and distinctly pointed. The texture is 
the same in both kinds and the colour also, generally a pale buff-drab, 
much stained as incubation progresses. The two types average 
respectively 2-05 X 162 inches and 2-18 X IGO. 

Spot-Bills do fairly well in captivity, but are difficult to tame, and 



164 INDIAN DUCKS 

generally clear off as soon as they can tiy. They have been known 
to breed in confinement : those in the Calcutta Zoological Gardens 
did so in 18.S5. They will also interbreed with the domestic duck ; 
and there is a specimen in the British Museum collection of a hybrid 
between A. pacilorJnjncha and A. 2JlatijrhijiicJia. 

The birds are very good parents ; the duck sits close and both 
she and the drake show the greatest consternation when their nests 
are discovered. Sometimes the disturber of their peace is tempted 
away from the vicinity of the nest by the duck pretending to be 
wounded, and fluttering about a short distance ahead, leading him 
to believe ca])ture to be an easy matter until the capture is really 
attempted. Sometimes the birds wheel round and round in the air 
just above the nest and refuse to leave, even after its contents have 
been rifled. 

They also show great aft'ection to one another, and if one of a 
pair is killed, the remaining one has been known to refuse to leave 
the spot until he — or she — as the case may be — also falls a victim to 
its constancy. 

General Habits. — Like all our local ducks, though not strictly 
migratory in the true sense of the word, yet they wander about a 
good deal under the influence of the seasons and want or otherwise 
of water. Thus, iu the dryer portions of their habitat they are rain\- 
weather visitants, appearing only when the jheels and ponds contain 
sulflcient water to satisfy their wants. In certain parts also, quite 
independently of the water-supply, this duck is much more common 
than in others ; thus, all round the Twenty-four Parganas, Nadia, 
Khulna, Jessore and the Sunderbands generally it is decidedly rare, 
but gets more common as one works further north or west. It is 
even more rare in the extreme north and north-east, but common all 
over Central India, getting more rare again towards the south. In 
Ceylon itself it does not seem at all rare, for though Legge never 
met with it, he writes of others having done so not infrequently. 
He seems, however, to believe it to be only a winter visitant, but it 
will very likely eventually be found to be resident. 

In Manipur it is very common. Major Woods says (//( epistold) : — 

" This (the Spotted-Billed Duck) is a very common (hick in 
Manipur, though in the rains and in the nesting season, owing to the 
dense grassy jheels to wliich it resorts, it is seldom seen," 



ANAS PCECILORHYNCHA PCECILORHYNCHA 165 

Hume seems to think that it never ascends the hills to any 
height ; but it is found in Manipur up to 3,000 feet. Major Woods 
records it from the Tankul Hills at heights over 3,000 feet. I have 
seen it in the Cachar Hills in valleys up to about the same height ; 
and it has been recorded from the Darjeeling Terai up to about 
4,000 feet, and again by Major Oliver from Kashmir. 

The Spotted-Billed Duck is not a sociable bird, either with its 
own kind or with other species of duck ; often it is found singly or 
in pairs, and the flocks seldom number much over a dozen, though 
in rare instances they run up to as many as forty, and Major 
Mclnroy frequently observed flocks of at least 100, and these he had 
seen both on the wing and at rest. 

If they ever have to associate with other ducks, Hume says that 
they give the preference to teal or shovellers ; and Woods writes 
to me : — 

" I have often seen an old solitary Spot-Bill piloting a flock of 
Teal across a jheel and jungle." 

In such cases the Spot-Bill may have had the company of teal 
thrust upon him whether he desired it or not. 

Their haunts seem to vary very much ; probably they prefer 
tanks, jheels, and small pieces of water which are well covered with 
weeds, and they seldom resort to large open pieces of water. Thus, 
in Manipur, I am told that the Spot-Bills do not, as a rule, frequent 
any of the larger, clearer sheets of water, and that on the Lagtak 
Lake they are quite rare ducks when compared with the others which 
are found upon it. They inhabit the smaller jheels, which are sur- 
rounded near the margins by jungle, and here they may be seen all 
asleep during the heat of the day, except one or two which are on 
sentry-duty near the edge. In the district of Mymensingh, however, 
they are found in the vast jheels which stretch for miles in every 
direction, and here also they breed in great numbers. 

They are also found, though I think but rarely, ou small (juickly- 
flowing streams in forests. On the other hand, on some of the 
bigger rivers they are not uncommon. Hume has " shot them 
several times both on the Ganges and .Jumna (ou both of which, 
however, they are rare), while on the Jhelum, Chenab, and Indus 



ICii; INDIAN DITCKS 

they are quite coimuon," and they are found, though not fre- 
quently, on the Brahmapootra. -I have no record of their occur- 
rence on the Megna, Surma, Barak, or any other of this network of 
rivers, though it is probable in the extreme that they may be met 
with here and there on any of them. 

This appears to be entirely a fresh-water duck, and this would be 
sutiicient to account for its comparative absence from the Sunder- 
bands and their tidal and brackish waters. Whether it occurs on 
the Chilka Lake — also of brackish water — I cannot say. 

The Spot-Bill is, in every sense of the word, one of the finest and 
most game of o\u ducks. Even larger on an average than the 
Mallard, it fully rivals that bird for the table, and is, I think, more 
uniform in its good condition ; this no doubt is due to the fact that 
it has not to overtax its strength in long migrations. It is a strong 
flyer, though not so quick in rising and not so speedy in getting under 
way as is the Mallard. When it first rises, Hume compares it to an 
old hen, such a noise and flurry does it make, but the pace it puts 
on once it is fairly started compensates for its slowness at first. It 
is, perhaps, an easier bird than most of its size and weight to bring 
down when hit, owing to its plumage being rather less dense than 
that of many other ducks. Even when brought down, however, it is 
not necessarily brought to bag at once, as it is a most expert diver, 
and is one of those ducks which dive and grasp the weeds imder the 
water, and so keep hidden below the surface ; more often, though, 
it rises, but only higli enough to allow of the tip of the bill pro- 
truding. Hume, Butler, and otlrers have recovered birds quite dead, 
drowned through holding on to the weeds a little too long below the 
water. If winged, so as to render diving either painful or impossible 
(a twisted wing prevents most ducks from diving), it will make for 
the nearest cover ; indeed W oods informed lue that he has found that 
the majority of those he has wounded without killing outright have 
taken tliis means of trying to avoid capture ; at the same time, he 
adds that they both dive and swim well. 

Most writers agree that the voice of the Spot-Bill and of the 
Mallard are very much alike ; but Hume considers that the quack 
of the former is the more sonorous. I cannot say that 1 have noticed 
any difference between the two. 



ANAS PCECILORHYNCHA PCECILORHYNCHA 167 

These ducks are not shy birds, and until they have Ijeen much 
shot at can generally be fairly easily approached near enough for 
a shot. 

They are principally vegetable feeders, and do a good deal of 
damage to rice, both when young and when in the ear, trampling 
down a great deal more than they eat ; they also, at times, eat all 
sorts of miscellaneous food, such as water-mollusca, frogs, worms, 
insects, etc. Woods observes that the places where they feed can 
generally be detected at a glance from the state of the much-trampled 
blades of rice and the numerous feathers lying about. He says that 
he has had good sport by concealing himself in such places on bright 
moonlight nights, and shooting the birds as they fly over. He has 
also been successful in getting capital sport with them over a decoy. 
The Musalman ^Nlanipuris catch numbers of the flappers with spears 
and nets ; and they sometimes form part of the bag when the natives 
in other parts of India have a duck-drive into nets. 

In Southern India (Mysore ?) Mr. Theobald says that the shikaris 
get within easy shot of these ducks by making bundles of rushes and 
weeds, and pushing these along the surface of the water in front 
of them, the bundles affording a floating rest for their guns and also 
concealing the approach of the shooter. 



168 INDIAN UUCKS 



(26) ANAS PffiCILORHYNCHA ZONORHYNCHA. 

THE EASTERN GREY DUCK. 

Anas zonorhyncha, SinnJior, Ilns, 186(), p. 394 (Ningpo) ; Sahridoii, Cat. 
B. M. xxvii, p. 211 ; ' Asian,' Jan. 10, 1899 : Stuart Baker, 
J. B. N. H. S. xvi, p. 12 : Oates. Game-B. ii, p. 148 ; Stuart Baker, 
Indian Ducks, p. 140 (1908) ; Harhujton, J. B. N. H. S. xxi, p. 1086 
(1912). 

Description. — Tlie eastern form of the Grey Duck differs from the Indian 
Spot-Bill in not having at any period of its life the two red spots at the base 
of tlie upper mandible, and in having the speculum blue, and not gi'een as it 
is in that bird. Also the outer secondaries have far less white upon them — 
indeed, in some birds this is almost absent. The following differences are 
also noticeable in comparing series of the two ducks : in the eastern form 
the chin, throat, and fore-neck are conspicuously white, and contrast strongly 
with the rest of the underparts, which are far darker than in the western 
bird. In both, the under tail-coverts are very dark brown, but whereas in 
zonorhyncha these are almost concolorous with the feathers of the vent and 
lower abdomen, in pa'cilurhyncha the abdomen is much lighter, and contrasts 
distinctly. In the latter the underparts are generally very much spotted, 
the spots increasing with age, in the former the spots are nearly or quite 
obsolete. In the Eastern Grey Duck the white of the supercilium is also 
much purer and better defined than in the Western Grey Duck. The soft 
parts, with tlie exception of there being no spots at the base of the bill, are 
the same as in the other Grey Duck. 

Measurements. The bill averages smaller. In the series of pa'cilolujn- 
cha in the British Museum there are females with bills up to 2'20 inches, 
and males up to 2'38 straight along the culmen from tip to feathering on the 
forehead. 

The largest male of zoiwrlujnclia has the bill only 2'2.5 inches, and the 
next liiggost bird, unsexed, has it 2'20. The largest sexed female has it r98. 

The average wing measurement for both sexes is 10'71 inches, and of the 
l)ill 207. 

Distribution. — Trans-Baikalia, Eastern Siberia and Mongolia to 
Japan (Yezzo and Riu-kiii) and Northern China. In winter south to 
China, Cochin China and Yunnan. There is a typical specimen 
recorded from Kengtung in the Shau States, and Hariugton also 



ANAS PCECILORHYNCHA ZONOBHYNCHA 169 

records the shooting of another specimen at Tougyi, Burma, in 
December, 1911. 

Nidification. — In China this duck breeds principally from the end 
of May to early July. Styan took its eggs in May in the Yangtse 
Valley and again in July, though the eggs were then hard-set. At 
Foochow at Swatow, La Touche found it common and breeding on a 
rocky island outside Swatow Bay in May, Jane and July. Eggs 
taken in the latter months were so advanced that they hatched in the 
boat as they were being taken away. La Touche says that the nests 
" were found hidden among the low brushwood and rank grasses on 
the summit of the island." 

In Japan it breeds from April onwards until early July. I have 
had fine series of its eggs from Owston, and the earliest clutch was 
taken on the '27th April and the latest on the 3rd July. 

The nests were described as being just like those of the Mallard, 
fairly compact and well-built, with a dense lining of down, this 
increasing greatly in amount after the first few eggs were laid. 
They were placed on the ground in amongst weeds and grass and 
generally well-concealed. 

My eggs average about 570 X 39-5 mm. ( = '2'24 X 1'55 inches). 

The usual number seems to be eight to ten in a clutch, but both 
bigger and smaller clutches are often found. 

General Habits. — These appear to be very similar to those of the 
Indian Spot-Bill, but instead of being entirely restricted to islands, 
swamps and rivers, this form is also found on and near the coast. 

According to Gee and Moffett it is often tamed by the Chinese and 
hybrids between it and the domestic duck may often be seen. 



170 INDIAN DUCKS 



(27) ANAS PCECILORHYNCHA HARINGTONI. 
THE BUEMESE GEEY DUCK. 

Polionetta haringtoni, Uatcs, J. U. N. II. S. xvii. p. 55« (1907) (Shan 

States). 
Anas zonorhyncha, Stnart Baker, Induin Ducks, p. 138 (1908). 
Anas haring'toni, Hariiiriton, J. B. N. H. S. xsi, p. 1086; Stnaii Baker, 

ibid, xxii, p. 805 : Bell, ihid. p. 400 : Stcvevs, ibid, xxiii, p. 734. 

Description. — This cluck is intermediate iietween tlie Indian and Chinese 
birds, and is in general appearance very close to the former, from which it 
differs principally in having no red spots at the base of the hill, or onh' a 
faint trace of them. 

The under-parts are pale as in pircihjrJnjnclin, but less spotted, and the 
speculum is green as in that bird instead of blue as in SDiwrlii/nclia. 

It is a slightly smaller bird, the bill averaging only 2'05, and the wing 
10'25 inches. 

Distribution. — The whole of Buriua, including Shan States and 
Chin Hills, Yunnan, Cochin China and the extreme east of Assam. 

Stevens got a number of these ducks in North Lakhimpur. In 
190'2, Messrs. Moore and Muudy got several specimens in Dibrugarh, 
and each succeeding year up to 1905 got others. I obtained my 
first specimens in 1903, and got a good many more in 1904 and 
1905. 

Nidification. — The Eastern Grey Duck is of course resident where 
found, and breeds throughout its range. I took its eggs, three fresh, 
in Dibrugarh, and Harington took a hard-set clutch of eggs in the 
Shan States. 

The eggs differ in no way from those of the spot-bill, but average 
smaller. 

My eggs measure 550 X 39-5 ; 5(3-5 X 38-5 and 58-7 X 41-0 
mm. 

These are shown by Hartert as the eggs of zo)iorhyncJia, as at 
the time I wrote to him I did not admit Jiariiiytuni as a separate race. 



ANAS PfECILORHYNCHA HAPaNGTONI 171 

On one occasion only did any of us see the bird in any numbers, 
and on this Mr. ^loore came across a flock of about forty on a small 
collection of shallow swamps on the road to Dimaji in Lakhimpur. 
He obtained two or three specimens, and on his return to Dibrugarh 
told me of the flock, and when I went out some ten days later the 
flock was still there, and I got a pair in the first drive. They 
refused to leave the swamps round about, but after the first two 
shots had been fired it was impossible to get near them or to get 
them to pass within shooting distance of our mychans. 

As a rule, we found the birds either singly or in pairs, less 
often in small flocks of four or five birds, but in the former case 
they were always in company with teal, gadwall or other ducks of 
some kind. They were just as wild as all the other ducks in this 
district, and the only way we could get them was by driving ; no 
amount of artifice or care could get one within decent shooting 
distance otherwise. We had small and extremely dicky mychans, or 
platforms, made in difl'erent places in the huge bheels ; these were 
well concealed by reeds and water-plants, and we got into them 
with as little noise as possible, and then sent boats all round 
about to put up the birds. The local people knew the habits of 
the duck well, and generally managed to arrange the hiding-places 
so that they were in the line of flight most often taken by the 
birds, and we got a great deal of very pretty shooting in this way, 
though our bags were not heavy. Still we often managed to pick 
up thirty or forty birds, losing sometimes as many more in the 
impenetrable cane-brakes, and by winged birds diving and so 
escaping or being carried ofl" by the many eagles which infest 
these waters. We could, of course, see all round us by peering 
through the reeds, but there were four sides to watch on ; and 
often, as we watched a flock coming up in front of us, a second 
would come up from the opposite direction, and the first we knew 
of it would be the sound of their wings as they hurtled through 
the air high overhead. Sometimes, too, as we watched, a flight 
of teal would rush by only a foot or two above the water, almost 
passing out of fire before being spotted. Consequently, the shoot- 
ing was not all it might have been as regards hitting, and it 
required a rare good man behind the gun for cartridges to average 
not more than two per head of game. 



172 INDIAN DUCKS 



Genus EUNETTA. 

The genns Ewietta may be at once distinguished from Anas 
by the sickle-shaped inner secondaries in the male, and by the 
remarkable length of both upper and lower tail-coverts, which 
extend beyond the rectrices. 

From Chaulelasmus, Eunetta may also be distinguished by the 
number of rectrices, which is sixteen in the former and only 
fourteen in the latter. The females, however, of C. strepertis and 
E. falcata are so much alike that their differences are given in 
full below. There is only one species in this genus, E. falcata, 
which occurs throughout Eastern Asia. 



(28) EUNETTA FALCATA. 
THE BRONZE-CAPPED TEAL, 

Anas falcata, Geoigt, Bemcrk. Reisc. Buss, i, p. 1(57 (1775) (Asiatic 
Russia) ; McLrod, S. F. x, p. 168; Hiifteii, Tor/. Pal. p. 1324 (1920). 

Querquedula falcata, Hume, S. F. iv. p. 225 ; )V7. ibid, vii, p. 494 ; id. 
ibid, viii, p. 115; id. Cat. No. 966 bis ; Hume d- Marsh. Game-B. ill, 
p. 231 ; Bcid, S. F. x, p. 84. 

Eunetta falcata, Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 218 ; Blanford, Avifauna 
B. I. iv, p. 438 ; Oate.'i, Game-B. ii, p. 202 ; Inglis, J. B. N. H. S. 
xiii, p. 180 ; id. ibid. p. 378 ; Comber, ibid, xiv, p. 149 ; Stuart Baker, 
ibid. XV, p. 141 ; Hopwood, ibid . xvi, p. 249 ; hujlis, ibid, xvii, 
p. 1015; Stuart Baker, Indian Ducks, p. 143 (1908); Hopwood, 
J. B. N. H. S. xvii, p. 433 (1908) ; Glancorb, ibid. p. 683 ; Kelly, ibid. 
XX, p. 219 (1910) ; Hopwood, ibid, xxi, p. 1220 (1912) ; Wall, ibid. 
xxii, p. 202 (1913) ; Hiimnis, ibid. p. 399 (1913) ; Bignell, ibid, xxiii, 
p. 160 (1914) ; Hopivood, ibid. p. 365 (1914) ; Stevens, ibid. p. 735 
(1915) ; Wait,; ibid, xxiv, p. 599 (1916) ; Higgins, ibid. p. 606 (191(0. 



Plate XIV. 




*SS*^- 



.-;:'?:-'t?H*s*-, 



■i»*. 



THE BRONZE-CAPPED TEAL. 
Eunetta falcata. 

'/s nat. size. 



EUNETTA FALCATA 173 

Description. Adult Male. — "Crown deep chestnut; sides of the head 
bronze-purple, greener posteriorly ; a long green mane on the back of the 
nape ; throat and upper part of the neck white, intersected below by a green 
collar ; mantle and upper scapulars with narrow crescentic bands grey and 
lilaekish ; rump blackish ; liasal upper tail-coverts gi'ey, vermiculated witli 
black, the longer ones black and entirely hiding the tail ; upper breast waved 
with alternate crescentic bars of black and white, producing a regular scaly 
appearance ; lower breast whitisli, each feather with black bars, one of which 
is sub-terminal ; sides, flanks, and abdomen waved with narrow black and 
greyish bands : under tail-coverts black, very long, and reaching beyond the 
tail ; on each side of the under tail-coverts a very distinct buff patch, the 
bases of the feathers being black, showing a beautiful black bar, which 
separates a buli'y patch from another silky white band formed by the tip of 
the lowest flank-feathers ; scapulars grey, narrowly waved with black, and 
more or less distinctly whitish on the edges ; a black patch on the outer 
scapulars : wing-coverts grey, the last row whitish ; wing-speculum on the 
secondaries dark glossy green, bounded below liy a narrow whitish baud 
at the tip of the secondaries ; tertials very long and narrow, sickle-shaped, 
with the shafts whitish, the webs velvety glossy black, the edges and part of 
the inner webs grey ; quills dark grey, almost blackish towards the tip ; 
under wing-coverts white, but the greater ones grey ; axillaries white ; tail- 
feathers grey, with narrow white edges ; bill greenish-black ; feet dull blue- 
grey, darker on the web ; iris brown. Total length 19 inches, wing 10, tail 3, 
culmen 1'8, tarsus 1'35." {Salvadori.) 

Colours of soft parts. — " Irides deep brown; bill perfectly black ; legs 
and feet drab with an olive tinge : the webs, except immediately alongside the 
toes (where they are unicolorous with these), and claws dusky black. A 
frontal spot ending in a point on the culmen, about 0'4 inch long and 
0'3 wide, pure white." {Hume.) 

Measurements. — " Of another Indian-killed male, the wing also measures 
•J'") inches." (Hume.) " Bill from gape 2' 1 inches." [Blanf.) 

Female. — " Head and neck brown streaked with whitish, much paler 
beneatli ; back and scapulars brown, with concentric pale-rufous bands ; 
lower back and rump blackish ; upper tail-coverts brown, with concentric 
pale bands ; tail-feathers brown ; quills brown ; speculum black, slightly 
glossed with green ; wing-coverts greyish brown, with pale edges, especially 
the greater coverts ; upper breast and sides dull-rufous, with concentric 
brown bars; abdomen whitish, with a few bars or spots; under tail-coverts 
rufescent, with brown marks." (Blanf.) 

Colours of soft parts. — " Bill, feet, and irides as in the male." 
(Sdlvadon.) 

Measurements. — " Wing 9'8o to 10'06 inches, tail 3'23 to 3'57, bill at 
front 1'75 to i'iil, tarsus I'iO to 1"62." (Schrciik.) " Length 16'0 inches, 
wing 9'0, tail 3 1, tarsus 1'2. (Dresser.) 



174 INDIAN DUCKS 

Distribution. — The strict habitat of this little duck is Eastern 
Asia, whence it ranges occasionally"west, sometimes entering Eastern 
Europe. It breeds throughout Eastern Siberia, and lately 1 have 
received notes of its breeding from Manchuria. In the winter it 
descends south, and is common in China and Japan, and of very rare 
occurrence within our limits. Seebohm says (' Birds of the Japanese 
Empire ') : — 

" The Falcated Teal is a winter visitor to all the Japanese islands. 
Tiie Perry Expedition found it to be one of the most abundant of 
the water-birds of Japan, and noticed it at various points during the 
voyage." 

In India, until quite recently, few specimens have been obtained 
since Hume's time, more probably owing to no notice being taken 
of them than for any other reason — although their occurrence is, of 
course, rather rare. Hume notes five specimens which came into 
his possession : of these, two were caught by fowlers near Lucknow, 
and given to him by Dr. Bonavia ; Major C. H. T. Marshall shot a 
male at Knrnal, seventy miles north of Delhi, in February ; another 
was shot in the same month about thirty miles from Delhi by 
Mr. W. M. Chill ; and the fifth was obtained liy Hume himself in 
the Calcutta Bazaar, and this he says was caught in the immediate 
vicinity. 

Shortly after this General McLeod recorded that he had shot a 
female at Fero/a, Bhawalpur, in December, 1879 ; and G. Reid, in 
the same volume of ' Stray Feathers ' as that in which this record is 
made, states : — 

"Two years ago I myself saw two or three in possession of a 
native fowler, who would not part with tliem except at a fancy ]irice, 
saying he meant to take them with a lot of others he had to the 
ex-king of Oudh, who would pay him handsomely." 

He does not say whether the " lot of others " were of the same 
species ; presumably not. 

Two young males, one without the sickle-shaped secondaries and 
one with these fully developed, were obtained by Mr. Finn in the 
Calcutta Bazaar ; a specimen has been shot in Purneah ; two 
specimens — an adult male and a young bird of the same sex — are 
in the Lucknow Museum, and were, I believe, obtained near that 



EUNETTA FALCATA 



175 



place. Besides these, one was obtained in Upper Burma, near 
Bhamo, in 1903, and a second by Hopwood at Kindat in March, 
1906, and others by the latter in Aracan and the Chindwin ; Major 
Cowley, of the 43rd Gurkha Eegiment, obtained one in Manipur, and 
Colonel Tytler and Mr. Higgins each also obtained one there. In 
Tirhoot Mr. Inglis has obtained many specimens, and the western 
records have lately been added to l)y Mr. L. Kobertson, who obtained 
an adult male of this species in the Narra Valley, Sind. 

Glasscock obtained a male at Jullunder, Kelly and Bignell each 
one near Roorka, Wall one in Gonda, Oudh, and \Yaite one at 
Delhi and one in Ferozepur, the sex not given, and Barton also 
obtained one, unsexed, at Llashar, U.P. 

In addition to those recorded above, the only other specimens I 
have ever heard of was one, a young male, shot by my father, Mr. 
E. B. Baker, in Jessore, and several shot by Messrs. Moore, Mundy, 
Stevens and myself in Assam. 

Anderson obtained specimens on the Taipeng river, in Upper 
Burma ; but I cannot ascertain how many he got. 

There is no reason, however, that sportsn^en in Upper Burma 
should not meet with this bird much more often than would seem 
to have been the case hitherto, for North-east Burma is well within 
range of its annual migrations, and now that sportsmen are alive 
to the fact that records of rare ducks are still desirable, we ought 
to have a good many from that quarter. 

Nidification. — The Bronze-capped Teal breeds throughout Southern 
Siberia to the east centre, but rarely to the west ; it has been found 
breeding on all four shores of Lake Baikal, but even there more 
plentifully to the east and south ; it breeds also on the Amur, and 
probably a good deal further north. Middendorff says that it 
" breeds plentifully in the Stanaway mountains, and nearly to the 
tops of the ranges," and, as Hume points out, if it selects sites at 
as high an altitude as this, it is sure to extend considerably further 
north in the plains. 

In Manchuria, where my informant took several nests, the birds 
are said to make them in low-lying parts, along the banks of the 
larger rivers, which are more or less in the condition of swamps. 
The nest appears to be a rather well-built affair of rushes and reeds 



176 INDIAN DUCKS 

rather more compactly put together than are most dnckb' nests, and 
lined very plentifully with down.'pi'esumably taken from the breasts 
of the parent birds themselves. Bo thick is this down that in some 
of the nests, the cups of which were in some cases as much as six 
inches deep, it filled them completely to the top, hiding the eggs 
which were inside. The nests were placed in thick tufts of grass, 
beds of sedges, or, more rarely, under and amongst bushes ; they 
were not very carefully hidden, and, but for the treacherous nature 
of the ground in which they were found, not particularly hard to get. 

The duck is a close sitter, and is assisted in the duty of incuba- 
tion, at least occasionally, by the drake, which is .seldom found far 
from the nest. They la>' from six to nine eggs, beginning to lay in 
the end of May, and continuing through June and the early part 
of July. 

In Sakhalin, near Taraika, Alan Owston's collectors took a large 
number of nests, in many cases with one or both parents, and a 
large number of eggs came into my hands, as well as one or two 
clutches from Japan itself. 

At Taraika the biggest clutch numbered nine and most were of 
six or seven. Unfortunately in no case was the down collected with 
the birds and eggs. 

In appearance the eggs are like those of the teal, but more con- 
sistently of a yellow, or pale cafe-au-lait stone-colour. I have seen 
no white eggs as described by some authors and none with the pale 
sea-green tinge seen in so many ducks' eggs. Normally they are 
rather long ovals, though with the small end but little compressed, 
but one or two of the clutches consist of eggs almost as broad an 
oval as those of the whistling-teal with which, however, they agree 
neither in texture or colour. The former, the texture, is like that 
of the common teal, very fine, close and intensely smooth with a 
fair gloss. 

Including the eggs measured by Hartert and recorded by him, 
in ' Palaearctic Birds,' the average of ninety-seven eggs is 56'2 
X 391 mm. ( = 221 X TSH inches). 

Tiie maxima are 5 8' 5 X 390 mm. {— 2'3 X 1'5 inches) and 
57'0 X M.2 mm. (^ 2'24 X £66 inches). 

The minima are STl x 4rO mm. (= 2'01 X 1'61 inches) and 
570 X .V^-rmm. ( =- 2'24 X 149 inches). 



EUNKTTA FALCATA 177 

The descriptions of the nests agreed with those taken in 
Manchuria and were placed in similar positions. The earliest-taken 
clutch I have is dated the '27th April, 1010, and the latest the 
12th July, most nests having been found in the first three weeks 
of June. 

Dybowski (uide Hume) says that in Western Dauria and the 
country to the south of Lake Baikal " the Crested Teal arrives in 
great numbers during the later half of April, but in the Darasun 
region it is more common. 

" The female makes her nest among the bushes of swamps, 
collecting dry reeds and grass, and lining it thickly with down. 
At the beginning of June she lays eight eggs, sits closely, and only 
rises at your feet. 

" They remain in autumn as late as 27th December." 
It will be noticed that nearly all the specimens obtained hitherto 
are males, but in Assam I found that for every male we got in 
distinctive plumage, we obtained many females and young males, 
such as in most cases are put down as Gadwall. 

General Habits. — ^The Bronze-Capped Teal, when found within 
our limits, appears always singly or in pairs, perhaps very rarely in 
small parties. In places where it is more numerous it collects in 
flocks, as a rule rather small, consisting of about twenty or thirty 
individuals, but at other times in very large flocks ; and it is said 
to arrive at the borders of its breeding-grounds in immense flights. 
It has the reputation of being a very sociable, if not a highly 
gregarious bird, and small flocks frequently, indeed generally, seem 
to mix much with larger flocks of other species of teal and duck, 
with whom they feed and sleep in perfect harmony. 

The flight is said to be swift and teal-like, and the bird to be 
very strong and active on the wing. I can find no record concerning 
these birds' swimming and diving powers, so that we may expect to 
find that these are neither abnormally developed nor yet much less 
in extent than they are in other teal. 

Its cry, when on the wing, is noted as a " tolerably loud and 
piercing whistle " (Prjevalsli) ; and it has also been heard to give 
vent to a chuckling quack as it swims about feeding, a note which 
I have heard it utter in Assam, and which struck me as much like 
the feeding-note of the mallard. 
12 



178 INDIAN UUCKS 

Its diet seems to be principally, if not wholly, vegetarian, but 
very little has been written on this point. 

The female Bronze-Capped Teal is so like the female gadwall 
that both Hume and Salvadori give the points by which they may 
be determined. They are these : — 

The principal difference lies in the wing-speculum : in the 
gadwall " the entire visible portions of the later secondaries are pure 
white, the terminal portions of their larger coverts white. 

" In female fulcata the visible portions of the later secondaries 
are black, with more or less metallic-green reflections, narrowly 
tipped with white, and the terminal portions of their greater coverts 
are black." 

The maxilla also of the gadwall is only dark along the culmen, 
whereas the whole of the upper mandible of the Bronze-Cap is dark. 
Ho also there is always more or less of an orange or yellowish tinge 
on the feet and legs of the gadwall, whereas there is no trace of this 
colour on those of the other duck, in which they are more or less of 
a light slate-colour. These last differences, however, will not be very 
noticeable in the dried skin, and not at all in very old specimens, and 
can onh' be of any use in discriminating birds in the flesh. It should 
always be Ijorne in mind by anyone wishing to ascertain the identity 
of a bird that it is infinitely easier to do so whilst it is in the flesh 
than afterwards, when it has become a dried specimen ; the colours 
of the soft parts are then undiscernible, small marks of feathers, 
such as rings round the eyes, indistinct supercilia, and similar 
markings, are seldom as definite as in the fresh bird, and often, if 
roughly handled in the skinning, become totally lost. Thus the 
bird should be identified in the flesh as soon as possible; and if it 
cannot be, the colours of the soft [>arts must be carefully noted, and 
a rough note made also of an)'thiug remarkable in the colouration. 



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CHAULELASMUS STHEPEKUS 1/9 



(29) CHAULELASMUS STREPERUS. 
THE GADWALL. 

Anas strepera, Linn. S. X. .\. ed. i, p. 125 (1758) (Sweden) ; Hartert, 
\'o<j. Pal. p. 1320 (1920). 

Chaulelasmus streperus, Jerdon, B. of I. iii, p. 802; Hinnc, S. F. vii, 
p. 115 : /(/. Cut. No. 961 ; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 362 ; Hume ct; 2Iarsh. 
Game-B. iii. p. 181 ; Oates, Birds of B. B. ii, p. 283 ; Barnes, B. of 
Bom. p. 405 ; Salvadori, Cat. B. 31. xxvii, p. 221 ; Blanford, Avifauna 
B. I. iv, p. 140 ; Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xii, p. 24 (1898) ; Oates, 
Game-B. ii, p. 234; Dcicar, J. B. N. H. S. xvi, p. 498; Cumminfj, 
ibid. p. 697 ; Ward, ibid, xvii, p. 943 (1907) ; Stuart Baker, Indian 
Ducks, p. 148 (1908) ; Whitehead, J. B. X. II. S. xx, p. 978 (1911) ; 
Wait, Spolia Zeylonica, x, part 39, 1917. 

Description. Adult Male.— Head and neck whitish, rufous- white, or dull 
rufous, densely speckled with brown, except on the chin, which is almost pure 
wliite in highly-plumaged birds ; the anterior portions of the head nearly 
always lighter than the posterior in ground-colour, which shades off into brown 
of the nape, on which the darker spots hardly show : lower neck, back, and 
scapulars deep blackish-brown to dark rufous-brown, every feather beautifully 
waved with white crescentic lines ; lower back darker, with fewer and finer 
vermiculations, sometimes almost unmarked, changing into the black of the 
rump and upper tail-coverts ; central rectrices grey, outer ones rufous-grey 
with almost white edges, generally increasing in width to the outermost ones ; 
breast, sides of the body, and flanks like the back, but the breast more boldly 
marked with the dark and light, and the vent and flanks more finely so; rest 
of the abdomen, &c., white, under tail-coverts, typically the same velvety- 
black as the upper, but often splashed with patches of Ijlack and white 
vermiculations ; the smallest wing-coverts like the scapulars ; the median 
and primary greater coverts chestnnt, with the bases brown and white, some- 
times showing ; greater coverts next the secondaries black ; secondaries pure 
grey, silvery towards the tips ; a speculum formed by the outer secondaries, 
four or five glossy velvety black and three with broad pure white outer webs, 
those next the black often with a narrow black edge ; primaries brown-grey, 
darkest at the tips ; shoulder of wing and under wing-coverts white. 

The colours, as with nearly all ducks, vary considerably ; the abdomen 
is sometimes as pure white as freshly-fallen snow, often tinged with rufous, 
and sometimes wholly of that colour. In the same way the colours of the 
head vary much also. I have a fine drake before me now, in which the rufous 
head contrasts strongly with the blacker breast ; and again another drake in 
which the two colours blend with one another. 



180 INDIAN DUCKS 

Colours of soft parts. — Maxilla dark slaty-brown, black or brown ; 
mandible paler and yellowish or reddish on the gonys and tip ; iridcs dark 
brown ; legs yellow, brownish-yellow to dull orange : claws almost black. 

" Legs and toes orange-red, less bright after the summer moult ; 
claws black ; webs dusky orange-red." {Hume.) 

Measurements. — Length 19'5 to 21'5 inches, wing lO'o to 1175, tail 
3'1 to 4'3, tarsus about 1'5, bill at front 1'90 to 2"00 and from gape 2'05 
to 2'25. Weight 1 lb. 7 ozs. to 2 lbs. 4 ozs. 

Female. — General colour above l^rown, the feathers with buff or rufous 
margins, and the head and neck more or less spotted and streaked on a 
light ground ; the scapulars unmarked dark-brow^n ; rump and upper tail- 
coverts brownish-black ; wings as in the male, but the chestnut, if not 
altogether absent, is present only on the outer webs of some of the median 
coverts ; below, the breast and sides are pale-rufous, sometimes rather 
darker, spotted with brown ; under tail-coverts and feathers about vent 
the same ; remainder of lower parts white, more or less tinged with rufous. 

Colours of soft parts. — Iiides and legs the same as in the male: bill 
dull-orange to yellowish-brown, the culmen and tip brown. 

Measurements.— Length about 18 to 20'1 inches, wing 9 to 10 (102, 
IlHinc), tail SO to i'O (3'7 to 4'5 Hume), tarsus 1'37 to l'-42, bill at front 
rs to 1'95 and from gape 1"95 to 2'15. Weight about 1 lb. to 1;1 lbs. 

Young- in first plumage.—" Closely resembles the adult female, but 
there is no chestnut or black on the wings, the white on the secondaries 
is dull, and the whole of the feathers on the under parts have obscure, 
ill-defined, brown centres." [Salvadort.) 

Young in Down are like those of the Mallard, "but there is a more 
pronounced golden tinge on the throat and cheeks, the streak through 
the eye is more defined, and there is a small dark spot at the junction 
of the mandibles, which the mallard has not." (YaireU.) 

After the breeding-season the drake assumes a plumage similar to 
that of the duck, returning to his full-dress attire before the winter 
has fairly set in, though a few males may still be found in the female 
garb as late as the middle of November. 

Distribution. — Outside India the range of this fine duck may be 
said to 1)6 the Northern Hemisphere. It breeds practically right 
across its habitat in the sub-Arctic regions, and in the winter 
ranges down to Northern and Central Africa, and perhaps even 
further south, almost the whole of Southern Asia, and again as far 
south as Mexico and Jamaica in America. 

Within India, it is easier to say wliere it is not found rather 
than to enumerate all those places in which it does occur. Eoughly 



CHAULELASMUS STREPERUS IBl 

speaking, it is found in vast numbers from the Himalayas, through- 
out Sind, North Bombay, the North-west Provinces, Punjab and 
Bengal ; from there it gets less common as it wanders south, until iu 
Southern India, south of Mysore, it is very seldom found at all, 
though Dewar records that it occurs in Madras, and one has been 
shot in Ceylon in the Hambantota district. 

Throughout Assam, Manipur, Tipperah, and in Burma it abounds, 
and it is plentiful also in the Sunderbands. 

Nidiflcation. — The Gadwall has not yet been found to breed with- 
in our limits, in spite of Hume's hopes to the contrary. That these 
are not groundless, however, is shown by the fact, that a duck shot 
in Cachar contained eggs in the ovaries as large as a big marble ; 
and surely this bird could not have meant to have migrated far 
for the purpose of breeding. This bird was shot in the end of 
April. Again, a pair of birds were reported as having been shot 
in Kashmir in June (date?), but the person who shot them, 
finding the ovaries " very attenuated," jumped to the conclusion 
that the birds could not have been breeding. Is it possible that 
the eggs had been laid '.' 

Whitehead shot it near Lachi on the 20th May, 1906, and 
Eattray got it at Thall iu June. 

It has been noted as breeding in the British Isles, and also in 
Norway and Sweden ; indeed it has been found to nest as far north 
as Iceland, and there is a doubtful record of its having been found in 
Greenland. Its usual breeding-habitat is, however, far more south : 
throughout Southern Europe from Spain to Russia — not in Northern 
Africa, as far as we yet know — in North-west Asia, in the sub-Arctic 
regions, and in North America, where it has been found during the 
breeding-season as far south as Texas. 

A male shot on the '20th June, 1918, was sent me together with 
some eggs said to have been taken from a nest on which the duck was 
sitting. The Tibetan who had previously had very bad luck when 
shooting small birds on their nests, was wisely afraid to shoot the 
female, so shot the male which was swimming close by. The eggs 
are quite typical Gadwall's eggs, and they are probably correct. A 
cock pin-tail was shot a few days later in similar circumstances, and 
here too the eggs are quite typical. Both nests were taken near the 
Bhamtso Lake at an elevation of about 14,000 feet. 



182 INDIAN DUrKS 

Its nest is much like that of the mallard or of the Spotted-hilled 
Duck, but, unlike the former, I "have never heard or read of its 
breeding in trees. It is generally placed at the edge of the water in 
amongst dense sedge, reeds, or bushes, and appears as a rule to be 
carefully concealed ; it is made of reeds, grass, or any other similar 
material, or sometimes a few twigs, and is well lined with down from 
the birds themselves. 

The eggs are said by various authorities to numlier five to 
fourteen ; but probably six to eight or ten is the normal clutch. 

The eggs vary much in colour, from an almost pure white to a 
greenish-drab. As with most eggs of ducks, as incubation advances 
the colours get duller and darker, and eggs which are white with a 
clean yellow or green tinge when first laid become dull-grey or drab 
with the green tint dulled and sometimes lost. In te.xture and .shape 
they do not differ from those of the mallard, except in being slightly 
smaller. 

Thirteen eggs, measured by Hume, are said to have averaged 
2'6'2 X 1'15 inches; but this is probably a mistake for 2'26 X 1'51, 
within which limits all the eggs come which have passed through my 
hands. 

The Gadwall seems to thrive well in confinement, and has often 
bred under these conditions, including several times in the Zoological 
Gardens. 

General Habits. — Of course, in some places the Gadwall is more 
exceedingly abundant than in others. Thus in 1882-83. in Bengal, 
we found that the Gadwalls numbered at least two to every one of all 
other kinds of ducks lumped together. Of a magnificent bag made by 
three guns in the Moolna bheel (Sundarbands), out of 110 couple of 
ducks and teal I think at least 40 couple, if not more, must have been 
Gadwalls, and of the rest probably 70 or 80 couple were teal of sorts. 
Wood speaks of patches of water in Manipur " looking black with the 
number of Gadwall assembled there." • They begin to arrive there, 
according to him, about the 15th October, and though in Kashmir and 
along the Himalayas a few birds may arrive earlier, this will be 
found to be about the earliest date for Northern India. 

In Mysore they do not arrive until the end of November as a rule, 
and at intervening places will be obtained on intervening dates. In 



CHAULELAS.MUS STRKPERUS 183 

Lower Bengal we never expected to see many before November, and 
I think they were most common in late December and early January. 
Hume says, re birds again leaving : — 

"111 the south they leave by the end of March or early in April. 
Farther north they are somewhat later (it depends a good deal on 
the season), and both in Sind and the Western and North-western 
Punjab they are frequently shot in (he first week of May." 

The dates are, I think, too late for Bengal and Assam, where there 
are few birds left after the first week or so in March. When out 
snipe-shooting in that month on extensive jheels and similar pieces of 
water, a few Gadwall may still be put up, but nearly all that are seen 
will be hurriedly making their wa\' north. 

Major Woods, I. M.S., says that even in Manipur they leave about 
the end of March. 

An interesting fact noted by this close observer is, that many, 
perhaps the majority, of the ducks pair off before leaving their winter 
quarters. He says most of them pair in March, but that he has 
noticed some pairing as early as February. No one seems ever to 
have noticed these birds arriving at their breeding-grounds in pairs, 
so it is to be presumed that, their preliminary courtship completed, 
the pairs re-assemble in flocks which remain together until they 
reach their nesting-haunts. 

The Gadwall ranks very high up in the table of duck precedence, 
as there are so many good points about it which attract favourable 
notice. As an article of diet few ducks are better. Some people 
would give the prize in this respect to the mallard, others perhaps to 
the pintail, but take the Gadwall all round, it is hard to beat on the 
table. Personally, I have never known this duck to have a fishy or 
other unpleasant flavour, nor have I met any Bengal sportsman who 
has charged it with this crime. But the northern presidencies have 
sometimes held men who have complained of this flavour when the 
birds first arrive. They ought to be all right, as they are almost 
entirely vegetable feeders, subsisting much on wild and cultivated 
rice, water-weeds, &c., and seldom varying the diet with animal food. 
A drake shot in Silchar was found to contain a mass of small white 
worms in addition to some water berries and half-ripe rice, but this 
in no way affected the flesh. 



184 INDIAN DUCKS 

Before cooking, however, he has to be shot, and though not, as a 
rule, a very shy bird, yet he is quite wide-awake enough to make the 
getting within shot of him an interesting, if not difhcult job. Where, 
too, he has been shot at, all one's ingenuity and perseverance will be 
required before the game-bag can be made to assume the bulgy 
appearance it ought to have. Then, when you have got within shot, 
the Gadwall proves a thoroughly sporting bird ; he is quick off the 
water, rising rather straight up into the air, and getting very soon 
well under way ; and in full flight the Gadwall is even faster than the 
mallard, and, as many writers have observed, reminds one much 
of teal in the manner of flying and the swish-swish of the wings as 
the flock hurtles overhead, leaving, let us hope, two birds m response 
to the right and left with which it has been greeted. 

When shooting in the old days over the vast jheels in Khulna 
and Jessore, though teal might and generally did form the majority 
of the birds got, yet we always hoped that Gadwall would, and it 
was certainly these birds that gave us the most sport. 

In some places the jheels themselves, vast stretches of water, 
shallow in the cold weather and much overgrov/n all I'ound their 
borders with reeds, weeds, and lilies, were surrounded with rice-fields, 
and through these wandered shallow water-ways, some natural and 
others artificial!)' made either for draining or irrigation. 

Daybreak would see us making our way from one of the main 
rivers up such a water-way, which we might have to traverse for some 
two or three miles before reaching the piece of water which formed 
our destination. Our boats were the light flat-bottomed kundas, or 
canoes, used so universally all over North-eastern India ; and our seats 
were low morahs, or cane seats, which enabled us to swing round and 
get shots to our rear as well as in front and both sides, which a seat 
right across the boats would have prevented. We had not, however, 
to wait until we got to the jheel for our shooting, for snipe constantly 
got up to our right and left and teal rose within shot in a manner far 
beyond what we hoped for later on ; moreover, the feeding flocks 
were scattered, and one bird down, another shot might well be hoped 
for. Here and there, too, a Gadwall would find its way within range, 
these only getting up from patches of rice more than usually dense 
and thick. Less often a few pintail would flash across us, but rarely 



CHADLELASMUS STREPERUS 185 

within shot ; also pochards, white-eyes, and shovellers were all to 
be seen at intervals. Whilst it was still cool and a few wisps of 
gently quivering mist were still lingering on the top of the water, 
loath yet to dissolve their ghostly lives into nothingness, we were 
generally well into the jheel and had scattered out into a long line. 
Snipe we now allowed to get up unheeded, though as yet they were 
but few, for not until the sun rose high and hot did they forsake the 
rice-fields and take to the deep water and the cool shade of lily-leaves. 
Whistling-teal swarmed in all directions and kept circling round 
everywhere in countless myriads ; purple coots flustered and fluttered 
across the tops of the reeds and through the rushes ; the little water- 
rail scurried across the surface of the water-plants ; and other 
undesirable birds, such as water-hens, ]a9anas, &c.. were in evidence 
in every quarter. Still the continuous popping of the guns down the 
line showed that all the birds were not undesirable ones. Constantly 
amongst the whistlers overhead there would appear a flock of swifter, 
more quickly wheeling birds, as the blue-wing teal came through 
them, roused by one of the other boats ; or a flock of common teal, 
flying in much the same manner, would rush down nearly the whole 
line, a splash or two in the water marking the members of their mess 
whom they had left behind. The duck, however, got up in front and 
went straight away, seldom wheeling within reach of even the outer- 
most boats, though now and then a flock sweeping past high overhead 
would offer a difficult and often useless shot. 

The Gadwall, which were generally only in small flocks, were 
usually found where there was a certain amount of cover, which, 
assimilated by the green screen on our boats, allowed us often to 
get within shot. They dive and swim very well when only wounded, 
and many a ten minutes was spent in retrieving such birds, for 
whose sake we generally kept a stock of No. .s cartridges ready at 
hand to use instead of the No. 4 or 7 we used for others. About 
10 a.m. our boats all worked in towards some fixed point, and from 
about 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. was given over to lunch and a smoke and 
an examination of the bag. Between 1 and '2 p.m. we would 
again embark, and the same routine was gone through only reversed, 
and the shooting back to the rice-fields was the finale of the after- 
noon's programme. 



18G INDIAN DUCKS 

It was seldom on such days that tlie tliree guns who wero 
generally out, could not get theii;. fifty couple of game-birds, by 
which I mean that whistlers, cotton-teal, and even snipe did not 
count towards the bag. As a rule, the comparative number of snipe 
would be small, as they were not shot at except at the commence- 
ment and end of the day's shooting; and we always considered the 
bag good or otherwise according to the number of Gadwall, pintail, 
and other big duck contained in it. 

I have no record now of what we got, but certainly we often got 
fifteen couple of Gadwall, and sometimes over thirty, whilst on one 
occasion, I think, the three of us got over forty couples. 

The Gadwall did not seem to mind much what sort of water they 
were in; early in the mornings and late in the evenings they were to 
be found in the rice-fields — generally, as I have already said, in 
some corner where the cover was denser than elsewhei-e : an hour 
after light they left the rice-fields and were found swimming about 
in semi-open pieces of water, but seldom in the large open expanses 
in the centre of the lake. It was very noticeable that in the rice- 
fields the birds were constantly seen either singly or in pairs, yet as 
soon as they left these they were very seldom found in pairs, and 
practically never alone, but in flocks numbering ten to twenty, some- 
times as many as forty. 

They seem to put on fat quicker than any other duck, or perhaps 
they feel the exertion of migration less. Of course the mallard, 
which migrates often from parts very close to us, arrives fat ; but 
I have noticed that early in the season, when other ducks are very 
poor, the Gadwall is usually in quite a plunip condition. 



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MAREC'A ^f<'l 



Genus MAEECA. 

The genus Mareca differs principally from Ndtion in having a 
smaller bill, which is distinctly narrower and rather tapering towards 
the tip; from Chaulelasmiix it differs in not having the lamella^ 
of the upper mandible so prominent, and the tail-feathers are more 
pointed, the central rectrices extending beyond the others. 

There are only three species in the genus, of which but one, 
M. jienelope, reaches our limits; of the other two, one M. americana, 
is a North American form, whilst the other, M. sihilatrix, is a South 
American bird. All three are much the same size. 



(30) MARECA PENELOPE. 
THE WIGEON. 

Anas penelope, Linn. S. X. x. ed. i, p. 120 (175S) (Sweden) ; Hnrlerl. 
Vog. Pal p. 1321 (1920). 

Mareca penelope, Jerdon. B. of I. iii, p. 804 ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 271 : 
Butler, ibid, iv, p. 30; Hume. ibid, vii, p. 494 ; Davis, d- Wend. ibid. 
vii, p. 93 ; Scully, ibid, viii, p. 63 ; Hump, Cat. No. 963 ; Hume ti 
Marsh. Game-B. iii, p. 197; Vidal, S. F. i.x, p. 92; Butler, ibid. 
p. 438; Beid, ibid, x, p. 82; Hume, ibid. p. 245; David.wn, ibid. 
p. 326; Oates, B. of B. B. ii, p. 278; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 408; 
Hume, S. F. xi, p. 345 ; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 227 ; Blan- 
ford. Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 445 ; Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xii, 
p. 236 (1899) ; Oates, Gamc-B. ii, p. 210 ; Hopirood, ,T. B. N. H. S. 
xviii, p. 433 (1908) ; Stuart Baker, Indian Ducks, p. 155 (1908) : 
Harinfjton, J. B. X. H. S. xix, p. 313, 1909: Hopwood, ibid, xxi, 
p. 1220 (1912). 

Description. Adult Male. — Forehead, crown, and anterior nape pale- 
buff, sometimes with a few black dots on the nape, remainder of head and 
neck dull-chestnut, much speckled anteriorly with black, and the chin and 



188 INDIAN DUCKS 

throat more or less black also ; back, sides of neck and upper breast, flanks, 
scapulars, rump, and shorter upper taiL-covorts vermiculated bIackish-l)rown 
and white, the rumji and upper tail-coverts with tlie white predominating, 
longer upper tail-coverts black ; central rectrices brownish-black, getting 
]ialer on eacli succeeding pair, the outer pairs being also tipped white ; 
upper breast and lower neck and sides of lower breast vinous-red; under tail- 
coverts black, rest of under plumage white ; smallest wing-coverts greyish- 
brown, more or less vermiculated white ; primary-coverts vinous-grey, 
remaining coverts white ; the greater secondary-coverts tipped black ; 
primaries brown, pale-shafted except at the tips ; outermost secondaries 
brilliant metallic-green, broadly edged and tipped black; outer web of next 
secondary pure-white, edged black ; inner secondaries black, edged white, 
and greyish on the inner webs. 

Colours of soft parts.— " Irides deep red-brown; bill grey-blue, livid- 
blue or bluish-plumbeous, the tip black; legs dusky-lead, lead-grey, or, 
rarely, greenish lead-colour, dusky on the joints and webs and with the 
claws dark. 

Measurements. " Males (Adults). — Length 19'0 to 19o inches, expanse 
3275 to 34'5, wing 10 to 10'5, tail from vent I'O to 4'6, tarsus 1'4 to 1'6, 
bill from gape 17 to 1'82, Weight 1 lb. 5 ozs. to 1 lb. 10 ozs." {Hume.) 

During the early part of the cold weather tlie feathers of the breast have 
grey edges, which make tlie whole breast a pale greyish-vinous ; as the 
season progresses the edges wear off, and the breast gets richer in colour in 
consequence. 

Adult Female. — Head and neck pale reddish-brown, richer posteriorly 
and paler below, speckled with very dark brown ; rest of plumage above 
brown with pale edges to tlie feathers, varying from almost white to rufous, 
the scapulars and inter-scapulars more or less barred with the same ; 
smaller wing-coverts like the back, median the same but with broader 
edges ; greater coverts witli still broader, paler edges ; quills plain-brown ; 
a dull blackish -brown speculum edged by the outer secondaries more or less 
tipped white, and with the secondary next the speculum having tlie outer 
web liroadly white ; innermost secondaries edged with fulvous. Lower neck 
and breast reddish-brown, sometimes speckled with darker; lower breast, 
abdomen, and vent, varying from white to uniform pale, rather bright 
rufous-buff, the flanks and axillaries darker and often more or less spotted 
brown. Under tail-coverts the same as the abdomen, but with the feathers 
centred dark. 

Colours of soft parts.— Bill slaty-blue, nail black, the base of the maxilla 
often darker, the mandible with the commissure, base, and often the tip 
darker and nearly black. Irides from light dull to deep bright brown ; 
legs grey or drab marked with dusky as in the male. 

Measurements.—" Length 17'8 to 19'25 inches, expanse 31'o to 34'0, 
wing 9'3 to 10'5, tail from vent 3'5 to 5, tarsus 1'4 to ITi, bill from gape 
1'68 to 1'8. Weight 1 lb. 3 ozs. to 1 lb. 10 ozs. (Note that only one 
female out of twenty-seven weighed more than 1 lli. 9 ozs.).'' [Htivic.) 



MABECA PENELOPE 189 

Young' Male. — Much like the female, but the upper parts, especially on 
the rump and upper tail-coverts, more grey than brown, and soon assuming 
the vermiculated appearance of the adult male ; white about the speculum 
far more developed, as is the speculum itself, and the breast and fore-neck 
are a richer brown. 

Male in the first nuptial state or changing from the young into Adult 
Stage. — Head rich-l>ro\vn, Ijoklly spotted with black, loss so below ; upper 
back and adjoining parts as in the female, but gradually changing to grey on 
the lower back and rump, where it is beautifully vermiculated and stippled 
with white ; upper tail-coverts, scapulars and innermost secondaries like the 
upper back ; wing like the adult male, but the speculum inconspicuous ; 
lower parts as in the female, but with the breast a very rich rufous, 
contrasting both with fore-neck and abdomen. 

Nestling. — "May be distinguished by the warm rufous tint of the 
cheeks and throat and the absence of any loral streak ; the upper parts are, 
moreover, of an almost uniform brown, with hardly any signs of bars on the 
pinions." {Yarrcll) 

Distribution. — TheWigeon is found throughout Europe at different 
seasons, being a permanent resident in somu of the northern 
countries ; practically throughout Asia, though rare to the east, 
breeding in the north and wintering in the south; in Northern Africa 
in the cold weather as far south as Abyssinia, Southern Egypt and to 
Madeira. It also wanders as far as North-eastern America. 

Within our limits it is found practically everywhere except in the 
extreme south and in Ceylon. I did not personally obtain it in the 
Sundarbands, but many others have shot it there. It is decidedly 
common in Cachar and Sylhet to my own knowledge, not rare in 
Goalpara and Kamrup, in which districts I have shot it, and is found 
throughout the Province of Assam, whilst in Burma it has been 
recorded from N. Tenasserim, Chindwin, Aracan and the Bhamo 
district. 

Nidification. — The Wigeon breeds throughout the greater part of 
its northern habitat, but probably nowhere within the Arctic circle. 
It is common in Iceland and still more so in Lapland, breeds through- 
out Northern Europe, and also, I am told, in East Prussia, and it also 
breeds in North-west Asia, less commonly to the east. In Great 
Britain it has often been found breeding in Scutkmd and also in 
Ireland, and in 1898, Mr. W. J. Clark recorded the finding of a 
Wigeon's nest in Yorkshire, this being the first record of its breeding 
within the limits of England itself. 



190 INDIAN DUCKS 

Its nest may be placed either close to water in amongst the growth 
on the banks or shores, or it is sometimes placed a good distance from 
it. In Scotland it is frequently found well hidden in amongst heather, 
far from the nearest water. As a rule, it is very carefully hidden, but 
at other times it is very conspicuous, and can be seen from a few 
>ards away. The duck sits very close indeed, and, flying up at one's 
feet, usually shows the whereabouts of the nest, however well it n:ay 
be hidden. The drake would seem to take little interest in the nest 
or eggs, and leaves the duck not only to do all the incubation, but 
also to look after the young until they are some days old. 

The nest would appear to differ from other ducks' nests in being 
better put together in most cases. In some nests the materials- 
moss, leaves, grasses, and weeds — are well intermingled and inter- 
woven with one another and with down, which not only forms the 
lining, but is also incorporated in the body of the nest itself. 
Frequently, on the otlicr hand, the nest is very primitive, and 
consists of only a few of the materials mentioned, just loosely placed 
in some hollow in the ground. 

Dresser says : — 

" The eggs are deposited late in May or early in .June, the locality 
selected for the purpose of nidification being some times close to the 
water's edge, and at others some distance from it ; but Mr. Colley 
informs me that he found a nest on the foils, not far from the town 
of Lillehammer, which was under a juniper bush, at least 800 yards 
from the water. The nest is a mere depression or hole scratched in 
the ground, and well lined with down and a few feathers, intermixed 
with a little moss or a lew grass-bents. A nest which I possess 
consists of a little moss matted together with down, the latter being 
of a dark sooty brown colour, the centre of the down being rather 
lighter or a dark sooty grey, and a few feathers of the bird are 
interspersed here and there. 

" The eggs are creamy-white in colour ami oval in shajie, 
tapering slightly towards the smaller end." 

In rather strong contrast to the above " mere depression or hole " 
is ]Mr. Wolley's description of a Wigeon's nest : — 

" A nest is an extremely pretty sight, even when separated from 
its native Isank, and all the accompaniments of flowers, roots, moss 
and lichen." 



MAKEC'A L'ENKLUI'K 191 

The uumber of eggs is normally to y or sometimes 10. 
Morris says 5 to S, Meyer 10 to 12. In colour they vary from a 
pale-cream, so faint as to appear white, to a rather warm creaui 
or buff, generally the former. Hume's eggs measured '2'1 to 2'8 
inches in length, and 1"5 to l"(j in breadth. The texture is, of 
course, fine and fairly close, with the surface inclined to be glossy, 
incubation is said to last about twenty-four days. 

Two eggs in my collection, which come from Lapland, arc 
smaller than any of Hume's, measuring 'i'OS X I'o inches and 
200 X 1'4J. Both these eggs are also unusually glossy. 

General Habits. — It will be noticed that in certain localities in 
India one person records this duck as being very plentiful, whilst 
another, who may be an equally good observer and naturalist, says 
it is never found. This is due to the fact that the Wigeon is most 
irregular in its visits, and whilst it comes one year in hundreds 
and even thousands to certain parts, yet these localities may be 
hunted in vain the following season for a single specimen. 

Notes recorded by various ornithologists and sportsmen would 
seem to show that in years of heavy rainfall the AVigeon does not 
visit India in the same numbers as it does in drier years. 

Thus, Keid writes of Oudh : — 

"The Wigeon is by no means uncommon, though it is, I think, 
rather erratic in its wantlerings, l)eiDg much more common in some 
seasons than in others. During the past cold weather for instance, 
when the jhils were much below the average size, and many of the 
smaller ones altogether dry, I did not expect to meet with it ; but as 
a matter of fact, it was much more common than I had ever known 
it to he before.' 

Again, Vidal : — 

" Wigeon, in some years, are very abundant on the Vashishti 
River, congregating in large flocks of 500 birds or more, but they 
are not, like Common Teal, widely distributed. In 1878-79, after 
the highest rainfall on record, not a Wigeon was to be found in 
the district ; but in 1879-80, after a year of moderate rainfall, 
tiiey reappeared in their usual strength on the Vashishti." 

Davidson notes it as rare in Mysore, but Major MacInro>- says 
that a fair number may be met with in parts. The only way I can 
at all account for the Wigeon being more common in dry than 



19-^ 



INDIAN DL'CKS 



in wet seasons is because it is very much of a shallow-water or 
bottom feeder. In very wet seasons the lakes, jhils, ponds, etc., all 
overflow their normal limits, and thus the edges of the shallow 
water cover ground on which no water-weeds grow, and on which 
the natural dry-land vegetation has been killed by the water. On 
the other hand, in dry seasons, the water recedes and much jhil 
vegetation, which, under ordinary circumstances, would be in a few 
feet of water, is within a few inches of the top, and well within 
grasp of the duck as it feeds with only its tail-end out of water. 
It is, of course, a strong and expert diver, but does not feed, I 
think, on any vegetation which necessitates its going completely 
under water. Of two birds shot in Silchar, the stomachs contained 
nothing but the white tendril-like roots of a small water-plant 
which grows profusely where the water is only a few inches deep, 
and these the birds could obtain by merely standing on their 
heads, as it were, in the water. It grazes a good deal, like 
geese, on young grass, and also on young crops, and, in addition 
to various other vegetable substances, eats water-snails, worms, 
insects, and shell-fish of sorts, this more particularly near the 
sea-coast, where it is often found in lirackish estuaries or back- 
waters. 

Morris writes : — 

" This species feeds principally on water insects and their larva;, 
small moUusca, worms, the fry of fish and frogs ; and also the buds, 
shoots, and leaves of plants and grass, and these it browses on in 
the daytime ; but it chiefly seeks its food in the mornings and 
evenings, and also at times in the night." 

All ducks, it should be noted, whether as a rule day or night 
feeders, are inclined to feed freely during moonlight nights, and this 
is perhaps more especially the case with such as graze on grass and 
young crops. 

Hume says that it is as quick in rising as is the gadwall. 
I should have given the palm to the gadwall for quickness in getting 
off the water, but once up the Wigeon is quite as fast in getting 
away. On the wing it is certainly not as fast as either the 
garganey or common teal, nor is it as hard to bring down, for it 
is less densely plumaged, and can carry far less lead. 



■VrARECA PENELOPE 198 

They vary very much in being wild or the reverse, but, taking 
them everywhere, in comparison with other ducks they may be said 
to be cute, wary birds, but falling short in this respect of many of 
their kind. AYhat adds, too, to the ease of obtaining shots at them 
is their habit of feeding almost throughout the day, their feeding 
taking them much to the edges of the jhils and lakes, where they 
remain amongst the reeds and vegetation. This, of course, hides 
the stalker and the stalked, and many shots ma>- lie obtained at 
Wigeon by walking round the borders of a lake, whilst most of the 
other duck are away in the middle of the water, unapproachable, 
except by boat, and often not by that. They collect in very large 
flocks, sometimes numbering as many as seven or eight hundred 
individuals, but more often will be found in flocks of 100 or so, and, 
of course, where they are less common in small flocks of a dozen or 
less, often in pairs or singly, but in the latter case always with some 
other duck. 

Of their voice, Hume writes : — 

" They are, on the whole, rather loquacious liirds, and both when 
feeding and at rest, when walking, swimming, and flying, often utter 
a shrill ' whew,' a sort of whistle by which you may know them at 
any distance ; it is not a clear full whistle like the Curlew's, but a 
whistle-cry, rather discordant when heard by day, but not without 
its charms when uttered by night by large numbers, mingled with 
the call of many other species and mellowed by the distance and 
the multitudinous voices of wings and water." 

They fly with a swift powerful flight, generally in line formation, 
the line nearly always irregular, and altering much in shape as the 
birds fly ; the two ends are generally thin, whilst towards the centre 
the birds are more numerous. When flying from one jhil to another, 
or when put up by shots, they do not, I think, take any particular 
formation. 

Meyer says : — 

" The Wigeon fly in the usual manner of ducks, following one 
another ; but these birds fly so very close upon the heels of their 
leader, that it forms a distinguishing peculiarity." 

Hume notes the peculiar rustle made by the Wigeon in flying ; 
this is very distinctive, and when close at hand sounds very different 
from the swish of the mallard or the sound of other ducks" flight. 
13 



194 INDIAN DUCKS 

In England they are caught in large numbers by decoxs, which 
induce the wild birds to enter some- small waterways roofed in with 
wire netting, which gradually lead to a large drop-net in which 
they are entangled. The placing of the pipes — as the leading tunnel- 
nets are called — is the main feature of the trap, as these have to 
be so made that they are quite inconspicuous, and the entrances 
must be natural ones. Sometimes a small dog is trained to dodge 
about the pipes, continually showing itself high up the pipe for an 
instant or two and attracting their curiosity, which is a strong trait 
in all ducks. In Goldsmith's ' Natural History,' a little volume 
dated 1830, it is said that " in only ten decoys in the neighbourhood 
of Wainfieet, so many as 31,200 have been caught in a season." 
This, of course, refers to all kinds of ducks, not to Wigeon only. 

To eat, the Wigeon is sometimes first-rate, sometimes decidedly 
fishv and rank. At home it is considered quite one of the higher 
class of ducks for eating, but out in India it is often )uit of a higher 
class ; Hume says of some he got on the sea-coast that they had 
such distinct " odour of brine from the ocean " about them that they 
were quite unpalatable. Those shot in Cachar and Assam I have 
always found vei-y good indeed. 



NETTION 1 i)'] 



Genus NETTION. 

The genus Nettium or Nrftioii is one of the largest in the order 
Chenomnrjjhse. As restricted by Salvadori, there are seventeen 
species contained in it, of which three only are found in India. 
The range of the genus is cosmopolitan, and it contains species both 
resident and migratory, l^oth of which are represented in India. 

The differences between Nettion and Anas, CJiauIelasinu.'i and 
Mareca have been already pointed out. 



Kcjl to Speciex. 

Speculum, secondaries bronzed greeu at base, then black and 

tipped white, and with their coverts tipped rufous . . .V. fonnosi{m. 

Speculum, outermost secondaries black with white tips, those 
next them brilliant metallic-green, next again to tliem 
one black, the remainder like back .V. riTcca. 

Speculum, outer secondaries black except two or three in the 

centre (7 to 9). which are bi-onzed -green N. alliKiularc. 



190 INTHAN DT'f'KS 



(31) NETTION FORMOSUM. 
THE BAIKAL OR CLUCKING-TEAL. 

Anas formosa, Ciconji, Bcmcrk. Ecise. J?«.s.s. H/icIi. \t. Ifis (1775) 

(Sweden) ; Hartcrt, Voo. Pal. p. 1316 (1920). 
Querquedula glocitans, Jci-don, JJ. of I. iii, p. HOH ; nuiiu'. S. F. viii, 

p. 41 '2. 
Querquedula formosa, Hinnc. S. F. iii, p. 491; ul. //nil. viii, pp. 115, 

494; /(/. Cut. No. 960: Hiniic ,(• Miirsh. Chime-B. iii, p. '225; Baruos, 

I!, of Bom. p. 411. 
Nettion formosum, Salcadoii, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 240; Sliuni Balrr, 

./. B. X. H. S. xii, p. 243 (1899); nl Iiiduin Duels, p. KW (190S); 

Linihaii Sniitli, .1 . B. X. H. S. xix, p. 525 (1909); Mniinhmi, ihiil. 

p. 526; Gore, ihnl. xxi, p. 1090 (1912) ; Eraus. ihid. p. 1091 ; Ilnianis, 

ihnl. xxii, p. 399 (1913); O.wiastoti, ilml. p. 548 (1913); IIi(i,iins, 

thai. xxiv. p. 605 (1916). 
Nettium formosum. Tllmford, Anfainui B. I. iv, ji. 442; fhilof^,Ci,niir-B. 

ii, p. 182. 

Description. Adult Male. — " Grown of the head, hack of the neck, entire 
throat, and a hand extendin" from the eye across the face to the throat, 
hlack ; face and neck on the sides and under tiie throat buff, tlie huff parts 
margined narrowly with white ; also the black crown from lieliind the eye 
is bordered on each side witli a white band which runs down the sides of 
the lilack nape, and spreads on the sides of the neck ; from behind the eye a 
liroad, glossy-green band of a crescentic shape passes along the sides of the 
head and interiorly changes into black, l)etween the buff colour anteriorly 
and white band posteriorly ; liack and scapulars grey, somewhat tinged with 
brown, minutely vermiculatod with black ; the inner scapulars elongated, 
lanceolate, on the outer web lilack, edged with cinnamon, silky-buff, edged 
with brown, on the inner web ; lower back and rump greyish-lirown ; the 
upper tail-coverts brown, edged with rufous ; lower neck and upper breast 
vinous, marked with small oval black spots; on tlie sides of the breast, 
just before the iiend of the wing, a crescentic white band ; lower breast and 
belly white ; Hanks grey, minutely vermiculated with black ; under tail- 
coverts black, but marked with bay on the sides, the longer ones whitish - 
buff at the tip, with slight vermiculation ; on the lower flanks, just at the 
base of the tail, a band of silky-white, formed by the tip of the feathers ; 
wings pale greyish-brown ; the last row of the upper wing-coverts tipped 
svith cinnamon, forming a band which borders anteriorly the wing-speculum ; 



NBTTION FORilOSUM 197 

the lattei' is glossy-green auteriorly, with a subapical velvety-black baud, 
and bordered by a white band at the tip of the secondaries : the longer 
tertiaries marked with velvety-black on the outer web : quills pale-brown ; 
under wing-coverts brown-grey, the greater ones pale-grey, the centre ones 
and the axillaries whitish, minutely spotted with brown-grey ; bill dark - 
bluish-brown; feet light greyish-blue, darker on the web : irides chestnut- 
brown." 

Measurements. — "Total length IS inches, wing So, tail 4:''2, culmen I'.j, 
tarsus 1." (Salvadoii.) 

"Length 15'8 inches, wing S'l.j, tail 3''J, tarsus 1'3, bill at front I'.j, 
from gape 1'92." {Hiiiiie.) 

"The tarsus ... . in a tine male from China is I'i inches." iHione.) 

Again, Temminck and Schlegel give the dimensions of the tarsus as 
1'28 inches. 

Of the four specimens in tlie Indian Museum, Calcutta, the measure- 
ments of the tarsus of the males are 1'2 to 1'3 inches ; the measurements 
were kindly supplied to me liy Mr. F. Finn. 

Female. — " Upper parts, wings, and tail brown, with paler edges to the 
feathers, crown darkest ; speculum as in the male, but the rufous and bronze- 
green bands duller ; a buff spot on each side of the head in front of the 
lores, another under each e> e ; side of the head and neck buff or pale rufous 
speckled with brown ; lower parts white, except lower fore-neck and upper 
breast, which are light rufous-brown with dark spots. 

Measurements.—" Length l.j'O inches, culmen 145, wing 78. tail. 3'5, 
tarsus 0'9." (Dresser.) 

"The only female in the Indian Museum, Calcutta, has a tarsus 
measuring 1'3 inches." [Hione.) 

Post-nuptial plumage. — " The male assumes, after breeding, a plumage 
very similar to that of the female, from which he is only to be distinguished 
by the darker brownish-red tint of the upper breast, and the comparatively 
uniform colour of the upper back, the feathers of which, in the female, 
are darker and very conspicuously bordered with reddish-buff." (Hiniic.) 

Young. — " The young in down are easily recognized by the spot at the 
root of the bill and the stripe by the eye, which agree exactly with those 
of the female, but are yellowish instead of white." (Middeudorff.) 

Distribution. — Eoughly speaking, the habitat of the Clucking Teal 
may be said to be the eastern portion of Asia, south of the 70th 
degree north latitude, and east of longitude 80 degrees. To the 
south its boundary may be taken as the '20th degree latitude. It is 
extremely common in many parts of Southern China, Central East 
China, Formosa, and the south of Japan in the winter, but it has 
at no time been reported from Yesso or elsewhere to the north of 



198 INDIAN UUCKS 

Japau. The extreme north of China, Mougoha, Manchuria, and 
perhaps Korea, it seems only to visit on migration, its summer 
home being northern Asiatic Kussia and Siberia. 

Halvadori says that it " straggles into the western Palaearctic 
region (Italy and France)." And, again, in Latham's ' General 
Synopsis of Birds' (17S0), I find the following under the heading 
of Aiu(.i gliicitans : — 

" Taken in ii deco\- in England, lias also been met with along 
the Ijena and aliout the Lake Baikal. Has a singular nolo sonie- 
•\vhat like chicking." 

"Within Indian limits its occurrence has been of the rarest. 
Blyth got a male in the Calcutta bazaar. Colonel McMaster says 
that he got what he believed was a specimen of this species in 
the Upper Sircars. Mr. E. James had a painting of the head of a 
teal, said to have been shot in Sind, which was undoubtedly — the 
painting — that of this species. In November, 1879, Mr. Chill got 
a male Clucking Teal about thirty miles south of Delhi ; this he 
preserved and sent to Hume. Thus up to Hume's time the records 
of its actual occurrence are but two in number and of its possible 
occurrence but two more. 

Since then ten more specimens have been obtained. On the 
KJth December, 1898, Mr. E. L. Barton, of Bombay, shot a male 
Clucking Teal about twenty miles from Ahmedabad, in Guzerat, 
and the skin is now in the collection of the Bombay Natural History 
Society. 

Colonel Eow, 8th Goorkhas, shot one in the Dibrugarh district 
of Assam ; Messrs. Eden and Harrison each shot one in Eastern 
Assam in 1912 ; Higgins obtained one in INIanipur in 1913, and a 
second in 1916 ; De Vitre had two trapped birds brought to him in 
Behar in 1907 ; Aitken obtained one in Lyallpur in 1909, and finally 
Hope-Simpson shot one in Goruckpore in 1918. 

Nidification. — As regards the breeding, the two notes quoted by 
Hume are all there are on record. 

Middendorff says : — • 

" Although the commonest duck on the Boganida (70 degrees 
north latitude) it did not occur as far north as the Taimyr Eiver. 
It was not observed Ijefore the li^th June on the Boganida. On 



NETTION FORMOSU.M 1^9 

the 3rd July we found a nest on tlie I'iver bank under a willow bush 
containing seven fresh eggs. On the '24th of July the young in 
down began to exhibit feathers on the head, shoulder and wings, but 
were still unable to fly on the 4th August. On the 28th July a 
male was shot which had lost its perfect plumage. The latest birds 
were seen on the 23rd .August on the Boganida. This bird was 
similarly plentiful on the Stanaway Mountains (Aim Eiver). Anil 
at Udskoj-Ostrog, where it arrived during the first week of May. 
. . . The eggs are bluish->ellow in colour and small — the smallest 
was 1'9H inches long b\- Vi greatest breadth." 

Of course, Middendorff meant largest, not smallest, as he gives 
the greatest breadth, and IDS inches seems big for the egg, not 
small. In the lines above quoted the point which will be most 
quickly noticed is the extremely brief breeding-season. Thus, 
although the l'2th of June is the earliest date on which the bird 
was seen, yet the last disappeared on the 'iard August, giving little 
over two months for the whole business of making the nest, laying 
the eggs, hatching — which we may presume would take up from 
twenty to twenty-five days — and bringing up the young. As it 
would take some ten days to lay the normal clutch of eggs and about 
five at least to make the nest, the only conclusion is that once 
hatched the young take well under the month to arrive at their full 
powers of flight. As this is not quite likely, it is probable that 
though no birds were seen before the date mentioned, yet many must 
have arrived in late May ; and when we look at the date when they 
arrive elsewhere, this is the most probable solution. 

In the Amur they arrive and breed very much earlier. The only 
egg of this duck in my collection is one of many I owe to the 
generosity of Herr M. Kuschel, of Breslau, who has given me one 
bearing the date ^.Sth April, 1895. The earlv date of this egg 
supports the idea that they must breed earlier than in June in 
Northern Siberia also. 

The egg is a typical teal's egg, the texture very smooth and fine, 
but without any gloss ; the shape oval, with one end decidedly 
smaller than the other, though obtuse ; the colour is a very pale 
creamy cafe-au-lait. In size it is two inches long by 137 broad, 
which makes it a rather longer, yet at the same time a rather 
narrower, egg than those hitherto described. 



200 INDIAN DUCKS 

Taczanowski thus describes a clutch of eggs sent him by Dybowski 
from Darasan, where this teal breeds in numbers : — 

" The> are somewhat larger than those of the Gargauey ; their 
colour is a pale greyish-green, very like that of the eggs of the 
mallard. Tlie>- vary from about 1'8 to I'J inches in length, and 
from about 1'3 to f '4 in breadth." 

General Habits. — Information of this duck's habits is meagre in 
the extreme and I can find practically nothing of interest. 

Its Hight is said to be swift and teal-like, but instead of, like 
the Common Teal, flying at great heights when on migration, it 
flies low and close to the surface of the country. This habit of flight, 
however, is probably only a distinctive feature as the Clucking Teal 
approaches its destination, for I'rjevalsk)- writes : — 

" When migrating these ducks fly very low, following the plains 
which abound with lakes, and as soon as one is perceived which is 
not frozen, they at once settle down on it." 

Most noticeable of all its characteristics is the voice. These teal 
are, especially tlie drakes, noisy birds, constantly uttering a strident, 
chicking call, like the syllable " mok " repeated very quickly. I have 
heard their cry likened to the Cotton-Teal's, as uttered by the latter 
bird when flying, but far louder and more distinctly syllabized. 

The voice has also been likened to that of an old hen, and a con- 
signment of these birds kept on board a vessel from Shanghai made 
a noise continuously, so much like a number of fowls that the 
passengers would hardly believe that the clucking came from the 
throat of any duck. 

As a rule, it would appear that it is an inland bird, keeping 
much to the swamps and morasses, or to rivers, and less often to 
large open sheets of water. In Japan and Formosa it has been seen 
on the sea-coast, in tidal creeks, and, I believe, even on the sea-shore 
itself. 

It is a shy bird and difticult of approach as a rule, but appears 
to become less so during the breeding season. Euddle says that he 
saw in company, "in a small morass above the Udir rivulet. Amis 
boscJtas, A. crccca, A. ijlocifaiis, A. ch/pvata, A. acuta, and a few of 
.1. pcnclopc, sitting quietly close together after a meal, resting." 




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NETTION CRECCA CRECCA '201 



(32) NETTION CRECCA CRECCA. 
THE COMMON TEAL. 

Anas crecca, Lnui. S. N. x. ed. p. 125 (175H) (Sweden) ; Haitoi, lo;/. 
P<(1. i>. 131-1 (1920) ; Lmic B. of C. p. 10H3. 

Querquedula crecca, Jeiduit, U. oj I. iii, p. 80() ; Ilniiw, S. F. i, p. 262 : 
Adam, ib/il. p. 102; JJiitlcr, ibid, iv, p. 30; Hume d Davis, ibid, vi, 
p. 489 ; Dacids. J- Wend. ibid, vii, p. 93 ; Ball, ibid. p. 232; Hume, 
ibid. p. 494 ; ;■(/. Cat. No. 964 ; Scidlij, S. F. viii, p. 363 ; Hume (t 
Marsh. Game-B. iii, p. 205; Vidal, S. F. is, p. 93; Butler, ibid. 
p. 438; lleid, ibid, x, p. 83; Davids, ibid. p. 413; Taijlor, ibid. 
p. 467; Uates, B. of B. B. ii, p. 285; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 409: 
Hume, S. F. xi, p. 346. 

Nettion crecca, Salvadon, Cat. B. 21. xxvii, p. 243 ; Stuart Baker, 
J. B. N. H. S. xii, p. 247 (1899) ; id. Ladian Ducks, p. 167 (1908). 

Nettium crecca, Blauford, Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 443; Oates, Game-B. 
ii, p. 172 ; Ward, J. B. X. H. S. svii, p. 948 (1907). 

Description. Adult Male.—" A broad band from the back of the eyo 
down the nape and upper neck, metallic-green, sometimes glossy-black 
posteriorly ; a narrow white line from the base of the maxilla, running 
upwards over the eye and the green band, and another from the fore-corner 
of the eye running under the green band ; the remainder of the head and 
neck rich, rather dark, chestnut ; the point of chin or whole chin and edge 
of lores more or less black ; lower neck, upper back, inner scapulars, sides 
of vent, and flanks vermiculated dark brown and white, the vermiculations 
on the upper part increasing in breadth towards the breast, on the sides of 
which they become bold black and white liars, and in the middle of the 
breast merely round black centres to the feathers; remainder of back brown, 
sometimes slightly vermiculated at the sides ; rump brown, the feathers 
edged paler; upper tail-coverts rich-brown, edged buff; rectrices brown, 
edged paler ; lower surface white ; under tail-coverts buff at the sides, black 
in the centres ; greater coverts broadly edged white or buffy-whito ; re- 
mainder of coverts and primaries grey-brown ; outermost secondaries black, 
edged narrowly white, the next three or four metallic-green, and the one 
next again to them black with a very narrow wliite margin ; the remaining 
innermost secondaries a beautiful silvery-brown, and the outermost 
scapulars buff, with broad velvety-black diagonal edges." 



20'2 INDIAN DLC'KS 

Colours of soft parts.— "In the aolult the hill is hlack or blackish, 
brownish on rami of lower maiulihlo. 

" Irides are brown, varying in shade from light hazel to almost black. 

"The legs and feet are commonly grey with a taint olive tinge (the webs 
and claws in all cases dusky), but they vary in shade a little and at times 
are bluish-grey with a Ijrown shade, and at others a distinctly dark slaty- 
grey, sepia-grey, brown, greyish-brown, olive, greenish olive, dirt\' greenish 
plumbeous, or even plumbeous." (Ilitmc.) 

I have found a green tinge on the tarsus and toes ver\ common, indeed 
more so than a pure grey or plumbeous. 

Measurements.—" Length 14'5 to 15'<S5 inches, e.\panse ^3'0 to 25'25, 
wing 72 to H'O, tail from vent 3'0 to .3'6, tarsus I'O to r'2, bill from gape 
I'o to 177. Weight 7'7 ozs. to l'2'O ozs." {Hume.) 

" Total length 14'5 inches, wing 7'25, tail 3, culmen i'6, tarsus I'l." 
{Salvadofi.) 

Adult Female. — Upper parts dark-hrown, the feathers edged rufescent 
white ; lores, throat, and neck rufescent-white, with speckly brown centres 
to the feathers, larger and more distinct on the neck ; chin and fore-throat 
the same but unspotted ; tianks and breast more or less with dark centres 
to the feathers, always fairly defined on the former, but sometimes practi- 
cally non-existent on the latter, though, on the other hand, they sometimes 
show up as distinct dark-brown drops: the ground-colour of the lower 
parts may he anything from almost pure white to a distinct rufous or buff; 
scapulars like the back, but generally more richly coloured ; remainder of 
wing like that of the male, but with the speculum usually duller. 

Measurements.—" Length 13'5 to l-±'9 inches, expanse 22'5 to 25, wing 
6'5 to 7'-!, tail from vent 2'9 to 3'5, tarsus 10 to 1'2, bill from gape I'o to 
f77. Weight 77 ozs. to 12 ozs." (Hume.) 

Colours of soft parts. — "In young males and females the lower miindible, 
though sometimes only brown, commonly varies from brownish-yellow to 
dull orange, and is generally brownish at tip. The upper mandible also 
in females is usually rather paler coloured than that of the male, and is 
often tinged with green or plumbeous green." [Hume.) 

Legs and feet are also more often tinged strongly with sienna than are 
those of the male. The irides are the same — light to dark brown. 

After the breeding-season, or when the eggs have been laid, the males 
assume a plumage similar to that of the female, but have the upper iiarts 
more a uniform brown. 

Morris says : — 

" The male assumes the plumage of the female in sumnier by the 
end of July or beginning of August, and this he retains until the geneial 
moult." 

The young are like the female, perhaps rather darker in general hue, 
but have the pale edgings to the upper feathers more pronounced, and 
the spots and bars on the lower plumage more numerous and distinct, the 



KKTTION C'KECCA CHECCA "iOy 

I'oniier showiug often in the centre of the abdomen and the latter on the 
under tail-coverts. 

The Nestling " is yellowish-wJiite ou the under parts, bufl' on the 
forehead and throat ; a dark-bro\vn streak from the forehead to the 
crown, which, with tiie upper parts, is brown ; a dark loreal streak, and 
two other streaks from behind tlie eve to the nape, on each side." 
(Yairell.) 

Tiie drakes, wlien tliey arrive in India, are often in a beautiful 
transition-stage, and few will be found in perfect male plumage before 
■January. I liave a most handsome young male in my collection which is 
a very good example of the changing plumage ; above, it is like the female, 
but without the liroad edgings to the feathers, and on the rump and upper 
tail-coverts are a few feathers showing the beautiful black and white 
vermiculations. The head is dark-brown witli the merest trace only of the 
black e\e-streak ; tiie under plumage is pure white, but all along the tianks, 
vent, and under tail-coverts, and here and there on the abdomen, are still 
left feathers of tlie old plumage, which are a bright rufous-buff. Tlie new 
featliers of the tianks are like those of the adult male, and the breast is 
IjeautifuUy spotted with distinct oval drops ; the upper breast and neck are 
a dull rufous. 

From the above description, it may be seen that it does not follow that 
because one year a bird has rufous or rufescent plumage, he will have the 
same again after the next moult. In the bird just described the new 
plumage is a very pure white, but tlie old patches are exceptionally bright 
rufous. From this we might infer that tlie habitat and its water have 
nuicli to do with tlie colouration of the lower parts, yet a female in new 
plumage shot with this young male is very rufous indeed. 

Distribution. — The Common Teal extends through the Palsearctic 
region in the summer, breeding as far south as the 40th degree 
north latitude, and migrating south during the cold weather into 
northern Africa as far as Abyssinia on the east, and ^^'adan on the 
west, practically the whole of southern Asia, and the Atlantic coast 
of North America. It occurs, though rarely, in Greenland. 

In British India it is found everywhere with very few exceptions. 
From the extreme north down to Cape Comorin it is very abundant, 
though perhaps more so to the north than to the south, but even 
there it is spoken of as appearing in flocks of hundreds. 

Hume gives the exceptions to its habitat as follows : — 

" The Laccadives, the Andamans, and Nicobars. Tenasserim, 
Southern, Central, and North-East of the Salwein, and possibly 
Malabar." 



204 INDIAN DUCKS 

From these places must now be struck off the Andamans, 
Nicobais, and Malabar, the bird having been found frequently in 
the latter place since ' Game-birds ' was written. 

In Legge's 'Birds of Ceylon' it is said not to occur in the 
i'hilippines, but lately I have heard that it has been met with 
there also. 

Nidification. — Teal have on so many occasions been found at 
different times between June and August in India, that ornitho- 
logists have been always kept in a state of semi-expectation that 
their nests would be found somewhere within our Indian limits, 
either in Kashmir or some of the Himalayan lakes. Still time has 
gone on and no such nest has yet been taken, and, personally, I 
think it is unlikely one ever will be. Amongst the many thousands of 
Teal shot annually, it would be strange if some few, whilst escaping 
death and even severe wounds, did not receive internal injuries, 
invisible themselves after a brief period, yet quite sufficient to 
incapacitate the birds from migration. This would be quite enough 
to account for the few birds met with at abnormal times ; and 
though these might appear strong and robust on the wing, yet it 
does not follow that they were equally so a week or ten days before 
they were noticed. 

They breed practically over the whole of their northern habitat 
as far south as the 40th degree, but in the southern portion of 
this range they only breed here and there in very small numbers. 
They breed freely in northern England and in Scotland, though 
seldom in the southern counties ; yet they have been recorded at 
this season, and their eggs have been taken in Spain, Greece, North 
Italy, and South Bussia. 

They breed very rarely in Greenland, plentifully in Iceland, but 
not much in the extreme north of Europe, and probably not at all 
in the extreme north of Asia. Throughout Southern Siberia, 
Manchuria, and the Amur a great number breed, and a few also in 
the north of Japan. 

They generally make their nests at the edges of swamps and 
other pieces of water, often where there is actually a little water 
standing, and even where they make them at a distance from any 
water the site chosen is nearly always a wet and boggy one. Thus, 



NETTTON CRRCCA CREfTA 205 

in Scotland they sometimes breed on the moors in amongst the 
heather, bnt they always select some dip which keeps more or less 
damp and where the water ma\' occasionally collect. 

The nest is a large unshapely mass of vegetable stuiif, rushes, 
weeds, and such-like, lumped together in a mass, with a depression 
in the centre containing a thick lining of down. 

In Finland, Dresser found the nest placed under bushes or in 
clumps of grass, often at some distance from the water. 

Legge's note on the nesting of this Teal is so complete, yet 
short, that T reproduce it here. He writes : — 

" This species breeds in May and .Tune, resorting to extensive 
marshes, heaths near water, and large peat liogs. The nest is made 
on the ground among grass or ruslies or in thick heather, in which 
latter case it is placed sometimes in the middle of a clump, and so 
entirely concealed from view that the bird cannot be seen on its 
nest. The nest is made of dead flags, rushes, grass, reeds, etc., 
with a capacious interior, whicli is amply lined witli down plucked 
from the bird's breast. The number of eggs varies from eight to 
fourteen, and occasionally as many as twenty have lieen found in a 
nest ; they are small for tiie size of the bird, oval, but slightly more 
obtuse at one end than the other, of a uniform creamy white or pale 
huff. There is a greenish variety sometimes found, very like the 
liintail's eggs. A series before mo from the Petchora, taken by 
^Ir. Seeliobm, varies in length from I'oS to 1'7 inch, and in lireadth 
IVom I'lfi to 1'27. The old birds are said to manifest great affection 
for their young. Macgillivray relates an instance of his finding a 
brood of young with their mother on a road ; and when be took 
tliem up to put them to a pond close by. whither he thought the old 
bird was leading them, she followed him, flnttering round him 
within reach of his whip. 

''The 'nest-down' is dark brown, with pale whitish centres, 
hut no pale tippings." 

This bird is said to be a resident in Egypt according to Capt. 
Shelley and von Heuglin, and to be very plentiful there. 

I have two clutches of eggs which seem to average a great 
deal longer than most. The two clutches, twelve eggs, average 
1-76 X I'Hl inches, the longest being 1'83, and the broadest r32. 
In shape they are broad ovals, very regular, yet all perceptibly 
smaller at one end than at the other. A few eggs are rather longer 
comparatively, and these generally have the smaller end rather 



206 INDIAN DUCKS 

move compressed. The texture is fine, close, and smooth, and in 
some cases has a faint gloss.. All my eggs are a pale Iniff, and vary 
hardly at all in depth of colouring. 

Hartert gives the average size of 100 eggs as 44'65 X 82'68 mm. 
(= 1-7G X 1'40 inches). 

General Habits. — Hume seems to think that Querqurdida qurrqur- 
dula arrives in India earlier, if anything, than the present teal, but 
further observations have shown them to arrive at much the same 
time, though one year the Garganey may he first and the next year 
the Common Teal. 

In 1.S9K I had quite numerous records of their arrival in northern 
India and Assam in August, the earliest being that of a small Hock 
seen on the '22nd of that month. Hume says : — 

" In the more northern plains jiortions of the Empire, tliongh 
a few are seen during the latter half of September, and exceptional 
cases have been reported of their appearance some weeks earlier 
even than this, I think we may say that the first heavy flight arrive 
during the first week of October." 

Hume, I think, refers in this paragraph mainly to North-east and 
Central India, and it vi'ould therefore really seem as if the Common 
Teal were earlier in northern Bengal than in most parts, reversing 
what is the usual rule with most, if not all, other migratory ducks. 
By this I do not mean to say that the Teal are all with us by 
September, even in the northern pai'ts of Assam, but I do mean to 
say that by the middle of that month they are quite common in 
many parts and in some are fairly numerous by the second week. 

It is possible, indeed probable, that our eastern birds are those 
which come from China : and as they breed there as far south at 
least as the 40th degree latitude, they have not nearly so far to come 
as those which travel from the west, few of which really come from 
further south than about the 50th degree. 

Teal are extremely variable in the numbers in which they collect. 
Often they may be seen singly or in pairs, and at the same place 
flocks may be seen numbering their hundreds, even thousands. The 
largest flocks appear to be met with in Sind and the north of the 
North-west Provinces and the Punjab, and perhaps Northern 
Eajputana. In these places they are to be seen literally in flocks of 



NETTION CRECCA CRECCA 207 

many hnndreds, and frequently of thousands. la tlie Sundevbands 
I think I have seen as many as 500 in a flock : on the famous Chilka 
Lake I have been told of their rising in vast flocks which must have 
been nearly 8,000 strong, and from other parts of India reports are 
given of flocks numbering hundreds. 

The most common-sized flock all over their range may be some- 
where between twenty and forty, and in Southern India — i.e., from 
Mysore to Ceylon — anything over the latter number is rare, though 
even in the island Mr. G. Simpson, as quoted by Legge, says : — 

"In the Island of Delft;, and at the Palverainkadoo Lagoon, on 
the north-west coast, it appears yearly in thousands in November, 
leaving at the end of February." 

The Common Teal is one of the most attractive of the duck tribe 
to the sportsman, both from its being so numerous and from its 
habits. Although mainly a night-feeder, yet in places where its 
food supply lies in the flooded rice-fields and the edges of swamps, 
bhils, &c.. it will continue to feed for an hour or so after daylight, 
and even when it has finished feeding it remains in amongst the 
weeds, reeds, and other cover near the shores. It thus afl'ords 
excellent sport, whether with a dog or two, or a few beaters, or from 
some small dug-out poled quietly along by a single man in the stern. 
The Teal often lay close enough to allow of constant shots at from 
twenty-five to forty yards, and as they often scatter a good deal, 
even when resting, two or three shots may be obtained at the same 
flock. In this way, on large sheets of water, a good bag may be 
made before the birds get scared and leave altogether, or else rise far 
out of shot. 

Nowhere in Bengal have I found Teal to be of a very confiding 

nature, but that they are so in some parts of their Indian habitat 

is well-known. Hume writes : — 

" They are, as a rale, when met with near villages, or in densely 
populated portions of the country, excessively tame — too tame to 
render shooting them possible, unless you merely require them for 
food. Not only will they let you walk up to them when they are 
on a village pond — is close as you please — but when you have fired 
at them and killed two or three the remainder afiier a short flight 
will again settle, as often as not, well within shot. Nay, at times, 
though fluttering a good deal, and looking about as if astonished, 
they will not rise at all at the first shot, despite the fact that some 
of their comrades are floating dead before them." 



208 INDIAN DUCKS 

In opsn waters, such as rivers, etc., and when on the wing, Teal 
often fly bunched and close together, and form shots which much 
encourage the habits of shooting info the hroirn, quite small flocks 
often providing from half-a-dozen to a dozen Teal to a couple of 
barrels of an ordinar}' smooth-bore. Of course, even into tlie hron-n 
one must hold fairly straight, as the Teal yields to no duck in the 
speed of its flight, in addition to which the sudden sweeps and 
turns the flock take often disconcert the gunner. 

They stand a fair amount of shot unless hit well forward, when 
a single pellet of No. (i or 7, or even of No. S, may suflice to 
bring the bird to bag. 

Hume says that they swim easily, but not very rapidly, and 
that they cannot dive to much purpose. 

Whilst agreeing with his estimate of their swimming powers, I 
can hardly, however, do so with that of their diving. If shot in 
open water, they can be brought to hand easily, for they do not 
dive for long, and not particularly quickly ; but if shot amongst 
reeds they are wonderfully smart in hiding and in dodging in and 
out amongst them, as also in secreting themselves while holding 
on to the reeds so that they lie entirely under the water, except 
the tips of their bills. T found that in the Sundarbands they 
nearly always made for the water-lilies, hiding under one of the 
huge leaves. 

They walk well, and can even run if necessary ; but they do 
not care for the land, nor do they rest on it, but on the water 
where there is cover. They rarely feed on really dry land, but 
frequently in paddy-fields, etc., where there are a few inches only 
of mud and water. As already said, they are principally night 
feeders, but where quite undisturbed, they feed during all but the 
hottest hours of the day, say from eleven a.m. to about three p.m. 
Their food is undoubtedly mainly vegetable, but they do not despise 
worms, insects, etc., which may come in their way. For the purpose 
of obtaining food their diving is said not to extend beyond the 
peculiar semi-dive so much indulged in by the domestic duck, which 
leaves the tail-end well out of water. 

They are excellent eating, and, however poor in condition they 
may be, never seem to get an objectionable flavour ; so good are they 



NETTION CREfCA CHECCA -209 

to eat, indeed, that they are often kept in tealeries in western and 
northern India, so as to be available during the hot weather and 
rains. I have no personal knowledge of such tealeries, and, as 
Hume's account of what they should be is about as full and good a 
one as it is possible to have, I must again indent on that much-quoted 
author. He says : — 

" Fresh water, and plenty of it, is the first requisite, and, to 
ensure this the Tealevy should always be located near the well, and 
every di'op of water drawn thence for irrigating the garden made to 
pass through it. The site should be, if possible, under some large 
umbrageous trees, such as we so commonly find near garden wells, 
and to the east of the trunk, so that the building may be completely 
protected from the noontide and afternoon sun. You first make a 
shallow masonry tank ; twelve feet by eight and ten inches in depth 
is amply large. Four feet distant from this all round you build a 
thick mud wall to a height of three feet from the interior. The 
whole interior surface of this wall and the flat space between it and 
the tank must be lined with pukka masonry and finished off with 
well-worked chunam. The great points to be aimed at are to have 
the whole lower parts so finished off as to be on the one band 
impregnable to rats, ichneumons, and snakes ; on the other, to 
present no crevice in which dirt, ticks, and other insects can lurk. 
Outside the walls must be quite smooth, so that no snakes can crawl 
up them. On the wall you build stout square pillars, four feet high, 
on which you place a thick pent thatched roof. At the spring of the 
roof you stretch inside a thin, rather loose ceiling-cloth, to prevent 
the birds hurting their heads when they start up suddenly, as they 
will at first, on any alarm, and especially when the sweeper goes in 
to wash out the place. The interspaces between the pillars you fill 
in with well-made cross-work (.Taffri) of split bamboo, except one of 
them, in which you place a door of similar work made with slips 
of wood. You must arrange that all the water both enters and 
leaves the building through gratings impervious to snakes and like 
marauders. Two or three feet outside the walls run a little groove, 
a ditchlet, in which plant early in the year mulberry cuttings, which 
will form a good hedge round the place and keep the sun and hot 
winds off the building ; but this must be kept neatly trimmed inside, 
or it would interfere with ventilation, and must not be allowed to 
get higher than the eaves. 

" Into such a building in February or March you may turn 200 
Teal, some Common, some Garganey, as you can get them. A few 
Gadwall and Pin-Tail will also do no barm, but they do not thrive so 
certainly as the Teal ; and the Garganey, though very good, is not 
equal for the table to its smaller congener." 
14 



210 INDIAN DUCKS 



(33) NETTION ALBIGULARE. 

THE ANDAMAN TEAL. 

Mareca punctata, Ball, s. F. i, j). 88. 

Mareca albig'ularis, Hnmc, S. F. i, p. 303. 

Mareca gibberifrons, Hume, Nrsta and Eijos, p. 644 ; id. Cat. No. OGC). 

ter. ; Hume d' Marfsli. Gami'-B. iii, p. 243; Hume, Nests and Egns 

(Gates' ed.), iii, p. 290. 
Nettion albigulare, Sulniilorl, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 257 : Stuart Baker, 

J. B. N. H. .S'., xii, p. 257 (1899), id. Indian Ducks, p. 175 (1908). 
Nettium albigulare, Blaiiford, .\vifanna B. L iv, p. 444; Builis, 

J. B. K. H. S. XV, p. 525: l]'ilsnn, itiid.: (hmafiton. il>id. xvii, 

p. 491 : Oatcfi. Game-B. ii. p. 15S. 

Description. Adult Male. — " Upper pint of tlie head l)ro\vii : this 
colour covers also the upper parts of the cheeks and gradually changes 
into the white of the lower part of the cheeks and throat : the hrown of the 
cheeks with obsolete dusky streaks ; round the eyes there is a ring of white 
feathers, l^roader below ; in some specimens on the lores or at the liase of 
the l)ill there are some white feathers ; upper parts lirown ; the edges of the 
feathers of the back and scapulars pale-brown ; rump uniform ; the feathers 
of the breast and abdomen pale-brown in the centre, and broadly margined 
with brownish fawn-colour, producing a mottled appearance ; under tail- 
coverts brown, almost uniform ; upper wing-coverts dark-brown, greater or 
last row of wing-coverts white, forming a l)and. diminishing in breadth and 
tinged with l)rown inwardly ; speculum velvety-black, with a longitudinal 
copiiery-green band in the middle, from the seventh to the ninth secondary, 
and hounded at the ti)) by a buff band ; the first secondary broadly white on 
the outer web ; tertials broadly velvcty-hlack on the outer web ; primaries 
l)rown, with an olive lustre ; under wing-coverts brown, the median ones 
tipiied with white ; axillaries white ; tail brown." (Sal radon.) 

Colours of soft parts. — " Legs and feet greenish-blue to plumbeous : 
webs usually darker ; claws horny ; hill greenish-blue, plumbeous or 
plumbeous-blue, nail black ; in some, the lower mandible tinged with, in 
one the terminal two-thirds of this, pink ; irides reddish-brown to deep 
brownish -red." 

Measurements. — "Length 16 to 18 inches, expanse 24'5 to 27, tail from 
vent 4 to 4'2, wing 7'5 to 8, tarsus 1'3 to 1"4, bill at front 1'4 to 1'5, from 
gape 1'7 to 1'8, wings when closed reach from 2 to 2'2 from end of tail. 
Weight 1 lb." [Hume.) 



Plate XVm. 







j^'^ 
t® 






THE ANDAMAN TEAL. 

Nettion albigulare 
'/i nat. size 



NETTION ALIilGDLARE 211 

• 

' Kecti'ices IG." {BlKufnyd.) This refers to umle and female. 

Female. — " Similar to the male, Init smaller, and the lower surface duller, 
and the centerings of the feathers less marked, the gi-een band on the wing 
speculum more coppery. Total length l-j'5 to IG inches, wing 7'25 to 7'4, 
culmen 1'3 to 1'35." {Salvadon.) 

Measurements.—" Length 15 to 16 inches, expanse 24 to 25'5, tail from 
vent ;j'2.j to 3'5, wing 7'1 to 7'4, tarsus 1'25 to Y'ib, bill at front I'S to I'l, 
wings when closed reach to within from 1 to 1'75 of the end of the tail. 
Weight 12 ozs.'' {Hume.) 

" Young birds are similar to the females, but the dusky markings of the 
under surface are even less distinct." iSalcadori.) 

A young: bird caught by Mr. Butler, and df-scribed by him in a letter 
to me was : — 

Similar to the adult, except that the ring round the eye was 
very narrow and tinged with fulvous. Bill and feet as in adults ; 
eye dark-brown instead of reddish-brown." 

Distribution. — This teal is confined to the Andaman and Cocos 
Islands, but Mr. C. W. Allan shot a specimen at Bassein, Burma, 
which was found ainongst a flock of whistling teal, on the 1.5th April, 
1S9S. This bird was recorded in the ' Asian,' and Mr. F. Finn wrote 
to me that he identified the skin himself, and without any doubt it 
was that of an Andaman Teal. Nothing was noted as to whether 
the specimen was a drake or a duck. It was probably driven on to 
the Burmese coast during some storm, having ventured too far out 
to sea from the Andamans. 

Commander N. F. Wilson has procured specimens of this little 
duck on the r4reat Cocos, and again on Landfall Island. He 
remarks : — 

" I have always found the birds wherever a fresh-water lagoon 
existed, and I do not think that tliere is any doulit that the bird is 
general, both on the Andaman and Cocos Islands wherever the 
above conditions exist." 

Ncttion gibberlfrona, N. caftineum and A", alhigulare are very 
closely allied ; for a long time the first and the last were confounded 
with one another, and even now it is by no means settled that 
N. castaneum and A", gibberifrons are not one and the same bird. 
The young males and females are absolutely indistinguishable, but 
the adult male N. gibberifrons has been found to attain a further 
plumage which, hitherto, no N. castaneum has been known to 



21-2 INDIAN DUCKS 

acquire. A', nlhignlarr differs from botli these l>irds in having the 
sides of the head darker and more uniform in colour and the darker 
streaks in the feathers obsolete; but the main difference lies in the 
Andaman Teal having the white ring round the eye, and the first 
secondary broadly edged with white. 

There is a good plate of Netfinn alhigulare in the British Museum 
catalogue, and on the same plate is shown the head of X. f/ibhn-ifn}iis, 
thus giving a comparison between the two birds. 

Nidification. — For a long time the only note on the nidification 
on the Andaman Teal was the one in ' Nests and Eggs ' quoted in 
all other works. It is : — 

" Very little is yet known of the breeding of this species. I have 
only one note of its nidification, and one egg, l)oth of which I owe 
to Captain Winiherley. 

" The nest was found in August ; it was composed of grass, and 
was placed in a paddy-field near Port Mouat, the only locality witli 
which we are yet acquainted in tlie group where this species is always 
to be met witli. 

" The egg is typical, a very perfect broad oval in shape, with a 
very close-grained, smootli shell, devoid of gloss, and of a uniform 
delicate cream -colour. 

" It measures r93 x r43 inches." 

From what we know now of this bird's breeding habits it seems 
possible that this was a whistling teal's nest. 

The following further note from Mr. Osmaston, whilst it curiously 
coincides as far as the eggs go with Hume, is absolutely contradictory 
to the latter as regards the description of the nest. Mr. Osmaston 
writes : — 

" The Oceanic Teal arrive in Port Blair in large numbers towards 
the end of May, wiiere they remain until October or November. 

" In the winter months they fre(iuent outlying fresh-water jhils 
such as are found near Craggy Island, North Reef Island, Niell, the 
Brothers Templegany, and other places. They breed, as far as my 
experience goes, invariably in holes in lofty and often dead trees, and 
the eggs are therefore very difficult to procure. 

" A man brought me down ten eggs from near the top of a 
Padouk-tree on August 4th. They were nearly fresh. 

" They are rather long elliptical ovals, cream-coloured, and much 
discoloured. They vary in length from r86 to 2'02 inches and in 
lireadth from 1'40 to I'l?, the average of nine eggs being l'9;:f by 
1'43 inches." 



NETTION ALBIGULARE 213 

It may, of course, eventually turn out that the Andaman Teal, like 
the whistling teal, make their nests sometimes on the ground and 
sometimes on trees. 

Home eggs in my collection, also taken by Mr. Osmaston from a 
nest in a very high dead tree, are similar to those described above, 
but they are a very pure creamy-white and have a distinct gloss. 

General Habits. — There is very little on record about this teal, 
and it is to be hoped that observers will soon add to our knowledge 
of it. 

By far the most important note on its habits is that contributed 
by Mr. A. L. Butler to the B.N.H.S. Journal. So interesting is this 
note that I feel that there is no apology needed, except to Mr. Butler, 
for again producing it here, nor would any account of the Andaman 
Teal be up-to-date were it omitted : — 

" When I arrived at Port Blair in May, these teal were iu good- 
sized flocks, resorting principally, at low tide, to two little rocky- 
islets up the harbour, known as Bird Island and Oyster Island. I 
did not go after them at that time myself, not having a boat ; but a 
fair, though not large, number were killed by some of the officers 
stationed here. I believe eleven was the result of four barrels on one 
occasion ! As the monsoon commenced, and the harbour became 
rougher at the beginning of .June, these flocks of teal broke up into 
smaller parties of five or six to a dozen or so, and retired to the 
creeks and dyke-intersected marshes, a little inland, near Bamboo 
Flat and Port Mouat. Towards the end of June these small parties 
began to break up into pairs ; about this time I shot several, and iu 
the paired birds I found the testes of the males enlarged, but the 
ovaries of the females were as yet in ordinary condition. In the 
' Game-birds of India ' Mr. Hume mentions a single nest found in 
August, and I should think that August or the end of July would be 
the usual time of laying. I am afraid I am not likely to find a nest, 
as there are so many hundreds of acres of suitable breeding-ground, 
and the birds are comparatively few. 

" The Oceanic Teal feed a good deal in the paddy-fields at niglit ; 
under cover of darkness, too, a few birds often drop into small tanks 
at Aberdeen within a few yards of bungalows and buildings. When 
in flocks they are very wild, but in pairs, in the small channels 
among the marshes, I found them very tame. I have often been 
able to creep up to the water's edge and watch a pair swimming 
quietly about within ten yards of me for some time. On one 
occasion I came right on to a j^air under an overiianging busli, and 
they only fluttered, like water-hens, along the surface for twenty 



'214 INDIAN UUCKS 

yards or so, then jiitehed and commenced swimming away, so that I 
was able to kill one on the water, and the other as it rose, from where 
I stood. Of course, birds that have been shot at a bit go clean awa\' 
at the first alai'm. On these creeks they associate with the conmion 
whistling teal, and I have watched the two species in close company 
on the water, though the Oceanic Teal separate from the others when 
put up. The only thing I noticed about them, which I do not think 
has been recorded, is that they have a 'quacking' note as well as a 
low wliistle. One day a party of eight or ten, at which some shots 
had been fired, after wheeling round and round for some time, pitched 
on a narrow channel, within thirty \ards of me, as I stood concealed 
in the bushes on tlie bank. I watched them for some minutes, when 
another pair, fi'ightened by some distant shots, came scurrying over ; 
the birds on the water all twisted their heads up, and set up a loud 
quacking call-note, which they kept up for some minutes. The new- 
comers circled round several times, but probably seeing the top of my 
tojjec, concluded not to join their companions in their fancied security. 
The flight of this teal is fairly fast. Occasionally, when they have 
been kept on the wing for some time, a party will stoop down to the 
surface of a creek as if they meant to pitch, and then change their 
mind and rise again. When exercising this manoeuvre, they fly past 
at a tremendous pace. The white wing-bar, in this species, is most 
conspicuous when the bird is on the wing. 

" Winged birds promptly swim for the nearest cover, into which 
they scuttle ofl' at a great pace, and are generally lost without a dog. 
One I shot swam steadily along in front of a Pathan convict, who 
was swimming after it in the capacity of a retriever, and, though 
hard pressed, made no attempt to dive until it reached the bank, 
where it was caught. One of the ofiicers stationed here has a live 
bird in captivity, which was pinioned by a shot some months ago. 
It thrives well on paddy, but has not become very tame. It spends 
most of the day asleep, with its head resting in the plumage of the 
back. The local sportsmen have christened them Gibberies. 

" They are rather difficult birds to skin, being very fat, and 
having, for a duck, rather a tender skin. They seem to average 
about 15 ozs. in weight." 

To this note Mr. Butler adds the following information, which he 
has kindly sent me in a letter : — 

" On December the 2nd I was snipe-shooting at a village called 
' Onikhet.' Walking down a band which was overgrown with rank 
grass, I almost put my foot on an Oceanic Teal, which fluttered away 
in front of me, trailing its wings and feigning lameness. Of course, 1 
thought I had got a nest at last, hut a ripiiling movement in the grass 



NETTION ALBIGULARK 215 

in differenl directions showed me that it was a hrood of young ones 
that I had come across. I instituted a most careful search, but only 
came upon one youngster, which I caught. All this time the duck 
was flying round and round within twenty yards, uttering a loud 
double quack. The drake also appeared on the scene, but kept 
further off and was silent." 

Davison, writing of the Andaman Teal, says : — 

' It appears to frequent alike both fresh and salt water. During 
the day it either perches among mangroves or settles down on some 
shady spot on the banks of a stream ; when wounded it does not 
attempt at first to dive, but when hard pressed it dives, but does not 
remain long under water, and appears soon to get exhausted. It 
feeds by night in the fresh-water ponds, and I was informed that it 
is to be seen in some small flocks in the paddy-Helds about Aberdeen 
in the mornings and evenings. Sometimes, in going up the creeks, a 
pair will slip off the banks into the water, and keep swimming about 
twenty yards ahead of the boat, only rising when hard pressed, but 
they are more wary when in flocks. I could learn nothing about the 
breeding of this species. The only note I have heard them utter is a 
low whistle, and this apparently only at night when they are feeding." 



216 INDIAN DUCKS 



Geuus DAFILA. 

The general appearance of the genus Daplu is more elongated 
than any other of our Indian ducks; in both sexes the tail is pointed, 
and that of the male has the central rectrices considerably lengthened 
when in good plumage. The bill is slightly wider at the end than at 
the base. 

Of the five species of Bafila, India has but one, the very wide- 
spread species D. acuta. The genus is almost cosmopolitan, 
Australia alone being unrepresented by any form. 



(34) DAFILA ACUTA. 
THE PINTAIL. 

Anas acuta, Linn. S. N. x. ed. i, p. 126 (1758) (Sweden); Lenge, B. 
of C. p. 1096. 

Daflla acuta, .Icrdon, B. of I. iii, p. 803 ; Iliimc, S. F. i, p. 261 ; Adatii, 
ibid, ii, p. 338; Hume, ibid, iii, p. 193; Buth'i\ ibid, iv, p. 29 ; Hume 
ct Davis, ibid, vi, p. 489; BaU. ibid. vii. p. 232; Cripp.s, ibid, xii, 
p. 312; Hume, ibid, vii, p. 493; id. ibid, viii, p. 115: id. Cat. no. 
962 ; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 362 ; Hume ,( Mar.sli. Game-B. iii, p. 189 ; 
Vulal, S. F. ix, p. 92 ; Butler, ibid. p. 438 ; Reid, ibid, x, p. 82 ; Gates, 
ibid. p. 245 ; id. B. of B. B. ii, p. 279 ; Barnes. B. of Bom. p. 407 ; 
Hume, S.F. xi, p. 345; Salvadori, Cat. B. 3/. xxvii, p. 270; Blanford, 
Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 447; Oatcs. Gamc-B. ii, p. 223 ; Stuart Baler, 
J. B. N. H. S., xii, p. 437 (1899) ; id. Indian Ducks, p. 181 (1908); 
Wait, Spolia Zeylonica, x, pt. 39. p. 340 (1917) ; Logan-Hume, 
J. B. N. H. S. xix, p. 750 (1909) ; Magrath, ibid, xsi, p. 658 (1912). 

Description. Adult Male. — Whole head brown, varying from a rather 
pale dingy to a ricli dark umber, glossy on the upper parts, with purple or 
copper sheen more especially on the sides of the sinciput and nape ; chin 
and throat sometimes rather paler than the upper parts ; nape almost black. 



-t-> 



a. 




< -^ S 

[- O "1 

2 (D 

Q. n n 

UJ "ra i? 

X Q 

I- 



^s^l*'-* 



liAFILA ACUTA '217 

grading on the one hand into the rich brown of the head and on the other 
into tlie grey of the hind-neck ; the grey formed by the most minute 
stipplings of brown and pale grey, gradually changing into more pronounced 
stipplings and bars on the upper plumage, which retains the same colour ; 
a white band on either side of the nape joining the white of the neck. 
Rump like the back ; upper tail coverts black, edged grey ; neck and breast 
white ; abdomen the same, but more or less stippled with grey on the lower 
l)arts ; flanks and sides like back. Longer scapulars velvety-black edged 
with silver-grey ; shorter scapulars like the back, but often with dark 
centres ; wing-coverts brownish-grey, the greater tipped with rufous-chestnut; 
secondaries forming the speculum In'onze-green, tipped white, sub-tipped 
black, the feather next the speculum black, on the outer web narrowly 
tipped white and with a line of the same next the quill, inner web brownish- 
grey ; remaining inner secondaries grey on the outer webs, black edged 
with grey on the inner webs. The central rectrices black, the other rectrices 
grey-brown ; lower tail-coverts black, except the exterior ones, which are 
white ; the flanks next the tail-coverts are white, more or less tinged buff, 
and with vermiculations fainter than those on the rest of the flanks. 

Measurements.— Length about 26 inches, depending on length of tail- 
feathers, which vary from •I'o inches to full length, central rectrices 9 inches 
long, wing lO'u to ll'o, tarsus I'-'j to 1'75, bill from gape and from front 
about 2'25. 

" Length of male 22 to 29 inches, tail 5 to S'5, wing 11, tarsus I'G, bill 
from gape 2'25." (Blanford.) 

" Expanse 32'0 to 3775 inches, wing 10'3 to 11'75, tail from vent 4'8 to 
9"4, tarsus 1'5 to I'S, bill from gape 2'0 to 2'4. Weight 1 lb. 10 ozs. to 
2 lbs. 12 ozs." illume.) 

Colours of soft parts.— Irides dark-brown, often tinged red ; bill light to 
dark plumbeous, the culmen, lower mandible, and base darker, almost black. 
Legs and feet dark plumbeous-grey or blackish ; webs, claws and joints 
darker. 

" In the adult male the Ijill is plumbeous, light-plumbeous, or lavender- 
l)lue, with the entire lower mandible, a broad band along the entire culmen, 
the angle at the base of the upper mandible, and a strip along the margin of 
its terminal half black. 

In some apparently adult males I liave noted the feet as brownish- 
black, blackish-grey, and uniform dusky." {Hume.) 

" Legs blue; irides brown ; bill black, blue at sides." (Vidal.) 
Legs very pale yellowish flesh-colour, variegated with shades of 
purplish-brown, darker tint of last on the nail and web-membranes." 
{Sinnhoc) 

Post-nuptial plumage.— " The drake moults all feathers except the 
primaries, secondaries, wing-coverts, and six pairs of outer rectrices at the 
end of June, and assumes plumage very like that of the female, the usual 
male plumage being resumed by a complete moult in October." (Dluii/ord.) 



218 INDIAN DUCKS 

Female. — Head brownish-buff, with dark centres to tlie feathers ; tlu'oat 
and uhin pale : neck the same, specliled brown ; upper parts brown, the 
feathers edged white or butty-white, and scapulars with a few bars of the 
same ; the white tips of the greater secondaries and greater coverts form 
two distinct bars, but there is no speculum : quills dark-brown, the inner 
ones narrowly edged white and all paler on the inner webs : lower parts 
dingy white, more or less tinged buff', or even rufous, and streakeil and 
centred brown. 

Colours of soft parts.— Irides brown ; bill and legs like the male, but 
duller, and, as far as I know, the bill never has a blue tinge. I have one 
female with a distinctly orange tinge to her legs, showing as a sort of 
mottling on tiie shanks. 

Measurements.— Length about 20 inches, wing 9'75 to 10'25, tarsus 
about I'd, tail about 4 to 5'25, bill at front 2'0 to 21, from gape about 
the same. 

" Length 20 to 22o inches, wing yS to 10'2, tail from vent 4'2 to 5'5, 
tarsus rir> to 17, bill from gape 21 to 2;35. Weight 1 lb. 2 ozs. to 
1 lb. U ozs." (Hume.) 

Young Male.— Has the wing like that of the adult male, but is other- 
wise coloured like the female. The first male plumage to be assumed is 
that of the back, which may often be seen in the transition-stage between 
the mottled colouration of the female and the fine stippling of the male ; the 
lower plumage is tlie next to change, though the broad mottled plumage of 
the lower flanks is often retained for some time ; and, finally, the dark head 
and white neck of tlie adult male are assumed. Young females are very 
thickly speckled and mottled on the lower surface. 

Young l)irds of both sexes appear to have legs and Ijills a uniform dusky. 

" Young' in Down have the same pale spots on the upper parts as those 
of the Mallard, but the white on the throat and belly is slightly suffused 
with grey instead of buff', and in addition to the dark line passing through 
the eye, a second line passes from the lores below the eye to the nape." 
(Secboltiii.) 



Distribution. — Salvador! gives the habitat thus: — 

" Northern Hemisphere, breeding in the northern parts, and 
migrating southwards to Northern Africa, India, Ceylon, China, and 
Japan, and in America as far as Panama and Cuba." 

There is practically no portion of the Indian Empire which the 
Pintail does not visit; Hume excluded it from South Tenasserim, 
but it has now been recorded theuce more than once, though it 
appears to be very rare there. Davidson reported it as rare in the 



DAFILA ACUTA 'lid 

Deccan (some writers have found it less rare than he did) ; and 
Vidal says : — 

" Pin-Tails are to be seen in some years in small parties in the 
large duck ground at the junction of the Vashishti and Fagbudi 
Rivers (South Konkan), but they come late and go early." 

Nidification. — The breeding range of the Pintail is practically 
that of the gadwall, but it reaches further north, and, on the other 
hand, does not reach so far south: for whereas the gadwall breeds 
as far south as the 46^, Hume places the limit for the Pintail 10" 
further north. It breeds in Northern Europe, and eggs and young 
have been found in the north of the British Isles themselves, and 
it extends thence throughout Northern Asia. 

The nest is a rather loose structure of grasses, flags, rushes, and 
similar material, lined, not very thickly as a rule, with down and 
feathers; and the eggs are generally laid in early May, though the date 
depends a great deal on the locality ; in the bird's southern limits the 
eggs may be laid as early as the end of April, and in its northern haunts 
from April to August. The earliest eggs taken by Seebohm in Siberia 
were on the 5th of June. He also describes the nests as being placed 
" in the grass among the shrubs in dry places, generalh' at some 
distance from the water ; they were deep and well-lined with dead 
grass and sedge, and, when the full clutch was laid, contained plenty 
of down." During the breeding season, i.e., April to August, the 
Pintail haunts swamps and marshes which are more or less covered 
with vegetation — the pools, such as there are, of open water, being 
confined to i^atches here and there, surrounded with bush, forest, or 
other cover. Open waters, such as lakes, rivers, or similar pieces of 
water, it avoids altogether ; nor is it any use hunting the banks and 
margins of such for the nests, which will almost invariably be found 
in the places first mentioned. 

Morris, in ' Nests and Eggs of British Birds,' says : — 

" Of this species, also, the nest is placed by the margin of, or at 
no great distance from water, lakes, ponds and seas, and is com- 
posed of grass and reeds with a little lining of down. Some have 
been found in ditches and even in standing corn : it is always well- 
concealed. 

" These ducks pair in .\piil. 



220 INDIAN DUCKS 

" Fiom six to eight or iiinu eggs are laid. Tliu young are hatched 
in about twent> -three days. TJiey at once repair to the water." 

The nest is usually well-concealed amidst the shrub and coarse 
reeds and grass, and takes a considerable amount of searching to 
discover ; but the duck sits very close, and often rises at one's 
feet almost, thus disclosing the position, which might otherwise 
escape detection. 

The eggs vary from six to ten in number, being usually six to 
eight, and occasionally only five are laid. 

In colour they are a pale dull greenish stone-colour, in a few 
yellowish-stone, but all are dull and all pale with no very definite 
colour such as some ducks' eggs have. There is a slight gloss, some- 
times rather pronounced, and I have seen none entirely glossless. 
The texture is extremel\- fine and close, and the shell perhaps rather 
thinner in [)roportion to the size of the eggs than in the majority of 
eggs of the Anatiiuv. 

My eggs seem to average rather large ; I have a clutch given me 
by Herr M. Kuschel, and collected in East Prussia, which averages 
'2"24 X 1"6 inches ; the biggest is 227 X l'()2. A number of other 
eggs 1 have measured have been well over 220, and I have seen 
none under 21, but Hartert gives the minimum as 2 00 inches. 

The eggs collected in Finland, both by Wolley and Dresser, had 
their measurements recorded as 2 X 1'5 inches, but the eggs collected 
by the latter in Jutland measured 222 X 1'4. 

The average of 100 eggs collected by Gobel is given as 
550 X 38-8 mm. (= 210 X 1'53 inches). 

It is possible that this bird may breed in Kashmir, Ladak and 
Tibet for I have received a male from Rhamtso said to have been 
shot whilst swimming " in attendance on wife on nest." The eggs 
are typical Pintail's eggs, and I have no reason to disbelieve their 
being authentic. The nest was not described, but was presumably' 
in a reed-bed in the lake itself as the bird was reported to be 
swimming round the nest. Logan-Hume reports also seeing a drake 
Pintail on the 2nd July in full breeding-plumage in Baltistan on 
the Drosai plateau. The bird was Hying up a stream to a small 
marsh close by, and evidently breeding. 

General Habits. — Taken all round, the Pintail is one of the most 



DAFILA ACUTA 221 

common of Indian ducks, occurring sometimes in huge flocks, but 
more often in such as numl)er fort}' to sixty individuals. It is but 
rarely that very small flocks are seen, and solitary birds or pairs hardly 
ever. Where they are least common, flocks of only twenty or so may 
be met with frequently, but this is about the minimum number. As 
regards the maximum number, it is hard to give figures, but Hume 
speaks of thousands in a flock, other writers of many hundreds in 
a flock. I have, myself, both in Bengal and Assam, seen flocks which 
must have contained from 300 to 500 birds, although such are not of 
common occurrence. G. Keid, in his ' Birds of the Lucknow Civil 
Division ' (' Stray Feathers '), speaks of them being "generally met 
within immense numbers," but he does not define what he means by 
" immense." 

In India the Pintail seldom arrives before the middle or even 
end of October, and in Eastern India we did not expect them in any 
numbers until the end of November. Magrath records shooting 
them on one occasion as early as the 21st September in Kashmir. 

Most sportsmen would place the Pintail before all other ducks. 
As a rule they are extremely shy, wary birds, and are very hard 
to approach within gunshot, though one or two people have found 
them to be quite the contrary ! Capt. Baldwin says that he found 
them easy to approach even when feeding on open pieces of water. 
This is somewhat confirmed by the fact that in Cachar the natives 
tell me that they can get at Pintails far more easily than at other 
ducks, and it is true they do bring in more Pintails in proportion than 
they do gadwalls, teal, &c. ; at the same time I have personally found 
them to be the hardest to get at of all the ducks ; and such of my 
friends as have given me their experiences have found the same. 

In the daytime they fre(|uent large lakes and jheels and rest in 
the centre of wide, comparatively open pieces of water, shunning such 
as have thick cover of reeds or similar heavy jungle, and re-sorting 
always to those which have the surface covered with lilies and the 
smaller water-plants, amongst which they can lie well-concealed, yet 
able to discern at once the approach of anything to their vicinity. 
During the night — they do not leave their quarters until very late — 
they visit the smaller jheels and tanks, the rushy banks of the 
nullahs and canals, and similar places, where they feed, but the 



222 INDIAN nXTCKS 

(ii'st alimnier of dawn finds them on the win"; once more ni nuitr 
to the larger waters. Big rivers frhey do not seem to Hke ; all down 
the Surma Valle_y the Pintail is very common, but though found in 
numbers on the vast expanses of water quite close to the Barak, Surma, 
Megna, &c., and often seen evening and morning crossing the river 
high up out of range, yet I have never heard of its haunting any of 
these rivers. 

In the same way I believe it is practically non-existent on the 
Ganges, Indus and other large rivers. Small rivers, if of clear 
and quick-running \\ aters, are no more pleasing to the Pintail ; but 
small creeks of almost still water and canals, which have vegetation 
about them, are visited for the purpose of getting food, and occasion- 
ally a Hock may be put up from such places in the daytime. 

Wait says that in Ceylon it seems to be confined to coastal 
lagoons which during the winter are flooded with i-ainwater and 
become brackish, and in some places almost fresh. 

The food seems mainly to consist of small and fragile shell-fish, 
but the birds also eat a large variety of other animal matter, and also 
are to a certain extent vegetarians. Unlike, however, the majority of 
the ducks which are more animal than vegetable feeders, the Pin- 
tail is amongst the very best of birds for the table. Sometimes, it 
is said it becomes rank, fishy and almost uneatable, but as a rule it 
is excellent and nfarhj always good. 

^ran\ others must have noted a peculiar habit of the Pintail 

to which Hume alludes : — 

" It is worth noting, because it is a peculiarity almost confined 
to this species, that during the cold season one continually comes 
across large flocks consisting entirely of males. I cannot say that 
I have ever noticed similar flocks of females ; but this may be 
because the females do not attract the eye similarly, and are not 
equally readily discriminated iit a distance: but 'bull picnics' 1 
liave nati'il times without number, as a speciality of the Pin-tail." 

Pintail are decidedly good swimmers, sitting light and very high 
on the water, their long necks and rather raised tails giving them 
a very graceful appearance: as divers, however, they are failures; 
they cannot stay any time under water, nor can T find any observer 
giving them credit for being able to hide under water amongst the 
weeds, or of holding on to submerged weeds, etc., with their feet. 



DAFILA ACUTA 2-2H 

Getting off the water the_v are less quick than some ducks, " skit- 
tering" along the surface for a few feet; they rise less abruptly 
also, but once on the wing they show to the greatest advantage ; 
their flight is exceedingly swift, probably faster than that of any 
other duck, and is very easily recognizable. They fly in very 
regular formation, changing position less than do most ducks, and 
when close to the hearer the sound of their flight is quite un- 
mistakeable. Less noisy and whirring than that of most of their 
near relations, their flight has a soft swish-swish about it of a very 
distinctive character. Hume says, speaking of their flight, that it 
is a low "soft hissing swish," and this describes it exactly. Their 
voice is like that of the mallard, a distinct quack, but it is far 
softer and also less loud than that of the mallard, gadwall, or spot- 
bill : they are, however, silent birds, and one seldom hears them 
emit any other sound beyond the low colloquial chuckle they 
sometimes indulge in when resting. I have not heard them calling 
when on the wing, except when about to settle, or just after rising, 
or when suddenly frightened. Seebohm says that the voice closely 
resembles that of the mallard, and adds "its call-note is a low 
/.■(7/,- " : and Naumann says that in the pairing season the male 
may be seen swimming round the female, uttering a deep click 
which, if the observer be fortunately near enough to hear it, is 
preceded by a sound like the drawing in of the breath, and followed 
by a low grating note. 

On the land they walk easily but slowly, as might be expected 
from their configuration, nor will they often be found resorting to 
it, though Hume records having seen them on the land. 

In the autumn the male bird assumes a plumage similar to that 
of the female, but can, of course, always be distinguished at a glance 
by the presence of the speculum, which is wanting in the female. 
Hume says that he has never obtained any birds in this stage of 
plumage in India, but in my own very small series I have two, and 
I have seen several others. Yarrell. speaking of this change of 
plumage, says that it commences in July, and is effected partly by 
change of plumage, and partly by actual change of colouration in the 
feathers. As regards the reassumption of the male plumage he 
says :— 



224 INDIAN DUCKS 

" At the annual autuuni moult the males again assume with tlieir 
new plumage the colours peculiar to their sex, but the assumption is 
gradual. White spots first appear among the brown feathers on the 
front of the neck ; by the end of the second week in October the 
front of the neck and breast is mottled with browir and white ; at 
the end of the third week in Octoljer a few brown spots only remain 
on the white." 

Both my birds were obtained in the third week of October and 
are in the plumage ascribed by Yarrell to that of the second week ; 
the heads are entirely like those of the female. 



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QUEBQUEDnLA 225 



Genus QUERQUEDULA. 

The distinctive feature of the genus Querquechda is the bright 
bkte-grey colour of the wing-coverts, which, in two species, discors 
and cyanoptera, are a bright smalt-blue. The common teal (Nettion 
crecca) used to be placed in this genus ; but Nettion differs from 
Querquedula in the shape of the bill, which is equal in breadth 
throughout its length, whereas in the latter it is slightly broader at 
the tip, and also has the nail somewhat larger in proportion. 

The internal structure is also different, the labyrinth of the 
trachea being differently formed, being enlarged on both sides 
downwards in Querquedula, but on one side only and upwards in 
Nettion. 

There are five species, of which four are confined to America, 
the fifth alone visiting India in winter. All five are birds of much 
the same size. 



(35) QUERQUEDULA QUERQUEDULA. 

THE GAEGANEY, OR BLUE-WING TEAL. 

Anas querquedula, Ltnn. S. N. x. glI. i, p. 126 (175S) (Sweden); 

Hartert, Voij. Pal p. 1318 (1920). 
Anas circia, Lcage, B. of C. p. 1080. 

Querquedula circia, Jenlon, B. of I. iii, p. 807; Hiimc, Nests and Eggs, 
p. 644 ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 262 ; Adam, ibid. p. 402; Hume, ibid, iii, 
p. 193 ; Le Mes. ibid. p. 382 ; Butler, ibid, iv, p. 30 ; Scully, ibtd. 
p. 201 ; Butler, ibid, v, p. 234 ; Hume d- Davis, ibid, vi, p. 489 ; 
Butler, ibid, vii, p. 188; Ball, ibid. p. 232; Cripiis, ibid. p. 312; 
Hume, ibid. p. 494 ; id. Cat. No. 965 ; id. S. F. viii, p. 115 ; Sculli/, 
ibid. p. 363 ; Hume ti Marsh. Game-B. iii, p. 215 ; Vidal, S. F. ix, 
p. 93 ; Butler, ibid. p. 438 ; Beid, ibid, x, p. 83 ; Hume, ibid. p. 418 ; 
Oates, B. of B. B. ii, p. 286 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 410 ; Hume, S. F. 
xi, p. 346 ; id. Nests and Eggs (Gates' ed.), iii, p. 291 ; Salvadori, 
Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 293; Blanford, Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 449 ; Oate.s, 
Game-B. ii, p. 119; Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xii. p. 445 (1899) ; 
id. Indian Ducks, p. 188 (1908). 

15 



22(1 INDIAN DUCKS 

Description. Adult Male. — Crown and nai^e deep-lnown, lieliter on the 
forehead, where it is uioL-e or less strealted with wliite, and sometimes witii 
a faint gloss at the sides. A broad 'superciliary stripe from in front of the 
eye, down tlie sides of the nape, white ; chin black ; remainder of the head 
and neck rich bright chocolate, streaked with white ; back, rump, upper 
tail-coverts and tail brown, the feathers all edged paler or greyish-brown ; 
inner scapulars black, glossed green, with broad wide central streaks and 
narrow white margins ; outer scapulais the same, l)ut with tiie outer webs 
broadly l)luc-grey ; wing-coverts liright pale Frencli grey, the greater ones 
liroadly edged white, forming a wing-bar ; outer secondaries brown-grey, 
glossed green and tipped white ; quills brown ; the inner primaries greyish, 
broadly edged greyish-white; breast brown, with l)hick or dark brown 
markings, concentric on the upper breast, in the form of bars on the lower 
breast, gradually changing one into the other ; abdomen white, more or less 
speckled with brown towards the vent ; thigh-coverts brown and white : 
flanks white, finely barred with black, the feathers nearest the tail with two 
broad bars of white and grey divided by a narrower black line ; under tail- 
coverts white or bufl'y-white, the sliorter with brown drops ; under wing- 
coverts mainly dark grey, the central ones and axillaries white. 

Colours of soft parts.— Indes dark-brown ; bill brownisli-black, nail 
black, margins of maxilla and lower mandible paler ; legs and feet dark- 
gi-ey. 

I have a liird whicli had the feet bright orange ; this must be some- 
tliing very unusual. 

" In tiie adult male the bill is normally blackish above, brownish on the 
lower mandiijle, except at the tip, often reddish-brown at tlie gape. 

" The legs and feet are grey, pale greenisii-brown, grey with an olive 
shade, grey slate- colour, purplish slate-colour, bluisli ... in all cases the 
webs being more i>r less dusky, and the claws darker still." {Hunir.) 

Measurements.— Length 15 to 17 inches, tail about 2'.S, wing 7'G to 8'0, 
tarsus 1 to I'i, bill from gape I'lS. 

"Length 15'9 to 16'25 inches, expanse 25 to 27'25, wing 74 to 81, 
tail from vent 3'3 to 3'H, tarsus 1 to 1'3, bill from gape 175 to 1'92. 
Weight 10 ozs. to 1 lb. (commonly about 13 ozs.)." (Htuiir.) 

Width of bill at gape 0'52, at tip 0'62 inches. 

Female. — Above dark - brown, all the featliers witli pale margins, 
except the crown, wliich is ratlier richer than elsewhere and centred 
darker; chin and throat wdiite ; neck greyish or buffy-wliite, with all the 
feathers minutely streaked with dark-lirown ; a superciliary stripe from 
above the eye and a spot on the front of the lores white or buffy-white ; 
wings greyish-brown, in old females more grey, especially on the smaller 
coverts ; speculum as in the male, but very blurred and indistinct ; fore-neck 
and upper breast dark brown, with broad pale edges to the feathers ; lower 
breast, abdomen, and vent white, buffy-white or buff ; the flanks, sides, and 
under tail-coverts the same, blotched, barred, and spotted with brown. 



QUERQUEDULA QUERQUEDULA 227 

The colours of the soft parts tlie same as in tlie male. 
In some females the l)ill is similar" (to the males): "in some, 
apparently adult, it is a blackish-plumheous above, dull plumbeous below." 
illi(m,'.) 

Measurements.— Length about 15 inches, wing about 7'-2.5, tail 2T), bill 
from gape 1'7, tarsus 1, bill at imse 0'51 broad, at tip 0'60. 

" Length 14'8 to 15'5 inches, expanse 23'0 to 25'5, wing 7 to 7'3, tail 
from vent 2'9 to 3'5, tarsus I'O to ri5, bill from gape 17 to 1'85. Weight 
i) to 14'75 ozs. (commonly about 12 ozs.) " (Hume.) 

I have a female in my collection which weighed 1 lb. 1 oz., and has 
a wing of 7'6.5 inches. 

The young males are similar to the female, but are darker, have more 
brown on the under parts, the speculum is more defined, and tlie coverts 
a purer grey. 

Males in post-nuptial plumage resemble the females, but have the 
wing, except the scapulars and innermost secondaries, of the usual colour. 

" The Downy Nestling resembles that of tlie Mallard, but is smaller, 
and has a broad unbroken buff streak above the eye and a well-defined 
dark streak tlirough tlie eye." (Yancll.) 

Distribution. — The general habitat of the Garganey may be said 
to be the Palaearctic region, imt it is an eastern, not western form ; 
it has been obtained in North America and Greenland, but its home 
is Northern Europe and Asia in the summer, and Southern Europe, 
Northern Africa (as far south as Shoa, Somaliland), and Southern 
Asia in the celd weather. 

Outside India in the winter it is to be found throughout 
Southern Europe and Northern Africa, is very common in Egypt, 
and ranges through Asia Minor and Arabia, Persia, Afghanistan, 
Southern China, Japan, the Philippines, Borneo, Java, etc. 

In Japan, Seebohm says ; — 

"The Garganey is a winter visitant to all the Japanese Islands, 
Ijut appears to be nowhere common." 

Hose and Everett both obtained specimens in the Bornean 
Islands, but it would appear to be a rare straggler there. 

In India it occurs practically everywhere, from the extreme 
north to the extreme south. As regards its distribution in Ceylon, 
Legge says : — 

" Found in the extreme north about the Jaffna Peninsula, on the 
swamps of the Island of Delft, and on the west coast down to 



228 INDIAN DUCKS 

Manaar during' the cool season from November to March. Layard 
speaks of its occurring in 'vast Hocks' at the head of the Jaffna 
estuary , but I do not think it is so common nowadays." 

It extends throughout Burma, but is alleged to be absent in 
certain portions. Hume says that it is not found in Tenasserim, 
but it has now been frequently recorded thence. It is common in 
parts between the Sittang and Salween, and extends west of the 
former river. Gates records that it is found throughout the Shan 
States, at least as far as Kentung, where Lieutenant J. H. Whitehead 
has shot it. It occurs in Kashmir, and has been recorded from that 
State on various occasions. 

Nidification. — As regards the breeding of the Garganey within 
Indian limits, there is practically no evidence of any value. 

Colonel Irby told Hume that when in Oudh he caught some 
young half-fledged in tbe month of September. This shows, of 
course, that once upon a time a pair of these teal did remain in India 
and bred, but it does not at all show that they ever stay of their own 
accord to breed. This unfortunate pair had very likely been slightly 
damaged by shot or accident, and so were unable to take the exertion 
of migration ; and this, doubtless, is the reason for the many birds 
staying in India, and being seen in various months, when they 
should have been far away, and breeding in other climates and 
countries. They have been seen in practically every month in the 
year, and such records are many ; but, as I have said of other 
birds elsewhere, every year millions are killed, and it would be strange 
indeed if a few did not get injuries from which they recovered, yet 
not sufficiently soon to allow of their migrating. 

Colonel Tickell wrote from Moulmein mentioning a young bird 
just fledged which had been caught on a small pond in the vicinity. 
This may have been a young bird, backward and rather weak, and 
consequently so exhausted with its long journey as to be caught and 
produced as a specimen locally bred, or it may have been one bred 
under the circumstances already suggested. 

Blyth wrote, in reference to this statement of Tickell's : " The 
Garganey breeds sparingly, no doubt, in India, as well as in Burma 
and Tenasserim " ; but from what this deduction was made I cannot 
tell, nor can I find any perfectly authentic records of the Garganey 



QUERQUEDULA QUERQUEDULA 229 

breeding in India, beyond the circumstantial evidence given by 
Colonel Irby's young birds. 

Garganey breed tliroughout the north temperate zone iu Europe 
and Asia. In the former continent they breed as far south as 
France, North Italy, Greece, and throughout the Balkan States and 
Eussia into Asia; in parts of Asia Minor, South Siberia, Manchuria, 
Amoorland, and Northern China, but not in Japan, as far as is yet 
known. 

They desert the larger open pieces of water during the breeding- 
season, and resort to smaller pools and ponds, fens and bogs, rarely 
the mossy and weed-covered borders of streams, and yet more rarely 
the reed-fringed shores of lakes, Sec. 

Although so commonly found on the sea-coast and on salt water 
creeks and on tidal waters, yet Garganey seem always to breed 
inland, and I can find no record of their nests and eggs being taken 
in the above places. 

The nest is the usual mass of weeds, reeds, and soft vegetation 
collected by most ducks ; and it is said that occasionally it is made 
of sticks and twigs, l:)ut this, I imagine, is very exceptional. 

The lining of down and feathers varies much ; in some it is very 
dense and copious, in others very scanty; normally it is neither the 
one nor the other — rather scanty, however, than otherwise. 

The nest is most often placed in some thick tuft of coarse grass, 
bed of reeds, or tangle of shrubs and grass in fen-land, or on the 
borders of some vegetation-covered piece of water. The eggs vary in 
number from six to thirteen, the number most often found being 
from eight to ten, 

Morris gives the number laid as eight to ten or even fourteen. 
According to him, incubation lasts twenty-one days, and the young 
birds follow their mother to the water as soon as hatched. 

The eggs, at least all I have seen, were quite indistinguishable 
from those of the common teal in shape, texture, and size, and, I 
think, in colour. Hume says that they have perhaps a more yellow 
creamy tinge, but tliough a few may be more buff or yellow in tone 
than any of that bird, many are no deeper at all. 

Dresser gives the average as 1'87 X 1'35 inches; those in nay 
collection average 1"82 X 136, making them out to be rather shorter 
and rather broader. 



230 INDIAN DUCKS 

Hartert gives the following measurenients for 119 eggs: — 

Average 44'96 X 32'48mni. (r77 x r28 inches). 
Maxima 4s y 3o ,, (I'O x 1'38 mm.). 

Minima ■]f)Jl x _££_;' „ (r,54 x I'l? mm.). 

General Habits. — It would seem that in the extreme north and 
north-west the Garganey is perhaps the earliest of the ducks to arrive 
in India, but further east it is quite a toss-up as to whether the 
common teal or the Garganey first puts in an appearance. On the 
whole, I should think the common teal is the earlier of the two. 

Even in the west the Garganey is not always the first, the 
common teal being sometimes the first recorded. 

It is very noticeable that, though in migrating south the birds 
once in India take long to work further down the Peninsula, yet they 
work north very speedily. 

In Northern India they arrive in September, and have even been 
seen as early as August, but, according to Theobald and others, they 
do not get to Southern India liefore December. Leaving, howevei', 
they delay until March and April, much the same time that they 
leave all portions of their winter home, though everywhere a few stay 
through May, and even into June. 

As regards the numbers they arrive in, Hume's notes on one of 
his enormous bags shows what may be sometimes seen. He writes : — • 

" 1 have a special note of having found a flock, which I estimated 
to contain 20,000 individuals, at Eahun in the Etawah district, on 
the 28th August, 1865. Never before, or since, have I seen so 
huge a body of fowl of one kind, and I have noted that I bagged 
forty-seven of them, besides losing at the time many wounded birds 
(I had no dogs with me) in the rushes. 1 had sent my gun-punt 
(huilt exactly on the lines of one of our Norfolk boats) a few days 
previously out there to see that it was alright for the coming season, 
and I had taken with me a small Init heavy Monghyr-made swivel- 
gun, earring only 8 ozs., to try. To my surprise I found the thickest 
l)ody of fowl — on the open part of the jhil — I had ever seen. I 
loaded the swivel with No. 4 shot and worked up quite close to some 
of them, and within some fifty yards of the main body, when seeing 
they were all about to start, I fired and knocked over at least sixty : 
I actually secured forty-seven." 

This was thirty-five years ago, and I fear that flocks like this one 
are things of the past, though Garganey may now and then be met 



QUERQUEDULA yUERQUEDULA 231 

with in very vast flocks. All through the Sundarbands, and again on 
the Chilka Lake, they are often to be seen in flocks of thousands, and 
in Oudh, the north-west, and Sind, such flocks are by no means rare. 

As a rule, over most of the bird's north and north-western range, 
the flocks may roughly be said to average somewhere about and 
between one to two hundred. To the east, I think, they average 
smaller, and would put it somewhere between fifty and a hundred. 
Small flocks of five or six, or even ten or twelve, are not, I think at 
all commonly met with, while pairs and single individuals are hardly 
ever seen. 

Garganey haunt almost any kind of water, not, as a rule, 
frequenting small, quick-running streams, or small clean tanks and 
ponds, and being specially partial to wide stretches of fen or bheel, 
well covered over their greater extent with weeds, yet having fairly 
extensive patches of clear water dotted here and there over their 
surface. 

During the day they keep almost entirely to the larger sheets of 
water or, sometimes, to the large rivers, such as the Indus, Ganges, etc., 
where they float in the centre in dense, closely-packed masses. This 
manner of packing is very characteristic of the Garganey, and they 
keep more closely together than does any other kind of duck ; even 
when flying they do not straggle much. They feed in the smaller 
tanks and jhils, and also in the paddy-fields, and on various young 
land-crops. Hume says that in some parts of India they visit the 
paddy-fields in such numbers that on one visit acres of paddy are 
destroyed. Their staple diet is vegetarian, and of vegetable matter 
the staple articles are rice, both cultivated and wild, and the young 
leaves and shoots of various water-plants. They also eat various 
kinds of seeds, roots, etc., and such animal matter in the shape of 
worms, snails, and shell-fish, etc., as forces itself on their notice. 

Hume describes well the sound of their flight thus : — 

" Whether it is only because one habitually meets them in such 
large flocks, or whether it is really peculiar to them, I do not know : 
but certainly one associates the overhead flight of this species witli 
the surging hiss, more even, sustained, and rushing than that of any 
of our other ducks. Anyone who has stood under heav>- round-shot 
fire knows the way in which shot hurtle up to you crescendo, and 
die away as they pass ; and just in this way (thougii the sounds are 



232 INDIAN DUCKS 

in a wholly different key) does the swish of a hxrge flock of Garganey 
surge up to you in the middle of the night, and die away as they 
pass." 

I do not think that it is because the birds are numerous or 
familiar that we think the sound distinct from that of other birds' 
flight. I remember when first introduced to the Garganey how I was 
struck with the pattering swish of their flight, and then noticed how 
like a whistle it rose and fell as it approached and receded. Their 
flight is but little, if at all, inferior to that of the common teal, 
though more direct, the flocks seldom indulging in the swift 
dodgings and swervings of that bird. Shooting over the vast Jessore 
bheels in boats, which went in a thinly-scattered line through them, 
the difference between the flight of the two species was well shown. 
The Garganey rose far ahead, swept round but once in a wide semi- 
circle, and then went straight ahead, whereas the common teal often 
dodged in and out down the whole line, circled about two, three or 
more times, and then disappeared, but often only to settle half a 
mile or so further on. The Garganey also rose quicker off the 
water, getting up obliquely, and were quicker away ; again, when 
wounded they swam away faster than the common teal, and though 
by no means first-class divers, yet they were good enough to be able 
often to escape us by this means. 

As to whether they are wild or tame, opinions seem to differ very 
much. Theobald says : — 

" They are not very hard to shoot, and are easily approached 
beliind a small screen of green boughs ; sometimes a paper kite, 
made in the shape of a hawk and flown over the tanks, keeps the 
teal together, and they will not leave the tanks though fired at 
often." 

Dresser, speaking of the Garganey in Europe, and quoting 
Baron Droste, actually says : " They are very tame, and soon get 
accustomed to the sight of human beings." Eeid says that they are 
shy and wild when they first arrive (in Lucknow), but afterwards 
become tamer. Hume says that they are never tame, and generally 
decidedly wild. As far as my experience goes, I have found that 
the Garganey is one of the wildest of the duck tribe ; even when the 
would-be shooter keeps behind screens, etc., they seem to be very 
cute, and to be able to discern what is behind the screen quicker 



QUEEQUEDULA QUERQUEDDLA 233 

than many others of their kind, and they are not slow to profit by 
what they can discern. 

Then, too, they keep much to fairly open water when resting, 
and a sudden appearance of a detached clump of weeds floating 
towards them at once puts them on the qui vivc, and long before the 
clump gets within shooting distance, two out of three times they 
leave for safer abodes. 

I once, however, came on a flock of these little birds which stuck 
more persistently to their ground, or water, than any other flock of 
ducks it has been my fortune to meet. This was in the district of 
Hazaribagh, and I was going from Giridi to Hazaribagh in a push- 
push, a sort of four-wheeled, inferior, springless brougham, when I 
saw a flock of about forty teal on a tank close by the road. I got 
out of the pusJi-pusJi, walked up to the tank, and got two Ijirds with 
a right and left as they rose ; the birds wheeled round, and I got a 
third : they went then to another tank 000 yards away, and, as I 
followed them up, again rose and returned to the first piece of water, 
leaving a fourth bird with me. I, too, went back and got yet 
another brace, and after these yet another bird on the second piece 
of water, and when I left with seven Garganey the rest were already 
back on the tank by the road. This was, of course, in a badly-watered 
part of the country, but on no other occasion, whether there was 
water in abundance or not, have I ever known Garganey remain to 
have more than a right and left fired at them. 

They are very silent birds as a rule. Hume speaks of them 
chattering, like all other ducks in confinement, on the slightest 
provocation, but their ordinary note, a loud strident quack, is very 
seldom used when the birds are in a state of nature. Seebohm 
considers their voice to be : — 

" Not quite so loud as a mallard, but is in a slightly higher key ; 
it may be represented by the syllable knake. It is generally uttered 
singly, but sometimes repeated twice. The quack is common to 
both sexes, but in the breeding season the male utters a harsh grating 
note, resembling kr-r-r." 



234 INDIAN DUCKS 



Genus SPATULA. 

The genus SjxitulK is distinguished from all other genera, except 
the Australian Malacorhynchus, by the shape of the bill, which is 
broadly spatulate, being about twice as broad at the subtip as it is 
at the base. There are four species, whose range is practically 
cosmopolitan, but only one is represented in India, viz., the Common 
Shoveller. 

The lamellae are very long, thin, and prominent, and the edges 
of the upper mandible are much turned down on the terminal 
quarter. 

The tail-feathers number fourteen in both sexes. 



(36) SPATULA CLYPEATA. 
THE SHOVELLER. 

Anas clypeata, Limi. S. N. x. eel. i, p. 124 (1758) (Soutii Sweden). 

Spatula clypeata, J,t<]oii. B. of I. iii, p. 796; Hnmc, S. F. i, p. 260; 
All, nil; ihid. p. 402 ; lUitlcr, ihid. iv, p. 28 ; Scully, ibid. p. 199 ; 
Fiiiihaiik. ihid. p. 264 ; Ball, ibid, vii, j). 232 ; Hiimr, ihid. p. 492 ; 
id. Cat. No. 957; id. S. F. viii, p. 115 ; Sciilh/. ibid. p. 362; Legije, 
B. of C. p. 1086 : Ilinne ,(' Mar^h. (iamc-B. iii, p. 141 ; Vidal, S. F. 
ix, p. 92; Butler, ibid. p. 437; Fu-id, ibid, x, p. 80; Davidson, ibid. 
p. 325; Hume, ibid. p. 417 ; Macijmior, ibid. p. 472; Barnes, B. of 
Bom. ]). 401 ; Ilinnc, S. F. xi, p. 343 ; Salmdori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, 
p. 306; Blanford, Arifauna B. I. iv, p. 452; Oatcs, Guine-B. ii, 
p. 246 ; Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xii, p. 453 (1899) ; id. Lidiau 
Ducks, p. 196 (1908). 

Description. Adult Male.— Whole head ami neck glossy-green, siiowing 
a purple tinge in certain lights, especially on the upper parts : upper breast, 
lower neck, outer scapulars, and outer portion of upper hack niauve-whito ; 
a narrow centre patch from the neck brown, the feathers edged pale, in tine 
specimens with broad wiiite edges : back brown, the feathers i)ale-edged ; 
rump and upper tail-coverts iilack, glossed with peacock-green and blue, 



a) 
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hi m 

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SPATTTLA CLYPEATA 235 

the former tint predominating ; rectriees brown, edged white, increasingly 
broader on the outer ones : lower breast, flanks and abdomen rich rufous- 
chestnut, some of the feathers on the posterior and inferior flanks lighter 
and vermiculated with brown ; thiglis the same but duller ; sometimes a 
few black spots on the breast ; wing-coverts a beautiful blue-grey, some 
of those next the inner secondaries glossed Prussian-blue on the terminal 
quarter of the outer web : greater coverts more brown, forming a wing-bar 
next the sjieculum : one of the outer scapulars brilliant grey-blue, others 
black glossed with green and with white centres : tertiaries deep brown- 
black, glossed witli green, turning to blue at the tips ; quills dark brown ; 
speculum a brilliant metallic green : under tail-coverts black, glossed with 
blue-green : flanks next tail-coverts white. 

Colours of soft parts. — Bill black; legs orange, claws homy-l)rown : 
irides yellow, orange or orange-red. 

" In the male in winter the bill is black, usually with a greyish sliade ; 
in some it may he called leaden dusky. In November, when they first 
arrive, and in tlie case of birds of the year until mucli later, the bills of the 
males are like those of the females. 

"The irides vary; as a rule, in the male from yellow to reddish orange, 
but I have recorded them as brown in two or three males. 

" The legs and feet vary from orange to Indian or tile-red, and are 
usually brighter coloured in both sexes in the spring, and at the same 
season in the male than in the female. The webs are often dusky towards 
their margin." (Hiotifi.) 

Measurements.—" Length about 20 inches, wing 9':3 to 'J'8, tail about 
3'5, bill from gape about 3, tarsus 1'4. 

" Length 197 to 21'75 inches, expanse 2975 to 32"S, wing <) to 9'8, 
tail from vent 3'6 to 4, tarsus 1'2 to 1'5, bill from gape 2'95 to 3'05. 
Weight 1 lb. 3 ozs. tn 1 lb. 14 ozs." (Hume.) 

Post-nuptial pluniage. — After the breeding-season tlie male assumes 
the plumage of the female, but may always be distinguished by the 
speculum on the wing, generally darker, less marked upper parts, and 
the plain dark upper tail-coverts. 

Blanford says : " It is rare in India, so far as my experience goes, 
to see a male in full plumage before the end of February " ; but I should 
note that I have a male in splendid plumage shot in November. 

Female. — The whole upper plumage brown, each feather edged with 
pale rufous or dirty rufous-white ; wing-coverts grey ; quills brown, with 
faint traces of the speculum, and the white terminal bar to the wing- 
coverts well-defined. Lower parts dull brownish-buff, varying a good 
deal in depth and tint, the brown l)ases to the feathers showing through 
in dark crescentic l)ands on the breast, flanks, and sides, but not at all 
or only slightly, on the abdomen ; cliin immaculate ; neck and sides 
of head speckled with dark brown. 

Most ducks, but not all, have a well-defined white loreal spot speckled 
with brown. 



236 INDIAN DUCKS 

Colours of soft parts. — Irides In-own or orange-brown ; legs like those 
of the male, but duller at all seasons ; bill dull-brown, the lower mandible 
dull orange or orange-brown. 

" In the female, the upper niandii)le is dark brown, tinged reddish along 
the commissure and on the nail, while the lower mandible is dull orange, 
brownish towards the tip. 

" The irides vary ... in the female from brown to reddish brown, 
but I have recorded them ... as light yellow in one female, so that 
there is only a general, and not a constant sexual difference in the colour." 
Ulume:) 

Measurements. — Length about 18'5 inches, wing 81 to 'J'2, tail about 3'u, 
or less, tarsus 1'2 to 1'4, bill from gape 2'8. 

" Length 18'0 to 19'0 inches, expanse 27'0 to 29'5, wing 8'0 to 8'9, tail 
from vent 3'5 to 3'85, tarsus 1'2 to 1'4, bill from gape 2'65 to 2'87. 
Weight 1 lb. to 1 lb. 7 ozs." {Hiiiue.) 

Male in the first plumage rcsemliles the female, but the wings are 
brighter-coloured ; l)ill pale reddish brown ; legs and feet flesh-coloured. 

Males in their post-nuptial plumage have the white of the breast with 
a few dark crescentic bands, the lower belly with dark l)ars, and the rich 
black of the under tail-coverts mottled with chestnut and white. 

" Young in Down resemlile those of the Wigeon in having the upper 
parts almost uniform, with indistinct pale spots, but they possess the dark 
brown stripes through the eye as in the young Mallard. The bill is not 
widened at the tip, but it grows very rapidly.'' {SalcacJori.) 

Distribution. — The Shoveller is to be met with at differeut times 
throughout the Northern hemisphere in all four continents. Found 
over practically the whole of hku'ope and Asia at various seasons, 
it extends in winter as far south as Somaliland in Africa, and in 
America to the 18th degree latitude north in the West Indies, 
and even further south in Guatemala. 

The references made to its occurrence in Australia and South 
America apply to allied species and not to the Common Shoveller. 

In India proper the Shoveller is a winter visitant to all parts, 
from the extreme north to the extreme south ; but, though it surely 
must occur there at times, it has not yet been recorded from Pegu 
and Tenasserim. 

In Ceylon it is also fairly common. Legge writes : — 

" This remarkable and almost cosmopolitan Duck is a not 
unfrequent winter visitor to Ceylon. I have not met with it myself, 
but Mr. G. Simpson informs nic tliat it comes in large numbers to 
Delft and the Palverainkadoo and MuUaittivu lagoons, remaining 
during the same period as the Teal and Pin-Tail." 



SPATULA CLTPEATA . 237 

Nidification. — As regards its breeding in Indian limits, all I can 
find is Layard's record noted by Legge : — 

' Layard not only discovered it one year near Jaffna, but found 
it breeding there at the Chavagacherry lagoon in March. He there 
met with a female with twelve young ones, most of which he cap- 
tured, and in the month of November he obtained some specimens 
from native shooters." 

This, of course, was an abnormal breeding incident in every way, 
time as well as locality, and it is very hard to give any reason for 
such a queer occurrence. 

It breeds throughout their northern habitat — Asia, America, 
Europe — and also in parts of Northern Africa. It is said to 
breed very extensively in Abyssinia and also in Algeria. In Asia it 
breeds in Turkestan, Northern Persia, and in the whole of its 
northern Asiatic range. In iMiropo it breeds over the greater part 
of the continent, though absent in some countries and present in 
others quite as far south. 

It makes a rather large, loose, and untidy nest of soft reeds 
rushes, &c., lined with down, and places it on the ground in swampy 
land or by the edge of some piece of water in fendand. It does not 
appear to frequent open water for the purposes of breeding, and 
selects places well away from observation and mterference, and 
conceals its nest with great care. Hume says that the nest is a 
shallow depression in the soil made by the birds, and thinly or 
thickly lined with down or dried grass. 

The description of the down with which the nest is lined, and 
which is, of course, taken from the bird itself, is said by Legge to be 
" small, dark brown, with small plainly-defined whitish centres." 
The eggs vary in number from seven to sixteen, eight or nine being 
perhaps the number most often laid. 

The colour is a pale, but rather clear-tinted, yellow stone-colour ; 
some have a creamy tinge, and others are slightly greenish, but a 
yellow-grey is undoubtedly the most common colour. 

The texture is extremely fine and close, with a surface slightly or 
decidedly glossed. My eggs average 2'0() X 1'4 inches, and are in 
shape rather long ovals, distinctly pointed at the smaller end. 

Hume's series measured from '20 to 22 inches in length, and 
from 1'33 to 1;55 in breadth. 



•238 INDIAN DUCKS 

Hai'tert records the measurements of 103 eggs as follows : — 

Average 52'58 X 37-11 (2'OG X r46 inches). 

Maxima ££d x 38'0 ( fSS X r40 inches) and 

54X) X srra (2'09 X Idl inches). 

Minima J£0 x 37'0 {£9 X 1-45 inclies) and 

50'5 X ^«j (r99 X rSO inches). 

General Habits. — The Shoveller is not one of the earliest clucks to 
arrive ; as a rule it comes into the more northern portions of India 
in the latter end of October or even early in November, and is later 
still in the southern parts of its range. In Bengal I think few are 
seen until November ; in Assam, especially in the extreme N.E., I 
have seen them in ( )ctober. 

It leaves, as well as arrives, later than many ducks, and may 
often be met with in Cachar during April ; and Hume says that 
some remain in the Peshawar Valley until May, and that in Kashmir 
they remain until quite the end of that month. Ijieutenant White 
also obtained one in the Kurram Valley in company of three gadwall, 
on the '22nd of the same month. 

In the extreme north of its range and in the Himalayas it is only 
seen whilst on migration, during the months of late September and 
October and early November, and again in March and April, as the 
birds go north. In Kashmir, however, a good number pass the whole 
of the winter, and Adam says that it is found throughout that season 
there. 

Although common over the major part of the country it visits, it 
does not seem anywhere to l)e found in very large numbers, and may 
often be seen in pairs or even singly. I do not remember ever 
seeing a flock which numbered over forty, and should imagine such 
a flock to be rare anywhere. 

As regards its haunts, these are everywhere and anywhere ; liut it 
does not care for open, deep water, and prefers small creeks, ponds, 
jheels, and tanks which are well covered with vegetation, and also 
stretches of shallow water with plentiful cover and a muddy bottom. 
At the same time, I Jtavc shot it in the very centre of large open 
bheels, and once on a small hill-stream. 

Hume says : — 



SPATDLA CrA'PEATA 289 

To the shores they stick, into the open water they never seem 
to straggle by choice ; and if you watch theui, they are for the most 
part either Jozing on the l)rink, or paddling slowly in the shallows, 
with their entire l)ills and more or less of their heads under water, 
their heads working from side to side all the wjiile like a Flamingo's 
or Spoonbill's." 

I have, however, seen the Shoveller in open water, but this only 
rarely, and only during the heat of the day when the birds wish 
to sleep. 

As noted above l)y Hume, they feed with bills and heads under 
water, running the former through the shallows in the mud, and 
so collecting the numerous small forms of animal life which there 
abound, and which, when the bill is lifted, are retained whilst the 
water filters out. They are omnivorous, aud will eat almost any- 
thing, but, at the same time, animal food undoulttedjy forms the 
major portion of their diet. 

Except for the very handsome appearance of the fuU-plumaged 
drake, the Shoveller is worth little from any point of view. As 
an edible, it is one of the worst of the duck trilte — coarse, oily, 
and fishy in taste, and ranking equal to the white-eye, and inferior 
to the whistling-teal. 

As regards its feeding and its (juality, Hume writes : — 

Doubtless, in more savoury localities, such as the more 
aristocratic ducks frequent, insects and their larvie, worms, small 
frogs, shells, tiny fish, and all kinds of seeds and shoots of water- 
grasses, rushes, and the like constitute their food ; but where they 
take up their aliode on one of the village ponds, and the pond is 
a real dirty one, I can assert, from the examination of many 
recently killed birds, that it is impossible to say what these birds, 
will not eat. 

" All ducks are more or less omnivorous, but no other ducks will, 
as a rule, frequent the dirty holes in which a pair of Shovellers often 
pass the winter." 

A curious note on its food, &c., is that in Latham's ' Synopsis of 
Birds,' in which he states : — 

" Its chief food is insects, for whicli it is continually muddling 
in the water with its bill. It is also said to dexterously catch Hies, 
which pass in its way over the water. Shrimps, among other things, 
have been found in its stomach on dissection." 



240 INDIAN DUCKS 

It is a bad swimmer and a worse diver, and once shot gives little 
trouble to bring to hand if onjy wounded. It flies, however, very 
well and strongly, and in this respect it holds its own with teal 
and other swift ducks, though it is slow to rise, getting up heavily 
and awkwardly ofl' the water and taking time to get up its speed. 

Shovellers are very sociable birds, and consort with teal, gadwall, 
and other ducks. As a rule, they are very tame, and can be easily 
approached, if the least caution is taken, and they have the reputa- 
tion of allowing repeated shots to be fired at them before a flock will 
leave the piece of water it is frequenting. 

Blanford remarks that they never appear to feed, like other 
ducks, with their heads and breasts immersed and their tails sticking 
up vertically. 

They are said to walk well, with a carriage similar to that of the 
gadwall, and Hume says they can even run if suflicient inducement 
be held out for them to do so. 

Newton remarks on a peculiarity of this duck of " swimming 
round in circles, with its bill in the water, above the spot where 
pochards are diving and feeding beneath, and sifting out the substances 
that float up when disturbed Ijy the operation of the diving ducks." 

The voice of the Shoveller is much like that of the mallard, 
the quack, however, being lower and less strident. In flight it gives 
vent to a low chuckling quack, quickly repeated, much as does the 
gadwall. 



Plate XXll. 




THE MARBLED DUCK. 
Marmaronetta angustirostris. 

/3 nat. size. 



MABMARONETTA 241 



Genus MARMARONETTA. 

The genus Marmaroiietta contains a single species only, with a 
bill similar to that of Nettlon, but differing from that genus in having 
no wing-speculum. Its colouration, which gives a silvery-grey tone 
to the plumage when taken as a whole effect, is quite sufficient to at 
once distinguish it from all other ducks, either Indian or otherwise. 



(37) MARMARONETTA ANGUSTIROSTRIS. 
THE MAEBLED DUCK. 

Anas angUBtirostris, Menetries, Cat. Bets. Caucus, p. 58 (1832) 

(Lenkoran). 
Querquedula angustirostris, Hume, S. F. i, p. 262 ; Anderson, ibid, iii, 

p. 273 ; Butler, ibid, iv, p. 30 ; id. ibid, v, p. 234 ; Hume cO Marsh. 

Game-B. iii, p. 237 ; Beid, S. F. x, p. 82 ; McLeod, ibid. p. 168 ; 

Hume, ibid. p. 171. 
Chaulelasraus angustirostris, Hume, S. F. vii, p. 493 ; id. Cat. No. 961 

bis; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 405 ; Hume, Nests and Eggs (Gates' ed.), 

iii, p. 291 ; Barnes, J. B. N. H. S. vi, p. 291. 
Marmaronetta angustirostris, Salvadori, Cat. B. 21. xxvii, p. 321 ; Blan- 

ford. Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 454; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 273; Stuart 

Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xii, p. 459 (1899) ; id. Indian Dticks, p. 202 

(1908) ; Burton, J. B. N. H. S. xxi, p. 684 (1912) ; Aitken, ibid, xxii, 

p. 807 (1914) ; Logan-Hume, ibid, xxiii, p. 584 (1915) ; Ludloio, ibid. 

xxiv, p. 368 (1916) ; Berthou, ibid, xxvi, p. 674 (1919). 

Description. Adult Male. — Whole upper parts a silvery-grey, each 
feather having the central portion darker and brownish and the tip and 
terminal edge paler ; the head and nape are more buff in tint, and have each 
feather centred brown, giving a barred appearance ; the pai'ts surrounding 
the eye brown, forming a distinct dark-brown eye-patch ; chin, throat and 
16 



242 INDIAN DUCKS 

undei'-part of the neck paler, almost white, with the dark centres much 
reduced and forming only a stippling ; lower parts white, more or less 
tinged with buff and grey, and also barred with dark grey-brown on the 
breast, flanks and sides, and less distinctly on the lower tail-coverts. Tail 
a silvery brown -grey, edged paler; wings silver-grey, the outer secondaries 
a purer, paler colour, and the inside of the primary-quills darker and 
browner ; all the feathers, coverts, and quills have the shafts brown, distinctly 
showing against the grey. 

Colours of soft parts.— "The legs and feet are dusky-olive or dark 
horny-brown with the claws and webs black, or horny-green with the webs 
and claws dark-grey ; the bill bluish-grey, black on the culnien and tip or 
dusky, bounded at the margins of the feathers on the forehead and cheeks 
with a pale leaden-blue line, continued along the margins of both mandibles 
to near the tip, and a spot of the same colour just above the nail ; the irides 
are brown." {Hume.) 

Measurements.—" Length 18'3 to 19 inches, expanse 28'5 to '2^'5, tail 
from vent 3'6 to 4'0, wing 8'1 to 8'5, wings when closed reach to 07 to 1'5 
of end of tail, bill at front, including nail, I'll to 1'85, tarsus 1'44 to 1'52. 
Wei.ght 1 lb. 3 ozs. to 1 lb. 5 ozs." {IIiiiiw.) 

Female. — Only differs from the male in being smaller, having the eye- 
patch less pronounced, and the general plumage duller and more uniform in 
colour ; the crest also is less developed. 

Colours of soft parts. — " Legs and feet greenish-plumbeous; irides dark 
brown ; l)ill dusky-plumbeous, darkest on the culmen." (Butler.) 

Measurements.-" Length 16'9 to 17'5 inches, expanse 27 to 28, tail from 
vent 2'8 to 3'7, wing 7'9 to 8'1, wing when closed reaches to within 0'5 to 
I'O of the end of the tail, bill at front 1'6 to 1'75, tarsus 1'4 to 1'5. 
Weight 1 lb. to 1 lb. 3 ozs." {Hume.) 

Length 15'75 inches, expanse 26'5, wing 7'62, tail from vent 2'75." 

Young — " Similar to the female, but all the markings and tints still 
duller; the lower parts almost uniform dull pale greyish." (Salvadori.) 

A young female obtained by Major Olivier, and now in the Bombay 
Natural History Society's collection, has the wing only 7'42 inches, but at 
the same time has the bill about 1'8. 

Distribution. — The range of the Marbled Teal extends from the 
countries to the west of the Mediterranean Sea, through those 
bordering it north and south into Western Asia, India being its 
eastern limit ; it is also found in the Canaries. 

As regards India Hume wrote in ' Game-birds ' : — 

" Its normal range with us (it is presumably only a cold weather 
visitant) appears to be the w-hole of Sind (from every Collectorate in 
which it has been reported, and where it is extremely common) and 



MARMARONETTA ANGUSTIROSTRIS 243 

Northern Guzerat, the Southern part of the Dehra Gazi Khan 
District and of Bhawalpur, in all three of which it is a regular l)ut 
less abundant visitant. No doubt it will be met with in Kutch and 
Kathiawar, but it has not been thence recorded as yet. 

But outside these limits it occurs much farther east as a 
traveller. I have had specimens from Western Oodeypore and from 
near Delhi. The late Mr. A. Anderson procured it in the North- 
west Provinces, at Futtehgarh, and in Oudh near Hurdui, and I 
myself procured two freshly-killed specimens in the Calcutta market, 
the one in December and the other in February, which had been 
captured about twenty-two miles south-west and some eighteen miles 
west, respectively, of the metropolis." 

Since this was written the Marbled Teal has been obtained in 
Kutch, several times again about Delhi, by Brookes in Ferozepore, 
Burton in Baroda, Logan-Hume near Nowshera, Berthon in 
Kathiawar, H. C. Wright in the Nail, and more than once also in 
the Calcutta market, but nothing has been recorded, that I can find, 
which in any way extends the original area as given hy Hume. 
A specimen lent me from the Bombay Nat. Hist. Society's collection 
has no locality given on its ticket, but was presumably collected in 
one of the places above-mentioned. 

I should note that when showing this specimen to a friend, he 
at once said that he had shot two birds of the same kind in Gowhatty, 
Assam ; he said that neither he nor any of the men to whom he 
showed them had ever seen the duck before, and could not name it. 
He was very sure of its being the same species. Later, about 1912, 
a specimen was killed at Sibsagar in Assam and sent to me for 
identification, proving to be of this species. 

Nidification. — Mr. B. Alexander found this bird breeding plentifully 
in the Cape Verde Islands, and it appears to breed on the greater 
portions of its habitat round the Mediterranean. Although breeding 
in latitudes so far south, it is unusually late in breeding, May and 
June being the months in which the eggs are laid. It is said to 
make a rough nest, much like that of the common teal, and to place 
it amongst rushes on land surrounding swamps and various kinds 
of water, and also on the sea-shore, this last more especially in Spain. 
Of this latter country Colonel Irby thus records its nesting in 
Andalusia : — 



244 INDIAN DUCKS 

"The ^larbleil Duck l>i-eeds during the last week in May, nesting 
in patches of rushes. The neat is like that of a teal, containing a 
good deal of the down from the hreast of the female ; and eleven eggs 
appear to l)e the usual complement. The latter much resemble those 
of the common teal, being of a yellowish-white colour. Favier states 
that (near Tangiers) they also nest in rushes during May and June, 
and tliat inculcation lasts from twenty-five to twenty-seven days." 

The eggs which Colonel Butler received from the Mekran Coast 
are, in all probability, rightly identified by him as being those of the 
Marbled Teal. He says : — 

"I received some small duck's eggs from the Mekran Coast, which 
are, in my opinion, those of the Marbled Duck. The nest was on 
the ground under a solitary babool bush, growing on an extensive 
tract of salt marsh, some seven or eight miles north of Ormarra, 
called Moorputty, and consisted, according to the account of the 
native who found it, of a collection of fine twigs formed into a solid 
pad with a few pieces of down as a lining, and measuring eight or 
nine inches in diameter. 

"The eggs, eight in number, and of a delicate cream-colour, were 
taken on the 19th June, 1878. I have carefully compared them 
with eggs of the Marbled Duck, and find that they agree exactly, 
l)oth in size, colour and texture. They are certainly not Garganey's 
eggs, being too large ; I know of no other duck inhabiting that 
district they could possibly belong to except the present species. 

" They vary in size from I'B to 1'9 inches in length, and from 
r35 to 1'43 in breadth." 

Barnes, in his article on ' Nesting in Western India,' noted 
that he, too, had received some eggs from the Frere Museum ■which 
had come from the Mekran Coast about the same time as those 
received by Colonel Butler. He describes them as being of a 
creamy-white, much soiled and dulled by lapse of time, but he 
does not give their dimensions. 

The first absolutely certain record, however, of this bird's breeding 
in India, is that of Mr. A. B. Aitken, who writes : — 

" On the Khushdil Lake, near Pishin, the largest proportion 
of the few ducks left were Marbled Teal, which had apparently 
made up their minds to breed. About June I observed a couple 
of birds which had paired off frequenting a small island. These 
two remained together and did not stay with the other Marbled 
Teal. I did not find their nest. I think it was in August, though 
I do not recollect the date, that while in a boat on the lake, on 



MAEMAHONETTA ANGUSTIROSTRIS 245 

I'ounding a point on the same island, I distuvbed a duck which 
entered the water with fourteen duckhngs about a week old. I gave 
chase, and the duck went through the well-known tactics of her 
kind by pretending that she was wounded and lagging behind her 
ducklings. She gradually made off in a direction aw'ay from her 
ducklings. She let the Ijoat come within a yard of her, and she 
was undoubtedly a Marljled Teal. When she thought her ducklings 
were a safe distance from us, she rose quite easily and made off." 

Ludlow also gives a most interesting account of this l)ird"s 
breeding on the Sonmeani bheel, about fifty miles from Karachi, in 
the Las Beyla State of Baluchistan. Apparently quite a number 
of these ducks breed here annually, provided there is sufticient 
water, which is not always the case, and Mr. Ludlow's collectors 
assured him they had seen at least a dozen nests from which the 
broods had hatched out, and they succeeded in catching two young 
ducklings for him. They also found two clutches of eggs, one of 
twelve incubated, one of nine fresh. 

In Persia, it should be noted that hard-set clutches of five and 
six eggs were taken. 

General Habits. — Many birds are resident in N.E. Sind and 
Baluchistan, but as regards the migratory birds, this appears to be 
later in its arrival than most ducks, even at its extreme north-west 
point of entry ; it does not appear to be seen in any numbers until 
late in October or early November, and as it works south and east, it. 
of course, gets later and later. Its departure would, on the other 
hand, seem to take place at much the same time as that of other birds 
of its order, i.e., in April, a few remaining until the last few days of 
May in very late years. 

Hume wrote concerning the habits of this teal as follows : — 

" In Sind, where I had alnmdant opportunity of observing it, I 
found the Marbled Teal invariably associated in large parties. Its 
favourite haunts were broads, thickly grown with rush, in which it fed 
and sported, comparatively seldom showing itself in the open water. 
As a rule, it does not at once rise when guns are fired, as the other 
ducks do, but if by chance it is at the moment outside of the rushes 
or similar cover in the open water it scuttles into concealment as 
a coot would do, and if in cover already, remains there perfectly 
quiet until the boats push within 60 or 70 yards of it ; then it rises, 
generally one at a time, and, even though fired at, not unfrequently 



246 INDIAN DUCKS 

again drops into the rushes within a couple of hundred yards. When 
there has been a good deal of "shooting on a lake and almost all the 
other duck, and with them, of course, some of these, are circling round 
and round, high in the air, you still keep, as you push through the 
reeds and rushes, continually flushing the Marbled Teal, and the broad 
must be small, or the liunting very close and long continued, to induce 
all the Marbled Teal to take wing. Of course, where there is a little 
cover (though there you never meet with this duck in large numbers) 
they rise and fly about with the other ducks, but their tendency in 
these respects is rather coot-like than duck-like. Individuals may 
take wing at the first near shot, but the great majority of them stick 
to cover as long as this is possible ; and on two occasions I saw 
very pretty shooting, boats in line pushing up a wide extent of rush- 
grown water, and the Marbled Teal rising every minute in front 
of us at distances of 60 or 70 yards, like Partridges out of some 
of our great Norfolk turnip-fields ; here and there a Shoveller or a 
White-eyed Pochard, both of which, when disturbed, cling a good deal 
to cover, would be flushed, but there was not one of these to ten of the 
Marbled Teal. The flight of this species, though Teal-like, is less 
rapid and flexible (if I may coin an expression to represent the extreme 
facility with which that species turns and twists in the air) than that 
of the Common Teal. It more nearly resemljles that of the Garganey, 
but is less powerful and less rapid even than that of this latter 
species. There is something of the Gadwall in it, but it wants the 
ease of this. It flies much lower, too, and, as already mentioned, 
much more readily resettles after being disturbed. I have hardly 
ever seen them swimming in the open, and in the rushes they make, 
of course, slow progress. When wounded they dive, but for no great 
distance, and then persistently hold on under water in any clump of 
rush or weed, with only their bills above water. I have never seen 
them on land in a wild state, but some captured birds, whose wings 
had been clipped, walked very lightly and easily ; and though they 
had been but a few days in confinement, they were very tame, and 
could, I should imagine, be easily domesticated. 

" In Spain, they are described as very wary, and there they seem 
to frequent open water; here they avoid this latter as a rule, and 
are, I should say, amongst the tamer of our ducks. 

"Their food is very varied here. Favier says that, in Tangiers, 
they feed on winged insects ; in Sind, the major portion of their 
food consists of leaves, shoots, rootlets, corms and seeds of aquatic 
plants, intermingled with worms, fresh-water shells, insects of all 
kinds and their larvae. I believe I found a small frog in the stomach 
of one, but it is not noted on the tickets of any of the specimens 
now in the Museum, and I cannot be quite sure." 



MARMARONETTA ANGITSTIROSTRIS 247 

The voice has been variously described as a whistling croak, a low 
croaking whistle, a rather hoarse quack, and a quack like that of 
the domestic duck, but very harsh and abrupt. It is probable that 
these descriptions apply to two notes, and that this duck, like some 
others, has two distinct calls, one more or less of a whistle, the 
other somewhat of the nature of a quack. 

It is practically omnivorous and as an article of diet itself it 
is not first-class. 



248 INDIAN DUCKS 



Sub-family FULIGULINiE. 

This sub-family is divided from those already written about by 
having the hind-toe broadly lobed, whereas the latter have the hind 
toe either with no lobe at all or else with only a narrow one. 
Blanford does not divide the Ftdigiilinw from the Anatinse, but the 
division seems to be a natural one, the members of this sub-family 
differing from those of others, not only in construction, but con- 
siderably in habits as well. 

The separation of the genus Oxyura is by no means so distinct, 
and the genus, in my opinion, is hardly worthy of separation from 
the FuUguUnas and the honour of a sub-family to itself, but for the 
present I retain it in this position. 

Oxyura differs from the ducks included by Salvadori in his 
sub-family FiiUgulinee in certain external structural particulars, 
principally in the swollen base to the upper mandible and in its 
remarkable tail, which, as Blanford remarks, looks as if it might be 
that of a woodpecker. 

The Merginse are separated from all other ducks, by the shape 
of their bill, which is long, narrow, and pointed, altogether most 
un-duck-like in its appearance. 

The Fuligiiliux comprise thirteen genera, of which three only are 
represented in India ; but it is worthy of notice that whilst Nefta 
is one of the most common forms and Glanclonctta one of the most 
rare, Nyroca and FuUgiila contain some forms which are extremely 
common, and others again of the greatest rarity. 



Key to Genera. 

a. Primaries with the bases more or less white. 

a. LamelliB long and prominent Netta, p. 249. 

b' . Lamellae short, well apart, not very prominent. 

a" . Bill very nearly the same width throughout . Nyroca, p. 258. 
[//'. Bill distinctly wider at the tip than at the base . Fiiligiila, p. 258.] 
I). Primaries without any white or whitish at the base Glaucionetta, p. 291. 



in 

>< 
x; 

a. 




ID 



Q 

a: 
< 

X 

u 
o 

Ql 



UJ 3 

I- 1- 

UJ ™ 

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UJ 






NETTA 



249 



Genus NETTA. 

The genus Netta contains but one species, distinguished by its 
bill, which tapers very gradually throughout its length and has 
the lamellse very stout and prominent. 

The male bird also has a full bushy crest, which, however, is not 
present, or is considerably modified, in the female. 

The name Pochard should be pronounced " Pokard," not with 
the soft cli with which I have heard many sportsmen sound it. 
In many parts of England these ducks are known as Pokers or 
Poke Ducks, and it is from this that the name is derived. 



(38) NETTA RUFINA. 
THE RED-CRESTED POCHARD. 

Anas rufina, Pal. Beis. d. versch. Buss. Beichs. ii, p. 713 (1773) 

(Caspian Sea). 
Branta rufina, Jcrdoii, B. of I. iii, p. 811 : Butler, S. F. iv, p. 30: ibid. 

V, p. 234 ; Fairbank, ibid, iv, p. 264. 
Fuligula rufina, Hume, S. F. i, p. 264; Adam, ibid. p. 402; Hume, ibid. 

vii, pp. 98, 493 ; Hume (f Marsh. Game-B. iii. p. 253 ; Lec/ge, B. of C. 

p. 1087 ; Butler, S. F. ix, p. 438 ; B.eid, ibid, x, p. 84 ; Taylor, ibid. 

pp. 528, 531; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 412; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 346; 

Ball, ibid. p. 232 ; Cripps, ibid. p. 402 ; Hume, Cat. No. 967. 

Netta rufina, Salradori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 328; Blanford, Avifauna 
B. I. iv, p. 456 ; Gates, Game-B. ii, p. 299 ; Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. 
xii, p. 249 (1899) ; id. Indian Ducks, p. 208 (1908) ; Hopwood, 
J. B. N. H. S. xviii, p. 433 (1909). 

Description. Adult Male.— Whole head reddish-bay, richest and darkest 
on the under surface and sides, paling from the foreliead to the end of the 
crest, where it is reddish-buff. Neck blackish-brown ; upper back dark- 
brown, getting more and more pale towards the rump, the bases of the 
feathers next the scapulars showing in a white band ; rump and upper tail- 



250 INDIAN DUCKS 

coverts blackish-brown, more or less glossed green; tail silvery grey-brown ; 
breast blackish-brovpn, paling on the lo"\\'er breast and abdomen ; under tail- 
coverts dark-brown ; flanks, axillaries, and inider wing-coverts white ; 
coverts bordering the wing and running into the scapulars white : other 
coverts grey isli -brown ; secondaries white, sometimes tinged grey or creamy, 
with a subterminal band of brown from 2'5 to 4 inches wide ; inner 
secondaries like tlie coverts ; outermost primary brown on the outer web 
and inside of the inner web and tip, the remainder white, this white 
gradually increasing in extent on each primary until the innermost primaries 
are all white with a broad lirown tip. 

Colours of soft parts. — Bill vermilion-red ; the nail whitish, tinged pink 
or sometimes yellowish, the base next the feathers of the forehead and the 
gape more or less dusky-brown except in the oldest birds ; legs and feet 
orange, orange-red, or dull fleshy-red ; irides deep or light reddish-brown to 
bright light red. 

' In the adult male the bill is a brilliant crimson, sometimes inclining to 
vermilion; the nail brown or white, tinged with brownish-horn, or pink 
horny-Jirown or yellow at tip. There is often a dusky shade round the 
nostrils ; the gape is often blackish, as is likewise the base of tlie lower 
mandible and the basal portion of the membrane between its rami ; but 
these are all traces, I think, of immaturity. 

"Tlie legs and feet are dingy salmon-colour or reddish-orange, dusky on 
the joints and blackisli on the webs ; but in slightly younger but full- 
plumaged birds the legs and feet will be olivaceous-orange, or, lastly, dusky 
with a reddish tinge. 

" The irides vary from brown to red (this latter being the colour in the 
old adult) and are at ditt'erent ages brown, brownish-yellow, reddish-brown, 
orange, orange-red, and bright-red." 

Measurements.— " Length 20'5 to 221 inches, expanse 3-l'0 to 38'2, 
wing lO'O to 10'75, tail from vent 3'0 to 4'2, tarsus 1'5 to 17, bill from 
gape 2'3 to 242. Weight 1 lb. 12 ozs. to 2 lbs. 14 ozs." (Tlnmr.) 

Female. — Above pale greyish-brown distinctly tinged with ochre ; the 
crown rather darker ; scapulars paler ; the feathers of the upper surface 
with pale margins, practically absent in the older birds ; the wings paler 
and duller but otherwise like those of the male, the white being replaced 
by pale grey or dusky-white ; whole lower plumage, under wing-coverts, 
and axillaries pale greyish-white, yellowish-white, or greyish-ocbre, darker 
on the flanks. 

Colours of soft parts.— Bill dusky-black, becoming red towards the tip 
and with the nail still paler, the lower mandible only dark at the base and 
up the fleshy part in the centre ; irides brown or reddish-brown ; the webs 
and joints darker, often dusky-black. 

" In the female the bill is black, reddish or orange towards the tip and 
more or less along the sides of the lower and edges of the upper mandible." 
{Hume.) 



NETTA RUFINA 251 

"Iris yellow : bill brownish-red above, fleshy beneath, nail brown; legs 
and feet murky-yellow." (Legoe) 

Measurements.— "Length 20'1 to 220 inches, expanse 33"75 to 37'0, 
wing 90 to 10'2o, tail from vent 3'5 to 3'S, tarsus 1'5 to 1'75, bill from 
gape 2'25 to 2'i. Weight 1 lb. 10 ozs. to 2 lbs. 6 ozs." (Hume.) 

"Young male similar to the female, but the darker centres of the 
feathers of the underparts are brown, instead of grey ; back and breast 
darker brown ; and more indications of a crest." (Seebokm.) 

Colours of the soft parts are those of the female, the legs and feet being 
less tinged with red or orange, often of a uniform dull brown, barely tinged 
on the shanks with reddish ; the irides are plain brown. The bill becomes 
redder before the full plumage is assumed, but does not become really red 
or crimson-red until the bird is practically adult. 

" Males in first nuptial dress have the underparts more suffused with 
brown, the white not suffused with pink, and the bill much paler." 
(Sccbohm.) 

" Males in moulting plumage very closely resemble the adult females, 
but may be distinguished by the brighter colour of their bills and eyelids, 
by the greater development of their crest, by the darker brown of the belly 
and under tail-coverts, and by the -redder colour of the feet." (Salvadori.) 

" Young in Down are described by Baldamus as having the upper parts 
dull olive-grey with a buff spot on each shoulder, and the underparts buff ; 
a buff' stripe pisses over each eye, and through the eye runs a dark stripe, 
which divides into two behind the eye." (Salvadori.) 

Distribution. — The habitat of the Eed-Crested Pochard may 
roughly be said to be the countries surrounding the Mediterranean 
and Central Western Asia. 

It is common in South Russia, Turkestan, Persia, Afghanistan, 
Baluchistan, and thence, in winter, in India. Throughoiit the 
countries of southern Europe it is common, and it ascends north as 
a frequent straggler to Northern France, England, occasionally as 
far as Scotland, North Germany (where it breeds), and Central 
Russia. 

On the south coast of the Mediterranean it is much less common. 
It is rare in Egypt and Tangiers, more common in Algiers, and 
east of Algiers, but has not been recorded further \vest. 

In India, the Red-Crested Pochard occurs practically throughout 
the whole of the north and Central India. It is common in the 
North-west Provinces, the Punjab, Sind, Rajputana, and Gudh 
Central India, and the Central Provinces, except in the south, and 



252 INDIAN DUCKS 

the greater part of Bengal. In Assam it is less common, Init by no 
means at all rare. Hume fonnd'it in Manipur in small numbers, 
and I have myself seen, shot or had it recorded for me from Cachar, 
Hylhet, and Dacca. In the Sundarbands I found it decidedly rare, 
but have had it recorded as common by other sportsmen. In 
Southern India it must be rare everywhere, and it seems also to be 
rare in the extreme west, in Cutch, etc. There seem to be hardly 
any records of the bird in Southern India, but Layard was certain 
he had met with it in Ceylon, and it therefore may occur at odd 
times throughout the whole of the Indian Peninsula. Wait, how- 
ever, considers its record from Ceylon a very doubtful one. 

It is recorded from Burma by Hopwood, Harington and others, 
but seems rare anywhere in that province. 

Nidification. — This duck breeds throughout the southern countries 
of Europe, in parts also of Northern Africa, and in the most northern 
parts of its Asiatic habitat, as far south as Shiraz in Persia. In 
Europe it is found breeding occasionally in Northern Germany, 
France, etc., but its true breeding-haunts are further south. In 
Central Germany it is common. Hume, referring to the nests 
taken by Dr. Baldamus, remarks : — 

" Dr. Baldamus, who has taken many nests in Central Germany, 
all, however, on ' a pond overgrown with weeds, flags, and other 
aquatic plants, close to the Mansfelder Salt Lake,' tells us that they 
are always placed in the rushes or flags, usually in a small island in 
the pond or on the flags ; and like all ducks' nests they have a 
foundation of rotten stems, plucked rushes, or dead leaves, on which 
a warm bed of down plucked from the breastiof the female is placed. 
When the female leaves the nest quietly she covers her eggs, as do 
all ducks. The eggs vary from eight to nine, ten being the excep- 
tion, and seven only in late sittings. All his nests were taken 
l)etween the l'2th .June and the 1st July, the latter nests being much 
incubated, so that in this locality they probably lay from 1st May 
to 15th June. Tlie eggs are only moderately broad ovals, without 
gloss, a bright, somewhat olive-green when fresh and unblown (fading 
to a dull greyish -olive or greenish-grey when blown), and measure 
about 2'3 inches by 1'6." 

Salvin writes : — 

" In the open pools at the upper end of the marsh at Zana I 
used to see several pair of the Red-Crested Duck. Two nests only 



NETTA liUFINA 253 

were obtained. The second lot, consisting of seven eggs, were of a 
brilliant fresh green colour when unblown ; the contents were no 
sooner expelled and the eggs dry than the delicate tints were gone 
and their beauty sadly diminished." 

The nest is a large coarsely-made structure, which seems to be 
made invariably of practically nothing but rushes and soft water- 
plants. Twigs, dry grass, and other materials got from land are but 
little used, and it is probable that much of what is used is subaquatic 
stuff and is got by diving. The lining o^ down and feathers is usually 
very dense and thick, completely covering the eggs. 

As a rule the duck selects as a site for her nest some siuall pond 
well covered with weeds and vegetation, or some patch of water in 
fen or marsh-land, well isolated and free from observation and inter- 
ference. I have come across no notes on these birds' nidification to 
show that they ever breed on the edges of larger or more open pieces 
of water, and these they seem as a rule to avoid during the breeding- 
season, unless, perhaps, for purposes of feeding. Wide marshes and 
fens, with pools scattered here and there in amongst the bog and 
scrub-covered land, would appear to be their favourite resorts. 

When fresh, the eggs are a beautiful clear green stone-colour, 
and have a decided gloss, but lose both their bright tints, and gloss 
soon after being blown. The texture is smooth, fine, and close, but 
the shell is rather fragile for the size of the egg, and this would 
appear to be the case with most pochards' eggs. 

In shape they may be either rather long or rather broad ovals, 
very regular in shape, and with both ends practically the same in 
size. 

The majority of birds breed in May and early June ; very few, 
it would seem, as early as the end of April. The number of eggs is 
most often eight or ten, but they vary from only six to at least 
fourteen in a few instances. 

General Habits. — Although so many of these ducks have their 
home quite close to India, yet they are, on the whole, rather late 
arrivals, coming into the north and North-west India in the latter 
part of October, and into Bengal and further south not until well 
into November, though Inglis records an arrival in Behar on the 
•2ist July, 1917, a most unusual occurrence. In Assam and Manipur, 



254 INDIAN DUCKS 

however, I think they generally come in by October, and I have 
seen a pair about the lUth of that month, while a few odd birds have 
been recorded in September. 

In some parts of India they arrive in flocks of thousands ; Hume 
writes in one place of "flocks of many thousands, and acres of water 
paved with them " ; again, " I rowed into a flock of this species, 
several thousands in number." Eeid also, after saying that though 
(in the Lucknow division) he had come across them in small parties, 
as a rule, of a dozen or so, yet " one morning in December I came 
across countless numbers on a jheel in the Fyzabad district closely 
packed and covering the whole surface of the water, with their red 
heads moving independently, while the breeze kept their crests in 
motion ; a distant spectator might have mistaken them for a vast 
expanse of beautiful aquatic flowers." 

As a general thing, therefore, it would seem that Eed-Crested 
Pochard like to congregate in very large flocks, and it is only when 
the country is not very well suited to their wants that they split up 
into small parties ; under these circumstances very small flocks and 
even pairs and single birds may be sometimes seen. 

They are open-water birds by choice, frequenting large sheets of 
water, unobstructed by surface weeds, reeds, or water-plants, except 
about the shores or banks. Of course, where they are most common, 
a few birds may be met with in almost any kind of water, but it is 
rare for any large flock to be found on vegetation-covered swamps, 
small dirty jheels, &c. 

They are splendid swimmers, and regularly play about on the 
water with one another where undisturbed, and as divers they are 
even better than as swimmers, though the White-eye may excel them 
in this respect. 

Legge says :— 

" This handsome Pochard, though belonging to the family of 
diving ducks, which are mainly characterized by their wehhed or 
lobed hind toes, is said by those who have observed its habits not to 
dive for its food, but to feed, like ordinary ducks, in shallow water, 
with its neck stretched down and body turned up." 

This, too, is what Dresser says, but would appear to be distinctly 
contrary to what most observers have noted ; what Hume records 



NETTA RUFINA 255 

is what most of us have taken to be the habits of this bird ; he 
writes thus after quoting Dresser's remarks: — 

' I should like to know where he obtained this valuable informa- 
tion. The fact is, that though you viaij at times see it dibbling 
about in the water like teal and shovellers, or again feeding as he 
describes, its normal habit and practice in to dive, and I have 
watched flocks of them, scores of times, diving for an hour at a time 
with pertinacity and energy unsurpassed by any other wild-fowl. 
Examine closely their favourite haunts, and you will find these to 
be almost invariably just those waters in which they must dive for 
their food — deep broads, where the feathery water- weed beds 
do not reach within several feet of the surface, not the compara- 
tively shallow ones, where the same weeds (the character of their 
leaves changed, however, by emergence) lie in thick masses coiled 
along the surface." 

This is certainly my experience, and I noticed in the Sunderbands 
how very much this duck kept to the open central portion of the 
huge bheels, feeding there on and amongst the aquatic plants, 
especially on a long, trailing, moss-like weed which grew several 
feet under water. Moreover. I have found in their stomachs the 
roots of plants which do not grow except in fairly deep water. They 
not only dive well and for long periods, but they also dive to no 
inconsiderable depth ; and that it is a pleasure to them to dive is 
shown by their constant diving when at play, chasing one another 
both above and below the surface. 

They feed both night and day, but mainly 'in the early morning 
and evening ; and though the very much greater portion of their diet is 
undoubtedly aquatic, yet they have been known to feed on young crops 
on dry land. Of course, like all or nearly all ducks, they rest during 
the hottest hours of the day, selecting quite open, deep water for that 
purpose when it is available. They have the credit of being awkward 
and feeble on land, but that very close observer, Mr. F. Finn, says 
that they come ashore more often than the other pochards, and walk 
better also. 

No duck varies much more than this one in the quality of its 
flesh ; when at its best very few ducks indeed are better for the table, 
but at its worst the white-eye itself is but little more rank and coarse. 
This variability is undoubtedly due to its wide range of feeding. 



256 INDIAN DUCKS 

Naturally it is principally a vegetable feeder, and when feeding on 
water-plants and young crops its flesh is excellent; but when, as is 
sometimes the case, it feeds on fish, shell-fish, water-insects, &c., 
they at once assume a rank fishy taste which no amount of seasoning 
will obscure. 

Hume found one which had gorged itself on small fish about 
an inch in length, and I dissected one which had eaten, as far as I 
could see, nothing but the tiny red crabs which swarm in such count- 
less myriads along the shores of rivers, swamps and backwaters in the 
Sundarbands, the waters of which are brackish. This was the only 
specimen the contents of whose stomach I noted whilst shooting in 
Jessore and Khulna ; but all we shot and tried to eat tasted the same, 
and I have no doubt that they, too, had been feeding on crabs. 

In Cachar and Sylhet I found the Red-Crested Pochard one of the 
very best of ducks for the table, and the same held good in the 
Dibrugarh and adjoining districts of Assam. 

They are strong flyers and go at a good pace, but they are very slow 
in getting off the water, and take some time to get their pace up. 

Finn says that their note is a harsh croak sounding like "kurr." 
This is the same syllable used by Hume to represent their note, 
he calling their note a " deep, grating kurr." He also adds : — 

Occasionally the males only, I think, emit a sharp sibilant note 
— a sort of whistle, quite different from that of the Wigeon, and yet 
somewhat reminding one of that." 

From a sporting point of view, the Eed-Crested Pochard is all that 
can be desired. About as smart as they make them, he seems to have 
special aptitude for judging the length of range of different guns ; and 
a flock may be caught once, but seldom twice, whatever distance the 
gun may reach. 

It swims so fast that it can by this means alone often escape 
and it is often very loath to rise when it can thus get out of shot. 
Its swimming powers, manner of packing, and capacity for diving 
are so well shown by Hume's account of his shooting in the 
Etawah district that yet again I indent on him wholesale : — 

" All night long .... I had heard water-fowl coming in, and 
the next morning, before dawn, I was out in my punt, working softly 



NETTA RDFINA 257 

round the iiiargin to tlie western side, so as to have the fowl, \\h6n 
twilight broke, against the daylight sky. ... I soon made out by 
their cries that the mass of the fowls were Pochards, that there 
were a vast number of them, and that a great number of them 
belonged to the present species. Day dawned, and I could see a 
dense mass of fowl . . . probably fully a quarter of a mile off. 
. . . . lying down I paddled towards them. Very soon a fresh 
north-west wind sprang up against me. Quite a sea rose. I was 
perpetually grounding, and they were swimming away steadily 
against the wind, so that it was bright sunlight before I got within 
200 yards, and then I could see they were all Eed-Crests. I had 
now got into deeper water, and went as hard as I could without 
splashing ; but they swam steadily away, and I must have gone fully 
half a mile before I had gained 100 yards on them. Still, they had 
not shown the slightest signs of suspicion (and I knew their ways 
well), but were swimming gaily on en masse, head to wind, as they 
often will on windy mornings. On T went. I had a long heavy 
English swivel, carrying a pound of shot (No. 1 I had in) ; there 
were between two and three thousand of them, as closely packed as 
they coidd swim. I was certainly within 70 yards of the hinder- 
most bird ; I calculated to get within 40 yards of these and fire 
over their heads into the centre of the flock. They were closely 
packed and backs to me, so there was little to gain, and possibly a 
great deal to lose, by flushing them. I was within 50 yards when 
again I grounded ; had I even then fired at once I must have made 
a very large bag, but I thought I knew that this was only a point of 
a mound, and I wasted some precious moments struggling to get over 
it with the paddles. The nearest birds must have been 70 yards 
distant before, seeing I was hard and fast, I snapped an ammunition 
cap on a little pistol I always carried for the purpose, and raked them 
as they rose. The next instant there w'as a whole line of birds 
fluttering on the water, seven dead, and twenty-one winged. I 
recovered every one of them, but it was noon before I bagged the 
last ; and if I had had a desperate hard six hours' work, I hardly 
remember any six hours which I more thoroughly enjoyed." 



17 



2r)8 INDIAN DUCKS 

Genus NYKOCA. 

The genus Nyroca, with which I include the Scaup and Tufted 
Pochard, formerly placed by me under the genus Fuligulu, contains 
about a dozen species and subspecies, of which five are found within 
Indian limits. 

From Netta tlie present genus differs in having smaller lamelhe, 
placed further apart and less prominent. The genus is a cos- 
mopolitan one, and contains one of our most common ducks, the 
White-eye, and one of our rarest, the Scaup. 

Key to Spcrifft and Si(hf:pccicf:. 

A. Sides of liill practically parallel throughout. 

a. Back and scapulars distinctly barred or veniiiculat.eil X. fcriiia J. 

b. Back and scapulars merely speckled. 

a' . Head and neck dull chestnut or Ijay .... A'', n. nyroca 3 . 
//. Head and neck almost black X. n. hacri 3 . 

c. Upper Ijack and head rufous-brown, scapulars slightly 

vermiculated, no white speculum A^ fcrina ? . 

d. No vermiculations on upper jiluniage, a white 

si)eculum. 

c . Head and neck rufous-brown .V. «. ntjroca ? . 

d' . Head and neck mixed with blackish on the sides X n. luifn ? . 

B. Bill increasing in widtli towards the end and narrower 

at base. 

e. Head never crested, back and scapulars in adult not 

black A", niarila. 

f. Head always more or less crested and scapulais in 

adults black, more or less sprinkled with whitish .Y. fiilliiiiln. 

N. n. uijroca is a smaller bird than X. ii. harri. In the former the 
wing is always below 7'5 inches, in the latter nearly always above 
7 '5 inches. 

Y'oung specimens of the Tufted Pochard (fiiJif/ula) have not 
always a very distinct crest, but Mr. Finn has pointed out to me a 
very distinctive character in this duck, and this is the wonderful silky 
or satiny whiteness of the lower parts. Even when the white is not 
very pure, the satin-like texture is most apparent, and serves at once 
to separate the Tufted Pochard from all others. 



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NYROCA FERINA 259 



(39) NYROCA FERINA. 
THE POCHARD OR DUN-BIRD. 

Anas ferina, L., S. Xat. x. ed. i, p. 1'2G (1758) (Sweden). 

Aythya ferina, Jerdon, li. of I. iii, p. 812 ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 26i ; 

Adams, ibid. p. 409; ibid, ii, p. 3-41; Butler, ibid, iv, p. 30; v, 

p. 234 : Ball, ibid, vii, p. 232. 

Puligula ferina, Davids. <£ Wend. S. F. vii, p. 93 ; Hume, ibid. p. 496 ; 
/'/. Cat. No. 968; Hume (f: Marsh. Game-B. iii, p. 347; Legge, B. of 
C. p. 1090; Butler, .S. F. ix, p. 438; Beid, ibid, x, p. 84; Davids, 
ihid. p. 326 ; Taylor, ibid. p. 531 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 412 ; Hume, 
S. F. xi, p. 346. 

Nyroca ferina, Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 335 ; Blanford, Acifaima 
B. I. iv, p. 458 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 309 ; Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. 
xii, p. 603 (1899) ; id. Indian Ducks, p. 217 (1908) ; Hopwood, 
J. B. X. H. S. xviii, p. 433 (1909) ; Hariiigton, ibid, xxi, p. 1088 
(1912) ; Bell, ibid, xxii, p. 400 (1913). 

Description. Adult Male.— Whole head and neck rich deep chestnut, 
changing rather abruptly into the black of the upper hack and breast ; rump 
and upper tail-coverts dull-black ; remainder of upper plumage extremely 
pale clear grey, very finely vermiculated with black bars ; wing-coverts dark 
grey, more or less vermiculated with white ; primaries dark-grey, edged 
outwardly and tipped blackish ; secondaries forming a dull-grey speculum, 
the feathers narrowly tipped whitish and divided from the inner secondaries 
by narrow black borders to two or three of these feathers ; lower breast 
blackish, the feathers more or less fringed white; remainder of lower 
plumage white or very pale grey, sparsely stippled with black, the stipplings 
more numerous towards the vent and flanks; under tail-coverts dull-black ; 
tail dull greyish-brown, tipped paler. 

Occasionally the male has a pure white spot at the apex of the chin, 
a skin lent me by the Bombay Natural History Society having the spot 
more highly developed than in any other specimen I have ever seen. 

Colours of soft parts. — Irides yellow or reddish -yellow ; base and end 
of bill black, intermediate portions varying from pale clear plumbeous-blue 
to rather dull dark-plumbeous ; the legs vary through the same shades 
of grey or plumbeous-blue, dark and blackish on the joints and v?ebs. 

" The irides vary ; they are generally orange-yellow, but I have noted 
them brown in one apparently adult female and lac-red in an old male. 

"The legs and feet are pale bluish or slaty-grey, or dull-leaden, often 



'2C,0 TXPIAN DUCKS 

darker on the joints, and w itii the webs lilack or nearly so. The liills are 
hhxck and bluish-grey or leaden, in v-arying proportions. In some the 
whole bill is black, with only a leaden-coloured crescentic bar on the 
upper mandible towards the tip. In others only the tip and the basal 
portion of the upper mandible to a little Ijeyond the nostrils are black, 
and the whole intervening portion of the upper mandible is leaden-blue ; 
and between these two extremes the In-eadth of the blue band or bar 
varies." 

Measurements. — " Length Ls to aO'-'J inches, expanse 21J'4 to :i'2''2, 
wing 8'5 to 9'.5, tail from vent 2'3o to 3'2, tarsus r4 to 1'5, bill froni 
gape 2'irj to 2'29. Weight I lb. 1.3 ozs. to 2 ll)s. -5 ozs." (Hume.) 

Adult Female. — Forehead and crown dark-brown, fading to dull fulvous- 
brown on the hind-neck, sides of the bead and neck, and thence to pale 
fulvous-grey, or greyish-white, on chin, throat, and fore-neck ; back and 
scapulars greyish-brown, with greyish vermiculations mixed with black, 
the vermiculations varying very much in extent and being sometimes 
almost wanting ; lower l)ack, rump, and upper tail-coverts blackish, the 
external feathers of the rump with a few fine white bars ; tail and wings 
as in the male, but the latter much duller and less vermiculated ; whole 
lower parts pale dull-grey, tinged with rufous-brown on the breast and sides, 
and darker brown towards the vent and under tail-coverts. 

Colours of soft parts. — Irides dull yellow, rarely brown ; liill as in tlie 
male, but generally with the blue more restricted in extent and of a duller 
shade ; legs and feet similar to those of the male, but duller on the 
average. 

Measurements. — " Length 17'25 to 18 inches, expanse 2s'7r) to 31'."), 
wing 7'9 to 8'3, tail from vent 2'2 to 3'1, tarsus 1'4 to 1'5, bill from gape 
2 to 2'19. Weight 1 lb. 5 ozs. to 2 lb. 4 ozs." (Hume.) 

Young Males resemble the females, but have the head much more 
leddish and also paler, and, according to Finn, are usually browner below. 

The Male in undress retains much of his full colour, merely getting 
" a browner head, a dark pencilled -grey In-east, and duller tail-coverts." 
(Finn ' Asian.') 

"Males in first nuptial dress differ from the adults in having the 
chestnut of the head and neck paler, and the black of the breast and 
upper back replaced by dark brown." 

"Young in Down, according to Naumann, are dark brown on the upper 
parts, shading into rusty brown on the head and neck : under parts dirty 
yellowish-white; bill and feet light bluish : irides grey." (Salvadoi-i.) 

Distribution. — The Pochard, Ked-headed Pochard, or Dun-bird, 
as it is variously called, has a very wide distribution, practically 
throughout the Palsearctic region from Iceland to Japan. It breeds 
almost throughout the more southern portions of this area, but 



NYKoCA FEKINA 261 

very rarely to the east, not at all to the extreme east, and it winters 
throughout Southern Europe and Asia, and also in Northern Africa. 
Seebohm (' Birds of the Japanese Empire ') says : — 

" The Pochard occurs both in Yezzo and the more southerly 
Japanese islands, buL whether it be resident or only a winter 
resident there seems to he no evidence to determine." 

Finn, in his popular articles on ducks in the ' Asian,' thus defines 
its Indian area : — 

"It visits Northern India in large numbers; further south it 
is less common, but occurs as far as Bellary. It has not heen 
obtained in Mysore, or further south, nor in Ceylon ; but it is 
not uncommon in Assam and Manipur, and has recently been 
recorded from the neiglibourhood of Mandalay.^ 

This last record probabl\- refers to the three birds shot at 
Mandalay by Captain T. 8. Johnson, in a miscellaneous bag of 
562 ducks and geese, and mentioned by Gates in p. 310 of his 
' Manual of Game-Birds.' 

It is probable that it visits North Burma and the independent 
Burmese States in considerable numbers, for it is common in 
jManipur, whence a large proportion migrate towards Burma, and 
not through Cachar and Sylhet. Hopwood reports it from Arakan 
and Harington from Bhamo. 

I have had it now reported to me from Mysore, where, however, 
it would only appear to be met with on very rare occasions, and 
Captain E. 0. King sent a specimen from Bangalore to the Bombay 
N.H. Society. Hume notes that it has not been recorded from 
Cachar or Sylhet, but it is fairly common in both districts. 

From Kashmir it has also been recorded as forming an item in 
a large bag made by three guns in that state, and again in the 
' Asian ' of the 8th of February, 1898, two Dun-birds are said to 
have formed part of a bag of 508 duck and teal shot by A. E. W. 
in the same state. 

Nidiflcation. — The Pochard breeds extensively over Europe and 
even in northern Africa, in Algiers. It has also been reported as 
breeding in Egypt, but probably by mistake. It also breeds in the 
western half of North Central Asia. 

It makes its nest beside water — generally right at the edfe 



26'Ji INDIAN DUCKS 

ill amongst long grass, reeds, or bushes, and sometimes actually in 
the water itself. Any piece of water would seem to serve the bird's 
purpose, as long as there is sufficient cover- — it requires this fairly 
thick and plentiful— -nor would it seem to mind whether the water 
is fresh, salt, or brackish. 

The nest itself is a very slight structure, composed of the usual 
materials employed by ducks, i.e., grass, rushes, weeds, etc. ; when 
placed actually in the water, it is of necessity somewhat more bulky 
and better put together than at other times, l)ut even then it is 
more flimsy and rough than that of most ducks. 

When situated, as it often is, in some hollow or depression in 
the ground, or among roots, etc., it sometimes consists merely uf 
a couple of handfuls of materials lined densely, as usual, with 
feathers and down. 

Morris says : — ■ 

" The nest of the Pochard is made among rushes or other coarse 
herbage, and is lined with feathers. Many nests are placed near 
each other in suitable localities, such as osier-beds or grassy 
places." 

The eggs are from 8 or 10 to 1'2 or 13 in number and of a 
buff-white colour. 

Dr. Leverkiihn sends me tlie following interesting note from 
Sophia, which confirms what other observers have said as to tlie 
high qualities of the Pochard as a mother : — 

" Nijroca ferina is a regular breeder in different lakes in 
Germany, where I have sometimes taken its nest, and I also 
ascertained the fact of its breeding on a swampy lake near Yarna. 
The female shows great anxiety concerning the safety of her eggs, 
and covers the clutch before leaving with some feathers from the 
bottom of the nest. I found eight and ten eggs in a nest." 

Hume describes the eggs thus : — 

"The eggs are very regular broad ovals; the shell smooth, hut 
dull and glossless. In colour they are a pale, dingy, greenish-drab, 
more or less, in most cases, tinged with yellow. They average 
about 2''! inches in length by 1'7 in breadth." 

The eggs in my collection are dull, rather dark, brownish-drab, 
but have little or no trace of either green or yellow in them, though 



NYHOCA FEEINA 26o 

they may have had this when fresh. In shape and texture they agree 
with Hmne's description, but one egg has a decided, though faint 
gloss. My eggs average about 2'2.5 X 17 inches. As with other 
pochards' eggs, they have a rather fragile shell. 

Hartert gives the following measurements for 110 eggs : — 

-Average Ql'il X ■13'76 mm. {= 2"-ll X 172 inches). 

Maxima 68'0 X 45'5 mm. ( = £68X1'8 inches) and 

CA'O X 46'.j mm. (=2'4 x i_S3 inches). 

Minima .yj_^ x 43'0 mm. ( =££5 X 170 inches) and 

61'0 X :lOJl mm. (^2'i X r5_ inches). 

General Habits. — The Pochard is one of the later ducks to arrive 
iu India. In its northern limits it is seen first in the later half of 
October, but it does not, I think, extend south until well on into 
November. In Bengal, to the east and south, the oid of November 
is as early as one may expect to get it in any numbers, though a 
few will always be seen in the beginning of that month — stragglers, 
perhaps, even earlier. I should not, however, call it a very common 
duck anywhere to the east of the Bengal Presidency, and I remember 
when shooting in the Sundarbands this Pochard was never in any 
but very small numbers, although the country all about there is so 
admirably suited to all its requirements. 

As regards the flocks it collects in, this would seem to depend 
almost entirely on the country it visits, and the accommodation in 
the way of water. Thus, where there are huge jheels, morasses, and 
lakes covered in part with jungle, and in part having open expanses 
of water of some depth, free of vegetation of a heavy character, it 
will be found in thousands ; elsewhere it will be found in small 
flocks, pairs, and rarely single birds. There is practically no kind 
of water that it will not visit sometimes in greater or smaller 
numbers, but preferentially, it leaves alone shallow jheels and 
waters, and also such as have the vegetation everywhere dense ; on 
the other hand, it does not care for quite open water without 
vegetation of any kind whatever. 

Even to this last, however, there is no absolutely fixed rule, for 
it sometimes visits the sea itself, keeping, as a rule, to harbours, 
estuaries, &c. When shot in such places it, like most other ducks 
got under the same circumstances, will be found to have a very rank 



'2G4 INDIAN DUCKS 

and fishy taste, though when shot inland on its more ordinary 
haunts, it is very uniformly excellent in liavour. Its bad flavour 
is, of course, due to its food, which, when it takes to the seashore, 
consists of tiny marine shell-fish, fishes, Sec. ; whereas, when in fresh 
water, it consists mainly of a vegetable diet, though, like all ducks, 
it is more or less omnivorous. 

A near relation to this bird is the famous canvas-back of America, 
so dear to the epicures of that continent, differing little from our 
bird in colouration, though it is rather larger, and also slightly paler 
below. So close are the two birds in appearance, however, that as 
Finn relates, a wretched poulterer in England, who had received, 
and was selling, a consignment of canvas-backs from America in 
ice, was prosecuted for selling Pochards out of season. 

It is a fine, rapid, and graceful swimmer, the water — not land 
or air — being its real element. Finn notes : — " This pochard 
swims particularly low in water, and very much down by the 
stern." 

It is, of course, like all other pochards, a wonderful diver, and 
the greater part of its food is obtained by diving ; but the birds 
will also dive and swim after one another in play, and Hume 
remarks that when thus playing they seem to sit far more lightly 
on the water than at other times. 

Their powers of flight are not equal to those of swimming and 
diving ; once on the wing, they go away at a good pace, but they 
are slow off the water and awkward as well. 

Hume noticed that when there is a wind they always, if possible, 
rise against it. This is not, however, I think, typical any more of 
these ducks than it is of most, if not nearly all, water-birds, as well 
as many land ones. In the old days, when adjutants were so 
common in Calcutta, one could, during the rains, watch one or 
more any day getting up off the maidan there, first expanding its 
huge wings and then going off in ungainly strides until the wind 
worked against it and under its broad sails, when a lusty kick or 
two shot it off the ground. 

On land, too. Pochards are very clumsy and slow , though they 
walk well enough when pushed to it. 

Principally night-feeders, they also feed throughout the day. 



NVROCA FERINA 265 

except in the hottest hours, where they are not interfered with. 
Hume once or twice caught them feeding on wild rice on land, but 
their feeding thus is, I should think, quite exceptional, and nearly 
all their diet is one obtained from fairly deep water amongst roots 
and similar things. 

Normally they would appear to be neither very shy nor yet very 
tame, but it takes very little shooting to make them most decidedly 
the former; and then, owing to their keeping so much in the centre 
of the water the\- frequent, they are b\' no means easy to get 
within shot of. 

I do not remember ever to have heard the Pochard utter any 
sound other than that characterized by Hume and other writers as 
" Jitirr-Jiurr." It is like that of the white-eye, Init harsher and 
louder. 

Latham, in his ' Synopsis of Birds,' says that it "has a hissing 
voice. The flight is rapid and strong ; the flocks have no particular 
shape in flying, but are indiscriminate." 

This flying en 7nasse, and not in line or V-shape, would appear 
to be typical of all the true pochards. 



266 INDIAN DUCKS 



(10) NYROCA NYROCA NYROCA. 
THE WniTE-EYED rOCHAUD OR WIIITE-EYE. 

Aythya nyroca, .IcnJon, B. of I. iii, i>. 813; IIiiiiic, Xcsts and E'lgs, 
p. 615 ; id S. F. i, p. 265 ; Adam, ibid. p. 102 ; Butler, ibid, iv, 
p. :iO; V, p. 231; Davids. .C Wend. ibid, vii, p. 1)3; Ball, ibid. 
p. 232. 

Fuligula nyroca, Unmr, S. F. vii, p. 193 ; ibid. Cat. No. 'J6U ; .S'c-((//^, 
■S'. F. viii, p. 363 ; lliiinr .(' MarsJi. (lanie-B. iii, p. 263; Vidal, S. F. 
ix, p. 93 ; Hnnie, ibid. p. 259 ; Butler, ibid. v. 139 ; Beid, ibid, x, 
]). 81 ; Davidnon, ibid. p. 236 ; Taijlor, ibid. pp. 528, 531 ; Oatcs, 
B. of B. B. ii, p. 287 ; id. Nests and Fijijs [ind etl.), iii, p. 292 ; 
Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 113; Hwine, S. F. xi, p. 317; Sinclair, 
J. B. N. H. S. xiii, p. 192. 

Nyroca ferruginea, Blanford, Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 160. 

Nyroca africana, Salvadon, Cat. B. M., xxvii, p. 315 ; Stuart Baker, 
J. B. X. II. S. xii, p. 266 (1900) ; id. Indian Duels, p. 227 (1908) ; 
Hartniiton, J. B. N. II. S. xxi, p. 1088 (1912); Bell, ibid, xxii, p. 100 
(1913). 

Nyroca nyroca, Oates, iiaine-B. ii, p. 318. 

Description. Male. — Wliole head, necli, and breast ricli nifous, or bay- 
brown, the nape somewhat darlier, a darli collar of brownish-black round 
the neck and thence behind to the back the same colour, a small white spot 
on the chin ; whole upper parts dark blackisli-brown or dull black, the 
feathers of the scapulars and upper back more or less vermiculated witli 
rufous, the vermiculations often almost entirely absent. WinRs as in N. 
baeri, but are said, as a rule, to have the white purer ; I have, however, 
specimens of both species quite inseparable in this respect. Lower plumage 
the same as in N. baeri (see p. 273). 

Colours of soft parts. — Irides white ; bill dull slaty : legs dull, dark slate, 
tinged either with grey or green, and sometimes mottled about the joints. 

" The bill is black, bluish-black and dark leaden, often browner below ; 
the irides white or greyish-white ; the legs and toes slate-colour, leaden or 
dusky-grey ; the tarsi often with a greenish tinge ; tiic claws and webs dusky 
to black." {Hume). 

Measurements.— Length aijout 17 inches, wing 71, tail 3'3, tarsus 1'2, 
bill from front r56, from extreme base 1'96, width at front '78 and at base 
61. 

" Length 16 to 17 1 inches, expanse 21'5 lu 27'3, wing 6'8 lo 715, tail 



> 




^1 



1^ 




UJ 

> 

uJ 

UJ 

\- 

T. 



X 
UJ 

X 



o 

i- 



z 



NYROCA NYROCA NYROCA 267 

from vent 3'1 to 3'5, tarsus I'l to l"-i, bill from gape Vd to 2'1. Weight 
1 Hi. 2 ozs. to 1 lb. 9 ozs." (Ilitmr.) 

Adult Female.— Similar to the male, but with the whole plumage duller, 
the head and breast more brown tlian rufous, and ill-defined from the 
abdomen, which is itself much sullied, except in very old females. 

Colours of soft parts.— Legs, feet, and bill as in the male ; irides grey or 
l)i()\vnish-gi-ey, sometimes white in very old females. 

Measurements. — Length al)oiit l(i inches, wing about seven, tail about 
;]'.'j, bill generally rather smaller tlian that of the male, imt sometimes 
reaching the full dimensions given above. 

" Length 15'9 to 16'o inches, expanse 2J; to 2(j'5, wing G'S to 7'i, tail 
from vent 3 to 3'-t, tarsus 1 to 1'2"), bill from gai)e 1'9 to 2'5. Weight 
1 lb. 3 ozs. to 1 lb. 6 ozs." [Hume.) 

Young Male.— Similar to the female, but with the wliole head and breast 
nmch suffused with ochraceous, and the centre of the abdomen with the 
broad blown bases to the feathers showing prominently : the back is lighter 
also than in the old female, with the pale borders to the feathers well- 
defined. 

Scully, quoted by Hume, thus describes two young birds : — 

cf .juv., 30th Jidy. "Length 16'1 inches, expanse 21, wing o\, tail 2"-i, 
tarsus I'l, bill from gape 1'75. Weight 15'5 ozs. Bill dusky, livid below ; 
irides dark brown ; legs and feet mottled dusky : claws black." 

? juv., 18th July. "Length 15'7 inches, expanse 26 2, wing 7'5, tail 
2'1, tarsus 1'2, bill from gape 19. Weight lo'-l ozs. Bill black above, grey- 
slaty below; irides brownish-grey: legs and toes dusky plumbeous, webs 
greyish-black: claws black." 

Young in first plumage. — " Head and neck brown, with scarcely any 
chestnut tinge on the sides of the head ; breast and under parts brown, 
paler, almost whitish on the abdomen ; under tail-coverts dull whitish." 
(.S'rt/iY((/c);7.) 

" Young in Down are dark brown on the upper parts, with pale spots on 
wings aud scapulars ; under parts buff, shading into brown on the flanks." 
[Seebohm.) 

Distribution. — Salvadori thus defines the limits of the White-eye : — 

" Western Palaearctic region, as far east as the Valley of theObb ; 
breeds in the basin of the Mediterranean, in Central and Eastern 
Europe, and in Western Asia as far as Kashmir : in winter it extends 
in Africa as far south as the Canaries on the w^est and Abyssinia on 
the east ; in Asia as far south as India and Arrakan." 

In India the White-eye is extremely common over the whole of 
the northern portion, though it becomes less so to the east of 
longitude 9', being still found, however, in considerable num- 



26H INDIAN DUCKS 

bers throughout Assam, Manipur, Cachar, Sylhet, Chittagong, and 
Southern Burma. 

As regards the last mentioned, however, some of the records may 
refer to the Eastern White-eyed Pochard. 

As it wanders south, it appears to get more and more rare, but it 
is not easy to trace its extreme southern limit. To the extreme west, 
Vidal got it at a place called Khed, in Katnagiri, about latitude 
17° 4'. Mr, P, M. Allen records having shot a pair of White-eyes 
in the Nizam's territory at Nalgouda, latitude 17"' 22'. Then to 
the east coast, Hume says, " I have failed to trace it ; it is not 
recorded from . . . one of the Madras districts south of Mysore 
and the town of Madras." This would infer that he has had records 
of it as far south as Madras; but I cannot find any traces of them. 
In Burma it lias only been recorded as far south as Arakan. 

Nidification. — This is one of the very few migratory ducks which 
In'eed regularly within our limits. As to its breeding in the plains, 
Hume writes ; — 

" The White Eye breeds possibly in some localities in the plains 
of India, and in Sind, where it swarms during the cold weather, and 
where 1 was informed that in some broads it remained during the 
whole year. I have never, however, succeeded in finding a nest or 
obtaining any relialile information as to one being found in the plains." 

This was written nearly forty years ago, and the reliable infor- 
mation is still wanting; so that it is only fair to presume that the 
duck does not breed in the plains. 

In Kashmir it breeds regularly and in very great numbers, so 
large, indeed, that the collecting of the eggs of this duck and of the 
mallard, and bringing them into Srinagar by boats for sale, formed a 
regular and profitable profession with a number of the people living in 
the vicinity of their breeding-haunts. The practice has now been 
prohibited, and the ducks are said to be fZccreasing in numbers. The 
nest is an ordinary structure of fair dimensions, made in the usual 
duck fashion of reeds, grasses, etc , and is, in India at least, nearly 
always placed either very close to the water or in the water itself 
amongst the vegetation growing in the shallows. Inside the nest 
there are, of course, feathers and down in greater or smaller amounts, 
frequently not much ; but, in addition to this, there appears generally 



NYROCA NYROCA NYROCA -IC'd 

to be a sort of subsidiary lining composed of grasses and weeds fiueL- 
than are used in the body of the nest. This characteristic of the nest 
is rather marked in contrast to the majority of other ducks' nests, but 
it is well authenticated and worthy of notice. 

Where the birds are most numerous, several nests may be found 
in close proximity to one another ; and as the birds are close sitters, 
finding them is a matter of little difficulty. 

In Kashmir the first few birds breed in the end of April, but not 
many till the beginning of -Tune ; and it was in this month that the 
regular trade in their eggs used to commence. They appear to lay 
from six to ten eggs, possibly one or two more occasionally ; but such 
occasions cannot be frequent, as Hume's collectors never succeeded in 
finding more than ten. 

In the basin of the [Mediterranean they would seem sometimes to 
place their nests in cover, some little distance from the water, for 
Lord Lilford, who found its nest in Southern Spain, writes : — 

We obtained a nest of nine eggs, from wliieli I shot the female 
bird. The nest was at a short distance from the water, in high 
rushes, and was composed of dead dry water-plants, flags, etc., and 
lined with thick brownish-white down and a few white feathers." 

In Eastern Europe, also, it is said to sometimes lay twelve eggs, 
and I have one record from Turkey of fourteen eggs having been 
laid in a nest. This nest also, I may add. was placed a considerable 
distance from water, in amongst bushes. The colour of the egg varies 
from pale drab to a quite deep cafv-au-lait, the latter colour, if dark, 
being unusual. In a few eggs there is a faint yellow or greenish 
tinge ; but the greatly predominating tint is a brown or cafi-au-lait, 
and nine out of ten will be found to be of this colour. 

The shape is, as a rule, rather a long oval, very regular, and it 
varies but little. Hume says : — 

" They are commonly very regular and perfect ovals, moderately 
broad, as a rule, but occasionally considerably elongated and slightly 
compressed towards one end." 

In my series I have no eggs thus compressed ; all are just about 
the same at either end. The texture is fine and close, but dis- 
tinctly more porous than the average duck's egg : and the eggs, in 
consequence, are very liable to discolouration. The surface is 
smooth, but has no gloss. 



270 INDIAN DUCKR 

Hume's eggs vary in length ))etween 111 ;infl '1''2 iiiclies, and in 
In'eadth between 1'4 and 1'5-i. I kave two eggs '2'2r) inches long, but 
in all others both breadth and length come within these extremes ; 
on the other hand, whereas Hume's series average 2"1 X 1'49 inches, 
mine average 2'12 X 1'45, showing them, as I have already said, to 
he rather narrower and longer proportionately. 

General Habits. — The kind of water preferred by the pochard is 
that also which forms the favourite resort of the White-eyed 
Pochard. I have, however, found them in all and any sort of water. 
Wandering up and down the hill-streams, clear deep pools and 
rushing torrents of shallow water following one another in rapid 
succession, I have often disturbed small flocks of the White-eye ; 
and I have equally often found a pair or a small flock in the very 
dirtiest and smallest pools of stagnant water. It is often found in 
sea-water, vide Sinclair, who says that it is " the sea-duck of the 
Alibag coast." where they " ride generally just outside the surf, 
where they are safe from disturbance from passing boats." 

Where there are wide stretches of water, clear here and there in 
patches, but for the most part covered with water-plants, and with 
shores thickly lined with weeds, I'i.-c, the White-eye assembles in 
vast numbers, but not in very large flocks. These (the flocks) may 
number anything between half-a-dozen and over fifty, but even of 
the latter number there will be but few. Then, again, the birds 
lie so scattered and far apart that they keep rising in ones and twos, 
giving the impression that they are only consorting in pairs or very 
small flocks, and of course many single birds and jiairs are really 
met with. 

As showing the numbers in which these ducks are found in 
suitable localities, it is worth notice that, in the ' Asian,' a bag of 
ducks was recorded as having been shot in Chapra, which contained 
I^ST) duck ; but out of this no less than 187 were White-eyes. No 
doubt their manner of rising is a very admiral)le trait for any duck 
to possess, and the White-eye has other good points as well. As a 
rule it is a decidedly tame bird, still lingering in amongst the reeds 
and other jungle long after nearly all other ducks have left, rising 
well within shot when disturbed, and often not going far before again 
seeking the water. It gets off the water badly, fluttering about and 



NYROCA NYROCA NYROCA '^(1 

rising very obliquely ; nor does it rise high when well on the wing, 
Imt generall\- flies within a few yards of the surface of the water, 
getting on considerable pace when once fairly away. It requires 
straight shooting to kill outright, for it is a hardy, close-pluiuaged 
little bird, and will take a lot of shot. Hit, but not killed, it is very 
far from caught, for it is a wonderful diver ; quick and strong under 
water, it makes for the dense undergrowth, where it hides, or if 
dropped in the open dives for such long periods and goes so far and 
fast that the gunner never knows where to expect it, and when he 
may get his second barrel into it. All its good qualities are, 
however, quite overshadowed l)y the fact that when shot and caught 
it is no longer worth anything, for so rank and coarse is the flesh 
generally, that it is quite uneatable. The condemnation of the 
White-eye as an article of food is not, however, universal ; thus, 
Colonel Irby speaks of the bird as found in Spain : — 

" Its flesh is not only, like tliat of the Red-Headed and Red- 
Crested Pochards, excellent eating, hut far surpasses either in that 
respect." 

Even here, in India, Captain Baldwin once wrote : — 
" It is only a tolerable bird for the table." 

But Mr. F. Finn goes one better than tolerable, and writes in 
the ' Asian': "It is said to be very poor eating, luit I have found 
it to be palatable enough." Tastes differ, however, and there may 
be others to agree with INIessrs. Finn and Baldwin, but personally 
I have nearly always found it unpalatable in the extreme — fishy, 
oily, and rank, though on one occasion in Dibrugarh I shot some 
which turned out really excellent eating. 

Omnivorous, like all ducks, this species probably makes its diet 
fully three-quarters animal. Those birds which I shot in the Diyang 
and other hill-streams had all (in addition to the caddis-grubs, 
dragon-fly larvte, and similar articles) swallowed quite a number of 
small fish, some of them three inches in length. These were all, 
or nearly all, of the small ' Miller's Thumb ' species, so common in 
every hill-stream. Doubtless these, from their sluggish disposition 
and their ostrich-like habits of hiding their heads under a stone 
and then resting in fancied security, fell a very easy prey to the 
active White-eye. 



'272 INDIAN nrc'Ks 

On hiod, tliis little pochard is quite out of his element: it ran 
walk all right, and get along well enough for purposes of slow 
progression, but he is very awkward and shuffling in its movements, 
and incapable of any appreciable increase in the speed of them under 
the impulse of fear. 

It is, on the whole, a very silent bird. Hume says that : — 

" Their quack or note is peculiar, though something like tliat of 
Ihe Pocliard, a harsh ' koor, kirr, kirr,' with which one soon becomes 
acquainted, as they invariahly utter it ' staccato ' as they hustle up 
from the rushes, often within a few yards of the boats." 

It is in reference to this bird, and Captain Baldwin's note on 
the frequency he has shot it without an\- feet — not without one only, 
but without either — that Hnme raises the point as to how their feet 
have been lost, etc., and says that he himself has killed more than 
fifty birds thus maimed. Frost-bite he dismisses from the list of 
probable causes, and in this most of us will join him. But what 
then, is the cause '' Crocodiles would not, as a rule, take a foot at 
a time; traps are shown to be very unlikely agents; and one is 
thrown back on the fish theory. This is an extremely likely one ; 
for I have myself known domestic ducks to lose their limbs from the 
attacks of a huge pike — indeed, when the birds were young and 
weak, they often lost, not their feet only, but their lives also. 
Ducklings constantly disappear in this manner. As there are many 
other fish quite as voracious as the pike in other climates, this would 
account very reasonably for so man\ birds losing one or more limbs. 



Plate XXVI. 







BAERS POCHARD or EASTERN WHITE-EYE. 

Nyroca n. baeri. 

^3- nat. . size. 



NYROCA NYROCA BAERI 273 



(41) NYROCA NYROCA BAERI. 
THE EASTERN WHITE-EYE. 

Anas nyroca, GuhlcnstdiU New. Cumin. Sc. rdropol, xiv. i, p. 40;] (17G9), 

(South Eussia). 
Fuligula baeri, F,nn,r. A. S. B. 189G, p. fil ; id. J. A. S. Ti. Ixvi.pt- 2, 

p. 525; 111. IikJmii Jiiickf:, .Lsiaii, 1899. 
Nyroca baeri, Salvaduri, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 344 ; Blanford, Avifauna 

B. I. iv, p. 4G1; Oatcs, Game-B. ii, p. 328; S/;/rt7-i! Baker, 

J. B. N. II. S., xii, p. (ilO (1899) ; id. Indian I>Hck.s. p. 223 (1908) ; 

Hnjnvood, J. B. N. H. S. xxi, p. 1221 (1912) ; Hiciginx, ibid, xxii, 

p. 399 (1914) ; Stevens, ibid, xxiii, p. 735 (1915) ; Higgins, ibid, xxiv, 

p. 606 (1916). 

Description. Adult Male.— A large spot at the angle of the chin pure 
white ; the remainder of the head and neck black, glossed with green ; breast 
rufous-chestnut, that colour merging into the black of the head, but sharply 
defined from tlie white of the abdomen and under tail-coverts ; the feathers 
of the vent brownish at the base ; fianks rufous-brown ; upper parts dark- 
brown ; the scapulars and interscapulars very finely covered with narrow 
bars of lighter brown ; vent and upper tail-coverts brownish -l)lack, a few of 
the feathers at the sides finely vermiculated with white ; tail brown ; wing- 
coverts dark-brown ; the outer secondaries white with a broad subterminal 
black band; quills brown, the inner webs of the primaries greyish-brown ; 
the inner secondaries very dark brown, in good specimens very narrowly 
margined black on nearly tlie whole of the outer web and glossed with olive- 
green . 

Colours of soft parts.— " Feet lead-grey, with the joints darker; irides 
white or pale yellow-." (Salvadori.) 

Bill dull slate-blue, the basal third, tip, and nail black ; irides white ; legs 
and feet greyish-leaden, joints and webs darker. 

Measurements.— " Length 18 to 20 inches, wing 8'2 to 9'5, bill from 
point of forehead 1'75, from extreme base 2'2, from gape 2'1, breadth at base 
'73, and at broadest part '86, tarsus 1'4. 

Adult Female. — Like the male, but the head is blackish-brown unglossed 
with green, and has the anterior part rufous ; the spot on the chin appears to 
be smaller, and the throat and lower part of the neck are more rufescent and 
paler ; the whole tone of the bird is duller, and the definition between the 
breast and abdomen is blurred and indistinct, while the abdomen itself 
appears to be a sullied, not pure, white. 

Colours of soft parts. — Irides grey or brown, perhaps white in very old 
females ; bill and feet as in the male, but still duller. 

18 



274 INDIAN DUCKS 

" The eyes of the female are l)rown, rarely grey or whitish." (Finn). 

Measurements.— Length about 16 inches, wing about T!j, tail 2'3, bill 
from point of forehead 1'7, from extreme base 1'98, from gape 1'9, in breadth 
'61, and at widest part '85, tarsus about 1'4. 

"The female is smaller than the male, especially about the bill; Init 
females in this species appear to vary in size much more than the males, and, 
as in the Tufted Pochard, some are much duller and less like the males than 
others." (Finn.) 

A young male in my possession has the whole head mottled brown and 
black, the new black feathers showing the sheen of the usual green gloss ; 
the breast is a queer mixture of dirty yellowish-brown and the deep rufous 
or bay of the adult bird ; the lower abdomen and vent are mixed brown and 
white. 

Another young male exactly answers to the description above given for 
the female, but that the definition between breast and abdomen is very sharp, 
and the olive gloss on the wing is highly developed. 

Baer's Pochard is the eastern form of the common white-eyed pochard, 
to which it is very closely allied, yet, as far as fully adult birds are concerned, 
in the case of which it is very easily distinguishable, it would appear to 
average a much heavier, bulkier bird ; and all the birds in my collection, 
among them two received through Mr. Finn, have proportionately the bill 
much larger, both longer and wider. Neither Blanford, Salvadori, nor 
anyone else, as far as I can gather, seems to have noticed this ; but to me, 
when specimens of the two subspecies lie side by side, this great difference 
in the bills is what first draws attention. 

Of course, my series is a very small one, and it is quite possible that large 
series might show intermediate sizes in both races. 

Distribution. — The range of this duck extends, according to 
Salvadori, from Kamtschatka to Shanghai and Japan; it descends 
south in winter into South China and Burma, and less often into 
India. 

Mr. Finn, who has kindly given me carfe blanche to use his notes, 
thus sums up the records of its appearance in India : — 

" It was apparently obtained in Bengal in 1825, and Blyth 
certainly got one female in the Calcutta Bazaar in 1842 or 1843, but 
did not identify it, which is not surprising, seeing that it had not then 
been recognized as a species. Then, at the end of February, 1896, I 
got eleven full-plumaged birds, and since then the species has come in 
greater or less numbers every cold weather. I have got three males 
and a female this month (the former from a dealer), and saw what 
was either a small dull female or a hybrid with the common White- 
eye about the middle of January. We have other birds in plumage 
intermediate between the two White-eyes, and I therefore now think 
that 'they jnter-breed." 



NYROCA NYROCA BAERI 275 

Mr. Finn does not think that Baer's Pochartl has been a common 
form merely overlooked. Certainly, as he says to me in epistold, 
Baer's Pochard when adult cannot well be mistaken for the Common 
White-eye. Blyth's bird was a young female, and therefore, of 
course, very much like a Common White-eye. It may be, therefore, 
that there was just a temporary, unaccountable rush of this form to 
India, and that it will again cease to appear. 

At the same time it seems probable from Mr. Finn's observations 
in Calcutta that the Eastern White-eye will prove a regular and not 
uncommon visitor to the North-eastern parts of India, and, almost 
equally surely, to Northern Burma. My own collectors on two 
occasions obtained a young male in Cachar ; they seemed to know the 
bird, and called it the " boro lalbigar," or " Larger White-eye." 
When questioned they said it was a rare but regular visitor to Cachar, 
and a more common one in Sylhet, whence they offered to procure 
me specimens. 

Mr. Gates assumes that the present bird is the common form of 
White-eye procured in Cachar, Sylhet, Manipur and Burma. This, 
however, is distinctly not correct as regards the first-mentioned three 
localities, in which the Eastern or Baer's White-eye is infinitely more 
rare than the common white-eye. I have myself shot over the 
districts of Lakhimpur, Tezpur (rarely), Gowhatty, Cachar, and 
Sylhet, and in all of these it is the Common White-eye which is the 
typical local form, though from all these districts, except Gowhatty, 
I have obtained one or more specimens of Baer's bird. 

Manipur has been shot over by many keen sportsmen who were 
also good observers, and in one or two cases good field-ornithologists 
as well, and I cannot believe that none of these would have noticed 
Baer's Pochard if it had been in any way common. All specimens 
sent me from Manipur have been of the western form, and I have 
no doubt that it is the typical form of that State. It, however, 
does occur there from time to time, and Higgins has recorded five 
birds being shot near Imphal, whilst Colonel Campbell also obtained 
one there in March, 1913. 

As regards Burma, I cannot dogmatize, but I should note that 
when I tried my utmost for three years to get specimens of Baer's 
Pochard from both North and South Burma, I only succeeded in 



276 INDIAN DrCKS 

getting two or three from the Shan States and one from near 
Bhamo ; all the others sent me were fine specimens of the Common 
White-eye. I think the inference to be drawn is that, even in 
Burma, Baer's Pochard is not the common type, and the only other 
record so far in Burma is that of Hopwood, who said he saw half-a- 
dozen, and shot two, in Arakan, and a single bird in the Chindwin. 

Nidification. — Seebohiu, in his ' Birds of the Japanese Empire,' 
says that "the Siberian White-Eyed Duck breeds in the valley of 
the Amoor." This is the only note of its breeding which I can 
find. 

It is probable that in nidification it will differ in no way from 
the Common White-eye, though we may expect to find its eggs to 
average somewhat larger, and the single egg in my possession bears 
this out. It is a very dirty dull-coloured drab, in shape a broad 
regular ellipse, and it measures 2'91 X 1'51 inches. It has no gloss, 
and the texture is exactly the same as that of N. ii. uyroca. 

General Habits. — Again indenting on Finn, I quote from the 
' Asian ' : — 

" No one seems to have had much opportunity of observing this 
duck in a wild state, and my own observations have been restricted 
to captives. It is a better walker than most Pochards, and, I liave 
fancied, hardly so fine a diver. It certainly, judging from the birds 
in the fine water-aviary in the Alipore Zoological Gardens, rises 
more easily on the wing, and flies with less effort than other 
Pochards. I notice that at Alipore our birds can rise well up into 
the roof and fly roiind and round like the surface-feeding ducks. 
The species appears to stand the heat less well than the common 
white eye, and probably breeds in a higher latitude. I am ashamed 
to say that, having bad more to do with this species than anyone, I 
do not know how it tastes." 

I ate part of the flesh of one of my birds, and it was not at all 
good, not even good enough to finisli. 

I remember about 1898-99, Mr. J. Kennedy, then Deputy Com- 
missioner, Cachar, shot a White-eye up in the North Cachar Hills, 
which attracted my notice from its great weight and very dark 
glossy head. I was not then specially interested in duck, except 
when on the table, and put the bird down as an abnormally coloured 
and very large Common White-eye ; but now I have no doubt that it 
was a good specimen of the Eastern White-eye. 



NTROCA NYROCA BAERI 277 

The bird was one of a flock of aljout a dozen or less, which we 
sighted flying up-stream on the River Diyung, a mountain stream 
consisting of rushing rapids and deep still pools of water in alterna- 
tion. We followed them up and found the birds in a deep, but very 
rapid narrow, which in one place widened out and made an eddying 
pool on either side, in which the ducks were swimming. 

On our approach they got up, but Mr. Kennedy fired and knocked 
one over ; it was only winged and fell into the torrent, leading us a 
pretty dance before we eventually secured it. The great pace of the 
water seemed to have no appreciable effect on it, either in diving or 
in swimming, for it dashed backwards and forwards with the greatest 
ease, kept long under water, and turned and twisted with great 
agility. At last a snap-shot, as it showed itself for a moment, 
brought it to hand. 

I remember the duck, though it must have been a very fully adult 
male, had bright yellow irides. The bird was so rank and fishy 
that we could not stand it on the table. 

Two of my collectors (Mahomedans), who had lived all their lives 
in Cachar and Sylhet, said that this White-eye is a faster, stronger 
bird on the wing than the Common White-eye, an equally good diver 
and swimmer, and much more shy and wary. 



278 INDIAN DUCKS 



(42) NYROCA MARILA. 
THE SCAUP. 

Anas marila, Linn. Faun. Sire. Ed. ii, p. 39 (1761) (Lapland). 
Fuligula marila, Jcrdon, B. of I. iii, p. 814 ; Hume, S. F. viii, p. 115 ; 

ibid. Cat. No. 970 ; Hume it Marsh. Game-B. iii, p. 272 ; Hiune, S. F. 

X, pp. 168, 174; Stoker, tbid. p. 424; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 41.3; 

Salvadori, Cat. B.M. xxvii, p. 355; Oates, Game-B. W, p. 337; Stuart 

Baler, J. B. N. H. S., xiii, p. 2 (1900) ; id. Indian Ducks, p. 234 

(1908). 
Nyroca marila, Blanford, Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 462 ; Wall, J. B. N. H. S. 

xvi, p. 367. 

Description. Adult Male. — " Head, neck, upper part of the breast and 
of the back black ; sides of the head and upper neck glossed with green ; 
rest of the back and scapulars white, narrowly barred with black ; rump, 
upper and under tail-coverts black ; lower breast, abdomen, and sides white ; 
the vent somewhat greyish; the sides with black barrings; upper wing- 
coverts l)lackish, finely vermiculated with white ; secondaries white, forming 
the speculum, which is bounded below by a blackish band, in some 
specimens more or less freckled with white; terfcials blackish with a green 
gloss, the larger ones more or less finely dusted with whitish ; primaries 
greyish-brown, from the fourth quill with a whitish area on the inner web, 
the tips black ; the marginal under wing-coverts greyish-brown, dusted with 
white, the remainder, as well as the axillaries, white ; tail blackish ; bill 
and legs light lead-grey, webs and nail of the bill blackish ; iris yellow. 
Total length about 18 inches, wing 9'25, tail 2'9, culmen I'S, tarsus 1'4." 
{Salvadori.) 

Male. Measurements and colours of soft parts. — " Length 200 inches, 
expanse 32'0, wing 9'0, tail from insertion of feathers 2'75, tarsus 1"42, bill 
along ridge 2'0. The bill is light greyish-blue or dull lead-colour, with the 
nail blaokisli ; the iris rich yellow ; the edges of the eyelids dusky ; the 
feet pale greyish-blue, darker on the joints; the membranes dusky; the 
claws black." {Macgillivray .) 

Adult Female. — " Forehead, lores, and more or less of the chin white, 
encircling the base of the bill ; rest of head, neck, upper back, and upper 
breast brown, the last mixed with white and passing into the white of the 
abdomen, not sharply defined as iir the male ; back and scapulars vermi- 
culated brown and white, flanks the same but with more white ; rump, 
upper tail-coverts, and tail dusky brown ; wings as in the male but duller 
and browner." {Blanford.) 



NYKOCA MAKILA 279 

Measurements.—" Length IS'O inches, expanse 28'0, wing .S'75, tail 2'5, 
tarsus 1'33, bill along ridge 1'83." 

Colours of soft parts.— " Bill as in the male, but darker; the feet dull 
leaden-grey, with the webs dusky." (MacoilUvnuj.) 

" Young' Male has the white at the base of the bill like the adult female, 
but it is of a darker and richer colour." {Salvadori.) 

Hume's young male had the wing only 7'9 inches ; bill straight from 
base to tip 1"7, and at its greatest width '87. 

" The very young female is equally like the young Nyroca, but it has the 
chin, throat, and a portion of the lores white, only a little speckled with 
rufous-brown (which white is not exhibited in any of my young White- 
eyes), besides the characteristic bill so much broader than those of young 
Nyroca of the same age and sex." (Hume.) 

The measurements of a young female were: wing 7'1 inches; bill 
straight from base to tip I'S, and at its widest part '78. 

Young in Down. — " Crown, nape, and upper parts uniform dark olive- 
brown ; throat, sides of the bead, and fore part of the neck yellowish-white ; 
a dull greyish band crosses the lower neck, rest of the underparts dull 
yellowish, the flanks greyish yellow ; upper mandible blackish, tooth of the 
beak yellowish ; under mandible yellow." {Dresser.) 

Distribution. — The Scaup is a duck of very northern latitudes, 
breeding in the Palaearctic and Nearctic Regions in the extreme 
North of Europe, Asia, and America up to, if not beyond, north-east 
latitude 70°, in Asia. In the winter it extends south to the basin 
of the Mediterranean, Southern Kussia, and Asia Minor, and Central 
and South-central Asia, as far south as Northern India, South China, 
and Japan and Formosa, whilst in America it extends as far south 
(vide Salvadori) as Guatemala. In Africa it does not extend south 
at all ; von Heuglin and, after him, Seebohm record it from 
Abyssinia ; but Salvadori says in the ' Catalogue ' most emphatically, 
" not (to my knowledge) reaching Abyssinia." Even here the 
southern limits given are rarely attained, large numbers of birds 
remaining all the winter north of latitude 40°. The Scaup is only 
a very rare winter visitor to Northern India, and up to the date of 
the publication of the fourth volume of the ' Fauna of British India,' 
I can find no other record of its occurrence outside those noted by 
Blanford, viz. : — 

" Isolated occurrences have been recorded from Kashmir, Kulu 
and Nepal in the Himalayas, and the neighbourhood of Attock, 
Gurgaou near Delhi, and Karachi in the plains of India, and even 
Bombay." 



280 INDIAN DUCKS 

The last was recorded in the ' Bombay Natural History Society's 
Journal,' by Mr. J. D. Inverarity,"who shot a female on a small 
tank near Panwell on January 18th, 1884. 

" Colonel McMaster is of the opinion that one year, in January, 
he saw several birds of this species, on marshes and salt lakes, 
between Chicacole and Berhampur, in the Northern Circars (say 
190° N. lat.), and the male is a bird that so esperienced a sportsman 
could hardly mistake for any other species that occurs there." 

I do not know if Colonel McMaster said that they were adult 
birds that be saw, if so, perhaps — probably in fact — he was not 
mistaken ; but if they were the common form of young bird usually 
found in India, he might very well indeed have been mistaken. 
It was an unlikely thing, too, that he should have seen several birds 
when they are of such rare occurrence. On the other hand, I think 
there is no doubt that a great many young birds are yearly missed 
owing to these being mistaken for young pochards of other kinds. 

In addition to those already recorded, I have had the following 
pass through my hands : A fine adult male, procured in the Calcutta 
bazaar in 1907, but where it was taken the dealer could not tell me. 
A young female sent me as a specimen of the eastern white-eye, 
fiom Chittagong, and shot on the coast. A young female shot by 
Mr. Moore in Lakhimpur in January, 1904. Finally, two specimens 
shot by myself in the same district, one in March, 1902, and one in 
November, 1903. On the former occasion the bird was a single 
one in company with a flight of crested pochards ; on the second 
occasion there was a flock of about a dozen birds, but after I had 
shot one and missed another as they were driven overhead, I never 
saw them again. 

Captain Wall has recorded the Scaup from Oudh, and quotes 
abstracts from the Sporting Diary of the Eev. J. Gompertz, which 
shows that gentleman to have shot no less than eleven specimens 
between 1897 and 1904 inclusive, all in Oudh. 

Possibly the most likely place for this bird to be met with in 
India would be the coast about the Gulf of Cutch, and north to 
Karachi, as the Scaup, by preference, is a sea bird. Such as are 
met with in India are doubtless " moving on " in hopes of getting 
to some coast eventually. Even in China they wander further south 



NYROCA MARILA 281 

along the coast, and are far more commonly met with there than 
they are inland. When they are met with inland it will be generally 
found that they keep to great lakes, such as Lake Baikal, Lake 
Balkast and the Sea of Ural, etc. ; in these vast extents of water they 
can live, according to their wont, on the water altogether, taking 
neither to land nor air, except in cases of emergency, and spending 
their time diving for food or resting asleep on it just as they would 
on the sea itself. 

Nidification. — The Scaup is one of the most northernly breeding 
of ducks, having been observed breeding, as already noted, at least 
as far north as lat. 70 '. As to its breeding within Indian limits, 
this, in spite of Hume's young bird being caught in Kashmir, is 
most unlikely ever to be found to be the case. 

The description of the nest, as given by various writers, differs 
greatly : one says it is a scanty affair of grasses and weeds, etc., 
without any down in it at all — a rare thing this with ducks' nests ; 
whilst others say that the nest, though of few materials and very 
roughly formed, is yet well lined with down and feathers, not only 
enough to form the lining itself, but sufficient to make a bed in 
which the eggs lie quite covered, 

Its position also seems to vary very much. As a rule, it is placed 
close to water in a depression under cover of some sort, or else in 
amongst fairly dense vegetation ; at other times — this, it appears, 
but rarely — in a hole in the ground, and sometimes in the open 
amongst stones, where there is no cover. In the latter case, no 
doubt, it is in the bleaker parts, where vegetation close to water is 
scant, and where, also, there is not much to interfere with the 
birds' breeding arrangements. According to Dresser : — 

Not unfrequeutly several females deposit their eggs in the same 
nest; and Dr. Kriiper states that in Iceland be once found twenty- 
two eggs in one nest. The eggs are deposited from the early part of 
June to the middle of July, and when the female commences to 
incubate she sits very close, not leaving the nest until the intruder 
is close to it. I possess a nest and seven eggs of this duck, taken 
by Mr. Meves, in Oland, on the 5th July, 1)^71. This nest consists 
only of grass, without any down as lining, and the eggs are uniform 
greyish stone-buff iu colour, and vary in size from 2'45 X 1'67 to 
2'5 X 1'77 inches." 



282 INDIAN DUCKS 

The only eggs I have ever seen were taken in Iceland on the 
KJth June ; these are dull cafc-au-kiit, with a grey tinge. In shape 
they are rather broad, very regular ovals, and the texture of the egg 
is much like that of the egg of Nyroca nyroca, but not, I think, quite 
so soft or porous. There is no gloss. 

Dr. Paul Leverkiihn informs me that Mr. Baer, of Neisse, in 
Silesia, found the Scaup breeding in Germany. Previously it had 
only been known to visit Germany in winter. Dr. Leverkiihn him- 
self obtained many specimens on the coast of the Baltic Sea. 

General Habits. — Although, once well away on the wing, the flight 
of Scaup is fairly fast and strong, they are exceedingly slow and 
clumsy in getting off the water, their manner of so doing having 
been likened by various observers to that of the coot ; that is to 
say, they rise very obliquely, splashing noisily along the surface for 
some yards before getting clear of it, and, once clear, still taking 
some time to get up their speed. When driven, however, from a 
long distance, enabling them to get fully into their stride, I found 
that they can work up a very creditable pace, indeed they quite 
deceived me, my first shot at driven birds being a yard behind, and 
even the second, which brought down a bird, was not enough 
forward. 

On land they are perhaps, even more awkward in commencing 
to fly than on the water, and it must be, indeed, severe pressure 
which can induce them to change their slow waddle into a quicker 
shuffle. They have the repute of not being wild birds, and of being 
fairly easy of approach on the water, and, when hard pressed, of 
frequently preferring to attempt escape by diving rather than by 
taking flight. So great, however, are their diving powers that they 
are perhaps as difficult to bring to bag as are the wilder birds which 
more quickly take to wing. Wounded only, it is as likely as not 
the bird may escape, as it is almost impossible to follow its move- 
ments, and when it does appear on the surface, it again disappears 
with such rapidity that it takes a gunner of some smartness to get 
a shot at it and finish it off. 

The food of the Scaup is everywhere chiefly of an animal character. 
Inland, doubtless, it feeds to a certain extent on water-weeds, etc., 
these being mainly such as grow at some depth and are obtained by 



NYROCA MARILA 288 

diving ; but even here shell-fish, frogs, insects, and small fish, form 
the greater part of its diet. AVhen in its natural element, on the 
sea, in creeks, estuaries, or along the coast, it is almost entirely an 
animal-feeder, subsisting on shell-fish, fish, and other marine life. 

Its name is derived from its habit of feeding on mussels, the beds 
on which the masses of shell-fish lie being known as mussel-scaups, 
or mussel-scalps (Blanford and Newton), and in Norfolk I have heard 
both fresh and salt-water mussels called sculps, though the term is 
usually applied more to the latter than to the former. Hume, 
quoting Montague, says that : — 

" Both the male and the female have a peculiar habit of tossing 
up their heads and opening their bills, which in spring is continued 
for a considerable time, while they are swimming and sporting on 
the water, and they emit a grunting sort of cry." 

The voice of the Scaup is thus described by Beebohm : — 

Of all the cries of the ducks that have come under my notice, 
I think that of the Scaup is the most discordant. None of them 
are very musical, perliaps ; but if you imagine a man with an ex- 
ceptionally harsh, hoarse voice screaming out the word scan}) at 
the top of his voice, some idea of the note of this duck may be 
formed. It is said that when this harsh note is uttered the opening 
of the bill is accompanied with a peculiar toss of the head. The 
ordinary alarm-note during flight is a grating sound like that made 
by the Tufted Duck." 

Its flesh, as might be expected, is quite unfit, as a rule, for the 
table, and the most flattering terms I have known applied to it 
are Macgillivray's to the effect that " it is not tlrought much of 
for the table, its flesh being rather rank." 



284 INDIAN DUCKS 



(43) NYROCA PULIGULA. 

THE CEESTED POCHARD OR TUFTED POCHARD. 

Anas fuligula, Linn. S. N. x. eJ. i, p, 128 (1758) (Sweden). 

Fuligula cristata, Jcnion, B. of I. iii, p. 815: Butler, S. F. iv, p. 31 ; 

id. ihid. V, p. 234 ; Ball, ihid. vii, p. 232 ; Hume, ,hul. p. 490 ; /(/. 

Cat. No. 971 : JIumc d'- Marsh. Ganic-B. iii, p. 277 ; Hume, S. F. viii, 

p. 115; Vidal. ibnl. ix, p. 93; Butlrr. ,hid. p. 439; Rcid, ihid. x, 

p. 85; Davidson, ihid. p. 32(3; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 414; Ilitmc, 

S. F. xi, p. 347. 
Fulix cristata, Huiue, S. F. i, p. 265 ; Davids, d- Wend. ihid. x'u, p. 93. 
Fuligula fuligula, Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 363 ; Oates, Game-B. 

ii, p. 348 ; Stuart Baker, J. B. N. II. S., xiii, p. 6 (1900) ; id. Indian 

Duchs, p. 239 (1908). 
Nyroca fuligula, Blanford, Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 463; Ilopirood, 

J. B. N. II. S. xviii, p. 433 (1908) ; Ilanmjton, ihid. xix, p. 379 

(1910) ; Bell, ibid, xxii, p. 400 (1913). 

Description. Adult Male. — Whole head, neck, back, rump, tail. In-east, 
wing-coverts, under tail-coverts, and innermost flanks black. On the head 
there is a certain amount of green gloss on the sides, and the crest and 
nape have purple reflections ; the back, scapulars, and more or less of the 
wing-coverts have a very fine powdering of white, so fine as to often 
require careful looking for before being found, and never enough to have 
any influence on the prevailing tint ; primaries dark brown, the inner web 
of the first wliitish at the base, fading into brown elsewhere, the white on 
each quill increasing in extent until, on tlie innermost, only the terminal 
half-inch is dark. In all the quills the definition between white and brown 
is gradual, not abrupt, the two colours gradually blending; outer secondaries 
white with black tips; inner secondaries black, glossed with green. Abdomen 
white, sharply defined from the breast, but more or less mottled near the 
black flanks. Irides bright yellow ; bill deep slate, tipped black ; legs dull 
lead-colour. 

Measurements. — Length about 17 inches, tail 2'1 to 3'0, wing 7'6 to 
8'5, tarsus 1'5 ; bill straight from front to tip 1'52 to 1'75, at widest point 
0'86 to 0'90, and at narrowest 0'G5 to 0'70 ; crest from 1'75 to 2'72. 

Males.--" Length 16'6 to 17'2 inches, expanse 27'5 to 30'3, wing 7'8 to 
8'5, tail from vent 2'5 to 3'25, tarsus 1'3 to 1'4, bill from gape 1'85 to 2'0. 
Weight 1 lb. 8 ozs. to 2 lbs. 4 oz." 

Colours of soft parts. — " la adults the bills vary from dull leaden to 



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NYROCA FDLIGULA 285 

light greyish-blue, the nail and extreme tip being black ; the irides are golden 
yellow ; the legs and feet vary like the bill ; there is often an olivaceous 
tinge, especially on the tarsus, the joints have usually a dusky tinge, the 
webs vary from dusky to almost black, and the claws from deep brown to 
black." {Hume.) 

Adult Female. — Similar to the male, but has the black replaced by 
brown, and the definition between the brown breast and the abdomen very 
much blurred and mottled. A bird sent me from the Indian Museum, 
Calcutta, has the whole of the lower parts rufescent, and tliey are mottled 
everywhere with pale-brown, except on the very centre of the abdomen. 

Colours of soft parts. — The colours of the soft parts are the same as in 
the male, but generally duller. 

Measurements.—" Length lo'2 to IG'T.j inches, expanse 26'7 to 287, 
wing 7'G to S'O, tail from vent 2'6 to 3'0, tarsus 1'2 to 1'4, bill from gape 
1"81 to 2'0. Weight 1 lb. 5 ozs. to 1 lb. 12 ozs." {Hume.) 

Crest about 1 to nearly 2 inches, rarely more than 1'5. 

A very fine young male in my collection is like the adult, but has the 
breast colour weakly defined, has no gloss on the head, and has a white face 
extending back fully half an inch from the base of the upper mandible. In 
this bird the white feathers of the outer secondaries have black shafts, and 
have also a narrow black margin to the outer webs. 

" Young- in first plumage.— Closely resemble tlie adult females, but are 
paler brown, especially on tlie chin and throat, and have no metallic-green 
gloss on the innermost secondaries ; there are many white feathers at the 
base of the bill. 

" Males in post-nuptial dress have white margins to the black feathers 
of the breast, a shorter crest, no green or purple gloss on the head, and a 
small white spot on the chin." {Salcadori.) 

" Males in moulting plumage are intermediate in colour between males 
in first plumage and males in post-nuptial plumage. 

" Young in down are dark brown, shading into nearly white on the belly." 
{Seebohia.) 

Distribution. — Salvadori thus defines the habitat of the Tufted 
Pochard : — 

" Palaearctic region from the Atlantic to the Pacific ; in the 
Ethiopian region it extends as far south as Shoa, and apparently 
breeds in the high lakes of Abyssinia ; in winter in South China, 
Japan, and India, but not in Ceylon or Burma ; accidental in the 
Malay Archipelago (Philippines and Borneo), and in the Polynesian 
Islands (Marianne Island and Pelew Islands)." 

As regards its distribution in India, Hume gives very full details. 
He vprites : — 



286 INDIAN DUCKS 

" Very rarely seen in the Himalayas, the Tutted Pochard is some- 
what thinly distrihuted in tR'e cold season in the Punjab and the 
Doab, is scarce in Rajpootana, more common in Eohilkhand and 
Oudh, and less so in the Central Provinces and Bundelkhand. 

In Sind it is not very abundant ; in Cutch more ; in Kathiawar 
and Gujerat, in the Central Indian agency, Khandesh, and tlie Deccan 
fairly common. 

" In Bengal, Cis-Brahmapootra, it has Ijeen noted from many 
districts, but I believe it to be rather scarce there, though my infor- 
mation on the subject is scant. Damant records it, and some of 
Godwin-Austen's people procured it from Manipur ; but I have no 
information of its occurrence east of Brahmapootra, whether in 
Assam, Cachar, Sylhet, Tipperah, Chittagong, or any portion of 
British Burma ; I do not doubt that it straggles into many of these, 
but the fact has yet to be ascertained. 

" It occurs in places in very large flocks in Chota Nagpur, the 
Northern Circars, and the Nizam's dominions, straggling by the v?ay 
at times into Southern Konkan. It has been shot at Bellary, and 
certainly, though rare there, visits Mysore ; but south of this I have 
heard of it nowhere in the Peninsula, except in the north of the 
Coimbatore district, nor has it yet been recorded from Ceylon. Here, 
too, however, our information is very imperfect, and stragglers will 
probably turn up in many districts where the species has not yet 
been noticed." 

Then in a footnote he says : — 

" This species has not been recorded from Kashmir." 

In 1906, however, in the 'Asian,' in the same bag as that to which 
I referred in a previous chapter as having been obtained by A. B. W. 
in Kashmir, two Tufted Ducks are recorded as having formed part of 
the bag. There can be little doubt that it occurs constantly, but not 
in large numbers, in that State. It is not common, but at the same 
time may be met with fairly regularly, throughout Assam, Cachar, 
Sylhet, and Chittagong ; Mr. E. S. Routh, Superintendent of the Hill 
Section of the A.-B. Ry., shot two fine specimens on '2Ist November, 
1898, on a large tank in the station of Haflong, North Cachar ; and I 
have an immature male in my collection, shot by one of my men in 
Cachar, as well as two young females. I have it recorded from Sylhet, 
and it is the most common of all the pochards in Lakhimpur. It was 
plentiful at Dimagi and Sissi, and I saw it in all the rivers,the Suban- 
rika and smaller streams, about Patalipam and North Lakhim)nir, its 



NYROCA FULIGULA 287 

very black plumage making it very easily distinguishable. Recently 
it has been recorded as having been shot in Burma, near Mandalay, 
and it is also recorded from Bhamo, Arakan, and the Chindwin by 
Hopwood and Harington. Gates, in 'Game-Birds,' records that out of 
the bag of 5(J'2 ducks already referred to as having been shot by Capt. 
Johnson and party, no less than 122 were of this species ; Major 
Eippon also mformed him that this duck v^^as to be found all over the 
Shan States, though Gates himself did not meet with it anywhere in 
Lower Burma. It will doubtless prove to occur plentifully throughout 
the northern part at least of that province, and probably in small 
numbers, as far south as the north of Tenasserim. 

Nidification. — The Tafted Duck breeds, as far as we know, 
throughout the northern portion of its range, and in some parts very 
far south. Thus it is known with comparative certainty to breed in 
some of the upland lakes of Abyssinia, in Southern Europe in many 
countries, and in Central Asia. The nest is typically rather a slight 
affair, made more of grass and bents, and less often of reeds, rushes 
and water-plants, than are most ducks' nests. The lining, which is 
generally very plentiful, is said by Dresser to be of " sooty brownish- 
black down, having all greyish-white centres." The nest may lie 
placed either close to the water or actually at the edge, never, as far 
as I can learn from anything recorded, actually in the water itself. 
The water may be either fresh or salt, an inland lake far from the 
shore, or an estuary or creek of the sea itself ; as a rule, the nest is 
placed amongst either grass or bushes, but sometimes quite out in the 
open, amongst stones, etc. This sort of situation is not, however, it 
would seem, as often selected by the Tufted Duck as it is by the 
Scaup, nor can I find any mention of its placing its nest in holes as 
does the latter bird. 

Dr. Leverktihn sends me an interesting note on the breeding of 
this duck. He says {in epistold) : — 

" Fuligula fuligiila is a very common bird on the great lakes of 
Hungary, Slavonia, Germany, and Bulgaria, and I have taken many 
of its nests during the month of May. The duck, when frightened 
and leaving its nest, covers the eggs with all the contents — which 
there may be at the moment — of her intestinal tractus ; for the 
oologist it is hard work to clean them afterwards. 

" One nest I found was covered in, in a very beautiful manner. 



288 INDIAN DUCKS 

by tips of the grass siirrountling t!ie nesting-place ; one would have 
said that this particular d-uck had known the art of sewing, so 
finely had she joined the grass-helms together, probably with her 
bill." 

Most naturalists note that the eggs vary from six to ten in 
number, less, therefore, than in many other ducks' clutches ; but 
Seebohm says, " the number of eggs is usually ten or twelve, but 
sometimes only eight are laid, and occasionally as many as thirteen." 
Dresser describes the eggs as uniform pale olive-green, or greenish- 
buff in colour, smooth and polished in texture of shell, and in size 
averaging about 2'3 X 1'65 inches. WoUey's egg, figured by 
Hewitson, is of exactly the same size. 

Morris figures the egg as like that of the Scaup, but longer and 
proportionately narrower. In colour it is rather a bright pale buff. 

As regards the breeding he says : — 

" These birds breed along the stony shores of the sides of the 
inland waters, among the cover of vegetation, more or less thick, 
with which they arc usually bordered. 

" The receptacle for the eggs — for it can hardly be called a nest — 
is composed of stalks and grasses. 

" Tlie eggs vary in number from eight to ten. They are of a pale 
buff colour with a tinge of green. 

' The male bird leaves the female after she has liegun to sit." 

Gates records tlie measurements as being between '2'1^> and 2 -i 
inches in length, and l';');'} and l'(J5 in breadth. 

My own eggs varied a good deal more than these, as my largest 
is 2-4G X 1'68 inches, and my smallest 2-] 5 X 1'50. 

Finn's remarks on the cross-breeding of this bird is worth noting 
and remembering by sportsmen who get hold of birds beyond their 
power to discriminate : — 

" It breeds more freely in captivity than do Pochards in general, 
and in the London Zoological Gardens crossed in 1849 with the 
White-eye, the resulting hybrids continuing to lireed eitlier inter se 
or with the original parents for more than ten years, a fact to be 
remembered in dealing with doubtful Pochards, which should 
therefore, whenever possible, be submitted to some authority for 
identification." 

General Habits. — This Pochard is one that essentially requires 
open water, and in preference resorts to wide expanses of water 
some considerable depth in the centre, though more or less weed 



NYROCA FULIGULA 289 

and rush overgrown round the shores. Where such pieces of water 
are to be found, the Tufted Pochard may be obtained in no incon- 
siderable numbers ; at the same time it is unusual to find it in 
any but small parties and pairs, and single birds are more often to 
be met with than even such. Sometimes, however, it does consort 
in very large numbers, vide Hume, who says : — 

Single birds or small parties may be found on almost any 
broads in which the water is tolerably deep in some places, but tbe 
huge flocks in which they love to congregate are only met with on 
large lakes, just as I have above referred to. 

At the Manchar Lake I saw two enormous flocks. I have 
repeatedly seen similar flocks in old times at Najjafgarh and other 
vast jhils in the Punjaub, the North-west Provinces, and Oudh ; 
and I should guess that at the Kunkrowli Lake, in Oodeypore, 
there must have been nearly ten thousand, covering the whole centre 
of the lake." 

Such flocks as these are, however, only to be met with in the 
provinces mentioned ; in the Eastern Provinces a flock of forty is 
very large, and about all we may expect to meet with. 

Just as expert as are the rest of the pochards on or in the water, 
it excels the majority of these — perhaps not A", baeri — in getting away 
from it. It rises with less fluster, noise, and splashing than is 
caused by the rising of other pochards, and also gets off the water 
more quickly and gets more quickly into its stride, if I may use such 
an expression. Indeed, when frightened, it flies at a great pace, 
nearly equalling the pintail, and exceeding most other ducks. On 
land, however, feeble as are other pochards, this, according to Finn, 
is worse still. He says, in the ' Asian ' : — 

'■ On land it moves more awkwardly than any other Pochard 
I know, hobbling as if lame in both feet." 

However abundant it may be, the Tufted Pochard does not, as a 
rule, form a very large portion of a bag in a day's shooting. This 
is due to the difficulty, first, in approaching the birds — for they are 
decidedly wild and shy — and, secondly, in getting a shot when once 
one has got within reach. If the bird does not escape at once by 
diving, swimming, or flight, it is sure to dive before, at any rate, the 
sportsman has time to get a shot, and once it has seen him and had 
its first dive it is very problematical as to whether he will es'er get a 
19 



290 INDIAN DUCKS 

shot again. It is worth remembering, should one come across a flock 
in any large piece of water, Hume's maxim that Tufted Pochards will 
not leave the water they are on until after dark. He gives one of 
his usual graphic descriptions of a shoot in which Tufted Pochards 
played the principal part, and describes how, after a fusillade from 
ten guns, no more than five (!) birds were collected out of a huge 
fiock of ducks diving all round about them. 

Knowing their habits, however, he waited until he and his fellow- 
sportsmen were going over the same beat the next day, and then, 
extending in a long line, they worked backwards and forwards, and 
this time the birds rising in front were at each beat gradually forced 
to the end of the water. After arriving at this they had to fl} back 
overhead, and in this way they were accounted for to the tune of 
over sixty ducks. 

They are not to be often found on open tanks, whose shores are 
free of jungle, nor on rivers ; but I have once or twice seen pairs on 
the Megna, and at other times have met \n ith them on tanks al)solutely 
free of all vegetation. The pair shot by Mr. Kouth in Haflong were 
on an artificial tank with no vestige of water-plants about it, as it had 
not been a year in existence. I found also that when leaving and 
entering India, and during the months of March and early April and 
in October, these little ducks were quite common on all the hill 
streams and rivers where they debouch into the plains. 

Their cry is the typical, harsh ' kir ' or ' kurr,' of the Pochard 
family ; but they are silent birds on the whole, and seldom indulge in 
vociferations of any sort. 

This duck's food is almost entirely animal, much the same, in fact, 
as that of the scaup, but it is far more a fresh-water bird, and far less 
a sea-bird, than is that duck, though common enough on the coast- 
line along the greater part of its habitat. It is, of course, a poor 
article of food, though here, again, tastes differ, and some people 
say it is not bad. Hume, who was particular about his table ducks, 
said that he had found some " good enough," and that some sports- 
men had told him that they were excellent ! 

Tufted ducks feed principally during the daytime, but migrate and 
move from one place to another after sunset. They do not ever appear 
to have been found feeding on land, but should they ever do so, the 
probability is that they only thus feed during the night. 



GLAUCIONETTA 291 



Genus GLAUCIONETTA. 

The genus Glaucionetta is a very small one, containing only three 
species of birds which range throughout the Northern Hemisphere. 
Of these three, only one, Glaucionetta dangida, reaches India, and 
even this only occurs with extreme rarity. The most noticeable 
thing in this genus, and one which at once separates it from all its 
closest allies, is the position of the nostrils, which are rather nearer 
the tip than the base of the bill, the position being well shown in 
the woodcut in Blanford's fourth volume of the ' Fauna of British 
India.' In many respects in its anatomy it closely approaches the 
Mergansers, and it is a sort of link between them and the more 
typical ducks. 

As the generic term Clangula cannot be used, the correct name 
appears to be Stegneger's name Glaucionetta, and not Bucephalus. 



(4i) GLAUCIONETTA CLANGULA. 

THE GOLDEN-EYE. 

Anas glaucion, Linn. S. N. x. ed. p. 126 (1758) (Sweden). 

Clangula glaucion, Hnwe, S. F. iv, p. 225 ; id. ibid, vii, pp. 441, 464 and 
505 ; id. Cat. No. 961, bis ; Hume £ Marsh. Game-B. iii, p 185 ; Reid, 
S. F. X, p. 85 : Stoker, il>id. p. 424 : Barnes, B. of Bovi. p. 413 ; Salva- 
dori. Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. .376 ; Blanford, Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 464 ; 
Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xiii, p. 13 (1900) ; Yerbury, ibid- p. 533 ; 
Macdonald, ibid. p. 700; Stuart Baker, ibid, xv, p. 348; id. Indian 
Ducks, p. 246 (1908). Osmaston, J. B. N. H. S. xxii, p. 549 (1913) ; 
Dchnc-Radcliffe, tlvd. xxiv, p. 169 (1915). 

Clangula clangula, Dates, Game-B. ii, p. 358. 

Bucephalus clangula clangula, Hartert, Voq. Pal. p. 1346 (1920). 



292 INDIAN DUCKS 

Description. Adult Male. — ''Head and upper neck dark glossy-green, 
the feathers on the crown and nape somewhat elongated ; chin and throat 
black ; a roundish white patch on the cheeks near the base of the upper 
mandible ; lower neck, breast, and under parts white ; on the sides of the 
vent the feathers have the bases slaty-grey showing through ; feathers of 
the flanks edged above wdth black, the longer ones on both weljs : back, 
rump, and upper tail-coverts black ; inner scapulars black, the outer ones 
viihite, longer scapulars with a white band about the middle ; wings black, 
with a large white patch covering the central wing-coverts and the outer 
secondaries ; the inner secondaries l)lack ; under wing-coverts greyish-black ; 
tail blaekish-gre>' : bill bluish-ljlack ; irides golden-yellow; feet orange- 
yellow ; the webs dusky. 

Colours of soft parts.— '■ Bill black in the male .... tlie eyes are 
yellow and the feet yellow with black webs. ' (/<'. Finn.) 

" The irides are bright yellow in the females and young males, reddish 
or orange-yellow in old males, white or very pale yellow in the quite young 
birds. The naked edges of the eyelids reddish-dusky ; the legs and feet 
vary from pale yellow in the young to intense orange in the old ; the colour 
is always bright and pure; the webs (including that of hind-toe), nails, 
and a spot on each of the toe-joints, black or dusky. The bill of the old 
male is liluish or greenish-ljlack, rather duskier and duller coloured in the 
old females and young, and occasionally in these latter, often in the former, 
and very rarely in the old males, with a larger or smaller yellowish-red or 
orange spot or bar near the tip of the upper mandible, which in some forms 
the terminal band at the tips of hutli mandibles, never, however, including 
the nail, which always remains black or dusky." [Huinc.) 

Measurements. — "Total length about is inches, wing 8'9, tail 4, culmen 
r4, tarsus 1'45." (Salvaduri.) 

Female. — " Head and upper neck hair-brown ; a dull white collar round 
the lower neck ; upper parts blackish ; mantle, scapulars, and upper wing- 
coverts with pale greyish edges; breast greyish, with the edges of the 
feathers whitish : lower parts white ; sides and Hanks dull grey, the feathers 
edged with white : median wing-coverts brown tipped with whitish, the 
greater ones white tipped with brown; outer secondaries white; the white 
on the wing is defined by the brown band at the tip of the greater coverts ; 
quills dusky brown : tail dull greyish ; bill brownish-lilack, in some specimens 
the tip, except the nail, is yellow ; irides and legs and toes as in the male. 
Total length 17 inches, wing 7'7, culmen 1'35." (Salcndon.) 

Colours of soft parts.— "The bill is blackish in the female and young, 
sometimes with a yellow patch at the tip." (F. Finn.) 

Measurements. Females.—" Length lo'7 to 1(;'5 inches, expanse 2G 3 to 
28, wing 7'5 to 8'25 ; tail from vent y'O to 3'4, tarsus 1'22 to 1'35, bill from 
gape l'r2 to 1'19. Weight 1 lb. 7 ozs. to 1 lb. 14 ozs." (Hnmc.) 

Young in first plumag'e resemljlo adult females, l)ut are duller in colour; 
the pale collar round the neck is much more obscure and the grey feathers 
on the breast have white margins. 



GLAUCIONETTA CLANGULA 293 

" Males in first nuptial dress have less white on the scapulars, the wliite 
on the hind lower neck is mottled with lirown, as is also the white sjiot at 
the hase of the bill. 

Males in moulting plumage resemble adult females, except that they 
retain the white wing of the adult male. 

" Young in Down are dark brown on the upper parts, and paler brown 
on the breast and flanks, shading into white on the throat and into pale 
grey on the belly." {Salradori.) 

Distribution. — This is a northern form of duck, breeding in 
Northern Europe and Asia. In \vinter it migrates to Southern 
Europe, and rarely only into e.xtreme North Africa. In Asia it 
occurs as far south as Persia, China, and Japan, and as a straggler 
enters Northern India and Southern China. The American form is 
separated from our lurd under the name of G. c. americana. The 
occurrence of the Golden-eye in India, as I have already said, is 
only as a straggler, and a very rare one too ; all the notes as to its 
occurrence in 'Game-birds' are that Sir A. Barnes got it on the Indus 
in Sind nearly sixty years ago, and that Dr. Bonavia obtained a fine 
male about 1870, which was captured by fowlers near Lucknow. 

After ' Game-Birds " was written, Hume evidently got other 
specimens, for in the British Museum are two specimens got by 
E. N. Stoker, which were presented by Hume with the rest of his 
collection. These two birds w'ere obtained, one at Hassanpur, and 
one at Ghazi, both in the month of December. There is so little 
on record about this duck in India, and ' Stray Feathers ' is now so 
hard to get, that I reproduce the greater part of Stoker's notes on 
his specimen. 

" I have now to record shooting near Ghazi, on the Indus, a 

female Golden 'Eiye {Clangidarjlaucion). I saw one drake and four 

ducks, but unfortunately only succeeded in getting one of the latter. 

"This measured: length 15'75 inches, expanse '26'5, tail .3'G6, 

bill from gape 1'66. Weight 1 lb. 5 ozs. 

" The irides were a bright pale-yellow ; the feet bright yellowish- 
orange, with dark lilackish webs ; bill black at base and tip, with a 
medial yellow band about 0'25 mm. in width." 

In the same letter, in a P.S., he continues : — 

" Since this was written I have shot another Golden Eye, a bird 
of the year. ... A third bird, precisely like this second, was 
shot by an officer here, but hitherto the drake has resisted all our 
attempts to assassinate him. 



294 INDIAN DUCKS 

I showed the first bird to a very intelligent native at Ghazi, 
and he assured me that thoy. appeared there every year regularly, 
and that three years ago he shot one. I am certain that I shot a 
duck of this species some three years ago. It puzzled me at the 
time, but now I have no doubt what it was." 

Then, in a second letter, Mr. Stoker again writes : — 

" Since I last wrote, I have succeeded in obtaining a fine drake 
Golden Eye, which I am sending you. 

There wei-e four of them together in a little stream opposite the 
village of Hassanpur. 

"The natives called them 'Burgee,' the ' bur ' pronounced as 
in burrow. Burgee, I believe, only means patches of black and 
white. 

Mr. Barlow informs me that these ducks come to Ghazi every 
winter. 

" This drake measures : wing 9'0 inches .... 

" We all said what a heavy bird, but it only weighed 1 Hi. 10 ozs., 
which is 6 ozs. less than the lightest weight given by Hume for an 
adult male. 

.... The stomach contained fish, weeds, and sand. 
With this drake was procured a female similar to those 
formerly sent. It was wounded, and was put in a cage, and 
unfortunately was allowed to escape. 

We may now set down the Garrot or Golden Eye as a regular 
winter visitant to the Punjauli portion, at any rate, of the Indus, 
and as Barnes procured it near the mouth of the Indus, it most 
probal)ly occurs throughout the length of that river. But can it be 
confined to the Indus ? Surely, if properly looked for, it will be 
discovei'ed in the Chenab and other Punjaub rivers. Is it purely a 
river duck with us, or will it also occur in jheels '? Other sports- 
men in the Punjaub must help us to settle these questions. 

" P.S. My last Golden Eye is a young female, weight 1 lb. .3 ozs., 
.... it was seen with a number of others on a little pool. There 
were no other ducks about." 

Thus Stoker seems to have got no less than five specimens, and 
a sixth was got liy an officer whom he does not name. Barnes got 
one other, and these are all that had hitherto been recorded ; but in 
consequence of my noting in the original article on this duck in the 
B.N.H.S. Journal to the following effect : — 

None have been since met with, so that it looks as if Stoker's 
queries as to its regular appearance must be answered in the 
negative." 



GLAUCIONETTA CLANGULA 295 

Colonel Yerbury wrote to the Journal (in Joe. cit.) as follows: — 

In the Chack Plains, on tiie Ijanks of the Indus above Attock, 
the Golden Eye is a regular, and by no means rare cold weather 
visitant. 

"On referring to my old Shikar diary, I find the following 
records regarding it : — 

I. Azgar, 26th December, '85 (2 spec. 2 2). 
II. Azgar, 27th December, '85 (1 do. <? immature). 

III. Azgar, 8th February, '86 (2 do. uusexed). 

IV. River Indus between Attock and Azgar, 24th February, '86 

(1 spec, unsexed). 
' On the latter date I was in company with Dr. Stoker, and we 
shot up-stream from Attock along the banks of the river to Gaziabad, 
returning the next day to .\ttock by boat. 

I can find no records of shooting any specimens during the 
cold weather of 1886-87, but I think this was probably due to my 
having refrained from shooting them, the duck being useless for 
the table. 

" A brief description of the locality affected by the species may 
be of interest. The River Indus, after having been mucli narrowed 
above Torbela, by the near approach of the mountains on each side, 
widens out at the Chack Plain to a considerable breadth (possil)ly 
six or seven miles in places), to be again constricted at Attock. In 
the Chack Plain, where the river is widest, there are numerous 
islands in the bed of the stream, and it is in the channel between the 
islands and the banks of the river that the Golden Eye lies. A 
similar widening of the river takes place below, further south, below 
Kalabagh, and there, probably too, the species will turn up. 

" I never met with this species away from the river, and, like 
Dr. Stoker, generally found it in flocks of four or five individuals 
.... The most interesting piece of information given me by my 
informants was the short period they considered the species to be 
away from the neighbourhood ; they said it was absent only during 
three months — April, May and .Tune — but I had no opportunity of 
verifying this statement." 

In 1903, on the '25th April, Mr. Morton Eden sent me a duck to 
identify, which had been shot by him in Sadiya, Lakhimpur district. 
With this skin he sent the accompanying note : — 

" I think it is a Golden-eye .... it is not a rare bird above 
Sampura.'' 

In answer to a letter from me, Mr. Morton Eden then sent me 
the following interesting account of what he had observed : — 



29(j INDIAN DUCKS 

" I shot this bird on tlie 3rd February last, a few miles above 
Sampura. I was coming down-stream at the time, when the bird, 
whicli was by itself, got up a long way down and flew up-stream, 
passing my boat at a distance of some fifty yards, and I fired at and 
dropped it. 

" Above Sampura, and up to and beyond Sidharoo, the Golden- 
eye is not at all uncommon, and I must have seen a hundred or 
more last January and February. They occur either singly, or in 
small flocks of eight to ten birds ; they are wild, and will not let a 
boat come anywhere near them, but rise 100 to 150 yards off. and 
generally make a fairly long flight before again settling. 

" They always flew off when disturbed, and I never saw them 
try to escape by diving. 

" In the early morning I saw them on several occasions flighting 
with Mergansers; their flight is rapid and much like that of the 
Tufted Pochard, but not (juite, I tiiink, so rapid as that of the 
White-eyed Pochard. 

" I may mention that I shot a Golden-eye about ten miles from 
here (Sibsagar) in the cold weather of 1885-6. I sent the skin 
down to Calcutta, and I think they now have it in the Indian 
Museum." 

The rivers mentioned by Mr. Morton Eden in the earlier part 
of his notes are in the Badiya subdivision of Lakhimpur, and are 
practically hill-rivers of rapid-running clear water. They are of 
considerable size, even where they just debouch from the mountains, 
and are the haunts of Golden-eyes, Mergansers, Ibis-bills, and pro- 
bably many other rare water-birds. 

I have, since Mr. ]\Iorton Eden sent me his notes, seen the 
Golden-eye on several of the hill-streams in the same district. 
Upon the Subansiri, a magnificent stream of deep still pools and 
madly-running rapids, I saw this little duck nearly every time I 
visited it in the cold-weatlier months, and what I saw fully agreed 
with his remarks. Only on one occasion did I get really near to it, 
and this was once when I was stalking a bull buffalo. The buffalo 
had crossed a back-water, and was standing on the far bank, so I 
approached the edge of the water on my side with the greatest 
caution, and halted behind a bush growing almost in it, in order to 
reconnoitre. The buffalo went off before I could get a shot, but I 
was rewarded for my care in seeing six Golden-eye playing about 
in the water within ten yards of me. They were chasing one 



GLADCIONETTA CLANG DLA 297 

another about, and scattering the shallow water in every direction. 
It was not deep enough to admit of long dives, and the birds 
principally got about by skittering along, half swimming, half 
flying along the surface of it. Every now and then two birds 
would stop and begin bowing and bobbing to one another ; this 
would continue for a minute or two, and then away they would go 
and join in the rough-and-tumble games of the other birds. In 
the course of their chases of one another they would sometimes come 
within a yard or two of where I was hiding, but it was not until I 
had watched them for a good half-hour that one of them saw me, 
and was on the wing at once with a loud squawk, repeated by the 
other birds as they followed suit. This was the only loud noise they 
made, though they made a very faint sound, half chattering, half 
quacking, as they played together. 

I also shot a female Golden-eye at the Hinjri bheel in north 
Lakhimpur, on the ISth December, l'.)01. This bird was in com- 
pany with a flock of gadwall, and I saw no others either on this or 
on any of the adjoining bheels. It tiew well with the gadwall, but 
looked conspicuously smaller, and when I fired I thought it was 
merely a white-eyed pochard. 

In 1911 a number of Golden-eye must have visited India, for 
Mr. Dempster sent two specimens, and Mr. Hughes one specimen 
from Jhelum to the Bombay Natural History Society, whilst a 
fourth was also sent from Eoorki by Mr. Cunningham, and the 
same year Mr. Hope Simpson killed two at Gorakhpur. 

Delme-Eadcliffe records that they appear yearly on the Khushtil 
Khan Lake in Baluchistan and are shot. 

Nidification. — Normally the Golden-eye breeds in hollows in trees, 
or, less often, in holes in the ground, in banks, or in rocks, but 
sometimes it makes a nest on the ground in the same manner as 
most other ducks. In the latter case the nest is usually rather 
scanty and ill-formed, but with a thick lining. 

Seebohm, writing of this species, observes : — 

" But the most remarkable fact in the history of the Golden Eye 
is its habit of occasionally perching on the bare l:>ranch of some 
forest tree, and of discovering a hole in the trunk, sometimes quite 
a small one, but leading to a hollow inside, where it deposits its eggs 



298 INDIAN DUCKS 

on the rotten cliips of wood without any nest, like a woodpecker. 
These breeding-places are socnetimes a considerable distance from 
the ground. In the valley of the Petchora I have seen one at least 
twenty-five feet from the ground ; but one I saw in the valley of 
the Yenesay was not more than half as high. It has been seen to 
convey its young one by one down to the water pressed between its 
Ijill and its breast." 

Dresser's remarks re the breeding of the Golden-eye have been 
already quoted by Hume, and I again reproduce part of them : — 

In the north of Finland, in Sweden, and in Norway, it nests in 
hollow trees, either near to or at some distance from the water, and 
very frequently in the nest-boxes which the peasants hang up for 
water-fowl to breed in. These are frequently hung up close to the 
peasants' huts : and even then the Golden Eye will nest in them. 
The bottom of a hollow tree oi' nest-box is neatly lined with down ; 
and on this soft bed the eggs, which vary in number from ten or 
twelve to seventeen or even nineteen, are deposited. When hatched, 
the young birds are carried by the female in her beak down to the 
ground, or to tlie water, one after another being taken down until 
the whole brood is taken in safety from the elevated breeding-])lace, 
and I have been assured by the peasants that this always takes 
place in the dead of the night. Tlie eggs of this duck are dull 
greyish-green, uniform in tinge, and rather glossy in texture of shell, 
oval in shape, and in size average about 2'4 X 1'55 inches ; and the 
down with which the nest is lined is sooty greyish-white, the tips of 
the down being rather darker than the central portion." 

It would seem that, in the majority of cases, Golden-eye select 
sites by fresh water for breeding-purposes, but they also sometimes 
breed on or near the coast. 

Dates describes the nest-down as pale lavender-grey with paler 
centres. 

The British Museum eggs vary in length from '2'1 to 2'4 inches, 
and in breadth Ijetween 1'55 and 1'75. Gates says that in colour 
they are greyish-green of different shades. 

I have parts of two clutches of eggs of this duck in my collection, 
both of which I owe to the generosity of Herr Kuschel, of Breslau. 
The first clutch, which are marked " Barepta, Siid-Eussiand, 4th 
May, 1889," are the greenest ducks' eggs I have ever seen, quite 
a vivid stone-green, though the three vary a little, inter se, in 
brightness of tint and intensity of colour. The texture is very fine 



CtLAUCionetta clanCtULa 299 

and close, with an extremely smooth surface and a strong gloss. 
The shape of two of these eggs is a very regular broad oval, of the 
third a narrower oval with one end decidedly compressed and smaller 
than the other, but not at all pointed. 

The other three eggs are similar, but less intensely green. 

Hartert gives the measurements of 170 eggs as follows : — 

Average 55'19 x 42'.55 mm. ( = 2"17 X 1'68 inches) 
Maxima G7"0 x 39'5 mm. ( = '^'(iS X l',5.5 inches) and 

60'0 X 4£0 mm. ( = 2'37 x rj? inches) 

Minima oS'O X 41'0 mm. ( ^ 2_0£ X I'eO inches) and 

55'0 X srrj. mm. ( = 217 X rsS inches). 
Morris says : — 

" The Golden Eye builds in the vicinity of lakes and rivers, giving 
a preference to the latter, particularly such as flow over falls and 
rapids. The Laplanders place boxes with holes in them in the 
trees in these localities for the birds to build in, and thus procure 
the eggs, for the boxes are sure to be resorted to for the purpose of 
laying in. 

The nest is made of rushes and other herbage lined with down. 
Mr. Hewitson found one in a hole in a tree, ten or twelve feet from 
the ground. 

' The eggs are of a greenish hue, and from ten to fourteen in 
number." 

The egg depicted by Morris, however, is of a greenish stone- 
colour, the green tint by no means very prominent. It is also more 
pointed at the smaller end than any egg I have ever seen. 

General Habits.— In its actions and habits the Golden-eye seems 
to be very much like the pochards. Like them, it is a wonderful bird 
on the water as well as in it, and what I have said of the Tufted 
Pochard and its predilection for diving and swimming, and, if 
possible, escaping by these means rather than by flight, would equally 
well apply to this bird. Like the pochards, too, it is slow off the 
water, and rises at an oblique angle with great splashing and com- 
motion. Macgillivray says that it is capable of rising off the water 
at one spring with the help of a breeze, i.e., probably with a strong 
head-wind, which, getting under it, would lift a bird at once. 

Unlike the pochards, however, it is credited with being fairly 
active on land, and the author just quoted says that it sometimes 
reposes on spits of land. 



300 INDIAN PUCKS 

Just as are the pochards, so is this bird found alike on salt and 
fresh water, but there is no doubt ihat it prefers fresh water to salt. 
It would seem that open waters are preferred to small enclosed 
pieces, and deep clear water to shallow vegetation-covered pools and 
swamps. This, of course, we should expect to be the case with a 
diving-duck whose food consists, as the Golden-eye's does, almost 
entirely of animal matter procured by diving. 

It is said to feed on " testaceous mollusca, Crustacea and fishes," 
also on water-insects and grubs, and, but not often, also on 
vegetable food, principally deep-water weed-roots and similar 
articles. 

Tts flight is swift and strong, and Macgillivray says: — 

"They fly with rapidity in a direct manner: their small, stiff, 
sharp-pointed wings producing a whistling sound, which in calm 
weather may be heard a considerable distance." 

Sir Ralph Payue-Gallwey also notes: — 

" The wings of this species are so short and stiff in proportion 
to its weight and size, and are forced to beat so quickly to project 
its body, that a distinct whistle may he heard as it flies by." 

He also writes anent its diving powers : — 

" Scaup or Pochard that may have been under water at the 
moment ot firing, after finishing their dive for food at leisure, will 
startle the fowler by rising close to him as he pushes up to gather 
his cripples. Golden Eyes seem to know when their companions 
are leaving the surface in flight, and will at once spring up to 
follow and join the rest. I never knew them incautiously rise 
\Yithin range after a shot, like the other species alluded to." 

Mr. John Cordeaux ('Birds of the Humber District') observes 
that when diving it remains immersed on an average from forty- 
five to fifty seconds. 

Macgillivray describes the cry of this bird as " a mere grunting 
croak, and is never heard to any considerable distance ; the epithet 
Glangula given to it by the earlier ornithologists had reference, 
not to its voice, but to the whistling of its wings." 

The number of individuals in the flocks seems to vary greatly ; 
in India no large flocks are likely to be seen, but it will be noted 
that, even on the Indus, Stoker and Yerbury met with small flocks, 
not pairs and single birds, and, where common, the bird is said 
sometimes to assemble in flocks of some hundreds. 



OXYUBINiK 301 



Sub-family OXYUEIN.E. 

The one great distinctive feature of this sub-family is the 
remarkable tail, of which the eighteen feathers are stiff and 
hard, very nmch as are the feathers of a woodpecker's tail. 

The sub-family contains four genera : Thalassiornis, confined 
to South Africa : Noinoni/.r, to Tropical America ; Biziura, which 
is only found in Australia ; and finally, O.njuru, which is almost 
cosmopolitan. 

The first three genera consist of but one species each ; but 
Oxijura, the only genus in which we are interested, has no less 
than seven, one of which, 0. leucocepliala, extends into India. 

This bird has, in addition to the remarkable tail, another feature 
almost equally remarkable, viz., the swollen base to the bill, which 
extends forward as far as the nostril. The nail is also very small 
and is bent inwards; the wing very small ; and the feet very large 
and powerful, with the lobe to the hind-toe very fully developed. 

The generic name Erismatura by which we have hitherto known 
this duck in India is later than that of Bonaparte, Oxijura, so the 
latter must take its place. 



302 INDIAN DUCKS 



(45) OXYURA LEUCOCEPHALA. 

THE WHITE-HEADED OR STIFF-TAIL DUCK. 

Anas leucocephala, Scopoli, Ann. I. H/.^t. Nat. p. 65 (1769) (North 
Italy). 

Erismatura leucocephala, nmnr tf- Marsh. Game-B. iii, p. 289 ; Hume, 
S. F. viii, p. 450; ix, p. 296: x, p. 158; Salradori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, 
p. 442 ; F. Finn, V. A. S. B. 1896, p. 62 ; Sherwood, J. B. N. H. S. 
xi, p. 150 ; rnwni, ibid. p. 1(')9 ; Slnart Baler, iliid. xiii, p. 20 (1900) ; 
Macnali, il>id. p. 1H2; Blanford, Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 466; Oates, 
Game-B. ii, pp. 374, 375 ; Stuart Baker, Indian Ducks, p. 255 (1908) ; 
Tenison, J. B. N. II. S. xix, p. 264 (1909) ; Loijan-Huinc, ibid, xx, 
p. 1156 (1911) ; Baih'u, ibid, xxiv, p. 599 (1916). 

Oxyura leucocephala, Hartcrt, Voij. Pal p. 1373 (1920). 

Description. Adult Male.—" Crown black ; forehead, sides of the head, 
Including the space above the eye, chin and nape ]nn-e wliite ; below this 
white the neck all round is black : lower neck and Ijreast chestnut-red, 
with narrow blackish bars ; back, scapulars, sides, and flanks reddish 
chestnut, more or less huffish, and finely and irregularly verniiculated 
with blackish ; upper tail-coverts deep chestnut ; under parts, below the 
breast, reddish buffy white ; wings brown-grey, the wing-coverts and 
secondaries finely vermiculated with butfy-white ; under wing-coverts 
grey, the central ones whitish ; axillaries white ; tail blackish ; bill blue ; 
iris dark brown ; feet ashy-brown, with the webs black. Total length 
about IH'5 inches, wing 6'5, tail 4'5, culmen r9, tarsus 1"3." {Salvadori.) 

Measurements.— " Total length about 18 inches, tail 3'5 (3 to 4"5), wing 
6'3, tarsus 1, bill from gajie 1'9." {Blanford.) 

" Females and Young' Males have only the chin, lower cheeks, and a 
stripe from above the gape, running back under the eye towards the nape, 
white, rest of the head black mixed with rufous : the upper tail-coverts are 
like the rest of the upper parts, and the breast is dull rufous without black 
bars. Otherwise the plumage resembles that of adult males. Some speci- 
mens are much more rufous than others." {Blanford.) 

Colours of soft parts.—" Bill dull plumbeous ; irides dark brown ; legs 
plumbeous-black." {Salcadori.) 

Capt. Macnab gives the dimensions of a female as follows : — 

Measurements.— " Length 16^ inches, wing 65, tail from vent 34, tarsus 
IS, hind toe and claw 2i, l)ill at point If, bill from gape Is." 



Plate xxvrn. 




'JS-. 




;-'H< 



/ 



THE WHITE-HEADED or STIFF-TAIL DUCK 

Oxyura leucocephaia. 

'/3 nat. size 



OXTURA LEUCOCEPHALA 303 

Young Male. — " Very similar in pluuitage to the okl female, only some- 
what more ruddy on the back." (Salvadori.) 

Young in Down.^" Brown-grey ; upper part of the head and cheeks dark- 
brown ; a streak below the eye, from the base of the bill to the nape, throat, 
and sides of the upper part of the neck dull greyish-white undulated with 
dusky; a whitish spot on each side of the rump just below the wings ; edge 
of the wing and under wing-coverts whitish." {Salvadori.} 

Distribution. — The "White-headed Duck inhabits the countries 
surrounding the Mediterranean, and extends thence into Western 
Central Asia, and, according to Finsch, as far north as Southern 
Siberia, and also, as a straggler only, into Germany and Holland, 
being, over the greater portion of its range, either resident or only 
locally migratory. 

In India it is undoubtedly a very rare duck. When Hume and 
Marshall published the ' Game-Birds,' the only record of the Stiff- 
tail Duck was the following : — 

"On the 20th October, 1879, Col. 0. B. St. John, E.E., at that 
time Governor, I think, of Kandahar, shot a couple of ducks, of a 
type quite unknown to him, in the Jumeh river, near Khelat-i-ghilzai. 
Those ducks proved to be an immature pair of the White-headed 
Duck." 

Since this was written, however, there have been further com- 
paratively numerous records of this duck. In ' Stray Feathers ' (in 
loc. cit.) are the following. Mr. Field writes of a bird sent to 
Mr. Hume :— 

" I shot this bird on the 28th October at the 'Old Nullah,' about 
a mile from the Civil Station of Ludhiana, Punjab. It was sitting 
alone in a pool. I stalked up close behind some reeds, and then 
showed myself, expecting to see it fly. All it did was to cock its 
little stiff, thin, pointed tail, and swim off in a quiet way for some ten 
yards. Its appearance, while swimming with its tail upturned, was 
most peculiar. I tried to frighten it into flying, but it would not 
rise ; so I shot it whilst swimming." 

Mr. Hume thought records of this bird would soon come to hand 
after this was written, and with reason, for " on the 21st January, 
1882, Mr. Chill obtained an immature male of this species near the 
Najafgarh jheel (approximately lat. 29^ N., long. 77° E.), and again, 
another near the same locality on the 28th October of the same year." 



304 INDIAN DUCKS 

" Since this was written, Mr. Lean, of the 5th Bengal Cavalrj', 
informs me that he has just shot a duck of this species in the I'hili- 
bheet district." 

Again, in the same vokime of ' Stray Feathers,' appears a note by 
Mr. Chill, dated 8th February, 1883: — 

" On the '27tli Decembev last, I sent you in a tin box an Ensiiui- 
I Ida Icucocephala. Since that I have managed to purchase two more 
of that species — one a cat took away, and the other I have got stuffed." 

These were apparently got near Faruknagar, near Delhi. 

About this time (February, 1883) Mr. Bomford also got a 
specimen on the Indus, at Multan, Keengurh. 

From this time none are recorded until Lieut. Burke shot one at 
Halkote in February, 1891. 

The next recorded specimen was not met with until almost 
exactly two years later, when, in the 'Proceedings of the Asiatic 
Society of Bengal,' occurs the following note by Mr. Finn : — 

" [Ertsnuituru k'licnccpliahi). Tlie present individual was sent to 
the editor of the Asian newspaper by Capt. H. E. Davis, who stated 
{Asian, Feb. 11th, 1896) that it was shot by Capt. E. D. White, 
5'2ncl Light Infantry, at Bettiali, near Hardoi, between Lucknow and 
Bareilly. It is in heavy moult and quite iucapalile of flight, which, 
considering the time of its occurrence, is rather surprising, and almost 
looks as if tlie species might be somewhere resident within our limits." 

Yet again, in 1896, but on December '27, Major J. C. P. Onslow, 
R.E., shot two, and Mr. H. B. Campbell one of these ducks, in the 
Ganges Kadur, about twenty miles south of Kadur. 

The Stiff-tail is mentioned in the list of birds in Mr. W. K. 
Lawrence's recently published work on the ' Valley of Kashmir ' 
as having occurred in that country. 

Colonel Unwin reports this little duck as having been obtained 
several times in March 1907 in Kashmir, but gives no details of what 
specimens were secured ; and prior to this, in the ' Asian ' of the 
8th February, 1898, A. E. W. recorded having shot three Stiff-tail 
Ducks in that State in amongst a vast number of other birds shot at 
the same time. Captain Macnab records shooting a female of this 
species at Mardan, Peshawar, in November, 1899. Mr. Kennard 
also shot one in Srinagar in 1906. 



OXYURA LEUOCEPHALA 306 

Finn, again iu the columns of the ' Asian,' says that twice, to his 
knowledge, this duck has been obtained in the Calcutta Bazaar. 

There is also a specimen in the British Museum, obtained by 
General Kinloch in Peshawar. 

In 1908 Tenison shot a pair of innuature birds near Nowshera 
and Ommaney secured one at Sukkur. 

On the Baluchistan frontier Stiff-tail Ducks may be said to occur 
almost regularly and in some numbers. Whitehead recorded them 
in 1906 — 7 at Kohat, Logan-Hume reported many seen and several 
shot there in 1910—11, and again Bailey the same in 191(1, and in 
this latter year, Captain J. E. B. Hotson sent five specimens from 
Zangi Nawar to the Bombay Museum. 

Of the birds whose age is recorded, only two would appear to 
have been adult birds — the male got at Peshawar and the female at 
Ludhiana. 

It will be noted, also, that nearly all the birds were obtained 
between the 20th October and the 8th February, and whilst the 
bird shot at Hardoi in January was in heavy moult, none of the 
others, so far as we know, appeared to have been moulting at all. 
Therefore it is very doubtful whether this particular specimen had 
not been indulging in an abnormal moult. I do not consider it of 
any weight in reference to the bird being a resident or otherwise ; all 
that we know at present pointing strongly to the fact that it is not 
resident. There is, however, no reason why this duck should not 
breed in Kashmir, which is quite far enough north ; and it is to be 
hoped that anyone working the water-breeding birds of that State 
will bear this in mind. 

Nidification. — The species breeds inland on lakes and marshes, and 
also on small ponds, placing its nest in amongst dense herbage at the 
edges, and always well-concealed. It is a typical duck's nest, con- 
taining perhaps more wet weeds and rotten material in the base than 
do those of most other ducks, but, like them, well lined with down, 
which in this case is said to be pure white. 

The eggs vary from six to ten, are a chalky-white in colour, often 
much discoloured and stained, very large for the size of the bird, and 
remarkable for their very rough surface ; so rough indeed is it, that 
this egg is chosen to represent those having rough surfaces in the 
National Collection of typical eggs. 
20 



y06 INDIAN DUCKS 

A few eggs are said to have a very faint greeu tinge. 
Most eggs are almost perfect eHipses, a fewhaving one end rather 
smaller than the other. 

Hartert gives the measurement of seventy eggs as follows : — 

Average 66'35 X 507 mm. ( = 2'61 x 2'00 inches). 

Maxima 71' 4 x 48'5 mm. (= 2_S1_ x 1'92 inches) anrl 

68'1 x .5££nim. (= 2"68 x £7 inches). 

Minima (i£S x ,52"0 mm. (= £J6 x 2'li inches) and 

(;6'0 X 4Sllmm. {^ 2'6 x 1_D inches). 

General Habits. — As regards its habits, we have very little on 
record as far as India is concerned. Finn notes: — 

" In habits the Stiff-Tail resembles a grebe rather than a duck. 
It is more ready to dive than to fly, swims low with its tail raised, 
and it is said to be unable to walk — though this I doubt — though I 
have only had a cripple to study. This bird resembled a grebe in its 
remarkable tameness." 

Captain Sherwood writes in the " B.X.H.S. Journal' : — 

" This bird was very little longer, if any, than a common teal, but 
much bigger, and presented a stumpy appearance, very ugly and 
ungainly. The wings were hardly more than six inches in length. 
The birds were shot in deep water, in a nullah, which they refused 
to leave after being ]iut u)). and after a short swift fliglit they settled 
again." 

Some interesting notes are also given of the female already 
referred to as having been shot by Captain Macnab. He says : — 

"On getting closer, however, thougli its bill and the carriage of 
its head gave it the appearance of a duck, its tail, which it carried 
cocked at right-angles to its body, and its habit of constantly diving 
and remaining under the surface for a considerable time, led me to 
doubt if it was a duck at all ... I determined to shoot it for 
the sake of identification. 

... As I approached, a hawk came on the scene and 
hovered over it, evidently imagining that it had found its breakfast ; 
and I sat down to see what would happen, and in order to watch the 
bird more intently before shooting it. What did happen was that 
whenever the hawk poised itself in the air preparatory to attacking, 
the duck dived under continually, and, on reappearing after some 
twenty or thirty seconds, immediately disappeared again, keeping 
all the time very much in the same place. 



OXTURA LEUOCEPHALA 307 

"After some five minutes of this the hawk went off Llisappointetl, 
and 1 now approacheJ nearer still ... It was swimming very 
low on the water ; . . . its tail was carried, when swimming, 
always at a right-angle to its body ; . . . when it dived, the tail 
was straightened out, and then appeared much longer. ... It 
would not rise as I came nearer, but merely swam away from me, 
diving every now and then. 

'' In this tank Major Barton procured a male in December, 1901, 
of which he remarks : ' It came up several times, only showing its 
iiead and neck, the body and tail remaining under water.' " 

These brief notes agree well with what has been written on the 
bird as it shows itself in Europe. From this it would appear that, 
whilst the bird is a wonderful swimmer and diver, it is almost 
lielpless on land, and though of very quick flight, it is very loath to 
take to wing, not rising until absolutely forced to do so, and then 
only flying for a very short distance, after which it re-setties, and is 
then harder than ever to again get off the water. 

It has, according to Naumann, the power of swimming in the 
water with only head and neck projecting in the same manner as 
the birds of the genus Anhinga or Plofus and the Cormorants do. 

Most authors agree that it swims with its tail upright, as observed 
by Finn, Chill, Field, and others in India ; but Chapman and Buck, 
in their ' Wild Spain,' give quite a different description. 

"The most extraordinary wildfowl we ever met with — gambolling 
and splashing about on the water, cliasing each other, now above, 
now beneath its surface, like a school of porpoises ; they appeared half- 
birds, half-water tortoises. . . . Presently the strangers entered 
a small reed-margined bight, swimming very deep, only their turtle- 
shaped backs and heads in sight ; . . . with small wings like a 
Grebe, and long stiff tail like a Cormorant ; the latter, being carried 
under water as a rudder, is not visil)le when the bird is swimming." 

It is a fresh-water species, and, as far as I can ascertain, does not 
haunt coasts and salt-water. 



aOH INDIAN DUCKS 



Sub-fiiniily MERGIN.^:. 

This sub-family is at once distinguishable from all others by its 
bill, which differs very greatly from the shape most generally con- 
sidered typical of a duck. Instead of being considerably depressed 
in the ordinary manner, it is actually compressed, and instead of 
having the usual lamellse along the sides, has regular tooth-like 
serrations on the edges of both upper and lower mandible. This 
last characteristic suffices to distinguish the Merginw from the 
Mergancttinse, a sub-family which has neither teeth nor serrations, 
but which is not represented in India. 

The Mergina- consist of two genera only, as represented in India, 
with one other {Lnpiindyfe>^) confined to North America. 



h'cg to (iencra. 

(I. CJuliuen shorter than tarsus, under l';j inches ; winj" 

about 7 to 8 inches l/c/y/^.s, p. 2(il. 

/). Culmen longer than tarsus, over 1!) inches : wing 

about 9 to 11 inches Merganser, p. 268. 



-p 



r 




5 



0) ~ 
^ I/) 



cn '" *. 



01 (^ 

3 C 



MEEGUS 809 



Genus MEEGUS. 

The genus Merr/us contains but a single species, the well-known 
Smew iMergus albellus). Its curious narrow beak and its much 
smaller size than either of the Mergansers will at once serve to 
distinguish it from all other species of ducks found in India. 



(46) MERGUS ALBELLUS. 

THE SMEW. 

Mergus albellus, Linn. S. N. s. ed. i, p. 129 (1758) (Smyrna) ; Sal- 
raclori, Cat. B. 31. sxvii, p. 461 : Blanford, Avifauna B. I. iv. p. 467 ; 
Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 413 ; Ratfraij,J. B. X. H. S. xii, p. 348; Siuail 
Baker, ibid, xiii, p. 200 (1900) ; id. Indian Dnclo^, p. 262 (1908) ; 
Francis, J. B. X. H. S. sx, p. 224 (1910). 

Mergellus albellus, Ji-rdon, B. of I. iii, p. 818 ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 26o : 
Butler a' Hume, ibid, iv, p. 31 ; Butler, ibid, vii, p. 188 ; Ball, ibid. 
p. 233 ; Hume, Cat. No. 973 ; Hume <(' Marsh. Game-B. iii, p. 293 : 
Reid, S. F. x, p. 95 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 417 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, 
p. 413. 

Description. Adult Male.— A large patch from base of both mandibles to 
back of eye and including base of ear-coverts black, with green reflections ; 
subordinate and lateral feathers of the crest the same, the black extending 
in a narrow line, more or less, on the sides of the head ; a crescentic blaclc 
band above the upper back, descending down on either side of the breast ; 
back black, duller on the lower back, and changing to brown-grey on the 
rump and upper tail-coverts, where the feathers are dark-centred ; rest of 
head and whole lower surface white, under aspect of tail pale-grey, the 
feathers white-shafted except at the tips ; primaries brown, dark-shafted 
above, white-shafted below ; outer secondaries black with white tips, the 
next two or three white, the innermost silver-grey with dark shafts and 
white outer edges ; greater coverts black, those over the secondaries tipped 



310 INDIAN DUCKS 

with white : median white, the remainder black ; scapulars white, the outer 
webs edged Ijlack, giving tiiem a barred- appearance, and with a black bur 
across the base troni the centre of the upper back, past the slioulder ol' the 
wing, and on the sides of the body : these and the flanks are white, very 
finely barred with black. 

Colours of soft parts. — "Bill bluisli lead-colour; nail generally brown, 
often paler ; irides brown ; legs and feet lavender-grey." {Blanfurd.) 

" Bill of a bluish lead-colour; irides bluish-white; legs and feet bluish- 
lead, webs darker." (Salvador!.) 

" In fourteen specimens I have recorded the irides as brown or deep 
brown in one as red-brown, and I have observed no other colour. Macgil- 
livray records it from fresh specimens, examined by himself, as red and 
bright red ; Naumann says that in the young it is dark brown, then nut- 
brown, in males of the second ^ear brownish-grey, later light ash-grey, and 
in very old males a pure pearl-colour or bluish-white. 

"The bill is, as a rule, pale plumbeous, sometimes a clearer and bluer 
tint, sometimes duskier, and in some specimens, young of both sexes and 
old females, it has been almost black. 

"The nail is generally brownish, horny-whitish at tiie extreme tip, but 
in some it has been bluish-white througiiout, and in some almost black 
throughout. 

" The legs and feet vary from pale blue-grey to plumbeous and dark 
lavender; the webs, except just where they join the toes, being dusky to 
black, and the claws brownish-black. Often there is an olive tinge on the 
tarsi, and occasionally — in the young only, I think — both these and the 
toes exhibit small dusky spots and patches." 

Measurements.--" Length 17 to IS'l inches, wing I'bb to 8'3'2, tail from 
vent -S'SS to ■II, tarsus 1'2 to 1'31, bill from gape l'G3 to r72. Weight 
1 lb. 4 oz. to 1 lb. 12 oz." (Hume.) 

Female. — The black loreal patch in the male is replaced by rich dark- 
brown, almost black in very old females; whole upper head, crest, and 
nape ferruginous-brown, richest and reddest at the end of the crest. 
Upper back grey-brown, changing to blackish-brown on the lower back 
and again to dark grey-brown on the rump, upper tail-coverts and tail ; 
wings like those of the male, but the inner secondaries darker and browner, 
and the lesser coverts brown instead of black; breast mottled-grey; rest 
of lower plumage wliite, the flanks more or less mottled with dark-brown, 
axillaries white. 

Colour of the soft parts would seem to he the same in the females 
as in the males, but the irides are always brown. 

Measurements.— " Length 15'5 to 1675 inches, wing 7'01 to 7'3, tail 
from vent 3'3 to 3'9, tarsus I'll to 1'19, bill from gape 1'48 to I'G. 
Weight 1 lb. to 1 lb. 6j ozs." (Hume.) 

Males in post-nuptial plumage assume the plumage of the female, but 
appear to have the wliite wing-bai' larger and the lesser wing-coverts 



MERGUs albp;llus 311 

darker. They also "show the two dark cresceufcio bauds on the breast." 
(Salcadoi i.) 

" Males in the first nuptial dress have brown streaks on the hind-neck 
and scapulars." (Seebohm.) 

The Young' resemble the adult female, but have no dark defined loreal 
patch, and the crest is darker and rather duller. The white wing-patch 
is suffused with brown, more or less, and the breast is more spotted. 

Young in Down. — " Upper parts, including the sides of the head below 
the eye, but only the back of the neck, dark-brown ; below the eye a 
very small white spot ; white spots on the posterior edge of the wing, 
on the sides of the back, just near the joint of the wing, the sides of 
the rump, and on the flanks ; throat and sides of the upper part of the 
neck conspicuously white ; crop region dusky; flanks brown: breast and 
abdomen white." iSalvadori.) 

Distribution. — The habitat of the Smew dining the summer and 
breeding-season is practically the Palaearctic Region throughout 
Europe and Asia, whence it descends south into Southern European 
countries, the basin of the ^lediterranean, Northern India and 
adjoining countries, China and Japan ; and very rarely, also, it has 
been recorded from North America. 

As regards its occurrence in India, Blanford writes : — 

" Within our limits the Smew is fairly common in winter in 
the Punjab, and is found in Sind, Northern Guzerat, the North- 
west Provinces, and Oudh. Jerdou records it from Cuttack, and 
I met with it more than once near Eanijauj in Bengal, but it has 
not been observed farther east nor in Southern India." 

To this I can add that I think that once in 1882 I saw a flock 
of these birds, five of them, near Hazaribagh in Chota Nagpur. 
It is very unlikely that I could have made a mistake in my 
identification, and I have no doubt, myself, about what they were ; 
still, I failed to shoot one, so that record is not a perfect one. 

In the rivers of Assam, where I expected to find this bird 
comparatively common in the cold weather, I have seen only two 
flocks — one of four birds in Kanganadi, in Lakhimpur, and one 
of six birds in the extreme north-eastern reaches of the Brahma- 
pootra. I have also had one other notification of its occurrence 
from the same place; and Mr. J. Needham, for many years Political 
Officer in Sadiya, told me he had occasionally met with it, but that 
he had never obtained a shot. 



312 INDIAN DUCKS 

I can find uothmg i'lu'ther re this bird being obtained in India, 
beyond the fact that in the British Museum Catalogue there are 
three birds, " J ? ad, et 3' juv. sk.." obtained by Falconer in 
Bengal. As Gates remarks, there is no reason why it should not 
be obtained in Northern Burma, as it extends further east and 
south in China. 

Even in Northern India it can nowhere be called a commou 
bird, though there are some places to which it resorts with 
comparative regularity, though never, it would seem, in large 
numbers. In Bengal it is nowhere anything but a straggler, and 
Cuttack would appear to be its extreme limit in the south. 

Nidification. — As regards the breeding of the Smew, there is not 
very much on record, and what little has been recorded by various 
authors is with reference to eggs got from other people. 

Weire says he took what he believed to be eggs of this species 
near Griefswald in Germany, but there was little by which he could 
identify them beyond the size and colour of the eggs, and the fact 
that they were taken from a hollow tree. He did not obtain or see 
the parents, and though he was very likely right in his identification, 
the eggs cannot be accepted as authentic without doubt. 

Mr. J. Wolley, in the 'Ibis' for 1859, pp. 09-76, described at 
considerable length how he obtained eggs of the Smew, through a 
certain Carl Leppajervi, from Sodankyla. After trying for a long 
time to obtain eggs, without the slightest success, he received a 
small wooden box addressed " To the English Gentleman Joh Woleg 
in Muoniovaara." In this box, amongst other things, there was the 
head of a female Smew and three eggs, part of a clutch of seven. 
These three eggs were described by Wolley as follows : — 

" On comparing them with a series of something like fifty 
Wigeon's eggs, 1 found they were pretty nearly of the same size, 
though rather below the average. They were flattened at the small 
end more than any of the Wigeon's, and they had less of the yellow 
tinge about them, so that persons not much used to eggs could pick 
them out of the lot ; Ijut all these peculiarities miglit be accidental, 
though it seemed remarkable that any woodsman trying to pass off 
Wigeon's eggs for Smew's should liave been able to find so abnormal 
a nest. But it was not very long before 1 satisfied myself that there 
was a decided dill'crtnce of texture. This could be perceived on an 
ordinary examination ; Ijut it became \ery striking on exposing the 



MERGCS ALBELLUS 313 

ugg to direct sunshine and examining the penumbra, or space between 
full light and full shadow, with a magnifying glass — the sharp ' moun- 
iainous ' structure of the Wigeon's egg was strongly contrasted with 
the lower and more rounded character of the elevations in the 
Smew s. . . . Further, I tried the sense of touch : scratching the 
egg with the most sensitive of my finger-nails I could at once 
perceive the greater roughness of the Wigeon's .... The ivory- 
like texture of the Goosander's egg was a pretty parallel to the 
character of the fSmew's." 

Afterwards, Wolley received from the priest Liljeblad the other 
four eggs of the set, and with them the rest of the remains of the 
duck Smew, the head of which had been sent to him with the 
first three. 

The dimensions of these eggs he gives as from 'I'Oi to '205 inches 
in length, and from l'4-2 to 152 in breadth. 

They are described by Wolley at great length, but briefly may be 
said to have been broad ovals, one end very much smaller than the 
other, yet decidedly obtuse. 

Seebohm and Harvie-Brown ol)tained the eggs from the peasants 
in North-east Russia ; these were obtained frouj hollows in trees, 
lined thickly with the usual pale-grey down. 

According to Gates, 

" Some of these eggs brought by Mr. Seebohm from Petchora 
are now in the British Museum. They are nearly elliptical in shape, 
very smooth and glossy. They are of a pale cream-colour, and 
measure from 1'9 to 2'05 inches in length, and from 1'12 to 1'52 in 
breadth. 

" The Smew generally breeds in the month of July, and lays 
seven or eight eggs, which are placed in a hollow of a tree or in one 
of the boxes hung up by the villagers for the use of the Golden-eye." 

Morris, in ' British Birds," says : — 

" The nest of the Smew is made of dry grass, and lined with the 

down of the bird itself. It is placed on the ground upon the banks 

of lakes and rivers, not far from the water, or in the hollow of a tree. 

" The eggs are said to be eight or ten, or from that to fourteen 

in number, and of a yellowish-white colour." 

The egg, as shown by him in a plate, is a bright deep buff. One 
egg of this species in my collection 1 owe, as I do many of my rarer 
ducks' eggs, to the generosity of Herr Kuschel. 

In general description my egg agrees very well with those 



814 INDIAN DUCKS 

\ 

obtaiued by Seebuhin and described by Gates. It is much stained, 
but where the original colour shows, it is an extremely pale, rathei- 
clear cream. It measures 1"95 X 1'47 inches, and was taken m 
Finland on the 6th June, 1895. It appears to me to have been 
considerably incubated at the time it \\as taken, so Smews must, some- 
times at least, breed long before -July, which is the month in which 
the greater number are said to breed. Another clutch, obtained 
through Skinner, St. Mary's Cray, agrees exactly with Kuschel's egg, 
and the dimensions come within the limits already given. These 
eggs were taken in Lapland in the month of June ; a third clutch 
of five taken with the down also agree in size, shape and colour 
with those already described. 

Hartert gives the average of 107 eggs as 52'4'2 X 37'4G mm. 
CJ-0(J X 1'47 inches). 

My thirteen eggs average '2'0 x 1'45 inches. 

General Habits. — In their northern home Smews generally con- 
gregate in flocks, numbering anything from a dozen or so to nearly 
a couple of hundred, Hocks of over fifty being the exception. Here, 
in India, even the latter number is very exceptional indeed, and 
most birds are seen in comparatively small parties of a dozen to 
twenty. Hume mentions as few as seven, and I once saw four 
together, but there seem to be few records of single birds or pairs 
having been obtained, though Francis saw a pair only, of which he 
obtained the male, at Dehra Ismail Khan. They are as much salt- 
as fresh-water birds, though they do not seem to have been noticed 
ou our Indian sea-coast. As might be expected of sea-haunting 
ducks, failing salt-water, they keep almost entirely to large open 
rivers and lakes ; but Hume notes ; — 

" 1 Iiave, in unfrequented localities, occasioualh' seen them on 
ordinary good-sized jheels, covering, perhaps, bareh' a square mile. " 

They are essentially diving ducks, and, as such, naturally prefer 
water unencumbered by vegetation and of considerable depth. 
They are wonderfully quick, active little birds in almost every 
way. On the wing they are very fast and strong, though they 
always prefer water to air when possible ; they get up very quickly 
in spite of their short wings, rising lightly and at once getting into 
full swing. As swimmers and divers few birds can approach them. 



MEKGUS ALBELLUS 315 

probably none can excel them. Hume gives them the i-eputatiou of 
being even better divers than grebes and cormorants, and as be 
watched them diving after fish, and again when diving in clear water 
after being slightly wounded, he ought to know. Few of us have 
been as fortunate as- Hume in this respect, but many people have 
doubtless seen the cormorants and snake-birds being fed at the Zoo 
and other places, so that we can appreciate what a compliment 
Hume pays the 8mew when he declares it to be smarter even than 
these. 

It swims very fast indeed, and generall}" seeks escape by swim- 
ming and diving rather than by flight, and as it is a very wide-awake 
and extremely shy bird, it is no easy matter to get within shot. On 
foot, except perhaps rarely when Smews are found on rivers, it is 
almost impossible to get a shot, as they always keep well away from 
the shores and from vegetation, so that the sportsman has but few 
opportunities for stalking them. Hume, however, tells us that they 
may sometimes be approached in a boat by sailing past at a distance 
of about forty yards ; in an ordinary native boat it is no use attempt- 
ing to circumvent the Smew, for he can swim and dive almost as 
fast as, if not faster than, the boat can travel. 

Like the genera Phalacrocorax and Aiiliinga, it seems that the 
Smew makes use of its wings to assist it in diving, and, like these 
birds, it can swim at will with only its head and neck out of water, 
though normally it swims with its whole upper part out. 

Its food is practically entirely animal, and consists of Crustacea, 
molluscs, water-insects, larva?, small fishes, &c. The Smew itself 
is quite unfit for food ; even Mr. Finn, who considers that my 
remarks on the edible qualities of many ducks are rather unflattering, 
only remarks of this bird, " the flesh is said to be very bad indeed, 
it being, according to Pallas, piscuhntissimu,'' 

Mr. Finn also notes (' Asian ') : — 

"It ... . gets about nimbly enough on land, where, however, 
it seems to be very rarely seen in a wild state. I judge from captives 
in the London Zoo." 

Other authors have given it a very bad reputation for walking 
powers; but it is noticeable that most ducks have been very much 
underrated in this respect, and Mr. Finn has set right a goodly 
number of antiquated mistakes on this subject. 



316 INDIAN DUCKS 



Genus MERGANSER. 

The differences between Merganser and Mergus have ak-eady been 
defined, and there is no other genus found, or hkely to be found, 
in India with which it can possibly be confounded. 

According to Halvadori, there are seven species in this genus, but 
he divides Merganser merganser into two species, and the Indian 
form he designates Merganser comatus and distinguishes as being 

" somewhat smaller, the feathers of the crest thinner, narrower and 
longer; the bill usually shorter; the male has tlie black edges of 
the tertials broader, the lower baclv and rump paler grey, and usually 
much freckled with white." 

The Eastern form had, however, already been given a name by 
Gould in 1.S75, orientalis, which will have to be used instead of 
comatus. 

No simpler key to the two Indian species can be found than 
Blanford's which I give below ; — 

i\. Head and upper neck black glossed with green, (.\dult 
males.) 

(('. Lower parts white throughout M. inavganscy. 

Ii' . Upper breast rufous with black marks M. Herrator. 

B. Head and upper neck rufous. (Females and non-adult 
males.) 

(■'. Chin white, back grey -1/. iiwrijaii^cr. 

d'. Chin streaked with rufous, ijack brown J/, scrrator. 



.^ 



Plate XXX 



•"■••'- V 




# 



■>s??.- 






THE RED-BREASTED MERGANSER. 

Merganser serraton 

/3 nat size. 



MERGANSER MERGANSER ORIEXTALIS 317 



(47) MERGANSER MERGANSER ORIENTALIS. 
THE EASTERN GOOSANDER. 

Mergus orientalis, dould, P. Z. S. 1845, p. 1 (Amoy). 

Mergus merganser, Hnuw, Cat. No. 972 ; Seidh/, S. F. viii,p. 364 ; Hume 

if Mavfih. (iamc-B. iii, p. 299 : Hittnc tf Crippii, ibid. xi,p. 347 ; AMcn, 

J. B. X. H. S. ii, p. .56. 

Mergus castor, Jerfhn, B. of I. iii, p. 817 ; Hiimf. S. F. i, p. 423 ; Parkei; 
ihul. ii, p. 336 ; Ball, ibid. p. 439 ; Hume, ihld. vii, p. 149 ; Ball, 
ibid. p. 233, 

Merganser castor, Blanford, Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 469 : Oaten, Game-B. 

ii, p, 123 ; .Stuart Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xiii, p. 207 (1900) ; id. 

Indian Dnck.'i. p. 271 (1908) ; Imili.'i, J. B. X. H. S. xiv, p. 393 ; 

}'\liitehead, J. Ii. X. H. S. xx, p. 980 (1911); ( liidlestmir. ibid, xxi, 

p. 275 (1911) : Tncilis, ibid, xxiv, p. 600 (1916), 
Merganser merganser, Oate.-i, Game-B. ii, p. 390, 
Merganser comatus, Salradon, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 47.V 

Description. Adult Male.— Whole head, upper neck, and crest black- 
glossed with metallic-greeu, showing purple in sunlight, the centre of chin 
and throat unglossed; lower neck and under parts white: upper back glossy 
black ; lower back, rump, and upper tail-coverts grey, more or less vermicu- 
lated with white on the outer feathers, and the tail-coverts also with dark 
shafts and sometimes with paler edges ; tail silvery-brown, paler and more 
grey on the lower surface ; primaries and outer secondaries very dark 
)irown ; inner secondaries wliite, with a narrow edging of black on the 
outer webs ; large secondary-coverts white witli black bases ; primary- 
coverts and edge of wing black ; remaining coverts white ; outer scapulars 
white, with narrow l:)lack margins ; the inner all black : one or two next 
the white ones tipped with white or with narrow, irregular white edgings. 

Colours of soft parts. — " The bill is, according to age, a brighter or 
duller, lighter or deeper red, almost vermilion in some, cinnabar or deep 
blood-red in others. The nail and broader or narrower stripe along the 
culmen, from the nail to the forehead, brownish-black, dusky or lilack. In 
some this stripe is only indicated. There is often more or less of dusky on 
the lower mandible, which, in some, is entirely of this colour, but in others 
almost orange. 

" The irides, brown in the young, grow redder with age, and in old males 
become a deep red, with scarcely a tinge of brown. 



818 INDIAN DUCKS 

" The legs and I'eeL, incliKling tlie webs, are bright veruiiHon in the old 
of both sexes, perhaps rather duller i^i the females, and reddish-orange in 
younger birds. The claws greyish or horny-\Yhite, hrovvnisli or reddish 
towards their bases." {Hume.) 

Measurements.— " Length about 25 inches, tail 4'25, wing 9'5, tarsus 2'0, 
bill from gape 2'7." (Blaiiford.) 

" Wing 10'95 to li'S inches, tail from vent 4'80 to .5'9, culmen TOO to 
2'10, tarsus 1'68 to 1'80." {l^alrcuhn .) 

" Wing 10'95 to 12'1 inciies, tarsus J 'St; to 2'Oy, bill from gape 2'2.!) to 
2T). Weight 2 lbs. 12 ozs. to 3 lbs. 5 ozs." (Hume.) 

The weights of the few males I have personally weighed, or obtained 
the weights of from other sportsmen, have varied between 3 lbs. and 4 lbs. 
H ozs. In both extremes the birds were siiecimens shot and weighed b\- 
myself. 

It will 1)0 seen from the above that the wing varies from 9'5 to 12'1 
inches according to different authorities ; but, tliough I have tlje 
measurements of some 40 males, my wing-measurements only vary 
between 9'G and ir2 inches. 

Adult Female. — Chin and throat white, and lores somewhat albescent ; 
rest of head and neck dull-rufous, the crown more brown ; sides of neck 
and whole lower surface white, the flanks striped with grey ; primaries 
and first few secondaries dark-brown, the next few white, the innermost 
grey with dark margins ; upper parts grey, rather mottled in appearance, 
and the upper tail-coverts with dark shafts ; tail grey-brown with darker 
shafts ; some of the scapulars very dark Ijrown ; the lesser and median 
wing-coverts mottled grey and greyish-white. 

The colours of the soft parts seem to resemble those of the male, but 
are, on an average, somewhat darker and more dull. 

Measurements. — In size it is considerably smaller. Blanford gives the 
wing at about 9 inches, and Hume as 6'8 to 10'95 inches. The latter gives 
the weight as being 2 lbs. or 2 lbs. 10 ozs. The wings of the females shot 
by myself varied between 7'5 and 10'2 inches, and the weight between 
2 lbs. 6 ozs. and 3 lbs. 8 ozs. My largest females have been both bigger and 
heavier than many of my smaller males. 

" Young' in first plumage closely resemble adult females, but have shorter 
crests, and brown instead of grey markings on the breast and flanks ; males 
may be distinguished by paler feathers on the median wing-coverts and 
outer scapulars, and darker feathers on the inner scapulars." (Scehohm.) 

"Males in moulting plumage closely resemble adult females, but have 
traces of a black ring round the neck, are darker on the back and shoulders, 
and show the whitish wing of the immature l^ird." {Seehohm.) 

" Males in first nuptial dress have more grey on the shoulders than 
adults, 

"Young in Down. — Similar to that of M. .^errator, but perhaijs not so 
dark on the upper parts." {Salvach^ri.) 



MRRC.AXSKR MERGANSER ORIENTALIS 'M9 

A \ei'\ young, uiisexed bird in the Indian Museum, Calcutta, has the 
upper parts of the head and neck dull rufous, the lower parts white, and 
the upper parts and tail grey: the back very rufescent, and the wing- and 
tail-feathers dark-shafted. 

Distribution. — The Eastern Goosander is found from Baluchistan, 
Afghanistan, and Turkestan throughout the Himalayas, Tii)et and 
the North Central Hills of China. 

With regard to Indian limits, Hume goes so fully into details 
that I cannot do better than quote him fully. He writes : — 

" lu the larger rivers of the Himalayas, though nowhere 
numerically very abundant, they are so universally distributed high 
up in summer, low down in winter, that it is needless to specify 
the particular localities, over seventy in number, whence I have 
received them or where they have been reported to have been 
obtained. 

Outside the Himalyas I have received tiiem, or known for 
certain of their having been oljtained, from the Peshawar valley, 
on the Cabul river: near Attoek, Kalabagh, and just above Dehra 
Ismail Khan on the Indus : near Sealkot, on the Chenab, and 
smaller streams : the Kangra valley : below Eoopur on the Sutlej : 
Dehra Dun, not only on the Ganges from Eukikes to below 
Hurdwar, but in the interior ; Pilibhit on the Rardeh ; the Sandi 
Jhil, near Hardui {Irhtj) ; the Kosi river towai'ds the north of tlie 
Purneah district ; the Western Dears (where they appear to he 
extremely numerous) ; the Monas in the Kamrup district ; some 
streams north of Lakhimpur ; close to Sadiya ; numerous localities 
near the bases of the Garo and Khasi Hills on both their northern 
and southern faces, and well inside them ; near Jamtara, about 
156 miles from Calcutta on the East Indian line of railway (Brooks), 
at a large lake seven miles from Burrakur : on the Grand Trunk 
Pioad, where there were some hundreds {Parker) ; on the Damuda 
in Bankurah and Bardwan ; in Manbhum and Dhalbhum on the 
Subanrika ; Lohardugga (Ball) ; the Mahanadi, near Arung {Biaipin), 
and further down almost to Sambalpur (BUicitt) ; this latter district 
north of the Mahanadi (Ball) : Palamow (Money) ; and the Sone 
river near Dehree-on-Sone (E. Stewart, C. S. TT'. Forsyth) ; lastly, 
Ajmere, near which place Major O'Moore Creagh, B.C., shot a fine 
male in a large tank."' 

In addition to these places, in ' Stray Feathers,' Vol. II, Hume 
gives Sylhet and Cachar, though I have never seen or heard of 
Goosanders myself in either of these districts. 



3'20 INDIAN DUCKS 

The next record is a most important one by E. H. Aitkeu, and 
was noted in the ' Journal of the Bom. Nat. Hist. Society ' : — 

" I shot a Goosander {Mercjus merganser) at Shewa just across 
the Bombay Harbour on the 2nd inst. (December). It was a 
female or immature male, and was playing along in a shallow 
'iheet of water which formed the reservoir of one of the salt-works. 
I believe this is the most southern jjoint in India from which this 
liird has yet been recorded." 

Gates, merely because it was found in mif initer, does not accept 
Mr. Aitken's identification, and thinks it must have been M. xerrator. 
r can see no reason for thinking Mr. Aitken was wrong, and accept, 
fully, Bombay as the most southern point in India in which the 
Goosander has been obtained. 

The next record I can find is that of a Goosander shot by li. F. B. 
at Myitkyina, Burma, and sent with a note to the ' Asian,' dated 
1st ^larch, 1897, the bird having been shot the previous day. This 
bird was identified by Mr. F. Finn, who kindly notified me of its 
occurrence. 

Gates, in his ' Game-Birds,' says that : — 

" The Goosander is a common bird in the Upper Irrawaddy, and 
occurs in small parties of from two or three to six. Owing to my 
being obliged to travel about in steamers, I never succeeded in 
shooting one of these l)irds, but Commander A. C. Yorstoun kindly 
procured me one and sent me the skin for identification." 

I have myself found it to be extremely common on the Subansiri, 
and many other hill-rivers and streams, in the cold weather, in flocks 
of forty upwards, and one flight I estimated at over 200. I should 
think that on the 25th, 26tb, and 27th of January, 1901, I daily, in 
the river mentioned, saw from 200 to 500 of these birds, on a very 
small stretch of water. They were extremely wild and wary when 
one came across them on the water ; but when flighting, would often 
pass up and down within shot of the boat. 

As far as I can ascertain, they are equally common on the 
Dehing, Dibong, and all the larger streams in Assam, and are 
plentiful on the Brahmapootra itself above Sadiya, being also found 
now and then as low down as Dibrugarh, or even lower. 

Primrose reports them as common and not shy on the Gadadhur 
in the Goalpara district, where the birds allow boats to approach 
within thirty yards. 



MERGANSER MERGANSER ORIENTALIS 321 

Nidification. — The Eastern Goosander breeds I'reely throughout 
the Himalayas in all suitable localities between 12,000 and 15,000 
feet, perhaps even higher, but there is very little on record about it. 

It certainly breeds in Ladakh in the lake districts and almost 
equally certainly in parts of Kashmir, Gilgit, etc., although so far 
there is nothing recorded in reference to these localities. 

In Tibet it breeds in great numbers, and from Ehamtso, Gyantse 
and other places 1 have had breeding birds and eggs sent me. As 
far as I can ascertain in Tibet it generally places its nest in some 
natural hollow low down in a bank or cliff, or even in a burrow on 
the level, probably because of the want of trees big enough to contain 
hollows suitable for its purpose. About Gyantse it lays its eggs 
in hollows in the willows, which are here fairly plentiful and grow 
to some size, but even here I have had a nest reported to me as 
having been found in a hollow under a large boulder, unfortunately 
not until the young had been hatched. 

The nest is made of grass alone, with a dense lining of down 
which is increased in bulk as the eggs are laid. 

The eggs are replicas of those of the Common Goosander, but 
may average smaller, though at present my series is too small to 
enable me to say so. 

Hartert gives the average of 125 eggs of the western form as 
68'8 X •47'15 mm. (= 269 X 185 inches), whereas my eggs average 
only 64-5 X 432 mm. (= 2-54 X 170 inches). 

In colour, shape and texture they cannot in any way be dis- 
criminated. 

The birds appear to breed from the end of May to the end of July, 
most eggs being laid in June. 

General Habits. — The Eastern Goosander is a permanent resident 
in India, but during the summer is confined to the Himalayas at 
various heights above 10,000 feet, whence it descends in the end of 
October and early November to the foot-hills and into the plains. 
The limits of its local migrations have been already noted. 

In most countries the Goosander is nearly as much a salt-water 
as a fresh-water frequenter, but here, in India, it seems to be essen- 
tially a fresh-water species, and the only record of its having been 
shot on the sea, within our limits that I can find, is that of Mr. 

21 



322 INDIAN DUCKS 

Aitken. In the Persian Gulf (the form here is possibly the western 
one) however, it has been frequently obtained, and possibly closer 
search on our extreme north-western coast might produce more 
birds. It haunts the larger streams and rivers, keeping to such as 
have a distinct current and clear water, generally avoiding the more 
sluggish dirty rivers with muddy bottoms. From what observers 
have noted, the Goosander likes, rather than dislikes, a rough 
current, and in the same way it does not appear to be at all troubled 
by a rough sea ; thus Dresser notes meeting a flock in the sea near 
Guernsey, which was in water rough enough to make the steamer 
he was in dip its paddle-boxes alternately into the water. 

Lakes and still water are not frequented when clear running 
rivers are adjacent, but sometimes the Goosander may be found 
on such, though in these cases the water will almost invariably be 
found to be free of much vegetation and fairly clean and clear. 
Captain Gudlestone, however, obtained two females on a jheel near 
Cawnpore, which was dry except for three or four small pools of 
water. 

At the same time, on the Subansiri, Dehing, and Dibong I 
nearly always found them in the backwaters and dead pools cut 
off from the river. When in the actual rivers themselves they 
were generally in deep still pools, but I have sometimes seen them 
in very strong rapids, where they seemed to enjoy themselves 
immensely ; and they are quite at home in the rough tumbling hill- 
streams which they frequent in their summer home, and will there 
be found swimming and diving at their ease with or against the 
roughest and quickest rapids, as well as sometimes floating idly 
in some deep pool. 

In such places as these the Goosander may occasionally be 
surprised, the well- wooded banks allowing a near approach and 
screening the stalker until he actually arrives on the edge of the 
bank itself. As a rule, however, the Goosander is one of the 
wariest and wildest of birds, and this whether on salt or fresh 
water. Should he consider that danger is coming too near, his 
wonderful powers of swimming are at once called into action to 
place him out of danger ; if hard-pressed he resorts to diving, at 
which very few birds can surpass him, though he is said not to 



MERGANSER MERGANSER ORIENTALIS 323 

equal the Smew in this respect. It is, however, only as a last 
resource that he takes wing, for, though once well up and away 
his flight is fairly strong and comparatively swift, he takes long to 
rise off the water and a long time to get properly under way. In 
India, as a matter of fact, I consider that the flight of the Goosander, 
unless he is frightened, is decidedly not swift, though when shot at 
he can get up a fair pace. The birds rise very obliquely, spattering 
along the top of the water some yards before clearing it, 
and even then going some further distance before mounting well 
into the air and into full flight. Their mode of starting is very 
similar to that of cormorants and divers, but once fairly started, their 
flight is then swifter than that of either of those birds, although, 
as already noted, unless they are actually frightened it is by no 
means quick. Swimming about undisturbed and with no particular 
object in view, they float with aliout one-third to half their bodies 
exposed, but they can sink themselves at will, and Hume says that, 
especially when swimming against stream, they sink very deep, 
as do cormorants, and that when ironuded and pursued, they never 
show more than their heads and necks out of water. This is so, 
as I saw repeatedly in the Subansiri and other rivers of Assam ; 
but this mode of swimming did not seem to be resorted to unless 
the birds were wounded or frightened. 

As a rule, all over its wide habitat, it is more common to 
meet the Goosander in quite small flocks of a dozen or so, or 
varying from half-a-dozen to a couple of dozen, whilst single birds 
and pairs are often seen. Sometimes, however, they go in far 
larger flocks. Cripps writes : — 

In the Western Dooars I have seen numbers of the species in 
flocks of from fifty to two hundred." 

One or two other authors have noted large flocks, but, except 
Cripps, all Indian observers seem to concur in considering very small 
flocks to be the rule in India. On the Irrawaddy, Oates speaks of 
meeting them in small parties numbering six or fctcar individuals. 
A note sent me by Mr. S., of the Civil Service, from Darbhanga, 
mentions only seeing comparatively small flocks. My own experi- 
ence has been that about a dozen birds are most often found in 



324 INDIAN DUCKS 

a flock, but that they join forces during the niorning and evening 
flighting, when flocks of forty or. sixty are coinuion, and, as 1 have 
mentioned above, soiuetiines as many as 200 may be seen in one 
flight. 

The food of the Indian Goosander is as purely an animal diet as 
that of any duck in existence, and the greater portion of it consists 
of fish, in the diving after which it is wonderfully expert. Very 
often flocks work in concert in their fishing ; sometimes they will 
gradually work the fish into some narrow inlet, and when they have 
fairly got them driven into it, will almost exterminate a shoal before 
the surviving members of it break through the living cordon of 
greedy birds and make good their escape. 

Ball says : — 

" In the Subanrika they may been seen in parties swimming 
against the stream, and all diving together, apparently to catch fish. 
The sudden disappearance of the whole flock at the same moment 
gives the idea that they work in concert in hunting the fish which 
are coming down with the stream. Their flight is very rapid." 

The same mode of fishing has been reported to me by many 
other observers, and has also come under my own observation on 
several rivers. 

They are most voracious birds, and do a great deal of damage m 
fishing rivers. Mr. E. T. Booth, in ' Eough Notes,' writes of the 
European bird : — 

" Goosanders are blessed with strong, healthy appetites .... 
when wounded or alarmed, I have occasionally remarked an immense 
quantity of fish was thrown up. After a shot .... at a number 
of these birds .... scores of small rudd and roach were dis- 
covered lying on the surface where the flock had been resting." 

Again, to quote Mr. Finn from the ' Asian ' : — 

" A captive bird I had under observation devoured no less than 
forty fish, about two inches long, at a meal. No castings were 
found, but hones and all were digested as by a Cormorant, and the 
excreta were semi-fluid and very foetid. The stomach of this bird 
proved to be soft throughout, not bard and muscular like a duck's 
gizzard." 



MERGANSER MERGANSER ORIENTALIS 325 

Some time after this was written, Mr. Finn was talking to me 
about this same Goosander, and he observed to me that the attitude 
of the bird on the completion of his meal was undoubtedly 
rather pensive, and he wore a rather strained look about his face, 
as if he knew he had reached the limit of his carrying capacity. 
Dr. Moore, of the Planters' Stores in Dibrugarh, took fourteen fish, 
weighing 9 ozs., from the crop of a male, and on another occasion I 
extracted 8 ozs. of fish from a male which had, when first wounded, 
already thrown up some. 

The cry with which the Goosander is generally credited is a croak, 
by no means musical or soft, but Booth describes the note of the 
female and young as being a soft plaintive whistle. 

The only note I have heard was a low guttural quack, uttered 
both by males and females, and by the latter, only, a low, plaintive, 
half-hiss, half- whistle. I spent several days on the Subansiri Eiver, 
which I devoted entirely to obtaining specimens of the Goosander, 
and they undoubtedly gave me as good sport and as careful stalking 
as I could wish for, my best day only giving me seven birds brought 
to book. 

Dawn found me on the river in a dug-out, and the cormorants 
were then already passing in huge flights down to their feeding- 
grounds, but the Goosanders did not commence to flight until about 
half-an-hour after the first streaks of daylight appeared. The first 
flight was a small one of half-a-dozen birds, which passed well out 
of shot, but these were at once followed by a flight of nearly 100 
birds in a long line which stretched nearly half across the stream, 
and the nearest of these appearing to be within shot, I let drive 
and dropped two. One, dead, fell almost into the boat, but the 
other, only wounded, fell with a splash 100 yards away, and at 
once dived. Paddling as hard as they could, the boatmen took me 
to the spot in a very few seconds, but as we arrived there, the snake- 
like head of the Goosander showed from the water nearly as far 
away as before. The former procedure was again carried out, and 
again with the same result, and nearly a half-hour's chase had been 
kept up before I got a snap-shot at the bird as it showed above water. 
Although again hit, it was not yet done for, but it was getting 
e.Khausted, and very soon gave me a fair shot which finished it off. 



326 INDIAN DUCKS 

All this time parties of birds, small and large, had Ijeeu passing down 
the river, but none had come wTthin shot of the boat, the excited 
and gesticulating boatmen warning them off. Our bird gathered, 
the sun was now high and flighting had ceased, so we turned onr 
attention to the flocks which were sunning themselves on the 
banks or playing in the streams or backwaters. The latter, however, 
we soon found to be quite unapproachable, and gave them up in 
order to try those on the banks. 

These we were more successful with, as I found that with care 
I could stalk them whilst their attention was taken up with the boat. 
My first two attempts were failures, and I obtained no shot ; but the 
third time a crawl on my stomach of over 200 yards on the sand 
brought me within about forty yards, and as the flock of some 
thirty birds rose, 1 let drive both barrels and dropped seven of them. 
Of these, two at once rose again and joined the others, one lay 
kicking on the sand, and the four others were diving in all directions. 
Then ensued the same kind of chase that I had had after my first 
bird ; but there were now four birds in the water, two going up- 
stream, and two down, and an hour's hard work resulted in only one 
capture, the other birds very probably leaving the water for the 
banks, or hiding under the banks themselves. 

Further stalks and further chases enabled me to bring the con- 
tents of my actual bag up to seven, but, to my regret, no less than 
half-a-dozen of my wounded birds managed to escape us altogether. 
They took far more hitting to bring down than most birds ; and as 
shots withm fifty yards were exceptional, it was not often they were 
brought down stone-dead, and as long as they had a kick left in them 
they kept the boatmen hard at work. 

One bird, a female, kept us employed for over half-an-hour with- 
out once letting the boat near enough for a shot, and then suddenly 
appeared floating belly upwards on the water, having died during 
one of her dives. 

They swam under water almost as fast as the boat — a light 
dug-out with two boatmen — could be propelled, and as a rule they 
showed up in the water after each dive nearly as far off as before, 
until they had been chased for some minutes, when their dives began 
to shorten. 



MERGANSER MERGANSER ORIENTALIS 327 

My experience as to their progress on land does not at all agree 
with what Hume writes. According to him : — 

On land one sees them resting on the water's edge, and when 
disturhed they shuffle on their lireasts into tlie river. I do not think 
that they can walk at all. Anyhow, I have always seen them just 
half glide, half wriggle, breast foremost, and I think touching the 
rocks, into the water." 

I found that birds wounded and fallen on land got along wonder- 
fully fast. A male which I winged fell on a spit of sand, scuttled 
across it into the water, and again took to the land on the far side. 
I ran across after it, and had to run hard to catch it, and only just 
succeeded in grabbing it as it was about to dive into the deep pool 
beyond the sand-bank. 

When running on laud, they assume a very upright position, 
almost like that of penguins, and they can get along at a very fair 
pace, though they frequently fall and stumble about when hard- 
pressed. 

Now Hume's idea may have been due to his having only seen the 
birds on the very edge of the water, and even tame ducks tvhen close 
to the water and on a shelving bank or stone often seem to wriggle 
and glide into the water, their breasts practically touching the 
ground en route. Mr. Finn in his articles on ducks, which appeared 
in the ' Asian,' has shown that the Mergansers can walk all right. 
He says : — 

"On shore they move about very little, and are clumsy walkers, 
although they get about better than one would expect from the 
published account of their gait." 

For the table the Goosander is quite worthless, and I advise no 
one to try it as long as an;/ other food is obtainable ; the only 
thing to be said in its favour is, that two courses, fish and game 
(both nasty), may be combined in one. However, Hume says that : — 

" They are eatable if skinned, soaked several times, and then 
stewed with onions and Worcester sauce." 

He remarks that it will form then an abundant meal for a hungry 
man. Probably it would, or for several hungry men. 



828 INDIAN DUCKS 



(48) MERGANSER SERRATOR. 

THE EED-BREASTED MERGANSER. 

Mergus serrator, Linn. S. N. x. ed. p. 129 (1758) (Sweden ; {Hume d 
Marsh. Game-B. iii, p. 305; Hume. S. F. ix, p. 268; Barnes, B. of 
Bom. p. 416. 

Mergus castor, Hwme, H. F. iv, p. 496 ; Butler, ibid. v. pp. 291, 323. 

Merganser serrator, Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii. p. 479; Blanford, 
Avifauna B. I. iv, p. 470; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 124; Stuart 
Baker, J. B. N. H. S. xiii, p. 217 (1908); Nurse, ibid, xiv, p. 400: 
Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 402 ; .S7((((// Baker, Indian Ducks, p. 281 (1908). 

Description. Adult Male. — Wliole head, crest, and a narrow line down 
the nape of the neck hlack, the posterior part of the head and the crest 
glossed gL'een ; neck white ; back black ; lower back, rump, and upper tail- 
coverts white and very dark brown in fine wavy lines ; the bases of the 
feathers on the lower hack brown and showing a good deal; tail dark-grey, 
edged paler. The primaries, three outer and innermost secondaries dark- 
brown, the naxt white with black leases, and from these to the longest, white 
with narrow black margins ; greater and median coverts white; edge of the 
wing and smaller coverts brown ; breast rather rich rufous-brown, the 
feathers more or less centred black ; the sides of the breast under 
the shoulder of the wing black, with a patch of feathers white, merely 
margined with black ; outer scapulars white, inner Ijlack. 

Colours of soft parts. — " In the male the bill varies from orange-red to 
deep vermilion, is more or less dusky on the ridge, and has the nail varying 
from pale yellowish-grey to almost black ; the feet vary similarly to the bill, 
and are brighter externally, paler internally, and duller on the webs ; the 
claws are light-grey, duller, and Ijrowner or redder, towards their bases." 
{Hume.) 

Measurements. — " Length 24'0 to 26'0 inches, expanse 29'0 to 32'5, wing 
9'0 to lO'O, tail from insertion of feathers 3'1 to 4'2, tarsus 1'8 to 2'05, bill 
at front along culmen 2'4 to 2'5. Weight {Naumann) a little over 2 lbs." 

The above dimensions and colours of the soft parts are compiled by 
Hume from different authors. 

Salvadori gives the total length as 21 inches, and the culmen 2'15, whilst 
he states the tarsus to be only 1'5. 

Blanford gives the bill from gape as 2'75 inches. 

Adult Female. — -Lores and upper part of head and nock pale rufescent- 
grcy, with darker centres to the feathers ; a faint supercilium dull rufescent- 



MERGANSER SERRATOR 329 

white ; a dark eye-streak like the lores ; chin and throat rufescent-white : 
remainder of head and neck dull-rufous : upper parts ashy-brown, most of 
the feathers edged paler ; lower parts whits : flanks mottled brown and 
white ; primaries and innermost secondaries dark-brown ; outer secondaries 
and their coverts white, the latter with brown bases ; remainder of wing- 
coverts ashy-brown : under wing-coverts grey and white. 

Colours of soft parts. — " In the young and females there is more dusky 
on the upper mandible, where the red is often only a lateral band, and the 
feet are duller-coloured than in the adult male." 

Measurements. — " Length 22'0 to 23'u inches, expanse 28'0 to31'0, wing 
S") to 9'3, tail from insertion of feathers 2'7 to .'Vfi, tarsus I'fiS to r83, bill 
as above 2'1 to 2 '3." (Hi/ me.) 

Adult Male in Summer. — " In tiie plumage that the male of this species 
assumes for a short time during the summer it resembles the female, but is 
distinguishable by it larger size, the different colour of tlie abdomen and 
of the scapulars." {Dresser.) 

" Young' Male closely resembles tlie female, especially when the latter 
is in fresh plumage with a greyish tinge, but can usually be distinguished 
by its larger size and shorter crest." (Dresser:) 

" Males in first nuptial dress have the lower back brown, and tho 
white round the neck streaked with brown." (Snivadori.) 

"Young in Down are dark brown on the upper parts, shading into 
reddish brown on the head, and into chestnut on the sides of the neck; 
a white patch on each wing, one on each side of the upper back, and one 
on each side of the rump ; under parts pure white, and lores wliite, 
margined above and below with dark brown." (Seeholim.) 

Distribution. — The Red-breasted Merganser is found practically 
throughout the Northern Hemisphere, breeding to the north, and 
extending south to the Mediterranean basin, through Central Asia to 
Persia, Northern India, China and Japan, and in America to the 
United States. 

On the whole, it is a more northern bird than the goosander, 
and is circumpolar, whereas the latter is an eastern or old-world 
form. 

In India there is no doubt that it occurs only as the most rare 
of stragglers. 

The first specimen quoted as being an Indian one, and which 
was the only one known to Hume at the time ' Game-Birds ' was 
written, was erroneously so recorded. Blanford corrects this mis- 
take ; he says : — 



830 INDIAN DUCKS 

" The bird stated in ' Stray Feathers ' and in the British Museunj 
Catalogue to have been shot by "Captain Bishop at Manora, Karachi 
Harbour, was really obtained by him at Chahbar, in Persian 
Baluchistan. This correction is founded on a letter from Captain 
Bishop to Mr. Cumming, which I have seen." 

lu ' Stray Feathers ' (v, p. 823), Captain (then) E. A. Butler 
notes : — 

" There is a fine specimen, a S , of this species in the Frere Hall 
Museum, shot by Captain Bishop, at the Manora Point off the 
Karachi Harbour ; another specimen has just now been captured, 
at the end of June." 

Both these birds are referred to as M. cufitor, but the first was 
the M. aerrator obtained by Captain Bishop at Chahbar, as already 
noted. Whether the second bird was M. castor or M. serrator I 
cannot ascertain. 

Beyond this there are only three recorded instances of the actual 
occurrence of the Red-breasted Merganser within our limits. Of 
these the first was that obtained hy Major Yerbury at Karachi, 
which may be the second noted by Captain Butler. The wings of 
tliis are in the British Museum. 

The second Indian specimen is that in the Indian Museum, 
Calcutta, an unsexed specimen obtained in the Calcutta bazaar on 
17th December, 1889. 

Thirdly, Major Nurse records the shooting of a young male 
serrator by Captain Macnamara, at Kush-Dil-Khan, about seven 
miles from Peshin, in the Quetta district. The skin, most unfor- 
tunately, was not preserved. 

Nidification. — As regards the breeding habits, it is remarkable that 
whereas it is the exception for the goosander to make its nest on 
the ground, it would appear to be the rule for this bird to do so, and 
the exception for it to make it on trees. 

Saxby, describing its nesting in the Shetlands, says that : — 

" Although they often lay amongst long grass, they seem to prefer 
the shelter of a roof of some kind, and thus it is that the eggs are 
most commonly found under rocks, in rabbit-burrows, and even in 
crevices in old walls." 

In Yarrell's ' History of British Birds,' iii, p. '288, there are the 
following remarks : — 



MERGANSER SEKHATOR H.Sl 

" This species, Mr. Thompson says, ... is iiuligeuous to 
Iceland, nesting in islets both of marine and fresh-water loughs. 
Pennant has recorded its breeding in the Isle of Islay. Sir W. 
Jardine and Mr. Selby found nests of this species when on a fishing 
excursion upon Loch Awe, in Argyllshire. One of these nests was 
upon a small wooded island, placed among thick brushwood, under 
the covert of a projecting rock, and completely surrounded with 
nettles, long grasses, and ferns. It was carefully made of moss 
plucked from the adjoining rocks, mixed with the down of the bird, 
both in structure and materials, resembling that of the Eider Duck. 
It contained nine eggs, of a rich reddish yellow or fawn colour. 
The bird was remarkably tame, sitting until nearly taken with a 
small hand-net. Sir W. Jardine ver>- kindly sent me one of these 
eggs for my collection ; it measured 2i inches in lengtli and if inches 
in breadth." 

Dresser also says that : — 

" It usually places its nest upon the ground in quiet, unfrequented 
places amongst the low bushes or rank herbage ; occasionally it is 
found in the hollow of a tree. I possess a nest, which is now before 
me, and which is composed of moss, fine grass-bents, and very small 
pieces of twigs well felted together and mixed with down. 

" The eggs, from eight to twelve in number, are usually deposited 
in June, or somewhat earlier than that." 

He describes the eggs as being " a dull stone-drab or creamy-buff, 
with a greenish-grey tinge, and measuring approximately from 
2'55 to ■280 inches in length and I 70 to 1'85 in breadth." 

Morris, who gives a longer note on the nidification of the Red- 
breasted Merganser than on that of most ducks, observes : — 

" These birds iiuild, it seems, on the borders of, and small islands 
in, lakes, whether of fresh or salt water, and rivers, preferring such 
as have a growth of wood, the nests being placed a few yards from 
the edge, at the foot of a tree, or under the shelter of brushwood, 
in the midst of grass, fern, nettles, or other wild vegetation. Also 
in divers other situations, among stones in a hollow, on the bare 
ground, at the top of a tall tree, or in the deserted nest of some 
other bird, or in the end of a deep recess. It has been known, 
moreover, in a bleak and unsheltered situation, on an island in the 
sea, at some distance from the mainland. The materials of its 
composition are moss, flags, stalks, grass, small roots, and feathers, 
placed carelessly together, and intermixed with down of the bird, 
added to, it appears, as incubation advances. 



332 INDIAN DUCKS 

" The eggs are from six or seven to nine, ten, or eleven in 
numljer, of a rich reddish yellow" or In-ownish fawn colour. As soon 
as the females begin to sit, the males quit them for the season. The 
species appears to be late in its nidification, scarcely beginning to 
build before the end of May or the early part of June. The bird 
sits very close, and will allow herself to Ije trodden on before she 
will leave the nest." 

With this summary of Morris's most writers agree, but the eggs 
are said to vary from five to fifteen in number, and many authors 
remark on the fact that the nest of this Merganser is. cinnparatireh/, 
perhaps unusually, well put together and compact. All note the 
carious way in which the down is felted in with the rest of the 
materials into the body of the nest, as well as being used as a copious 
lining. 

It should be noted that, in Holstein, Boje found this bird breed- 
ing in crows' old nests. 

The eggs in my collection vary in length between 'i'SQ and '2'65 
inches, and in breadth only between 1"7 and 1'76. They are very 
similar to the eggs of the Goosander, but are, on the whole, rather 
broader ovals ; all are somewhat darker in colour, and two have a 
well-defined greenish tint. One clutch was taken on the '29th April, 
1899, another on the 10th June, 1880, and the third -ind July, 
1898. 

General Habits. — The habits of this bird vary little from those of 
the last, the main thing about it being the fact that it is more essen- 
tially a sea-bii-d. Like the Goosander, it generally associates in 
rather small flocks, but may occasionally be seen in parties numbering 
as many as '200 or even more. 

Dresser, writing of this bird, observes : — 

" In the Gulf of Bothnia, where the sea is fresh-water, I found it 
extremely common in the summer season, frequenting the coasts, 
and, less often, the inland lakes, but usually in places where the 
forests extended down to the shores, and frequently in localities 
where there are reeds or dense herbage, as is frequently the case on 
poi'tions of the coast. It is a wary and shy bird, soon taking alarm, 
and not easy to approach within range ; but I often obtained them 
when out very early in the morning about sunrise, when they 
appeared less shy than otherwise. It is a very expert diver ; and on 
thd coast of New Brunswick I observed tiiem fishing in flocks at the 



MERGANSER SERRATOR 333 

entrance of a small bay, and evidently driving the tish before tlieni, 
as they formed a sort of cordon round the entrance to the bay, some 
diving, whilst the others remained on the surface. When pursued 
or threatened with danger, it usually seeks safety by diving in pre- 
ference to trusting to its powers of flight. It flies with great swift- 
ness, and I observed, when one passed at full speed near my hiding- 
place in the rocks, that it made a whistling sound with its wings, 
easily heard even at some little distance. It feeds on fish of various 
kinds : larvte of water-insects, worms, and it is also said to some 
extent frogs, form its sta])le food." 

Naninann describes the cry as "a loud, resounding, guttural 
hiier-rr or ger-rr." heard chiefly during flight, sometimes on rising, 
and the females and young are said to be more noisy than the adult 
males. 

Like the Goosander, the Red-breasted Merganser can at will 
either float fairly high on the surface of the water, deep down in 
the water, or entirely submerge its body, leaving only its head and 
neck visible. 



INDEX. 



j^x galericulata, 28, 65. 

, description of, 65. 

, distribution of, 67. 

, general liabits of, 68. 

, nidilication of, 67. 

, shooting of, 68. 

Alpheraky's Swan, 22. 
Anas platyrhijncha, 149, 150. 

, description of, 150. 

, distribution of, 151. 

., general habits of, 157. 

, nidification of, 152. 

, shooting of, 166, 158. 

, synonyms, 150. 

Anas poecilorhyncha haringtoni, 170. 
, description and distribution of, 

170. 
, nidification and general habits 

of, 170, 171. 
Anas jjcecilorhyncha pcecilorhyticha, 

160. 

, description of, 160. 

, distribution of, 161. 

, general habits of, 164. 

— — , nidification of, 161. 

A71IIS pcecilorhyncha zonorhyncha, 

168. 

, description of, 168. 

, distribution of, 168. 

, general habits of, 169. 



Aims puicilorhyncha zonorhyncha, 

nidification of, 169. 
Anatidae, 12. 
Anatinae, 112. 
Andaman Teal, 210. 
Atiser albifroHS albi/ruim, 73, 84-88. 

, description of, 84. 

, distribution of, 85. 

, general habits of, 87. 

, nidification of, 86. 

Anser anser, 73, 75. 

, description of, 75. 

, distribution of, 76. 

, general habits of, 79. 

, nidification of, 77. 

, shooting of, 80-81. 

, synonyms, 75. 

Anser brachyrhynchus , 71, 73, 74, 98. 

, description of, 93. 

, distribution of, 94. 

, nidification of, 95. 

Anser erythroims, 73, 89. 

, description of, 89. 

, distribution of, 90. 

— , nidification of, 91. 

, synonyms, 73, 89. 

Anser fabaVis sibiricus, 99 

, description of, 99. 

, synonyms, 99. 

Atiser gambdi, 85, 87. 



33R 



INDEX 



A user indicus, 71, 73, 101. 

, description of, 101. 

, distribution of, 102. 

, general habits of, 106. 

, nidificatiou of, 103. 

, synonyms, 101. 

Anser neglcctus, 73, 97. 

, description of, 97. 

, distribution of, 98. 

, nidification of, 98. 

Aiiscr sibiricus, distribution of, 100. 

, general habits of, 100. 

, nidification of, 100. 

Auseres, 12. 

Anserina?, 71. 

Asarcornis scutulata, 28, 40, 41. 

, description of, 41. 

, diet of, 48. 

, distribution of, 43. 

, general habits of, 4.5. 

, nidification of, 44. 

, shooting of, 46, 47. 

, synonyms, 41. 

Baer's Pochard, 273-277. 
Baikal Teal, 196-200. 
Bar-headed Goose, 71, 101-108. 
Bean-Geese, 74. 
Bewick's Swan, 20. 
Blue- wing Teal, 225-233. 
Brahminy Duck, 139-148. 
Brahminy-shooting, 14.5. 
Branta ruficoUis, 71, 109. 

, description of, 109. 

, distribution of, 110. 

, nidification of, 110. 

Bronze-capped Teal, 172-178. 
Burmese Grey Duck, 170-171. 

Casarca fcrrugDica, 112, 139. 
, description of, 140. 



Casarca ferriig'nica , distribution of, 

141. 

, general baliits of, 144. 

, nidification of, 142. 

, shooting of, 145. 

Chaulelasmus, as a table delicacy, 

183-184. 
Chaulelasmus slrcpcms, 172, 179. 

, description of, 179. 

, distribution of, 180. 

, general habits of, 182. 

, nidification of, 181. 

, shooting of, 184-186. 

Chenomorphie, 1. 
Clucking-Teal, 196-200. 
Comb-Duck, 30-39. 
Common-Teal, 201-209. 
Cotton-Teal, 67-64. 
Crested Pochard, 284-290. 
Cygninaj. 13. 
Cygnus bewicki, 14, 20. 

, description of, 20. 

, distribution of, 20. 

Cygnus cygnus, 14, 15. 

, description of, 15. 

, distribution of, 16. 

, general habits of, 18. 

, nidification of, 17. 

, synonyms, 15. 

Cygmis minor, 14, 22. 

, description of, 22. 

, distribution of, 23. 

, synonyms, 22. 

Cygnus olor, 14, 24. 

, description of, 24. 

, distribution of, 25. 

, nidification of, 26. 

Dafila acuta, 216. 

, description of, 216. 

, distribution of, 218. 

, general habits of, 220, 



INDEX 



337 



Dafila acuta, nidification of, 219. 
Dendrocycna fidva, 112, 115. 

, description of, 115. 

, distribution of, 116. 

. general habits of, 119. 

, nidification of, 117. 

, synonyms, 115. 

Dendrocycna javanica, 122. 

, description of, 122. 

, distribution of, 123. 

, general habits of, 127. 

, nidification of, 12.3. 

, synonyms, 122. 

Dun-Bird, 259. 
Dwarf Goose, 89-92. 

Eastern Goosander, 317-327. 
Eastern Grey Duck, 168-169. 
Eastern White-Eye, 273-277. 
Eunetta falcata, 112, 172. 

, description of, 173. 

, distribution of, 174. 

, nidification of, 175. 

, general habits of, 177. 

Flamingo, 1, 2-8. 

, Lesser, 1, 9-11. 

Fuhgulinse, 248. 

Gadwall, 179186. 
Gadwall-shooting, 184-186. 
Garganey, 225-233. 
Geese, Bean, 74. 
Geese-shooting, 80 81. 
Glaucionetta clanijula, 291. 

, description of, 292. 

, distribution of, 293. 

, general habits of, 299. 

, nidification of, 297. 

, synonyms, 291. 

22 



Golden-Eye, 291-300. 
Goosander, Eastern, 317-327. 
Goose, Bar-headed, 71, 101-108. 

, Dwarf, 89-92. 

, Grey-Lag, 75-83. 

, Middendorff's, 99. 

, Pink-footed, 93-96. 

, Eed-breasted, 109-111. 

, Spurred, 30. 

, Sushkin's, 97. 

, White-fronted, 84-88. 

Greater Whistling-Teal, 115-121. 
Grey Duck, 160167 

, Burmese, 170-171. 

, Eastern, 168. 

Grey Lag Goose, 75-83. 
, shooting of, 80-81. 

Lesser Flamingo, 1, 9-11. 

Mallard, 150-159. 
Mallard-shooting, 156, 158. 
Mandarin Duck, 65-70. 
Mandarin-Duck shooting, 68. 
Marbled Duck, 241. 
Mareca penclope, 187. 

, description of, 187. 

, distribution of, 187. 

, general habits of, 191. 

, nidification of, 189. 

Marmaronctta angusiirostris, 241. 

, description of, 241. 

, distribution of, 242. 

, general habits of, 245. 

, nidification of, 243. 

, synonyms, 241. 

Merganser merganser orientalis, 316, 
317. 

, description of, 317. 

, distribution of, 319. 



338 



INDEX 



Merganser merganser orienlalis, 
general habits of, 3'2L 

, nidification of, 321. 

, synonyms, 317. 

Merganser, Eed- breasted, 328. 
Merganser serrator, 328. 

, description of, 328. 

, general habits of, 332. 

, distribution of, 329. 

, nidification of, 331. 

, synonyms, 328. 

Merginse, 248, 308. 
Mergus albellus, 308, 309. 

, description of, 309. 

, distribution of, 311. 

, general habits of, 314. 

, nidification of, 312. 



Middendorif's Goose, 99. 
Mute Swan, 24-27. 



Netta rufina, 249. 

, description of, 249. 

, distribution of, 251. 

, general habits of, 253. 

. nidification of, 252. 

, synonyms, 249. 

Nettion albigularc, 210. 

, description of, 210. 

, distribution of, 211. 

, general habits of, 213. 

, nidification of, 212. 

, synonyms, 210. 

Nettion crecca crecca, 195, 201. 

, description of, 201. 

, distribution of, 203. 

general habits of, 206. 

, nidification of, 204. 

, synonyms, 201. 

Nettion forviosum, 195, 196. 
, description of, 196. 



' Nettion formosum, distribution of, 
197. 

•, general habits of, 200. 

, nidification of, 198. 

, synonyms, 196. 

Nettopus coromandelianus , 28, 57 

, description of, 58. 

, distribution of, 59. 

, general habits of, 62. 

, nidification of, 60. 

, synonyms, 57. 

Nukhta, 30-39. 

Nyroca ferina, 248, 258, 259. 

, description of, 259. 

, distribution of, 260. 

, general habits of, 263. 

, nidification of, 261. 

, synonyms, 259. 

Nyroca fuligiila, 248, 284. 

■, description of, 284. 

, distribution of, 285. 

, general habits of, 288. 

, nidification of, 287. 

, synonyms, 284. 

Nyroca mania, 278. 

, description of, 278. 

, distribution of. 279. 

, general habits of, 282. 

, nidification of, 281. 

, synonyms, 278. 

Nyroca nyroca baeri, 273. 

, description of, 273. 

, distribution of, 274. 

, general habits of, 276. 

, synonyms, 273. 

Nyroca nyroca nyroca, 266. 

, description of, 266. 

, distribution of, 266. 

, general habits of, 270. 

, nidification of, 268. 

, synonyms, 266. 



INDEX 



339 



Oxyura leucoceijhala, 218, 301, 302. 

, description of, 302. 

, distribution of, 303. 

, uidification of, 305. 

, synonyms, 302. 

Oxyurinae, 301. 

Pliceniconaias minor, 19. 

, desciiption of, 9. 

, distribution of, 10. 

— ^ — , general habits of, 11. 

, nidification of, 10. 

, synonyms, 9. 

Phosnicopterus antiquorum, 1, 2. 

, description of, 3. 

, distribution of, 3. 

, general habits of, 6. 

, nidification of, 4. 

, synonyms, 2. 

Pink-footed Goose, 93-96. 
Pink-headed Duck, 50-56. 
Pintail, 216-224. 
Plectropterinae, 28. 
Pochard, 259. 

, Baer's, 273-277. 

, Crested or Tufted, 284-290. 

, Red-crested, 249. 

, White-eyed, 266-272. 

Querquedula qucrquedtda, 225. 

', description of, 226. 

, distribution of, 227. 

, general habits of, 230. 

, nidification of, 228. 

, synonyms, 225. 

Red-breasted Goose, 109-111. 
Red-breasted Merganser, 328-333. 
Red-crested Pochard, 249. 
Bhodonessa caryophyllacea, 28, 50. 
, description of, 50. 



lihodoncssa caryophyllacea, distribu- 
tion of, 52. 

, general habits of, 54. 

, nidification of, 53. 

Ruddy Sheldrake, 139-148. 

Sarcidioriiis melanota, 28, 30. 

, description of, 81. 

, distribution of, 31. 

. general habits of, 36. 

, nidification of, 34. 

, synonyms, 30. 

Scaup, 278-283. 
Sheldrake, 133-138. 

, Ruddy, 139-148. 

Sheldrake-shooting, 145. 
Shoveller, 234-240. 
Smew, 309-315. 
Spatula clypeata, 234. 

, description of, 234. 

, distribution of , 236. 

. general habits of, 238. 

, nidification of, 237. 

Spot-Bill or Grey Duck, 160-167. 
Spurred Geese, 30. 
Stiff-tail Duck, 302-307. 
Sushkin's Goose, 97. 
Swan, Alpheraky's, 22. 

, Bewick's, 20. 

, Mute, 24-27. 

Tadorna tadorna, 112, 133. 

, description of, 133. 

, distribution of, 134. 

, habits of, 137. 

, nidification of, 135. 

Teal, Andaman, 210. 

, Baikal, 196-200. 

, Blue-wing, 225-233. 

, Bronze-capped, 172-178. 

, Clucking, 196-200 



340 



INDEX 



Teal, Common, 201-209. 

, Cotton, 57-64. 

, Whistling (Greater), 115-121. 

, Whistling (Lesser or Common), 

122-132. 
Tealeries, 209. 
Tufted Pochard, 284-290. 

Whistling-Teal, Greater, 115-121. 

, Lesser or Common, 122-132. 

White-Eye, Eastern, 273-277. 



iWhite-eyed Pochard, 266-272. 
"White-fronted Goose, 84-88. 
White-headed or Stiff-tail Duck, 

302-307. 
White-winged Wood-Duck, 40, 4 1-49. 
Whooper, 15-19. 
Wigeon, 187-194. 
Wild-Duck, Common, 150-1.59. 
Wild-Duck-shooting, 156, 158. 
Wood-Duck, White-winged, 40, 

41-49. 



.ToBN Balk Sons and Danielsson, Ltii., S3-91, Gt. Titchfield Street. W. 1. 






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