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by H. Gronvold, G. E. Lodge, and J. G. Keulemans. 









(TTiis Edition is limited to 1200 Copies, after which the Lithographs 

will he erased.^ 



Contents v 

List of Plates vii 

Introduction ix 

Indian Ducks 1-285 

Index 287-292 

List ok Platks. 


Plate Pagh 

r Ctgnus Musicus. The Whooper 12 

I Cygnfs oloe. The Mute Swan 10 

IT. Sarcidiornis melanonota. The Niikbta or Comb-Duck ... 23 

III. AsAiiCOKNis SCUTULATA. The White-winged Wood-Duck . . 32 

IV. Ehodonessa caryophyllacea. The Pink-headed Duck ... 41 
V. Nettapus cobomandelianus. The Cotton-Teal 47 

VI. Anser albifrons. The White-fronted Goose 70 

VII. Anser indicus. The Bar-headed Goose 84 

VIII. Dendrocycxa eulta. The Greater WhistUng-Teal .... 93 

IX. Dbndrocyona jayanica. The Lesser or Common Whistling- 
Teal 99 

X. Tadorna cornuta. The Sheldrake 109 

XL Casarca rutila. The Euddy Sheldrake or Brahminy Duck . 114 

XII. Anas boscas. The Common Wild Duck or Mallard .... 124 

XIII. Anas poecilorhyncha. The Spot-bill or Grey-Duck . . . .133 

XIV, Eunetta falcata. The Bronze-capped Teal 143 

XV. Chaulelasmus stbeperus. The Gadwall 148 

XVI. Mareca PENELOPE. The Wigeon 155 

XVII. Nettion crecca. The Common Teal 167 

XVILI. Nettion albigulare. The Andaman Teal 175 

XIX. Dafila acuta. The Pintail 181 

XX. Querquedula ciRCiA. The Garganey or Blue-wing Teal . . 188 

XXL Spatula clypeata. The Shoveller 196 

XXII. Marmaronetta angusxibostkis. The Marbled Duck . . . 202 


Plate Pace 

XXIII. Xetta rttfina. The Eed-crested Pochard 208 

XXIV. Xyroca ferixa. The Pochard or Dun-bird 217 

XXV. Nyeoca baehi. The Eastern White-eye 223 

XXVI. Nyroca afhicana. The White-eyed Pochard or White-eye. . 227 

XXVII. Ffligula fuligula. The Crested Pochard or Tufted Pochard . 239 

XXVIII. Erismatura lel'Cocephala. The White-headed or StifF-tail 

Duck 255 

XXIX. Meesus albellus. The Smew 262 

XXX. Merganser seeeator. The Red-breasted Merganser . . 281 


TN 1896 the Honorary Secretary of the Bombay Natural 
History Society induced me to write a series of articles 
on our Indian Chenomorph?e, and consequently the articles 
which commenced in Volume xi. of the ' Journal ' of that Society 
made their appearance. 

Since the publication of Hume and Marshall's ' Game- 
Birds,' no attempt has been made to collect the various notes- 
which have from time to time been printed in the ' Asian,' 
' The Indian Field,' and other sporting papers, as well as in 
the B. N. H. S. Journal itself, and it has been a matter 
of great difficulty — often an impossibility — for either sportsman 
or ornithologist to know what has already been recorded and 
what has not. Hence many interesting facts and finds were 
never recorded at all, and these articles were originally written 
as much with a view to elicit more information as to place 
on record in a compact form what had already been recorded. 



That the raison (Vetre ^vas a good one was shown by the 
immediate receipt by the Editors of the ' Journal ' of numerous 
notes, giving both information that was new and correcting 
part that was old. 

The present book aims at being a corrected, up-to-date 
edition of these papers, and incorporates, as far as possible, 
the additional information received since they were brought 

There is still very ample room for further matter of interest, 

and still much about which w^e require confirmation or 

correction, notably in regard to the Geese to be found in 

India ; and it is hoped that the readers of this volume will all 

try and add their quota to our knowledge. 

The classification I have adopted is that of Salvadori, as 
given in volume xxvii. of the ' Catalogue of Birds in the British 
Museum ' ; and the keys to suborders, families, subfamilies, and 
genera, &c. are generally taken from that book, merely changed, 
so far as is necessary for Indian Ducks, by eliminating such 
matter as does not refer to them, with a few other minor 
alterations. The references made are principally to books 
which refer to the birds as Indian Birds, as a complete reference 
to synonyms and publications would not only have taken too 
much time, but would have proved of little interest to the 
general i-eader. 


The principal references made are to the following 
works : — 

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


Jerdon, B. I Jerdon's ' Birds of India.' 

Hume, Cat Hume's 'Catalogue of Indian Birds.' 

Str. Feath ' Stray Feathers.' 

Jour. B. N. H. S. . . . • Journal of the Bombay Natural 

History Society.' 

Fauna B. I • Fauna of British India, Birds.' 

Alpheraky, Geese . . . Alph^raky's ' Geese of Europe and 


B. of Bom ' Birds of Bombay.' 

B. of Cey • Birds of Ceylon.' 

Hume & Mar. Game-B. . Hume and Marshall's ' Game-Birds 

of India and Ceylon.' 

Gates, Game-B Oates's ' Game-Birds of British 

India and its Dependencies.' 

Valuable notes have also been obtained from the pages of 
* The Asian ' and the ' Indian Field.' 

E. C. S. B. 


The characteristics of this order, as defined by Huxley, are : palate desmo- 
guathous ; 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 tirst of these — 
the " Palamedea?, or Screamers " — we have nothing to do, as they are 
confined to the Neotropical Region and do not visit our part of the world. 

The two remaining suborders are the Phoenicopteri, 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 

Keii to Suborders . 

A. Tarsus three times the length oE femur ; bill strongly bent 

downwards in the centre Phcenicopteei. 

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

but straight Anseres, 

The suborder Phamicopteri contains but one family — the '' Phcenico- 
pteridse," — and that family (so far as we arc concerned) but two genera, 
both of which contain but a single species. 

Key to Genera. 

a. Upper mandible overlapping lower ; throat naked . . . PhccmcojiU-rus. 
h. Upper mandible not overlapping ; throat feathered . . . P/ioniconaias. 


Suborder PH CEN I C O PTERI. 



Phcenicopterus roseus, Sulvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 12 ; Jenlon, B. I. iii, 
p. 775; Hume, Cat. no. 944; id. Sir. Feath. i, p. 257: Butler, ibid, iv, 
p. 25; Fairbanl; ibid. p. 264; ButJer, ibid, v, p. 234; Davids. 4' Wend. 
ibid.\'n, p. 92; Murray, ibid. p. 112; Vidal, ibid, ix, p. 91; Butler, 
ibid. p. 436 ; LegcfC, B. of Ceij. p. 1092 ; Reid, Str. Feath. x, p. 78 ; 
Davidson, ibid. p. 325 : Hume, ibid. p. 513 ; Lester, Jour. B. N. H. S. 
viii, p. 553; id. ibid, xi, p. 331; Fleming, ibid, xii, p. 216; Blanford, 
Fauyia B. I. iv, p. 408. 

Phcenicopterus antiquorum, Ihune, Str. Feath. vii, p. 491 ; Barnes, B. of 
Bom. p. 392. 

Phcenicopterus andersoni. Ilame, Str. Feath. iii. ]). 414. 

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

Oi'bital skin flesh-pink to bright red ; irides lemon-yellow, pale yellow, or pale 
golden yellow (Jerdon) ; hill bright flesh-coloured, edge of mandible and terminal 
portion of bill black ; legs and feet pinkish-red, claws black. 

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 1-5. 
{Legge, B. of Ceglon.) 

Female. — Similar to the male, the rose-colour on head, neck, and back often 
less pi'onounced, 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 lo\^er plumage white, more or less tinged with 
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 ^ing-coverts and 
axillaries pale pink. Bill more dull than in adult ; 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 (Dressi-r). In the 
nestling the bill is perfectly straight, but soon assumes the normal shape. 



Habitat. — Southern Europe (practically confined to the, 
Asia on the east and south-east, and the whole of Africa. 

In India it 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 " ,/■. 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 Bengal is a decidedly rare bird. I have once seen it during 
the cold weather in the Sunderbands, 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 nowadays than it used to be. Elsewhere in Bengal it is 
only a casual flock that is seen in the cold weather. 

Legge seems to have thought that the Flamingo bred in (yeylon ; but 
his ideas on this subject have never been confirmed, though it is more 
than possible that he was correct, as Mr. W. N. Fleming reports fi-om 
Tuticorin that the Flamingo is fairly common throughout the district, and 
that a large fioek, numbering some 300 birds, was still in the neighbour- 
hood of that place in July 1898. 

His Highness the Ilao of Cutch is the only observer who has actuidly 
found a regular nesting-place of the Flamingo within Indian limits. In a 
letter to Mr. Lester he recorded that he had obtained some twentv eoes 
and two young from some place in the Runn of Cutch *. 

Its principal breeding-places lie in Africa, and in Asia, in Arabia, and 
Persia, where they collect during the breeding-season in countless numbers. 
It also breeds in Spain, and is said to do so in the Ehone Delta. Hume 
and, after him, Barnes (Jour. B. N. H. S. vi, no. 3, p. 285) have com- 
mented 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 
connnon to the whole genus, as Barnes notes havin<>' obtained eogs thus 
which he considered belonged to the Lesser Flamingo. 

* In January, Is'Jl, IMF. the Rao of Cutch ])ubli8hed, in tlie .Tournal B. N. IT. S. xv, 
p. 70(3, a photograph and note on the nests ;iud eggs of the Fianiiiif^o found in tlie Uunn 
of Cutch. 

J! 2 


A^ain, niv t'riciul Dr. E. Hartcrt, wlieu visitini;' Boiuiirc, cauu' across a 
colony of Flainin<>;oes breeding ; and, tlion|>li he could not approach near 
enough to obtain s[)ecini<'ns and satisfy himself as to the species, he 
managed to visit the nesting-i»laces, and he mentions that he obtained 
two fresh eggs which were lying in the water. Here the birds do not 
seem io have commenced breeding in earnest, and these eggs appear to 
have been casually dropped by them into the water, either liefore the nest 
had been made to receive them, or, more likely, before the bird felt 
inclined to connnence incubation. 

All kinds of Flamingoes, of wLiich the niditication i> known, breed 
iu 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, sonu^ 
foot or eighteen inches high, with the ends flattcneil off and a shallow 
cavity nuide in their summits. The nests are made close tooethei', in 
many cases several in a grou[) almost touching onc^ another ; but of course 
their proximity to each other depends greatly on the de})tli of the water in 
which thc^y 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 fouiul in 
the Rhone 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 covei-ed by water, but 
of coral. Hartert's own words describe the place vividly for us ; lie 
says : — " The water was deej) in places and the bottom very rough, con- 
sisting of very sharp corals and often of a deceitful crust of salt or sallpetre, 
under which the water was black and very deep. Jt 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 Mater from 
3 to (I inches, the water round them being apparently very shallow ; but it 
was often the fatal crust that caused this api)earance, 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 itenetrated 
and encrusted with salt and pieces of coral, with a distinct concavitv in 
the centre." 

The eggs, nearly invariably two in number, are long ovals, generally a 
good deal [.ointed at the ends. The colour of the true shell itself is a pale 
skim-milk blue; but they are so encrusted with a dense chalkv coverino- 


that they appear, except where stained, to be pure white. They vary in 
size very considerably, but average about IV Gx 2*3 inches. 

Although so connnon in many parts o£ India, they are nowhere easy to 
get shots at, as they are extremely wary and cute birds. All over their 
hal)itat shyness seems to be their most prominent characteristic, and a 
close approach means the result o£ a stalk as carefully made as if the 
stalker was 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 aind remove themselves into safety. Typically their flight is 
distinctly anserine, not perhaps exactly V-shape, but more in the form of 
a curved ribl)on, the ends fluttering backwards and forwards as the birds, 
more especially those at the two extremes, alter their position. As a 
matter of fact, diflerent 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, bat 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 are doubtless right, and it seems 
probable that when flying for a short distance only they adopt no special 
mode of flight, whereas on migration, or when moving to any distance, 
their formation is much as already 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 })Ossible, the banks m 
some places looking as if they were covered with a rosy snow, so dense 
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 wino-s on takino- flioht, and in so doing exijosed their scarlet 
coverts and axillaries. They made but little noise, the few calls that 
were heard })eing very similar to those of a wild goose, but not perhaps 
quite so discordant. 

Writing of these birds, Mr. Eagle Clarke (' Ibis,' 1805, p. 200) says :— 
" To witness the; simultaneous unfolding of a thousand lovely crimson 
and black pinions under brilliant sunlight is a sight the recollection of 
wliich will not readily be effaced from our memories. The flock did not 
run forward to i-iso on tlu; 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 
inslance was any particular formation maintained.' 


'lliey do not, Iiowcnct, nt Iv.i^t in this couiitrv, always ri>c in tiic >aine 
iiianiicr. Imf both l)efore rising and after alighting vui\ forward some stej)- 
in a most ungainly manner. 

They generally leave Northern India in M;iy or .lune. though they 
have l)een seen in July, and the first few hirds return in the end of 
Septemher. From Soutliern as well as froni Eastern India they migrate 
a good deal earlier as a rule, hut they have been recorded in ( 'cylon in 
May, and, as jnentioned above, from Taticorin in July. 

As might be ex[)ected from the very curious formation of the 
Flamingo's bill, their mode of feeding is rathei- remarkable. Bending 
down their long necks between their legs, and looking very mu(di like 
bird acrobats |)re[)aring to stand on their heads, they invert their bills 
entirely, and use them as shovels in which to catch or collect their i'ood. 
This they obtain by moving their heads backwards and forwards, or from 
side to side, and gently stirring up the mud. What they actually t'l'ed on 
is not at all well known and is one of the easy [)oints 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. ^\'e know that a 
considerable [)art of tlieir diet is vegetarian, but they are also in all 
probah)ility far more given to animal food than has generally been l)elieved 
to be the case. Mr. Eaole Clarke, in his interesting aiticli- alreadv 
referrtsd to, came to the conclusion that the Flaminj^oes inhabiting the 
Khone Delta existed almost entirely, if not quite, on a tiny Phyllopod, the 
brine-shrimp {Arfonla .';((Hii((), which he states is found there in 
marvellous abundance. 

The value of the Flamingo when <li\cstetl of its feathers and placed on 
the table has been variously estimated. Some have said that >kiiHied 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 particuUir 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 oood diet are also well-fla\-oure(|. 



Phceniconaias minor, !Scilvadori, Cat. B. 21. xxvii, p. 18. 

Phcenicopteriis roseus, part., Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 775. 

Phcenicopterus minor, Hwnc% Str. Feath. i, p. 31 : Adam, ibid. p. 400, 

ii, p. 339 ; Ihime, ibid, iv, p. 25 ; Buthr, ibid, v, p. 234 ; Hume, ibid. 

viii, p. 114; id. Cat. no. 944 bis ; Butler, Sti\ Feath. ix, p. 436; Legge, 

B. of Cey. p. 1093; Hume, Str. Feath. x, p. 513; Barnes, B. of Bom. 

p. 393 ; Betham, Jovr. B. N. H. S. xii, p. 222 ; Blanford, Fauna B. 1. 

iv, p. 410. 

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 
Aving-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 A\ith a tinge of crimson. Some old males, perhaps during 
the breeding-season only, have thefeatjiers of the back with crimson shatt-stripes. 

Iris red minium ; bill dark lake-red, with the tip black ; feet red (Antinori). 
Length 34 to 38 inches, wing 13 to 14, tail about 5, culraen 4 to 4-25, tarsus 7*5 
to 8-25. 

Female. — Similar to the male, but smaller and paler, \\ithout the crimson 
scapularies, and with no crimson on the back or breast. Length about 32 to 
34 inches, wing 12-2 to 13, tail about 5 or less, ciilmen about 4. tarsus 
about 7*25. 

The yoimg appears to be vei'v like that of Phcenicopterus roseus, but with a 
more rosv and less brown or buff tinge about it. Altogether a brighter, paler 

Ilahitat. — This bird is not spread OAcr 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 j\Inseum Catalogue, Salvadori 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 JST.E. Africa it 
extends to N.W. India, where, however, it is not found far south or fai- 
into the interior, nor is it found anywhere towards the east. 

It has been recorded from various parts of India from the end of 
September uj) to the beginning of July, and cannot breed very far from 


our shores. In all probability most of the birds which vi^it us breed on 
tlie west coast of the Red Sea, and if such is the case there would be 
nothing very remarkable in the shortness oi: 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 breed 
with us, as Major Betham in li>09 obtiiined in Baroda eggs which I 
think were certainly those of a Flamingo, and proVxibly 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 n('<t. Eggs 
<leposited on a mound or small island in brackish water. Another clutch 
of six existed, but they were taken by Muggurs." 

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

It seems likely that none of the various species of Flamingoes migrate 
to any great distance, and some, as we know, are practically peimanent 
residents of 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 
€arly part of the hot weather. Captain Feilden shot it in July in 
Secunderabad. It has been seen on the great Majuffgarh Jhcd, 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 apj)roach. 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. 

The only note besides Betham's I can find regarding the nidifioation 
of this Flamingo is that made in the Journal of the B. N. }i. S. by the 


late E, BarneSj who says that he obtained an egg from a tisherinan, 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 species, and he adds that he 
examined the hnge series of Flamino-o eo-o-s 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. 



Suborder ANSERES. 
Family ANATIDiE. 

Ke;/ to Su/)ja))nJies. 

A. Hind toes not lobed. 

a. Neck as long as, or longef tlian, the body .... 1. Cvonin.'e. 

b. Neck not as long as body. 

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

Upper parts glossy -. rLECTKOi'TEUiNi: 

6'. Hind toe moderate, tail-feathers rather sliort. L'pper 

parts not glossy. No cere ^. Axseuix.e. 

B. Hind toe very narrowly lobed. 

c. Bill short and goose-like -t. C'iiknoxettin.-'E. 

d. Bill rather flat and broad 5, Anatin-E. 

C. Hind toe broadly lobed. 

e. Bill more or less depressed. 

c. Tail-feathers normal 0. i'uLiGri-ix.E. 

^r. Tail-feathers narrow and very stiff .... 7. EiusM.vxrBO.E. 

/. Bill more or less compressed, never depressed . , . b. Mebgix.e 

Subfamily CYGNIN^. 

This subfamily contains but one genus (Cij<jinis) Aviiich is represented 
in India, the other two genera Chenopsis and ( oscoroba being confined to 
Australia and South America only. 

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 [)0ssess, besides the one named_, interesting only 
horn a scientific point of view. 

Kei/ to Species. 

A. Xo knob at the base of the culmeu ; lores yellow. 

a. Black apical portion of the bill generally docs not extend 
above the nostrils, and on the sides only reaches halfway 
to the gape. Cidmen exceeds 4 inches 0. unt.iiois. 

cvgxinm:. 11 

h. Black apical portion of the bill extends mucli above tlie 
nostrils and backwards to the gape. Culmen under 

4 inches C. bewichi. 

B. Culmen with a prominent knob at the base ; lores black . . C. olor. 

Although C. beuicki has now been eliminated from the list of Indian 
birds, the key is allowed to stand as it is in the hope that it may be of ii?e 



Cygnus musicus, Salmdon, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 20 ; llame Sf Mar. 

(/aitic-B. iii, p. 4 ; Blanford, Jovr. B. N. H. S. xi, p. 306 ; AitJcen, ibid. 

xiii, p. 362; Crerar, ibid, xv, p. 716; BUmford, Fauna B. I. iv, p. 414; 

Oates, Oame-B. ii. p. 35. 
Cygnus ferus, Hume, Str. Feath. vii, pp. 100, H>7, 404; viii, p. 114; id. Cat. 

no. 944 qiiat. 

Description. Adult male and female. — Piii'e wliite, i-arely showing a slight 
rufous-grey wasli on the feathers of the liead ; this is pi-obably due to immaturity. 

Young. — Wholly a light brownish-grey. 

Nestling. — White down. 

Adult male. — Length 60 inches ; expanse 95 ; wing 25'75 ; tail 7'5 ; bill 
along culmen (including bare space on forehead) 4-5, from tip to eye 5-16 ; tarsus 
4-16. Weight 10 lbs. {Hume.) Total length about 5 feet; wing 25*5 inches, 
tail S-5, culmeu 4-2, tarsus 4-2. {SaJvadori.) 

Female. — Length 52 inches ; expanse 85 ; wing 23-5 ; tail 7'5 ; bill as 
above 4-5, to eye 4-S4 ; tarsus 4. AV^eight 16'5 lbs. {Hume.) 

A young bird killed in March (in India ?) measured 44 inches in length 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 ; ii'ides deep bazel. 

For very many year.s the only occurrence of this Swan in India was 
that recorded by Hodgson. Of this specimen a drawing was made by 
Hodgson, and the head and I'eet arc in the British Museum, labelled 
C. bewicki. The latter have been carefully examined by Blanford and 
other authorities, and are now definitely accepted as being those of C>j(j)iiis 
musicus, and C. heivicki has tlierefore been expunged from our Indian 

Since my article was written for tlie Journal of the B. T^. H. S. tliere 
have been two more instances of the W hoojjer being obtained in India. 
The first was obtained by General W. Osborn on the (Jth January, 1900, 
on the River Beas in the Hushiapur district of the Punjab, and its 
occurrence was reported in tlie 'Asian' as follows : — 

Plate I. 


I,H.GrarvoU. 2, J.G.KEulema.rLs del. 


Cygn"us music ULS. 

Cyignus oiop. 

J.Green, CKpomo . 


" While duck-shooting with a friend on the river 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 too wary to be 
reached even by my £our-])ore duck-gun, we sent back to camp for our 
'303 rifles, and with these weapons we managed to secure one of the four. 
When we recovered the bird we found it to be undoiibtedly a ' Whooper ' 
(^Cygnus muslcus), and its weight and measurements were as follows : — 
Weight 12 lbs. (?). Length from tip of bill to end of tail 4 feet 8i inches, 
spread of wing 7 feet 5 inches." 

General Osborn in ejyistold added : — " 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 couipanions remained in sight it continued 
to utter its long, loud, musical trumpet-call.''^ 

The second record is that of Mr. J. Crerar, who shot a young bird of 
this species on a sheet of water known as Changra Dhand, in the Rampur 
Taluka, Larkana District, Sind, on the 31st January, 1904. This bird 
seems to have been solitary. Its skin has been presented bv the shooter 
to the Bombay Museum. 

Mr. J. W. Nicol Cumming obtained a fine specimen of the Whooper on 
the Farrah Bud on the 13th January, 1905, which had been killed on the 
Hamun-i-Sabari, on which it was reported numerous. The young are also 
said to be obtained in Seistan, so that, breeding so near India as this, we 
may hope to have many more records of its visiting our borders. 

It extends practically over the whole of Northern Europe and Asia, 
extending to Japan and Greenland. In the winter it works south and 
visits much of Southern Europe, and in Asia has been recorded from 
Japan, South Yezo, Shanghai, Corea, Teheran, &c. On the Caspian it is 
very common in the winter and a few even remain to breed about its 
northern shores. About Corea it cannot be said to be rare in winter, for 
Mr. C. W. C'ampbell remarks : '' In mild seasons I have noticed that a 
number of these swans }»ass the winter in a bend of the Han River, about 
three miles south of Soul." In Iceland this was the only species of 
swan observed by Messrs. H. J. and C. E. Pearson, and in the ' Ibis ' 
(1895, }). 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 iieen recentlv taken. Althouoh these birds sometimes breed on islands 

14 1NJ)IAX ItUCK^. 

ill the inluiljiteJ districts, it is little uso to look for tlioir eggs before you 
pass the Mast farm.' ;i> they are generally taken eith(M- to eat or sell/^ 

Tliev also breed^ but not, I believe, in great nuniijers, in South Green- 
land and in the north of Europe, and in Asia as far south as it is allowed 
by humanity — which is, of course, equivalent to slaughter. 

All Swans seem to have the same lirfcdiiij^-jiabir-. Tlify make huge 
nests of rushes, grass, and any other vegetable inatei-ial which is soft 
enough and easily moved ; the preference is naturally given to such kind 
as is most handy. These are placed on the borders of marshes and swamps, 
often on islands situated in such places, sometimes actually in shallow 
water. 3Iore i-areh' they are placed by rivers, either u\) on the banks 
removed from the river itself, or in amongst the i-aiik herl)age l)ordering 
its course. When placed aetually in water, the swans are said to raise 
their nests 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, l)Ut in captivity often lay a larger 
numl)'T -rill. I have known a tame duck-swan lay fourteen eggs in a 
sitting. According to Morris, the smaller number of eggs laid are generally 
those of vouno- birds, whilst the oreater number of ego-.s are laid bv those 
fully adult. I should think, however, judging l)y analogy, that though 
birds of the first season m;iy hiy fewer eggs than is normal, it i-^ 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, perhaps, be a more 
correct expression — countries they connnence breeding in Mav, but in 
Iceland, Greenland, &c. they are normally at lea>t a iiKjinh hitei-. and 
August even may still tind some of the latest birds laying. 

Incubation lasts from 35 to 10 days, 37 being the most u>u;d nuinber 
of days for a swan to sit, though eggs of the same clutch mav varv 
<-onsiderably 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 
hiiek whenever they want a rest. 

in the ' Asian ' of the ;3tli 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. niu.sicug: — 

•'A Scandinavian writer, cit(.'(l by the 'Zoologist,' has recently descriljed 
a curious method of caj)turiii;i- swans much employed for centuries past in 
the north-west of Iceland. • The swans, after moulting in autunm, leave 


the interior in order to reach the coast. The inhabitants of the coast and 
tlieir 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 o£ a racket as possible. This noise has a powerful elFect 
on the young swans, which, terrified and distracted, and not knowing 
which way to turn theii- heads, allow themselves to fall to the ground, 
when they are captured without any difficulty/ 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 them- 
selves 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.' "" 

In spite of the beautiful novelty of this way of catching swans, Indian 
sportsmen had better keep to that dear old-fashioned weapon, the " T>.^." 
breechloader, and leave the attempt to put salt on the ducks' tails to 
Guachos, who can " run towai'ds " a Hock on horseback by " keeping lee- 
ward 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 is said to have not nearly as stately or as graceful a 
carriage as the Common Swan, holding its neck in a nmch stiff er 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 to ascertain to what particular species they 



Cygnus olor, Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 35 ; Scully, Str. FeatJi. iv, 
p. 197 ; Blanfonl, ibid, vii, p. 99 ; Hume, ibid. pp. 101, 106 ; Hume 4' 
Mar. Game-B. iii, p, 41 ; Maemullen, Jour. B. N. H. S. xiv, p. 156 ; 
Blanford, Fauna B. I. iv, p. 413 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 26. 

Cygnus unwini, Blanford, Str. Feath. \'\i, p. 100 ; Hume, ibid. p. 104. 

Cygnus sp., Hume, Sir. Feath. iv, p. 33 : vii, p. 104. 

Description. Adult male. — The whole plumage white, witli the exception of 
the lores, which are black. Bill, the tubercle, base of maxilla, nostrils, margins, 
tuid nail black, remainder of maxilla reddish-horny ; mandible wholly black ; legs 
and feet dull black ; irides rich bro\\n. 

Total leiigtii from 4-7 to 5*2 feet ; wing 23 to 27 inches, tail about 1(», 
cuhnen 4*2, tarsus about 4-5, but varying very much. 

AVeight 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 ha\e 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 aud 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. 

Length 4*2 to 4*8 feet ; wing IS to 22 inches, tad under 10, culmen about 4, 
tarsus about 4*3. 

Young. — " Plumage almost a soot)' -grey ; neck and under surface of the body 
lighter in colour ; beak lead-colour ; nostrils and the basal marginal line black."' 

Cygnets. — " Covered with soft brownish or dull ashy -grey down, ^\ hich on tlic 
lower throat and breast becomes 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 bill 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). 

The range of this bird does not seem to l)e nearly as extensive as that 
o£ the previous bird and Cy(jnu)< hewicki, 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 he 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 
liussia. Writing of Eastern Prussia, Hartert says : " ('. 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. 

In India it is only a rare winter visitor, except in very severe winters, 
when numerous specimens may sometimes be met with. As regards its 
occurrence within our limits, with the exception of comparatively recent 
records, I can merely cpiote what has already been written several times, 
and pillage Hume and MarshalPs ' Game-Birds * en hlor for the purpose, 
with many apologies to the authors. 

Hume gives it as a pretty regular, but rather rare, visitor to the 
Peshawar and Hazara districts, and as a straggler to Kohat, Rawalpindi, 
and the Trans-Indus portion of Scind. 

The first bird recorded in India was shot by W. Mahomed Umar 
Khan, and placed in the Peshawar Museum, from which place it even- 
tually came into Hume's possession. This bird may be the one now in 
the British Museum, marked " 2. Ini. sk. Peshawar, June,'' only that 
W. Mahomed Umar Khan got his bird in January, not June. Regarding 
this bird, Hume got the following letter, which he printed e.vtenao in 
' Game-Birds ' and which is again produced here, together with other 
letters from various sportsmen wdio have had the luck to obtain swans : — 

" In the month of January, 1857. I shot this swan in the Peshawar 
district in the Shah Alum viwv, about a mile and a half on this side of 
the Kabul River. Neither before nor after have I seen other swans, but 
a few years aft(>r 1 killed it, I heard from the shikaries of Hashtnagar 
falso in the Peshawar district) that they had recently seen five of these 
birds in Agra (?) village lake, in this sanu- district, I)ut had failed to 
shoot any." 


The next hinls Hume ;^ot were a \mr of young lairds received from 
Captain Unwin in 1^71. These birds were for some time tliouglit to 
be a new species, and were called Cijijuus unicini, after ('ajitain Unwin 
who shot them, and wlio wrote to Hume about them in the letter here 
given : — 

"To-day. while duck-shooting on tlie Jubbee stream on the border of 
the Hazara and Eawalpindi districts, during a short halt for breakfast on 
the banks of the nuHah, I was attracted by seeing two large white Ijirds 
flying over the stream, some 250 yards lower down. The Jubbee here 
has a wide stony bed, witli a small >tream in the centi'e forming 
occasional })Ools, in one of which the birds seemed inclined to alight. 
Changing their intention, however, they came flying up, and passed me at 
a distance of about 60 yards : to m}^ surprise and delight, I recognized in 
them most undoubted wild -wan-. Firing with loose -hot at that di.-tance 
was useless, so I watched in the hope that they would settle in some of the 
pools higher up in the stream and thereby afford a stalk, but they con- 
tinued their slow heavy flight until I lost sight of them in the distance. 
Concluding that they would not -to]) until they reached the Indus some 
20 miles off, I was returning to my breakfast, a sadder and wiser man, 
when, in taking a last look in this direction. I saw them returnin<i'. I 
hastily got into the centre of the nullah, in their line of flight, and as they 
arose slightly, to avoid me, fired both Ijarrels, Xo. ?> shot, at the leader. 
She (for it proved to be the femalej staggered but went on, slowly sinking, 
until she settled in a large pool about 400 yards off, accompanied by her 
mate, who alighted close behind her. 

" The pool, being commanded by a high bank, offered an easy stalk, 
and getting round into a favourable position, I found the swans about 
20 yards from me. A ei-owd of Gadwall (C .'<tfejjenu<), which was close by, 
took flight on seeing me, but the swan nobly stuck by his mate, and paid 
dearly for his fidelity, and shortly I had the satisfaction of landing them 

" The villagers, who collected the birds, gave the local name as ' Peur " 
(pronounced with a nasal n). and told me that the birds came there occa- 
sionally once in every three or four years." 

In 187<^ other three swan- were oljtained in the Sewan district, »Scind, 
somewhere neai- the Mauchur Lake, by Mr. E. H. Watson, after he had 
previously seen some birds of the same species in the lake itself, doubtless 
the same flock, from which he afterwards obtained specimens. 

Besides these, a good number seem to have been seen, and in four cases 


a pair were shot; but in no cases were the skins preserved, thoug-h Hnme 
seems to have been satisfied that they were C. olor. Mr. Hill, of the 
Rifles, also shot a swan, which was said to be C. olor, but again the skin 
was not preserved. 

Mr. Watson writes of his birds : — " I shot three swans this morning. 
As far as I can judge they are identical with the Indian species (that is, 
the tame swan). There were five on a small ' dhan ' or tank, about half 
a mile or less in length, by a quarter of a mile or less in breadth. I went 
to shoot ducks, but seeing these large white birds, I went after them, and 
recognised them to be the same as those I had seen on the Manchar. They 
let a boat get pretty close and 1 shot one. The other four flew round 
the tank a few times, and then settled on it again. I went up in the boat 
and fired again, but without eft'ect. They flew round and then settled 
again. The third time I shot another; the remaining three again flew 
round and settled, and the fourth time I fired I did not kill. Exactly the 
same thing happened the fifth time, the birds flew round and settled close 
to me, and I shot a third. The remaining two flew a little distance and 
settled ; but I thought it would be a pity to kill them. I considered that 
there would be more than I could skin myself (for I have no one to do it 
for me), so I began to shoot ducks, and then the remaining swans flew 
by me, one on the right, and one on the left, so that I could ha^'e easily 
knocked them over with small shots. However, T spared them, and came 
home with three." 

Everyone will notice how remarkably tame and confiding the above 
swans were. AVere it not for the date on which they were shot, the 12th 
February, one would have imagined that they were Ijirds exhausted by 
their flight on migration : as it is, there is no explanation beyond the fact 
that the birds were young in age, and even younger in experience. In the 
same year as that in which Mr. Watson obtained the swans — but, strange 
to say, in the month of June — three more birds were seen, of which two 
were shot, one by Major Waterfield, which was identified as Cugmis olor, 
and one by Mr. D. B. Sinclair. This last^ most unfortunately, went bad 
before it could be examined by anyone competent to decide the species, 
and though, in all probability, the bird was C. olor, the point must remain 
in obscurity. Even later than this, swans were seen in that year, for, on 
the 7th July, Mr. Sinclair wrote to Mr. Hume to tell him that there w;is 
still one more swan on the Gulabad jhil, a body of water some two miles 
north-east of Peshawar. Since 1878, we have had no further records until 
1900, when the appearance of numerous birds of this species is recorded 



by Mr. Macuuillcii. ^vlu)^(' iirlirlo in llic ' J3onil)ay JournaP {in he. cit.) 
I reproduce in full : — 

" Durinn; the inonth> of January, Fo1)ruary. and Marcli. 1900, i< was 
extremely cold in ►Sind, and several swans were seen, of wliieli some were 
shot and some were captured. 

"January 10th. — Nine swans were seen on the HuM) IvMver. aliout 
15 miles from Karachi. Two were killed hy Mr. Jones, of the Indo- 
European Tele^raj)!! Dei)artment, who says the l)ir(ls were very tame. 
One was killed with a ritle, and one witli a sliol-oini : the reniainin;;- 
seven birds did not appear to be nmch alarmed, ^ov ihey Hew some li\e 
hundred yards down the stream and settled a<iain. 

*' Saturday, llkii January, I'.'OO. — Ei^lit swans tlew oxvy tlie lenni- 
courts at Kotri, about out; hundred yards oil" and about thirty yards hi^h, 
at about 5. .'50 r.Ji. JSeveral peo})le w<'re on the courts at the time; I 
could clearly see what the birds were, and called out ' Swans." 

'"One of these birds came to ^rief uoainst the telegraph wires, which 
here s[)an the Indus, and was captured Ijy Mr. C'umniino-, jthitelayer, who 
says that the 1/ird was unable to rise off the <;'round, but ran at ;>reat speed 
three or four times, one hundred yards at a ^o, Ijefore it was killed l)y his 
coolies. The bird is stuffed (after a fashion) by the taxidei'inist of the 
Karachi Museum. It is a youn^- Ijird of a sooty-white colour, and fairly 
Ions buff-coloured crest at the back of its liead. 

" February litli. — Two swans — adult l)irds — w ere ca])turcd in ordinary 
duck-uets, at Sita Uoad Station : one died soon after its ca])ture ; the 
other bird I procured, and presented to the Karachi (iardens on the 
6th Feb.ruary, 1901. This bird is still livin<.- (8tli June, 1901). 

"Some time early in February 1900, einht swans were seen at Boston 
on the Beluchistan frontier — four of these birds were shot, three dead and 
one winged ; this latter bird is ^till alive, I believe. Mr. Matthews, 
platelayer, who shot them, says that it was bitterly cold at the time, and 
the birds were fairly tame. 

" About the middle of March a swan was shot on the Munchar Lake 
by Mr. Cross, of the I.C.S.. who says the bird was among a lot of duck, 
and fairly easy of approach. 

" At the end of March ten swans were seen for three consecutive days 
on the Laki Lake. On the third day Mr, Vivien, })latelayer, Hretl nine 
shots at them before they tiew away. He used an ordinary 12-bore oun 
and No. 1 shot. He says that the birds were about a hundred yards awa^' 
on the water and that he could hear the shots rattle against them. 


•' On 27tli A})ril one was shot by Mr. AVragoe. platelayer, Meting. 
The river Indus runs about twelve miles from Meting. The bird was seated 
on a small sand-drift close to the Ijank. No. 2 shot at about 40 yards.'' 

In addition to the above, there is a letter from Major-General Egerton, 
1900, which records his having seen "a herd of eight swans of the mute 
variety at Kundian on the opposite side of the Indus " ; and he adds : 
" Swans have been most unusually connnon this year in the Punjab, and 
several specimens have been secured in the Peshawar district and near 
Dera Ismail Khan." 

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. ( *ertain 
birds which belonged to Shakespeare's birthplace used to breed ever}- 
year on the River Avon ; but these showed the keenest jealousy of one 
another, and no approach of any strange swan was allowed within 
200 yards of the nest by the owners thereof. It must be added that 
their ire was roused equally as much by the advent of humanity as that of 
their own kind. Boats were ahvays greeted by the most war-like demon- 
strations and canoes not unfrequently upset, their occupants being more or 
less damaged l)y 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 it. 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 upsetting them when so employed. Occa- 
sionally, 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 tlie Avon above mentioned — must haA'e contained a cou})le of 
cartloads of weeds. What it was originally I do not know, but when 
I first saw it. after a small flood, the diameter of the base must ha\(' been 
ten or twelve feet, and it was close on six feet hioh. 


Subfamily PLECTROPTEl^IN^. 

Kejl to (jenora. 

a. A large fleshy comb at the base of the cuhnen in the 

jnale I- ''^nrci'.Jiornia. 

h. Xo comb at the base of the cuhnen. 

a . Bill at least equal to double the length at base. 

a". Outline of the loreal feathering at the base of the 

bill with the convexity anteriorly "2. Amrrornh. 

h". Outline of loreal feathering straight and inclined 

backwards :^'. Modonemi. 

h'. Bill not so long as double the length at base ; head 

not crested 4. Ndtapus. 

n" . Head crested ^i- -^•^'• 

Another kc}' is as follows, and this may ])rove simpler to sportsmen : — 

(/. "Wing over 10 inches, 

a. Head principally black and \\hite. 

a". Comb at base of bill 1. Snrcvlinrnis: S. 

I'". Xo comb at base of bill. 

a'". Upper back black ; lower plumage nearly white . ,S(irei(liorinx J. 
/>'". Upper back olive-brown; lower plumage chest- 
nut-brown 2. Asnrcornift. 

I'. Head pink ; bright in c? , dull in $ >! Rhodnties-^a. 

h. Wing under 9 inches. 

c . Primaries not edged silver-grey 4. Nettajins. 

(T . Primaries edged with silver-grey 5. yEx. 

As already enumerated, the (Hstinguisliing features of this subfamily 
are : rather long hind toe, not lobed ; a neck shorter than the body; and 
with, es])ecially in the male, more or less glossy upper plumage com1)ined 
with comparatively long tail-feathers. 

In India five genera are represented, although each l)y a single species 
only. Indeed two of the five genera })0ssess but one species, and are 
])eculiar to India and adjacent countries, these two being Amreornis and 



This gonus is soparatod from tlio otlior Indian gonora by the presence 
ol-a spur on the shouklers of tlie wing. This feature was formerly con- 
sidered of sufficient importance to constitiite as a subfamily by themselves 
such birds as possessed it, and the Plectropterinte are designated by Jerdon 
" Spurred Geese/^ Later systematists have, however, added others to this 
subfamily, which now contains eight genera, many of which are not 


Sarkidiornis nielaiionotus, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 785 ; ITwne, Nests 4' J^'J'.I^-, 
p. 636 : Butler ^' Hume, Str. Featli. iv, p. 27 ; Hume S)- Davis, ihiil. v, 
p. 486 ; Hume, ihid. vii, p. 507. 

Sarcidiornis melanonotus, Hume, Str. Feath. vii, p. 491 ; id. ihid. viii, 
p. 114; id. Cat. no. 950; Hume 6>- Mar. Game.-B. iii, p. 92; Parker, Str. 
Feath. ix, p. 486; Legrje, B. of Ceij. p. 1063; Oates, Str. Feath. x, 
p. 245 ; Hume, Nest ^- Fggs {Oates ed.), iii, p. 282 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. 
p, 396 ; Young, Jour. B. N. H. S. xi, p. 572 ; Seivell,ihid. p. 547; Aitlcen, 
ihid. p. 552 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 102 ; Blanford, Fauna B. T. iv, 
p. 423. 

Sarcidiornis melanonota, Oates, B. of Brit. Burm. ii. p. 275 ; Salvador 
Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 54. 

Description. Adult male. — Head and neck white, spotted with 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 bronze, and the scapularies, ou which the 
gloss is purple ; tail brown ; sides of the body tinged with grey ; a black mark 
(almost a demi-collar) 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, but 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 is much less developed. Lower back, rump, and upper tail-coverts all 

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


Nestling.—" Uppor parts greyish-brown ; underparts greyisli-w liite ; upper 
part of the head brown ; a whitish frontal band runs on each side of the head 
over the eyes ; a white erescentic band bounds behind the brown colour of the 
upper part of the head : a narrow brown band starts from the ear-coverts^ and 
readies n brown band on tlie liind-neck : two white patches on the side of the 
back, at the l)asf' of the w ings, and two otliers on tlie sides of tlie rump : ])osterior 
edge of the wing whitish." (Salvndori.) 

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

Iris dark brown, that of the young is said to be even darker : bill and comb 
black, legs and feet plumbeous. 

The female and \ouiig have no comb. 

Dlmf-mtiooft. Male.— Length )>^\y {Iliin)f] Ui 'M inches (Jerdov); wing 13-37 
(Hirnu) to 16 (Jerdon) ; tail 'r2:t to G : bill from gai)e 2-.'» to 2-7.'), at front 2-5 
(Jerdon) ; comb 2 to 2-.') in the breeding-season only ; tarsus 2-62 (Hume) to 3 

Female. — Length about 25 to 27 inches, wing U to ll'."» {Srdvadorl), 12 to 
14 (Jerdon). 

The Nnklita i- found Throughout the Indian eoiuinent. tliouoli al)>ent 
here and there where the conntrv is unsuitable, hut is certiiinly more 
abundant towards the we-t flian in tlie east. 

Hume sjiys : "I do not know of its occurrence in the Punjaub. Trans- 
Sutlej. or in Scind. exce)»t as a mere straggler to tlie ea-ternmosf ])ortions. 
J have no record of its ajtpearance in SvUiet. Cadiiii". Ti)>])ei'ali, C'liittagong. 
()!• Arakan.'^ Again, in another place, he add-, wlien enumei'ating the 
places wJiere it is to be found (excluding jierliaps the Sunderi)uns, Jessore, 
and one or two other of the deltaic disti-ict-) : " ( )f tliese places, soveral 
have now to be ei'a^ed from tIm' li-t of localitic- not inliabitcd by tlii- bii-d." 
In the Punjaub. as far as T can a>certain. it is undoubtedly a rare visitor : 
still it is found there, and is not so rare as Hume deemed it to be. Of its 
occurrence in tlie Trans-Sutlej. the following notes occur in 'Stray Feathers^ 
fvol. X. no. 5. p. \'M)) : — 

'• Although it (tlie Coni])-Duck) certainly is nowhere common in this 
region, I know of its having been shot on more than one occasion in the 
Lahore district, and. again, further south in the Baree Doab. but only in 
the rainy season, and always in the immediate Aicinity of the canaK. 

" I heard of a nest being taken as far >outli a- the Changa Manga 
Plantation, but T am not sure of the fact. I have never heard or seen the 
bird west of BareOj but tliroughout the canal-irrigated ])ortion of the Baree 
Doab, the whole tract between the Beas and the Siitlcj. 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 tho subject to the following effect: — "'I am happy to state 
that it not only occurs, l)ut that it breeds in the Punjauli^ Trans-Sutlej. A 
friend of mine, an enoineer on the Baree Doab C-anal, sent me a female 
Sarcidiorms for identification from Bhambe, in the Lahore district. On 
openino- the l)ird I found a perfectly-fornied eo-g ready to l:»e laid, and 
from other investigation it seemed clear that there Avas a nest in the 
vicinity. During the rains the neighbourhood of Bham1)e in one direction 
is fairly under water, and canna brakes are very common, with patches of 
water between, and dotted liere and there with large trees, just the place 
for the Xukhta. It was at one siicli 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 Ijoth returned, wheeling round and round without going away any 
distance. As soon as the female was shot, the male Avent 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.^^ 

In ( 'achar it is In' no means very rare. I have seen it in Sylhet. and 
again have had notice of its occurrence sent me from the North Looshai 
Hills. As regards the Sunderbunds, 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 iSTukhtas formed part of a bag of 140 couple 
of Duck and Teal got l)y my father, Mr. T. Wilcox, and myself, in the 
jNIoolna bhil, a vast extent of swamp and water, covering fully twenty square 
miles of the conntrv. 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 
Sunderbunds I should think they are very probably migrants, though 1 
have no evidence on this point. 

In Burmah, Oates reports them as common in Pegu, and it is almost 
certain that tliey have l)een, oi- will l)e, recorded throughout that ]n"ovince, 
extending through the Indo-Burmese countries. 

Out of India their habitat ma}' be descril)ed roughly as Africa south of 
the Sahara, an<l tliey 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 u]) 
to about 2000 feet, if not considerably higher. Mr. V. G. Scott, an 
engineer on the Assam-Bengal liailway, 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 olovation (Ao-^o on 2000 £eet. and tlio Inrd, a drake, was 
then flying steadily up the valley. I have seen Nukhtas myself, u pair of 
them, in the Mahor Valley at heights ranging between loOO and 2000 feet, 
and I once heard its hoarse ci-y in the Jiri A^alley at least as high as the 
latter elevation. I know foi- a certainty that they breed up to at least 
2000 feet, and I am almost sure that a |)air had their nest in the Mahor 
Valley even higher up than this. I was out after Saml)hur at the time 
thev were first seen, and in the centre of some heavy tree-forest I came 
across a collection of -mall grassy swamps, varying from some one to two 
hundred yards in diameter. All round these were very lofty trees, and 
wherever there was sufficient dry land, others were dotted a])out 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. 

The sort of ground they prefer has been variously described by different 
writers. Here they keep nmch to water in forests, and more especially to 
such as is well covered with weeds and grasses, and not of the clearest and 
cleanest. One or two birds are always to l)e met with near Diyangmukh, 
on a nullah Avhich runs through heavy forests and in the cold weather is 
reduced to shallow pools. 

Hume says : — " It much prefers well-wooded tracts, not dense forests 
like the White-winged AVood-Duck, but well-Avooded level, well-cultivated 
country. It is a lake bird too. one that chiefly affects rush and reed- 
margined broads, not bare-edged pieces of water like the Sambhur Lake, 
and it 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. / hat^e never fowul it in 
Jiill// (jromnh and very rarely in small ])onds." [The itaUcs 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 
tliem moving about, always in pairs, the male as a rule in froiit. 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." 

Oates i^vide ' Birds of British Burmah ') seems to have found them in 


much the same kind o£ places, and also in paddy-fields ; but he says that 
in Burmah it is found " singl}', in pairs, or in small flocks o£ twenty or 
thirty individuals." Jerdon, on the other hand, says that, although it is 
generally found only in small parties of four to ten individuals, yet it is 
sometimes found in flocks numbering over a hundred. 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 famil}', 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 con- 
tinuing to keep in pairs. Mr. Young found them in flocks in both the 
X.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 
war}' 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 Ihe water ; but with comparatively little trouble 
and care one ought always to succeed in getting near enough for a shot, 
unless the country sui-rounding them is utterly bare and destitute of co^•er 
for the sportsmen. Once disturbed^ their flight, &c., is variously descril)ed. 
Hume says : " Their flight is powerful and fairly rapid, and that they are 
all round quicker, more active birds than geese, ])oth on the wing and in 
the water." Jerdon, however, did not think much of the bird as a 
"progressionist," and Legge descril)es their flight as heavy, and leads one 
generally to the belief that he deemed it rather an awkward, clumsy bird — 
which it certainly is not. Tickell's remarks in general on this bird 
vary so much from those recorded from other people that they must be 
quoted nearly in full : — " I have met with these birds chiefly about West 
Burdwan, Bankoora, Singhhoom, and Chota Nagpur, in open, uncultivated, 
l)ushy country, or on a gravelly soil scattered over with small, clear ponds 
or tanks, wliere they may be found in parties of four or five, resting during 
the heat of the day on the clean pebbly or sandy margins, and flying off", 
if disturbed, to the next piece of water. Wherever found, they ai)pear to 
prefer clear water, with a gravelly or stony bottom, and are never found 
in shallow, muddy jhils or marshes, which attract such hosts of other 
kinds of wild fowl. 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, tliey dive so ineessantly as to require the help of several 
people to catch them. 

'• I have ])lace(l their eof.s under domestic hens and dncks, and hatched 
and reared the youno- l)irds easily, hut they never hecome thoroughly tame, 
and escaped on the tirst opportunity, though they had, up to the time of 
their flioht, fed readily with the poultry in the yard. They ran and walkeil 
freely, and could ])erch on anythino- that did not require to he orasped. 
It is an exceedinoly >ilont hird — indeed, T have never heard it utter any 
sound. They repose chiefly on oravel hcaches l)y the side of clear water. 
Their Hi^ht is In'uh, and well sustained. Ai ninhi they roam over the 
paddv stu])l)le, au<l 1 have found their stomaidis full of rirrt durinu- the 

Other people seem to haxc heen more successful than Tiekell in 
domesticatino- this fine duck (or ooose), and there are numerous instances 
on record in which the hird 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 ])roduct would be a bird of size and 
weight, but how alidtit the fluMiur? The Xukhta is not a l»ird that tinds 
much favour with most peoide as an article of food, though it makes very 
good SOU]) and not bad curry : and the ducklings, when killed ju-t after 
they have taken to the wing, are (juite delicate and good. 

Though Hume never found anv grain except wild rice in the stomachs 
of the birds he examined, others, l)esides Tiekell, have found that cultivated 
rice forms one of the articles of their diet. They eat all sorts of shoots, 
roots, seeds, &c., of water ])lants, A'arying this vegetarian food with a little 
animal stuff now and then, such as worms, spawn, larvre. and perhaps an 
occasional fish. 

The voice of the Xukhta is, according to Legge, "a low, guttural, 
(piack-like sound, between the voice of a Duck and a Goose." The few I 
have heard uttered loud cries, which seemed to me fV.r more like the notes 
of a goose than a duck. A pair, whose nest I afterwards 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 u\) 
in the tree. They roost, 1 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 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, generallv at no great 


height from the groimd. Soiiietiiiie,'^, however, they build their nests in 
the forks ot" the larger limbs, especially when three or four such branch 
out together from the trunk itself. Occasionally they seem, like the 
AV'histling-Teal and the Mallard, to make nse of other 1)irds' nests, for 
Mr. A. Anderson found some eggs in the nest of a Haliaetus leucorijphus 
Avhich he believes to have been laid by a Nukhta. Captain Gc. T. L. 
Marshall also found an egg of Sarc'idiornls in the nest of Dissura episcopa. 

The only nest I have taken myself in j^orth Cachar was placed in a 
large tree standing by the edge of a small swamp, the latter completely 
covered with dense ekra and grass. exce})t 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 
sjjraug from the bole of the tree. ]t was not ten feet from the ground, 
but the boughs were so massive, and so well inclosed the nest that I 
visited the pool, stood imder the trees, and saw the parent bird several 
times before I noticed where it was. It contained three lai'ge eggs, just 
like those described by Hume, with a beautiful texture, reminding one, 
when touched with the finger, of the eggs ot the Barbets and Frogmouths, 
possessing the same satiny feeling which is so uncommon outside the 
families mentioned. In colour they are nearly white, and have a line 
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: — 
" On the 30tli August eighteen years ago, I was wandering about with my 
sun on the banks ot a small brackish stream, near Kharao;hora, when a 
female Comb-Duck got up and went otf. 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 be laid, 
and there was no appearance of any more in her, so I came to the con- 
clusion that the bird had made its nest, and laid all the eggs but one, 
when it had the misfortune to fall in iny way. Next day, 1 took two men 
with me, and began to make a systematic search for its nest. There were 
scarcely any trees in the neighbourhood, Ijut many patches ol' rank rushes, 
and among them 1 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, kiokino- into the bole, t'onnd ;>ixteeii <'g^>^ which exiictly 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 dee[). The hole went into the bank ijuite hori- 
zontally, and there was nothing in the way of a ledge to alight on at 
the entrance, so that the bird must have })0}i})ed in as a pigeon does. 
Such a feat fully justifies the opinion^ that the (Jomb-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 Mr. 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 under-sized. 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. 

Probably a wild bird, with no extraneous aid in the way of artificial 
food, (kc, would be a great 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 2"2'2 to 2'^j8 inches in length, and 
in breadth: between 1-6.") and I'li^. averaging 2'41 x 1*72. The little clutch 
found by Mr. Anderson, excluding the abnormally small one, averaged 
2^ X If inches, giving an average for the whole eighty-four of 2"45 X 1'74 

Jerdon says that the Nukhtas breed in July 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 1 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. Here, 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 the late July or August, sometimes as late as 
September. In Burmah 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, however, is uot very well authenticated, 
and may be a mistake, for Legge says : " In Ceylon this (tooso breeds — 
/ iDiderstaiid [the italics are mine] — in February and Marcli/^ 

The African form alluded to by Hume as *S'. afnauuis is not distinct 
from our Indian S. inelauonota, though it averages a little smaller — the 
wing being about lo or 14 inches in the male. 

Hume also refers to Sclater^< })late 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 jjlate is not our Nukhta at all, but 
S. caruncidata, 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 sa3'S 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 connnencing their 



This ;;enii^ is one specially created hy Salvadori fur tlic AVliitc-wino-ed 
AVood-Duck, which ])reviously had i)een placed, either with Sarc'uliond.^, 
Camira, Anaa, or Tadoi'na. It seems to be allied most nearly to the first- 
mentioned of these genera, differine- in })0ssessing no comb oi' >pur, and 
in liavin;;' a flatter and lar^^cr bill. There i- no other inenibei- oL' this 

Hume, in a t'ootnote to " ( iame-Birds." p. 147. gives his i-eason lor 
rejecting the name ^i. .si'u/u/ii/k. which is. that Blytli considered Midler's 
birds to lie of a different -pecies to the wild one- ibinid in India and 
Burniah. Salvadori. howe\('i\ who has had inore material to work on than 
was available to Hume at the tinu' he wrote, seems to consider that 
A. scutulata doe> a[»ply to oui' bird, and that the domesticated or confined 
bii'd is inclined to albini-m. I'nder the circumstances. I think it is 
better to follow tSalvadori and accept Midler- name. 


Anas scutulata, Ihtuu, sir. Fcai/i. viii. p. ]'j>^. 

Casarca leucoptera. Jerdou, B. I. iii, \). 7Uo; llmnc i.y Davia. ritr. Feath. 

^\. ]). 4S9 ; Jfumc, ibid. p. 17". 
Casarca scutulata, Hume., Sir. Feath. viii, ]). 11.3; I/uiitc, Cat. no. *Jo5. 
Anas leucoptera, Hume 4' Mar. (Jame-B. iii, pp. 147 & 17-; Oahn, 

B. of Brit. Barm, ii, ]). 281 ; J/amc, jVests tji" £gfjs (Oates ed.), iii, p. 287. 
Asarcornis scutulata, Salvaduri, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 60 ; }'ouii»j, Jour. 

U. J. //. S. xi. p. 572. 
Asarcornis leucoptera. Gates, Gamc-B. ii, p. i;j!). 
Asarcornis scutulatus, Stanford, Fauna B. I. iv, p. 424. 

Dcseript'ion. Adult male. — Head and upper part of neck white thickly 
spotted with l^hick. tlie black spots usually more numerous ou the upper part of 
the head and neck ; lower part of the neck and mantle glossy black, tlie \\ hole 
of the lower ])arts rich chestnut-browu, more or less mottled, when freshly 
moulted, \\ith 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 so^t blue-grey, 
broadly tipped with black, which is highly glossed in old males ; qidlls olive- 
brown, the secondaries Mith the outer webs bluish-grey forming a speculum ; 
the first inner secondary or tertiary ^^•hite on the outer web, and the quill next 
it with a large white patch on the same web ; under wiug-coverts and axillaries 
white, the former Avith a few brown feathers mixed; tail blackish, glossed with 
green in old males. 

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, thouo-h never 
becoming an actual comb, and the orange colour deepens to deep orange-red or 
light red. The legs and feet vary like the bill from lemon-yellow to a dull 
orange; 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 7| to 9| lbs. when in good condition. An old male in captivity, and 
verj' fat, weighed 9| lbs. ; but wild birds seldom weigh more than 84 lbs. 

In old males all the spots on the black on the 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 Avhen freshly moulted the colour is 
usually a rich red-ochre-brown, and the black mottlings — confined more or 
less to the tips of the 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, by about July or August, the ^^"hole of the upper plumage 
becomes bleached and the 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 possession for some 
years became quite white for a space all round the eye and down the front of 
the neck. 

Length 26 to 30 inches, wing 14-3 to 15-8, 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, they are not so highiv 
coloured or quite so highly glossed, and perhaps have 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. 

The colours of the soft parts are similar to those of the male, but paler and 
duller : tl)e 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 bills the ground-colour of which was almost obliteratt-d by the spots, 



and others again in wliich tliere were only a few small spots near tlie tip 
and base. 

The base of the upper mandible is never swollen or red in colour. Irides are 
brown, never, / tJnnl; red-brown, and certainly never blood-red. 

Weight 43 to 6| lbs. 

Wing 12 to 14 inches, tail 5 to 7, culmen 2*2 to 2-4, tarsus 2-1 to 2*4. 

It does not seem necessary here to quote other authors in reference to 
olorations, size, weight, &c., as a very large number of these birds have passed 
through my hands or have been kept by me in captivity, and my own notes 
include all the information given by others. 

This is one of tlio most rare and little-known of our Clieiioniorplue, and 
the records regarding- its distribution are very limited. Bljth's remarks 
as to their occurrence in Burmah probably do not r(>fer to tliis duck at all, 
and are due to some mistake. From what he says, one would imagine the 
White-winged Duck to be a very common bird in certain parts of that 
country ; yet Hume says, in vol. vi. of ' Stray Feathers,' Davison has 
examined the Valley of the Sittang, the Salween, the Attaran, the Gyn, 
tli(^ Haung-Thaw, the Tavo}', and the Tenasserim, but yet he has never 
seen or heard of this species. 

If it does occur in Tenasserim, it can onlv be as an extremely rare 

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 
18(54, when he finished his third volume of ' Birds of India.' Ik^ (evidently 
looked on the bird as rare in the extreme. He talks of its orcurnnq 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 Avritten 
prior to 18G4, it may be taken for granted that in the ineanwhile Jerdon 
had discovered his mistake, whilst if written after 18G4 it shows that 
Jerdon made a mistake, which, as far as anyone knows, has never l)een 

He says : — " I have seen several flocks of Casara leucoptem in the 
lower parts of the Brahma})ootra, where it joins the Ganges, not far from 
Dacca, where, indeed, Simson has seen it." Tw^enty years more added to 
the years when Hume and his collectors worked the country above referred 
to has shown that it could not possibly have been the Wood-Duck wdiich 
Jerdon saw or referred to. That Simson saw it in Dacca certainly does 
not prove that it inhal)its 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 o£ its occurrence that I know o£ in Eastern Benoal is of four Ijirds, 
said to have been seen in Sino-l)hooni by Mr. W. Movlan, when out 
shooting- witli two other o-nns ; of Avhich four Ijirds, one (a drake) 
^^•as shot. 

Colonel Graham seems to have found it common in 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 myself in 188G, when partridge- 
shooting in the Barpeta part of the Kamroop district, and were missed by 
me with both l)ari'els at long I'anges. 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. Specimens 
have been obtained in Tavoy and Mergui districts, and these end the 
localities hitherto recorded within our limits. Outside these limits it 
extends — if the l)ird is really the same as ours — to the Malay Peninsula, 
Sumatra (?), and Java. It thus seems probable that it will be found to 
inhabit suitable localities in Eastern Bengal, where, however, it is of 
extreme rarity, that it becomes less rare as we enter the Assam Valley, and 
is found in some numbers throughout the Namba Forest, south of Brahma- 
pootra, and the foot-hills and forest to the north of the same. In 
Eastern Assam it becomes comparatively common, and extends through 
(Aichar and the Indo-Burmese countries and Burmah to the Malay 
Peninsula. Mr. E. H. Young (in loc. cit.) says that he once shot a 
<lack, wdiich he l)elieves 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 so extremely an unlikely 
one that the identification was probably incorrect. 

In 1900 I was stationed at Dibrugarh, the headquarters 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 
1 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. D. Burness, for many years a planter in Lakhimpur district, 
hiis been singularly successful in obtaining specimens of tin's 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 viroin forest, devoid of all cultivation of any sort whatever, Imt a good 
deal broken x\p )>v swamps and lakes, some so tiny that the trees almost 
meet over their black stillness, others so wide and liig that there may be 
miles between their opposite banks. In such places as these, especially 
wdiere pieces of water of the smaller description are numerous, the \Vood- 
Duck may l)e sought almost Avith a certainty of success, and on lucky 
days Mr. Burness would return with three, four, or even five birds, and 
have seen possil:)ly twice as many again, although the getting of them 
might have entailed a walk of twenty miles or more. The birds were but 
seldom seen bv him in flocks, generally in pairs, often singly, and never 
more than five or six birds together. Even in the deepest, darkest woods 
thev were most wary and difficult to approach, and took to flight at the 
sound of anyone coming within shot. When wounded, they "er^r dived, 
but at once swam to the nearest shore, and scrambling into the woods 
concealed themselves in the dense undergrowth. 

The ducks, however, are not entirely confined to such country, and are 
frequentlv met with in smaller patches of jungle in which there are pools 
and swamps, and I have received numerous specimens shot in such ])laces. 
Thev also frequent sluggish streams and Ijackwaters. l)Ut never, as iar as 
my experience and information goes, clear waters or swiftly running 

Verv little infornialion ha- been forthcoming aljout their call and \('i-v 
few sportsmen seem to ha\(> heard them. Colonel Graham has recoi'detl : 
"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 Cacliar, when out shooting one i-ainy 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, but 
through it there wandered a sluggish dirty stream wiiich 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 the point some 
two hundred yards or so above where we heard them calling. The drive 
proved a total failure, as, though the birds flew within thirty or forty vards 
of me, thev ke[)t inside the forest on the same side of the stream as tliat on 
which I was seated, and I hardly caught a glimpse of tliem, nmch less 
obtained a shot. The Cachari told me that when he came on the first one 
it was in a tree, from whii-h it did not fiv until he was un(h'riu'atli. and that 


then it iiiaJo off to its mate, which was some two liiindi-ed yards hioher 
u]) 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 np 
and flew straight away, passing, as I haye already said, just out of sight of 
me. We heard them calling iu the same place for two or three days after 
tlii-!, but when attempts were made to stalk them they made off long befoie 
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-coyered patches of swamp surrounded by forest. 
On this occasion a pair got up out of some swamp, some forty or fifty 
yards from me, just as I emerged from the forest. Two barrels of No. 7 
l)attered on their backs at once, but seemed not to haye the smallest effect 
on them. These two birds flew like geese, one bird (the male, I suppose, 
for he looked much the heayier) 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 tl;ey 
altogether disappeared in the distance. 

Whilst lieatius for tiger in scrub and ti-ee iungle on the banks of the 
Dibru stream, at that tiuie only a succession of muddy pools, we once put 
up a flock of seven of these grand birds, who flew round and round us, at a 
considerable distance, for a long time befort; tliej^ eventually cleared off. 
These seyen — the largest number met with in a flock that I haye any 
certain record of — flew in line like geese do, and in the distance would 
probably haye 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, coining down towards him and 
his companions. They were at a great height, but a charge of 8.K.G. took 
effect on the foremost an<l 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, Imt I failed to discover any reason to make me think so, 
though I (juestioned him closely on the matter. This was th(^ only occasion 
oji which he ever saw the duck. 

Iu addition to the ringing trumpet-call of this bird, both (h'ake and 
duck indulge in a very low quacking note, sounding very much as if a 
Mallard was trying to f|uack under its Ijrcatli. Whilst uttering this note 


the head is ahvays LelJ low and the hill wide o})en. AVhen angry tlu'y 
also make a hissing noise at one another. 

They are charming birds in captivity, and are tamed Avithout the 
slightest difliculty. When the breeding-season ai)[)roaches, 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 kee}) near home if regularly fed. When thus domesticated it i> a 
curious fact that they seem never to use their wings as a means of loco- 
motion, but will walk very long distances to and from water. A thick 
belonging to a planter whose house was nearly half a mile from water 
invariably icalked 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 c >uld, he eventually succundjed 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, anil even in the cold weather 
they always kept under cover from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those 1 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 ])eriod were never eaten. In the same way, worms that 
ceased to struggle were discarded, and grasshoppers, frogs, and snails 
would only be taken if alive. 

They ate paddy and husketl rice freely, and I have kept birds for some 
weeks on this alone, and they kejjt fat and well iH)on it, but, at the same 
time, when they were offered aninud food they preferred it to grain. 
Green food of all sort 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 skinnned 
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 Cormorants, or the 


diving Ducks, under the same circumstances, but it was sufficient to ensure 
the capture o£ ahnost any fish. They are very mild, well-behaved birds, 
and not, as a class, at all quarrelsome. Some tiny Whistling-Teal shared 
their captivity, and were always treated with consideration and allowed 
their share of food, &c. As already said, they very soon become tame, and 
within a few weeks they all were 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 invari- 
ably sat on the perches and not on the ground, and they showed con- 
siderable activity in turning about on them, at the same time they kept 
their position almost entirely by balance and not grasp, as anything 
i.ouching 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. 

I quite failed to induce them 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 were the attempt was made 
to have the 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 descril^ed. 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 Sadiya, whence I obtained a great number of birds and skins, 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 v/ere 
easy to set, as these ducks habitually resort to the same few feet of ground 
when enter i no- or lea vino: the water. 


The duck commences its moult in September or early October, and 
this once commenced is extremely rapid ; the quills — both rectrices and 
flight-quills — come away all together, and the bird is incapable of rising 
more than a foot or so from the grouiid for about a fortnight, by which 
tiuie 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 feathers and the dull blackish 
old ones is very great, and one can hardly believe that it is the same bird. 
The natives say that, jirior to the moulting, these ducks all retir(^ to 
luorasses lying in absolutely impenetrable forest and cane-brake, and there 
remain until they are once more able to lly. 






Q -^ 

Ql c: 


UJ "g 



The genus Rlwdonessa, like the preceding, consists o£ but one species, 
which species is confined to Indian limits. In adult or seini-ndult 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. 


Anas caryophyllacea, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 800 ; Hume, Nesis Sf Eggs, p. 644 ; 

FairbanJc, ,Str. Featli. iv, p. 264; Davidson, ibid, vii, p. 9o ; BcdJ, ibid. 

p. 232; Hume, ibid. p. 492 ; id. ibid, viii, p. 801 ; Hume ^- Mar. Game-B. 

iii, pp. 174, 435 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 404. 
Ehodonessa caryophyllacea, Ball, Str. Feath. ii, ]>. 438 ; Hume, ibid, viii, 

p. llo; id. Cat. no. 960; Butler, Str. Featli. ix, p. 437; Jieid, ibid, x, 

p. 81 ; Hume d- Mar. Game-B. iii, pp. 173, 435; Oates, B. of Brit. Burm. 

ii, p. 284 ; A. Taylor, tStr. Feath. x, p. 531 ; Hume, ibid, xi, p. 344 ; Hume, 

JVests ,^- F/gs (Gates ed.), iii, p. 200; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 61; 

Inglis, Jour. B. JS. H. S. xv, p. 338 ; id. ibid, xvi, p. 75. 

Description. Adult male. — " Head, sides of neck, and liind-neck a beautiful 
pale rosy pink, with, iu the breeding-season, a small tuft of still brighter rosy on 
the top of the head ; throat dark brown ; rest of the plumage fine glossy dark 
chocolate-brown, paler and less glossed beneath, but under tail-coverts very dark ; 
mantle, scapulars, breast, and sides with very fine rosy-whitish vermiculations or 
points ; edge of the wing whitish, speculum reddish-fa\^n or dull salmon-colour, 
with a white band at the tip of the secondaries ; outer web and tip of the outer 
primaries brown, the inner web and inner primaries buff; tertials glossy 
chocolate-brown, narrowly edged with black on the outer web ; under wing- 
coverts and quills beneath pale pink colour, with a satin lustre ; tail chocolate- 
brown." {Salvadori.) 

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

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

The depth of the brown varies a good deal, and I am incHiied to thiidv that, 


it is owing to age, very old birds being the darkest, nearly bkck. Condition of 
plumage in this, as in every other species of brown or black bird, has a good deal 
to do with the colour, and brown 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. 

" Bill reddish white, rosy at the 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 " (Sfilllivrfford). Of another he notes :— " ]jill 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 folloM ing 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, purer and brighter pink. 
This note was talcen f'roiii an adidt male. 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 h" 
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." 

"Length about 24 inches, wing 10"5, tail 4-25, culmen 2'1, tarsus l-f!." 

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 there 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 con- 
spicuous in the male." (Salvadon.) 

The colours of the soft parts in the female seem to differ in being all of a 
duller hue. There is only one sexed skin in the British Museum (which possesses 
only six adult skins altogether), and this a female. The only colours given, 
however, in the catalogue are those quoted from Shillingford. 1 do not know 
the authority from which these are taken, and Shillingford himself does not seem 
to have sexed his specimens. 

Gates says that of the birds he has examined he has found the females to be 
about equal to the males in size. Gates 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 be 23 inches long Avith a wing of lO*") 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, with the top of the head, 
nape, and hind-neck brown ; the whole plumage lighter brown ; the luiderparts 
pale dull brown, with the edges of the feathers whitish." (Sahadori.) 

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 
alwavs a distinct feature. 


The headquarters of this Duck are, as Ilume says, Bengal, north of the 
Gauges and west o£ the Brahmapootra rivers ; above all, it is most common 
in Maldah, Purneah, Parulia, and adjoining districts^ the two first-named 
places being especially favoured. It has also been obtained in Arrnh, 
Mozufferpore, Chota-Nagpur, and Ranchi, where it is only a rare bird, 
and Singhboom, where it is rather more common. It is also found 
sparingly through Orissa, and as far south as Madras, and all through 
Eastern Bengal and Assam up to Manipur, where Hume obtained it. He 
says in a'oI. xi. of 'Stray Feathers' about Rliodonessa : — "This species is 
very scarce in Manipur. I 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, 
but that w^as 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 up in the right place the fourth 
time and knocked down a brace, of which, however, I only recovered one ; 
T 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 Sylhet (there seems to have been no record of its occurrence in Cachar) 
it appears to be excessively rare, little more than an occasional straggler." 

In Burmah it is extremely rare ; Blyth obtained it in Arakan, and says 
that it occurs in Independent Burmah (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 
Thibet. " A Member of the Society " in vol. ii. of the ' Bombay Journal ' 
writes : — " In Scintl .... I have one report of the Bengali Pink-headed 
Duck occurring as a straggler, but it cannot yet be called a recorded 
species." I suppose by this he means that he does not place much faith 
in the report. 

1 see Murray does not record it as a Scind 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 Singl)lioom, 
with thi'ee other guns, they accounted for no fcnver than six of these lovely 
ducks. They were found in the thick, 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 tliis occasion. He seems frequently to have met with them in various 
parts of Singhboom, but, as far as I could ascertain, had not seen any 
others shot. 


In tlie Punjab its occnrrcncos are limited to four actually recorded. 
Two were shot by Colonel Kinlocli and another is mentioned In' him as 
having been shot by a friend (a brother officer), whilst the other is noticed 
by Hume. All four birds were obtained near Delhi. In the North- West 
it is equally i-ai-e^ and as the authorities who would attempt to ])rove 
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 ever}' year. Latham says that it "" is common in Oudh, where it 
lives generally in pairs, is often kept tame, and becomes very familiar "'' (I). 

Shilli]lgford^■^ note on the " Pink-headed Uuck,"" which appeared in 
the ' Asian,' gives so much information — and so little is to be o])tained 
elsewhere — that I rcjjroduce it in e.denw : — 

'•' During the cold weather, November to March, th<' Pink-headers 
remain in flocks varying from <S to ?yO, or even 40 ])ir(ls. in the lagoons 
adjoining the large rivers, and ha\(' been ()l)sorvod bv mv>('lf in coiisider- 
al)le nuinliers in tlie soutlicni and western ])()rti()ns of the disti-ict, that 
portion of Eastern Bhagalpur wliich lies innuediatcly to the north of the 
Hiver Ganges and south-western ])arts of Maldah. They come up to tlie 
central or higher parts of the Purneah district in ])air- during the month 
of April, ]}egin to build in Mav. and tlicir eggs mav be found in June and 
July. The nests are well formed (made of dry grass interspersed with a 
few feathers), perfectly circular in shape. alK)ut inches in diameter, and 

4 or 5 inches deep, with 3 or 4 inch walls, and have no special lining. The 
nests are placed in the centre of tufts of tall grass, well hidden and difficult 
to find, generally not more than r)()0 vards from water. They lay from 

5 to 10 eggs in a nest. Both the male and female have been 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 l)reeding-season, the male must be in con>tant attendance at the nest. 
The weight of five males shot between the liUh Fehruary and 2<Sth June, 
1880, in consecutive oi'der, being : — (1) '1 lbs. '.\ ozs. (llUh February) ; 
Cl) 1 11). 14 ozs. : (;}) •> lbs.; (4) 1 lb. 13 ozs. : and (.">) 1 lb. 12 ozs. (28th 

'" When the young are fledged in September-October the Pink-headers 
retire to their \\>\vA haunt> in tlie junglv lagoons. 

'"The following account, as indicating theii* strong attachment to their 
young, may ])rove of interest. On the 17th of July, 1880, whilst searching 
for Piidv-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 ))fmks of the Patraha jhil. F. H. fired with his 
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 the 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 G feet from the o-round 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. Ui)on 
approaching this a similar manoeuvre was gone through, and she deposited 
herself some 100 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, pjair jeegya (it's come to life again), and directed her flight in a 
direction away I'roni 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 her tactics had failed in drawing us away from the vicinity of 
her young, she again took to the grass-jungle, and all endeavours to flush 
her again proved futile, though she was oljserved in the same piece of 
water subsequently." 

What a pity Shillingford has not given us some details concerning all 
the nests he seems to have found and also of the numerous eggs he 
obtained : whether they were like 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 believe, taken by himself and the others by Mr. T. Hill, of 
Jeruneah Factory, in Purneah. 

Of these five eggs Hmne remarks : — *' The eggs are quite unlike those 
of any other duck with Avhicli 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, Avith here and there traces of an 
exceedingly faint yellowish mottling, probably the result of dirt. Even 
held up against the light, the shell is white, with scarcely a perceptil)le 
ivory tinge. 

"The fiv(^ eggs sent me by Mi'. Shillingford measure as follows: 
1-,S2 X 1-7 inches, l-7.Sx iMlS^ 1-,S x l-(;2, I'll x l-C'.), 1-«1 X l-Ol. 

'• There is no possible doubt now that th(>se eggs, taken at two different 


times b}"- two difFerent persons, are really the egos 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 ])ositive i)roof, have accepted as pertaining 
to this species." 

All obserA'ers who have recorded their observations otherwise tjian 
anonymously concur in stating this duck to l)e one of enclosed waters, and 
it seems to prefer such as are well coveretl with jangle and weeds of sorts 
and surroundcil l)y high grass, forest, &c. It is probal)ly found sometimes 
on the open river, but this only in the cold weather and very rarely even 
then. As a rule, it collects in Init small i)arties, and I should think, very 
probably, that these are only of the members of one family, though two 
or three of these may now and then join together. Its flight has been 
descrilx'd as fast and powerful, and its voice as a musical edition of the 
Mallard (^1. hoscas). 

Ai^ regards its food, there seems to l)e nothing on recoi'd beyond 
Mr. Shillingford's note on tlie gizzard of a bird he cxaiiiiiUMl and found 
to contain '"half-digested water-weeds and various kinds of small shells.''' 
This is, howcAcr, important, as it shows that it is both an animal and a 
vegetarian feeder. 

Most writers call this a shy and wild bird, but my father fE. 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 disposition. I remember when 
I first came out to India, some twenty-five 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 camiot speak with certainty of the variations they showed in their 

Most of these ducks had been shot by him when shooting with the late 
. AV. Reily and some of the Shillingfords in Maldah and Purneah. At the 
end of a day's slioot, when ])romiscuous firing had l)ecome the order, one or 
two of these ducks would often l)e added to the bag. getting n\) in front 
of the line of elephants as they worked through comitry in wliich there 
were any small jiools and jhils. 

. — I 




Unlike the two last genera, the present one contains four species, though 
of these only one is found in Indian limits. The type of the genus is 
Xettapns aurkus, which is found throughout a great part of South Africa 
and also in Madagascar. The other two forms, JSf. jndcJiellus and JV. alhl- 
pennis, are both Australian, the former being obtained in New Guinea and 
some other islands. 

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

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


Nettapus coromandelianus, Jcrdon, B. I. iii, p. 786 ; Butler, Str. Feath. iv, 

p. 27; Hume, ihid.; Hume cj* Davison, ibid. vi. p. 486; Oates, ibid, vii, 

p. 52: Cripp>s, ihid. p. 311; Legge, B. of Cey. p. 1066; Bingham, Str. 

Feath. ix, p. 198 ; Oates, B. of Brit. Burm. ii, p. 272 ; Hume, 3/e.sts 4' ^[/[/^ 

(Oates ed.), iii, p. 280 ; Barnes, B. Bom. p. 397. 
Nettapus coromandelicus, Hume, Nests Jj- Eggs, p. 638 ; Hume 4' ^J^ar. 

Game-B. iii, pi. 14. 
Nettapus coromandus, Hume, Str. Feath. iii, p. 192. 
Nettopus coromandelianus, Hume, Str. Feath. vi, p. 491; id. viii, p. 114; 

id. Cat. uo. 951 ; Hume c^' Mar. Game-B. iii, p. 101 ; Oates, Str. Feath. 

X, p. 245 ; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 68 ; Young, Jour. B. N. H. S. 

xii, p. 573 ; Butler, ihid. xiii, p. 154 ; Mono, ibid, xv, p. 515 ; 

Farrington, ihid. xv, p. 143 ; Blanford, Fauna B. I. iv, p. 433 ; Oates, 

Game-B. ii, p. 127. 

Description. Adult male. — Extreme point of forehead white, remainder and 
crown brown, the lateral edges much darker, almost black ; a complete broad 
collar round the base of the neck black, a little glossed with green ; remainder of 
head, neck, lower plumage, and a collar behind the black 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 darlv brown, completely ovei'laid with dark green 
gloss slightly mixed with purple ; upper tail-coverts dirty white freckled with 
brown. Innermost secondaries brown glossed with purple; remaining secondaries 


glossed greeu and tipped with white ; primaries glossy gret'u tipped hrowii, and 
Avith a broad white band continuing the bar made by the white tips of the 
secondaries ; tail browu ; bill, legs, and feet black, the two latter more or less 
tinged witli slaty yellow ; irides bright crimson-red. 

" Sides of tarsus and toes dusty-yellow ; claws horny-brown." (Oatcs.) 

Length 12-5 to 13-5 inches, wing (! to 7 (rarely over 6-0 or under 6-3), tail 
about 3, culmen about '9 to '95, tarsus 1. 

AYeight between 9 and 12 ozs. 

Female. — Cap as in the male, but uniform brow n ; forehead more broadly 
speckled with brown ; a deep brown line running through eye ; remainder of 
lower plumage and head white, the breast and lower neck \\ith narrow bars of 
dark brown taking the place of the collar in the male ; face and neck much 
A'ermiculated with browu, and the flanks both barred and speckled witli 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 very narrowly tipped with white ; remainder of wings, upper plumage, 
and tail brown, the scapulars and back being occasionally faintly glossed, upper 
tail-coverts finely stippled, with white. 

Bill brown, dark olive, paler and yellowish 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. 

Length about 12 inches, wing G or a trifle over, tail about 2-75, culmen 
about 0*9, tarsus nearly 1, 

Male in winter. — '' Similar to the female, but always retains the conspicuous 
white patch on tJie primaries." {Salvador i.) 

Does this little duck always assume a winter plumage when fully adult ? 
I doubt it, for I have males shot iu winter just as glossy and fully plunuiged as 
any to be obtained during the breeding-season and liot weather. 

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

Young in down. — " Upper parts, flanks, and under tail-coverts blackish 
brown ; a broad superciliary stripe, cheeks, throat, front neck, and breast \\ hite ; 
a brown line through tlie eyes ; two broad white spots on each 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 stiff." (Salradori.) 

The Cotton-Teal is found almost throughout Indin. Burma, and Covlon, 
and extends also to C*hina and the Philippines, fSunda Islands, and the 

In India projjcr it may be said to lune its stronghold in Eastern Benoal, 
is still very connnon in AVestern Bengal and Assam, less so in the Eastern 
Punjab and Pajputana, especially so in cold weather, and actually rare 
towards the west of the Empire. Barnes says that it is not found either 
in Gnzerat or Scind, but it has been recorded from both places .since his 
book was written. 


Mr. J. W. Carrington records having shot it near fSujawal in Scind, 
and Mr. E. L. Barton records the followino- from Guzerat : — 

1897. On 17th January, at Purdi, Surat 5 Cotton-TeaL 

51 V '^■*ttl „ ,, ,, 1 ,, 

„ „ 13th February ,. ,, 9 „ 

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

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

In Orissa they are common enough, and in parts of Madras fairly so ; 
from Malabar I can find no record of its occurrence, though I believe 
there is one somewhere could I only remember it. In Ceylon it appears 
to be more or less confined to the north and east of the ishmd. 

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-west of the island 
it is apparently chiefly a N.E. monsoon migrant, as about Christmas-time 
it is met with on the Kotte and Ka?sbawa lakes and other similar sheets of 

In Burmali it a])pears to be found everywhere as far south as Tenasserim 
and Tavoy. 

Butler reports it in his list of Andaman birds as having been obtained 
by G. Wardlaw-Ramsiiy and ( -aptain Wimberley. 

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 back- 
waters of the Ganges and B]'ahma[)Ootra, 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 outnumbered by the Whistling-Teals. 
I suppose everyone knows how the fishermen of the Sunderbuns and other 
parts net the vast numbers of duck that are daily sent into the Calcutta 
market ; but 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 ])atc]i of water where it 



narrows off either iuto dry land or again widens out into yet another bhil. 
Then 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 200 yards or even less of the 
nets. Thus when the shouts are started many of the flocks have not time 
to rise high enough to evade the nets, into which thev flv 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 when 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 or four up to a hundred trees or so. Xor are 
they much molested when breeding, though now and then the miseral^le 
fishermen, who are the onl}^ 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 frown, 
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 noisilv thrashinir the 
clothes of the community, moy^e sua, on large stones or ribbed pieces of 
wood, as if his one object in life was to knock everything into rao-s 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, as if trying whether thev could 
vociferate harder than fly, or vice versa, often only to return to some 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 
s])eed of flight they ai*e very densely plumaged and tough, and carry off a 
wonderful lot o£ shot for so small a bird. In the Sunderbuns they are 
found alike in the very biggest 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, Furreedpore, Barisal, and adjoining- 
districts th.ey keep more to small tanks, ditches, and enclosed bhils than to 
the larger, more open pieces of water ; and this is said to be their practice 
in most other parts of their habitat. I^egge says that they frequent 
sometimes the flooded lands close to the sea-shore. 

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 only district in which I have personally found and taken their 
nests in any number is Rungpore. I was there once 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 large drains on either side, or else a succession of borrow-pits 
take their place. These, long disused, have naturally become w^ell 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 6 to 12 feet from the 
oround, and this hollow thev line well and abundantly with twio-s, prass, 
and feathers. I have twice known as many as 22 eggs laid, once 18, and 
once 16, 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 Jhansi, says : " It breeds in July and August. 
Just above the village of Borogaon is a large lake, from which several 
coos of this ooslet wore brought. The eg(>s were collected in two months 
on different occasions. It makes a setni-floating nest on the water among 



the rushes or lotus weeds, of weeds, <;riiss, &c., all together, tilled up 
several inclies above the water-level. 

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

I have found nests quite low down, in trees only just above water- 
level in tact, but have never taken them from a hole at any hei<^ht from 
the ground, and cannot now recall to mind any which were over 15 or IG 
feet from it. They do, however, sometimes select very lofty situations, 
for Gates took one nest containing 10 eggs from a mango tree about 
30 feet above the ground. They ar(> saiil also to breed sometimes in old 
ruins, broken-down walls, &.c. Cri))]is savs : ** Thev even lav their e<iss 
in the factory chimney holes. ^^ 1'liey do not always midvc 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 compouml in liung[)ore. 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 ])res('nt, T 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 ne-ting-purposes were connnon 
enough. Eventually I found the nest by accident in a tree in front of the 
house and full two hundred vards from the tank. This was one of the nests 
alread}' mentioned, which contained 22 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 dav. but the followini; mornino-, 
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 vet seen it done. A Aery intelligent native once told me 
that early one morning, before it was lights he was fishing in a tank, or 
rather lookinii- to his nets which had been luit down overuioht. 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 V)eating of the wings fluttered down to the sm-face of the tank, 
and this performance was repeated again and again at intervals of souie 
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 :i Cotton-Teal, and 
that each time it Hopped into the water and rose again it left a gosHng 
])ehind 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 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, their weather arrangements are different, and the 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 Denth'oeygna in shape, texture, and polish. Oates calls them 
miniatures 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 inches. The averaoe of 40 eoos including: the 26 mentioned 
in Hume^s ' Nests and Eggs,' is exactly 1*7 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 deserved mention in 
any article on the Cotton-Teal. 

The Cotton-Teal has often been unjustly accused of being unable to 
progress on land. I do not know how this idea was started, but it is quite 
without reason. Mr. Finn, 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 
Cotton-Teal tame, and these birds were allowed to wander about where 
they liked, though I had to keep one wing clijiped or they might have 
Avandered too far and got shot. Now, under ordinary circumstances, the 
two little Ijirds waddled about in complete comfort, though without any 
undue speed. Under the effects of excitement, however, whether pleasur- 
able or frightened, they attempted to hurry themselves, and 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 breasts to keep in front. 


Genus JEX. 

Accordino- to the British Museum Catidooue the Mandarin Duck is 
included in the Plectropterina', and the key is as follows : — 

No comb on base of bill. 

Head crested ^a\ 

Both Ogilvie-Grant and E. Gates, however, pointed out to me that a far 
better generic character is provided in the silver-grey edging to the 
primaries, a character 1)y which it may Ijc at once distinguished from any 
other Indian Duck. 


Anas galericulata, Lath. Iml. Om. ii, p. S71. 

Aix galericulata, Goxdd, B. Asia, vii, p. 80 ; Gates. Garuc-B. ii. p. 136 : 

Finn, Fane;/ Water-Fowl, p. 20 ; Bennett, Waixhriuris in A\'U' South 

Wales, ii, p. 62 ; Latham, Syn. iii, p. 548. 
Mx galericulata. Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xx\ii, p. 76. 

Description. Adult male. — Superciliiim fi-om 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 halt and 
entirel)' green on the terminal third, \\hich is sometimes shot with deep blue ; 
face and sides of the head buff, shading into white round the eye and into 
cinnamon-red on the posterior cheek, chin, and throat ; the ueck-liackles are 
bright chestnut, tipped with purple and white striae on the anterior portion; 
remainder of upper plumage and lesser wing-coverts dull brow n glossed with 
bronzed green, especially on the mantle and upper tail-coverts ; tail grey-brown 
glossed green. Lower neck and sides of breast brilliant purple-copper ; sides oE 
lower breast with three baud.s of black and two of white ; remainder of lower 
parts white ; flanks vermiculated black and brow n, but with copper bars opposite 
the vent and with black and white bars at the end of the flank-feathers. 
Scapulars grey-brown, the iunermost 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 broadened into a fan shape, is chestnut on the inner web, tij^ped 
paler on the outer half and w itb 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 that next 
the innermost one, which is all of this colour ; primaries brown, glossed green, 
and with broad edges of silver-grey on the outer webs. Axillaries brown ; 
under wing-coverts mixed brown and grey. 

" 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." (Schreul:) 

Wing 8-8 to 9-4 inches ; tail 4*2 to 4*6 ; bill, cuhnen I'l to l-2o, from gape 
1-5 to l-4o ; tarsus 1-3 to 1-4; length about 16 to 18. 

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

Adult female. — Head and full crest grey, a narrow line starting above the 
eye 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 back, 
each feather with a pale spot near the tip, these being very large on the flank ; 
remainder of lower parts white; primaries brown, slightly glossed green and 
broadly tipped white, two of the inner secondaries forming a deep blue-green 
speculum, submargiued black and margined white; innermost secondaries the 
same colour as the back. 

As Avith other ducks with white underparts, these are often more or less 
tinged with rusty. 

Wing about 8 inches ; tail about 4 ; bill, culraen 1"05 to 1*20, 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. 
Thia 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 
exception just noted ; it is, however, generally 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 beautifull}^ and looks much as if the 
change here undergone was one of coloi*ation in the feathers themselves. 

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

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


The onlv other species in tli ^eniis is the American species yE'.i* sponsa 
Cthe Summer Duck), In this the male has the crest all trreen and the 
female differs from the female of JE. galericulata in havino- the head and 
upper parts glossed with purple. The bill also is differently formed in 
both sexes, being deeper at the base, and in uponaa the upper angle of the 
maxilla runs far back into the forehead, whereas in the ^landarin the line 
from gape to upper edge is practically straight. 

The Mandarin is a purely Eastern Asiatic duck, being distributed, 
according to Salvadori, rhrouohout " Central and Southern China, Formosa 
and Japan ; Amoorland only during the breeding-season. '•' It has also 
been obtained in Corea, and now at last in India. 

It is not long since Gates wrote : " This beautiful duck is not unlikely 
to be met with on the liorders of the Shan States " : but it has now Ijeen 
obtained far more west — in Assam. 

Mr. A. Stevens, who shot the bird and mo.-t kindly presented it to me, 
tells me, in epistold, how he managed to get it. He writes : " Early one 
dull mornino- I went in a du^-out down the Diljru River on a collecting 
trip. The Dribu, then at low water, is a small stream varying between 
twenty and fifty yards wide, liere and there dotted with sandy Ijanks and 
islands, but for the most part densely covered with jungle down to the 
water's edge. Twice single specimens of ^Isarcoj'uis scutulata (the AVhite- 
winged Wood-Duck) passed down the river on the way to their favourite 
haunt and held forth hopes of something good to be had later on. I had 
gone some two miles down 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, ])ut all six appeared to me to be exactly identical in size and 
coloration. 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 shots 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 something new to me, liut at the same 
time had no idea of the valup of what I had got. Consequently, although 
I repeatedly flushed the ])air 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 ( B utoroides javanira) in the way it flew from the 


bank and across and down stream, only instead of selecting a small tree to 
perch on, he always managed to drop into the long elephant-gmss, which, 
with other jungle, bordered the stream. 

" We foiuid the flesh of this bird very coarse, a fact which saved the 
pair on several occasions afterwards when I saw it. Afterwards, 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 douljt. 

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

Again, Mr. Gruning, I.C.S., and myself saw six birds on the River 
Hanganadi, 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 Xett'ion crecca (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 acjo Latham wrote : " We do not find it near 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."^ 

Blakiston and Pryer, in the ' Ibis ' (1878, p. 213), state: " Very common 
on small streams. It formerly built in the trees in Lyino Park. Tokio. 
Breeds in Yezo."' 

It seems to be a duck wdiicli 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. 

It is a stout, sturdy, strong little bird, equally good on water, land, 
and air ; its flight is direct and strong, similar, though inferior, to that of 
Nettion crecca ; 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 Anioor, about May to August, they are 
very wild and shy, not allowing an approach within oun-shot; he also 
states that they perch freely on trees. This is confirmed by all other 
observers ; indeed, Finn (•Fancy Water-FowP) 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 this lovely duck is 
that he, more than any other duck, is a bird of position and much given 
to showing himself off ))y 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 fan-tailpigeon. He certainly 
looks at such times as if he were con.>cious 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 s[iite of their pugnacity, however, they have a reputation in China 
for being wonderfully faithful little birds to each other. Indeed, Cauel 
says (p. I55j that '"a pair of these birds are frequently placed in a gaily 
decorated cage, and carried in their marriage processions, and are after- 
wards presented to the liride and bridegroom as worthy objects of their 

The same author, in doscribin(>' their fiioht, writes : "' Whilst on the 
wing these parties crowd closely together in front, whilst the birds in the 
rear occupy a comparatively free space.'" 

As regards their nidification very little is known : it seems to breed 
everywhere thi-oughout the nortii of its range, perhaps also wherever it is 
found. It appeai-s, however, to visit the Amoor and the more northern 
extremes of its habitat only during the l)reeding-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 ' (181U, p. 73), giving the period of inculjation 
for various birds, gives that of this duck as 30 days, whilst Finn gives it 
as 26. In the Zoological Gardens up to 1874, the Mandarin liad hatched 
eggs no less than twenty-six times, the earliest (hite for the young to appear 
being the 31st May, 1858, and the latest July IGth, 1874. As the normal 
climate in which the duck breeds is not unlike ours, except in the extreme 
north, these dates will probably coincide with its breeding-season when in 
its natural state. 


The British Museum possesses five eggs of y"Ex galericulata, which 
measure 2'2 x 1*6 inches, 2*15 x 1*54, 2"15 x 1'6, 2-08 x ToG, and 
2"16 X l'o2. 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, but 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 
wdien blown. Their dimensions agree with those given above. 


Sul)i:'aniily ANSERINE. 

This subfamily contains, according to Salvadori, six genera, but other 
systematists have further consideraldy divided this again. 

Thus the Bar-headed Goose has been ])hiced in a genus, Eulaheia 
(Reichenl)ach), by itself, and the Bean-Geese have been separated from 
other geese and called generically Melanonijx (Buturlin). The only other 
genus which interests Indian sportsmen and ornithologists is Branta or 
Rujibrenta, of which one species, ruficollis, undoul)tedly visits our limits. 

The only genera we need recognise for the purjiose of this work are 
Anser and Rufibreiifa, and I propose to deal with Alpheraky^s Anser, 
Melanonyx, and Eulaheia, 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 l)e helped. 

The distinctive features of the subfamily are : hind toe not lol)ed and 
moderate in length, as is the neck, the feet are i)alinate(l, and there is no 

As regards India, the following key to the genera will sutiice : — 

Xeck and breast with uo briglit rufous coloration Anser. 

]Veck and breast extensively coloured with bright rufous .... liufihrenta. 

Since the article dealing with the true Geese ap})eared in the Bombay 
N. H. S. Journal, certain specimens of Geese have been obtained, of which 
two species, Anset' bracliijrhijnclius and Anther m'lddendorffi, have been satis- 
factorily identified, and others of which the identity has not l)een aJisolutel// 
made out, but which I have dealt with under the headings to which I 
heliece they belong; also Rnphrenta riffii'olli.^. 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 Russia and Asia," and, 
))ecause of the mass of material he has had at his disposal, and the length 
of time and study he has devoted to the subject, the results he arrives at 
will probably be eventually found to more closely a])])roach correctness 
than the attempts of other ornithologists, who have not bad the same 

ANSER. 61 

advantaoes. At the same time, it is more than possible that even 
Alpheraky will modify much that he has now written^ and other species 
and subspecies maji be created, and some of those now accepted done 
away with. 

In India we mar/ meet with specimens of many of the Bean-Geese, and 
for this reason I have, in my key to the Anseres, included several forms of 
which we have, as vet, no record. 

Genus ANSEE. 

The onlv Indian Goose which has a red breast belonos to the oenu.s 
Rnfihrenta, and cannot be confused with any of the birds of this genus, 
which are all coloured Avitli black and white and the intermediate shades. 

Ki'ii to Species. 

A. Head ^itli two black bands A. indicus. 

B. Head with no black bands. 

a. JS^ail of maxilla white or nearly so. 

a. No white or very little white on forehead. Eump 

grey A. ruhrirostris. 

h' . A good deal of wliite ou forehead, round base of 
bill. Bump dark greyish-brown. 

rt". "Wing over 15 inches A. alUfrons. 

h" . Wing under 15 inches A. eriithro£nis. 

h. Nail of maxilla black or neai-ly so. 

c . Margin of wing ashy blue-grey, upper wing-coverts 

light slaty-grey A. hracln/rJn/ncJms. 

d'. Margin of wing and \\ing-co\erts daric brown or 
rt". Pale-coloured parts of bill rose-pink . . . . A. ner/Iectus. 
h". Pale-coloured parts of bill vermilion . . . . A. carneirostris. 
c". Pale-coloured parts of bill yellow. 

a'". Nail less than quarter length of culmen. 

«"". Culmen 1*8S to 2-40 inches A. segetum. 

}>"" . Culmen 2-44 to 2-S3 inches A. serrirostris. 

h'" . Xail more than quarter length ot cubnen. 

c"". Culmen 2"1G to 2'8.3 inches A. arvensis. 

d"" . Culmen 2"91 to 3*20 inches A. middcndorffi. 

The aliovc is admittedly only a very rouoh 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 been 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. 38, 598, and 950 of vol. xvii. of that journal. 

Anser segetum and Anser ai'vensis are probably western forms, hardly 
likely to be found within Indian limits ; but as it is within the bounds of 
possibility that they may be so found, I have included them in the key. 

Carneirostris may or may not be a good species, it may even be 
Swinhoe's true serrirosfris, but the material available (four specimens) is 
insufficient to allow this point to be decided. 

As regards A. oatesi, the distinction of this species still also requires 
further confirmation. 

^1. hrachyrhyncJms may be at once distinguished from all other geese 
by its grey coverts, and although the first pink-footed goose found 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 
\\\G N.W. rather than in the N.E. On the other hand, there is not the 
slightest reason wdiy serrirostris, negh'dus, and m'iddendorfji should not be 
frequently reported within our borders. 

Any sportsman who may obtain a Bean-Goos(% /. e. a goose with a 
black nail to its bill, should at once forward the whole skin, if possible — 
if not, the head and neck, — to the Bond)ay Natural History Society for 
identification. He should note in detail the colorations of the bill and 
feet immediately he gets it ; antl if the colours of the former change after 
death should note this also. The lenoth of the wino- should also be added. 



Anser cinereus, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 779 ; Hume, Str. Feath. i, p, 258 ^ 
id. Nests Sf Eggs, p. 635 ; Butler, Str. Feath. iv, p. 26 ; Scully, ibid, 
p. 199 ; Hume, Str. Feath. vii, p. 491 : viii, p. ll-l ; Hume, Cat. no. 945 ; 
Hume Sj' 3Iar. Game-B. iii, p. 50; Hume, Nests Sf Eggs {Oates ed.), iii, 
p. 279 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 945. 

Anser rubrirostris, Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 91. 

Anser ferns, Blanford, Fauna B. I. iv. p. 410. 

Anser anser, Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 42 ; Alpherahj, Geese, p. 24. 

Description. Adult male. — Lower back and ramp Erench-grey ; upper tail- 
coverts white ; remainder oi: upper plumage, bead, 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 
Erench-grey, more grey at the bases of the feathers ; shoulder of wing and 
smaller coverts next it, winglet, primaries at the base, and primary-coverts 
Erench-grey ; remainder of wings brown, the secondary coverts edged whitish ; 
under wing-coverts and axillaries Erench-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. 

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 faiut tinge of pink, through pale somewhat livid fleshy- 
pink to a dingy-livid purplish-red, and very often the bill is of one shade, the 
legs and feet of another. Never, in any of the innumerable specimens that I 
have examined in India, have the bills had any orange or yellow tint about them 
{Hume). "Length about 33 inches, wing 18, tail 6-5, culmen 2-7, tarsus 3"2 " 

Female. — Only differs in being smaller Scully, ' Stray Eeathers ' (loc. cit.), 
gives the measurements of the female as follows : — " Length 31 inches, tail 6, 
tarsus 3, bill from gape 9-7." 

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


This bird is said to differ from A use)' ferns (the Coiiinion Wihl Goose) 
ill beino; rather laroer and with proportionately larger bill and feet, and 
the adult bird is also more marked with l)lack on the underparts, thoiioii 
this last distinction does not hold good with most Indian specimens. 

Alpheraky, in his beautiful 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 su))specifi(; rank. He 
writes that he is unable to find any points differing sufticiently constantly 
to enable him to divide* the two forms. 

Weioht and size he shows to be of no value, for whereas the normal 
Indian l)ird — this nuist l)e nihr'trostrh, if there is such a bird — weighs only 
some (i to 8^ lbs., Naumann gives the weight of a Western European 
.s[)ecim(ni as being 16^ lbs. 

Richness of plumage may l)e admitted as individual, not specific at all. 
Tliis leaves only the coinparat'/ce size of the bill and the coloration 
of the soft })arts as a means of differentiation considered hitherto by 

The Ijill is said to be pro}tortionately longer in the Eastern than in the 
Western form, and the feet and bill more deeply tinged with pink. 
Personally I cannot discrinn'nate between the two forms ; but I incline to 
think that the l)ill of )'it/>nro.'<tr/s is a deeper flesh-colour than in ferns, and 
I also think that the Eastern form is a larger, lighter l)uilt hird ivifh a nnnn 
decided/// Jonaer hi j>ro/n)rf/oii to its iceio/tt, for we see Hume's birds of 
t) lbs. to 8i lbs. with wings of 1<S inches upwards, whilst birds of this 
weight in Western Europe have wings of 1() inches. This is a cpiestion 
which, however, nmst l)e threshed out after the examination of far more 
material than I can at })resent connnaiid. and I shall therefore let the 
name stand as rnhrirostris in this work. 

Hume, in ' Game-Birds,' goes into the (juestion as to whether this biril 
is the same as the one known in Europe as Anser cinerens. and he there 
notes the difference between the two s})ecies in his usual accurate maimer, 
and many ornithologists do agree that the two specimens are distinct. 
Hodgson's name of rnhrirostris stands good for our Indian form. Hume's 
distribution given in " Game-Birds " ap])lies, of course, to both species, and 
has to be oreatly curtailed in its limits outside India. 

It is found throughout Northern India, but it is far more numerous to 
the west than to the east : it extends right away throughout (/hina ; but as 
most of the birds are recorded as .i. ciuerens, it is ditficult to say what 
notes a})ply to the true xi. ciiwrens and what to our A. rnhrirostris, tliou<di 


the probability is that nearly all the Asiatic birds are the latter. 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 Sylhetj in a favourable year. Probably 
it is in great numbers only when compared to the few found of other 

Mr. Damant reports it to be common in Manipur, next door to Burmah; 
and as regards Burmah itself. Gates writes : — "It occurs on the Chindwin 
and Irrawaddy Rivers, and in the latter river it is abundant down to 
Myingyan at least." 

A friend, m epistold, writing from Burmah, 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." I have shot one or 
two pairs in the Sunderbuns, 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 C^alcutta markets, which are a veritable 
bird-mine for the ornithologist in the right season, when the rarer edible 
birds sometimes put in an appearance. 

In Assam, except in the Brahmapootra and the larger rivers, such as 
the Surma, &c., it goes about in only small parties of some ten or a dozen, 
but Cripps met with 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 further 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 similar suitable places up to 6000 feet or more. 

" A Member of the Society " states that no geese are found in the 
Konkan, Deccan, or Khandeish, but he records an Anser, 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 great numbers. Hume mentions 
having found flocks numbering fully 1200, and, I believe, refers to the 
flocks he saw in Sind. 

In the British Museum Catalogue the distribution of this o'oose iseiveu 
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 migi'ation. 


They breed throughout Asiatic Siberia, in Turkestan. Kashgar. probabl y 
Northern Persia, and on the Yangtse-Kiang, on which river young birds 
have been taken. I can find no full description of their breeding-habits, 
but they are not likely to differ in any way from those of A. cincren^, the 
European Grey Lag, which lays from -4 to G eggs (according to Oates, 
<) to 12. or even l-i) in a rough, rather loosely-buih. nest of reeds, rushes, 
and grass, placed on the ground not far from water. Prjevalsky records 
l)reeding-places in S.E. Mongolia, the upper valley of the Huanyho, and in 
Lake Kokonoor. all of wliich places refer to the Asiatic form of the Grey Lag. 
All notices referring to Europe and North Africa must be taken as being 
of the true Grey Lag. -1. fine reus, and I fancy that the majority of those 
in Asia Minor, if not all. will be found to be of the same. 

Thev generallv arrive in India in C)ctober. but do not <iet far south or 
oast until the end of Xovember : about Calcutta and east of that they appear 
to come in in early and middle December. C)f 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 receiving four '• Grey Lag Geese " (^-i. cinereus^ as late as the 
2nd 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 con- 
firmed, and it seems he must have been mistaken. 

After Hume's long notes on shooting geese given in ' Game-Birds ' it 
is very difficult to say anything more of any interest. As every sportsman 
knows, they are shy, wild birds, and ditficult to bring to bag : but their 
wildness varies much, according 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 l)ag of geese unless one has 
really made up his mind to -work the business out proj^erly. If there are 
any young crops of wheat, kc, 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 -ind very cold — it can be cold t^ven in India, — get 
within easy shot of tlie birds as thev feed on the voung growth. If wise, 
he will blaze one barrel into the brown as thev feed and get what he can 


with his second liarrel 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 on way after rising, and give lots of time to put in two 
shots, and more birds will be dropped in this way than if the nnspread 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 inoffensive 
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 during 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 mentioned, 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 another 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 companion 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 
flock. 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 yds., you will i-arely 
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 tbo Br;iliiii;n»utrii. the only i-i\cr on wliicli I h;i\c niudc rc^iular 
dttenipt.< to >lioot tlicni. \ liiivc found them just as wary in fhe ini(hJle ot" 
the day a.s at any other time, and no amount ot" care or precautions hav(! 
ena})led me to a})proacli within sliot, excejtt in exce})tionul cases. A\'e ih'd, 
however, sometimes «ret within shot of tliem in the early morning, wh<'n the 
mist was still heavy on the watci-, and the con\('rsati()nal '" 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. Rarelv good hags were made hy enthusiastic s[)ortsmen who dug 
holes in the sand, on some sandbank in the line of flight, ami 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 l)y 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 enter the water, so that they 
can be easily shot on ap[)earing. 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 liengal 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 Avide maws. Any big bird not recovered almost as soon as 
shot is just as likely to form a nmnnern dinner as it is to form that of the 
person shooting it. Although bad or rather indifferent divers, thev are 
very good swimmers, and a broken-winged bird gets along the surface o£ 
the water with great ra[)idity. On the wing they are very swift when once 
started, and are active an<l graceful as well. They fly, as everyone knows, 
in the form of a \J^ generally one with a very obtuse point, and often with 
one wing longer than the other. They are noisy birds and their cackliugs 
and cries and trumpets are, on ordinary occasions, far from soul-stirring, 
but, as Hume says, when on the wing, high up, the loud trumpeting calls 
are very sonorous and mu>ical. Especially is this the case when, late in 
the evening, or in the very early dawn, the sportsman, crouched low in some 
ambush, waits eagerly for the welcome sound that tells of the ai)proach of 
his game. To me this form of sport is very fascinating for a few hours, 
though 1 admit that it recpiires great patience, as it i> often a long wait 
between the flocks as they come within reach, and often the temper is tried 
by the persistent way birds continue, one flock after the other, to flv past, 


either to the right or left, low down, Ijut much too far off to get a shot. 
When, however, the hir Js flj kindly, it is very pleasant to hear the constant 
loud calls, the swish-swish of ths wings as they pass, answered by the crack 
of your 12-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, Init there is no end to the variety, both of the game 
killed and the way of killing it. First, perhaps, come 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 vou want food for your men you do fire and drop a couple. Then a 
few noisy little (Jotton-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 
mean so man}- good-eating ducks. As a rule, you will know what you 
have got by their appearance and flight, but a Shoveller will sometimes 
imitate tho 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 trumjiet 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 by the roots and thus destroy what they do 
not eat. 

The eggs mentioned by Hume belonged, I believe, to A. cinereus, and 
not to xl. riihrirostris, with the exception of those he obtained from Ruttun 
Singh, and which were laid by a tame goose. These two eggs were quite 
pure white, glossless, but compact, though not very fine-grained. They 
measured 3'55 by 2*45 inches and 3'4 by 2*25. 



Anser albifrons, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 780; Hume, Str. Feath. viii, p. 11-1 ; Ilumc, 
Cat. no. !M7 ; Hume <f" Mar. Game-B. iii, p. 73, pi. 10; Salvadori, 
Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 92; Blanford, Fauna B. I. iv, {). 417; Oates, 
Game-B. ii, p. 91 ; Alpheralif, Geese, p. 42. 

Anser erythropus, Hume, Str. Feath. i, p. 259. 

Descrijition. Adult male. — "Eorebead and feathers at the base of the upper 
mandible white ; head, neck, back, rump, and wings brownish ash-colour ; upper 
tail-coverts white ; breast and belly pale bro\\'nish-\\hite, with patches and broad 
bars of black ; sides and flanks ash-brown, with paler edgings, and with a white 
band on the 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 bluish-black ; secondaries black : tail-feathers 
dark grey, tipped with white : bill orange-yellow, the nail white ; irides dark 
brown ; legs, toes, and membranes orange, claws whitish horn-colour. Total length 
27 inches, wing 16, tail 6, culmenl'9, tarsus 2*5. " (Salvadori.) Jerdon gives the 
wing as 17 inches : on the other hand, Hume gives it as 15 to ]5'75 inches. 

"Wing 14-75 to 17 inches, culmen 157 to 2-20, tarsus 2*25 to 3"20" 

Of the soft parts, Hume gives the colours as follo\\s : — Legs and feet bright 
orange ; nails pinky or greyish-white ; bill pale, livid fleshy ; nail whitish or pale 
yellow ish-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 " (Kaumann). " Weight : maximum 
6 lbs., minimum 4 lbs., average 5^ lbs.'" (Fopham). 

Female only differs from the male in being rather smaller, but 1 can find no 
measurements of this goose sexed as females ; but Alpheraky remarks : " I there- 
fore 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 year is more uniform in colour and rather darker ; the 
feathers at the base of the upper mandible 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." 

As the bird grows older, the white band on the forehead 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 tlie female, though. Salvadori notes 

Plate VI. 


Anser arbifpona. 

J.Gi>een , Chromo. 


no difference in this respect. As regards the coloration of the underparts, it 
varies very 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 pre- 
dominates, 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, perhaps to a greater extent, also, on the gander 
than on the goose. 

Young birds in first plumage.^ White feathering on head entirely absent, and 
both on head and along base of upper mandible replaced by brown or brown- 
blaek. 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. 

Anser gamheli is generally accepted as a distinct species (not by 
Alpheraky), so that the area inhabited by the Indian bird is now curtailed, 
and it does not extend to Japan, though it does to the greater part of 

Salvadori, however, says that it is a true A. albifrons which inhabits 
Greenland, from wdiich place he excludes J., (jamheli, so that this must now^ 
be accepted as one of its breeding-places. 

It is also found right throuoh the Pala^arctic Reoion 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 occurs, the W^hite-f routed 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 Jheluni below 

Hume says that during the thirty years he has shot in India, |jrior 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. 259, shooting three geese in Sind, only he then called them Anser 
erytliropus, but gave their dimensions as those of small A. albifrons, viz., 
with wings from 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. 

Lieut. 0. D. Lester records shooting three White-fronted Geese on the 
14th February, 1890, at a place called Deviria near Anjar in Cutch. 

Hume, writing of these birds in ' Stray Feathers,' says he twice S(Xiv 
them, once on the Jhelum and once on the Indus ; on the first occasion 


thoro wero three birds, and on the second only two, and they were quite 
by themselves, not associating witli otjier geese as one would have expected 
to see. 

Col. Graham says that this goose is found in Assam. Gates had the photo 
of one sent him which had been sjiot on tlif < 'liindwin IJiver, by ( 'ajitain 
Williams, on the 27th November, IbiitJ, and was also informed by 
Major Rippon that it had been shot on the lake at Fort Stedman in the 
Southern Shan States. 

It is not a rare bird in Great Britain, l)Ut has only twice been recorded 
from Heligoland in the last century. 

Mr. Pearson ('Ibis,' 1896, p. 221; shot an Anser alhifrons on July 24th 
in XoAaya Zemblya, and reports that the Ijirds were moulting, so, 
presumably, they were also breeding there ; and according to Alpheraky 
"they Lad bred here in large numbers" and "in limited numbers in 
Finmark." The former author an<l his Ijrother obtained this goose in the 
Philippine Islands. 

Mr. L. Po]jham found it breeding on the Yenisei River, but says 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 Midden dorff, 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, ]dentifully furnished with down from the 
parent's breast. Again, on August 2nd he obtained eggs, so that it would 
appear that they are late breeders. 

Prior to the recent records by Gates, 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 Burmah. Probably, however, it remains for the AVestern 
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. 

Alpheraky, who does not separate A.f/amhell and A. alhifrons, describes 
the eggs of the former as being between 3'-48 x 2'2'2 and 2'99 x l'9-4 inches. 
A clutch is usually stated as 5, C, or 7, but there is no doubt that the number 
is sometimes greater. 

The only eggs I have in my collection were laid in captivity, and do 
not differ from the eggs of the Grey Lag, except in being smaller, and, in 
each case, a decidedly longer, narrower oval. 



Anser miniitus, Hume, Sir. Feath. \\n, p. IIJ-; Hume, Cat. no. !J48. 

Anser erythropus, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 781 ; Hume 4' -1^«''- Game-B. 
iii, p. 78, p]. 77; Salvadori, Cat. B. 21. xxvii, p. 97; Blanford, Fauna 
B. I. iv, p. 418; Stuart Baler, Jour. B. N. H. S. xv, p. 524; Oates, 
Game-B. ii, p. 53. 

Anser finmarchicus, Alpheral-i/, Geese, p. 59. 

Adult male. — Differs from the last bird, Amer albifroiis, 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. 

" 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). 

" 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-yelloM" ; 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 the 
old ; the irides 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." (JSMinnann.) 

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 8 hours. 
Mr. Finn records from three live birds before him, that of the soft parts " the 
bill is_of a beautiful rose-pink, not orange .... the eyelids are lemon-yellow. In 
its dark eyes and orange feet, &c." All three of these birds bad the soft parts 
similarly coloured. According to Alpheraky : " In the Lesser White-fronted 
Goose the yellow colouring and slightly swollen state of the cerema 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 the case with the White-fronted Goose." 

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


This little goose is found over the greater pari of Northern Euro})e, to 
the west as far as Great Britain (but only on rare occasions), in Lapland 
eastwards, Siberia, 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 " Ganie-Birds.' Blanford, in ' Eastern 
Persia,' ii, p. 303, records Anser eri/throjnis from Persia, and in a footnote 
he says : — 

" One goose at least is very common in Persia. Many cou|)le remain to 
breed in the reeds round the lake Daslitiarjan and the marshes near Shiraz, 
whence ooslinos are often broug-ht into the town. I have never seen them 
in mature plumage^ nor been able to shoot an old bird, so cannot say to 
what species they belong." 

I was told by a correspondent in Cashmere that he had shot four geese 
there in 1901 which were of this species. Mr. H. E. James, in the 
lecture, })art 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 Anser 
enjtliropus, the White-fronted Goose, and ate it." I conclude that Anser 
erythropus 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. Only two years ago a friend of mine, 
who knew how very keen I was on ornithology, informed me with great 
glee that he had been having a feed on some " Hill Ptarmigan." He 
described a bird of that family most minutely, and I thought he must have 
got hold of something really good, and offered fabulous |>rices 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 should 
look like. 

The same man ate with relish some fine s}>ecimens of the Naga Hills 
Partridge (^Arhoricola riifot/ulcms), and left me the wings and a few feathers 
to weep over. However, partridges and ptarmigan are not geese, and I 
must strav no further. 


The other recorded Indian specimens are : two shot and one other seen 
by Captain Irbyin Oudh ; others seen, Hume does not say how many were 
obtained by Mr. A. Anderson near Hurdni in Oudh, and at Futtepur in 
the N.W. Provinces. One procured by Dr. Bonavia near Lucknow ; and 
finally three shot by Mr. Chill some 30 miles south o£ Delhi. Three 
obtained by Mr. Frank Finn (a male and two females) from a bird-dealer 
in the provision bazaar in Calcutta, and said to have come from somewhere 
near Rawal-Pindi. Finally, one shot by Mr. R. Johnston, at Sookerating, 
Lakhimpur, Assam, in October 1903. 

It breeds in Lapland, and (vide Alpheraky) " it breeds in the Kaninsk 
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, and on the 
29th July a young bird in which the quill-feathers had started growing. 

It lays 5 to 8 eggs, in the usual form of nest, which are said to be a 
dull creamy-white in colour^ of a broad regular oval shape, glossless 
texture, and to measure about 2'9 by 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*85 by 1*84 inches, and are perhaps rather 
abnormal in shape. 

The eggs in the British Museum vary between 3*27 and 2'70 inches in 
lenoth and between 1*93 and 1*80 in breadth. 



Anser brachyrhynchus, Hume, Sir. Feath. viii, p. 114; Hume, Cat. no. 94f); 

Jlume c^- JJ<tr. G(tme-B. iii, p. 71 ; McLeod, Str. Feath. x, p. 108 ; 

Salvadori, Cat. F>. M. xxvii, p. lOo ; Blanford, Faaaa B. I. iv, p. 418; 

Oaten, Game-B. ii, p. (!."). 
Melanonyx brachyrhynchus, Alitlarakii, Geese, p. 87. 

Adult male. — " AVbole head and 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 scapulae, brown with rufous tinge. Lower part 
of back and scapulars light brown, the feathers becoming towards tips rufous 
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-gre}^ and edged (more or less widely) 
with light rufous. Tips of median and greater wing-coverts very pale 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-brown, each 
feather at tip passing gradually into rufous, and fringed with lighter, sometimes 
greyish, margins. 

" Remaining part of under surface of bod}' dingy white, upper part of l)elly 
with darker grey transverse striping." {Alpheralcij .) 

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 nari'ow band behind the nail, 
in old birds it extends back to the nostrils, along the culnieu only as far as tlie upper 
edge of the nares, and on the lower edge, sometimes, as far back as the extreme 
base of the bill. 

The measurements of a very fine male in my possession were : — Length 
27 inches, wing IG-S, tardus 2-44, tail 4*8, bill at point 1-0, and from gape 1'65. 

" Wing 15-7 inches, culmen 1-73 to 1-S8, depth of bill at base 0-22, tarsus 2-20, 
AVeight 6A to 7i lbs." {AlpUrahj.) 

Salvadori (loc. cii.) says rooardino- the distribution of this goose : 
" Spitzbergen, where it nests, and probably also Franz Joseph Land ; 
during the migration and in winter in N.AV. Europe ; occasionally it 
.strays to Germany, Belgium, and France ; its alleged occurrence in 


India requires further evidence." In spite of Salvadori's doubt on the 
subject, this beautiful goose has now ])een ascertained beyond (juestion to 
visit India. As long ago as lb49 Blyth recorded it from the Punjab 
and gave it in the ' Cat. of Birds Asiatic Museum.^ Thirty years then 
elapsed before there is any notice of this goose in Indian publications, 
and then Hume again noted its occurrence (in ' Stray Feathers/ viii.). 
In 18G4 he had, however, shot two birds of this species in the Jumna, 
and Colonel Irby also had recorded having seen a specimen killed near 
Lucknow in Jtinuary 1858. Colonel Graham assured Mr. Hume that 
the species is not uncommon in Assam on the Brahma})ootra. 

Again, Major-General McLeod says of this goose : " I shot one of 
these out of a flock of about twenty on the Kunawan bheel, near 
Gurdaspur, Punjab, in 18;")3.'' All these records marj, however, have 
referred to other species of Bean-Geese, most probably to neglectus, a 
goose far more likely to favour us with visits than is Jn'ac/iijrJii/nchvSy 
whose range does not, normaU//, 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 fluke. He was stalking some other 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 Bombay N. H. S.^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 to my identification having 
been correct, the notes on the wing-coloration and the bill having been 
very full. 

As regards its breeding-habits, there seems to be little on record beyond 
Dresser's notes ; he says : — " Of its breeding-habits but little, compara- 
tively speaking, is known, and it is only known to breed with certainty 
in Iceland and Spitsbergen. Professor Malmgren, who obtained its eggs 
in the latter island, says that it is exceedingly wary and shy. In the 
eai'ly 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-?ea>on it is seen in pairs. Wlu-n moulting, 
it frequents freshwater swamps, and latf^r on. wlien collected in flocks, 
it is to he met with near tho coast. 

" Its nest is placed in prominent situations on high rocks, or jilatforms 
on steep cliffs, often close to a river, or in some grass- covered place, and 
."sometimes on hish cliffs close to the sea on thf inner fiords. The nest is 
so situated that the birds can have an uninterrupted view from it of the 
comitrv round, and can readily see if an intruder a])proaches or danger 
threatens. Hence it is diflicult to -hoot this >hy bird, even at its nest, 
for the gander is extremely watchful, and directly anyone approaches 
warns his mate by uttering a clear whistling cry. In June the female 
lavs four or five eggs, which are hatched about the Idth or l.^th Jul v. 
and lioth parents assist in taking care of tlie young. I possess a single 
egg of this goose, obtained on the Swedish expedition to Spitzbergen, which 
is pure white, resembles the egg of Ansei' cinerevs, but is rather smalh-r, 
and the grain of the shell is somewhat smoother."' 

Morris, ' Xests and Eggs oi' Briti>li Birds.' says : — " These birds unite 
about the middle of 3Iay : Mr. G. Maegillivray 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 tlu- 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 Ijy the Ornithological Society of 

I liave received several clutche> of this fino goose's eggs from Iceland, 
two of five each and two of four each, and from Spitzbergen I have received 
a single ^gg- They are in no way different to the eggs of the Grey Lag 
Goose, but average considerably smaller, the 19 being, on an average, 
only 3*0 by 1-08, and the largest only 3-15 X 2*06 inches. 

Seebohm, ' Birds of the Japanese Empire,' pp. 23G-237, 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. 45Gj. L'nforttmately 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 example of a Pink-" 
footed Goose, but in the absence of the black base to thf^ bill I am 
inclined to regard it as the young in first plumage of the White-fronted 


I may note that the bill of the specimen in my collection, and which 
has had very rongh nsage from neglect, rats, and, finally, earthquakes and 
heavy rain, has the bill now of a uniform dirty grey-white, the wdiole of 
the outer portions having been pounded off by the heavy stones of a w^all 
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. 



Anser neglectiis, Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 75 ; id. Jour. B. N. II. S. xvii, 
p. 44 ; Stuart Baker, ibid. p. 537 ; Alpheralcy, ibid. p. 599 ; Bidttrliv, 
ibid. p. 604 : Outes, ibid. p. 900. 

Melanonyx neglectus, AJjiheralu, Geese, p. 78. 

Description. — " The species is distinguished from A. brac7ii/rJi>/nc7ius by 
greater size, larger and more robust bill, and by the fact that tlie secondary 
coverts are black-brown, and thus of another colour to the main coverts. Prom 
A. segetum it is distinguished by the dark ilesli-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 feathei's of the 
sides of the body are browner. In some specimens, just as in A. segetum, is 
observable a slight admixture of white feathers at the very root of the upper 
mandible." (SusJikin.) 

To this description Alpheraky adds : — " The bill of Pushkin'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 marked 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 serrb^ostris. 

Total length about 30 inches, wiug 17"7 to 19, culmen 2-16 to 2-48, 
tarsus 295 to 3-11. 

Bill : nail black, base of bill 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-grey. Under- 
parts light dingy grey, with tinge of ochi-eous and darker rounded grey centres 
to feathers ; vent and tail-coverts (upper and lo\\er)' dingy-white, perhaps due 
to dustiness of skin. Head and neck brown, \\ith strong coffee tint." 

The actual distribution of this goose lias not yet been definitely settled : 
\i prohahhj occurs in Great Britain ; it certainly occurs in Hungary, Russia, 


and much of Central Europe, Asia Minor, and extreme west o£ Asia 
through to Persia. Seebohm obtained it on the Yenesei, and the three birds 
obtained by Dr. Moore and my men in Dibrugarh must have been of this 

In vol. xvii. of the ' Bombay Journal,' when writing of this species 
(p. 537), I most unfortunately twice wrote middendorji, instead of neglectuSy 
the former of these two, of course, not being a pink-billed species. In 
consequence of the discussion on Bean-Greese 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, 1 
think, quite definitely fix the identification of the geese obtained. 

Sushkin's Goose breeds in Novaya Zemlya, and almost certainly in 
Kolguev, perhaps also in the Surgai district near Urkach. 



Anser middendorffi, Oates, Jour. B. N. H. S. xvii, p. 4-5 ; Alpheralcy, ibid. 

p. 599 ; Buturlia, ibid. p. 604 ; id. Field, Nov. 17th, 1906 ; Oates, Ocime-B. 

ii, p. 76. 
Anser serrirostris middendorffi, Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 102. 
Melanonyx arvensis sibiricus, Alpliemlcy, Geese, p. 104. 

Description. Adult male. — " Head and neck grey-brown, for the 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, 
' Tellow-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, the eastern form does not differ 
from the type. Even in dimensions, with the exception, of course, of the bill 
and feet, M. ai'vensis sibiricus almost agrees with large examples of M. arvensis." 
{Alpheralcy .) 

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 arvensis, 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 arvensis with culmen exceeding 2*75. 

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

As regards its distribution, Alpheraky gives it as £ollo\^^s : — "• Every- 
where in East Siberia, from the Taimyr Peninsula eastwards to Kamchatka, 
Chukchiland. and the Komandor Islands. ... It nests on the Boffanida 
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° N. lat. and possibly still farther south. 

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

As regards its breeding, he writes : " This 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 yellowish, 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 2'44 ; the smallest 
measurements are probably abnormal, the next smallest measuring 
3-07 X 2-11. 

a 2 



Anser indicus, JerJon, B. I. iii, p. 782 ; Hume, Nests 4' Efj(/s, p. G36 ; 

Butler, Sir. FeafJi. iv, pp. 27, 40, & 99 ; id. ibid, vi, p. 260 ; Adams, ibid. 

p. 401 ; ffiiine, ibid, vii, p. 491 : Huuie <j- Mar. Gome-B. iii, p. 81 ; Hnine, 

Kesfs 4' E'JV^ (Oates ed.), iii, p. 279 ; Gates, Game-B. u, p. 57; Salvadori, 

Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 105. 
Eulabeia indicus, BalJ, Str. Feath. iii, p. 436. 
Eulabeia indica, AJpMrali/, Geese, p. 133. 

Adult. — " Head white, \\ itli two horse-shoe blackish bars on the 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 gradually 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." (Salvador!.) 
" 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 from 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 onlv 
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." (Hume.) 

Young. — " Forehead brownish-white, a little tinged with rusty ; a dusky line 
through the lores to the eye ; whole crown, occiput, and nape sooty or dusky 
black ; no trace of either the two distinct black head-bars or 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 the 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." (Salvadori.) 

Young in down. — " Pale yellowish, top of the head and upper parts pale 
brown." (Salvadori.) 

Roughly s[)eakiug, the habitat of this goose is India and Northern 

Plate VII. 

al.Greeri, Chporno. 


Ans er irxdi cru s . 


Biirmah and the Shan States during winter, and in summer (Central Asia, 
due north o£ 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 oi: 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, sufficient to incapacitate it from migrating. They are very 
devoted to one another, and probably if either of a pair of geese was 
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, &c., 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 one. In Sind, however, the Grey Lag is the 
more common, and it has not been obtained in Grujarat. 

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 floating down on them in boats, but a good many 
circumstances coml)ined 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 hj the men for them to remain in the water long enough 
to get near the birds; and, finally, these last were exceedingly wide awake, 
and would not allow us to get within distance of anything but the longest 
shots. I did get one i)air, eventually, but it was only by an adaptation of 
Hume's })lan. The geese, of which there was a flock of about forty, were 


on a sand chiir, al)Out fifty yards from the bank of the river, ^vhich was 
about 200 yards wide. I dropped down the river ah)n_ii- the bank furthest 
from the <ieese, and then, when below them, worked across the river and 
got out the same side as the geese. 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 u[» Avitli 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 as the rest flew off. The flock, however, seemed to 
consider that the boat was the aggressor, and sweeping round flew within 
twenty yards of me, and I knocked over three with my second Ijarrel. 
Of these three, one was snapped up as soon as it touched the water by a 
crocodile, and the same fate ha})pened to the second before we got to it, 
whilst the third flew away again without offering another chance. 

In the daytime, according to Hume, Tickell, and nearly all other 
observers, as w^ell 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 wdien 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 Avonderfully keen look-out and are 
very hard to approach wdthin reasonable distance. Mr. Theo})ald says 
that in Ooimbatore, during the daytime, " they keep floating idly in the 
centre of some tank or river." 

In Bengal, at all events, where the rivers are deep and " mugg(n"s " 
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, of course, often be 
approached by dug-outs, with a small screen in the fi'ont of the boat 
composed of green Ijranches or reeds, but when the water is o})en, and 
there is no natural cover, the birds are much too wily to be imposed on by 
the -screen. Of course, if one goes in for shooting them as they fly 
overhead to and from their feeding-grounds, one cannot expect to obtain 
large bags, except with unusual luck. Mr. Reid, 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 

Hume^s apjx'al 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, of course, almost entirely vegetable feeders, and it is 
wonderful 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 
percentage of the wretched villagers^ winter crops. They will eat almost 
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 about 4 p.m. and continue on 
the grounds 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 : — " They then 
appear flying in the form 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 
Southern 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. 
Their headquarters for breeding seems to be the numerous lakes in 
Ladakh, and they also breed throughout Thibet in suitable localities, and 
probably also north of the Himalayas in many other parts. There has 
been nothing recorded, so far as I can ascertain, since ' Gamc-Birds ' was 
written, concerning the ))reeding of this goose. 


Drew, writing o£ one of the many islands in the Tsomonrari Lake in 
Ladakh, says : — 

" The island is about half a mile from' the shore, near midway in the 
length of the western side — it may be 100 yds. corner to corner in one 
direction, and GO yds. in another ; it is of gneiss rock, rising only nine or 
ten feet above the water ; the soundings before given show that there is 
about 100 ft. of water between the island and the near shore. This little 
place, being ordinarily undisturbed by man, is a great resort of the gull, 
which in Ladakhi is called Chagharatse ; the surface was nearly all 
covered w^ith 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 Champas 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 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." 

Capt. Stein, I.M.S., took a considerable number of the eggs of this 
species in the Chumba Valley, some of which have come into my possession 
or passed through my hands. These are just like the eggs of Anser ferus, 
but average smaller, and the measurements of the 14 I have seen were 
only 3*07 x 2"2'd inches. The colour was pure white, were unsoiled, and 
the texture exactly like that of the eggs of A. ferus. Four or five appears 
to^be the normal full number in a clutch. 



Branta ruficoUis, Bengal Sporting Mag. 1836, vii, p. 247 ; Bhjth, Ibis, 1870, 
p. 176; Oaies, Game-B. i\, -p. 7S ; Salvadorl, Cat. B. 21. xxvii, p. 124; 
Stuart Baher, Jour. B. jV. ff. S. xvi. 

Rufibrenta ruficoUis, AlpheraTcy, Geese, p. 140. 

Description. Adult male. — " Entire crown and hind-neck black ; the black of 
the crown extends through tlie 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 white ; flanks white, with black 
bands at the tip of the feathers ; wings brown-black, the 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 ' {Saunders).^' (Salvadori.) 

The female only differs from the male in being somewhat smaller, the colours 
are equally bright. 

Young birds in second year. — " Shiny black of plumage replaced by brown ; 
instead of a rufous patch in the aural region, a similar grey-brown 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 inferiorly the rufous of upper breast, less definite, and no black 
margin between this and the rufous, or only in the shape of a few black-brown 

" Tail-feathers with very narrow white or whitish tips. Underside 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." {Alpheraky .) 

Dimensions. — " "Wing 13-7 to 14-1 inches, tail 5*90 to 6-0, culmen 1-6 to 1-1, 
tarsus 2 to 204." {ApMraky.) 

The Red-breasted Groose 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 to the west generally less 


coinnion than to the east ; it occurs in Persia and Turkestan, so that its 
comino; into India is bv no means surprisino-. 

Its first prohahle a})pearanee in India was recorded in the old ' Oriental 
Sporting Magazine/ and from that time (18l)(i) until, in the pages of the 
Bombay Nat. Hist. Society's Journal, I noted Mr. Mundy's having seen it 
in Dibrugarh, no one had ever come across it again. Mr. Mundy saw 
the bird on the Bramapootra, and, though he failed to ol)tain a specimen, he 
took very careful notes of its coloration, which, on being repeated to me, 
were am})le enough to enable me to identify the bird as the Ked-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 sixty to a hundred yards, and there could 
have been no possible chance of mistaking them. 

Zhitnikov, as quoted by Alpheraky, gives a most interesting account 
of this beautiful goose. He writes : — " 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 eight 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, but not brackish, — we again took up our posts in the pits, after 
carefully screening them with grass. 

" At ten in the mornino- the call of the oeese 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 exaggeration, 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 10 to 20 geese disposed themselves in transverse 

" It may here be added that in winter the kazarkas 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 circled above the lake, and seeino* nothino- 
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 Aiisei' erythropns, but there were also many of A. rujicollis, slightly 
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. Radde says that their flesh is dry and tough, but this refers to birds 
on migration ; and Lepekhin says that its flesh " is not disagreeable, 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. 

It breeds throughout the tundras of Western Siberia, and is also said 
by Pearson to breed in Lapland ('Ibis,' 189G, p. 210). 

Middendorff got its eggs on the Boganida, slightly incubated, on the 
25th June, Seebohm took its nest on the Yenesei in late Juno lb 7 7, 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 


Subfamily ANATIN^. 

Key to (jrenera. 

A. Lower poi'tion of tai'sus in front with small reticulate 

scales Dendrocycna, p. 93. 

B. Lower portion of tarsus in front with a row of trans- 

verse scutellse. 

a. Speculum wanting Mannaronctta, p. 202. 

h. Speculum always present. 

a . Outer Avebs of inner secondaries chestnut. 

(i^. Coloration pied chestnut, black and white . . Tadorna, p. 109. 
b\ Coloration all rufous-chestnut of different 

shades, except on quills Oasavca, p. 114. 

h'. Outer webs of inner secondaries not chestnut. 

c". Bill spatulate Sj)atida, p. 106. 

d-. Bill not spatulate. 

«\ Upper wing-coverts blue or grey-blue . . Querquedula, p. 1S8. 
h'\ Upper wing-coverts not grey-blue. 

a*. Tail long, with the central tail-feathers 
acuminated and extending well beyond 

lateral tail-feathei's DaJlJa, p. ISl. 

fc*. Central tail-feathers not elongated, and tail 
moderate in length. 
a\ Bill broad, about the length of the head. Anas, p. 123. 
b\ Bill not very broad and shorter than the 
a''. Upper and low er tail-coverts extend- 
ing beyond end of rectrices . . . Eimetta, p. 143. 
?'^ Upper and lower tail-coverts not 
extending beyond end of rectrices. 
a'. Central feathers not acuminate 
and not extending beyond lateral 

ones Chaulelasmus, p. 148. 

b\ Central tail-feathers more or less 
aeumiuated and extending slightly 
beyond lateral ones. 
a'*. Bill small and about equal in 

breadth throughout .... Mareea, p. 1.55.- 
h'*. Bill moderate and tapering 

towards tip yettion, p. 162. 

Plate Ylll. 


Dervdpocycna fulva . 

rf.Greeri, Chromo. 



The geniTS Dendrocycna — or Dendrocygna^ 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 Anatida3 that perch constantly 
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 
Anserinse than to the Anatina^, 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 M'ith black . D. fulva. 

b. Upper tail-coverts uniform chestnut D. javanica. 


Dendrocygna major, Jei-don, B. I. iii, p. 790 ; Hume, Nests ^- E'jgs, p. 640 ; 

id. Str. Feath. iii, p. 193. 
Dendrocygna fulva, Hume ^' Davis. Str. Feath. vi, p. 488 ; Hume, ibid. 

vii, p. 463, viii, p. 115 ; Legge, B. of Cey. p. 1069 ; Hume Sf Mar. Game-B. 

iii, p. 119 ; Hume, Cat. no. 953 ; Parher, Str. Feath. ix, p. 487 ; Oates, 

ibid. X, p. 245 ; id. B. of Brit. Burm. ii, p. 274 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. 

p. 399 ; Hume, Nests Sj- Eggs {Oates ed.), iii, p. 286. 
Dendrocycna fulva, Sahadori, Cat. B. If. xxvii, p. 149 ; Blanford, Fauna 

B. I. iv, p. 432. 

Description. Adult. — "Head, neck, and lower parts deep reddish-ochraceous, 
passing into cinnamon on the flanks, where the louger feathers have a broad mesial 
stripe of pale ochraceous, bordered by dusky ; crown ferruginous, nape with a 
distinct brown-black stripe, commencing at tiie 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 
with cinnamon colour, giving a barred appearance : lesser wing-coverts chestnut ; 


upper and under tail-coverts buffy-white ; quills and tail dark brown." 

The bill varies from dusUy black, black o\\ 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 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 ; the irides are light to 
dark brown. 

" Length 18 to 20 inches, wing 8-10 to 8-90, tail 2-2, culmen 1-66 to 1-05, 
tarsus 2-10 to 2-4, middle toe 2-30 to 2-8." [Salvadori.) 

Jerdon gives the length as 21 inches and wing 9^. 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. A female obtained by Capt. 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 Xyasa. 

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 a 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. 

The Greater Whistling-Teal has its headquarters wuthin Indian 
limits in Eastern Bengal, where in parts it is exceedingly numerous ; 
thence it extends into Assam, where, however, it is not common, and 
seems gradually to become less common towards the west and north 
o£ 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 be mistook the Common Whistling-Teal for 
this bird. Jerdon also found it fairly common in some parts of the 

As regards Burmali, Gates, in ' Birds of British Burmab,' writes : — 
^' The Larger Whistling-Teal is comparatively a rare bird in Burmah^ 
except in the iiorthern portions of Pegu, where I found it very abundant 
in the Engmah swamp, twenty-five miles south of Prome. ('apt. 
Wardlaw Ramsay procured it at Tongboo ; and I observed it several 


times ill the paddy-fields near Kyeikpadein in Southern Pegu during the 
rains. I can find no record of its occurrence in Tenasserim 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. Salvador! thus 
describes its habitat : — '• America (from Southern border of the United 
States to Mexico), and then from Venezuela and Peru to the Argentine 
Republic ; Africa south of the Sahara, and Madagascar." 

Capt. Shelley reports ('Ibis/ 1894, p. 2S) four birds from Lake 
Shirwa in Nyasaland, mentioning that it is the first instance he knew 
of in which the birds had been found so far south. 

The distribution of this duck is the more remarkable vshen we 
consider that it is not a migratory bird, or, at all events, only so in a 
partial manner, as influenced by the want of water, &c. Thus it is 
a resident inhabitant of various tracts of country, large in themselves, but 
very widel}' separated from one another, yet never, as far as is known, 
occurs in the intervening parts. 

Unlike D.^ara/nVrt, 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. Of course, in some bheels and lakes 
where they are especially numerous, several small flocks 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, they, though rising en masse, 
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 
recognisable, 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 Z^. javanica does ; the latter bird often takes to trees in 
the daytime without any apparent purpose except to rest, but D. fulva 
does not seem to do this. Of course, both Ijirds, when perching, choose 


large boughs and brunches, 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 AVhistling-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 less of these birds, and many a tiny tank or rush-and- 
weed-covered backwater held its flock; but I have never yet met with 
them on the open rivers of the Ganges and Brahma})Ootra, 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 domesti- 
cated 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 we do not talk 
of it. Of course a good many are shot for the servants, boatmen, &c., 
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 sou]) when one can get nothing else, and 
I have eaten them in preference to the domestic inoorqlil, but at this 
point my praise of them, as an edible quantity, must end. 

I took a few nests of this teal in Rungpur, where, however, the 
bird is not common, one in Nadia, and a few in the Sundurbands. 
My first nests were all 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 Ijhcels. 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 weed<. They average some 
lb 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 -mail clump that -tood on a 


little hillock where there had been bnilt the dirty and desolate little hut of 
some fisher-family. This had been deserted, probably the preceding- year, 
and the Whistlino-Teal reioned 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 tliet 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 head- 
quarters 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 surrounded by a thick fringe of bushes and trees, 
Avhich afforded good cover to hare, jackals, and now and then a leopard. 
Overlianoino- one of these tanks and encroachino- 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 trees 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 Runoijur I found them selectino- bif>' trees, and oenerallv makino- 
their nests high u}) 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 \n trees growing beside the ditches which I have 
referred to in describing the Cotton-Teal's nest. 

I have never seen their nests on the ground, but anyone 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 deei> jhil. Barnes 
doubted the authenticity of the eggs in his collection on account of their 
small size, and says that they measured I'O 1)y I'G inches. This is smaller 



than usual, but not romark;ibly so, and the difforonco in tlic size of their 
eggs is not half so great as is that l)et\veen the two species of birds 

The only note in Oates's 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*12 and '1"27) inches, and between 
1*65 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 Rungpur they l)reed principally in August, a few in September. 

I have never taken more than 10 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 A'ery general tendency to overestimate 
the number of eggs laid by all gam(>-ljirds, whether land or Avater ; why 
this should be so I cannot tell, but that it /.v 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 fiAe. 
Of nearly all these birds, writers — generally anonymous, at other times good 
sportsmen but bad observers — have noticed their laying douWe the number 
and put that down as the normal number in a clutch. 

After this digression, to return to the Whistling-TeaFs eggs. They 
vary in no way from those of the smallei- bird, though Oates 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. fidva and a 
large one of D. jacanira. 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 ])ointed. They are fine and smooth in texture, 
but inclined to be chalky and not very close-grained. 

Twenty-five of my eggs average 2*09 x 1*69 inches. The smallest 
T have ever taken was 1'84 x 1*5() and the largest 2*40 x 2*0 1 ; but neither 
of these is now in my collection. 



Dendrocygna arcuata, Hume, Sir. Feath. i, p. 260 ; id. Nests S,- E<jgs, p. 639 ; 

id. Sh\ FeaiJi. ii, p. 315 ; Ball, ibid. p. 483 ; Oates, ibid, v, p. 169. 
Dendrocygna awsuree, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 786. 
Dendrocygna javanica, Hume cf- Davis. Sfr. Feath. vi, pp. 486, 488 ; Cripps, 

ibid, vii, p. 311 ; Hume, ibid, viii, p. 71 ; Hume, Gat. no. 952 ; Legge,B. of 

Ceij. p. 1069 ; Hume <j" Mar. Game-B. iii, p. 109 ; Binyliam, Sir. Feath. 

ix, p. 198 ; Pari', ibid. p. 486 ; Oates, Sir. Featli. x, p. 245 ; id. B. of 

Brit. Barm, ii, p. 273 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 398 ; Hume, Nests Sf Eggs 

{Oates ed.), iii, p. 284. 
Dendrocycna javanica, Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 156 ; Blanford, 

Fauna B. I. iv, p. 430. 

Description. Adult male. — Eorehead and crown brown, paler and reddish 
on the forehead, and darkest on the occiput ; remainder of head and neck pale 
fulvous-grey, paler on the 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 chestnut of the lower parts, 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 wing-coverts 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 ; axil- 
laries brown. 

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 blue 
at the base, shading to black at the tip, the bill in some having a greater extent 
of plumbeous, in others black; the membrane between the rami of the lower 
mandible is generally pinkish."' {Hame.) 

Length 16 to 17'5 inches, wing 6-92 to 8-04, tail about 2*5 to 3, tarsus 1*6 
to 1-92, bill from gape 1-7 to 2-06. 

"Length about 18 inches, wing 8. tail 2, bill at front 14, tarsus 1|, mid- 
toe 2^^." (./erdon.) 

Weight about 1 lb. to 1 lb. 6 ozs.,the latter weight unusual. 

11 2 


Female. — Like the male, but perhaps averaging smaller. 

The young. — " AVheii just able to fly, do not differ very iducIi from the 
adult, but are everywhere duller coloured. The ii;argiiis to the featliers of the 
interscapularj region are inconspicuous and dingy fulvous, and the entire lower 
surface a rather pale, dull, fidvous-brown." {Hvme.) 

There are few j)laces in India where this very coninion hird niav not 
be found, but outside our limits it does not extend very far. It is ohtaiiu'd 
througliout the Indo-Chinese countries and Siam, and in the Loochoo 
Islands, the Mahiy Peninsula, 8unnitra, Borneo, and Java. Mr. C. B. 
Rickett obtained a specimen near Sharj) Peak, close to Foocliow, and it 
had been obtained on one or two other occasions in India. The )>ir(l 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. 
The Whistling-Teal is, in many parts of India, 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 it is not found in Dacca during the cold weather ; but 
this I know is not now the case, as I have seen tliem there at that season, 
only they keep to the wetter portions of the district, and doubtless manv 
do move to Sylhet, 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 Sylhet. In Bengal I think the question is entirely one of water- 
supply, and where 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. It is found throughout tlie Terai, but 
does not ascend very high, and most probably Hodgson's specimen was 
not really obtained in Nepal. 

In Cachar it is extremely common all the year round in the plains, but 
never ascends the liills at all. 

Hume, writing of this bird, savs : — "It is essentially a tree-duck ; it 
must have trees as well as water, and hence its entire absence from sonu^ 
pieces of water, in treeless parts oC Rajputana, for instance, where other 
s})ecies of duck abound during the cold season. Yet it prefers level, or 
fairly level, tracts to yery broken hilly country, and again, though in some 



Plate IX, 







Deridrocycna J avamca. 

d Greet i , Chromo . 


places, e.g. at Taboy, 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, w here Legge describes them as permanent, 
but moving to and from certain places with the season. 

Hume says that it seems to be a permanent resident only in districts 
which are xt:ell drained 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 dean pieces of water ; they prefer tanks, backwaters, swamps, 
and lakes, the latter especially when they are well covered with weeds or 

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 kinds 
assemble. Teal of sortie were common, and Gradwall, Pintail, and man}^ 
Ducks also, but the Whistling-Teal mnst 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 w^ere heard a mile away or more, even before they were dis- 
turbed. AVe 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 fat lot of 
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, 
})('i-ha])S, of the AVhistling-Teal might pass us within shot, Init it was 
almost certain that the duck we wanted would not. 

Ft is very diftioult to estimate how many birds there were on the 
Mo(flna Bheel when I first visited that grand shooting-ground, but there 
must ('(n'tainly lia\«' been sometimes hundreds of thousands on the wing 
at once. 

102 IXitlAX DICKS. 

Often wlieii wo a[)}iro;iclie(l >oiii(' piece ot" water, where the ree(l> and 
rushes ^rew so rank that we ;;ot ri;;ht in before we fired, the A\'hi^th'rs 
would rise at the shot in masses before us, ahnost carrying out that old 
figure of speech " darkcninn; the air." I was greatly struck on these 
occasions by the attitudes of the birds, which reminded me much of 
ancient piints on duck-shooting, the birds with their h)ng necks out- 
stretched rising straight up for some lieight imtil they got fairly started, 
when they fly off' parallel with the water, generally about IjO or 40 feet up, 
and not ver}- 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 smnllnessof 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 ])ieces of water, they often fly round 
and round the place before leaving it, and more particularly is this the 
case when, there l)eing no other water very close l)y, they are loath to ([uit 
the piece from which they have been roused. In the va<t pieces of water 
in the delta of the Ganges I did not notice tlii- habit >o much. When 
first disturbed, and the Ijirds get n\i 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 Avheel or two fl}- off to some other part of the swamp. \\'\\y 
they should be so wild in the Sunderbands and yet so tame in most parts 
of their habitat, I cannot explain. The}- are not much shot at, as the 
inhabitants are nearly all fisher-jjeople, who ]tossess 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 lie so tame as to 
require stoning to induce them to leave a tree, as Hume says is necessarv 
in many parts ; yet in Rnngpur, Furreedpur, and some other districts they 
are so confiding that to get a sitting shot would be a veiy easy feat were it 
desirable, and the birds do not fly mitil the last moment. They jierch vei'v 
freely on trees, even during the non-ljreeding season, but I thiidc that, as a 
rule, they rest, when in flocks, on the water and not on trees, though 
sometimes, of course, they do rest during tlie heat of the day on trees. 
Hume, indeed, says they generally rest thus, and this habit again may be 
one of locality, varj-ing in the different parts it affects. 

At night I think they roost almost invariably on trees, and even wh(>re 
they arc shy and wild, and feed in the evening and early morning, the 
middle of the night is jn-obably passed roosting on tree-. They vei-y rarely 
rest on land, as do their larger brethren, J), fnlra, and 1 have never 


pei'sontilly seen them tlius actually on land. The only time I have seen a 
flock o£ any size on a tree was once when, passing under a huge hanyan tree, 
a large flock flew out just overhead. I was riding wlien they started, but 
I rememljer that as they de})arted out of sight I viewed the last o£ them 
from the ground on which I was reclining in a semi-sitting posture. I 
forget now whicli got out of sight first, the Teal or my i)ony — ti^^ latter a 
skittish T. B. Waler. 

Banyan trees are very favourite resorts of this bird, because, doubtless, 
of the laroe horizontal l)ranchos whicli are so numerous, and which o-ive 
them good foothold without calling on the powers of grasping to too great 
an extent. They are quick, strong swimmers, and A'ery good divers also, 
but I have not known them dive and remain under water, holding on to 
weeds, &c., 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 o-ot it. 

They feed on anvthing and everything. Init bring u[) 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 Avhich 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 freshwater 
snail ; this has a very brittle shell, and so is probably easily crushed and 
digested. These snails mioht account for the flavour of whicli 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. 

Their note is described by their name, and is a regular whistle, not very 
clear, rather siliilant, and by no means harsh or shrill. It is uttered 
constantly whilst on the wing, es})ecially when first rising and during the 
first few wheel<. I have also heard it, during the breeding-season, give 
vent to a low chuckling, not unlike the garrulous notes of the Cotton-Teal, 
but moi-e nearly api)roacliing the quack of a true duck. 

It is a most charming little duck in captivity, and most easy to tame ; 
indeed, so confiding do they become that it is often ])ossible to keep then> 
in complete freedom without their making any attemj)t to leaAc the piece 
of water on which thev reside. Tliev soon leai'n to com(> when cal!(Ml and 


be fed out o£ the ha ml, and even strano-ers .seem to in no way distract 

In captivity they whisth^ freely as they walk and swim al)out, and when 
called to 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, &c., and will thus often walk several 
hundred yards rather than fly. AVhen there are several birds all kept 
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^^ 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 macrorlqinclius), not, as anyone would have 
thought, to steal the eggs in the confusion, but to assail the cat with his 
•claws and beak as if 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 the branches, pursued closely by the drake and the crow, wdio w'ere 
immediately joined by 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 crow'S made was astounding), w-ere 
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 
crow's own nest, and that therj lent it every year, after their young had 
flown, to the Whistling-Teal. I should have verified this the next spring, 
but left the Mynpooree district, and never again had a chance of visiting 
the spot.'' 

Normally and typically both our Indian J )en<lro('ycinr l)aild nosts on 
trees or lay their eggs in their hollows ; often, however, 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 authenti- 
cated instances of the Connnon Whistling-Teal laying its eggs in nests 
placed on the ground are, however, also faii"ly numerous, 

Barnes, in vol. i. of the B. N. H. S. Join-nal, recorded the fact that in 
Neemuch he never found their nests on trees, but alwavs amongst rushes 
_growing on the edoes of baidcs. 


Oatos, in 'Birds ot' British Biiiniali,' says that he has "frequently 
found its nest in Pega in July and Anou>;t — a mass of dead leaves and 
grass placed on a low thick cane-brake in paddy-land, and containino- six 
very smooth white eogs. . . . Those nests I myself found were invariably 
situated, as above described, on cane-ln-akes."'' 

Jerdon also says that "It generally, perhaps, breeds in the drier 
patches of grass on the ground, often at a considerable distance from water, 
carefully concealing its nest l)y 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 
floatino- in water." 

In ' Game-Birds,' Hume's notes on the niditication of this species are 
very full and interesting, containing practically every known situation for 
the nest. Thus Capt. 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 bulrushes. 

Mr. J. Davidson also found the nests on the ground in Mysore, where 
they were placed in tufts of grass wdiich formed islands in the middle of 
weedy tanks. 

Cripps found that in Dacca, Furreedpur, and Sylhet they l)reed both 
on trees and on the ground. 

In the Dibrugarh District of Assam I found that the Whistling-Teal 
almost invariably placed their nests on high })ieces of land standing in 
swamps. In the north of the district I noticed that the Whistling-Teals 
were locally migratory. In June, in certain places, not a single bird was 
to be seen, perha})S, 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 arrangements. 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 
lianks were, as a rule, trodden l)are, l)ut the sides were, more or loss, 
covered with dense grass, some two or three feet highj and in such places 
the Whistlers placed their nests. 

They also made use of the high ground suri'ounding the deejx'r ]>ieces 
of water^ which formed small banks in the cold weather, but in the rains 
forined tiny circular islands. The nests here were massive structures of 
grass and water-weeds, and were always very well conciealed, the covering 


<zvn>< in cvcrv case forniinu' a doino foinnletelv covorinji them ami liidiiit:; 
them from sight, even wlicn one stood actually over them. 

Except in this district, T have never seen a ne>t actually on the ground, 
but have taken one or two from situations very close to it. In Cachar, at 
the toot of the hills there i^ much liroken ground, often intersected hy 
nullahs which widen out here and there into swamps and blieels. Here (he 
Whistlinor-Teal is in its element, and has an enormous Aarietv of sites to 

<r:> » 

choose from. The one [ have found most often selected is some clum[) of 
trees, generallv l)al)i)()l or ;i stunteil -pecies of large-leaved, <lensely-foliaged 
tree which grow.s, often, actually in the water. When the rains arc on, thes(i 
small clumps form oases in the centre of a watery desert, and when the floods 
are at their height show mei-ely a few feet of their crests above water, on 
one of wliich the duck- build their nest, a rough-and-reaily constructioii 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, (»wing to the support being less comjiact. the ne>t 
itself is biiuiid to be strongei' and bett(M' put together. The situation next 
mo-t often chosen as a site for the nest is u[) one of the arms of these 
bheels, which seldom, if ever, have deep water in them, but at the same 
time, from collecting moisture drained oft" surrounding hills, are always wet 
and moi>t. In the-e place-; the canes. ree(l-. and other vegetation gi'ow to 
a great height, often 12 feet or more, and are so rank and tangled that 
their tops will l)ear no inconsideral>le weight. When building the nest in 
one of these tangles the birds place it some two or three feet from the top, 
the density (jf which protects it greatlv from rain. A:c. The ne>t it<elf is of 
the roughest descrijition. a mere thick, coarse })ad of gras.-. reeds, and, 
])erhaps, a few creepers, measuring some It? to 24- inches in diameter, and 
with no more depression in the centre than is cau>ed by the birds constantly 
sitting in them. 

Now and then the nest is found on trees close by villages and near -ome 
tank or piece of water. When on this kind of tree the nest nuiy l)e placed 
eitlier on one of the bigger forks or in a lai'ge hollow, and when in tlie 
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, iho nest is scantv 
and sometimes merely consists of the fragment.? naturally contained in tlie 

In Bungpur I found nearly all my nests on trees, though very often 
they were not built by the birds themselves, but thev used old crows' nests 
.sometimes, old kites' nests frequently. I should mention that the crows' 


nests the l)irds used were always those of (.'. .<plendens, and it seems to ine 
very remarkahk^ that this (kick sliouhl find room to kiy ami katcli some six 
to a dozen eggs in a nest as small as that usually built l)y C. macrovJa/ncJius, 
as this crow generally makes such a compact, neat nest, with very little 
waste room aboiit it. I should imao-ine the Juno;le-Crow in Hume's 
anecdote, given aboAe. must have been an extraAagant. Avasteful bird, or 
else have taken house-rent from the Teal and charged jier square vard 
ot' room. 

Most nests are not placed at any great height from the ground, seldom 
over twenty feet or so, but I have taken one or two from far greater 

As regards the numljer of eggs laid there is a good deal of difference in 
the maximum normal number as estimated by various observers. 

Jerdon. Butler^ Doig, DaA'idson, Cripps, and I myself consider about 
eioht to ten to be the normal number laid, though in Cachar the former 
number is the largest I remember taking. Gates gives six or seA'en, whilst 
Anderson says that ordinarily this bird lays a dozen. 

In Dibrugarh. where I took A'ery many nests, indeed sometimes seAen 
or eight in a morning, I found six to eight to be the normal numljer, 
though I once found eleven. On the other hand, I scAcral times took 
hard-set clutches numljering only four or fiA'e. 

Probaljh' eioht to ten is the number most often laid, and Avhilst in some 
districts, probably to the east, they may average fcAver, yet, on the other 
hand, in some_, more to the Avest, the aA'erage clutch may be someAvhat 

The eggs are like those already described as belonging to D. fulva, that 
is to say, they are A'ery spherical OA'als, but little compressed at the smaller 
end, and in texture are A'ery smooth and fine, but neither A^ery close-grained 
nor glossy, and somcAvhat chalky on the surface. They are nearly pure 
AA'hite, sometimes inclined to iA'ory-Avhite AA'hen first laid, l)ut stain quickly 
and soon lose the faint gloss they sometimes shoAv at first. 

Hume, in a footnote to ' Game-Birds,' says that the lining-membrane 
of this Teal's Q<r^^ is a delicate salmon-pink, and gives a faint rosy tinge to 
perfectly fresh unbloAvn eggs. 1 liaAe now examined a huge series of these 
eggs, but have failed to find any Avith the lining-membrane so coloured. 
When fresh, all the eggs bloAvn by me haA'e had this membrane a very dull 
dead lemon-colour, and Avhon (hy it is of a dead grcy-Avhite. I sliould have 
said that the tint of eggs in the condition he describes Avas more of a very 
faint and verA- dull cream a'-a'oUoav rathei' than rosA'. but. a«; a matter of fact, 

108 IXJtlAN" KICKS. 

the shells are tliiek and have very little transparency, and as a rule the yt)lk 
gives no tint at all to tlic -hell. 

All my eggs come within the average given by Gates in Hume's 
' Xests and Eggs/ viz.. length from 1"72 to 2'0 inches, and breadth I'rom 
1'4 to I'G. The average of oAer 150 eggs taken by me is, however, larger, 
and measures I'Si' x l'')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 >tump. 

The drake keeps much to the tree where the nest is. and spends much 
of his time alongside his mate on the nearest comfortable j)erch, but I have 
never been able to ascertain whether he assists in the inculcation. 

In different parts of the country thi>v breed from late June up to 
September : in Eastern Bengal principally in Jiily. in West Bengal late 
July and early August, in Western India later still. Barnes says that in 
Eajputana they breed in August and September. 

In Gevlon it i- one of the l)ird- that does not alter it< habits of breeding 
much, antl there tlie\ lav in JniH' and Julv. 



// CO 



This genus consists o£ two species, one of which has a wide range 
throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, and the other being confined to 
Anstraha, the Moluccas, and Papuan Islands. The male bird possesses a 
fleshy knob at the base of the upper mandible, which is highly develo^^ed 
durino- the b^'eedino-season. 


Tadorna cornuta, Hume, Str. Feath. i, p. 260; vii, p. 492; viii, p, 115; 

id. Cai. no. 956; Hume Sj- Mar. Game-B.m, p. 136; Barnes, B. of Bom. 

p. 400 ; Salvadori, Cat. B. J/, xxvii, p. 171 ; Young, Jour. B. X. H. S. 

xii, p. 573 ; BetJuim, ibid, xiii, p. 187 ; Incjlis, ibid, xiv, p. 393 ; 

BJanford, Fauna B. I. iv, p. 427. 
Tadorna vulpanser, Jerdon, B. I. \\i, 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 wing, and 
the upper part of the breast ; remainder of back, rump, and upper tail-coverts 
white ; scapulars black, except the inner ones, ■\\bich are white ; a baud 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 ^-ebs ; 
tail-feathers white, tipped with black : bill and knob at the base bright red ; 
irides brown ; legs, toes, and their membranes flesh-pink. 

" Total length 24 to 20 inches, wing 13, tail 5-2, culmeu 2-4, tax-sus 2." 
{SaJvadori .) 

In adults the bills are deep red ; the nail dusky ; the irides brown ; and 
the legs and feet flesh-pink to fleshj'-red, often more or less creamy on the front 
of the toes and tarsi. 

" Length 23*5 to 25-25 inches, expanse 41 to 46, wing 12-5 to 13'6, tail 
from vent 4-75 to 5-5, tarsus 2*1 to 2-3, bill from cape 2-2 to 2-4. Weight 2 lbs. 
to 2 lbs. 14 ozs." {Hume.) 

Female. — Differs from the male in being less brightly coloured, having no 
knob at the base of the bill, and in being smaller. 

"Length 20-8 to 22 inches, expanse 39 to 42, wing 11-75 to 12*4, tail from 
vent 4-2 to 4-9, tarsus 1-95 to 2-07, bill froiu gape 2-1 lo 2-2. Weight 2 lbs. 
to 2 lbs. 2 ozs." (Hume.) 

110 1NJ»IAN DUCKb. 

Young birds at the age when they arrive in India are duller coloured tlu\n 
the adults, have the hills a dull brick-red, and the feet livid fleshy. 

Young birds of the year " in August have the bill llesh-coloured, the head 
and neck brown, chin and front of the neck white ; interscapulars brown ; wing- 
coverts white ; inner secondaries white, edged with chestnut ; jn*imaries black ; 
speculum becoming green ; all the under surface white ; legs flesh-colour." 

Nestlings in down " are dark brown above and white below, the white on the 
underparts extending to the forehead, sides of the head and neck, wings, 
scapulary region, and sides of the rump." {Seehohm.) 

Durinu- flic sunniior the Jiahitat of tliis bird oxtciuls from tlio British 
Isles throuo'liout the wlioh= of Xortheni Europe as far south as Central 
Gerniany and the south of the Caspian Sea in Uu>sia, South Siberia, 
Turkestan, Northern China, and .Ta})an. ]n the winter it ranoes .south to 
Northern Africa, South Asia as far as NortlK'rn India. South ( "hina, 
Japan, and Formosa. 

Tn India it is eonfined entirely to the noi'thern portion, and cNcn there 
it is hy no means a common visitant, though it is connnon in AfVlianistan 
and not rare in Baluchistan. Hume gives its southern limits as the 22\u\ 
parallel, and it extends as a i-are visitant through Sind, tlie Pimjal) and 
the North- West Provinces, and Ondh. 

From Central India it lias heen recorded by Young, wlio saw tln-eo 
specimens on a tank about 40 miles south of Nemuch in lb'.U-92. 
Betham records it from Poona. In Bengal its occurrence is rare; it has 
been obtained once or twice near Calcutta, and ^Ir. Fiiui wi-ites to me : 
"As to the occurrence of the Sheldrake in the Calcutta ba/aar. I have seen 
or got it several times since I came out liere in 1894, and only to-day two 
dead immature birds were brought me. I have seen at least one more this 
winter from up country. ^^ Only recently Kaslnnir has Ijeeii added to its 
habitat, a pair having been twice met with in that locality. This extremely 
handsome and conspicuous l)ird, 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 rime in one loealitv. This, as Hume (>xplains, is probably 
due to the fact that their natural liabitat is not fresh water, but the sea- 
shore, and the sea-s]u)re where it is clean. Most of our sliore is not clean, 
and xcry little of it is visited and well known, so tliat ev<'n the few birds 
which do hannt it may well esca]ie observation. The rest who make up 
their minds on India for a winter liabitat are compelled, to resort to the 


lart>e^t piecos of water thoy can find "wliicli have suitable sandv shores and 
churs on which they may walk about. They are essentiallv land and not 
water ducks, and may be found nine times out o£ ten strutting- about or 
resting quietly on some sandy Ijank or shore. When disturbed they do not 
take to the water and thence to wing, but at once rise into the air, uttering 
their shrill call as they first take the alarm, and once in flight they soon put 
a long distance between themselves and the cause o£ 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. I have never heard their note, but it has been variously 
<lescribed, and is, as far as I can make out, 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 loth 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 W'itli their 
licads under water (juite as long at a stretch as any of the true diving 
ducks would have done. 

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 vegetal)le matter is doubtless eaten now and then, but merely as one 
takes vegetable with a meat diet. 

Of course, they are not good to eat ; which of the animal-eating 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 
.'<kin dee}), though skinning has with many birds a certain amount of good 

It does not l)reed with us, but does not go far for the ])urjiose. It 
breeds extensively in Turkestan, and thence through Russia to our own 
British coasts, where it is common enough. It has been found l)recding as 
far north as Iceland and (Greenland, thouoh not ('xtensivelv in either 


country. As n rule, it selects as a site t'oi- it- nest some deserted Imrrow, 
it matters little to Avliat it belongs, or did belong, and places its nest at the 
bottom. It has Ijeen said to live in amity with rabbits, and even badgers, 
and to have taken to Inirrows ex-tenanted Ity foxes, the smell alone of which 
■would lune made most ducks require >al volatile in the nest. 

Where there are no burrows available, they will place their nest at the 
bottom of some natural hole or crevice in the shore or amongst the rocks, 

Thev make a good substantial foundation for their nest of grass, reeds, 
sticks, or aiiv other -iniilar material, and tlu-ii make a luxuriant liei] out of 
their own down, in which their eggs are deposited. In Holland, tin- down 
and the eggs form articles of no little commercial value, and special 
arrangements are made to accommodate the birds and induce them to give 
their patronage to certain >[»ot-. The Sheldrake is fortunately fond of 
companv when undergoing the worries of a family, or the prejniration 
for it. The iJutch therefore select a suitable spot, for choice the natural 
breeding-] tlace of the duck, and construct neat burrows, slanting at the 
right angle ami wide and deep enough to jilease tlie bird, yet not dee]> 
enough to Ijalk their own desires. Left to itself the bird would as soon 
build in a 14-foot a- in a 4-foot burrow, but it would be impossible to 
tackle many of the former ami yet make money out of the collecting of the 
eggs and down, -o the artificial bun-ows are made of the latter dejith. 
As soon a- the eggs are laid the nests are rifled, and the down and eggs 
taken away, whereupon the ducks once more reline their nests, not so well 
or thoroughly, of course, as they did their first, and lay a second clutch of 
eggs, which thev are allowed to hatch and rear in peace. 

^STornicillv they are said to lay from <S to 10 eggs, but should the first 
cUueli be taken, they lay another, and in this way the number may reach 
as much or more than 30. 

Hume >ay- : — " The egif< vary a great deal in shape, some are Acrv 
round, some oidy moderately liroad o\al-. In texture the shell i< verv 
close and smooth, very like that of the Xukhta^- egg. In colour they vary 
from nearly pure white to a pale cream-colour, sometimes showing the 
greenish tinge of the Mallard's cffif. 

'• In length they vary from 2'4.'> to 'I'l') inches and in breadth from 
I'To to 1"'J5. 

" The young are hatched in from 2>> to 30 days, and are immediately leij 
to the sea by the old ones." 

Morris (• British Birds and their Eggs,' iii. }». 7o) writes : — '• Tbe Qg^> 
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 o£ 
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 
both ends. 

'" The hen bird sits, as is believed, from about 2G to 30 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 old ones, conscious no 
doubt that they are able thus best to find security, flying off themselves.'" 

The eggs in my own collection agree well with the above descriptions, 
but are a A^ery pure white with only a faint yellowish-cream tint ; they are 
very glossy and smooth, even for duck's eggs. 


Genus CAS ARC A. 

The genus Casarra consists of four species, of which four tlie widest 
i^pread is the well-known Indian Brahminy. Of the others, C. caaa is con- 
fined to South Africa, C. varic'jata to New Zealand, and ('. tadornoides to 
Australia and Tasmania. Of the four, also, thf Indian is the only 
migratory one, the others being local residents or only locally migrator}'. 
The bill differs from that of Tadorna in being no l)roader or narrower at 
the tip than at the base. The lamellte also are more prominent at the base 
of the upper Uiandible, whereas in Tadorna they are more developed 
towards the tip. 

Both sexes have a rudimentary spur on the shoulder (carpal joint). 


Casarca rutila, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 791; Hume, Str. Feath. i, p. 260; 

Adam, ibid. p. 401 ; Uume, Nests Sf Eygs, p. 6-il ; Ball, Sir. Feath. ii, 

p. 437; Hume, ibid, iii, p. 193 ; Butler, ibid, iv, p. 28 ; Scully, ibid. p. 198 ; 

Fairbanh, ibid., p. 264 ; Butler, ibid, v, p. 234 ; Hume ^' Davis, ibid, vi, 

p. 489 : Hume, ibid, viii, p. 115; Scully, ibid. p. 362; Hume Sf Mar. 

Game-B. iii, p. 123 ; Gates, Str. Feath. x, p. 245 ; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. 

xxvii, p. 177; Blanford, Fauna B. I. iv, p. 428. 
Tadorna casarca, Legye, B. of Gey. pp. 1070, 1222 (Appendix) ; Gates, B. of 

Brit. Biirm. ii, p. 277; Hume, Nests ^- Fyys (Gates ed.), iii, p. 280. 

Description. Adult male. — Whole head and upper part of the neck buff, 
changing gradually into bright orange-brown at the base of the latter. Scapu- 
laries and back, flanks, and whole lower plumage rather bright orange-brown, 
lower back finely vermiculated black and rufous ; upper tail-coverts and tail 
black ; wing-coverts white, quills black ; 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 personally seen none of the former 

Inner secondaries light buff, more or less tinged with rufous on the outer 
web, and principally grey ou 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. 










Bill and feet black, irides rich brown. 

" Length 24-5 to 27'0 inches, expanse 48-0 to 52-5, wing 14-25 to lo-o, tail 
from vent 5-4 to 6-15, tarsus 2*3 to 2*7, bill from gape 2-2 to 2'4, AVeight 3 lbs. 
to 4 lbs. 4 ozs." (Hume.) 

In the cold weatlier the majority of the drakes have their white 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 
" in having (at any rate, during the cold season) the whole anterior portion of 
the head white '*' (Hume). The black collar is never assumed. 

" Length 21'7o to 24*0 inches, expanse 42-5 to 47"75, wing 12-36 to 14-0, 
tail from vent 5-06 to 6-0, tarsus 2-12 to 2-4, bill from gape 2-0 to 2-3. Weight 
2 lbs. 1 oz. to 3 lbs. 5 ozs." (Hume.) 

Young of the first season. — Generally like the female but rather duller, 
the scapulars and upper part verraiculated brown and pale rufous ; the inner 
secondaries brown, more or less vermiculated with reddish-buff, 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 before me with adult 
scapulars, but the back shows tine vermiculations of brown, the tail and inner 
secondaries are those of the young bird, and the whole lower iilumage has the 
feathers very faintly and indistinctly tipped paler. 

In this bird the feet are purplish-black, irides bright brown, and bill slaty- 

" A nestling brought from Tso-mourari is mostly white, marked on the upper 
surface with blackish-brown, and with here and there a fulvous tinge." (Hume.) 

The Brahniiny is not a bird of very northern latitudes, even during the 
breeding-season. In summer it is found in Spain, though in small 
numbers only, throughout Southern Europe and Xorthern Africa, and 
thence through Asia Minor, Turkestan, Afghanistan, and extreme i^orthern 
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 1892 Messrs. Pearson 
recorded it from Iceland in the ' Ibis ' for 1895, p. 247, and 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 Burmah, South 
China, and Japan and Formosa. In India the only places from which it 
has not been recorded are such as do not afford sufficient water, and they 
are practically unknown in the waterless tracts of portions of Sind and 



Rajputaiia. From u.< tar .-outh a-> ("cylun they arc noted as not uuconnnon. 
Legge, in tlio Appendix to the ' Birds of Ceylon/ says : — *' This Sheldrake 
can no longer he relegated to the doubtful or unjiroeui'ed speeies in the 
Ceylon lists. Mr. G. Simpson, of" the Indian Telegraph Dejjartment, has 
lately sent a jjortion of the skin of a male shot by him in the Jaffna 
district to Mr. Parker for identification. He likewise furnishes a descrip- 
tion of the birdj which has been forwardeil to me, and there is no doubt 
about the matter. The wing of the example in question measures 14'7r> 
inches. Mr. Sim})Son 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 wiien 
disturbed, and uttering a note like conh, conk-." 

To Southern Burmah it is a very rare straggler, and I can find none 
but anonymous records of its occurrence there. 

Gates observes {in loc. cit.) : " The Brahminy Duck is a visitor to the 
Province from Gctober to March. It is very abundant in the large rivers 
of Pegu: l)ut Mr. Davison did not ol)serve it in Tenasserim. It is probably 
common in Arrakan, whence Mr. Blytli received it.^^ 

Like Mr. Inglis, I have found the Ruddy Sheldrake a rare bird in 
Cachar, and not common in East Sylhet, where the rivers are too muddy 
and are wanting in suitable sandy banks and chur-. In South and "West 
Sylhet they are much more common, for there the risers begin to widen 
out into fine clear streams. 

In Grissa it is not uncommon to find this Ijird on the salt backwaters 
and pools and even on the shore itself. It is very common on the Chilka 
Lake, and I have seen it on the bracki.-h tidal waters of the Sundei-bumls. 

Except in midwinter, they are 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 ])lain. 
In Kashmir they a]i]iear to 1k' met with more or less throughout the cold 
season, but, probably, desert the higher \alleys of the Himalayas durino- 
the coldest period. 

Hume savs : "They arri\(' in flocks, and liefore leaving in A[)ril gather 
agJiin into these, but during the winter they are almost imariably seen in 
pairs. Gften several pairs may l>e seen congregating in the same jilace, 
but even then each i)air separates on any alarm and act> on its own behalf 
and without reference, to the others." 

In Bengal, and further south proljably, few people see them in flocks, 
even when they arrive or when about to depart, as the flock< seem to 

a ^ 


-1 !d 




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 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 in Northern India and most have gone before May 
sets in. They have been, of course, recorded throughout that month, and 
eA'en in Bengal I once saw a pair in the end of April, but these are, I think, 
but examples of the exceptions that })rove the rule. 

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 " yon 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-me-care uncon- 
cerned look about them that one would imagine a closer approach to be an 
act of very little care indeed. 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 watchful 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 v/hich one oiiglit 


to be able to kill at two hundred yards ; very soon, however, they learn to 
fix the range even of these Aveapons, 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 a few days and killing- 
five or six, not a Brahminy in the neighbourhood would let you approacli 
within a (jiiarter of a mile, and thenceforth thty 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 clean stretches 
of sand, devoid, or almost devoid, of vegetation, and they ke(^p 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 ho eschews such as have much 
jungle about them and have their shores all moi'e or less closed 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 i)ieces of water 
he will always leave these and resort in ])reference to sandy tanks and 
churs, should such be in the vicinitv, though he may visit the former now 
and then to feed. 

The bird has been frequently tamed, and becomes very domesticated. 
Some writers, Hume amongst them, speak well of their character under 
such circumstances, and say that they are gentle and lorboariug to other 
ducks which may be sharing their 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 laiows the legend about the Brahminy which is held by the 
natives to account for only two birds being found together. They are 
supposed to be inhabited Ijy the souls of lovers who have sinned. Once 
two lovers, who were prevented from marriage by their parents, determincil 
to take the matter into their own hands and risk the displeasure of the 
gods. Eventually the lady escajjed from supervision and went straight to 
her lover, who was awaiting her; but they enjoyed their liberty only for 
twenty-four hour-, for the next night they were changed into Brahminy 
Ducks and were condemned ever to keep on oiq)osite sides of the stream, 
and though they were allowed to sjjcak to one another and to ask if they 


mioht come, the other was forced ever to reply in the neo-ative. Hume 
ridicules the legend, and savs he has never met a native who had heard 
of it ; aU I can say is that I have repeatedly. 

At night, when feeding, the birds will often wander far apart, and may 
be heard calling to one another in their short dissvllabic notes, which are 
rendered by the natives into "• CJiakici. shall I come ? " '' So, CJtalica ! " antl 
then " Chakica, .^Jiall I come?" with the reply '' Xo. CJialici !" 

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. Elliot. Pallas. Jerdon. c^'c. syllabize it as 
a-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 

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. Chi the wing they are 
decidedly strong, but are noisy risers, though not slow ones. The move- 
ments of its wings are less rapid than the majority of the Anatid;\\ and 
give one the imj^ression that its 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 gootl 
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 sav aoainst beino- 
watched and remarked upon. I was introduced to Chakwa and Cliakwi in 
the Santhal Parganas a very short time after I came to India. 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 up. One of these grounds was on, or close to. the sanily bank 
of a river, and of course the interval between arrival and breakfast was 
filled up by strolling al)0ut. 

Two Brahminy Ducks soon attracted my attention, and though I was 
within about one hundred and fitty yards they took no notice of me, but 
sat on one leo; baskino- in the sun and now and then utterino; a siniile low 
conk, not a note of alarm, but one which seemed to me. at the time, to be 
of overweening j)ride and misplaced contiiU'nce. Later on. I found out 
where these qualities should have been looked for. I stroUed back to 


camp, the birds still ejecting their cries at nie as I went my way. A gun 
obtained, I strolled back and was greeted by the Vjirds with the same 
ejaculation. Then I prepared to stalk, and waiting until the birds were 
not looking, sank out o£ 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 spot 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 should 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 richer pilgrims to a 
shallow of special sanctity, a hundred yards below the point, were cease- 
lessly flying backwards and forwards, crowded and crammed with human 
beings, — hundreds of gaudy flags were fluttering from the topmost jjoints 
of gigantic Ixunboos, planted near the water's edge, — yet totally regardless 
of sounds and sights that might have startled the boldest bird, the old 
Brahminies dawdled about the opposing l)ank of the Ganges, distant 
barely five hundred 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 carnivorous, and will take almost anything they can 
get, including fish, flesh, and all kinds 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 jiar with that of the Whistler and 
the Cotton-Teal at their worst, and little better than that of the White-eve 
or Shoveller. 

The Kuddy Sheldrake, though an emigrant from 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 Himalayas for this purpose. It has not 
been found to Ijreed there below 10,000 feet, and Hume says its nest has 
been taken as high as 16,000 feet. 


In Soiitheni Russia, Asia Miuor^ and Central Asia, the noniial site 
chosen hy this Jiick 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 clifls 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 nestlinss have been seen on the water when verv vouug 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 it more likely 
that they are carried on the backs of the old birds. His argument is that 
the feet 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 ? 

Occasionall}' they breed in very remarkable 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 clitF in Northern 
Galilee amono-st Clriflron Vultures in Mav, and in the Eastern Atlas 
associating with the Raven, the Black Kite, and 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 fireplaces, of the villages 
deserted by the Moguls, and in the latter places the females, while hatching, 
get almost black with soot."' 

Then, again. Messrs. Elwes and Buckley say that in Dobrudscha the 
bird sometimes lays its eggs in a hole in the centre of a cornfield, where 
naturally it is not easy to find. 

The nest itself seems to be much like that of the Common Sheldrake, a 
mass of twigs, &c., 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 fewer 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. 


Within our limits, and probably everywhero else also, the birck 
commence to lay in May, and nestlings just hatched have been seen and 
procured well on into July in India, Thibet, Ladakh, and even in Southern 

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 ivoiy white, and the shells very smooth and com]x'^rati^'ely thin. 

They vary in length between 2*4 and 2'7 inches, and in breadth from 1'7 
to I'D, but, as he says, a larger series would probably show a wider range 
of difference. 

My eggs agree with the above in every respect. 

AXA.S. 123 

Genus ANAS. 

This genus contains seventeen species, some o£ which are practically 
cosmopolitan, and others confined to comparatively small areas. India 
possesses but three species — Anas hoscas, A. j^oecilorki/ncha, and A. zono- 
rh^nvJia, the first of which is cosmopolitan, whereas the others belong to 
the Eastern and South-eastern Asiatic a'^ifauna. 

The genus may be recognised by its broad but not spatulate bill, which 
is about the length of its head ; moderate tail, of which the central 
feathers are not lengthened; its non-chestnut inner secondaries and dark 
grey coverts. 

Ive>/ to Species. 

A. No white on outer webs of inner secondaries . . . . A. hoscas. 

B. Outer webs of inner secondaries more or less white. 

«. Speculum metallic green A. j^oecilorJiipuha . 

b. Speculum metallic purple A. zonorlujnclia. 

In vol. xvii, p. 558, of the ' Bombay Natural History Journal/ Gates 
has described as new a duck which he names Polionetta [Anas] liaringtoni. 
I have most carefully examined five supposed specimens of this new species 
and can find absolutely nothing by which they can be distinguished from 
young birds of Anas poecUorliyncha. One of these specimens comes from 
China, where it was procured by Reeves. It is, I consider, extremely 
unlikely that we shall get a new species in the Shan States, where we 
know that the two forms jxccilorltuncha and zonorliynclia overlap and quite 
possibly hybridize. 



Anas boschas, Jenlon, B. I. iii, p. 398; Hume, Nests ij- J^i/f/s, p. 642; id. 

Sir. Feath. i, p. 261; ScuUij, ibid, iv, p. 199; Hume, ibid, viii, p. 119; 

id. Cat. no. 158 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 402. 
Anas boscas, Hume tf- Mar. Game-B. iii, p. lol ; Hume, Nests >^- Ege/s 

(Oates ed.), iii, p. 288 ; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 180 ; Blanford, 

B. I. iv, p. 435; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 257. 

Description. Adult male. — Head aud upper neck bright and very glossy dark 
green, interrupted on the nape, pure white ; upper back and scapulars brownish- 
grey, changing into dark brown on the back and lower neck ; upper back 
vermiculated with dark brown ; rump aud upper tail-coverts and four central 
rectrices deep black ; outer rectrices light grey, edged white. AVing-coverts 
dark grey or gi'ey-brown, the greater coverts tipped black and subtipj^ed white, 
forming two distinct wing-bars ; speculum glossy bluish-purple or violet ; after 
this two or more bars formed by the black subtips and white tips of the outer 
secondaries ; exposed inner secondaries and remaining quills dark brown ; upper 
breast chestnut; lower breast, flanks, and abdomen greyish-white, very finely 
barred with dark brown ; under tail-coverts rich black. 

" The colours of the soft parts vary, I have found the legs and feet most 
commonly reddish-orange, but also coral and vermilion-red, and again pure 
orange ; the claws are black or dusky, and more or less of the webs are often 
more or less dusky ; the irides are brown, sometimes deep, sometimes com- 
paratively liglit ; the nail of the bill is black ; the rest of the bill is normally a 
rather dingy olive, more yellow 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 culmen and a considerable portion of the upper mandible 
and orange-yellow elsewhere ; others with brown replacing the black, and 
brownish-yellow replacing the orange ; and I killed one male with the bill a 
distinct orange-green — a colour such as I never saw in any other bird." 

" Bill yellowish-green, black at the tip ; under mandible reddish-yellow at 
the base; irides brown ; legs aud feet reddish-orange." {Salvadori.) 

" Length 22-3 to 24-5 inches, wing 10-45 to 1 1-3, tail from vent 4-2 to 8, 
tarsus 1-6 to 1-85, bill from gape 2*5 to 2'75. Weight if in fair condition 2 lbs, 
8 ozs. to 3 lbs., but I have shot them up to 4 lbs." (Hume.) 

"Total length about 24 inches, wing 10-50 to 11-50, tail 4-4, culmen 2-2, 
tarsus 1-85." (Sah'adori.) 

Adult male in non-breeding plumage. — Similar to the female, but usually a 
good deal blacker. 

Female. — Chin and throat pale butt'; 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 buff; wings as in the male. 

The depth of the brown and its tint var}' very much, as does the boldness of 
the edging. In some birds the centres and edges blend into one another, whilst 
in others the}^ contrast very distinctly. 

Length 20-0 to 21-75 inches, wing 9-2 to 10*8, tail from vent 4-1 to 4*7, 
tarsus 1-5 to 1*7, bill from gape 2*47 to 2-63. Weight 1 lb. 10 ozs. to 2 lbs. 10 ozs. 

" Young in first plumage closely resembles adult female, but the male is 
somewhat darker in colour." (Salvadori.) 

" Young in down has the upper parts dark brown, with nearly white spots 
on the wings, scapulars, and sides of the rump ; the uuderparts are pale brown, 
palest on the belly, and shading into buff 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.) 

"VVaterton, as quoted by Hume, describing the change of plumage in the 
drake into its post-nuptial plumage, saj's : — " At the close of the breeding- 
season the drake undergoes a very remarkable change of plumage. About the 
24th May the breast and back ol 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 grej' feathers begin to appear amongst the lovely green plumage 
which surrounds the eyes. Every succeeding day now brings marks of rapid 
change. By the 23rd June scarce one single green feather is to be seen on the 
head and neck of the bird. By the 6th of July evevj feather of the former 
brilliant 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 oft' graduallj' ; and by the 10th October the drake 
will appear again in all its rich magnificence of dress." 

Salvadori thus defines the habitat of the Mallard : — " Northern Hemi- 
sphere, rarely north of the Arctic Circle ; in Africa, extending from the 
Azores, Madeira, and Canaries on the West to Nubia and to Abyssinia 
(Jiilijpell) on the East ; in Asia, during the winter found from Arabia^ 
through Persia and North India, to C-hina and Japan ; in America, extend- 
ing southwards to Mexico, the West Indies, and Central America as far as 

Narrowing ourselyes to our Indian limits, we find that A. hoscas 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. 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 [)laoes throughout Bengal and Assani ; and 1 
liaA'e myself shot a pair in Jessore which w^ere in company with a few 
Gadwall. They were extremely wild, as were all the ducks, and it was 


onlv with con>i(l('ralilf' ditiieulty they worf ai)proacheil and sliot. It is not 
vfrv rare in Cachur^ and is occasionally to be seen in Sylhft. 1 -liot one 
out of a small flock in Gowhatty in December 1880, and have had notices 
of them from Dibrugarh (frequently), Sadya, Tezpur, and Xaogaou. From 
Manipur the only record I have is that of Surgeon-(.aptain Woods, who 
writi'-i : — " Tlie Mallard is extreinelv rare in Manipui- ; in fact^ during the 
last seven years I have only seen a pair, and that was this year about the 
10th Januarv. These two birds were along with a large flock of teal in a 
small jheel lying about eight miles dup north of Imphal. I tried to secure 
tlifiii, bin thf'v were verv wild, and flew away at the tirst >hot. 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 Namba forest (Assam)." Lately two notices 
of its appearance in Euiinu liav lier-n made in the ' Asian.' The notices, 
though iniTialli'd and not signed in full, ajipear to 1k' authentic. One 
Mallard is rr-ported as being part of a Imge l)ag of duck and teal obtained 
near Mandalay. 

In Kashmir tIk-v are extremely common, a- may bf sor-n from the 
following well-written cuttino- from tli^ ' A-ian " of the 8th Februarv, by 
the pen of A. E. W. : — " On January the l<Sth, I was shooting at a marsh 
near the big reserve, having in front of me al)otit five or six acres of open 
water, and a -mailer amount, about five hundi-i-d yard-, bf-liind. The 
reserve was also being shot by four guns, so that the ducks were being 
continually driven towards me. I knew if I could once get my punts 
through the ice I should be in for a good tiling. For an hour atid a half 
we laliourr-d to get tln'ougli. By dint of u-ing two heavy poles we reached 
the place, and then broke up sufficient of the ice to picket out four decoy 
ducks, two mallards, and five tame ducks, wliich were accustomed to be 
shot over. The |)unt was hidd'^n liv some grass, and in it I lay on my 
back with my -lioulders propped \\\i liv a large sack of grass ; there was 
not stifficient cover to enable me to hide if I had sat u]>, 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 th<m-ands 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 been behind and tolerably close 
liad cleared off^. The second punt was sent back by th<' 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 hay hid; his orders 
were to hide, 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 been 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 fly 
backwards and forwards over my head, and this they continued to do for 
hours. I counted over 80 birds down before I sat up to eat my lunch. 
Thev were on the ice in every direction ; two or three fell so close that I 
could gather them from the boat, one fell into my cartridge-box. Whilst 
eating and havino- a smoke the birds were living around, but Avere left to 
their own ways ; and then I lay down again, the ice had thawed in places, 
and the wounded birds had w'andered away. I stopped all I could reach, 
but that was not many. In the afternoon the 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 fell an easy prey to the .... 

" My men did not remember how long it would take to reach me ; 
consequently it was nearly dark before I could begin to move,- and then 
the birds had to be gathered. We collected in all 96, but had to leave 
many, for they waddled over the ice and got into pools separated from us 
by thick ice and reeds frozen hard together. Curiously enough not a 
single Red-crested Pochard came to the gun ; but 53 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 w^eather of course, the Mallard is found in as great 
numbers as in Kashmir. Here it is said to collect in flocks of some 
hinidreds ; but this is not usual, and all over its vast range it will be found 
more often in small 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 a 
hundred 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 

128 INDIAN' Dl'CKS. 

■wandering about i>ome half-frozen brook or wholly frozen broail, j»ut u[) a 
pair of \vild duck from some sheltered place beneath a tree or thick cluster 
of reeds. Generally, even in the de})tli of Avinter, they keep to open 
water, be it a pool ever so small; but they may also be ^een disconsolately 
sitting at the edge of a completely ice-bound pond. 

As regards their habits generally, it is impossible to do better than 
follow Hume and quote what Macgillivray says : — 

" Marshy places, the margins of lakes, pools, and rivers, as well as 
brooks, rills, and ditches, are its i)rincipal 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 Graminea.' and 
other plants, fleshy and fibrous roots, worms, moUusca, 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 consideraljly inclined upwards ; when searching under the surface 
it keeps the tail flat on the Avater, 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 the female a louder 
and clearer jabber. Both, on being alarmed, and especially in flying off, 
(juack ; but the (piack of the female is much the louder. When feeding 
they are silent, Ijut when satiated they often amuse themselves with 
various jal)l)erings, swim about, approach each other, move their heads 
backwards and forward-, ^ duck Mn the water, throwing it uj) over their 
backs, shoot along its surface, half flying, half running, and in short are 
quite playful when in good humour. On being surprised or alarmed when 
on shore, or on water, they spring up at once with a bound, rise obliquely 
to a considerable height, and fly off with speed, their hard-quilled wings 
whistling against the air. When in full flight their velocity is great, being 
j)robably a hundred miles an hour. Like other ducks, they impel themselves 
by quickly repeated flaps without sailings or undulations.^' 

Probably some of us will not agree with what Htime says regarding 
the comparative merits of a punt-gun when he deckires that " There is 
more skill, knowledge, and endurance brought into play, and therefore 
more sport, in one day's big shooting, than in a week of even such .... 
big 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 could 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 takes his shot into the brown, nearly ahvays, as they lie on the water. 
Nor does he require more endurance. To this most people will agree who 
have stood behind some two hundred shots fired from a 12-bore carrying 
85- drs. of powder. Certainly getting someone to push you along on 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 12-bore than I would in seeing 
fiye, or eyen 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 Macgilliyray says, " they rise straight 
up) in the air, whether flushed from land or water, and whilst thus rising 
offer what is perhaps the easiest shot, and at the same time they are not 
increasing their distance.^' 

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 duties as a husband and a father, 
but he never brought back with him either wife or family. There were 
sometimes tame ducks about the plaee^, but he never seemed to care to 
associate with them, and kept them always at a respectable 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. 

In Indian limits_, the Mallard breeds in vast numbers on the Kashmir 
lakes, and in small numbers on those in Tibet, probably also throughout 
the Himalayas in suihiltle places. Hume suggests that it may also be 



found TO Ijreeil on swamps about the foot of these mountains; hut I can 
find no record of their fver liaving done so. 

As far as we know, Kashmir is the breeding-place par excellence of 
our Indian Malhirds ; here they are found in such great numbers that 
their eggs form a veritable article of commerce, boatloads at a time being 
collected on the >hore- of those lakes which tlu-y principally affect for 

The nest is a massive affair, compose<l of all and any materials, but 
principally of grasses, rushes, reeds, and >iinilar 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. aiiain. I have 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 ; but at other times it is placed at some distance from 
the water, and at other times, again, absolutely in tlie water itself, amongst 
some thick cluster o£ reeds or other aquatic }jlants. 

The nest is not always, however, placed on the ground. Here in India 
the natives say that they sometimes find the eggs in nests on trees ; but 
there seems to be 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 polled willow. There was a 
deep indentation where the nest was placed, and thf masses of twigs, then 
in thick foliage, quite concealed the nest from anyone on the ground. 
The duck w^as, however, seen going in, and the nest spotted in consequence. 
It contained eight eggs, which were, I believe, all hatched and the 
ducklings reared in safetv. 

The second nest was quite different. A huge tree (1 forget now what 
it wasj, which divided into three quite close to the ground, threw out great 
horizontal limbs over a piece of water which lay still and dark and very 
deep beneath the shade of this and that of many other trees equally big 
and densely foliaged. At the end of one of these boughs, and in a most 
perilous 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 feathers 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 — h\ the 
dtick, 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 awkwardlv into the nest. We got one eo-ff 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 

Another curious nest I took was in AVarwickshire, 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 the edge of a large 
piece of water, and partly in it. It consisted of a huge mass of weeds and 
grass and was quite invisible from anywhere. 

The prcA-ious 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 Ijeen driven away by the Mallards ; these latter had eight eggs, hard- 
set, but not so much so as the two Goof's eggs, which were on the point of 
hatching; they were under the duck's eggs and had evidently been laid 

There are many other instances of Mallards taking other birds* nests, 
amongst them one in which they seized on the lofty abode of a rook. 

In Kashmir it is said to breed sometimes in the rice-fields. 

On leaving her nest, the duck is said to frequently cover her eggs with 
w'eeds and grasses to screen them from 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 cover at all. 
If Imrrietl, the bird has not the time, of coarse, to collect the necessary 
material, but even when leaving the nest deliberately, and not disturbed 
in any way, 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 eo-os when first laid are of various tints, ranuino; 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 e^g, is nearly always lost. J had one 
egg in my collection Avhich was a deep buft" colour ; it was found in East 
Prussia, and I cannot say how far advanced incul)ation was when the egg 
was taken, but, judging from the size of the l)low-hole, the chick could 
not have been very large. 

The texture is very fine, smooth, close, and satiny to the touch, like 
most duck's eggs. There is a faint gloss, sometimes rather [ironounced in 
the I'resh egg,, often absent in those near hatching. 

They are normally shaped duck's eggs, /. e. rather broad regular ovals, 
sometimes slightlj' compressed towards the smaller end, sometimes equal at 
both ends. 

My eggs, and those I have records of, all come within Hume's 
measurements, in length varying between 2'1 and 2*3b inches, and in 
breadth 1*5 and 1*72. 





Anas pcecilorhyncha, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 799 ; Hume, Str. Feaih. i, 
p. 261 ; Adam, ibid. p. 402 ; Hume Sf Davis, ibid, iv, p. 489 ; Hume, 
ibid, yii, p. 507 ; id. ibid, viii, p. 115 ; id. Cat. no. 959 : Hume c^' Mar, 
Game-B. iii, p. 168; Legge, B. of Cey. p. 1073; Oates, B. of Brit. Burm. 
ii, p. 283; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 403; Hume, Xests ^' Eggs {Gates ed.), 
iii, p. 289; Salvadori, Cat. B.M. xxvii, p. 209; BJanfonl, Fauna B.I. 
iv, p. 436. 

Polionetta pcecilorhyncha, Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 150. 

Description. Adult male. — Crown from forehead to nape dark brown, a streak 
of the same colour covering the lores and running through the eye to the back of 
the ear ; coverts the same colour ; remainder of head and neck bulf-white, more 
or less centred dusky, with the exception of the chin and throat ; upper parts 
broTvn to brownish-black ; the scapulars paler and edged with pale brown, as are 
some of the feathers of the back ; rump and upper tail-coverts deeper brown 
still ; tail the same but darker and more glossy, the feathers edged pale ; lesser 
and median wing-coverts grey, the greater ones dark grey, subtipped with white 
and tipped black ; speculum glossy green, bordered on either 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 brown ; abdomen yet darker and browner, and the under 
tail-coverts almost black. " Speculum .... a rich emerald-green in most lights, 
a lovely rich blue or purple in others " {Hume). The amount of white on the inner 
secondaries varies a good deal and the depth of coloration on the lower surface, 
which is sometimes nearly white on the breast, whilst at other times the whole 
of the lower parts are nearly unicoloured. The spots seem to increase in size 
with age. 

Legs and feet deep coral-red ; claws black ; irides light to dark brown ; bill 
black, terminal one-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 
oi'ange-red to deep coral-red ; lower mandible black-tipped, the same as the 

"Length 23-8 to 25-9 inches, wing 10-6 to 11-2, tail from 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.) 

Female adult. — Similar to the male, but smaller and perhaps rather paler in 

Legs and feet duller red than in the male, as also are the spots on the bill, 
'' AVing about ]0 inches " {l^ahadori). 


"Length 22-0 to 24-0 inches, wing 8-0 to 1(>7, tail from vent 4-U to o-3, 
tai'sus 1-7 to 1-0, bill from gape 2-3 to 2-5. Weight 1 lb. 14 ozs. to 2 lbs. 12 ozs." 

Young resemble the adults, but have no red spots at the base of the bill and 
have the feet coloured orange to brick-i-ed. The general plumage is lighter, the 
spots fewer in number and less in size, the breast being spotted white. 

There appears to be no record of any post-nuptial change in the plumage of 
the drake of this species, and enquiries made on this subject elicit no evidence to 
show that there is such a change. 

Blanford (in loc. cit.) shows that the male has 20 rectrices, whereas the female 
has but IS. 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. 

The Spotted-billed Duck is found practically throughout the Indian 
Empire on the mainland ; but it is absent from Southern Burmah. It does 
not seem to have been recorded from South Konkan ; ])ut as it occurs in 
Ceylon it wouhl naturally be almost sure to appear more or less frequently 
in the South Konkan also. I have a record of this duck from Tenasserim, 
but I am not sure that the identification was correct, and confirmation of 
its occurrence there is still required. Outside India it has been found in 
the Shan States, and might possibly, though not probably, straggle into 
China. In the British Museum (Natural History) there is a specimen said 
to have been collected by Mr. J. R. Reeves in China : but I see Salvadori 
considers the locality doubtful. 

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, in the drier portions of 
its habitat it is a rainy-weather visitant, appearing only when the jheels 
and ponds contain sufficient water to satisfy its wants. In certain parts 
also, quite independently of the water-supply, this duck is much more 
common than in others : thus, all round the 24-Parganas, Nadia, Khulna, 
Jessore, and the Sunderbunds 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, l)ut 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, Ijut it will very likely eventually be found to be 

In Manipur it is very common. Major A\'oods says (in ei>htold) : 


" This (the JSpotted-billed Duck) is a very common duck in Manipur^ 
though in the rains and in the nesting-season, owing to the dense grassy 
jheels to which it resorts, it is seldom seen." 

Hume seems to think that it never ascends the hills to any height; but 
it is found in Manipur up to 3000 feet. Major Woods records it from 
the Tankul Hills at heights over 3000 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 4000 feet. 

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 much as forty. Indeed, Major Mclnroy, as quoted by 
Hume, had frequently observed flocks of at least a hundred, and these he 
had seen both on the wino- 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 the Spot-bills do not, as a rule, frequent any of the larger, clearer 
sheets of water, and that on the Lagtak it is quite a rare duck when 
compared with the others which are found on that lake. They inhabit the 
smaller jheels, which are surrounded near the margin by jungle, and here 
they may be seen all asleep, except one or two which are on sentry-duty 
near the edge. In the district of Mymensingh, however, they are found 
in the vast bheels which stretch for miles in every direction, and here also 
they breed in great numbers. 

They are also found, though I think but rarely^ on small quickly 
flowing streams in forest. 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 (on both of which, however, they are rare), while on 
the Jhelum, Chenab, and Indus they are quite common.''^ Woods has " shot 
numbers of them on the banks of the Irrawaddy close to Sagaing.^' They 
are found, though not frequently, on the Brahmapootra, but they have 
been reported to me as being common on that river on the part whicli runs 
through Sadiya. I have no record of their occurrence on the Megna, 


Surma, Barak, or any other of this notwork of rivers, though it is probahlo 
in the extreme that they may he met ^vitll liere and there on any ot" them. 

It appears to be entirely a fresh^vater duck, and this Avouhl he 
sufficient to account for its comparative absence from the Sunderbunds and 
their tidal and brackish waters. Whether it occurs on tlie 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 our ducks. Even larger on an average than the Mallard, it fully 
rivals that bird for the table, and is, I think, more miiform 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 h^ss (juick in 
rising and not so speedy in getting under way as is the Mallard. When 
it just 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 })erhaps 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 brouoht 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 under the water, 
and so keep hidden below the surface ; more often, though, they rise, but 
only high enough to allow of the tip of the bill protruding. Hume, 
Butler, and others have recovered birds quite dead, drowned through 
holding on to the weeds a little too long below the water. If winoed, 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 Woods 
informs me that he has found that the majority of those he has wounded 
without killing outright have taken this 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 I have noticed any difference 
between the two. 

They are not shy birds, and until they have been much shot at can 
generally be approached near enough for a shot fairly easily. 

They are principally vegetable-feeders, and do a good deal of damage 
to rice, both wdien young and when in the ear, trampling down a great 
deal more than they eat ; they also, at times, eat all sorts of miscel- 
laneous food, such as water- mollusca, frogs, worms, insects, c^^c. Woods 
observes that the places where they feed can generally be detected at a 


^lanco from the state of the inuch-trampkHl blades o£ 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 Manipuris 
catch numbers of the flappers with spears and nets ; and thev sometimes 
form fiart of the bag ^vhen 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. 

Hume says : " The breeding-season varies a great 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 Sind it lays i]i 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 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 l)heels extending over the 
whole of the north of Mymensingh and Sylhet these ])irds have Ijeen 
seen accompanied by their young in April, and again their eggs have 1)een 
taken in Auoust. 

As a ride, the nest is rather 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. 

Captain G. F. L. Marshall gives the dimensions of a nest taken ))y 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 Manijuir 
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 n flooded 


dhan khet as lato as Octohor. The nests are composed of grass and 
feathers, the latter of which the parent hirds pkick from their own 

" I have fonnd as many as 14 eogs in a nest, though the usual numher 
is 10. The parent bird sits very close when incubating, and when 
alarmed feigns injury to a wing, as do others of the family. 

"Towards the end of the rains both old and young birds frequent more 
open water and the flooded rice-fields. A place called the Kurram Path, 
about 18 miles from Imphal, is a favourite breeding-ground, and towards 
the end of the rains the ducks may there l^e seen in hundreds with flappers 
in every stage of development." 

In another letter he remarks on the curious fact that though the normal 
number of eggs laid is about 10, yet one never sees a family-party contain- 
ing 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 Sind, on the 1st 
May, which had contained 10 incubated eggs, but these, with the exception o£ 
one, were all scattered about 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 between 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 branch 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 9 inches above the surface of the water, and 
was firmly based on a horizontal l)ifurcation of the bough. It was com- 
posed of dry rush 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 2 inches thick in the centre and 4 at the sides. 
It contained three fresh eggs." 

The number of eggs laid seems to vary considerably ; but from about 
8 to 10 may be considered as the normal number laid, often less, but 


not often more, thouoli they may occasionally number 14. They are much 
like the eggs of the Mallard in appearance, though rather broader on an 
averaoe, as well as a little shorter. Hume's dimensions for the eojes of this 
duck are : Length from 2'08 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 
inculcation progresses. The two types average respectively 2*05 X 1'62 
inches and 2*18 X 1"60. 

They do fairly well in captivity, but are difficult to tame, and generally 
clear off as soon as they can fly. They have been known to breed in 
confinement : those in the Calcutta Zoological Gardens did so in 1885. 
They will also interbreed with the domestic duck ; and there is a specimen 
in the British Museum collection of a hybrid between A. poecilorhynclia and 
A. hoscas. 

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 capture 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 affection to one another, and one of a pair killed, 
the remaining one has been known to refuse to leave the spot until he — or 
she, as the case may be — has fallen a victim to its constancy. 



Anas zonorhyncha, Salvadorl, Cat. B. M. xwii, p. 211 ; ' ^Isiax,' Jan. lOth, 
1S99 : Stuart Balcer, Jour. B. N. //. ,S^. xvi, p. 12 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 148. 

Desenj)tion. — The Eastern form of the Grey -Duck differs from the Indian 
Spot-bill in not haAing at any period of its life the two red spots at the base of 
the upper maiidible, and in having the specuhun bhie and not green 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 strong!}' with the rest of the 
iniderparts, which are far darker than in the Western bird. In both, the under 
tail-coverts are very dark brown, but whereas in zono)-Jn/ucha these arc almost 
ooncolorouswith the feathers oF the vent and lower VLhdomen, in jxecilorJa/ncJia the 
abdomen is much lighter and contrasts distinctly. In the latter the underparts 
are generally very much spotted, increasing with age, in the former 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 the exception of there beiug no spots at the base of the bill, are 
the same as in the other Grey-Duck. 

The bill probably averages smaller. In the, series of ^xecilorJri/ncha in the 
British Museum there are females with bills up to 2'20 inches, and males up to 
2*38 straight along the culnien from tip to feathering on the forehead. 

The largest male of zonorJu/ncha has the bill only 2-30 inches, and the next 
biggest bird, unsexed. has it 2-2-'). The largest sexed femah^ has it 1-98. 

During the examination of the Grev-Dnck in the Bi-irisli ^In.-euni, I 
have tried to ascertain whether tliere are any oronnds for creatine- a new 
species for the ducks sent home by Captain Harington. I can find none I 
There are four specimens of pcerilorliT/ncha from the Shan States, got by 
Rippon and Gates, and one from China by Reeves ; these are all, as far as 
I can see, typical young birds of the Indian Spot-bill. They are less 
spotted below than the adult birds, as one wouhl expect, and have no spots 
also at the base of the Ijill. The two species overlap one another tln'ough- 
out the territory Oates ])resumes his new species inhabits, and hybrid 
specimens are likely to occur, although I liavc received none such as yet. 

Salvadori defines the distribution of the Eastern Grey-Uuck thus : 
" China, Mongolia, and Eastern Siberia ; Japan and Kuriles." AVe have it 


recorded from Kengtmig in the Slum States, and shall proljably find that it 
is common throughout the Shan States, and indeed Northern Burniah 
everywhere, as it is now known to be more or less common as far west as 
Dibrugarh, where, however, ( 'ri})ps also got iKecilovhijnclia. 

The first to obtain this bii'd in our limits was the correspondent ol: the 
' Asian ' at Kengtung on the 10th Jan., 180'J. In 1902, .Messrs. Moore and 
Mundy got several specimens in Dibrugarh, and each succeeding year u}> 
to 1905 got others. I obtained my first specimens in 1903, and got a good 
many more in 1904 and 1905. 

On one occasion only did any ol: us see the bird in any numbers, and 
on this Mr. Moore came across a flock o£ about forty at 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 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 otherwise. We had small and extremely dicky 
mychans, or platforms, made in different places in the huge bheels ; these 
were well concealed by reeds and water-weeds, and we got into them with 
as little noise as possiljle, 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 Ijirds, and we got a great deal of very pretty 
shooting in this way, though our Ijags were not heavy. Still we often 
managed to pick u}) thirty or forty birds, losing sometimes as many more 
in the im]jenetraljle cane brakes, and by winged birds diving and st> 
escaping" or being carried off 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 opposit(> 
direction, and the first we woidd know of it would be the sountl of their 
wings as they hurtled through the aii" high overhead. Sometimes too, as 
we watched, a flight of Teal would rush by onh' a foot or two above the 


water, almost passing' out of firo bcforo })ein(i; spotted. Consequcnrly the 
shooting was not all it might have been as regards hitting, and it i-e(|uired 
a rare good man behind the gun for cartridges to average not mon^ than 
two per head of game. 

The Eastern Grey-Duck is of course resident where found and breeds 
throughout its range. I took its eggs, three fresh, in Dibrugarh, anil 
Harington took a hard-set clutch of eggs in the Shan States. T have also 
<?ggs taken as far east as Ja})an. 

The eggs differ in no way from those of the Spot-bill, but average 

Plate XIV. 



Eunetta- fa.lca.ta.. 

el . Gr een , Chromo . 



The genus Eunetta 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 16 in the former and only 1-4 in the latter. The females, 
however, of C. streperus 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. 


Anas falcata, McLeod, Sir. Feath. x, p. 1G8. 

Querquedula falcata, Hume, Str. Feath. iv, p. 225 ; id. ibid, vii, p. 494 ; id. 

ibid, viii, p. 115 ; id. Cat. no. 966 bis ; Hume ^' Mar. Game-B. iii, p. 231 ; 

Reid, Str. Feath. x, p. 84. 
Eunetta falcata, Salvador i, Cat. B. M, xxvii, p, 218 ; Blanford, Fauna B. I. 

iv, p. 438 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 202 ; Inglis, Jour. B. N. H. S. xiii, p. 180 ; 

id. ibid. p. 378 ; Comber, ibid, xiv, p. 149 ; Stuart Baker, ibid, xv, p. 141 ; 

Hojnvood, ibid, xvi, p. 249 ; Inglis, ibid, xvii, p. 1015. 

Description. Adult male. — " Crown deep chestnut ; sides of the head brouze- 
purple, greener posteriorly ; a long greeu 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 blackish ; rump 
blackish ; basal upper tail-coverts green, vermiculated with 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 
whitish, each feather with black bars, one o£ which is subtermiual ; 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, showiiig a beautiful 
black bar, which separates a buffy 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 wliitish : \vii)g-sj)oculiiin on the 
secondaries dark glossy green, bounded below by a narrow whitish band 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, culmeu 1-8, tarsus 1-35." (Salvadori.) 

" Of another Indian-killed male the wing also measures 9-5 inches " (Hume 
4- Marshall). " Bill from gape 2-1 inches " (Blanford). 

''Irides deep brown; bill perfectly black; legs and feet drab with an olive 
tinge ; the webs, except immediately alongside the toes (where they are uuicolorous 
with these), and claws dusky black. A frontal spot ending in a point on the 
cidmen, about 0*4 inch long and 0*3 wide, pure white." (Hiiuic cj- Marshall.) 

Female. — " Head and neck brown streaked with whitish, much paler beneath : 
back and scapulars brown, with coucentx'ic pale rufous bands ; lower back and 
rump blackish ; upper tail-coverts brown, with concentric pale bands ; tail- 
feathers brown ; quills brown ; specnlum black, slightly glossed with green ; wing- 
coverts greyish-bro\^n, with pale edges, especially the greater coverts ; upper 
breast and sides dull rufous, with concenti'ic brown bars ; abdomen whitish, with 
a few bars or spots ; under tail-coverts rufescent, with brown marks." (Blauford.) 

'• Bill, feet, and irides as in the male" (Salvadori). 

"Wing 9-85 to 10-06 inches, tail 3-23 to 3-57, bill at front 1-75 to 1-84, 
tarsus ]4o to 1-02" {Schrenl-). "Length 16-0 inches, wing 9-0, tail 3-4, 
tarsus 1'2" (Dresser). 

The strict habitat of this little tluek is Eastern Asia, whence it ranges 
occasionally west, sometimes entering Eastern Europe. It breeds through- 
out Eastern Siberia, and lately I have received notes of its breeding from 
Manchuria. In the winter it descentls 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. The 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 probal)ly owing to 
no notice being taken of them than for any other reason, although their 
occurrence is of course very 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 (J. H. T. Marshall shot a male 
at Kurnal, 70 miles north of Delhi, in February ; another was shot in the 
same month about 30 miles from Delhi, by Mr. AV. M. Chill ; and the fifth 
was obtained by Hume himself in the Calcutta bazaar, and this he says 
was cauoht in the innnediate vicinity. 


Shortly after thi^, General McLeod recorded that he had shot a female 
at Feroza, Bhawalpur, in December lb71) ; 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 nati^-e 
fowler, w^ho would not part with them, except at a fancy price, sayincr 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 withont the sickle-shaped secondaries and one 
with these fully do^'elo})ed, were obtained )jy Mi'. 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 1)elieve, obtained near that place. Besides these, one was obtained 
in Upper Burma, near Bhamo, in 1903. and a second ]jv Hopwood at 
Kindat in March 19U6 ; these are the only ones I can find recorded from 
Burma except Anderson's. Major Cowley, of the 43rd Gurkha Regiment, 
obtained one in Manipur, and, as far as I can ascertain, this is the onlv one 
ever seen in that State. In Tirhoot, Mr. Inglis has obtained no less than 
eight specimens ; and its western limits have lately been added to by 
Mr. L. Robertson, who obtained an adult male of this species in the Narra 
Valley, Sind. 

In addition to those recorded alcove, the only other specimen 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, and myself in 

There is no reason, however, that sportsmen in Upper Burma should 
not meet with this bird more often than would seem to \vA\e been the case 
hitherto, for N.E. Burma is well within range of its annual migrations, and 
doubtless when men wake u[) to the fact that records of rare ducks are still 
desirable, we shall have a good many from that quarter. 

Anderson obtained specimens on the Taipeng River, in Upper Burma ; 
but I cannot ascertain how many he got. 

The Bronze-cap})ed Teal, when found within our limits, ap[)ears always 
singly or in pairs, perhaps very rarely in small parties. In places where it 
is more niunerous 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 tliey are said to arrive at the borders of their breeding-grounds in 
immense flights. It has the reputation of being a very socialjle, if not a 
liiglilv gre;iari()us bird, and their small flocks freijuently, indeed generallv, 



seem to mix much with larger flocks of other species of Teiil and Duck, 
with whom they feed and sleep in perfect harmony. 

The flight is said to be swift and Teal-like, and the l)ird 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 " (Prjevalski) ; and it has also been heard to give vent to a 
chuckling quack as it swims about feeding. 

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 Salvador! 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 falcata 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 greatcn- 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 : so 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, not 
at all in very old specimens, and can only be of any use in descriminating 
birds in the flesh. It should always be borne 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 parts 
must be carefully noted, and a rough note made also of anything remark- 
able in the coloration. 

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 


f^liores ot* Lake Baikal, l)iit even tlierc^ 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 o£ 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, they are said to 
make them on 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 afiair of rushes and reeds, rather more compactly put 
together than are most ducks' nests, and lined very plentifully with down, 
presumably taken from the breasts of the parent birds themselves. So 
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 incubation, at 
least occasionally, by the drake, which is seldom found far from the nest. 
They lay from six to nine eggs, beginning to lay in the end of May, and 
continuing through June and the early part of July. 

The eggs are said to be like those of the Common Teal, but whiter and 
a oreat deal larger. 

Dybowski (ride 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 Darsun region it is more common. 

'' The female makes her nest among the bushes of swamps, collecthig 
<lry 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 the 27th December." 

Taczanowski in describing the eggs taken by the above naturalist writes : 
*' The eggs are decidedly smaller than those of the Mallard, and in colour 
resemble those of the Gadwall, though the yellow tinge is somewhat morc^ 
pronounced. They vary from 2'1 to 2'3 inches in length and from 1-52 to 
nearly 1*7 in breadth." 

Dresser, (quoting Hume and Marshall, describes the eggs as being of a 
creamy-white colour, like the eggs of a Common Wigeon, and of a very 
smooth texture. 




This ^('iius is i-eninrk;ibly t'l()>(' to ^\ii((s. jiiid iiii^hr ;tlni(i>t iiioi'c con- 
veniently c'onio hetween Aiixs and Kidu^ffd i-atlier than hctwccn IJiniiHtd 
and Mareca or J\ettiojt. It diftcr> from A/uts in lia\in^- the hill jiro- 
})ortionately rather shorter and sniaUer, from JumeltK in not havino- tlie 
long iiuier secondaries sickle-slia[)ed, and from Mureca and 2\elt'w)i in 
havintJ" the lamell?e o£ the maxilla or ii|)[)er niandil)le vcm'v prominent : it is 
also of course, as far as the Indian s[)ecies is concerned, a liiiiocr hird than 
any species of tlie two last-mentioned genera. 

There are only two species of the present genu— oui- hii-d. tlie (iadwali, 
and Chaulelasmua coiiesi, a smaller hird, confined to the Washington and 
New York Inlands and the Fanning group-, a hird of which very little is 
yet known. 


Chaulelasmus streperus, .Trrdon, B. I. iii, p. 802 ; Hume, Sir. Feath. vii, 
p. 115; id. Cat. no. 901; Scidly, Str. Feath. viii, p. 362; Ihnne 4" 
Mar. Game-B. iii, p. 181 ; Oates, Birds of Brit. Burrn. ii, p, 283; Barnes, 
B. of Bom. p. 405; SaJvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 221 ; Blanford, 
Famia B. I. iv, p. 440; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 234 ; Deivar, Jour. 
B. i\. H. 8. xvi, p. 498. 

Description. Adult luals.— Head and neck whitish, riifous-wliite, or dull 
rufous, densely speckled with brown, except on the chin, which is almost pure 
white in highly plumaged birds ; the anterior portions of the head nearly always 
lighter than the posterior iu ground-colour, whicli shades oflF 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 verniiculations. 
sometimes almost unmarked, changing into the black of the rump and upper tail- 
coverts ; central rectrices grey, outer ones rufous-grey with almost wliite 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 tlie dai-k 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 patclies of black and white vermiculations ; the smallest wing- 
coverts like the scapulars ; the median and primary greater coverts chestnut, 
with the bases brown aud white, sometimes showing ; greater coverts next the 




secondaries black ; secoudaries pure grey, silvery towards the tips ; a speculum 
formed by the outer secondaries, four or five glossy velvety black and three with 
broad pure A\'hite 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 aaIioH}' 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. 

Maxilla dark slaty brown, black or brown ; mandible paler and yellowish or 
reddish on the gonys and tip ; irides 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.) 

Length 19-.5 to 21"5 inches, wing lO-o to 11*75, tail 3*-i to 4-3, tarsus 
about 1-5, bill at front l-i)0 to 2-00 aud from gape 2-0o to 2-25, Weight 1 lb. 
7 ozs. to 2 lb. 4 ozs. 

Female. — General colour above brown, 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 brown ; 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. 

L'ides and legs the same as in the male ; bill dull orange to yellowish-brown, 
the culuien and tip brown. Length about 18 to 20*1 inches, wing 9 to 10 (10'2, 
Hume), tail 3-0 to 4-0 (3-7 to 4-5, Hume), tarsus 1-37 to 1-42, bill at front 1-8 
to 1'95 and from gape 1'9.5 to 21."). Weight about 1 lb. to 1| lb. 

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 underpai'ts have obscure, ill-defined, brown centres." 

Young in down are like those of the ]\Lillard, " but there is a more pro- 
nounced 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." (Yarrcll.) 

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 
u few males may still be found in the female garb as late as the middle of 

Out-idc India tlic ranof' of i\\\< tine duck may be -aid to he tlic Northern 
H('ini>])lK'r*'. It hreods jjBJictically ri^^lit across its hal)itat in the <ul)-.A.rctic 

Ii50 INIUAN ])rCKS. 

re<i"ious, and in the winter ran^r.- down to Northern and ( 'entral Africa, and 
perhaps even further south, ahnost the wliole ot" Southern A>ia, and a<rain 
a- far south a- ^Mexico and Jamaica in America. 

Within India, it i- ea-ier to >ay wliere it is not found rather than to 
enumerate all thu.-e place- in which it does occur. Koughly speaking, it is 
found in vast numliers from the Himalayas, througliout Sind, North 
Bombay, tlie Xoitli-Wc-r Provinces. Funjal). and Bengal : from there it ^^ets 
less common as it wander> south, until in Southern India, south of Mysore, 
it is not found at all, though Dewar record< that it occurs in Madras. 

Throughout Assam, Manipur, Tipperali. and in Buiinah it abounds, and 
it i- jilcntiful al-o in the SuimI'tIiuiuI-. Of course, in some places it i< more 
exceedingly aljundant than in other-. Thus in 1^582— 80, in Bengal, we 
fitund that the (nnlwall- numbered at least two to every one of all otluu* 
kinds of duck- hmijied together. Of a magnificent Ijag made l)y three 
guns in the Moolna bheel (Sunderbundsj, out of 140 coujde Ducks and Teal 
I think at least -lO couple, if not more, must have been Gad wall, and of tlu^ 
rest probaljly 70 or 80 couple were Teal of sorts. Woods speaks of patches 
ot wate]- in ^lanipur " looking Ijlack with tlie number of Gadwall assembled 
there." They begin to arrive there, according to him, about the lotli 
October, and though in Kashmir and along the Himalayas a few bird- may 
aiTive earlier, this will be found to be about the earliest date for Northern 

In Mysore they do not arri^■e until the end of November as a I'ule, and 
at intervening places will Ije obtained on intervening dates. In Lower 
Bengal we never expected to see many before November, and I think they 
Avere most conniion in late December and early January. Hume says, re 
birds again leaving : — " In the south they leave b}- the end of March or 
early in A[)ril. Farther north they are somewhat later (it depends a good 
deal on the season) : and both in Sind and the Western and North-western 
I'linjal) tli<-y ai-e frequently -hot in the 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 
U|i. but nearly all that are seen will be hun-iedly making their way north. 

Majoi- Wood-. I. M.S., says that even in .Ar;iiii|,nr they lea\-e about the 
end of March. 

An interesting fact noted by thi- elo-e ob-erver is, that many, pei'haps 
the majority, of the ducks paii- off befoi-e leaving their winter-quarters. 
He says mo-t o\; them pair in ^laieli. but that he ha- noticed .-onie [lairing 


as early as February. Xo one seems ever to have noticed these birds 
arriving at their breeding-ground> in pairs, so it is to be presumed that, 
their preliminary courtship completed, the pairs re-assemlile in flocks which 
remain together until they reach their nesting-haunts. 

The Gradwall ranks very high i;[> in the table of (kick precedence, as 
there are so many good points about it \vliich 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 fi-hyor other unpleasant flavour, nor have 
I met any Bengal sportsman who has charged it with this crime. But the 
iS^orthern Presidencies have held men sometimes who have complained of 
this flavour when they first arrive. They oxialit to be alright, as they are 
almost entirely vegetable-feeder^. >ubsi>ting 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 iu 
addition to some water berrie- and half-ripe rice, but thi> in no way 
affected the flesh. 

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 difficult, job. Where, too. he has 
been much shot at. all one's ingenuity and per>everance will be required 
before the game-bag can be made to assume the bulgy appearance it ought. 
Then, when you have got within shot, the Gadwall proves a thoroughly 
sporting bird : he is quick oil the water, rising rather straight up into the 
air, and getting verv soon well under wav : ami in full flight the Cxadwall 
is even faster than the Mallard, and. as many writers have observed, reminds 
one much of Teal in the manner of fl^'ino- and the swish-swish of the wings 
as the flock hurtles overhead, leaving, let u- ho[ie. two birds in response 
to the right and left with which it has been greeted. 

When sliooting in the old days over vast jheels in Khulna and Jessore, 
though Teal might and generally did form the majority of the birds got, yet 
we alwavs ho})ed that Gadwall would, and it was certainly these birds that 
gave us the most sport. 

In some ])laces the jheels themselves, vast stretcher of water, shallow in 
the cold weather and much overgrown all round their borders with weeds, 
reeds, and lilic-. were surrounded with ]-ice-field<. and through these 
wandered shallow water-ways, some natural and others artiticiallv made 
either for drainino- or irrigation. 


Daybreak would see us niakino- our way from one of tlie main riv(M-s up 
such a water-way, which we might have to traA(M-se 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 moralis, 
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 jh(>el 
for our shooting, for Snipe constantly got up to our i-ight and left and Teal 
rose within shot in a manner far beyond what we hoj)ed for later on ; 
moreover, the feeding flocks were scattered, and one l)ird down another 
shot might well be hoped for. Here and there, too, a Gadwali would And 
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 within shot : also Pochards, White-eyes, and Shovellers were all 
to be seen at intervals. AVhilst it was still cool and a f^'w 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 lip unheeded, though as yet they were l)ut few, for not until the sun 
rose high and hot did they forsake the rice-fields and take to the deej) water 
and the cool shade of lily-leaves. Whistling-Teal swainied in all directions 
and kept circling round everywhere in countless myi'iads ; Pur[)le (Joots 
flustered and fluttered across the tops of the reeds and through the rushes ; 
the little Water-liail scurried across the surface of the water-])lants ; and 
other undesirable birds, such as Water-Hens, Jacanas, &c., were in evidence 
in every quarter. Still the continuous po|)])ing of the guns all down the line 
showed that all the birds were not nndesiral)le ones. < 'onstantly amongst 
the Whistlers overhead there would a])pear 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 markino- the memlxn's of their mess whom thev had left behind. 
The duck, however, got up in front and went straight away, seldom 
wheeling within reach of even the outermost boats, though now and then a 
flock sweeping past high overhead would offer a difficult and often useless 

The Gradwall, which were generally only in small flocks, were usually 
found where there was a certain amount of cover, which, assimilating with 


the gropii scroon on our l)o;its. allowed lis often to o('t witliiii shot. Thev 
dive and swim very well when only ^vound<>d, and many a ten minutes was 
spent in retrieving such birds, for whose sake we oenei-ally ke])t a stock oi* 
No. 8 cartridges ready at liand to use instead of tlie 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 smoke 
and an examination of the bag. Between 1 and 2 P.M. we would again 
embark, and tlie same routine was gone through only reversed, and the 
shooting l)ack through the rice-fields was the finale of th(i afternoon's 

It was seldom on such days that the three guns, who were generally 
out, could not get their tiftv 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 numlier of Snipe would be small, as they were not 
shot at except at the commencement 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 l)ig duck contained in it. 

I have ]io record now of what we uot, but certainly we often oot fifteen 
couple of (zadwall, 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 it was in : 
early in the mornings and late in the evenings tliey were to be found in 
the rice-fields — generally, as I have already said, in some corner where the 
cover was denser than elsewhere ; an hour after light they left tlie rice- 
fields and were found swimming about in semi-open pieces of Avater, 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, 
sonaietimes as many as forty. They seem to ])ut on fat quicker than any 
other duck, or perhaps they feel the excu'tion of migration I(\ss. 

Of course the Mallard, which migrates often from parts vei'v 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 plum[) condition. 

The Gadwall has not yet Ijeen found to breed within 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 sundy this l)ird could not have meant 
to ]\n\<' migi'at<'d far for flic ])iirpo>-e of brcfding. Tins liird \\a< -hot in 


tlie end o£ Aj)ril. Aoain. 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 tlie birds could 
not have been breeding. Is it possible that the eggs had been laid? 

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 foimd during the breeding-season as far south as 

Its nest is much like that of the Mallard or of the Spotted-billed Duck, 
but, unlike the former, I have never heard or read of its breeding in trees. 

The nest is generally placed at the edge of the water in amongst dense 
sedge, reeds, or bushes, and appears to be carefully concealed as a rule ; it 
is made of reeds, grass, or any other similar material, or sometimes a few 
twigs, and is more or less lined with down from the birds themselves. 

The eggs are said by various authors to number five to fourteen : l)ut 
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 eoos of ducks, as incubation advances the colours o-et 
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 texture and shape they do not vary from those of 
the ]\Iallard, except in being slightly smaller. 

Thirteen eggs, measured by Hume, are said to have averaged 2'62 b}' 
1*51 inches ; ibut this is probably a mistake for 2*20 by 1'51, witliin 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 Zoological Gardens. 






. a; 

Z ^ 

UJ u 

X L 

I— d 


Genus MAEECA. 

The genn>; Mareca differs principally from JS'ettion in luiving a smaller 
hill, Avhicli is distinctly narrower and rather tapering towards the tip ; 
from Chaidelasmus it differs in not having the lamella? of the upper mandi))le 
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. penelojie, 
reaches our limits : of the other two, one, M. aynericana, is a North- 
American form, whilst the other, J7. s'lhilatrix, is a South-American Inrd. 
jAll three are much the same size. 


Mareca penelope, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. i504; Hume, Str. Feaih. i, p. 271; 
Butler, ibid, w, p. 30 ; Hume, ibid, vii, p. 491 ; Davis. <^- Wendon, ibid. 
vii, p. 93 ; Scully, ibid, yiii, p. 63 ; Hume, Cut. no. 963 ; Hume 4' -!/«»'• 
Game-B. iii, p. 197 ; Vidcd, Sir. FeatJi. ix, p. 92: Butler, ibid. p. 438 ; 
Reid, ibid, s, p. 82 ; Hume, ibid. p. 245 : Davidson, ibid. p. 326 ; Oates, 
B. of Brit. Burm. ii, p. 278 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 408 ; Hume, >Str. 
Feath. xi, p. 345 ; Salvadori, Cat. B. 31. xxvii. p. 227 ; Blanford, Fauna 
B. I. iv, p. 445 ; Oatcs, Game-B. ii, p. 210. 

Descrijition. Adult male. — rorehead, crown, and anterior nape pale buff, 
sometimes with a few black dots ou the nape, remainder of liead and neck dull 
chestnut, much speckled auteriorly with black, and the chiu and throat more or 
less black also ; back, sides of neck and upper breast, tiauks, scapulars, rump, 
and shorter upper tail-coverts Aeriiiiculated blackish-browu and white, the rump 
and upper tail-coverts with the whire predominating, longer upper tail-coverts 
black ; central rectrices brownish-black, getting paler ou each succeeding pair, 
the outer pairs being also tipped white; upper breast and lower neck and sides 
of lower breast vinous-red ; under tail-covei"ts black, rest ot" 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 ripped black ; oiiter web 
of ne.xt secondary pure white, edged black ; inner secondaries black, edged white 
and grevish on the inner webs. 


" Irides deep red-brown ; bill grey -blue, livid blue, or bluish-j)luiubeous, the 
tip black ; legs dusky lead, lead-grey, or, rarely, greenish lead-colour, dusky on 
the joints and webs and with the claws dark. 

"Males (adults). — Length 19-U to lO-o inches, expanse 32-75 to 34-5, 
wing 10 to 10-5, tail from vent 4*0 to 4-0; tarsus 1*4 to 1-0, bill from gape 
1-7 to 1-82. Weight 1 lb. 5 ozs. to 1 lb. 10 ozs." {Hume.) 

During the early part of tlie cold weather tlie feathers of the breast have grey 
edges, which make tlie whole breast a pale greyish-vinous; as tlie 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 the feathers, varying from almost white to rufous, the scapulars 
and interscapulars more or less barred with the same ; smaller wingcoverts like 
the back, median the same but with broader edges ; greater coverts with still 
broader, paler edges ; quills plain brown ; a pale blackish-brown speculum edged 
by the outer secondaries moi'e or less tipped white, and with the secondary next 
the speculum having the outer web broadly white ; innermost secondaries 
edged with fulvous. Lower ueck and breast I'eddish- brown, sometimes speckled 
with darker ; lower breast, abdomen, and vent varying from white to uniform 
pale, rather bright rufcus-bufF, the flanks and asillaries darker and often more 
or less spotted brown. Lender tail-coverts the same as the abdomen, but with 
the feathers centred dark. 

Bill slaty-blue, nail black, the base of the maxilla often darker, the mandible 
with the connnissure, 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. 

" Length 17-8 to lJ)-25 inches, expanse 31-5 to 34-0, wing 9-3 to lO-o, tail from 
vent 3-.5 to o, tarsus 1-4 to 1-6, 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 27 weighed more than 
1 lb. 9 ozs.) " {Hume.) 

Young male. — Much like the female, but the upper parts, especially on the 
rump aud 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 

Male in the first nuptial state or changing from the young into adult 
stage. — Head rich brown, boldly spotted with black, less so below; upper back 
and adjoining parts as in the female, but gradually changing to grey on the 
loxAer 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 distinguislied 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 brow n, with hardly any signs of bars on the pinions." 


The Wigeon is found thronuhoiit Europe at different seasons, beino- u 
permanent resident in some ol: tlie northern countries ; practically 
throughout Asia, though rare to the east, breeding in the north and 
wintering soutli ; in Northern Africa in the cold Aveather as far south as 
Al)yssinia, 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. It is decidedly connnon in Cachar and 
Svlhet to my own knowledge, not rare in Goalpara and Kamrup, in 
whicli districts I have shot it, and is found throughout the province of 
Assam, whilst in Burma it has been recorded from N. Tenasserim. It 
will be noticed that in certain localities one person records this Teal as 
l)eing verv })lentiful. whilst another, who may be e(pially good an 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 ev(>n 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 Wigeon does not visit India in 
the same numbers as it does in drier years. 

Thus, Eeid writes of Oudli : — '"The Wigeon is Ijyno means unconnnon, 
though it is, I think, rather erratic in its wanderings, being 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 smallei- 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 be before." 

Again, Yidal: — " ^Vigeon, in some years, are very abiuidant on the 
Vashishti IviAcr, congregating in large Hocks of five huiulred ])irds 
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 bo 
found in the district; but in 1870-80, after a year of moderate rainfall, 
they reap[)eared in tlieir usual strength on the Vashishfi." 

Davidson notes it ;is rare in Mysore, but Major Mclnroy says that a 
fair number may be met with in parts. The oidy Avay I can at all account 
for the Wigeon being more common in dry tlian in wet seasons is because 
it is very much of a shallow-water or 1)ottom fee(k'r. In very wet seasons 
the lakes, jliils, })onds, etc. all overflow theii' normal limits, and thus the 
edges of the shallow water cover ground on which no water-weeds grow, 


and on which tlic natural (h-y land vooofation has l)oon killed Ity 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 wnthin grasp of 
the Teal as it feeds with only its tail-end out of water. They are, of 
course, strong and expert divers, but do not feed, I think, on any stuff 
which necessitates their going completely imder water. Of two l^rds 
shot in Silehar, the stomachs contained nothing but tlie white tendril-like 
roots of a small water-plant whicli grows profusclv whoro tlie water is 
only a few inches deej), and these the birds could obtain by merely standing 
on their heads, as it were, in the water. They graze a good deal, like 
geese, on young grass, and also young croi)S, and, in addition to various 
other vegetable substances, eat water-snails, worms, insects, and shell-fish 
of sorts, this more particularly near the sea-coast, where thev are often 
found in brackish estuaries or backwaters. 

Morris writes: — "This species feeds })rincij)ally on water insects and 
their larvpe, small mollusca, worms, the fry of fish, and frogs; as 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. 1 
tiever, myself, obtained a single specimen in the Sunderbunds, but have 
often been assured that they are common there. Hume says that they are 
as quick in rising as is the Gadwall. I should have given the palm to the 
Gad wall for quickness in getting off the water, but once up the Wigeon 
is quite as fast in getting away. On the wing they are certainh-- not as 
fast as either the Gargany or Common Teal, nor are they as hard to brin<r 
down, for they are less densely plumaged and can carry far less lead. 

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. What 
adds, too. to the ease at obtaining shots at them is tlieir liabit of feeding 
almost throughout the day, their feeding taking them much to the ed<Tes 
of the jhils and lakes, where they remain amongst the reeds and veo-etation. 
This, of course, hides the stalker and the stalked, and many shots 
may be obtained afc Wigeon by walking round the Ijorders of a lake, 
whilst most of the other duck are away in the middle of the water 


xinapproacliable, except by boat, and often not liv tliat. Tliev collect 
in very large flocks, sometimes numbering as many as seven or eight 
Imndred individuals, but more often will be found in flocks of a hundred 
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 birds, 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 l)y the distance 
and the multitudinous voices of winds and water." 

They fly with a swift powerful flight, generally in line formation, the 
line nearly always irregular and altering nmch 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 flvino- ; this 
is very distinctive, and when close at hand sounds very different to the 
swish of the Mallard or the sound of other ducks' flight. 

In England they are caught in large numbers by decoys, which induce 
the wild birds to enter some small water-ways roofed in with wire nettino- 
and which gradually lead to a large drop-net in which they are entanoled. 
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 hio-lier 
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 nei<j-li- 
bourhood of Wainfleet, so many as thirty-one thousand two hundred have 
been caught in a season." This, of course, refers to all kinds of ducks, 
not to Wigeon s only. 

To eat, the Wigeon is sometimes tirst-rate, sometimes decidedly fishy 


and rank. At lioinf it is considered (|uire one of the liiolicr clas> of Mucks 
for eatin<i;, but out in India it is often not of a iii;^lier chiss; Hume snvs 
of sonic he oot on the sea-coast that tliey liad such distinct '"odour of 
brine troni the ocean "^ about tlieni that they were (|uite un]ialatable. 
Those sliot in ('achai' and A><ain I lunc always found verv oood indeed. 

The AVi^con breeils thronohout the ^M'eater part ()\i its northern 
haljitat. but probably nowliere -within tlie Arctic Circle. It is connnon in 
Iceland and still nioi'e so in La])lan(b breeds throu^liout Xorthern Europe, 
and al-o. 1 am told, in Ea>t PiMissia, and it al.-o bi-eed- in Xortii-wost 
Asia, less commonly to the ea>t. In (ireat I'l-itain it ha- often been 
found l)reedinfr in Scotland and also in Ireland, and in I.s'.t.S Mr. AV. J. 
Clark has recorded the findino- of a Wieeon's nest in Yorkshire, tin- beinu- 
the first record of its breeding; within the linuts of England itself. 

Its nest may be placed either close to Avater in amongst tlie growth 
on the l)ank5 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 llie neare-t water. As a rule, it is very carefully hidden, but at 
other times it is very conspicuous and can be seen from a few vards 
awav. The duck sits very close indeed, and flying up at one's feet 
usually show> the whereabouts of the nest, however well it inav l>e 
hidden. The drake would >eem to take little interest in the ne-t or ecos^ 
and leaves the duck not only to do all the incnbatioii. but al-o to look 
after the A-oung until they are some day> ohL 

The uest would a])])('ar to differ from other ducks' nests in Iteino- 
better put together in most cases. In some nests the material — moss, 
leaves, grasses, and weeds — are well intermingled and interwoven with one 
another and with down, which not only forms the lining, but is also 
incorporated in the body of the nest itself, Frequentl}-, on the other hand, 
the nest is very primitive, and con-i-ts of only a few of the material- 
mentioned, just loosely placed in some hollow in the ground. 

Dresser, a- (pioted by Hume, says : — '-The eggs are deposited late in 
early in dune, the locality selected for the purpose of nidification 
oeing sometimes close to tlie water's edge and at others some distance 
from it: but Mr. Colley informs me that he found a nest on the fells, not 
far from the town of Lilleliammer, which was undr-r a juniper bu<h, at 
least 800 yards from the water. The nest is a lUf re depression or hole 
scratched in the ground, and well lined wirli down ami a few feathers, 
intermixed with a little moss or a few gra.-s-bents. A nest which T 
possessed 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 and oval in shape, 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, eyen when separated from its native l)ank, and all the 
accompaniments of flowers, roots, moss, and lichen.'^ 

The number of ee'o-s is normally six to eioht or sometimes ten. 
Morris says five to eight, Meyer ten to twelve. In colour they vary from 
a pale cream, so faint as to appear white, to a rather warm cream or buff, 
generally the former. Hume's eggs measured 2'1 to 2'3 inches in length, 
and 1'5 to 1"6 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, are smaller than 
any of Hume's, measuring 2*05 by I'D inches and 2*00 by 1"45. Both 
these eggs are also unusually glossy. 




The genus Js^etthnn or Settion is one of the largest in the order 
Chenomorphse. As restricted hy Salvadori, there are seventeen species 
contained in it, o£ which three only are found in India. The range of 
the genus is cosmopolitan, and it contains species both resident and 
migratory, both of which are represented in India. 

The differences between Nettion and Anas, Chaidelasmus and Mareca 
have been already pointed out. 

Kejj to Species. 

Speculum, secondaries bronzed green at base, then black and 

tipped white, and with their coverts tipped rufous . . . N. forinosum. 

Speculum, outermost secondaries black with white tips, those 
next them brilliant metallic green, next again to them 
one black, the remainder like back N. crecca. 

Speculum, outer secondaries black except two or three in the 

centre (7 to 9), which are bronzed green JS\ aJbujulare. 


ftuerquedula glocitans, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. SC^ ; Hume, Sir. Feath. viii, 

p. 412. 
Querquedula formosa, Hume, Str. Feath. iii, p. 494; id. ibid, viii, pp. 115, 

494 ; id. Cat. no. 960 ; Hume Sf Mar. Game-B. iii, p. 225 ; Barnes, B. of 

Bom. p. 411. 
Nettion formosum, Saluadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 240. 
Nettium formosum, Blanford, B. I. i\, p. 442 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 182. 

Description. Adult male. — " Crown of the head, back of the neck, entire 
throat, and a band extending from the eye across the face to the throat, black ; 
face and neck on the sides and under the throat butf, the buff parts margined 
narrowly with white ; also the black crown from behind the eye is bordered on 
each side with a white band which runs down the sides of the black nape, and 
spreads on the sides of the neck ; from behiud the eye a broad glossy green band 


of a crescentic shape pnsses along the sides of the head and inferiorly changes 
into black, between the buff colour anteriorly and white band posteriorly ; back 
and scapulars grey, somewhat tinged with brown, minutely vermiculated with 
black ; the inner scapulars elongated, lanceolate, on the outer web black, edged 
with cinnamon, silky buff, edged with brown on the inner web ; lower back and 
rump greyish-browu ; the upper tail-coverts brown, edged with rufous ; lower 
neck and upper breast vinous, marked with small oval black spots ; on the sides 
of the bi'east, just before the bend of the wing, a crescentic white band ; lower 
breast and belly white ; flanks grey, minutely vermiculated with black ; under 
tail-coverts black, but marked with bay on the sides, the longer ones whitish-bufC 
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 with cinnamon, forming a 
band which borders anteriorly the wing-speculum ; the latter is glossy green 
anteriorly, with a subapical velvety black band, and bordered by a white band at 
the tip of the secondaries ; the longer tertiaries marked with velvety black ou 
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. Total length 18 inches, wing 8'5, tail 4-2, culraen 1*5, 
tarsus 1." {Salvadori.) 

" Length 15-8 inches, wing 8-15, tail 3*9, tarsus 1*3, bill at front 1*5, from 
gape 1-92." (Hume.) 

"The tarsus .... in a fine male from China is 1'4 inches." (Hume.) 

Again, Temminck and Schlegel give the dimensions of the tarsus as 
1-28 inches. 

Of the fonr specimens in the Indian Museum, Calcutta, the measurements of 
the tarsus of the males are 1*2 to 1'3 inches; the measurements were kindly 
supplied to me by 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 eye ; sides 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 A\"ith dark spots. 

" Length lo'O inches, culmen l'4o, wing 7*8, tail 3*5, tarsus 0-9." 
( Dresser.) 

" The only female in the Indian Museum, Calcutta, has a tarsus measuring 
1"3 inches." (Hume.) 

" The male assumes, after breeding, a jjlumage very similar to that of the 
ftMuale, 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." (Hume.) 

.Young. — " The young in down are easily I'ecognised 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." (Middemlorff.) 



Roughly spoiikino-, fho liahitat ofc' the ChickiDg Teal may he said to 
be the eastern portion of Asia, south of the TOtli degRH' north latitude, 
and east of longitude 80 deoroes. To the south its boundary mav be 
taken as the 20th degree latitude. It is extremely connnon in many 
parts of Southern China, central East ( 'hina, Formosa, and the south 
of Japan in the Avinter, but it has at no time been reported from Yesso 
or elsewhere to the north of Japan. The extreme north of (liina, 
Mongolia, Manchuria, and perhaps Korea, it seems only to visit on 
migration, its sununer home being Northern Asiatic Hussia and Siberia. 

Salvadori says that it '" straggles into the Western Pala'arctic Region 
(Italy and France)." And, again, in Latham's ' General Synopsis of 
Birds ■ (1780) I find the following under the heading of Anas fflocifans : — 
"Taken in a decoy in Enoland. Has also been met with alono; the Lena 
and about the lake Baikal. Has a sinoular note somewhat like clucUinii-.'' 

Within Indian limits its occurrence has been of the rarest, and can 
be counted on one^s fingers. Blytli got a male in the Calcutta bazaar. 
Col. McMaster says that he belieyed that he got what 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 30 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. 

On the IGth December, 1898, Mr. E. L. Barton, of Bombay, shot a 
male Clucking Teal about 20 miles from Ahmedabad, in Guzerat, and the- 
skin is now in the collection of the Bombay Natural History Society. 

The only record since this is that of one shot by Col. Row, 8th Goorkhas, 
in the Dibrugarh district of Assam. 

Information of this duck's habits is meagre in the extreme and I can 
find practically nothing of interest. 

Its flight is said to be swift and teal-like, l)ut instead of, like the 
Common Teal, flying at great heights when on migration, they fly low 
and close to the surface of the country. This habit of flight, how<'ver, 
is probably only a distinctive feature as the Clucking Teal approach their 
destination, for Prjevalsky writes : - When migrating these ducks fly verv 
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 their characteristics is their voice. Thev are» 


especially the drakes, noisy birtls, constantly uttering a strident, clucking 
call, like the syllalde " Mok," repeated very quickly. I haye heard their 
cry likened to the (*otton-Teal, as uttered l)y the latter bird when tiying, 
but far louder and more distinctly syllabized. 

As a rule, it would appear that they are inland l)irds, 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, T believe, even on the sea-shore itself. 

They are shy l)irds and difficult of approach as a rule, ))ut appear 
to become less so during the breeding-season. Ruddle says that he saw 
in company, "in a small morass above the Udir rivulet, winces boscJias, 
A. crecca, A. glocitans, A. cb/peafa, A. acuta, and a few of A. penelope, 
sitting quietly close together after a meal, resting.''^ 

As regards their breeding, the two notes quoted l)y Hume are all there 
are on record. 

Middendorfl: savs : — " Althouoh the commonest duck on the Bosanida 
(70 degrees north latitude) it did not occur as far north as the Taimyr 
River. It was not observed before the 12th June on the Boganida. On 
the 3rd July we found a nest on the river-bank under a willow bush 
containing seven fresh eggs. On the 24th 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 w^ere seen on 
the 23rd August on the Boganida. This bird was similarly plentiful 
on the Stanaway Mountains (x^im River). And at Udskoj-ostrog, where 
it arrived during the first week of May .... The eggs are bluish-yellow 
in colour and small — tlie smallest was 1'98 inches long by 1*4 greatest 

Of course, Middendorff meant largest, not smallest, as he gives the 
greatest breadth, and 1-98 inches seems big for the egg, not small. In 
the lines above (|uoted the point which will be most quickly noticed is 
the extremely brief breeding-season. Thus, although the 12th June is 
the earHest date on which the bird was seen, yet the last disa])peared 
on th<^ 23rd August, giving little over two months for the wliole Ixisiness 
of makino; the nest, layinii' the eu'u's, hatching- — which we may ])resuuie 
would takf u]) from 20 to 25 days, — and bringing up the young. As it 
would tak<' some ten days to lay the iioi'mal clutch of eggs and about 
fiv(! at hi-ast to make the nest, the only conclusion is that once hatch(^d 
thf yoimg take well imdri- the month to an-ive at tlieir fidl powers of 


fliolit. As this is not (luitc likely, it is probaMc that though uc) 
were seen before the date mentioned, yet many niii-t lune an-ived in 
late May ; and when we look at the dates they arrive elsewhere, this is 
the most probaljle .solution. 

In the Amur thev arrive and breed very much earlier. The oidy 
Ggg of this (luck in my collection is one of many I owe to the generosity 
of Herr M. Kuschel, of Brcslau, who has given me one bearing the date 
28th April, 1805. The early 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 og^i;, the texture very smooth and fine, but 
without any gloss; the shape oval, with one end decidedly smaller than 
the other, though ol)tuse ; the colour is a very pale, creamy cafe-au-Jait. 1 n 
size it is 2 inches long by l'?u bi'oad, which makes it a rather longer, yet 
at the same time a rather narrower, egg than those hitherto described. 

Taczanowski thus describes u clutch of eggs sent him from Darasan, 
where they breed in numbers, by Dybowski : — "• They are somewhat larger 
than those of the Gargauey ; their colour is a pale gre}ash-green, very like 
that of the eggs of the Mallard. They vaiy from al)Out 1"8 to I'D inches 
in length, and from about 1*3 to 1"4 in breadth." 

O f. 

^ o 

O J 






Anas crecca, Le(jge, B. of Cey. p. 1083. 

Cluerquedula crecca, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 806 ; Hume, Str. FeatJi. i, p. 262 

Adam, ibid. p. 402 ; Butler, ibid, iv, p. 30 ; Hume Sf Davis, ibid, vi, p. 489 ; 

Davids. (^' Wend. ibid, vii, p. 93; Ball, ibid. p. 232; Mtime, ibid. p. 494; 

id. Cat. no. 964 ; Scully, Str. Featli. viii, p. 363 ; Hume ^ Mar. Game-B. 

iii, p. 205 ; Vidal, Str. Feath. ix, p. 93 ; Butler, ibid. p. 438 ; Eeid, ibid. 

X, p. 83 ; Davids, ibid. p. 413 ; Taylor, ibid. p. 467 ; Oates, B. of Brit. 

Burm. ii, p. 285 ; Barnes, B. of Bam. p. 409 ; Hume, Str. Feath. xi, 

p. 346. 
Nettion crecca, Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 243. 
Nettium crecca, Bkmford, Fauna B. I. iv, p. 443 ; Oates, Game-B. W, p. 172. 

Descrijition . Adult male. — "A broad band from the back of the eye, 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 vermieulation on the upper part increasing in breadth towards 
the breast, on the sides of which they become bold black and white bars and in 
the middle of the breast raerel}' 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 huffy white ; remainder 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 A'ery narrow white margin ; the remaining innermost secondaries a 
beautiful silvery-broAvn, and the outermost scapulars buff, with broad velvety 
black diagonal edges. 

" In the adult the bill is black or blackish, brownish on rami of lower 

" Irides are brown, varying in shade from light hazel to almost black. 

" The legs and feet are commonly grey with a faint olive tinge (the Avebs and 
claws in all cases dusky), but they vary in shade a little and at times are bluish- 
grey with a brown shade, and at others a distinctly dark slaty-grey, sepia-gre)% 
brown, greyish-brown, olive, greenish-olive, dirty greenish-plumbeous, or even 
plumbeous." (Hume.) 

I have found a green tinge on the tarsus and toes very common, indeed more 
so than a pure grey or plumbeous. 


"Length 14-5 to 15-85 inches, expanse 230 to 25-25, wing 7*2 to 8-0, tail 
from vent 3-0 to 3-6, tardus 1-0 to 1-2, bill from gape 1-5 to 1-77. Weight 7-7 ozs. 
to 12-0 ozs." (Hume.) 

"Total length 14-5 inches, wing 7-25, tail 3, culmen I'O, tarsus 1-1."' 

Adult female. — Upper head dark brown, 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 ; flanks and breast more or less with dark centres to the feathers, 
always pretty plain on the former, but sometimes practically 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 be anything from almost pure 
Avhite to a distinct rufous or buff; scapulars like the back, but generally more 
richly coloai"ed ; remainder of wing like that of the male, but with the specidum 
usually duller. 

"Length 13-5 to 14-0 inches, expanse 22-5 to 25, wing 6-5 to 7-4, tail from 
A^ent 2-0 to 3-5, tarsus 1-0 to 1-2, bill from gape 1-5 to 1-77. Weight 7-7 ozs. to 
12 ozs." (Hume.) 

" In young males and females the lower mandible, 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 witli green or plumbeous 
green.'"' (Hume.) 

Legs and feet are also more often tinged strongly Mith 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 parts more a uniform 

Morris says: "The male assumes the plnmage of the female in summer by 
the end of July or beginning of August, and this he retains until the general 

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 former showing often 
in the centre of the abdomen and the latter on the under tail-coverts. 

" The nestling is yellowish-white on the uuderparts, buff on the forehead 
and throat; a dark brown streak from the forehead to the cx'own, which, with 
the upper parts, is brown ; a dark loreal streak, and two other streaks from behind 
the eye to the nape, on each side." (Yarrell.) 

The drakes, when they arrive in India, are often in a beautiful transition- 
stage, and ie\y will be found in perfect male" plumage before January. I have 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 broad edging 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 with the 
merest trace only of the black eye-streak ; the under plumage is pure white, but 
all along the flanks, vent, and under tail-coverts, and here, and there on the 


abdomen, are still left feathers of the old plumage, A\hich are a bright rufous-buif. 
The new feathers of the flanks are like those of the adult male, and the breast is 
beautifully spotted with distinct oval drops ; the upper breast and neck is a dull 

From the above description it may be seen that it does not follow that because 
one 3'ear 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 pui-e 
white, but the old patches are exceptionally bright rufous. From this we might 
infer that the habitat and its M'ater have much to do with the coloration of the 
lower parts, yet a female in ne^' plumage shot with this young male is very 
rufous indeed. 

The Common Teal extends thronoh the Pala?arctic Region in the summer, 
breeding as far south, according to Hume, as the 40tli degree north latitude, 
and migratino- south durino; the cold weather into Northern Africa as far 
as Abyssinia on the east and Wadan 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 abuntlant, 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." 

From these places must now be struck off the Andamans, Nicobars, 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 Philippines, 
but lately I have heard that it has been met with there also. 

Hume seems to think that Querquedula circia arriAcs 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 be 
first and the next year the Common Teal. 

In 1898 I had quite numerous records of their arrival in Northern 
India and Assam in August, the earliest being that of a small flock seen on 
the 22nd of that month. Hume says : — " In the more Northern Plains 
portions of the Empire, though a few are seen during the latter half of 
September, and exceptional cases have been rejjorted of their appearance 
some weeks earlier even tlian tliis, I think w(; may say that the 
first heavy flights arrive during the first week of October."' Hume, I 

170 INDIAN' DUCKti. 

think, refers in this paragraph mainly to Nortli-(\istern and Central India, 
and it woukl therefore really seem as if the Common T(>al were earlier in 
Northern Benoal than in those parts, reversino- 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 Septeml)er, even in the northern parts of Assam, 
but I do mean to say that by the nnddle of that month they are quite connnon 
in many })arts 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 haye not nearly so far to come as those which 
travel from the west, few of whom really come from further south than 
about the oOth degree. 

Teal are extremely varialde in the lunnbers in which they collect. Often 
they may be seen singly or in ])airs, and at the same placte flocks may l)c 
seen numl)ering their hundreds, even thousantls. The largest flocks aj)pear 
to be met with in 8ind and the north of the Nortli-West Provinces and the 
Pimjab, and perha})s Northern l{ajj)utana. In these places they are to be 
seen literally in flocks of many hundreds, and frequently of thousands. On 
the Sunderbunds I think I have seen as many as five hundred in a flock ; 
in the famous Chilka Lake I have been told of their rising in vast flocks 
which must have been nearlv a thousand strong, and from other jtarts of 
India reports are given of flocks numbering hundreds. 

The most common-sized flock all over their range may be somewhere 
between twenty and forty, and in Southern India — /. e., from Mysore to 
Ceylon — anything over the latter number is rare, though even in the islam I 
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 th(> duck tribe to the 
sportsman, ])otli from its being so numerous and from it habits. Altbougli 
mainly a night feeder, yet in places where its food-supply lies in the flooded 
rice-fields and the edges of swamps, l)hils, <tc., 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 affords 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 
25 to -lO yards, and as they often scatter a good deal, even when resting, 
two or three shots mav be obtained at the same flock. In this way, on 


lar^'e sheets of water, a good bag may be made Ijefore the birds get scared 
and leaAe 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 rule, when met with near villages, or in 
densely populated portions of the country, excessively tame — too tame to 
render shooting them possil)le, unless you really require them for food. 
Not only will they let you walk up to them when they are on a village* 
pond — as close as you please, — but when you have fired at them and killed 
two or three, the remainder after a short flight will again settle, as often as 
not, Mell 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." 

In open waters such as rivers, &c., and when on the wing. Teal often 
fly bunched and close together, and form shots which much encourage 
the bad habits of shooting into the hroicii, quite small flocks often providing 
from half a dozen to a dozen Teal to a couple of barrels of an ordinary 
smooth-bore. Of course, even into the Iroicn 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 they take often disconcert the gunner. 

They stand a fair amount of shot unless hit well forward, when a singh^ 
pellet of No. 6 or 7, or even of No. 8, may suffice 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 Avater 
they can l)e 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 l^y holding on to the weeds so that they lie entirely 
under the Avater except the tij)S of their l)ills. I found that in the 
Sunderljunds they nearly always made for the water-lilies, hiding under 
one of the huge leaves. 

They Avalk Avell, and can even run if necessary ; but they do not care 
for tJie land, nor do they rest on it, but on the Avater Avhere tliere is coAcr. 
They rarely feed on really dry land, but frequently in pad<ly-fields. Sic, 
Avliere there are a fcAv inches oidy of mud and Avater. As already said, 
they are jirincipally night feeders, but Avhere ((uite undistur])ed they feed 
during all but the hottest hours of the day, say from 11 a.m. to about 15 I'.ai. 

172 lNrj)IAN DICKS. 

Their food is undoubtedly mainly vegetable, but they do not despise ^vol•nls, 
insects, &c., which may come in their way. For the purpose of obtaining 
food their diving is said not to extend beyond tlie 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 ectndition they mav l)e, 
never seem to get an objectionable flavour ; so good are they 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. 1 have no 
personal knowledge of such Tealeries, and as Hume's account of what 
they should lie is al)Out 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 Tealery 
should always be located near the well, and every dro[) of water di'awn 
thence for irrigating the garden made to })ass through it. The site 
should be, if possible, under some large umlirageous trees, such as we so 
connuonly find near garden walls, 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 masonary tank, 12 feet by 8 and 10 inches 
in depth is amply large, -i feet distant from this all round vou l)uild a 
thick mud wall to a height of 3 feet from the interior. The whole 
interior surface of this wall and the flat s[)ace between it and the tank 
must 1)6 lined with pukka masonry, and finished off with well worked 
chunam. The great })oints to be aimed at are to have the whole lower 
parts so finished off as to be on the one hand im})regnable to rats, 
ichneumons, and snakes; on the other to present no crevice in which dirt. 
ticks, and other insects can lurk. ( Jutside the ^\alls must be quite smooth, 
so that no snakes can crawl u}) them. On the wall you l)uild stout square 
})illars, 4 feet high, on which you })lace a thick pent thatched roof. At 
the spring of the i-oof you stretch inside a thin, i-ather loose ceiling-cloth, 
to prevent the liirds hurting their heads when they start up suddenl}', 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 (Jaffri) of s})lit l)and)oo, except one of them, in 
which you place a door of similar work made with slips of wocxl. You 
must arranoe that all the water both enters and leaves the buildino- 
through gratings impervious to snakes and like marauders. Two or three 
feet outside the walls run a little groove, a ditchlet, in wliicli plant early in 
the year nudlx'ri'y cuttings, which will foi'm a good hedge i-onnd the place 


and keep the siiii and hot Avimls oft' th(> builih'ntj; : hut this must he kejit 
neatly trimmed inside, or it wouhl interfere with ventilation, and must not 
1)6 allowed to set hioher 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 Pintail will also do no harm, hue they do not thrive so certainly as the 
Teal ; and the Garganey^ though very good, is not equal for the table to 
its smallest congener." 

Teal have on so many occasions been found at different times between 
June and August in India, that ornithologists have been always kept in a 
state of semi-expectation that their nests would be found somewhere 
wdthin 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 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 
bird from migration. This would be quite enough to account for the few 
Ijirds met w^ith 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, l)ut 
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 Russia. 

They breed very rarely in Greenland, })lentifully 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 
})ieces 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, in Scotland they sometimes 
breed on the moors in amongst the heather, but they always select some 
di[t which keeps more or less damp and where the wattM- jiiay occasionally 

The nest is a large unsluqjely mass of vegetable stuff", rushes, weeds. 


and such-like lumped together in a mass, with a depi'ession in the centre 
containing a little down. 

In Finland, Dresser found the nest placed uiuhn- hushes or in tufts of 
grass, and often at some distance from the water. 

Leoire's note on the nestino- of this Teal is so comijlete yet short that I 
reproduce it. He writes : — " This species breeds in May and June, 
resorting to extensive marshes, heaths near water, and large peat-bogs. 
The nest is made on the ground among grass or rushes 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 tlags, rushes, grass, reeds, <kc., with a 
capacious interior, which is amply lined with down plucked from the bird's 
l)reast. The number of eggs varies from 8 to 14, and occasionally as 
many as 20 have been found in a nest ; they are small for the size of the 
bird, oval, but slightly more obtuse at one end than the other, of a uniform 
creamy-white or pale buif. There is a greenish variety sometimes found, 
very like the Pintail's eggs. A series before me from the Petchora, taken 
by Mr. Seebohm, varies in length from 1'58 to 1*7 inch, and in breadth 
from I'lG 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 he took them up to put them 
to a pond close by, whither he thought the old bird was leading them, she 
followed him. fluttering round him within reach of his whip. 

"■ The ' nest-down ' is dark brown, with pale whitish centres, but no 
pale tippings." 

It is said to be a resident in Egypt according to IViptain Shelley and 
von Heuglin, and to be very plentiful there. 

I have two clutches of eggs which seem to average a great deal larger 
than most. The two clutches, twelve eggs, average 1'7(5 by I'ol inches, 
the longest being 1*83 and the broadest 1*32. In sha})e they are broad 
ovals, very regular, yet all })erceptibly smaller at one end than at the 
other. A few eggs are rather longer comparatively, and these generally 
have the smaller end rather more compressed. The texture is fine, close, 
and smooth, and in some cases has a faint gloss. All my eggs are a ])ale 
buff, and vary hardly at all in de[»th of colouring. 

Plate XVIIl 





Nettion. albigulare. 

(J. Green, Chroino. 

^;ettioi^ albigulare 175 


Mareca punctata, Ball, Str. Feath. i, p. 88. 

Mareca albigiilaris, Hume, >Str. Feath. i, p. 303, 

Mareca gibbevifrons, Hume, Nests ^- Eggs, p. 04:4; id. Cat. no. 966 ter; 

Hume cj- Mar. Game-B. iii, p. 243 ; Hume, Nests S^' Eggs {Oates ed.), iii, 

p. 2.90. 
Nettion albigulare, Saluadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 257. 
Nettium albigulare, Blanford, Fauna B. I. iv, p. 444 ; Inglis, Jour. 

B. N. H. S. XV, p. 52.5 ; Wilson, ibid. ; Osmaston, ibid, xvii, p. 491 ; Oates, 

Game-B. ii, p. 158. 

Description. Adult male. — "Upper part of the head brown; 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 brown of the cheeks with 
obsolete dusky streaks ; I'ound the eyes there is a ring of Avhite feathers, broader 
below ; in some specimens on the lores or at the base of the bill there are some 
white feathers ; upper parts brown, 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 band, 
diminishing in breadth and tinged with brown inwardly ,; speculum velvety black, 
with a longitudinal, coppery-green baud on the middle, from the seventh to the 
ninth secondary, and bounded at the tip by a buff band ; the first secondary 
broadly white on the outer web ; tertials broadly velvety black on the outer web; 
primaries brown, with an olive lustre ; under wing-coverts brown, the median 
ones tipped with white ; axill.iries white ; tail brown." (Salvadori.) 

"Legs and feet greenish-blue to plumbeous; webs usually darker; claws 
horny; bill greenish-blue, plumbeous or plumbeous-blue, nail black; in some, 
the low^er mandible tinged with, in one the terminal two-thirds of this, ])ink : 
irides reddish-brown to deep brownish-red. 

"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 ]'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.) 

" Rectrices 16 inches " {Blanford]. This refers to male and female. 

Female. — " ISimilar to the male, but smaller, and the lower surface duller and 
the centerings of the feathers less marked, the green band on the wing-speculum 
more coppery. Total length 15*5 to 16 inches, wing 7'25 to 7"4, culmcn 1*3 to 
1"35." {Salvadori.) 

" Length 15 to 10 inclies, expanse 24 to 25-."), tail from vent 3-25 to 3*5, 


wing T'l to 7'4, tarsus l'2o to 1'35. bill at front !•;} to 1-4, wings when 
closed reach to within from 1 to l'7o of llie end of the tail. AVeiglit 12 ozs." 

"Young birds are similar to the females, but the dusky markings of the 
under surface are even less distinct." {Salvadori.) 

A young bird caught by Mr. Butler, and described by him in a letter to me, 
was " Similar to the adult, except that the ring round the eye was very narrow 
and tinged witli fulvous. Bill and feet as in adult ; eye dark brown instead of 

This Tciil is confiuecl to the Andaman and Cocos Islands, hut Mr. 
C. AV. Allan shot a s})ecimen at Bassein. Bnnnah, Avliich was found 
amonost a flock of Whistlino-Toal, on the l.")tli A]»ri]. 18'.)8. Tiiis bird was 
recordcil in the "Asian," and Mi'. F. Finn wrote to iiic 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 wa> a di-ake or a duck. It 
was probably driven on to the Burmese coast during- some storm, having 
ventured too far out to sea from the Andaman^. 

Commander X. F. AVilson has procured specimens of this little duck on 
the Great Cocos, and again on the Landfall Island. He remarks : '• I have 
always found the Ijirds wherever a freshwater lagoon existed, and I do 
not think that tliere is any doubt tliat the bird is general botli on the 
Andaman am! Cocos Islands whenever tlu' above conditions exist."' 

ycftion (/ihberifroii.-i. J\ . castanernn. and 3^. aViigulare are very closelv 
allied ; for a long time the first and the la>t were confounded with one 
anothei-, and even now it is by no ineans settlecl that S. casfaiu'inn and 
K. iiiliherifrons are not one and the same Idrds. The young males and 
females are absolutely undistinguishalde, but the adult male N. ciihheri/runs 
has been found to attain a further plumage, which, hitherto, no JS . 
castaiu'Xin lia.- been found to aci|uire. A', alliujuhu'i' differs from botli 
these birds in having the sides of the head darker and more uniform in 
colour aiul the darker streaks to the featliers obsolete ; but the main 
difference lies in the Andaman Teal having the white ring round the eye 
and the fir>t secondai'v broadlv edged with white. 

There is a good plate of Sett'wu alli'ujnlave in the Britisli Museum 
Catalogue, and on the same ])late is showit the head of A. gihln'vifrons, 
thus giving a comparison between the two bii-ds. 

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. Butlei' to the B. N. H. S. Jouruul. Lately as this interesting 
note has appeai'ed, 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 in 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 
haAang 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 I As the monsoon commenced, and the harljour 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 in 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 night ; 
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 quieth' about within ten yards 
of me for some time. On one occasion I came right on to a pair under an 
overhanging bush, and they only fluttered, like water-hens, along the 
surface for twenty yards or so, then i)itched 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 
away at the first alarm. On these creeks they associate with the Common 
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 whistle. 
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 yards of mo, as I stood conceaknl in tlie hushes on the hank. 
I watched them for some minutes, when another pair, frightened hy some 
distant shots, came scurrying over; the hirds on the water all twisted their 
heads up, and set u}) a loud (juacking call-note, which they kept up for 
some minutes. The newcomers circled round several times, hut ])rol)al)ly 
seeing the top of my topee, concluded not to join their companions in their 
fancied security. The flight of this Teal is fairly fast. Occasionally, 
when they have heen 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 
])ast at a tremendous ])ace. The white wing-har, 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 off at a great pace, and are generally lost without a dog. One I 
i^hot 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 officers stationed here has a live bird in captivity which was ])inioned 
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 

" 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 

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 
ut a village called ' Onikhet.'' Walkino- down a band which was overorown 
with rank grass, I almost put my foot on an Oceanic Teal, which fluttered 
jiway in front of me, trailing its wings and feigning lameness. Of course, 
I thought I had got a nest at last, but a rippling movement in the grass in 
different directions showed me that it was a brood 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 low 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 l)oth fresh and salt water. During the day it either ])erches among 


mangroves or settles down on some shady spot on the banks of a stream ; 
when womided it does not attempt at first to dive, hut 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-fields about 
Aberdeen in the mornings and evenings. Sometimes, in going up the 
creeks, a pair will slip off ihe 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 
Vv^histle, and this apparently only at night when they are feeding.'^ 

For a long time the only note on the nidification of 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, both of which I owe to Captain 

" The nest was found in August ; it was composed of grass, and was 
jtlaced in a paddy-field near Port Mouat, the only locality with which 
we are yet acquainted in the group where this species is always to be 
met with. 

" The egg is typical, a very perfect broad oval in shape, with a very 
close-grained, smooth shell, devoid of gloss, and of a uniform delicate 

" It measures 1"9I5 by I'lo inches." 

AVe have now, however, the following further note from Osmaston, 
which, 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 arrives in Port Blair in large 
numbers towards the end of May, where they remain until October or 

" In the winter months they frequent 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 arc rather long elliptical ovals, cream-coloured, and much 



discoloured. They vary in leuf^th from 1'6G to 2'02 incbes and in 
breadth from I'-IO to 1*47, the averao;e of nine eggs being 1-93 by 
1-43 inches." 

It may, of course, eventually turn out that the Andaman Teal, like the 
Whistling-Teal, make th(!ir nests sometimes on the ground and sometimes 
on trees. 





1 <TJ 
< g 

z ^ 




Genus DAFILA. 

The general appearance of the genus Dajila 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 Dajila, India has but one, the very widespread 
species D. acuta. The genus is almost cosmopolitan, Australia alone being- 
unrepresented by any form. 



Anas acuta, Legge, B. of Cey. p. 1096. 

Dafila acuta, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 803 ; Hume, Str. Feath. i, p. 261 ; Adam, 
ibid, ii, p. 338 ; Hume, ibid, iii, p. 193 ; Butler, ibid, iv, p. 29 ; Hume ^ 
Davis, ibid, vi, p. 489 ; Ball, ibid, vii, p. 232 ; Cripps, ibid, vii, p. 312 ; 
Hume, ibid, vii, p. 493 ; id. ibid, viii, p. 115 ; id. Gat. no. 962 ; Scully, Str. 
Feath. viii, p. 362 ; Hume Sf Mar. Game-B. iii, p. 189 ; Vidal, Str. Feath. ix, 
p. 92 ; Butler, ibid. p. 438 ; Reid, ibid, x, p. 82 ; Oates, ibid. p. 245 ; id. B. of 
Brit. Burm. ii, p. 279 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. p, 407 ; Hume, Str. Feath. xi, 
p. 345 ; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 270 ; Blanford, Fauna B. I. iv, 
p. 447 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 223. 

Description. Adult male. — Whole head brown, varying from a rather pale 
dingy to a rich dark umber, glossy on the upper parts, with purple or copper, 
more especially on the sides of the sinciput and nape ; chin and throat sometimes 
rather paler than the upper parts ; nape almost black, grading on the one hand 
into the rich brown of the head and on the other into the grey of the hind-neck ; 
the grey of the hind-neck formed by the most minute stipplings of brown and 
pale grey, gradually changing into the moi*e pronounced stipplings and bars of 
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 parts ; 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 bronzed-green, tipped white, 
subtipped black, the feather next the speculum black, on the outer web narrowly 


tipped wliite and with a line of the same next the quill, inner web bro\\nish-grey ; 
remaininf:^ inner secondaries gi'ey on the outer webs, black edged with grey on 
the inner webs. The central rectrices black, the other rect rices grey-brown ; 
lower tail-coverts black, except the ulterior ones, which are white ; the Hanks 
next the tail-coverts are white, more or less tinged buff, and w ith vermiculations 
fainter than those on the rest of the flanks. 

Length about 2G inches, depending on length of tail-feathers, which vary 
from 4*5 inches to full length, central rectrices 9 inches long ; wing lO'S to ll'o, 
tarsus 1*5 to 1'75, bill from gape and from front about 2'25. 

" Length of male 22 to 29 inches, tail 5 to 8*5, wing 11, tarsus 1-6, bill from 
gape 2-25." (Blanfonl.) 

" 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." (Blanford.) 

"Expanse 32-0 to 37*75 inches, wing 10'3 to 11*75, tail from vent 4-8 to 9*4, 
tarsus 1-5 to 1-8, bill from gape 2-0 to 2-4. Weight 1 lb. 10 ozs. to 2 lbs. 12 ozs." 

L^ides 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, cla\^s, and joints darker. 

" In the adult male the bill is plumbeous, light plumbeous, or lavender- blue, 
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 have noted the feet as brownish-black, 
blackish-grey, and uniform dusky." (Ifumc.) 

" Legs blue ; irides brown ; bill black, blue at sides.'' ( Vidal.) 
" Legs very pale yellowish flesh-colour, A'ariegated with shades of purplish- 
brown, darker tint of last on the nail and web-membranes." (SwinJioe.) 

Female. — Head brownish-buff, with dark centres to the feathers ; throat and 
chin pale ; neck the same, speckled brown ; upper parts brown, the feathers edged 
white or buflPy 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 ^^•ebs ; lower parts dingy white, more or less tinged buff, or 
even rufous, and streaked and centred brown. 

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 the shanks. 

Length about 20 inches, wing 9*75 to 10*25, tarsus about 1-5, tail about 4 
to 5*25, bill at front 2*0 to 2*1, from gape about the same. 

" Length 20 to 22*5 inches, wing 9-3 to 10-2, tail from vent 4*2 to 5-5, tarsus 
1-45 to 1-7, bill from gape 2-1 to 2-35. Weight 1 lb. 2 ozs. to 1 lb. 14 ozs." 

Young male. — Has the wing like that of the adult, but is otherwise 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 coloi-ation of the 
female and the fine stippling of the male ; the lower plumage is the next to change, 
though the broad mottled plumage of the lower flanks is often I'etained for 
some time ; and, finally, the dark head and \^hite neck of the adult male is assumed. 
Young females are very thickly speckled and mottled on the lower surface. 

Toung birds of both sexes appear to have legs and bills 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." (SeeboJim.) 

SalvaJori gives the habitat thus : — " Northern Hemisphere, breedin<;" 
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 o£ the Indian Empire which the Pintail 
does not visit ; Hnme excluded it from South Tenasserim, but it has now 
been recorded thence more than once, though it appears to be very rare 
there. Davidson reported it as rare in the Deccan (some writers have 
found it less rare than he did) ; and Yidal says : — " Pintails 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), Imt they come late and 
go early.'' 

Taken all round, the Pintail is one of the most common of Indian 
ducks, occurring sometimes in huge flocks, but more often in such as 
number 40 to 60 individuals. It is but rarely 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 o£ common occurrence. G. Reid, in his '^ Birds of the Lucknow 
Civil Division" ('Stray Feathers'), spenks of them l)eing " genei'ally met 
with in immense numbers," but he does not define what he means l)y 

Most sportsmen would place the Pintail before all other ducks. As a 
rule they are extremely shy, wary birds, and are very hard to api»roach 
within gun-shot, but one or two people have found them to be quite the 
contrary ! Ca})tain Baldwin says that he found it an easy bird to apju-oach 
even when feeding on open pieces of water. This is somewhat confirmed 
by the fact that in Cachar tlic natives tell me that they can get at Pintails 


far more easily than at other ducks, and it is true that the y do bring in more 
Pintails in proportion than ihey do Gadwalls, Teal, (fee. ; 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 experience have found the 

In the daytime they frequent large lakes and jlieels and rest in the 
centre of wide, comparatively open pieces of water, shunning such as have 
thick cover of reeds or similar heavy jungle, yet resorting always to those 
which have the surface covered with lilies and the smaller water-i)lants, 
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 jlieels and tanks, 
the rushy banks of the nullahs and canals, and similar places, where they 
feed, but the first glimmer of dawn finds them on the wing once more 
e?i route to the larger waters. Big rivers they do not seem to like ; all 
down the Surma Valley 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 their haunting any of these 

In the same way I believe they are practically non-existent on the 
Ganges, Indus, and other large rivers. Small rivers, if of clear and quick- 
running waters, are no more pleasing to the Pintail ; but small creeks of 
almost still water, canals which have vegetation about them, are visited 
for the purpose of food and occasionally a flock may be put up from such 
places in the daytime. 

Their food seems mainly to consist of small and fragile shell-fish, but 
they 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 Pintail 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 nearly 
always good. 

Many others must have noted the peculiarity of the Pintail to which 
Hume alludes. He writes : — " 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 at a distance ; but ' bull picnics ' I have noted, times without 
number, as a speciality o£ the Pintail/' 

They 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 I find any observer giving them credit for l)eing 

able to hide under water^ amongst the weeds, or of holding on to 

submerged weeds, &c., with their feet. Getting off the water they are less 

quick than some ducks, " skittering " 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 unmistakable. Less 

noisy and whirring than that of most of their near relations, their flight 

h;is 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 very exactly. Their voice is like that of the Mallard, 

a distinct quack, but is far softer and also less loud than that of the 

Mallard, Gadwall, or Spot-bill ; they are, how^ever, 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 by a shock or other cause. Seebohm says that its 

voice closely resembles that of the Mallard, and adds " its call-note is a low 

Kak "; and Naumann says that in the pairing-season the male niay 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 

ilrawing 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 very small series I have two and have seen several others. Yarrell, 
sjx'aking of this change of ])lumage, says that it commences in July, and 
is eflected partly by change of plumage, and ])artly by actual cliange of 


coloration in the feathers. As reoards the reassuniption of the niah' 
plumage he savs : — '• At the annual autumn moult the males ao-ain assume 
with their new plumage the colours peculiar to their sex, but tlie assum])ti()n 
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 neclc 
and breast is mottled Avith l)rown and white ; at the end of the third week 
in Octoljor a few I)rown spots only remain on the wliite." 

Both my birds were obtained in the third week of C)ctober, and are in 
the plumage ascribed by Yarrell to that of the second week : the heads are 
entirely like those of the female. 

The breeding-range of the Pintail is practically tliat of tlie Gadwidl, 
but it reaches further north, and, on the other hand, does not reach so 
far south ; for whereas the Gadwall Ijreeds as far south as the 4Gth degree, 
Hume places the limit for the Pintail 10 degrees higher uj). It breeds 
in Northei'n Europe, and eggs and young haye been found in the north 
of the British Isles themselyes, and extends thence throughout Xorthern 

The nest is a rather rough loose structure of grasses, flags, rushes, and 
similar material, lined, not yery 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 its southern limits the eggs may be laid as 
early as the end of April, and in its northern from A])ril to August. The 
earliest eggs taken by Seebohm in Siberia were on the 5th of June. He 
also describes the nest as being placed " in the grass among the shrubs in 
dry places, generally at some distance from the water ; they were deep 
and well lined with dead grass and sedo-e, 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 
coyered with vegetation — the pools, such as there are of open water, being 
confined to patches here and there, surrounded with bush, forest, or other 
coyer. 0})en 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 

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 composed of grass and reeds with a 
little lining of down. Some have been found in ditches and even in 
standinti" corn ; it is always well concealed. 


" These ducks pair in April. 

" From 6 to y or 9 ego-s are laid. The vouno; are hatched in about 
23 days. They 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 o£ searching to discover ; but the 
duck sits very close, and often rises at ono^s feet almost, thus disclosing 
the position, wdiich might otherwise escape detection. 

The eggs vary from 6 to 10 in number, being usually 6 to 8, and 
occasionally only 5 are laid. 

In colour they are a pale dull greenish stone-colour, in a few yellowish- 
stone, but all dull and all pale with no very definite colour such as some 
ducks' eggs have. There is a slight gloss, sometimes rather pronounced, 
and I have seen none entirely glossless. The texture is extremely fine and 
close, and the shell perhaps rather thinner in proportion to the size of the 
eggs than are the majority of eggs of the Anatinfe. 

My eggs seem to average rather large ; I have a clutch given me by 
Herr M. Ivuschel, and collected, I believe, in East Prussia, Avhich averages 
2*24 by 1*G inches, the biggest is 2*27 by 1*62. A number of other eggs 
I have measured lune been well over 2*20 inches, and I have seen none 
under 2*1. 

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 2"22 x 1'4. 



The distinctive feature of the genus Qaertjuedula is tho bright blue- 
grey colour of the wing-coverts, which in two species, d'lscors and 
cijanoptera, are a bright snialt-ljlue. The Common Teal (JVettion crecca) 
used to be placed in this genus ; but Nettioti differs from Querqiipdula in 
the shape of the bill, which is equal in Ijreadth throughout its length, 
whereas in the latter it is slightly broader at the tij), and also has the nail 
somewhat larger in proportion. 

The internal structure is also different, the labyrinth of the trachea 
being differently formed, ])eing enlarged on Ijoth sides downwards in 
Querquediila, but on one side only and upwards in Settion. 

There are five species, of which four are confined to America, the fifth 
alone visitino- India in winter. All five are birds of much the same size. 


Anas circia, Legale, B. of Cey. p. 1080. 

Cluerquedula circia, Jei-don, B. I. iii, p. 807 ; Hume, Xests S,- Efjrjs, p. 644 ; 

Harae, Str. Feath. i, p. 262 ; Adam, ibid. p. 402 ; Hume, ibid, iii, p. 1U3 ; 

Le Jles. ibid. p. 382 ; Butler, ibid., iv, p. 30 ; Sadly, ibid. p. 201 ; Butler, 

ibid. V, p. 234 ; Hume ^- Davison, ibid, vi, p. 489 ; Butler, ibid, vii, p. 188 ; 

Ball, ibid. p. 232; Gripps, ibid. p. 312; Hume, ibid. p. 494; id. Cat. 

no. 965; id. Str. Feath. viii, p. 115; Scully, ibid. p. 363; Hume 6)- Mar. 

Garae-B. \\\, Yi. 2\b ', Vidal, Str. Feath. ix, p. 93; Butler, ibid. p. 438; 

Reid, ibid, x, p. S3 ; Hume, ibid. p. 418 ; Oates, B. of Brit. Burm. ii, p. 286 ; 

Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 410 ; Hume, Str. Feath. xi, p. 346 ; id. Nests S,- Eggs 

{Oates ed.),m, p. 291; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 293; Blanford, 

Fauna B. I. iv, p. 449 ; Oates, Game-B. ii. p. 119. 

Description. Adult male. — Crown and nape deep brown, lighter on the 
forehead, where it is more or less streaked with white, and sometimes with a 
faint gloss at the sides. A broad superciliary stripe from in front of the eye, 
down the sides of the nape, white ; chin black ; remainder of the head and neck 
rich bright chocolate streaked \\-ith white : back, rump, iipper tail-coverts and 
tail brown, the feathers all edged paler or greyish-brown ; inner scapulars black. 





OQ ^ 

a ^ 
o ~^ 






glossed green, \^itli broad wide central streaks and narrow white margins ; outer 
scapulars the same, but with the outer webs broadlj blue-grey : wing-coverts 
bright pale French-grey, the greater ones broadly edged white, forming a M^ing- 
bar ; outer secondaries brown-grey, glossed green and tipped wbite ; quills 
brown ; the inner primaries greyish, broadly edged greyish-white ; breast brown, 
M'ith black 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 \vhite and grey divided by a narrower black line ; under 
tail-coverts white or buffy-white, the shorter with brown drops ; under wing- 
coverts mainly dark grey, the central ones and axillaries white. 

Irides dark brown ; bill brownish-black, nail black, margins of maxilla and 
lower mandible paler ; legs and feet dark grey. 

I have a bird which had the feet bright orange : this must be something very 

" In the adult male the bill is normally blackish above, brownish on the lower 
mandible, except at the tip, often reddish-brown at the gape. 

"The legs and feet are grey, pale greenish-brown, grey -s^ith an olive shade, 
grey slate-colour, purplish slate-colour, bluish .... in all cases the webs being 
more or less dusky, and the claws darker still." {Hume.) 

Length 15 to 17 inches, tail about 2*8, wing 7*6 to 8'0, tarsus 1 to 1-2, 
bill from gape I'S. 

" Length 15-9 to 16*25 inches, expanse 25 to 27"25, wing 7*4 to 8-1, tail 
from vent 3"3 to 3"8, tarsus 1 to 1*3, bill from gape 1*75 to 1*92. Weight 
10 ozs. to 1 lb. (commonly about 13 ozs.)." {Hume.) 

Width of bill at gape -52, at tip -62 inch. 

Female. — Above dark brown, all the feathers with pale margins, except the 
crown, which is rather richer than elsewhere and centred darker ; chin and 
throat white ; neck greyish or buffy-white, with all the feathers minutely 
streaked with dai'k brown ; a supeix-iliaiy stripe from above the eye and a spot 
on the front of the lores white or bufl^y-\^hite ; \^"ings 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, splotched, 
barred, and spotted with brown. 

The colours of the soft parts the same as in the male. 

"In some females the bill is similar" (to the males): "in some, apparently 
adult, it is a blackisli plumbeous above, dull plumbeous below." {Hume.) 

Length about 15 inches, wing about 7'25, tail 2*6, bill from gape 1'7, 
tarsus 1, bill at base "51 broad, at tip "(30. 

" 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 1-0 to 1-15, bill from gape 1-7 to 1-85. Weight !) lo 
14'75 ozs. (commonly about 12 ozs.)." {Hume.) 

I have a female in my collection w Inch \\eighed 1 lb. 1 oz., and has a wing 
of 7'65 inches. 


The young males are similar to the female, but are darker, have more brown 
on the underparts, the speculum is more defined, and the coverts a purer grey. 

Males in moulting or post-nuptial plumage resemble the females, but have 
the wing, not the scapulars and innermost SL-condaries, of the usual colour, 

" The downy nestling resembles that of the Mallard, but is smaller, and has 
a broad unbroken buff streak above the eye and a well-defined dark streak 
through the eye." (Yarrell.) 

The general liabitat o£ the (jraroanoy may be said to bo the Piikearctic 
Region, an Eastern not Western form ; it has been obtained in North 
America and Greenland : but its home is Xorthern Europe and Asia in the 
summer, and Southern Europe, Northern Africa fas far south as Shoa, 
tSomalihmd), and ^Southern Asia in the cold weather. 

Outside India in the winter it is to be found throughout Southern 
Europe and Northern Africa, very common in Egypt, through Asia Minor 
iind Arabia, Persia, Afghanistan, Southern CHiina, Japan, the Philippines, 
Borneo, Java, &c. 

In Japan, Seebohm says : " The Garganey is a winter visitant to all 
the Japanese Islands, but appears to be nowhere common."' Hose and 
Everett both obtained specimens in the Borneo Islands, but it would appear 
to 1)6 a rare straggler there. 

In India it occurs practically everywhere, from the extreme north to the 
extreme south. As regards its distribution in Ceylon, Leggesays: "-Found 
in the extreme north about the Jaffna peninsula, on the swamps of the 
island of Delft, and on the west coast down to Manaar during the cool 
•season from November to March. Layard speaks of its occurring in ' vast 
flocks' at the head of the Jaffna estuary ; but I do not tliink it is so 
common now-a-days." 

It extends throughout Burmah, but is absent in certain portions. Hume 
says that it is not obtained in Tenasserim, but it has now been frequently re- 
corded thence. It is common in jiarts between the Sittang and Sal ween, and 
extends west of the former river. Gates records that it is found throughout 
the Shan States, at least as far as Kentung, where Lieut. J. H. AVhitehead 
has shot it. It does occur in Kashmir, and has l^een, since Hume Mrote 
in 'Stray Feathers,' recorded from tliat State on various occasions. 

It would seem that in the extreme north and north-west the Garganey 
is perhaps the earliest of ducks to arrive in India, but further east it is 
(juite a toss up as to whether the Connnon Teal or tlie Garganev first puts 
in an appearance. • On tlie whole, I should think the (-ommon Teal is the 
earlier of tlie two. 


Even in tho west the Garganey is not ahvays the lirst, 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 before December. Leaving, however, 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 

As regards the numbers they arrive in, Hume's notes on his enormous 
bag atone time shows what may be sometimes seen. He writes : — " I have 
a special note of having found a flock, which I estimated to contain twenty 
thousand individuals, at Rahun 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 have bagged forty-seven of them besides 
losing at the time many wounded birds (I had no dogs with me) in the 
rushes. I had sent my gun-punt (built 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 but heavy 
Monghyr-made swivel-gun, carrying only 8 ozs., to try. To my surprise I 
found the thickest body of fowl — on the open part of the jhil — I had ever 
seen. I loaded the swivel w^ith 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-fiye years ago, and I fear that flocks like this one are 
things of the past, though they may now and then be met with in very 
A'ast flocks. All through the Suuderbunds, 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 its north and north-western range, the flocks may 
roughly be said to average somewhere about and between one to two 
liundred. 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. 

The Garganey haunts almost any kind of water, not, as a rule. 


frequenting small, (|uick-runiiino; streams, or small clean tanks and })onds, 
and being specially partial to wide stretches of fen or bheel, well covered 
over their greater extent with weeds, yet having fairly extensive [)atches 
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 Indus, Ganges, &c., 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 tlu^ 
paddy-fields, and on various young land-cro})S. 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 sta})le 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 reeds, roots, &c., and such animal matter in the shape of 
worms, snails, and shell-fish, &c. which force themselves on their notice. 

Hume describes well the sound of their flight thus : — '" AVlietlier 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 with the surging hiss, more even, sustained, 
and rushing than that of any of our other ducks. Anyone who has stood 
under heavy round-shot fire knows the way in which shot hurtle up to 
you crescendo, and die away as they i)ass ; and just in this way (though 
the sounds are in a wholly different key) does the swish of a large flock of 
Garganey surge up to you in the middle of the night, and die awavas tluy 

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' flio;ht. 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 vanished. Their flight is but little, if at 
all, inferior to that of the Common Teal, though more direct, the flights 
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 Garganeys rose far ahead, swept round l)ut 
once in a wide semicircle, 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 faster away 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, o})inions seem to differ very 
much. Theobald says : " They are not very hard to shoot, and are easily 
approached behind 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.^' Reid 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, &c., they seem 
to be very cute, and to be able to discern what is behind the screen quicker 
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 i)uts them on the (jui vive, and long before the clump 
gets within shooting distance, two out of three times they leave for safer 

I once, however, came on a fiock of these little birds who 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 jnish-j>us/i, 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 push-push, walked up to the tank, 
and got two birds with a right and left as they rose ; the lairds wheeled round 
and I ii'ot a third ; thev then went to another tank OOO vai'ds awav, and, 
as I followed them up, again rose and returned to the first piece of water, 
leading a fourth bird with me. I, too, went l)ack and got yet another brace, 
and after these yet another bird on the second })iece of water, and when 
I left with seven Teal the rest were already back on the tank by the load. 
This was, of course, in a badly watered part of tlie counti'y, but on no otlu'i- 



occasion, whether there wa.s water in abundance or not, have T ever known 
Garganey remain to have more than a right and left tired at them. 

They are "sery silent birds as a rule. Hume sjx-aks 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 l)irds 
are in a state of nature. Scel)ohm considers their voice to be " not quite 
so loud as a Mallard, but is in a slightly higher key; it may be rej)resented 
by the syllable Kinde. 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.'^ 

The food of the Garganey is both vegetarian an<l animal, and it subsists 
much on surface buds of water-}»lants, and shoots of such as run along the 
surface of the water. It, however, also eats water-insects, worms, and 
similar food. 

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 the month of Sejitember. This shows, of course, that once 
upon a time a pair of Teals did i-emain in India and bi-ed. but it does not 
at all show that Teals ever stay of their own accord to breed. This unfor- 
tunate pair had very likely Ijeen slightly damaged by shot or accident, 
and so were unable to take the exertion of migration ; and this, doubtless, 
is the reason for the manv Teal stavin<>; in Hulia, and bein<>- seen in various 
months, when they should have l)een tar away and breeding in othei* 
climates and countries. They have been seen in practically every month 
in the year, and such records are many ; but, as I have said 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 mioratinii'. 

Colonel Tickell wrote from Moiilmein 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 circum- 
stances already suggested. 

Blyth wrote, in reference to this statement of Tickell's : '' The 
Garganey breeds sparingly, no doubt, in India, as well as in Burmah and 
Tenasserim ""^ ; but from what this deduction was made I cannot tell, nor 
can I find any perfectly authentic records of the Garganey breeding in 


India, Ijevond the circumstantial evidence given by Colonel Irby^s young- 

They Ijreed throughout the north temperate zone in Europe and 
Asia. In the former continent they breed as t"ar south as France, North 
Italy, Greece, and throughout the Balkan States and Russia into Asia ; 
in parts o£ Asia Minor, South Siberia, Manchuria, Amoor, and Northern 
China, but not in Japan, as far as is yet known. 

They desert the larger open pieces of ^vater 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, &c. 

Although so commonly found on the sea-coast and on salt-water creeks 
and on tidal waters, yet the Grarganey seems always to breed inland, and I 
can find no record of their nests and eggs being taken in such places. 

The nest is the usual mass of weed, reeds, and soft vegetation made Ijy 
most ducks ; and it is said that occasionally they are made of sticks and 
twMgs, but 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 oives 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, 
and though a few may be more butt' 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 my collection 
average 1*82 x l"u6, making them out to be rather shorter and rather 




Tlie oenus Spatula i.s distingui-shed from all oilior gonora, ('xce})t the 
Australian Malacorhijnrhns, hy tlio sliai)0 of the bill, ^vhicll is broadly 
spatnlate, 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 fSlioveller. 

The lamella) are very long, thin, and prominent, and the edges of the 
upper mandible are much turned down on the terminal ({uarter. 

The tail-feathers number 14 in both sexes. 


Spatula clypeata, Jenlon, B. I. iii, p. 796 ; Hume, Str. Feath. i, p. 260 ; 
Adam, ibid. p. 402 ; Butler, ibid, iv, p. 28 ; Scully, ibid. p. 1U9; Fairbatik, 
ibid, p, 264 ; Ball, ibid, vii, p. 232 ; Hume, ibid, p, 492 ; id. Cat. 
no. 957 ; id. /Str. Feath. viii, ]). 1 15 ; Sculhj, ibid. p. 362 ; Le(j<je, B. of Cey. 
p. 1086; Hume ^' Mar. Gamc-B. iii, p. 141 ; Vidal, Str. Feath. ix, p. 92; 
Butler, ibid. p. 437 ; Reid, ibid, x, p. SO ; Davidson, ibid. p. 325 ; Hume, 
ibid. p. 417; Macyregor, ibid. p. 472; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 40l ; Hume, 
Str. Feath. xi, p. 343; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p, 306; Blanford, 
Fauna B. I. iv, p. 452 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 246, 

Description. Adult male. — Whole head and neck glossy green, showing a 
])arple tinge in certain lights, especially on the upper parts; upper breast, lower 
neck, outer scapulars, and outer portion of upper back mauve-white ; a narrow 
centre patch from the neck brown, the feathers edged pale, in iiiie specimens 
with broad white edges; back brown, tlie featliers pale-edged; rump and upper 
tail-coverts black, glossed with peacock-green and blue, the former tint pre- 
dominating ; rectrices 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 interior flanks lighter and vermiculated with brown ; thighs 
the same btit 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 qtiarter of the outer web ; greater coverts more brown and 
edged with white, forming a wing-bar next the speculum ; one of the outer 


I — I 


scapulars brilliant grey-blue, otliers black glossed with green and with white 
centres ; tertiaries deep brown-black, glossed with green, turning to blue at the 
tips ; quills darlc brown ; speculum a brilliant metallic green ; under tail-coverts 
black, glossed with blue-green ; flanks next tail-coverts white. 

Bill black ; legs orange, claws horny brown ; irides yellow, orange, or 

'' III the male in winter the bill is black, usually with a greyish shade ; in 
some it may be called leaden dusky. In JN'ovember, when they first arrive, and 
in the case of birds of the year until much 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 i;i the spring, and at the same season in the male 

than in the female. The webs are often dusky towards their margin,"' (Hume.) 

Length about 2U inches, wing 9-3 to 9*8, tail about 3*5, bill froui gape about 3, 

tarsus 1-4. 

" Length 19'7 to 21-75 inches, expanse 29-75 to d2-5, wing 9 to 9-8, tail 
from vent 3-0 to 4, tarsus 1-2 to 1-5, bill from gape 2-95 to 3-05. Weight 1 lb. 
3 ozs. to 1 lb. 14 ozs." (Hume.) 

After the breeding-season the 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 fnll plumage before the end of i'ebruary " ; but I should note that I have 
a male in splendid plumage shot in November. 

Female. — The whole upper plumage brown, each feather edged \vith 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, Aarying a good deal in depth and tint, the brown 
bases to the feathers showing through in dark crescentic bands on breast, flanks, 
and sides, but not at all, or only slightly, on the abdomen ; chin immaculate ; 
neck and sides of head speckled with dark brown. 

Most ducks, but not all, have a well-defined white loreal spot speckled brown. 

Irides brown or orange-brown ; legs like those of the male, but duller at ail 
seasons ; bill dull brown, the low er mandible dull orange or orange-brown. 

"In the female, the upper mandible is dark brown, tinged reddish along the 
commissure and on the nail, while the lower mandible is dull orange, bro\\nish 
towards the tip. 

"The irides vary in the female from brown to reddish-brown, but I 

have recorded them .... as light yello\\' in one female, so that there is only a 
general, and not a constant, sexual diff"erence in the colour." {Hume.) 

Length about 18-5 inches, wing 8-1 to 9-2, tail about 3-5 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." (Hume.) 


Male in first plumage resembles the female, but the \vinc;.s are brighter 
coloured : bill pale reddish-brown ; legs and feet flesh-coloured. 

Males in their post-nuptial plumage have the white of the breast w ith a few 
dark cresciiiitic band-;, the lower belly w ith dark bars, and the rich black of the 
under tail-coverts mottled with chestnut and white. 

" Young in down resemble those of the Wigeon in having the upper parts 
almost uniform, with indistinct pale spots, but they possess the dark brown stripe 
through the eye as in the young Mallard. The bill is not widened at the tip, 
but it grows very rapidly." {Salvadori.) 

The Shovellor is to be met witli at different times throughout the 
Northern Hemispliere in all four (Jontinents. Found over ))racticallv the 
whole o£ Euroj)e and Asia at various seasons, it extends in winter as far 
south as Somaliland in Afi-ica, and in America to the 18th degree latitude 
north in the ^Vest Indies, and even further soutli 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 )»arts. from the 
extreme north to the extreme soutli : hut, tliouLfli ir surely must occur there 
at times, it has not yet been recorded from Pegu and Tenasserim. 

In (Jeylon it is also fairly common. Legge writes : — " This remarkable 
and almost cosmopolitan Duck is a not unfrequent winter visitor to 
Ceylon. T liave not met with it myself, but Mr. (r. Simpson informs me 
that it comes in largo numbers to Delft and the Palverainkadoo and 
Mullaittivu lagoons, remaining during the same period as the Teal and 

The Shoveller is not one of the earliest ducks 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 jxirts of its ranu-e. 
In Bengal, I think few are seen until November : in Assam, especiallv in 
the extreme N.E., I have ^eon them in October. 

It leaves, as well as arrives, later than many ducks, and mav often 
lie met with in Cachar during April; and Hume says that some remain 
in the Peshawar Valley until .May. and that in Kashmir thev remain 
until i|uite the end of that month. Lieut. 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 Himalavas it is onlv seen 
whilst on migration, during the montlis of late September and October 
and early November, and again in March and April, as the birds oo north. 


In Kashmir, however, a good number pass the whole of the winter, and 
Adam says that it is found throughout the whole winter there. 

Although common over the major part of the country it visits, it does 
not seem anywhere to be found in very large numl^ers, and may often he 
seen in pairs or even singly. I do not rememljer ever seeing a flock which 
numbered over forty, and should imagine such a flock to be rare 

As regards its haunts, these are everywhere and anywhere ; but 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 Jiave 
shot them in the very centre of large open bheels, and once on a small 

Hume says : — '• To the shores they stick, into the open water they never 
seem to straggle by choice ; and if you watch them, they are for the most 
part either dozing on the Ijrink, or paddling slowly in the shallows, 
with their entire liills and more or less of their heads under water, their 
heads working from side to side all the while like a Flamingo's or 

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 liills 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. The}' are 
onniivorous, and will eat almost anything, luit, at the same time, animal 
food undoubtedly forms the major portion of their diet. 

Except for the very handsome appearance of the full-plumaged drake, 
the Shoveller is worth little from any point of vieAv. As an edibl(% they 
are one of the worst of the duck tribe — coarse, oily, and fishy in taste, and 
ranking equal to the White-eye, and inferior to the Whistling-Teal. 

As regards their feeding and its quality, Hume writes : — " Doubtless, in 
more savoury localities, such as the more aristocratic ducks frequent, insects 
and their larvse, worms, small frogs, shells, tiny fish, antl all kinds of reeds 
and shoots of water grasses, rushes, and the like constitute their food ; but 
where they take up their abode 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, l)ut no othci- duck will, as a 


rule, frequent the dirty holes in which a pair of Shovellers often pass the 

A curious note on its food, &c., is that in Latham's ' Synopsis of Birds,' 
in which he states : — " Its chief food is ins(>cts, for which it is continually 
niuddlino- in the water with its bill. It is also said to (h'xterously catch 
flies, which pass in its way over the water. Shrimps, amono- other things, 
have been found in its stomach on dissection. ^^ 

It is a bad swimmer and a worse diver, andoncf^ shot takes little trouble 
to brino' to hand if only wounded. It flies, however, very well and 
strongly, and in this respect it holds its own with T(>al and other swift 
ducks, though it is slow to rise, getting u]) hea^'ily and awkwai-dly off the 
water and taking time to get uj) its speed. 

Thev are very sociable birds, and consort with Teal, Gadwall, and other 
ducks. As a rule, they are very tame and can be easily aj^proached, if the 
least caution is taken, and they have the reputation of allowing repeated 
shots to be fired at them before a flock will leave the piece of water they 
are frequenting. 

Blanford remarks that it never appears to feed, like other ducks, with its 
head and breast iunnersed and its tail sticking uj) vertically. 

It is said to walk well, with a carriage similar to that of the (ladwall, 
and Hume says it can even run if sufficient inducement be held out for it 
to do so. 

Newton remarks on a peculiarity of this duck of " swinnning round in 
circles, with its bill in the water, al)Ove the spot where Pochards are diving 
and feeding beneath, and sifting out the substances that float up when 
disturbed by 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 Gradwall. 

As regards their 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 ( ■havagacherry lagoon in March. 
He there met with a female with twelve young ones, most of which he 
captured, and in the month of November he obtained 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 

They breed throughout their northern habitat — Asia, America, Europe — 


and also in parts o£ Northern Africa. They are said to breed very 
extensively in Abyssinia and also in Algeria. In Asia it breeds in 
Tnrkestan, Northern Persia, and in the whole o£ its Northern Asiatic range. 
In Europe it breeds over the greater part oi: 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 fen land. It does not appear to frequent 
other water even for the purposes of breeding, and selects places well away 
from observation and interference, 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 l)ird 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*06 x I'l inches, and are in shape 
rather long ovals, distinctly pointed at the smaller end. 

Hume's series measured from 2*0 to 2*2 inches in length and from 1*33 
to 1*55 in breadth. 

202 INDIAN nrcK; 


The genu? Marmarnnett<i contains a single species only, with n bill 
similar to that of Netthm, hut differing from that genns in having no wing- 
speculum. Its coloration, which gives a silvery-grey tone to the ])lumage 
when taken as a whole effect, is quite sufficient to at once distinguish it 
from all other thicks, either Indian or otherwise. 


Cluerquedula angustirostris, Hnme, Str. Feaih. i, p. 202; Anderson, ihid. iii, 

p. 273 ; BnlUr, ihid. \\, \^. 30 : id. ihid. \, p. 234 ; Hume Sf- Mar. Game-B. 

iii, p. 237 ; Reid, Sir. Feath. x, p. 82; McLeod, ihid. p. 168; Hume, 

ihid. p. 174. 
Chaulelasmus angustirostris, Hnme, Str. Feath. vii, p. 493 ; id. Cat. 

no. 901 bis ; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 405; Hume, Neats cf" E(ff/.<i (Oates ed.), 

iii, p. 291 ; Barnes, Jour. B. N. 11. S. vi, p. 2i»l. 
Marmaronetta angustirostris, >Salv(tdori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 321 ; Blanford, 

Fauna B. I . iv, p. 454 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 273. 

Description. Adult male. — Wliole upper parts a silvery grey, each feather 
liaving the central portion darker and brownish and tlie tip and terminal edge 
paler; the head and nape is more buff in tint, and lias each feather centred 
brown, giving it a barred appearance ; the parts surrounding the eyes brown, 
forming a distinct dark brown eye-patch ; chin, throat, and under part of the neck 
paler, almost w lute, with the dark centres much reduced and forming onlv a 
stippling; lower parts white, more or less tinged \\\\.\\ 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 brown ; all the feathers, coverts, and quills have the sliafts 
brown, distinctly showing against the grey. 

" Length 18-3 to 19 inches, expanse 28-5 to 29-5, tail from vent ;V6 to 4-0, 
wing 8-1 to 8-5, wings when closed reach to 0*7 to 1-5 of end of tail, bill at 
front, including nail, 1*77 to 1*85, tarsus 1-44 to 1*52. AVeight 1 lb. 3 ozs. to 
1 lb. 5 ozs. 

" The legs and feet are dusky-olive or dark horny-brown with the claws and 

Plate XXII. 



: f. 





■Map-naai'onetLa. angustirost-ris 

J.Green ,CKpoTno . 


webs black, or horny-green with the webs and claws dark grey ; the bill bluish- 
grey, black on the culmen and tip or dusky, bounded at the margins oE 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 tlie same colour 
just above the nail ; the irides are brown."' (Hume.) 

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, and 
the crest also is less developed. 

" Length ] 6*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 1-0 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." 

" Length 15'75 inches, expanse 26'5, wing 7"62, tail from vent 2-75. 

" Legs and feet greenish plumbeous ; irides dark brown ; bill dusky plumbeous, 
darkest on the culmen." (Butler.) 

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. 

The rano-e 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 

As regards India, little has been recorded about its habitat since Hume 
wrote in ' Game-Birds ' : — 

" Its normal range with its (it is presumably only a cold weather 
visitant) appears to be the whole of Sind (from every Collectorate in which 
it has been recorded, and where it is extremely common) and Northern 
Gruzerat, the southern part of the Dehra Clazi Khan district and of 
Bhawalpiir, in all three of which it is a regular but less abundant visitant. 
No doubt it will be met with in Kutch and Kathiawar, but it has not l)een 
thence recorded as yet. 

" But outside these limits it occurs much further east as a straggler. I 
have liad specimens from ^V^estern Oodeypore and from near Delhi. The 
late Mr, A. Anderson })rocnred it in the North-W^est Pi'ovinces, at 
Futtehgarh, and in Oudli near Hurdui ; and I myself procured two freshly 
killed specimens in the (-alcutta 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, and more than once also in the ( iileiitta 
market, but nothing has been recorded, that I can find, which in v,uy way 
extends the original area as given l)y Hume. A sjx'cimen lent inc I'loin 
the Bom. Nat. Hist. Society's collection has no locality given on its 
ticket, but was presumably collected in one of the places above mentiont»d. 

I should note that when showing this specimen to a friend, he at once 
said that he had shot two birds ot" the same kind in (xowhatty, 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. 

In its arrival it a])pearsto be later than most tlucks, even in 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 i\nd east 
it, of course, gets later and later. Its (le})arture would, on the other hand, 
seem to take place at much the same time as that of other birds of its 
order, i. e. m April, a few remaining initil the last few days of May in very 
late years. 

Little has been added to our knowledge of the lial)its of this Teal since 
Hume wrote concerning it as follows : — 

" In Sind, where I had abundant opportunity of ol)serving it, I found 
the Marbled Teal invariably associatetl in large parties. Its favourite 
haunts were broads, thickly grown with rush, in which it fed and s|)orted, 
comparatively seldom showing itself in the ojx'ii 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 GO or 70 
yards of it ; then it rises, generally one at a time, and, even though fired at, 
not unfrequently 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, ,wme of these, are circling 
round and round, high in the air, you still keep, as you push through the 
reeds and rushes, continually Hushing the Marbled Teal, and the l)road 
must be small, or the hunting very close and long continued, to induce all 
the Marbled Teal to take wing. Of course, where there is a little cover 
(tliouoh there you never meet with this duck in large numbers) they rise 
and fly al^out 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 shouting, 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 sixty or seventy 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 resembles 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 il; 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 swinnning in the 
open, and in the rushes they make, of course, slow progress. When 
w^ounded they dive, but for no great distance, and then persistently hold on 
under water in any clump of rush or w'eed, with only their bills above 
water. 1 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 fSpain, 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 larva;. I 
Ijelieve I found a small Irog in the stomach of one, l)ut it is not noted on 
the tickets of any of the specimens now in the Museum, and I cannot be 
quite sure." 

Its voice has been variously described as a whistling croak, a low 
croaking whistle, a rather hoarse quack^ and a quack like tliat of the 
domestic duels, but very harsh and abrupt. It is probal)le 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 othei- sonicAvhat of the 
nature of a quack. 

Its food is practically omnivorous, and as an article of diet itself it is 
not fiv.-t-class. 


Mr. B. Alexander found it brood in o- plontifully in the Capo Vord 
Islands, and it appears to breed on the <2;reater portions of its habitat round 
the Mediterranean. Although breeding in latitudes so far south, it is un- 
usually late in breeding, May and June being the months in ^vhich the 
eggs are laid. It is said to make a rough nest, much like that of the 
C*onunon Teal, and to place it amongst rushes on land surrounding swamps 
and ^•arious kinds of water, and also on the sea-shore, this last more 
especially in Spain. Of this latter country Col. Irl)y thus records their 
nestino; in Andalusia : — "The Marbled Duck broods durino; the last -week 
in May, nesting in patches of rushes. The nest is like that of a Teal, 
containing a good deal of the down from the Ijreast of the female; and 11 
eggs appear to be 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 that 
incubation lasts from 25 to 27 days." 

The eggs which Col. Butler received from the Mekran Coast are, in all 
j)robability, rightly identified by him as l)eing those of the Marbled Teal. 
He says : — " I received some small duck's eggs from the Mekran Coast, 
which are in my o])inion those of the Marbled Uuck. 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 ])ieces of down as a lining, 
and measuring; eiidit or nine inches in diameter. 

" The eggs, eight in number, and of a tlelicate cream-colour, were taken 
on the 19th June, 1<!J78. I have carefully compared them with eggs of 
the Marbled Duck, and find that they agree exactly, both 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 I*'.) inches in length, and from 1'35 to 
1-43 in breadth." 

Barnes, in his article on " Nesting in Western India," noted that ho, too, 
had received some eggs from the Frere Museum which had come from the 
Mekran l*oast about the same time as those received by Clolonel 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. 


Subfamily FULICIULIN^. 

This subfamily is divided from those already written about by havino- 
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 Fuligulina? from the Anatina?, but the division seems to be a 
natural one, the members of this subfamily difFerino- from those of others, 
not only in construction, but considerably in habits as well. 

The separation of jErismation is by no means so distinct, and the genus 
is not, in my opinion, worthy of separation from the Fuligulina^ and the 
honour of a subfamily to itself. Having, however, consistently so far 
followed Salvadori in his classification, it is better, perhaps, for the sake of 
uniformity, not to differ from it here. 

Erisrnatura differs from those ducks included by Salvadori in his 
subfamily Fuligulintu in certain external structural particulars, principally 
in the swollen base to the upper mandible and in its remarkable tail, 
the which, as Blanford remarks_, looks as if it might be that of a 

The Merginfe are separated from all other ducks by the shape of their 
bill, which is long, narrow, and pointed, altogether most unduck-like in 
its appearance. 

The Fuligulinte contain thirteen genera, of which four only are 
represented in India ; but it is worthy of notice that whilst Netta is one of 
the most common forms and Glangiila one of the most rare, Nyroca and 
FiiUrpila contain some forms which are extremely connnon and others 
again of the greatest rarity. 

Key to Genera. 

a. Primaries with the bases more or less white. 

a'. LaiwelliiB lout? and prominent Netta, p. 208. 

h' . Lamella) short, well apart, not very prominent. 

a". Bill very nearly the same width thi'oughout . . . Nyroca, p. 216. 

//'. Bill distinctly wider at the tip than at the base . . Fulujula, p. 233. 

h. Primaries without auy white or whitish ou the bases . . C'langula, p. 24(3. 


Genus NEXT A. 

The genus Scfta contains Imt one sjtecie.-. (li.-tinnui.-liod hy it> liill, 
which tapers very gradually throughout its length and ha- the lamella; 
veiy stout and pronn'm-nt. 

The male bird also has a full bushy cre.-t, which, however, does not 
exist, or is considerably moditied, in the female. 

The name Pocliard -liuuld l)c pronounceil '•'rukard,'^ not witli tlic scjl't 
rh with which I liaxc heard many sportsmen sound it. In many jjarts of 
England these ducks are known a- Pokers or Poke Duck-, and it is from 
this the name is derived. 


Branta rufiua, Jerdon, B. J. iii, p. 811 : Butler, >ilr. Fcatlt. iv, p. oO ; ibid. 
V, p. 234 ; Fairhanh, ibid, iv, p. 264. 

Fuligula nifina, Hume, Sir. Feath. i, p. 264; Adam, ibid. p. 402; Hume, 
ibid, vii, pp. 98 <fc 4!J3 ; Huuie tj- Mar. Game-B. iii, p. 253 ; Leyge, B. of 
Ceij. p. 1087 ; Bathr, h>tr. Feath. ix, p. 438 ; lieid, ibid, x, p. 84 ; Taylor, 
ibid. pp. 528 & 531 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 412 ; Hume, Sir. Feath. ,\i, 
p. 346 ; Ball, ibid. p. 232 ; Cripj^s, ibid. p. 402 ; Hume, Cut. no. 967. 

Netta rufina, hialvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 328 ; Blanford, Fauna B. I. iv, 
p. 456 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 299. 

Descrijition. Adult male. — Whole head reddish-bay, richest and darkest on 
the under surface and sides, paling from the forehead to the end of the crest, 
\\ here it is reddish-buff. Xeck blackish-brow n ; upper back dark brown, getting 
more and more pale towards the rump, the bases of the featliers next the 
scapulars stiouing in a white band ; rump and upper tail-coverts bhickish-brown, 
more or less glossed green ; tail silvery-grey-browu : breast blackish-brown, 
paling on the low er breast and abdomen ; under tail-coverts dark brown ; flanks, 
axillai'ies, and under wing-coverts w hite ; coverts bordering the wing and running 
into the scapulars white ; other coverts greyish-brow]i ; secondaiies white, some- 
times tinged grey or creamy, with a subterminal band of brown from 2-5 to 
4 inches wide ; inner secondaries like the 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 hroad brown tip. 

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 inchning to 
vermilion ; the nail brown or white, tinged with brownish horn, or pink horny 
brown or yellow at tip. There is often a dusky shade round the nostrils ; the 
gape is often blackish, as is likewise the base of the lower mandible and the basal 
portion of the membrane between its rami ; but these are all traces, I think, of 

" The legs and feet are dingy salmon-colour or reddish-orange, dusky on the 
joints and blackish 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 

" The irides vary from brown to red (this latter being the colour in the old 
adult) and are at different ages brown, brownish-yellow, reddish-brown, orange, 
orange-red, and bright red. 

"Length 20-5 to 22-1 inches, expanse 34-0 to 38-2, wing 10-0 to 10-75, 
tail from vent 3-0 to 4-2, tarsus 1-5 to 1-7, bill from gape 2-3 to 2-42. Weight 
1 lb, 12 ozs. to 2 lbs. 14 ozs." (Hume.) 

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 
V, hite ; whole lower plumage, under wing-coverts, and axillaries pale greyish- 
white, yellowish-white, or greyish-ochre, darker on the flanks. 

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." 

" Iris yellow ; bill brownish-red above, fleshy beneath, nail brown ; legs and 
feet murky yellow." {Legge.) 

" Length 20-1 to 22-0 inches, expanse 33-75 to 37-0, wing 9-0 to 10-25, 
tail from vent 3-5 to 3-8, tarsus 1-5 to 1-75, bill from gape 2-25 to 2-4. 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." (SeeboJim.) 

The 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." (SeeboJnn.) 

" 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 passes over each eye, and through the eye runs a dark stripe, which 
divides into two behind the eye.'" (Salvadori.) 

The habitat of the Red-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, Belu- 
chistan, and thence in winter into India. Throughout the countries of 
Southern Europe it is common, and it ascends north as a frequent straggler 
to Xorthern 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 west of 
Algiers, after which it has not been recorded further west. 

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 Oudh, Central India, and the 
Central Provinces, except in the south, and the greater part of Bengal. 
In Assam it is less common, but by no means at all rare. Hume found it 
in Manipur in small numbers, and I have myself seen, shot^ or had it 
recorded for me from Cachar, Sylhet, and Dacca. In the Sunderbunds I 
found it decidedly rare, but have had it recorded as common by other 
sportsmen. In Southern India it must bo rare everywhere, and it seems 
also to be rare in the extreme w^est, in Cutch, &c. There seem to be 
hardly any records of the bird in Southern India, but Layard was certain 
he had met w^ith it in Ceylon, and it doubtless, therefore, must occur at 
odd times throughout the whole of the Indian Peninsula. 

I can find no signed records of its occurrence in Burma, but there 
are anonymous, though apparently authentic, notes of its having been 
occasionally found there. 

I have had it recorded from Chittagong, where^ however, it is said to 
be very rare. 

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. In Assam and Manipur, however, I 
think they generally come in hy October, and I have seen a pair about the 
10th of that month. 

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." Reid 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 the Red-crested 
Pochard likes 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, and 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 w^ater 
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 webbed or lobed 
hind toes, is said b^f 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 .ind 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 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 information. The fact is, that though you mai/ at times see 
it'dibbling about in the water like Teal and Shovellers, or again feeding as 



he (lescrilies, its normal lnil)it and practice is to dive, and I bave watclied 
flocks of them, scores of times, divino; for an hour at a time \vitli jx'rtinacity 
and enertiv unsurpassed by any other wild fowl. Examine closely their 
favourite haunts, and you will find these to i)e almost invariably just those 
Avaters in which they must dive for their food. Deep hroads, where the 
feathery water-weed heds do not reach within several feet of the surface, 
not the comparat'ncly >hallo\v ones, where the same weeds (the character 
of their leaves changed, howevei-, by emert)ency) lie in thick masses coiled 
alon«; the surface." 

This is certainly my experience, and T notice(l in the Sunderbunds how 
very much this (hick kept to tlie open central ])ortion of the huoc- blieels, 
feedino- there on and amongst the aquatic plants, especially on a Ion"",, 
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 dee]) water. They not only dive well and for long periods, 
hut they also dive to no inconsiderable depth ; and that it is a pleasure io 
them to dive is shown by their constant diving when at play, chasing one 
another both al)0ve and below the surface. 

They feed both by day and night, but maiidy in the ea.rlv moi'iiing 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 (piite (>{)en dee]) 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 it comes 
ashore more often than the other Pochards, and walks better also. 

No duck varies much moi'c tlian does this one in the (|iia]itv 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 
varial)ility is undoubtedly due to its wide range of feeding. Naturally 
they are ])rinci])ally vegetable-feeders, and when feetling on water-jdants 
and young cro])S their flesh is naturally excellent; l)ut when, as is some- 
times the case, they feed on fish, sludl-iish, water insects, &c., thev at once 
assume a rank fishy taste wdiich no amount of seasoning will obscure. 

Hume found one wdiich had gorged itself on small fish about an inch in 
length, and I dissected one wdiich had eaten, as far as I could see, notliin"- 
but the tiny red cral)s which swarm in such countless myriads alone- the 
shores of rivers, swamps, and back-waters in the Sunderbunds, the waters 
of which are brackish. This was the only s[»ecimen the contents of whose 


stomacli I noted -wliilst shooting in Jessorp and Kluilna ; but all wo shot 
and tried to eat tasted the same, and I have no doubt that they, too, had 
been feeding on cral)s. 

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. 

Tliey 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 tlieir 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 ^vhistle, quite 
different from that of the AVigeon, and yet somewhat reminding one of 

From a sporting point of view, the Red-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 tiock 
may be caught once, but seldom twice, whatever distance the gun may 

They swim so fast that they can by this means alone generally escape, 
and they are often very loath to rise when they can thus get out of shot. 
Their swimming powers, manner of packing, and capacitude 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 Mas 
out in my punt, working softly round the margin to the western side, so 
as to have the fowl, wdien twilight broke, against the daylight sky. I soon 
made out by tlieir 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 soon 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 awav steadily against the wind, so that it was 
])right sunlight before I got within two hundred yards, and then I could 
.see they were all Red-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 one hundred yards 
on them. Still tliev liad not shown the slightest signs of suspicion (and I 


know their ways ayoII), Init wore i>wimnuii<i; gaily on en masse, lioad to 
wind, as they often will on windy mornings. On I went. I had a long 
heavy English swivel, carrying a pound of shot (Xo. 1 I hud in) ; there 
were between two and three thousand of them, as closely [tacked as they 
could swim. I was certainly within seventy yards of the hindermost bird ; 
I calculated to get within about forty yards of these and fire over their 
heads into the centre of the flock. They wore close packed and backs to 
me, so there was little to gain, and possibly a great deal to lose, by flushing 
them. I was within fifty yards when again I grounded ; ha<l I even then 
fired at once I must have made a very large bag, but 1 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 seventy yards distant before, seeing I was hard and fast, I snapped 
an ammunition cap on a little pistol I always carried for tlu^ purpose, and 
raked them as they rose. The next instant there was a whole lino of birds 
fluttering on the water, seven dead, and twenty-one winged. I recovered 
every one of them, but it was noon before I Ijagged the last ; and if I had 
had a desperate hard six hours' work, I hardly rememljer any six hours 
which I more thorough!}' enjoyed.^' 

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, &.C., but its true breeding- 
haunts are further south. In Central Germany it is connnon. Hume, 
referring to the nests taken by Dr. Baldamus, remarks : — " Dr. Baldamus, 
who has taken many nests in Central Germany, all, however, on ' a ])ond 
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 breast of 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 
exception, and seven only in late sittings. All his nests were taken 
between the 12th Juno and the 1st July, the latter nests being much 
incubated, so that in this locality they probably lay from 1st May to 
loth June. The 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 M^'ites : — " In the open pools at the upper end of the marsh at 
Zana I used to see several pair of the R-ed-crested Duck. Two nests only 
were obtained. The second lot, consisting of seven eggs, were of a brilliant 
fresh green colour when miblown ; the contents were no sooner expelled 
and the eggs dry than the delicate tints "svere gone and their beauty sadly 

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 of 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 small pond well 
covered with weeds and vegetation, or some patch of water in fen or marsh 
land, well isolated and free from observation and interference. I have 
come across no notes on their 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 Pochard's eggs. 

In shape they are 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 on a 
few occasions. 


Genus NYEOCA. 

The genus Xijroca, according to Salvadori, wlio divides FuJigula from 
Nyroca, contains ten species, of ^vhich three are found in Inch'a. Xjjroca 
differs from Xetta in the formation of the bill and lamollte, the latter 
having them larger, more prominent, and closer together than the former. 

The genus is a cosmopolitan one, and amongst its ten s{)ecies contains 
what is, perhaps, our most common duck, namely, Siiroca aj'ricana (or 
ferruginea), the White-eye. 

Kei/ to the Species. 

a. Back and scapulars distinctly barred or vermiculated . . . ferina (S • 
h. Back and scapulars merely speckled. 

a'. Head and neck dull chestnut or bay afncana cS . 

b'. Head and neck almost black haeri d . 

0. Upper back and bead rufous-brown, scapulars slightly vermicu- 
lated ; no white speculum ferina 2 • 

d. No vermiculations on upper plumage ; a white speculum. 

a". Head and neck rufous-brown afrkana 2 • 

h". Head and neck more or less mixed with blackish on the 

sides haei'i $ . 

In addition, haeri may be discriminated from africana by its larger size 
-and proportionately larger bill. 




1 — I 




• f\ 








< ^ 







Aythya ferina, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 812 ; Hume, Sir. FeatJi. i, p. 264 ; 

Adams, ibid. p. 409 ; ibid, ii, p. 341 ; Butler, ibid, iv, p. 30 ; v, p. 234 ; 

Ball, ibid, vii, p. 232. 
Fuligula ferina, Davids. 4' ^Vend. Sir. Featli. vii, p. 93; Hume, ibid. p. 496; 

id. Cat. no. 96S ; Hume c|- Mar. Game-B. iii, p. 247 ; Legge, B. of Cey. 

p. 1090 ; Butler, Sir. Featli. ix, p. 438 ; Beid, ibid, x, p. 84 ; Davids. 

ibid. p. 326 ; Taylor, ibid. p. 531 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 412 ; Hume, 

Str. Featli. xi, p. 346. 
Nyroca ferina, Salvadori, Cat. B. 21. xxvii, p. 335 ; Blanford, Fauna B. I. 

iv, p. 458 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 309. 

Description. Adult male. — Whole head and neck rich deep chestnut, changing 
rather abruptly into the black of the upper back 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 
verraiculated with white ; primaries dark grej^, edged outwardly and tipped 
blackish ; secondaries forming a dull grey speculum, the feathers narrowly 
tipped Avhitish and divided from the inner secondaries by narrow black borders 
to U\o 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 vrhite 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. 

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, darker and 
blackish on the joints and webs. 

" 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 darker 
on the joints, and with the webs black or nearly so. The bills are black and 
bluish-grey or leaden, in varying 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 beyond the nostrils are black, and the whole intervening portion of the 
upper mandible is leaden-blue; and between these two extremes the breadth of 
the blue band or bar varies. 

" Length 18 to 20-5 inches, expanse 29-4 to 32-2, wing 8-5 to 9-5, tail from 
vent 2-35 to 3-2, tarsus 1-4 to 1-5, bill from gape 2-15 to 2-29. AVeight 1 lb. 
13 ozs. to 2 lbs. 5 ozs." {Hume.) 


Adult female. — Forehead and crown dark brown, fading to dull fulvous- 
brown on the hind-neck, sides of the head and neck, and thence to pale fulvous- 
grey, or greyish-white, on chin, throat, and fore-neck ; back and scapulars 
greyish-brown, with greyish verniiculations mixed with black, the vermiculations 
varying very much in extent and being sometimes almost wanting ; lower back, 
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-l)rown 
on the breast and sides, and darker brown towards the vent and under tail- 

Irides dull yellow, rarely brown ; bill as in the male, but generally with the 
blue more restricted in extent and a duller shade ; legs and feet similar to those 
of the male, but duller on the average. 

"Length 17-25 to 3 8 inches, expanse 28-75 to .31-5, 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 bead much more reddish 
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 breast, and duller tail-coverts." (Finn, 

" 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 ; underparts dirty yellowish-white : 
bill and feet light bluish ; iris grey." (Sahadori.) 

The Pochard, Red-headed Pochard^ or Dun-bird, as it is variously 
called, has a very wide distribution, practically throughout the Paloearctic 
region from Iceland to Japan. It breeds almost throughout the more' 
southern portions of this area, but 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, but whether it be resident or only a winter resident there seems to 
be no evidence to determine.*' 

Nyroca ferina is separated by >Salvadori from the American forms to 
which the names americana and vallisneria are applied. Many ornitho- 
logists unite americana and ferina, and in this case the whole of North 
America must be added to its habitat ; and, consequently, also its breeding- 
range would then become circumpolar with the exceptions already noted. 
The American bird is larger, has more and clearer l)lue on the bill, a purer 
white to the underparts, and a purple gloss on the head and neck. 


Finn, in his popular article 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 been 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 neighbour- 
hood of Mandalay/' 

This last record probably refers to the three birds shot at Mandalay by 
Capt. T. S. 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 Manipur, whence a 
large proportion migrates towards Burma, and not through Cachar and 

I have had it now reported to me from Mysore, where, however, it 
would only appear to be met with on very rare occasions. 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 formino- 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. 

The Pochard is one of the later ducks to arrive in India. In its 
northern limits it is seen first in the latter half of October, but it does not, 
I think, extend south until well on into November. In Bengal, to the east 
and south, the end of November is as early as one may expect to get them 
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 Sunderbunds 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 its 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, they will be found in thousands ; 
elsewhere they will be found in small flocks, pairs, and rarely single birds. 
There is practically no kind of water that they will not visit sometimes in 
greater or smaller numbers, but, preferentially, they leave alone shallow 


jheels and wators, and also such as liavo tho vogotation ovoryAvhoro dense ; 
on the other liand, tliey do not care for quite open water ^vithout vegetation 
of any kind wliatever. 

Even to tin's last, however, there is no absolutely fixed rule, for they 
sometimes visit the sea itself, kee])ing, as a rule, to harl)Ours, estuaries, (fee. 
When shot in such ])laces they, like most other ducks got under the 
same circumstances, will be found to have a very rank and fishy taste, 
though when shot inland on their more ordinary haunts they are very 
uniformly excellent in flavour. Their bad flavour is, of course, due to their 
food, which, wdien they take to the seashore, consists of tiny marine shell- 
tish, fishes, &c. ; wdiereas, wdien in fresh water, it consists maiidy of a 
vegetable diet, though, like all ducks, they are 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 
coloration, 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 con- 
signment of Canvas-backs fi'om America in ice, was jirosecuted for selling- 
Pochards out of season. Most of us would jjrobably think it was a very 
good thing, too, if such prosecutions helped to enforce a close time in 
America as well as in England. 

It is a fine, ra])id, and graceful "swimmer, the Avater — not land or air — 
being its real element. Finn notes : — '" This Pochard swims particularly 
low in water, and very much down by the stern." The notes of this 
ornithologist on duck habits and manners are in great })art made jiot only 
from wald birds, viewed of necessity from some distance, but also from 
close observation of birds in captivity, and are, in cons(M|uence, worthy of 
careful attention. 

They are, of course, like all other Pochards, wonderful divers, and the 
greater part of their food is obtained by diving ; but they will also dive 
and swim after one another in l)lay, 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 swinnning and diving ; 
once on the wing, they go away at a good pace, but th(>y 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 nioro any day gottino- up off the maidan 
there, first expanding its huge wings and then going oflt' in ungainly strides 
until the wind worked against 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 [)ushed to it. 

Principally night-t'eeders, they also feed throughout the day, 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 they 
frequent, they are by no means easy to get within shot of. 

I do not remember ever to have heard the Pochard utter any sound 
other than that characterised by Hume and other writers as ^^Kvrr-k-urrJ'^ 
It is like that of the White-eye, but 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 masse, and not in line or V-shape, would appear to be 
typical of all the true Pochards. 

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 

They make their nest beside the water — generally right at the 
edge in amongst long grass, reeds, or bushes, and sometimes actually in 
the water itself. Any piece of water would seem to serve the bird's 
])urpose, 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, «fcc. ; when placed actually in 
the water, it is of necessity somewhat more bulky and better }iut together 
than at other times, but e\'en then it is more flimsy and rough than tliat of 
most ducks. 

When {)laccd, as it often is, in some hollow or depression in the ground. 


or among roots, &c., it consists merely of a couple of handfuls of materials 
lined 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 eight or ten to twelve or thirteen in number and of 
a bufF-white colour. 

Dr. Leverkiilin sends me the following interesting note from Sophia, 
which confirms what other observers have said as to the high qualities of 
the Pochard as a mother : — '"'' Nyroca 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 Varna. The 
female shows great anxiety concerning the safety of her eggs, and covers 
the clutch Ijefore leavino- with some feathers from the bottom of the nest. 
I found eight aud ten eggs in a nest/^ 

Hume describes the eggs thus : — "The eggs are very regular Ijroad 
ovals ; the shell smooth, but 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"4: inches in length x 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 they may 
have had when fresh. In shape and texture they agree with Hume's 
description, but one egg has a decided, though faint, gloss. My eggs 
average about 2"2.5 x 1'7 inches. As with other Pochards' eggs, they 
have a rather fragile shell. 

Plate XXV, 



NjTT'Oca. baePL. 

a!. Green . Crwomo- 



Fuligula baeri, Finn, P. A. S. B. 1896, p. 61; id. Jour. A. S. B. ]ivi, 

pt. 2, p. b2o ; id. Indian Ducks, Asian, 1899. 
Nyroca . baeri, Salvadori, Cat. B. J/, xxvii, p. 344; Blanford, Fauna B. I. 

iv, p. 461 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 328. 

Descri_ption. Adult male. — A large spot at the angle of the chin pure white ; 
the remainder of the head aud neck black, glossed with green ; breast rufous- 
chestnut, that colour merging into the black of the head, but sharply defined 
from the white of the abdomen and under tail-coverts ; the feathers of the vent 
brownisb at the base ; flanks rufous-brown ; upper parts dark brown ; the 
scapulars and interscapulars very finely covered with narrow bars of lighter 
brown ; rump and upper tail-coverts brownish-black, a few of the feathers at the 
side 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 the whole of 
the outer web and glossed with olive-green. 

Bill dull slate-blue, the basal third, tip, and nail black ; irides white ; legs aud 
feet greyish-lead, joints and webs darker. 

" Eeet lead-grey, with the joints darker ; irides white or pale yellow." 

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-browu 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. 

Irides grey or brown, perhaps white in very old females ; bill and feet as in 
the male, but still duller. 

" The eyes of the female are brown, rarely grey or wiiitish." {Finn.) 

Length about 16 inches, wing about 7"5,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 
'So ; tarsus about 1-4. 

" The female is smaller than the male, especially about the bill ; but females 
in this species appear to vary in size much more than the males, and, as in the 
Tufted Pochard, some are much duller aud less like the males than others." 


A young male in mj^ possession has the whole bead 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 AVhite-eyed Pochard, to 
which it is very closely allied, yet, as far as fully adult birds are concerned, from 
whicb it is very easily distinguishable. It would appear to average a much 
heavier, bidkier bird ; and all the birds in my collection, among them two 
received from 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 species lie 
side by side, this vast 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 species. 

Its range extends, according to Salvadori, from Kamtschatka to 
Shanghai and Japan, descending south in winter into India, and almost 
certainly into South China and Burmah. 

Mr. Finn, who has kindly given me carte hlanclie 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 ('alcutta Bazaar in 1842 or 184i)j but did not identify 
it, which is not surprising, seeing that it had not been recognised 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 w'eather. 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. "\Ve have other 
birds in plumage intermediate between the A\'hite-eyes, and I therefore 
now think that they interbreed." 

Mr. Finn does not think that Baer's Pochard has been a common form 
merely overlooked. Certainly, as he says to me in ejnstold, 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 nmch like a 
C'ommon White-eye. It maybe, therefore, that there was just a temporary, 
unaccountable rush of this species to India, and that it will again cease. 

At the same time it seems prol)able from his observations in Calcutta 
that the Eastern White-eye will prove to be a regular and not uncommon 
visitor to the north-eastern parts of India, and, almost equally surely, to 


Northern Biirmah. My own collectors on two occasions obtained a younf 
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 oflFered to procure me specimens. 

Mr. Oates assumes that the present bird is the common form of White- 
eye procured in Cachar, Sylhet, Manipur, and Burmah. This, however, is 
distinctly not correct as regards the first-mentioned three places, in which 
the Eastern or Baer's White-eye is infinitely more rare than the Common 
White-eye. 1 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 
eood observers, and in one or two cases good field-ornitholoMsts 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. 

As regards Burmah, 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 Burmah, I only succeeded in getting three — two 
from the Shan States and one from near Bhamo ; all the others sent me 
Avere fine specimens of the Common White-eye. I think the inference 
to be drawn is that, even in Burmah, Baer's Pochard is not the 
common type. 

Again, indenting on Finn, I cjuote from the 'Asian' : — "No one seems 
to have had much opportunity of observing this duck in a wild state, and 
mv own observations have been restricted to captives. It is a better 
walker than most Pochards, and, I have 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 round and round like the surface-feeding ducks. 
The species appeared to stand the heat less well than the Common White- 
eye, and probably breeds in a higher latitude. I am ashamed to say that, 
havinor had 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 \vas not at all good, 
not good enough to finish even. 

I remember about 1898-99 Mr. J. Kennedy, then Deputy Commissioner, 
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 
at all interested in ducks^ 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 Eastern White-eye. 

The bird was one of a flock of about 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 alternation. 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 jmle 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, say that this White-eye is a faster, stronger bird on 
the wing than the CJommon White-eye, an equally good diver and 
swimmer, and much more shy and wary. 

Seebohm, 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*01 x 1"51 inches. It has no gloss, and the texture is exactly 
the same as that of 2i. africana. 













Aythya nyroca, Jenlon, B. I. iii, p. 813 ; Hume, Nest ^ Eggs, p. 645 ; id. 

Str. Feath. i, p. 265 ; Adam, ibid. p. 402 ; Butler, ibid, iv, p. 30 ; v, p. 234 ; 

Davids. S)' Wend. ibid, vii, p. 93 ; Ball, ibid, p, 232. 
Fuligula nyroca, Hume, Str. Feath. vii, p. 493 ; ibid. Cat. no. 969 ; Scully, 

Str. Feath. viii, p. 363; Hume S,- Mar. 6ame-B. iii, p. 263; Vidal, Str. 

Feath. ix, p. 93 ; Hume, ibid. p. 259 ; Butler, ibid. p. 439 ; Beid, ibid, x, 

p. 84 ; Davidson, ibid. p. 326 ; Taylor, ibid. pp. 528, 531 ; Oates, B. of 

Brit. Burm. ii, p. 287 ; id. Nests 4' Eggs (2nd ed.), iii, p. 292 ; Barnes, B. 

of Bom. p. 413 ; Hume, Str. Feath. xi, p. 347 ; Sinclair, Jour. B. N. H. S. 

xiii, p. 192. 
Njrroca ferruginea, Blanford, Fauna B. I. iv, p. 460. 
N3rroca africana, Salvadori, Cat. B. M. sxvii, p. 345. 
Nyroca nyroca, Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 318. 

Description. Male. — Whole head, neck, and breast rich rufous or bay-brown, 
the nape somewhat darker, a dark 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 blackish-brown or dull black, the feathers of the scapulars and 
upper back more or less vermiculated with rufous, the vermiculations often almost 
entirely absent. Wings as in JS\ 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. Irides white ; bill dull slaty ; 
legs dull dark slate, tinged either with grey or green ; and sometimes mottled 
about the joints. 

Length about 17 inches, wing 7'1, tail 3*3, tarsus 1*2 ; bill from front 1-56, 
from extreme base 1-96, width at front '78 and at base "64. 

"Length 16 to 17*1 inches, expanse 24-5 to 27'3, wing 6*8 to 7*45, tail from 
vent 3-1 to 3"5, tarsus 1-1 to 1*3, bill from gape 1*9 to 2-1. AVeight 1 lb. 2 ozs. 
to 1 lb. 9 ozs. 

" 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 ; tlie tarsi often Mith a greenish tinge ; the claws and webs dusky to black." 

Adult female. — Similar to the male, but with the whole plumage duller, the 
head and breast more brown than rufous and ill-defined from the abdomen, which 
IS itself much sullied, except in very old females. 

Length about 16 inches, wing about 7, tail about 3*3 ; bill generally rather 
smaller than that of the male, but sometimes reaching the full dimensions given 
above. Legs, feet, and bill as in the male ; irides grey or brownish-grey, some- 
times white in very old females. 



" Length l-j-O to 1G--5 inches, expanse 24 to 2G-o, «ing 6*8 to 7"4, tail froii* 
vent 3 to 3-4, tarsus 1 to 1-25, bill from gape 1-9 to 2-5. Weight 1 lb. 3 ozs. to 
1 lb. G ozs."" (Hume.) 

Young male. — Similar to the.female, but with the whole head and breast 
much .-suffujed w ith ochraceous. and the centre of the abdomen with the broad 
brown bases to the feathers show ing prominently ; the back is lighter also than 
in the old females, with the pale borders to the feathers well defined. 

Scullv, quoted by Hume, thus describes two young birds : — 

c? juv.. 'SOth Jii.h/. — "Length IG'l inches, expanse 21, wing 5-1, tail 2-4, 
tarsus 1-1, bill from gape 1'75. "Weight I'ro ozs. Bill dusky, livid below ; irides 
dark brown ; legs and feet mottled dusky ; claw s black." 

2 JTiv., 1S^7« Jh?j/.—-" Length 15-7 inches, expanse 26*2, wing 7'5, tail 2-1, 
tarsus 1'2. bill from gape I'O. Weight 1.5-4 ozs. Bill black above, grey-slaty 
below- ; irides brownish-grey ; legs and toes dusky plumbeous, w ebs greyish-black ; 
claws black."' 

Youiig in first plumage. — " Head and neck brown, with scarcely a chestnut 
tinge on the sides of the head; breast and underparts brown, paler, almost 
wbitisli. on the abdomen; under tail-coverts dull whitish." (Salvadori.) 

" Young in down are dark brown on the upper parts, with pale spots on 
wings and scapulars : underparts buff, shading into brown on the flanks." 

Salvadori thu- defines the limits of the White-eye : — '' Western 
Pah'jarctic Region, as far east as the valley of the Obb; 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 West 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 oast of longitude 
9 deo-rees, being stiU found, however, in consideraUe numbers throughout 
Assam, Manipur, Cachar, Sylhet, C'hittagong, and Southern Burmah. 

A^ regards the last-mentioned. hoAvever. some of the records mav refer 
to the Eastern Pochard. 

As it wanders south, it ap}icar> 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 Ratnagiri. about latitude 17° 4'. 
Mr. P. M. Allen records having shot a pair of White-eyes in the Xizam^< 
territory at Xalgonda. latitude 17° 22'. Then to the east coast, Hume 
savs, '• 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 ol: them. In Burinali it has only been recorded as far 
south as Arrakau. 

The kind of water preferred hy 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 also found 
in sea-water, ride Sinclair, who says that it is "the sea-duck of the 
Alibag Coast,'' where they " ride generally just outside the surf, where 
they were 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 &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 pairs are 
really met with. 

As shov.'ing 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 385 duck ; but out of this 
no less than 187 were White-eyes. No doubt their manner of rising is a 
very admirable trait for any duck to possess, and the White-eye has other 
^•ood 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 au'ain seekino- the water. It gets off the water badlv, flutterino- 
about and rising very obliquely ; nor does it rise high when well on the 
wing, but generally flies within a few yards of the surface of the water, 
getting on consideralde pace when once fairly away. It requires straight 
shooting to kill outright, for it is a hardy, close-plumaged 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, wdiere 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 his 


good qualities are, however^ quite overshadowed hy the fact that -when .-hot 
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 that 
of the Red-headed and Red-crested Pochards, excellent eating, but 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, but I have found it to be palatable enough.^' Tastes 
differ, however, and there mav be others to agree with Messrs. Finn and 
Baldwin, but personally I have nearly alwavs found them unpalatable in 
the extreme — fishy, oily, and rank. 

Omnivorous, like all ducks, this species probably makes its diet fully 
three-quarters animal. Those bird- wliieh I shot in the Diyang and other 
hill-streams had all (in addition to the caddis-gruljs, dragon-fly larva?, and 
similar articles) quite a number of small fish, some of them .3 inches in 
length. These were all, or nearly all, of the small '•Miller's Thumb "^ 
species, so common in every liill-.-treain. 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-eve, 

On land, this little Pochard is quite out of his element : he can walk 
all right, and get along well enough for purposes of slow progression, but 
he is very awkward and shuffling in his movements, and incapable of any 
appreciable increase in the sjteed of them even 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 that of the Pochard, a harsh 
' koor, kirr, kirr.' with which one soon becomes acquainted, as they 
invariably utter it ' stuccato ' as they bustle u}i 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 any feet — not without one only, but 
without either, — that Hume raises the point as to how their feet have been 
lost, kc. and says that he himself has killed more than fifty birds thus 
maimed. Frost-bites 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 verv 
unlikelv agents ; and one is thrown back on the fish theorv. 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 many birds losing one or more limbs. 

This is one of the very few micrratorv ducks which breed resnilarly 
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 I was informed 
that in some broads it remained during the whole year. I have never, 
however, succeeded in finding a nest or obtaining any reliable information 
as to one being found in the plains." This was written more than eighteen 
years ago, and the reliable information 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 Sirinagar 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 f/^creasino" in numbers. The nest is an ordinary 
structure of fair dimensions, made in the usual duck fashion of reeds, 
grasses, &c., 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 mu<h : but. in addition 
to this, there appears generally to be a sort of .-ub>idiary lining composed 
of finer grasses and weeds than are used in the bod}- of the nest. This- 
characteristic of the nest is rather marked in < ontrast 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 difficult}-. 

In Kashmir the first few birds breed in the end of April, but not many 
till the becrinning of June : and it was in this month that the regular trade 
in their eggs used to commence. They appear to h^y 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 thev woul 1 seem sometimes to place 


their nest in cover, some little distance from the water ; for Lord Lilford, 
who found their nest in Southern Spain, writes : — " We obtained a n^st 
of nine eggs, from which 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, &c., and lined with thick brownish-white down 
and a few white feathers." 

In 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 amonorst the bushes. The colour of the eo-o; varies from i)ale drab to a 
quite deep cafe-au-lait, the latter colour, if dark, being imusual. Tn 
a few eggs there is a faint yellow or greenish tinge ; but the greatly 
predominating tint is a brown or cafe-au-lait, and nine out of ten will 
be found to be of tliis. 

The shape is, as a rule, rather a long oval, very regular, and they vary 
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 small series I have no 
eggs thus compressed ; all are just about the same at either end. The textiire 
is fine and close, but distinctly more porous than the average duck's efrcr ■ 
and tl)e eggs, in consequence, are very liable to discoloration. The surface 
is smooth, Ijut has no gloss. 

Hume's eggs vary in length between 1*9 and 2'2 inches, and in breadth 
between 1'4 and 1"54. I have two eggs 2*25 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"I9 inches, mine average 
2*12 X l*-i5, showing them, as I have already said, to bs rather narrower 
and long proportionately. 



Blanford unites Faligula ;ind yi/roca, and the difference between them 
ts a very slight one, viz. that whereas Xyroca has the sides of bill practically 
parallel, /'»/?'^w?a, as defined bySaivadori and others, has the end decidedly 
wider than the base. Even this is only a matter of degree, as I have shown 
in the measurements of the bills of N. haeri and JSf. africana, and, but that 
I am following Salvadori^s classification, I should be inclined to take 
Blanford''s, with which I agree personally. As restricted, there are only 
five species in the genus, and of these only two visit India, and of these, 
again, the Scaup only in a very few instances. 

Key to Sjjecies. 

Head never crested ; back and scapulars in adult not black . . F. mar'da. 
Head always more or less crested, and scapulars iu adult black, 

more or less sprinkled with whitish F.fulvjida. 

This key is admittedly a very weak one. In spite of the statement 
that F. fuligula is more or less crested always having such very powerful 
support, the fact is that the head is not always crested, many young birds 
having no visible signs of a crest. 

Mr. Finn has, however, pointed out to me a most useful point in the 
coloration of F.fuUgnla, and this is the wonderful .^iilky or satiny whiteness 
of the lower parts. Even where the white is not pure, the satin texture is 
most apparent, and serves at once to divide the Crested Pochard from 
nearly all other ducks. Adults, of course, are easy to discriminate, and 
for them the above key stands good. 



Fuligula marila, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 814 ; Hume, Str. Feath. viii, p. 115 ; 

ibid. Cat. no, 070 ; Hume ^~ Mar. Game-B. iii, p. 272 ; Hume, St)\ Feath. 

X, pp. 158, 174 ; Stoker, ibid, p, 424 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 413 ; 

Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 355 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 337. 
Nyroca marila, Blanford, Fauna B. I. iv, p. 462 ; Wall, Jour. B. N. H. S. 

xvi, p. 307. 

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, abdotnen, and sides white ; the vent 
somewhat greyish ; the sides with black barrings ; upper wing-coverts blackish, 
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 ; tertials 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 1-8, 
tarsus 1'4." {Salvadori.) 

Male, — " Length 20-0 inches, expanse 32-0, wing 9*0, tail fx'om 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 blackish ; the iris rich yellow ; the edges of the 
eyelids dusky ; the feet pale greyish-blue, darker on the joints ; the membrane 
dusky ; the claws black." {Macgillivray.) 

Adult female. — " Forehead, lores, and more or less of the chin white, en- 
circling 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 in the male ; back and scapulars vermiculated 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.) 

"Length 18"0 inches, expanse 28'0, wing 8*75, tail 2*5, tarsus 1'33, bill 
along ridge 1"83. 

"Bill as in the male, but darker; the feet dull leaden-grey, with the webs 
duskv." (Macgillivrai/.) 

" Young male has the white at the base of the bill like tlie adult female, but 
it is of a darker and richer colour." (Salvadori.) 

rrLIGl'LA ^[AEILA. 235 

Hume's young male had the wing ouly 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 JShjroca, but it has the 
chin, throat, 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 1-6, and at its widest part '78. 

Young in down. — " Crown, nape, and upper parts uniform dark olive-brown ; 
throat, sides of the head, 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.) 

The Scaup is a duck o£ very northern latitudes, breeding in the 
Pala?arctic and Kearctic Regions in the extreme north o£ Europe, Asia, 
and America up to, if not beyond, N.E. in Asia, latitude 70 degrees. In 
the winter it extends south to the basin o£ the Mediterranean, Southern 
Russia 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 em- 
phatically, " 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 degrees. 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 occur- 
rences have been recorded from Kashmir, Kulu and Nepnl in the 
Himalayas, and the neighbourhood of Attock, Gurgaon near Delhi, 
and Karachi in the plains of India, and even Bombay.^' The last was 
recorded in the ' Bombay Natural History Journal ' by Mr. J. D. In- 
verarity, who shot a female on a small tank near Panwell on January 13th, 
1884. "Col. 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 tliat so experienced a sportsman could hardly mistake for any 
otlier species that occur there." I do not know if Col, McMaster said that 
they were adult birds that he saw, if so, perhaps — probably in fact — ho 

236 INDIAN rrcKS. 

was uot mistaken ; liut if tlicy were tho coiiiinon form of yoiui;j; bird 
foiiiid in India as a i-u](^, lie miglit very woll indeed luive heen mistaken. 
It was an unusual tiling, too, that ho should liave soon seceral 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 ])ass 
through my hands : — A fine adult male, procured in the Calcutta Bazaar 
in 1907, but relieve it was taken the dealer could not tell me. A young- 
female sent me as a specimen of the Eastern White-eye, from Chittagong, 
and shot on the coast. A young female shot by Mr. Moore in Lakhim))ur 
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 com})any with a tiight of Crested 
Pochards ; on the second occasion there was a flock of ahout a dozen ])ii-ds, 
but after I had shot one and missed another, as they were driven overhead, 
I never saw them again. 

Possibly the most likely jdace for this ])ird to be m(>t with in India 
would be the coast about the Gulf of Cutch, and north to Karaclii, as the 
fScaup, 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 (yhina they wander further south along the coast, and are far 
more commonly met with there than they are inland. When they are 
met with inland it will ])e generally found that they keo]) to great lak<>s, 
such as Lake Baikal, Lake Balkast, and Sea of Ural, kc. ; in these vast 
extents of water they can live, according to tlunr wont, on the water 
altogether, neither taking 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. 

Capt. Wall has recorded it from Oudh, and quotes a])stracts from the 
Sporting Diary of the Rev. J. Gompertz, which shows that gentleman to 
have shot no less than 11 specimens between 1897 and 1904 inclusive, all 
in Oudh. 

Although, once well away on the wing, the flight of the Scaup is fairly 
fast and strong, they are exceedingly slow and clumsy in getting off the 
water, their maimer 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 of the water 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 up their 


speed, I found that they can work up a very creditable pace, indeed they 
quite deceived nie, 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 from 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 being not wild birds, and of being fairly easy of 
a})proach 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 that the bird may escape, as it is almost impossible to 
follow its movements, and when it does appear on the surface, 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, &c., these 
being mainly such as grow at some dej)th and are obtained by diving ; but 
even here shell-fish, frogs, insects, form the greater part of its diet. When 
in its natural element, on sea, in creeks, estuaries, or along the coast, it is 
almost entirely an animal-feeder, subsisting on shell-fish, small fish, and 
other marine small 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 Newtonj, 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 Scau[) is thus 
described by Seebohm : — " Of all the cries of the clucks that have comc^ 
under my notice, I think that of the Scaup is the most discordant. None 
of them are very musical, perhaps ; but if you imagine a man with an 
exceptionally harsh, hoarse voice screaming out the word scaup at the 
top of his voice, some idea of the note of this duck may b(^ 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 appHed to it are Macgillivray's 
to the effect that " it is not thought mucli of for the tal)le, its flesh 1)einff 
rather rank/' 

The Scaup is one of the most northern breeding of tlie 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 

The description of the nest, as given by various writers, diffiM's great] v: 
one says it is a scanty affair of grasses and weeds, &c., 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 veiy roughly formed, is yet well lined 
Avith 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 their breeding-arrangements. According to Dresser, " Not 
unfrequently several females deposit their eggs in the same nest ; and 
Dr. Kriiper states that in Iceland he 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, 
1871. This nest consists only of grass, without any down as lining, and 
the eggs are uniform greyish stone-bufF in colour, and vary in size from 
2-45 X 1-67 to 2-5 x 1-77 inches." 

The only eggs I have ever seen were taken in Iceland on the 10th June; 
these are dull cafe-au-Iait, 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 JVt/roca afrkana, but not, I think, quite so soft or porous. 
There is no gloss. 

Dr. Paul Leverkiilm 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. Leverkilhn himself obtained 
many specimens on the coast of the Baltic Sea. 



-.:^ ^ 



Fuligula cristata, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 815 ; Butler, Str. Featli. iv, p. 31 ; id. 

ibid. V, p. 23-4 ; Ball, ibid, y'u, p. 232 ; Hume, ibid. p. 496 ; id. Cat. no. 971 ; 

Hume 4' Mar. Game-B. iii, p. 277 ; Hume, Str. Featli. viii, p. 115 ; Vidal, 

ibid, ix, p. 93 ; Butler, ibid. p. 439 ; Held, ibid, x, p. 85 ; Davidson, ibid. 

p. 326; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 414; Hume, Str. Feath. xi, p. 347. 
Fulix cristata, Hume, Str. Feath. i, p. 265 ; Davids. Sc Wend. ibid, vii, 

p. 93. 
Fuligula fuligula, Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xsvii, p. 363 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, 

p. 348. 
Nyroca fuligula, Blanford, Fauna B. I. iv, p. 463. 

Description. Adult male. — Whole head, ueck, back, rump, tail, breast, 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 oi: the wing-coverts have a very 
fine powdering of the 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 whitish at the base, fading into 
brown elsewhere, the white on each quill increasing in extent until, on the inner- 
most, 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 
gi'een. Abdomen white, sharply defined from the breast, but more or loss mottled 
near the black flanks. Irides bright yellow ; bill deep slate, tipped black ; legs 
dull lead-colour. 

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 0-65 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 S-o, 
tail from vent 2*5 to 3-25, tarsus 1-3 to 1*4, bill from gape 1-85 to 2-0. Weight 
IJb. 8 ozs. to 2 lbs. | oz. 

" In adults the bills vary from dull leaden to light greyish blue, the nail and 
extreme tip being black ; the irides 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. As a rule, the colours of the bill and legs are 
duller and duskier in the female than in the male." (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 given me from the Indian Museum, Calcutta, has the whole of 


the lower parts rufescent, and they are mottled everywhere with pale brown, 
except on the very centre of the abdomen. 

The colours of the soft parts are the same as in the male, but generally 

"Length 15-2 to 16-75 inches, expanse 2G-7 to 28-7, wing 7"G to 8-0, 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 
weaklv 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, also, 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 the adult females, but are paler 
brown, especially on the 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 first 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." (Salvadori.) 

" Males in moulting plumage are intermediate in colour between males in 
first plumage and males iu first nuptial plumage. 

" Young in down are dark brown, shading into nearly white on the belly." 

tSalvadori thus defines tlu' habitat of tlie Tufted Pocliard: — " Palsearctic 
Reoion from the Atlantic to the Pacific ; in the Ethiopian Region it 
extends as far soutli as 8hoa. and apparently breeds in tlie high lakes of 
Abyssinia ; in winter in South ( 'hina, Japan, and India, but not in Ceylon 
or Burmah ; accidental in the Malay Archipelago (Philippines and 
Borneo), and in the Polynesian Islands (Marianne Tsl. and Pelew 

As reii'ards its distribution in India. Hume gives very full details. 
He writes : " Very rarely seen in the Himalayas, the Tufted Pochard is 
rather thinly distributed in the cold season in the Punjab and the Doab, 
is scarce in Rajpootana, more common in Rohilkhand and Oudh, and less 
so in the Central Provinces and Bundelkhand. 

" In Sind it is not very abundant ; in Kutcli more ; in Kathiawar and 
Gujerat, in the Central Indian Agency, Khandesh, and the Deccan fairly 

"In Bengal, Cis-Brahmaputra, it has been noted from many districts, 
but I believe it to be rather scarce there, though my information 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, Kachar, Sylhet, Tipperah, 
Chittagong, or any portion ot British Burmah ; 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 way 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 (Joimbatore district, 
nor has it yet l^een recorded from Ceylon. Here, too, however, our 
information is very imperfect, and stragglers will probal)ly turn up in 
many districts whence the species has not yet been noticed. ^^ 

Then in a footnote he says : " This species has not been recorded from 
Kashmir." Lately, however, in the ' Asian,' in the same bag as that to 
which I referred in a previous chapter as having been obtained by 
A. E. 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 occasionally throughout Assam, Cachar, Sylhet, 
and Chittagong ; Mr. R. S. Routh, Superintendent of the Hill Section of 
the A.-B. Ry., shot two fine specimens on the 21st November, 1898, in 
a large tank in the station of Haflong, 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, Subanrika and smaller streams, 
about Patalipam and North Lakhimpur, its very black plumage making 
it very easily distinguishable. Recently it has been recorded as having 
been shot in Burmah, near Mandalay; and Gates, in ' Game-Birds,^ records 
that out of the bag of 562 ducks already referred to as having been shot 
by Captain Johnson and party, no less than 122 were of this species. 
Major Rippon also informed him that this duck was to be found all ovei 
the Shan States, though Gates himself did not meet with it anywhere in 
Lower Burmah. It will doubtless prove to occur plentifully throughout 
the northern half at least of that province, and probably, in small numbers, 
as far south as the north of Tenasserim. 

This Pochard is one that essentially requires open water, and in 
preference resorts to wide expanses of water of some considerable depth 
in the centre, though more or less weed and rush overgrown round 
the shores. Where such pieces of water are to be found, the Tufte(! 


Pochard may be ol)tained in no inconsiderable numbers ; at the >ame time 
it is unusual to find them in any l>at small parties and pairs, and single 
birds are more often to be met with than even such. Sometimes, however, 
they do consort in very large numbers, vide Hume, who says : •• single 
birds or small parties may be found on almost an}' broads in which the 
water is tolerably deep in some places, but the huge flocks in which they 
love to congregate are only met with on large lakes, such as I have above 
referred to. 

" At the Manehar Lake I saw two enormous flocks. I have repeatedly 
seen similar flocks in old times at the Najjafgarh and other vast jhils in 
the Punjaub, the Xorth-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 Pochards on or in the watei-, it 
excels the majority of these — perhaps not uV. haeri — in getting away 
from it. It rises with less fluster, noise, and sjjlashing 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 awkwardlv than any other Pochard 
I know, holibling 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 shoot. Tliis 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 ever get a shot again. It is worth rememl)ering, 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 fusilade 


from ten guns, no more than five (I) birds were collected out of a huge 
flock of ducks diving about all round them. 

Knowing their habits, however, he waited until he and his fellow 
sportsmen were going over the same beat the next day, and then^ extend- 
ing in a long line, they worked backwards and forwards, and this time 
the birds rising in front were, each beat, gradually forced to the end 
of the water. 

After arriving at this they had to fly 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 them on tanks absolutely free of all vegetation. The pair 
shot by Mr. Routh in Haflong were on an artificial tank with no vestige of 
water-plant about it, as it had not been a year in existence. I found 
also that when leaving and entering India, and during the month 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 said to be the typical, harsh, grating " Mr " or " kurr" of 
the Pochard family ; but it is a silent bird on the whole, and seldom 
indulges in vociferations of any sort. 

Its food is almost entirely animal, much the same, in fact, as that of 
the Scaupj but it is far more a freshwater bird, and far less a sea bird, 
than is that duck, though common enouoh on the coast-line alono- 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 sportsmen had told him that they were excellent ! 

They 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. 

The Tufted Duck breeds, as far as we know, throughout the northern 
yjortion 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 (ventral Asia. 
The nest is typically rather a slight affair, made more of grass and bents, 
and less of reeds, rushes, and water-plants, than are most ducks' nests. 
The lining, which is generally very plentiful, is said by Dresser to l)e 



of " Sooty brownish-black down, having all greyish-white centres." The 
nest may be placed either close to the water or actually at the ediio, 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, &c. 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. Leverkiihn sends me an interestino- note on the breedino; of this 
duck. He says, in epistold : — '''' FuUgxda ful'ujula is a very common bird on 
the great lakes of Hungaria, 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, by tips 
of the grass surrounding the nesting-place ; one would have said that 
this particular duck 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 only vary from six to ten in 
number, less, therefore, than 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 average about 2*3 x l'G5 
inches. Wolley's egg, figured by Hewitson, is of exactly the same size. 

Morris figures the egg as exactly like that of the Scaup, but longer 
and proportionately narrower. In colour it is rather a bright pale buff. 

As regards their breeding, he says : " These birds breed along the 
stony shores of the sides of the inland waters, among the cover of vege- 
tation, more or less thick, with which they are usually bordered. 

"The receptacle for the eggs — for it can hardly be called a nest — is 
composed of stalks and grasses. 

" The eggs vary in number from eight to ten. They are of a pale butf 
colour with a tinge of green. 

" The male bird leaves the female after she has beoun to sit.'" 

Gates records the measurements as being between 2*15 and 2*4 inches 
in length, and 1*55 and 1*65 in breadth. 


My own eggs varied a good deal more than these, as my largest is 
2*46 X 1*68 inches, and my smallest 2"15x 1*50. 

Finn^s remark on the cross-breeding of this bird is worth notins; 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 breed either 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/' 



The genus Clangnla is a very small one, containing; only three species 
of birds Avhich range throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Of these 
three, only one, Clan(jula glaucion, 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 o£ the 
nostrils, which are rather nearer the tip than the base ol: the bill, the 
position being well shown in the woodcut in Blanford's -ith vol. 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. 


Clangula glaucion, Hume, Str. Feath. iv, p. 225; id. ibid, vii, pp. 441, 4(i4, 
& 505; id. Cat. uo. 961 bis; Hume tj' liar. Game-B. iii, p. 185; Held, 
Str. Feath. x, p. 85 ; Stoker, ibid. p. 424 ; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 413 ; 
Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 376 ; Blanford, Fauna B. I. iv, p. 464 ; 
Yerbury, Jour. B. N. H. S. xiii, p. 533 : Macdonald, ibid. p. 700 ; Stuart 
Baker, ibid, xv, p. 348. 

Clangula clangula, Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 358. 

Bescri/dion. 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 underparts white ; on the sides of the vent the feathers have 
the bases slaty grey showing through ; feathers of the flanks edged above with 
black, the longer ones on both webs ; back, rump, and upper tail-coverts black ; 
inner scapulars black, the outer ones white, longer scapulars with a white band 
along the middle ; wings black, with a large white patch covering the central 
wing-coverts and the outer secondaries ; the inner secondaries black ; under 
wing-coverts greyish black ; tail blackish grey : bill bluish black ; irides golden- 
yellow ; feet orange-yellow, the webs dusky. Total length about 18 inches, 
wing 8*9, tail 4, culmen 1'4, tarsus 1"45.''' (Salvadori.) 

"Bill black in the male .... the eyes are j^ellow and the feet yellow with 
black webs." (iF. Finn.) 


" The irides are bright yellow iu the females and young males, reddish or 
orange-yellow- in old males, white or very pale yellow iu 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 bluish or greenish 
black, rather duskier and duller coloured in the old females and young, and 
occasionally in these latter, often iu 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 both 
mandibles, never, however, including the nail, which always remains black or 
dusky." {Hume.) 

Female. — " Head and upper neck hair-brown ; a dull white collar round the 
lowei" neck ; upper parts blackish ; mantle, scapulars, and upper wing-coverts 
with j)ale greyish edges ; breast greyish, with the edges of the feathers whitish; 
lower parts white ; sides and flanks dull grey, the feathers edged with white ; 
median vving-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-black, 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. CLilmen 1"35." {Salvadori.) 

" The bill is blackish in the female and young, sometimes with a yellow 
patch at the tip." {F. Finn.) 

" Females. — Length 15-7 to IQ-^ inches, expanse 26-3 to 28, wing 7-o to 
8-25, tail from vent 3-0 to 3-4, tarsus 1-22 to 1-35, bill from gape 1-12 to 1-19. 
AVeight 1 lb. 7 ozs. to 1 lb. 14 ozs." (Hume.) 

"Young in first plumage resemble adult females, but are duller in colour; 
the pale collar round the neck is much more obscure, the grey feathers on the 
breast have white margins. 

" Males in first nuptial dress have less white on the scapulars, the w-hite on 
the hind lower neck is mottled with brown, as is also the white spot at the base 
of the bill. 

" Males in moulting plumage resemble adult females, except that they 
retain the white w-ing 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." (Salvadori.) 

This is a northern form of duck, breeding in Northern Europe and 
Asia, and in America from Maine and Canada nortliwards. Tn winter 
it migrates to Southern Europe, and rarely only into extreme North 
Africa. In Asia it occurs as far south as Persia, China, and Japan, and 
as a straggler enters Northern India and Southern China. In America it 
wanders as far south as Mexico and Cuba. 

The occurrence of the Golden-eye iu India is only, as I have already 


said, as a strafrgler, 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 
aVjout 1870, which was captured by fowlers near Lucknow. 

After ' Grame-Birds ' was written, Hume evidently got other specimens, 
for in the British Museum are two specimens got liv ]{. N. Stoker, which 
were presented by Hume with the rest of his collection. These two birds 
were 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 hare now to record shootino- near Ghazi. on the Indus, a ff-male 
Golden-eye [Clangula glaucion). I saw one drake and four ducks, but, 
unfortunately only succeeded in getting one of the latter. 

'^This measured : length 15'75 inches, ex]>anse 2G*5, tail 3"<jtl, Ijill f roni 
gape 1*G6. Weight 1 lb. 5 ozs. 

" The irides were a bright pale yellow ; the feet bright yellowish 
orange, with dark blackish 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. 

" I showed the first bird to a very intelligent native at Ghazi, and he 
assured me that they 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 were four of them together in a little stream opposite a 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 

" This drake measures : wing 9*0 inches. . . . 

" We all said what a heavy bird, but it only weighed 1 lb. 10 ozs.. 


which is 6 ozs. less than the lightest weight given by Hume for an adult 

" . . . . 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 

" We may now get set down the Garrot or Golden-eye as a regular 
winter visitant to the Punjauh portion, at any rate, of the Indus, and as 
Barnes procured it near the mouth of the Indus, it most probably occurs 
throughout the length of that river. But can it be confined to the Indus ? 
Surely, if properly looked for, it will be discovered in the Chenab and 
other Punjaub rivers. Is it purely a river duck with us, or will it also 
occur in jheels ? Other sportsmen in the Punjaub must help us to settle 
these questions. 

"P.S. — My last Golden-eye is a young female, weight 1 llj. 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 by 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 
notino- ill the orioinal article on this duck in the B. X. 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,^' — Col, Yerbury wrote to the Journal (»i loc. cit.) as 
follows : — " In the Chack Plains, on the banks of the Indus above 
Attock, the Golden-eye is a regular, and by no means rare cold-weather 

'^ On referring to my old Shikar diary, I find the following records 
regarding it : — 

I. Azgar, 2Gth December, '85 (2 spec. ? ? ). 
II. „ 27th December, '85 (1 do. c? immature). 

III. „ 8th February, ^"^i^ (2 do. unsexed). 

IV. River Indus between Attock and Azgar, 24th February, ^80 

(1 spec, unsexed j. 

" On the latter date I was in com|)any with Dr. Stoker, and we shot 
up stream from Attock along the Ijanks of the river to Gaziabad, returning 
the next day to Attock Ijy boat. 

" I can find no records of shooting any specimens during the cold 


weather ot" l^SG--*^", but I tliink this was probably (hie to my having 
refrained from shootini;- them, the (hick l^eing useless for the tal)le. 

" A brief description of the locality affected by the species may bo of 
interest. The river Indus, after having been much narrowed above 
Torbela, by the near approach of the mountains on each side, widens out 
at the Chack Plain to a considerable breadth (possibly G or 7 miles 
in })laces), 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 the channel between the islands and the banks of the river that 
the Golden-eye lies. A similar widening of tlie river takes place below, 
further south, l)elow Kalabagh, and there, probaljly too, the species will 
turn up. 

" I never met with this species away from tlie 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 (hiring three months — April, 
j\Iay, and June, — but I had no opportunity of verifying this statement." 

In 1003j on tlie 25th April, Mr. Morton Eden sent me a duck to 
identify which had been shot Ijy 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 : — " I shot this bird on the 3rd Fel). last, a few miles 
above Sampui'a. I was coming down stream at the time, when the Ijird, 
which 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 l)eyond Sidharoo, the Golden-eye is 
not at all uncommon, and I must liave i^eon 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 a hundred to a hundred and fifty yards off, and 
generally make a fairly long flight before again settling. 

"They always flew off wlicn disturbed, and I never saw them trv to 
escape by diving. 

"In the early mornino- I saw them on several occasions flif{htini{ with 
Mergansers. Their flight is rapid and much like that of the Tufted 
Pochard, but not quite, I think, so rapid as that of the White-eyed 


" I may mention tliat I shot a Golden-eye about ten miles from here 
(Sibsagar) in the cold ^veather of 1885-6. I sent the skin doAvn to 
Calcutta, and I think they now haye it in the Indian Museum/' 

The riyers mentioned by Mr. Morton Eden in the earlier part of his 
notes are in the Sadiya sub-diyision of Lakhimpur, and are practically 
hill-rivers of rapid-running clear water. They are of considerable size, 
eyen -where they just debouch from the mountains, and are the haunts of 
Golden-eyes, Mergansers, Ibis-bill, and probably many other rare water- 

I have, since Mr. Morton 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-weather 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 ImflPalo had crossed a back-water and was standing on a far bank, and 
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 another about in every direction, and 
scattering the shallow water in clouds about them. 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, at once repeated by the other l)irds 
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 Lakhimj)ur, 
on the 18th December, 1901. This bird was in company with a flock of 
Gadwall, and I saw no others either on this or on any of the adjoining 
bheels. It flew well with the Gadwall, Init looked conspicuously smaller, 
and when I fired I thought it was merely a White-eyed Pochard. 


In its actions and habits the Golden-eye seems to he very nuu-h like 
the Pochard. Like them, it is a wonderful bird on the water as v/ell 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 l)ird. Like the Pochard. 
too, it is slow off the water, and rises at an oblique angle with great 
splashing and commotion. Macgillivray says that it is capable of rising 
off the water at one spring with the help of a breeze, i. e. ]jrobably with a 
strong head wind, which, getting under it, would lift the bird at once. 

Unlike the Pochards, however, it is credited with being fairly active on 
land, and the author just quoted says that they sometimes repose on spits 
of land. 

As are the Pochards, so is this bird found alike on salt and fresh 
waters, but there is no doubt that it })refers 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. 

Its flight is swift and strong, and IMacgillivray says : " They fly with 
rapidity in a direct manner ; their small, stiff, sharp-pointed wings 
producing a whistling sound, which in cahn weather may be heard a 
considerable distance." Sir Ralph Payne-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 be heard as it flies by." He also writes anent their diving powers : 
" Scaup or Pochard that may have been under water at the moment of 
firing, after finishing their dive for food at leisure, will startle the fow ler 
by rising close to him as he pushes up to gather his cripj)les. 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 within range after a shot, like the other species 
alluded to." 

Mr. John Cordeaux (' Birds of the Huml)er District ') observes that 
when diving they remain immersed on an average from 45 to 50 


Macgillivray describes the cry o£ this bird as " a mere grunting croak, 
and is never heard to any considerable distance ; the epithet Clangula 
given to it by the earlier ornithologists had reference, not to its voice, but 
to the whistling of its wings/'' 

The number of the flocks seems to vary greatly ; here in India no large 
ones 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, it is said sometimes to assemble in flocks of some hundreds. 

Normally the Golden-eye breeds in hollows in trees, or, less often, in 
holes in the ground, in banks or 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 

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 branch 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 on the rotten chips of wood without any nest, like a 
Woodpecker. These breeding-places are sometimes 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 bill and its 

Dresser's remarks re the l)reeding 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-fowls 
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 or 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 the water^ one after another being 
taken down until the whole brood is taken in safety from the elevated 
breeding-place, and I have been assured by the peasants that this always 
takes place in the dead of the night. The 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 Ijv 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 oi: cases, the Golden-eye selects 
sites by fresh water for breeding-purposes, but they also sometimes breed 
on or near the coast. 

Gates descriljes 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 between 1".5.5 and 1*75 inches. Gates says that in colour they are 
greyish-green of different shades. 

I have two clutches of eggs of this duck in my collection, both o£ 
which I owe to the generosity of Herr Kuschel, of Breslau. The first 
clutch, which are marked '• Sarepta, Siid-Russland, 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 surface is very fine and close with an extremely smooth 
surface, having a strong gloss. The shape of two of these eggs is a very 
regular broad oval, of the third a narrow^er oval with one end decidedly 
compressed and smaller than the other, but not at all pointed. 

These three eggs measure 2'21 by 1*6 inches, 2*20 by 1'72, and 2*12 

The other three eggs are similar, but less intensely green. 

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 tliem in the trees 
in these localities for the birds to build in, and thus procure the eggs, for 
the boxes are sure to l)e resorted to for the purpose of laying in. 

"The nest is made of rushes and other herbage lined with down. 
Mr. Hevvitson found one in a hole in a tree, ten or twelve feet from the 

" 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-coloui-, 
the green tint by no means very })romin('nt. It is also more pointed at the 
smaller end than in anv eoo- I have ever seen. 

Plate XX\'I1I. 


ErismaLura. leucocephala. 

^ Green , Chro-mo . 



The one great distinctive feature of this subfamily is the remarkable 
tail, of which the eighteen feathers are stiff and hard, very much as are 
the feathers of a Woodpecker's tail. 

The subfamily contains four genera : Thalassiornis, confined to South 
Africa : Jyomo7ii/.v to Tropical America ; Biziura, which is only found in 
Australia ; and, finally, Erismatura, which is almost cosmopolitan. 

The first three genera consist of but one species each ; but Erismahira, 
the only genus in which we are interested, has no less than seven, one of 
w'hich, E. leucocejyJtcda, 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. 


Erismatura leucocephala, Hume 4' ^icir. Game-B. iii, p. 289 ; Hume, Sir, 
Fcctth. xii'i, p. 456 ; ix, p. 296 ; x, p. 158; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, 
p. 442; F. Finn, P. A. S. B. 1896, p. 62; Sherwood, Jour. B. A. H. S. 
xi, p. 150; Unwin, ibid. p. 169; 2Iacnah, ibid, xiii, p. 182; Blanford, 
Fauna B. I. iv, p. 466 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, pp. 374, 375. 

Description. Adult male.—" Crown black ; forehead, sides of the head, 
includiug the space above the eye, chin and nape pure white ; below this 
white the neck all rcuud is black ; lower neck and breast chestnut-red, with 
narrow blackish bars ; back, scapulars, sides, and flanks reddish chestnut, more 
or less huffish, and iiuely and irregularly veriniculated with blackish ;' upper tail- 
coverts deep chestnut ; uuderparts, below the breast, reddish but^'y w hite ; wings 
brown-grey, the wing-cov^erts and secondaries finely vermiculated with buft'y 
white ; under wing-coverts grey, tlie central ones whitish ; axillaries white ; tail 
blackish : bill blue ; iris dark brown : feet as])y brown, with the webs black. 


Total length about IS'5 inches, wiug G-o, tail 4-5, culraeu 1-0, tarsus 1*3. " 

" Total length about 18 inches, tail 3-5 (3 to 4-5), wiug 6-3, tarsus 1, bill 
from gape 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, 
I'est 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 specimens are much more 
rufous than others." (Blanford.) 

Captain Macnab gives the dimensions of a female as follows : — " Length 
IGi inches, wing 6|, tail from vent 3|, tarsus l^r, hind toe and claw 2|. 
Bill at point 1^, bill from gape 1§." 

" Bill dull plumbeous ; iris dark brown ; legs plumbeous black." (Salvadori.) 

Young male. — " Very similar in plumage to the old female, only somewhat 
more ruddy on the back." (Sahadori.) 

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.) 

The White-headed Duck inhabits the countries surrounding the Medi- 
terranean, 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, Ijeing, 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 of India,' the only record of the 
StifE-tail Duck was the following :— '^ On the 20th October, 1879, 
Ool. 0. B. St. John, R.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 Kelat-i-ghilzai. These ducks proved to be an immature pair 
of the White-headed Duck.'^ 

Since this was written, however, there have been further rather 
numerous records of this duck. In ' Stray Feathers ' (in loc. cit.) are the 
following : — 

Mr. Field writes of a l)ird sent to ]\[r. Hume: — "I shot this bird 
on the 28tli October at the ' old nullah,' about a mile from the Civil 
Station of Ludhiana, Punjaub. 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, whilst swimminor 
with its tail upturned, was most peculiar. I tried to frighten it into 
flving, 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 " within a few months of this pre- 
diction Mr. F. Field shot an immature bird of this species close to the 
Civil Station of Ludhiana. This was on the 28th October, 1880.'' (The 
bird already recorded.) " 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 now, again, another near the same locality 
on the 28th October of the same year. 

'• Since this was written, Mr. Lean, of the 5th Bengal Cavalry, informs 
me that he has just shot a duck of this species in the Philibheet district." 

Again, in the same volume of ' Stray Feathers/ appears a note by 
Mr. Chill, dated 8th February, 1883: "On the 27th December last, 
I sent you in a tin box an Evhmatura levcocephala. 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 : — " {Erismatura leuco- 
rej>Juda.') The present individual w^as sent to the Editor of the Asian 
newspaper by Captain H. R. Davis, who stated (Asian, Feb. 14th, 1896) 
that it was shot by Captain E. D. White, 52ud Light Infantry, at 
Bettiah, near Hardoi, between Lucknow and Bareilly. It is in heavy 
moult and quite incapable of flight, which, considering the time of its 
occurrence, is rather surprising, and almost looks as if the species might 
lie somewhere resident within our limits." 

It is mentioned in the list of l)irds in Mr. W. R. Lawrence's recently 
pul)lished work on the ' Valley of Kashmir ' as having occurred in that 

Yet again, in 1890, but on December 27th, Major J. (!. 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. 



Col. 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 Macuab, I. M.S., records shooting a female of this species at 
Mardan, Peshawar, in November 1899. 

Finally, Finn, again in 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. This, to the best of my belief, exhausts the list of 
the Stiff-tail Duck's appearance within our limits. 

Of the birds whose age is recorded, only two would a])pear to have 
been adult birds : the male got at Peshawar and the female at Ludhiana. 

It will be noted, also, that all the Ijirds were detained 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, in 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 ])ointing 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. 

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 — thoafjh tins I doubt, 
though I have only had a cripple to study. This bird resembles a grebe 
in its remarkable tameness." 

Captain Sherwood writes in the B. N. H. S. Journal : — " The bird was 
very little longer, if any, than a Common Teal, but much bigger, and 
presented a stumj)y appearance, very ugly and ungainly. The wings 
were hardly more than inches in length. The birds were shot in deep 
water, in a nullah, which they refused to leave after being put up, and 
after a short swift flight 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 head and the carriage o£ ts head gave it the 
iippearance of a duck, its tail, which it carried cocked at right angles to 
its body, and its habit of constantly diving and remaining nnder 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. 

" . . . x\s 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. AVhat did happen was that whenever the hawk poised itself 
in the air preparatory to attacking, the duck dived in continually, and on 
reappearing after some twenty or thirty seconds immediately disappeared 
ngain, keeping all the time very much in the same place. 

" After some five minutes of this, the hawk went off disappointed^ and 
I now approached nearer still. ... It was swimming very low on the 
water : . . . its tail was carried, when swimming, always at a right ano-le 
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 awa}^ from me, diving every now and then. 

'• In this tank Major Barton procured a male, in December 1901, of 
Avhich he remarks : ' It came up several times, only showing its head 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 
••i wonderful swimmer and diver, it is almost helpless 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 resettles, and is then harder than ever to again get off the water. 

It has, according to Xaumann, the power of swimming- in the water 
with only head and neck projecting, in the same manner as the birds of 
the genus Plotus 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 wild fowl we ever met with — gambollino- 
and splashing about on the water, chasing each other, now above, now 
beneath its surface, like a school of porpoises ; they appear half birds, 
half water-tortoises. . . . Presently the strangers entered a small reed- 
inargined bight, swimming very deep, only their turtle-shaped backs and 
heavy heads in sight; . . . with small wings like a Grebe, and long stiff 



tails like a Cormorant : the latter, boinfi; carried under water as a rudder, 
is not visil)le when the bird is .swimming.'^ 

It is a freshwater species, and, as far as I can ascertain, does not liaunt 
coasts and salt water. 

It l)reeds also inland on lakes and marshes, and also on small ])onds, 
placing its nest in amongst dense herbage at the edges, and always well 
concealed. It is a typical duck's nest, containing perhaps more wet weeds 
and rotten material in the base than do 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 coloui-, often much 
discoloured and stained, yery large for the size of the bird, and remarkable 
for their yery rough surface ; so rough indeed is it, that this egg is chosen 
to represent those haying rough surfaces in the National Collection of 
typical eggs. 

A few eggs are said to have a very faint green tinge. 

The length varies between 2'ij and 2'b inches, and the breadth between 
1*95 and 2*05 inches. Most eggs are almost perfect ellipses, a few having 
one end rather smaller than the other. 

MERGIN.E. 261 

Subfamily MERGINiE. 

This subfamily is at once distinguishable from all others by its liill, 
"svhich (lifters very greatly from the shape most generally considered 
typical of a duck. Instead of being considerably depressed in the ordinary 
manner, it is actually compressed, and instead of having the usual lamella 
along the sides has regular tooth-like serrations on the edges of both upper 
and lower mandible. This last characteristic suffices to distinguish the 
MergiuEe from the Meroanettin;e, a sulifamilv which has neither teeth nor 
serrations, but which is not represented in India. 

The Merginse consists of two genera only, as represented in India, with 
one other [Lophodi/tes) confined to North America. 

Keij to (jrenera. 

a. Culmen shorter than tarsus, under I'o inches ; ^^■ing 

about 7 to S inches Mergus, p. 261. 

h. Culmen longer than tarsus, over 1-9 inches : wing 

about to 11 inches Merganser, p. 26S. 


The genus Mergvs contains Init a single species, the well-known Smew 
{Mergus alhellus). Its curious narrow beak and its much smaller size than 
either of the Meroansers will at once serve to distinguish it from all other 
species of duck found in India. 

262 INDIAN' i)i:cKs. 


Mergus albellus, Sahadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 404 ; Blanford, Fauna 

B. I. iv, [t. 467 : Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 413 ; Rattmy, Jour. B. N. 11. S. xii, 

p. 348. 
Mergellus albellus, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 81S ; Jhune, Sir. Fcnth. i, p. 265 ; 

Butler 4" Hume, ibid, iv, p. 31 ; Butler, ibid, vii, p. 188 ; B(dl, ibid. p. 233 ; 

Hume, Oat. no. 973 ; Hume c^- Mar. Game-B. iii, p. 293 ; lleid, Sir. Feath. 

X, p. 95; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 417 ; Gates, 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 ; sub- 
ordinate and lateral feathers of the crest the same, the black extending in a 
narrow line, more or less, on the sides of the bead ; a crescentic black 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 brow n, 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 with white; median white, the remainder black; 
scapulars white, the outer webs edged black, giving them a barred appearance, 
and with a black bar across the base from the centre of the upper back, past the 
shoulder of the wing, and on the sides of the body ; these and the flanks are 
white, very finely barred with black. 

"Bill bluish lead-colour; nail generally brown, often paler ; irides brown ; 
legs and feet lavender-grey." (Blanford.) 

" Bill of a bluish lead-colour ; irides bluish-white ; legs and feet bluish-lead, 
webs darker." (Salvadori.) 

" In fourteen specimens I have recorded the irides as bro« n or deep brown 
iu one as red-brown, and I have observed no other colour. Macgillivray 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 
year 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 the extreme tip, but 
in some it has beeii bluish-white throughout, and in some almost black 




LU a; 



1- if 


" 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 tliese and the toes exhibit small dusky spots 
and patches. 

"Length 17 to 18-1 inches, wing 7"55 to 8-32, tail from rent 3-35 to 4-1, 
tarsus 1-2 to 1'31, bill from gape 1-63 to 1-72. Weight 1 lb. 4 ozs. to 1 lb. 12 ozs.'* 

Female. — The black loreal patch in the male is replaced by rich dark brow n, 
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 white, the flanks more or less 
mottled with dark brown, axillaries white. 

The colour of the soft parts would seem to be the same in the females as in 
the males, but the irides are brown. 

" Length 15'5 to 16*75 inches, wing 7*01 to 7'3, tail from vent 3*3 to 8'9, 
tarsus 1-11 to 1-19, bill from gape 1-48 to 1-6. Weight 1 lb. to 1 lb. 6| ozs." 

Male in post-nuptial plumage assumes the plumage of the female, but; 
appeal's to have the white wing-bar larger and the lesser wing-coverts darker. 
They also " show the two dark crescentic bands on the breast " (Salvadori). 

" Males in 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 
Avith 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." (Salvadori.) 

The hal)itat o£ the Smew during tlie summer and breeding-season is 
practically tlie Palaearctic Region throughout Europe and Asia, whence it 
descends south into Southern European countries, the basin of the 
Mediterranean, 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 Guzorat, the North-West Provinces, and Oudh. 
Jerdon records it from Cuttack, and I met with it more than once near 


Ranijuiij in Bengal, hut it has not been observed i'artlier r-ast nor in 
Southern India."' To this I can add no absolutely certain I'ccord. luit I 
think that once in 1882 I saw a flock ot' these Ijirds, five o£ them, near 
Hazaribagh in Chota Xagpur. It is very unlikely that I could have made a 
mistake in my identification, and I liavo no iloubt, myself, about what tliey 
were ; still I failed to shoot one, so that the record is not a perfect one. 

In the rivers of Assam, where I expected to find this bird compara- 
tively common in the cold weather, I have seen only two flocks — one of 
four birds in Ranganadi, in Lakhimpur. and one of six Ijirds in thf extreme 
north-eastern reaches of the Brahmapootra. I have also had one other 
notification of its occurrence from the same place ; and Mr. J. Xeedham, 
for many years Political Officer in Sadiya, told me he had occasionally met 
them, but that he had never obtained a shot at them. 

I can find nothing further re this bird Ijeing obtained in India, beyond 
the fact that in the British Museum Catiilogue there are three birds, 
*' c? ? ad. et (S juv. sk.," obtained by Falconer in Bengal. As Gates 
remarks, there is no reason why it should not be obtainfd in Xorthfrn 
Burmah, as it extends further east and south in China. 

Even in Xorthern India it can nowhere be called a common bird, 
though there are some places to which they resort with comparative 
regularity, though never, it would seem, in largo numlx'rs. In Bengal it 
is nowhere anything but a straggler, and ( 'attack would appear to be its 
extreme limit south. 

In its northern homes the Smew o-enorallv congregates in flocks, 

numbering anything from a dozen or so to nearly a couple of hundred, 

flocks 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 saw four together, but there seems to be no record of single birds or pairs 

having been obtained. They are as much salt as fresh water birds, though 

they do not seem to have been noticed on our Indian sea-coast. As might 

be expected of sea-haunting ducks, failing salt water, they keef) almost 

entirely to large open rivers and lakes ; but Hume notes : — '" I have, in 

unfrequented localities, occasionally seen them on ordinary good-sized 

jheels, covering, perhaps, barely a square mile." They are essentially diving 

ducks, and, as such, naturally prefer water unencumbered by vegetation 

and which is of considerable depth. They are wonderfully quick, active 

little birds in almost every way. On the wing they are very fast and 

istrong, though they always prefer water to air when possible ; they get 


np very quickly in spite of their short wings, rising lightly and at once 
getting into full swing. As s^yimmers and divers few birds can approach 
them, probably none can excel them. Hume gives them the reputation of 
being even better divers than Grebes and Cormorants, and as he watched 
them divino- after fish, and aoain when divine in clear water after beincr 
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 Smew when ho declares it 
to be smarter even than these. 

It swims very fast indeed, and generally seeks escape by swimming 
and diving rather than 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 it is 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 40 yards ; in an ordinary native boat it 
is no use attempting to circumvent the Smew, for he can swim and dive 
almost as fast, if not faster, than the boat can travel. 

Like the o-enera Phalacrocorax and Plotus, it seems that the Smew 
makes use of its winos to assist it in divino;, 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, ilcc. 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, 

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. 1 
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. 

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. 


AVcire .<ays be took what he believed to be eggs of this species near 
GriefsMuld in Germany, but there Mas litth' by -which lie 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 oljtain or see the parents, and 
though he was very likely right in his identification, they cannot be 
accepted as authentic without doubt. 

]Mr. J.Wolley, in the ' Iljis ' for 1859, p}). 09-76, described at considerable 
length how he obtained eggs of the Smew through a certain Carl Leppa- 
jervi from Sodankyla. After trying for a long time to obtain eggs, without 
the sliohtest 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 l.iy Wolley as follows: — 
'On comparing them with a series of something like fifty ^^ igeon's 
eggSj I found they were jiretty 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 ; but 
all these peculiarities might be accidental, though it seemed remarkable 
that any woodsman trying to pass off "Wigeon's eggs for Smew's should 
have been able to find so abnormal a nest. But it was not very long 
before I satisfied myself that there was a decided difference of texture. 
This could be perceived on an ordinary examination : but it became very 
striking on exj)Osing the egg to direct sunshine and examining the 
penumbra, or space between full light and full shadow, with a magnifying 
glass — the sharp ' mountainous' 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 AVifjeon's. . . . The ivorv-like texture of the Goosander's 
egg was a pretty parallel to the character of the Smew'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 2-04 to 2*05 inches in length 
and from 1'42 to 1*52 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 
decidedlv obtuse. 


Seebohm and Har\ie-Brown obtained the eggs from the peasants in 
Korth-east Russia ; these were obtained from hollows in trees, lined thickly 
with the usual pale grey down. 

According to Gates, " Some of these e^gs brouoht bv 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 l"-42 to 1'52 in 

'' The Smew generally breeds in the month of July, and lays seven or 
eight eggSj 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-eve. ^^ 

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 I 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 obtained by 
Seebohm and described by Gates. It is much stained, but where the 
original colour shows it is an extremely pale, rather clear cream. It 
measures 1'95 by 1'47 inches, and was taken in Finland on the Gth June, 
1895. It appears to me to have been considerably incubated at the time 
it was taken, so they must, sometimes 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 KuscheFs egg, and the dimensions come within the limits already 
given. These eggs were taken in Lapland in the month of June. 

268 INniAN DUCKS. 


The differences between Aferuanser and Mo'ijiis liave already ))eeu 
defined, and there is no other oenus found, or likely to be found, in India 
with which it can possibly be associated. 

According to Salvadori, there are seven species in the genus, but he 
<{[\idef^ Mer(/aHse7' castor into two species, and the Indian form he designates 
Merganser comafiis, and distinguishes as being " somewhat smaller, the 
feathers of the crest thinner, narrower, and longer; the bill usually shorter; 
the male has the black edges of the terlials broader, the lower back and 
rump paler grey and usually much freckled with white." I have had 
very large series of Mergansers pass through my hands now, and, as 
regards these differences, both forms vary infer se in every respect, and 
I cannot understand how they can be made specific, so, in this case, I have 
suppressed Merganser comatus, and think our birds should be known as 
castor, together with the European form. 

No simpler key to the two Indian species can be found than Blanford*s, 
which I give below : — 

it. Head and upper neck black glossed with green. (Adult males.) 

a'. Lower parts white throughout M. castor. 

h'. Upper breast rufous with black marks M. serrator. 

h. Head and upper neck rufous. (Females and uon-adult males.) 

c. Chin wliite, back grey M. castor. 

d'. Chin streaked with rufous, back brown M. serrator. 



Mergfus merganser, Hume, Cat. no. 972 ; Scidhj, >Str. Fcath. viii, p. 364 ; 

Hume 4" -'Vrt/'. Game-B. iii, p. 299 ; Hume Sf Crippa, ibid, xi, p. 347 ; 

Akl-en, Jour. B. X. H. S. ii, p. 56. 
MergUS castor, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 817; Hume, Str. Feath. i, p. 423; 

Parl-er, ibid, ii, p. 336 ; Bcdl. ibid. p. 439 ; Hume, ibid. A-ii, p. 149 ; Ball, 

ibid. p. 233. 
Merganser castor, Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 472; Bl an ford, Fauna 

B. I. iv, p. 469 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 123 ; Inrjlis, Jour. B. K H. S. 

xiv, p. 393. 
Merganser merganser, Gates-, Game-B. ii, p. 390. 
Merganser comatus, Salvadori, Cat. B. J/, xxvii, p. 475. 

Description. Adult male. — Whole head, upper neck, and crest hlack, glossed 
with metallic green, showing purple iu sunlight, the centre of chin and throat 
unglossed ; lower neck and underparts wliite ; upper back glossy black ; lo\^"er 
back, rump, and upper tail-coverts grey, more or less vermiculated with white on 
the outer feathers, and the tail-coverts also Avith dark shafts and sometimes with 
paler edges ; tail sih'ery brown, pale and more grey on the lower surface ; 
primaries and outer secondaries very dark brown ; inner secondaries white, with 
a narrow edging of black on. the outer webs ; lai'ge secondary-coverts white 
with black bases ; primary-coverts and edge of wing black ; remaining coverts 
white ; outer scapulars white, with narrow black margins ; the inner all black ; 
one or two next the white ones tipped or with narrow, irregular A\hite edgings. 

" 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 black. In some this stripe is only indicated. There 
is often more or less of dusky on the lower mandible, Avhich, 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, \A"ith scarcely a tinge of brown. 

" The legs and feet, including the webs, are bright vermilion in the old of 
both sexes, perhaps rather duller in the females, and reddish-orange in younger 
birds. The cla^s greyish or horny white, brownish or reddish towards their 
bases." {Hume.) 

" Length about 25 inches, tail 4-25, wing 9*5, tarsus 2-0, bill from gape 
2-7.-"' (Blanford.) 

"AVing 10-95 to 11*8 inches, tail from vent 4-80 to 5-9, cuhnen 1-90 to 2-10, 
tarsus 1-68 to 1-80."' (Salvadori.) 

*' AVing 10-95 to 12-1 inches, tarsus 1-86 to 2*03, bill from gape 2-25 to 2-6. 
Weight 2 lbs. 12 ozs. to 3 lbs. 5 ozs." (Hume.) 


The weights of the few males I liave personally weighed, or obtained the 
^\ eights of from other sportsmen, have varied between 3 lbs. and 4 lbs. 8 ozs. 
In both extremes the birds were specimens shot and weighed by myself. 

It wiW be seeu from the above that the wing varies from 9-5 to 12-1 inches 
according to different authorities ; but, though I have the measurements of some 
40 males, mv wing-measurements oiily vary between 9'6 and 11*2 inches. 

Adult female. — Chin and throat white, and lores somewhat albescent ; 
rest of head and ueck dull rufous, the crown more brown ; sides of neck and 
whole lower surface white, the flanks striped with grey; primaries and first 
i'ew secondaries dark brown, the next few white, the innermost grey witli 
dark margins ; upper parts grey, rather inottled in appearance, and tlie upper 
tail-coverts with dark shafts ; tail grey-brown with darker shafts ; some of tlje 
scapulars vei-y dark brown ; the lesser and median Aving-coverts mottled grey 
and greyish-white. 

The colour of the soft parts seems to resemble those of the male, but are, on 
an average, somewliat darker and more dull. 

In size it is considerably smaller. Blanford gives the wing at about 9 inches, 
and Hume as 6-S to 1 0-9.5 inches. The weight as being 2 lbs. or 2 lbs. 10 ozs. 
The wiugs of the females shot by myself varied between 7 5 and 10*2 inches, 
and the weight between 2 lbs. G 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." (SeehoJim.) 

"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 wliitish wing of tlie immature bird." {Seeholun.) 

" Males in first nuptial dress have more grey on the shoulders tlian adults. 

" Young in down. — Similar to that of M. serrator, but perhaps not so dark on 
the upper parts." (Salvador i.) 

A very young, unsexed, bird in the Indian Museum, Calcutta, lias 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 

The Goosander is found ut different times throughout the whole o£ 
Europe and all Asia above the 20th degree of latitude, below which it onlj 
■occurs as a straggler. 

In America it is replaced by a very closely allied species. 

In regard to Indian limits, Hume goes so fully into details that I 
cannot do better than quote him fully. He writes : — 

" In the larger rivers of the Himalayas, though nowhere numerically 
very aV)undant, they are so universally distributed high np in summer, 


low down in winter, tliat 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 Himalayas I have received them, or known for certain 
of their having been detained, from the Peshawar Valley, on the (.*abul 
River ; near Attock, Kalabagh, and just above Dehra Ismail Khan on the 
Indus ; near Sealkot, on the Chenab, and smaller streams ; the Kangra 
Valley; below Roopur on the Sutlej; Dehra Dun, not only on the 
Ganges from Rukikes to below Hurdwar, but in the interior; Pilil)hit 
on the Sardeh ; the Sandi Jhil, near Hardui (Irh>/) : the Kosi River 
towards the north of the Purneah district ; the Western Doars (where 
they appear to b3 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 Road, where there were some 
hundreds (^Parker) , on the Damuda in Bankurah and Bardwan ; in 
Manbhum and Dhalbhum on the Subanrika; Lohardugga (i?t<//); Singh- 
bhum (Chyebassa^ Tickell); the Rer River, Sirguja (Ball); the Mahanadi, 
near Arung (RaipurJ, and further down almost to Sambalpur (Bleivitf) ; 
this latter district north of the Mahanadi {Ball) ; Palamow (^Money) ; and 
the Sone River near Dehree-on-Sone {E. Stewart, C.S. — W. Forsytli); 
lastly, Ajmere, near which place Major O'Moore Creagh, V.C., shot a 
fine male in a large tank." 

In addition to these places, in ' Stray Feathers,^ vol. ii, Hume gives 
Sylhet and Cacliar, though I have never seen or lieard of them myself in 
either of these districts. 

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 
{J\Ier(jus merfjanser) at Shewa just across the Bombay Harbour on the 
2nd irjst. (Dec). It was a female or immature male, and was playing 
along in a shallow sheet of water which formed the reservoir of one of 
the salt-works. I believe this is the most southern point in India from 
which this l)ird has yet been recorded.'"' 

Gates, merely because it was found in saJt xcater, does not accept 
Mr. Aitken's identification, and thinks it must have been M. serrator. I 
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 Merganser shot by R. ¥. B. at 
Myitkyina, Burmah, and sent with a note to the 'Asian,' dated 1st March, 
1897, the bird haA'ing been shot tiie previous day. This bird was identified 
by Mr. F. Finn, Avho kindly notified me o£ its occurrence. 

Oates, in his ' Clame-Birds,' says that "The Goosander is a connnon 
bird in the Upper Irrawaddy, antl occurs in small parties o£ from two or 
three to six. Owing to my being obliged to travel about in steamers, I 
never succeeded in shooting one of these birds, 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 th(>i Subansiri and 
many other hill rivers and streams, in the cold weather, in flocks of forty 
upwards, and one flight I estimated at over two hundred. I should think 
that on the 25tli, 2Gth, 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, Avhere the birds allow boats to approach within 
thirty yards. 

The Goosander is a permanent resident in India, but during the 
summer is confined to the Himalayas at various heights about 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 their local migrations have been 
already noted. 

In most countries the Goosander is nearly as much a salt-water as 
a fresh- water frequenter, l)ut here, in India, it seems to be essentially a 
fresh-water species, and the only record of its having been shot in the 
sea, within om- limits, that I can find, is that of Mr. Aitken. In the 
Persian Gulf, however, it has been frequently obtained, and possibly closer 
search on our extreme north-western coast might produce more birds. It 
liaunts 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 Groosander 
likes, rather than dislikes, a rough current, and in the same way they do 
not appear to be at all troubled by a rough sea ; thus Dresser iiotes 
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 Groosander may be found on such^ though in 
these cases the water will invariably be found to be free of much vegetation 
and fairly clean and clear. / 

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 it is quite at home in the 
rough tumbling hill-streams which it frequents in its summer home, and 
will there be found swimming and diving at its 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 
equal the Smew in this respect. It is, however, only as a last resource 
that he takes to wing, for, though once well up and away his flight is said 
to be strong and comparatively swift, he takes long to rise off tlie water 
and a long time to get properly under way. In India, as a matter of 
fact, I consider that the flight of the Merganser, unless he is frightened, 
is decidedly not swift, though when shot at ho can get up a fair pace. 
They 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 eith(n- of these birds, although, 
as already noted, unless actually frightened it is by no means quick. 


Swimming about undisturbed and with no particular object in view, they 
float with about 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 tcounded 
and pursued they never show more than their heads and necks out of 
water. This is so, and I saw it repeatedly in the Subansiri and other 
rivers o£ Assam; but this mode of swimming did not seem to be resorted 
to unless the birds tvei'e wounded or frightened. 

As a rule, all over their 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 fewer individuals. A 
note sent me by Mr. S., of the Civil Service, from Darbhanga, mentions 
only seeing comparatively small flocks. My own experience has shown 
that about a dozen birds are most often found in a flock, but that they 
join forces during the morning and evening flighting, when flocks of forty 
to sixty are common, and, as I have mentioned above, sometimes as many 
as two hundred may be seen in one flight. 

The food of the Groosander 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 got them fairly 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 be 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 ra})id." 

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 in fishing 
rivers. Mr. E. T. Booth, in ' Rough Notes,' writes : " Goosanders are 


blessed with strong, healthy appetites ; . . . when wounded or alarmed, I 
have occasionally remarked an immense quantity o£ fish was thrown up. 
After a shot .... at a number of these birds .... scores of small rudd and 
roach were discovered lying on the surface where the flock had been 

Again, to quote Mr. Finn from the ' Asian ' : — " A captive bird I had 
under observation devoured no less than forty fish, about two inches lono-, 
at a meal. No castings were found, but bones and all were dioested as 
by a Cormorant, and the excreta were semi-fluid and very foetid. The 
stomach of this bird proved to be soft throughout, not hard and muscular 
like a duck's gizzard.^' 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 ounces, from 
the crop of a male, and on another occasion I extracted 8 ounces of fish 
from a female who had, when first wounded, already thrown up some. 

The cry with which the Goosander is generally credited is a croak l)y 
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 River, which 1 
devoted entirely to obtaining specimens of the Goosander, and they un- 
doubtedly 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 one hundred 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 winged, fell with a splash a hundred 
yards away and at once dived. Paddling as hard as they could, the 
boatmen took me to the spot in a very few seconds, l)ut 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 ao;ain carried out, and 
again with the same result, and nearly half an hour's chase had been 
kept up before T 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 exhausted 
and very soon gave me a fair shot which finished it off. All this time 
]iarties of birds, small and large, had been passing down the river^ but 
none had come within 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 our attention to the flocks which 
were sunning themselves on the banks or playing in the streams or 
backwaters. These latter, however, we soon found to be quite un- 
approachable, and gave up in order to try those on the banks. 

These we were more successful with, as T 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 olitained no shot ; but the third time a 
crawl on my stomach of over two hundred yards on the sand brought me 
within about forty yards, and as the flock of some thirty birds rose, I 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 l)irds in the 
water, two going up stream and two down, and a hard hour's work 
resulted in only one capture, the others very probably leaving the water 
for the banks or hiding under the banks themselves. 

Further stalks and further chases enabled me to bring the contents 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 within fifty 
yards were quite 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 without 
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 ten minutes or so, when their dives began to shorten. 

My experience as to their progress on laud does not at all agree with 


what Hume writes. He says : — " On land one sees them restino; on the 
water's edge, and when disturbed they shuffle on their breasts into the 
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 wonderfully 
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 

When running on land 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 tumble 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 ichen close to 
the icater 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 article 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 any 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. 

This Merganser undoubtedly breeds freely throughout a great portion 
of the higher and well- watered Himalayas from 10,000 feet upwards, but 
so far no one has, I believe, ever taken nests or eggs, though the young 
have been captured. 

A very careful search through every book on the subject available in 
the Asiatic ^Society's fine library has brought to light nothing that has not 
been freely quoted already with regard to the nidilication of this bird, so 
I must again make use of the previously much used remarks of Dresser, 
Seebohm, and others. 

Tlic Goosander breeds throughout most of Northern Europe and Asia. 


Its nest lias been taken frequently in the British Isles, thongh the l)ird is 
more common in winter than in the l)r(HMling-season ; it is t'ouiid at that 
season tlnoughout Denmark, Norway and Sweden, North Germany, and 
North and East Russia, and thence throughout North (Jentral Asia, 
descending through far lower latitudes — /. c, Himalayas, the Pamirs, 
Thibet, Persia, &c., &c. — in the west than in the east. 

Normally the Goosander makes a rough nest in a hollow of a tree, 
lining the same very copiously with down. This tree is, as a rule, close 
to water or at all events within a hundred yards or so of some stream or 
lake, but sometimes it is placed in a tree well away from all water. 
Thus Mr. Booth, in ' Hough Notes,' observes : — '' Throughout the districts 
in which I met with Goosanders during the breeding-season, the females 
appeared in some instances to resort to situations for nesting-purposes at a 
considerable elevation on the hills. A cavity in a large and partially 
decayed birch was pointed out l)y a keeper as the spot from which some 
eggs had been taken ; the old and weather-beaten stump was on the 
outskirts of a thicket of birch, tir, and elder, stretching from a swamp 
up a steep brae and iL-'ithin a mile of a loch."" (The italics are mine.) 

Dresser, in his ' Birds of Europe,' notes : — " In Denmark it ... . 
remains to breed, nesting in hollow trees. ^' 

Acerbi, quoted by Yarrell, Hume, &c., &c., writes of Lapland : — " 7Vie 
Menjus merganser instead of building a small nest like the ducks .... 
chooses to lay her eggs in a trunk of an old tree, in which time or the 
hand of man has made such an excavation as she can conveniently enter. 
The person that waylays the bird for her eggs places against a iir or pine 
tree, somewhere near the bank of a river, a decayed trunk with a hole in 
its middle ; the bird enters and lays her eggs in ; presently the peasant 
comes and takes away the eggs, leaving, however, one or two ; the bird 
returns, and, finding but a single egg, lays two or three more, which the 
man purloins in the same manner; the bird still returns and .... })roceeds 
once more to complete the number she intended. She is defrauded of 
her eggs as before and continues the same process four or five times. 
As soon as the eggs are hatched, the mother takes the chicks gently in her 
bill and lays them down at the foot of the tree, when she teaches them 
the way to the river, in which they instantly sw'im with astonishing 

It also often makes use of the nest-boxes which are hung up in so 
many countries for the use of ducks generally, the custom being recorded 
from Scandinavia, Pussia, Finland, North Germany, Lapland, and 


Greenland. Seebohm remarks: — ''The Goosander immediately avails 
itself o£ the wooden boxes which the Finns fasten up in the trees to 
tempt them. These boxes are made with a trap-door behind, so that the 
peasant may daily rob the nest, and thus make the too-confiding bird lay 
a score or more ego-s." 

Sometimes, however, the nest is made on the ground. Thus Dresser : 
" In Uleaborg- I obtained eggs from nests on the ground^ in a hollow 
scratched out and filled with down." Again, Dybowski, Avriting of its 
nidification in Southern Siberia, says : It nests on the ground, amongst 
the grass, building with dry grass and lining the interior thoroughly with 

The bird is a very close sitter and most ali'ectionate mother. 
Dr. Leverkiihn writes to me : — " Mer<janser castor. — Four times I found 
this beautiful bird breeding in North Germany and Finland ; the nests 
were placed in holes in old trees^ once in a public garden in the vicinity 
of a small town. The female bird was on the egos and did not like to 
relinquish them, although we made much noise by striking with our 
sticks against the tree. In the end I climbed up to the hole and 
attempted to capture the bird with my hand, covered by a stout glove, 
but the bird attacked me so energetically that she made the blood run 
from my hand and I was forced to retire. I returned the following day 
with two friends and a complicated machine for taking the bird, but on 
our approach we were very much disappointed to find the hole empty 
without bird or eggs. The whole hollow was filled by a mass of downy 
feathers, quite sufficient to make a pillow. 

" On a melancholy lake in the midst of Finland I once observed a 
female with thirteen chicks, who climbed about on the back, and even on 
the head, of their mother_, probably being tired by the, as yet little used, 
art of swimming." 

Several other observers have seen the female Goosander carrying her 
ducklings in this manner. 

Booth notes one thing which I should not pass over. He says : 
" From time to time a portion of the In-ood turn over on their backs, 
remaining often in this position for several seconds."' Most of us know 
the unha[)py result if a tame duckling has the misfortune to tumble over 
on its back. 

The eggs are said by various writers to number i'rom six to twelve, 
though the birds will continue to lay on l)eing robbed, and in such cases 
will lay over a score of eggs. 


Yarrell describes the eggs as being o£ a " unit'omi bntf-coloured white, 
measuring 2^ inches in length by 1 inch and 8 lines in breadth. Six or 
seven vouno; are considered a lari«o brood ; the careful mother has been 
seen .... to carry some o£ her offspring on her back when in the water.' 
Dresser says that the eggs are, or are said to be Ijy his correspondents, 
'^ warm, yellowish-white,*' and '• rich cream or creamy-white, very smooth 
in texture of shell, and in size average about 2'40 x 1*40 inches. The 
down in which they are deposited is greyish-white." 

Hume writes : — " The eggs are said to vary in nuudjer from seven to 
twelve. They are broad, regidar ovals, with very line, smooth, satiny 
shells ot" a uniform bufty-white or creamy-yellow. They vary from 2*5 to 
2"9 inches in length and from 1"(JG to 1'9 inches in breadth, liut the 
average of eleven is 2'7 by 1*8 inches nearly.'' 

I have two eggs of this species in my collection which were taken in 
Lapland on the 20th April, 1886, and eight others which were taken in 
April 1897. This seems to be about the normal time for them to 
commence to lay, Ijut as the first two eggs were considerably incubated, 
they had probably Ijeen laid early in the month. They are found well on 
into June, My eggs are rather long, very regular ovals, though in all 
there is an apprecialjle difference between the two ends. The texture is 
extremely smooth and close, and has the satiny feel to the touch that some 
passerine birds' eggs have. The colour is a very pale dull buff with a 
decided gloss. They measure 2'75 by 1'82 inches and 2'i}2 by 1*72 inches 
in the first two and average in the second eight 2*73 by 1*81: inches. 

Plate XXX. 






Merda^nser ser>pa.tor>. 

J.Green, Chromo. 



Mergus servator, Hume c^- Mar. Gcane-B. iii, p. 305; Hume, Str. Feath. ix, 

p. 26S ; Barnes, B. of Bom. p. 41G, 
Mergus castor, Hume, Str. Feath. iv, ]>. 496 ; Butler, ibid, v, pp. 291, 323. 
Merganser serrator, Salvadori, Cat. B. J/. xx\ ii, p. 479 ; Blavford, Fauna 

B. I. iv, p. 47U ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 124 ; Nurse, Jour. B. N. H. S. xiv, 

p. 400 ; Oates, Game-B. ii, p. 402. 

DescrijJtion. Adult male. — Whole head, crest, and a uarrow line down 
the nape of the ueck black, the posterior part of the head and the crest glossed 
green ; neck white ; back black ; lower back, rump, and upper tail-coverts white 
and very dark brown in fine wavy lines, the bases of tlie feathers on the lo^er 
back brown and showing a good deal ; tail dark grey, edged paler. The primaries, 
three outer and innermost secondaries dark brown, the next white with black 
bases, and from these to the longest white with narroAv black margins ; greater 
and median coverts white ; edge of the wing and smaller coverts brown ; breast 
i-ather 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 black. 

Males.—" Length 24-0 to 26-0 inches, expanse 29-0 to 32-5, wing 9-0 to 10-0, 
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. 

" 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 browner 
or redder, towards their bases." {Hume.) 

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 neck pale rufescent-grey, 
A\ith darker centres to the feathers ; a faint supercilium dull rufescent-white ; a 
dark eye-streak like the lores; ciiin and thi'oat rufescent-white ; remainder of 
head and neck dull rufous ; upper parts ashy-brown, most of the feathers edged 
paler ; lower parts white ; 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-toverts grey and white. 


" Length 22-0 to 23-5 inches, expanse 28-0 to 31-0, wing 8-5 to 9-3, tail from 
insertion of feathers 2-7 to 3-6; tarsus 1-G6 to 1-83, bill as above 2-1 to 2-3. 

"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." {Hume.) 

"Adult male in summer. — In the plumage that the male of this species 
assumes for a short time during the summer it resembles the female, but is 
distinguishable by its larger size, the different colour of the abdomen and of the 
scapulars." (Dresser.) 

" Young male closely resembles the 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 the white 
round the neck streaked with brown." (Salvadori.) 

" 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 ; underparts pure white, and lores white, margined above and below 
with dark brown." (Seebo?un.) 

The E,ed-breasted Merganser is found practically tliroughout the 
Northern Hemisphere, breeding to the north, and extending south to the 
Mediterranean basin, 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-Workl form. 

In India there is no doubt that it occurs only as the most rare of 

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 mistake ; he says : — 
" The l)ird stated in ' Stray Feathers ' and the British Museum 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 

In ' Stray Feathers ' (v, p. '323), Captain (tlien) E. A. Butler notes :— 
" There is a fine specinu^i, a ? , of this species in the Frere Hall Museum, 
shot by Captain Bishop, at the Manora Point off the Kiirachi Harbour ; 
another specimen has just now been captured, at the end of June." Both 
these birds are referred to as M. cador, but the first was the M. sernUor 


obtained by Oapt. Bishop at Chalibar, as already noted. Whether the 
second bii"d was M. castor or J/, serrator I cannot ascertain. 

Beyond this there are only three recorded instances of the actual 
occurrence of the Eed-breasted Merganser within our limits. Of these 
the first was that obtained by Major Yerbury at Karachi, and which may 
be the second noted by Capt. Butler. The wings of this are in the British 

The second Indian specimen is that in the Indian Museum, Calcutta, 
an unsexed specimen obtained in the Calcutta bazaar on December 17th, 

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 unfortunately, was not preserved. 

The habits of this bird vary little from those of the last, the main 
thing about it being the fact that it is more essentially a sea-bird. Like 
the Goosander, it generally associates in rather small flocks, but may 
occasionally be seen in parties numbering as many as two hundred or 
even more. 

Dresser, wanting of this bird, observes : — " In the Gulf of Bothnia, 
wdiere 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 wdierc the forests extended down to the shores, and frequently 
in localities where there are reeds or dense herbage, as is frequently the 
case on portions 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 the coast of 
New Brunswick I observed them fishing in flocks at the entrance of a 
small bay, and evidently driving the fish before them, as they formed a 
sort of cordon round the entrance to the bay, some diving, whilst the others 
remained on the surface. When pnrsued or threatened with danger, it 
usually seeks safety by diving in preference to trusting to its powers of 
flight. It flies with great swiftness, and I observed, Avhen one passed at 
full speed near my hiding-place in the rocks, tliat it made a whistling sound 
with its wings, easily heard even at some little distance. It feeds on fish 
of various kinds ; larvse of water-insects, worms, and it is also said to some 
extent frogs, form its staple food." 

Nauiiiann describes their cry as "a loud, resounding, guttural koev-rr 


or ffer-rr,^'' heard chiefly during flight, sometimes on rising, and the f^emales 
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. 

As regards its breeding-habits, it is remarkable that whereas it is the 
exception for the Goosander to breed building its nest on the ground, it 
would appear to be the rule for this bird to do so, and the exception for it 
to build 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 YarrelFs ' History of British Birds,' iii, p. 2^58, there are the 
following remarks : — " This species, Mr. Thompson says, .... is in- 
digenous to Iceland, nesting in islets both of marine and freshwater 
loughs. Pennant has recorded its breeding in the Isle of Islay. Sir W. 
Jardino and Mr. Selby found nests of this species wdien on a fishing- 
excursion upon Loch Awe, in Argyleshire. One of these nests was n})on a 
small wooded island })laced among thick brushwood, under tlie 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 reseuibling 
that of the Eider Duck. It contained nine eggs, of a rich reddish-yellow 
01' fawn-colour. The bird was remarkably tame, sitting until nearly taken 
with a small hand-net. Sir W. Jardine very kindly sent me one of these 
eggs for my collection ; it measured 2^ inches in length and 1^ inches in 

Dresser also says that "it usually ])Iaces its nest upon the ground in 
quiet, unfrequented places amongst the low Inishes or rank lierl)age : 
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 a few 
small pieces of twigs well felted together and mixed with down. 

"The eggs, from eight to twelve in number, are usually de})osite(l in 
June, or somewdiat earlier than that." 

He describes the eggs as being "a dull stone-drab or creamy butll". 
with a greenish-grey tinge, and measuring a})proximately from 2*55 to 
2'80 inches in lenoth and 1*70 to 1"85 in breadth.'" 


Morris, who gives a longer note on the nidification of the Red-breasted 
Merganser than on most dncks, observes : — " These birds build, 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 the 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 

" The eggs are from six or seven to nine, ten, or eleven in number, of a 
rich reddish-yellow or brownish-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 almost allow 
herself to be 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, comparatively perhaps, unusually 
well put together and compact. All note the curious way 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 it breeding in old 
crows' nests. 

The eggs in my collection vary in length between 2"39 and 2"f35 inches, 
and in breadth only between 1*7 and 1'7G. 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, and anothei- on the lOth 
June, 1880, and the third 2nd July, 1898. 


acuta, Anas, 18]. 

, Dafila, 181. 

^x, 54. 

f/aleriadata, 54. 

africana^ Nyroca, 227. 
Aix galerlculata, 54. 
alheUus, Mergellus, 262. 

, Mergus, 262. 

alhifrons, Anser, 70. 
aVbigulare, Nettion, 175. 

, Nettium, 175. 

alhigidaris, Mareca, 175. 
^nrts, 123. 

acuta, 181. 

boscas, 124. 

boschas, 124. 

caryopliyllacea, 41. 

circia, 188. 

crecca, 167. 

falcata, 143. 

galericulata, 54. 

leucoptera, 32. 

pcecilorliijncha, 133. 

scutulata, 32. 

zo7iorJiync7ia, 140. 

Anatidce, 10. 
Anatince, 92. 
Andaman Teal, 175. 
andersoni (Phoenicoj'tenis), 2. 

angustirostris, Chaulelasmus, 202. 

, Marmaronetta, 202. 

, Querquedula, 202. 

Anser, 61. 

albifrons, 70. 

anser, 63. 

hracliyrliynchus, 76. 

cinereus, 63. 

erytJiropiis, 70, 73. 

ferus, 63. 

finmarchicus, 73., 84. 

middendorffi,, 82. 

minutus, 73. 

neglectus, 80. 

rubrirostris, 63. 

■ serrirostris middendoi'jffi, 

Anser L's, 10. 
Ansermce, 60. 

antiquorum, FJuenicojiterus, 2. 
arcuata, Dendrocygna, 99. 
arvensis sihiricus, Melanonyx, 82. 
Asarcornis, 32. 

leucoptera, 32. 

scutulata; 32. 

awsuree, Dendrocygna, 99. 
Aythya ferina, 217. 
nyroca, 227. 



baeri, FuUyula, 223. 

, Ni/roca, 223. 

Baikal or Clucking Teal, 162. 

Bar-headed Goose, 84. 

Blue-wing Teal or Garganey, 

hoacas, Anas, 1 24. 

hosch'ts, Alias, 124. 

hracliyrlvi nchns, Anser, 76. 

, Melanony.v, 76. 

Brahminy Duck or Buddy Shel- 
drake, 114. 

Branta ruficoUis, 89. 

nifiaa, 208. 

Broaze-capped Teal, 143. 

cart/ophi/llacea, Anas, 41. 

, Rhodonessa, 41 . 

Casarca, 114. 

leucoptera, 32. 

rutila, 114. 

casarca, Tadorna, 114. 
castor, Merganser, 269. 

., Mergas, 269, 281. 

Chaidelasnius, 148. 

angustirostris, 202. 

streperus, 148. 

Chenomorphce, 1. 
cinereus, Anser, 63. 
circia, Anas, 188. 

, Qut'rquedula, 188. 

Clangida, 246. 

clangida, 246. 

glaiicion, 246. 

Clucking or Baikal Teal, 162. 
cl'ipeata, Spat.ida, 196. 
comatus. Merganser, 269. 
Comb-Duck, 23. 

Common or Lesser Whistling-Teal, 

Common Teal, 167 

Wild Duck or Mallard, 


cormita, Tadorna, 109. 
coromandelianus, Nettapus, 4". 

, Nettopus, 47. 

coromandelicus, Nettajms, 47. 
coromanclas, Nettapus, 47. 
Cotton-Teal, 47. 
crecca. Anas, 167. 

, Nettion, ] 67. 

, Nettium, 167. 

, Querquechda, 167. 

Crested Pochard or Tufted Pochard, 

cristata, Ftdigida, 239. 

, FulLv, 239. 

Cygnince, 10. 
Ciignus ferns, 1 2. 
musicus, 12. 

oZor, 16. 

unwini, 16. 

sp., 16. 

2)q/iZrt, 181. 

acuta, 181. 

Uendrocycna, 93. 

fulva, 93. 

javanica, 99. 

Dendrocygna arcuata, 99. 

aivsuree, 99. 

fidva, 93. 

javanica, 99. 

major, 93. 

Duck, Brahminy, or Buddy Shel- 
drake, 114. 

, Common Wild, or Mallard, 


, Grey-, Eastern, 140. 

, Grey-, or Spot-bill, 133. 



Duck, Mandarin, 54. 

, Marbled, 202. 

, Pink-headed, 41. 

, White-headed or Stiff-tail, 


, Wood-, White- winged, 32. 

Dun-Bird or Pochard, 217. 
Dwarf Goose, 73. 

Eastern Grey-Duck, 140. 

W^hite-eye, 223, 

Erismatura leucocejjhala, 2o5. 
Erismaturince, 255. 
erythropus, Anser, 70, 73. 
Eulabeia indica, 84. 

incKcus, 84. 

Eunetta, 143. 
j alalia, 143, 

falcata, Anas, 143. 

, Eunetta, 143. 

, Querquedula, 143. 

ferina, Aythya, 217. 

, Fuligida., 217. 

, Nyroca, 217. 

ferriiginea, Nyroca, 221. 
ferus, Anser, 63. 

, Cygnus, 12. 

finmarchicus, Anser, 73. 
Flamingo, 2. 

, Lesser, 7. 

fonnosa, Qaerquedida, 162. 
formosum, Nettion, 162. 

, Nettium, 162, 

Fuligida, 233. 

haeri, 223. 

cristata, 239. 

ferina, 217. 

fuli^uh, 239, 

marVxi, 234. 

Fidigula nyroca, 227. 

rujina, 208. 

fidigula, Nyroca, 239. 
Fi/.ligulince, 207. 
Falix cristata, 239. 
fulva, Dendrocycna, 93. 
, Dendrocygna, 93. 

Gadwall, 148. 
galericulata, uEx, 54. 

, ^i.r, 54. 

, Anas, 54. 

Garganey or Blue- wing Teal, 

gihherifrons, Mareca, 175. 
glaucion, Clangxda, 246. 
ghcitans, Querquedula, 162. 
Golden-eye, 246. 
Goosander, 269. 
Goose, Bar-headed, 84. 

, Dwarf, 73. 

, Indian Grey Lag, 63. 

, Middendorff s, 82. 

, Pink-footed, 76. 

-, Eed-breasted, 89. 

, Sustikin's, 80. 

, White-fronted, 70. 

Greater Whistling-Teal, 93. 
Grey-Duck, Eastern, 140. 
or Spot-bill, 133. 

Indian Grey Lag Goose, C)'3. 
indica, Eulabeia, 84. 
indicus, Anser, 84. 
, Eulabeia, 84. 

javanica, Dendrocycna, 9'.). 

, Dendrocygna, 99. 




Jjesser Flamingo, 7. 

or Common Whistling-Teal, 99. 

leucocepliala. Erismatura, 255. 
Jencoptera, Anas, 32. 

, Asarcornis, 32. 

, Casarca, 32. 

major, Dendrocygna, 93. 

JMallard or Common AVild Duck, 

Mandarin Duck, 54. 
Marbled Duck, 202. 
Mareca, 155. 

albigularis, 175. 

gibber if rons, 175. 

l^enelojie, 155. 

pimctata, 175. 

marila, Fidigula, 234. 

, Nyroca, 234. 

Marmaronetta, 202. 

angustirostris, 202. 

jiielanonota, Sarcidiornis, 23. 
melanonotus, Sarcidiornis, 23. 

, Sarhidiornis, 23. 

MeJanonyx arvensis sibiricxis, 82. 

brachyrJiynchus, 76. 

neglechis, 80. 

Merganser, 268. 

castor, 269. 

comatus, 269. 

merganser, 269. 

serrator, 281. 

merganser, 3Iergus, 269. 
Merganser, Eed-breasted, 281. 
Jlergellus albelhcs, 262. 
Mergince, 261. 
Mergus, 261. 

alhellus, 262. 

castor, 269, 281. 

merganser, 269. 

Mergus serrator, 281. 
middendorffi, Anser, 82. 
Middendorff's Goose, 82. 
minor, Phcenicoiuiias, 7. 

, Phcenicopierus, 7. 

minutus, Anser, 73. 
musicus, C'ygnus, 12. 
Mute Swan, 10. 

neglectus, Anser, 80. 

, Melanonyx, 80. 

iV^«?«a, 208. 

riifina, 208. 

Nettapvs, 47. 

coromandelianus, 47. 

coromandeUc%is, 47. 

coromandiis, 47. 

Nettion, 162. 

albigulare, 175. 

crecca, 167. 

formosum, 162. 

Nettium albigulare, 175. 

crecca, 167. 

formosum, 162. 

Nettop'us coromandelianus, 47. 
Nukhta, 23. 
Nyroca, 216. 

■ africana, 227. 

Z-rteW, 223. 

ferina, 217. 

ferruginea, 227. 

fuligula, 239. 

marila, 234. 

nyroca, 227. 

nyroca, Aythya, 227. 
, Fuligula, 227. 

o?o/', Cygnus, 16. 



penelope, Mareca, loo. 
Phceniconaias minor, 7. 
Phamicopteri, 2. 
_ Phcenicopteridce, 2. 
PJicenicopterus andersoni, 2. 

antiqiiormn, 2. 

minor, 7. 

roseiis, 2. 

Pink-footed Goose, 76. 

Pink-headed Duck, 41. 

Pintail, 181. 

Plectropterime, 22. 

Pochard, Crested, or Tufted Pochard, 


or Dun-bird, 217. 

•, Eed-Crested, 208. 

, Tufted, or Crested Pochard, 

, White-eyed, or "White-eye, 

pcecilorhyncha, Polionetta, 133. 
■poecilorlvjnchus. Anas, 133. 
Polionetta poedlorlLynclia, 133. 
punctata, Mareca, 175. 

Querqnedula, 188, 
—— angustirostris, 202. 

drcia, 188. 

crecca, 167. 

falcata, 143. 

formosa, 162. 

glocitans, 162. 

Eed-breasted Goose, 89. 

Merganser, 281. 

Eed-crested Pochard. 208. 
lihodonessa, 41. 

Bhodonessa caryophyllacea, 41. 
roseus, Phoenicopterus, 2. 
ruhrirostris, Anser, 63. 
Euddy Sheldrake or Brahminy Duck, 

Enfihrenta rnJicoUis, 89. 
ruficollis, Branta, 89. 

, Enfihrenta, 89. 

riifina, Branta, 208. 

, Fidigida, 208. 

, Netta, 208. 

rutila, Casarca, 114. 

Sareidiornis, 23. 

melanonota, 23. 

melanonotm, 23. 

SarJcidiornis melanonotus, 23. 
Scaup, 234. 
scutidata, Anas, 32. 

, Asarcornis, 32. 

serrator. Merganser, 281. 

, Mergus, 281. 

serrirostris middendorffi, Anser, 

Sheldrake, 109. 
, Euddy, or Brahminy Duck, 

Shoveller, 196. 
Smew, 262. 
sp.. Cygnus, 16. 
Spatida, 196. 

chjpeata, 196. 

Spot-bill or Grey-Duck, 133. 
Stiff-tail or White-headed Duck, 

streperv^, Chaulelasmus, 148. 
Sushkin's Goose, 80. 
Swan, Mute, 16. 

2d2 INDEX. 

Tddorna, 109. 

casarca, 114. 

comuta, 109. 

vulpanser, 109. 

Teal, Andaman, 175. 

, Baikal or Clucking, 162. 

, Bronze-capped, 143. 

, Common, 167. 

, Cotton-, 47. 

, Garganey or Blue-wing, 


, Greater Whistling-, 93. 

, Lesser or CommonWhistling-, 

Tufted Pochard or Crested Pochard, 


unwini, Cyynus, 16. 

vulpansti\ Tadorna, 109. 

White-eye, Eastern, 223. 

or White-eyed Pochard, 

White-eyed Pochard or White-eye, 

White-fronted Goose, 70. 
White-headed or Stiff- tail Duck, 

White-winged Wood-Duck, 32. 
Whooper, 12. 
Wigeon, 155. 
Wood-Duck, White-wiuged, 32. 

zonorJiijiicha, Anas, 140.