Common Name : Comb Duck
Scientific Name : Sarkidiornis melanotos (Pennant, 1769)
Order : Anseriformes
Family : Anatidae
Taxonomic Group : Anseriformes - Anatidae ( Ducks, Geese and Swans )
Vernacular Name : Sindh: Karo hanj, Hindi: Nakta, Punjab: Nakta, Bihar: Nakwa, Bengal: Nakta, Gujarat: Nakta, Maharashtra: Nakta, Orissa: Naki hansa, Tamil: Mookkan thara, Telugu: Juttu chiluwa, Karnataka: Dodda sarle hakki, Malayalam (Kerala): Muzhayan thaaraavu, Sinhala
Common Name : Comb Duck
Scientific Name : Sarkidiornis melanotos
Order : Anseriformes Family : Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
Number of SubSpecies : 2
|Taxon Category||Sub Species / Race||Range||subspecies||Sarkidiornis melanotos melanotos||Tropical Africa and Madagascar; India to s China|
|subspecies||Sarkidiornis melanotos sylvicola||Tropical South America (east of the Andes) to n Argentina|
3rd Edition, 2003. Revised and Corrected per Corrigenda to December 31, 2006
Common Name : Comb Duck
Scientific Name : Sarkidiornis melanotos
SubFamily : Tadorninae
Number of SubSpecies : 2
|Sub Species / Race||Sarkidiornis melanotos melanotos|
|Sarkidiornis melanotos sylvicola|
IOC Common Name : Knob-billed Duck
IOC Scientific Name : Sarkidiornis melanotos
Region : AF, OR Range : widespread
Order : ANSERIFORMES Family : Anatidae
Category : Ducks, Geese & Swans
SYNOPIS NO : 115
Scientific Name: Sarkidiornis melanotos
Common Name: Nakta, Comb Duck
Common Name : Comb Duck
Scientific Name : Sarkidiornis melanotos ((Pennant, 1769))
Birdlife Synonym : Knob-billed Duck (7); Knob-billed Duck (15)
BirdLife Redlist Status Year 2010: LC
BirdLife Species FactSheet for Comb Duck ( Sarkidiornis melanotos )
Taxonomy Treatment : R
Birdlife Taxonomy Notes : Sarkidiornis sylvicola, previously treated as a species in Collar and Andrew (1988), is now considered a subspecies of S. melanotos following Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993).
IUCN Common Name (Eng) : Comb Duck, Knob-billed Duck
Scientific Name : Sarkidiornis melanotos (Pennant, 1769)
French Name : Canard Ã€ Bosse
IUCN Redlist Species FactSheet for Comb Duck, Knob-billed Duck ( Sarkidiornis melanotos )
Species : melanotos
Genus : Sarkidiornis
Family : Anatidae Order : Anseriformes
IUCN RedList Status : LC
IUCN RedList Criteria Version : 3.1
IUCN RedList Year Assessed : 2008
IUCN RedList Petitioned : N
Family : ANATIDAE
Scientific Name : Sarkidiornis melanotos
Common Name : Knob-billed Duck
Birdlife Checklist Difference : Comb Duck
Bibliography of Comb Duck ( Sarkidiornis melanotos )
Number of Results found : 44
1. K.S. Gopi Sundar , (2009), Novel drinking behaviour of a Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotis in the National Chambal Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh, INDIAN BIRDS, 5:5: .
2. Robert B. Grubh, Pal Pandian, A. Rajesh, Mahiban Ross & Shailaja Grubh , (2008), Southern-most breeding record of the Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos from India, INDIAN BIRDS, 4:1: .
3. Ber Van Perlo , (2006), Comb or Knob-billed Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos), Field Guide Birds of Mexico and Central America; CollinsÂ , : 11.
4. Craig Robson , (2005), Comb or Knob-billed Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos), BIRDS OF SOUTH-EAST ASIA; New Holland Publishers Ltd, : 6.
5. RF Porter; S.Christensen; P.Schiermacker-Hansen , (2004), Comb or Knob-billed Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos), BIRDS OF THE MIDDLE EAST; Poyser, : 222.
6. Dale A.Zimmerman; Donald A.Turner; David J.Pearson , (2001), Comb or Knob-billed Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos melanotos), BIRDS of KENYA & NORTHERN TANZANIA; Princeton University Press, : 15 / 288.
7. Brouwer J; MulliÃ© WC , (2001), A method for making whole country waterbird population estimates, applied to annual waterbird census data from Niger., Ostrich. Proc. Tenth Pan-African Ornithol. Congr.; Kampala, Uganda; 3--8 Sept 2000, Supplement No. 15: 73 - 82.
8. Krys Kazmierczak; Ber van Perlo , (2000), Comb or Knob-billed Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos), A FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT; Yale University Press, : 54.
9. Taher SA; , (2000), Spotlight: Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos, Pitta, 116:: 5.
10. Taher SA;Jaltare S; , (2000), Field craft, Pitta, 109-110:: 5.
11. Triplet P; YÃ©sou P , (2000), Controlling the flood in the Senegal Delta: do waterfowl populations adapt to their new environment., Ostrich, 71(1&2): 106 - 111.
12. Ian Sinclair; Olivier Langrand , (1998), Comb or Knob-billed Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos), BIRDS OF THE INDIAN OCEAN ISLANDS; , : 58.
13. Ravindran PK; , (1998), Sighting of the Comb Duck in Kerala, Newsletter for Birdwatchers, 38:4: 71.
14. Ian Sinclair; Phil Hockey; Warwick Tarboton , (1997), Comb or Knob-billed Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos melanotos), BIRDS of SOUTHERN AFRICA; 2nd edition, Princeton University Press, : 76.
15. Deuti K; , (1997), Status of Oriental Darter and Comb Duck in West Bengal, Newsletter for Birdwatchers, 37:4: 68.
16. Sridharan U; , (1993), Synopsis of thesis on the comparative ecology of resident ducks in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Newsletter for Birdwatchers, 33:5: 91 - 92.
17. McLeish, I. , (1993), History of the Comb Duck in Oman., Oman Bird News, 13: 4 - 5.
18. Choudhury KD; , (1991), Captive breeding of Comb Duck at Miao Aviary, Zoos' Print, 6:3: 4 - 5.
19. Kumar VV; , (1990), From the data sheets, Wetlands & Waterfowl Newsletter, 2:: 7.
20. TrÃ©ca, B., C. Rouchouse. , (1990), [Note on the reproduction of the Knob-billed Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) in northern SÃ©nÃ©gal.], Malimbus, 11: 144 - 146.
21. Sridharan U; , (1988), An incident of a male Nukta, Sarkidiornis melanotos (Pennant) mounting on a Spotbill Anas poecilorhyncha Forster, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 85:3: 612 - 613.
22. Crespo, F. O. , (1988), A new locality for the Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos from western Ecuador and notes on the distribution of the Horned Screamer Anhima cornuta., Bulletin of British Ornithology Club, 108: 141 - 144.
23. Dillinger, J. E., S. B. Citino, N. H. Altman. , (1987), Four cases of neoplasia in captive wild birds., Avian Disease, 31: 206 - 213.
24. Das AK; , (1984), A note on the catching of migratory birds which visit Alipore Zoo, Calcutta in winter, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 81:3: 691 - 693.
25. Dott, H. E. M. , (1984), Range extensions, one new record, and notes on winter breeding of birds in Bolivia., Bulletin of British Ornithology Club, 104: 104 - 109.
26. Howells WW; , (1983 ), Martial Eagle: a planned attack?, Honeyguide, 111-112: 62.
27. Salim Ali; S Dillon RipleyÂ , (1978), No. 115. Nakta or Comb Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos melanotos ) (Pennant), Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, Volume 1 (Divers to Hawks ): 192.
28. Madansinhji of Kutch; , (1976), Some riddles of game bird migration in Kutch - 2, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 73:3: 523 - 524.
29. Reeves SK; , (1974), Comb of the nukhta or comb duck sarkidiornis melanotos, Newsletter for Birdwatchers, 14:6: 9.
30. Dharmakumarsinhji RS; , (1959), Large clutch of Nakta eggs, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 56:3: 634.
31. Phythian-Adams EG; , (1943), Occurrence of Comb Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotus Penn.) in Mysore, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 44:1: 130.
32. Stoney RF; , (1942), The occurrence of the Comb-Duck (Sarcidiornis melanota) in Mysore State, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 43:3: 525.
33. Menesse NH; , (1942), The distribution of the Nukta or Comb Duck in Sind, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 43:1: 106.
34. Lowther EHN; , (1940), Notes on some Indian birds. Part V. The sportsman's gallery, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 41:4: 765 - 777.
35. Rubie CB; , (1935), The Sheldrake Tadorna tadorna (Linn.) and the Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotus (Penn.) in Sind, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 38:1: 196.
36. Lambrick HT; , (1932), Occurrence of the Nukta or Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotus in the Larkana District, Sind, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 35:4: 898.
37. Foster R; , (1927), Large flocks of the Comb Duck Sarcidiornis melanonotus, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 32:1: 222 - 223.
38. Livesey TR; , (1921), Nest of Nakta or Comb Duck (S. melanonotus), Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 27:3: 637 - 638.
39. Basil-Edwardes S; , (1921), Large flock of the Comb-Duck (Sarkidiornis melanonotus) in the Allahabad District of the U.P, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 27:3: 638 - 639.
40. Gibson RE; , (1918), Comb Duck Sarcidiornis melanonotus in Sind, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 25:4: 747 - 748.
41. Webb M; , (1912), Occurrence of the Nukhta or Comb Duck (Sarcidiornis melanonota) in Sind, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 21:2: 685 - 686.
42. Sewell JH; , (1898), The Comb Duck or Nukhta, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 11:3: 547.
43. Trevor G; , (1883), Letters to the Editor, Stray Feathers, 10:5: 430.
44. Anderson A; , (1874), On the nidification of certain Indian birds. Part 3, Ibis, 4:15: 220 - 223.
Anser apud Pennant, Ind. Zool., pl. 11-Blyth, Cat. 1763- Sykes, Cat. 213-Jerdon Cat. 379-Pl. Enl. 937-Nukta, H. and Mahr.-Jutu chilluwa, Tel.-Comb-duck of Sportsmen in Madras and Bombay.
The Black-backed Goose.
Descr.- Head and neck white, spotted with glossy black, the top of the head and back of the neck mostly black; interscapulars and scapulars, black glossed with purple; back ashy-grey, becoming dusky on the rump ; the upper tail-coverts glossy green ; wing-coverts glossed green; quills black ; tail black ; all the lower parts pure white ; bill and protuberance black ; irides dark brown ; legs greenish plumbeous.
Male-Length 30 to 34 inches ; wing 16 ; tail 6 ; bill at front 2 Â½; height of protuberance 2 ; tarsus nearly 3 ; mid-toe and claw 3 Â¼. Weight 6 lbs.
The female is much smaller, less brightly colored, more spotted on the neck, and she wants the fleshy boss at the base of the bill. Length about 26 inches ; wing 12 to 14.
This Goose is very common in Central and Western India, less SO in the extreme south, and is very rare in Lower Bengal. It is generally seen in small parties from four to ten, but occasionally in flocks of above a hundred: it chiefly frequents grassy tanks, and is not unfrequently seen in paddy fields. During the rains, it wanders about a good deal, and may often be seen feeding in very small tanks, or even in temporary pools of water. It breeds in this country in July or August, in grass by the sides of tanks, laying six to eight whitish eggs. It is not a particularly wary bird, and may generally be approached tolerably closely. Its flight is not very rapid. This Goose is not held in very high esteem for the table, but at some seasons is most excellent, and the young birds are especially delicate. It is found in Ceylon and Burmah, apparently not extending into Malayana.
Other species of this genus are S. africana, Eyton, and S. regia, Mol, from South America, (united to the Indian species In Grayâ€™s Genera of Birds). Plectropterus gambensis. L., Is the most typical member of the group and has the longest legs. Anseranos melanoleuca, (Latham) from Australia, Is a very remarkable type. The hind toe Is long and nearly on the same plane as the anterior toes, and the feet are only webbed at the base; were it not for its completely Duck-bill, It could not be classed here. The Musk-duck already alluded to, Cairina moschata, (placed by Gray among the true Ducks,) Is originally from South America ; It breeds freely with the common Duck, but the offspring are not fertile.
Sarcidiornis melanonotus, Pennant
Vernacular Names,â€”[Nukhla,Upper India, Panch Mahals. Deccan, &c. ; Nakwa, Chota Nagpur; Toopee-heydeggey, (Kole); Jutu chilluwa, (Telega) ; Do'd sarle haki, (Canarese) Mysore; Neer-koli, Coimbatore; Tan-bay, (Burmese), Pegu; Bowkbang, (Karen).]
AT one season or another, the Nukhta is found throughout the greater portion of the Empire. But it does not ascend the hills anywhere, and does not occur in Kashmir, Kullu, Kumaon or Nepal. I do not know of its occurrence in the Punjab, Trans-Sutlej, or in Sind, except as a rare straggler to the easternmost portions. I have no record of its appearance in Sylhet, Cachar, Tippera, Chittagong or Arakan. It does not, to the best of my belief, extend, at present, to any part of Tenasserim! proper, and it seems doubtful whether it is found, except perhaps. as a rare and accidental straggler, in the Western Sub-Gh&t littoral, viz., the South Konkan, the Malabar Coast, and Travancore.
Within the limits above assigned there are many more or less extensive tracts where this species has never been observed, and where probably it does not occur, except accidentally. Only certain localities suit its habits, and of these many only suit it during particular portions of the year. It is not, strictly speaking, migratory ; but while in some few districts it really is a permanent resident, and may be there found commonly throughout the year, in many it is only a seasonal visitant. Thus it almost entirely deserts the North- Western Provinces, Eastern Rajputana, Cutch, and the Deccan, during the dry hot season, though it is abundant in these during the rains, and in a lesser degree during the cold weather. On the other hand it is chiefly during the hotter and drier parts of the year that it is found in the damper low-lying deltaic districts of Bengal.
Their flight is powerful and fairly rapid ; they fly better, rise quicker on the wing, swim more rapidly, and dive longer and far more adroitly than any of the Geese, though the male, at any rate, weighs quite as much as the majority of Barred-headed Geese.
They spend little of their time dozing on banks, but keep mostly to the water, generally when leaving this, perching on trees, where, I am inclined to think, they spend a good deal of the night. At any rate, under certain local conditions, they feed a great deal by day, and cannot, therefore, in such places, feed as continuously by night as many other Ducks, and most of the Geese do.
Their food consists chiefly of tender shoots and seeds of aquatic herbage, worms, larvae of water insects, small shells, fresh-water crustaceans and occasionally a tiny fish or two. They do not visit, as a rule, or rob our fields much in Upper India : I have never found any grain, but wild rice seed, in their stomachs, and only once or twice have I seen them browsing on the turf near the water's edge.
Compared with most other Water Fowl they are rather tame. Except in quite out-of-the-way places, they will not, as a rule let you walk up within shot, and pot them as the) swim about unconcernedly on the water, from a distance of thirty to forty yards as both the Shoveller and the Common Teal often will; but during the rainy season, especially, they habitually fly past you within easy shot. On the water, too, it is much easier to work up to them in a punt than to most other Water Fowl.
Sometimes, however, a family is very difficult to get near owing to their associating with one or two pairs of Brahminies, or Ruddy Shieldrakes (almost the only Ducks with which they ever do closely associate) who, ever on the alert, effectually prevent any surprise of their comrades.They tame very readily, and will live well in captivity, becoming very gentle, docile birds, and I do not understand why they have not been domesticated, since, although not by any means first-rate eating, they are quite as good, when well fed in the poultry yards, as the Muscovy Duck (Cairina muschata) of Central America, and would probably like this produce very fine hybrids with the common domestic Duck.
Jerdon correctly says that this bird is generally little esteemed for the table, and I must say I think justly so. If roasted, when in good condition, with nice sage and onion stuffing, and served with a good gravy made from other things and Indian apple sauce (i.e. the fruit of the Papaw with lime juice), they are of course nice enough, though rather hard, and if you are very hungry you will not grumble, let them be cooked as they may; but, judging them impartially on their own merits, the old birds are never worth cooking when any of the better migratory Ducks are available, and even the young, in November and December, though often as fat and tender as possible, have almost invariably a certain faint, marshy flavour, which it needs a good sauce to correct and conceal.
My personal knowledge of this species has been mainly acquired in the North- Western Provinces ; elsewhere their habits and haunts may be different, and I gladly quote Colonel Tickell's account of the species, partly because his experience seems to contradict mine on many points, and partly for the sake of an anecdote he tells of what befell him once when after a Comb Duck.
"At Bhandra, in January 1840, I had an odd adventure while stalking a fine gander nukwa, which was swimming on one of the rocky pools I have above described. The ground was entirely composed of great horizontal slabs and fields of granite, garnished everywhere with jujube or " bair" bushes ; and about two hundred yards behind me rose a mass of towering perpendicular rocks, which cast a cool grey shade over the pretty little tarns or " lakelets" spread at their feet. Now "Bandra pahar," as these rocks are termed, is, or was, a notorious stronghold or refuge for all the vagabond bears in the vicinity, who, after roaming the livelong- night over the country, repaired, as dawn broke, in twos and threes, to the fissures and caves within these huge boulders. As evening drew on, these nocturnal marauders would creep stealthily out of their fastnesses, and as darkness increased sally out into the surrounding plain. And thus it came to pass that on the day, aforesaid, as I drew warily towards the " nukwa" a bear, which had emerged from a black crevice in the rock behind me, followed in my wake with no evil intentions, I believe, for I do not think he spied me for a considerable time, but simply in pursuit of his usual evening meal of bairs and white ants, for which he scratched and snuffed in the manner peculiar to these beasts. The noise he made soon caused me to be aware of his propinquity; and ere long I began to feel in that condition which the natives of India designate as " do dil" (two hearts), or, as we should say, of two minds whether to continue advancing to the attack of the Goose, or turn to cover my rear from that of the bear. Those were not the days of breech-loaders, when I could have shot the first, and then, whipping in a ball cartridge, have so disposed of the second. Hinc illce lachrymceâ€”" hence my quandary." I looked at the bear as he dug and grubbed and approached, and then cautiously at the " nukwa" with his snowy-white breast reflected on the pool. The sight of the latter was irresistible, I was nearly within shot, and continued my insidious approach, determined that if the bear charged me, I would let him come close, bang both barrels of shot at his eyes, and then take to my scrapers. So, like a red Indian in the forest, I stole quietly on towards a screening rock which margined the pond, the pig-headed bear still following, as if there were no ants nor berries save in my footsteps. When I had gained the rock, I do not think he was above fifty yards from me. With the sensation of a headlong rush impending upon my rear, I was obliged to be as cool, cautious, and circumspect as if nothing but the Goose and I (par nobile fratrum !) were at issue. But I gained my point. I rounded the rock, and, standing revealed on the edge of the pond, fired just as Sarkidiornis melanonotus spread his pinions to .fly, and then dropped writhing on the water. Almost simultaneously with the report, a prodigious roaring bark or shout arose behind me. I turned quickly, and had brought the remaining barrel into position, when, not a little to my relief, the bear, after a short rush forward, wheeled abruptly round, and, like a great black bundle, went off pitching and tearing through the jungle back to his den.
" The young are on the wing by October, and for two or three months keep with the parents. I have placed their eggs under hens and domestic ducks, and hatched and reared the young birds easily, but they never became thoroughly tame, and escaped on the first opportunity, though they had, up to the time of their flight, fed readily with the poultry in the yard. They ran and walked freely, and could perch on anything that did not require to be grasped; but they took to water much less frequently than the goslings of Nettapus coromandelianus (the Teal Goose), or Dendrocygna javanica (the Whistling Teal), of which I bred several in my farmyard in Singhbhoom.
" It is an exceedingly silent bird ; indeed, I have never heard it utter any sound. They repose chiefly on gravel beaches by the side of clear still water, and when on the wing can be readily distinguished at a long distance by their flight, which is between the heavy flagging of the Wild Goose and the rapid beats of the smaller Wild Fowl. The gander is always conspicuous, appearing nearly double the size of the others in the flock. Their flight is high and well sustained, and after being shot at once or twice, they continue on their course till out of sight, though almost sure to be found on the same pond the next day. Like many other Water Fowl, they appear to have certain tanks or ponds in which to feed, and others for sleeping in. At night they roam over the paddy stubble, and I have found their stomachs full of rice during the harvest."
Clearly the habits of the birds do differ widely in different parts of the country. I can only hope that between the two somewhat discrepant accounts, we may have fairly exhausted the peculiarities of this species.
I have not habitually shot these birds, because I hardly think them worth the powder and shot, when other better Water Fowl are about; but just at the commencement of the rains, when they are all over the country, and before they begin to lay, they afford, in some parts of the North- Western Provinces, in combination with the Whistling and Cotton Teal, a few days' very pretty shooting.
It is only during the first burst of the monsoon, and before they commence to lay, that it is right to shoot any of these three species. The way in which some men go on shooting them throughout the rains, whilst they have nests and helpless young about, is much to be regretted.
The Nukhta lays in the North- West Provinces, where alone I have taken its nest, in July, August, and occasionally the first-half of September. I have received no detailed accounts of its nidification elsewhere, but Major Mclnroy tells me that it breeds to his knowledge, in the Bagriodkere Tank in the Chittaldoog district, and in some other disricts in Mysore, and Mr. J. Davidson writes:â€”" In the Panch Mahals, it was very fairly common, a pair inhabiting nearly every one of the small tanks which are scattered about everywhere. They breed in the latter part of the rains ; the only nest I took contained thirteen eggs, and was in the hollow top of a dead mango tree, but I saw the young in very many places." Ramsay says that it breeds in Tonghoo in July and August. In Ceylon it is said to breed from January to March.
According to my experience, it generally nests in some mango grove bordering a jhil or broad, placing its nest, which is composed of sticks, a few dead leaves, grass, and feathers, at no great height from the ground, either in some large hole in the trunk, or in the depression between three or four great arms, where the main stem, (as it so often does in mango trees,) divides at a height of from six to ten feet from the ground.
I have found numerous nests thus situated. Once, and once only, I found a nest in a regular swamp at one end of a jhil in amongst a thick growth of sedge and rush, and in this case no sticks had been used, but the whole nest, which was a foot in diameter, and five or six inches in depth, was composed of reeds and rushes, lined with a little dry grass and a few feathers; this nest had a good deep cavity, I dare say fully four inches in depth, while those found in trees had central depressions barely half this depth. Twelve is the largest number of eggs that I have found, and I believe seven or eight to be the usual complement, but in regard to this and other points I may quote the following interesting remarks by the late Mr. A. Anderson. He says :â€”
"This curious and handsomely-colored Duck deposits its eggs in holes of old deciduous trees, and never, I should say, in grass by the sides of tanks. &c, as stated by Jerdon. The male bird assists the female in the selection of a site. I have frequently watched both birds flying into trees together, the male uttering a harsh, grating noise, while his mate is left behind on inspection duty.
"Although the Nukhtas nest by preference in trees, I have known them to lay in holes of old ruined forts; as a general rule, they select localities in close proximity to water.
" I have no actual proof of their appropriating old nests, as is frequently done by the Whistling Teal; but it is worth mentioning that a nest of Haliaetus leucoryphus, which I had examined last winter for the eggs of Ascalaphia bengalensis, and which was at the time tenanted by this Owl, actually contained seven or eight rotten eggs, which were, in my opinion, referable to this Duck.
" The number of eggs seems to vary considerably ; fifteen and twenty have "been brought to me from one nest, the advanced state of incubation clearly indicating that in all cases the full complement had been laid. I was present, however, at the capture of a female Nukhta on her nest, which yielded the extraordinary number of forty eggs ! Of course m it is just possible, though highly improbable, that this may have been the joint produce of two birds ; but the emaciated condition of the one captured, coupled with the fact that one egg was an abnormally small one, and evidently her last effort, do not favor such a supposition.
" The tree selected was an ancient Banyan (Ficus indica), which overlooked a large sheet of water, several miles in circumference ; the nest-hole was at an elevation of some twenty feet, three feet deep, and two in circumference.
"The eggs (incubation was barely commenced) were laid several tiers deep, and those at the bottom were a little soiled from resting on the damp wood. It is highly probable that a large proportion of these eggs are never hatched, and that they all become discoloured as the process of incubation progresses."
Captain G. F. L. Marshall says :- " I took one egg on the 20th July from a mulberry tree, I found an egg of this species in a nest of Dissura episcopa, with three eggs of the latter bird ; this is, I believe, an unusual occurrence,"
The eggs are regular ovals, only slightly more pointed at one end than the other. The texture of the shell is wonder fully close and compact, and, when fresh, the eggs, both in colour and appearance, seem made of polished ivory. As incubation proceeds a good deal of the gloss disappears, and the delicate ivory white becomes stained and sullied, but even to the last they are amongst the smoothest eggs to the touch that I know.
The eggs vary in length from 2.22 to 2.58, and in breadth from 1.65 to 1.78 ; but the average of forty-five eggs is 2.41 by 1.72.
A fine adult male measured :â€” Length, 31.5 ; expanse, 55 ; wing, 15.37; tail vent, 6.5 ; tarsus, 2.87; bill from gape, 2.8; weight, 5 lbs. 12 ozs.
A female, apparently nearly adult, measured :â€” Length, 26.4; expanse, 46; wing, 11.3; tail from vent, 4.0; tarsus, 2.2 ; bill from gape, 2.21 ; weight, barely 3 lbs.
Three males of the year shot on the 24th December measured:â€” Length, 28.5 to 29.0; expanse, 51.75 to 53.5; wing, 13.37 to 14.5; tail from vent, 5.25 to 6.0; tarsus, 2.62 to 2.75 ; bill from gape, 2.5 to 2.75 ; weight, 4 lbs. 4 ozs. to 5 lbs. 2 ozs.
In the adult male, the irides were a moderately dark brown ; bill and comb black, paler on the lower mandible, and fleshy towards the base of this latter.-
In the young males the irides were dark brown ; the legs and feet delicate pale plumbeous; the upper mandible black; the nail bluish towards the tip ; the lower mandible pinkish, and its nail a somewhat pinkish white.
THE plate is extremely good, except that it does not sufficiently bring out the metallic colours on the back of the male (the specimen figured was not, I fear, quite in full plumage), and that it hardly sufficiently exhibits the difference in the size of the sexes.
Most unfortunately the female is actually made to float higher in the water in proportion to her size, whereas of course from anatomical causes she floats much deeper, is not in fact so buoyant; the under tail-coverts are correctly shown to be pure white. This, so far as I can remember, has been the colour of these feathers in every specimen I have examined, and this is their colour in every specimen in our museum, but Dr. Sclater figures them, (P. Z. S. 1876, p. 6, LXVII.) as bright gamboge yellow, and this from living specimens in the Zoo !
In the cold season the comb of the male (the females of this species never have any comb) shrinks up almost to nothing, while in the height of the breeding season it is from 2.3 to nearly 2.5 in length at the base, and almost as high.The young are dull earthy brown above, and dirty white below.
Tickell however says: " The Knobbed Goose is tolerably common off the alluvion in Bengal, throughout the central provinces of India, and in Arakan,Burma, and Tenasserim.
In Aracan it very likely does occur, and in Tonghoo, a district of Pegu, now included in Tenasserim, we know that it does occur ; but we have never obtained a trace of it in any part of Tenasserim proper, in fact in any part of what was Tenasserim when Colonel Tickell knew the province. Yet Tickell distinctly says, " I found them in Tenasserim, but nowhere numerous \ also in Burma and Aracan and we can only surmise that during the 30 odd years that intervened between his and our ornithological explorations of Tenasserim, the bird has ceased to visit this province.
" Note however that in the southernmost districts of Madras, in fact those south of Mysore, it would seem to be rare. Mr. Albert Theobald has shot over and collected in most of these for years, but he writes :â€”
" I have only seen this Duck in this Collegal Taluq of Coimbatore, and not to the best of my belief further south. It comes here about December, and leaves again in February or March. It is very rare here, only four or five pairs coming in every year.
" It is generally found in any small lake or jhil during the day time, but at nights they are only found in paddy fields where they go to feed on the grain, returning early to the lakes, where they keep near the reeds growing at the borders of the water. They are not wary birds and are easily shot.
Mr. Oates says that this species is " a constant resident in Pegu; common in the Eugmah swamp in Upper Pegu, but not found in any quantities elsewhere. It is not discriminated apparently by the natives from the Pintail-; at any rate both go by the same name, ' tan-bay" or Jungle Duck.
Jerdon says that they are occasionally seen in flocks of above a hundred, and Mr. George Reid remarks : " The Nukhta is common in the Lucknow division on all grassy jhils, and is easily stalked and shot, being far from a wary bird. In the early morning it may frequently be seen in recently-flooded paddy fields and in swamps among the rushes. I have never seen it in large flocks, but parties of from four to ten and from twenty to thirty are common enough."
In the Straits, people habitually raise for the table hybrids between the Muscovy and Common Duck, which combine the size of the former with the delicacy of flavour of the latter. These hybrids are infertile. They lay quantities of eggs, (which are pale sea green, unlike those of either parent) but these never hatch.
950. :- Jerdon's Birds of India, Vol. II, p. 785 ; Butler, Guzerat; Stray Feathers, Vol. IV, p. 27 ; Deccan, Stray Feathers, Vol. IX, p. 436; Murray's Vertebrate Zoology of Sind, p. 286 ; Game Birds of India, Vol. III, p. 91; Swinhoe and Barnes, Central India; Ibis, 1885, p. 136.
The Black-backed Goose, or Comb Duck.
Length, 31.5, 26.4; expanse, 55, 46 ; wing, 15.37, 11.3; tail, 6.5, 4; tarsus, 2.87, 2.2; bill from gape, 2.8, 2.21; weight, 5 3/4 lbs, 3 lbs.
Bill and comb black; irides dark brown; legs greenish-plumbeous.
Head and neck white, spotted with glossy black; the top of the head and back of the neck mostly black; interscapulars and scapulars black, glossed with purple; back ashy-grey, becoming dusky on the rump ; the upper tail-coverts glossy-green ; wing-coverts glossed green; quills black ; tail black; all the lower parts pure white. The female is much smaller, less brightly colored, more spotted on the neck, and she wants the fleshy boss at the base of the bill.
The Nukta or Comb Duck is more or less generally spread throughout the district. In Sind it is a mere straggler, and in the Deccan it is a far from common seasonal visitant, but in Guzerat, Central India, and Rajputana it is a permanent resident, breeding towards the end of the rains, in holes in trees. The eggs, usually twelve in number, (Mr. Anderson speaks of finding forty in a nest) are oval in shape, and are close and compact in texture, and resemble polished ivory both in color and appearance.
They measure 2.3 by 1.7.
Penn. in Forst. Ind. Zool. p. 21, pl. 11; Newton, Str. F. viii. p. 415. Sarcidiornis melanonota, Jerd., B. Ind. iii. p. 785; Hume, Nests and Eggs Ind. B. p. 636; Blyth, B. Burm. p. 165; Hume and Marsh., Game Birds iii. p. 91, pl.; Legge, B. Ceylon, p. 1063; Oates, B. Br. Burm. iii. p. 275; Murray, Vert. Zool., Sind, p. 286; id., Avif. Brit. Ind. ii. p. 677, No. 1379. :-
The Comb Duck.
Top of the head and back of neck black, spotted with white, more so on the back of the neck; cheeks, sides and front of the neck white, with a few black spots; breast and entire under parts white; chin and throat white; back, scapulars, tertiaries and wing coverts glossy black, glossed with purple; upper tail coverts glossed greenish; primaries and secondaries black; the lesser wing coverts glossed with purplish green; tail black; bill of male with a fleshy protuberance; irides dark brown; bill black.
Length. :- 28 to 30inches; wing 13 to 15; tail 6. Female is smaller, and less brightly coloured.
Hab. :- Sind, Punjab, N.-W. Provinces, Oudh, Bengal, Rajputana, Kutch, Kattiawar, Guzerat, Concan and Deccan, South India and Ceylon; also British Burmah.
A straggler in Sind. Breeds in the N.-W. Provinces during July and August. In Ceylon it is said to breed from January to March, usually on trees in the proximity of large sheets of water.
The Comb Duck.
Sarkidiornis melanonotus (Penn.), Jerd. B. Ind, ii, p. 785; Hume, Rough Draft N. & E. no. 950.
The Comb Duck or Nukhtah appears to be partly migratory, for you find it breeding in places where it is never seen in other seasons.
It lays in the North-West Provinces, where alone I have taken its nest, in July, August, and occasionally the first half of September, but in Ceylon it appears to breed in February and March.
According to my experience, it generally nests in some mango-grove bordering a jheel or broad, placing its nest, which is composed of sticks, a few dead leaves, grass, and feathers, at no great height from the ground, either in some large hole in the trunk or in the depression between three or four great arms, where the main stem (as it so often does in mango-trees) divides at a height of from six to ten feet.
I have found numerous nests thus situated. Once, and once only, I found a nest in a regular swamp at one end of a jheel in amongst a thick growth of sedge and rush, and in this case no sticks had been used, but the whole nest, which was a foot in diameter and 5 or 6 inches in depth, was composed of reeds and rushes, lined with a little dry grass and a few feathers ; this nest had a good deep cavity, I daresay fully 4 inches in depth, while those found in trees had central depressions barely half this depth. Twelve is the largest number of eggs that I have found, and I believe seven or eight to be the usual complement; but on this head see the following interesting remarks by the late Mr. A. Anderson.Â Â He says ; -
" The Nukta or Comb Duck (Sarkidiornis melanonotus), the Whistling Teal (Dendroeygiia arcuata), with the Cotton Teal (Nettapus coromandelianus) are non-migrant, and breed throughout the plains of India during the ' rains,' viz., from July to September, according to locality."
These Ducks, according to my experience, nest almost exclusively on trees ; and they are, so far as nidification is concerned, essentially perching Ducks. They begin to pair early in June, and may be seen flying about in search of a suitable tree almost simultaneously with the first fall of rain, which generally occurs in the North-West Provinces on or about the 18th of that month.
"Sarkidiornis melanonotus. - This curious and handsomely-coloured Duck deposits its eggs in holes of old deciduous trees, and never, I should say, in grass by the sides of tanks, &c., as stated by Jerdon.Â Â The male bird (as in fact do all the others) assists the female in the selection of a site. I have frequently watched both birds flying into trees together, the male uttering a harsh grating noise, while his mate is left behind on inspection duty."
Although the Nuktas nest by preference in trees, I have known their doing so in holes of old ruined forts ; as a general rule, they select localities in close proximity to water.
" I have no actual proof of their appropriating old nests, as is frequently done by the Whistling Teal; but it is worth mentioning that a nest of Haliaetus leucoryphus, which I had examined last winter for the eggs of Ascalaphia bengalensis and which was at the time tenanted by this Owl, actually contained seven or eight rotten eggs which are, in my opinion, referable to this Duck.
"The number of eggs seems to vary considerably; fifteen and twenty have been brought to me from one nest, the advanced state of incubation clearly indicating that in all cases the full complement had been laid. I was present, however, at the capture of a female Nukta on her nest, which yielded the extraordinary number of forty eggs! Of course it is just possible, though highly improbable, that this may have been the joint produce of two birds; but the emaciated condition of the one captured, coupled with the fact that one egg was an abnormally small one, and evidently her last effort, do not favour such a supposition."
The tree selected was an ancient banyan (Ficus indica), which overlooked a large sheet of water several miles in circumference ; the nest-hole was at an elevation of some 20 feet, 3 feet deep, and 2 in circumference.
" The eggs (incubation had barely commenced) were laid several tiers deep, and those at the bottom were a little soiled from resting on the damp wood. It is highly probable that a large proportion of these eggs are never hatched, and that they all become discoloured as the process of incubation progresses."
The thirty-nine full-sized eggs average 2 1/2 by 1 3/4 inches : they are long obtusely-pointed ovals ; and in feel, polish, and texture they resemble a white billiard bad.
"The boss or fleshy protuberance of the Drake gets greatly enlarged during the breeding-season, frequently measuring 2.2 x 2.4 inches at the base."
Colonel G. F. L. Marshad says ; - " I took one egg on the 20th July from a mulberry-tree. I found an egg of this species in a nest of Dissura episcopus, with three eggs of the latter bird; this is, I beheve, an unusual occurrence."
Major McInroy told me that this Duck bred to his knowledge in the Bagriodkere tank in the Chittaldoog district and in some other districts in Mysore ; and Mr. J. Davidson writes :- " In the Panch Mehals it was very fairly common, a pair inhabiting nearly every one of the small tanks which are scattered about everywhere. They breed in the latter part of the rains; the only nest I took contained thirteen eggs and was in the hollow top of a dead mango-tree, but I saw the young in very many places."
Major Wardlaw Ramsay says that it breeds in Tonghoo in July and August.
The eggs are regular ovals, only slightly more pointed at one end than the other. The texture of the shell is wonderfully close and compact, and, when fresh, the eggs, both in colour and appearance, seem made of polished ivory. As incubation proceeds a good deal of the gloss disappears, and the delicate ivory-white becomes stained and sullied, but even to the last they are one of the smoothest eggs to the touch that we have.
The eggs vary in length from 2.22 to 2.58, and in breadth from 1.65 to 1.78; but the average of the forty-five eggs is 2.41 by 1.72.
in Forst. Ind. Zool. p. 21, pl. ii ; Newton, Str, F. viii, p. 415. Sarcidiornis melanonota, Jerd., B. Ind. iii. p. 785; Hume, Nests and Eggs Ind. B. p. 636; Blyth, B. Burm. p. 165; Hume and Marsh,, Game Birds iii. p. 91, pl.; Legge, B. Ceylon, p. 1063; Oates, B. Br. Burm. iii. p. 275; Murray, Vert. Zool., Sind, p. 286. -
The Comb Duck.
Top of the head and back of neck black, spotted with white, more so on the back of the neck ; cheeks, sides and front of the neck white, with a few black spots; breast and entire under parts white; chin and throat white; back, scapulars, tertiaries and wing coverts glossy black, glossed with purple; upper tail coverts glossed greenish; primaries and secondaries black; the lesser wing coverts glossed with purplish green; tail black ; bill of male with a fleshy protuberance ; irides dark brown; bill black.
Length. - 28 to 30 inches; wing 13 to 15; tail 6. Female is smaller, and less brightly coloured.
Hab. - Sind, Punjab, N. W. Provinces, Oudh, Bengal, Rajputana, Kutch, Kattiawar, Guzerat, Concan and Deccan, South India and Ceylon; also British Burmah.
A straggler in Sind. Breeds in the N. W. Provinces during July and August. In Ceylon it is said to breed from January to March, usually on trees in the proximity of large sheets of water.
The Comb Thick or Nukta. (Fig. 101, p. 411.)
Anser melanotus, Perm. Faunula Indica, p. 12, pi. xii (1769); Newton, S. F, viii, p. 415. Sarcidiornis melanotus, Blyth, Cat. p. 302; Barnes, Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. vi, p. 286. Sarkidiornis melanonotus, Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 785; A. Anderson, Ibis, 1874, p. 220; Adam, S. F. i, p. 401; Butler & Hume, S. F. iv, p. 27; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 231; Hume, ibid. p. 507; Butler, S. F. viii, p. 387. Sarcidiornis melanonotus, Blyth, Ibis, 1867, p. 175; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 491; id. Cat. no. 950 ; Hume & Marsh. Game B. iii, p. 91,. pl.; Butler, S. F. ix, p. 436; Parker, ibid. p. 486 ; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 1063 ; Reid, S. F. x, p. 79 ; Hume, ibid. p. 417; Taylor, ibid. pp, 528, 531; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 396; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 343;. Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 282. Sarcidiornis melanonota, Sclat. P. Z. S. 1876, p. 694, pl. lxvii; Oales, B. B. ii, p. 275; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 54 ; Baker, Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. xi, p. 172.
The Black-backed Goose, Jerdon. Nukta, H.; Nakwa, Chutia Nagpur; Naki hdnsa, Uriya; Jatu chil-luwa, Tel.; Dod sarle haki, Can.; Neer koli, Coimbatore ; Tau-bai, Burm.; Bowkbang, Karen.
Coloration. Male. Head and neck white, spotted with glossy black, the black prevailing on the crown and a band along the hind neck: lower neck all round, breast, abdomen, and lower tail-coverts pure white; upper back, scapulars, wings, rump, upper tail-coverts, and tail black, the secondaries and their greater coverts glossed with bronze-green, the scapulars with purple, the other-parts with green and purplish blue ; lower back brownish grey, sides of breast and flanks pale ashy grey ; a black bar from the upper back to each side of the upper breast, and another from the rump to the lower flanks.
Female much smaller, but similarly coloured, with less gloss on the back and wings and more black on the head and neck.
Younger birds are brown instead of black, and the lower parts-are tinged with rusty red.
Iris brown; bill and comb black; legs and feet very dark brown (Oates), greenish plumbeous (Jerdon).
Length of male about 30 ; tail 5.5 ; wing 15 ; tarsus 2.75 ; bill from gape 2.7. Female : length 26 ; tail 4.5 ; wing 11.25 ;. tarsus 2.1 ; bill from gape 2.2.
Distribution. India, Ceylon, and Burma in suitable localities , also Africa south of the Sahara, and Madagascar. Common in well-wooded and well-watered parts of the country, rare or wanting in India south of Mysore, in the Bombay Deccan, the desert tracts, Sind and the Western Punjab, also in Tenasserim.
Habits, &c. The Nukta is generally found about large marshy tanks and jheels with reedy margins in well-wooded countries. It keeps in small flocks of 4 to 10 throughout the cold season and in pairs at other times. Larger flocks are said to occur, but they are not often seen. It breeds on trees, and frequently perches on them. The nest consists of a few sticks with dead leaves, grass, feathers &c., placed in a hole in the stem or a depression between the larger branches. The eggs, laid in July, August or September, are ivory-white, very close-textured, 7 to 12 in number, and they measure about 2.41 by 1.72. In Ceylon this Duck is said to breed in February and March. This is not one of the best ducks for the table, though good at times.
Sarcidiornis melanonota, (Pennant).
Primaries uniformly black. Axillaries black. Head and neck white, mottled with black.
MALE: Lower back grey; rump black; wing about 15.
FEMALE : Lower back and rump grey; wing under 12.
VERNACULAR NAMES :â€”Nukta, Hind.; Nakwa, Chutia Nagpur; Naki hansa, Uriya ; Jutu chilluwa, Telugu ; Dod sarle haki, Canarese ; Neer koli, Coimbatore ; Tau-bay, Burmese.; Bowkbang, Karen.
The Comb-Duck, Nukta, or the Black-backed goose of Dr. Jerdon, is found as a permanent resident over almost the entire Indian Empire.
On the north-west, its limits are the Ravi and Indus rivers. On the north, it is found to the foot of the Himalayas, but it does not appear to enter the valleys. From the Himalayas, this species extends down to Ceylon, being rare or absent from some of the tracks of country which are very dry and naturally unsuited to its habits.
This Duck extends throughout Assam and thence southwards to the southern limits of Pegu. To the east its range spreads out to the Southern Shan States, where, as Major G. Rippon informs me, it is common as far as Mone at least. It has not been procured in Tenasserim.
It is not a common bird in Upper Burma, and none of my friends appear to have met with it, except Captain F. T. Williams, who informs me that this Duck occurs on the Chindwin river, and Major J. H. Sewell, who tells us in the pages of the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society that he shot it near Kyoukse, and that it is common at Yamethin, where it also breeds.
The Comb-Duck of India is identical with the Comb-Duck which is found over a considerable portion of Africa and in Madagascar.
The Comb-Duck occurs chiefly in the plains, but in suitable localities it may be found up to an elevation of 2000 feet or upwards. It affects tanks and swamps which arc covered with weeds and are surrounded by jungle, and it is comparatively seldom seen on large streams. It does not, however, avoid the smaller streams if these have a sluggish current and run through jungle. These Ducks may be generally observed in pairs, but when at rest during the day I have seen as many as twenty or thirty together. They are heavy, clumsy birds, but, when once on the wing, they fly well. They are not particularly wary, and I have seldom found any difficulty in approaching a flock. They seem to feed mostly in the mornings and evenings, and they spend the hotter part of the day resting on banks or perched on some big bough of a tree. This Duck feeds almost entirely on the water, eating water-plants and the various small forms of animal life found in water. At times it appears to be partial to young rice and grass. As an article of food, the flesh of the Comb-Duck is not comparable with the flesh of many of the migratory Ducks, but it is very palatable when fairly young, and not to be despised even in the case of the older birds. The note of this Duck is seldom heard, and has been variously described as a low guttural quack-like sound, and as a loud cry more like that of a goose than of a duck. According to Mr. Stuart Baker it also utters loud trumpet-calls. When wounded this species dives well and is very difficult to catch.
The Comb-Duck breeds in the rainy season from the end of June to September, according to locality and rainfall, but in Ceylon it appears to breed in February and March.
The nest is almost invariably built in a natural hollow of a large tree, or on a fork formed by three or four large branches. It is sometimes, however, placed in holes of old ruined forts, and sometimes the Comb-Duck appropriates the deserted nest of some large bird of prey. Mr. Hume once found a nest in a regular swamp at one end of a jhil, in amongst a thick growth of sedge and rush. Mr. E. H. Aitken once found the nest in a hole in a bank of a stream, as recorded in the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. I reproduce a portion of Mr. Aitken's note. He says :â€”
" On the 30th of August, eighteen years ago, I was wandering about with my gun on the banks of a small brackish stream, near Kharagora, when a female Comb-Duck got up and went off. I fired and missed her. She flew on for some distance, then turned and came back straight for me, and I killed her. She was handed over to the cook, and in the course of the day he 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, so I concluded that the bird had made its nest and laid all its eggs but one when it had the misfortune to fall in my way. Next day I took two men with me to the place, and began a systematic search for the nest. There were scarcely any trees in the neighbourhood, but many patches of rank rushes, and among these I hunted long without success. At last one of my men, who was on the other side of the stream, signalled to me and pointed to a hole in the bank, which at that part was quite perpendicular. I crossed, and, looking into the hole, found sixteen eggs which exactly matched the one taken out of 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 a snake's skin. The hole was about five feet from the ground and two feet deep, the entrance being about nine inches wide by six deep. The hole went into the bank quite horizontally, and there was nothing in the way of a ledge to alight on at the entrance, so the bird must have popped in as a pigeon does."
The nest is generally composed of dead leaves and grass on a foundation of a few sticks. The eggs vary in number from eight to fifteen or twenty, and, in one remarkable instance mentioned by the late Mr. A. Anderson, they numbered forty. In shape many of the eggs are regular ellipses, others are slightly more pointed at one end than at the other. They are remarkably smooth, and they have a large amount of gloss when first laid. In colour they are creamy white. They measure from 2.2 to 2.6 in length, and from 1 .65 to 1.8 in breadth.
The male has the head and neck white, mottled with black, but more thickly on the crown than elsewhere. The mantle and the whole lower plumage are white, each feather, for some time after the autumn moult, having a narrow black margin. The sides of the body are pale grey; the axillaries black; the under wing-coverts black, with some of the central feathers margined with white. The upper back, the scapulars, the lesser coverts, and the inner secondaries are glossy blue-black. The primaries are plain black; the secondaries are dark brown on the inner web, metallic bronze-green on the outer. The greater wing-coverts are entirely bronze-green. The lower part of the back is grey; the rump, upper tail-coverts and tail black. The black of the upper part of the back is produced as a broad crescentic band on either side of the upper breast.
The female bears a close general reÂsemblance to the male, but is much smaller, and differs also in having the metallic black portions of the plumage less glossy; the rump of the same grey colour as the lower back; the mantle brown with whitish margins; the under wing-coverts entirely black; and the sides of the body brown.
Many birds have the white lower plumage suffused with ferruginous.
Young birds, after the first moult, are brownish above and dingy white below.
Length. Male : length about 30; wing 15 ; tail nearly 6. Female: length about 27; wing about 11 1/2; tail rather more than 4. In both sexes, the bill is black; the irides dark brown; the legs and feet dark plumbeous. The comb of the male is black. Weight up to 5 3/4 lb.
The Comb Duck or Black-backed Spur-Goose.
Nukhta, India; Nukwa, Chota Nagpur ; Jutu chillawa (Telugu); Neerkoli, Coimbatore; Tanbay. Pegu; Bowkban (Karen).
Male 30" to 34"; 6 lbs. Female 26". Legs greenish. Bill and comb black. Head and neck white, spotted glossy black. Above black, glossed purple. Lower neck, all round breast, abdomen, lower tail-coverts, and tail white. Rump ash-grey. Sides and flanks white, tinged grey.â€” Female : No boss on bill. India, Ceylon, Burma, Africa (south of the Sahara), and Madagascar. Seven to twelve eggs (2.41 x 1.72), ivory-white. (J. 950. B. 1584.)
Also S. carunculatus. 24". Similar to S. melanonotus, but sides and flanks brown-black, and rump black, glossed green. S. America.
The comb-duck is often called, even by Europeans, by its best known native name of Nukta or Nukwa, and the practice is one to be commended, as in all cases where a bird is of a type of its own and unfamiliar to Europeans. Although to some extent intermediate between ducks and geese, the nukta would never have been called a black-backed " goose " were the male no bigger than the female, since she is obviously a duck; he, however, is quite as big as an ordinary wild goose, weighing between five and six pounds, while the female is only about three.
In plumage, however, they are much alike, only the female is far less richly glossed with purple and green on the black upper parts, has the sides dirty drab instead of pure delicate grey, and never displays the yellow patch under the sides of tail, and the yellow streak along the head, which the male has when in the height of breeding condition. At this time his black comb is a couple of inches high, but shrinks down to less than half in the off-season ; the female never has one, nor the young male, till he gets his full colour. In immature plumage the birds are brown, not black, but at all stages the combination of white belly with dark under-surface of wings is distinctive of the nukta among our large ducks.
The amount of black speckling on the white head varies a great deal individually; the whitest-headed bird I ever saw was a young male, and he had black on the flanks instead of grey, and was thus like the male South American nukta, which seems to me, therefore, hardly distinct from ours. The African one is now admitted to be the same as the Indian ; no other species is known.
The comb-duck is generally distributed over India, Burma, and Ceylon in suitable localities, such localities being open land provided with plenty of reedy marshes, and scattered large trees; treeless country the bird dislikes, as it is a perching duck and roosts and breeds in the trees ; nor does it care, on the other hand, about actual forest. It seldom frequents rivers, but may be found on lakes, and in some localities even on small ponds. It will thus be seen that its choice of localities is very different from that of the geese, while it is not sociable like them, being very rarely found in flocks of more than a dozen or so, and commonly in pairs. It associates with no other duck but the ruddy sheldrake, and that not often, as the two birds affect different places; and unless it happens to be in such company, is not so wary as one would expect a large waterfowl to be. Most of its time is passed in the water, though it walks as well on land as a goose, and although it feeds freely on rice and land and water herbage, it also partakes of water-snails, insects, &c, like a typical duck. The brown young birds are good eating, but the adults, though not ill-flavoured, are inclined to be hard; they should be cooked and served like geese. On the water the bird sits high with the stern raised, like a goose, but both there and on land the neck is carried in a graceful curve, and when courting the male arches his neck and bends down his head, slightly expanding his wings after the fashion of a swan, only much less. The comb-duck swims well, and dives vigorously if pressed ; in flight it is intermediate in style between a duck and a goose; the male, conspicuous by his size and comb, acts as the leader. It flies and feeds by day, retiring to the trees at night ; it is usually very silent, but the note when heard is variously described, sometimes as loud and goose-like, sometimes as a low guttural quack, or, in the case of the male, as a grating sound; probably only the female has the loud call.
The pair seem much attached, and the male accompanies the female in her search of a nesting-site in the trees ; such a site is a hole, or the place where several large branches diverge; an old nest of another large bird has been used, and even a hole in a bank ; and the nest has even been said to be sometimes placed on the ground among rushes by the water. The eggs are of an unusually polished appearance for a duck's, and yellowish-white ; about a dozen are laid, some time between June and September. The ducklings in down are brown and white above and white below.
The nukta is as well off for names as might be expected; in Telugu it is Jutu chilluwa, in Canarese Bod sarle haki, and in Uriya Nakihansa; Neerkoli is the name in Coimbatore, and Tau-bai in Burma, though the Karens call it Bowkbang.
The Nukhta or Comb-Duck.
Anser melanotus Pennant, Indian Zool., p. 12, pi. 12 (1769) (Ceylon). Sarcidiornis melanonotus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 423.
Vernacular names- Nukhta (Hind.); Mukwa (Chota Nagpur); Naki-hansa (Ooriya); Jutu-chiluwa (Tel.) - Dod-sal-haki (Can.); Neer-koli (Coimbatore) ; Tau-bai, Mauk-ton (Burma) ; Bowk-bang (Karen); Karo Rang (Sind).
Description. - Male. Head and neck white, spotted with metallic-black feathers, coalescing more or less on the crown, nape and hind-neck; lower neck and whole lower plumage white, tinged sometimes with rufous-grey; rest of upperplumage and wings black, glossed with green and blue, except on the secondaries, which are glossed with brown, and the scapulars, on which the gloss is purple; tail dark brown; sides of the body tinged with grey; a black mark, almost a demi-collar, on each side of the neck ; a black band in front of the under tail-coverts descending from the rump ; lower back grey.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown ; bill and comb black ; legs and feet plumbeous. Young birds are said to have the iris almost black.
Measurements. Wing 339 to 406 mm.; tail 139 to 153 mm.; tarsus about 64 to 75 mm.; culmen about 63 to 70 mm.; comb 55 to 60 mm. in breeding-season.
Female only differs in having no comb and in being rather smaller; the black everywhere is much less glossy and the lower back and rump are grey-brown; the neck and head are often more profusely marked with black. Wing about 280 to 309 mm.; culmen about 59 to 66 mm.
Nestling in down. Upper parts dull grey-brown; a white frontal line is continued back over the eye; a white crescentic band outlines the back of the rather darker crown; narrow brown bands commence behind the ear-coverts and meet on the hind-neck ; two white patches on the side of the back near the base of the wing and two others on the sides of the rump; lower surface greyish-white.
Distribution. Bare in the Punjab in the cis-Sutlej; absent from North and West Sind, resident over the whole of the rest of India and Ceylon where there is water available. In Eastern Bengal it is rare but has occurred in the Sunderbunds, Jessore and Khulna; in Assam it has occurred in Cachar, Sylhet and the Looshai Hills. In Burma it is rare in the North but becomes common in Pegu.
Nidification. The Comb-Duck breeds throughout its area from June to September. Normally the nesting-site is a large natural hollow in some tree, the eggs being laid either on the bare wood or upon a rough nest of sticks, grass and leaves but no down appears ever to be used as a lining. Sometimes the bird selects a hollow where the main branches spring from the trunk; occasionally a hole in a bank is used and, still more rarely, the nest of a Vulture or Stork. As a rule the full clutch numbers eight to a dozen but Anderson once found forty eggs in a nest, whilst Livesey took no fewer than forty-seven from one nesting hole. In colour the eggs are a pearly-white, very highly glossed when fresh and one hundred average 61.8 X 43.3 mm.: maxima 66.7 x 44.1 and 63.2 x 45.4 mm.; minima 56.0 x 42.5 and 58.0 x 42.0 mm.
Habits. The Comb-Duck is a bird of well-wooded open country, frequenting neither dense forest nor open plains. Ample water is, of course, a necessity but this may be marsh, lake, river or canals; in such places in is found in small flocks, probably families which break up when the breeding-season commences. These Ducks fly well and strongly, swim equally well and fast and are said by Tickell to be expert divers. They also run and walk well and can perch on any branch large enough to hold them without being grasped. Their ordinary note is a low, hoarse croak but in the breeding-season they have a fine loud " houk." They feed principally on a vegetarian diet, of which rice, both in grain and young leaves, forms an unfortunately large part. They also eat worms, spawn, small frogs-, larvae and occasionally small fish. Young ducklings when they first fly are good-eating but old birds are not worth shooting for "the pot.
Anser melanotos Pennant, Ind. Zool., p. 12, pl. xii, 1769 : Ceylon.
Anser melanonotus Pennant in Forster's Ind. Zool., 2nd. ed., p. 21, pl. xi, 1781: Ceylon and Madagascar; emendation only.
Anas tricolor Boddaert, Tabl. Pl. Enlum., p. 56, 1783, for Pl. Enlum. 937: Coromandel.
Sarkidiornis regius Eyton, Mon. Anatidae, p. 182, 1838.
Sarkidiornis africanus id., ibid., p. 103.
Sarkidiornis melanotos (Pennant)
Length, male 30 inches ; female 26 inches. Male : Head and neck white, spotted with glossy black, the black prevailing along the top of the head and back of the neck; a collar round the lower neck, and the lower plumage pure white, washed with pale ashy-grey on the sides of the breast and flanks ; the whole upper plumage, wings and tail, except the brownish-grey lower back, black glossed with green, purple and blue, a black bar extending on to each side of the upper breast and another on to the lower flanks.
The female is similar but smaller, with more black on the head and neck and less gloss elsewhere.
Iris brown ; bill black ; legs greenish-plumbeous.
The male has a black fleshy knob (the comb) on the top of the beak which becomes greatly developed in the breeding season.
A large Goose-like duck, glossy black above white below, with a spotted head and neck. The size and coloration is distinctive apart from the curious comb of the drake.
Found in India, Ceylon and Burma in suitable localities ; also in Africa south of the Sahara and in Madagascar.
The typical race is found virtually throughout India except in the North-west Frontier Province and Baluchistan, the Northern and Western Punjab, and the north-western portions of Sind ; it is confined to the plains and appears to be a local migrant.
The Flamingo (Phaenicopterus ruber) is usually placed near the geese and ducks. The rosy-pink and white plumage with black flight-quills, the long legs and neck and the unique bill bent downwards and adapted for feeding in an inverted position render identification-easy. It is found on lagoons throughout India, but is most numerous as a non-breeding visitor to North-west India. It breeds in Cutch.
The Nukta or Comb-duck is common in well-watered and well-wooded parts of India, and is generally found in large marshy tanks and jheels with reedy margins and plenty of trees in the vicinity. In such places it is found in pairs and family parties, and not being semi-nocturnal in its habits like most of the ducks and geese, is to be seen moving about freely on the wing at all times of day. It roosts, as it nests, in trees.
The flight is powerful and fairly rapid, and when a pair are on the wing together the male usually leads. The voice is more like that of a goose than a duck, and in the vicinity of the nest the bird tends to be rather noisy, heralding the approach of an intruder with loud trumpet-calls; the ordinary note of the male is a low grating noise. It is not a particularly wary species, but as the flesh is very indifferent for the table it is a pity to shoot so handsome a bird.
The food consists largely of the grains of wild and cultivated rice, but the roots, seeds and shoots of various water-plants are also eaten, as well as a certain amount of worms and spawn and larvae of aquatic insects.
The breeding season is from June to September, depending a good deal on the commencement of the rains.
The nest is normally built in trees and is a rough structure of Sticks and grass lined with a few dead leaves and feathers ; it is placed either in a hole in a trunk, or in the depression so often found where several large branches join the trunk of a tree ; mango trees are usually favoured.
The normal clutch consists of seven to twelve eggs, but the number frequently exceeds this, and forty eggs have been recorded in a single nest, though these may have been the product of two females.
The eggs are very regular ovals, slightly pointed at one end. The texture is wonderfully close and compact, and when fresh, the eggs both in colour and appearance seem made of polished ivory; with the progress of incubation some of the gloss departs and the shells become stained and dirty.
In size the eggs average about 2.40 by 1.70 inches.
FIG. 102-NuktaÂ Â (1/2 nat. size)
Number of Museum Specimen Records Found : 5 for Sarkidiornis melanotos
|No.||Museum||Species||Collection Deatils||Collector||Date of Collection||Record||Locality||GBIF Portal Link||1||Royal Ontario Museum||Sarkidiornis melanotos melanotos||ROM Birds 35133||1877-04-05 00:00:00.0||Specimen||Jumna River Uttar Pradesh India Southern Asia||Link|
|2||Yale University Peabody Museum||Sarkidiornis melanotos melanotos||YPM ORN ORN.042040||N. E. Crowley||1915-05-11 00:00:00.0||Specimen||Darbhanga District Bihar State India Southern Asia||Link|
|3||Field Museum||Sarkidiornis melanotos melanotos||FMNH Birds 60913||1925-12-31 00:00:00.0||Specimen||Alapalli Forest Chanda Madhya Pradesh India Southern Asia||Link|
|4||Yale University Peabody Museum||Sarkidiornis melanotos melanotos||YPM ORN ORN.042041||C. M. Inglis||1942-12-11 00:00:00.0||Specimen||Baheri Darbhanga District Uttar Pradesh State India Southern Asia||Link|
|5||Field Museum||Sarkidiornis melanotos melanotos||FMNH Birds 228398||1946-05-12 00:00:00.0||Specimen||Bheraghat Jabalpur Madhya Pradesh India Southern Asia||Link|
Biodiversity occurrence data provided by: (Accessed through GBIF Data Portal, 2009-08-06)
- Field Museum ( 2 Records )
- Royal Ontario Museum ( 1 Records )
- Yale University Peabody Museum ( 2 Records )
1 calls found for Sarkidiornis melanotos
Remarks: a flock in flight. It seemed that the females only were vocalising
Call Type: calls in flight (B)
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Cite this website along with its URL as:
Anonymous. 2013 Sarkidiornis melanotos - Pennant, 1769 (Comb Duck ) in Deomurari, A.N. (Compiler), 2010. AVIS-IBIS (Avian Information System - Indian BioDiversity Information System) v. 1.0. Foundation For Ecological Security, India retrieved on 05/11/2013