INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION.

THE birds which form the subject of this, the second, part of the GAME BIRDS OF INDIA, are forty-four in number, and are referable to two sections or orders, containing the following number of species :—
Water Fowl ………………37 species.
Snipes………………………7 „

It is hardly necessary to point out to the sportsman how these two sections of birds differ from each other, and from all the game birds treated of in the first part of this work; nevertheless it will be convergent; to assign to them certain characters, in order that the sections may be properly defined :—

WATER FOWL (p. 13).—The front toes joined together by a web; the hind toe lobed; the margins of the bill furnished with lamellae, or serrations, or saw-like teeth.

SNIPES (p. 424).—Bill long and slender, straight, or curved at the tip; the nasal furrow extending nearly to the tip of the upper mandible ; no trace of web between the toes; hind toe small and elevated above the level of the front toes; the tarsus equal to or shorter than the middle toe and claw.

Of the forty-four species of Water Birds included in my list, thirty-six are to be found in Dr. Jerdon's work and forty-three in that of Messrs. Hume and Marshall. I have been able to add one species, the Eastern White-eyed Pochard, to the Indian list. The occurrence of this Duck in India has been brought to notice by Mr. F. Finn, and no doubt it will prove to be a common bird in the eastern portion of the Empire, where it has hitherto been confounded with the better-known western form. I have omitted from my list three species of Water Fowl which I am of opinion were included in their work by Messrs. Hume and Marshall on quite insufficient evidence. These are the Whooper or Hooper Swan, Bewick's Swan, and the Bean-Goose.

In this Manual I have indicated many species of Water Birds, both Ducks and Snipes, which may not improbably be found hereafter to occur within the limits of the Indian Empire. To these I have assigned characters by means of which they can be easily identified, and I trust that sportsmen in India may be able, in the course of a few years, to add at least half a dozen species to the present list.

The Geese of the Bean-Goose type are especially interesting, and the species which occur in Eastern Asia may reasonably be expected to visit Upper Burma and the Shan States in the winter. In the course of studying the Geese in the British Museum, I found a Goose of this type from Japan which could not be assigned to any known species, and I have accordingly described it in my summary of these birds, (p. 77), under the name of Anser mentalis.

In dealing with the Water Fowl, I have largely availed myself of the Catalogue of the Ducks by Count Salvadori, forming the twenty-seventh volume of the British Museum Catalogue of Birds. I have in a few instances ventured to differ from this eminent authority. I have, for instance, placed the Pink-headed Duck near the Pochards, and I have placed the Grey Ducks in a separate genus or group, for reasons which are fully given in their proper place.

In dealing with the Snipes, I have profited by Dr. Bowdler Sharpe's Catalogue of the Waders in the British Museum Collection (vol. xxiv.).

The birds treated of in this second part of my Manual are of such wide distribution that the literature relating to them is very extensive. So many of the Ducks and Geese visit India only in the winter that we have to go to European authors for an account of their nesting and general habits in summer. The books to which I am chiefly indebted for information, and from which I have frequently quoted largely, are Dr. Sharpe's " British Birds " in Allen's " Naturalist's Library "; Mr. Dresser's splendid work " The Birds of Europe"; and the late Mr. Seebohm's " British Birds." In addition to these I have often had occasion to quote from various charming books of sport, too numerous to be mentioned here, but which are duly acknowledged in the following pages.

Since the first part of this work was published, Dr. Blanford has issued the fourth and concluding volume of the Birds in the " Fauna of British India." This treats not only of the Game Birds, but of many other birds which are of special interest to the sportsman, but which do not enter into the scope of this smaller and more restricted Manual. The sportsman who wishes to do more than merely identify the species he meets with will do well to study Dr. Blanford's volume and acquaint himself with the many in¬teresting details of the anatomy and classification of the Indian Game Birds which would be out of place in this Manual.

My obligations to Messrs. Hume and Marshall cannot be overestimated. Their descriptions of the habits of the Water Birds, so far as these, in the case of so many of the Ducks and Snipes, can be observed in India, are so complete that little can be added to them. I have laid their work largely under contribution.

I cannot omit to notice here Colonel le Messurier's useful little volume on " The Game, Shore, and Water Birds of India," and Mr. E. C. Stuart Baker's series of most interesting articles on the "Ducks of India" now appearing in the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. These articles, written by such a practical naturalist and sportsman as Mr. Baker, are most valuable, and they have been of great use to me. I may also mention that Mr. F. Finn is dealing with the Indian Ducks in the " Asian " newspaper.

I now append a table, similar to the one in the first part of this Manual, in which are shown in parallel columns the names used by me in this volume for the Water Birds, the corresponding names used by Dr. Jerdon, and similarly the corresponding names used by Messrs. Hume and Marshall, with a reference to the volume and page where these names may be found.*

* In order that it may not be overlooked, I wish to draw my readers' attention to a new Pheasant described in the Appendix at the end of this volume.

NAMES USED IN THIS WORK.
NAMES USED BY MESSRS. HUME AND MARSHALL IN THE " GAME BIRDS OF INDIA," VOL. III.
NAMES USED BY DR. JERDON IN THE " BIRDS OF INDIA," VOL. II.
89. The Mute Swan, p. 26. The Mute Swan, p. 41.
90. The Grey Lag-Goose, p. The Grey Goose, P- 779- The Grey Lag Goose, p. 55.
91. The Large White-fronted Goose, p. 48. The White-fronted Goose, p. 780. The White-fronted or Laughing Goose, p. 73.
92. The Small White-fronted Goose, p. 53. The Dwarf Goose, p. 781. The Dwarf Goose, p. 77.
93. The Barred-headed Goose, P. 59. The Barred-headed Goose, p. 782. The Barred-headed Goose, p. 81.
94. The Pink-footed Goose, p. 65. The Pink-footed Goose, p. 780. The Pink-footed Goose, p. 71.
95. The Common Sheld-Duck, p. 81. The Shieldrake, P- 794- The Shelldrake or Burrow Duck, p. 135.
96. The Ruddy Sheld-Duck, p. 92. The Ruddy Shieldrake, p. 791. The Ruddy Shell-drake or Brahminy Duck, p.122.
97. The Comb-Duck, p. 103. The Black-backed Goose, P. 785. The Nukhta or Comb Duck, p. 91.
98. The Small Whistling Duck, p. 112. The Whistling-Teal, p. 789. The Whistling Teal, p. 110.
99. The Large Whistling Duck, p. 120. The Large Whistling-Teal, p. 790. The Larger Whistling Teal, p. 119.
100. The Indian Cotton-Teal, p. 127. The White-bodied Goose-Teal, p. 786. The Cotton Teal, p. 101.
101. The Indian Wood-Duck P. 139. The White-winged Shieldrake, p. 793. The White-winged Wood-Duck, p. 147.
102. The Grey Duck, p. 150. The Spotted-billed Duck, p. 799. The Grey or Spot-bill Duck, p. 165.
103.The Anda¬man Duck, p. 158. The Oceanic Teal, p. 243.
104. The Com¬mon Teal, p, 172. The Common Teal, p. 806. The Common Teal, p. 205.
105. The Baikal Teal, p. 182. The Clucking Teal, p. 808. The Clucking or Baikal Teal, p. 225.
106. The Garganey, p. 190. The Blue-winged Teal, p. 807. The Garganey or Blue-winged Teal, p. 215.
107. The Fal¬cated Duck, p. 202. The Crested or Bronze-capped Teal, p. 231.
108. The Wige¬on, p. 210. The Wigeon, p. 804. The Wigeon, p. 197.
109. The Pin¬tail, p 223. The Pintail Duck, p. 803. The Pintail, p. 189.
110. The Gad¬wall, p. 234. The Gadwall, p. 802. The Gadwall, p.
181.
111. The Shov¬eller, p. 246. The Shoveller, p. 796. The Shoveller,
p. 141.
112. The Wild Duck, p. 257. The Mallard, p. - 798. The Mallard, p. 151
113. The Marbled Duck, p. 273. The Marbled Teal, p. 237.
114. The Pink-headed Duck, p. 284. The Pink-headed Duck, p. 800. The Pink-headed Duck, p. 173.
115. The Red-crested Pochard, p. 299. The Red-crested Pochard, p. 811. The Red-crested Pochard, p. 253.
116. The Pochard, p. 309. The Red-headed Pochard, p. 812. The Pochard or Dun-bird, p. 247.
117. The Western White-eyed Pochard, p. 318. The White-eyed Duck, p. 813. The White-eyed Pochard, p. 263.
118. The Eastern White-eyed Pochard, p. 828.
119. The Scaup Duck, p. 337. The Scaup Pochard, p. 814. The Scaup, p. 271.
120. The Tufted Scaup Duck, P. 348. The Tufted Duck, p. 815. The Tufted Pochard, p. 277.
121. The Golden-eye, p. 358. The Golden-Eye or Garrot, p. 285.
122. The Stiff-tailed Duck, p. 375. The White-faced Stiff-tail Duck, p. 289.
123. The Goosander, p. 390. The Merganser, p. 817. The Goosander or Merganser, p. 299.
124. The Red-breasted Merganser, p. 402. The Red-breasted Merganser, p. 305.
125. The Smew, P. 413. The Smew, p. 818. The Smew, p. 293.
126. The Wood-Cock, p. 428. The Wood-Cock, p. 670. The Woodcock, P. 309.
127. The Wood-Snipe, p. 439. The Wood Snipe, p. 672. The Wood-Snipe, p. 325.
128. The Solitary Snipe, p. 446. The Himalayan Solitary Snipe, P. 673. The Eastern Solitary Snipe, P. 334.
129. The Common Snipe, p. 455. The Common Snipe, p. 674. The Common or Fantail Snipe, P. 359.
130. The Pintail Snipe, p. 468. The Pin-tailed Snipe, p. 674. The Pintail Snipe, p. 339.
131. The Jack-Snipe, p. 477. The Jack Snipe, p. 676. The Jack Snipe, P. 373.
132. The Painted Snipe, p. 488. The Painted Snipe, p. 677, The Painted Snipe, p. 381.

In the first part of this Manual I tried to avoid the use of what might be styled technical terms. In writing of the Water Birds I have been compelled, for the sake of clearness and brevity, to make use of a few such terms. These are, however, so often employed by Messrs. Hume and Marshall and other writers on birds that few sportsmen can plead ignorance of their meaning; but to avoid any possible misunderstanding on this point it will, perhaps, be desirable to explain them briefly. The " primaries " are the first ten or eleven quills of the wing, counting from the tip inwards. Many birds have ten primaries, but the Ducks have eleven. The first, however, is so minute and so difficult to discover that it may be ignored ; and for all practical purposes Ducks may be considered to have ten primaries only, all of full size. The "secondaries" are the remaining quills of the wing. About half of these are usually short and of much the same length, and are termed the outer second¬aries. The remaining secondaries are usually long and pointed, and are termed the inner secondaries.

The "speculum," a term used in connection with Ducks, is the colour exhibited by the outer secondaries. It is often very brilliant and metallic; sometimes dull or of a brownish colour; at times pure white or grey.

The "scapulars" are the feathers springing from the shoulder, generally very long, pointed, and of a distinctive colour. When the wing is closed, the scapulars completely cover the junction of the wing with the body, and lie partly over the feathers of the back and partly over the inner secondaries.

The " axillaries " are a bunch of long narrow feathers, springing from the armpit, or the junction of the wing with the body. They lie concealed under the closed wing.

The " coverts " of the upper surface of the wing are divided into three series: the lesser, which ranges along the margin of the wing; the middle; and the lower series, or greater coverts, covering the base of the quills. The primary coverts are those small, stiff, pointed feathers which lie at the base of the primaries, and are not only quite distinct from the greater coverts, but are generally of quite a different colour, most usually black or brown. The coverts of the lower surface of the wing are almost invariably of one pattern of colour, and for purposes of description do not require to be divided into series.

I again remind my readers that all the measurements in this Manual are in inches.

BookTitle: 
A Manual Of The Game Birds Of India(water Birds)
Reference: 
Oates, Eugene Wifliam. A manual of the game birds of India. Vol.2. 1899.
Title in Book: 
INTRODUCTION
Book Author: 
Eugene William Oates
Year: 
1899
Volume: 
Vol. 2
id: 
9770

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