THE STIFF-TAILED DUCKS.
THE Ducks of this group are very widely distributed over the world, but only one species occurs in India.
The tail of all these Ducks is of very remarkable construction, being composed of eighteen very narrow stiff feathers of considerable length. The upper and under tail-coverts are, at the same time, extremely short, so that the tail-feathers become very prominent. The Indian species, in addition to its curious tail, has the base of the upper mandible much enlarged, and the whole bill coloured blue, so that its general appearance is very grotesque.
The character of the plumage is barred, and the two sexes are not very differently coloured. The speculum is of the same colour as the rest of the wing, which is extremely small. The feet are very powerful, the middle toe being quite double the length of the tarsus. The head is not crested. The bill is short and wide, and somewhat broader near the tip than at the base.
As the sexes in this Duck are so much alike, it is improbable that the drake should have a post-nuptial phase of plumage. On the other hand, it is possible that the drake undergoes a partial moult in the spring, as well as a complete moult in the autumn.