1600. Dafila acuta.
Anas acuta, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 202 (1766); Blyth, Birds Burm. p. 166; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 1076; Scully, Ibis, 1881, p. 593. Dafila acuta, Blyth, Cat. p. 304; Adams, P. Z. S. 1859, p. 190; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 803 ; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xli, pt. 2, p. 255 ; Hume, S. F. i, pp. 136, 261 ; Adam, S. F. ii, p. 338 ; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xliii, pt. 2, p. 176; Hume, S. F. iii, p. 193; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 29 ; v, p. 234; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 489 ; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 232; Cripps, ibid. p. 312 ; Hume, ibid, p. 493 ; id. Cat. no. 962 ; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 362 ; Hume & Marsh. Game B. iii, p. 189, pl.: Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 92; Butler, ibid. p. 438 : Reid, S. F. x, p. 82 ; Davidson, ibid. p. 326 ; Hume, ibid. p. 418; Taylor, ibid. p. 531; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 279 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 407; Hume, S. F. xi, v. 345; Oates, Ibis, 1888, p. 73; St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 179 ; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 270.
Sanh, Sink-par, H. (N. W. P.) ; Kokarali, Drighush, Sind; Dig-hans, Sho-lon-cho, Beng. ; Digunch, Nepal; Nanda, Nanja, Uriya; Laitunga, Manipur.
Coloration. Male. Head and upper fore neck umber-brown, with a purple gloss on each side of the occiput; hind neck black, a white band from each side of the nape down the neck joining the white of the lower parts; lower hind neck, back, shorter scapulars, and sides of body finely barred and vermiculated with black and white; longer scapulars lanceolate, velvety black, edged with light brown ; upper tail-coverts black edged with grey, the longest black on the outer web, grey on the inner; median long tail-feathers black, the outer feathers brown; wings greyish brown, the greater secondary coverts with rufous tips ; secondaries bronzed, changing from purple to green on the outer webs, with a subterminal velvety-black band and white tips ; outer web of innermost secondary black with a whitish bar on the inside; tertiaries grey, part of the inner web and inside of outer web black ; breast and abdomen white, lower abdomen speckled with grey; lower tail-coverts black, white at the outside ; lower flanks buff.
The drake moults all feathers except the primaries, secondaries, wing-coverts, and 6 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.
Female. Greyish brown above, with concentric buff or white bars on the feathers of the back and scapulars, and pale streaks elsewhere ; no speculum ; the secondaries and greater secondary coverts tipped with whitish, making two distinct bars on the wing;; chin and throat white ; sides of head and neck and the fore neck white, speckled brown, lower neck more distinctly spotted; lower parts whitish, much streaked and tinged with dusky.
Bill black, the sides of the upper mandible, not the culmen, bluish plumbeous; irides dark brown; legs and feet greyish black.
Length of male 22 to 29 ; tail 5 to 8.5; wing 11; tarsus 1.6 ; bill from gape 2.25. Females are smaller, wing about 10, and have shorter tails. The tail usually consists of 16 feathers, but sometimes contains 18.
Distribution. Nearly the whole Northern hemisphere. The Pintail breeds chiefly in the neighbourhood of the Arctic circle, and in winter is found throughout India, Burma, and Ceylon in suitable localities, though by no means universally distributed.
Habits, &c. Pintails in India arrive about the beginning of November and leave in March; whilst in this country they are generally seen in flocks, which are sometimes very large, and occasionally composed of male birds only. They keep in the day chiefly to large open pieces of water, especially those in which water-plants rise a few inches above the surface, not so much amongst the rushes or in the shallows at the side as some ducks do, and they feed, mainly at night, on vegetable food chiefly, but also on mollusca and insects. They have a peculiar appearance when swimming, with their long necks arched and their tails raised; their flight, which is very swift, is equally characteristic. As a rule they are silent birds, but when alarmed utter a peculiar soft quack. Pintails are excellent eating, and appear in India never to be coarse or fishy, as most other species are at times; have even found Mallards uneatable, though shot on a " bund far from the sea in December.