1602. Spatula clypeata.
Anas clypeata, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 200 (1766). Spatula clypeata, Boie, Isis, 1822, p. 564; Blyth, Cat. p. 303; Layard, A. M. N. H. (2) xiv, p. 270; Irby, Ibis, 1861, p. 249; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 796; Godic.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xxxix, pt. 2, p. 275; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xli, pt. 2, p. 255 ; Layard, P. Z. S. 1873, p. 205 ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 260; Adam, ibid. p. 402; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 28; Fairbank, ibid. p. 264 ; Anders. Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 700 ; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 232 ; Hume, ibid. p. 492 ; id. Cat. no. 957; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 362; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 1080; Hume Marsh. Game B. iii, p. 141, pl.; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 92 : Butler, ibid. p. 437; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 99; Scully, ibid. p. 592; Swinhoe, Ibis, 1882, p. 124; Reid, S. F. x, p. 80; Davidson, ibid. p. 325; Hume, ibid. p. 417; Macgregor, ibid. p. 442; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 401; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 343; Salvadori, Ann. Mus. Civ. Gen. (2) iv, p. 616; id. Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 306.
Tidari, Punana, Tokarwala, Ghirah, H.; Panta-mukhi, Beng.; Dhobaha, Sankhar , Khikheria Sankhar , Nepal; Alipdt, Sind.
Coloration. Male in full plumage. Head and upper neck glossy green; lower neck, except behind, and upper breast, sides of the breast, and shorter scapulars pure white; hind neck and back dark brown, the feathers pale-edged; rump and upper tail-coverts black, glossed with green; tail dark brown, the outer feathers broadly edged with white; wing-coverts and outer webs of two of the longer scapulars bluish grey, remainder of long scapulars black, all with broad white shaft-stripes; quills brown; speculum formed by outer webs of secondaries bright green, bordered in front by a bar of white formed by the larger coverts; tertiaries blackish, slightly glossed with green, each with a fusiform white, or whitish, stripe along the shafts; lower breast and abdomen chestnut; some of the feathers of the flanks and about the vent finely barred with buff; lower flanks white; under tail-coverts black, glossed with green.
Like other allied forms, the drake of the present species dons the female dress, except on the wings, after the breeding-season, and resumes the male garb at the autumnal moult. But it is rare in India, so far as my experience goes, to see a male in full plumage before the end of February: either the green head or the white breast, or both, are not completely assumed. Male birds of the year in this and other species of Duck do not assume the full plumage till the spring.
Female. Brown above, each feather with a pale reddish border; the feathers of the back and rump, the scapulars and upper tail-coverts with concentric buff or rufous bands; wing-coverts grey to greyish brown ; speculum on secondaries duller than in male ; lower parts brownish buff, more rufous on abdomen, speckled with dark brown on fore neck; feathers of upper breast and of flanks distinctly, lower abdomen and lower tail-coverts less strongly, marked with crescentic brown bars.
Bill in males in full plumage black; in females and young, upper mandible dark brown, lower mandible dull orange; irides yellow or orange in the male, brown in the female; legs orange to red (Hume).
Length of male 20 ; tail 3.25 ; wing 9.5; tarsus 1.4; bill from gape 3. Females are a little smaller: wing 8.75; the bill is shorter, measuring from gape 2.75.
Distribution. Throughout the greater part of the Northern hemisphere, between lat. 10° and lat. 68 N., breeding in the north temperate zone. A winter visitor to India, Ceylon, and Northern Burma, arriving in the latter end of October and staying till late in April, after most of the other migratory Ducks have left. It is common throughout Northern India, but rarer to the southward and in Ceylon; it is found in Assam, Manipur, and the Upper Irrawaddy Valley above Myingyan; but noc, so far as is hitherto known, in Pegu or Tenasserim. Oates recently obtained a specimen in the Shan States. Layard came across young birds in Ceylon, but this must have been exceptional, no other instance of the Shoveller's breeding within Indian limits being known.
Habits, &c. In India the Shoveller is a freshwater bird, and is generally found in small parties, in pairs or singly, haunting shallow water on the edges of tanks and marshes, and sometimes rivers, and often in little ponds of dirty water about villages, where it becomes very tame. It is almost omnivorous, but feeds principally on insects and their larvae, worms, molluscs, and on various organic substances that are found on the borders of swamps and ponds, and which its fine lamellae enable it to sift out from the mud. The Shoveller has also the peculiarity, described by Newton, of swimming in circles with its bill in the water above the spot where Pochards are diving and feeding beneath, and sifting out the substances that float up when disturbed by the operations of the Diving Ducks. It appears never to feed like other ducks, with its head and breast immersed and its tail sticking up vertically. It flies and walks well, but is not a fast swimmer. As regards its value for food, there may be differences of opinion as to which is the best duck for the table, but there is no question that of all the true ducks this is the worst; at the same time, it is sometimes eatable, and its rankness is much diminished by its being skinned before it is cooked.