Nettium formosum

Clucking Teal.

Nettium formosum.

The head alone is quite enough to identify the drake of this rare species; the throat and crown are black, the face buff, with a black line down from each eye as if the bird had been crying tears of ink, and a crescent of glittering green curving round at the back. There is a vertical white bar on each side of the pinkish, black-spotted breast, separating it from the pencilled blue-grey flanks, and the shoulders are decked with long hackles streaked with black, buff, and chestnut.

The female is much like that of the common teal, but is larger, with much shorter bill in proportion, and a very distinct white patch at its base; moreover, the wing bar is mostly black and white, with only a narrow streak of green, and this running vertically parallel with the white border, not longitudinally. The male in undress differs from her in having the lower back plain brown as in the full plumage, not mottled. For some time after he loses this eclipse dress in the autumn his beautiful head markings are much obscured by brown edgings to the feathers, although the strange pattern is quite recognizable.

This teal is not only larger than the common and garganey teals, longer-tailed and shorter-billed, but stands much higher on the legs, and runs very actively. The loud clucking note of the drake, which sounds like mok-mok, is most characteristic, and the bird can never hold his tongue for long. He displays in a curious way, generally on land so far as I have seen ; first raising his head and erecting the plumage on it, so that it seems much larger, and then jerking it back on to his shoulders, clucking vigorously the while.

The clucking teal is an eastern Asiatic bird, for though breeding freely in Siberia and sometimes occurring to the westward in Europe, its chief winter haunts are Japan and China, where it must be extremely abundant, judging from the thousands of live birds that have lately been exported to Europe and even Australia of late years. At the time of writing it is hardly dearer in England than common teal, and the dealers have scores at a time. Less than a dozen specimens have been taken in India, and these chiefly of recent years ; but one was got in the Calcutta Market in 1844. I also got the first female recorded there. No doubt this sex has been often overlooked, for all the other records seem to be of males, and these have been got as far apart as Gujarat and Dibrugarh.

Indian Sporting Birds
Finn, Frank. Indian Sporting Birds. Edwards, 1915.
Title in Book: 
Nettium formosum
Book Author: 
Frank Finn
Page No: 
Common name: 
Clucking Teal
Baikal Teal
Anas formosa
Term name: 

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