1599. Mareca penelope.
Anas penelops (err. typ.), Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 202 (1766). Anas penelope, Gmel. Syst. Nat. i, p. 527; Blyth, Birds Burm. p. 166; Scully, Ibis, 1881, p, 593. Mareca penelope, Blyth, Cat. p. 305 ; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 804; Hume, S. F. i, p. 261; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xliii, pt. 2, p. 176; Butler & Hume, S. F. iv, p. 30; Davids. & Wend, S. F. vii, p. 93 ; Hume, ibid. p. 494; id. Cat. no. 963; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 363; Hume & Marsh. Game B. iii, p. 197, pl.; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 92; Butler, ibid. p. 438; Reid, 8. F. x, p. 82 ; Davidson, ibid. p. 326; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 278 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 408; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 345; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 227.
Peasan, Patari, Pharia, Chota-Lalsir, H.; Cheyun, Nepal; Parow, Sind.
Coloration. Male. Forehead and top of head buff, rest of head and neck dull chestnut, more or less spotted with greenish black ; chin and sometimes throat chiefly or wholly dull black; back, scapulars, rump, sides of breast, and flanks vermiculated black and white ; some of the longer tail-coverts black ; tail-feathers blackish brown; quills brown, outer webs of secondaries green, forming a speculum, broadly tipped black, outer web of last secondary white, outer webs of tertiaries black edged with white, and the shafts white; primary and smaller coverts greyish brown, remaining coverts white; greater secondary coverts black-tipped; lower neck and upper breast deep vinaceous red, lower breast and abdomen white ; lower tail-coverts black.
After the breeding-season the male moults into a dress much resembling the female, except that the head and neck are dull chestnut spotted with black, without the buff patch; upper breast and flanks dull ferruginous, Young birds have a similar plumage.
Female. Head and neck above brown, with fulvous bars or edges to the feathers, beneath rufescent speckled with brown, lower fore neck almost entirely brown; upper parts brown, the feathers with whitish or pale rufous edges; wings and tail brown, green speculum generally wanting; secondaries tipped white and last secondary with a white outer web; the greater and some of the median coverts tipped white; breast and abdomen white; under tail-coverts brown, with white edges or bars.
Bill plumbeous blue, black at the tip; irides red-brown; legs dusky lead (Jerdon). In females the bill and legs are duskier than in the male.
Length 19; tail 4; wing 10 ; tarsus 1.5 ; bill from gape 1.75. Females are very little smaller than males.
Distribution. Europe, North Africa, and Asia, breeding in the colder regions and wintering in the South. An irregular but fairly common migrant to India and Burma, not recorded from Ceylon, nor south of Mysore in the Indian Peninsula, nor in Tenasserim, but locally and in particular years abundant from October till March in parts of Sind, the Punjab, Kashmir, Rajputana, the North-west Provinces, Oudh, and the Deccan, though rare in Bengal, and not recorded from Orissa, Assam, Sylhet, or Cachar. Oates did not meet with it in Pegu, though McMaster found it common there. Hume saw large numbers in Manipur, and Vidal observed Wigeons numerous in some years near Ratnagiri.
Habits, &c. Wigeon may be found in large flocks or scattered parties, or even singly, keeping much to the larger pieces of water, and as common near the sea-coast as inland. They are seldom seen on rivers or on tanks of moderate or small size; they differ from the true Ducks also in grazing on land like Geese, and in having a peculiar whistling note; they feed on grass, aquatic plants, insects, Crustacea, and mollusca. In India Wigeon are, as a rule, inferior in flavour to the best ducks, such as Mallard, Teal, Pintail, and Pochard, and are often muddy, coarse, or fishy; still they are, at times, excellent. They are not known to breed within Indian limits.