1592. Anas boscas.
Anas boschas, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 205 (1760); Theobald, J. A. S. B. xxiii, p. 602; Blyth, Cat. p. 303; Adams, P. Z. S. 1858, p. 510 ; 1859, p. 190; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 798; Blyth, Ibis, 1867, p. 176; Hume, N. & E. p. 642; id. S. F. i, p. 261; vii, pp. 67, 492 ; id. Cat. no. 958; Butler, S. F. ix, p. 437; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 402. Anas boscas, Wharton, Ibis, 1879, p. 453; id. S. F. viii, p. 499; Hume & Marsh. Game B. iii, p. 151,pi.; Biddidph, Ibis, 1881, p. 99; Scully, ibid. p. 592 ; Reid, S. F. x, p. 81; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 344; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. in, p. 288; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 189.
Nilsir, Nir-rugi, H.; Lilg , Lilgahi, Nepal.
Coloration. Male after autumnal moult. Head and upper neck glossy emerald-green; a white ring, slightly interrupted behind, round the lower neck, followed by a broad gorget of deep chestnut, covering most of the breast; upper back and scapulars finely vermiculated white and brown, some outer scapulars tinged with chestnut; middle of back dark brown, lower back black; rump, upper tail-coverts, and the four middle tail-feathers the same, glossed with purple or green, and the four middle rectrices curled upwards at the ends; rest of tail-feathers white, greyish brown near the shafts ; quills dark brown, the secondaries white-tipped, their outer webs anteriorly metallic purple, with a subterminal black band; tertiaries greyish brown, tinged on outer webs with chestnut ; wing-coverts brown, greater secondary coverts with a white subterminal band and black tips; wing-lining white; abdomen and flanks white, finely vermiculated with brown; lower tail-coverts velvety black.
After the breeding season the drake moults in June into a plumage like that of the female: when the body-moult is complete, the bird loses its quills and is for a time unable to fly. The ordinary male plumage is reassumed by a second moult in September.
Female. Brown above, the feathers edged with buff; scapulars and feathers of upper back with concentric buff bands ; sides of head paler than crown, chin and throat brownish buff, unspotted; wing as in male ; underparts buff, with brown centres to feathers, upper breast browner; tail-feathers brown, with whitish-buff' edges.
Nail of bill black, remainder of upper mandible generally dull olive, yellower at base; irides brown; legs and feet orange-red. Sometimes the bill in females is black on the culmen, elsewhere orange-yellow (Hume). Tail-feathers 20 in the male, 18 in the female.
Length of males 24 ; tail 3.5 ; wing 11 ; tarsus 1.8 ; bill from gape 2.6. Females are smaller : wing 10; tail 3.3 ; tarsus 1.6.
Distribution. Resident throughout the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, and breeding in Europe, Asia, and America, some birds migrating to the southward in winter. The Mallard breeds in the Himalayas, and especially in Kashmir, where it is resident, and is, in winter, common in the Western Punjab and Sind, not uncommon in the North-west Provinces, Oudh, and Behar, and of occasional occurrence in Guzerat, the Central Indian Agency, the Deccan, Bengal, and Northern Burma, but unknown in Southern India, Ceylon, Pegu, and Tenasserim.
Habits, &c. This, the common wild duck of Western Europe, is generally found in flocks, small or large ; it haunts rivers, brooks, lakes, marshes, or sea-coasts, and lives chiefly on vegetable food, though it occasionally feeds on Crustacea, mollusca, frogs, or fish. In the Punjab it is common on the banks of rivers. It is a swift flyer, a fair walker, and an excellent swimmer and diver. It breeds in Kashmir in May and the first half of June, and lays six to twelve greenish-white eggs, measuring on an average 2.23 by 1.6, in a nest of dried grass or flag, lined with a little down. The Mallard is one of the best of all ducks for eating, and is the original source from which tame ducks are derived.