(2265) Anas poecilorhyncha poecilorhyncha.
The Spotbill or Grey Duck.
Anas poecilorhyncha Forster, Indian Zool., p. 23, pi xiii, fig-. I (1781) (Ceylon); Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 436.
Vernacular names. Garm-pai, Gugral (Hind.); Hunjur, Hun-ghur(Sind); Naddun (Nepal Terai); Kara (Manipur); Bor-Mughi-hans (Assam).
Description. Crown from forehead to nape dark brown ; a streak of the same colour covering the lores, running through the eye to the back of the ear-coverts; remainder of head and neck buffy-white, the feathers more or less centred dusky except on the chin and throat; upper parts brown to brownish-black; scapulars paler and edged with pale brown, as are some of the feathers of the back; rump and upper tail-coverts deeper brown ; tail still darker and glossy, the feathers edged with pale brown; lesser and median wing-coverts grey; greater coverts dark grey sub-tipped with white and tipped black; speculum glossy green, bordered on each side with black; secondaries tipped white and inner secondaries with the outer webs broadly white ; remainder of wing brown ; upper breast fulvous-white, spotted with brown; abdomen darker and browner and the under tail-coverts almost black. The amount of white on the inner secondaries varies considerably as does the depth of colour on the lower parts; the breast is sometimes almost white, whilst at other times the whole of the breast and abdomen are uniform pale brown.
Colours of soft parts, Iris light to dark brown; bill black, the terminal third or less yellow to orange-yellow or orange, tipped black; a spot at the base of the bill on each side of the forehead orange-red to coral-red; legs and feet deep coral-red, claws black.
Measurements. Wing, 263 to 282 mm., 250 to 268 mm.; tail 120 to 147 mm.; tarsus about 22 to 25 mm.; culmen about 61 to 68 mm.
Weight, 2 1/4 to 3 1/2 lbs., 1 3/4 to 3 lbs.
Young birds are like the adult but have no red spots at the base of the bill and the feet are orange to brick-red ; the general plumage is rather lighter and the spots on the lower plumage sparse or obsolete.
There is apparently no eclipse plumage in the male, though he undergoes a moult in August and September and both sexes shed all their quills simultaneously after the breeding-season.
Distribution. This duck is resident throughout India from Sind and the North-West to Ceylon and Western Assam, Cachar and Sylhet. It has been recorded from Kashmir.
Nidification. The Spotbill breeds during July, August and September over the greater part of its habitat but it also seems to breed at odd times throughout the year. In Eastern Bengal I have seen young in April, fresh eggs in August and tiny ducklings in January. Whitehead also saw ducklings during November in Sehore, whilst in Southern India November and December are probably the normal breeding months. The nest is very like that of the Mallard, a large structure of grass, weeds and rubbish placed in among thick grass or herbage near swamps and ponds. Unlike the Mallard, however, this duck provides but little down as a lining for the nest, doubtless because it is unnecessary in a warm climate. The eggs number six to twelve and are like those of the Mallard but more grey-buff in tint and less grey-green. One hundred eggs average 56.0 x 42.3 mm.: maxima 60.1 x 42.2 and 56.2 x 44.0 mm.; minima 50.0 X 38.1 and 52.1 x 37.0 mm.
Habits. This is our most widespread of resident ducks but is rather capricious in its tastes and some places which appear admirably suited do not attract it. It is common in Central India but by no means plentiful in the duck paradise of Eastern Bengal. It is very common in Manipur, quite rare in the adjoining and much wetter districts of Cachar. It frequents both large lakes and swamps and quite small ponds, preferring the latter. Rivers it avoids but it is common on the vast swamps of Mymensingh. It flies, swims and feeds in the same manner as the Mallard and the voice also is the same. It is not a very sociable bird and associates in small flocks of a dozen or less.