1601. Querquedula circia.
The Garganey or Blue-winged Teal.
Anas querquedula, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 203 (1766); Blyth, Ibis, 1859, p. 464 ; Tickell, J. A. S. B. xxviii, p. 416. Anas circia, Linn. t. c. p. 204 (1766); Blyth, Birds Burm. p. 166; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 1080; Scully, Ibis, 1881, p. 593. Querquedula circia, Steph. in Shaw's Gen. Zool. xii, pt. 2, p. 143, pl. 51; Blyth, Cat. p. 305; Irby, Ibis, 1861, p. 250; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 807; Hume, S. F. i, p. 262; Adam, ibid. p. 402; Le Messurier, S. F. iii, p. 382; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 30: v, p. 234; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 489; Butler, S. F. vii, p. 188 ; Ball, ibid. p. 232; Cripps, ibid. p. 312 ; Hume, ibid. p. 494; id. Cat. no. 965; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 363; Hume & Marsh. Game B. iii, p. 215, pl.; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 93 ; Butler, ibid. p. 438; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 100; Reid, S. F. x, p. 83; Hume, ibid. p. 418; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 286; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 410; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 346; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 291; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 293.
Chaitwa, Khira, Patari, H.; Ghang-roib, Giria, Beng.
Coloration. Male in full plumage. Crown and nape brownish black; a broad white superciliary stripe from above the front of the eye to the side of the nape; forehead, lores, sides of the head and of the upper neck, throat, and fore neck rufous, or nutmeg-brown, streaked with white, chin black; back, rump, and upper tail-coverts dark brown, the feathers with pale greyish edges ; scapulars lanceolate, black, with broad white shaft-stripes, the outer' webs of the outer scapulars ashy grey; tail-feathers and quills dark brown ; speculum formed by outer webs of secondaries glossy greyish green, between two white bands formed by the tips of the secondaries themselves and of their greater coverts, tertiaries with narrow white borders; wing-coverts lavender-grey; feathers of breast and sides of breast barred with concentric bands of dark brown and buff; abdomen white, speckled with brown towards vent; flanks finely and wavily barred with dark brown, longest flank-feathers with a broad subapical white band, then a narrow brown bar and a dark grey tip; under tail-coverts buffy white with brown spots.
After breeding, the drake moults into a plumage resembling' that of the female, except that he retains the speculum and pale grey wing-coverts. The passage from this into the full plumage appears to take place somewhat gradually, the dark breast being assumed before the feathers of the head and neck are changed. The change is not, I believe, completed in India till about the end of February. Certainly in parts of India where this Teal abounded, though birds with the dark breast-feathers were common in December, I never saw drakes with white supercilia and nutmeg-brown sides of the head till about March. I may have only seen young birds, but I cannot find a single winter skin of a drake Garganey in full plumage in the Hume collection; and the only specimen I can find in the British Museum (a very bad one) is that of a Norfolk bird that has evidently been in confinement, and is consequently worthless as evidence.
Female. Upper parts dark brown, the feathers with pale edges ; sides of head and neck and the fore neck whitish, finely streaked with dark brown; a superciliary stripe from above the eye and a band from the lores below the eye paler, a buff spot on the lores; chin and throat white ; lower fore neck and upper breast blackish, with whitish edges to the feathers; wing-coverts greyish brown, sometimes ashy in old birds ; speculum wanting, or merely a wash of greenish bronze on the secondaries between the two white bars, formed, as in the male, by the ends of the secondaries and of their greater coverts; breast and abdomen white, more or less sullied and spotted towards the vent, under tail-coverts, and flanks. Young males resemble the females.
Bill blackish brown, paler beneath ; irides brown ; legs and feet plumbeous to greenish ( Oates).
Length of male 16; tail 2.7; wing 8; tarsus 1.1; bill from gape 1.8. The female is rather smaller, wing about 7.25.
Distribution. The Garganey breeds throughout a great part of the north temperate zone in Europe and Asia, and passes the winter in North China and Southern Asia as far east as the Philippines and Celebes. It is found at that season throughout India, Ceylon, and Burma in suitable areas.
Habits, &c. This is one of the earliest ducks to arrive in Northern India, being often seen in large numbers at the end of August and beginning of September, and staying after most of the other migrants, in many places until the beginning of May, or even later. It is almost always in flocks, often large, which keep much during the day to the edges of large tanks and swamps, or, late in the season, the banks of rivers, generally huddled together, and which feed chiefly at night. The food of this Teal is chiefly vegetable; the flight is swift, though not equal to that of the Common Teal, and the call is a harsh quack. It is probable that Garganeys breed in the Himalayas, as birds have been seen there in summer, and they must occasionally lay in the plains, for young birds half-fledged were caught by Col. Irby in Oudh, and others were brought to Col. Tickell at Moulmein. Eggs, at first supposed to belong to this bird, but subsequently referred to the Marbled Duck, were taken by Captain Butler near Ormara on the Baluchistan coast. In Europe the Garganey lays 6 to 13 creamy white eggs, each measuring about 1.87 by 1.37, in a grass nest lined with down, placed amongst rushes near water. For the table this is a good bird, though not equal to the Common Teal.