(2269) Chaulelasmus streperus.
Anas strepera Linn., Syst. Nat., 30th ed., i, p. 125 (1758) (Sweden). Chaulelasmus streperus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 440.
Vernacular names. Mila, Bhuar, Beykhur (Hind.); Peing-hans (Beng.) ; Mail (Nepal) * Burd, Buari, Buhar (Sind); Saru-mugi-hans (Assam).
Description. Head and neck whitish, rufous-white or dull rufous, densely speckled with brown, except on the chin, which is almost pure white in highly-plumaged birds; the anterior portions of the head nearly always darker than the posterior in ground-colour; lower neck, back and scapulars blackish-brown to rufous-brown, each feather vermiculated with wavy crescentic lines of white ; lower back darker with fewer vermiculations, sometimes obsolete; rump and upper tail-coverts black ; central rectrices grey, outer ones rufous-grey with whitish edges; broadest on the outermost; smallest wing-coverts like the scapulars; median and primary greater coverts chestnut, the bases brown and white and sometimes showing; greater coverts next the secondaries black; secondaries pure grey, silvery near the tips ; the outer secondaries form a speculum, four or five glossy velvety-black and three with broad white outer webs, those next the black often having a narrow black edge; primaries brown-grey, darkest at the tips; shoulder of wing and under wing--coverts white; breast, sides of body and flanks like the back, the breast more boldly marked with the light and dark bars and the vent and flanks more finely marked; abdomen white ; under tail-coverts velvety-black, sometimes splashed with patches of black and white vermiculations.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown ; upper mandible dark slaty-brown, black or brown ; lower mandible paler and yellowish or reddish underneath; legs yellow, brownish-yellow to dull orange, claws black.
Measurements. Wing, 270 to 285 mm., 220 to 256 mm.; tail about 82 to 98 mm.; tarsus about 36 to 40 mm.; culmen about 4 8 to 54 mm.
Weight, 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 lbs., 1 to 1 3/4 lbs.
Female. General colour above brown, the feathers with buff or rufous margins, the head and neck being more or less spotted dark on a paler ground; scapulars unmarked dark brown; rump and upper tail-coverts brownish-black ; wings as in the male but the chestnut obsolete or much less in extent; below the breast, sides and under tail-coverts are pale rufous, sometimes darker, spotted with brown ; abdomen white.
Colours of soft parts. Bill dull orange to yellowish-brown, the tip darker.
Young in first plumage like the female hut with no chestnut or black on the wing; the feathers of the underparts have dark brown centres.
Nestling. Like that of the Mallard but more golden-rufous on the chin and throat and having a small black spot at the corner of the gape.
Distribution. Circumpolar in the Northern Regions, breeding in the Subarctic area and extending in Winter to North and Central Africa, the whole of Southern Asia and as far South as Jamaica and Mexico in America.
Nidification. Although a few birds have been shot in Kashmir.. Cachar, Thall and Lachi in late May and June, it is improbable that the Gadwall breeds anywhere within our limits. In Europe it breeds as far South as Spain and South Russia but how far South in Asia is not yet known. A drake Gadwall and some eggs were sent me from Tibet taken on the 20th of June but it is possible that the eggs and their owner got mixed up.
The nest is very like that of the Mallard and is nearly always placed on the ground in dense vegetation close to the edge of a swamp or lake. The eggs number six to ten, occasionally twelve or fourteen, and in colour are a clear pale yellow or greenish stone-colour, becoming dull grey-green or drab-green as incubation advances. The average of one hundred eggs (Jourdain) is 55.3 x 39.7 mm.: maxima 58.0 x 41.0 and 57.5 x 43.5 mm.; minima 51.0 x 34.5 mm.
The breeding-season is from the end of April to the first few days of June.
Habits. In India the Gadwall is perhaps the most numerous of our non-diving ducks, occurring in immense flocks from Sind to Assam and Manipur, where it arrives about the middle of October, working South in ever lessening numbers, one specimen having been shot in Ceylon. It is one of the finest game-ducks whether considered from the point of view of epicure or sportsman. It feeds on wild rice, water-plants and berries of many kinds and also on worms, larvae and small mollusca.