(2258) Anser indicus.
The Bar-headed Goose.
Anas indica Lath., Ind. Orn., ii, p. 839 (1790) (Taimyr Peninsula). Anser indicus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 419.
Vernacular names. Hans, Kareyee-hans, Raj-hans, Birwa (Hind.) ; Paria (Nepal Terai); Nangpa (Ladak); Neer-bathoo (Coimbatore); Bornooria-hans,Boga-Rajhans (Assam) ; Badi-hans (Chitragong) ; Kangnai (Manipur) ; Tau-ngan (Burma); Angba Karpo, Ang Kar (Tibet).
Description. Head white; a black bar across the sinciput from eye to eye and a second shorter bar below on the nape: hind-neck dark brown; a streak down each side of the neck, chin and throat white; rest of neck brown ; upper plumage pale ashy, each feather edged with whitish ; the mantle and scapulars rather darker; lower back and rump purer grey, the sides whiter still; tail grey with a white tip; coverts and inner secondaries pale ashy, the greater coverts broadly edged with white; primaries grey, browner towards the tip; inner primaries and secondaries darker and innermost secondaries dark brown; throat white; fore-neck ashy-brown, passing into ashy on the breast and to white on the abdomen ; the vent and under tail-coverts pure white ; flanks brown, the feathers more rufous towards the tips and edged with white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown or black; bill lemon-yellow to orange, generally orange-yellow, the nail black or blackish-horny, the region round the nostrils paler; legs and feet yellow to pale orange-yellow.
Measurements. Wing 406 to 482 mm.; tail 127 to 170 mm.; tarsus about 63 to 81 mm.; culmen about 47 to 63 mm.
" Weight 4 lbs. to 6 lbs. 14 ozs." (Hume).
Young birds have no bars on the head and no white neck-stripes ; the upper part of the head is sooty-black, the forehead paler and whitish; the sides and front of the neck are dusky-grey mottled with white; the breast and abdomen are much suffused with rusty and the flanks are not barred.
Nestling in down. Above pale brown or buffy-brown, yellowish below and almost white on the abdomen.
Distribution. Kashmir, Ladak, Tibet and Setchuan in Summer; migrating South in Winter to Northern India and Burma. In India it occurs in immense numbers from Sind and the North-West Provinces to Assam and is equally common on the great rivers of Northern Burma. In Central India it is still common but in the South becomes rare. It has been obtained in Mysore (McInroy), Coimbatore (Theobald), Nelliampathy (Kinloch) and it is common in parts of the Deccan. In Orissa it is to be found in great numbers from November, or earlier, to March on the Chilka Lake and other wide waters.
Nidification. The Bar-headed Goose breeds on the Jakes of Ladak and Tibet in colonies of many thousands during June. According to the Tibetans some of the geese commence breeding in May but, on the other hand, both Steen and Kennedy took eggs as late as July. The birds breed both on the shores of the lake and on the small islands which are scattered all over the marshy land at the more shallow end of the lake. In some places many nests may be found crowded close together, whilst in others they are scattered over a wide area. Most nests are hollows in the moss and herbage on the dry islands, well lined with a mass of white down and feathers. The nests on the wetter marshes are better made and consist of a pile of moss, weeds and grass, these, also, being well lined with down. The eggs number three to six, very rarely seven or eight and are a fine ivory-white when first laid, rapidly becoming stained and dirty as incubation progresses. One hundred eggs average 84.4 x 55.1: maxima 91.6 x 60.4 mm.; minima 75.2 X 55.2 and 81.3 x 50.5 mm.
Habits. The Bar-headed Geese are almost exclusively birds of wide rivers and large open lakes and in many parts of India they arrive on these in huge flocks in October, remaining until the end of March. They are just as wary, wideawake birds as the rest of the genus and the sportsman who tries to stalk them has to use all his wits to be successful. The easiest way to get a bag is to take them as they flight to their feeding-grounds from the big rivers, where they rest by day. They are entirely, or almost entirely, vegetable feeders and the flocks do great harm to young crops, among which they graze during the night. Their voice is a sonorous and musical " honk," rather more shrill than that of the Grey Lag, uttered on the wing at short intervals, the call being replied to by other flocks as each wends its way to the same feeding-ground. Here they all collect and feed in company but again break up into flocks on their return to the rivers and lakes for the day. They fly either in wide Y-shaped formation or in. long lines and it is only when taking very short flights that they " bunch."