(2229) Ardeola grayii.
The Indian Pond-Heron.
Ardea grayii Sykes, P. Z. S., 1832, p. 157 (Deccan). Ardeola grayii. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 393.
Vernacular names. Bogla, Andha-bogla, Chama-bogla, Khunch-bogla (Hind, and Beng.); Ral-puchake (Gond); Kokku (Tam.); Gudi-konga (Tel.); Kana-koka (Cing.); Hbyein-ouk (Burm.).
Description. - Breeding plumage. Chin, throat and fore-neck white; long white occipital crest; remainder of head and neck light yellowish-brown ; feathers of back and scapulars decomposed, very long and rich maroon in colour, extending over the tail and inner secondaries; wings white, the innermost secondaries and outermost scapulars buff; lower back, rump, upper tail-coverts and tail white; long lanceolate feathers of breast and upper flanks ashy-brown with long yellow streaks; lower flanks, abdomen, axillaries, under tail- and under wing-coverts white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris bright pale yellow; bill black at the tip, horny-brown over the nostrils, bluish at the base, yellow elsewhere ; legs and feet dull green, greenish-yellow or horny-green.
Measurements. Wing 199 to 230 mm.; tail 73 to 84 mm.: tarsus 60 to 64 mm.; culmen 60 to 67 mm.
In non-breeding plumage the head and neck are blackish, streaked with buff, the buff predominating on the sides of the head and neck; chin, throat and fore-neck white; mantle brown, the scapulars streaked with white; lower back, rump and tail white; wings white, the innermost secondaries brown and the short scapulars next them white; sides of upper breast white in the centre, yellow-buff at the sides streaked with dark brown; a maroon patch on each side of the lower breast; remaining under plumage white.
Distribution. All India, Ceylon and Burma, East to Siam, South-East to Malay States, North-West to the Persian Gulf and occurring in the Andamaias, Nicobars and Laccadives.
Nidification. Wherever there is any water, pond, village tank or swamp the Pond-Heron may be found breeding in colonies, generally in company with other Herons, Egrets, Cormorants etc. Often it nests round tanks in the middle of big villages and twenty years ago it actually bred in Calcutta and possibly still does so. Most nests are built on trees, such as Mango, Tamarind, Pepul etc. at some height from the ground ; sometimes clumps of bamboo are employed as nesting-sites and, very rarely, beds of reeds. The nests are rough collections of twigs and sticks with no lining ; the eggs number three to five and are in colour a pale green-blue, decidedly darker than the eggs of the Cattle Egret. Eighty-five eggs average 38.0 x 28.5 mm.: maxima 40.3 x 29.6 and 39.3 x 31.0 mm.; minima 34.3 x 27.1 and 35.1 x 27.0 mm.
The breeding-season is December to March in Southern India .and June to August in Northern India and Burma.
Habits. This little Heron is one of the most common and best known of birds all over India, for any ditch or small and dirty pond will suffice to produce a meal for it. When waiting for its food, frogs, crabs, mud-fish etc, it sits hunched up, a dowdy, patient little figure not easy to spot against a dark background but when it rises and spreads its wings it at once becomes an almost white bird, conspicuous at any distance. In addition to its fish and reptile diet, it eats all kinds of large insects as well as worms, grubs and termites. It is a silent bird but invariably utters a low, hoarse croak as it rises, whilst at night, when the colonies settle down to roost, there is a considerable amount of querulous croaking and fluttering.