(2283) Nyroca fuligula fuligula.
The Tufted Pochard.
Anas fuligula Linn., Syst. Nat., 10th ed., i, p. 128 (1758) (Sweden). Nyroca fuligula. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 463.
Vernacular names. Dubaru, Ablak, Rahwara (Hind.); Turando, Runharo (Sind); Malac (Nepal Terai); Nella chiluwa (Tel.); Bamuniya-hans (Assam).
Description. - Male. Whole head, neck, back, rump, tail, breast, wing-coverts, under tail-coverts and innermost flanks black; on the sides of the head there is a certain amount of green gloss, whilst the crest and neck have purple reflections; the back, scapulars and more or less of the wing-coverts have a very fine powdering of white. This is so fine as often to require careful looking for before it can be seen and is never coarse enough to have any effect on the general depth of tone; primaries dark brown, the inner web of the first whitish at the base, fading into brown elsewhere; on each succeeding primary the white increases in extent until on the innermost the whole inner web except the tip is white; in all the primaries the white and brown blend gradually and do not contrast; outer secondaries white with black tips; inner secondaries black, glossed with green; abdomen white, sharply defined from the black breast, but slightly mottled near the black flanks.
Colours of soft parts. Iris bright yellow; bill greyish-blue or greyish-slate to dull dark plumbeous, the nail and tip black; legs and feet the same as the bill; the joints darker and the webs almost black.
Measurements. Wing, 192 to 208 mm., 189 to 202 mm.; tail about 49 to 58 mm.; tarsus 33 to 37 mm.; culmen, 37 to 44 mm., 37 to 42 mm.
Weight, 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 lbs., 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 lbs. One male shot in March and so fat that it burst when falling on the water weighed 2 lbs. 6 oz.
Female. Similar to the male with the black replaced by brown and the white of the abdomen grading into the brown of the breast instead of being divided sharply from it; the crown is generally but not always a good deal darker than the back and in some birds, probably very old, there is a greenish gloss on the sides of the head and neck. The depth of the brown colour varies greatly, whilst in some females the white parts are all tinged with rufous or buff, in some faint, in others very strong.
Males in eclipse plumage have the chin and throat mottled with white, the bases o£ the feathers showing; the black of the lower breast is fringed with white and the upper parts are duller and have the white powdering more developed. The colours of the soft parts are duller.
Nestling in down. Above dark brown, becoming dark sooty-yellow on sides of the head and neck, paler on the chin and throat, more brown again on the breast and yellowish-white on the abdomen; a darker brown moustachial streak.
Young males are like the female but the brown much darker, or blackish, and the wing as in the adult.
Distribution. The Palaearctic regions from the Atlantic to the Pacific whilst it apparently also breeds in the high lands of Abyssinia. In Europe it breeds as far South as the Balkans. In Winter it occurs throughout Northern Africa and throughout all Southern Asia to the islands of the Malay Archipelago. In India it is found in some numbers throughout the North from Sind to Assam, being very common in the latter province and Eastern Bengal. It is common in the Bombay Presidency, Deccan and Central India, South of which it becomes more rare and it has not yet been recorded from Ceylon.
Nidification. The Tufted Duck breeds in May and June, generally selecting a position for its nest in among flags or in reed-beds but sometimes in grass and moss or among bushes. It is very partial to islands in lakes, where these are swampy, as well as islands in the sea, for, like all Pochards, it is even more of a sea-bird than one of lakes and marshes. The nest is generally well made and nearly always well concealed, though the duck sits so close that she always gives away the nest as she flounders off it. The eggs number six to twelve, sometimes more, and vary more in tint than those of most Pochards. The majority are of the typical olive-drab, sometimes fairly clear and bright, but occasionally they are distinctly olive-buff in tone, almost the colour of Mallards' eggs. Two hundred average : 8.7 x 41.0 mm.: maxima 65.9 x 46.3 and 63.9 x 47.2 mm.; minima 53.0 x 38.0 and 63.9 x 37.2 mm.
Habits. In most of its habitat the Tufted Pochard frequents the sea as much as inland lakes and swamps but in India it may be found on almost any kind of water, preferring, perhaps, fairly deep lakes with dense cover all round and open water in the middle. It feeds on the same kind of food as other Pochards and resembles them in flight, swimming and in diving powers, whilst it is no less awkward on land. Its note is a harsh low croak, sounding like the word "kurr" rapidly repeated.