Grus antigone, Lin.
863. :- Jerdon's Birds of India, Vol. II, p. 662 ; Butler, Guzerat, Stray Feathers, Vol. IV, p. 14 ; Murray's Vertebrate Zoology of Sind,. p. 235; Game Birds of India, Vol. III, p. I; Swinhoe and Barnes, Central India ; Ibis, 1885, p. 133.
Length, 52; expanse, 96 ; wing, 26 ; tail, 9.25; tarsus, 12 to 13 ; bill at front, 6.25 ; weight, 17 to 18lbs.
Bill pale sea-green, brownish at tip; irides orange-red; legs and feet pale rosy-red.
Head and neck naked and covered for three or four inches with numerous crimson papillae, clad with a few scant black hairs, which accumulate into a broad ring on the neck and form a sort of mane down the nape of the neck; ear-coverts white; below this the neck is whitish-grey, which gradually passes into the pale blue or French-grey, which is the color of the whole plumage, the quills and inner webs of the tail-feathers being slaty.
At the breeding season they assume a pure white collar, immediately below the crimson papillose skin of the neck, which also becomes brighter in color; and in old birds, the tertiaries and some of the scapulars become white and more lengthened., hanging over gracefully and exceeding the tail.
The young have the head and neck dull ferruginous. :
The Sarus is a common permanent resident throughout Rajputana and Guzerat, but is very rare in Sind and does not. occur at all in the Deccan.
They breed towards the middle of the rains ; the nest, a huge heap of rushes and straw, is placed generally on some spot surrounded by water ; occasionally it is commenced in the water itself, in which case the egg cavity is about 8 or 10 inches above the surface of the water. The eggs, two in number, are elongated ovals, a good deal pointed towards one end; the shell is hard and strong, pitted with small pores, is generally somewhat glossy, and frequently exhibit creases or wrinkles. The ground color varies from pure white to pale sea-green and pinky-cream color ; occasionally they are spotless and quite devoid of markings, but generally they are more or less blotched and clouded with pale yellowish-brown and purplish-pink.
The eggs vary greatly in size ; in length from 3.6 to 4.48, and in breadth from 2.35 to 2.75. They average 3.96 in length by 2.56 in breadth.
The Sarus occasionally breeds in the cold weather, as on the 5th February 1885, while shooting with General Nuttall at Gangrar about 60 miles from Neemuch, I found a nest containing two fresh eggs, and again on the 30th March at Jeerun I found two incubated eggs.