(2036) Grus nigricollis.
THE BLACK-NECKED CRANE.
Grus nigricollis Przewalski, Mougol. Tang., ii, p. 135 (1876) (Koko Nor).
Vernacular names. Tung-du, Trung-dung (Tibet).
Description. Lores and crown dull red bare skin, sparsely covered with coarse black hairs; a patch of feathers below and behind the eye white, sometimes extending in a narrow line over the eye; rest of head and neck black; wing-quills dull black; the innermost prolonged secondaries black; inner webs of outer secondaries black or mottled with black and many of the greater coverts over the secondaries more or less black on the inner webs ; scapulars sometimes with a little black mottling on their terminal quarters ; remainder of plumage pale ashy-grey, the shafts of the feathers of the upper plumage showing as fine darker brown lines ; tail dark blackish-grey, tipped and edged paler grey.
Colours of soft parts " Iris yellow; bill horny-grey or horny-green, more yellow towards the tip ;legs and feet black " (Ludlow).
Measurements, Wing 625 to 668 mm.; tail 234 to 247 mm.; tarsus 223 to 252 mm.; culmen 124 to 137 mm.
Distribution. Ladak, Tibet, Setchuan and Yunnan, where it was procured by Forest.
Nidification. The Black-necked Crane's nest and eggs were first discovered by Capt. R. Steen in 1905-6 at the Hramtso Lake in Tibet at an altitude of about 14,700 feet. Later Capt. J. Kennedy, Major F. M. Bailey and others found it breeding in some numbers in various Tibetan lakes, whilst Osmaston also found it breeding around the Ladak lakes.
The nest varies considerably. Often it is just a scratching in the ground with a very scanty lining; at other times a more pretentious nest is made and quite a pile of grass, rushes and other weeds is accumulated with a good depression in the centre for the eggs. The bird breeds on the same ground as the Bar-headed Goose and sometimes its own nest is surrounded by the large down-covered nests o£ these birds. The eggs are two in number and closely resemble those of the Common Crane except in being much bigger. Most of those I have seen are rather dingy olive-brown or olive-green eggs scantily blotched with dull reddish-brown or purplish-brown with secondary, or underlying, markings of purple-grey or reddish-grey. Twelve eggs average 101.2 x 64.1 mm.: maxima 105.0 x 63.4 and 103.2 x 69.1 mm.; minima 96.4 x 64.1 and 99.3 x 59.6 mm.
The breeding-season is from the end of May to the first week in July, most eggs being laid between the 25th of May and 15th of June.
Habits. Walton found this Crane very wild and difficult to approach on the Gyantse plateau but much more tame round about Lhasa, though it seems equally common in either place. It keeps entirely to the shores and islands of the lakes and to the wide open plateaus, feeding both on shoots and on all kinds of insects, small reptiles etc. Ludlow describes its call as very like that of the Common Crane and its flight is said to be powerful and graceful. It does not apparently collect in flocks.