1429. Hydrophasianus chirurgus.
The Pheasant-tailed Jacana.
Tringa chirurgus, Scop. Del. Flor. et Faun. Insub. ii, p. 92 (1786). Parra luzoniensis et P. sinensis, Gm. Syst. Nat. i, p. 709 (1788). Hydrophasianus sinensis, Gray, Gen. B. iii, p. 589; Blyth, Ibis, 1867, p. 170; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xii, p. 254; Hume & Henders. Lah. to Yark. p. 290; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 157. Hydrophasianus chirurgus, Blyth, Cat. p. 273; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 709 ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 249 ; Adam, ibid. p. 397 ; Hayes Lloyd, Ibis, 1873, p. 418; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 20; ix, p. 431; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 464; Hume, S. F. vii, pp. 97, 489; Ball, ibid. p. 229; Cripps, ibid. p. 304 ; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 914; Hume, Cat. no. 901; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 86 ; Reid, S. F. x, p. 72 ; Scully, Ibis, 1881, p. 590; Davidson, S. F. x, p. 321 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 364; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. vi, p. 134, fig. 901 (egg) ; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 360; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 358; C. H. T. Marshall, Ibis, 1884, p. 424; Parker, Ibis, 1886, p. 188 ; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 326; Sharpe, Yark. Miss., Aves, p. 136. Hydrophasis chirurgus, Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxiv, p. 69.
Piho, Pihuya, H., also Surdal or Sukdal, Miwa, Dal-kukra, Bhepi, Jal-manjor, Chittra-Billai, Bengal and Behar; Balal Saaru, Newiya, Ceylon.
Coloration. In winter plumage the crown, hind neck, back, scapulars, tertiaries, rump, upper tail-coverts, and middle tail-feathers are brown, slightly mixed with white on the forehead and hind neck; lores and supercilia white; from the hinder extremity of each supercilium a pale brownish-yellow band runs down the side of the neck, bordered by a blackish band from the gape, in¬cluding the orbit and ear-coverts, and expanding into a broad black gorget across the breast; rest of lower parts and outer tail-feathers white; wing-coverts white, except the inner, median, and greater coverts, which are whity-brown barred with dark brown; 1st primary black, 2nd black with part of the inner web near the base white, the white increasing and black diminishing on the inner primaries until only the tips and edges near the tips remain dark ; secondaries white.
In the breeding season the head, throat, and fore neck are white ; a patch on the occiput black ; back of neck pale shining golden-yellow, bordered on each side by a black line; back, scapulars, tertiaries, sides of breast, and lower parts from neck chocolate-brown, blackish beneath, passing into black on the rump and upper tail-coverts ; tail black ; wing-coverts white, primary-coverts tipped with black, quills as in winter; under wing-coverts and axillaries white.
Young birds resemble adults in winter plumage, except that the crown is dull rufous and the feathers of the upper parts have rufous edges ; there is no yellow at the side of the neck, but the dark band remains; the gorget, however, is replaced by brown spots and bars.
The nestling is clad in black down, with three bright brown streaks, one down the head and back and one down each side (Parker).
Bill in summer bluish; iris brown; legs and feet pale plumbeous : in winter, bill dark brown, basal half of lower mandible bright yellow; iris pale yellow; legs dull greenish (Oates).
Length of male in winter plumage 12 ; tail 3.75 ; wing, including appendage to the 1st primary, 7.8; tarsus 2 ; bill from gape 1.3: in summer, length 18, tail 10. Females are larger: length in breeding-plumage 21; tail 12 ; wing 9.
Distribution. Resident throughout India, Ceylon, and Burma, wherever suitable pieces of water with floating plants occur; common on the lakes in Kashmir, and straggling individuals have been recorded from Gilgit and Pangi in the interior of the Himalayas. This bird is not found west of India, but ranges to the eastward as far as South China, the Philippines, and Java.
Habits, &c. Very similar to those of the last species, but this Jacana keeps much to larger and more open pieces of water, and hides less. Its cry resembles the mewing of a cat or kitten. It lays four eggs in a nest precisely similar to that of Metopidius, but the eggs are very different in shape and colour, being pegtop-like, short and broad, hemispherical at one end, conical at the other, exceedingly glossy, and deep rufous brown to greenish bronze in colour, without spots. They measure about 1.46 by 1.12.