(2032) Hydrophasianus chirurgus.
THE PHEASANT-TAILED JACANA.
Tringa chirurgus Scop., del Flor. et Faun., Insubr., ii, p. 92 (1786) (China). Hydrophasianus chirurgus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 219.
Vernacular names. Piho, Pihuya (Hin.); Surdal, Sakdal, Miwa, Dal-kukra, Bhepi, Jal-manjor, Chitra-Billai (Beng. & Behar); Baled Sauru, Newiya (Ceylon) ; Rani di-dao gophita (Cachari).
Description. - Breeding plumage. Head, throat and fore-neck white; a certain amount of black on the occiput; back of neck pale, shining golden-yellow, edged with lateral black lines ; upper and lower plumage chocolate-brown ; blackish on the rump, upper tail-coverts and tail; wing-coverts white, the primary coverts with broad black tips to the inner webs; primaries black with increasingly white centres, the middle secondaries being pure white and the innermost like the back; under wing-coverts and axillaries white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown ; bill slaty-blue, paler at the tip; legs and feet pale bluish-plumbeous.
Measurements. Wing 182 to 242 mm.; tail 145 (generally over 200) to 325 mm.; tarsus 54 to 59 mm.; culmen 25 to 29 mm.
Non-breeding plumage. Supercilia white ; a line from behind this running down either side of the neck golden-yellow, a black line from the lores, through the eye and down below the yellow, expanding into a broad gorget across the breast remainder of upper plumage light hair-brown; innermost and outermost wing-coverts white; intermediate coverts light brown barred with white and narrow black lines; quills as in Summer; lower plumage pure white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris pale yellow; bill yellow, the terminal half brown; legs and feet dull greenish to dull plumbeous.
Young birds have no yellow on the sides of the neck; the dark gorget is broken up with white; the crown is dull rufous-brown and the feathers of the upper parts are pale-edged.
Distribution. Ceylon, all India and Burma, North to Kashmir, East to South China and South to the Philipines and Java. It has been recorded from Gilgit in the extreme North-West as well as from Panji.
Nidification. The Pheasant-tailed Jacana breeds throughout the plains of India and Burma wherever there is sufficient water and also to a considerable elevation in the Himalayas, being common on the Kashmir Lakes and occuring also in the Abor and Mishmi Hills. It breeds alike in small ponds and village tanks as well as in huge swamps and lakes. The nest is like that of Metopidius but often very small and flimsy. The eggs are invariably four in number and the colour ranges from a pale yellow-bronze or olive-brown to a deep chocolate-purple, in every case with a high gloss. In shape they are pegtop, lying in the nest point to point like the eggs of the Snipe. One hundred eggs average 37.4 x 27.6 mm.: maxima 39.9 x 27.l and 36.1 X 29.0 mm.; minima 34.5 X 28.9 and 34.6 x 26.0 mm.
The breeding-season is from the end of June to September, except in Ceylon, where it breeds from March to June.
Habits. Much the same as those of the preceding bird but it is usually much more confiding. It is in all its actions more elegant than the Bronze-winged Jacana and the Cacharies give it the poetical name of " The Little white water-Princess." The note is a mew like that of a cat, in addition to which it has a piping note which is rather pleasant and musical.