1550. Leptoptilus dubius

1550. Leptoptilus dubius.

The Adjutant.

Ardea dubia, Gmel. Syst. Nat. i, p. 624 (1788). Ardea argala, Lath. Ind. Orn. ii, p. 676 (1790). Ardea gigantea, Forster, Faun. Ind. p. 11 (1795), descr. nulla. Leptoptilus argala, Blyth, Cat. p. 277; id. J. A. S. B. xxiv, p. 279; id. Ibis, 1861, p. 268; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 730; Beavan, Ibis, 1868, p. 396; Hayes Lloyd, Ibis, 1873, p. 418; Blyth & Wold. Birds Burm. p. 158; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 21; Fairbank, ibid. p. 263; Wardi. Rams. Ibis, 1877, p. 470 ; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 468 ; Bingham, S. F. vii, p. 25; Butler, ibid. p. 187 ; Ball, ibid. p. 229; Cripps, ibid. p. 306 ; Hume, Cat. no. 915 ; Butler, S. F. ix, p. 432 ; Reid, S. F. x, p. 73; Davidson, ibid. p. 323; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. i, p. 176 ; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 262 ; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 260; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 374 ; Hume Cripps, S. F. xi, p. 330. Leptoptilus dubius, Hume, S. F. i, p. 252 ; Adam, ibid. p. 398 ; Ball, S. F. ii, p. 432; Oates, S. F. iii, p. 346; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxvi, p. 315. Leptoptilus giganteus, Oates, S. F. vii, p. 50.

Hargila, Garur, Peda-dhauk, H.; Dusta, Dakhani; Chaniari dhauk, Beng.; Pinigala-konga, Tel.; Don-zat, Burm.

Coloration. Adult in breeding-plumage. Head, neck, and pouch nearly naked, a few scattered dark brown feathers only occurring; a ruff of white feathers round the base of the neck ; upper plumage, wings, and tail black with a slight green gloss, greater wing-coverts and tertiaries silvery grey; lower parts white, the under tail-coverts soft and downy. In non-breeding plumage the tertiaries and greater coverts are black like the rest of the wing.

Young birds have the greater wing-coverts and tertiaries brown.

Bill pinkish flesh-colour; skin of head and chin pale reddish brown, rough and blackish on the forehead ; neck saffron-yellow, turning to pink at the end of the pouch, which is spotted with black ; loose skin at back of neck brick-red; irides yellowish white ; legs and toes brown, the edge of the reticulations white (Oates). Bill pale dirty greenish ; legs greyish white (Jerdon). The pouch is sometimes 12 to 16 inches or more in length, but is capable of extension and retraction to a considerable extent.

Length 60 ; tail 13 ; wing 32; tarsus 13 ; bill from gape 13.

Distribution. Throughout the greater part of India in summer, very common in Bengal and Northern India, rare or wanting in the South, unknown in Ceylon; very abundant and breeding in parts of Burma in winter, and occasionally met with throughout the year. This Stork ranges into the Malay Peninsula, Siam, Cochin China, Sumatra, Java, and Borneo.

Habits, &c. This is a Stork that has taken to the ways of vultures, feeding with them on carcases and offal, and visiting piles of refuse in and around large towns, in company with kites and crows, to search for food. In Calcutta throughout the hot season and rains Adjutants swarm, and formerly, before the sanitary arrangements of the city were improved, numbers haunted the river ghats in the daytime and perched on Government House and other conspicuous buildings at night. Adjutants as useful scavengers are in many places protected by law. Their food, however, is not confined to carcases and offal, they live also at times on fish, reptiles, and frogs like other Storks. Their flight is heavy and noisy, but they soar like vultures ; when on the ground they often rest on the whole tarsus, and they frequently sit with the head drawn in between the shoulders. The pouch is uncon¬nected with the gullet, and the common idea that it serves to receive food is quite erroneous. Adjutants breed on large trees in November and December; immense numbers were found by Oates breeding in company with Pelicans near Shwegyin in Burma, and the nests and eggs of colonies near Moulmein have been described by Tickell, Bingham, and others. A few cases of nidification have been observed in India—in the north of the Gorakhpur district (Beavan), in the Sundarbuns (Frith, Morell), and in Manbhoom (Ball). The nest is a huge structure of sticks; the eggs, usually three in number, are white and measure about 3 by 2.28. Both Oates and Bingham describe a peculiar grunting sound, like the losing of a cow, made by Adjutants in the breeding-season. These birds are completely destitute of voice-muscles, and it is a question how the noise is produced. Usually, like other Storks, the only sound they make is produced by snapping their huge bills.

The Fauna Of British India, Including Ceylon And Burma-birds
Blanford, William Thomas, ed. The Fauna of British India: Including Ceylon and Burma. Vol. 4. 1898.
Title in Book: 
1550. Leptoptilus dubius
Book Author: 
William Thomas Blanford
Page No: 
Common name: 
Greater Adjutant
Leptoptilos dubius
Vol. 4
Term name: 

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