The Marbled Teal is decidedly large for a teal, weighing about a pound. Its peculiar colouring, which is the same in both sexes, is very distinctive, though also very unpretentious. It is a mottling of drab and cream-colour, the only approach to distinct and easily apprehensible colour-points being an ill-defined dark eye-patch and pale grey edgings to the wings. It has a very faded and washed-out appearance, but its dark slaty bill and feet contrast strikingly with the pallid plumage.
The pale or cinnamon variety of the garganey which sometimes occurs has been mistaken for this bird, and so has the female mandarin duck; but neither has the dark eye-patch, and the mandarin is not mottled on the back, while the garganey is far smaller than the present species, and when albinistic, generally has the beak and feet flesh-coloured.
The marbled teal, as a rule, is only found in winter, and chiefly in the North-West Provinces, extending as far as Oudh ; it has even strayed to the neighbourhood of Calcutta, but it is only really common in Sind, where it may fairly be called abundant. It is among the surface-feeders what the white-eyed pochard is among the divers, a bird of coot-like proclivities, preferring water with plenty of rushes growing in it, and getting up, not in flocks but independently like quail; when on the wing also, they fly low and not very fast. They will dive and hide under water with the bill out when wounded, and seem seldom to come ashore, though they walk well, as might be expected from their light build, which they share with the Andaman and clucking teals, both good pedestrians. When courting the drake jerks back his head on to his shoulders ; his note is the usual whistle of teal drakes, while the duck quacks. It feeds pretty equally on both vegetable and animal food, and again like the white-eye, is not a good table bird.
Some eggs found in a nest under a babul bush in a salt marsh on the Mekran coast are supposed to be those of this bird ; they were taken on June 19. The certainly known eggs are cream colour, as were these. The ordinary range of the species is from the Canaries and Cape Verd Islands, along the Mediterranean region, and through Western Asia, so that in range, as well as colour, it rather recalls a sand-grouse.