1614. Merganser serrator.
The Red-breasted Merganser.
Mergus serrator, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 208 (1766) ; Hume Marsh. Game B. iii, p. 305; Hume, S. F. ix, p. 268; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 416. Mergus castor, apud Hume, S. F. iv, p. 496; Butler, S. F. v, pp. 291, 323; nec Linn. Merganser serrator, Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 479.
Coloration. Male. Head and upper neck black glossed with green except in front, the crest longer than in M. castor ; a collar of white round the neck, interrupted behind by a black longitudinal median stripe; upper breast and sides rufous, blotchily streaked with black ; the black back is much broader than in M. castor, and just in front of the shoulder there is a patch of white feathers, each surrounded by a broad black border, behind these the sides and the lower back, rump, and tail-coverts are white with finely undulating black lines ; tail brownish grey; marginal wing-coverts brown; primaries, outer secondaries, and last tertiaries blackish brown; remaining secondaries and tertiaries and their greater and median coverts white, but the secondaries and their greater coverts are black at the base, forming two bars, and the tertiaries have black outer borders ; lower parts from breast white.
Female with crest shorter than in male; crown and nape dull brownish rufous, sides of head and neck brighter rufous ; chin and throat white, tinged and streaked with rufous ; upper parts, tail, and wing-coverts dull brown, with greyish edges to the feathers primaries and tertiaries blackish brown; secondaries and their greater coverts white, dark brown towards the base; lower surface white.
Bill in male bright vermilion with the nail black, the ridge of upper mandible dusky ; irides bright red; feet bright vermilion. In females and young birds the colours are duller. The bill is longer, narrower and much less hooked at the end than in M, castor.
Length of male about 22; tail 3.3 ; wing 9.75; tarsus 1.8; bill from gape 2.75. Females are smaller : tail 3, wing 9.
Distribution. Pretty well throughout the north temperate zone, both on the sea-coast and in fresh water, breeding to the northward and wintering in the Mediterranean area, Central Asia, the United States, &c. Probably this bird is fairly common on the coast of Baluchistan, but only two captures have been recorded within Indian limits and one of these erroneously*. There are, however, in the British Museum the wings of a bird obtained at Karachi by Major Terbury. The Merganser shot in Bombay harbour by Mr. Aitken may possibly, as already suggested, have-been this species.
* The bird stated in ' Stray Feathers' (I. s. c.) and the British Museum Catalogue to have been shot by Captain Bishop at Manora, Karachi harbour, was really obtained by him at Chabbar in Persian Baluchistan. This correction is founded on a letter from Captain Bishop to Mr. Cumming, which I have seen.