(2031) Metopidius indicus.
THE BRONZE-WINGED JACANA.
Parra indica Lath., Ind. Orn., ii, p. 765 (1790). Metopidicus indicus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 218.
Vernacular names. Dal-pipi, Jal-pipi, Karatiya (Beng.). ; Kattoi (Purnea) ; Bi (Burma).
Description. Feathers below the eye and a broad superciliary streak from the eye to the nape pure white; remainder of head, neck, lower parts, axillaries and under wing-coverts black, glossed all over with deep green ; hind-neck glossed with purple-blue and then purple, the green, blue and purple grading into one another; back, wing-coverts and innermost secondaries olive-bronze; lower back, rump and upper tail-coverts chestnut with purple reflections ; greater wing-coverts, primaries and outer secondaries black, glossed with green on the outer webs ; tail and under tail-coverts chestnut; vent and thigh-coverts dull brownish-black, sometimes extending on to the centre of the abdomen.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill greenish-yellow, tinged with red at the base and pure yellow at the tip ; frontal lappet or shield livid red; legs and feet dull green.
Measurements. Wing, 145 to 198 mm., 152 to 186 mm.; tail 34 to 52 mm.; tarsus 65 to 80 mm.; culmen 31 to 39 mm.; mid toe and claw 87 to 106 mm. The great differences in size are not geographical.
Young birds have the crown and nape rufous-brown, darker on the forehead and centre of the crown ; short supercilium dull white; hind-neck black glossed with green; interscapulars black glossed with purple ; lower back and rump dull rufous barred with dusky brown, upper tail-coverts barred white and brown; tail rufous with contour-bands of black; remaining upper plumage like that of the adult; lores dull rufous; ear-coverts grey, chin white, changing to pale rufous on the neck and breast; lower breast and abdomen sullied rufous-white; flanks brown, rufous posteriorly and barred with white.
Distribution. Nearly all India, Burma, the Indo-Chinese countries, Malay States to Java, Sumatra and the Celebes. It is rare in the Southern Punjab and does not occur in the Northern Punjab, Sind or Western Rajputana.
Nidification. The Bronze-winged Jacana breeds during the Rainy Season wherever it is found, most eggs being laid in July and August. The nest is generally a rather flimsy platform of weeds, rush-stems and blades, built half-submerged on a bed of lily- or lotus-leaves, very rarely among rushes. Occasionally the nest is more bulky and well lined with dry rushes. The normal clutch of eggs is four, exceptionally as many as six, although Hume writes of finding seven. They are extremely handsome eggs. The ground-colour varies from light yellowish stone-colour to buff or rufous-brown or even to deep red-brown, whilst the markings consist of numerous long lines and intricate scrawls of black, looking as if a child had taken a pen and scribbled ink lines all over the surface. Eighty eggs average 36.4 x 25.1 mm.: maxima 39.5 x 27.0 mm.; minima 33.8 x 24.9 and 35.4 x 22.0 mm. In shape they are oval or very slightly peg-top shape and the surface is highly glossed.
Habits. The Bronze-winged Jacana is a bird of the Plains being found almost throughout these in the more wet portions where there is an abundance of water. It does not care for small ponds and village tanks, though they do visit there from time to time, preferring large swamps and lakes with reed-fringed shores and stretches of water-lilies and lotus-plants, upon which they walk about and feed. Their walk is typically Rail-like, slow and deliberate with high action of the feet and an accompanying jerk of the tail to each step. When frightened or in pursuit of prey they can run at great speed and their swimming, very high in the water, is elegant and powerful. They feed on insects of all kinds, water-snails, fish and the leaves and shoots of water-plants. Their breeding-call is a harsh grunt or crake but they utter a good many piping calls also and have a low guttural conversational note. Their flight is poor and laboured and they hang the legs down like the Bails until well on the wing.