(2250) Nettapus coromandelianus.
Anas coromandeliana Gmelin, Syst. Nat., i, p. 522 (1789) (Coromandel). Nettopus coromandelianus. Blanf. & Oates. iv. p. 433.
Vernacular names. Girri, Girria, Girja (Hind.); Gur-gurra (Etawah); Gungariel, gungani(Beng.); Bhullia-hans (E. Bengal); Dan-dana (Ooriya); Lerriget, Perriyet, Merom-derebet (Kol.); Ade, Atla (Ratnagiri); Kala-gat (Burma); Naher Keeke, Chuwa (Naogang, Assam); Baher, Kararhi (Sind).
Description. - Adult male. Extreme point of forehead white, remainder and crown brown, the lateral edges much darker, almost black; a complete broad collar round the base of the neck black, slightly glossed with green; remainder of bead, neck, lower plumage and a collar behind the black collar white; flanks most minutely stippled and more or less barred with light brown, sometimes almost absent; under tail-coverts broadly barred and tipped or subtipped brown; scapulars and back dark brown, completely overlaid with dark green gloss slightly mixed with purple; upper tail-coverts dirty white freckled with brown. Innermost secondaries brown glossed with purple, remaining secondaries glossed green and tipped with white ; primaries glossy-green tipped brown and with a broad white band continuing the bar made by the white tips of the secondaries ; tail brown.
Colours of soft parts. Iris bright crimson-red; bill black; legs and feet blackish, tinged on the joints and behind with slaty-yellow.
Measurements. Length about 320 mm.; wing 152 to 177 mm., generally 160 to 170 mm.; tail about 68 to 78 mm.; culmen about 21 to 24 mm.; tarsus about 25 mm. "Weight between 9 and 12 oz.
Female. Cap as in the male but uniform brown; forehead more broadly speckled with brown; a deep brown line running through the eye; remainder of head and lower plumage white; the breast and lower neck with narrow bars of dark brown, taking the place of the collar in the male ; face and neck much vermiculated with brown; the flanks both barred and speckled with the same. In old females the abdomen and centre of the breast are pure white; in younger birds more or less marked with brown; outer secondaries broadly and inner primaries very narrowly tipped with white; remainder of the wings, upper plumage and tail brown, the scapulars and back being occasionally faintly glossed ; upper tail-coverts finely stippled with white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris red-brown ; bill brown or dark olive, paler and yellowish on mandible, commissure and gape ; legs and feet dull slate-yellow, more or less smudged with blackish-green; claws light yellow-brown.
Measurements, Length about 300 mm.; wing 148 to 165 mm.; culmen 20 to 22 mm. Weight about 7 to 9 oz.
Young birds are like the female, more marked about the head with brown and more banded with light brown on the flanks.
Nestling in down. A broad supercilium white ; white spots on the sides of the back next the wings and others larger, on the sides of the rump ; rest of upper plumage blackish-brown ; flanks dark brown; sides of head, chin, throat and under parts white.
Distribution. Ceylon, India, Burma East to China and South through the Malay States to the Philippines and Celebes. In India there is no district which is not frequented or at least visited by this little Goose except such areas as are entirely devoid of water, as in Northern Sind and parts of Rajputana.
Nidification. The Cotton-Teal breeds during July, August and September, laying its eggs in holes in large trees close to water. The eggs may be laid on the bare wood or in quite big nests of twigs, grass, feathers and other rubbish. Occasionally, fide Blewitt, it makes a floating nest of weeds, grass etc., half supported by lotus-plants and rushes. The hollows selected in trees by the birds are seldom very high up and sometimes within a foot or two of the ground, eight to eighteen feet being the favoured heights. How the young birds are brought down to the ground is not known. A " shikari" gave me a graphic account of how he saw the young ones being carried down by the old bird but probably they are generally just pushed out by the old ones and fall like bits of light down to safety below. Once on the ground they are immediately led to water by the parents. The eggs number eight to twenty-two, generally nine or ten, and are very stout-shelled, smooth, little white eggs. One hundred eggs average 43.1 x 32.9 mm.: maxima 47.7 X 33.1 and 46.3 x 35.6 mm.; minima 38.1 X 30.3 and 41.3 x 29.7 mm.
Habits. These little Ducks are to be found wherever there is any water in more or less open country; they may be seen in the largest lakes and swamps as well as in the smallest of village ponds and ditches. In these latter they become exceedingly tame, not troubling to move until the intruder is within a few yards of them, when they dash off helter skelter, chuckling and clucking hard all the time. They associate in small flocks of half a dozen to a score of birds which sometimes collect in still larger ones. They swim high in the water, can dive well, though they seldom do so, fly at considerable speed and can walk quite well on land if not flurried. They feed on shoots of land- and water-plants, wild rice and grain and also on insects, worms, snails and small Crustacea and mollusca, though these latter form quite a small percentage of their diet.