1611. Erismatura leucocephala.
The White-headed Duck.
Anas leucocephalus, Scop. Ann. I. Hist. Nat. p. 65 (1769). Erismatura leucocephala, Blyth, Cat. p. 308 ; Hume 8c Marsh. Game B. iii, p. 289; Hume, S. F. viii, p. 456 ; ix, p. 296; x, p. 158; St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 179; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 442; F. Finn, P. A. S. B. 1896, p. 62; Sherwood, Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. xi, p. 150.
Coloration. Male. Crown black; forehead, sides of head to above eye, chin, and nape white; a blackish ring round the neck beneath the white, passing on the breast and sides into dull ferruginous barred irregularly with black; back, scapulars, rump, and sides of body buff, more or less rufous, speckled and vermiculated with black; tipper tail-coverts chestnut; tail blackish (often faded); wings brown, the coverts and the outer webs of the secondaries speckled with buff; lower parts from breast pale buff, the dark bases of the feathers showing.
Females and young males have only the chin, lower cheeks, and a stripe from above the gape, running back under the eye towards the nape, white, rest of the head black mixed with rufous; the tipper tail-coverts are like the rest of the upper parts, and the breast is dull rufous without black bars. Otherwise the plumage resembles that of adult males. Some specimens are much more' rufous than others.
Bill pale ultramarine (in life) in adult males, dull plumbeous in females and young birds; irides dark brown; legs plumbeous black.
Length about 18; tail 3.5 (3 to 4.5); wing 6.3; tarsus 1; bill from gape 1.9.
Distribution. From the Mediterranean to Central Asia, generally resident. Stragglers have been found from Western Europe to India. Specimens have been obtained in Kashmir, also at Peshawar, near Ludiana, in the neighbourhood of Delhi, near Roorkee, and lastly near Hurdoi between Lucknow and Bareilly. The specimen from the last locality, shot January 22nd, 1896, was in full moult and incapable of flight.
Habits, &c. The habits of this bird are very peculiar. It is a freshwater form, more given to diving than to flying, and it swims rapidly with its curious stiff tail erect at right angles to its body. It lays 7 to 9 dull white eggs in a nest amongst reeds or grass, and the eggs are remarkable for their rough, coarse surface.