(2181) Phalacrocorax fuscicollis.
THE INDIAN SHAG.
Phalacrocorax fuscicollis Steph., in Shaw's Gen. Zool., xiii, p. 91 (1825) (India); Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 341.
Vernacular names. Same as the preceding, often with a prefix meaning small.
Description. - Breeding plumage. Feathers of the mantle and wings dark bronze-brown, each feather edged with black; a border to the pouch, a tuft behind the eye and speckles on the side of head and neck pure white; remainder of plumage black glossed with deep blue-green.
Colours of soft parts. Iris green or blue-green ; bill dark brown; base of lower mandible reddish-horny; gular skin yellow; naked skin of face black-purplish in the breeding-season yellowish at other times; legs and feet black.
Measurements. Wing 257 to 276 mm.; tail 132 to 144 mm.; tarsus about 47 to 52 mm.; culmen 50 to 61 mm.; generally 54 to 58 mm.
Young birds have the upper parts brown, the mantle more bronze and with black edges ; tail and primaries dark brown ; chin and throat white; fore-neck brown with white streaks; breast and abdomen white; flanks mottled brown and white.
Nestling in down sooty-black.
Distribution. All India, from Ceylon to the North Central Provinces and Bombay ; Cutch and Sind; South United Provinces as far North as Delhi; Western India to Orissa, Bengal and Assam ; all Burma, Manipur, Cachar and Sylhet.
Nidification. The Indian Shag breeds generally in July, August and September, very often in company with Herons, Egrets and other birds. The nest is always placed on trees, very often those standing in water but which in the dry season stand clear of the water on banks and higher land. In Madras and again in Gujarat and Sind this Cormorant sometimes breeds during the Cold Weather and Bulkly found them making their nests in the same trees as those occupied by the Large Cormorant. The nests and eggs are small replicas of those of the preceding bird and the latter number three to five. One hundred average 51.3 x 33.2 mm.: maxima 55.8 x 35.6 mm.; minima 46.3 x 31.8 mm.
Habits. Quite typical of the genus, though this bird is never found either breeding or fishing in such large colonies and flocks as the Large Cormorant. On the Mekran and South coasts all three species of Cormorant may be seen fishing in the sea and both the Large Cormorant and Shag breed in the mangrove swamps on the mangrove trees in company with Herons of various kinds.