1545. Platalea leucorodia.
Platalea leucorodia, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 231 (1766); Blyth, Cat. p. 276 ; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 763 ; Blyth, Ibis, 1807, p. 173 ; King, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. 2, p. 217 ; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xli, pt. 2, p. 255; Hayes-Lloyd, Ibis, 1873, p. 410; Hume, N. & E. p. 628 ; id. S. F. i, p. 256; Adam, ibid. p. 300; Butler & Hume, S. F. iv, p. 24; Davids. & Wend. S. F. vii, p. 91 ; Ball, ibid. p. 231; Hume, ibid. p. 491; id. Cat. no. 939; Doig, S. F. viii, p. 372; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 1090; Vidul, S. F. ix, p. 91 ; Butler, ibid. p. 435; Reid, S. F. x, p. 77 ; Davison, ibid. p. 324 ; Simson, Ibis, 1882, p. 93; Parker, Ibis, 1883, p. 194; Swinh. & Barnes, Ibis, 1885, p. 136; Ogilvie Grant, Ibis, 1889, p. 35; St. John, ibid. p. 178; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 217; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 388; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. vi, p. 150. Platalea leucerodia, Reichenb. Jour. f. Orn. 1877, p. 159; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxvi, p. 44.
Chamach buza (Spoon Ibis), H.; Chinta, Beng. ; Gentu muku konga, Tel.; Chapy Chundun, Tam. (Ceylon).
Coloration. Pure white; on the lower fore neck a patch of cinnamon-buff or tawny in adults. A large nuchal crest of pointed and drooping plumes is assumed in the breeding-season.
Young birds have no crest, and the primaries and primary-coverts, and sometimes the secondaries, have black shafts ; the outer primaries have blackish edges and tips.
Bill black, more or less yellow at the tip; loral space yellow ; gular skin extending 2 1/2 to 3 inches down the throat reddish yellow; legs and feet black (Legge). Bill in young birds yellow, later dark ashy.
Length of male 33 inches ; tail 4.75 ; wing 15 ; tarsus 6 ; bill from gape 8. Females rather less. Eastern specimens run larger than Western, and the Japanese race has been separated as P. major.
Distribution. Central and Southern Europe, Eastern Africa, South-western Asia, Afghanistan, Baluchistan, and Central Asia to China and India. Spoonbills occur locally in well-watered tracts throughout the Indian Peninsula and Ceylon, but are rare or wanting in drier and hilly regions. They are not common in Lower Bengal, though some have been observed near Calcutta and Dacca, but the species has not been met with in Assam, Manipur, or Burma.
Habits, &c. Spoonbills are resident in India; they are known to breed in the Deccan, Sind, and the North-west Provinces, and also in Ceylon. In Northern India, in the cold season, they are found about large rivers, tanks, and marshes in small flocks, sometimes in larger numbers, and they feed in shallow water on insects, crustacea, worms, mollusca, and on water-plants, occasionally also on small fish or frogs. They fly well, with the neck straight. Several pairs breed together, making nests of sticks on trees near water, and they lay usually four eggs, chalky white, with ill-defined brown spots, and measuring about 2.7 by 1.81. The breeding-season varies : August in the North-west Provinces, October and November in, Sind, April and May in the Deccan, March in Ceylon. Spoonbills are good to eat.