(2206) Plegadis falcinellus falcinellus.
The Glossy Ibis.
Tantalus falcinellus Linn., Syst. Nat, 12th ed., i, p. 241 (1766) (Austria). Plegadis falcinellus. Blanf. & Oates. iv, p. 364.
Vernacular names. Kawari, Kowar, Chota Baza (Hind.); Kala Kachiatora (Beng.); Tati-kankaram (Tel.) ; Karapu-Kotan (Tam., Ceylon) ; Rata datuduwa (Cing.).
Description. - Breeding plumage. Crown, sides of head, chin and fore-throat with purple and green gloss; neck all round, upper back, scapulars and innermost wing-coverts dark, rich chestnut; lower back, rump and upper tail-coverts glossy purple-green; tail black, glossed green at the base, purple elsewhere; median wing-coverts glossy purple, remainder of wing glossy green; axillaries and under tail-coverts deep purple; remainder of lower plumage chestnut.
Colours of soft parts. Iris grey, brown or mottled grey and brown; bill dark livid or plumbeous-brown; naked skin of face and round eye livid; legs and feet bronze-brown, bluish above the knee.
Measurements. "Wing 248 to 298 mm.; tail 94 to 106 mm.; tarsus about 85 to 110 mm.; culmen 99 to 144 mm.
In non-breeding plumage the scapulars and innermost wing-coverts are glossy green-blue and the head and neck are brown streaked with white.
Young birds are like the adult in winter but have the lower plumage all brown and the upper parts much less glossy; the upper back is brown like the neck but not streaked with white.
Distribution. Southern Europe, a great part of Africa to Central Asia, Persia, Baluchistan, Afghanistan, India, Burma and Ceylon.
Nidification. The Glossy Ibis breeds wherever there are suitable tracts of marsh and swamp but not in the hills and not in desert or barren areas. It is common in Sind, but there keeps to the canals and swamps; it also breeds in the Rann of Cutch and there are breeding colonies in Oude, Ceylon, Orissa, Manipur, Assam and Burma. These colonies are of considerable size and are usually associated with breeding colonies of other Ibises, Herons, Cormorants etc., nests of several species being often found on the same tree. The nests are of sticks, sometimes unlined, sometimes lined with grass and straw; in size they may be some 12 inches across by less than half that in depth. The eggs number two to five, three being most common and they are the most beautiful of all the eggs of this and allied orders, being in colour a deep unspotted blue. One hundred eggs average 52.18 x 36.9 mm.: maxima 57.8 x 38.0 and 57.5 x 43.0 mm.; minima 46.2 x 33.9 and 50.0 x 33.5 mm.
In Ceylon the birds lay in January and February but everywhere else in the end of April to early June.
Habits. The Glossy Ibis is resident in India but moves about locally in an extraordinary manner. In many places it is present only in the breeding-season and in others only a non-breeding visitor, whilst it is difficult to assign any reason for the majority of the movements. It likes large masses of water, yet avoids, as a rule, the wettest as well as the driest areas. It does not breed in the desert country of Rajputana, Sind or the Punjab but neither is it found in the wettest parts of Bengal, Assam and Burma. It is essentially a marsh-bird, not frequenting dry cultivated fields or open meadows and it feeds on small mollusca, Crustacea, worms and insects. When disturbed it is said to utter a harsh croak. It is a sociable bird at all times and is very tame and confiding.