1617. Podicipes albipennis.
The Indian Little Grebe or Dabchick.
Podiceps philippensis, apud Blyth, Cat. p. 311; Theobald, J. A. S. B. xxiii, p. 603; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 822; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 166; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 233 ; Anders. Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 702; nec Colymbus philippensis, Bonn. Podiceps minor, apud Hume, N. & E. p. 646; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xli, pt. 2, p. 256 ; Hume, 8. F. i, p. 268 ; Adam, ibid. p. 402; Butler Hume, S. F. iv, p. 31; Fairbank, S. F. v, p. 410; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 490 ; Cripps, S. F. vii, p. 313; Hume, Cat. no. 975 ; Sadly, S. F. viii, p. 364; Tidal, S. F. ix, p. 93; Butler, ibid. p. 439 ; Barnes, ibid. p. 460; Reid, S. F. x, p. 85 : Davidson, ibid. p. 326; Davison, ibid. p. 418 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 420; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. i, p. 61; vi, p. 291; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 348; nee Colymbus minor, Gmel. Podiceps fluviatilis, apud Legge, Birds Ceyl. pp. 1059, 1222; Scully, Ibis, 1881, p. 593; nec Colymbus fluviatilis, Tunst. ? Podiceps albescens, Mandelli, Blanf. S. F. v, p. 486. Tachvbaptes fluviatilis, apud Oates, B. B. ii, p. 441; id. in Hume's N & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 401; Davidson, Ibis, 1898, p. 42. Podicipes minor, apud Sharpe, Fark. Miss., Aves, p. 148. Tachybaptes albipennis, Sharpe, Bull. B. O. C. iv. p. iv (1894); id. Ibis, 1895, p. 139.
Pandub, Pantiri, Dubdubi, Churaka, H.; Dubari, Beng.; Munu-gudi-kodi, Tel.; Mukelepan, Tam., Ceylon.
Coloration. In breeding plumage the forehead, crown, and hind neck are blackish brown ; lores, front of cheeks, and chin blackish ; sides of head extending up to the orbit, and of neck, throat, and fore neck chestnut; upper parts very dark brown, but rather paler than the head; primaries paler brown, bases of inner primaries and the whole or nearly the whole of the secondaries and their shafts white; abdomen silky white: breast, flanks, and vent feathers dark brown, more or less mixed with white.
In winter plumage the crown and hind neck are brown, the chin white, and the chestnut of the neck replaced by pale rufous. Some birds appear to retain the summer plumage at all events until December.
Young birds are brown above, white below; fore neck and flanks brownish.
Bill black with a white tip, base and round the gape pea-green to sulphur-yellow ; irides red-brown; legs and feet blackish green, inside of tarsus pale olive-green.
Length 9 ; wing 3.9 ; tarsus 1.35; bill from gape 1.
Distribution. Throughout India, Ceylon, and Burma. This species was obtained by Anderson at Momien in Tunnan, and there are skins in the British Museum collection from Candahar, ,and Fao at the mouth of the Euphrates. P. albipennis is distinguished from the common European Little Grebe, P. fluviatilis, by having the secondaries white throughout in adults, and by the black on the chin and sides of the face being less extended. The Philippine species is distinct, so the name P. philippensis cannot be used.
Habits, &c. This Grebe is a permanent resident throughout India, wherever there are lakes, large marshes, or ponds of freshwater, though it leaves many tanks and marshes when they dry up and returns in the rainy season. It is seen singly or in small parties, diving after its food, which consists of small fish, Crustacea, mollusca, and water insects. The breeding season is from July to September in most parts of India, The nest is a mass of weeds, usually floating, amongst rushes or other vegetation; the eggs are 4 or 5, elongate ovals, pure white at first, but discoloured as incubation proceeds, and they measure about 1.39 by 0.99. The parent birds always when leaving the eggs cover them with wet weeds, as do other species of the genus.
A single specimen of a peculiar whitish Grebe was obtained by the late Mr. Mandelli from a lake in Native Sikhim. No other skin has been obtained. At Mr. Mandelli's request I described the bird as Podiceps albescens. The skin is by most ornithologists who have examined it thought to be a partial albino of P. albipennis, but, although chiefly white, it has dark brown shaft-stripes on the secondaries, and the chestnut collar is unlike that of any known species. I add a description.
Coloration. Broad forehead, sides of head anteriorly, including the orbits and chin, black; hind head and upper neck chestnut all round, lower hind neck brownish; remainder of plumage white, except the primaries which are brown; feathers of the back, scapulars, and secondaries with dark brown shaft-stripes.
Bill and feet coloured as in P. albipennis. Wing 3.75; tarsus 1.3.