1588. Casarca rutila.
The Ruddy Sheldrake or Brahminy Duck.
Anas casarca, Linn. Syst. Nat. iii, App. p. 224 (1768). Anas rutila, Pallas, Nov. Com. Petrop. xiv, 1, p. 579, pl. 22, fig. 1 (1770). Casarca rutila, Bonap. Comp. List B. Eur. N. Amer. p. 56 (1838) ; Blyth, Cat. p. 303 ; Adams, P. Z. S. 1858, p. 509; 1859, p. 189 ; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 791; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. 2, p. 70 ; Blanf. J. A. S. B. xli, pt. 2, p. 73 ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 260; Adam, ibid. p. 401; Hume Henders. Lah. to Yark. p. 296 ; Hume, N. & E. p. 641; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 489 ; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 232 ; Cripps, ibid. p. 311; Hume, ibid. p. 492; id. Cat. no. 954; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 362 ; Hume Marsh. Game B. iii, p. 123, pl.; Butler, S. F. ix, p. 437 ; Reid, S. F. x, p. 80; Davidson, ibid. p. 325; Hume, ibid. p. 417; Taylor, ibid. p. 531 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 400; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 342 ; St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 179; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 177. Tadorna casarca, Anders. Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 699 ; Legge, Birds Ceyl. pp. 1070,1222 ; Oates, B. B. ii. p. 277; Swinh. & Barnes, Ibis, 1885, p. 137; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 286.
Chalwa , Chakwi Surkhab, Lal, H.; Mungh, Sind; Bugri, Beng.; Sarza, Chakrawak, Mahr.; Bapana Chilluwa, Tel.; Kesar pandia, Panda hansa, Uriya ; Nir-batha, Nir-koli, South India; Hintha, Burm.
Coloration. Male. Head and neck buff, generally rather darker on the crown, cheeks, chin, and throat, and passing on the neck into the orange-brown or ruddy ochreous of the body above and below. A black collar round the lower neck is assumed about March and disappears as a rule about November. Scapulars like hack; lower back and rump ochreous and black, vermiculated; upper tail-coverts, tail, and quills black ; the secondaries metallic green and bronze on their outer webs ; inner tertiaries orange-brown on outer webs, grey on inner ; wing-coverts whitish buff; wing-lining white; middle of lower abdomen to vent chestnut ; lower tail-coverts orange-brown like breast.
Females are, as a rule, duller in tint and the head whitish or' white; the black collar is always wanting. The plumage in both sexes varies considerably in depth of tint.
Bill, legs, and feet black or blackish ; irides dark brown.
Length of male 26; tail 5; wing 15 ; tarsus 2.5; bill from gape 2.3. Females are smaller, wing 13.
Distribution. The Ruddy Sheldrake is a migratory bird, breeding in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Western and Central Asia. Great numbers breed in Ladak and other parts of Tibet, also in Yarkand. The bird is a winter visitor to India, arriving about October, and leaving Southern India in March and Northern India in April, a few pairs remaining later in each case; it is found in suitable places throughout the Peninsula, except on the Malabar coast. It is of rare occurrence in Ceylon. It is found in Baluchistan and Afghanistan, Assam, Manipur, and the Irrawaddy valley, but not in Tenasserim nor the Malay countries, though it-is met with in China and Japan.
Habits, &c. In India this species is very common on all rivers of any size, generally sitting in pairs on the sand by the riverside during the day. It feeds partly on grass or crops like geese, partly on mollusca and Crustacea; it swims well, but is not often seen on the water. The story that is told of its eating carrion is very improbable, but it may visit carcases in order to feed on insects. Occasionally the pairs collect into flocks, but this is exceptional. Birds may often be seen about tanks or marshes, but rivers are their regular haunt, by day or night, and it is difficult, so long as one is on an Indian river,'to get out of sight of these birds or out of hearing of their peculiar clanging bisyllabic call or alarm cry, which is uttered frequently on the slightest excuse. The Ruddy Sheldrake in Tibet breeds generally in May and June at elevations of 12,000 to 16,000 feet, and makes a nest in a hole, usually in a bank or cliff. The eggs are white, and measure about 2.5 by 1.8. The young when hatched appear to be carried to the water by their parents.
No sanctity attaches to this Sheldrake in India, though there are many traditions relating to it, but in Burma it is regarded as an emblematic bird, and deserving of especial honour, and it is said to be sacred in Mongolia. It is an inferior duck for the table.