(2263) Casarca ferruginea.
The Buddy Sheldrake or Brahminy Duck.
Anas ferruginea Vroeg, Cat. d'Ois., Adum,, p. 5 (1764) (Tartary). Casarca rutila. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 428.
Vernacular names. Chakwa , Chakwi, Sarkhah, Lal (Hind.); Mungh, Lalo (Sind); Bugri (Beng.); Sarza, Chakrawak (Mahr.); Bapana, Chilluwa (Tel.); Kesar pandia, Panda Hansa (Ooriya); Nir-batha, Nir-koli (S. India); Hintha (Burma); Ramkaon, Chakoi-Chakoua (Assam); Kwancha, Kathiun(Manchar).
Description. - Male. Whole head and upper part of the neck buff, changing gradually into bright orange-brown at the base of the latter; scapulars, back, flanks and the whole lower plumage rather bright orange-brown; lower back finely vermiculated black and rufous ; upper tail-coverts and tail black; wing-coverts white; quills black; secondaries glossed rich green on the outer webs, forming a well-defined speculum; inner sec@ndaries light buff, more or less tinged with rufous on the outer web and principally grey on the inner; axillaries and under wing-coverts white.
In the breeding-season there is a black collar at the base of the neck, obsolete or entirely wanting in our Indian Winter visitors.
Colours of soft parts. Iris rich brown; bill and feet black.
Measurements. Wing, 360 to 394 mm., 310 to 356 mm.; tail about 130 to 140 mm.; tarsus about 63 to 74 mm.; culmen, about 58 to 68 mm., about 54 to 60 mm.
The female has no black collar; the head is paler and the whole of the back of the head white.
Young birds are like the female but duller; the scapulars and -whole back are vermiculated brown and pale rufous; inner secondaries brown vermiculated with reddish-buff; tail narrowly barred and tipped with rufous; lower plumage with obsolete pale tips to each feather.
Nestling in down. " White, marked on the upper surface with blackish-brown and with here and there a fulvous tinge" (Hume).
Distribution. Spain, the Mediterranean countries, Asia Minor, Turkestan, Afghanistan, Himalayas, Northern China to Japan. In Winter South to India, Ceylon, Burma, South China and Formosa. It is rare in the extreme South of India and also in Burma South of Pegu.
Nidification. The Buddy Sheldrake breeds during late May, June and July, normally laying its eggs in the deserted burrow of some animal, which it lines with a thick bed of down, not distinguishable from the down of the Common Sheldrake, though the feathers intermixed with it are easily recognized. In Tibet and Ladak it breeds in holes in cliffs and sometimes in holes in buildings, even when these are occupied. At other times it takes possession of the deserted cliff-nests of other birds, such as those of the Raven, Neophron, Black Kite etc. Often the nest is placed at a great distance from water but the old birds, after tumbling the youngsters headlong out of the nest, lead them down to it very shortly after they are hatched. The eggs are of the same lovely pearly-white as those of the Shelduck and are equally smooth and finely textured. The number of eggs laid varies greatly but probably six to ten forms a normal clutch. Eighty-five eggs average 67.0 x 47.0 mm.: maxima 73.0 x 49.0 and 68.8 x 49.5 mm.; minima 61.5 x 45.6 and 65.0 x 45.0 mm.
Habits. The Brahminy Ducks arrive in and depart from India in flocks which in the intervening months break up into pairs.. They are birds of clean water and wide stretches of sand-bank,, keeping almost entirely to the larger rivers and it is only when there are none of these that they resort to lakes and ponds. They are among the most wily and wideawake of birds and. though they are worthless for the table, provide splendid practice in stalking. Their notes are syllabified by their name "Chakwa" and " Chakwi" and a legend relates how the birds are the souls of two sinning lovers who never meet, yet call endlessly to one another " Chakwa,. may I come?" " No Chakwi "; " Chakwi, may I come ? " "No Chakwa." These ducks are omnivorous in their diet; they graze like geese, eat all sorts of grain, insects, Crustacea, mollusca, fish, reptiles etc and are said even to eat the flesh of dead human bodies. They walk and swim well but seldom dive even when wounded ; their flight is leisurely in appearance like that of geese,. but faster than it seems to be.