1587. Tadorna cornuta.
Anas tadorna, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 195 (1766). Anas cornuta, S. G. Gmelin, Reis. Russl. ii, p. 185, pl. 19 (1774). Tadorna vulpanser, Flem. Brit. An. p. 122 (1828); Blyth, Cat, p. 303; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 794; Butler, S. F. v, pp. 217, 234 ; Simson, Ibis, 1882, p. 92. Tadorna cornuta, Hume, S. F. i, p. 260; vii, p. 492 ; id. Cat. no. 956; Hume & Marsh. Game B. iii, p. 135, pl.; Reid, S. F. x, p. 80; Eden, ibid. p. 164; M'Leod, ibid. p. 168 ; Forsyth, ibid. p. 169; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 400 ; Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 171.
Shah-chakwa, Safaid-Surkhab, Bavaria, H.; Niraji, Sind.
Coloration. Male. Head and neck deep glossy green ; a broad white collar round the lower neck, followed by a broad band of chestnut round the upper back and breast, in front of the wings, interrupted partly or wholly in front by a dark brown or black longitudinal band, which passes along the middle of the breast and abdomen to the vent; scapulars black, the inner partly white or vermiculated with black and white ; primaries black; secondaries bright metallic green on the outer webs ; tertiaries chestnut on outer webs, white inside, with a black stripe between the two colours ; tail-feathers white, tipped with black ; middle and lower back, rump, upper tail-coverts, sides of lower breast, and abdomen white ; lower tail-coverts dull rufous.
Females are duller in tint. Young birds have dull dark brown in place of black, and dull rufous brown for chestnut.
Bill in adults blood-red; irides brown ; legs fleshy-red inclining to crimson (Jerdon).
Length of male 24; tail 4.2; wing 13; tarsus 2.2; bill from gape 2.3. Females are smaller, wing 12.
Distribution. The north temperate parts of Europe and Asia, in the breeding-season ; Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Western Asia, Northern India, Southern China, and Japan in winter. The Sheldrake is generally, but very sparsely, distributed over Northern India in the cold season from the Indus valley to Assam. A specimen has recently been obtained by Oates from Myitkyina on the Upper Irrawaddy, and one was reported in the 'Asian' for 28th November, 1890, from Meiktila, also in Upper Burma. The only places in India where Sheldrakes are fairly common are near the sea-coast in Sind, and on some of the larger inland broads or shallow lakes like the Manchhar.
Habits, &c. In general the Sheldrake is a sea-coast bird, living chiefly on mollusca, small Crustacea, and vegetable matter. It keeps generally singly or in twos or threes, rarely in flocks, it walks well and is, as a rule, found on shore. Its flesh is rank and fishy. It does not breed in India ; in Europe it generally lays its eggs in holes, often in rabbit burrows.