The Pochard or Dun-bird.
Anas ferina, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 203 (1766). Nyroca ferina, Fleming, Phil. Zool. ii, p. 260 (1822); Salvadori, Cat. B. M. xxvii, p. 335. Aythya ferina, Boie, Isis, 1822, p. 564; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 812; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xli, pt. 2, p. 255 ; Lloyd, Ibis, 1873, p. 420; Hume, S. F. i, p. 264; Adam, ibid. p. 402; ii, p. 341; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 30; v, p. 234; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 232. Fuligula ferina, Steph. in Shaw's Gen. Zool. xii, pt. 2, p. 193 (1824); Blyth, Cat. p. 306; Davids. & Wend. S. F. vii, p. 93; Hume, ibid. p. 496; id. Cat. no. 968 ; Hume & Marsh. Game B. iii, p. 247, pl.; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 1090, note; Butler, S. F. ix, p. 438 ; Reid, S. F. x, p. 84; Davidson, ibid. p. 326; Taylor, ibid. p. 531; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 412 ; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 346.
The Red-headed Pochard, Jerdon; Burdr-nar, Lal-sir, H.; Lal-muriya, Beng.; Cheun, Nepal; Thordingnam, Manipur.
Coloration. Male. Head and neck rufous chestnut; base of neck all round, with upper back and upper breast, glossy black; back, scapulars, tertiaries, and sides of body finely vermiculated with black and greyish white; lower breast and abdomen the .same, but with the dark vermiculation growing fainter on the upper abdomen ; lower back, rump, upper and under tail-coverts, .and vent-feathers black; tail dark brown; wing-coverts grey, more or less vermiculated with white; primaries greyish brown, darker at tip and on outer webs ; secondaries grey, more or less vermiculated with white on outer webs.
Female. Head, neck, upper back, and upper breast rufous-brown, blackish on crown, mixed with white to a varying extent on sides of head, throat, and fore neck; back and scapulars grey, vermiculated with black, but less distinctly than in the male; the wing-coverts are sometimes vermiculated, sometimes grey throughout; jump and upper tail-coverts black, indistinctly speckled with grey ; tail and quill feathers as in male; lower parts sullied white; flanks, lower abdomen, and under tail-coverts brownish and vermiculated.
Bill bluish grey, the tip and base black: irides orange-yellow; legs bluish grey (Jerdon).
Length of male 18.5; tail 2.25; wing 8.5; tarsus 1.5; bill from gape 2.2. Female a little smaller, wing about 8.
Distribution. Throughout the Palaearctic region from the British Islands to Japan, breeding chiefly in the western part of the north temperate zone, and migrating south in winter. This Duck visits Northern India in large numbers, and is found in the Peninsula as far south as Bellary, though less common to the southward, but it has not been obtained in Mysore or farther south, nor in Ceylon. It has recently been recorded from Northern Burma near Mandalay, and it is far from rare in Assam and Manipur.
Habits, &c. The Pochard arrives in India in the latter half of October or beginning of November, and leaves in March, as a rule. Its favourite haunts during the day are in large jheels (broads) or tanks with open water in the middle. On these it occurs generally in large flocks, less often in very small parties or singly. It may also be found on rivers or on the sea-coast. Pochards swim and dive well, but walk badly. They generally sit on the water when resting, not on land, keeping the body low and the neck drawn in. They feed largely by night, but also in the day, and obtain much of their food, which is chiefly vegetable, by diving. Their flight is strong and accompanied by a peculiar rustling sound; but they rise slowly and heavily. The call-note of this bird is a low harsh sound like "kurr," In India, away from the sea-coast, this is one of the best ducks for the table, nearly, if not quite, equal to Pintail. It has not been detected breeding within the Empire. Its breeding habits in northern lands much resemble those of N. ferruginea.