Saturday, April 29, 2023

Yogi duck

The Indian Spot-billed Duck (Anas poecilorhyncha) is distinguished from its eastern cousin in a rather strange way. Despite being from a communist regime, the Chinese Spot-billed Duck (Anas zonorhyncha) does not have any red colouration on its bill. The Indian fellow, however, has a red path at the base of its bill which clearly distinguishes it from the other one. 

Until 2008 though, both these birds were considered as one species, the Spot-billed Duck. The 'spot' in those days referred to the yellow band which is visible in both species. In some ways it is rather surprising that it took so long for these two birds to be separated out: the powers-that-be of taxonomy are usually prone to changing nomenclature for a different shade of grey. Maybe they missed out the bright red daubed on some bills and not on others.

Or possibly they never saw Apoecilorhyncha do this earlier. Had the ICZN folks seen this duck standing like this, on one leg, they wouldn't have hesitated to add the 'Indian' to its name!

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