Masked Finfoot a globallly threatened grebe-like brownish mangrove bird, Heliopais personata, of the family Heliornithidae, order Gruiformes, with a black facial mask and throat which is bordered by a narrow white line.
Bill structure similar to grebes; yellow in colour. Female has chin and centre of throat and foreneck white; black forehead narrower. The bird has the size of a domestic duck with length about 56 cm.
There are crepuscular and shy, keeps singly or in pairs. Only the head, neck and some part of the back is visible when in the water. Takes shelter in the waterside bushes when alarmed. They can run like rails at great pace; lobed webbing of feet also permits perching; flight fairly strong but usually low.
Masked finfoot feeds on molluscs, crustaceans, insects, small fish and vegetables. Breeding season July-August. Nest is a circular pad of twigs; located 1-3 m up on a horizontal branch. Eggs normally 5/6, creamy in colour. Found in the creeks and rivers of the Sundarbans. Also occurs in India, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia. [Md Anwarul Islam]