Duck, a name applied to birds of the family anatidoe, of the order natatores, and suborder anseres. They have the bill large and flattened, covered with a soft epidermis rather than horn, and with its sides armed with small tooth-like processes; the tongue is fleshy, with dentated margins; the wings are moderate; the feet at or near the centre of equilibrium; the anterior toes joined by a web; the neck is long. The number of vertebras is large, especially in the neck; the sternum and pelvis are large and wide, the former with a well developed keel, and posteriorly with two openings or deep indentations; the fibula is somewhat movable. The gizzard is fleshy and large; the intestines are about five times as long as the bird, and the caecal appendages often one third as long as the body; the trachea and inferior larynx generally bulbous. The ducks are divided into three subfamilies. I. The anatinoe, or river ducks, have the bill equal in width and height, depressed at the tip, which has a hard nail, and the inner portion of the lateral margins lamellated; the tarsi are compressed, and generally as long as the inner toe; the hind toe is bordered with a slight membrane from base to tip.

These ducks prefer fresh water, feeding along the edges of streams, eating small mollusks and soft aquatic plants; some feed on the land, and roost and build their nests in trees; they are powerful fliers, and have a wide geographical range. In the genus dafila (Leach) is the pintail duck (D. acuta, Jenyns), having the bill lead-colored with a black spot at the tip, a long slender neck, the wing speculum of a purple or coppery red with deep green reflections and black border, the feathers with broad white tips, and a long and pointed light gray tail, dark brown in the middle; in the adult male the head, cheeks, throat, upper part of front neck, and sides are dark brown; a small part of hind neck dark green, almost black; the upper parts in general undulated with narrow bars of brownish black and yellowish white; wings grayish; upper tail coverts cream-colored; an oblique white band on the side of the neck; lower parts white, undulated like the back or the sides, and lower tail coverts black, white-edged at the side. The female and young are variegated with brown and brownish white; the speculum is dusky green, and the long tail feathers are wanting; they are sometimes called gray ducks.

The male is about 29 in. long to end of tail, extent of wings 36 in., weight about 2 lbs.; the females are smaller. It is most commonly seen on the inland ponds of the west and south of the United States from early autumn to spring, in company with teals, widgeons, and mallards; the breeding place is in the far north, in passing to and from which the birds are seen on the coast. They are very graceful on the water, rarely dive, and are less shy than most others of the family. A favorite article of food is the beech nut; they will also eat tadpoles, leeches, insects, and even dead animal matter; the flesh is much esteemed for food. Several species are found in South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia, migrating to temperate regions from the north. The typical genus anas (Linn.) includes the mallard or common wild duck, the origin of the domesticated species. The mallard (A. boschas, Linn.) has a bright purple speculum with green reflections and black border, the secondaries broadly tipped with white, and the secondary coverts with white ends and black border; the head and neck deep green, a white ring around the middle of the neck; the breast reddish brown; fore part of back light brown, the rest darker, and rump black with green reflections; upper surface of wings grayish brown; sides and lower parts pale gray with dusky bars; the length is about 24 in., extent of wings 36, and weight 2 1/2 to 3 lbs.; the females are smaller, brownish, with a less brilliant speculum and the head and neck with dusky streaks.

This species is smaller but more beautiful than the domestic races which have sprung from it; the wild bird may be known from the tame by its soft and pliable feet, which in the latter become hard and wider from walking over gravel and roads. The mallard is abundant from New York southward and westward, being replaced to the northward, according to Audubon, by the velvet duck (oidemia fusca, Sw.); it is rarely seen on salt water, except when migrating. The flight is strong and rapid, easily commenced from land or water; when alarmed it utters many loud quacks. It devours anything eatable, even carrion and small animals that come in its way. Besides man, its principal enemies are hawks and owls, the raccoon, the lynx, and the snapping turtle. The flesh of the young birds is much esteemed; the large hybrids from the mallard and Muscovy duck are excellent for the table; this species also breeds with the black duck and the gadwall, the latter hybrid being very handsome, retaining the yellow feet and barred plumage of the one and the green head of the other parent. In the black or dusky duck (A. obscura, Gmel.) the speculum is green, with purple reflections and black border, and the secondaries are tipped with white.

In shape and habit it resembles the mallard; the flesh of the young birds is excellent, and the feathers are soft and elastic. The shoveller duck (spatula clypeata, Boie), or spoon-bill, has the bill twice as broad at the end as at the base, much rounded, the sides at the base resembling the teeth of a fine comb; the head and neck are glossy green, upper part of breast white, rest of lower parts chestnut, except the lower tail coverts, and a black band across the vent; sides yellowish with dark pencillings; secondaries greenish, the inner with terminal white spots; primaries dark brown, with white shafts; lesser wing coverts light blue; speculum golden green; rump greenish black, white at the sides; tail dark brown, with pointed feathers broadly edged with white; length about 21 in., extent of wings 32, weight 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lb. It associates with teals, mallards, and gadwalls, and is omnivorous; its flesh is much prized, and Audubon says that no sportsman who is a judge will pass a shoveller to shoot a canvas-back; it is comparatively rare, and is most common in the southern and western states. The Australian genus mala-corhynchus (Sw.) is nearlly allied to the shoveller.

The Muscovy (cairina moschata, Flem.), more properly called musk duck, is distinguished by the red tubercle or carbuncle on the top of the bill at the base; the color is glossy black with the wing coverts white; by its lobed hind toe it connects the river ducks with the next subfamily. It is about 33 in. long; it has an odor of musk, proceeding from the coccygeal glands, which is communicated to the flesh; in its pure state it is difficult to raise, but it breeds well with the mallard, and in this domesticated state its plumage is more white, and the musky odor is absent. It is supposed to have come originally from South America, whence it has spread over the world. To the river ducks belong the genera tadorna (Leach), the European sheldrake, this name in America being applied to a merganser; aix (Boie), the wood or summer duck; mareca (Steph.), the widgeon; querquedula (Steph.), the blue-winged teal; neltion (Kaup), the green-winged teal; and chaulelasmns (Gray), the gadwall. These will be described under their respective common names.

II. The sea ducks, or fuligulinoe, have the bill higher than broad, depressed at the tip, which is armed with a broad strong nail; the wings are moderate and pointed, the tail generally short and wedge-shaped, the tarsi compressed and much shorter than the middle toe; the toes long and united by a full web, the outer as long as the middle; the hind toe short, with a deep membranous web. These ducks are generally marine, feeding on mollusks and small fish, which gives to their flesh a strong flavor; most are excellent fliers. The genus fulix (Sundev.) includes the scaup duck and the ring-neck. The scaup duck (F. marila, Baird) has the head, neck, fore part of back, and breast black, glossed with purple and green, and the last two tinged with brown; the rest of the upper parts and abdomen brownish black; the middle back, scapulars, secondaries, front of abdomen, and sides grayish white, with undulating fine black lines; middle of breast white; wings light brownish gray; speculum on the brownish black secondaries white; the length is about 17 in., extent of wings 29, and weight 1 1/2 lb.; the females are brown and white.

This duck, which is called broad-bill and blue-bill, is found along the Atlantic coast and also on the western rivers; it arrives from the north in October in large flocks, which at first may be easily decoyed; when wounded, it is very difficult to obtain on account of its diving, and from its fishy taste is hardly worth shooting; its flight is rapid and high. The ring-necked duck (F. collaris, Baird) has a tufted head, which with the upper neck is greenish black, with purple reflections; on the neck is a brownish red ring, widest in front; a triangular white spot at the base of the lower mandible; upper parts generally brownish black, lower parts grayish white; outer secondaries with slate-colored webs, tipped with white; tail brownish gray; the length is about 18 in., and the extent of wings 28. The female has a white band on the forehead, upper parts brownish, below white. It is met with on the coast and in the interior; it swims, dives, and flies well; its flesh is said to be excellent. Other species are found in the northern parts of Europe and Asia, and one in New Zealand; the European tufted duck is the F. cristata.

The genus aythya (Boie), including the canvas-back (see Canvas-Back), which by some authors is put in the preceding genus, is represented here also by the red-head (A. Americana, Bonap.); this species has a bluish bill, black toward the end; in general appearance it resembles the canvas-back, except that the head and upper neck all round are dark chestnut, and the back is grayish brown, barred with fine white lines; the length is 20 in., extent of wings 33, and weight 2 1/2 lbs.; in the female the head and neck are brown like the back. The red-head, like the canvas-back, is very common in the Chesapeake, but is rare north of New York; its flesh is as good as that of the canvas-back, and it is often sold for it to the inexperienced; it arrives about November, leaving for the north to breed in early spring. The genus bucephala (Baird) contains several well known species, among them the golden-eyed duck (B. Americana, Baird); this bird has a black bill, with a white spot between the base and eye; head with a crest of feathers more than an inch long; iris bright yellow; head and upper neck rich green with purple reflections; rest of neck and plumage generally white; back and wings blackish, with a patch of white on the latter formed by the secondaries and tips of the coverts; sides of rump grayish; the length is 20 in., extent of wings 31, and weight about 2 1/4 lbs.; the female is dull brown above, white below, with dusky wings.

This species arrives with the other sea ducks in the autumn from their breeding places in the north; it is found from high arctic latitudes to Florida, both on the coast and in the interior; its food consists of mollusks, crustaceans, and small fish, which it procures by diving. Its flight is strong and very rapid, accompanied by a sound which has caused this bird to be called whistler; the flesh has a fishy taste, which is relished by some; though shy and difficult to approach, it will generally alight at the decoys of the gunner on the coast. The buffel-headed or spirit duck (B. albeola, Baird) is a miniature representative of the golden-eye; the bill is blue; the head crested; a patch behind the eye, going over the head, and band on the wings, white; rest of head and hind neck glossy green, with purple reflections; fore neck, breast, and sides pure white; abdomen dusky white; tail and upper coverts grayish brown; back and wings black, the latter with a white patch; length 14 1/2 in., extent of wings 23, weight 1 lb.; the female is sooty brown above, breast and abdomen soiled white, fore neck ash-colored, with a white band on the sides of the head.

This duck receives its common name from the disproportionate size of the head compared with the body; from its diving habits it is also called dipper; the flight is very rapid, and its distribution extensive; its flesh is fishy. The harlequin duck (histrionicus torquatus, Bonap.), beautiful and singularly marked, is much prized as a cabinet specimen; the bill is yellowish olive; a broad black streak passes over the top of the head, margined with reddish brown; front of the eye and a spot behind it white; a slightly curved white line on the neck; sides of head and neck purplish blue; a complete ring of white below the middle of the neck; a band of white in front of the wing, passing on the breast, edged with black; fore back light blue, becoming black behind; scapulars white, and secondaries tipped with the same, forming a bar on the wings; fore breast light blue, abdomen brownish; quills dark brown, tail grayish black; under the tail at base a white spot; the length is 17 in., extent of wings 26 1/2, and weight l 1/2 lb.; the female is grayish brown. It is rare on the coast south of Massachusetts, but common to the north, especially in the British provinces; it is shy, an excellent flier and diver, difficult to obtain, and not much prized as food.

The long-tailed duck (harelda glacialis, Leach), called also "old wife" and " old squaw," has the bill black at the base, orange yellow at the end, with a bluish gray nail; iris carmine; a grayish white patch from the bill to behind the ear; upper part of head and nape black, narrower in front; neck all round and fore breast chocolate-brown; back and wing coverts brownish black; scapulars margined with light brown. This is the male summer plumage; in winter, the head, neck, fore back, and scapulars are white; upper parts brownish black, as are the four middle tail feathers; lower parts and the outer tail feathers white. The two median tail feathers extend several inches beyond the others; length to end of tail feathers 23 in., and extent of wings 30. The feathers are dense and blended; in the winter it is found in all the Atlantic districts; it is timid, a swift flier and ready diver; the flesh is tough and fishy. The pied duck (camptolemus Labradorius, Gray) has the wing coverts and secondaries white, forming a large patch on the wings; the cheeks are furnished with bristly feathers; the bill is orange at the base, black at the end, with the sides of the upper mandible very thin, and the under deeply serrated; a black band on the top of the head; rest of head and upper neck white; in the middle of neck a broad black ring, the same color passing down the back; lower neck white; upper breast and sides black; lower plumage brownish black, as are the primaries and their coverts; the length is 20 in., extent of wings 30, and weight nearly 2 lbs.; the female is bluish gray above, ash-gray below, with secondaries and sides of head white.

This species, called the skunk and sand-shoal duck, does not seem to go further south than Chesapeake bay; it is essentially marine, rarely entering rivers; it procures by diving over sand bars shellfish and small fry; its flesh is not considered a delicacy. The genus somateria (Leach) contains the eider and the king duck, which will be described under the former title. The genus oidemia (Flem.) includes those sea ducks which are erroneously called coots in New England. The velvet duck (O.fusca, Sw.) has the plumage generally black, with a spot under the eye and a large patch on the wings, formed by the secondaries, white; hence the name white-winged coot; the base and sides of the bill black, the sides bright red, and the nail orange or flesh-colored; iris bright yellow; the length is 22 in., extent of wings 39, and weight about 3 1/2 lbs.; the female is sooty brown, the lower parts lighter. These birds are seen in large flocks in autumn along the Atlantic coast, when they are shot in great numbers from boats near the shore; on account of the density of the plumage they require a heavy charge to kill them; though breeding in lakes and rivers, they are rarely seen during migration away from the sea. The flesh is dark, with a fishy flavor.

The surf duck (0. perspicillata, Linn.) has a bill of a reddish orange color, paler on the sides, with a black patch at the side of the base of the upper mandible; the plumage is black, except a white patch on the crown and hind neck; the eyes white; legs and feet reddish orange; the length is 20 in., extent of wings 33, and the weight 2 1/2 lbs.; the female has a brownish tinge to the black plumage. This also is called coot, and associates with the preceding species, which it resembles in its habits; it is frequently called black duck; it is shy, and difficult to shoot except on the wing; the flesh is tough and fishy. The American scoter, or butter-bill coot (0. Americana, Sw.), has a bill of a deep orange color at the base and black at the end; the general color of the plumage is black, bluish on the hind neck, the scapulars tinged with green; tail graduated; the length is 19 in., and the extent of wings about 32. This associates with the other species of the genus. The 0. nigra (Flem.) is a European bird.

It is probable that the American scoters, like other birds breeding in the far north, are occasionally seen in Europe. III. The spiny-tailed ducks, eris-maturirm, have the bill elevated at the base and depressed at the tip, with a nail; the wings are short and concave, with the ends of the quills incurved; the tail is lengthened, of narrow, rigid feathers, slightly protected with coverts above and below; the tarsi are shorter than the middle toe, compressed; the toes long, united by a full web, the hind toe long, with a broad web. These ducks are short fliers from the smallness of their wings, and their geographical distribution is not extensive. In the genus biziura (Leach), peculiar to Australia, a large compressed wattle hangs from the lower mandible; the wings are very short, and furnished with two blunt tubercles at the shoulder. The best known species is B, lobata (Shaw). The ruddy duck (erismatura rubida, Bonap.) has a grayish blue bill, the iris hazel, and the eye situated very high up; upper part of the head black, terminating in a point behind; sides of the head white; chin with a yellowish brown tinge; upper parts and sides reddish brown; lower parts white, with dusky bars; the tail black, short, and rounded; wings blackish brown; the length is 15 in., extent of wings 22, and weight 1 3/4 lb.

The plumage varies much at different ages. It is common in Chesapeake bay, where it is called salt-water teal; it is found all along the coast and on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. It is an excellent diver, but is by no means shy; when young and fat the flesh is tender and of good flavor. The saw-bill ducks will be described under Meeganser, to which subfamily they belong. - The domestic duck is derived principally from the mallard, mixed in some cases with the musk duck and the gad wall, and perhaps the black duck. The variety considered the best here is the Aylesbury duck, from the town of that name in Buckinghamshire, England; many thousand pounds sterling worth of ducks are sent annually to London from this place, and almost all the broods are hatched under hens, as being more certain sitters; the most prized are pure white, with pale bill and legs. The advantages of this breed are their great size and productiveness; they are early layers and good hatchers, and easily raised; besides they are ornamental, with fine, white, downy feathers, pure skin, and white, delicate, and savory flesh; at the age of 8 months a pair should weigh from 10 to 12 lbs.

The large Rouen duck, originally from France, very prolific in eggs, is about 30 in. long; the back is sooty black; it is generally believed to be a half domesticated species escaped from man's restraint, and again subjected to him; it breeds readily with the common variety. Other varieties are the Flemish crested, black and white Poland, and Sile-sian ducks; the musk duck is a distinct species. The Chinese rear immense numbers of ducks, which are hatched by artificial heat applied to the eggs placed in boxes of sand; they are fed with boiled crawfishes and crabs cut in small pieces and mixed with boiled rice; they are kept in boats, 300 or 400 in each, going out to feed in the morning, and returning when wanted at the voice of their master.

Duck 0600147

1. Scaup or Broad-billed Duck (Fulix marila). 2. Pin-tailed Duck (Dafila acuta). 3. Mallard Duck (Anas boschas).

Duck 0600148

1. Old Wife (Harelda glacialis). 2. Buffel-headed Duck (B. albeola). 3. Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus torquatus).

Duck 0600149

1. Pied Duck (Camptolemus Labradorius). 2. Ruddy Duck (Erismatura rubida). 3. Surf Duck (Oidemia perspicillata).