American Game Birds

Illustrating More Than One Hundred Species In Natural Colors

By Chester A. Reed

Page 8

HOODED MERGANSER (Lophodytes cucullatus). This smallest of the Sheldrakes has a magnificent circular, flat, fan-shaped crest which can be opened or shut to express the emotions of the owner. Although quite universally known by its right name, this species is sometimes spoken of as the "Hairy-head," "Little, Wood, Pond or Summer Sheldrake." They at times live chiefly upon small fish, but at some seasons in some localities feed extensively upon mollusks and roots and their flesh then is quite palatable.

     Hooded Mergansers are exclusively North American, breeding throughout the United States and Canada, but quite locally. Their half dozen or more buff-colored eggs are laid on a soft bed of grass and down, in cavities of trees, generally along the banks of streams or lakes. These birds are exceedingly active on the surface of the water, and more so below, pursuing fish with the greatest agility, using both the wings and feet to propel them through the water.


MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos). Probably the most valuable of all wild water fowl, for they are easily domesticated and are the source from which some of our best barnyard ducks have descended. As usual, other names are often associated with them, some persons knowing them only as "Greenheads," others as "Wild Ducks," while to the French they are the "Canard francais" or "French Duck." They are found throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere and are very highly esteemed as table birds everywhere. They feed almost wholly upon vegetable matter, such as tender roots of aquatic plants, which they get from the bottoms of ponds in shallow water, by "tipping up" and not by diving, and upon various grains and grasses in meadows or cultivated fields.

     During early summer, while the female is sitting upon her greenish-buff eggs in some remote part of the meadow, the drake moults to a plumage similar to that of his mate, only to again assume his handsome dress in September.