By Chester A. Reed
BLACK DUCK (Anas rubripcs). This species is in many respects quite similar to the Mallard, in fact it is often termed "Black Mallard" or "Dusky Duck." The sexes are quite similar in plumage, the female being only a little lighter colored. The female Mallard sometimes bears considerable resemblance to the Black Duck, but always shows the two white bands bordering the greenish-blue speculum. The present species, too, has white linings to the wings, which are very conspicuous during flight. Black Ducks are found in eastern North America, nesting in Canada and the Northern States, where to a large extent they replace Mallards, and wintering south to the Gulf States.
The nesting and feeding habits of Black Ducks and Mallards are almost identical. They feed chiefly after dark, in marshes or shallow water, where they can easily reach the bottom. Although usually they are very watchful and wary, from time to time they forget caution and the marshes resound with their loud quacking.
FLORIDA DUCKS (Anas fulvigula) are quite like the Black Duck, but the coloration is a trifle more buffy and the throat has less streaking. The feathers on the flanks and under parts are also somewhat differently patterned. They are found only in Florida.
The MOTTLED DUCK (Anas fulvigula maculosa), which is found in southern Texas, is quite spotted on the under parts.
GADWALL (Chaulelasmus streperus). These birds, which measure about 21 inches in length, are cosmopolitan in distribution, but in America are nowhere as abundant as the following species. They frequent marshes about fresh-water lakes and ponds, breeding chiefly in the interior and western America and being only casually found during migrations on the Atlantic coast north of Chesapeake Bay. Compared to other species, the drake is rather poorly plumaged, the black, white and chestnut on the wings only serving to break the monotony of the general coloring.