By Chester A. Reed
BALD PATES (Mareca americana), that is, the drakes, are quite handsomely plumaged, as our picture shows. The name is bestowed because of the white crown, similarly as the Bald Eagle is so named, even though it is not in any respect bald. Some sportsmen prefer to term this species the "Widgeon," but since that is the name of the common European bird, the present one is better for this species.
These birds are found, in the proper seasons, throughout North America, breeding chiefly in the interior, from the Arctic Circle south as far as Texas. They winter in the southern half of the United States and, while abundant on the South Atlantic coast, occur on the New England coast only casually during migrations.
They are quite highly esteemed as table birds, for their food is almost wholly of vegetable matter. They delight in accompanying flocks of Canvasbacks, Redheads or other deep-diving ducks, as they can feed upon the roots which, loosened by these birds, float to the surface.
EUROPEAN WIDGEONS (Mareca penelope) are of the same size as the last species, about 20 inches in length, and similar in plumage except for the head, which is rusty brown with a buff-colored crown. This is a common Old World species that quite often occurs in eastern North America.
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Nettion carolinense). Although the smallest of our ducks, measuring but 14 inches in length, this species, which is sometimes called "Winter Teal" because it migrates later in fall and earlier in spring than the next, is very attractive both in plumage and actions. It nests on the ground, chiefly north of the United States border, but locally south to Colorado.
They are very active, swift of flight, capable of diving deep and of springing from the water in full flight.