American Game Birds

Illustrating More Than One Hundred Species In Natural Colors

By Chester A. Reed

Page 14

CANVASBACK (Marila valisneria). This species ranges over the whole of North America, but is quite rare on the Atlantic coast north of Long Island. They breed in the interior and northwestern United States and Canada, making their nests on the ground on the edges of sloughs or marshes, or sometimes even piling up rushes in shallow water to form a foundation. They formerly wintered very abundantly in the Chesapeake and North Carolina waters, but have been hunted so relentlessly that only fewer and smaller flocks now visit there.

     After feeding for several weeks on wild rice, wild celery and the tender shoots of valisneria, Canvasbacks become the most toothsome of ducks, although Redheads approach them very closely.

     This and the last species differ in the following respects, as may be seen by referring to their respective pictures. The bill of the Canvasback is black and high at the base, while that of the Redhead is bluish, with a black nail, and is ordinary duck shape. The iris of this species is red, that of the last is yellow. The back of the Canvasback is very much lighter and more finely barred than that of Redhead. The females resemble each other closely, but can always be placed on account of the differently shaped bills. Both are quite wary, but come to and are shot over decoys. Their flight is perhaps the swiftest of that of any of the large ducks. They are one of the deep-diving ducks, a subfamily characterized by having a flap on the hind toe, although how this can prove of any assistance to them is difficult to understand.


SCAUP DUCK (Marila marila). This is the larger of the two species that are very commonly known as "Bluebills" and "Blackheads," and less often as "Broadbills" and "Raft Ducks." This species measures 19 inches in length, while the next is about 17, and the head is glossed with greenish, while that of the Lesser Scaup has purplish reflections. This species breeds in interior Canada and winters throughout the United States.