American Game Birds

Illustrating More Than One Hundred Species In Natural Colors

By Chester A. Reed

Page 17

BUFFLEHEAD (Charitonetta albeola). These are handsome little ducks, length 13 or 14 inches, about equaling in size the Green-winged Teal. Neither sex can be confused with any other species owing to their tiny size and very characteristic markings. They are quite frequently known as "Butterballs" because of their small, plump bodies, and as "Spirit Ducks" or "Dippers" because of the extreme speed with which they can disappear under water. In the days of black powder, it was quite difficult to shoot one on the water, but modern weapons of offense give them no warning to dive, yet their bodies are so small and their sight so keen that they are well able to take care of themselves. They breed throughout central and northwestern Canada, laying their eggs on down in cavities of trees near the banks of streams. They are found quite uniformly over the United States in winter. They usually add some fish to their diet, as do the two Golden-eyes, consequently their flesh is rather rank, although they are often eaten.


OLD-SQUAW (Harelda hyemalis). A species breeding in Arctic America and wintering in great numbers as far south as the Great Lakes and on the coast to North Carolina and southern California. Otherwise known as "Long-tailed Duck," "Old- wife," "Southsoutherly "and other less common ones, most of which refer to their noisy gabbling. The summer and winter plumages are quite different, as shown respectively by the bird just diving into the water and the lower one. The male measures up to 23 inches, while the female averages about 18 inches long. Their food consists of shellfish, small fish and insects which they can secure in very deep water. Their flesh is very tough and quite unpalatable.


LABRADOR DUCK (Camtorhynchos labradorius), the male of which is shown in the little pen sketch, formerly lived off the North Atlantic coast, but has been extinct since about 1875.