BIRD GUIDE

Water Birds, Game Birds and Birds of Prey

By Chester A. Reed

Order 5

DUCKS, GEESE, SWANS

Order Aanseres

 

AMERICAN MERGANSER

129. Mergus americanus. 25 in.

Bill, feet and eye red in male, the former with a black stripe along the top; plumage black and white, with a greenish-black head; no crest. Female gray and white, with brown head, crested; chin white; eye yellow. These birds have the bill long, not flattened, but edged with sharp teeth to grasp the fish, upon which they live to a great extent. They are exceptionally good swimmers for members of this family, and can chase and catch their fish, using their wings to aid their legs in propelling them through the water.

Nest. In holes of trees, cavities among the rocks, or  less often on the ground. The nest is made of leaves and grasses and lined with downy feathers from the breast of the female. The 6 to 9 eggs are creamy-buff (2.7x1.75) ; June.

Range. Whole of North America. Breeds from New Brunswick, North Dakota and California, northward. Winters from the northern boundary of the U. S. south to the Gulf of Mexico.


RED-BREASTED MERGANSER

130. Mergus serrator. 22 in.

Eye, bill and feet red, like those of the last species, J but the head is crested on the male, as well as the female, and a band across his breast is mixed rusty and black streaks. The female has not as brightly colored a head as the female of the American Merganser, and the throat is not pure white. They can be distinguished in any plumage, from the fact that the nostril is nearer the eye than it is the tip of the bill, while that of the last species is located midway between the eye and the tip of the bill. This is the species that is most often found in salt water. It is also found inland but not as commonly as the last.

Notes. A low croak.

Nest. On the ground, concealed in tufts of long grass or overhanging rocks. Their 5 to 10 eggs are olive buff in color (2.50x1.70); June, July.

Range. Breeds from Maine and 111., northward; winters throughout the United States.


HOODED MERGANSER

131. Lophodytes cucullatus. 17 in.

Bill short compared to those of other mergansers, and black. It is not apt to be mistaken for any other duck, because of its small size and the large crest with which both sexes are adorned, that of the male being black with a large, white patch, and that of the female plain brown.

The male has the power of raising or lowering his crest; when excited he will at times repeatedly open and shut it like a fan. When at a distance on the water, the male might possibly be mistaken for the Buffle-head, as that species also has white on the head, but its back also is largely white. Both male and female have yellow eyes.

Notes. Low, muttered croakings.

Nest. In holes of trees on the banks of, or near, streams or lakes. The bottom of the cavity is lined with grasses and down, and on this they lay 8 to 12 grayish white eggs (2.15x1.70); May, June.

Range. Breeds locally throughout the U. S., but most abundantly north of our borders; winters in the South.


MALLARD

132. Anas phityrliynchos. 23 in.

Male. Head, green; speculum purplish-blue; bill olive-green; legs orange; eyes brown. The female most closely resembles the Black Duck but is lighter colored, more brownish, 'and the speculum, or wing patch, is always bordered with white. This species is one of the handsomest and most valuable of ducks. It is the cogener of the domestic ducks, and is largely used as a table bird.

Their food consists chiefly of mollusks and tender grasses. These they usually get in shallow water by "tipping up," that is, reaching the bottom without going entirely under water. They also visit meadows and the edges of grain and rice fields for food.

Notes. A nasal "quack' often rapidly repeated when they are feeding.

Nest. Of grass, lined with downy feathers, concealed in tufts of grass near the water's edge. The 6 to 10 eggs are buffy or olive-greenish (2.25x1.65).

Range. Breeds from the northern tier of states northward; winters in southern half of the U. S.


BLACK DUCK

133. Anas rubripes. 22 in.

General plumage mottled blackish, the feathers having lighter edges; throat, buffy, streaked with blackish; crown and line through eye, nearly solid blackish; speculum bluish-purple, with no white; bill greenish-black; legs brownish. Black Ducks breed locally in pairs, throughout northern United States and southern Canada. This is the species most often seen in New England. When in flight, it can usually be recognized by the dark colored underparts and the white lining to the wings. Its habits are just like those of the Mallard, with which it is closely related.

Notes. A " quack," like that of the Mallard.

Nest. Placed on the ground, not far distant from the water's edge; made of grass and feathers; the 6 to 10 eggs are buff-colored (2.30x 1.70) ; May, June.

Range. Breeds locally from N. Y. and Iowa northward; winters south to the Gulf.


FLORIDA DUCK

134. Anas fulvigula. 21 in.

Much lighter than the Black Duck, all the feathers being broadly margined with buffy; throat nearly clear buffy without markings. The habits of this species, which is restricted to Florida and the Gulf coast to Louisiana, are the same as those of the northern Black Duck.

Notes. Precisely like those of the Mallard.

Nest. Of grass and down, on the ground, the eggs being like those of the Black Duck but averaging a trifle smaller (2.15x1.50); April.

Range. Florida and the Gulf coast to La.; resident. 134a., Mottled Duck (A. f. maculosa), is very similar to the Florida species, but is mottled with black on the belly, instead of streaked. It is found on the coast of Texas and north to Kansas.


GADWALL

135. Chaulelasmus streperus. 20 in.

Male with chestnut wing coverts and white speculum; lining of wings white; eyes brown. The female is similar, but the back and wings are brownish-gray and the speculum gray and white. A rather rare migrant in New England, common in the Middle States and abundant west of the Mississippi. They are usually found in meadows and grain fields bordering marshes or lakes. As is usual with ducks, these do most of their feeding early in the morning or after dusk, and spend the greater part of the day in sleeping. They are of the most active and noisy of ducks, which accounts for their Latin name " streperus," meaning noisy.

Notes. A rapid, shrill quacking.

Nest. Feather-lined hollows in the ground, concealed by patches of weeds or tall grass. Eggs 7 to 10, creamy buff color (2.10x1.60); May, June.

Range. Northern Hemisphere; breeds in northern United States, except the eastern portion, and in Canada; winters along the South Atlantic and Gulf coasts.


WIDGEON

Mareca penelope. 19 in.

Crown buffy; head reddish brown; wing coverts white; speculum green. Female with blackish speculum, and a pale, rusty head, neck, breast and sides, streaked or barred with blackish. The Widgeon is an Old World duck that rarely, and accidentally, strays to our Atlantic or Pacific coasts. It breeds in America only in the Aleutian Islands. Its habits are the same as the next species, our American Widgeon.

In the Old World it is regarded as one of the best of table ducks. Its food consists of marine and freshwater insects, small shell-fish, seaweed and grass. Its nidification is just like that of the Baldpate.


BALDPATE; AMERICAN WIDGEON

137. Marcca americana. 19 in.

Wing coverts and top of head white; rest of head and neck finely specked with black; speculum and broad stripe back of eye, green; female, similar but with tho whole head specked, and with no green on the ears. They can usually be identified at a distance by the absence of any dark areas, and when flying by the whiteness of the underparts. Baldpates are common and well known birds throughout North America, where they are called by a great variety of names, most of which refer to the bald appearance of the top of the head, owing to the white feathers. Their food consists of mollusks, insects, grain, and tender shoots of grass; their flesh is, consequently, very palatable and they are much sought as table birds.

Notes. A shrill, clear whistle.

Nest. Of grass, lined with feathers from the breast of the female; situated on the ground in tall grass near the water's edge. 8 to 10 buff eggs ( 2. 15 x 1.50) ; June.


GREEN-WINGED TEAL

139. Nettion carolinense. 14 in.

Head reddish-brown; speculum and large patch back of eye. green; a white crescent in front of wing. Female with the head arid neck whitish, finely streaked with dusky; wings as in male. These ducks are abundant in most parts of the United States, but are rather uncommon in New England. They are usually seen in flocks of ten or a dozen, and often a single bird, or two or three, may be found with a flock of Mallards. They frequent ponds, marshes and rush-grown shores of creeks, rivers or lakes, feeding upon shellfish, insects, aquatic plants and seeds.

Notes. Shrill, piping whistles, rapidly repeated.

Nest. On the ground under the shelter of tall grass; it is made of weeds and grass, and lined with feathers. They lay from 5 to 9 eggs, buffy (1.85x1.25); May, June.

Range. Breeds from the northern tier of states northward; winters from Va., Ill. and British Columbia, southward.


BLUE-WINGED TEAL

140. Querquedula discors. 15.5 in.

Male. Head gray, with a white crescent in front of the eye; underparts buffy, heavily spotted with black; wing coverts blue; speculum green. Female similar to the female Green-winged Teal, but with blue wing coverts. Teal can easily be distinguished from other ducks of other ducks because of the much smaller size of the Teal. They usually fly in compact lines and when ready to alight, do so very precipitously.

Notes. A weak, but rapidly uttered quacking.

Nest. Made of weeds, placed in tall grass bordering marshes or ponds. 6 to 10 buffy eggs are laid during May or June. (1.90x1.30).

Range. Breeds from Maine, Ohio and Kansas northward; winters in the lower half of eastern United States.


CINNAMON TEAL

141. Querquedula cyanoptera. 16 in.

Male with the whole head, neck and underparts bright cinnamon; wings as in the Blue-winged species. Female similar to the female Blue-wing, but more rusty below, and the throat is tinted or quite dark, while that of the last species is usually light. These beautiful birds are very abundant west of the Rocky Mountains, but are of only casual or accidental occurrence east of the Mississippi Valley and sometimes Southern Florida. Their favorite nesting places are in fields of tall grass or clover, in close proximity to marshes or ponds.

Nest. Compactly woven of grasses and lined with down; they lay from eight to as many as thirteen buffy white eggs, size 1.85x1.35; May, June.

Range. Breeds in Western United States and British Columbia. Occurs rarely in the Mississippi Valley, Southern Texas and Florida.


SHOVELLER

142. Spatula clypeata. 20 in.

Bill long, and much broader at the tip than at the base; head and speculum green; belly reddish-brown; breast and back, white; wing coverts, pale blue; eye yellow; feet orange. Female with head, neck and underparts, brownish-yellow, specked or streaked with dusky; wings as in the male, but not as brightly colored. Easily recognized in any plumage by the large, broad bill. If it were not for this large and ungainly shaped bill, this species might be classed as one of our most beautiful ducks, when in full plumage, which is only during the breeding season; at other seasons the head of the male is largely mixed with blackish.

Nest. Of fine grasses and weeds, lined with feathers; they lay 6 to 10 grayish eggs (2.10x1.50); May.

Range. Whole of the northern hemisphere. Breeds in America, from Minnesota and Dakota northwards, and locally farther south; winters on the South Atlantic and Gulf coasts; rare during migrations on the North Atlantic coast.


PINTAIL

143. Dafila acuta. 22 in.

Tail pointed, and, in the male, with the two central feathers considerably lengthened; neck unusually long and slender for a duck; form more slender than that of other ducks. Male with brownish head and stripe down back of neck; back and sides barred with black and white; speculum green, bordered with white or buff. Female mottled brownish, buffy and black, but to be known by the sharply pointed tail feathers and long neck; speculum brownish. These ducks are strong swimmers and good fliers, but poor divers; they get their food the same as does the Mallard by " tipping up," their long neck enabling them to feed in comparatively deep water. They are quite timid and lurk in the tall grass of the marshes during the daytime, feeding chiefly after dark.

Notes. Quacks like those of the Mallard.

Nest. On the ground, and like that of other ducks, well lined with feathers; 6 to 12 eggs (2.20x1.50).

Range. Breeds from Ill. and Iowa northward; winters in southern half of the U. S.


WOOD DUCK

144. Aix sponsa. 19 in.

Head crested in both sexes, the feathers being especially lengthened on the nape. No other American duck that can possibly be mistaken for them. The male Wood Duck is the most beautiful of the family, in this or any other country, its only rival being the gaily colored Mandarin, of China. In summer, they may be found about the edges of clear ponds or lakes, especially those located in woods remote from human habitations. They are very local in their distribution and only one or two pairs will be found in a locality. In most parts of their range they are rapidly diminishing in numbers.

Notes. A soft whistled " peet, peet " and a squawky, danger-note like " hoo-eek, hoo-eek."

Nest. In the hollow of a tree usually near the water's edge. The bottom is lined with soft downy feathers, and 8 to 15 buffy eggs are laid (2.00x1.50).

Range. Whole of the United States and southern Canada, breeding locally throughout the range. Winters in southern half of the U. S.


REDHEAD

146. Marila americana. 19 in.

Note the shape of the bill of this species, as compared to that of the similarly colored Canvas-back. The male Redhead has a bluish bill with a black tip, and his back is much darker than that of the Canvas-back; eye yellow. The female has the throat white and the back plain grayish-brown, without bars. Redheads dive and swim with great agility; they feed largely upon water plants and mollusks which they get from the bottom of ponds, or along the seashore. They breed very abundantly in the ploughs of the prairies in the Northwest.

Notes. A hollow, rapid croaking.

Nest. Of grasses, lined with feathers, in marshes. Their 6 to 12 eggs are buffy white (2.40x1.70); May, June.

Range. Breeds chiefly in the interior, from Minnesota and Dakota northward, and to a lesser degree north from Maine. Winters in southern part of the U. S.


CANVAS-BACK

147. Marila vallisneria. 21 in.

Differs from the Redhead in the shape of its black bill, its blackish forehead, very light back and red eyes. The female has the back grayish-brown, finely barred with black. Like the last species, Canvas-backs are excellent swimmers and divers, and can secure their food from a considerable depth. In winter they are found in great abundance on the Atlantic coast from Maryland southward, and are one of the most persistently hunted birds, for their flesh is much esteemed, and they have a high market value. They are seen in large flocks, and are difficult to approach, but are said to decoy as easily as any other.

Notes. Harsh croaks, little different from those of the Redhead.

Nest. On the ground in marshes or sloughs, the hollow being lined with grasses and feathers from the breast of the female; 6 to 10 eggs (2.40x1.70).

Range. Breeds in the interior from Minnesota and Dakota northward; winters from Maryland and British Columbia southward. Rare in New England.


AMERICAN SCAUP DUCK

148. Marila marila. 18 in.

Head black, glossed with greenish; speculum white; bill dull bluish; eye yellow. Female resembles that of the Redhead, but has a white speculum. These ducks are perhaps better known as Blue-bills, than as Scaup Ducks. They are one of the most abundant migrants on the Atlantic coast, and are one of the most active of the family, diving at the flash of a gun.

Notes. A peculiar grunting quack.

Nest. Of grass and feathers on the ground in marshes.

Range. Breeds from Minnesota and Dakota itorthward. Winters south of New England.

 

LESSER SCAUP DUCK

149. Marila affinis. 17 in.

Slightly smaller than the last, and with the head of the male glossed purple instead of green.

Range. Breeding range same as that of the last; winters in the southern half of the U. S.


RING-NECKED DUCK

150. Marila collaris. 17 in.

Male with a narrow chestnut neck ring; head glossed with purple ; back black ; chin white ; bill blackish, with a bluish band near the end; eye yellow. Female with white cheeks, eye ring and region about the base of the bill; otherwise similar to the female of the Redhead, but smaller.

These ducks are usually met in flocks of from one to three dozen, the same as the preceding two black-headed ducks. Their flight is very rapid, and they are equally agile when in the water. They are seen on the Atlantic coast only in winter, and remain just as far north as the water remains open.

Notes. A low grunting "quanck."

Nest. Of grasses and feathers in marshes and on bogs. The 6 to 10 eggs are grayish-white (2.25x1.60) ; June.

Range. Breeds in the interior of Minnesota northwards; winters throughout the United States.


BUFFLE-HEAD

153. Charitonetta albeola. 14 in.

Head iridescent with green, purple and blue, and with a large white patch extending from eye to eye, across the back of the puffy crest. Female with a white patch on either side of her brownish head; speculum white. They are known by a great variety of names such as " Butter Ball," " Spirit Duck," " Dipper," etc., the majority of which refer to the celerity with which they can disappear under the water. They are always on the alert and will dive at the flash of a gun. They are able to continue incessant diving for a long period and can remain under water for a long time. Their flight is vary rapid, and when alighting in the water they make considerable splash, but can take wing from it easier than the majority of ducks.

Notes. A single guttural croak.

Nest. In hollow trees; eggs greenish gray (2.00x 1.40) ; June.

Range. Breeds from the northern boundary of the IT. S. northward; winters throughout the U. S.


AMERICAN GOLDEN-EYE

151. Clangula clangula americana. 20 in.

Head puffy, or slightly crested. Male with greenish head and a round white spot between bill and eye. Female with a brownish head and white speculum.

Notes. A hoarse croak, rarely uttered.

Nest. In cavities of hollow trees near ponds or on the banks of streams. 6 to 10 grayish green eggs (2.30x 1.70) ; June.

Range. Breeds from the northern parts of the northern tier of states, northward; winters throughout the U. S.

 

BARROW GOLDEN-EYE

152. Clangula islandica. 20 in.

Head bluish with a white crescent at base of bill; eye bright yellow in both this and the last species; female practically indistinguishable from the preceding, although the bill of the present species is shorter and comparatively higher at the base.

Range. Breeds from Northern U. S. north to Labrador and Alaska, and in the Rockies, south to Colorado; winters in the northern half of the U. S.


OLD SQUAW; LONG-TAILED DUCK

154. Harelda hyemalis. ♂ 21; 16 in.

This species is one of the very few ducks that change their plumages in summer and winter. The female is marked similarly to the male but is very much duller colored, and lacks the long tail feathers with which the male is adorned. They are sea ducks and, while they are usually found to some extent on some of the larger lakes or ponds, during migrations, they are very abundant on the. Atlantic coast. They are "excellent swimmers and dive to great depths in search of food. It is said (Nelson) that in their summer home, during the mating season, they frequently dive under the water from the air, a habit that none of the other ducks, except rarely the Pintail, indulge in.

Notes. A confused, but rather musical gabbling.

Nest. On the ground near water; thickly lined with downy feathers; eggs laid in June.

Range. Breeds from Labrador and Alaska northward; winters south to Long Island Sound and the upper Mississippi Valley.


HARLEQUIN DUCK

155. Hlstrionicus histrionicus. 17 in.

Male very oddly and handsomely marked, as shown; female blackish-brown, lighter below and with a whitish spot before and one behind each eye. During the winter, they are seen in flocks off the coast, from Maine and sometimes from Long Island Sound northward. In summer, they are usually found only in pairs along rivers or creeks, and in the Rocky Mountains they frequent the turbulent streams that are the homes of the Water Ouzel. When swimming, Harlequins sit high in. the water, but they are able to get under the surface with the greatest of speed.

Notes. A rapidly uttered, clattering whistle.

Nest. On the ground, in crevices under rocks, the hollow being well lined with down; also said to nest in hollow trees; their 5 to 8 eggs are greenish-buff and measure 2.30x1.60; June.

Range. Breeds from New Brunswick north and northwest to Alaska and the Arctic Ocean, and south in the Rockies to Colorado; winters south to the Middle States and Calif.


LABRADOR DUCK

156. Camptorhynchus labradorius. 20 in.

Male with the head, breast and wings, white; narrow stripe over the top of the head and down the back of the neck, ring around the neck, back, primaries and entire underparts, black. Female mottled brownish-gray and blackish, with white speculum.

Labrador Ducks were never very abundant within the memory of any living person, but they were occasionally shot and were found sometimes in the New York markets. At that time little heed was paid to them and they became extinct before anyone realized the fact. Their record has been traced down to 1875, since 1 which time none have been taken. As far as known there are but 38 or 40 of them preserved. They were formerly found from Long Island Sound north to Labrador.


NORTHERN EIDER

159. Somateria mollissima borealis. 23 in.

Base of bill extends on either side of forehead in a point, a mark that will distinguish it from the next and very similar species, in any plumage. The female Eider presents a most remarkable difference in plumage from that of the male, and, unlike the females of most species, is a very handsome bird.

Nest. Of grasses lined with down; concealed in tall grass or under bushes; the 6 to 10 eggs are greenish-drab (3.00x2.00); May, June.

Range. Breeds on Labrador and Greenland coasts.

 

AMERICAN EIDER

160. Somateria dresseri. 23 in.

This is the Eider that is usually seen on the Atlantic coast and is the only one that breeds south of Labrador. The base of the bill, that encroaches on either side of the forehead is rounded, and broader than that of the last. They nest from Maine (rarely) northward, and winter south to Long Island.


KING EIDER

162. Somateria spectabilis. 23 in.

The feathers of the sides of the bill of this species do not reach to the nostril, while in the two preceding ones, they do. This is the chief point of difference in distinguishing the females, which very closely resemble each other. Adult males, as can be seen, are very different from the other Eiders. As is usual with the Eiders, the male of this species molts to a plumage resembling that of the female, during the late summer, when he has shed his wing feathers and is. for a period flightless, This is a part of Nature's plan to give her feathered children protection when they most need it. While the females are sitting upon the eggs, they are deserted by the males, which congregate in large flocks, and drift aimlessly about until joined by the females in Fall.

Nest. A depression in the ground, lined with feathers. Eggs like those of the last species.

Range. Breeds from northern Labrador and the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, northward; winters south to Maine and casually to Long Island Sound.


AMERICAN SCOTER

163. Oidemia americana. 19 in.

Adult male, entirely black; bill black with enlarged base yellow; eye brown. Female plain brownish-black, lighter below. All the Scoters are better known to sportsmen as " coots," this species being the Butter-billed Coot, while the female is the Gray Coot.

Notes. A long musical whistle. (Elliott).

Nest. On the ground usually well concealed. Their 6 to 10 eggs are a creamy buff color (2.50x1.70).

Range. Breeds from Labrador northward. Winters south to the Middle States and Lake States.

 

WHITE-WINGED SCOTER

165. Oidemia deglandi. 22 in.

This species is the most abundant of the Scoters wintering off the New England coast, where they congregate in immense " rafts," floating off shore.

Nest. Concealed in long grass, lined with feathers; 5 to 8 buffy eggs (2.75x 1.85) ; June.

Range. Breeds from North Dakota and Newfound land northward; winters in the northern half of U. S.


SURF SCOTER

166. Oidemia perspicillata. 20 in.

Male black with a white patch on top of the head and another on the nape; eye white; bill red, white and yellow, with a large black spot near the base. Female a uniform grayish brown, lighter below, with a whitish patch in front of each eye; young birds are like the female but also have a white patch back of the eye. That they are very abundant is apparent from the size of a single flock seen by Nelson about 10 miles out to sea from St. Michaels, Alaska; it formed a continuous band for about 10 miles in length and from a half to three-quarters of a mile in width. All the " Coots " have heavy bodies, making it rather difficult for them to rise from the water, along which they run for a few yards before springing into the air.

Nest. A feather lined hollow on the ground, like that of other ducks; eggs creamy buff (2.40x1.70).

Range. Breeds from Newfoundland, Manitoba, and British Columbia northward; winters south to Virginia, Ohio and California.


RUDDY DUCK

167. Erismatura jamaicensis. 15 in.

Bill short, broad, with an upturned appearance; tail feathers very narrow, stiff and pointed. Male in summer, with black crown, whitish cheeks, throat and belly, and reddish-brown back, breast and sides. In winter, the cheeks are duller colored and the back mixed with grayish. Female with crown, back and sides grayish; cheeks showing traces of white as on the male. These ducks are very sprightly, either in the water, on land, or a-wing. Their flight is very rapid, their stiff, short wings producing a buzzing sound that gives them the local name of Bumble Bee Coot. They have a great variety of names referring to some character of their form, such as Broad-bill Dipper, Bull-neck, Bristletail, etc.

Nest. Of grasses or rushes, lined with down, placed in tall grass near the water or in clumps of rushes growing out of the water ; 6 to 12 grayish eggs ( 2.40 x 1.75), very large for the size of the bird; June.

Range. Breeds in the interior of northern U. S. and in Canada; winters in southern United States.


LESSER SNOW GOOSE

169. Chen hypeboreus. 25 in.

Plumage entirely white: ends of primaries black; top and back of head sometimes tinged with rusty; bill and feet red; eye brown. This variety is like the next, which is the bird commonly seen in the East, although the Lesser Goose is found east to the Mississippi Valley.

 

GREATER SNOW GOOSE

169a. C. h. nivalis. 33 in.

Snow Geese travel in large flocks, the same as do the Canada Geese, led by an old male that has traveled the airy road many times before. At times, flocks are seen on the prairies, so large that they give the ground the appearance of being covered with snow. They are very wary and will all take flight at the first alarm.

Notes. Usually silent, but they sometimes " honk."

Nest. Of grasses, sometimes, but not always, lined with down; 5 to 8 buffy white eggs (3.40x2.40) ; June.

Range. Breeds in the Arctic regions; winters on the South Atlantic coast.


BLUE GOOSE

169.1. Chen cśrulescens. 28 in.

Head and neck white, often tinged with rusty on the face; underparts brownish-gray. Young birds are similar but the head is brownish; bill and feet reddish; eye brown. This handsome goose is found only in the interior, but a few accidental birds have been taken on the Atlantic and two on the Pacific coasts. While it is not an abundant species, flocks of twenty or thirty are often seen in the Mississippi Valley. They are sometimes seen with Snow Geese, but for the most part keep by themselves. On their march to their breeding grounds they branch off from the routes chosen by the Snow Geese, and turn to the eastward, breeding east of Hudson Bay, while the white geese are found chiefly to the westward.

Nest. A glass-lined depression on the ground; eggs deep buff color (2.50x1.75); June.  

Range. Breeds in the Hudson Bay region and in Labrador; winters on the west coast of the Gulf of Mexico, migrating through the Mississippi Valley.


AMERICAN WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE

171a. Anser albifrons gambeli. 28 in.

Forehead, white; head and neck gray; under parts mixed black and white; feet yellow; bill pinkish; eye brown. These geese reach the U. S. on their return from the Arctic regions about the first of October; they are very abundant on the Pacific coast and fairly common in the Mississippi Valley, but are rare on the Atlantic coast. They are very noisy birds and in some sections of the country are known as Laughing Geese. From being shot at so frequently, they are very wild and difficult to approach, sentinels being stationed to give alarm if danger approaches, when they are feeding.

Notes. A confused honking, likened to laughter.

Nest. Of grasses on the ground, usually in marshes; nearly always lined with down from the breast of the female. The four to nine eggs are buffy (3.00x2.05); May, June.

Range. Breeds in the Arctic regions, chiefly west of Hudson Bay; winters south to the Gulf coast and Calif.; rare on the Atlantic coast.


CANADA GOOSE

172. Branta canadensis. 38 in.

The best known and most widely distributed of our geese. In the northern states they are always eagerly looked for in the Spring, for their arrival is a sure indication that the backbone of Winter has broken. Their familiar honking is heard long before the thin, wavering, black, V-shaped line appears on the horizon; as it draws nearer, the volume of sound increases, resembling the baying of a pack of hounds, and at last, the flock sweeps overhead with deafening cries; large birds, with long necks fully outstretched, wings beating the air in unison, and all following the leadership of one bird in their journey over their invisible path.

Nest. Of grasses and feathers, on marshes or near ponds; 4 to 9 buffy drab eggs (3.50x2.50) ; May, June,

Range. Breeds from Labrador, Dakota, and British Columbia northward; winters in Southern U. S. 172a. Hutchins Goose (B. c. hutchinsii) is smaller (31 in.) and found in Western N. A., casually east of the Miss. 172c. Cackling Goose (B. c. minima) is still smaller (24 in.) ; is found in the same range.


BRANT

173a. Branta bernicla glaucogastra. 26 in.

Head, back and breast black, sharply defined against the grayish-white of the underparts; a whitish patch on either side of the neck. They are very abundant on the Atlantic coast in winter, and when not too persistently hunted are unsuspicious; they do not fly in regular formation like the Canada geese, nor do they appear to have any special leader. They are inquisitive and easily decoyed, and consequently large numbers of them are shot annually. They are noisy, their notes being a peculiar, guttural " car-r-r-rup " or " r-r-rup." and when in the presence of a large flock, the sound is deafening. (Elliott).

They feed upon tender water plants and roots, which they get from the bottom by tipping up, and not by diving.

Nest. A depression in the ground, lined with grass and feathers; eggs grayish-buff (2.80x1.75); June.

Range. Breeds in the Arctic regions; winters on the Atlantic coast and less often in the Mississippi Valley, from Mass, and 111. southward.


BLACK-BELLIED TREE DUCK

177. Dendrocyyna aututmnalis. 22 in.

Legs and neck long; bill and feet pinkish; eye brown; head and neck chiefly gray; breast and back brownish; belly and under tail coverts, black; wing-coverts white and gray. These peculiar shaped ducks are not rare in certain localities along the Rio Grande in Southern Texas, and are abundant in Mexico and Central America. They are not timid and are frequently caught and domesticated. They can walk and run gracefully, and often feed in grain fields at considerable distance from water; they also eat shoots and seeds of aquatic plants. Like the Wood Duck, they nest in hollow trees, often at some distance from water, and, as soon as the young appear, help them to the ground and lead them to the water.

Notes. A loud, shrill whistle.

Nest. Usually lined with down, in cavities of hollow trees; the 6 to 15 eggs are pure white (2.05x1.50); May.

Range. Found in the United States only in the Southern part of Texas.


FULVOUS TREE DUCK

178. Dendrocygna bicolor. 22 in.

Form like that of the last, but with the head, neck, rump and underparts rusty, and with no white in the wings. The Fulvous Duck is much more abundant in the United States than the Black-bellied, and is casually found as far north as Kansas and Nevada, while it is regularly found in Texas and Louisiana, where it is known as the Long-legged Duck. Owing to the nature of its diet, which consists chiefly of grain, roots and water plants, the flesh of this bird is esteemed as an article of food, and many are killed for such. When wounded, they are said to be difficult to capture, owing to the speed at which they can run; they also swim and dive well.

Nest. Located in the hollow of a tree, the bottom of the cavity usually being lined with feathers. They lay from ten to fifteen pure white eggs, and as many as thirty-two have been found in one nest, but these were probably laid by two or more females; May.

Range. Texas and Louisiana, and north casually to Kansas and Nevada. Winters in Mexico.


WHISTLING SWAN

180. Olor columbianus. 54 in.

Nostril situated at a greater distance from the eye than it is from the end of the bill; a small yellow spot on the bare space in front of the eye; plumage entirely white; bill and legs black. This is the swan that is found on the Atlantic coast, and is most abundant in the Miss. Valley. It is rare north of Chesapeake Bay, but it is abundant from there southward, in winter. They make a beautiful sight against the blue sky, their immense white wings slowly fanning the air and their long necks extended.

Notes. A peculiar, flageolet-like " Who, who, who." (Elliott).

Nest. A mass of weeds, grass and feathers on the ground; 3 to 6 greenish buff eggs (4.00x2.75).

Range. Breeds within the Arctic Circle; winters south to the Gulf of Mexico; rare north of Va. on the Atlantic.

181. TRUMPETER SWAN (Olor lucinator) is larger (65 in.) and is found west of the Miss. It breeds from la., northwards. Nostril midway between eye and tip of bill.