Birds of America
By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.
[Labrador Duck. EXTINCT.]
FULIGULA LABRADORA, Lath.
PLATE CCCC.--MALE AND FEMALE.
Although no birds of this species occurred to me when I was in Labrador, my
son, JOHN WOODHOUSE, and the young friends who accompanied him on the 28th of
July, 1833, to Blanc Sablon, found, placed on the top of the low tangled
fir-bushes, several deserted nests, which from the report of the English clerk
of the fishing establishment there, we learned to belong to the Pied Duck. They
had much the appearance of those of the Eider Duck, being very large, formed
externally of fir twigs, internally of dried grass, and lined with down. It
would thus seem that the Pied Duck breeds earlier than most of its tribe. It is
surprising that this species is not mentioned by Dr. RICHARDSON in the Fauna
Boreali-Americana, as it is a very hardy bird, and is met with along the coasts
of Nova Scotia, Maine, and Massachusetts, during the most severe cold of winter.
My friend Professor MACCULLOCH of Pictou, has procured several in his immediate
neighbourhood; and the Honourable DANIEL WEBSTER of Boston sent me a fine pair
killed by himself, on the Vineyard Islands, on the coast of Massachusetts, from
which I made the drawing for the plate before you. The female has not, I
believe, been hitherto figured; yet the one represented was not an old bird.
The range of this species along our shores does not extend farther
southward than Chesapeake Bay, where I have seen some near the influx of the St.
James river. I have also met with several in the Baltimore market. Along the
coast of New Jersey and Long Island it occurs in greater or less number every
year. It also at times enters the Delaware river, and ascends that stream at
least as far as Philadelphia. A bird-stuffer whom I knew at Camden had many
fine specimens, all of which he had procured by baiting fish-hooks with the
common mussel, on a "trot-line" sunk a few feet beneath the surface, but on
which be never found one alive, on account of the manner in which these Ducks
dive and flounder when securely hooked. All the specimens which I saw with this
person, male and female, were in perfect plumage; and I have not enjoyed
opportunities of seeing the chances which this species undergoes.
The Pied Duck seems to be a truly marine bird, seldom entering rivers
unless urged by stress of weather. It procures its food by diving amidst the
rolling surf over sand or mud bars; although at times it comes along the shore,
and searches in the manner of the Spoonbill Duck. Its usual fare consists of
small shell-fish, fry, and various kinds of sea-weeds, along with which it
swallows much sand and gravel. Its flight is swift, and its wings emit a
whistling sound. It is usually seen in flocks of from seven to ten, probably
the members of one family.
PIED DUCK, Anas labradora, Wils. Amer. Orn., vol. viii. p. 91.
FULIGULA LABRADORA, Bonap. Syn., p. 391.
PIED DUCK, Nutt. Man., vol. ii. p. 428.
PIED DUCK, Fuligula labradora, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. iv. p. 271.
Male, 20, 30. Female, 18 1/4, 29.
Along the shores of the Atlantic from Nova Scotia to New Jersey, rather
rare, in winter. Breeds from Labrador northward. Never seen in the interior.
Bill nearly as long as the head, rather broader than high at the base, the
sides nearly parallel, but at the end enlarged by soft membranous expansions to
the upper mandible. The latter has the dorsal outline at first straight and
declinate, then direct and slightly convex, at the extremity decurved; the ridge
broad at the base, convex toward the end; the sides sloping at the base, then
convex, the extremity broad and rounded, the unguis broadly obovate; the margins
soft, expanded toward the end, and with about 50 lamellae, of which the anterior
are inconspicuous. Nasal groove oblong, nostrils linear-oblong, sub-basal near
the ridge. Lower mandible flattened, curved upwards, with the angle very long
and narrow, the dorsal line very short, and nearly straight, the nearly erect
edges with about 30 large and prominent lamellae; the unguis very broad.
Head of moderate size, oblong, compressed. Eyes small. Neck rather short
and thick. Body full, depressed. Feet very short, strong, placed rather far
behind; tarsus very short, compressed, with two anterior series of rather small
scutella, the sides and back part reticulated with angular scales. Hind toe
very small, with a free membrane beneath; outer anterior toes double the length
of the tarsus, and nearly equal, the inner much shorter, and with a broad
marginal membrane. Claws small, slightly arched, compressed, rather acute.
Plumage dense, soft, blended; feathers of the head and neck small, oblong;
those on the lower part of the cheeks very stiff, having the terminal filaments
more or less united into a horny plate. Wings short, of moderate breadth,
concave, acute; primary quills curved, strong, tapering, the second very
slightly longer than the first, the rest rapidly graduated; secondary quills
broad and rounded, the inner elongated and tapering. Tail very short, much
rounded, of fourteen tapering feathers.
Bill with the basal space between the nostrils running into a rounded point
in the middle, pale greyish-blue; the sides of the base, and the edges of both
mandibles for two-thirds of their length, dull pale orange; the rest of the bill
black. Iris reddish-hazel. Feet light greyish-blue, webs and claws dusky.
Head and upper half of neck white, excepting an elongated black patch on the top
of the head and nape. Below the middle of the neck is a black ring, from the
hind part of which proceeds a longitudinal band of the same colour, gradually
becoming wider on the back and rump; below the black ring anteriorly is a broad
band of white, passing backwards on each side so as to include the scapulars.
All the under parts black, excepting the axillaries and lower wing-coverts.
Upper wing-coverts and secondary quills white, some of the inner quills with a
narrow external black margin; alula, primary coverts, and primary quills,
brownish-black. Tail brownish-black, tinged with grey, the shafts black; upper
tail-coverts dusky, minutely dotted with reddish-brown.
Length to end of tail 20 inches, to end of claws 22 1/2, to end of wings
18 1/4; extent of wings 30; wing from flexure 9 1/4; tail 3 5/8; bill along the
ridge 1 3/4, along the edge of lower mandible 2 3/8; tarsus 1 1/2; middle toe
2 3/8, its claw 3/8; hind toe 4 (1/2)/8, its claw (1 1/2)/8; outer toe and claw
slightly longer than middle; inner toe 1 7/8, its claw (2 1/2)/8. Weight 1 lb.
14 1/2 oz.
The female is less than the male. The bill, iris, and feet are coloured as
in the male; sides of the forehead white (not in the figure, it having been
taken from a young bird). The general colour is brownish-grey, darker on the
head, cheeks, back, rump, and abdomen, of a lighter tint, approaching to
ash-grey, on the throat, breast, wing-coverts, and inner secondaries, which are
margined externally with black; seven or eight of the secondary quills white;
the primaries and tall-feathers as in the male.
Length to end of tail 18 1/4 inches, to end of claws 19 3/8, to end of
wings 17; extent of wings 29; wing from flexure 9; tail 3 1/2; bill along the
ridge 1 5/8, along the edge of lower mandible 2 1/8; tarsus 1 1/2; hind toe and
claw middle toe and claw 2 1/2. Weight 1 lb. 1 oz.