Goose – Like Birds

The first is found throughout the whole of temperate North America, and the last in eastern Asia.

The male in the Wood-Duck has the “head metallic green, purple, and violet, relieved by a pure white line extending backward from the angle of the upper mandible along each side of the crown and upper border of the crest; another from behind the eye backward along the lower edge of the crest, and two much broader transverse bars crossing the cheeks and sides of the neck, respectively, confluent with a white throat patch; upper parts chiefly velvety black, varied with metallic hues of bronze, purple, blue, and green; chest rich chestnut, glossed with reddish purple, and marked with triangular white spots; sides of the breast crossed with a broad pure white bar and a broad deep black one immediately behind it; sides and flanks delicately waved with black on a buff or pale fulvous ground, the outer feathers beautifully ornamented with broad crescentric bars of pure white and velvety black; abdomen white; bill beautifully varied with jet-black, milk-white, lilac, red, orange, and yellow.” — RIDGWAY. TheMandarin is similar but smaller, and has the middle of the crest chestnut, the sides of the neck darker chestnut, etc.

The Wood-Duck or Summer Duck, which is perhaps the handsomest of the entire Duck tribe, is, or rather was until a few years ago, a common summer resident practically throughout its entire range, which extends from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Ontario northward to British Columbia, and southward through the United States to its southern border and Cuba. On account of its beauty and lack of shyness, it is one of the best-known Ducks in the whole country, but its numbers have been sadly depleted in recent years, a condition largely traceable to the unfortunate laws in many states that permit spring shooting. “It is not seclusive,” says Dr. Fisher, “often making its abode near towns, or perhaps in the vicinity of farmhouses, when it may be found feeding or associating with barnyard Ducks. It takes kindly to domestication, is easily tamed and induced to breed in captivity. Its favorite haunts are small lakes, weedy ponds, or shady streams in the midst of, or in close proximity to, scattered woodlands, and, except during migration, is rarely met with about open bays or large bodies of water.” It is swift and graceful in flight, rivaling the Grouse and Quail in the ease and facility with which it glides through the woods and among the branches. The food of the Wood-Duck consists of various kinds of insects, the seeds and leaves of aquatic plants, as well as beechnuts, chestnuts, and acorns. Its fondness for the latter, on which it feeds largely in autumn, gives it in some localities the name of Acorn Duck.

It commences to breed in the South early in March, and in the more northern parts of its range some four or five weeks later. ” The nests are almost invariably placed in cavities in trunks or limbs of trees, often at a considerable height from the ground, and are occasionally quite a distance from the water. The eggs, which vary in number from six to fifteen, according to the age of the bird, resemble old ivory in color.” The nesting cavity is often sparsely lined with small sticks, grass, and feathers from the breast of the sitting bird, or from various other birds. As soon as the female begins the duty of incubation, she is abandoned by the male, the drakes of a neighborhood banding together and flying about and feeding in company. There are differences of opinion, according to Fisher, as to whether these bands remain unbroken and aloof from the females and young through the entire breeding season or separate at intervals during the day to visit their mates.