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Brewer's Duck


Brewer's Duck


The definitive website on wildbirds & nature



Birds of America

By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.

VOLUME VI.

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Family
Genus

BREWER'S DUCK.
[hybrid - Mallard x Gadwall.]

ANAS BREWERI, Aud.
[hybrid - Anas platyrhynchos x strepera.]

PLATE CCCLXXXVII.--MALE.

The beautiful Duck from which I made the drawing copied on the plate before you, was shot on Lake Barataria, in Louisiana, in February 1822. It was in company with seven or eight Canvass-back Ducks. No other individuals of the species were in sight at the time, and all my efforts to procure another have been ineffectual.

The individual figured was a male; but I have some doubts whether it had acquired the full beauty of its mature plumage, and I considered it at the time as a bird of the preceding season.

In form and proportions this bird is very nearly allied to the Mallard, from which it differs in having the bill considerably narrower, in wanting the recurved feathers of the tail, in having the feet dull yellow in place of orange-red, the speculum more green and duller, without the white bands of that bird, and in the large patch of light red on the side of the head. It may possibly be an accidental variety, or a hybrid between that bird and some other species, perhaps the Gadwall, to which also it bears a great resemblance.

Bill nearly as long as the head, higher than broad at the base, depressed and widened towards the end, rounded at the tip, the lamellae short and numerous, the unguis obovate, curved, the nasal groove elliptical, the nostrils oblong.

Head of moderate size, oblong, compressed; neck rather long, and slender; body full, depressed. Feet short, stout, placed behind the centre of the body; legs bare a little above the joint; tarsus short, a little compressed, anteriorly with small scutella, laterally and behind with reticulated angular scales. Hind toe very small, with a narrow free membrane; third toe longest, fourth a little shorter; claws small, arched, compressed, acute.

Plumage dense, soft, and elastic; of the hind head and neck short and blended; of the other parts in general broad and rounded. Wings of moderate length, acute; tail short, graduated.

Bill dull yellow, slightly tinged with green, dusky along the ridge. Iris brown. Feet dull yellow, claws dusky, wells dull grey. Head and upper part of the neck deep glossy green; but there is an elongated patch of pale reddish-yellow, extending from the base of the bill over the cheek to two inches and a quarter behind the eye, and meeting that of the other side on the chin; the space immediately over and behind the eye light dull purple. A narrow ring of pale yellowish-red on the middle of the neck; the lower part of the neck dull brownish-red, the feathers with a transverse band of dusky, and edged with paler. The upper parts are dull greyish-brown, transversely undulated with dusky; the smaller wing-coverts without undulations, but each feather with a dusky bar behind another of light dull yellow; first row of smaller coverts tipped with black; primaries and their coverts, light brownish-grey; some of the outer secondaries similar, the next five or six duck-green, the next light grey, with a dusky patch toward the end. The rump and upper tail-coverts black, as are the parts under the tail, excepting two longitudinal white bands; tail-feathers light brownish-grey, edged with whitish. All the rest of the lower parts are greyish-white, tinged with yellow, beautifully undulated with dusky lines, on the middle of the breast these lines less numerous, and each feather with a reddish-grey central streak.

Length to end of tail 23 inches, to end of claws 24; extent of wings 39; bill along the ridge 2 1/2, along the edge of lower mandible 2 1/8; tarsus 1 1/8, middle toe 2, its claw 5/12; hind toe 3/8, its claw 1/8. Weight 2 lbs. 9 oz.

I have named this Duck after my friend THOMAS M. BREWER of Boston, as a mark of the estimation in which I hold him as an accomplished ornithologist.

BREWER'S DUCK, Anas Breweri, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. iv. p. 302.

Male, 23, 39.

One specimen procured in Louisiana.

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