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Western Duck


Western 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

WESTERN DUCK.
[Steller's Eider.]

FULIGULA DISPAR, Gmel.
[Polysticta stelleri.]

PLATE CCCCVII.--MALES.

This beautiful species, which was discovered by STELLER on the north-west coast of America, has never been known to visit our Atlantic shores. So very scarce indeed is it, that all my exertions to obtain a specimen have failed. It is surprising that it was not procured by any of the great navigators and travellers who have visited the northern and western coast within these fifteen years. As it has been acknowledged, however, as belonging to our Fauna, I have introduced a figure of it taken by my son JOHN WOODHOUSE, from a beautiful specimen in the Museum of Norwich, in England. It is said to have been shot at Yarmouth, in the county of Norfolk, in the winter of 1830.

ANAS DISPAR and ANAS STELLERI, Gmel. Syst. Nat., vol. i. p. 535, 518.
FULIGULA STELLERI, Bonap. Syn., p. 394.

WESTERN DUCK, Fuligula dispar, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. v. p. 253.

Male, 16; wing, 8 3/4.

North-west coast.

Adult Male.

Bill shorter than the head, deeper than broad at the base, depressed towards the end, which is rounded. Upper mandible with the dorsal line straight and sloping to the middle, then slightly concave, at the end decurved; the ridge broad and flat at the base, afterwards convex, as are the sides, the unguis elliptical. Nostrils sub-basal, oblong. Lower mandible flat, with the angle long and rather narrow, the unguis elliptical.

Head large, compressed; neck rather short and thick. Feet short, stout, placed rather far behind; tarsus very short, compressed, reticulate with a series of larger scales in front. Hind toe small, with a free membrane beneath; anterior toes longer than the tarsus, connected by reticulated membranes, the inner with a narrow lobed marginal membrane; the third longest, the fourth nearly equal; all covered above with numerous short scutella. Claws small, arched, obtuse.

Plumage dense, soft, blended. Wings of moderate length, pointed; the first quill longest; secondaries short, broad, rounded, the inner elongated, lanceolate, and decurved, as are the scapulars. Tail rather short, pointed, of fourteen feathers.

Bill dull greyish-blue, as are the feet, the claws yellowish-grey. The upper part of the head and a broad band surrounding the neck are white; the throat; some feathers around the eye are black; a light green patch in the loral space, and a transverse patch of the same on the nape, margined behind and laterally with black. A broad band on the neck and the whole of the back is velvet-black, with green reflections; the smaller wing-coverts white; the secondary coverts bluish-black, terminating in a broad white band; the elongted secondaries and scapulars with the inner web white, the outer black, with blue reflections; the primaries and coverts brownish-black, the tail black, as are the lower tail-coverts and abdomen; the rest of the lower parts deep reddish-buff, fading toward the shoulders and neck into pure white; there is a bluish-black spot on each side of the lower part of the neck anterior to the wing.

Length to end of tail 16 inches; bill along the ridge 9/12; wing from flexure 8 3/8; tail 4; tarsus 1 3/16; inner toe and claw 1 1/2; middle toe and claw 2 1/8; outer toe and claw 2 1/4; breadth of unguis of upper mandible 3/8; breadth of bill at base 5/8.

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