316. Nyroca ferina.
THE RED-HEADED POCHARD or DUN-BIRD.
Ferina = of or belonging to wild animals, ferae; perhaps in reference to its "game" flavour. Cf. German Tafel-Ente, " Table-Duck."
Lalsir, N. W. P.; Lalmuriya, Bengal; Cheoon, Bengal; Thadingnam, Manipur; Rutubah, Sind; Surkh-sir, Cabul.
Male 18" to 18 1/2"; 2 to 2 1/4 lbs. Female 17" to 18"; 1 1/4 to 2 1/4 lbs. Legs bluish. Bill blue, tip and base black. Head and neck chestnut, without purple gloss. Back, breast, scapulars, and sides white, with black lines. Upper and under tail-coverts black.— Female : The same, with breast red-brown, mottled white. No white on forehead or lores. No white speculum. From Iceland to Japan, wintering in S. Europe, N. Africa, Asia Minor, Persia, India, Burma, China, and Japan. Eggs (2-3 x 1-7) greenish buff. (J. 968. B. 1605.) See illustration, p. 279.
Also N. americana. Similar to N. ferina, but the head and neck are glossed purple, abdomen is white, not vermiculated, and the bill is pale blue with only the tip black. N. America.
N. vallisneria. 20" to 22". The Canvas-back. Similar to N. ferina, but bill is entirely greenish black and lower breast and abdomen white. N. America. The Canvas-back derives its delicious flavour from the fresh-water plant, a species of vallisneria, commonly called "wild celery," which grows in great profusion at the head of Chesapeake Bay. " It is not generally known that the breeding places of the Canvas-back are in Canada, Greenland, and Iceland, whither they repair in April or May, when the weather becomes too hot for a thickly feathered bird to be able to bear it. The forests in Canada which surround the lakes, pools, and bayous, on the fringes of which the birds lay their eggs, are being rapidly levelled by the axe of the lumberman, and the eggs are picked up and either sold or used by the human intruders upon what was once a vast solitude. Writing upon this subject an American expert says: ' Thousands upon thousands of ducks' eggs are marketed every year in the Dominion, and by these exhausting methods, rather than by the numbers actually shot, the Ducks have been greatly diminished. This condition of affairs seems to be beyond remedy, since a state of the American Union cannot make a treaty with a foreign power, and the Washington Government is, not likely to interfere on behalf of a Maryland industry, or to provide such compensation as Canada might ask if it was proposed to her to protect the Ducks in their native habitat. So the prospect is that fifty years will see the extermination of the finest wild-fowl in the world and one of the most prized delicacies of the-table.'"—Daily Telegraph, 11.4.99.