The Food of Wild Ducks

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  • The Food of Wild DucksAuthor(s): R. P. WhitfieldSource: The Auk, Vol. 11, No. 4 (Oct., 1894), pp. 323-324Published by: American Ornithologists' UnionStable URL: .Accessed: 14/05/2014 12:49

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  • Vol. XI] General Notes. 323

    The Food of Wild Ducks.- In December, I893, Mr. William Dutcher brought to me the stomach contents of a Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus) shot at Montauk Point, Long Island, about the 3rd of the month. An examination of the material showed what an industrious collector the bird must have been, for it had in its crop remains of no less than three individuals of the small mud crab of our coast, Panopeus dephressa Smith, one carapace being almost entire; besides remains of some other forms of Crustaceans. Of the little shell Columbella lunata (Astyris lunata of the Fish Com. Reports), there were no less than 39 individuals represented, besides several small Littorinas. This shell is seldom more than one-sixth of an inch long, and is usually quite rare on our shores. It could only have been obtained in such numbers by a sort of sifting of the bottom mud of the bays by the Duck, and indicates how carefully the process had been carried on in order to obtain so small an article of food.

    The contents of the crop of an Eider Duck (Somateria dresseri) taken by Mr. Dutcher at Montauk Point, L. I., on March 25, I894, contain1ed the remains of five right claws of Cancer irroratus, our common sand crab, showing that he had dined sumptuously on this species on several occasions. The last dinner consisted of an individual entire, a small female burdened with a large quantity of eggs under the flipper, making an object nearly two inches by one and three-eighths, and almost an inch thick, which he must have taken into his crop at a single gulp, without even disturbing a limb.

    From the stomach of a King Eider (Somateria spectabilis) the contents of which Mr. Dutcher sent, I find the objects so thoroughly comminuted that but little can be identified. The hand and figure of Cancer irroratus, young shells of Mytilus edulis, and a young shell of Lunatia heros Say, which still retains the horny operculum, is all that can be recognized.

    Two gizzards of wild Ducks, the contents very much comminuted, furnish, one of them, the almost entire carapace of Carcinus amenus Linn. sp. (= Cancer granulatus Say,) measuring about three-fourths of an inch in diameter, the limbs all removed and the whole badly macerated. There were also fragments of Cancer irroratus, our comm6n sand crab, and quite a quantity of young mussles (My/ihas eduZlis) none of which measured more than one-half an inch in length. A second gizzard gave evidence of three or four specimens of the small mud crab, Panopeus depressus, with many fragments of mussle shells, but nothing else which could be determined.

    There is nothing among these remains which would indicate that the birds had been feeding at different localities within a few days of the time they were shot. On the contrary all the contents of their crops and gizzards would show that their food had been for some days obtained in or near our own waters, or at least within the limits of our own coastal fauna, and that crustaceans form a very large percentage of their food during the spring months of the year.- R. P. WHITFIELD, American Museum of Natuiral History, Ne'w rork City.

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  • General Notes. ~ ~ ~ EAuk 3 24 GeneralNotes. Oct. The Scarlet Ibis (Guara rubra) in Colorado.-My friend Mr. Livesey

    informs me that whilst he and a party of friends were duck shooting on Grape Creek in Wet Mountain Valley, Custer Couinty, Colorado, in the month of May, I876, one of the party shot an exceedingly fine specimen of this rare visitor. This bird was skinned and afterwards mounted by a well known firm of taxidermists. So far as I am aware, this specimen, which is now in Mr. Livesey's possession, was never recorded, and hence my reason for making mention of it.-WILLOUGHBY P. LowE, Pueblo, Col.

    The Sandhill Crane (Grus mexicaxa).-A Correction.-In 'The Auk,' Vol. VIII, pp. 308, 309, I mentioned the capture of this bird, but I expressed my doubts in the article as to its positive identification. It proves to be the Little Brown Crane (Grus canadensis) by careful measurements and comparison with a specimen of Grus mexicana from Florida. I can find but one other record of this bird for the Atlantic coast, viz.: B,rewster, Auk, Vol. VII, p. 89.-ARTHUR T. WAYNE, Mfount Pleasant, S. C.

    The Northern Phalarope.-A Correction.-In my article 'Notes on Cer- tain Water Birds in Massachusetts' (Auk, XI, July, I894), at end of third line from bottom of page 226, read Northern, for Red. In last word of article, page 228, read April, for May.-GEo. H. MACKAY, Nantucket, Mass.

    Colinus virginianus cubanensis not a Florida Bird.-Being respon- sible for the introduction of the Cuban Bob-white into the North Amer- ican list, I desire to state that its introduction was an error, explainable as follows:-

    The only Cuban examples of the genus in the National Museum collec- tion, although not agreeing very well with the original description and colored plate of Ortyx cubanensis Gould, were naturally supposed to be that subspecies. Birds from southwestern Florida proving to be more like these than examples from more northern localities in Florida (including those from Miami, on which Ortyx virginianus var.floridanus Coues was based), in fact practically indistinguishable from them, it seemed necessary to refer them to the Cuban form. Mr. Chapman has since shown, however (Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., IV, 1893, No. I, P. 290), that two very distinct forms occur in Cuba, the true Ortyx cuba- nensis Gould, which is apparently confined to the mountains, and a form which is "typical of the very dark Quail from southern Florida," which latter he is inclined to think may have been introduced into Cuba. Mr. Chapman having kindly allowed me to inspect his Cuban specimens I am able to state that the specimens from southern Florida referred by me to cubanensis are not that bird, but, unless distinguished by a new name, must be referred to Jforidanus.-ROBERT RIDGWAY, U. S. National Museum, Washington, D. C.

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    Article Contentsp. 323p. 324

    Issue Table of ContentsThe Auk, Vol. 11, No. 4 (Oct., 1894), pp. 265-359Volume Information [pp. 343-359]Front MatterPoint Pinos Junco (Funco hyemalis pinosus) [pp. 265-266]A List of the Birds of the wet Mountains, Huerfano County, Colorado [pp. 266-270]The Young of the Red-Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) [pp. 270-280]Breeding Habits of the King Penguin (Aptenodytes longirostris) [pp. 280-282]Plumages of the Young Hooded Warbler [pp. 282-291]Notes and Song-Flight of the Woodcock (Philohela minor) [pp. 291-298]Birds of South-Central Montana [pp. 298-308]The Last Portrait of Audubon, together with a Letter to His Son [pp. 309-313]Recent LiteratureReview: Mrs. Wright's 'The Friendship of Nature' [p. 314]Review: Shufeldt's 'Comparative Ology of North American Birds' [pp. 314-315]Review: Shufeldt's 'Scientific Taxidermy for Museums' [pp. 316-317]Review: Stone on the Old World Rallin [p. 317]Review: Wallace on 'Palarctic' and 'Nearctic' [pp. 318-319]Publications Received [pp. 319-321]

    General NotesOceanodroma townsendi off San Diego, California [pp. 321-322]The Canada Goose and Osprey Laying in the Same Nest [p. 322]The Food of Wild Ducks [pp. 323-324]The Sandhill Crane (Grus mexicana). A Correction [p. 324]The Northern Phalarope. A Correction [p. 324]Colinus virginianus cubanensis Not a Florida Bird [pp. 324-325]The Ruff and Western Sandpiper near Washington, D. C. [p. 325]An Asiatic Cuckoo on the Pribylof Islands, Alaska [p. 325]The Capture of Basilinna leucotis in Southern Arizona [pp. 325-326]Breeding of the Prairie Horned Lark (Otocoris alpestris praticola) near Pittsfield, Mass. [pp. 326-327]Occurrence of Aphelocoma cyanotis in Western Texas [p. 327]Icterus parisorum in Western San Diego County, California [pp. 327-328]Taming Chipping Sparrows [p. 328]Note on the Habits of the Northern Shrike (Lanius borealis) [pp. 329-330]The Carolina Wren in Winter in Mercer County, Pennsylvania [pp. 330-331]Nesting of the Red-Bellied Nuthatch in Templeton, Mass. [pp. 331-332]Notes from Raleigh, N C. [pp. 332-333]Four Additions to the Birds of the Virginias [pp. 333-334]Irregular Abundance of Birds in the Breeding Season in Different Years at the Same Locality [pp. 334-335]

    CorrespondenceParasites of Birds [pp. 336-337]Notes on the Steganopodes, and on Fossil Birds' Eggs [pp. 337-339]

    Notes and News [pp. 339-342]Errata [p. 359]Back Matter


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