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In New Zealand there existed, apparently within a few hundred years, a large, flightless Goose (Cnemiornis calcitrans) that is nearest related to the Cereopsis Goose, although it was much larger and had a shorter, more massive skull, and a rounded, short beak.
True Geese
The so-called true Geese are aggregated into a subfamily (Anserinae), and number nine or ten genera and thirty or more species, but the limits of the group are not very satisfactorily fixed, and the lines separating certain of the genera are more or less arbitrary.
The first, and in some respects least typical, member of the group is the Coscoroba (Coscoroba candida), a large bird of southern South America.
Gray-lag Goose
The common species of western Europe is the Gray-lag Goose (A. Anser), a bird about thirty-five inches in length, supposed to be the original from which the domestic breeds have sprung. It has the lower back almost gray in color and no conspicuous white on the forehead.
The White-fronted Goose
(A. albifrons), a smaller species than the last, spends the summer in northern Europe and Siberia and possibly Greenland, and in winter comes to southern Europe, India, and China.
Geese - Other Species
We have hardly space to mention in detail the remaining species of this genus beyond stating that the Bean Goose (A. fabalis), a bird about the size of the Gray-lag, having the base, tip, and edges of the bill black, with the middle portion orange, is found in the breeding season in northern Russia and Lapland and in winter throughout Europe and northern Africa.
The Ducks
Brigaded together under the general but well-understood name of Ducks are a great variety of forms, not all of which, however, agree quite with the abstract idea of what a Duck should be.
Black-bellied Tree-duck
In the Rio Grande Valley in Texas the Black-bellied Tree-Duck (D. autumnalis) barely enters the United States, its main distribution being in middle Mexico and CentralAmerica.
As offering another step in the transition between the Geese and Ducks, and making any sharp line between them impossible, we come to the Shelldrakes (Tadorna), of which two species are known.
Closely allied to the last, and by some included with them, are the Shell-Ducks (Casarca), of which four species are known, these being widely distributed over the southern parts of the Old World.
The Mallard
The Mallard (Anas boscas) may very appropriately be selected as a typical representative of the true Ducks, for it is not only a very handsome bird, well known throughout most of North America, but is equally well known and esteemed over temperate Europe and Asia.
Other Duck Species
The genus to which the Mallard belongs (Anas) contains, in its broadest interpretation, some thirty additional species, which are by many authors distributed among several genera.
Quite different, at least as regards size, are the Teal, of which some fifteen species are recognized.
Pintailed Ducks
Not far removed from these are the Pintailed Ducks (Dafila), which may be recognized at once by the rather long neck, the bill narrow and longer than the head, and above all by the elongation of the middle pair of tail-feathers in the male.
Ducks - The Shovelers
The Shovelers (Spatula) are another well-marked group of Ducks, distinguished at once by the bill, which is longer than the head and expanded at the tip until it is nearly twice as broad as at the compressed base.
Pink-eyed Duck
Closely allied to the Shovelers is the Pink-eyed Duck of Australia and Tasmania (Malacorhynchus membranaceus), which is characterized by having a soft membrane on the sides of the bill near the tip, and by the presence of two minute spots of rosy pink on the sides of the head, a color very unusual in the plumage of Ducks.
The account of the river and pond Ducks may appropriately be closed with the exquisitely beautiful Wood or Summer Duck (Aix sponsa) and its near relative, the Mandarin Duck (A. galericulata).
Goose - Like Birds
The first is found throughout the whole of temperate North America, and the last in eastern Asia.
Bay Or Sea Ducks
We now come to the so-called bay or sea Ducks (Sub-family Fuligulince), which are distinguished from the last group by having the hind toe broadly lobed or webbed.
The first group we shall consider is represented by the genus Aythya, of which the Red-head (A. americana) may be taken as a good example.
The Canvas-back
(A . vallisneria) which as above indicated is often confused with the Red-head is a larger bird and has the head and neck rufous-brown, the chin and crown blackish, and the bill deeper at base and larger, but otherwise they are similar.
The Pochard
(A. ferina) of northern Europe and Siberia is even more closely related to the Red-head than is the Canvas-back.
The Scaup-ducks
The Scaup-Ducks, of which some six or eight forms are recognized, are by some placed in the same genus with those last mentioned, and by others in a separate genus (Fuligula).
The Golden-eyed Ducks
(Clangula), so named on account of the bright yellow iris, are handsome birds, the male with the upper parts pied black and white, and the lower parts entirely white, while the head and upper neck is black glossed with green, blue, or violet and set off by a white spot between the bill and eye.
Very closely related, and indeed often placed in the same genus with the last, is the Buffle-head, Butter-ball, or Spirit Duck (Charitonetta albeola)...
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