tufted duck

tufted duck defined in 1930 year

tufted duck - Tufted Duck;
tufted duck - Black, the head and neck with purplish gloss; speculum, flanks, and belly white; bill pale blue; irides brilliant yellow; legs and feet dark blue. Length, seventeen inches. Female: dark brown; under parts brownish grey. Male changes colour in May.

Of sea or diving ducks (including the mergansers) no fewer than twenty species, referable to nine genera, have been described as 'British.' Of this number nine species are irregular visitants or stragglers, and may be dismissed with a mention of their names: Red-crested pochard (Fuligula rufina), white-eyed duck (Nyroca ferruginea), Barrow's goldeneye (Clangula islandica), buffel-headed duck (C. albeola), harlequin duck (Gosmonetta histrionica), Steller's duck (Heniconetta Stelleri); king eider (Somateria spectabilis); surf-scoter (Cedemia perspicillata), and hooded merganser (Mergus cucullatus).

Of the eleven species, referable to six genera, that breed in, or regularly visit, these islands, and may properly be described as British birds, three are mergansers, the least duck-like of the ducks in their curiously modified beaks and grebe-like habits. Of the other eight species, four only are, strictly speaking, sea-ducks, being (on our coasts) exclusively marine in their habits. These are the eider, the long-tailed duck, the common scoter, and the velvet scoter. The tufted duck, pochard, and goldeneye, are marine and freshwater ducks. The scaup is more of a sea-duck than these three, and may be said to be intermediate in its habits between the two groups.

These eight diving ducks are all interesting, and some of them very handsome birds in their richly coloured and conspicuous plumage. They have stout, heavy-looking figures, and are clumsy walkers on land; but in the water they are as much at home as grebes and guillemots, and are also strong on the wing. But they aro not so familiar to us as the mallard, wigeon, and teal, as comparatively few persons have the opportunity of observing them. Mr. Abel Chapman, in his valuable work, ' Bird Life on the Border,' says that these ducks are only well known to those ' who are enthusiastic enough to follow the regular sport of wildfowling afloat, and who alone enjoy the opportunity of becoming acquainted with these wild creatures in their bleak and desolate haunts.'

The tufted duck is a winter visitor to our coasts, also a resident throughout the year, and a regular breeder in various localities in England, Scotland, and Ireland. In winter it is both a sea- and fresh-water duck; in the breeding season it is exclusively an inhabitant of inland waters, with a preference for small ponds with weedy bottoms. It pairs in March, and male and female thereafter keep company until incubation begins, when the marriage tie is dissolved, as is the case with most ducks. It feeds chiefly by night, and is inactive by day, floating lazily on the water, dozing, or preening its feathers. At sunset it leaves the pool where it has passed the day, to seek its feeding-grounds. Its food consists of weeds growing at the bottom, for which it dives, and, tearing them up, brings them to the surface, to be eaten at leisure.

The nest is placed among the rushes at the waterside, or in the centre of a tuft of aquatic grass, and is composed of dry sedges and grass, to which down is added as incubation progresses. Eight or ten eggs are laid, sometimes more, greenish buff in colour.

"When rising from the water it utters a grating cry. In winter it is gregarious, and is often seen associating with the scaup, pochard, and goldeneye.

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