The Canvasback Duck, Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

The Canvasback Duck, Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897



HITE-BACK, Canard Cheval, (New Orleans,) Bull-Neck, and Red-Headed Bull-Neck, are common names of the famous Canvas-Back, which nests from the northern states, northward to Alaska. Its range is throughout nearly all of North America, wintering from the Chesapeake southward to Guatemala.

“The biography of this duck,” says Mabel Osgood Wright, “belongs rather to the cook-book than to a bird list,” even its most learned biographers referring mainly to its “eatable qualities,” Dr. Coues even taking away its character in that respect when he says “there is little reason for squealing in barbaric joy over this over-rated and generally under-done bird; not one person in ten thousand can tell it from any other duck on the table, and only then under the celery circumstances,” referring to the particular flavor of its flesh, when at certain seasons it feeds on vallisneria, or “water celery,” which won its fame. This is really not celery at all, but an eel-grass, not always found through the range of the Canvas-Back. When this is scarce it eats frogs, lizards, tadpoles, fish, etc., so that, says Mrs. Osgood, “a certificate of residence should be sold with every pair, to insure the inspiring flavor.”

The opinion held as to the edible qualities of this species varies greatly in different parts of the country. No where has it so high a reputation as in the vicinity of Chesapeake Bay, where the alleged superiority of its flesh is ascribed to the abundance of “water celery.” That this notion is erroneous is evident from the fact that the same plant grows in far more abundance in the upper Mississippi Valley, where also the Canvas-Back feeds on it. Hence it is highly probable that fashion and imagination, or perhaps a superior style of cooking and serving, play a very important part in the case. In California, however, where the “water celery” does not grow, the Canvas-Back is considered a very inferior bird for the table.

It has been hunted on Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries with such inconsiderate greed that its numbers have been greatly reduced, and many have been driven to more southern waters.

In and about Baltimore, the Canvas-Back, like the famous terrapin, is in as high favor for his culinary excellence, as are the women for beauty and hospitality. To gratify the healthy appetite of the human animal this bird was doubtless sent by a kind Providence, none the less mindful of the creature comforts and necessities of mankind than of the purely aesthetic senses.


CANVAS-BACK.Aythya vallisneria. Other names: “White-Back,” “Bull-Neck,” “Red-Headed Bull-Neck.”

Range—North America. Breeds only in the interior, from northwestern states to the Arctic circle; south in winter to Guatemala.

Nest—On the ground, in marshy lakesides.

Eggs—Six to ten; buffy white, with bluish tinge.

Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) by Daves BirdingPix

Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) by Daves BirdingPix

Lee’s Addition:

The Canvas-Back Duck is now the Canvasback (Aythya valisineria). Wikipedia (with editing) says The Canvasback is the largest of the North American diving ducks, that ranges from between 19–22 in (48–56 centimetres) long and weighs approximately 1.90–3.50 lbs (862–1,588 gram), with a wingspan of 31–35 in (79–89 centimetres). The canvasback has a distinctive wedge-shaped head and long graceful neck. The adult male (drake) has a black bill, a chestnut red head and neck, a black breast, a grayish back, black rump, and a blackish brown tail. The drake’s sides, back, and belly are white with fine vermiculation resembling the weave of a canvas, which gave rise to the bird’s common name. The bill is blackish and the legs and feet are bluish-gray. The iris is bright red in the spring, but duller in the winter. The adult female (hen) also has a black bill, a light brown head and neck, grading into a darker brown chest and foreback. The sides, flanks, and back are grayish brown. The bill is blackish and the legs and feet are bluish-gray. Its sloping profile distinguishes it from other ducks.

The breeding habitat of the Canvasback is in North America prairie potholes. The bulky nest is built from vegetation in a marsh and lined with down. Loss of nesting habitat has caused populations to decline. (That and apparently the killing of them per the article.) It prefers to nest over water on permanent prairie marshes surrounded by emergent vegetation, such as cattail and bulrushes, which provide protective cover. Other important breeding areas are the subarctic river deltas in Saskatchewan and the interior of Alaska.

Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) with young ©WikiC

Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) with young ©WikiC

It has a clutch size of approximately 5-11 eggs that are a greenish drab. The chicks are covered in down at hatching and able to leave the nest soon after. The Canvasback sometimes lays its eggs in other Canvasback nests and Redheads often parasitize Canvasback nests.

In the early 1950s it was estimated that there were 225,000 Canvasbacks wintering in the Chesapeake Bay; this represented one-half of the entire North American population. By 1985, there were only 50,000 ducks wintering there, or one-tenth of the population. Canvasbacks were extensively hunted around the turn of the 19th to 20th century, but federal hunting regulations restrict their harvest, so hunting was ruled out as a cause for the decline. Scientists have now concluded that the decline in duck populations was due to the decline in  submerged aquatic vegetation acreage. Today the population has stabilized and is even increasing slightly, although it is nowhere near previous levels.


Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for May 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Wood Duck

Previous Article – Bird Song-July

Wordless Birds


Anatidae – Ducks, Geese & Swans Family

Canvasback – Wikipedia


Good ground - American Yellow Warbler (Dendroica aestiva) by J Fenton

American Yellow Warbler (Dendroica aestiva) by J Fenton

Vol. II. No. 1. JULY, 1897.


T SHOULD not be overlooked by the young observer that if he would learn to recognize at once any particular bird, he should make himself acquainted with the song and call notes of every bird around him. The identification, however, of the many feathered creatures with which we meet in our rambles has heretofore required so much patience, that, though a delight to the enthusiast, few have time to acquire any great intimacy with them. To get this acquaintance with the birds, the observer has need to be prepared to explore perilous places, to climb lofty trees, and to meet with frequent mishaps. To be sure if every veritable secret of their habits is to be pried into, this pursuit will continue to be plied as patiently as it has ever been. The opportunity, however, to secure a satisfactory knowledge of bird song and bird life by a most delightful method has at last come to every one.

A gentleman who has taken a great interest in Birds from the appearance of the first number, but whose acquaintance with living birds is quite limited, visited one of our parks a few days ago, taking with him the latest number of the magazine. His object, he said, was to find there as many of the living forms of the specimens represented as he could. “Seating myself amidst a small grove of trees, what was my delight at seeing a Red Wing alight on a telegraph wire stretching across the park. Examining the picture in Birds I was somewhat disappointed to find that the live specimen was not so brilliantly marked as in the picture. Presently, however, another Blackbird alighted near, who seemed to be the veritable presentment of the photograph. Then it occurred to me that I had seen the Red Wing before, without knowing its name. It kept repeating a rich, juicy note, oncher-la-ree-e! its tail tetering at quick intervals. A few days later I observed a large number of Red Wings near the Hyde Park water works, in the vicinity of which, among the trees and in the marshes, I also saw many other birds unknown to me. With Birds in my hands, I identified the Robin, who ran along the ground quite close to me, anon summoning with his beak the incautious angle worm to the surface. The Jays were noisy and numerous, and I observed many new traits in the Wood Thrush, so like the Robin that I was at first in some doubt about it. I heard very few birds sing that day, most of them being busy in search of food for their young.”

[continued on page 17.]

BIRD SONG—Continued from page 1.

Many of our singing birds may be easily identified by any one who carries in his mind the images which are presented in our remarkable pictures. See the birds at home, as it were, and hear their songs.

Those who fancy that few native birds live in our parks will be surprised to read the following list of them now visible to the eyes of so careful an observer as Mr. J. Chester Lyman.

“About the 20th of May I walked one afternoon in Lincoln Park with a friend whose early study had made him familiar with birds generally, and we noted the following varieties:

1  Magnolia Warbler.
2  Yellow Warbler.
3  Black Poll Warbler. (Black-polled Yellowthroat)
4  Black-Throated Blue Warbler.
5  Black-Throated Queen Warbler. (Black-throated Green Warbler?)
6  Blackburnian Warbler.
7  Chestnut-sided Warbler.
8  Golden-crowned Thrush. (Ovenbird?)
9  Wilson’s Thrush. (Veery)
10 Song Thrush.
11 Catbird. (Grey)
12 Bluebird. (Eastern)
13 Kingbird. (Eastern)
14 Least Fly Catcher. (Flycatcher)
15 Wood Pewee Fly Catcher. (Eastern Wood Pewee)
16 Great Crested Fly Catcher. (Flycatcher)
17 Red-eyed Vireo.
18 Chimney Swallow. (Chimney Swift)
19 Barn Swallow.
20 Purple Martin.
21 Red Start. (American Redstart)
22 House Wren.
23 Purple Grackle. (Common)
24 White-throated Sparrow.
25 Song Sparrow.
26 Robin. (American)
27 Blue Jay.
28 Red-Headed Woodpecker.
29 Kingfisher. (Belted)
30 Night Hawk. (Common)
31 Yellow-Billed Cuckoo.
32 Scarlet Tanager, Male and Female.
33 Black and White Creeper.
34 Gull, or Wilson’s Tern. (Common Tern)
35 The Omni-present English Sparrow. (House)

“On a similar walk, one week earlier, we saw about the same number of varieties, including, however, the Yellow Breasted Chat, and the Mourning, Bay Breasted, and Blue Yellow Backed Warblers.”

The sweetest songsters are easily accessible, and all may enjoy their presence.

C. C. Marble.

House Sparrow by Ray

Lee’s Addition:

You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills; they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches. (Psalms 104:10-12 ESV)

I added links to xeno-canto.org for the sound of the birds on the list. It took awhile to figure out what some of the birds are called today. I am sure some are incorrect, but did my best. I used the “song” recordings where available and a few of the “call” ones where either the birds don’t sing or no recording is available.

They each have a distinct sound even as an instrument does.

Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? (1 Corinthians 14:7-8 NKJV)

If the birds changed songs all the time, how would they find mates, defend their territory, or know the sound of an enemy? Isn’t the Lord gracious in the way He designed the birds to sing so uniquely.

Listening to them was actually quite enjoyable. They each have their own way of communicating to their fellow birds and/or enemies.

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for May 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Canvas-back Duck

Previous Article - The Mallard Duck

Gospel Message


xeno-canto.org – Birds Sounds of the World


Black-Crowned Night Heron at S Lk Howard

Black-Crowned Night-Heron at S Lk Howard

We spent about 25 minutes at the South Lake Howard Nature Park seeing what was around. I was trying to learn how to take photos “right-eyed” (See Anniversary and Other Things). Dan can shut one eye or the other, winking, but I can’t. I only can close the right eye. When I try to wink with the left eye, both eyes go shut. Oh, well, no one is perfect. Glad we stopped by the park to practice my new “technique.”

Little Blue Heron immature

Little Blue Heron immature

We were walking on the boardwalk on the Lake Howard side and spotted a Tricolored Heron and an immature Little Blue Heron. Just as we pulled up the cameras, a Black-crowned Night-Heron popped up on the rail between us and them. Wow! He was very close and we were able to get its photo. Dan kept getting closer to get better shots and the Heron just stayed there until I got too close. Most times we see a Night-Heron, they are hidden in the grass or not really visible. After he left, another Little Blue hopped up on the rail. An Anhinga was in a tree and one of the birds flew to a tree.

Red-winged Blackbird female

Red-winged Blackbird female

When we crossed the road to the pond side, we spotted a Great Blue Heron perched on a tree. The Osprey was up on the Tower checking out the normal Bald Eagles’s domain. I am including the 17 species that I turned in to the eBird.org listing service. It is a nice way to keep track of your birdwatching adventures here in America. It is only for our birds. Not sure if other countries have something like it or not.

Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (Psalms 37:3-4 KJV)

Enjoy the Slideshow.

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South Lake Howard Nature Park, Polk, US-FL
Jul 28, 2012 9:00 AM – 9:25 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.5 mile(s)
17 species (+1 other taxa)
Muscovy Duck (Domestic type) 3
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 3
Little Blue Heron 2
Tricolored Heron 1 Juvenile 1
Black-crowned Night-Heron 1
White Ibis 5
Black Vulture 1
Osprey 1
Common Gallinule 3
Limpkin 1
Mourning Dove 2
Monk Parakeet 4
Blue Jay 2
Fish Crow 1
Northern Mockingbird 1
Red-winged Blackbird 3
Boat-tailed Grackle 2
Purple Gallinule Displaying at Lake Parker

Purple Gallinule Displaying at Lake Parker

Today is our 49th Anniversary. Wow! Doesn’t seem that long. We are thankful for the blessings the Lord has bestowed upon us over those years. We have not been perfect, but we have tried to live our lives for Christ and honor Him. He, the Lord, has been very gracious to us over the years. Dan has been a super husband also. Wouldn’t trade him.

This along with some other things going on the last two weeks have kept my blog a little slow lately. Last week we rearranged the room where I do the blog and the computer was offline for a few days. This week has been photo taking for the Music Camp at church and Doctors appointments. On Tuesday I received news that my left eye has a problem. I know it has been blurring on me lately. That is my picture-taking eye. So, yesterday, it was off to an eye specialist to be examined further. Long story short, I have a pucker in my retina. For now it is on a watch mode for a few months. Needless to say, I have been a little edgy and blogging has not been on my mind. The news yesterday was encouraging and I know it is in the Lord’s Hands. Your prayers are appreciated.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 KJV)

Tricolored Heron Looking at Lake Parker Park

Tricolored Heron Looking at Lake Parker Park

We did get to go birdwatching for a few minutes last week and managed to see Ospreys, Mourning Doves, 15 Wood Storks, 4 Sandhill Cranes, 15 White Ibises, Double-crested Cormorants, Great Blue Herons, Anhingas, Red-winged Blackbirds, Great Egrets, Pigeons, Boat-tailed Grackles, 10 Tricolored Herons, Family of Common Gallinules, Blue Jay, Fish Crows, Rooster and 2 hens,  Limpkin, Purple Gallinules – one displaying (first time ever saw that happen), Cattle Egrets, Eurasian Collared Doves. Those are in the order spotted as we rode up to Lake Parker and then home.

Thanks for all of you who stop by the blogs. Your visits are appreciated and trust that you receive a blessing and the information you are looking for.



Edited the Accipitriformes Order Page with some pictures.



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