Bird of the Week | The Pagosa Springs SUN

Photograph courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Hen of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the canvasback.

North America’s largest diving duck will be discovered on open waters in our space throughout winter months. The male canvasback’s vivid white physique, sandwiched between his black chest and rear, make this chicken stand out inside a bunch of distant geese. His neck, head and eyes are crimson. Females are paler-colored, brownish variations. Each sexes show a attribute stout neck and gracefully sloping brow that blends to a big invoice.

These birds forage each evening and day, diving to depths from 7 to 30 ft to feed on the roots and seeds of submerged crops. Throughout winter, the buds and stems of aquatic wild celery are a most well-liked meals and impart a definite taste to this sport chicken.

The introduction of refrigeration within the late nineteenth century allowed tasty canvasbacks to be hunted commercially for consumption in upscale eating places and led to inhabitants declines. Happily, later protections of the Migratory Hen Treaty Act prevented extinction of this species.

Most canvasbacks breed within the prairie pothole area, one of many richest wetland techniques on earth and critically vital to nesting waterfowl, shorebirds and grassland birds. This space of grasslands and shallow wetlands covers elements of 5 central states and three Canadian provinces. Many of those small wetland areas have been negatively impacted by adjustments in land use, drought, air pollution and local weather change.

In dry years when wetland breeding areas disappear, canvasback hens delay or skip nesting. The lack of wetlands, the elimination of untamed celery attributable to water air pollution and the ingestion of lead shot are all threats to the survival of those stunning birds.

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This story was posted on March 28, 2021.

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