Golden Eyed Duck by John James Audubon Art Print
Fuligula Clangula - Mr Audubon describes the Golden-Eyed Duck thus in Birds of America "You have now before you another of our Ducks, which at least equals any of the rest in the extent of its migrations. Braving the blasts of the north, it visits the highest latitudes in spring, and returns at the approach of winter spreading over the whole country, as if it seemed not to care in what region it spends its time, provided it find abundance of water. Now propelling itself gaily, it may be seen searching the pebbly or rocky bottom of the Ohio, or diving deep in the broad bays of Massachusetts or the Chesapeake. Presently it emerges with a crayfish or a mussel held firmly in its bill. It shakes its head, and over its flattened back roll the large pearly drops of water, unable to penetrate the surface of its compact and oily plumage. The food is swallowed, and the bird, having already glanced around, suddenly plunges headlong. Happy being! Equally fitted for travelling through the air and the water, and not altogether denied the pleasure of walking on the shore; endowed with a cunning, too, which preserves you from many at least of the attempts of man to destroy you; and instinctively sagacious enough to place your eggs deep in the hollow of a tree, where they are secure from the noctural prowler, and, amid the down of your snowy breast, are fostered until the expected young come forth. Then with your own bill you carry your brood to the lake, where, under your tender care they grow apace.
The winged marauders, rapid as their flight may be, cannot injure you there; for while your young ones sink into the deep waters, you arise on whistling wings, and, swifter than Jer Falcon, speed away. In South Carolina the Golden-eye is abundant during winter, when it at times frequents the reserves of the rice-planters, I have also met with it on the water-courses of the Floridas at that season. From these countries westward and northward, it may be found in all parts of the Union where the waters are not frozen. It is seldom seen on small ponds entirely surrounded by trees, but prefers open places, and on the Ohio is generally found in the more rapid parts, on the eddies of which it dives for food.
This species exhibits a degree of cunning which surpasses that of many other Ducks, and yet at times it appears quite careless. When I have been walking, without any object in view, along the banks of the Ohio, between Shippingport and Louisville, I have often seen the Golden-eyes, fishing almost beneath me, when, although I had a gun, they would suffer me to approach within a hundred paces. But at other times, if I crawled or hid myself in any way while advancing towards them, with a wish to fire at them, they would, as if perfectly aware of my intentions, keep at a distance of fully two hundred yards. On the former occasion they would follow their avocations quite unconcernedly; while on the latter, one of the flock would remain above as if to give intimation of the least appearance of danger. If, in the first instance, I fired my gun at them, they would all dive with the celerity of lightning, but on emerging, would shake their wings as if in defiance. But if far away on the stream, when I fired at them, instead of diving, they would all at once stretch their necks bend their bodies over the water, and paddle off with their broad webbed feet, until the air would resound with the smart whistling of their wings, and away they would speed, quite out of sight, up the river. In this part of the country, they are generally known by the name of "Whistlers...."
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Inventory #342 - Art Prints of the Audubon Birds